Enjoying the Beauty of Becoming

It has been 374 days since my last blog post.  I have continued on with the writing program at SCAD, expanded the weekly meal program to more than 50 families, gotten engaged, gotten un-engaged, catered many fun social events including a Buckhead roof top social of 300 people, catered the most beautiful wedding, my strong beautiful daughter graduated from high school and my sweet Lauren May left G&H after almost three years to work at a great internship.  This has been a fun-filled and heart breaking year, to write the very least.    I have so missed sitting down and writing about it.

I went a little off course, again.  The roads that led to beautiful moments only lead to more roads with the journey that is never-ending.  I lost sight of what I wanted out of life.  I had gotten to a point where I felt angry and disgust for so much – politics, murder, bigotry, oppression, family dynamics, traffic, cancer, my own mistakes and even simpler things such as burnt toast.  These things are black in my soul that follow me unless I write about it.  I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the best mother, the best partner, the best personal chef and business owner, the best student, the best friend, the best daughter and sister.  I hated myself and this beautiful earth we live on.  I hated who I was trying to become, this little miss perfect.   Trying to be the woman everyone else wants me to be- gross.  Or at least what I thought they wanted me to be- even grosser.  She isn’t the woman I am destined to be, but I know her and I hate her more than anything.  My stomach hurts by writing the word hate- such a nasty word.  And, I’ll not kid myself, I was so far from perfect.  I fought with friends and family.  I snapped at annoying but, harmless business calls.   I screamed at the girls.  I continued to bury myself deeper out of sight so that when it was forced upon me to look at myself, I had no idea where or who I was anymore.  The humiliation of this person I had become is, well, excruciatingly painful.  Everyone seemed to know what I refuse to see.  I wonder if there is no wonder.

As we were catering this beautiful wedding back in May, only a few days after my own engagement ended, the question was asked if the yard had been sprayed for mosquitos and I thought for a brief moment of rolling around in the grass to see if I could be eaten and taken off by them.  This event turned out to be such a gift.  The universe will not let me go my own scared way. It was a peaceful union of two people who adored each other and they certainly aren’t perfect in everyone’s eyes but they are authentic and loving and so imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  I am so glad I got to be there to see their union and feed them well.  The positive energy and love was palpable.   Everything about it was the opposite of what I was living and that gave me the truth to start living differently.

Grief, as every emotion, is relative to whom is feeling it. My biggest loop in my head has been “it is my fault this is awful” and I have gone over and over how I could have changed the inevitable.  But, there is no way and god and everyone else knows I have tried.

Now I am trying to flow with the current that is the least resistant.  I have been known on occasion to believe I have to struggle like hell instead of just flow with the nature of things.  Haggard and disheveled, I kick and scream against my own current and for what?  To feel absolutely beaten down.  Everything is easier said than done.  So glad that my friends are not quitters and want to throw in the towel with me.  This does not mean that I don’t have to work hard to evolve.  As M. Scott Peck says love “requires the extension of ourselves, love is always either work or courage.  If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.” But as I start to let go, stop the struggling internally, have faith in myself again, it does feel easier to trust.  It feels so much easier and I think I may even be loving myself a little bit for it.

Where do I go when I feel I have hit the bottom?   I look up and kick like hell the glass ceiling to get out.  Through one tear (or three), one smile, one laugh, one friendly chat on the phone, one weekly meal, one delivery, one hors d’oeuvre, one dinner party, one movie night with the girls, I get up and brush my knees off.  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  Mosquitos would have been a long and painful death.

I have seen in some eyes that they wish I would stay down.  Or we see in some eyes, “you deserve what you get”.  Someone just recently told me I should get a “real job” instead of my “dream job.”  It’s funny, that was always his encouragement and why he is where he is in his own journey.  This job isn’t my dream, yet.  It is still forming and molding.  My children will not need me at home when I can live my dream job.  For now, it is my value.  I can live no other way without that.  There are people out there that do not want the best for others.  And those people, we have to ignore and let go.  I work like hell to have compassion for those who want to harm and hurt just to make themselves feel better or for their “justice”.  I must forgive them, move on, know that I am still loved, so loved and love those who want to be loved.  This is so difficult for me to do.  We can not make people like, love, understand or accept us. I have tried and so desired it but only getting hurt in the trying.  That is my struggle I must let go of.  Accepting that putting my eggs into a basket for it only to be thrown on the floor to break just hurts myself.  So, I choose not to do that.  I give my egg basket to those who want to handle them with care.  What a corny metaphor!  My professors would have a field day with that.  I am so grateful for those professors that encouraged me to keep going this last quarter.

