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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Tic, Toc, Tic, Toc…

IMG_8690I can not believe we are already in February of 2016.  It has been such a great start to the new year!  Things are really busy and hopping here at the G&H headquarters.

As for personally, I began school at the Savannah College of Art and Design this past January.  I love it.  But, it has not come with its challenges.  As a mom, I have felt guilt because I can not always be available for the girls.  However, the lesson has been for them and for me, to let go.  It is time to let go of being everything they want me to be and be ME!  Now, of course they would prefer that I be available when they need something immediatley.  Who wouldn’t want that?  So, I can not blame them for having some push back.  I will say time management is the biggest, best skill we are learning.  We are all learning to manage our own schedules, plan accordingly and not take advantage of one another.  Again, this is not an easy skill that comes naturally.  I catch myself being so busy that the first thing to go is the gratitude.

I picked up Emma from Lacrosse the other evening.  She hopped in the car with tears streaming down her eyes.  I said “what is wrong?”  She quickly began explaining her fear of being kicked off the varsity team because she didn’t practice well.  Emma was doing what I do all the time.  She wasn’t enjoying the moment for fear that tomorrow it will be taken away.  Light bulb!

I have been so scared that I won’t be able to juggle the kids, the school and the business that I am not enjoying the moment of all of it.  And, I do love all of it.  Each thing brings me such joy and nothing is perfect about it.  Imperfect…I feel I am right were I am suppose to be.

So, as time is ticking away, I blink and we are at another birthday.  My baby, Gabrielle is 9 years old today.   We are going to make cupcakes from a box.  Imperfect but yet, so perfect.  I’ll save the cake from scratch for my clients.

As for Grits and Honey, it has really taken off on the weekly meals program.  I just love this aspect of the business because it helps those who feel, like me, a little overwhelmed at moments.  And, if I can help you out with your time management, that puts a smile on my face.  But, it isn’t just about saving time or we would be going to eat fast food everynight.  It is about eating healthy, eating well, and eating together at home.

Here is to enjoying all those imperfect and sometimes rushed moments!  I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

PS- Get those dates in for Spring catered events (graduations, baby showers, birthdays and weddings)… the calendar is filliing up quickly!

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I Scream for Good Ice-Cream

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Raspberry Goat’s Milk Yogurt Ice-cream with Fresh Peaches

This was so fun!  And, dang is it HOT in Atlanta!   My car temperature is reading 100 degrees.  Throw in the humidity and we need to eat some ice-cream to cool things off a bit!

So, I am also reminiscing of France today in this heat.  Not because of the heat but because of the ice-cream.  One of the first things I wanted to buy after my trip to France and cooking with Patricia Wells was an ice-cream maker.  I immediately bought the ice-cream maker back in October and now, 9 months later, it is finally getting some great use.  Patricia’s ice-cream is what made me want to own my own ice-cream maker.  The flavor is like nothing you could ever buy in the store (or at least nothing I’ve ever tasted).  The tangy goat’s milk yogurt brings me right back to Patricia’s beautiful Provençal yard overlooking the grape vines and olive trees.  Smells, tastes, breezes… what wonderful memories.  Now, I can make more great memories right here in Atlanta with my own family and loved ones while making and eating ice-cream.  I am feeling extremely grateful for the experience, Patricia, and to be able to enjoy it back home with all of you.

We can’t always be in France but we can surely eat more ice-cream.  This one especially because there isn’t a lot of sugar and no cream.  You can also experiment with different flavors.  Being from the south, we will be adding peaches to our next batch!

One thing to remember!  Go ahead and have your ice-cream base frozen.  It really takes a good 12 hours to freeze completely.  I forgot to do this and had to wait a full day before digging in.  It did make the experience that much better but I am terrible at being patient.  If I don’t have to wait, then why would I? Now, my ice-cream base stays in the freezer patiently waiting on me to make that next batch of yummy, cold ice-cream.

