Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Spirit of the Ivory Hut

A few nights ago I found this blogger through a post from My Baking Addiction. I wish I had discovered her site in a different set of circumstances, but maybe not. I read this in what was to be the middle of catching up on my food-related reading, but afterwards food was the last thing on my mind.

She is a stranger. We may have nothing in common, other then food. Maybe even then, we wouldn’t mesh.

After reading her post all I could think of was how to make her feel a little less alone in an overwhelming mess. Lots of us, myself included, spend the day hearing, seeing, reading, or deciding what is wrong with the world, reading the comments from her post was a great escape from that. I don’t think I started crying until I read the comments. Maybe it took a few minutes for the impact of what happened to Erika to hit me, or maybe the kindness of strangers and friends hit me harder.

I don’t think anyone can grasp the impact a devastating fire has on a person unless they have experienced it themselves, but to the best of your ability try and understand. Yes thankfully everyone is okay, but imagine losing every tiny thing your hands touch in your home, and the home that holds it. That pen you always hated, the wall you always wanted to paint, was part of what makes up your life and your home.

I will pass on to you the echoes of other bloggers:  All of us may not be able to help out monetarily, which is completely understandable, and includes me, unless I really do give just $5, but I plan on having a little bake sale/food sale. Just as important are words of support. Visit The Ivory Hut.

If you want to help, or just stay updated, these two sweeties (Maggy Keet of Three Many Cooks and Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life) set up this site

Here is Erika’s post from The Ivory Hut

In an Instant

added Sept. 1, 2010

Last night, my head was preoccupied with last minute work on a special project and putting the finishing touches on a post. My husband Tom and I had also been discussing the logistics of possibly attending BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco. These were the things that weighed on my mind.
A mere hour or so later—and instant, really—we were outside, in our shirts and shorts, watching our house crumble as it was engulfed in flames. I’ll never forget that hissing and crackling noise as my husband’s home of almost 30 years practically disintegrated before our eyes.
But we were safe. All of us. Our son Tim, without hesitation, ran back inside when he realized his grandmother was sleeping upstairs. By the time he got to her, it was too late to try and exit the house the same way he came in. Fortunately, Tom had devised a fire escape plan years ago, and Tim was able to bodily carry his feeble 82-year-old grandmother out the window, onto the roof, and eventually down on the deck. The sight of this brave son of mine carrying his grandmother as he ran down the lawn and away from the house is one I will never forget.
Obviously, none of us slept last night. We are fortunate to belong to a congregation that is as close to us as family, and one of our dear friends drove to our house last night to pick us up and take us to her home, which is where I sit right now, typing this.
The magnitude of the loss is almost too much to comprehend in its entirety. So last night, I mentally walked through all the rooms in the house, taking stock of what was valuable in that room, and then systematically making peace with the loss. I said goodbye to my new MacBook Pro, my 500GB drive of photographs, another 500GB drive of music files. My purse, with all my identification cards, and all the car keys—car keys that are useless anyway, since the flames have likely taken our cars too. Our passports and birth certificates. My husband’s prosthetic leg, without which he is unable to freely move around. Our shoes, all our clothes, and our musical equipment. My engagement ring and my wedding ring, and a gold bracelet passed on to me by my mother on my wedding day.
My baby pictures, which are the only remaining proof that once upon a time, I was actually cute. My iPod Touch, the value of which is immeasurable because it held all my half-finished songs, poems, and writings.
But when I weigh it all against the value of being able to hold my husband’s hand and my son’s hand last night as we said a family prayer of thanks for our survival, as well as a petition for strength to deal with the days to come, and the fact that this morning, I woke up to a day with both of them still with me, then I still think I got the better end of the deal.
Oh, and I’m sorry there are no photos in this post. You see, my beloved Canon 5D and all those lenses I had? They’re gone too.
Which stings, I’ll admit. But all I have to do is throw a glance my family’s way and yep, I’m still blessed.

Here is her most recent post:


I barely chewed that

My mother could live off of my macaroni salad. She requests it for dinner on nights we are having it for dinner.