As I went into a yoga class yesterday, my mantra was to love myself so that I can love others.  I said it over and over through deep breaths.  I felt it through my rib cages sucking in just a little more air to fill the cracks.  I could not help but notice and admire this woman who was fit, beautiful and graceful in her movements.  I quickly wished her love and went on about my practice, not wanting to wish myself to be her.  After class, I grabbed my things and noticed she was leaving in front of me.  I chuckled to myself because I noticed she looked like me but with blonde hair.  Then I noticed when she got into her car, it was the same as mine except a different color.  I smiled again at the universe showing me my mantra.  I drove around to leave when I passed her and noticed she was born in April, like me, from her tag.  I didn’t know this woman and who knows what her story is.  But I know me, and I want to really love and admire fully who I am, the dark and the light.  I could admire this strange woman and not even know her, but admiring myself has always seemed selfish.  This was a little moment of self-love to me.  I have always confused that  self-love was selfish but I do know if we don’t give any to ourselves we are empty.  And empty to give anything to anyone else.  I believe this is an epidemic amongst women, not just in me, that I would love to see gone, forever.  If anything, I will try my damnedest to not pass this on to my own daughters.   I will claw tooth and nail to omit it- really.

One of the biggest things that fills my heart, and I get to share it, is having dinner parties and writing.  I’ve known this but I wasn’t doing it.  So a couple of weeks ago I invited a couple of girlfriends over to sit on the front porch and have dinner.  I had forgotten how much I loved having people over.  I had forgotten how much I loved cooking for people.   My home isn’t big or extravagant.  Since I sold my house I think I have been holding back because it isn’t perfect.  In fact, my neighbor has put a couch out in our front yard that the city of ATL has yet to pick up over the last 3 weeks.  My neurosis are totally kicking in but allowing my imperfections to be seen at the front of the driveway is so much easier than hiding them under my pillow or worse, my heart.   I think the last time I blogged was the last time I had someone over for dinner.  My writing is also so imperfect but it is imperfectly me and that feels so good.

I made a most wonderful, healthy, summer salad with organics from the farmer’s market and grilled chicken breast for our dinner party.  This is my ultimate favorite food, fresh out of the garden.  Can’t you just taste the sweet sun ripening the tomatoes?  We sat outside with a citronella candle to keep any mosquitos from trying to take us away.  If I could encourage others to do one thing, the thing I wasn’t doing, is to do what you enjoy, do what you love and share that light.  Don’t put negative people in your life that want to squash that.  Enjoy moments with loved ones over a meal.  Go write.  Call me if you want to have that dinner but don’t have the time to cook! 😉 I will do that for you and love myself very much for giving you that moment.  Here we are full circle.  My wish is for you to enjoy this summer with friends, a good meal, and sweet peace of mind.

 

Summer Salad with Warm Shiitake Mushrooms and Lemon Mustard Dressing

 

For Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Radiccio

Canned Artichoke Hearts in water

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumber sliced

Shiitake Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Shrimp

Goat Cheese

 

For Lemon Mustard Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup good olive oil

 

 

For salad: Sauté your shiitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  After 3-5 minutes take of heat and allow to cool for a few moments.  Pile your other ingredients as big and high with all your veggies and protein that you desire.  Top with shiitake and goat cheese.

For Dressing:  Whisk everything but oil.  Then slowly, while whisking, add oil.  You can add as much or as little dressing as desired to your salad.  Toss, serve and enjoy.

 

This journey of life is far from over, ups and downs, over and under, but I am so glad I can share it with you.  Please feel free to send me your story so that together we can share it with those who may be looking for answers.  May your summer be a glorious one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Daddy’s Day Southern Fried Chicken

DSC_0237Well, I would say summer is officially here in the south.  My car thermometer registered 107.  Summertime also means Father’s Day to me.  I want to make my Dad’s favorite thing to eat and that is none other than Southern Fried Chicken.  My brother and I would tease my Dad for not leaving one piece of meat on the bone of his chicken.  He told us this story of why he couldn’t leave any meat on the bones.

