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Why, Thank You…!


Just the other day, upon opening my inbox, there was one email I opened right away…something about ‘comment…inspiring…lovely’.

Sara of SaraInCucina nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger  AND the One Lovely Blog awards.  She is writing for us all the way from Italy!  I could not be more flattered!  So first, I must give a big thank you to Sara.  It’s always nice to know someone out there is reading, and it is icing on the proverbial blogging cake to get comments and be nominated for an award (or two)!

Now there are some responsibilities that come along with these *prestigious* awards.  :)

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site. (check)

2.  Share seven things about yourself.

3.  Link to 7 blogs who inspire you and link to another 7 blogs that you consider quite lovely.  (sometimes these awards are combined)

4.  Leave a comment on each of the blogs nominated letting them know!

So here goes…

  • There have been years where I spent more nights in a sleeping bag in the wilderness than on a mattress with a roof over my head.  That’s just how I roll.  And sometimes I even cook out there.  (you are correct – that is squeeze butter – an invaluable tool in certain situations!)

  • I completed a triathlon this year.  Okay…it was not an Ironman (’cause that sh#@&’s c-r-a-z-y) more of a spring distance…but that does not make me any less proud!
  • My first name (Gentry) is a typical last name…it was my great great grandmother’s maiden name and causes frequent confusion…thanks Mom and Dad.
  • I love to cook eggs (fried, poached, over-easy) but I’m not a big fan of eating them in these forms.  
  • I am slowly becoming a less-reluctant-Southern-Californian.  I don’t think anyone I know would have predicted that I would end up settling down in the LA basin…but I’m full of surprises.  Also…people tend to tune out when you complain about how hard it is to wear flip-flops every day and how you’re getting tired of 70º and sunny.  Call me crazy, but I like some “weather” now and again.  Don’t worry…it’s growing on me.
  • Sometimes…I don’t use the right tools for the job…even though I might own the right tools.  I attribute this to pure and momentary laziness.
  • Let’s just put it out there…I might be slightly addicted to shows like Monsterquest…which have a) no basis in reality; b) are somehow on the History Channel (how can it be history if there is no proof…?); c) some producers somewhere and a whole bunch of other people get paid to work on making shows about possibly real/more likely imaginary creatures; and d) don’t tell my husband…he’s a scientist!

It’s hard not to be inspired when you see what these bloggers are doing…click on over…take a peek and maybe even leave ‘em a note.  It’s just the nice thing to do!

  1. Garlic, My Soul – what’s not to love, really?
  2. Nothing But Bonfires – truly inspiring and hilarious!
  3. Semi-Rad – ’cause we’re all semi-rad.
  4. Hunter Angler Gardner Cook – reminding us that it doesn’t have to come from the grocery store.
  5. Foodie House – keepin’ it real!
  6. Tales From My Second City – perfect for a quick read and some laughs every now and then.
  7. Burnt Carrots – I promise…not everything is burnt :)

And let’s not forget about all of those lovely blogs out there that are making the interwebs a better place…and keeping it pretty too!

  1. Bun Boy Meets LA – love me some hometown info on local eating establishments!
  2. Triangle Honeymoon – you might learn a few things…
  3. Life Begins at Thirty, Right? – just lovely.
  4. Our Humble A{bowe}d – bringing you DIY loveliness from Montana
  5. Rosemarried – some awesomeness!
  6. Pearl and Pine – great photography and stories!
  7. ClookBook – a whole lot of greatness and some fabulous food photography tips!

So keep the blog-love going…and, of course, always thank those who read and click and share and write!

THANK YOU!

2011 Meals in Review | part two


as promised…

2011 Meals in Review | part two

July

Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta Salad (a la D’Amico & Sons)

German Potato Salad

Summer Tomato Caprese Stacks

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté with Scallion and Chive Smoked Salmon Spread

 

August

Sour Cream Verde Enchiladas

 

September

Heirloom Tomatoes Bread Salad with Burratta

Zucchini, Summer Squash and Brown Rice Casserole

 

October

Tomato and Gruyere Tart

served with a little salad

Fresh Linguine with Mizithra Cheese and Lightly Dressed Arugula

Traditional Beef Empanadas (made mini!)

A little sampling of delicious items…cheese, olives, toasts, etc.

