Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello Darlings!

Ah, yes. I know I have left you alone for quite some time. Wondering if I will ever update or post again. My friends keep asking me to but I just haven't gotten around to it! So here I am, wine glass in hand asking for your forgiveness for my lack of updating you on my love life, food life and generally my life. I made some changes to my life which will hopefully allow more time for posting. And by more posting, I mean more cooking and more dating stories in which to amuse you all.

In the meantime.... and in honor of National Pancake day.... enjoy this little tidbit.

What you Need:
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray

What you Do:

1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Stir Fry Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday!!
I hope your weekend was great! I had a weekend full of fun and relaxation. I had a lovely date with my sisters this weekend in which we went to dinner, saw a movie and had peppermint hot coco after. I also became addicted to 'Sons of Anarchy'....I have no idea why.

Anyway, Monday was book club and if you want to see what we were up to pop over to the VBC website tomorrow for an update on the book. Tonight, I'm craving something a little lighter than the Chipotle Mac and Cheese I had and became an addict of from last night.

The thing I love about stir fry is that you can practically be a blind pirate with a hook for one hand and be able to pull this dish off. Not only that but because there are so many varieties it can also be a good way to use up veggies that are about to pass their prime.

This version is made up of a left over veggie tray from Thanksgiving, frozen chicken and sauce. After a light saute drop a few spoonfuls over white rice and voila!
A delish weekday night meal.

Some tips to make it yummy ....
Don't use anything but Sesame Seed Oil. It adds a nice little nutty flavor to all that you saute.
Using a wok is the best method, it heats evenly....also, you look pretty cool using it.
I leave my chicken still lightly frozen when I cut it, helps to keep my cubes uniform.

What you need:
3 cups assorted veggies, chopped into bite size pieces
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 TBL Sesame Seed Oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 TBL hot mustard, more to taste
1/2 - 1 TBL chili suace, use to taste

What you do:
Heat the Sesame Seed Oil in a wok on medium heat
In a separate bowl whisk soy sauce, hot mustard and chili sauce, set aside
When the oil is hot add the chicken and fry until golden brown
Spoon 1/4 of the sauce mixture over the chicken while its in the wok
Saute for 60 seconds then pull the chicken from the wok and put in a separate bowl
Leave that yummy goodness in the wok and dump the veggies right on top
Saute the veggies until almost cooked, I like to leave mine a bit crisp
Spoon the remainder of the sauce over the veggies and saute for a few more minutes
Add the chicken back in and saute for a 3 minutes
Serve on top of rice

YUM! May I recommend a glass of plum wine? Its delish!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Truth. Remember that this weekend folks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michael Voltaggio

Yum!! My last post on good looking chefs was mostly me on a soap box expressing my passion for food. Now I'm back to standing on my soap box just expressing passion.

Chef Michael Voltaggio won season six of the Bravo reality series Top Chef. His new restaurant is so close that I could hop a flight after work one night to the Burbank airport and take a quick car ride to it.

Plus, he named it 'ink' so I automatically love it...along with those arms of his.

What can I say? I'm an arms girl.

Not only do his muscular appendages fit the bill but he has also covered one arm with tattoos. Both something that could wrap around me AND that I can play color by numbers to! I love when things are multifunctional. But my ability to multitask pales in comparison to his.

While he was working on opening his restaurant 'ink' in West Hollywood, he also opened a small sandwich standing room only sandwich counter a few doors down from his restaurant. WHA?!! I barely have time to blog and here this amazing hunky chef opens 2 business ventures!! How amazing is that?? Regardless of how you felt about him when he was doing his massive trash talking on Top Chef you have to hand it to this culinary genius, he can back it up yo!

Oh, did I mention that he also has a hot brother?

Don't worry, we'll cover you too Mr. Bryan Voltaggio

And yes....I am following them both on twitter. I do love posts on delicious food porn. Love love love... sigh. Excuse me, I'm going to float away on thoughts of Michael's butternut squash risotto consisting of chicken wings, egg yolk, toasted wild rice, aromatic broth. Yes, I pulled that description from his website. Yes, there is drool on my keyboard. No, I'm not sure if its from his food or from him!

Buttermilk Biscuits

A warm biscuit with fresh homemade gravy. Is there anything better? No, no there is not. And you will be wrong if you try to tell me there is. On my last day of Thanksgiving holiday, we made from scratch biscuits with creamy sausage gravy. Getting myself back to the weekly grind is almost impossible while I think of the steam rising from a plate of this flaky goodness, a delicious fried egg and a cup of hot fresh coffee.

What you need: (gravy)
One 12-ounce tube bulk pork sausage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What you do:
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, break it up with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes.Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Whisk the flour into the fat and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. While whisking, pour the milk into the skillet and bring the gravy to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and season with pepper.

What you need: (biscuits)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold 1 cup buttermilk

What you do:
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the flour until it resembles course meal. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk but the dough should be wet Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently work the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.If you like"crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
Do not overbake.

To Serve:
Split the biscuits in half and divide them among plates. Top each biscuit with some of the gravy and serve immediately.

Redneck Southern Pit BBQ

I went home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Here's the thing about home....its a small small small town up near the Nevada/Arizona border. When I say small I mean ssmmmmaaalllll.
Example, when I was in High School it was impossible to ditch class. Every time I did, I saw someone my parents knew. That person would inevitably report back to my parents with innocent inquiry,
"I saw Kate at Jack in the Box today at lunch!"
While growing up there were two or three places that offered palate pleasing meals but none like what opened a few years ago.

Redneck Southern Pit BBQ

(Pause. Take it in. Love it.)