During special occasions, all the family (my grandfather was one of 12 children) would come over for supper.  The adults would go first to get their plates.  They would get the larger pieces of chicken.  When it was finally time for the children to get their plates, the only chicken that was left was the wings and drumsticks.  This was during the depression and food was scarce.   They killed their own chickens and they grew their own vegetables.  Some of those habits of those who lived during that time do not die-hard.  My Dad doesn’t like to throw anything away and this story is 60 something years old.

I would branch out and say all of us have opinions based on what we grew up experiencing, good or bad.  Politically my Dad and I don’t always see eye to eye.  In fact, I think he may be absolutely wrong and bases his opinion from fear of an unknown.  There aren’t many people in the world that I love more than my father.  We can have different political views and still have a respect and love for one another that supersedes politics and power.  Sometimes we choose not to talk about it.  We have gotten down right “hot” with discussions over plates of fried chicken.  However, I know that discussing and connecting over meals eases tension and brings joy in our hearts no matter our differences.  If he would just pretends to listen and agree all is well!

I believe that all anyone wants is to be respectfully heard.  That may seem to simple but it seems to me to be the only place we can start.  At the end of a political season, these moments of laughter and togetherness will be what matters in times of differences.  I hope you too will enjoy my recipe of Southern Fried Chicken and it brings you the same joy and togetherness it brings to me, especially in the heat of the moment.  😉

Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients

4 Chicken breasts

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1/2 cup canola

Directions

Soak your chicken breast in the buttermilk for at least an hour or overnight.  When ready to fry, mix your panko, flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl so that you can dredge your breasts into the mixture making a thick coating.  The black pepper is a key ingredient.  If you feel up to it, add more!  After each breast has been coated, heat your oil in a cast iron skillet or fry pan.  When the oil is hot, add the breast making sure not to crowd them.  If you need to, do two batches.  Fry each side about 3-5 minutes watching to make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot and burn.  When your breast are browned, put in a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Finish the chicken off in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.  Southern Fried Chicken is great with corn on the cob and watermelon or slice your chicken and put on a garden salad.  The  cooked chicken is great refrigerated and later packed in a cooler for picnics at the pool or amusement parks.

Happiest Father’s Day to all the Dads, enjoy and I wish you the happiest of summers!

 

 

 

 

 

Hats Off to the Bluegrass

IMG_2957

Mint Julep


I’ve been nostalgic about Kentucky this week. Partly because I’ve never been gone this long. But also it’s the way the mid-morning sun nestles on the leaves outside my window. I’ve seen the sun perch like this before on old trees back in Louisville. I’m reminded of brisk, silver cast walks to school and sweaty, sunny walks home, with the relief and excitement of a summer almost ripe. The sun has a particular way of shimmering just so at the dawn of May, and that can only mean one thing: it’s Derby week in the Bluegrass.

I can see my Dad at the kitchen table with his racing form, handicapping the horses. Today’s copy of The Courier Journal—filled with thoroughbred facts and hat histories– resting close by. The local news anchors chattering about specialty cuisines, fashion, and celebrity sightings. Like many, my Dad doesn’t attend the derby anymore, but you don’t have to actually go to feel the spirit of the city. It’s alive, and you can pick up on its pulse from anywhere. The season kicks off with a spectacular fireworks display, a hot air balloon race, and includes a marathon, a parade, and the Belle of Louisville swaying down the Ohio in the Great Steam Boat Race.

If ever there’s a time to feel the spirit of Louisville, it’s now. I bet even the weatherman has a pep in his step. The forecast for the first Saturday in May (because yes, I’ve checked) shows sunny and in the 70’s. This means a dry racetrack, oddly patterned sunburns, and copious amounts of mint juleps. I can see Louisville grinning all the way from Georgia. Cheers!

