May 27, 2009

my first love



It all began when I was just a wee little fetus. My mom would drink strawberry protein shakes almost daily. When I was born I had a red birthmark on my noggin. As a child, whenever asked what kind of cake I wanted, the swift reply was always "Strawberry!!!!!" with a hint of "duh!" added in for bonus. Even to this day I yearn for the days when strawberries are in season so I can eat them in mass quantity. Usually, I don't want anything tainting them. No sugar, no cool whip, no cream, no chocolate. I just want the strawberries. I just want to bite into the sweet, juicy fruit, feel the crunch of the seeds and savour every tiny morsel. And I love how strawberries have the green top on them--it's like a little handle. How many other fruits have a cool handle?! A few fun facts about strawberries:

~on average, each strawberry has 200 seeds!
~it is the only fruit with seeds on the outside
~it's name is believed to come from the fact that farmers would lay straw underneath the berries to keep weeds at bay and to keep the berries from touching the ground and rotting quickly
~strawberries don't ripen once they are picked (so never buy ones that aren't bright red!)
~they were the symbol for Venus Goddess of Love (perhaps because of their vivid red color & heart shape?)
~it has many medicinal uses, but unfortunately many people are highly allergic to them (sorry for you! more for me:)

As you can see, my love for strawberries goes deeper than my tastebuds. I even have strawberry scented candles, lipgloss and my favorite lotion from the Body Shop. I have to use it sparingly because I usually want to eat my arm it smells so yummy! You can imagine my delight when I was at a local market this weekend and found 1lb containers of strawberries 3 for $1!! That's not a typo! I swiftly loaded up my cart with nine pounds. Now that I'm thinking of it, I should've gotten more. My freezer is now loaded up with bags of strawberries--conveniently frozen for future use in smoothies. Of course I left a container out so I could just munch on them. I think I'll go have some more:)

May 20, 2009

Insalata Caprese



This dish will always bring me back to my days in Europe. I'm so enthralled by its simplicity and complex flavors that I don't want to ruin it by writing too much. Just stare at the picture, and if you've ever tasted this wondrous dish, notice your mouth salivating. If you've never had it, go to the store and get the ingredients! Now! What are you waiting for?!


~fresh mozzarella (none of that processed hard block of shit you normally find). fresh is in brine or water
~plum tomatoes
~fresh basil
~extra virgin olive oil

May 18, 2009

Ajo


We loooooooove garlic. When a recipe calls for 2 cloves, we use 5. We eat it so much that I sometimes fear the pungent scent is seeping from my pores. I have yet to hear any complaints nor have I seen people turning up noses in disgust so I guess I'm in the clear:) If vampires are real, they certainly steer clear of our house! During my daily jaunt on Craigslist I ran across an ad stating "Garlic Harvest Work Party". I'm listening!

Turns out, Forever Yong Farm harvests lots of garlic and if you join them you get to take home a load of garlic for yourself, plus enjoy a huge home cooked lunch. Granted, it's a lot easier to just go to the store and buy some but we wanted to get out in the fresh air and learn more about where our food comes from. Saturday morning we woke around 6am and drove the hour drive to the farm in Amado, AZ. Upon arrival to the farm, we were in love with the place. Just the journey to the farm was picturesque, lush greenery, rolling hills. It definitely didn't feel as though we were in Arizona. Though, once the noon sun rose higher into the sky, reality settled in and as sweat rolled into my butt crack, I knew we were indeed, still in AZ.

With the help of a group of locals from the community and neighboring farms, we plucked loads of garlic from the ground and also learned to bundle and hang it to dry. The labor was somewhat therapeutic and mind clearing. I felt as though this is something I should be doing often. Now I want a garden even more! It's definitely hard work, but very rewarding when you know the fruits of your labor will eventually be devoured in a savory dish. One that you helped come to fruition! We have a bundle hanging on our back porch, drying and I can't wait to cook with it!
jeff with a large bundle of garlic
me & others harvesting the garlic

May 9, 2009

wedding cake

Thursday was my last cake class & for the final I had to make a wedding cake. To stay true to my procrastinating ways, I waited until the night before to even come up with a plan as to what style I was going to make. I wanted something simple, but not traditional. Something that I would enjoy looking at every time I open my refrigerator for the next week, as this cake slowly gets eaten away (by my boyfriend, NOT me--haha). Don't get me wrong, the cake is fantastic, but I don't need my daily intake of food to consist of cake!! It is super delicious though! Here is the final product. Not too shabby considering I've never done anything like this before.The cake is chocolate, with a chocolate espresso frosting. It is covered in fondant, which I didn't make but it is vegetarian. However, I did color the fondant myself which was a whole process in itself. The brown color used up a LOT of coloring to get the shade I wanted. Fondant is a lot like molding clay, and it is what I used to make the flowers as well. I've tried making roses with frosting and they usually look horrible. So I decided to whip up hot pink fondant and mold the roses by hand, and then painted them with edible glitter.

May 1, 2009

breakFAST smoothie

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm not too fond on making & eating breakfast. At least, not as soon as I wake up. However, whenever there is fresh fruit in the house, I load up on whatever we have and throw it into a blender to come up with this: (not a great photo, but you get it)There's never a precise list of ingredients. When it comes to deliciously mouth watering, juicy fruits does it really matter? Wait, that sounded like a starburst commercial:( They all taste fantastic and when in season they're even better! With these smoothies you're guaranteed to get your daily intake of fruit. This morning's concoction consisted of:

~banana
~lots of fresh strawberries
~pineapple & some of the juice
~orange juice (the Simply brand. i'm a juice snob and don't really like the taste of others)
~ground flax seed (for my dose of Omega3 fatty acids)

put it all in a blender and let it go! Try playing with the ingredient amounts and the type of fruit you use. Delicioso!
other fruits to consider:
~peaches, blackberries, raspberries, mango, the list goes on. Really anything that is fleshy & not hard will work great!
You could also add yogurt, plain or flavored. I don't do flavored because most have gelatin in them and well, I don't eat gelatin (that's a whole post in itself). You can also use water or other flavored juices.