Tag Archives: cooking

JAMIE’S BLOG – YEAR 9 – DAY 7 :: trust your skills

7 Jan


I cooked tonight. It’s not as amazing as it used to be since I have joined the prepared foods bandwagon (thank you HelloFresh and Green Chef for giving me some mad kitchen skills). But tonight was special, because it was our very last prepared meal – we have decided to go a la carte and back to our own food shopping.

So, tonight was our last meal, the last dinner of Green Chef. Which made it special because it was also a total flop. Honey Mustard Chicken was not so sweet, and the peas and the saurerkraut side was, well, I believe the culinary term is, “awful” or “yuck.”

But the best part of it all was that I trusted myself so much I knew it wasn’t any mistake I had made in the kitchen to make it a flop. And, that, is coming a long way baby. The execution was perfection if you ask me but the recipe was just NOT our flavor profile.

And that’s okay because it made me stop and realize something big. Huge, really: I can make really awful recipes ALL by myself!

I mean, I have made some truly horrible things in the kitchen (don’t ask about the rock hard pecan pie, the lopsided jello, the pizza on fire and that one chicken recipe). But those were mistakes. I truly didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have the skills to know how to do better. But tonight, I did know what I was doing and it tasted awful anyway.

And, that, is probably the first time I have ever experienced a perfectly failed recipe! 

Which brings me to tonight’s lesson in trust. Sometimes it takes something tasting perfectly horrible to realize you have to trust your madly wonderful skills.



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JAMIE’S BLOG – DAY 319 :: blissful eating

19 Nov

Today’s bliss…cooking… and eating.

I don’t do it often, but tonight I did…. cook that is.
Because it was Julia Child Day at my alma mater of course!

“For students, the highlights of Julia Child Day are house dinners. Entrees this year include brie en croute, pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sage sauce, beef bourguignon and poached local fish with citrus beurre blanc.”

I’m not sure I can pronounce most of that, but it sounds lovely doesn’t it?

And that is so NOT what I prepared in my kitchen tonight. My creation was more of a cross between a burrito and a potato plus some spinach. Julia is shaking her head and a vat of butter somewhere at that I’m sure (but I promise it tasted good).

Tonight, as I was cooking (or sautéing, really) I reflected on The French Chef. It’s a tale of Pride and Pressure. I’m so proud of Julia Child and relish the thought that we walked down the same aisle at the library, maybe even picked up the same dusty forgotten book on a shelf. Or possibly sat gazing out a window, inspired by the same tree’s leaves falling, decorating Paradise Pond.

And then there is that pressure point. The one that comes rearing it’s big ugly head at the thought of sharing the same book, gazing at the same tree, and realizing there is so much to live UP to in this long line of amazing women traveling through the halls of Smith College. The pressure is real.

But that brings me to another “P” word, the one that I have to say over and over to myself to remain grateful and not overwhelmed with pressure. Privilege.

All women deserve the attention, detail, education, and exponentially expanding experience that comes from an amazing college education, no matter how it is packaged up or where/which campus it occurs.

So thank you, Smith College. I may always feel the pressure to live up to your good name, but I will never forget the privilege that comes with it.

And to that, I raise a block of brie and chocolate croissant.
Pure. Bliss.

More tomorrow. 

{favorite recipe?}

Day 64: kitchen nightmares, take 2

4 Mar

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.
Japanese Proverb

Tonight, I took my kitchen nightmares to the next level and put my cooking skills to the test.

I made dinner for a living, breathing, human being — Justin.
(And, he’s still alive!)

Of course, I made some beginner’s mistakes — like cutting the oranges the wrong way, oops!  And, the chicken had a little more pep, as in pepper, than desired.  But, I must admit, the asparagus was just divine.

Overall, dinner was not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did it.
More than anything else, I squeezed a little more fear out of my head.

And, to that, I say:
Bon Appétit!

Day 234: cows and chickens laughing

22 Aug

Justin is cooking dinner right this very second.
The dinner he is cooking, he also caught this afternoon as we walked around Great Tisbury Pond.

We were crabbing — or at least Justin was — while I was hunting another kind of find out in the wild with a camera instead of a net.

And, I found a few rare views:

A man on the hunt:

A bee busy at work on a day-old bloom:

And, a ship offshore at the ready to guard our president:

All rare sights for me, all caught in my photo net to keep forever.
Unfortunately for the crabs, they were also caught and brought home to join us for dinner.

Which makes me realize, I don’t know the last time I caught and cooked my own food in the same day.  Do you?

If it were up to me to catch and cook everyday, instead of waiting in line for it at the grocery store, or picking it from the produce aisle, I would be a verified vegetarian.

