Life is a kitchen, whip up something incredible!
I spent my childhood immersed in food. My family celebrated everything with food and, when needed, they made food to comfort or cheer up. I watched cooking shows with my mom while she braided my hair for school. I followed my dad around the BBQ in the summer months. I was raised to love food and I was taught not to say no until I tried something and knew I didn’t like it. Diets? They were only kept if ordered by a doctor when someone was ill. I am grateful that my parents raised me to think of food and cooking as art, as fun, as an expression of love, as a comfort, and a joy.
I know the kitchen well, I feel extremely comfortable in it and it has always been my favorite room of the house. I have five different dream kitchens picked out and my hope is that one day my family will gather for Sunday breakfast in one of those kitchens. Some evenings, after a tiring day, I like to hang out in the kitchen. I lean on my kitchen counter, sip my tea, and munch on snacky bits. I’ve been known to take my time reading cookbooks, gathering ideas, and plotting the perfect night centered around food. Most days are busy but, on the days I can let myself take it slow, I relish the opportunity. When I have the chance, I like to take my time with the cooking process – it helps me relax and feel grounded.
My Kitchen Rules:
- Patience: All the meticulous prep steps are really important. Ingredients handled correctly will end up making a better product. Plus, if you are patient and take things slow, you will be much less likely to make a mistake or hurt yourself.
- Respect: For the ingredients. I buy organic/all-natural as often as possible; I buy farmer-fresh produce, free-range organic eggs, organic meat (when I can) and organic dairy. The food you buy is part of this earth – before it became dinner it was growing somewhere.When you handle ingredients, just remember that no one waved a magic wand to make the food appear, it was grown and cared for. It’s good to give the ingredients respect. And don’t forget to wash your fruits and veggies (because, you know, it grows in soil and then many people’s hands were all over it..).
- Bravery: Knives are sharp, pans are hot. I’ve cut myself a few times, I’ve burned myself plenty. I’m prepared to get a little hurt in the kitchen (though I am very careful) – my hands have become a little more resilient over time.
- Fun: I like to listen to music and have a good time while I cook. As I’ve mentioned, cooking helps me unwind, and having fun in the kitchen is how I do it.
- Cleanliness: My kitchen towels are always clean, my kitchen counters are clean, my stove is clean, everything in my kitchen is clean. I designate my towels and cleaning sponges for different tasks and I will not have it any other way – haha! I can be a bit meticulous when it comes to the kitchen.
It’s an old (maybe even corny) saying that something is “made with love”, but it’s a saying that speaks a lot of truth. Something that is made with love tastes better. On the topic of produce and cooking with love: farmer’s markets are my best friends during the summer. The best part is walking around and seeing people’s produce (local and small-business made honey, jam, butter, cheese, bread) and fresh fruits and veggies. Going home with some of the goodies is the ultimate happiness. I would love to eventually have a garden with my own herbs and veggies and perhaps a few fruits.
Part of what drew me deeper into cooking was noticing that there is a food for every mood. Feeling crappy? Dysfunctional? Sick? Romantic? Happy? Nostalgic? Celebratory? There is a food for that. Along with that, you can also use food to create the atmosphere you desire – I think that’s pretty cool.
I love sharing recipes, cooking, baking, talking about food, eating, and reading about food [same goes for tea, but that’s a different topic]. I have a huge collection of cookbooks; and I definitely have the classics – like tomes of classic French cookery, along with the two volumes of Julia Child’s cookbooks. I even have a book called The Original White House Cookbook (published in 1887). I guess you can say I am a culinary aficionado. However, I am not a “culinary snob”; I’m simply interested in all things food. Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a bite of food and a fat grin sweeps across your face because what you just ate was so painfully delectable? I have, it is enchanting. It makes me want to create food that receives the same reaction.
Let me be honest with you, I like my food to be borderline socially unacceptable to enjoy in public. What I mean by that is I can appreciate the prim and proper food, but what I truly savor and enjoy is food that’s served hot, food that has many elements to it, and food that is bursting with flavor. When that eating utensil (hands are utensils, too) leaves my mouth, I want my taste buds to shut my brain off for a split second – yeah, I like my food that crazy level of tasty. I am not one of those chicks you see laughing (but internally crying) over a forkful of salad. I eat healthy, but I don’t eat “skinny”. I crave food that is spicy, saucy, steamy, zesty and packed with so much flavor that every bite takes my mouth on a different adventure of tasty discoveries.
