James Beard Wannabe

Oh Liarpants… my daddy laughed out loud at you. I didn’t even have to Google it for him to tell me you were full of shit.

D- Babydoll… that is seriously pathological…. but wait… you never even told me he was a chef? If this guy is the James Beard Rising Star then I should have heard about his cooking…and I happen to know that Gabriel Rucker won this year.

J- Well….. he makes torchon. It’s his big deal. Ewww. He made me dinner once… but it was pretty bad. Too salty… with some sort of sausage, broccoli, crayfish soupy stuff under a steak… with a bone.

D- Oh. My. HA HA HA. You hate meat on the bone.

J- I know, but he had already bought it… and you know me… what was I going to say?

D- I don’t like meat on the bone?

J- Yeah right.

But… and I only know this because I am an absolute brat…

He’s not a very good cook… and I couldn’t finish it because it was so salty and so… well… overcooked. Dude if I want to eat broccoli paste? I’ll have my 11 year old boil some for me.

The steak was perfect… after you fought your way around all that nasty fatty disgustingness. Blech, gag… wretch.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach….  but it’s not. It’s through his balls and we all know it. The way to a woman’s heart is a man that knows how to be domestic in order to delight her.

Feed me.

Tell me about it.

Talk to me while you cook and tell me what you’re doing.

It’s the highest form of foreplay you can achieve with me and if it’s done well? I’m sold. I’ll buy the farm. I’ve already picked out china patterns in my head after the second course if it’s really good.

I do not leave food on my plate…. hence the chunk-tastic thighs.

I also only send one thing back when I don’t like it…. and that’s steak….

and how on earth do you send the steak back if it’s your boyfriend cooking it? You don’t. That’s what. You suck it up and eat it…

Even when you don’t like it…. and you pray he doesn’t notice that you hardly touched it…

Even though you know he did.

You make excuses. You’re tired. You’re feet hurt. You want to take his clothes off and really thank him appropriately.

lol… or you’d rather get laid than eat another bite.

Either way- it worked… and I was pushing away my plate in minutes. Wondering how long it’d take him to pass out before I could eat a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Annoyed enough at how bad it was to be a brat about it… dice some onions and garlic and REALLY cook dinner.

Show him how it’s done… Mr. I-wish-I-could-be-talented Steinbauer.

Dude… put down the salt and walk away slowly so that people can eat your food without three glasses of water.

Or vodka…

Which improved the taste exponentially- thank you.

Watching him shake like a crazy person while trying to cut his steak sort of takes my mind off the taste in my mouth. I’m grinning at him, thanking him for the amazing dinner… lying through my teeth.

It’s the thought that counts, right?

No.

When it comes to food? It’s the taste that counts. Sheesh. Buy a clue, Liarpants.

But the James Beard?

Give me a fucking break. Do I look like an idiot? Or just play one convincingly?

The James Beard Rising Star award is the epitome of chef-dom. It’s what they all pray for when they close their eyes at night. They all want it.

None of them get it.

Least of all, Liarpants with his nasty ass too salty overcooked broccoli.

Dude… please… you have to get up very very very early to fool a foodie…

and the closest you’re getting to a James Beard? Is to Google it.

🙂

BTW…. it’s his birthday…

Mmmm…. and this is why.

My hands are destroyed a little… it’s going to take some effort to return them to server hands. My nail polish is destroyed, my cuticles are ragged…

BUT!!!!!!!!!

A quarter of the garden is weeded and mulched. I’m exhausted… but it’s finally coming together and I’m finally getting it on auto-pilot. We’ve had a slow & cool summer so things are SO far behind.

BUT!!!!!

The arugula is gorgeous. The strawberries are going strong… and the golden raspberries are coming on. I found a dozen peas and 3 baby potatoes… I thinned the beets & the carrots…

Arugula, Strawberry & golden raspberry salad with roasted baby potatoes & baby beets.

This is why I knock myself out to grow my own veggies… so that when I’m having a crappy day, I can kick my shoes off at the gate, wiggle my toes into the dirt and feel better instantly.

More than that? I’m a food snob. I love things that taste good and I’m determined to grow them myself if I can’t get them locally. My mama ruined us early on.. she always had a huge garden and I knew from a tender age that potatoes didn’t taste as good as when you dug them yourself.

