Planning a New Year’s Dinner

via food52–When it comes to silky-smooth squares of chocolate ganache, these Japanese truffles are the ideal. Dusted with a blizzard of cocoa powder, they’re minimalist & bold, and contributor @jun.and.tonic hasn’t had a better truffle to date.

I wrote about last year’s New Year’s Eve tasting menu banquet, In A World Of Food Life And Tasting Meals, and after a conversation recently with Coffeeman, I started thinking about how I would plan a tasting menu, with the little I know. Okay, I know more than I think I do, but well, sometimes I don’t feel like I know a lot. However, there is a passenger driver to my cooking life, and thank gosh he is still there driving and directing along, as I try to not feel overwhelmed.

Being first and foremost a lover of all things sweet, I am right there on desserts.  I’m sort of working backwards, and creating as I write. What can I say, I gravitate towards the sweeter things in life.I was immediately drawn to these truffles when I popped across them via Food 52 on Instagram. I would make these, serve three on a plate and they would be topped with a crushed honeycomb candy dust, a red chili dust, and lastly, cocoa powder.  I am a sucker for chocolate. I will always want to end a meal with a nice piece of chocolate.

via inagarten
Sparkling Grapefruit Granita with rosé Champagne! recipe available on barefootcontessa.com!

An interlude between courses would be a lovely grapefruit granita with a sparkling rose, served in a coupe glass. Or as Ina Garten does it. I mean, the woman has gorgeous class.  And on that note, what about a gorgeous champagne, ivory, and gold color scheme for a New Years? Maybe a bit of silver glitter as well!

The main course would be monk fish. Known as the “poor man’s lobster”, I was able to enjoy it this late spring when I was off to a cabaret play. I fell in love with it’s meaty sweetness and just oh so good. Do I know how to cook monk fish? No. But that’s besides the point. I’m just creating here. Work with me here, people!  Served with an elegant creamy risotto .

Caramelized shallots, for that crispy, caramel y goodness.Something green…. um, well, I might have to come back to that. I’m seriously not sure what vegetable I would put with it. I love kale, but I love it just sautĂ©d with butter, garlic and a little lemon. I mean, that isn’t fancy. I was thinking beets, but, maybe only a beet puree that you set something on…. Eh, I’ll come back to it.

Second course…. Salad. Easy. Radicchio, Belgian endive, sliced red onion, preferably Bermuda red onions (nearly impossible to find these days), sliced orange, black olives and this coriander vinaigrette that comes from a recipe  my mother has had for years. It is spectacular.

Like this, but a bit of green and black. Don’t forget the olives!

Layer the radicchio, endive, orange, onion and three black olives in a layered strip. Not much, just simple and mouthwatering. It marries, my mother’s recipe, with a Ina Garten one. And oh so pretty with the bright magenta and minty lime leaves, orange and black. Trust me. Gorgeous and fresh.

The amuse bouche, or appetizer round always gets me. Maybe a nice mushroom pate… Personally, I would do like a mini charcutarie board. A couple slices of mixed cheese, a crumble of Stilton, a little bit of pomegranate seeds, or maybe slices of fuyu persimmon. Toasted almonds. A couple slices of homemade crackers. Simple, but something to wet the palate. I love cheese boards. I think they are rustic and elegant at the same time. I get stuck on them on Instagram. So much fun.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Anyways, I doubt I’ll get the luxury or stress of planning a meal like this, but wouldn’t it be fun? I love thinking of food items and menus. I have been doing it for years with character scenes in books. What would Mia and Rafe have for tea? (He’s Scottish or Irish)  Would Luke and Regina have a fancy meal brought to his office at the hotel he owns? and what would it be?  I float around food. I wrote about food in books with woman in the post titled, And The Meal Was. . .  See, I still think food!

Anyways, there’s the start to an elegant new years meal. What do you think? Anything you would add, or take away? I’d love thoughts. Who knows, somewhere down the line I might find myself planning something like this.

Cheerio!

Kate

And The Meal Was. . .

