September 26, 2010

Project Food Blog: The Classics (Challenge #2)


Project Food Blog is the first-ever interactive competition where thousands of Foodbuzz Featured Publishers are competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance & a shot at the ultimate prize: $10,000 & a special feature on for one year.

Challenge Prompt: Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or one you are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal & document your experience through a compelling post.


As soon as I read this prompt, I knew what recipe I wanted to try: PHO TAI, Vietnamese beef & noodle soup. According to Chef Mai Pham, pho is the national soup of Vietnam, can be found on practically every street corner, & is served around the clock.

Asian food is definitely outside my cultural comfort zone. I don't cook Asian food at home (outside of an occasional make-shift stir-fry to use up expiring vegetables & leftover meats). I don't go out to eat Asian food (aside from getting cheap Chinese take-out a couple times a year). I'm not sure why exactly. I think it's because I don't like cilantro & lots of Asian dishes contain cilantro. And, I don't want to be that person who asks for spring rolls or pho sans cilantro. Other Asian foods tend to be too spicy for me. I'm a mid-western white girl through & through (i.e. a delicate wussy).

But, pho? Pho seemed like something I could like. It's in my "comfort foods" comfort zone...hearty broth & noodles...what's not to love? It's the perfect dish to make on a chilly, gray, & rainy St. Louis Sunday.

September 21, 2010

Pork Rillettes

I went camping last weekend. For two nights. Outside. In the rain. With bugs and critters. And rain. With lightning. And thunder. Lots of lightning. And lots of thunder.

I only agreed to go because Jerad makes camping easy. In my previous life, I attempted camping only once: After several hours of fighting over how to put up the tent & how to get a fire started with wet wood, we called it quits, packed our shit up, & headed home. Jerad, on the other hand, will have the tent set up, a fire burning, and a glass of wine in my hand within the first 30 minutes. On Friday, he went out to the camp site and set everything up before I even got there. I'm a lucky, lucky gal.

We took Arlo (our 8-month old beagle) with us & he seemed to be having a great time playing with Ashby's dog Daisy. He absolutely tuckered himself out, though, and slept all day on Sunday. I don't think he liked all the lightning & thunder Saturday night either.

Arlo Shmarlo (aka Shmarshmo or Shmarshmallow or--sometimes--Damn-dog-who-needs-to-quit-chewing-up-my-stuff!)

September 15, 2010

Project Food Blog: Ready, Set, Blog!

Voting is now open through Thursday, September 23 
(at 6:00 pm Pacific time). 
You can vote for me by clicking the widget to the left of this post.
You will have to login to Foodbuzz before your vote is counted.


Project Food Blog is the first-ever interactive competition where thousands of Foodbuzz Featured Publishers are competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance & a shot at the ultimate prize: $10,000 & a special feature on for one year.

For the first challenge, we're asking you to create a blog post that defines you as a food blogger and makes it clear why you think you have what it takes to be the next food blog star. Consider what makes your blog unique & sets you apart from other food blog brands: is it your foolproof recipes, your mouthwatering photos, your perspective on family meals? Write a post that comes from the heart and is true to you & your blog.


I actually started this blog 5 years ago, while I was teaching a summer creative writing camp for teenagers, to demonstrate how to set up an account & how to post.  At first, I posted random nothingness here. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, I used my blog to raise money for my uncle--who’d lost his home, his job, his livelihood--to start a new life. Afterwards, I continued to write posts about my thoughts & daily life. That is, until my marriage started to fall apart. Not wanting to share the details of my divorce with the world & feeling too depressed to write about anything else, I didn’t blog for months.

In the spring of 2007, I found myself living alone again for the first time in 7 years. I couldn’t afford cable or internet on my measly adjunct instructor’s pay. Inspired by Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia (which I was reading at the time, long before the movie), I challenged myself to make one new recipe a week as a cheap form of entertainment & to blog about my experiments as a cheap form of therapy.  Three years later, I’m still at it.

September 11, 2010

Fall 2010 Cooking Classes

Kitchen Conservatory's fall schedule is now posted online. Here are my upcoming classes:

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: BURGER U FOR TWO - Sunday, Oct. 3 @ 5:00-7:30 (hands-on)
  • Class is in session, and Jerad & I share classy burgers for a remarkable evening designed for couples. This hands-on class will heat up the kitchen with pressed Cuban burgers, Carolina barbecue pork burgers, and tuna burgers with roasted garlic-tomato a├»oli. Create the perfect French fries, beer-battered onion rings with blue cheese dipping sauce, and sip on roasted pineapple-rum milkshakes.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: LIFE IS A CABERET - Sunday, Oct. 10 @ 5:00-7:30 (hands-on)
  • Learn to cook with the wonderful flavors of wine in this delightful hands-on class. I'll help you prepare mushroom-red pepper salad with red wine-herb vinaigrette, oven-roasted beef tenderloin with roasted red grape wine sauce, homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta and nuts with a creamy asparagus chardonnay sauce, plus fabulous flourless chocolate-red wine cake with rosemary ganache -- all enjoyed with cabernet wine.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: FRANK 'N STEIN - Sunday, Oct. 24 @ 5:00-7:30 (hands-on)
  • This class will make sesame-honey cocktail sausages, grilled local salsiccia with grilled fennel relish, sweet corn pudding, seared romaine with balsamic vinaigrette, plus chocolate whoopie pies with salted caramel filling. Jerad shares his love of beer with two perfect pairings.

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: VEG OUT! - Saturday, Oct. 20 @ 6:00-8:30 (demonstration)
  • Spend a relaxing evening sipping on lime-cherry vodka cocktails, as I prepare incredible vegetarian dishes. Enjoy beluga lentil crostini with goat cheese, creamy wild rice soup with sweet potato croutons, shredded green beans with citrus and chives, mushroom-spinach-tofu black tea spring rolls with mango chutney dipping sauce, plus crisp brown rice "power bars" with dried fruit and nuts.