Monthly Archives: July 2010

Love & Potatoes: My New CSA

I picked up my bag of veggies from my new CSA (Canvas Ranch) this week and it was so exciting. I had no idea what I was getting and not sure what I was going to do with it, so it felt like an adventure. I walked to pick up my bag of goodies with my little boy, Craig, and started thinking about how FRESH food is so romanticized these days. It was an interesting string of thoughts. There I was, walking with my 10-month old sleeping quietly in his super stroller as I passed all the pretty trees and looked into the hills of Marin County all while I was supporting a local farm. All I needed was a little music and it would be a great scene in a movie, I bet.

The romance side tracks me…anyway, I arrived to grab my veggies and on queue, the baby starts screaming, the wind blew cold and there I was with no jacket and 2 miles from home.

Finally, we get home and I spread out the goods on my kitchen table. The excitement came back! I didn’t know what everything was but it looked so pretty and fresh and colorful. I picked up something that looked like parsley and smelled and picked off a leaf. “It doesn’t smell like parsley,” I thought. It tasted so different – like a candied orange…how strange! Canvas Ranch solved the mystery with their weekly newsletter explaining everything: Lettuce, Rainbow Chard, Golden and Chiogga Beets, Collards, Radicchio, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Scallions and Cilantro!

It was cilantro! I’ve had cilantro before, but not like this. It was so different and extra delicious. Oh, and the potatoes! I sliced them like steak fries and baked them with olive oil and a little Old Bay seasoning…so good that I didn’t use ketchup – and I’m a ketchup fanatic.

I can’t wait to cook and eat these up during the week. Do you have any favorite CSAs (community-supported agriculture) that you love. And please, tell me about any fruits or veggies that have surprised you lately.

Off to a canning & jamming class…

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Filed under cooking 101, starting to cook, tips for new cooks

Women Entrepreneurs Radio Tonight

Tonight, I’m being interviewed on Women Entrepreneurs Radio by Deborah Bailey! Deborah is the host of Women Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of Success,” a weekly internet radio talk show that provides candid discussions with today’s top entrepreneurs, authors and industry experts such as former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan and inventor and QVC personality, Lori Greiner. Deborah is also author of the book, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.”

Needless to say, I’m very excited to be among many awesome women being interviewed! I’ll be sharing many of the BIG secrets behind Cooking for the Clueless. LOL. Well, maybe just a few – but mostly delving into using creativity, resources and pure gusto in following your dream on the path of entrepreneurship.

Listen today or via archive anytime:

Check out other fun Cooking for the Clueless press here.

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The Oprah Dream: What happened?

As most of you know, I auditioned for Oprah’s contest to have my “OWN” show on her new network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It happened on a Friday afternoon in May, when Oprah talked through the TV to ME and said, “Do you think you have what it takes to have your own show? Do people tell you should be on TV?” “Yes, and yes, totally” I said back to her! So, my hubby and I scrambled and filmed a short audition before time slipped away.

Quick segue: When we produced, Cooking for the Clueless, our DVD to help people who are super frustrated in the kitchen, our intention was to sell it in the big stores – you know, Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond for all the newlywed shoppers that realize they can’t cook after “I do” and Target for all the 30-something smart shoppers in our “target audience.” What really happened was that C&B and BBB & Tar-jay said, “great concept, but you’re a nobody kid – we can’t carry your DVD!” Ok, so they didn’t use those exact words, but they said if I had a show, it’d be a different story. Thank God for Amazon. They love us. Anyway – just a little reality background for our die-hard fans.

The more I promoted the DVD, the more TV (morning shows) I did and got more comfortable in front of the camera and people would say, “What a great concept for a show!” I always felt it was but started to believe that other people agreed. Oh and the best confidence booster happened at the Tasty Awards – do you remember when we won the Tasty Award for best food DVD? (see acceptance speech here :0). After the show, a big-time producer from TLC (produces Cake Boss) came up to me and said, “call me, I like your energy.” That was awesome – but so far nada. And then there came Oprah, the grande mama of all hopes for almost every woman in America. My audition got 18,364 votes! Out of 465 online cooking entries, I finished in the top 25 or 30, I think. Not bad huh?

Finish the Oprah Story already…

Ok, so the voting closed about 10 days ago and in a delusional state, I thought I may have a chance for a call back, then I read that out of 10,000 people, only 35 were getting called for a second round of personal interviews. That deflated any hopes, especially since the only person calling me was my grandma. ” Oprah didn’t call?” she asked in Spanish. As if it were a given. You gotta love your grandmas!

Thanks to EVERYONE who voted for me on Oprah! It was truly appreciated and I love all of your support! Stay tuned for more local stories on the challenges and perks of moving from clueless to cooking in the kitchen. :0)


Filed under cooking 101, Cooking for dummies, food, frustrated, newlywed, starting to cook, tips for new cooks

Big trees, No Wifi, Great food

How many of you could handle a week without cell phones, TV or internet? No really…none of them. If you think you cango without technology for a week and you like the outdoors, I highly recommend trying one of San Francisco’s “best

kept secrets” for families – Camp Mather up in Yosemite National Park (technically just outside the park in Groveland, CA). Oaks, Cedars and Ponderosa Pines canopy over tiny cabins that keep you

warm at night. For many, the family camp has been a San Francisco tradition for generations. This Jersey-girl fell in love with Yosemite at first sight, so it was a no-brainer for me.