There’s a bit of love that comes through. It’s why I can Raspberry & Strawberry jam… it’s why I pickle beets and carrots & beans…. all this effort and all this work turns into something truly amazing…

and it feeds the people I love for the rest of the year.

I love a good day in the garden. I thrive in a dress & knee pads. I’m happiest with flowers in my hair and baby peas & carrots in my apron pocket.

Mmm. Bliss. Sweet, fantastic domestic bliss…

for 1. lol…

I hate to be a martyr but I fucking hate cooking for 1. I’m ready to start leaving food on the neighbors doorstep, just so I can truly enjoy cooking again.

Sigh…

Humor me… cook with me 🙂

If you’ve never attempted to make your own salad dressing, now is the perfect time to start! Here’s my favorite recipe for a quick easy vinaigrette.

Honey Bacon Dressing

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 pcs. bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Candied walnuts
Combine & shake like hell. Simple & yummmmmmmmmmy.
Throw the arugula in a bowl, dice the strawberries & throw the raspberries in. Add the candied walnuts & crumble bleu cheese & bacon over the top. Toss with the dressing & enjoy 🙂

Yummy

What’s a self respecting sun worshiper to do? I’m FREEZING to death. Ok so perhaps that’s a tad bit dramatic, but still… it’s ridiculously cold and I hate it.

Thankfully I have the answer… and it comes in a glorious 9X13 Pyrex pan of coconutty goodness. Behold!

My very own toasted coconut marshmallows… and because I love you all so much, the recipe.

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

Soften 4 envelopes of gelatin in 3/4 cup cold water in your mixer. Give it a half hour or so before you start with the cooked mixture.

(If you don’t have a mixer, you can’t have marshmallows, sorry.)

In a saucepan, combine:

3/4 cup water

3 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup corn syrup

Bust out your handy dandy candy thermometer (again… not optional) and clip it securely on the side of the pan. I’m not messing around when I say securely- I melted my flip flops to my foot once because I was being careless and the sugary molten lava spilled. Ouch and a half… oh and weeks wearing the same melted shoes because anything else bothered the blisters. Do not be careless making these, you will suffer as a result if you do.

Cook the combined ingredients to 244*. Pay attention. Too low a temp will result with you having a ridiculous amount of marshmallow cream. Too long and they’ll be tough and chewy. Eww. Do not walk away and leave them, although it will feel like forever while you stand there, it happens in seconds when you’re not paying attention.

Pour the lava into your mixing bowl and start slow, then build up (without a lava shower) to the highest speed on your mixer. Let it whip for 8-10 minutes.

Add (slowly)

1 tsp vanilla (and don’t buy the cheap stuff, sheesh!)

1 tsp coconut flavor.

Oil a 9X13 Pyrex pan while you wait for them to blend (you can color them too if you want at this point).

Dump the heavenly sticky goo into your pan and top with toasted coconut. Then wait.

Overnight. 😦

My daughter came home while I was making them yesterday and said

I- I wish I had two mouths right now so the mouth explosion was doubled. I wish everything could taste this good.

She’s not exaggerating, they’re THAT good.

Dust your entire life in powdered sugar and cut them with an oiled pizza wheel, being sure to dust each marshmallow on all sides or else your hard work will result in a giant disastrous marshmallow snake. Bag them up and enjoy.

The smell of coconut wafting through the house is almost as good as smelling it on your skin after a day in the sun with tanning lotion. The taste is enough to transport you back in time to your favorite pina colada. They are divine.

Make some, enjoy… and don’t forget to toast one. If you think you’ve had smores before? You haven’t until you’ve made them with a toasted coconut marshmallow.

Mmmm. Yummy…. and let’s all look on the bright side, Punxsutawney Phil says an early spring is on the way!

God love that strange little animal for not seeing his shadow.

Victory Yarden

My garden, aka The Yarden was overwhelmingly huge this year. Nearly an acre- and completely redesigned this year. With a freaking rake. I was determined, heartbroken and lost. Definitely depressed. Beyond depressed.

My mom brought her tractor over and we tilled the whole damn thing up. Go big or go home, organic farmer style. Like a blank slate… that had to be raked and shaped into the sexy round garden of my dreams. Fuck straight lines, fuck that rotten ex of mine and fuck everyone who told me I couldn’t do it.