Niçoise Salad

 

November

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti

Brioche French Toast

No-Knead Bread

Gougeres

Red Tea, Beef & Sweet Potato Stew

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Excuse the phone photo…but that’s what’s left of a scrumptious braised rabbit with pappardelle from this place.

Chestnut Pancetta Stuffing for Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving plate…and no I didn’t overdo it!

Couldn’t be complete without a slice of pecan pie!

The morning after was no let-down with Pheasant and Waffles topped with a Fried Egg and Mushroom Thyme Gravy!!!

 

December

A weekend trip up north found us eating at the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant in St. Helena.  The Tasting included 5 delectable bites to whet our appetites.

The polenta sitting under the magnificently cooked piece of beef was quite possibly the best thing on the table.

Duck Confit with a Poached Egg and Frisee

Krumkake Christmas Cookies

Christmas Eve bites including Cremenelli Salami – a little hometown pride!

Christmas Dinner – Tenderloin of Beef, Creamy Dill Carrots and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Turkey Tetrazzini

The BEST use of leftover beef ever…sliced beef tenderloin topped with a cold Bernaise sauce

And last but not least, Short Ribs Italiano served over Pappardelle!

 

We’re making some artichoke dip and about to head over to friends to ring in the new year!  Tonight is for looking back and tomorrow, we start fresh.

A Whole New Year!

Happy New Year!

2011 Meals in Review | part one


As I’m a bit behind these days, I noticed while perusing my photos from the past year in search of a couple photos for a new year’s card to send out, how many delicious moments we had in 2011.  What follows is not only what we made, but what we enjoyed! 

The delicious moments of 2011…


January

Rosemary Sea Salt Dinner Rolls (recipe credit: Pioneer Woman)

Creamy Pheasant and Wild Rice Soup

Orechiette with Pheasant, Bacon and Spinach

Butternut Squash, Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza

Pot Roast…good the first time, better the second…

Cumin-scented Butternut Squash with Onions and Wild Rice

Pot Roast Ravioli

Homemade Fettuccini

Boboli’s done right…!  (yes, you are correct…that is an egg cracked on top peeking out from underneath the arugula and parm!

 

February

yummm…pancakes

Delicate Scrambled Eggs with Truffle Salt

A Birthday dinner at Bouchon

Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage Leaves

Frisée aux Lardons et Oeuf Poché

Croque Madame

Back at home…Cheese Soufflé

Lump Crab Cakes

Valentine’s Day Cheese Fondue

Tempura and Cold Soba Noodles

Baby Artichoke Gratin (recipe credit: latimes.com)

 

March

Fancied-Up Burgers

Seared Scallops with Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Welsh Rarebit

 

April

April brought with it a trip to Vienna for Woody’s work…

Käsekrainer – near perfect street food

Beef Tartare with all the appropriate accoutrements

Veal Medallions

Finally in the homeland…a full plate of spätzle just for me!

A celebratory meal at Meinl am Graben began with a Veal Carpaccio for Woody

Tortellini with Consommé and Crisped Prosciutto

Honestly…I can hardly remember what exactly this course entailed…but I DO remember that it  was incredibly amazing!

The third course of our prix fixe…again…perfection!

Although I can’t say the name of the place…the fare was delicious

A trip to Vienna without Viennese coffee would be a crime!

Back at home…Pacific Spiny Lobster with Fava Beans and Meyer Lemon

Grilled Cheese Invitational…who says no to that…?

Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes…there were plenty more sandwiches and a lot more cheese, but most disappeared before I could get a shot!

And of course, an annual batch of Deviled Eggs for Easter!

 

May

Fried Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

Onion & Bacon Tart

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Another birthday was cause for a trip to the Los Olivos region, some wine tasting and of course a meal or two…

Bistro Burger

Spring Vegetable Pot Roast

Ebelskivers

Savory Lentil Salad

House guests meant a trip to the Original LA Farmer’s Market and an Oyster Po’ Boy

June

Chicken Garlic Sausage & Swiss Chard Flatbread

Potato Salad – Two Ways

Poppyseed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting

Part two coming soon…

Indian Summer Tomatoes! (and what to do with them…)


I’m back.  Or at least I’m trying.  Life got in the way these past two months…though I can’t quite pin it down to one thing.  There were house guests, school starting again, typical work stresses, trying to actually have a vacation, last-minute chaperoning of an outdoor ed trip, and life in general.

