An Expensive Postage Stamp

It’s been two years since my grandfather’s passing, and I still cannot grasp the reality of it. Just yesterday, I was picking up the mail and got a letter addressed to “Stanley”. Even though it was junk mail and it was sent out among millions, it still felt like it possessed a piece of him.

He was everything to me. We shared common interests, and I would always find myself in his living room reading through his countless “Cooks Illustrated” magazines. I wanted to write him a letter, and although it’s postage might be costly, I know he will read it eventually.

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Dear Poppy,

You have always been in my life ever since I was brought into this world twenty-two years ago. We have always been close, and in the beginning when Nanny passed away, we moved in with you to help you. Although I do not remember these events personally, photographs and videos remind me of the great times I had in your home. I do however remember the days when you and Dad worked at the “Incredible Balloon”, a company you both owned. I would come into your offices and play with all of the stuffed animals and balloons.

Stan

(L:R) My Uncle, Poppy, My Mother

When I turned five, we moved to Poway, and you stayed in your house for a little while. But you couldn’t stay away from us! As I played with Hayley, my younger sister, in our backyard, we would see you working away with your side-kick, Hunter, the gruff dachshund.You possessed a green thumb; always knee deep in the dirt making the plants come alive. You had even started a vegetable garden in the back lot near the creek. Imaginative games would come alive within the walls of the towering tomato plants. The scent of the freshly dewed tomato will always remind me of those fantastic summer days spent with you. Diving in between the tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, green beans, and even pumpkins. We would run from the kitchen with baskets and look in awe at all of the enormous produce we had harvested.

You moved closer to us, but you still seemed too far away. Your job at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park made you smile as you got to talk to people, and got paid for it. At this time our family had decided a remodel was in order, and a new apartment was built for you. Custom with your own private entrance, having you so close made spending time and making memories with you so much easier.

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Showing where I worked

If it wasn’t for you, I would not be who I am today. It was your influence and your love for food that inspired me to pursue my career. I remember walking barefoot into your new kitchen. We had just laid out the linoleum, and the room smelled fresh and new. Big band music was playing, and you were there spinning romaine in the salad spinner. Each leaf dancing to the tunes of Sinatra. I hopped up near the counter and helped as you prepared caesar salad from scratch. The anchovy paste oozed out onto the table spoon sending the fishy scent into my nostrils. You always cut away the inside of every romaine leaf. “The lettuce should be tender but not too crunchy.”

Salad was not the only thing we made. You had an amazing crepe maker and one day we decided to make crepes for the family. We blended up the batter and using the machine we made paper thin crepes to be filled with jam and whipped cream. Whenever the History channel was not on, Food Network flashed across the screen. We always had a love for food in common, and without you I don’t know what I would be doing today.

484130_4603087360322_1031136610_nOne day, you got an infection in your hip which required you to stay in the hospital for months, and learn how to maneuver in a wheel chair. You never let that chair stop you from doing anything. You amazed us as you drove from San Diego to Bend, Oregon with Hunter right beside you in the passenger seat. You went on trips with us, and always had a smile on your face. You never let a handicap stop you.

Always independent, and brilliantly sharp, you were a talking history book. I would sit in awe at the stories you would tell me about your youth. I wish I could hear more; more about your life in loud New York City after the depression. I remember you telling me a story once about how the mob looked after your father’s store. I wanted to know more about your childhood, and your teenage years– Going to college and meeting Nanny.

People were shocked when you moved to Florida. Not about the fact that you moved, but how you got to Florida. You flew, by yourself to Orlando. Not only that, you took the city bus to get to your new apartment which was a few miles away. You took the bus because they were handicap accessible, with one duffle bag in tow. You lived on the fourteenth floor overlooking downtown Orlando and a beautiful lake. You went to card games, went out to eat, and even went on a casino cruise. We were astonished on how many activities you had done within a few months of moving in. We were excited to share many new memories with you.