Fancy Toast by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

She was served a lovely open faced sandwich of the nicest white bread, toasted lightly with thinly sliced green bell pepper and tomato topped with an over-easy fried egg. The floral plate was sprinkled with cilantro leaves and pinks. Another plate held a slice of the same white bread spread with only the best butter, whipped smooth and fresh strawberry jelly. A delicate teacup held a fragrant brew scented with rose and a fine oolong tea.  -Katie Lyn (just me describing the above photo if I were to write it in a book)

Have you ever paid attention to a meal when it is written about in a book?  Surprisingly, even though my eating habits lie along the lines of “have to” at this point in my life, I still appreciate good food and how it’s written. I think my first example of paying attention to food was a child’s books where bread, butter, and jam sandwiches were served. I can’t recall what book per se, but I have always paid attention to food. I aught to as my sister is forever keeping her journal which is basically recording down the day’s food. She reads  The Food Lover’s Companion like the Bible, and we collect cookbooks to read.

Emilie Loring books revel in good meals. The delight of delicately prepared vegetables, with Hollandaise sauce! Fragrant cups of coffee after dinner. Delightfully delicate sandwiches. Emilie must have enjoyed food. (let me check… Yep, read the second half of this blog post by Patti Bender. Emilie Loring: Good Company ) Food is what makes us all exist and what is the point of living without good food? (My current predicament is odd as I’ve always enjoyed food it’s just become a bit mundane at times for me. Go figure.)

I just started reading  What She Ate by Laura Shapiro and one chapter talks about the British author, Barbara Pym, who delighted in describing meals. She noted them in journals and never left out a simple meal. Apparently. I’m off on a quest to find one of her books as they sound marvelous. The thing that caught me the most was how Ms. Pym (don’t you just love that name?)  kept those notebooks where she wrote everything down. When she would go out people watching, every little detail was written down, especially the food. Describing a simple salad, or a boiled chicken. (They are very decidedly British after all) But food is described.

I’m in love. I mean, what better thing to focus on to slip into various bits of storytelling? We eat. I mean, I find it rather interesting that we never describe our daily ablutions in books, unless a woman is dressing and putting on her face. Granted, we don’t know all the daily doings of our characters, though I find it rather interesting. Personally. But back to food, most people enjoy eating. And we all want to eat well. What I think is eating well  might not appeal to others as I like fairly plain food, but I have never known someone to not enjoy a meal at our home. Simple is nothing to scoff at.

Why, the other night, I came home late from work where I was sending off fancy dishes, and my kept meal was pan-fried pork chop, sauted kale with garlic, farfalle with Parmesan and butter, and a simple salad (head lettuce and tomato, if I recall). Simple, basic, but pleasant after smelling so many exotic scents exiting my Chef’s kitchen.

If there is anything I can learn and glean from this essay on Barbara Pym, it’s to keep track of food better (not to mention people watch better)  and write it down. Even if watching a cooking show. Oh, I imaging Ms. Pym would have loved Barefoot Contessa!

Do you pay attention to food in books? Do you collect cookbooks and recipes? I certainly do, even if I never plan to cook them. My Library has plenty of lovelies. I carried on an online correspondence with a British man who said in England Delia Smith is a Goddess. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve paid attention to food due to little things like this. Ratatouille is the best foodie film ever, in my opinion. And Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books have Monsieur Wolfe a true epicurean, albeit a bit extravagant in my opinion.

So, again, foodies and writers alike, comment please. I’d love to know your thoughts. Any good meal descriptions you’d like to share? Please do!

Eating/Writing On

Kate

 

 

Ladies In The Kitchen – Day No. 21

Only ten more days until this challenge of Write 31 Days is over. Ladies In The Kitchen – Day No. 21Wait. What?!  How has the month flown?  That being said, I’m feeling like I’m running out of topics even though I still have several more days to do. I had a couple posts I decided didn’t fit my month, so now I’m having to scramble for some extra ideas.  Whoops.