I've started to get healthy within the last few months which have led me to a 90% vegetarian diet. But the moment that I head up over the last hill to get to my parents, my mouth starts to water with thoughts of perfectly smoked pulled pork, cheesy mac and cheese and pasta salad with perfectly balanced mayo and mustard dressing.
My carnivorous side starts to roar and will not shut up until I satisfy it with a meal from Rednecks.
The issue that I have with most restaurants is the lack of consistency. Not here.
At Rednecks the mac and cheese stays perfectly creamy each time. The beef brisket has a rich and robust flavor. The pulled pork is moist and tender with a slight twinge of smoke to flavor the meat. To top it all off is Ma maw's peach cobbler and don't forget the ice cream. You will be bombed with an almost custard texture, juicy peaches and sweet cinnamon. They plop ice cream on the steaming heap of heaven and place a plate on top. This makes the ice cream melt just the perfect amount so your not eating ice cream milk but a soft mound of sweet cream with each bite of caramelized peach cobbler joy. That's pretty much what it is, joy in your mouth.

Get some fried pickles while your at it! Or a giant baked potato with enough toppings to last you two meals! Add baked beans! Buy some loaded freedom fries! It's all amazing.

I love this place so much that I actually hesitate to tell you about it! I want my special meat treat to stay mine. But I also want to share the magical BBQ that exists in my small hometown.

The experience isn't just culinary by the way. The same thought and precision that went into the food was also applied to the decor. Where else can you walk into a restaurant and immediately feel as if you've walked into a family BBQ picnic someplace in the south?

So next time you make your way through the 'blink and you'll miss it' town of Kingman.
And eat BBQ joy.

Lessons from Mr. Rocky Road

It took me a few weeks to realize what Mr. Rocky Road had been telling me the whole time, that while I'm working on all the stuff I have to work on....well I should focus on that and not on dating. For the last year I've been back in school, working full time, writing a work of fiction with my sister and trying to have a personal life.

All burners on, all the time. And I'm exhausted.

This leads me to make decisions not based on facts but on only emotion. And emotion led me to think that making out with one of my closest male friends was a good decision. Which it wasn’t.

I didn’t really listen to him and I kept trying to convince him that what he needs is me. That what is best for him is if he and I date. This seemed logical in my mind. I mean, he and I had great conversations that could go on for hours, we could tease each other and make each other laugh. I could be honest with him like I've never been honest with someone before. I was sure that if he could just see me like I see him, that we would be happy.

Cut to me crying about how he didn’t like me. While I'm knee deep in some ice cream and a glass of wine.... I have this faint little glimmer someplace deep in my mind that I shouldn’t focus on men right now. It's small but it's there.

Around this time, my book club started reading 'How to Love an American Man' by Kristine Gasbarre. The book is about this young adult who returns home to help her Grandma Glo who is recovering from the death of her husband of sixty years.

The author is a lot like me, lost when it comes to men. So while I'm trying to figure out why I keep picking men who don’t want to date me, I get hit with the wisdom of an eighty year old woman.

I read the whole thing like a fish needs water. And it changed what I thought about how I dated. Basically, I've been getting it all wrong.

I do want love and I do want to get married and I do want kids.

BUT I also want to travel, I want to see plays, I want to be IN plays, I want to hike, I want to have lunch with my friends, I want to cook, I want to go to baseball games and football games and I want to experience all I can in this short amount of time that I have in this life.

To do this right, I have to focus less on trying to find him. He might never come and that's ok. I want to be a full person without out him. I want to be how Kristine Gasbarre puts it, “a woman who has goals, who knows herself and what she wants." Lucky for me, I pretty much already am and do. I just need to focus more on that!

Now, I know I won't be able to make this huge shift right away. That it will take practice and it will take time. But the thing is, I want to be the person who is free and who knows what she wants. I want my goals to take center stage and I want to be proud of who I am.

And I think I'm getting there.
In honor of my friend Mr. Rocky Road who apparently knows me better than myself, here's a recipe for Rocky Road ice cream. It will always be one of my favorites.

Rocky Road Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart

What you need:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup walnuts
½ cup chocolate chips

What you do:
1. Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.) Once the ice cream has finished churning, fold in the marshmallows, walnuts and chocolate chips

Thoughts from my mom

(My one sister to my other sister) "Look! This thing on my new phone? It keeps track of your cycle. It also tells you when you can get pregnant!

(Mom, incredulously) "Is there an app for that?!!??"

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Like all great things, this cheesecake is a classic with a bit of the unexpected. I adapted this recipe from the pumpkin cheesecake on the 'The Pioneer Woman' blog. If you haven't checked it out, do so! I loved her story of how she and her hubby met. It was a blend of messy real life and romantic love.
Isn't that how it should happen? A bit reality with a bit of magic?
I guess this pumpkin pie is a bit of how my search for Risotto Man is going. I hate to tell you but I'm putting that on the back burner for a bit.Searching for him has been a little tricky lately. I keep thinking that I've found something that could turn into something better but I guess I'm just REALLY not that good at reading people. I see only the good and have trouble seeing the bad in people. Which is fine. I mean, I can pet the 'lost puppy dog' I just don't have to bring him home.
Back to the cheesecake!
The thing that I love about this cheesecake is that the flavors are so unexpected. I typically find that traditional pumpkin pie is a single layer of flavor. A classic for sure but but not too much going on anywhere in the pie. Let me break this down for you this way if pie was guy,
(BOOM, you didn't know I was a poet did ya?)
Pumpkin would be the hunky gym guy you've been looking at. When you finally work up the nerve to talk to him you realize that his favorite thing to do is drink beer, watch football for the cheerleaders and lift weights. Classic meat head.
Pretty to look at, you might want to take a bite every now and then but that single layer of personality will always trip you up.
This pumpkin cheesecake is a lot like that guy that you run into in Barnes and Noble all the time. He's quiet and shy but has a really great smile. You think that all he does is sit at home and watch Star Trek. But when you finally talk to him you realize that he's more Star Wars (this is my fantasy) has arms that could bend steel, hangs at the bar to spend time with friends instead of hitting on everything that moves and loves football for the game.
This pumpkin cheesecake is like that. Unexpectedly sexy, wonderfully familiar and perfectly balanced all at the same time. In fact, I'd like to think that I'm a lot like the female version of this pumpkin cheesecake!!
To really bring out the flavors, I recommend a salted caramel sauce instead of the traditional caramel. But then again, that's me. Traditional with a hint of flavor.