I am eternally grateful for all of the memories you have provided me with. Your guidance, advice, and knowledge has changed me immensely and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done. I know you are with Nanny right now making your famous caesar salad. You put on some big band era music and dance together, finally out of the chair. Your lungs are filled with deep breaths of sweet air.

I love you so much Poppy.

Love,

Lyndsay

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I felt like preparing crepes would be the perfect homage to my grandfather. He taught me the proper technique of letting the batter sit in the cooler, and adding very small amount of batter when making the crepe. He used to own this “crepe maker” which would make the crepes without the hassle of a pan. It plugged in and you dipped the hot plate into the crepe batter, creating thin pancakes–so thin they did not have to be flipped over.

Strawberry CrepesThis are delicious topped with strawberries and Nutella. When I was in Paris last year, every street corner had crepe stands. They were massive, and packed with nutella. I want to go back everyday.

Crepe

Is that not the coolest?! I took this photo right next to Notre Dame.

The recipe I have provided is from one of my grandfather’s old cookbooks, “Classic Desserts” by The Good Cook in 1979– years before I was born!

Crepes

  • Servings: 15 6-7 inch crepes
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Ingredients

1 Cup Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Eggs

1 1/4 Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Method

  1. In blender, pulse together flour, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pulse until no lumps remain.
  2. Put the batter in the refrigerator for two and a half hours.
  3. Heat a lightly greased 6-7 inch pan over medium- high heat. Pour in about three tablespoon, swirling the pan as you add the batter. Coat the entire pan with batter.
  4. Cook the crepe for 10-15 seconds until it slides back and forth easily on the pan. Slide a spatula under the crepe and flip, cooking the opposite side for 8-10 seconds.
  5. Slide the crepe to a warmed dish, and cook the rest of the batter similarly.
  6. Top with your favorite fruit and nutella.

This recipe was provided by Classic Desserts 

Nutella

Can I have all of it?!

lyndsay paige

 

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Cookiebutter Swirl Cookies

Is it August already?! How did that happen? One day I was breathing in the humid summer air–and the next– I was getting ready for classes to start up again!

I finally finished my online creative writing class (Yay!) So now I can share my work with you! I’m always afraid to post past writings due to a professor finding my work, and thinking I plagiarized it from myself. Is that even possible?

One week, we were provided numerous “kick-starts” to help our creative process. I chose to focus on a specific object which intrigued me.

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Graceful Rings

After three rings, the telephone silenced. Grace hurried her feet past the ottoman and the “AARP” monthly newsletter. Her wrinkled fingers clutched the carnation rotary phone. “Hello?” She croaked.

The line stayed dead, and she hung up the phone carefully. “Probably a tele-marker” she grumbled to herself, easing into her over-sized sofa. The plastic crinkled under her weight as she adjusted her seat, fishing for her television remote. “Where is that darn thing?” She asked aloud.

Across the room, the remote lit up, drowning in a sea of outdated clipped coupons of frozen biscuits, cheese-wiz, and toilet paper. It was only ten steps from her seat, but Grace was fragile, old and lazy; mostly lazy in the eyes of her neighbors. Her front lawn was always filled with weeds, and her mailbox overflowed with shopping catalogs. She reared her rind legs in a forward momentum, and placed her cream colored sneakers on the carpeted flooring. With a gruff, she swung her back like a cat and balanced her upper torso with her weak arms. One last momentum, and Grace hunched her back and was on both of her feet. One step. Two steps. Grace carefully exchanged the weight to her left foot as her knee popped, sending shooting pains up her sides. She winced as she shuffled through the pile and grabbed the remote. Puffing, she started her journey back to the comfort of her sofa.

Grace grabbed for her breath, each one drier than the first. The outline of a tall glass could be seen in her pupils. Blinking back her thirst, she heads back to the couch, and falls into the cushions, making an all too familiar phoosh. She settles back into the seat, changing the channels with the slightest movement of her arthritic thumb.

The phone begins it’s song again, chiming it’s song throughout the living room. Never one to miss a gossip session, Grace begins her routine to dislodge herself from her nest. She steps faster this time, excited for the interaction. Upon reaching the phone from its handle, she presses the speaker to her deafened ear. The line is silent.

