Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. I’ll post another one later this week. Using Random.org, the winner of the Eating Local cookbook is:
Megan, I’ll contact you by e-mail. Can’t wait to hear about your farm in Washington!
I’m excited to share some of our swag bag goodies from IFBC last weekend. We decided to break the prizes up, I’ll be announcing another giveaway next week (think baking) and a few more to follow that. Yay, free stuff!
For my first giveaway, I want to gift one lucky reader with Sur la Table’s Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers. It’s 304 pages of beautiful photography highlighting gorgeous farm-fresh produce and stories from 10 small farms. I’ve had a chance to thumb through the pages, and while I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, they look delicious and simple enough to replicate.
The recipes are arranged alphabetically by produce — not course — which is helpful in deciding how to cook all the seasonal produce you’re not familiar with. Like, I only have one Kale recipe in my repertoire. With the inspiration from this cookbook, I now know four more possibilities.
I absolutely love the profiles on these American farmers. They make farming so beautiful and almost motivates me to start a garden of my own. Almost. I’m not quite there yet. If you have a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share, this seasonal cookbook will be perfect for your kitchen. Even if you don’t have a CSA or shop at the farmer’s market, the 150 recipes and suggestions are great ways to start (or continue) to eat local.
To win this book, do one (or all) of three things:
1) leave a comment on this post.
2) become a fan of my brand new Facebook page for White Lotus Cooks. After you do, leave me an additional comment saying you did so.
3) follow me on Twitter. (find me here)
There are three chances to win and you have till midnight (MST) on Monday, September 6th to leave a comment and enter. Good luck!
(Also, this contest is only open to U.S. mailing addresses. No international shipping.)
Comments closed. Contest over.
*Giveaway announcement at the end of the post.*
Do you see this post here? I wrote it in about 15 minutes. My fastest blog post ever. My journalism instincts kicked in and I went into full-on reporter mode for this blog entry whiling attending the IFBC conference in Seattle last weekend. Even when I was gathering notes at the food carts (we were asked to blog about our favorite Seattle food cart during a lunch contest) I knew I was probably gathering waaay more info than an average blogger. What does Skillet seasoned their burgers with? (Salt and pepper.) What kind of bread do they use? (Brioche.) What’s this creamy, sharp tasting cheese in this burger? (Cambozola.) Why do I want to put another one in my mouth? (Because it’s so darn tasty.)
All of my questioning and speed blog writing won me a delicious Theo dark chocolate bar and the cookbook, My Nepenthe by Romney Steele. Brendan and I have actually been up to the Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur years ago while on our honeymoon. We didn’t get a chance to eat there, but did admire the beautiful view. It’s gorgeous.
More than the tangible prize, I was just thrilled to know that Molly Wizenberg, Kathleen Flinn and photographer Penny De Los Santos were the judges for this contest. You see, I have works from all three of these professionals in my bookshelves. I’ve read Molly’s A Homemade Life for my book club. I have made her “Winning-Hearts-and-Minds” chocolate cake about a hundred times. Kathleen Flinn’s memoir The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry kept me company on a long flight to London and had me dreaming of going to cooking school in France. Most recently, Brendan bought me Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumpling cookbook for mother’s day, and I have been drooling over Penny’s photos ever since (and the recipes are so hands down good).
For me, as a first time blog conference goer, this was what my IFBC experience was all about. Meeting people in the food community and being totally inspired. I met authors, print professionals, recipe writers and uber-famous bloggers. I mean, I live in Utah people. When do I get a chance to sit next to Lael Hazan during dinner?
I met Fr. Leo (you may know him for his appearance in Throwdown with Bobby Flay and yes, the priest beat the celebrity) at Friday night’s opening party. We talked about his message about strengthening families by sharing food. My heart warmed knowing we share the same passion. He was nice enough to mention Brendan and me on his blog too.
Shauna James Ahern from Gluten-Free Girl brought one of her two existing new cookbooks, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef to the conference. She was kind enough to let me flip through the pages of her beautiful book, and her presentation Sunday morning made it worth arriving early that day. (Okay, the Top Pot doughnuts also helped.)