As I was looking through all the photos that have accumulated over the last two months…a significant portion of the dishes include tomatoes.  Let’s review, shall we!

A lovely typical caprese with fresh tomatoes, basil from the garden, peppery and buttery olive oil, sea salt, fresh black pepper and of course fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar!

Then there was the tomato and zucchini herb tart with gruyere…

We can’t forget the late summer farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes…

…and the burrata, oversized buttered croutons and herbed vinaigrette that took these tomatoes from summer treat to inspirational dish!

Although only garnished with tomatoes…this dish seemed to be in line with the others…

Zucchini, onion and pasilla pepper omelet with goat cheese and herbs!

I sit currently near an open window with blue skies and plenty of sunshine, which means is slightly hard to imagine that the rest of the country is slowly slipping past the height of fall and right into that season the follows autumn (and must not be named yet).  With a radio report of record October snows in the east…I promise, I’ll try to get my fall on out here in SoCal!  I feel the pull of seasons, but when it’s still 80° outside, it’s hard to consciously turn the oven on and roast things, or make soups, or even bake.  The nights are becoming increasingly cool…I even brought out a down comforter for the bed…as lows are in the high 40’s.  (don’t laugh)

I’ve got a few more posts to come and the motivation and inspiration to get back into the kitchen is creeping back!  How is your fall going?  Anybody else still enjoying the last few tomatoes of summer?

Summer Colds & T’mater’s


Summer colds.  I’ve got nothing good to say about them.

Let’s move on, shall we!?!  Let’s talk TOMATOES!

This is what is growing on my back patio as we speak…soaking in the sunshine and the heat of the day and always asking for a little more water at the end of the day with slightly droopy leaves.  Actually, the tomato plants look about how I feel after a full day of work…droopy, tired and like they could use a stiff cold drink!  Ha!

I can hardly contain my excitement for these guys as they’ve grown throughout the summer.  I look upon them lovingly and fiercely scold Cleo when I see her sniffing and about to mouth a delicious adolescent tomato who still needs a few more weeks on the vine to fulfill its full potential.

These are MY first tomato plants and about a week after planting them, I realized and remembered one of the great joys of summer.  The smell of tomato plants.  Not tomatoes.  The smell that is left on your hands after you reach in and fondle the branches for them to be supported by the tomato cage.  It is distinctly summer.  A smell not available at other times of the year.  A smell that cannot be recreated.  It takes me back to digging in the garden as a child and eating carrots straight from the ground, and learning about where food comes from.

Simple pleasures of summer!

What are your quintessential summer foods or smells?  What takes you back?

eatery 1025 :: You Should Go To There!


Utah… a culinary wonderland! (?)  Yep…I just used Utah and culinary in the same sentence!  I do this not out of foolishness…but because I actually know!  Of course, I could spend at least an hour or two telling you all about the secret spots, my new faves, the good ‘ole standby’s, the uniquely Utah locales, and of course where to find the best beer…nope…I’m just going to tell you about one little place that is well-deserving of your attention!  eatery 1025.  

I am not the first to take notice…and will not be the last.  Due to my lack to photography skills…I have borrowed a photo from the Salt lake Tribune as my attempts hardly did justice to the beauty of the chilled beet and cucumber soup!

(photo courtesy of Francisco Kjolseth/Salt Lake Tribune)

There is just one little quirky thing about eatery 1025…it’s technically in Bountiful.  Don’t let this stop you…it is worth the trip…right off the freeway…no big deal…it’s closer Alta and Snowbird!

The self-describe their menu as clean with seasonal ingredients.  I would agree although I’d throw in a splash of creativity, a slight lean towards gluten-free and vegetarian and a knack for taking dishes found on many menus and making them unique and extraordinary.  Executive Chef, Chelsa Best and Sous Chef, Liam Connelly have put their all into this little place and expanding the gastronomic horizons of Bountiful!  (and they have a tiny kitchen – having worked in kitchens, I know the challenges of tight spaces…you’ve got to have some happiness in the kitchen if you want your food to have love…which it does!)

Blah, blah, blah…get on to the good stuff…

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Sampling of side dishes:  honey-glazed carrots, rosemary fingerlings and curried cauliflower

Caesar Salad – parmesan frico, hearts of romaine, chopped hard-boiled egg, grilled red onions, crouton fingers, and last…and my favorite…fried capers!

