Monday, February 22, 2010

Detroit Eastern Market

I love this picture. It reminds me that although Detroit is a little run down, there are some beautiful buildings down there.

Dinner Saturday night. Lobster, crab legs, gnocchi, and broccoli

The nice coffee guy from Avalon :)

Detroit Eastern Market

I am now the proud owner of this ice cream machine :)
I love this picture of my sister and her husband

The rows upon rows of spices were totally awesome! I wish I could shop there......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Food, Inc.

Saturday night, my sister and I ended up watching Food, Inc. She had it on Netflix and we decided it would be a good thing to watch, following the whole food theme of the weekend. All I can say is wow....

Honestly, it's a slightly disturbing movie, but really informative about how the food industry is working in our country right now. The writers of this movie brought together a number of different people, such as Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), and farmers, like Joel Salatin (Polyface, Inc.) and other people who have been seriously affected by the food industry and are now advocates for food safety.

Now you must keep in mind that this movie does have an agenda, so you do need to take it with a grain of salt, but there is truth in it. It's very revealing about how food companies operate, how they treat their workers, animals, etc. It is definitely something people need to start considering: knowing where their food is coming from, how it's being obtained, how far it's travelling, etc. Also, in a nation where our economy isn't doing so well, supporting local farmers will help to boost local economies.

You don't need to become an advocate for food safety or for eating organic, but it is important to know about your food, especially since it's the fuel you use to run your body. Be aware, and don't be left in the dark.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday Night

Got into Detroit last night because I came for the weekend to visit my sister. She insisted we go to Mudgie's for dinner, which I had never heard, but oh my goodness was it good!! It's this sandwich shop that isn't more than a few minutes from her house, but it was wonderful. We had one of their soup specials, which was a chicken sausage and apple with bleu cheese. Delicious! Also we both got a sandwich, which are named after different people who helped the owner out. I got the Puglini and Giles got the Madill. Mine had chicken, asiago, artichoke, tomato, and pesto in a wrap. I don't remember everything that was on Giles', but it looked good!

Next, we went down to Greek Town, near the casino, to stop in at a bakery called Astoria. It has a lot of European pastries, and they also sell ice cream and coffee. It was slightly overwhelming to be honest. You walk in and there's just a line of pastries in front of you, all so pretty and looking so yummy. I think we spent more time just looking at the desserts that actually eating any, but we did get something. Giles had a chocolate covered strawberry and I got a chocolate covered cannoli. So good!!!

Overall, it was a really fun Friday night, and today we're going to the Detroit Eastern Market, so excited! It's essentially the farmer's market in downtown. It should be lots of fun. Hopefully, pictures and a posting to come soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

St. Honore's Cake

So, I thought this was interesting. As I was reading through some baking blogs this morning (which is, of course, what happens every morning) I read about a saint named St. Honoratus. I found it interesting because he's he patron saint of bakers!

A cake is named after him, St. Honore's Cake, which I have never baked before, but looks really, really good!
I think it will definitely be an adventure to try. :)
So, there's the little random fact for the day. Enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a couple of day...I have this little recital thing that I'm doing.....which is taking up most of my time right now :)

But look forward to posting later this week!! I'm going to visit the Detroit Eastern Market. I'm really excited about, and I will actually have a legitimate camera to take pictures with; sweet, right?

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Thursday!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


What does it mean to eat well? Does anyone really know?

America currently has an obsession with food; always trying to find the next great ingredient, always wondering what the next wonder diet will be. Why? Why is it that people have this desire to know all they can about food?

It must be more than sustenance because if it were just that, we would only eat what we need, and then move on. And people do that! Some care more for their job or some other thing than about what they're putting into their mouth. But then, what of those whose lives who revolve around food? Like chefs or suppliers, farmers and butchers, anyone whose life heavily involves food?

I wish I could ask those people what it means to eat well. Those who live in the grind; the line cook working his first job, the executive chef running the kitchen, the delivery man who brings their vegetables, the farmer who grows them. What does it mean to them to eat well? I wish I could pick the brains of people like James Beard, Edna Lewis, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Gordon Ramsey....those people who dedicate their lives to food, trying to make it better, trying to educate. What would they say?

America has made chefs celebrities. Is that what they've come to? Has our obsession with food come to the point where we make it nothing more than idolatry? Or is there more to it...?

Why do we feel the need to eat well? I don't know that I'll ever come up with an answer, and I wonder if people ever do. Maybe it's because there's no one reason, not just one definition. It means different things to different people. For some, it is just to run their bodies so that they are healthy and function well. But for others, it more. It's the desire to make one dish perfection, the desire to serve that perfection to others and to make them see. It's the desire to bring together all the components which make up that meal, and to share it.