IMG_2958_2

Mint Julep

Ingredients

KY Bourbon

Simple Syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled ’til the sugar dissolves)

Ice

Fresh mint leaves

Coarse sugar (optional)

Directions:

Put the leaves in the bottom of the glass (or shaker) and pour an oz. of the simple syrup in. Muddle the leaves. If you don’t have a muddling tool, improvise. I used a spoon to mash the leaves down. Add in the ice, then Bourbon to taste. Mix. To jazz it up, put some sugar around the rim. 

Let’s Bake a Cake!

DSC_0019

Yellow Cake with Butter Cream Icing and Fresh Strawberries

The rain is heavy this morning.  I imagine that this is what a rain forest would feel like.  Everything is wet but growing and green because of the warmer weather.  There also seems to be a thousand birds, bugs and little critters scurrying around.

The weather seems to be a bit of a reflection of my feelings today.  The weight of moving to a new home and the whisper of a new beginning.  As I signed my name on the closing papers to the house, I realized how much one piece of paper and signature can mean to someone.  It could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars, it could mean a burden gone, it could mean no roof over your head, or it could mean a gratitude for not having the burden of fixing one more thing in the house.  It could mean many things I suspect with different perspectives.  So, as I left the closing, I realized I may have shifted internally  with this simple signature, but everything is still moving swiftly in Atlanta.

I am feeling nostalgia over this closing chapter.  I brought home a baby girl in this house.  I started a business in this house.  I had many gatherings with friends and family in this house.  I found my inner voice and authenticity in this house.

But with each beginning comes and end.  I am ecstatic about the new chapters that are to come.  I read in the Artist’s Way the other day about our finite thinking.  We can’t always see what tomorrow will bring us.  The unknown can be a paralyzing.  But thinking about the infinite things that the universe has to offer is so amazing.  I see the peddles on a dog wood tree.  I see pollen all over my back yard.  There are so many things the universe brings down upon us that we can not count or grasp an understanding on.  We can not wrap our limited head around what is possible.  I believe the universe has an infinite joy that lies ahead of me and around everyone who believes it.  I may not be able to see it, just as I can not count the leaves on a tree but it is there.  I may feel fear creep up because of the unknown but just as in good vs. evil, the good always wins.  As my dear friend Jo said, “one foot in front of the other”.  If we wake up enough times telling ourselves the universe wants to give us infinite joy, we start to believe it.  Just as I feel a heaviness with the rain clouds.  I also feel a wind of weightlessness that carries me to soar to the next chapter and joy that lies ahead.

One of the many joys that I have is to bake.  As Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake!”  Strawberries are in full season here in the south, and I have some in the house.  We will add those to our cake too!

Yellow Cake Recipe

Ingredients

2 Sticks Butter (room temp)

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  I used two 8″ cake pans.  Butter and flour your cake pans.  Begin by mixing your butter and sugar on medium high-speed for about 5 minutes.  While this is mixing, mix your flour, baking powder and salt.  (I have to be honest I don’t always sift these ingredients.  I just don’t feel like it sometimes, and I certainly don’t want something extra to clean.  I know every baking chef out there will disagree with this method but sometimes it just works).

Add your vinegar to your milk.  This will break down the milk into what is like a buttermilk.  I don’t always keep buttermilk in my fridge which is why this method works better for me.  I usually always have milk and vinegar.

After your butter and sugar mixture is creamy and fluffy, alternate adding in the milk mixture and the flour mixture.  Don’t over mix this part.  Mix until it just comes together making a nice cake batter.  Add in your vanilla extract.  Lastly pour your batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.

Check out the Butter Cream Icing recipe on The Goose blog page.  It is super easy and delicious.  I put about 1/4 of the prepared icing on the cake.  This cake recipe is so good I don’t want to overwhelm it with the butter cream.  I put sliced fresh strawberries in the center between layers and a pile of strawberries on the top.

I am now wondering if the heaviness is from the rain or from not being able to stop eating this delicious cake.  And look, the sun is peeping out!  Let’s go for a walk and dream about what my new home and kitchen will look like… The possibilities are endless.  Cheers!

 

 

 

A Lighter Side

IMG_2745

Asian Slaw

Someone told me before I moved here that Atlanta is really just a big forest.  I thought he was exaggerating, but this past week,  I’ve witnessed the forest bloom into existence. I wake up to bird babbles and pollen soaked everything. Spring has taken over the city.  I’ve even spotted some forest dwellers on their back patios sharing food and drinks, a sure indicator of warmer weather, longer days, and lighter fare.  Last week, I made an Asian inspired slaw–a delightful companion to any barbecue or sandwich.

