Friends from all over the world inspire us to cook and eat
March 8th, 2013 §
Part of today and everyday we look to celebrate women’s equality and the ground we have gained is about recognizing those who are part of the solution, those that live a manifesto for betterment, those that resonate love and the ability to push themselves and others past their capacity on the path to growth and change.
today I honor my friend Danielle, who is always a beacon in this quest, and I know she is this to many so Danielle, much gratitude!
January 27th, 2013 §
November 18th, 2012 §
Visionary Thinking in Old School Environments
Tuesdee Blair, Branson MO
I will never forget the day I met Ms. Tuesdee Blair. I of course do forget the year and a lot of the details but never the moment. I was in Kansas, had flown in from Oregon to help my younger brother with some “domestic” stuff with our mother and stayed with the Blair’s for that trip. My older of my younger brothers who had his own “domestic” issues with our mother, lived with the Blair family while he was in high school, and at that time he was dating Tuesdee’s sister. They were all so amazingly kind to my brothers, and I can say without hesitation part of the reason these young men are so incredible today. I could write about the each of the Blair family members individually as visionaries and their truly remarkable spirit and kindness, but this story is about Tuesdee.
I was tired and stressed and worried of course, as I was not in Kansas for any good reason, and to tell you the truth I still don’t find that much thrill in Kansas. I find the state to be a little stuffy for my taste, boring visually and its politics and religious viewpoints seem to fill the radio waves, newspapers and local television like the true definition of propaganda. It was defiantly an odd time for me, my first time in Kansas, so maybe my memories are skewed. I remember sitting on the couch in the Blair’s home, I believe Mr. Blair was rocking out on the guitar at the time, and I remember specifically he was telling me stories about his times with Martina McBride. And all of a sudden in bounces this vibrant, powerful creature that we call Tuesdee. She was as I remember a bit distracted and didn’t pay much attention to me at first which I remember thinking was strange. She was dressed in something (I don’t remember the exact details) outlandish that made me smile in a really good way, after all I was in Kansas. She bounced around swirling her massive amount of energy around the room for a bit and then she soon began to focus on the topic at hand, my brother’s “domestic” situation. I remember being so struck by her articulation, her opinions, her observations, and her creativity of thought……….. her power, she was I believe only around 14 at the time?
Her visionary thinking and tremendous energy and power are still swirling around my family all these years later. Her influence in the lives of those I love and the new amazing people I have met because of her is pretty incredible. I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my brothers and his family in Branson Missouri this past summer and ironically that is where Ms. Tuesdee Blair lives these days as well. In fact when I packed up my dogs (including the brand new puppy) to head off to Missouri from Brooklyn, my brother and his family were living in a house Tuesdee bought on Table Rock Lake. My brother was in the process of remodeling it for Tuesdee and she was kind enough to allow myself and the dogs to stay there too. We stayed almost three months and the experience would change me forever and I know that Ms. Tuesdee Blair deserves a big portion of credit for that. What a great summer that was.
Her energy today is even more amazing, it’s a bit cleaner and tidier, a tad more grown up and maybe even reserved a little bit, dare I say focused?. Witnessing Tuesdee, I see a lot of similarities in our personalities, in our raw energy and power that swirls around people, which can even engulf them at times for the good or for the bad and I learned a lot from her this summer, in dealing with my own power and energy. Being a visionary or drumming to a different beat, can be a bit isolating, perhaps even lonely with sometimes tads of confusion, especially when ones train of thought is not close to the norm around. She shows by example that by having a rock solid group of friends, family and supporters around her she can continue to thrive and continue with new visionary thinking and footwork. Her foundation is rock solid, and of course begins with her amazing family and extends to the man she married who not only loves her for her visionary ways and substantial inner depths, but he is there to fan her flames so she can burn brighter and longer and am in both awe of that and envious of it. It’s not easy for woman with powerful energy to find strong yet supportive partners, especially in men. I’m sure its all not quite this simple, but regardless she wakes each day and moves, which is the strength of visionaries, despite it all they have to move forward, and she does this, perhaps not always with as much grace as she would like, but this much power and energy can sometimes be hard to control.
