Decompress.

Believe it or not, the best way for me to decompress is to be alone in a kitchen for a few hours and just pour all of my time, thoughts, energy, and passion into creating wonderful things.
I think you can tell the difference between when I’m cooking just to eat and when I’ve actually invested all of myself into a dish.
I check out and I just become the flavors I am creating.
Sometimes I know exactly what I am doing, but sometimes I just feel it out and let the ingredients decide what I am actually doing.
I could start with just a tomato and the intent to make pasta. Sometimes simple is good enough, but sometimes the tomato screams to be more, or the pasta tells me how I should cook it.
Maybe that’s crazy?

My cousin once said to my sister and I, “all you guys think about is food.”
You know, I actually don’t know what else there is to think about, or one thought that speaks to me louder than everything involving food.
When she wakes up in the morning, what is she thinking about? What to feed her son for breakfast? Will she have time for breakfast? What should she pack him and herself for lunch? Where will you go for dinner. Will you need a snack?
What about the weekend? How will you be spending it and what will the meals be?
What do you need to pick up at the store?

But maybe she doesn’t have to think about this stuff because she lives with her mom, sister and her son goes to his father’s for the weekend. Her mom buys the groceries and cooks the meals. Maybe it is a foreign thing to think about daily.

I’m always thinking of ways I can create and share a meal. It’s the best part of the day.
Everything else is just leading up to something to be shared and the conversations and oneness you get out of meals.
I don’t know any other way to communicate if I’m not saying it in my food.
Is it unhealthy?
Am I missing something more when I fill my thoughts with meal planning?
At the end of a long day, or a long week, what’s more comforting than having a really good dinner alone or with someone you care about?
I don’t know.
So I’m just going to continue to fill my head with visions of food.

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Dick Taylor: Bolivia

My World Through Chocolate:

By Me

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BOLIVIA! This chocolate reminds me of an Indonesian coffee. Very earthy at first.

70% chocolate. It has a very pleasant sweetness that is balanced out by its acidity. Very bright, dry and malty. A tad bit salty. I would throw this straight into a French buttercream and then die of pure bliss.

This one I let it just melt away in my mouth and linger for as long as I could.

It’s very herby, very green tea. Incredibly interesting, but above all, it’s just good chocolate. I could see myself going back and buy this every day.
I guess the right chocolate gets you right to the point.
It’s good. I like it.

SIDE NOTE: I once got a job as at a single origin bean to bar chocolate place in Atlanta. I was to roast the roast the cacao and make them into really beautiful hand crafted bars. I got the job based on my ability to taste, so perhaps this gives me a little bit of credit that I DO know what I’m talking about. I, however, decided not to pursue a career in chocolate, and kept working towards my goals in specialty coffee.

Dick Taylor: Vietnam Tien Giang

My World Through Chocolate:

By Me

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Sailing away to Vietnam and on to Dick Taylor’s chocolate. With such beautiful packaging, it’s easy to think that maybe the goal is for people to want to instagram it, and not eat it. This would be very wrong to assume. While I live for boats, I immediately think back to 7th grade when I spent an entire 2 weeks fake reading Moby Dick so people would think I was smart during silent reading.

Seriously, stop distracting me from the point.
LIMITED EDITION CHOCOLATE!

This chocolate is very inviting. At first it’s very familiar, but it breaks down into such a complex flavor that I cannot even pinpoint the flavors you will taste. There’s some stone fruit happening, the unripe kind towards the pit. A hint of warm lightly toasted bread. A dewy, spring morning being kissed by the sun.

Not a lot to write about, but so much to taste!
This 78% chocolate is winning hearts all over the world.

Just go! Go out and be that sucker who buys all the limited edition chocolates. It’s worth indulging every once in awhile.

Cuba, Francois Pralus.

My World Through Chocolate

By: Me

I started my journey yesterday with a chocolate from Cuba. Many people know that Cuba is my passion even though I have no experience with it and the culture surrounding it I learned only from Ricky Ricardo and Cubano sandwiches. What else is there to love?

Chocolate. Who knew! And what even grows in Cuba? Not America! At least not until Obama came to town and decided we should befriend all our old enemies. Which is what Jesus would do, so it’s cool with me.

But back to the chocolate.
When I first tried the chocolate, it was just incredibly smooth and incredibly sweet. At 75% cacao, I was not expecting it at all. I’m used to higher quality chocolate breaking down more like cacao nibs and less like Hershey’s. I didn’t get a single note that was suggested I’d taste on the back.

Today I went back to reevaluate my tastes. The texture is less smooth, and less sweet. It actually brings me back to my childhood in Omaha, NE. Riding bikes on a sunny summer day and eating those weird and round freeze pops. The ones you could break in half and share. For some reason, it reminds me more specifically of a busted freeze pop that leaked out onto the freezer and made a mess everywhere. It’s like it should taste exactly the same, but because it’s sticky and a mess on your hands, suddenly, it’s become unappealing and disgusting.

I guess that flavor could also transfer to blueberry, or even currant-like. There’s a pleasant acidity wrapped up in this chocolate, but it definitely kind of hovers around and doesn’t really grab on to anything. A whisper, if you will.

It isn’t that dry, which I appreciate. I’d also say that it’s not at all bitter.

At the end of the day, it is not my favorite, and I would not buy it again. Left little to be desired. Once it’s gone, you don’t even remember that you ate it at all.