Did you hear that?  I think somewhere in the world there are cows and chickens laughing at me. I’m sure of it.

But I know one thing, in the kitchen a few doors down, Justin is turning 15 crabs into a blue crab soup that will make the Chesapeake Bay jealous — and me full.  Which, if nothing else, is good for my tummy.

(At least until I go grocery shopping tomorrow.)

Day 193: raw and ready

12 Jul

You’re not ready until you’re ready.
This I know is true.

Today, I decided I was ready.  Ready to slump back into the ring for another attempt to remove my reigning title as The Kitchen Klutz previously on the ropes from lack of skill and desire.  Since cooking is my downfall I decided to try my hand at not cooking. That’s right, no flame, no heat, just raw.

The Arena: Raw Food
In One Corner: Chef Jamie “The Kitchen Klutz” Eslinger
In The Other Corner:  Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Round One: Shopping
I so fall in love with recipes and the idea of creating something yummy, until reality sets in and I have to actually go grocery shopping.  Especially when the recipes I fall in love with have NOT communicated with my local grocery store — who doesn’t stock the items necessary to replicate the lovely dish my stomach craves.

For instance:
chipotle peppers
hulled hemp seeds

The best part is describing to stock boys exactly what I’m trying to find.  It’s like speaking a foreign language. Jamie: “Do you have chipotle peppers?”  Stock boy: “All of our peppers are on this wall,” starring blankly at a display of bell peppers.

And if you think that’s hard try the “hulled hemp seed” conversation.  Stock boy: “is that something you eat?”  End of conversation.

Good thing my iPhone works in the produce aisle and I was able to locate a substitute mix of herbs and powders.

Round Two: Let the dirty fighting begin!

This little recipe from Russel James of The Raw Chef fame took three separate steps titled “mix by hand” — yes, you read that correctly, take your bare hands and mix together salty, tomatoed and seeded kale until the salt burns holes in your hands.

Round Three:  We have a mix up!

Just grab a blender, some avocados, spices, lemon juice, and blend together.  (Oh yeah, and leave out the Agave because you are not eating sugar).  Much easier said than spun.  The blender didn’t want to cooperate, sticking and stopping and subtly screaming up at me.

I was almost ready to throw in the towel!
With force of hand it slowly and eventually came together with a little spatula work.

Then came the final blow:
Go back to Round Two and mix the whole mess up with bare hands in a big bowl of kale.  Talk about sticky fingers. (I tried to take a photo but my hands were too messy — believe me, it would have been a great photo.)

The Final Verdict: A Knockout!

Even Justin liked it.
I must admit, I was impressed with my own non-cooking abilities — maybe that’s the clincher — not cooking?

In the end, I totally recommend this tasty salad, (and might do it again) even without the Agave which I dismissed for sugar reasons, but it was sweet enough and totally filling.  Plus, the nutrients in the kale alone are good for my heart and body.

A win-win in both corners if you ask me.

Want to learn more? Check out The Raw Chef here.
Get the recipe here:  Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Day 166: jamie oliver’s chocolate buns

15 Jun

Today, Debbie presented me with my own namesake magazine!
Jamie: making you a better cook

As you know, I’m an impostor, a poser, a fake, a stand-in, a phony.
Will the real Jamie who knows how to make you a better cook please stand up?

Here he is from issue 18 of his magazine.

I can’t wait to dive into Jamie’s recipes, and see if I can find something that’s on this Jamie’s current eating list (sans sugar and dairy, hopefully some gluten free).

Although I must admit, in my quick perusal the “chocolate buns” recipe caught my eye and sweet tooth.  I’m sure I’ll find something suitable in the mag with 82 “easy” recipes.

With this sort of help I think it’s time this Jamie goes back to the kitchen.

The Promise 365 started out with my attempt to cook every other night. On Day 12 I decided I was going to do this cooking thing …and we all know how that ended.  But now I’m armed and ready to get back in action.

I want to try a few raw recipes this summer.

And, I’m excited to dive into my friend Andrea Beaman’s cookbook: Health Is Wealth.

Plus, my friend Phoebe Lapine just launched her first cookbook In The Small Kitchen which I still need to buy. But, I’ll do it Phoebe, promise!!

With all this support hovering around me I have no more excuses.

Since this weekend is Father’s Day, I’ll take in my father’s borrowed words from Nike (the ones he would say to nudge me forward as a teenager):  JUST DO IT

So, here I am … in the kitchen … ready to go … any minute now … just you wait … here I come.

(Somewhere Jamie Oliver’s chocolate buns must be shaking in his British boots.)

