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