I was met with a hug that could cure a cold, a kiss that could paint a masterpiece, and a smile that makes even the grumpiest stranger follow along. Jim has been independent since Independence Day. Others think it’s strange that I go back to visit my hometown for so long. Jim is very understanding about why it isn’t so strange. My family and most of my life-long friends are there. For the most part I have missed birthdays, breakups, graduations, funerals, new jobs, meals, anniversaries, new pets, concerts, Christmases, Easters, Fourths of July, St. Patrick’s Days, and Thanksgivings. You name it, I wasn’t there to celebrate or console. I realized a big part of my life was in what seemed like a permanent hiatus.

When I worked a jobby job, I spent my ten days of vacation I received every year going back to Pennsylvania. I have never gone on a real vacation. Besides an amazing four-day jaunt in Burlington, Vermont, and numerous weekend trips, I have had my two feet on home turf. Now that I have a baking gig, I have the freedom to live like I don’t have to answer to “the man”. I love being my own boss. Hence the extended-extended stay.

Jim does miss me. Terribly. But when I am home, we spend almost all of our free time together, which I love. Don’t think he is neglected all year round with my gallivanting. He bonds with our cat Peaches, and attempts to cook himself dinner. He made chocolate chip cookies. Twice. Something he would most likely not do if I was here, because I am always baking, and he is happy to reap the rewards. In spades. He also picks out his own outfits.  He has great style, but next to cook and baker, stylist is my title in the house. When I am gone we talk on the phone more than most people who live with each other do. It is very humbling knowing what a solid, stable, happy relationship I have. Something that gets beefed up when we spend time apart.

Alright enough mush. For now.

I thought for my first blog back, I’d give you a taste of what’s to come. When I go to P.A., vegetable becomes a dirty word. I go from eating meat twice a week to meat twice a day. The more cheese something has, the better. If it’s deep-fried, it’s mine. I usually gain about ten pounds. Ten glorious, worth-it-every-time-pounds. “I barely chewed that” is reserved for things that, well, are so good, you look at your empty plate and wonder where that delicious thing you were just eating went.  We say it a lot in my house. Don’t get me wrong, we savor the food we eat. Sometimes we just savor more quickly.

Behold the Porketta sandwich. Mayo on the bottom.

Porketta, pre-sandwhich. My mom breaks up the leftover pork and re-heats it in its own cooking juices. It is one of the greatest things there is. You almost don’t need the  perfect kaiser roll (that you can’t really get anywhere but the East coast) to improve this piece of pork art. I said almost.

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” Elisabeth Foley

Frozen corn. If you are intrigued, ask. Otherwise laugh cause' ya know.

If  I ever have to go to rehab for anything I now know I will be all Intervention on whom ever is willing to care about my ass. Irrationally refuse, then go, knowing I am cared for with my wits. I miss writing. I miss you guys. More than I thought I would. I am in NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania for you outsiders) for the month of July. I had my bridal shower on Saturday. I hate the word bridal.  I am listening to Justin Bieber right now. Don’t judge, you have your fleeting, comforting music too. I still appreciate the complexity of Keith Jarrett.

Coming home to PA is a whirlwind of eating, drinking, reminiscing, and just being. The leaving has gotten easier. A little bit. I love Seattle, but home is, well, home. Cyndi Lauper now. Pizza, wings, bread, cheesesteaks, real hoagies, $6 packs of cigarettes: it’s like heaven. I cannot forget the sun. I left Seattle with my heat on. I have become the terrible twos, Damien from The Omen, a Republican, the guy who shot Bambi, you name it in this heat. It is the opposite of productive. You want to shower every 7 minutes, and motivate yourself to about every three days. Did I mention the air-conditioner  is out in the car? I am Cruella Di Vil + Captain Longstocking in severe heat and humidity. I miss home.

I will be back in Seattle posting my foodcapades from PA soon, but I wanted to share just a little bit of what wonderful friends and family I have, because without them food is just compost in waiting.