What you need:
12 ounces, weight store bought Gingersnaps
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans
6 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 dash Salt

4 packages (8 0z. Packages) Cream Cheese
1-1/2 cup Sugar
1 can 15-ounce Pumpkin Puree, not Pumpkin Pie Filling
2 ½ Pumpkin Pie Spice (I used Penzeys Pumpkin Pie spice)
4 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

Top that thing off!!
Caramel Topping
Chopped Pecans
Crushed Gingersnaps
Spiced whip cream (heavy cream with pumpkin pie spice whipped till soft and fluffy!)

What you do:
For the crust:
If you have one, crush the gingersnaps in a food processor. If not you can use a ziploc bag. Add the pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, and mix until thoroughly combined. It should all come together and look somewhat like chunky wet sand. Press into bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Chill for 20-30 minutes. Chilling is VITAL so that the crust stays firm.

For the filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix again. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated. About 20 seconds between each egg. Add cream and mix until just combined. Remove crust from fridge. Gently pour cheesecake filling into pan. Even out the top with a flat spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. The cheesecake should not be soupy but should still be somewhat jiggly. Cool on counter for 30 minutes. Cover and chill cheesecake for another four hours or overnight. The cheesecake will pull away from the sides of the pan and you will be able to remove the rim from pan and slice. Sprinkle each slice with the caramel sauce, crushed gingersnaps, pecans and spiced whip cream.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mr. Rocky Road

Dear Mr Rocky Road,

I know you don’t read this. I know you won’t probably ever read this but I feel like I should passive aggressively let you know that you make me nuts. Not crazy, just nuts. If I could read what’s inside your ‘box brain’ it would certainly help my ‘spaghetti brain’. I’ve gone back and forth for a while to try and figure out what name I should call you on this blog. And while I know you know about the blog and while I know you know that I have jokingly wondered what to call you, I feel you should know I settled on Mr Rocky Road. So (passive aggressively) here is what I’m thinking.

You make me nuts. I was bumping along just having fun. My little bubble not disturbed in any way shape or form. And for some reason, I let you back in. I let you sneak in and be all charming and Rocky Roadish. You know what I mean…all smooth ice cream, just a few nuts and a little softness in the form of marshmellows.

The really sucky part of this…is that we were friends before. You were the guy that I went to when I had issues with the guy. I miss that. I wish I could call you up and say “Hey, so I know you’re the guy but can you pretend to not be the guy for a minute? I need to ask you a question about yourself.”

Anyway, here it is. The passive agressive version of me telling you that you are nuts.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Hee hee... happy Saturday night friends!! Go out and have dessert!

Carlo Petrini and the 'Slow Food Nation'

"...We're at this absurd point where underwear costs more than food....Lets give ourselves more value than our clothes"

- Carlo Petrini
Don’t freak out friends. I’m not joining the ranks of females who lust after geriatrics. I know this is under my hunky chefs so this might inspire some confusion as to why exactly Mr. Petrini is posted along side the tattooed, lust inducing few chefs that I have on this blog. Its to teach you about the wonder and joy of food. I know that not everyone is like me. Not everyone feels the same rush of endorphins when tasting a first press of black truffle olive oil drizzled tossed over a bowl of hot fresh (not dried) noddles dressed with freshly grated parmesan topped with a sprinkle of roughly chopped Italian leaf parsley. But Carlo Petrini does. Not only does he understand the deep joy and love that comes with food but he is indigent by the recent shift in culture and how food lust for a hamburger from McDonalds has taken over the food lust for a slice of cured prosciutto on freshly baked crostini layered with a farm fresh chuck of goat cheese drizzled with local honey topped with a fig still warm from the sun. Close your eyes (well, read the rest of this sentence and then close your eyes) and picture the last fast food that you ate. What were you doing? Rushing to get someplace? Trying to get a bite in? Too tired to cook for the night? I bet dollars to pine nuts the memory is in flashes, that instead of remembering the food, you remember the place you were trying to get to. Or the fatigue that you felt.

Now picture the last really good, sit down meal that you had.

I bet you not only remember the food, but you remember the people as well. Instead of a fuzzy memory, the colors, the people the scents the smells the taste can all come into sharp focus. This...this moment is what pure, delicious, organic food is all about. A slow blend of food, nutrition, scent, sound, taste and emotion is what food should be all about. Food has started to become the simple act of fuel and even worse, its really shitty fuel. You wouldn't put gas in your car that is full of fillers would you? Why would you put fuel in your body that full of chemicals and fillers. Mr. Petrini explains the quest to slow down much more eloquently than I ever could....

"The quest for slowness, which begins as a simple rebellion against the impoverishment of taste in our lives, makes it possible to rediscover taste. By living slowly , you understand other things, too; by slowing down in comparison to the world, you soon come into contact with what the world regards as its "dumps" of knowledge, which have been deemed slow and therefore marginalized. By exploring the "margins" of slowness, you encounter those pockets of supposedly "minor" culture that are alive in the memories of old people, typical of civilizations that have not yet become frantic—traditions that guide the vital work of good, clean, and fair producers and that are handed down after centuries of empiricism and practical skill.
In coming into contact with this "slow" world, you feel a new (or renewed) relish for life, you sense the potential of different methods and forms of knowledge as counterweights to the direction currently being imparted to the tiller that steers our route toward the future. You reassess the elements of consumer culture, and in rural knowledge, you discover surprisingly simple solutions to problems which speed has made complex and apparently insoluble."