You can use bags of pre-chopped slaw, or you can buy a head each of red and green cabbage. I prefer the latter for a few reasons. 1. It just tastes better. 2. The road to freshly chopped cabbage is much more exciting. If you take this route, PLEASE remember to stop and marvel that a red cabbage cut in half looks like a Van Gogh painting, even more than his own cabbage still lifes.  Here is the recipe!

Asian Inspired Slaw

1 head Red cabbage

1 head Green cabbage

OR a bag of pre-chopped slaw (the boring shortcut)

2 carrots, chopped or shaved

3 large scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped as  garnish)

Dressing

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2  tablespoons brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

1/2 red onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1-2 teaspoons chopped Jalapeño, if you’re feeling hot

Directions:

Chop the vegetables and whisk the dressing separately, then unite in a big bowl. Garnish with cilantro.

IMG_2744

What’s Your Specialty?

IMG_6901

Chicken Cacciatore

I hear this question all the time.  What is your specialty?  I have always been a little dumb struck by the question.  Specialty?  Eh, I cook, a lot.  Well, that answer doesn’t work so well when we are trying to market this puppy.

So I have been thinking about this question a bit.  And here is what I came up with…

There are three separate entities to Grits and Honey.  First, there is the personal chef side.  This part of the business cooks on a more personal basis for clients.  I find out what your family may or may not like, how many people we are feeding, do we have health parameters, do your children eat “adult” food, and so forth.  This part can be very creative, since we change the meals on a weekly basis.  This keeps clients excited about what’s coming for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.  It is so fun to get to know clients on a personal basis and to catch up weekly.  Most importantly, I love seeing clients feeling excited to have a healthy dinner made with less stress at the end of the day.

Another part of the business is corporate lunches.  We deliver to Sun Trust Robinson and Humphrey in Buckhead every Tuesday and Thursday, some other local offices and real estate caravans in the neighborhood.   Clients get so excited to have their Organic Spinach Salad with Sockeye Salmon or Pimento Cheese BLT’s (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato).  I know what everyone wants because they get the same thing every week after almost two years of feeding them.  We are creatures of habit!  We help corporations by allowing them to work through lunch and hopefully leave a little earlier to get home and to stay out of Atlanta traffic.  Most importantly here, G&H is so much better tasting and better for you than a vending machine at half past starving!

The last segment of G&H is the weekend events that we cater.  This would include showers, weddings, birthday parties or graduations.  This takes a lot of work and preparation but are always so fun to attend.  It is wonderful to be such an integral part of these types of special occasions.  These are marked in the memory books.  We want the client to feel special on their special day.  And, I feel so privileged to be a part of it!  These events can be more stressful because we want everything to go perfectly, but that is our specialty.  We take the stress out for the client.  I have a great group of people who work with me to make the larger parties work smoothly.  There is no more satisfaction that comes from having an event end and seeing everyone leave with a smile and full belly.

All three components are really important to make G&H thrive.  But the main idea, in each, is one thing.  That thing is that I like to help people.  I specialize in helping you with your Grandmother’s 90th Birthday Party.  I help you with your daughter’s wedding.  I help you with making your family a healthy meal because life is can be so crazy busy.  I bring your neighbor, who is not well, a week’s worth of soup.  I help you eat lunch at your desk so that you can leave at 4 instead of 5 to get to your family a little sooner.  We simply want to fill your belly with fresh, delicious food and to see you smile.