I have no recipe to post here, and I guess in the end the recipe or what she is cooking is her ability to create changes. She is however an amazing cook and I think more importantly an amazing forager of taste, flavor and passion in what is generally an “old school environment”. Now don’t get me wrong I am not mocking the Ozarks or Kansas etc, but for someone who has lived in LA, San Fran and NYC for the last 20 years, some of these states can seem a little restricting when it comes to food. I find my times in some of these states to be utterly important as I make my own quest for food education, its own thing to preach growing chickens on your roof in Brooklyn as the answer but unless you know how and what our fellow Americans live with and are offered in terms of food, you cannot develop answers. Tuesdee was a shinning beacon for me and not only made my experience deeper and richer when it came to food there, but a visionary for others to follow and emulate. She is able to track down ingredients that seem mundane to us (mint, ginger) but are viewed more like fresh French black truffles and caviar in those parts. Her energy is infectious and when she goes on the prowl for something, her influence just carries and all the people she encounters on her journey are just different after their experiences with her, a bit more open, a bit more curious and a bit more envious. Riper for change.
My own time this past summer was amazing because of her, not only for her constant inspiration in a “different way of looking at life” but participating in my own culinary needs that allowed myself to thrive in a place where I would have imagined I would not have on my own. I fell in love with Branson, because of the people that surrounded me and was reminded that our country is big and filled with amazing people that don’t have as much access to visionaries as perhaps I do. I seek it out, its part of my nature but for the people of Branson, I hope they know how lucky they are to have visionary like Tuesdee as their neighbor! Energy is potent as we know; powerful energy combined with great visionary spirit has the power to transform in major ways.
November 17th, 2012 §
April 19th, 2012 §
Another Year of Coloring Outside the Lines—Successfully
Katie Sokoler-Color Me Katie
This is the second time in the history of my blogs that I am featuring a non food recipe for my What My Friends are Cooking section. On both occasions I have made exceptions for remarkably creative women who inspire me and motivate me more than words can describe. Their recipes are simply for creativity. The real essence of my blog is not food but, Sustenance….which at its core, is something that gives us strength and nourishment. Katie Sokolor, also known as Color Me Katie, offers the perfect recipe for this as she feeds people a special sustenance through her creative genius. She is somewhat of a magical enigma really and I have never before seen or experienced anyone like her and I find her to be one of those people who you know touches everyone she encounters as she breathes creativity into their blood by her inspiring work and her massively exotic and magical creative energy she exudes in her physical presence.
This sweet, almost fairy like creature is a person you must know and her work must be a part of your life, it is really that simple. I first came to know Katie while looking for a photographer a few years back. We use quite a few photographers, most of which are food photographers or photographers who have been practicing food photography or aim to be food photographers. Katie was not a food photographer, but when I viewed her work I knew she would be perfect for the food world and especially my food world. Her ability to “color outside the lines” and see things that the average food photographer can’t see let alone photograph on a plate or in a glass. She sees things in a way that the others hadn’t thought of and she has truly been exhilarating for me to witness as well as prideful for me to be a part of working with her. What I saw most profoundly in the work that Katie did for us specifically was the vibrancy and energy she captured in the people and the colors. Color Me Katie had a way of extracting all vibrancy from her subjects as a chef would from a tomato in his or her dish. Her energy gives a special life to her art. And her subjects whatever they may be come to life. Katie, still art has nothing still about it.
So of course for our Herbalicious Birthday Bash this year, there was no real thought of who we wanted to document this special day. And just when I thought I couldn’t be more in love with Katie and her vibrancy and creativity, WHAM, it happened. First I should state that I haven’t even seen the pictures that Katie took on this magical night, so my awe is of the experience all of the party goers had with this magical fairy, myself included!
She arrived in what some would say costume, but for Katie those were simply her clothes. Black Sequin shorts, black tights, a white ruffle shirt and suspenders and a lovely bow in her hair, as is pretty customary for Katie. Her amazingly large smile and laugh glided around the room, evoking happiness and smiles from all. Her vivaciousness and detailed attention to all patrons of the party mesmerized all of us. The positive energy was easy for Katie to absorb through her lens. There is an exceptional quality about a photographer who can not only make a room light up but exude the happiness you want all your guests to exude on an event like this.
The amount of endearing fans she gathered that night made me smile and take a deeper notice into her magical creativity she possesses. She truly was one of the reasons the party was a success. There is no doubt in my mind that the photos will all capture the true and real happiness that was present on that unforgettable epic night of April 10th, 2012.
I don’t get to see Katie much but am touched and moved by her exponentially each time I do or each time I run across her on facebook or her blog or in a magazine. I have learned a lot from her creatively and she will continue to inspire me and my own creativity and push my own limits of color and vibrancy in all I do.
If you do not know Katie, you are missing out!
January 26th, 2012 §
Big Game, Hunting, Cowboys & Rugged Stuff…………..