So today, women cooks. Women in the kitchen. Ina, Giada, Joy and more.  I love my lady cooks. I love watching cooking shows when I have the time. My all time favorite is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. This woman is amazing. I can’t stress that enough. I have watched her off and on for the past ten plus years…. lord, it’s been that long?  She makes the most amazing food, and her recipes work! That right there is crucial. You have to have a recipe that works and you get done and it looks like hers. I am famous for making her marshmallows at Christmastime, and they always turn out. Always. And don’t get me started on her Brioche bread. It’s so amazingly good.  I want to make all of her food in her Barefoot in Paris book.  My sister and I were so disappointed when she moved and her new kitchen was very different. Turns out, she didn’t move. She built a barn next to her house for the taping of the show. Whew! I’m so relieved because I loved her house.  Everything about this woman is so cool. If I could, I’d spend the day cooking with her, meeting her marvelous husband, and getting to know her friend who does the flowers. I could go on. But if you ever get the chance to read her cookbooks or watch her show, do it. She is the best.

Giada De Laurentiis.  Okay, it’s very easy to make fun of Giada. She is a little over the top with her Italian pronunciations, and cleavage….. But I really do like Giada. She makes really cool Italian food and her cookbooks are so simple. I can’t say as I’ve ever tried anything of hers out, but I do have three of her books. I kind of just love reading them.  So much fun.  I love simple food; I love Italian food…. it’s a perfect fit. And I love her kitchen.  She has a killer kitchen. Actually, all of her kitchens have been pretty great.

 

Joy Wilson

Joy Wilson

Joy the Baker. I don’t know how I found Joy Wilson, but I started following her blog a while ago and while I have yet to make anything of hers, I love her blog, I love her podcast, and I hope to get her sweets cookbook soon.  She does amazingly delicious recipes, and her pictures are to die for.  Living in New Orleans, she mixes flavors and styles and gets some of that southern cooking in there with a modern flair. I highly recommend you check her out if not just to drool over her pictures.

And lastly, when I can find cooking channels on Youtube, well I’m happy. I have fun doing that as well. My newest fun gal is RachhLoves.  Below is her chocolate chip cookie recipe. I already have a great recipe myself, but I love watching her. She kind of reminds me of Lizzie from The Lizzie Diaries.  She’s got some moxie and spunk.  Check her out.

There are a lot of other cooks out there, but these are my favorites. My sister has gone through the years of loving Rachel Ray and The Pioneer Woman, but I rarely can watch either.  The Pioneer Woman I will tolerate, but she really drives me nuts with her cooking. I like real and classic.

So, who is your favorite woman cook?  Oh, and if I could have watched Julia Child when she was younger, I probably would have. I remember religiously watching her when she was much older and cooking with chefs like Jacques Pepin.

Don’t forget, DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Kate

Fifty Five Things You Might Not Want To Know About My Book Tastes

mountains to climb

mountains to climb (Photo credit: atlases)

I started off this morning reading John’s posts on this questionnaire about ones reading tastes. I liked the questions enough to answer them all in one post; I’m not so snobbish to say you can’t read them all at once, and personally, I think my responses will be just a tad less snarky than John’s. Sorry John, but you have snarky answers. He got it from Tara Therese who got it from another blogger… moving on. If you go to do it yourself, watch out for questions 33,34, and 40 on other people’s lists. They are missing. I’ve added in the ones John put back since I figured he had found the original source. Enjoy!

1. Favorite childhood book?
Honestly, I’m having a hard time coming up with the answer to this because I loved so many. Little House in the Big Woods and the rest of the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is my first thought. That one book in particular I loved to read over and over. Anything by Elizabeth Enright or Edward Eager. Both big favorites with me.

2. What are you reading right now? Indemnity Only, Erotic Poetry, Ballistics  by Billy Collins,

3. What books do you have on request at the library? Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence (though it’s been on hold for almost a year. I think it’s lost) and a couple DVD’s. I had more but I’ve got them all checked out right now!