I did it, God Damn IT…

Ugh. Wayyyyyyyy too well. I stood in my garden on my birthday in July and it hit me… What on earth could I possibly have been thinking. WTF. If I wasn’t out there at least 4 hours a day, it went crazy… and at a certain point, I didn’t care anymore. Without the sexual tension from the Shark and my iPod it would have been a miserable failure. Oh… and…

My ego.

Because the stupid boat stealing asshole got right in my face and told me I’d never be able to do it without him… and I would have died trying before I let him be right about that. I was nothing but a pain in his ass for the last year of our relationship. Admittedly. I was awful. However… he deserved nothing more than that. Having him completely out of my life is like the ultimate second chance.

Hearing horror stories about how his child is acting now- seeing him in all his scrawny, grey, & bitter glory? It’s all just icing on my ego cake.

He was wrong. I grew 3,200 lbs of vegetables (so far, I still have more to weigh) this year in my garden. I’ve been fine alone… and pretty damn happy with the new men in my life. Mr. Favorite is 19 years younger than him. Ha ha ha ha… and on a completely petty level…I hope it burns his ass when he sees us together at some point. I have a new job I love, a great relationship with my family and wonderful close friends. Life is bliss.

Even better? I was right. He’s content to live in a car. He’s happy bailing on his son to be lazy. He’s old. Lazy. Stupid…. and all washed up before he ever began. He’s a failure- and we were the best part of his life. I hope he kicks him self every day for the rest of his life.

Because like I kicked him out of our lives, my garden kicked his ass. It unfortunately kicked mine as well in the process, and I learned a valuable lesson. I have a huge ego…and it killed me this summer. My acre of healthy vegetables laid claim to my soul this summer and I hated it. The market was a failure and I am literally swimming in veggies. Canning like a pioneer. Spending every spare moment I have, dealing with the biomass I created out of pure stubborn pride.

I really showed him…

🙂

Tomato Hoarder

Seriously. My ego has gotten me in more trouble than I can shake a stick at. One of the last arguments with the dirty boat stealing asshole went something like this:

DBSA- What do you think you’re going to do? You’ll never be able to do it without me.

J- Hmm. You don’t think so, huh? Watch me.

Unfortunately we were talking about the garden. I expanded it, tilled all the rows in and remade/reshaped the entire thing. Fuck that guy, not only would I do it bigger, and completely erase anything he’d done in my garden- I’d do it alone.

I really showed him. Ugh. I was a slave to the damn garden all summer and now the fall fun has only just begun… I have thousands of tomatoes yet to ripen. I’m not exaggerating either. Literally thousands. 180 very healthy plants.

It’s a bit epic- to be completely honest…and a bit of an eye opener. I’ll never do it again. It’s just a ridiculous amount of garden…hell… it’s why we call it the Yarden. With a week of hot weather, and Th, Fr & Sat off- I’m going to be a canning slave. Marinara, salsa, pickled beets, more jam, pears, etc….

I’ve learned my lesson. I admit to being a tomato hoarder and I will never do it again.

I hope.

🙂

Happiness is…pickled beets!

I’m canning like a crazy girl this week.

Letting my inner domestic princess run wild results in amazing stuff coming out of the kitchen. Pickled beets are one of my favorite- and people beg from year to year to be on the list for Christmas beets. I’m sharing my recipe so that you’ll make some- I’d be willing to bet you’ll love them! There are a few secrets here and there I don’t share- because every pickling recipe is different. Tweak this one to please yourself and go crazy… mine have onions in the jar too this year.

Boil & peel your beets, and let them cool a little so you don’t burn your fingers off.

Sterilize your jars- don’t skip this step, EVER. You can’t be too careful, even when you’re canning something vinegar based.After they’re clean and steamy hot- fill them with your beets.

You can add anything you want really. I added a jalapeno pepper for one of my favorite girls that loves spicy things and they all got a chunk of onion from the garden too. Yummy. I don’t like sweet pickled beets, mine are more savory. Much better, if you ask me.

Boil your lids, clean the rims of your jars with a clean towel dipped in boiling water. Be neurotically safe- it’s worth it for the time it takes to get them canned. Boil your brine.

