Priceless.

Priceless is defined as:

So precious that its value cannot be determined.

Used to express great and usually affectionate amusement.

I find many things in my life to be priceless, as many do. I strive to live in the moment, see the fading beauty, appreciate. I think most say that they live this way, but in reality only a small percentage of us really can claim this stake in the ground. This flag on the moon. Witnessing a life lost so young will do that, and I’ll remind you all of this a million times over.

Therefore, a Sunday, spent with my Grandma to talk recipes becomes…you guessed it, PRICELESS.

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Recipes and cooking , to me, are the window to a Sunday afternoon. Not your run of the mill average easy to find recipe, but those shared only by the great pioneers, handwritten, a kitchen captured in time, sealed.  An absolute you and I can NEVER recreate in it’s purity which is why I think I am so drawn to these antiques. An antique far richer than those auctioned with a price tag, these antiques come by way of mouth, and pen, a table, a bite…priceless.

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I am always drawn to an image of a grandmother, her apron, her Sunday, her table…and I am reminded that although the days are long and the years are short nothing is  long enough. Grandmothers cooking in their kitchens hundreds of years ago are gone, but their acts, remain – almost exact. She is I and I am her. We are doing what we do, for our friends, our loved ones, always – our family. Yes,  I am passionate about particular dishes and tastes, flavors, the divine…but I am equally passionate about what united us all to get here.

She is I and I am her.

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So, today, I spent time with my daughter, my mother, my grandmother, eating, talking, browsing, remembering..meals, moments, snapshots on paper…that I fully intend to replicate and carry on. Carry on because these, my friends, are the true antiques. One of the only things I know to be, absolutely, PRICELESS. My daughter is destined for greatness; big, bold, challenging adventures…none of which I doubt. I do, however, INSIST, that she comes back to center, OFTEN, over a meal, a moment, a memory, an absolute of where she comes from. She is I and I am her, hundreds of years over, and we are BOLD, LIVING, LOVING creatures destined to remain united, timeless, and…priceless

Excuse me, do you carry dry spumante?

I’ve been a bad blogger this holiday. I have good excuses though, really, I do. Oh, and one of my 2010 resolutions – use more excuses. So, there you have it and I think I’m starting off on the right foot.

My inability to keep up with everyone’s blogs, including my own is because of this:

I’m sure many of you watched Julie & Julia, and if you haven’t – definitely add it to your list. It’s a great movie that will both inspire (if you like to cook) and make you hungry. As a result, I found myself wandering the aisles at Barnes & Noble’s cookbook section and rather than pick up a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering French cooking I decided to stick to my husbands roots and go Italian, full on Italian.

LA CUCINA.

It’s 1000 pages people, written by the Academia Italiana Della Cucina. I love everything about Italy so I said f*** the French, let’s do this. I’m not going to recreate the Julie & Julia scene by any means, but I did consider making it a New Year’s resolution to master the art of Italian cooking, for both my husband and my kiddo’s. I think it’s important that we bring back the whole passing on of recipes concept so I need to master my specialties.

My husband said he wanted Veal for his first ‘La Cucina’ dish. I love veal too and narrowed it down to about 5 recipes for him to choose from. We agreed on Veal with Mushroom caps made with truffle potatoes. Easy enough. Loaded up and went to Central Market where I found myself asking people in the produce section if they carried ‘dry spumante.’ No one could help me there so on to the spices. Nada. Nothing. Pulled out the trusty iphone only to google that spumante is ‘sparkling white wine’ in Italian. Awesome. I clearly know what I’m doing.

Next stop. A white truffle. I knew this didn’t mean truffle like I’ve seen in chocolates, but I honestly wasn’t sure where to go. I sent the hubs on this mission since I already made his Italian grandmother roll over in her grave by thinking spumante was a vegetable. He came back with a teeny little bag with .01 ounces of truffle – totalling $1.99. If you do the math on this you will realize that truffles cost $199.00 a lb. One-hundred-and-ninety-nine-dollars!!! And you don’t even get high or anything from this thing. WTF?

Okay, moving on. We got the veal cutlets, totaling about $26.00 – I only bought a pound. A few other things and we were on our way home. I couldn’t wait, I was totally inspired by my new project.

I put on my new apron (Xmas present from my mama) and it was GO TIME. No need to really go into details from this point forward but the whole meal was a total f***ing disaster. FAIL. BIG TIME. VEAL FAIL. I followed the recipe like it said to but something about the way the veal was floating/boiling in about 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/4 cup of beef broth just didn’t do it for us. It basically boiled veal cutlets into tiny pieces of ass that you could have made a a leather purse out of. I sat and studied the recipe over and over, made my husband read it, called my mother, and still have no real conclusion on why it turned out so incredibly inedible.

We ordered pizza that night.