This week we made Chicken Cacciatore for our weekly clients.  You can freeze the sauce too.  Just double the recipe and have dinner ready for another time.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

Olive oil

1 Red Bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced

1 Lg Onion, diced

1 Fennel bulb sliced

8 oz mushrooms sliced

4 Cloves Garlic Minced

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 15 oz Can of Whole Tomatoes

1 15 oz Can of Tomato Sauce

2 Cups Chicken Broth

12 Torn Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Oregano

2 Tablespoons Capers

Sprinkle of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Whole Wheat Spaghetti cooked

Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

Pour olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pan or dutch oven that has a lid.  Add your bell pepper, onion, fennel, and mushrooms.  Sauté the veggies for a few moments before adding in the garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds more, then add chicken thighs, red pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, capers and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer with the lid on.  You may cook this over the stove on medium heat or you may put it in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Both ways will cook for about 1.5-2 hours.  The chicken will be cooked through and easily shredded.  Pour your Cacciatore over whole wheat pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Here’s to being special!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren’s Debut

IMG_0349I moved to Atlanta with my beau in mid January. We had been here about a month and while I was slowly carving my spot teaching at yoga studios around town, I knew I needed another job. Serving is always an option, but as my love for cooking has escalated over the years, I wanted a back-of-house experience. One night, a glass of wine in sight as I chopped vegetables in our tiny kitchen, I pondered my next move. With little experience in a restaurant kitchen, I thought and said out loud, “I would love to work for a small private catering company, where I could learn the intricacies of the kitchen without being in a high pressure restaurant kitchen”. The next day, I saw Mandy’s ad mirroring what I had verbalized the night before. I had applied for numerous other jobs with very few responses, but Mandy called me back within the hour, and I knew it was going to work out. When I met her a few days later at Inman Perk, it was more of a reunion of old friends than a job interview.

Our meeting has transpired as we transition into new phases of life. This is the first time I’ve lived outside Kentucky for longer than a few months, and first time writing on a blog, though I’ve edited other people’s blogs and been a writer my whole life. After 8 years of odd jobs, travels, and soul wanderings, I’m now in my first year of teaching yoga and ready to move forward with my writing. Novels, story lines, and screenplays simmer at my forethoughts as I try on the shoes of graduate student (but I mostly write and teach barefoot). I’m not yet married, don’t have any kids, and have 3 months left as a 20-something.

Mandy is weathering a different type of transition. As she grows her business and steers her daughters into young women, she is growing, too. Not only as a business owner and parent, but as an artist. I jumped on board to help her, like any new, old friend would do. I arrive in the mornings to find Mandy in a skylit kitchen aglow, music frolicking around her as she scans her yellow legal pad of tasks. I put on my apron and we jump into a recipe. She teaches me discernment techniques, like when to buy campari tomatoes v. roma tomatoes, and we share stories, secrets, and gossip. We laugh A LOT. I get to practice operating fancy mixers, choppers, spinners, smashers, juicers and zesters, and am always astonished to see how many items Mandy can cram into the dishwasher.

When I come home to my own kitchen, I practice techniques I’ve learned or try out similar recipes. Last night, as I poured a real silver tablespoon of balsamic into the pan (I couldn’t find my measuring spoon), it reminded me of when my parents poured cough syrup into one when we were sick. This food is medicine– it brings comfort to the people that eat it and is just as comforting to make.

Another childhood memory comes to mind: sitting up on the counter as my mom makes sugar cookies in the big brown mixing bowl. After mixing the sugar and the butter, she would let me lick the beaters. Sugar and butter are a magical combination and a delightful part of the recipe. But what about trying the oil mixed with egg, yet another phase of the journey? No thank you. Transitions don’t always taste yummy, but you practice patience and keep going, because you know it’s not done yet.

This is simply the beginning and I’m grateful to be here:)

The Doctor Is In!

IMG_0395

Arugula with Walnuts, Grapefruit, Goat’s Milk Blue Cheese and Lime Dressing


Today we received some wonderful news!  My dear client, Becky,  that I have been working with for a year in January has gotten her lab results back from her cardiologist.  Our goal was to lower her cholesterol without having to take medication.  Her LDL Cholesterol was a high 156 and is now a low 126!  When people have high LDL thier arteries build up with plaque causing higher risk of a heart attack.  So on top of this great news, Becky also learned that she had no plaque build up in her arteries!  She took control before the build up.  Way to go Becky!

One way Becky wanted to tackle her high cholesterol was to eat healthier, which is why she called me.  We worked together to find the right things that she enjoyed eating but with a healthy twist.  I began making her breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks.  I had her eat a breakfast of healthy granola, greek yogurt and fresh berries or smoothies.   I made salads with sockeye salmon or lean meats for lunches that she could bring into work.  Dinners ranged from Mediterranean Grilled Chicken with olives and capers to Asian Stir Fry’s with as many fresh vegetables as possible.