4. Bad book habit?
I collect too many books I never get around to reading, I read way to late at night, I read when I should be working, I check out more books than I can read at one time…. The list goes on

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Right now It’s only 15 items, though I can get 20 which I usually do. And Two are dvd’s I won’t list. : The day of the jackal / Forsyth, Frederick,
Horoscopes for the dead : Collins, Billy.
Ballistics : Collins, Billy.
The trouble with poetry and other poems / Collins, Billy.
Indemnity only : Paretsky, Sara.
City of bones Clare, Cassandra.
In the green kitchen : Waters, Alice.
Living in the raw desserts / Calabro, Rose Lee.
Ani’s raw food desserts : Phyo, Ani.
Butterflies through binoculars : Glassberg, Jeffrey.
Do or die : Brockmann, Suzanne,
City of ashes Clare, Cassandra.
You can’t take a balloon into the National Gallery / Weitzman, Jacqueline Preiss

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No, but I wouldn’t mind a Kindle paperwhite for reading poetry and obscure things I can’t find but online.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? Never just one. Several. See my #5 question. Plus the several I own.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read more books for reviewing, because I review, and I read less because I don’t have as much time.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
Uhhhhhh….. Hmmm Probably a christian book for review. It was cheesy and choppy.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Anything and everything by poet Billy Collins. I’m seriously addicted

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Probably only once or twice a year. I’m reading a mystery, which is not comfort zone, and I’m loving it. But I stick with what is comfortable most of the time. Depends on what my library has in stock.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Romance. Cheesy Harlequin, older classic romance, chick lit that’s really romancey and sexy, classic romance.  Classics, IE Jane Austen. Poetry, cookbooks, books on writing. Gardening…..DIY

13. Can you read in the car?
NO! I get so motion sick it’s pitiful. I should try audio books. I can read on a plane though, once through takeoff.

14. Favorite place to read?
In bed. By the kitchen baseboard heater where my chair at the table is. Outside in the summer on one of our benches, or the couch on the front porch. Or if I’m really lucky, hiding somewhere under the pines in our yard.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I’ve not had the best luck loaning out books. Now, if it’s a paperback, not a huge deal. Hardback, only if I know you really, really, really well, or if I’m not terribly worried how the books comes back to me. But mostly no. I do not loan out books. It’s too risky.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Lord no!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
If I own it, and there is a word I don’t ever remember, I use a pencil to lightly write in the meaning in the margins. Every once in a tiny while I will add notes. Again, with a pencil. but only my own.

18. Not even with text books?
Uh, don’t use text books anymore, and that’s what scratch paper is for

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
I’m only fluent in English.

20. What makes you love a book?
Uh, I have to just like it. How do you explain loving a Jane Austen, then a trashy romance? Or a really cool mystery then a cookbook? Lots of factors.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If it’s something that I think fits the person I’m wanting to recommend the book to. I don’t just automatically recommend any book. If I know someone who likes poetry, then I’ll mention it. A good cookbook? Then it has to be something I know the person will use. I take personality into context.

22. Favorite genre?
Historical romance fiction

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Mysteries, IE, Patterson, Connelly, (the Castle book in my stack) and fantasy. I’ve heard a lot of good things out there, but don’t want to take the time to try.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
All the time. I love these kinds of books

26. Favourite cookbook?
Barefoot Contessa in Paris by Ina Garten. Or anything from the Barefoot Contessa, Giada Delaurentis.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I started reading the Forgotten Man, but have yet to finish it, but really, really good.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Coffee or Tea, but they always get cold!

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I rarely follow hype.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t read a lot of critiques so I can’t say.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
It depends on how the book was laid out and whether or not it will be a good book for someone else to read. I hate to give them, but this is reality. Not always is every book a decent book.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French, Gaelic, Hebrew, Italian, GREEK!

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read
Hmm, maybe The Three Musketeers because I was 15, and it took me three weeks. But after trying that book, loving it and wanting more, I’ve really stepped up my game and try everything usually.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin
A couple of the classics that I’m blanking on that I’ve just not wanted to tackle quite yet due to how big they are.