That's just one definition that I'm sure will change as time goes on. As we grow older, sharing food with different friends and family; sharing as the goals in life change and the times. Who knows what the answer might be one year from now, two, five, twenty.....I suppose we'll find out.

How would you answer?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yes, it's my birthday, and yes, I did bake my own birthday cake. :) I've been baking my own cake for a while now, but I have the say the most distinctive cake, was my sixteenth birthday. That was a pretty awesome cake, all chocolate and lopsided. It was sweet. I really wish I had a picture of it to show you.

However, for this year, I decided to bake a German Chocolate Cake, which is one of favorites! One of the things that I love about this cake is the trivia behind it. The reason it's called a German chocolate cake is because it is named after the man who developed the specific type of chocolate used for it; his last name was German. :)

This cake is great because it's a very tender cake, even if you don't use cake flour, and it doesn't really need any frosting because of the sugary, sweet filling. Here's the recipe I used.

German Chocolate Cake
1 pkge German's Sweet Chocolate (I use Baker's)
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Coconut-Pecan Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare 3 9" cake pans. I also grease and flour the pans and then place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom. Microwave chocolate and water together until it is melted.

Mix together flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, blending well after each. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk.

Beat egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whites into chocolate batter. Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake fore 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pans 15 minutes, and then turn onto cooling rack. I always cover mine with a damp paper towel. Prepare filling.

Coconut-Pecan Filling
4 egg yolks
1 can evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
7 oz coconut
1 1/2 cups pecans

Beat egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a saucepan until thoroughly combined. Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, until thickened and golden brown. Pull off of heat and add coconut and pecans. Mix well and then allow to cool completely.

To assemble cake, place one layer onto a cake plate and top with 1/3 of filling. Repeat, using all layers; you will have a nice layer of filling on the top. And that's all she wrote!

The cake really doesn't need anything else, just slice and serve. What's also very nice about this is because you fold in those egg whites, you have a wonderful light texture, with a melt in your mouth deliciousness. :)

This is definitely a great choice for a birthday cake.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let's Celebrate!

Last night, in order to celebrate getting into culinary school and my birthday on Monday, I went to Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor with my sister and two friends. It was absolutely wonderful!!

I've never been to the Roadhouse before. I've been to the deli multiple times and absolutely love it, but I really wanted to go to the restaurant. It's been around since March 15, 1982 and they really have a wonderful restaurant. The chef, Alex Young, is a James Beard nominee and they use mostly local ingredients. The menu is mostly Southern dishes, which I thought was pretty interesting, and of course, my sister and I have to try a couple of different dishes to see if it was legitimate Southern. :)

We started off with a cheese flight, which is essentially a cheese platter. Zingerman's has their own creamery, and make a lot of their own cheese, but some are also from nearby states, like Wisconsin. It was served with bagel crisps and grapes. I don't know how I could describe the grapes, but they were pretty darn good.

We also got some of their cornbread, which was a Marbled Cheese Cornbread. There were two different kinds of cornmeal, yellow and blue, both from Anson Mills in Charleston, SC. The cheese I believe was from Vermont, I don't recall exactly, but it was pretty good. It was a sweet cornbread, which is not really normal for the South, but it was still very good! It was served with pot likker (actually spelled liquor, but doesn't actually involved alcohol), which was a little heavy on the ham hock, but still very good.

For entrees, my sister got the fried chicken with grits and greens, Heather got a burger, Anna a Caesar salad and macaroni, and I got this absolutely wonderful macaroni and cheese. I felt like I died and went to heaven. It was served with a pimento cheese and peppered bacon. For those who don't know what pimento cheese is, it's a very Southern dish which includes a sharp white cheese, pimentos, which are a types of pepper, and are pretty sweet. Many people vary their pimento cheese, but I think it requires a touch of onion, and there's the requirement of mayonnaise. Granted it must be very GOOD mayonnaise, and yes, it does in fact exist. It's called Duke's or making your own. Anyway, I don't know how they fixed it, but that is literally, the BEST macaroni and cheese I have ever had. Thank goodness there are leftovers :)

We didn't get any dessert, we were all way too full for it. However, I did end up buying a bar of chocolate made by Askinosie Chocolates based out of Springfield, MO. This is a small-time chocolate maker who used to be a lawyer. He came to Zingerman's on Tuesday for a presentation that I really wanted to go to, but wasn't able to because of weather.