But the highlight of my conference? Meeting Dianne Jacobs. Her book Will Write for Food was the first foodie book I bought and I ate it up in the course of a couple of days. I loved it so much, I bought the second edition at the conference. I was motivated by her recipe writing panel on Saturday (with Amy Sherman and Kristen Kidd) and thought hearing from them was a great way to kick off the next two days of speakers.
I like Dianne because she hits the hard topics without being afraid to be controversial, (Take a look at her blog. She’s already written a couple of post about IFBC so far. This one is about blogging for love, and she also continues the heated debate about giving recipes away for free.) While she can be blunt, Dianne is also approachable and kind. When I found out she has some Chinese in her, I had an a-ha moment. Like, “Oh. So that’s why you’re so no nonsense. You remind me of my to-the-point Asian aunties.”
One cannot live on inspiration alone, though. As much motivation as IFBC gave me, I know I need follow up with some thoughts I had during the conference. So, expect to see me blogging much, much more. I have a new feature I’m excited to try out, and guess what? I’m evening hosting my first giveaway!
Since Brendan came to the conference with me, we doubled up on goodies from our swag bag. Needless to say, I have much more swag than I need. I’ll post tomorrow what we’re sending away, and you’ll have a few days to leave a comment. Doing a giveaway was a tip Dianne mentioned in her book as a way to build traffic, and heavens knows I need it.
Thanks to all those who made IFBC possible. I was completely inspired. Now it’s time to get my blogging butt into gear.
The first sign that Skillet’s Wagyu beef burger was going to be wonderful was when I was told I would have to wait.
“The burgers need to rest for about three minutes,” said Stephanie, the spiky blonde sous chef of this airstream food truck. Giving the burger time to rest would ensure a juicy patty, one I couldn’t wait to put in my mouth.
Partnering with the beef from Snake Rive Farms, the natural flavors were brought out with only the addition of salt and pepper. Once rested, the patty is nestled inside a golden brioche bun, and topped with sweet bacon jam (a Skillet original) and fresh arugula. The addition of cambozola cheese, a cross between sweet brie and strong blue, finishes off the perfect burger.
Skillet was my favorite food cart at the IFBC food cart by far. It was worth the wait . . . even for seconds.
Do you know that familiar feeling you can sometimes get while traveling? Like, the rush of being at home in a place, even though you’ve never been there before? Maybe you’ve felt it while strolling down the street of a new-to-you-city. Suddenly, you hear your favorite song floating somewhere in the air, like it was planted there just for you. Maybe you’re in a restaurant completely unfamiliar, and the Lasagna you’re eating for dinner is just like the kind your mother made when you were growing up.
Well for me, I get this feeling whenever I step into an Asian grocery store. I do quite a bit of shopping at them in my own hometown, but for some reason, you give me an store with Asian foods, and I go a little nuts. I once bought 5 lbs. of Thai Sweet Basil just because the store owner was unloading her produce inventory right then, and I just had to have an entire shopping bag full. When were in London last summer, my homesickness was cured by my discovery of a Thai grocery store just off the Queensway tube station. Whenever I felt lonely, I took my kids on a walk to buy some curry.
So of course, our first destination in Seattle had to be at Uwajimaya, a huge mecca of all things Asian. The selection of food and Asian gifts are amazing, with groceries being decently priced and everything else pretty pricey. My friend Amanda spent the summer here, and said this needed to be a must-visit place while we are here. So, even with 14 + hours in the car, it was the first stop. While were all exhausted, our mood perked up after one step into this amazing superstore.
My favorite part about going to Uwajimaya? Seeing all the Asian ladies. I love to be around them. It’s like being part of a sisterhood of women who look just like you. I like to glace into their faces and think, “Oh, my mom was that tall. She would have probably looked just like her at 65.” Or, “Maybe I’ll wear that same outfit one day.”
Hopefully when I’m my mom’s age, or her mom’s age, I’ll still find as much enjoyment from browsing the aisle’s at an Asian grocery store. Because, it will always feel a little bit like home.
Umm. So where did these past couple of weeks go?
