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2012 in review

17 Jan

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Seven Days of Slow Cooking Part 2

23 Oct

I like to use my crock pot year round. It comes in very handy in warmer weather when you don’t feel like standing over a hot stove or heating up the house with the oven. Perhaps the most rewarding time to use the crock pot, however, is in the cooler months. What’s more comforting than coming home to the delicious smell of dinner waiting for you? Stews, soups, and roasts are just a few of the things that versatile machine can churn out. Here’s a look back at last years slow cooking line up: Tortilla Soup, Asian-Spiced Chicken & More, Minestrone Soup, Spiced Beef Stew, Beef & Bean Chili, Tangy Chicken Thighs, and Beefy Short Ribs. What’s your favorite crock pot recipe?

In Season: Autumn

30 Sep

I go to our local farmers market, Detroit’s Eastern Market, usually once a week. There, I can usually just peruse and see what the farmers are offering and get a good idea of what’s in season at the time. It’s a real treat to eat and prepare fresh, seasonal produce and to be able to purchase it from those who grew it. I wanted to have a reference guide so I put together this list of what is in season in the Autumn in Michigan.

The Belle Isle Bridge and field across from our loft circa 2010 (pre-construction).

Through September: 

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Green Onions
  • Melons: Watermelons, Cantaloupes
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Peppers (Sweet)
  • Raspberries

Try one of these former posts and make the most of the last day of September:

Pasta Lemon Cream Sauce with Salmon (arugula, leeks, zucchini) and Roasted Potato Leek Soup (arugula, leeks, thyme).

Through October:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (Various)
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce (Various)
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Shelling Beans
  • Spinach
  • Squash (Summer)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

There is lots to look forward to this time of year! Halloween is nearing, as is our annual costume party. Let’s not forget all the lovely fall produce coming in. Check out these former posts for some ideas on what to do with it all:

Italian Wedding Soup (broccoli, leeks, kale), Pumpkin Pancakes with Cran-Pom Maple Syrup and Sirloin w/Teriyaki Broth (sweet potatoes, leeks, Daikon radish)

Through November:

  • Apples
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac/Celery Root
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Greens (Various)
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabaga
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Squash (Winter)
  • Turnips

A couple previous posts for your enjoyment:

Grammy’s Chicken Pot Pie (apple, carrots, celery) and Good Luck Chow Mein (cabbage, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas).

Find out what’s in season in your area by visiting the Sustainable Table website.

Ducks hanging in the creek at Franklin Cider Mill in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

“Peach Pie” Heirloom Peaches

2 Aug

On a recent trip to Sam’s Club, I found something most unique in their produce department. They smelled fragrant and delicious and looked so different from any peaches I’d ever seen before so I had to take them home. I’m so glad that I did.

We are big peach fans in this house and have enjoyed several varieties. Now we can add another to our list. These are considered “donut peaches” due to their shape.

From what little information I was able to find, most donut peaches are very sweet and have white flesh. Not these little guys. The flavor was sweet, but not overly so, and the color was just lovely.

I would certainly recommend these peaches and look forward to having them again myself. I sure hope Sam’s Club still has them the next time I get out there.

Italian Food

10 May

Italian Food, by Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

Me too! And if that wasn’t enough to choose from, check out some of my other Italian-inspired recipes: Spinach Ricotta Gnudi, Italian Wedding Soup, Pesto Chicken & Vegetable Pasta and stay tuned for my next post.

A Couple of Updates & Ideas

7 May

I wanted to add a few features to this blog, aside from sharing my own recipes.

  • I’d like to begin each week with my menu plan, and would be pleased as punch if you shared yours with me.
  • I would also like to share my eating adventures with you, and again would be glad to learn of yours!
  • Lastly, I’d love to discuss my cooking goals, and look forward to hearing yours as well.

All feedback is welcome. I look forward to sharing more with you!

Laissez les bons temps rouler: Mardi Gras is here!

18 Feb

Fat Tuesday is just 3 days away! How do you plan to celebrate? A lot of people think of Mardi Gras as the wild spring-break-like, girls-gone-wild scene mostly acted out on Bourbon Street. There is so much more to it than that.

The origins of the Mardi Gras may be found long before Europeans ever set food in the New World. According to the East Jefferson Parish website, in mid February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom.

Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Mardi Gras had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages, where it was a major holiday. Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, from where he launched an expedition up the Mississippi River. On March 3 of 1699, Iberville had set up a camp on the west bank of the river about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. This was the day Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France. In honor of this important day, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras.