35. Favorite Poet?
Emily Dickenson, but now I’m a HUGE Billy Collins fan.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
20 easily, not counting all the books I purchase for 25 cents from the Friends of the Library.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
All the time. I rarely finish a book these days, and DIY books you never read cover to cover. Half the time the books are for research for my writing.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Hermione Granger, Anne Elliot (Persuasion), Captain Wentworth (same), Mr. Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, Bella Swan(Twilight, I’m a girl and I can relate to clumsiness), Jameson Rook (Castle mysteries) Oh, Mr. Knightely

39. Favourite fictional villain?
George Wickham, Draco Malfoy, and probably others, but rarely contemplate.

40. Books you’re most likely to bring on holiday
Something that won’t get damaged or if I lose it, not the end of the world, but probably an Emilie Loring or Cecelia and the Chocolate Pot By Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I love that book and it’s long enough to hold my interest for a few days. I don’t go on vacation so….

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
A couple of days.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Couldn’t finish The Count of Monte Cristo, yet. Would not finish a really bad Luanne Rice book recently. At least I think it was hers. Audio book. So stupid.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
People that interrupt me and the news.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (probably a first where I like both book and film) and Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. The Breaking Dawn. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers stone.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Ella Enchanted. Oh they ruined it!

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
About $35 and I can still remember when I did it and how many things I got.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Library books often get me skimming it.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
if it’s boring as heck too much swearing, really idiotic plot, or I just don’t have the time and it’s not enjoyable enough for me to pick it up again

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
To some extent though not as much as I’d like. I have my nonfiction separated, my to read pile, my maybe pile, my favorites shelf, my new favorites shelf, my foreign language dictionaries shelf, my paperback romances shelf… I could go on…

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Depends. I usually only get books I’m probably going to like, or if they are inexpensive from the used books at the library, return them for another. I tend to hoard books… even when I shouldn’t.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
The Hunger Games, no desire to read it.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
I can’t think of a book that made me this way. I’d probably put it down and not finish it if it did.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. It was a James Patterson so I thought it couldn’t be that good. Also What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. The book is written entirely in verse. So so good.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Sense and Sensibility. I still have not gotten through that book!

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Ah, any of my Emilie Loring romances and I love to read when no one is up, though that doesn’t happen much because I’m usually the last one up!

 

Whew! so now you know more than you cared, right? But fun to do. I have been a bit behind in writing posts due to being tired, time constraints, getting a cold or something illness, working on the farm. Farm life does not lend itself to writing life. So hopefully some new content next week!

Signing off

Kate

Simply Grilling By Jennifer Chandler : A Review


 Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler relies on the premise of fast recipes for any type of grilling. Covering all types of flavors from mexican to asian inspired meals, the recipes are written in a concise manner. Colored pictures are included with each dish making the book visually appealing. Tips and how-tos are included at the bottom of each recipe and there is an entire section at the beginning to start you off on how to grill; whether indoors or on a charcoal grill; to get you started. Simply grilling is a nice start into the world of grilled foods.

While I found this book enjoyable to look at and tempting with so much variety, my first thought when i saw the title was inexpensive grilling.  Simply means also cheap and easy in my books.  inexpensive is not a word i would use to describe most of the recipes.  With ingredients like skirt steak, sushi-grade tuna loin, duck breasts, and a large selection of unique ingredients most people do not have in their pantry, this is not a book for anyone on a budget.  I actually found the title quite misleading.  One expects expensive dishes from cooks like Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) and Giada De Laurentis and their books reflect that with the glossy pages and pictures for the upscale recipes.  The matte photos and pages in Simply Grilling lead one to think of good home cooking yet the recipes reflect the opposite.

For those looking for a fun book to look at or a gift for someone who grills a lot and wats a different take, this is a nice book.  Otherwise I would pass on it for anyone trying to make a go of it in this economy. 

 I received this book as part of Thomas Nelsons Booksneeze program in return for an honest review.

I finally got around to writing this review and while I could expound on the aspects of the book I didn’t like for pages and pages, I’m still going to hold onto this book possibly for future reference. Sometimes just enjoying looking at a cook book is enough.  While I may never make anything from it, it does have a nice look to it.  Heck, half the cookbooks I own I don’t make anything from. The only ones I have are few and far between. I’ve come to accept that I just like looking at cookbooks sometimes.

Signing off

~Kate