Monday, September 26, 2011

why food...why the plate

Food is a necessity. It is luxurious  and it has so many sides or personalities if you will. It comes from all sorts of places in the world. Some dishes are spicy, delicate, pungent, bright, dull, comforting, or fresh. There is what is called poor mans food, then there is the rich mans food. It is a fascinating topic to all. Unless you diet. Dieting is not my thing. I read a book that inspired me so much. The book was French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireielle Guiliano. It took me to a new place in my life at a time when I needed direction to help me achieve my weight loss goals and cooking goals. My husband worked in the restaurant industry for many years. His pallate is quite finicky and we both enjoy really bold flavors. I needed to find a happy medium that I could be content with to feed him, myself and our two children. I am a stay at home mother, so there is no excuse for me to not make fantastic food. I did not learn much about cooking from my mother. She is a great cook, but I was too busy when I was home to learn. Now her and I share new recipes as a ritual.

So reading this book inspired me at a time that I felt really lost. I was trying to loose my baby weight and wanted so badly to be a fabulous cook. I decided to use my new found inspiration to obsess over
French cuisine. I started cooking any new kind of recipe I could get my hands on. I learned new techniques and found myself buying a Dutch oven, food processor, etc. I set out to not only cook new food but lost my fears of trying new recipes that sounded intimidating. I am very adventurous so I began to be adventurous in my kitchen. There is nothing I would not try. I wanted my dinner table to be exciting every night. Eating out gets really expensive. This was a way to expose my children to all sorts of new food as well. I set the mood by turning on some relaxing music and pouring a glass of wine. Then I just allow myself  to enjoy the stirring, searing, boiling...chopping etc. It is a symphony in my kitchen. I put all my love into whatever I am making, taking my time and it always turns out so yummy.

My husband has taught me so much about cooking. I am thankful for his experience. He still is always teaching me new technique. I feel blessed to know that I won't ever get in a rut with food and that life is too short to have a rotation of the same old dishes. Snore....

The other big tip that I learned from Mireielle is you can enjoy food as long as you cut back other times of the day when you want to splurge. Exercising everyday even if it is a 20 min walk is so important. I love to cycle. I have a beautiful bike path along the creek by my house. I really embraced her philosophy towards food because it is very practical and can be applied without being a gym junkie and resorting to plastic food. I am not that kinda woman. I like to live and as they say, "eat, drink, and be merry," life is too short to punish myself. I love to love, to enjoy life, to play. Especially play....

I wanted to share how I became a foodie because the plate part of my blog is about to set fire...get ready for some dirt and plate journey baby...

http://mireilleguiliano.com/section/sub/14
http://frenchwomendontgetfat.com/content/mireilles-musings-fall-cooking-and-french-women-don%E2%80%99t-get-fat-cookbook
yummy bubbly goodness

Monday, September 5, 2011

Planting morning glory vines for my lattice patio....

My backyard is very beautiful. The only problem is that my patio is just a lattice covering. I have always wanted a vine covered patio. My favorite vine is morning glory. It can cover a lattice patio with a rich green vine and little purple flowers. I think shade with plants is more comforting however it won't keep out the rain. So it's a good thing I have a covered front porch.  Above is a picture of the potential this plant has to climb.
(morning glory photo retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MorningGlory.JPG)

Now that my seedlings have sprouted I am very curious how long it will take before they start creeping and crawling up the sides of my porch. I planted them right at the base of my porch on the two front corners. They should be coming along strong in no time at all.




This patio has a lot of potential. I would like it to eventually have a lot of planters and  Moroccan lanterns. I  already have the Moroccan lanterns. I still need to put them up. I have had a hard time making it inviting because of the lack of shade. That will be a long time coming but it at least is in the making. I want it to have a festive feel conjuring up feelings of relaxation and refreshment right when you walk out to the patio from the house. It should be a place where you can have a cocktail, read a book, or just rest with a cup of joe. So keep your fingers crossed that my inspiration will continue. These are the before pictures. I will keep you posted on the progress. ;)

Pickin the produce....

My local farmers markets are my go to place for produce. We used to live 10 minuets from downtown Sacramento. It felt adventurous and interesting to be so close to all the hustle and bustle and not live right in the middle of it. One of my favorite things about living there was the X and Y farmers market. During the summer it expands almost double in size. It goes until 12 o'clock on Sundays. So on Sundays I made it part of my morning ritual. I got to go back to this market last Sunday because we were on that side of town. It gets very crowded and the prices get better the closer it gets to 12. The parking is free and the produce is absolutely beautiful. I did score some pretty incredible deals. The best deal I got was a large grocery bag of bright red juicy beefsteak tomatoes for 5 dollars. This does not happen often!

It is so important to support your local farms. Not only is it more fun to be outdoors but you are supporting your local community and can look for the best deals possible. I like to look for pre-bagged  and bundled deals. You can think you have found the right price but if you wait five minuets you may find a better one. I believe in cruising the whole thing first and going back to the hot spots.

The piles of eggplants were so glossy and gorgeous. The onions were also looking quite lovely. I always feel like a kid on a treasure hunt looking for the best deals.There is always a variety to choose from for quality and beauty. I always smell my tomatoes and melons to see if they have that ripe delicious aroma.



I was crazy and decided I would make Anthony Bourdain's homemade spaghetti recipe with all the tomatoes I scored. I thought it would only take an hour or so to make it. Sure enough four hours later, my labor of love was born.  Next time I think I will stick to plum tomatoes. The beefsteak tomatoes are just too huge.

Green beans are one of my family's favorite vegetables. I love to saute a little bit of bacon and add blue cheese to my roasted green beans. It is amazing how food can be cooked so simply if it is quality produce. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes are great to dip into homemade hummus. These are some refreshing fresh produce snacks I love to eat in the summer.

I made a fabulous grilled veggie burger called "The Girl Burger" that I found on the Food Network recipe website, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aida-mollenkamp/the-girl-burger-recipe/index.html. I used Giada's pesto recipe with fresh basil from my garden. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/grilled-vegetable-panini-recipe/index.html All the veggies were so tasty. This was a fantastic way to use all the produce I picked up. My son wasn't interested in it at first, however after finishing half of a burger he was sold and asked for more. I did also add one piece of bacon per burger, per request of my husband. I figured if they were all willing to eat a burger stuffed with grilled veggies piled high to the sky, the least I could do was add a piece of bacon. ;)