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Archive for the ‘comfort food’ Category

Adam and I started a young couples group at our church, and it’s been great.

I consider food (the love of, the cooking of) to be one of my spiritual gifts, and have been dubbed the “Team Mom” by several of our friends. We are the house where the boys drop in after some strenuous athletic activity to find a less-than-tidy living room but something scrumptious cooling on the table or a spontaneous invite to stay and eat a meal. I’m the one who packs lunches, makes snacks and sends my hubby to work with muffins. The short of it is that I love to share food, and often it’s the best and only way I know to show that I care.

One of the great by-products to this gift is that this works out really well for our love of people, because we can bribe them to hang out with us using promises of grilled salmon or Texas bar-be-que or maybe just a box of Cheez-its and a beer. Also, have you ever noticed how many people hang out in the kitchen at a party? Well I have, and it brings me great joy, natch.

Loving food and loving people got us going on the young couples group, which led us down the ever-slippery slope of planning events for said young couples group and introducing ourselves to people on the basis of stereotypes, which leads to awkward encounters, like this one.

Young Couple at table in church foyer. I walk up, awkwardly.

Guy: “Hi?”

Me: “Sorry to be awkward, but you guys look like a young couple, and we’d love to be friends!”

Honestly, that’s how it goes. It works surprisingly well. Only one out of about every 30 people avoids eye contact with me afterward, which is pretty good right? If it’s too awkward, I sic Adam on them, because he loves long pauses and staring people down. (JK. Kinda.)

Given my stellar track record at making friends with strangers my own age, Adam and I decided to try the “run up and blurt out your business” tactic on an older couple last week. Here’s how Adam told the story:

Also, FYI, some of you may have heard that Jerry and Nancy Briggs (our eldest couple) is not going to be able to be on the panel due to an unforseen circumstance. Bummer, I know.
BUT have no fear.  My wife has no shame so she and I chased down an elderly looking couple on their way to the parking garage at church.  We had seen them around serving at church and thought, maybe?  So after they got over their initial fear of being mugged they were totally open to being on the panel!  AND they will have been married 50 years this June.
Here’s the moral of this rambling post, dear ones. Embrace the awkward encounter. If that doesn’t work, just give people food.
The End.
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Besides being a food lush in real life, I’m also a writer for the REAL Food Lush, as of this week. Hooray! I decided to begin my illustrious food-blogging career with this post on whiskey and coffee and being Irish, in honor of my green heritage and family line and St. Patty and love of caffiene and all that.

Also, check out my bio. So fun, right?

freelance bio

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Freebirds recently opened in Orange County.

In-N-Out is in Dallas.

I’m not sure The Fam will need to travel back and forth much more if this keeps up… All we need now is Angelo’s BBQ and our appetites for Texas-fare might finally be appeased.

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I GOT A REQUEST! You, my people, as much as I love you all, are not always forthcoming when I ask for suggestions and advice, HOWEVER, the lovely Elanor asked me to go searching for hooks for her and her daughter’s aprons, I was all over it.

See, my people? You ask, I give. That’s me, I’m a giver.

Alrighty, then, on to the shopping!

Since the request was for a kitchen-related hook… this lovely number from Anthropologie would be darling:

anthropologie silverware key rack wall hookRight? Silverware? Kitchens? Aprons? It all fits the theme and it makes me want to just dance with happiness! (It’s $40, but think about all the bending of spoons that you won’t have to do!)

Speaking of the whole DIY route, check out these starfish hangars from Etsy, or this KILLER lightbulb from Apartment Therapy, below:

DIY wall hangarsBut you don’t want DIY, do you? This is a shopping blog-post after all. Let’s buy stuff!