Do you see? Do you understand now? It's not simply just choosing a food, its deciding to make an effort to be conscious in your life. Stop being a fast food person. Stop living for tomorrow, fully embrace what is front of you today. Choose to see moments in color, not the chemical fueled uninspired sludge that you carry through your life. Food should be a passionate experience. Even the lunch that you eat at your desk during a busy day. I can tell you for a fact that when I take the time Sunday night to plan and make my meals for the week, my lunch fills me emotionally as well as well as nourishes me. By having fresh vegetables and organic meat with an explosion of taste afternoon will be much more alive than if I had gone to the local fast food joint instead. Now, I'm not hatin' on fast food. I have been known to drive through a hamburger joint to get a quick fix. But my snobbish ways make me pick In-and-Out over McDonalds.
If your still not convinced or at least curious about the passion that can be inspired in your own life consider this that Mr. Petiri remarked on in a recent conference addressing his 'Slow Food' movement. A recent news article compared oil and olive oil that has been hand harvested that was a first press. Both were the same cost but people complained about the price of the olive oil. If you don't know the benefits of olive oil you must research it. We also remark that cell phones are not expensive, we justify the price of Seven jeans, we justify the cost of our new car, we justify the cost of Tiffany's jewelry, we justify that the underwear by Armini but when it comes to our food, we remark that one zucchini costs too much that tomatoes cost too much.... that instead of the chemical free, lovingly grown, fresh, asparagus .... we'll buy the canned veg-all.


"Slow food unites the pleasure of of food with responsability, sustaniablity and harmony with nature"

-Carlos Petrini


I have a scar under my chin. I gave it to myself when I was about 3 or 4. I was jumping in a pool backwards and my mom had been pushing me to make sure that her impetuous, head strong daughter cleared the edge of the pool. After jumping in a few times, I told my mom that I could do it myself. She asked if I was sure and then sat nervously nearby. True to the impulsive, reckless nature I would show my whole life…when I jumped, I didn’t jump far enough. I remember going in and hitting the water, I remember the sting of the chlorine and the ringing pain in my jaw…and I remember the water that slowly began to turn red as blood gushed from the cut under my little chin. What I remember the most, though, was the look on my mom’s face. This mixture of pain, guilt, love and fear has been on my mom’s face numerous times over the years and whenever I catch it, I feel awe. I’m not a mother and I don’t know if I will ever be one so I cannot begin to understand how she can feel all those emotions in all that depth all at once and not immediately faint from the sheer energy it should take to feel a single emotion, let alone all of them at once.

I was the first daughter of a woman who was raised on a farm in Ohio and a son who was raised in sunny California. Each came to the union bringing a love that was so pure and unique that I have rarely seen it since. A decision was made 32 years ago that they would love honor and cherish each other for all the days of their life together…and not once have I heard or seen them question that decision. The two worked hard to lay a foundation of safety, security and comfort for my two sisters and me.

Not once did I wonder if I was loved deeply.

Not once did I question the commitment my parents had to not only each other but to the family that they worked so hard to grow.

If you get a love like theirs, I don’t care what you have to do to hold on to it. If you don’t have a love like theirs, don’t sit on the ground kicking the rocks and lamenting your lack of wonder. CREATE it! It can be done. I truly believe that. What does this seemingly perfect (almost vomit inducing) love that my parents share have to do with scars? The fact that even these two people who have found and maintained happiness for so long have scars. I know for a fact. I gave some of them to my parents.

Scars get a bad rap, though. People think that scars should be hidden. That you should take out your long sleeve shirt and pull it down around yourself so no one can see what you’ve inflicted on yourself.
Scars aren’t ugly, they’re beautiful. A person cannot go through life without scars. The slightly puckered flesh should not be a reminder of what happened, rather it should be a reminder of what you came through, what it is that you thrived from.

If your still nursing a wound, it’s not too late to recover. It’s never too late to come out of something and thrive from the experience. No matter what your age is. In certain instances, it does take time to come back from something. But it’s never too late to realize that you can get through something… matter what it is. All it takes is a pinpoint of light in an otherwise darkened space. When you see that little pinpoint of light hold on it, that little bit of light will get you through. You will trip in this life, you will fall in this life, you will hurt in this life. But you will also love in your life, you will have joy in your life, you will have fun in your life, you will have moments in your life that will take your breath away and wish for time to stop just so that you can enjoy the moment for just a fraction longer. These moments will not be as wonderful without your scars.
My mom has a scar under her chin as well, courtesy of me when I was 9. Both of my sisters have one as well. While some might call us clumsy, I like to think this little anomaly we all share is something that links us together.

So this scar on my chin? It’s not just a misshapen reminder of a mistake that I made when I was young.

But it is a visual reminder that I am loved. And I am loved deeply and forever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Club

Yea, this has nothing to do with cooking or dating. But I really don't care. It's book club and my cousin's baby is freaking adorable!! If you want to check it out....head over to the VBC blog. Which is our book clubs blog.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Olive Tapenade Chicken

Olive Tapenade Chicken
The last time my parents came to visit, my sister headed out to our favorite specialty market to stock up on some treats that the 'rents can't usually get in their small town. As we walked through the aisles I happily 'discovered' that the store had brought back the olive tanpende that my dad loves so much. I bought two jars and was pretty excited to present it to my dad along with some of his favorite crackers. I walked smugly into my house and went to put the two jars of tapanade into the pantry....right next to the other two jars that were sitting there. And when I opened up the fridge to put away some veggies....I realized there was another opened half eaten jar. Yep. Lots and lots and lots of tapenade. I realized that there was no way I could eat all of this on just crackers. That's pretty redundant and boring. I pounded out some chicken, threw some whole wheat pasta in a salted boiling pot of water and used some fresh mozzarella to round it all out.