Aside from being in pure nature and doing things out of your normal city element – like taking an archery lesson, one of the best things about Camp Mather is that you don’t have to worry about your meals. You get 3 delicious fresh meals a day served to you by perky college kids working hard during summer break – old-fashioned style – in a mess hall, with dinner bell and all! OK, this is starting to sound corny, but it’s just great and the food was really good. Of course, I had to tour the kitchen and get the scoop on how it is they manage to serve 90,000 meals a summer (500 people a week x 3 meals a day).

So how do you feed an army of 500 people 3 times a day all summer long?

  1. Prep a day ahead with enough hands on deck. Delegate.
  2. Plan a good variety between vegetarians, kids and everyone else.
  3. Serving cafeteria style vs. family style keeps the food hot and fresh.
  4. Keep the bears out of the kitchen! They get in sometimes :0)

Thanks to Chef Mike Cunnane and Cook Allison Murnin for the tour and inside scoop behind Mather’s beloved Dining Hall secrets. My favorites were Thursday night’s hearty Eggplant Parmesan and delicious Tilapia a la Murnin and the freshly baked breads and dessert and every breakfast, oh and the sweet cantaloupe…thank goodness for the gazillion hiking trails that kept us going in between meals :0)

Can’t wait till next summer already.

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Filed under baked chicken parmesan, cooking 101, Cooking for dummies, starting to cook, tips for new cooks

You CAN eat locally, organically & on a budget!

The title of last night’s sold out food lecture, sponsored by The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, “How to Eat Locally on a Budget” was sure to draw a crowd given that our society is both obsessed with the economy and eating better/more consciously these days. We all know that eating organic and locally is better for the environment, but it’s easier said than done if you’re not used to cooking. There is a sense of elitism in the media surrounding those that can afford to eat like we should be eating. The all-star panel of published experts on the subject told us we had it all wrong and that this negative perception was only just that – a perception. The panel included:

Deborah Madison, Author, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
Leda Meredith, Author, The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Locally on a Budget
Jessica Prentice, Author, Full Moon Feast
Temra Costa, Author, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat – Moderator

I went to the event curious and somewhat skeptical as to whether or not I would get realistic and doable tips from the experts. Going organic and local is a great goal to strive for, but if you’re not used to cooking and you don’t really understand food, you may have to take a few (fulfilling) steps before it becomes a lifestyle. I’m happy to say that there was so much important and useful information packed into the 1-hour panel discussion. Let me get right to the best advice:

  1. Buy in PEAK Season: it’s good to wait for things to be in-season, but prices are higher at the beginning. If you wait till PEAK, prices drop by as much as 50% and taste is perfect!
  2. Walk the Farmer’s Market: Walk the entire market BEFORE buying. Often prices will differ throughout. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” Price may be higher because a farm is organic-certified which costs more to run.
  3. Grow things Yourself! Understanding food can start with a little garden that is all yours to nurture and use. Ask for help at your local gardening store or get to researching on the web. Here’s a great article to get you started.
  4. Volunteer for FREE Food: Many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) – you know where you order a box of veggies and/or meats/dairy from local farms and they get delivered to you or a local spot in your hood…provide a free box of goods in exchange for some volunteer hours from you every week. Many intangible benefits come with this idea (aside from free food).
  5. Eat Beans & Rice: Beans and rice have been a staple food of many native populations for a good reason – good nutrition, low-cost.
  6. Join a Freeze or Canning Party! Canning or freezing foods in bulk will save you time and money in droves. But it’s not very fun to do this by yourself. Join a party or host a day in the kitchen with some friends. Eating organic, local and sustainable is very much about community. Join the fun!
  7. Start a Farm. Urban farming is on the rise. Yes, we’re talking raising farm-yard animals even in the city. Read my Novella Carpenter post for some insight on the first time I ever heard of urban farming: Urban Farming: we’re talking bees, chicks & piggies
  8. Buy the WHOLE Chicken: buying skinless/boneless is more expensive. If you buy it whole, you can roast once day and stew the next.
  9. Go Mutton: Ok, I have to admit, I never heard of mutton until last night! Apparently, it’s the same as lamb, but where lamb is sheep 12 months or younger, mutton is 2 years and older having a stronger taste and less tender – but cheaper!
  10. Don’t Cook like it’s the Holidays Every Night! Sometimes having a filling bowl of soup and a crusty piece of bread is enough for dinner. Why torment yourself with making 3,4,5-course meals every night? Rethink the menu. Get simple and save the holiday-style meals for special occasions or company.

Ok…according to blogging “rules” this post is way to long – but there was so much good information to pass along. I’ll be taking some of my own advice and starting a garden (never thought I would ever) when I get back from Yosemite! Happy 4th of July!


Filed under cooking, cooking 101, Cooking for dummies, food, Uncategorized