I actually own a couple of these babies. In my bower, I used them for towels in my itty-bitty bathroom. Since I moved in here with Adam over two years ago, it’s very normal that these are still stashed next to my dresser instead of hung up somewhere being cute. Nothing like a blog to shame somebody into a little home improvement! Anyhoodle, they’re from Pier One and totes adorbs and only $14.95!

pier one wall hangarsOf course, I also love these from Live Wire Farm. I am a woodsy kinda girl, and these make me want to grow tomatoes and make giant cauldrons of soup for a boisterous family of hungry boys.

handmade wooden hooksSpeaking of being woodsy, I’m also an unabashed cowgirl. These might be overkill for an apron, but who says you can’t brand your kitchen? $18 each from Sundance (and they can be personalized! Extra snazzy.)

brand wall hooksOK, and this one from benfloeter on Etsy was just too kitschy and fun to pass up. You know how I love me some facial hair, so why not put it on my wall?! If it’s good enough to kiss, it’s good enough to hang aprons on, I always say.

moustache key hookAgain, too big for aprons, I know. BUT SO CLASSY. This looks like something from a grown-up house, and I likes it. (Also, it’s priced like something from a grown-up house, but nevermind that. $89.95 from Plow and Hearth.)

mirrored wall hookOK, these last couple I couldn’t get pictures for. But Soda Fountain hooks! Puhleeeeze buy dem. Also, Anthro’s slightly tattered little sister, Urban Outfitters, has a couple of cuties too. (And they have flowers. Bonus!)

Oh, and one last one. This doesn’t work for anything I was entrusted to find, but it is beeeeeyooooootifull. It’s a ski rack. An antique, honest-to-goodness ski rack. I don’t even ski and I think this is the most amazing thing I have ever wanted to spend my entire grocery budget on. Oh, Eddie Bauer, you are a sassy, woodsy, flannel-clad vixen.

ski rack coat rackOk, peeps, it’s all you all over again. What would you like me to shop for next?! I will breathlessly awaiting your suggestions, as will my credit cards.

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I love Julia Child. I also love to cook, but more in the fashion of Chef Louis – with much humming and jigging and dabs of flour and throwing ingredients about – rather than Julia – with several pages of detailed instructions on poaching eggs.

My style, while entertaining for my guests (I try to sing to my dishes as often as possible) can get in the way of new culinary experiences, and my lack of attention to recipes, my tendency to make things up as I go along and my blithe ignorance of how to cook anything that would feed any less than ten hungry men has gotten me in trouble more than once.

But finally, my friends, I have made up a recipe so divine that I absolutely HAD to write it down and share it with you, in hopes that I’ll remember what I did right and learn to cook like a real person instead of a backwoods mamma.

Which, really, is unlikely, because all I did was mash together Julia’s absolutely awesome Boeuf Bourguignon with my backwoods mamma style and my insatiable love of my darling Crock-Pot.

So little dearies, without further ado, here is my attempt at a recipe, for your chomping enjoyment:

***

Boeuf Bourguignon, Cowboy-style

Ingredients:

One bottle of red wine – I used Pinot Noir (really only half the bottle – the rest is to reward yourself with as you slave over a hot Crock-Pot).

One lb (or so) sirlion steak, cut into chunks.

One medium onion, chopped.

Half-lb frozen veggies, whatever you like best – I used a pea and carrot mix.

12-oz whole Cremini mushrooms. They blend better with the red wine than button mushrooms and they look pretty when they’re whole, so I make life easy on myself and don’t chop them up.

One can diced tomatoes (no need to drain, pour the juice in too).

A tablespoon salt

A teaspoon black pepper.

Two teaspoons red cayenne pepper (less if you’re don’t like spice).

Quarter-cup of Balsalmic Vinegar

One lb of bacon (added later).

Directions: Throw it all in a Crock-Pot on low for at least six hours. Drink the rest of your wine.

About an hour before you plan to serve this luscious dinner, fry up your bacon and break into bitesize pieces. Put the bacon in your broth and add wine, salt and pepper if needed, but remember that the bacon will add a lot of salty flavor to your broth. You don’t want it to be soupy, just add enough wine that you have a healthy broth to savor. Let the bacon play with his friends in there for about an hour (less is okay if you’re in a hurry), then serve.

Serve with a smile on your face, more red wine, and mashed potatoes. (Preferably Yukon Gold – they’re the creamiest.)