Cowboy Jim, Togatee Pass, Wyoming
Every once in awhile we meet someone on our journey’s through this world that remind us of how rigid we can become as humans and so often these people seem a little on the “insane” side or “out there” but in actual reality, they are living truly as the deem and that for me is admirable. It takes a lot of internal power not to be affected by what others think, what others see as important and it takes great security in ones self to live within their own skin peacefully. I admire those people and take it as a blessing every time I get to meet one. There is a plethora of knowledge in these people and often times if you really look and spend enough time with them a treasure map leading to this very peace and security within themselves that they exude.
Cowboy Bill, as he called himself and as we happily called him was unique and rare. I couldn’t tell at first glance if he was for real of if it was an act, playing with the tourists so to speak on top of the mountains in Wyoming. It dawned on me very quickly that we weren’t in a tourist town and he was for real and after I got passed my initial uncomfortable-ness (rather quickly) with him I got to witness the great beauty this man possessed and was delivering to all of us. Stories upon stories that seemed like they were straight out of an old western. Indian tales and what seemed like privy information sometimes that only the insiders would know and understand about the Indian connections that the cowboys and Indians both had toward the land and the animals. I learned a large mount about eating wild game, a subject that peaked my interested while in Wyoming. I learned about the severe hatred of the wolves, well I should say about the decision to place all those wolves in that area. I learned about eating wolf and bear and had long in depth discussions about the modern day teenager and his/her lack of knowledge in anything wild and rugged. And finally after a few days of discussions and over some beers I got a recipe, well kind of recipe and now I share it with all of you and what I really share is the experience once again of meeting these people who seem outlandish at fist but are true teachers of peace and happiness, next time you run accorss folks like this whether it be in your own backyard or in another country, stop and really soak it all in, its worth it, taking a walk on the wild side that is!
Serves: Depending on the size of your cowboy, between 6-8
This recipe is truly unique to the many cowboy beans you see out there, I highly recommend trying it and I think you will find some amazing tips in this recipe for making your own flavor pot of beans just the way you like it. I altered his recipe slightly to incorporate some fresh herbs or course!
3 bottles of moose drool brown ale
2 pounds dry beans or 3 pounds fresh (cranberry, navy, yellow, eye, heirlooms in general are best)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 medium yellow onion, chopped2 medium carrots, chopped fine2 fresh chili peppers, chopped seeds and all1 pound elk, bear or wolf meat, cubed and dredged in flour
2 teaspoons salt2 teaspoons black pepper, cracked
½ cup molasses
½ cup spicy stone ground mustard
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
½ cup fresh chives, chopped fine
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
If using dry beans, clean and soak the beans overnight submerged in the amber beer.
In a large dutch oven pot or heavy bottom pot, with a little olive oil sauté the garlic and yellow, red, and carrots until a little translucent. Add the meat and continue to sauté until it is browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the molasses, mustard, tomatoes and mix well. Add the bean and the bean liquid, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the temp and cook for about 30 minutes or until beans are tender.
Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees F. Place the pot covered in the oven and bake for about 4-5 hours, making sure to place more moose drool in the pot as it evaporates, mixing as you do this as well. The mixture will start to get thicker and darker. When the beans are very tender for the last hour uncover the beans and turn the heat up to 425 degrees F, stirring every 15 minutes. Taste the mixture at this stage making sure it’s sweet and spicy enough to your taste, then add the fresh herbs and mix well. The final product should be dark, the beans super tender and the juice thick! Sprinkle the fresh herbs in when the dish is complete and stir well.
*Please note real cowboys make these beans on a fire!
December 18th, 2011 §
When Even A Whisk Can’t Fix it……………..
Palak Patel, NYC
When I asked Palak (pronounced pollock), if she wanted to be featured on my “what my friends are cooking” section of my blog, she got excited, then I said, ” the thing is it’s all about failure this time so you would essentially be featured in regards to something that you failed at and what that has taught you. She pondered, and we began to have discussion about failures in the kitchen. This lady is a wizard in in the kitchen and certainly has a sense of confidence that is quite rare, not only as she cooks but as she moves through life. I really like this quality about her, as much as she is confident she is also quick to acknowledge failures and the many occurrences of failure that are a part of life. she is also the first to understand the lessons of failure and how challenging oneself is a necessity in life in the kitchen.
When we spoke about foods that were challenging or that we fail as I was surprised to find out that the one food that this little Indian godess said she failed at most was green curry! I guess I was surprised because her Indian cooking skills are sharp as heck (like her wit) . She teaches at Ger-Nis one of our most popular series, Palak’s Indian Kitchen, and the students not only love her, but always talk about how they are able to recreate everything on their own. So the idea or her struggling with green curry was crazy for me but at the same time I think a perfect example of this months blog topic. She is challenged by it, and failed at it but it doesn’t defeat her. Now I usually post recipes in this section, after all it is a food blog. But this time I’m going to do something different. I am going to get Palak in the Ger-Nis kitchen for a night of green curry and we are going to play with green curry recipes until we find her perfect Indian style green curry. So…………… stay tuned and know that even the best have failures!