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My mother recently installed a new house phone in our shared office, and it’s retro design inspired this short story.

Continuing with a sort of a retro theme, I thought these Chocolate Swirled cookies would fit nicely on the end table next to Grace’s cup of tea.

I was looking through my cookbook, “Pig Out” Obviously a diet cookbook, and stumbled upon these cute little swirled cookies that incorporated Nutella and shortbread. I had recently visited Trader Joe’s and picked up the holy grail of butters, Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl. A decadent  combo of european cookies mashed up with chocolate. Can you say, “Yum?!”

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl

 

Cookie Butter Swirl Cookies

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
  • Print

Ingredients

3/4 Cup Butter

3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Tablespoons Cookie Butter Spread ( Or Nutella)

1 Tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Sifted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in Vanilla extract. Add flour and mix, forming a soft dough. Divide the dough into two pieces, and work the cookie butter and cocoa powder into one half.
  3. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to form two rectangles about 6 x 8in. Place one piece of dough on top of the other and press together lightly. Trim the edges and roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on cookie sheet. Bake 10-13 minutes until crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

This recipe was provided by Pig Out

 

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl

lyndsay paige

Shish Kabobs and New Jobs

Being a grown-up is hard sometimes. When are you officially considered “Grown-up” Anyways? I wouldn’t consider myself a full-fledge, black-coffee drinking, 9-5 working, suit strutting, grown up yet. I’m too young for that! I still enjoy running amok in grocery stores, and buying dripping ice cream cones covered in rainbow sprinkles. Everyone eventually grows up, and with that being said, one must pick out their nicest outfit and endure the frightful experience called the job interview.

I’ve worked since I was in high school in various jobs which I found to be both pleasing, and challenging. My first “real job” landed me in a retirement home kitchen at the age of 18. I was still in High School, and decided I needed a job to allow for growth of my culinary career. Starting as a waitress, I learned the name’s and favorite’s of the seventy-five residents who called this place their home. Gerry liked getting cheese omelets everyday because of his teeth, but Louise enjoyed poking fun at her husband as she nibbled on bits of carrot. Jean would hide her food in different containers at her table. I once found a piece of chicken stuffed inside of the salt shaker. I kept her table bare aside from her plate from that point forward.

After a month, I was granted reins to the kitchen, solely producing meals for the residents at night. I created my own menus and interviewed the residents about their favorite childhood meals. I loved seeing their reactions when I made Challah just as good as their mother’s. I had a resident sneak into the kitchen one night, as I was baking up some cookies. “Lyndsay, I wanted to thank you for making me that Challah last night. My mother used to make it every Friday night for us, and I’ve missed it dearly since moving here. It’s nice to have such sweet jewish girl in the kitchen now!”

I worked at the retirement home until I had started up my classes at the local college. I had run out of time in my schedule, and school was ( and always will be) my first priority. I started working for the restaurant at the school, and slowly became the front-of-house manager of the student run restaurant. When the restaurant moved into a larger location, I was moved back into the kitchen and worked on the line as expeditor and grill cook.

Not all jobs work out like you hope. When I was living in Oregon, I got a job with a local pizza guy who sold pizzas from a little street cart. I looked upon this new endeavor with hopes of making dough, sauces, and creating unique pizzas. The owner, on the other hand, saw me as a human to roll out 300 mini pizza doughs by hand. At the end of the first day my back was so sore, I could barely stand. I told the owner that I could not work in these physical conditions and he decided to not pay me for the 3 training days I had spend with him.

Another time I was hired on as a pastry chef at a new bakery. I was given the freedom to create whatever treats I wanted, but I realized I did not like working in bakeries. What irked me the most was the assumption that I wanted a full-time job. No. I wanted a part-time job because I was busy. Instead the owner relied tasks to me like I was a partner of the bakery…without the cash benefits. Her and I were the sole work-horses of the place,(With her half the time in the front of the shop) and at the time I was going through a severe bought of depression. I thought working with cookies and cakes would help me. It just made it worse. The thing that really ticked me off about the place was the owner’s husband. He would come in the back and stick his hands into everything I was working on, then change my music I was listening to, to christian rock. He would leave the room, I would change it back to my tunes. And I wasn’t listening to something obscene like Hip-hop or anything, I was listening to smooth jazz! Boom, he would walk in and switch the dial to christian rock. It drove me absolutely insane. I couldn’t handle the pressure of the job anymore and had to step down.