I started this blog to share my recipes and love of food with you, my readers; and it has been a blast so far. Though this blog is no longer solely about food, my excitement for food and writing about food has not diminished in the slightest. I hope to one day write a cookbook…perhaps some time in the future I will get the opportunity to do so. If I do, I want the cookbook to be the ultimate collection/bible/handbook of everything delicious, and for those recipes to be easy enough for every day meals. I’ve got a feeling that, if I do write a cookbook, tea will be incorporated into it as well hehe. A girl can dream, right?
Here are a few recipes of foods that I crave:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Toasted Coconut & Apple
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 apple, cored and cut into slices
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Unsweetened, flaked coconut
- Coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon water
- Put the oats, almond and coconut milk, and salt in a medium sized pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stir constantly. Continue to simmer and stir until the oats break down. Add more milk, as necessary to keep the consistency creamy and to prevent the oats from sticking and burning to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Meanwhile, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil in a frying pan and add the apples when the oil is hot. Drizzle apples with the lemon juice, some water, and honey, and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Give the pan a shake to incorporate the liquids with the cinnamon; but be careful to not disrupt the placement of the apples too much. Put a lid on the pan and simmer on medium-low heat until the apples are soft but still retain their shape.
- While the oats and apples are doing their thing, put the coconut flakes in a frying pan over medium-low heat and toast until golden brown. Remove from the heat immediately.
- To Serve: Spoon the oatmeal into bowls and top with the apples and some toasted coconut. You can sprinkle some more cinnamon over the oatmeal and drizzle more honey over top if you prefer things a little sweeter.
*great alternatives for the apples are pears, or peaches*
Lunch: Crunchy Sesame Noodle Salad
- 1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
- 2 packages of (crumbled) instant ramen noodles (toss the seasoning packet in garbage, you won’t need it)
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame beans
- 1/2 cup thinly-sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)
- Honey- sesame dressing (see ingredients below)
- 2/3 cup grape seed oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon orange juice
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir a bit to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden.
- Take the baking sheet out of the oven and give the mixture a good stir/toss (so that everything toasts evenly). Then return it to the oven and toast for an additional couple minutes. Keep a very close eye on the ramen and almonds so that the mix does not burn. Remove and set aside.
- Toss all ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Serve/eat the salad immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days…but the noodles will loose their crunch after the first day, so it is better to eat it right away.
Dinner: Shrimp and Mango Sushi Cones
- 1 package of nori (sushi) seaweed sheets
- 30-40 large raw peeled shrimp
- Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 large mango, cubed into small bits
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped into small-medium pieces
- Juice of 1 lime, strained
- soy sauce
- Sushi rice
- rice vinegar (for sushi rice)
- sugar (for sushi rice)
- salt (for sushi rice)
- Oil for frying
- Prepare sushi rice as directed on the instructions (I googled how to do it). After it is cooked, let it cool completely.
- Once rice is cooled, make a breading station: one bowl with flour, one bowl with panko, and one bowl with the beaten eggs. Bread your shrimp starting with the flower, then the egg, then the panko.
- Heat about 1 inch of oil in a deep pan. When the oil is hot, add your shrimp in batches and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.
- Meanwhile, toss mango, onion, red bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, and scallions in a bowl. Drizzle the lime juice over the ingredients and mix to combine well.
- Next, take your nori and onto the left side of the sheet spread the sushi rice. Top the rice with a few shrimp and the mango salsa. Roll up to make a cone shape (this took me some practice to get right, but it’s not too difficult).
- Serve immediately with a side of soy sauce.
Dessert: Chocolate Pudding Parfait
- 2 1/2 cups milk, divided
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Whipped cream
- Berries or fruits of choice
- Pour the milk in a medium sized, heavy saucepan. Bring to a light boil. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the egg yolks, mix together with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring to combine well.
- Gradually add half of the hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly and vigorously with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a light boil again. Reduce heat, and simmer until the mixture thickens, stir constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring vigorously until chocolate is melted.
- Spoon pudding into a bowl. And place that bowl in a larger ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding the has cooled…stir it occasionally. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour to 2 hours.
- Scoop a dollop of pudding into your choice of serving dish (I like to use wine glasses or martini glasses) and top with whipped cream and fruits/berries.
Midnight Snack: Spicy Grilled Cheese
- 2 slices of your bread of choice
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (use as much or as little of it as you like)
- Cream Cheese, softened
- 2 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp (of keep it soft, if you prefer)
- Cheddar cheese
- Make your grilled cheese sandwich: cream cheese, jalapeno pepper, bacon, cheddar cheese. Coat one side with butter and fry it on a hot pan or a griddle. Enjoy.
And there you have a few examples of the type of foods I crave to eat at different times of the day. As you can tell, I like texture in my food and I like a mix of different flavors.
What are some of your common cravings?