Day 39: fear, food and failure

8 Feb

The three things I fear most:

1) cooking
2) cantaloupe
3) spiders

I’ll tell you why.

Let’s start with the obvious: spiders.
When I was twelve years old, doing my duty of trimming the lawn, I bent down to move a large rock out of the way (heading my father’s advice to never put the trimmer blade over a rock for fear it would ricochet up to my eye socket and leave me blind), just as I reached the tip of the rock it sprung eight legs and scurried up the fence.

I did what any rationale twelve year old girl would do …shrieked and ran away.

I fear spiders. I am completely aware of the fact that it is irrational, ridiculous and quite silly. But I do.

Actually, I fear ordering any fruit in a restaurant.

Every time I order a fruit salad it comes with cantaloupe. Blahhhhk!  Cantaloupe contaminates everything it touches. Cantaloupe juice leaks out of each little rind and infects the strawberries, bananas, blueberries and raspberries with toxic cantaloupe taste.

Watermelon I can live with, but cantaloupe is just icky and restaurants are quite nonchalant about where they put it — like on my plate!

I love eating, but I hate cooking. It drives me crazy. I don’t like the planning, the measuring, the recipe following. If it were just up to me, I could exist on coffee and granola with a heap of salad on the side, thank you very much.

That was a long story to tell you this: I failed.
I am no longer cooking. My strategy to cook every other day has fizzled. I am a total failure in the culinary department. I just stopped doing it. It was part of my promise to cook every other day, and I’m not.

It makes me think: Maybe I bit off more than I can chew?

It’s like Goal Setting 101.
So, now, instead of cooking every other night, I will do the food shopping. Start at square one, first base, walk before I run… you get the picture.

I am still learning what goes into my food (as well as where the hell they keep the ground mustard in the grocery store). In the meantime, I am very fortunate to have a partner who loves to cook.

I can do lots of wonderful things in the world with my skills and talents, but whip up a chemistry experiment (a.k.a. dinner) with raw ingredients is not yet in my repertoire. And that’s okay.

Maybe I am afraid of failure. Maybe I just don’t value spending time in front of the stove. Maybe, I just need to find more motivation. I don’t know.

I do know this:
If it is not working, try something else.

And, shopping! That, I can do.

Day 17: who’s buying what?

17 Jan

It’s my night to cook dinner.

Wish I would have remembered that small piece of very important data before I left the house this morning without:

  • a plan
  • a recipe
  • a clue

Here’s the faulty part of my new strategy to cook every other night:
“Someone” needs to remember that “she” doesn’t really know how to create a “dinner” without a “recipe” because  just running to the grocery story without a plan is like putting a five-year old in a ice cream store.


Honestly, even when I do have a recipe the results can be dangerous.
Like last week’s vegetable curry. The recipe called for Poblano Peppers but Justin swears I accidentally bought habanero. Holy Hot Sauce, Batman!

So tonight, on my way to Whole Foods I called Justin in a panic and campaigned for rotisserie.  “I could just pick up a rotisserie chicken again, that was good last time, right… right??” I presented this in my best girlfriend-of-the-year voice.


He reminded me that my promise to myself was to cook more so I learn what goes into my food, so I am aware of what goes into my body. It was not a nightly sprint to the prepared foods aisle at Whole Foods.

Luckily he spotted a recipe at home and identify the missing ingredients from our refrigerator, then recited to me over the phone: Chicken, Rosemary and Oregano.

Justin also reminded me that sometimes stores package the fresh meat in larger quantity and there is a price break. He rambled a lot of other really important advice but it didn’t quite make it to my membranes. I was sitting in my car repeating “Chicken, Rosemary, Oregano, Chicken, Rosemary, Oregano” as not to forget the shopping list.

My man is a gourmand who knows where to find the good food.

And, it could be catching.
My friend Ronan Doyle wrote an eloquent blog post this week commending a new survey that finds 51% of men are primary grocery shoppers, but few believe advertising speaks to them.

I applaud Ronan’s words:
“This isn’t 1960 anymore. Women work. Men change diapers. Both parents drop kids off and pick them up from school. Gender roles have blurred, and most families are partnerships. It’s 2011 — men do the shopping, too.”

Justin certainly does in our household.
He may end up doing all the cooking again after this year of experimenting with me in the kitchen — if we make it safely to the other side. And, if this year results in me being banned from the kitchen, that’s okay. At least I’ll know what goes into that whole cooking process and know how to support him in it.

Isn’t that what teamwork is all about?

Now, excuse me, I think I need make sure the chicken isn’t burning…
Never mind. I can hear Justin fixing it now.

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