November 15th, 2011 §
My New Favorite Tool in the Kitchen & In Life!
Danielle Mkali, Minneapolis, MN
She is patient in life and certainly with me…………
Danielle at first thought for me wouldn’t be described as patient, however as I began to think about which of my friends exudes patience (for the purpose of my blog) I couldn’t get thoughts of her out of my head. I have known Danielle for over 17 years now and it’s safe to say we have been through some heavy stuff together and been there for each other’s heavy stuff as well. As I began to really think more about Danielle and patience I started to connect new found traits in my own patience, to what I used to think was Danielle’s laid back attitude which I realize now was her path to patience. As I began to compare and look way back into the years, through Danielle’s youth, (she is five years younger-which today is nothing but me at 23 and she at 18 is something else) the way she handle many of the things thrown at her and how she still does it similarly, but with more grace and tact than anyone I know, I realized she is and exudes patience. I also began to realize through thinking about Danielle and patience that this patience thing is a very feminine quality. I see that through Danielle especially as she has grown in the size of her own family since I have known her from herself, to a family of 5 kids. When I look at how I handle things that require patience and over the years this has been one of my largest failures, I am inspired by Danielle and her ability to be calm in moments that require that calm for the advancement needed. We always wish we knew then what we know now and I certainly have been thinking a lot about that lately. Danielle has been teaching me patience for 17 years now and in addition she is teaching her children this graceful gift and thank her for being patient, in life and with me.
Danielle in the kitchen is a goddess, especially with the sweets. We have bonded in the kitchen many of times and her fun spirit in the kitchen made endless tasks seem to be instant. I remember a day where Cubanismo was raging loudly, we got some little outfits on and salsa’d our way through cooking a meal! Thankfully video phones were not around then! She is despite her busy hectic family and professional life, always taking the time needed to cook, for her and for her family and this takes an element of patience as well and for that I again, both commend and am inspired by. One a recent cold day this fall, she reached out to me to tell me about this amazing recipe, “that had lots of steps, took a good deal of time, but was worth it in flavor and the act itself”. She had to plan ahead, map out the many steps and be patient in-between, all of which I am currently learning and sharing with Danielle. She said to me, as we spoke of patience, this is a perfect recipe for your new patience Nissa!
So we are all fans of Smitten Kitchen and Danielle is one of their biggest fans, this recipe I did make as well and for sure it is amazing and sweet and savory like I love! So thanks Danielle for the friendship, teaching and the recipe!
Butternut -Squash & Carmelized Onion Galette
October 9th, 2011 §
Discovery of the Unexpected & It’s Growth
Melody Meyer, Soquel, California
Fellow World Traveler!
It’s not to often I run across people who are similar in nature to me with my love and devotion to world travel. I mean let’s face it, we all certainly love to travel but as we get older it’s not without great sacrifice either financially, time wise or to one’s own personal life. So the reality is as we age, there are less people (our age J) traveling around the globe. So I was delighted to really feel this comradery with Melody during our recent work trip to Israel and our social jaunt to Petra. I have known Melody for about 6-8 years maybe, I can’t exactly remember! And what I did know of her is that she was a woman like me, out spoken with a very strong work ethic and an amazingly sharp mind but a wonderfully lovely and humor filled spirit. I was always intrigued with her as I did not run across many women in this business that had any level of power and Melody was for me an perfect example of what I wanted to be in my career. Accomplished yet not at sacrificing her own person and her own style. So this luxury of getting to spend 11 days with her was a pleasure for me and with this new work gig I think it was a very unexpected growth impetus that I really needed, especially as I had been so down on produce and the overall business because of what I sacrificed of my own personal life in the past. I learned a lot from her for sure and more than that I enjoyed traveling with her as she is very much like me, willing to experience it all and going to great lengths and sacrifice to do so. Again this combination is pretty rare and I encourage all of you to learn a bit about discovery and the unexpected, but the first rule of thumb is you have to actually get up and move towards something! I hope that life brings me more travels with Melody and I can only assume my newly formed produce gig working alongside her will only bring me great growth!
I am pleased to also have shown her my food talents and share many a good meal with her and hope for many more. We both upon return started cooking up a storm the foods we ate and I shared with her my recipes and she has been cooking up a storm lately with her newly influenced Israeli kitchen style!
