Three summers ago, I fell in love with a girl. It was pretty much love at first sight. Within moments of talking to her, I knew that we were meant to be friends. And, despite living rather far away from one another and not being phone people, our relationship has remained intact.
The girl… ok, woman… I am referring to is my friend Jessica. We met on a trip to Israel a few years ago and, thankfully, have kept in touch. Jessica was one of only a couple of individuals from that trip that I invited to our wedding. There are few people I’ve felt such a strong connection to, but the bond we have is something that I hold close to my heart.
Part of what has kept our friendship so strong are our yearly visits. Jessica has business conferences up in Boston around our wedding anniversary and she always extends her trip to spend some time with us on the Cape. During these weekends together, we lounge on the deck, drinking mimosas while we talk about everything that happened the previous year. Conversations range from movies to politics, social media and blogging to music from our childhood (and beyond… we’re both huge Van Morrison fans).
But what we love to talk about the most is food. We’re both adventurous pescatarians, unfazed by strange sea creatures, and we will try just about anything once.
On these visits to the Cape, Jessica and I will spend hours in the kitchen, talking about our favorite herbs and our various foodie philosophies, while I work on a batch of fresh blueberry scones or the fixin’s for that night’s dinner. We geek over cookbooks, freaking over Amanda Hesser’s books and Heidi Swanson’s latest. She shows me how to make her favorite salad dressing (a paste made out of garlic, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice) and I show her mine (dijon mustard, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and dill).
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What comes to mind when you think of skewers? Beef kabobs, corn dogs, chocolate dipped bananas? Yup, that’s about as far as I could go with my list. That is, of course, before I got a look at Matt Armendariz‘s new book, On A Stick!, a collection of recipes and perfectly stylized (by his partner, Adam Pearson) and photographed dishes that are all prepared, that’s right, on a stick. I must admit that I had no idea that this was the focus of Matt’s book until he sent me a copy to preview.
Flipping through, I was struck by the diversity of the book’s contents, which ranges from the simple (Caprese Sticks, comprised of cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella, all of which is brought together by a piece of sun-dried tomato) to the elegant (the Son-in-Law Eggs, a whole egg that has been deep fried and is paired with a tamarind sauce) to the creative (Chicken and Waffles?). There’s something in this book for everyone, which is part of the reason why I featured one of the easiest recipes from the collection.
Because, the fact is, even though something is easy to prepare, doesn’t make it any less delicious. And, really, who isn’t craving a wonderfully sweet hunk of fresh mango right now? I know I am!
Last weekend, our friends Cori (pictured above… I swear that she just happened to be wearing her LSU sweatshirt. How perfect is that?) and Dan came to the Cape with us and were generous enough to be my models. Of course, I did feed them yummy food so they weren’t going to complain too much about doing some work.
And, now, on to the giveaway!
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There’s something wonderfully exciting about seeing a recipe that completely changes the way you think about food. This doesn’t mean that the dish has been deconstructed nor has it gone through a molecular-gastronomical transformation. What I’m talking about are modifications to a recipe that give you a new perspective on what that dish can be.
This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I turn into an excited little boy. I read quite a few food blogs and it tends to be where I get my inspiration from. A few weeks ago, stumbling around my favorite sites, I came across a recipe on Sassy Radish (cute name, right) for Asparagus Caesar Salad.
At first glance, I expected this to be a lettuce-based salad with some chopped up asparagus on top. But as I read through the recipe, I realized this was something different. No greens, no croutons. Just the raw asparagus, peeled into ribbons, tossed with a classic Caesar dressing.
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By now I’m sure many of you are aware that Eric and I took a week long trip to Northern California. And, as promised, I’m sharing pictures from our journey… sans photos from our meal at The French Laundry. Instead of talking about each place (we did a lot of boppin’ around), I’m just going to put little labels throughout the post to explain where the photos were taken. We start off in Carmel-by-the-Sea:
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There’s no denying the fact that I’ve missed all of you. This past week was the first time in over a year that I didn’t write a post (thanks again to all of the wonderful bloggers who wrote beautiful guest posts for the site), and it took me a couple of days to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t always have access to Twitter or Facebook or WordPress (where I create all of these entries). I must admit that I didn’t stay away the whole trip (thanks iPhone!), but there were plenty of days where there were long stretches without internet or cell phone service. And, I have to say, I quite enjoyed that time.
But now we’re back, having done our job of eating our way through Northern California. I’ll put up a post later with pictures from our trip, but I do want to prepare those of you who are looking forward to a gallery of shots from our dinner at The French Laundry. Not only did I not take any photos during our meal, but I didn’t even bring my camera with me. And I’m so glad I didn’t. My time with my husband, and the incredibly memorable meal that we shared together, can’t be captured in a picture. No photograph could ever do it justice.
Coming back from vacation can be a bit jarring. I particularly miss the long, leisurely breakfasts Eric and I would have together, gorging on baked goods and sipping coffee. But just because we’re back to reality doesn’t mean we can’t find time for such simple pleasures as a relaxing weekend morning breakfast. And there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a stack of plump blueberry pancakes.
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In a little over a month, I will be attending what will probably be my one and only food blogger conference this year. In actuality, the Big Summer Potluck is less of a conference and more of a gathering of very enthusiastic foodies. I didn’t attend last year, but from what I gather from everyone’s accounts of the event, it was a fantastic experience; filled with lots of food, wonderful seminars and loads of laughter. Does it get much better than that?
Here’s the thing, though: I hadn’t planned on attending this year. But as I watched the tickets for the event sell rather rapidly, I just had to jump on the opportunity. One of my big incentives for going (not that I needed much of a push), was the appearance of Debra from Smith Bites on the list. We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, but have expanded that relationship to e-mail chats about a variety of food blogger-related topics. She was also one of the people who was influential in getting me to redesign my site (and take the plunge and switch to WordPress)… and I have to thank her for that.
Debra is a kind soul, someone who is always willing to lend a friend a helping hand. But not only that, she has a wonderful sense of humor and is never disturbed by my somewhat childish antics. And now I’ll leave you in Debra’s hands… who was generous to write this guest post while I finish my travels.
In my community of blogging friends, I’m always amazed at how much these people are like family. We share each other’s ups and downs, troubles and triumphs, and we always seem to be there for each other with a helpful word of advice or just to listen. Oh…and we can always count on a good laugh! Brian is one of these people that I truly love and laugh with. His blog, photography and tweets are the epitome of love, warmth, humor and doggonit people like him!
So when he asked me to guest post, it was a no-brainer. Of course!! So, for Brian I have pulled out this oh-so-easy but delicious Balsamic, Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The Professor and I love to grill pizzas on our Big Green Egg. With the weather finally warming up, recipes like this become a staple for the season. Like all good things Italian (and inspired by a Mario Batali recipe, no less), the ingredients are simple. And like all good Italian pizza, less topping is more. By sparsely layering the ingredients, each flavor in each bite has a chance to shine; in one moment you taste a single ingredient, and in the next bite it’s a perfect symphony of all the flavors. Be still my heart.
While I highly recommend the little cipollini onions for this recipe, you could definitely substitute a sweet onion you have on hand with similar results. For a crispy yet tender crust, it is a good suggestion to par bake the crust before adding the ingredients. Also, if the bottom of the crust gets done first, just put the pizza under the broiler to achieve the golden brown goodness pictured here.
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