Feb 2014
New Snacks Class!

Right after the new year, I headed back to Denver, the home of Craftsy, to shoot another class for this fun, dynamic platform for those who love to get creative with anything from cake decorating to quilting. And cooking is certainly a most delicious way to get creative! This new class reflects my lifelong love of all things salty -- the focus of the lessons in Homemade Salty Snacks (this link includes a $10 rebate!), an exploration in going DIY with that popular category of food, allowing you to customize to suit your own taste and maybe skip that snack aisle at the grocery store now and then. I had really enjoyed shooting my first Craftsy class, French Home Cooking Essential Techniques, that's an arena that I adore as well. But shooting this new class was even more fun because, ...

Feb 2014
Cooking for Your Love — A Give-Away

It doesn't matter where we were. It wasn't the restaurant or the server or the menu that was at fault. The calendar did it. February 14 to be exact. It was a decade or so ago and my husband and I had gone out to a restaurant we'd been to many times in the past, and have been back to since. Not a fancy place; a casual, popular spot with very good food. But there's something charged about that evening, energy in the air: it has to be an unforgettable night, expectations of diners are incredibly high, restaurants are booked solid, customers' expectations don't quite get met (whether on the part of their date or the meal) and quickly the loving moment of Valentine's Day bliss crumbles under the force of the reality of a day when restaurants are overtaxed to an almost unparalleled degree. So, even though the expectations my ...

Feb 2014
Finding that Career Path in Food

Long, long ago,  just a couple of years after having earned my degree in Mathematics from University of Puget Sound, I sat at the desk in my one-room apartment in Seattle and flipped a coin. I was filling out the application for a stagiaire position at the venerable La Varenne cooking school in France, a more affordable work-study opportunity to study in France, which would have been impossible at full fare. There were two boxes at the top of the form, and I had to pick one: practical or editorial. Did I want to be working mostly in the kitchen with the chefs focused on class-related tasks or in the editorial realm, working on recipes, book projects, research, whatever else came up in that arena. I had absolutely no idea. All I knew is that I was at my limit of the highly-educated-receptionist phase ...

Jan 2014
Oaxaca: Color and Flavors Abound

I realized I'd taken a lot of photos when I got that error message saying my 4GB media card was full. Thankfully it was the last afternoon of the weeklong trip to Oaxaca and I had my phone at hand to capture some final images before packing away my t-shirts and sun hat and dried chiles and corn husks along with an overload of sensory input and experiences to pack along home as well. That's just one measure of what a full week it was , no doubt about it. Ten of us (friends old and new) traipsed around together--from wandering the streets of historic central Oaxaca City to the dusty heights of impressive Monte Alban and from morning into night. Given Oaxaca's prominence as the culinary heart of Mexico, it's appropriate that this introduction to the region should be through its kitchens and market stalls under the amazing guidance of Susana Trilling, wonder woman ...

Dec 2013
Fish Stock: A Kitchen Foundation

You may have heard this reflection before: that stocks are so integral to cooking, the French use the word fond, meaning "foundation," for most stocks used in the kitchen. Fond de veau (veal), fond de volaille (poultry), fond de boeuf (beef). They're the base for countless recipes, including soups, stews, sauces and that old-school showpiece, the aspic (or, more elegantly, gelée in French). Which explains why various stocks were among the first things we were taught to perfect in the program I went through at La Varenne cooking school. Fish stock is no less a foundational recipe, though it does get tagged with a different name in French cuisine: fumet rather than fond. It translates as aroma, I like to think if it as essence. Though the general principle of making fish stock is the same as that for the meat stocks, fish stock is inherently lighter in character and quicker ...

Nov 2013
Restaurant Photos: A Different View

I came to the conclusion this week that I'm deeply tired of that pause from the pleasure of eating out that's inescapable when the let-me-get-a-shot-of-that-before-you-take-a-bite routine kicks in. So I plan to give it a bit of a break. While at the same time giving a break to family and friends who usually love, but surely sometimes are perplexed by, hanging out with a food professional. Of course I'll still be taking food snaps, no way around that. They're part of the toolkit of food professionals. My recipe-testing archive for any development project includes photos of tests, valuable cues to illustrate the recipe results for future reference and comparison to other tests. And in restaurants, the occasional "wow, haven't seen that before, gotta remember this idea." Oh, and how could I forget, those occasional social-media shares, the ephemeral shots that are shared once and not thought of much more. This however-brief moratorium is instigated ...

Oct 2013
Northwest Cuisine: My New Series

Thrilled to announce that my first-ever self-published e-book was released earlier this week. For this initial entrée into the new realm, with The Northwest: Crab, I have revived some content from projects dating back a decade or so. The Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series was one of the most personal projects I had the opportunity to work on. For one thing, I was the sole writer of the project and created all of the recipes myself, after a number of co-author gigs and compilation projects working on other folks' recipes. But even more meaningful to me was the chance to shine the spotlight on a handful of foods that I found to be among the most iconic of this region I've called home all my life. Three of the ...

Oct 2013
Cheese Bit Quiche: Reminiscing with Leftovers

It's no surprise that a lot of reminiscing went on this past weekend while Anne Willan was in town. She was here, after all, to celebrate the release of her new memoir, One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France, so she's heavy in memory-mode, going back to her early days in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. I spent about 2 1/2 of the most impactful years of my life at Anne's La Varenne cooking school, initially as a stagiaire (a sort of work-study program), then working for the school -- a bit as a program director one summer, a nice chunk of time working on many cookbooks with her, from about ten volumes of the Look & Cook series to the ...

Oct 2013
Craftsy Blog Voting: Pick Me!

My new class has been up on Craftsy for just a couple of weeks, which you can check out here (bonus: that link includes a 25% discount for you if you opt to buy the class, though you can check out a preview there and may find some other things of creative interest on the site). It was so great to have a chance to trace my own cooking roots back to the years I spent in France studying and working at La Varenne cooking school, plus some other delicious episodes in the country which included working for Patricia Wells for a spell and cooking in a tiny bistro in the French Alps one winter season. The class covers French home cooking basics, the likes of green salad with wonderfully simple vinaigrette, beef ...

Oct 2013
The Season of Hops

    Hops. Where would beer be without them? They add not only that distinctive floral-citrus-resiny flavor to the hop-heavy ales many of us in the Northwest love, but as a backbone of the beer-making process they contribute to the characteristic aroma of beer and act as a sort of preservative to help stabilize it against bacteria. (That hopped-up India Pale Ale style of beer is so named because extra hops were added to shipments of beer headed from England to outposts in India, to aid in preserving the beer for its voyage. Necessity as mother of invention, the practical exercise proved to make some extra-tasty beer.) Those ebullient vines of  humulus lupulus became an unexpected theme this past week or so. First it was seeing a photo (this online version has a few more) in the ...