What You Need:
2 chicken breasts
1 jar olive tapenade
2 tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella
1 container feta cheese
4 bunches of basil
1/2 box whole wheat pasta

What You Do:
Heat your oven to 350. Pound the chicken breasts out. Place both in an oven safe dish and drizzle olive oil over them. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Bake until juices run clear. This typically takes 20 minutes. Cut thin slices of mozzarella cheese while chicken bakes. Boil 6 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of salt (you read that right, 2 TABLESPOONS. This is how the restaurants salt their water. Trust me.) For timing purposes, when water comes to a boil the chicken should be just about complete. Throw the pasta in the water. Pull the chicken out and generously coat the top of the chicken with the olive tapenade. Place two slices of tomato on top of the tapenade and then cover with cheese. Place the chicken back in the oven. When the pasta is done, the cheese on the chicken should be golden and bubbly. Pull the chicken out. Drain the pasta and toss it with more olive tapendae. Roughly chop the basil and sprinkle over the pasta and the chicken. I also topped my pasta off with a little more feta. Because you can never have enough cheese!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grilled Corn

What?!? Two recipe posts one right after the other?? I know I am on a roll right now!

The awesome thing about this grilled corn is that you can do so much with it. I don't mean like tricks, I mean like you can serve it as a side for a Mexican meal (a'la this one) or BBQ or burgers or anything else that's summer time cuisine. This is easy but looks pretty impressive.

What You Need:

Corn still in the husk


...yea...that's it!
What You Do:

Heat the grill. You want it nice and hot when you toss the cobs on.

Shuck the corn. Don't pull all the leaves off, just the outside but leave the last set of leaves on. Pull them back and pull off the strands of corn silk. Don't get all OCD about the strands but get as much off as possible.

Next, get your hands nice and buttered up. Use about a tablespoon and put it in your hands and butter that cob up. Then pull the leaves back up around the cob. Use a strand of the pulled off husk to tie the top.

Now you should have a nice package of corn.

Place the corn on the grill

Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then turn.
You'll know when the corn is done as you'll see the husks pull back a little and the corn will be a nice yellow color. All in all, it should take about 15 minutes.

Pull back the husk, throw some salt and pepper on....then go to town!!
Num, Num, Num!!

Chili Rellenos

Yes, I know.... It's been a while since I posted my own personal cooking. I get all inspired to start and then as I take pictures, my own hunger strikes and instead of photographing the finished product.... I eat it. So, for all of you who are paying attention, here is a WHOLE MEAL of tastbud tantalizing goodness. I can't actually claim all the credit for this delicious meal as it was not only the brainchild of my lovely sister (who just happens to be the female half of the genius behind House Of Jaramillo) but ,admittedly, she did most of the work. I stood back, took pictures and salivated. Ok ok ok.... I did watch the Chili Relleno's and flipped them and pressed them down as she mixed the Mexican style pasta. My other sister and our mom got the grilled corn ready and my brother in law grilled the carne asada and the corn when it came dad watched the game. Which he totally deserved to do after all the work he did around my house the previous day! If I blogged the WHOLE meal you would reading until tomorrow morning. So I'm going to do it it in pieces. Today is Chili Relleno day!!

This recipe comes courtesy from House of Jaramillo's next door neighbour!

What you need:

6 Anaheim Chilis

Guajaca Cheese (if not available, can use any kind of cheese)

6 eggs, separated...keep both the yolk and the white

2 cups flour

2 tsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt and 2 tsp Pepper

Pre heat your oven to ‘Broil’. As it heats, clean the chili’s but make sure they are dry when you put them into the oven. Place chili’s on a cookie sheet and put in the oven. The chili will darken and the skin will pull back. Flip the chili once while in the oven. Let the chili’s cool before you work with them just so you don’t burn your fingers!

Note….you can do this OR if you want to, you can cheat and buy them pre-roasted from the store. YUM!!!

Mix the flour, salt and pepper, chili powder and cumin. Place the mixture in something that will allow you to dredge the chilies.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and fluffy. Then gently fold in the eggs yolks.

Slit the chilies open on one side and place the cheese inside. Place one side of the slit inside and gently pull the other side over. Then dredge the chili through the DRY mixture first. Then through the egg mixture.

This is House of Jaramillo pulling each chili through the egg mixture..... isn't she doing a good job!??!

Look how delicious that chili looks!!

Place the chili on a preheated, lightly greased griddle. As the chili cooks, lightly press on it. Traditionally, a rellano is fried but the griddle option is much healthy. Once its all cooked, slide it off the griddle and enjoy!!

At first, they will look a little iffy. You might even find yourself wondering if you can pull the cheese out and eat it. But if you trust in the wonder of the grill and you just let it be (patience grasshopper!) You will watch in amazement as the chili puffs up, goldens up and melts inside.

Ok cant see it melt but trust me....its there and it's yummy!!

Next up?? Grilled Corn!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

One For My Baby

Nothing personifies Los Angeles for me than a certain song. Every time the strains of strains of the lazy piano start and Frank's easy voice comes on with the first words "It's a quarter to three, there's no one in the place cept you and me.." I drift off to almost two years ago when I lived in the city of plastics and people. Where kids with stars in their eyes got off a bus with nothing but sneakers, sunglasses and reckless courage hoping to be the next big thing in film. There's magic in the air in LA along with the pollution and loneliness. There's something that once you breath it in, your hooked. That pull is greater than any drug and no matter what you tell yourself, no matter how far away you get from that world....a little voice inside your heart will always crave it. It won't go away...those feelings you have, you'll have forever.

I can usually stuff those cravings for something bigger than myself deep down. But every once in a while something tries to crawl up out of inside me and assert its right to dream. For me, its this song...."One for My Baby". It reminds me of LA so much that I can taste the champagne and dreams on my tongue.