The other day I interviewed for an office position at a local children’s learning center. Although it’s not in the culinary field, I am reaching out to places I would love to work with. Somewhere with air-conditioning and a slower pace than a kitchen. I wanted to include a few interviewing tips for my fellow young adults:

7 Tips to Perfecting The Job Interview 

1.Research

Research the company and it’s main goals. Find out why you should apply to this company, rather than the other down the street. If any of your friends work there, ask their opinions on the place and take their options with a grain of salt. The lazy employee friend might not like the place, but it could be a perfect fit for you.

2. Revise Your Resume

Look over your resume and add any new skills you have acquired, or past jobs that highlight experiences that showcase the job at hand.

3. Be on Time

Always show up for interviews 15 minutes before your appointed time. It’s better to wait rather than to rush in flustered.

4. Bring Copies of your Resume

Bring a copy of your resume with you to your interview. You can refer to it throughout the interview.

5. Smile!

This one is the easiest! Smile throughout your entire interview; even if it is a phone interview. People will hire friendly employees over rude employees with good resumes.

6. Dress to Impress

Always arrive to both the picking up of an application, dropping off of an application, and interview in nice clothes. It does not need to be a suit, but a nice fitted outfit presents you as a good employee.

7. The Thank You Letter 

A week after the interview, send a thank you email to the person who interviewed you. This will surely keep you in the front of their mind when making decisions.

 

Ahh! Enough with the adult stuff— Here’s what you really like, food! 

My sister was really craving shish kebabs the other night, and I had to make some for her. We had went to this new meat market earlier in the day, and I was excited to add another CookBook Challenge under my belt … literally.

I decided to marinate the meat in a beer marinade courtesy of “Great Good Food” by Julee Rosso. This 575 page book contains a whopping amount of healthy recipes and ideas. Shish Kabob

The Kebab as a cooking method, derives from 17th century BCE in ancient Greece. It is said the soldiers would grill their meats on their swords over a cooking fire.

This marinade coats the meat in a tenderizing liquid, making the steak juicy and tender. I paired the meat with an assortment of vegetables and a side of rice.

Beer Marinated Shish Kabobs

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients

1 pound Sirloin Steak, cut into cubes

1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard

1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 Cup Beer ( I used Corona)

1/4 Cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons chopped Tarragon

Freshly Ground Pepper

Assorted Vegetables to Grill ( I used Zucchini, Tomato, Mushrooms, and Peppers)

Method

  1. Mix Marinade ingredients together in large ziploc bag, large enough to hold meat and marinade. Add Meat and marinade in fridge for 1-2 hours
  2. Thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors and textures.
  3. Prepare grill for cooking.
  4.  Cook the skewers on the grill for 8-10 minutes, turning accordingly.

This recipe was provided by Great Good Food, Julee Rosso. 

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. — Confucius

lyndsay paige

50 Shades of Chicken

As many of you know: I own a ton of cookbooks. { See cookbook challenge here}. One of my favorites was given to me last Christmas by my friend Dom. I had just finished reading “50 Shades of Grey” (More on that later), and was really excited when I unwrapped the book “Fifty Shades of Chicken” Not only does is include 50 mouth-watering chicken dishes, it is so much fun to read! Some of the intros to the recipes just kill me!

Penned by FL Fowler (so punny) Fifty Shades of Chicken evokes readers to submit themselves over to their love of the chicken. As the chicken poses nude (Gasp!) It’s owner performs different recipes on it like: Popped-Cherry Pullet, Extra-Virgin Breasts, and Thighs spread wide. I kid you not, I was laughing out loud when I read the names of the recipes. This is not a family cookbook.