I have been voted down on cooking for my wedding, which I now know was a good decision. I was cooking about two hours into the shower. The whole thing flew by like the last baseball game of the season. I am not an experienced shower attendee. I thought my gifts would be sent to Seattle, and it would be a night of eating, drinking, and talking. Enter presents. I was a shiny bride even in the air-conditioned house. I am shocked that every picture does not have me wiping my top lip. How do you do it in the South?

As I tried to take sips from my beer and read cards, they were taken and recorded in Brazil fashion. I got gifts from the heart and didn’t have time to express how special they were to me. I hope I can Thank-You-card the way I felt that day.

I now would like to pay special thanks to my doll Rosebud. Let’s just say I have a little OCD, control issue in the kitchen, but Roseann appeared like a culinary angel, and pretty much saved the day. The only way I could explain how wonderful she was is that she asked which side of the grooved cutting board I used. I knew I could leave things in better than good hands. She was mixing our signature drink, and plating endive Caesar bites in her sanguine way. It made my night.


My Steph did whatever random thing was needed with grace, and Megan took the best pictures without knowing she would take the only ones. I am usually a camera bug, but that night I am not even sure if I went to the bathroom.  She was my eyes that night. I thank them and love them both.

Meg and Steph

Steph and me

I grew up with these girls listening to Mary J, driving around, getting caught for underage drinking, and just growing up. And still.

My mother deserves her own post, so she will get it. We were moving my piano two days before the shower that she has kept and moved for me for more than a decade. I never took a lesson in my life.

My sister in another life, my aunt, Laura. The only person who can prepare for any event in this family because you are my mother’s sister. I believe my mother was at one point showing her how to sweep a sidewalk when there were bags of sugar in the doorway: and we were out of lemons.

My Mel and her bruises. I won’t go into detail, but it was worth it. My Marti Rae, I only drove that far for you.

Sara Beth and Marti Rae


I think about all of you more than you can imagine. You will always have somewhere to sleep, and someone who worries about you.

What You Should Be Talking About Around Your Virtual Water Cooler

is having a recipe challenge starring two of her favorite ingredients: avocado, and feta. I have to admit: besides guacamole, I am not a big participator in the wonderful world of avocado, which made this that much more fun. If it is just sliced on a sandwich, or chunked in a salad, the texture gets me every time. I love the taste, I would just rather just be dipping a tortilla chip in it, or slathering it on something substantial like a burger. I have morphed aspects of baklava with pesto and guacamole, hence the name Baklavocado. Only a week left, so start scooping and crumbling your way to win a copy of Denise’s book.
The Challenge

COMPOSE a course that contains AVOCADO & FETA CHEESE, two of my favourite ingredients. You may also include any number of additional ingredients. The dish can be for a vegetarian, carnivore, or pescatore, whatever. It can even be a dessert. No matter what though, it must contain the two challenge ingredients.

Challenge Facts:

1. Neither Lazaro, Nancy, nor I will be participating.
2. The winner will be chosen by a consensus of the three of us.
3. The challenge is open to everyone, worldwide.

Challenge Guidelines

1. You must submit a dish containing Avocado & Feta Cheese.
2. Copy & Paste the Quickies cover image (contest photo) onto your blog post that includes the dish you wish to submit.
3. If submitting an old blog post, just write a short, new post with the contest photo included.
4. Email me a link to your post at
6. On June 8, 2010 we will announce the winner & post a round-up of all the dishes.

The Prizes:

1. Winner gets a copy of Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night
2. A guest blogger spot on Lazaro Cooks!

I hope you enjoy our first Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night Challenge. Have fun and be creative. Please tell your readers that you intend to participate; they might like to join in the merriment!

That’s it for now lovely readers – I look forward to your wonderful entries!

Baklavocado Pesto

1 cup mashed avocado

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, toasted

1/4 cup crumbled feta, crumble very tiny

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbls chopped cilantro

2 tbls chopped parsley

1 1/2 tbls honey

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 olive oil (more if needed)

salt and pepper

Mortar and pestle, or food process all ingredients except oil. Add oil in a slow stream for optimum emulsion.

Adjust honey and nut to your liking.

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

More Than Collard Greens