Monthly Archives: May 2012

(Lemon) Thyme on my Hands…

Golden Lemon Thyme
 
Well, the rain finally ceased only to bring unseasonably hot weather for a few days.  Everyone looked like they were wilting, including the little pots of herbs I keep on the windowsill.  Herbs are one of my favorite things to add to nearly anything. 
 
In cooking their use is obvious, but most people don’t utilize them in other ways where they can really bump up the flavor.  Tossing a handful of herbs in with salad greens,  fresh chopped herbs sprinkled over grilled or roasted vegetables, vinaigrettes,  drinks, even ice cream… adding them to both sweet and savory dishes can really make a difference in the flavor of the final dish.
 
With the sudden heat, I immediately wanted lemonade…  not being able to resist my ever-present need to put herbs into whatever I can, I started snipping.  The fact that I am almost never without lemons was a definite plus.
 
In my dream world,  there are little mason jars filled with delectable drinks lining the shelves of the refrigerator in my outdoor kitchen… each guest able to saunter over and choose which of the many options tickle their fancy. 
 
In reality, I have a kitchen that is so small I have seriously considered applying for “Worst Kitchens in America”.   My tiny Brooklyn apartment won’t be gracing the pages of Architectural Digest anytime soon, but I can still have my mason jars of lemonade lining a shelf in my fridge…  

Hello Cupcake…

For weeks I’ve been craving cake… so, enough talk and a little more action.   I decided that since I had been to the farmer’s market and had eaten a relatively healthy lunch that cupcakes were definitely in order.

If I’m going to make cupcakes, more often than not I would go all in.  Chocolate.  The darker & richer the better…  however since it is spring and this weekend marks the “un-official” start to summer I wanted to lighten it up a bit and do something a little different.

If you are anything like me, sometimes you forget all the little treasures you have stashed in your kitchen.  I buy things that interest me and then put them away for when the mood strikes, but the unfortunate truth is that occasionally they are forgotten until I stumble upon them (usually when I’m looking for something else).

Well, the latest treasure to be unearthed was candied ginger.  I thought it might make an interesting garnish for the cupcake and that was basically my jumping off point.
(well, that and my persistent sweet tooth…)

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If You’re Afraid of Butter, Use Cream…

The above is one of my favorite quotes from Julia Child, one of the gutsiest broads to ever hoist a meat cleaver. (and I use that term lovingly)

 

On August 15th of this year, Julia would have turned 100 years old and I’d like to think would still be cooking.
In the 100 days leading up to Julia’s birthday, the JC100 is celebrating this culinary powerhouse and her recipes.  Each week, a new recipe is featured and this weeks offering was Coq au Vin…  one of my all time favorites.

I remember watching Julia & Jacques and loved her candor and fearless approach to cooking.  She made it seem fun and most importantly, possible.  She had a way of walking her audience through a recipe that made complex dishes seem effortless and isn’t that all we really want? To feel like anything is possible?

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Chicken Soup for My Soul…

Last I checked April showers bring May flowers, right?  Well, someone missed the mark on that…  The weather here in New York has been unusual to say the least.  We had 80 degree days in March, freezing temps in April and it feels like it’s been raining for weeks… 

Chilly, gray days make me want a bowl of something good.  I had a quart container of “liquid gold” in the refrigerator that had been giving me the stink eye every time I opened the fridge…  It felt neglected, and rightfully so.  

A few weeks back, I had braised some chicken, strained the liquid and set it aside for another use.  That is liquid gold.  It is intensely flavored, uber-chicken-y goodness and while looking around the kitchen I realized I had almost everything I needed for tortilla soup (otherwise known as Mexican penicillin).

So, with a quick trip to get an avocado and a lime it was time to get cooking…

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My first love…

Mom & Me in NL

 

Look at that gorgeous kid…  and the baby isn’t bad either!

 

The first love of my life: my Mom.  As little girls, we often play “house” and pretend to be Mommies to our baby dolls and try to emulate our own mothers.  As teenagers, we are less inclined to compare ourselves to our Moms. As adults we come full circle, realizing that “Mom” is a person just like we are who had worries and struggles, peacefulness and triumphs .  Mine, like most, had to balance job and kids, errands, our activities, laundry, blah, blah, blah… and yet still found time to take us to movies or little excursions.   We didn’t have much, but we didn’t know it.  She made the most of what we did have and rarely did we feel like we had “gone without”.

One of my all-time favorite memories, which my Mom & I still giggle about to this day…  Ok, this is going to date me a little, but you regular readers already know I turned 40 recently,  so here we go:

Do you remember that show from the ’80’s, “V”?!   It was about alien-lizards disguised as humans living on Earth.  We LOVED this show.   It sounds ridiculous, but it was the early ’80’s… 
Well,  one night we were in our Chevrolet Chevette hatchback (yes, a Chevette hatchback…  named “Skeeter”, btw) and there were radio and television towers with flashing red lights on the road.  They looked like they were so high up in the sky to me as a little kid…  like they could have been lights on an alien spacecraft!  

All of a sudden, my Mom hunches down over the steering wheel and starts saying “Oh no, they’re gonna get us!”  Well, you can imagine our reaction!  My brother & I started screeching & laughing like crazy and she just kept egging us on… 

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Viva Mexico

The smell of the lightly singed corn tortilla & the memories instantly flood my mind.  I inhale deeply and let the smell fill my head.   

I close my eyes and it’s 1993…  I was leaving home for the first time to do a semester abroad.
I was on my way to the state of Jalisco, Mexico to attend the Universidad Autonoma De Guadalajara. 

I remember very distinctly the feeling of stepping off of the plane, walking alone through the airport and realizing that I was on my own in a foreign country…  and speaking Spanish was now a necessity.
The realization that I was the minority in this country where its people were the minority in mine.

Everything was so different; the sounds, the smells, the food…  nothing was familiar to me and as terrifying as that was, it was also the thing that was most exhilarating. 
The most tedious of tasks at home had become an adventure in Mexico, some of them less amusing than others…

I learned more about this country in the few months I lived there than I did in all the years I had been studying it.  Being immersed in a culture other than your own is something I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.  It opened my eyes to things that changed me for the better, giving me a greater appreciation for what I had.

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