Oh, I know. They went into zoo seeing, and lake swimming and park swinging . . . and not a bit into blogging. Maybe some cooking. It seems like I let these last weeks of summer slip right though my fingers and into the open arms of my children. Sorry for the posting neglect, but it’s been fun doing nothing but play.
This week has ended our blissful days of swim lessons and ice cream cones with sprinkles. Brendan started school again, and my little girl’s first day of preschool is today. Instead of doing the responsible thing and slowing our summer fun down, I’m going to rebel and squeeze in one last trip. Before I give my husband up to law school one last time (graduation here we come!), I will make this season of happiness last just a little bit longer. Tomorrow, we’ll be loading up the kids to go to Seattle.
Brendan and I are attending the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle this weekend, and I cannot believe we are still going. The speakers are amazing. The food will be top notch. I guess if I actually survive the 14-hour car ride with my two little ones, maybe it will be a bit more believable. Maybe.
We are encouraged to do live blogging/tweeting at the conference, I’m going to try my best to do so. So please, check back often.
It’s my last hurrah to summer.
(watch the Jane Austen’s Fight Club here.)
Just over a week ago, I started to see a friend of mine make her way around the Internet. She was dressed in a pink lacy dress, spoke with a British accent and was throwing punches left and right. The Jane Austen Fight Club trailer made it’s way to YouTube, and this fun project put on by a group of friends in Los Angeles was about to explode. As of today, there are nearly 1 million views with mentions on The Huffington Post, TIME, Glamour, CBS News, NPR, Telegraph.co.uk, and many more.
My friend Farrah plays Emma and she chatted with me a little about the making of the video, channeling her inner Austen and of course, food.
What kind of movie research did you do for your part?
Most of the girls were already huge Jane Austen fans to begin with. Honestly, I’m more of a Fight Club fan than Jane Austen. So I had to watch a lot of BBC. A lot.
What’s your favorite Jane Austen book/movie?
Mansfield Park. I love Fanny Price. I love her decency and humility. With all the other [Jane Austen characters], I felt like there’s so much that goes on with politeness. With Fanny, I don’t really feel like that exists. Fanny says what she thinks all the time, that’s why no one really likes her.
What was your favorite part about playing a kick-butt Jane Austen heroine?
I love how vicious I got to be. I was so into the fight scenes. That face that you see? It’s not fake. I was seriously channeling fab fury. [After filming] everybody in my boxing class on Monday night got to see that face.
Who would you fight over, Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley?
I have to defer and say neither. I don’t care what people say; I think Mr. Darcy is kind of a jerk. Mr. Knightley is a really nice guy, but it would have to be Edmund [from Mansfield Park]. He wants to be in the clergy, he wants a simple humble life. He stands up for his family.
What would Jane Austen eat to prepare for a fight club throw down?
Some kind of a roast pheasant to tear out with her teeth.
Is there enough material to make Jane Austen’s Fight Club into a movie?
I think we could. Emily has the entire thing written out so well. There’s a ton of fighting that didn’t make it in, and a lot of storyline that wasn’t covered since it was only a trailer. A lot of people have asked it we beat up certain women who were considered villains [in the Jane Austen books]. We actually do, but it was too much to fit and credit in the trailer. Guess we’ll have to see where this goes.
You can see more of Farrah and her thoughts on the Jane Austen Fight Club by visiting her blog.
For my daughter’s birthday party, I threw her a My Neighbor Totoro inspired party. This Japanese cartoon is one of her most favorite movies to watch, and just like the show, Totoro visits her constantly. He is her favorite imaginary friend.
I made vanilla cupcakes and decorated them with vanilla icing, fondant flowers and tiny dust bunnies (or soot sprites) on top. Totoro is made out of marshmallow and fondant.
The best part of having Totoro birthday cupcakes is that you get to eat him.
Brendan made Japanese inspired hot dogs. Take an all beef hot dog, cover it in teriyaki sauce. Dress the bun with carmelized onions and wasabi mayo, and it’s completely oishii.
For an activity, the kids made dessert sushi using rice krispy treats, fruit roll ups and lots and lots of candy.