This is such great news for all of us looking to take control of our lives with out the quick fix of a pill.  Now, I won’t go ranting about my personal opinion of drugs, because I have taken my fair share.  However, I will say, the magic pill isn’t always the answer and, we as individuals have to decide what is best for ourselves.  In my humble opinion, it does take time and giving yourself that is most important.  This is not the easy way out.  This takes dedication and patients to see great results.  Good news though!  There are no strange side effects of eating healthy other than looking at yourself in the mirror wondering who the stud is staring back!

Becky and I continue to work together to keep her happy, healthy and out of the Doctors office.  I have added new clients this year that would like help with their diets, too.  We all want to feel good and that starts with eating and sleeping well.  If we are on a mental journey of wellness, it is super hard to focus when our belly hurts!   I encourage all of you to start your journey to wellness and reach out to someone who can help you on the path.   G&H would be thrilled to help you with your meals!  It is super easy.  Many of us don’t have time to plan, shop and cook.  Some of us just don’t want to do the planning, shopping or cooking!  Either way is ok!  That is what I am here for.  And, you get to continue on with your life but in a healthier way.  And, selfishly, I get to fulfill my desire to help others with something I know a little bit about!

Today I am sharing one of the most simplest of salads but so beautiful and delightful.  I like it because it is simple to make and beautiful to see but mostly because it is mouthwateringly fresh in the mouth.

IMG_0388-1

Grapefruit Segments

 

Arugula with Walnuts, Grapefruit, Blue Cheese and Lime Dressing

Ingredients

1 large bunch Arugula

1-2 Pink or Yellow Grapefruits (or both) cut into segments with out skin or peel

Handful of Walnuts

3 ounces Maytag’s Goat’s Milk Blue Cheese

1 Lime Juiced

1/4 cup Good Olive Oil

pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Mix Lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set the dressing aside.  Assemble a nice pile of your arugula on a plate.  Then sprinkle some walnuts, blue cheese and segments of grapefruiton top.  Drizzle your dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve.  Now, that is simple, fresh and delicious!  Just the way G&H likes it.

We are all on different journeys in our lifetime.  Life can be terribly difficult and wonderfully satisfying all in the same week.  One thing we all need though is food.  Here’s to taking control and living and eating wholeheartedly!  la vie est belle!

 

A Winter Dinner Party

Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

What is the best thing to do when the weather is too cold to play outside?  Turn on the fire inside and have friends and loved ones over to a dinner party!   There is nothing sweeter than coming into a warm home with marvelous smells of food cooking, seeing smiling faces and hearing laughter of friends and family.

It feel so good when I can do something to help others to feel good.  One way to make someone feel great is by feeding them.   Everyone has their own way of showing love and I show mine by feeding them.  I put the same love in my cooking for my family as I do for my clients.  I want to feed everyone with not only food that will fill a hungry belly but give peaceful satisfaction afterwards.

For this winter dinner party, we had some wheat allergies and “no gluten” diets.  I wanted to still make a special dessert for us and I don’t really like using “imitation flours” or substitutes.  If I am going to have a cake, I want to use cake flour.  I haven’t found anything that replaces the real deal.  So, I chose to make a Mousse Cake which doesn’t call for flour.

For my own dinner parties, I do like to branch out and try new things on my guests.  Most of them are pretty good sports for being guinea pigs!  I feel like I should disclose here to do what I say and not what I do.  Don’t try feeding your guests with a menu you haven’t tried before!

This Mousse Cake did not come without its challenges.  First of all, you have to really plan in advance if you’re going to make this because you bake a layer, let it cool, place in the fridge, add another layer on top, bake it and then put it back in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  It really is a two-day process.  It isn’t labor intensive, it just takes time to bake, chill, bake and chill!

From my understanding this recipe originated from Michel Rostang, a Michelin-starred chef, and is now in the wonderful cookbook Around My French Table by Dori Greenspan.  On a side note, her cookbook is wonderful.  I made individual cakes in ramekins because that is what I had.  However, the original recipe calls for a spring pan that you can release the cake from.  Using ramekins did make it a little more challenging for me when I was trying to get the cake out.  I do have a blow torch that I use for creme brûlée.  I used this to heat up the bottom of the ramekins and they will come out after using a knife around the edges.  They did come out pretty clean and no one seemed to notice.  This was probably because of the deliciousness!