***

It’s so GOOD. Seriously. It tastes like you just had dinner out of a chuck wagon on the prairie, but instead of Hop Sing, your cook’s name is Pierre and he is a romantic French cowboy with a penchant for open skies and Crock-Pots.

You will love it. At least I hope so. Try it and tell me what you think! I mean, if you want. But you do. Because who doesn’t beef and wine and bacon and Julia Child and cowboys?

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Prompt: Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Food is about people. I love to cook, but I very rarely make anything too delicious for just me – it’s simply not as fun. But this year I cooked some really splendid things and got to watch other people enjoy them:

  • Boeuf Bourguignon. This is the most complicated one-pot meal you will EVER attempt. However, I had a bottle of red wine and some beef laying around and could not be dissuaded, so I spent a day making it and an evening enjoying as Adam and I rapturously ate it. It was really divine. Next time you have a bottle of red wine, a hunk of beef and a day to fritter away, you should make it.
  • Tandoori Butter Chicken. A good friend of ours was put on bedrest and I thought she probably wanted some heartburn to go with it, so I made Indian food for her and her hubby. It really was yummy, and she is made of strong stuff so I thankfully didn’t make her more miserable with my poor menu choices. We took it over and ate with them and watched football and felt very neighborly and cozy.
  • Dinner at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Williamsburg. (OK, so this one I didn’t make, but it was too epic to leave out). Lit candles, troubadours, the best seafood ever and a handsome fella across the table. What a great night.
  • Grilling out. This summer we grilled out a lot, using everything from chicken breasts to wild salmon to hunks of meat from the Great Oregonian Beef Steal of 2010. It was restful and delicious and gave us excuses to invite people over to sit outside and sip cocktails. (Not that we need excuses…)

What were your great culinary moments this year?

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I love to cook. I really, truly do. Our cousins, knowing this fascinating tidbit about me, gave me this piece of wonderment:

crate and barrel christmas awesomeTrouble is, the cute little cutters don’t actually come laid out adorably with a ready-made cookie tree standing delightedly over them. No, you have to make the batter, cut it into various sizes of star shapes, bake said stars, put it together into tree formation, frost it green and infuse Christmas joy into it, all while not letting the dough stick to every piece of your clothing or using every dish ever invented. Well. I had this handled, I was sure. I love Christmas projects! I love baking! I love sugar! I love trees!

(pause for ominous foreshadowing)

I’ll tell you now – my tree did not look like the picture. Actually, my tree never wound up existing, which should give you a clue as to how poorly this project went. Let me help you with any future baking projects you might be attempting with these humble life lessons learned yesterday:

  • If you have a small kitchen, perhaps you should rethink baking projects that require large amounts of dough to be rolled out. Especially if said dough is very sticky and your only available rolling surface is a small cutting board.
  • Speaking of small kitchens, if the top of your microwave is the only space available for a cooling rack, your kitchen is too small for this project. Put the cookie cutters away and do something apartment-dwellers do, like BUY OREOS.
  • If you have a lot going on in your life at any given time, do not try to “squeeze in” large, difficult culinary projects. Set aside an afternoon, or better yet, 48 hours in which to get messy to your hearts’ content. Do not try to answer emails, phone calls or sound halfway professional when you have flour on your nose and cookies burning in a forgotten pan of your tiny oven.
  • Speaking of tiny ovens, when you can only cook five cookies at a time and foolishly made a double-batch of batter in your pre-baking fervor, do not simply continue forging ahead. Giving up is an option and preferable to spending the rest of your life baking the same batch of cookies.
  • However, there is redemption – for when your batter is sticking and your stars are lumpy and you’re starting to feel a bit teary-eyed and desperate and you can’t find a spare bit of counter to rest your cookie sheet on and you can’t imagine washing all of these dishes… give the cookies to a boy. He will eat them and think they’re fantastic and won’t even care that they look rather like the clay stars you made in 1st grade.

I’m so glad I’m married to a boy.

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