La Cucina – 1
Me – 0

I took the day off yesterday from cooking and went to catch a movie with my girlfriends. we settled on grilled steaks and asparagus last night too as that falls more into my husbands department. I needed to give him an opportunity to fail too so I could potentially even the score but he cooked my steak to perfection.

So, here we are. Sunday – the day of the big meals and I’m gearing up for round 2. Literally when I close this laptop I’m venturing back into the kitchen to take on some Canneloni with meat sauce. If I screw this one up I may retire from my quest and whip up a chicken fried steak or something. Bring me back to MY roots. If I succeed we’ll all raise a glass of spumante, the drinking kind. 😉

Bring it, La Cucina!

Sdoft and Gen-dle

We had an awesome Turkey day, stuffing our face with lots of good food, compliments of some amazing chef I know. Ahem. We started the prep on Wednesday night and I had full intentions of capturing all the details a la photograph but all I got was this one:

They were damn good deviled eggs too.

The rest of the time off we spent with family, enjoying the change in the holiday season as we are now fully launched into xmas mode. All decorations are up, music is on, and we even have a print out of ABC’s 25 days of Christmas because yes, we are that cool.

Brooklyn has been suprisingly good with the Christmas tree, full of bright white lights, sparkling red and silver balls, different ornaments we picked up over the last few years representing us and what we love the most. We got her a stuffed snowman with the word ‘Noel’ on his tummy, that’s her ornament she can take on and off the tree. On and off. On and off. On and off. On and off. On and off. Exhausted yet? SHE’s NOT! On and off. On and off……
Brooklyn’s ornament

I decided to teach her to be soft with the tree. I took her hand and lightly rubbed her face, then mine, and whispered, soft. We then sat by the tree and did the same thing, and I said soft, gentle. Now, anytime she looks at it, or goes near it she whispers sdoft, gen-dle, and barely touches the branches or other ornaments. My husband is amazed and I tell him it’s my mad parenting skills.

It’s been really cold here too, which for me, adds to the whole Christmas spirit. I’m talking 40’s people which for those of us in Texas is sub zero temperatures. Our “winter” coats are for style, not warmth so there are a bunch of us walking around freezing our asses off. Possible snow flurries tommorow too which if that happens will most likely mean day off at which point I promise to do the Carlton in celebration. It snowed a lot, once, when I was about 5 or 6. It was magical, and all I remember is my dad sending me flying down the neighbors driveway in a beer cooler. That experience was not sdoft, nor gen-dle, but it was fun.

Apple Crumb FAIL

I think I’ve mentioned this before – I like to cook, it relaxes me. So, in the spirit of the holiday season approaching I decided to bake an apple crumb pie on Sunday. Thanksgiving is at our house again this year, audience includes my MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER, both who kick Betty Crocker’s ass.

So, I must practice.

I found a great recipe, picked up everything I needed while at the grocery store on Saturday, and even researched how to do a lattice. Yes, yes I did just use the word lattice and I answer to ‘Chef.’

Okay I’ll admit, I scatched the lattice – that’s only for the big time.

First step was to peel and slice the apples. Done. Easy. Put the slices in a bowl of water to avoid browning. Moved on to the sugary coating. Done. Made the crumb pieces out of cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter. Done. Put applies in pie crust, added crumb topping, BAM, in the oven to bake for an hour.

SUPER easy but I threw a little flour on my face anyway for dramatic effect.

40 minutes into it I check on my pie. Hmmmm. Something just doesn’t look right, at all. I pull the pie out of the oven and it has literally turned into apple soup. THE SLICES WERE FLOATING. I suppose this had something to do with me soaking the slices in a bowl of water. Who the hell knew? (If you do, shut it.)

FAIL.

Bon Appetite!

So it’s been a goal of mine in 2009 to cook more for my family, and to eat healthy. Occasionally there is a bowl, or three, of queso to be had but for the most part I’m doing pretty good. The trick for me has been to go grocery shopping on the weekends and plan the menu for the entire week. I thought I’d share what I’m making tonight with everyone in case they want to give it a try as well. Bon Appetite!

Thai Pesto Shrimp:
1 1/2 lb. unpeeled, large raw shrimp
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (I’m using pine nuts)
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher or 3/4 tsp regular salt
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Coconut Lime rice (recipe below)

1. Peel shrimp. Prepare coconut lime rice.
2. Proceses cilantro, next 7 ingredients, and 3 tbsp olive oil in a food processor 15 to 20 seconds or until smooth, stop to scrape sides.
3. Saute shrimp in remaining 1 tbsp hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro mix and server over rice.

Coconut Lime Rice:
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
1 tsp lime zest 1 1/12 tbsp fresh lime juice

1. Bring coconut milk, salt, and 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in lime zest and juice.

Per serving (including rice): 300 calories, 13.3g fat