Zucchini ribbons with chicken sausage and ricotta salata – no noodles here, just zucchini.  Fresh and brilliant!

Can you tell that we ordered many things…

Sweet pea spinach salad with caramelized onions, pine nuts and topped with salmon

Grilled ham and cheese with mustard and caramelized onions on sourdough

You can’t go wrong with a traditional and nicely grilled cheese sandwich

Chicken gyro on fresh pita

The space is bright and inviting mimicking the character of the dishes.  Currently they are serving breakfast (go for the oatmeal brûlée!) and lunch and will hopefully be serving dinner this fall.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without a sweet nibble…and truthfully, despite the bursting-at-the-seams feeling in my stomach…I could have squeezed in at least two more of these…they were that good!

Vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry mascarpone frosting!

(do you want to know a secret…?  these cupcakes are gluten-free!  I am not usually a fan of gluten-free…and I would not have known…delicious and made fresh daily on site!  Shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone!)

Overall, the menu is filled with options to satisfy both traditional and eccentric tastes while not overreaching.

What they do…they are doing well.

You Should Go To There!

eatery1025 •1025 South 500 West • Bountiful, Utah • 84010

**I may or may not know and or be related to the sous chef.  This in no way affected my overwhelmingly positive and delicious experience!  :-)

Roadblocks and Fettuccine


Dear Reader.  I’ve been neglecting you.  I know, I know…what could be so hard about cooking up some dishes, taking some photos and then writing about it?  In theory…not much.  Add in an unrelenting work schedule, a trip out-of-town, a (pathetic) attempt at getting some regular exercise and it gets more interesting.  But all of those are just excuses.  Yep, I just admitted it…just excuses…which is really no excuse at all.

courtesy of savagechickens.com

More importantly, I’ve been feeling some mental blockage when it comes to posting.  I have thought long and hard about this…which has gone nowhere.   Maybe you too have been thwarted in your projects and tasks.  Alright, I know part of it is wanting to make sure that everything is the best it can be…but being the best and being timely don’t always play nice together.  So…I’ve got to pick one and clearly lately I’ve been on team best without actually doing any work.  Also…I always want to post a lot of photos…and volume + photos I love = time-consuming.  Let’s loosen things up.  New goals: a) post more even if it means posting fewer photos; b) stress less about the words and the photos and get the post up.  Simple, right…?  Let’s start now.

Fresh Fettucine with Pheasant, Butternut Squash, and Bacon

Fresh pasta is a beautiful thing.  From the delicate but firm mouth feel to the slight chewiness…it just might be one of my favorite things…and when I make it I feel like I’m playing with the Play-doh noodle makers again!  This pasta recipe is the same one used in this post and can be found here courtesy of Jamie Oliver.  Obviously, you can cut your own fettucine with a pizza roller or pastry cutter/knife…I went with the KitchenAid attachment since I had yet to use mine! Originally I was planning on drying this pasta for use at a later date – until I realized I didn’t know very much about drying pasta and let’s not forget to mention that it is winter here in Southern California and that means rain, and dampness, and running a de-humidifier constantly in the house…so drying pasta is pretty much the opposite of what was going on in our house.

{Notes to self regarding future attempt to dry pasta:  1.  Air circulation is key – place drying rack underneath pasta.  2.  Although pretty, resist urge to pile pasta in a heap on counter.  3.  Portion out pasta for predicted serving size.}

Okay, moving on.  We threw this dish together with leftovers and items we already had in the fridge – diced and roasted butternut squash, chunked up pheasant breast (shot by none other than Woody himself) and bacon (our house is rarely without an open package of bacon in the fridge).  These ingredients along with some fresh herbs, heavy cream, parmesan and sliced shallots made a fine dinner!

Bon Appétit!

 

 

We’ve met someone new…Hello Moccamaster!