This little guy probably ate his fair share of food. And drank even more juice.
My girl spent all last week watering seeds she planted for her friends. One of her favorite scenes in My Neighbor Totoro was when Totoro helped the plants to grow. And yes, she did the “grow dance” after she watered too.
We also made homemade Pocky sticks to give away too.
Lots of fun, lots of friends:
And of course, there were some pretty great handmade Totoro presents.
Here’s a better photo of Totoro taken the next day:
All in all, I think it was a pretty good birthday.
I really meant to blog more these past few days, but I’ve been tucked away in Kentucky for a family reunion. When I stay tucked away, this is no exaggeration. There was no internet, horrible cell phone service (at least for my network), and charming cabins filled with family and food right next to the lake. In other words, I got absolutely no work done and it was totally awesome. It’s so nice to be unplugged from technology while on vacation.
With that said, I apologize for not getting my little girl’s birthday party post up sooner. I’ll have on the blog this afternoon. Until then, here’s a glimpse of a another favorite (and homemade) present of my birthday girl: the Totoro hat.
Grandma was able to give this belated present to my gal while we were in Kentucky (using this free pattern on Hello Yarn), and Aunt Kelli lent her crochet skills constructing the eyes.
Do you remember how I said I would have updates on the birthday party today? Well, I’m not quite ready yet. Please forgive me. Until then, here’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to blog for awhile. This post has been sitting in my draft folder for eons now, I keep forgetting to resurrect it. So, now’s my chance. This photo was taken during my last food shoot with Jon Canlas — isn’t he an amazing photographer?
Honey Walnut Shrimp is one of those dishes that for years, I have failed at. Miserably. The batter was always soggy. Never crispy. Too clumpy. The shrimp, way over cooked. The sauce? Too thin. Too sweet. Never quite right.
I didn’t start obsessing about fried shrimp kissed with sweet honey sauce until I was in my second trimester with my first baby. Maybe it was something about become a new mom — or maybe my inner-Asian was bursting to get out — but during my pregnancy, all I wanted to eat was Chinese/Thai/Lao food. Basically, dishes my mom made growing up. Food I never fully appreciated until she was gone.
So when this craving hit, I became a woman possessed.
My poor husband became the human garbage can. He ate all my horrible cooking experiments gone wrong, and assuring me all the while, that I could do this. I think we once had shrimp for dinner for an entire week straight. Despite all my efforts in the kitchen, I never conquered this shrimp recipe during that pregnancy.
Flash forward two years, and I am once again pregnant. Once again, infatuated with this unattainable recipe. Lucky for me, I’m much more confident behind the stove. I start the experiment again, and this time — success!
Now, instead of tears of frustration, I weep from happiness. I am so delighted with my creation, I hang on to this new glorious recipe and make it again, and again, and again. We still eat Honey Walnut Shrimp for another week straight. I think it was during this time that Brendan suspects he might be mildly allergic to shrimp. He eats it anyway and doesn’t tell me till later. What a great husband.
I love this recipe because it’s fairly simple and quick — if you’ve already got candied walnuts. Even with the half hour marinating time for the shrimp, it’s a pretty fast process. The cornstarch makes the batter light, and the sauce is creamy and sweet. This is something I can eat all the time — even when I’m not expecting.
1 egg white
1 tablespoon white wine
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lb. medium shrimp (31-40), peeled and deveined
for honey sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cornstarch
canola oil for frying
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
In a medium bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Mix in the white wine, white pepper and kosher salt. Add the raw shrimp to the mixture, stir gently to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate.
Meanwhile, make the honey sauce. Whisk together the mayonnaise, honey, rice vinegar and kosher salt. Set aside.
Place the cornstarch in a shallow dish, like a pie pan. After the shrimp has had time to marinate, coat each shrimp with a layer of cornstarch.
Next, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Generously cover the bottom of the pan with oil. Once heated, place shrimp in pan and fry for one minute on each side, or no longer opaque in color. Remove from heat.
Toss the cooked shrimp with the honey sauce mixture and add the candied walnuts, chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Stir till everything is incorporated. Serve with hot rice.