This doesn’t change my feelings about Cuba. I would very much so still love to visit Cuba and see what else they’re hiding from me. Just don’t let the French get ahold of their chocolate and Cuba and I will be just fine.

 

 

Irish Treat.

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The thing I hate most about St. Patrick’s day is the dessert. If you even go as far as search the internet for TRADITIONAL Irish desserts, they will still say “whiskey, beer, green, Bailey’s” in all the results.

Those things are not Irish cuisine or dessert. Sorry. They’re stereotypes. And it’s a bunch of blarney, if you ask me.

Having said all of that, I made some other stereotype dessert.

I made a whiskey caramel sauce and added it to my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. In place of vanilla, I used whiskey. I folded the caramel I to the cookies with chocolate chips and oats. Oats are very Irish.

So there you have it. My St. Patrick’s Day treat. A little less insulting to my people, and a lot of deliciousness, too!

Long ago, when I was a teenager living in such a pit of despair, I decided to let it go. To forgive. To have a soft heart. To not treat others the same way they treated me. I decided to love people anyway. To not assume everyone else was the same as those who’ve hurt me. To not hold them accountable. To show mercy, love and grace, compassion. Every new person that I meet is a clean slate.
And this is all hard work. This allows people to think they can manipulate me, walk all over me, use me, and fool me.
But I promise you, none of that is true. Because I know what they’re doing and I choose to find the good in people, because I believe people are good, and they want to do good.
I see the struggles first, and I see why they act out of fear and hurt.
And I try to approach it to understand it.
I try to be gentle and kind and understanding.
What I don’t do is allow it to wreck me or change me.
I will never be in another pit. I will never be a victim.
I will never apologize for caring about people from the bottom of my core.
I am careful about who I let in and take up my energy.
I know that every person that comes into my path is there for a reason.
And it is extremely difficult to maneuver around people who are trying desperately to guard themselves by having no regard for others.
But this is who I am and who I’ve always been.
It’s in my DNA to be sensitive to those how are hurting or struggling.
I have no control over it.

But it is a choice to accept or reject who I am, and it’s more freeing to love than it is to hate.

I have already forgiven you.

Turn A Sad Pie Into Happiness.

Did your sister make a sickeningly sweet, sad, vegan pumpkin pie?

Did your diabetic brother-in-law cut the sugar into 3/4ths and burn the crust?

Did your other sister make a fcherry pie with a failed gluten free crust? Mine didn’t, but it could happen!

Don’t let these pies die on the table! Revive them!

Take the filling out of the pie and add them to your favorite waffle recipe! Cut the sweetness by using buttermilk, a sour dough starter or plain kefer!

Did the pie have sugared nuts that melted into the sadness? Chop them up and put those in, too!

Add the filling to fritters, milkshakes, or bake them into muffins or tea cakes!

Waste not, want all!! This doesn’t have to be the sad ending to a great day, but a beautiful beginning to a new day!

Here’s a picture of the Vegan Pumpkin Pie that I turned into buttery, delicious NOT VEGAN waffles!

Thanksgiving.

Hope everyone has enjoyed a beautiful day without too much butting heads.

The last few days, I’ve had severe allergy attacks, so I’ve been cranky, thanks to migraines.

I have a large family with so many dietary restrictions, so I usually stand out of the way and let everyone else cook their special requests. 3 different dressings, pumpkin pies and green bean casseroles to accommodate the gluten free, diabetic, and vegan of the family. That’s not including the other allergies like cayenne, banana and sulfates. Yes, I’ll have just some water, please!

My contribution this year was small, but mighty. Cranberry Apple Cheesecake!

I used Bobby Flay’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake recipe, which I was going to make, but I cannot stand artificial apple flavoring (in the alcohols) and my family said they’d rather have cranberry instead.

So, I added Simple apple juice in a pan, fresh ground ginger and nutmeg. Orange zest and juice, cloves, vanilla bean, vanilla, allspice and cinnamon. 3 small green apples thinly sliced. Boiled and reduced to half. Added one and a half cups of white sugar and a bag of cranberries. Cooked until they all popped. Then mashed them to make sure they were all mush. Could blend them for a smoother texture, I guess. Make it your own.

Garnished with a few cranberries and sprigs of rosemary. Could crumble some walnuts on top, too. So many ways to make it beautiful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I unfortunately was unable to periscope today, but that didn’t stop me from making my vision come alive.

I’ve had a difficult week. Not to be confused with bad. My life is very good, however, still challenging. Cooking and baking calms me down. It’s my zin, if you will. This is where I can focus on the task in front of me and stop thinking of all that troubles me or lies ahead. It all goes down the kitchen sink!

So I made a walnut crusted chicken. Which was just a bone in chicken (bought the wrong thing) soaked in buttermilk, salt and pepper, then coated in walnuts. Then I stuffed it with basil, garlic pear and cheese. Smoked Gouda and another kind. Maybe asiago or parmesan. I don’t remember. Got olive oil hot and browned it after tying it shut. Actually, before searing it, I realized while drinking wine that I could have soaked the pears in wine. So I poured wine on it, then seared it. Foiled it and ovened it.

Sweet potatoes sliced really thin. Boiled in salty water. Drained, covered in olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. High heat oven. Bake for as long as chicken.

To eat a delicious meal after a long week of barely eating more than pastries is rewarding. Very much like a Sunday supper. Everyone should have one decent meal a week.

 

 

 

Walnut Crusted and Stuffed.