Overall, it was so much fun! A great meal, great finds, and a good time. A great way to celebrate! :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Individual Cheesecakes

I think they turned out pretty well...I made them chocolate and some had almonds and others had butterscotch chips. Again, it's one of those things where it's not quite right yet, and some changes need to be made to the recipe. Frustrating.....

That's really all for now; not much else to say.....hmmmm.....oh, well....

Everyone have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


So I don't know if this is wierd, but am I the only one who celebrates getting into culinary school by baking? Maybe it is just me...I'm not really sure.

Anyway, I ended up having some time to bake last night, and I was able to fix some cheesecake brownies and an Almond Citrus Olive Oil cake, both for friends which will be mailed out today. The biggest concern I have, though, was my brownies. They aren't quite right yet, sometimes I have that feeling and sometimes I love it. It's nice to have the challenge of making it better, but other times, I get frustrated, not knowing exactly what to change, but knowing that it isn't right.

So, here's a question for you, would you rather have your brownies cakey or fudgey? I tend to lean more towards the fudgey end....Any suggestions?

Something else I'm working on is ready through Bill Buford's Heat.
It was recommended to me from an administrator here at the school because his family has worked in the restaurant business and we've discussed the food industry in general. He also suggested Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, which I will be starting after this one. He offered some really go advice about having a thick skin and being level headed. If you can make it in the food business without being an alcoholic, an addict of some sort, or generally mean, you can make it. It's definitely a tough business....

It also got me to thinking about being in the food industry. I know for a fact that I don't want to be in the restaurant business; I feel like I would be able to interact with customers enough. And I don't know that I would like the fast pace, late night life. I'm definitely leaning more towards a bakery sort of business that has earlier hours and you have more of an opportunity to form a relationship with the people buying your product.
Just a few random thoughts. :) Have a good Thursday everyone!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I don't have any eloquent to say today......actually I never do....I'm not that eloquent to begin with.
Anyway, I wanted to share the news that I have been accepted into the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York!!! So exciting!!!

I won't be starting until January 2011, which is actually really good. It gives me some time to work and save money after I graduate in May. Also, it'll give me the chance to go home and hang out with my parents and grandparents, and take a little break from school before I start again.

If you want to learn more about CIA, visit their website,, or you can shoot me an email. Have a great Wednesday everybody!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yay for February!

I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a few days, but this past weekend was opera weekend. So, all of last week and this past weekend was full of singing. It was an absolutely wonderful opera, but I'm happy that it's over with because even though it was fun, it was an incredibly depressing opera. But the one thing that helped to make it so much better was looking through cookbooks and talking about recipes with my friend, Catherine, while we got ready before the show. :)

But now, I can start posting on a regular basis again, or at least until next week when I have my senior recital.

A friend of mine asked me to give a presentation last night about eating healthy and easy cooking methods. I was giving this presentation to other seniors in my sorority as a part of a program to "prepare us for graduation and staying in touch with Kappa" and so on and so forth. I was more concerned with talking about cooking, really....

As I was preparing for this presentation, I was able to come up with 10 points that I really think a lot of people should know about or at least, pay attention to. I'll try to keep it short, or else it'll be a really long post; I could talk about this stuff for hours...