I read 50 Shades of Grey a few months ago, and truthfully, I do not see what all the hype was about. I felt very on-edge the entire time I read the book, like I was being possessed by a male figure. At the time, I was in a rotten relationship, and he was very possessive of me. He felt the need to always be with me, and only with me. I felt indifferent. I had a family , and other friends to tend to. I consider myself to be an independent individual; a woman who can fend for herself if she needs to. An educated woman with a flourishing path filled with dreams and aspirations. He wanted to settle down, and I wanted to run free. It didn’t last long, but the relationship taught me about myself, and what I wanted. So when I read 50 Shades, and I hated the character, Christian. So did I really foresee in this book the beginning of the end of my relationship? I’ll never know.

All I know for sure is, “50 Shades of Grey” has finally released it’s movie trailer:

Will I see this in theaters? Probably.

I’ve made a couple of recipes from the book already, and I finally photographed the product semi-profesh. The lighting was finally on my side ( We ate dinner at a normal hour, compared to our usual dinner time of 9 pm) and I am getting better at finding angles. Any suggestions regarding photography would be appreciated.

“Into the bowl” he commands, ripping a sheet from a packet of foil. “I don’t do vanilla. I’ve never done vanilla. But tonight we’re doing vanilla.” — 50 Shades of Chicken, page 16

Just reading it makes me blush.

I was really excited to use this recipe because I had everything already in the house. I paired this meal with steamed baby potatoes and garlic scented kale.50 Shades of Chicken

 Doesn’t that bird look absolutely appetizing?!

Roast Chicken with Brandy-Vanilla Butter

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened

1 Tablespoon Brandy

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 (31/2-4 lb) Chicken, patted dry with paper towels.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to a hot 400’f. In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, brandy, vanilla, sugar, salt, and pepper. The mixture will look curdled, but whisk farther and it will come together.
  2. Slap the mixture on the chicken and massage the butter into the crevices. Do not forget to add some of the butter into the body cavity.
  3. Place the chicken on a roasting rack, or roasting pan and cook until thigh juices run clear. This took about 1 hour and 20 minutes for me. Take out of the oven, and let the chicken rest for ten minutes before devouring.

This recipe was provided by 50 Shades of Chicken. FL Fowler. 2012 Clarkson Potter. 

 

Instead of Vanilla extract, I chose to use vanilla bean paste, which added a richer flavor; plus it contains those attractive vanilla seeds. Vanilla Bean Paste

I also opted to use Brady I had gotten on my trip to Paris. I love how the bottle is in the shape of the Eiffel Tower!

Brandy

Overall, the recipe itself is relatively easy; perfect for a date night with a significant other. 

 

My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five year old — E.L. James, 50 Shades of Grey

lyndsay paige

Cauliflower Linguini

It’s summertime in Florida! Which means rain, rain, and more rain. It’s been absolutely boring lately– I’m in an online writing class, but other than that, I’ve got my summer free. My mother, brother, and I took a trip to the farmer’s market the other day to get some fresh fruits and veggies. The market is home to a variety of farm animals including: goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, and donkeys. I wanted to say “hello” to the goats and kneeled down next to the fence. A goat ran up to the fence and instantly sputtered its lips, drenching me in spit. Then it’s demon eyes stared into my soul. According to medieval folklore, goats were seen as the devil. And I think they were right about this one.

We moved on to the pigs and fed them peanuts, watching the jowls spit out the hulls.

At the food side of the market I picked up a nice head of cauliflower. I’ve only had it in a mixed vegetable medley, but decided I would make a meat-less entree for that night’s dinner.

I had received Molto Gusto by Mario Batali as a gift for a birthday. All of his recipes are basic, and follow the italian culture of food; let the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. Everyone knows Mario for his bright orange crocs and likable smile. Don’t hate on the croc until you work in a kitchen twelve hours a day. Those puppies helped my back throughout culinary school. He currently co-hosts on “The Chew” one of my favorite foodie talk shows.