IMG_0378

Enjoying Time Together

 

Ingredients

1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup hot coffee  (I think, a french coffee press is the best for good dark coffee)

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 pinch of salt

4 large eggs, separated

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously butter individual ramekins.  Then add parchment paper around bottom of ramekins and butter the parchment paper.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  While the Chocolate is melting begin beating your egg whites in a standing mixer until they are firm and stiff.  When the chocolate is all melted, add in hot coffee.  Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add in the butter a table-spoon at a time, then whisk in the sugar.  After this is mixed, add egg yolks one at a time.  Whisk in half of the egg whites then, gently fold the following half with a rubber spatula.  I used an ice cream scoop to fill the ramekins 1/3 way up.  After filling 6, there should be half of the mousse leftover.  Cover and refrigerate the remaining mousse.  Bake the ramekins on a baking sheet for 10-13 minutes.  They will be really puffed up, but they will fall as they are cooling.  After they are cooled, place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  After the cakes have chilled, add the remaining cold mousse to cold ramekins.  This is your second layer.  Bake this in a 400 degree F oven for about 20-30 minutes.  This will also puff up and then fall as it cools.  Place the cakes back in the fridge for a few hours or over night.  Again, you have to warm the bottom of the ramekins so that the mousse will come out easily.  I served the mousse cake with with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

The ingredients are pretty simple, the taste is delicious and all of our gluten-free friends can enjoy dessert.  No one needs to feel like they are missing out on the party!  The process is a little harder but I think you can do it, or just call me!  I’ll definitley be making these again, but maybe with a little more planning.  Here’s to full bellies and warm hearts through these cold months!  Savourer!

 

 

 

 

 

So Delicious that it Can’t be that Healthy!

DSC_0063

Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Ingredients

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced

1 bunch dinosaur kale chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon miso paste

Directions

In a saute pan, add kale, shiitake, and oil and sauté on medium high heat until kale becomes slightly wilted.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Lastly add miso and 1/4 cup water and mix well.  When the water is mostly evaporated, you are done!

This is a great snack, a fabulous side dish, or a great addition to soups or an omelet.  And, as you see, so simple and easy.  But hold on, let me tell you about what I have learned about the health benefits of these ingredients.  I have been making this because I think it is delicious.  Then, I was given this list of healthy foods to cook and eat for 2015 and guess what?  Every one of these ingredients where on the list!  Phew, I feel so grateful not to add eating healthy to the long list of resolutions.  We were already on our way to healthy eating!

We know that kale is good for us and it is packed with fiber.  It is all over the place right now as the new health trend.  It’s a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients says Men’s Fitness Magazine.  The Shiitake  Mushrooms are just as beneficial.  I have heard a number of times from people who thought mushrooms where just a fungi that added calories with no health benefits.  This is far from the truth.  The American Cancer Society mentions that there are more studies that need to be conducted but that they should be a part of our diets.

Studies in animals have found antitumor, cholesterol-lowering, and virus-inhibiting effects in compounds in shiitake mushrooms….Shiitake mushrooms are promoted to fight the development and progression of cancer and AIDS by boosting the body’s immune system. These mushrooms are also said to help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and to help treat infections such as hepatitis…

Garlic has been around for 1000 of years as has Shiitake Mushrooms.  Reader’s Digest says that garlic is another antioxidant but may also keep mosquitos away if you want to rub it on your body.  I am going to go a step further and say that it may keep some people away if you want to go bathe in it!

Lastly is the health benefits of the miso.  Now, I don’t usually add miso but its fermented soy sister tamari (no wheat soy sauce).  But because my best bud took my tamari from the fridge and hasn’t returned it, I only had red miso paste.  I like the miso better but if you don’t have any handy, use a dash of tamari.  Miso has vitamins and minerals and studies show it is good for digestion.

Now if I haven’t convinced you to make this dish with all the health benefits, you must because it just tastes so dang good.  Go for it!  Be crazy in 2015 and feel great while doing it!  Enjoy and cheers!

 

I