My good friend used to sing in this little steakhouse in Burbank. Some dark, classy, 1950's place that a group of us would meet up at and listen to. My roommates and I would dress to the 9's and head over for some cocktails in the lounge on the weekend. I would actually shop for dresses specifically for this place. Flowy fun dresses that when I would dance, I could feel the skirt shift and move like the starlets in the musicals of the 50's. The steakhouse had a lounge where my friend would set up and do his act. It was all dim lighting, dark wooden tables with crisp white clothes and this fancy Dale Chihuly looking chandelier. Of course they had the requisite dark cherry wood bar and they served little plates of food with a lot of flavor. It was the kind of place that the last thing you wanted to order was a beer. You'd get a gin and tonic instead, or a sidecar, or a Manhattan.

A lot of really bizarre, fun moments happened in that place. There was this really old guy that everyone called 'Papa Joe'. This harmless, funny guy who personified 1950's charm, came in and sat at the corner table every Friday and Saturday. Once my roommates and I started coming in, he used to hold court with us at his table, telling us fun stories of what Hollywood used to be like. You never know who you were going to run into. The mom from the Brady Bunch, a guy who worked on Leno ... and smattering of people who made LA the diverse, colorful city that it was. Once, a Koren General (at least that what his driver told us he was. He didn't speak any English) tried to pay my roommate and I to go back to his hotel. I think he thought we were ..ahem...ladies of the night. There was the waitress that used to give me free drinks because she had done a line of coke just before she came to work so she would forget to charge me. There was the gay waiter that made you feel like a princess every time you set a stilettoed foot into the door. Once my friend said "Its great to see all the beautiful people come out tonight."And Mr Fabulous said "Thank god the ugly people stayed home." It was magical in that place.
The first time I heard this song, I fell in love. Not just the, 'let's go to dinner and play footsie under the table' kind of love. The 'I want to grow old with you and keep you on every Ipod I will ever own, please put this on my gravestone' kind of musical love. Frank's sinful voice caressing each word and the piano dancing it's slow half stoned pace in the background takes me back to that place where the lights were dim, the people were colorful and my glass was half empty in my manicured hand while I sat at 'Papa Joe's' table holding court with my roommates and my friend sang this song. When it comes on, I will always have such a powerful nostalgic moment that I will almost be able to smell the candles that were flickering on the table, threatening to go out.

itunes this song and have an LA kind of weekend.........

"One For My Baby"

Its quarter to three,
There's no one in the place cept you and me
So set em up joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know
We’re drinking my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
I know the routine
Put another nickel in that there machine
I'm feeling so bad
Wont you make the music easy and sad
I could tell you a lot
But you gotta to be true to your code
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
You'd never know it
But buddy
I'm a kind of poet
And Ive got a lot of things I wanna say
And if I'm gloomy, please listen to me
Till it's all, all talked away
Well, that's how it goes
And joe I know you're gettin anxious to close
So thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn't mind
My bending your ear
But this torch that I found
Its gotta be drowned
Or it soon might explode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road The long, its so long
The long, very long, road

Monday, May 30, 2011

Liberty Market

While others were out trolling the beaches, running away to a pine top destination or barely escaping arrests in Las Vegas, I spent my Memorial Day in town. For a few reasons actually.

1- I hate traffic, sitting in traffic, driving in traffic and getting cut off in traffic. I much more prefer the open road, free of all things blood pressure rising.

2- My sister's mother in law was in town visiting and I love love love her.

3-My friend's daughter was graduating from 8th grade and somehow I made the super exclusive list to this memorial day party (Loved the hot dogs, btw)

This weekend was the first in a long long time that I didn't really have any specific errands, except get my car looked at and the oil changed. By the way..... and this is VERY important for you all to know.....Wal Mart sucks. Seriously. Hang with me for a moment and we'll get back to the relaxing part. Did you know that when Wal Mart says that the check all fluids, they actually mean they will check all the fluids EXCEPT for the antifreeze and the brake fluid. Now, I'm not really a 'car person' per say but I kind of think that these two fluids are just a tiny little bit important. Luckily for me, I avoided this errand until today so I was fairly relaxed up until this afternoon.
All I did this weekend was enjoy a little free time. I played a ruthless card game of a version monopoly, which goes much faster than the board game version. I did a little shopping with the aforementioned mother in law, sister and my brother in law. Oh, and I also made time for a stop at my newest obsession.....frozen yogurt. I know I'm coming late to this party but there is something about 100 degree's outside that really has started to make me crave a tangy frosty concoction. And while this weekend was lovely, it wouldn't have been complete without a stop to taste some of the best local flavor that Gilbert has to offer. In this case, it was Liberty Market.

I've been to this place a few times before but never for breakfast. This morning, I met up with my sister, the BIL, his mom and their next door neighbours (who ,btw, are just as cutthroat as the rest of us when it comes to that monopoly game. Don't let those innocent faces fool you.). The food at Liberty Market is like gourmet farm food. Its fresh, delicious and inventive. Since we were meeting a little later, I made the stupid decision to eat a snack when I woke up at 6:30 this morning. Which meant that when we all met up, I wasn't as hungry as I should have been. It didn't stop me from ordering a bowl of granola and it sure as hell didn't stop me from trying the potatoes.
Liberty Market (the building) has been in some sort of existence since Gilbert was a framing district of roughly 800 people in 1935. My Great Grandfather raised his family in the nearby city of Chandler (as family lore has it, he was actually one of the first Mayors.) And I used to hear stories of the area while I was growing up. Hearing how your grandmother used to come to Gilbert when it was a dirt road, right in front of Liberty Market, and where the town would throw down wooden planks to create a dance floor, kinda makes you have a new appreciation for the place.
The dusty road has been paved and the market no longer deals in just flour, eggs and milk. But when you walk in the historic district of Gilbert you can almost smell the faint waft of farm land. That very distinct scent of wet alfalfa that has been laying under the sun all day and finally received a cool shower just as the summer night hits and the young kids come out to the end of the road to dance under the stars... not realizing that less then 30 years, the road will be paved and 20 years after that.....those in the know will come to Liberty Market for the taste bud pleasing offering of wood fire pizza's, delicious fresh gourmet sandwich's and desserts that make you want to skip the entree all together. There's so much that I can say about the food. You have to go once for breakfast, once for lunch, once for dinner and once just for the coffee bar.