Cauliflower

 

Cauliflower is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. Providing digestive support and anti-inflammatory benefits. This recipe utilizes the whole cauliflower; including the core and the green leafy exterior.

Cauliflower

This recipe originally called for penne pasta, but I had some linguini noodles on hand instead. And by linguini I meant half a box of linguini and half a box of spaghetti. Nothing says lazy than two different pastas.

Cauliflower

 

This dish is filling, without that bloated down, ” I just ate my weight in noodles”. I was curious what a ragu is classified as, and found out the dictionary defines it as a meat based sauce. So not a “technical” ragu, this cauliflower sauce packs flavor to the pasta without a heavy sauce.

Linguini with Cauliflower Ragu

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-in. dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguini
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs, sautéed in 1 tbs. olive oil until golden brown
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Halve cauliflower. Remove leaves and cut out core and reserve. Cut cauliflower into small bite-size florets, reserving stalks. Chop core, leaves, and stalks.
  2. Combine oil, onion, garlic, and cauliflower core, leaves, and stalks in large pot, season with sea salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until leaves are just beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are just tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower florets, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is almost falling apart, 22 to 25 minutes. Add butter, stirring gently until it melts; season well with sea salt. Remove from heat.
  4. Bring 6 quarts water to boil in large pot and add 3 tbs. kosher salt. Drop in pasta and cook until just al dente.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/3 cup pasta water. Add pasta and 1/3 cup reserved water to ragu. Toss over medium heat until pasta is well coated (add more pasta water to thin sauce). Stir in cheese.
  6. Transfer pasta to serving bowl, sprinkle with bread crumbs and rosemary, and serve with additional grated cheese. Serves 6.

Recipe inspired by Molto Gusto Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner 

The passion of the Italian or the Italian-American population is endless for food and lore and everything about it. – Mario Batali

lyndsay paige

Three Discoveries

I have made a few discoveries these past few days:

1. I love snorkeling

2. Zumba classes should include a: “May Get Drenched in Sweat” sign on their doors.

3. I have discovered the hidden flavors of pan-frying Watermelon.

 

Blue Springs First things first, I visited Blue Springs the other day with my family and friends. This spring is a cool 72 degrees year-round. During the winter months, hundreds of manatees and their calfs swim into the springs from the ocean to live in warmer water. I have been here during their migration, and I wanted to jump in that water and cuddle each and every one of them. I love manatees so much! (Disclaimer: Under federal law, swimmers are not allowed to touch manatees. Please only observe from a comfortable distance)

This trip however, did not give me a chance to see my majestic sea cows. After walking along a wooden boardwalk, we entered the spring down a series of steps. After swimming for a few minutes up current, we reached the hole. This thing is massive, and scuba divers frequent the caves under the surface. I donned my fins, mask, and snorkel, and explored the fish around the area. It’s so quiet under the water, and relaxing; the only sound you focus on is your own breath. When I was younger, I was terrified to snorkel, just in case I forgot how to breathe. Silly isn’t it? Now I cannot wait to find more spots to explore.

My second discovery led me to a aerobic fitness class held at my college gym. It’s Summer B now, and all the new freshman are now on campus. The gym was packed with weightlifters, basketball players, runners, but mostly freshmen. We were a few minutes late to the class and could barely find a place to stand in the classroom. IT WAS SO PACKED. We were dripping in sweat. Appetizing. Our instructor was energetic, and pumped up the entire class. At one point, three guys opened the door and looked into the class room. All the girls were bent-over shaking their thang. I looked up. They waved. Gauuhhh.

When the class finished, we hopped on over to the locker room to wash our faces. Three freshman girls, (you’ll know why they were freshman in a minute) were standing gawking at the condom dispenser. “You mean these are free?!” The blonde one says, ” Why have I been buying them?!” She then stuffs her hand into the dispenser and fishes out a random assortment. “I wonder if this actually tastes like chocolate?”

Sometimes you are just too classy for your own good.