Get your hot water bath canner full and heating. It takes a while to get it going and if you time it correctly, this can be easy.

Brine… Every recipe calls for equal parts vinegar & sugar. Uck. If you’re using fresh garden beets, you don’t need that much sugar. You cannot mess with the vinegar- but you can use a whole lot less (if any) sugar. Play around with it, and taste your brine while you’re making it. If you don’t like it now- you will not like your beets. Be picky. Vinegar is cheap. Here’s my recipe:

Pickled Beets Brine

3 cups vinegar

1-3 cups sugar. Add it a little at a time until you like it.

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp pickling spices.

Boil it all together for 10 minutes or so- until it smells good and you like how it tastes.

Strain the pickling spices out and add it to your jars. Clean your jar rims again, put your boily-hot lids on with the rings, and set all your jars in a sink full of VERY hot water until the canner is ready. If you let your jars cool too much, you’ll blow the bottoms out when you put them in the canner. Nothing is worse than hearing that pop and seeing those bubbles. I promise. It’s worth being patient and letting them heat up. I lost 6 jars last year (out of about 400) so it doesn’t happen too often if you’re really careful about keeping them hot. Load 6 at a time- 7 makes it sketchy and I always end up getting burned.

10 minutes later you are rewarded with the most spectacular pickled beets you’ll ever have. Ever. Not that I’m bragging.

Victory… beautiful and delicious. What’s not to love? Raspberry jam coming up next….

Go domestic princess, go!

Sad Mommy Soup

I woke up this morning hoping it would rain… please… please, please. I’m heartsick and sad and don’t want to stare at the stupid sun. I want to clean the house until you can eat off the floor… pick vegetables… and snuggle with my little princess in front of a movie. To hell with a dress… I’m in my ultra loud strawberry pajama pants and my favorite ugly sweatshirt… hell even my socks don’t match.

But I’m soft- warm and so sad… so I’m enjoying the hell out of the Sad Mommy uniform. Which is just one more reason I don’t want a boyfriend… I love days like these every once in a while. I can’t even tell you how many times the dirty hippie tried to steal my favorite sweatshirt. Fucker- there are rules about favorite clothes… and I’m thankful I managed to keep it. Yes… I know it’s a horrible shade of pink… and it’s at least 3 sizes too big… but I liken it to a hug from my Dad… it’s big, perfectly broken-in, and I can paint the house or weed the garden in it.

Being in a relationship should never mean sacrificing your favorite clothes. Ever.

I’m surrounded by vegetables. Buckets and buckets of potatoes, garlic EVERYWHERE… not to mention hundreds of shallots. Tomatoes on the counter, laundry baskets full of basil, bowls of baby zucchini & carrots, and beets ready to be pickled. I’m drowning in veg… and in my own sadness. I really blew it this weekend- and I’m gloomy sad.

Soup to the rescue (because it works every time.)

This is my very favorite easy soup recipe… and a more heart felt apology, of sorts… because I don’t share it and once you try it… you’ll know why 🙂

Husband Soup, named by my girlfriend who swears I can’t give this to men recklessly or I’m liable to end up in captivity again.

8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, but the store bought variety works almost as well.

8 cups peeled & cubed potatoes

3-4 shallots, peeled & diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 tsp salt (I salt to taste, but start here)

1 tsp pepper (you can use white pepper if you’re uptight about seeing the pepper in your soup)

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (and buy Philadelphia, it tastes better, I swear.)

2 cups of each of the following: mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, celery, etc, anything you want really.

  1. Combine broth, potatoes and spices.
  2. Saute your other veggies separately.
  3. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  4. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.
  5. Reduce to low heat.
  6. Add your sauteed veggies.
  7. Add cream cheese.
  8. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

It really is amazing- and easy enough you can make it in minutes, even if you’re not feeling like cooking and you’d rather order pizza. There’s something amazingly soothing about peeling potatoes… and dicing them into tiny cubes. The entire act of cooking something you grew… is pretty obscenely fabulous. More than that? You can’t feel sorry for yourself when your babies eat themselves sick on soup & homemade bread.

You can embrace your gorgeous domestic self…and smile yourself right back to happy.