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Friday, August 9, 2013

So Many Peppers

This week, I found myself having about 4 bags of baby multi-colored bell peppers. Some were left over from a party I cheffed over the weekend, and some were from my last two CSA boxes. I was determined not to let them go to waste and I knew we wouldn't be able to eat all of them, so I set about making a bell pepper relish. I had made one before, but found another interesting recipe and decided to give it a try.
I washed and chopped the peppers, then the recipe said to put the chopped peppers in a bowl and cover with ice for three hours....OK.
Then, I cooked all the peppers with two kinds of vinegar, sugar, yellow mustard seeds and paprika....for one hour.

I was ready to fill my jars! I got four half-pint jars from about eight cups of peppers. Then, I used my water-bath canner to process the jars for about 10 minutes.  This turned out great....I used it as a topping for my fish for dinner.

So glad the peppers didn't go to waste. Canning is such a great way to preserve summer's bounty!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Visit To Decimal Place Dairy Goat Farm

Last week the Atlanta Chapter of United States Personal Chefs visited Decimal Place Farms in Conley Georgia for our March meeting. We had a blast! Mary Rigdon owns and operates the farm with about 50 adult goats and on the day we visited, about 25 new baby goats. The goats on the right were 2 days old! We all were able to feed the baby goats and got to milk an adult goat. Of course, this was a new experience for all of us and the goats were just delightful. They were very calm and friendly, and the baby goats were adorable.

Mary gave us a tour of the farm, showed us the equipment she uses for milking the goats and making the most delicious goat cheese you can find. We were able to taste several kinds: chevres, cheddars, one coated in ash (my favorite) and several flavored varieties.

You can find Mary selling her cheeses on Saturdays at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market and during the week at the Grant Park and East Atlanta Village farmers markets. Definitely buy her cheese...you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Would You Like Some Collards?

Last night I hosted knit night at my home. We were just getting ready to eat and one of my  neighbors came to the door with a huge, just-pulled-from-the-ground stalk of beautiful collards! He asked if I wanted to share them with him and well, yes, of course I did!

I cut them from the stalk last night and refrigerated them, so now this afternoon I'm getting ready to get them cooking. I'll make some cornbread and voila, dinner! Can't wait. I haven't had fresh collards since last Fall when they were in my CSA box. These apparently came from another neighbor's garden who shared with my neighbor, who shared with me...love my neighborhood. (Ashford Park in Brookhaven)

Last weekend we cleaned out what was left from our winter garden, and this weekend we will add another six-foot raised bed section. Spring is in the air and I'm ready for the first crops of lettuce and spinach from my own garden and from my CSA box that I get from Dillwood Farms.

 For knit night, I made chicken corn chowder and spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. Warm food for a cold night. Then we settled by a nice warm fire and got to our knitting projects and had a lovely evening....love my knitting friends and our knit nights!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Do Love My Cookbooks

Yes, it's a bit of an obsession. But I love to sit down with a good cookbook. And I do have lots. I try to keep them fairly organized, so when I'm looking for something or need to embellish or confirm an idea I have, it's easy to go to the right spot.

These are some of my newest cookbooks -- two I can add to my collection of signed cookbooks, to join Wolfgang, Anthony Bourdain, Giada.

I've tried a couple recipes from the Hugh Acheson cookbook and look forward to trying his Atlanta restaurant soon, Empire State South.

I admit I have more French cookbooks than any other style, but these are my favorites.

 I have collections, home canning, special diets, and cookbooks devoted to using the pressure cooker. Then, I have some by celebrity chefs, but the Ina Garten books have great recipes and are worth a try if you don't have them.

I'm always thinking about new ways to prepare food for my clients. I try to keep ideas fresh and present new foods cooked in new ways so I use these books as inspiration. And I've ordered two new books on the Paleo Diet that should be here any day now. Obsessed? Maybe.

If you have a favorite cookbook, please let me know! It may be something I don't have and will need to rush out and get.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Busy Holiday Party Season

It was a very busy holiday season for me and I am very grateful to have been totally booked for the last 3 weeks of December. I cooked for my regular personal chef clients and also had events that were celebrating many different things, from mom's birthday to parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. All the parties were different in style and theme and I love the diversity. The photo at left is from a family holiday luncheon, and one of the desserts was red velvet cake parfaits presented in jelly jars.

Another party I did was a small gathering celebrating a mother's birthday. Two daughters were in from Los Angeles and wanted to do something special so I did a hands-on cooking party. I started by showing them how to make two easy appetizers, then how to make a homemade citrus vinaigrette for salad.
We then made homemade pasta from scratch. Everyone was amazed at how easy it is and how much fun. Then I showed them how to cook salmon in parchment paper. This is a great healthy way to cook fish and lots of fresh vegetables can be added.

Another party I cheffed was a parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. I was asked to come up with a Southern theme to honor their Southern roots. The menu: shrimp and grits, crab stuffed trout, Coca-cola glazed pork tenderloin, pimento cheese potato gratin, braised collards and skillet cornbread. Everything was delicious, the shrimp and grits plates all came back totally empty, and everyone came back for seconds. Dessert was a made-from-scratch coconut cake.
Thanks to all my clients new and continuing for a great 2012! And a big shout out to all my chef assistants who made me look good.