And please everyone out there, let her know it’s normal to take photographs of your food everywhere, we all do it!!
Here are the recipes she’s been cooking up!
Makes 3 cups
2 cups of chick peas, soaked overnight and cooked (reserve ½ cup cooking liquid)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
⅓ cup tahini
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine
1 tablespoon zahtar (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor, add chick peas, garlic, tahini, salt, , extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest and puree until smooth. Add more of the chickpea liquid to attain a thinner texture. Place the hummus on a flat bowl and using the back of a large spoon make a well in the middle, not too deep. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the hummus making sure to get a good portion in the center well, but also all over it. Throw the parsley leaves over the top and sprinkle a little zahtar over the top of that! Enjoy with fresh pita!
Israeli Chopped Salad
The secret to success of this recipe is small/tiny uniform pieces. They catch the flavors better and ensure the exceptional fresh taste with the perfect ratio of flavors!
4 small Israeli cucumbers or 2 euro cucumbers, peeled and chopped fine (tiny cubes)
2 medium sized roma tomatoes, chopped fine (tiny cubes)
½ medium red onion, chopped fine (tiny cubes)
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped super fine
3 tablespoons lemon juice (more if you like it tangy)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sumac (dried leaves in a powder) (optional but defiantly a strong component)
1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of peppers (more to taste)
Combine the cucumbers, romas, red onions and parsley in a large bowl and toss together to mix well. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and spices and toss again. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Serve cool but not cold!
Makes 3-4 cups
2 large eggplants
1 bulb of garlic, to use 4 cloves
1 teaspoon sumac
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons smoky Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Zest of one lemon, grated super fine
Juice of 1 lemon
Prepare a Charcoal grill or pre heat a gas grill (charcoal grill gives a much smokier flavor). Cut the eggplants in half and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and sumac. Place eggplant side down first and grill for a few minutes turning once until eggplant is tender. Place garlic right on grill to cook until tender. Allow to cool and scoop out inside of eggplant and place in a blender. Place 4-5 cloves of garlic in the blender as well (remove skins first). Pour in olive oil and blend until light and fluffy or mousse consistency. Transfer to a bowl and gently mix in spices and herbs.
August 31st, 2011 §
Jeremiah Peterson, Brooklyn (Straight off the Boat from Stillwater, MN)
Pondering the Meaning of Family, Earthquakes, Hurricanes & Gratitude
I awoke one day after hearing that one of my best friends little brother was having some difficulties in life, knowing I would help and that I could help. It was not the best time for me to help as financially, I’ve seen freer flowing cash times for sure, but when one is in need I figure I can help somehow someway. Sometimes life in the thick of it can be overwhelming and I knew that what I could offer him was a sanctuary of sorts. So I got our my points from all my world travels bought him a ticket to NYC from Minneapolis and here he is. He has a sanctuary of sorts and I think Brooklyn and my fellow New Yorkers have embraced him and we have a way of reminding the world that no matter how many troubles we have, with about 11 million people here, there are others who are worse off. Now its not like I am really doing much for Jeremiah per say a place to get away, some work and some radical dinners for sure, but mainly what I give him is my unconditional support and non judgmental demeanor. I think life works this way we give, we get back it works out, but the giving has to be genuine and meaningful, to touch the lives of those we know makes an incredible difference, which is why I guess I’m against the whole give money to charity as opposed to getting off your ass and making REAL commitments to those things you wish to help, but that’s just me I guess, I feel we all need to get off our asses more and do some good stuff for those we care about. Needless to say Jeremiah has found a home in Brooklyn to and is set to move out here for good and seems to have a safe and healthy shelter for his positive growth. One thing I know is he gets to heal and grow around good food and that for me is the best medicine outside unconditional support both mentally and financially! I don’t know if I did much for him, but I know I would do what is needed for my family. He is not my blood but he is my family.
Jeremiah’s Boozy Banana Bread with Vanilla Rum Butter
Makes 1 loaf
4 ripe bananas
¼ cup vanilla and cinnamon infused rum
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons almond oil
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350° F. Smash together bananas, rum, vanilla, melted butter, almond oil and sugar until well mixed, add the beaten egg and mix. Add the salt and baking soda and mix. Fold in the flour a little bit at a time mixing until all flour is incorporated and a smooth batter is created. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and cook for 50 minutes or until inserted stick come sout clean. Allow to partially cool, remove from pan and serve with rum butter. (1 tablespoon infused vanilla, cinnamon rum with 3 tablespoons butter.)