This time around, the group ordered scrambled eggs, fluffy pancakes, flaky biscuits with perfectly cooked creamy gravy and farm fresh spiced sausage. While it was all so so so yummy, let me tell you about the breakfast potatoes. Warm, soft, cheesy goodness. I mean, that's the only way to describe it. There were diced potatoes, onions, and bell peppers all covered in a light blanket of cheddar cheese....*sigh*
Last time, I went for lunch and had the 'Rancher'. This simple sounding sandwich is a pressed sandwich of tender fillet of beef, layered with caramelized onion, blue cheese, arugula and horseradish aioli. My choice of side? An inventive roasted sweet potato salad that is both sweet and savory peppered with dried cranberries.
The only thing missing from this trip?? I should have gone back for a Salt River Bar. If you want to know the chocolate caramel salty goodness that is this treat....take yourself to Liberty Market. Or order the Bread Pudding....this version will make you a convert if your not already.

Go to Liberty Market...find out for yourself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

That didn't go as planned....

It’s like a little bomb went off in my nice, neat, delusional, suburban mind. That’s really what I feel like.Its as if what was once a beautiful stepford neighborhood had an airplane crashed into it. Smoke billows from houses that have been hit, rubble lays across the street and people wander around looking for a safe place to sit. At least, that's how I feel. What started as a fun weekend for a friend’s birthday Friday night had by Sunday morphed into a full blown area of chaos. People’s feelings were hurt, friendships hung onto life support and at least one friendship was DOA by the time Sunday morning rolled its head back. Folks, it got so bad that I actually broke my 90 days and had a beer and a shot. Now I’ve been told that this isn’t so bad by a few people but after 55 days of not drinking at all .... it really bums me out.

What I'm left with are a bunch of hallow feelings and a knot in my stomach that refuses to go away. I want to start by saying that I graduated high school over 10 years ago. When I left that red brick prison, I didn't want to go back. Teenage girls are crazy, emotional basket cases that don't know their heads from their feet and will get into a screaming match with a friend over a nail file and then make up two seconds later.

The absolute worst moment of my high school life? The one that to this day makes me feel a little queasy? The time that one of my friends boyfriends came over for a New Years Eve party at my house. He was not the only one but as his girlfriend (my friend) was out of town he came to my party. I had known this kid for a hell of a lot longer than his girlfriend had, in fact he and I went way back to Jr. High Social Studies class where we sat next to each other. At midnight ,as we all celebrated outside, he leaned over me and pecked me on lips. Barley more than you would kiss your sister. His girlfriend and her friends were not happy at all. So happy, that they shunned me in English class. You haven't lived until girls that you thought were your friends and would actually listen when you said that you didn't kiss him HE kissed YOU. And as you sit in your English class and watch as one of her friends passes out cookies and then tell you (even though you didn't ask for one) that you can't have one because your a slut. That was super fun. Teenage girls are so kind. The funny thing is.....we all made up. Not before my heart was cut a little by the sharp talons of adolescence though. To this day, I am a bit sensitive to the cold shoulder. Which would explain my rabid response to it this weekend.

Friday night ,all excited for a weekend of fun, my friend and I checked into a casino for her birthday weekend. We had dinner plans at a fun restaurant and then we were going to go hang out by the pool. Just a nice relaxing Friday because Saturday night was supposed to be a night of debauchery. About the time that the bill came for our dinner and as I was paying, my friend started to get really quite. I'm not sure what the switch was.... but suddenly her attitude was more chilly than Vermont in February. I spent the next 5 hours trying to get her to go do stuff while all she wanted to do was sit on her bed in the hotel and watch CNN. The next day as she still was giving me the cold shoulder (yes...for those of you counting it was bout 12 hours later), I had finally had enough. Eventually, it turned out I did in fact do something to upset her and rather than tell me that I hurt her feelings, she decided to just ignore me. Which then brought out the rabid mean girl inside of me that I didn't know was still hiding inside my heart.

I'm not happy that person reared her ugly little blond head this weekend. The fact that mean Kat came out is most likely why I'm left with all these hollow feelings. Alot like I had just broken into a bakery and halfway through eating all the macaroons realized that they were a poor substitute for chocolate and the cops are coming so I better get my ass out of there.

Right now, I'm feeling a bit lost. A bit like I have let the balance that I've been working so carefully to achieve has been blown over. I don't know how to pick it all up again. Suddenly, its become more than just the simple's so much more. Nothing seems to fit anymore...nothing seems to work. The careful plotting of points in my life are all gone

. Right now, it seems like all I can do is upset people and make them mad at me. Which then makes me just want to hide under my covers. Which in turn makes me wonder why in the world did life happen the way it happens? Can't I be an adult first and work my way to childhood? That the freedom being 12 and it's summer break should be the reward for putting up with bullshit for the previous 65 years. I don't know how to make the emptiness go away.

All I know how to do is pick through the rubble and decide what to keep and what to finally let go of.