Moving on to food, I have been slacking on my Cookbook Challenge recently. I was in two accelerated classes which ended on Thursday. I’m currently in one class, but it’s online, and it seems easier than my last classes. I was looking through Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen, and stumbled upon this gem. Pan-Fried Watermelon with Yogurt and Caramelized Walnuts. I died. It sounded too good to be true. I drove to the store, picked up the ingredients, and laid my work in front of myself.

watermelonLet me say this: Gordon Ramsay is hawt. His accent, so dreamy. His body, somebody pinch me! But most of all, his delicious biceps dishes. I read his biography during my time in culinary school, and I look up to his work ethic. It’s a fantastic read for you culinary bio lovers out there. Wherever you are.

Watermelon

Chef Ramsay’s food is simplistic, and brings the naturalness from the ingredients. I was craving something sweet, but healthy to satisfy my cravings. This dish was perfect, and my sister devoured it. She literally licked her plate clean.

Watermelon

Pan-Fried Watermelon with yogurt and caramelized walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Watermelon:

  • 1 small or 1/2 medium watermelon
  • a little olive oil
  • powdered sugar, to dust
  • 1 3/4 – 2 Cups Greek yogurt

For the caramelized Walnuts:

  • 1 T butter
  • scant 1/4 Cup Honey
  • scant 1 Cup Walnuts

Instructions

  1. In a small heavy saucepan add the butter and honey. Place this saucepan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter has melted, add the walnuts. Stir these ingredients to make sure the walnuts are well coated. Keep this over heat for another 1-2 minutes. Once you see the mixture start to bubble and turn a golden brown you can transfer the mixture onto a waxed paper lined baking tray. Set your caramelized walnuts aside for 1-2 hours.
  2. Cut watermelon into an 1 ½  inch thick pieces. Put a little olive oil into a nonstick skillet and place over high heat. Dust the top and bottom of each watermelon with confectioner’s sugar. Place onto your nonstick skillet and pan-fry each side for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with each watermelon slice.
  3. Add a scoop of Greek yogurt to the top of each pan-fried watermelon slice. Break the walnuts into small pieces and sprinkle on top! Best served warm.

Recipe inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen 

I cook, I create, I’m incredibly excited by what I do, I’ve still got a lot to achieve. – Gordon Ramsay

Zucchini Bread

When I was younger, my grandfather had a large garden he tended to in our backyard. Each summer he would build towers of tomatoes, hills of zucchinis, and poles of beans.  Our house was plopped on a bit of land, which encompassed a lawn and a wooden back lot complete with a bridge and a small creek. Our summers were spend fishing for crawdads with bits of luncheon meat tied onto make-shift poles. My father would fasten fishing hooks onto  lengths of fishing wire and would tie each string to a stick, found in the nearby wooden area. After catching the crimson red creatures, we would release them; watching as they scooted away with their strong tails.

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

Crossing the red bridge my father rebuilt and painted, led to a stoned path filled with the remains of our home’s old concrete patio. Each step lead us closer to the perfumed garden, an oasis filled with juicy fruit. After opening the hinged gate, I would plop myself underneath the tomato plants and lie between the green arms and the fruit. ( Fruit, Vegetable, what is a tomato anyways?) I can still remember the scent of fresh tomato filling my nostrils, seeping into my lungs and humming about.

The zucchinis were my grandfather’s prized possession. These hefty summer squashes weighed in three times the average weight of ones found in the local grocery store. My mother made zucchini bread frequently with the surplus, even adding chocolate chips for an added surprise.

Bite

I decided to bake my zucchini bread following The Betty Crocker Cookbook . Although this is not the exact recipe my mother used to make, it comes pretty close.

Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3 cups shredded zucchini (2 to 3 medium)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups  all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, if desired

Instructions

 

  • Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans or 1 (9×5-inch) loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and raisins. Stir in nuts and raisins. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan.
  • Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.
  • Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

 

Recipe inspired by “Betty Crocker Cookbook

 

Don’t you love the lighting on this shot? I thought it was so interesting! Trying out new stuff, still working out how to photograph food with good lighting!