You may find more about traditional celebrations of Mardi Gras and how they evolved over the years at the website linked above. To me, as one who lived in New Orleans for a stint and grew up going at least once a year, Mardi Gras is about family and friends. And food, of course! As with many traditions from that region, food plays a huge roll in celebrating Mardi Gras.

In honor of this celebratory time, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite Cajun, Creole, and Southern dishes. A bit of me wishes I could be in New Orleans this weekend and attend some of the wonderful parades, balls, and parties. But, I’ll bake up a King Cake and fix one of our favorite dishes and call it good. I bought February’s issue of Louisiana Cookin’ because I was feeling so nostalgic. I hope you enjoy!

Super Bowl Snack Attack

30 Jan

I hope you’ve enjoyed the week of Chinese-inspired recipes to welcome the New Year. While the celebration continues for another week, I figured it was time for a change of pace. Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaches so what better time to share some fun finger foods, awesome appetizers, and scrumptious snacks.

Here are some of my previous posts that would be great additions to your Sunday spread: Beef Koftas with Minted Yogurt, Egg Rolls, Crab Salad in Won Ton Cups, Collard Green Won Tons, Roasted Black Eyed Peas, Crushed Potatoes with Chive Sour Cream.

Chinese New Year Celebration

22 Jan

Chinese New Year is a time to welcome longevity, wealth and prosperity and to eliminate any negative chi from the past. This fourteen day celebration begins this evening, as the Chinese calendar is a lunar one, and will end on February 6th with the Lantern Festival. This year marks the 4710th Chinese New Year, and this time it is the year of the dragon  according to the Chinese zodiac calendar.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality.

The dragon is the 5th sign of the Chinese zodiac and it is regarded as an auspicious symbol which stands for power, good luck,  success, and happiness. Dragon years are lucky for anyone thinking of starting a business or initiating a new project of any sort because money is easier to come by for everyone, whether it’s earned, borrowed or received as a gift. Consequently we can expect the economic downturn to ease up a bit in the coming year. Fortunes can be made but they can also be lost. Those born in dragon years are innovative, brave, and passionate.

From a Feng Shui standpoint 2012, the year of the Yang Water Dragon, brings many possibilities for good fortune. Water exerts a calming influence on the Dragon’s innate fire. Most people know that water covers 2/3 of our planet & comprises 95% of our bodies; we simply cannot live without it. In Chinese element theory, water produces wood, which signifies growth and is the natural element of the dragon. The dragon governs east/southeast, wealth accumulation. Associated with thunder, lightning and arousal, the Water Dragon personifies creativity at its best.

In order to honor the Chinese New Year, I’d like to share some of my Chinese-inspired dishes. As a disclaimer, these may not be 100% authentic and are my creations and interpretations using some traditional ingredients. Some of these recipes include Beef, Broccoli, and Bella Stir-Fry and Asian-Spiced Chicken & More. Stay tuned for more and enjoy the celebration!

Good Food and Good Fortune – Happy New Year!

29 Dec

The new year symbolizes a fresh start to many people, which is why resolutions are so common to make. I believe in setting goals and getting motivated but most of all I believe in good food, and what could be better than food that may bring good fortune? There are a number of foods that are prepared and eaten in celebration of the New Year all around the world and are traditionally seen as lucky.

  • For the Jewish New Year (which falls in autumn) you may know about the tradition of eating apples dipped in honey, which symbolizes sweetness, but we also eat fish which symbolizes moving forward, and pomegranates, associated with abundance and fertility.
  • Cooked greens (collards, cabbage, kale, chard, and more) are prepared and served at New Year’s in different countries for one simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are therefore symbolize economic fortune. Being that my mom is from New Orleans, I have a strong link to the South (U.S.) where collards, mustard and turnip greens are readily available. It’s believed that the more greens you eat the more fortunate you’ll be and with some of the delicious recipes I plan to share with you I don’t think it will be hard to do!
  • Legumes including lentils, beans, and peas also symbolize economic fortune due to their small, seed-like appearance which resembles coins and swell when cooked. Again, I call upon my Southern roots where it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cow peas. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. According to, this all traces back to a legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi ran out of food while under attack but the residents discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky. The story kind of reminds me of the story of the miracle of Hanukkah.
  • A few more of the foods linked to New Years traditions are cornbread for gold in the Southern U.S., noodles in China and other Asian countriesthe long length of noodles symbolizes a long, luck-filled life & you must cook them whole to reap the benefits – and finally pork in many parts of the world.
  • Just as the above foods are considered lucky, there are also a few that are considered unlucky for the New Year. This may be the only time I would turn down lobster, and that’s if I’m feeling really superstitious, because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks.
However you choose to celebrate, have a happy, healthy, and successful new year!!!