And maybe tomorrow....I'll finally get something right this week....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Who is 007 you ask? He was/is my friend for a few years. Recently he made a job change that prompted me to name him 007 ... well ... his job change and his rock hard abs that he somehow got in the last few months. I know because he sent me a picture.
If I had abs like his I would walk around in just a sports bra. Seriously.
And no, I won't post them for your enjoyment. Those are just for me. How did this friendship cross the line into no man's land?
Via a simple text. 007 lives a few hours from me and one day we were texting back and forth about how I should come visit him. I texted (as I tend to do with lots of my friends)
'kisses' and I got back...
"Can I have a real one?"
Thinking he was joking, even though someplace deep inside me was hoping that I could finally finally kiss this very good looking friend whom ,I'll be honest, had a crush on for the first year of our friendship I replied back
What did 007 say back to me?
"I've waited a long time to kiss you."
Uh. Hello?! Swoon!
It quickly snowballed into the whole, "what?! I've liked you for a long time!"
Needless to say, we've been texting back and forth quite a bit. Its kind of strange how this platonic friendship has taken a serious turn for the flirty. He somehow knows exactly when I need a text from him and something along the line of "I'm thinking about you" or "You are so beautiful" will appear on my phone. I've come to really love the sound of the pinging and the little red light flashing. Where is this going? You may ask. I have no idea. And I really don't want to care. What I want to do is to enjoy the little jolt of electricity that I get when I see a text from him, or when I see a call from him. I want to not think about when am I going to go see him or where is this headed. I especially don't want to hear that little voice in my head that wonders if he is lying or if he is being truthful. I don't want that jaded side to slip out and into my dreamy like state. I just want to love the fact that he knows pretty much all there is to know about me, all the bad, all the good, all the semi crazy.... and he still thinks I'm pretty. Since this is a pretty recent development and I've been unable to take a trip to see him , I have yet to kiss him. You all know what the delicious anticipation that comes with the waiting for that first kiss. That wonderful feeling of electricity that hits your lips as you imagine what it would be like to have him lean into you space, his scent coming over you and invading your senses so that all you can think is 'oh...that's what a man smells like'. And as he gets closer, he places a hand on your head to draw you in. There's nothing like that first moment when he finally places his lips on yours.

Tonight, think about it...who would you really like to kiss...right now?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

While sitting at work today, one of my co-workers and I discussed how freakin' happy we were that tomorrow is a half day for us. And that such joyful moments deserve celebration ...hence the Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

I was going to make egg shaped sugar cookies as well but I drove all over looking for an egg shaped cookies cutter without any luck. So I came home and made these instead.

I'm pretty excited to chow down on them in tomorrow morning's meeting!!

What You Need:

1 cup Butter softened

1 cup Sour Cream (best if cold cold cold)

4 Extra Large Eggs

2 1/4 cup Sour Cream

1 TBS Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt 1/2 Tsp Vanilla


1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Flour

2 TBS Cinnamon

1/4 stick butter, melted

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 375 Grease and flour the cupcake pan....unless your using muffin tins Mix sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla and butter until well blended
In a second mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until smooth Fill the muffin tins halfway full

To make the topping

Mix all ingredients until they look pebbles. Sprinkle the yummy goodness on the uncooked batter Cook the muffins for 10 min. But keep an eye on them. They will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Extras !!!
*Instead of vanilla in the batter try almond or orange extract

*To glaze the muffins, I used a mixture of powdered sugar and milk. Whisking it together with butter flavoring and vanilla.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Potatoes

I had made plans to meet up with Butterfly Guy... I know I know.
But per his usual deflection, he had 'this thing' and just didn't happen. The nice thing about his losing his shine is that tonight, I didn't really care that much. Instead, I texted my sister to let her know I was going to make dinner. And then spent my commute home wondering what I was going to make. I realized I had a few things in my fridge that I could use. One quick trip to Trader Joe's for some sour cream and chicken and voila! Buffalo Chicken Potato's!

Creamy sour cream, tangy spicy chicken, potatoes and cheese! It was easy easy easy!
And just for some nutritional value I baked some brussel sprouts.

What you need:
2 Chicken Breasts
7 Yukon Gold Potatoes (cut in fourths and boiled)
1/3 cup hot sauce (I used Paula Deen's)
2 Tbs Ketchup
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp Celery Salt
Salt and Peeper to taste

What You Do:
Turn your oven to 350
Boil some water and toss the chicken in, cook until done and then shred the chicken
Toss the shredded chicken with the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper and celery salt
Spread the chicken mixture over the potatoes and bake for 20 min
Sprinkle cheese all over the yummy goodness and let melt until bubby and yummy

Serve it up with sour cream and chives
Its sooo good!

Afterward my sister and I rode our bikes to the market.
What a wonderful night!!

Spring is here....

How do I know this? Because there are so many yummy things at the Farmer's Market that I can nosh on. This past weekend, I went to the market to get some veggies for the next week and ended up with a full basket of goodies. For lunch, I ended up making a huge plate of salad. I cut fresh tender avocados, firm spicy radishs, juicy cucumbers and ripe tomatoes. I covered the whole thing with a few pepperonis, some hearts of palm and salty feta cheese.

It was the perfect salad to end the weekend on.

As I was cutting up the tomatoes, I was hit with a powerful scent memory from when I was growing up. Tomatoes and I have a long and serious relationship. From the first time I convinced my little sister to go out to my mom's garden with a salt shaker to now when I walk into a farmer's market I have loved the little jewels of tender flavor.

There is something earthy and homey about the scent of the tomatoes. They are so very tender but surprising resilient. It doesn't take much to bring out the flavor either. Just a tiny touch of firm pressure, a little seasoning and your hit with such strong wonderfully developed complex flavors. It really doesn't take much to open up the array of possibilities that a simple tomato offers.

When I was young, my mom planted tomatoes every year. There was nothing better than taking a salt shaker out to huge fenced in garden, stepping gingerly past the rows of squash, beans, corn, bell peppers and cucumbers to walk barefoot in the warm dirt to the tomato plants. Plucking one ripe, robust, red tomato straight from the vine, licking the warm flesh so the salt will stick and the biting into it like it's an apple is the definition of summer.

So when I got my veggie treat's home.... I couldn't help myself. I indulged my inner child, closing my eyes to imagine myself back in my childhood home. Where the air was sweeter, summer was infinite and my biggest concern was the tomato juice dripping down my chin in the garden at dusk.