Dear Krups coffeemaker – we’ve enjoyed a relationship with you for the last few years, but lately, you’ve been disappointing us.  You always did know exactly when to start brewing our morning cup with your timer, but sometimes the coffee just wasn’t right.  It’s not that you weren’t trying.  Sometimes, it might have even been our fault…for not getting the right coffee, or grinding the beans perfectly.  You probably noticed that we weren’t using you as often, and that we frequently slipped out a few minutes early to make sure we had time to fill our travel mug with brew from a shop along the way to work.  It wasn’t really cheating…we just had needs, and you weren’t fulfilling them.  Don’t worry, we’ll still see you occasionally…we’ll stash you away in the garage, maybe invite you to a brunch or a dinner party every so often…or if we have houseguests…we’ll make a space for you on the counter.  But, we’ve found a new love.  The Technivorm Moccamaster with a thermal carafe.  Krups, it’s over.  We’re dating Moccamaster now and there just isn’t room for you both!

“The brewing quality of our coffee makers is beyond dispute and guaranty a first class beverage due to the fact that brewing temperature and water/coffee contact time as well as holding temperature are in accordance with the critical requirements of the European Coffee Brewing Centre and the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe.”           – From the Technivorm website

We first learned about the Technivorm from Woody’s Dad – and we were not disappointed with our first brew this morning.  All the good of coffee without any of the bad – no worries about bitterness, harsh or burned flavors.  Just a delicious, perfectly balanced cup of coffee.

The entire contraption can be taken apart piece by piece, and is incredibly simple in design.  We opted for the thermal carafe, as additional heating can change the taste of coffee…and it comes with a completely sealable lid, which means we could take the coffee with us…I don’t know where exactly we’d take it…but it is an option!

The water is heated to between 195º to 205º fahrenheit, and then carried in the metal spray arm to even wet the grinds and slowly soak through them and drip into the carafe.  There is a cover, but you can monkey with the grinds (as Woody is doing) and stir them a bit.  Another feature is the ability to shut off the drip valve and let the grinds soak a bit…so you can also pour a cup with the brew process being complete.

The lid on the carafe also allows you to pour through it.  We doctored up the coffee and enjoyed the best cup we’ve had in quite a while.  I snatched up some locally roasted coffee for the inaugural brew from Jones Coffee Roasters.

And then we sat down to enjoy our mugs!

Happy Birthday Little Blog!


Onions and Chocolate turns 1 today!  That’s pretty old for a little project that came out of a dare.

(photo courtesy of Patchwork Harmony)

So…1 year down…who knows how many more to go.  There were some 63 posts, 56 categories and 265 tags.  I look back on all this blogging…and think quite a bit about all the posts that didn’t go up…and all the dishes that weren’t photographed.  Sometimes, it was due to lack of time, or lack of energy…but other times it was due to the company present.  It is hard to pause it the midst of entertaining…and take a hundred photos of what your guests would really like to be eating…while it is still warm.  I’m hoping to continue to work on this little project…learning more bits and pieces of digital food photography…figuring out lighting tricks, collecting some more dishware and tablecloths and napkins, but mainly….I’m really hoping to post more…which is just a sneaky way of saying…all I want to do is cook more, bake more, learn more and of course eat more.

I have a small obsession with salt…so much so…I’ve earned myself the nickname Old Salty when I worked in the field as a wilderness guide as well as having my brothers kindly name a home-brew beer after me for my 30th birthday – Old Salty’s Halfway to Sixty Extra Special Bitter. Such genuinely sweet brothers!  I have been known to carry my own stash of kosher salt around with me, and had many a joke for it as well.  Which is why I was so pleased to stumble upon this post on a site I was drawn to immediately from the name alone…Not Without Salt.  And yes, I realize carrying around my own small container of various salts is somewhat precocious…but I can’t agree with the author more when she writes “A few flakes of Maldon and your dinner is saved.”

So here is to anniversaries, birthdays, celebrations, momentous occasions., and traveling with small containers of delicious salts…just in case!  Cheers!  I can’t wait to see what year two has in store!

2010 in review


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how my blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 58 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 77 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 31mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 24th with 347 views. The most popular post that day was Meyer Lemon Cake.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were tastespotting.com, foodgawker.com, lafamiliafischer.blogspot.com, macheesmo.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for duck confit sous vide, onions and chocolate, sous vide asparagus, fresh corn salad with black beans and tomatoes, and confit sous vide.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Meyer Lemon Cake April 2010
10 comments

2

Fresh Corn and Basil Salad with Black Beans July 2010
2 comments

3

Just Carrot Soup October 2010
1 comment

4

sneak peek… January 2010
2 comments

5

Duck Confit Sous Vide March 2010
1 comment

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