DSC_0105Raspberry Lemon Goat’s Milk Yogurt Ice-cream

Ingredients

1/2 Pint Fresh Raspberries

1/4 cup Simple Syrup

1 teaspoon Lemon Zest

2 cups Goat’s Milk Yogurt

3 lg egg whites

1/3 cup Ginger Honey (or plain honey)

Directions

First you will need simple syrup.  If you don’t have any on hand it is super easy to make.  Add 2 cups sugar to 2 cups water.  Simmer this down to a somewhat thick syrup.  Actually, my last batch wasn’t that thick, but still does the job.  It will take about 15-20 minutes.  Patricia adds a squeeze of lemon to hers, as well as do I, but it is not necessary.  Store your extra syrup in a jar in the fridge for another time.  It will keep for a month (or so).

Take 1/4 cup simple syrup and raspberries and simmered them for just a minute or two to break the raspberries down.  Strain your raspberry infused syrup with a sieve to separate the seeds.  Put this aside to cool. While the syrup cools, beat your egg whites in a mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold in your yogurt, lemon zest, honey and cooled raspberry syrup.  After everything is mixed together, pour into your ice-cream maker.  Then, the ice-cream maker does the rest!  Viola!  And this is how memories are made!

Now, you may say, goat’s milk yogurt?  Don’t judge until you’ve tried it, as I tell my children.  It is addictively good.  Even the Goose likes it.  She says it tastes like a raspberry cheese cake.

Now, I am contemplating.  Is this an ice-cream or a sorbet?  I will have to google the difference another time or you guys can answer that question.

Wherever you are, hot or cold, in France or Atlanta, I hope you are making great memories and enjoying your summer.  Here is to ice-cream on hot days.  Cheers!

 

Fireworks!

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Ice-cream with Strawberry Sauce and Fresh Blueberries

I am sitting at my new home in what I call my “Lady Parlor” (Lauren dubbed it this) or office/art space.  Haha!  I love it.  My desk faces a large window overlooking my front yard where Knockout Roses, herbs, and plants galore flourish.  It is so inspirational.  Last night we had a good summer shower, so this morning is quite fresh and green.

This weekend is July 4th!  Memories of family vacations abound.  Most all July 4th vacations include some type of water fun, fireworks, lobster rolls, corn-on-th-cob, watermelon, and home-made ice-cream. This weekend our family will head to Lake Jackson to join my childhood friend and her family.  There is nothing sweeter than joining up with old friends that you know so well and don’t get to see very often.  The bond seems to be just as strong as 20 years ago.  I feel absolutely rejuvenated after these rendezvous.  I don’t always give myself permission to take off with my girlfriends so we have to make the kids think it is their idea.  It’s a win-win!

One thing that I need for this weekend get-away is simplicity.  A little less fireworks if you know what I mean…  Now that the move is complete and work is rocking and rolling, I want a simple summer vacation to feel, well, lazy.  I am seeing a lot of lovely work on instagram for the 4th festivities.  But, it looks like too much work for me.  So, to make things a bit more calm, I have prepared a simple Strawberry Sauce to pour over some Vanilla Ice-cream (Lemon Sorbet would be good too) with fresh blueberries to top.  Now, that seems easy enough and I’m pretty sure the kiddos (and adults) will feel pretty special with this red, white and blue treat!  But, most importantly, I can relax and enjoy it too.  😉

 

Simple Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

1 Pint Fresh Organic Strawberries

1 Cup Sugar

1/3-1/2 Cup water

Directions

I began by blending my washed and trimmed strawberries in the blender.  I then mixed the strawberry puree, sugar and water in a sauce pan.  I did not strain my strawberries but you could.  I personally think it adds a little more fiber and again, I am looking for the simple road.  Simmer this on very low heat until it begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.  But, don’t burn it.  Let your sauce cool then refrigerate it until you are ready to pour over your ice-cream.  This sauce is great over pan-cakes the following morning too!

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Summer Time Ice-cream Break!

Next blog we are going crazy and making ice-cream to go with our Strawberry Sauce.  So, stay tuned… Have a fantastic 4th of July and I hope you too are having a wonderful time with your friends and family.  OR, at least being lazy!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Hats Off to the Bluegrass

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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What’s Your Specialty?

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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:)