1. Prep work and Ziploc bags: most people don't think they have the time to cook, and it is hard to come home after 8, 9, 10 hours at work and prepare a meal. But the key is to do your prep work. When you do have time, on say a weekend or right after you go to the grocery store, do a little bit of prep work and store it in your 'fridge. This way, it's there waiting for you when you get home.
2. A crock pot is your best friend: I love crock pots; they're amazing. You can. quite literally, through something in there and let it sit for 4 to 8 hours. Then when you get home, you're greeted with a wonderful aroma and all you have to do is plate it up.
3. Eat lots of pretty colors and often: Okay, I cannot not honestly take credit for this phrase, it's from Alton Brown :) But he has the right idea. People don't eat enough veggies, and they come in more than just green. Vegetables also come in red, yellow, orange, even purple. Vegetables provide nutrients that we all need, so don't avoid them!!
4. If God made is grow at one specific time, it's best then: This gets back to the idea of eating seasonally. More people are trying to stress it, which I think it good. When you eat seasonally, one, you're getting better tasting food because that's when it's at its best. Two, you'll be saving money! When it's in season, there is more of it causing lower prices at the market. Especially when everyone's paying more attention to their wallets, keep in mind what's in season and you can save a few bucks.
5. Buying in bulk...and your freezer...can save you money: Sam's Club and BJ's can be great places. For certain meats, you can get a larger amount, use what you need and freeze the rest. Then when you need meat later, you can get it from your freezer rather than going to the store. Also, go for the less expensive cuts, like a brisket or a shank or a Boston Butt. You can get a lot of meat for less, and if you cook it right it's really good.
6. If it's processed, there are probably better things for you: Okay, processing can be good occasionally; it was invented for a reason. However, it's gotten a little out of hand. Have you ever tried to read the names of the ingredients in some products? That's can' can hardly even pronounce it. In a case like that, your body is less likely to be able to break down the ingredients, so you store what little nutrients are in there, which probably aren't that great for you to begin with. Stick to things that God made naturally, like vegetables, fruit, etc. So, moral of the Velveeta.
7. If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it: Seeing "cooking wine" on shelves always makes me laugh and then cringe. Have you ever tried that stuff? Well, I have, and it's nasty. If you want to cook with it, drink some first and then decide if it's good enough to be put into a meal because when you cook with alcohol, it concentrates the flavors, making good flavors taste better and bad ones, worse.
8. If your 'fridge is full of leftovers, make soup: Must- Go Soup that is. :) My mom would fix this when I was younger to try and get rid of leftovers in the kitchen. So, all of your leftover meats, vegetables, go into a pot with some tomato sauce, V8 is really good to use, some herbs or stock or whatever suits your fancy, and you have soup to last as long as you like. :)
9. Don't be scared of desserts: It's all about moderation. One slice is great, three or four isn't. Also, avoid the "diet" and "light" junk. It won't satisfy your sugar craving because it doesn't have the buttery, sugary sweet taste that you love, so you'll end going back to the box a few times and before you know it, the box is gone. So simply stated in the words of Alton Brown, " If you want a cookie, eat a damn cookie!"
10. Don't be afraid, be BOLD! Try new flavors, a new recipe, a new technique, and you won't get stuck in a rut. There is so much information available to you from places like Food Network, Epicurious, and so many more! Use the information they are freely giving to you!

So, I really hope you've learned something, even though this post was a little bit longer than I was expecting. Sorry.... :/ You don't have to stick to these points at all, feel free to make your own, but it's a good starting place. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Guten Morgen

This week is ridiculously busy!! It's Opera week! I'm involved in an opera workshop and performances start tonight, so unfortunately, it hasn't really left a lot of time for baking. I mean I'm in rehearsals for at least 4 hours a night. It's totally worth it, but like I said, not lots of time for baking.

So, that's on hold for a little while, but I really wanted to share with you; not something about baking, but actually relating back to my post about the sunrise. Tuesday's and Thursday's I really have the opportunity to sit and watch the sunrise. And as I was sitting there this morning, I couldn't help but think about how awesome God is. So, I thought I would share some Bible verses which really express the beauty of God in words I could never come up with on my own. Enjoy!

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; 
 night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language 
 where their voice is not heard. [a]

Their voice [b] goes out into all the earth, 
 their words to the ends of the world. 
 In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, 
 like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens 
 and makes its circuit to the other; 
 nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect, 
 reviving the soul. 
 The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, 
 making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right, 
 giving joy to the heart. 
 The commands of the LORD are radiant, 
 giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure, 
 enduring forever. 
 The ordinances of the LORD are sure 
 and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold, 
 than much pure gold; 
 they are sweeter than honey, 
 than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned; 
 in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? 
 Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins; 
 may they not rule over me. 
 Then will I be blameless, 
 innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 
 be pleasing in your sight, 
 O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


People are always asking my why I get up so early because most days, I'm up by 6 am. I suppose it's mostly genetic, my mother is an early riser too. But, also, I get up so early because I love seeing the sun rise. Not saying anything against sunsets, but I prefer the early quiet, where I can sit with my coffee, wake up, and see God's glory in the beginning of the day.

Here's just one example:

I didn't take this picture myself, I'm not that good of a photographer, but I wanted to show just one example of the beauty in the mornings.

One other thing I love about rising early is being able to fix coffee and breakfasts for people. This morning, I fixed some Cranberry Streusel Muffins for the girls in the house. It's so nice to be able to wake up to the smell of fresh baked goods.

Cranberry Streusel Muffins (from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food)
2 1/4 cups All purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup plain yogurt
Up to 1 cup of mix-ins (I used craisins)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk together. Combine wet ingredients thoroughly. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. Add in your craisins. Using an ice cream scooper, dispense batter into 16 greased muffins tins.

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup flour
1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients well. It should form pea-size chunks which you can then put on top of your muffins.

After adding topping, bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes. Once finished, allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in muffin tin. Serve warm with a hot cup of coffee!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Testing recipes..

I'm always looking for new recipes to try and taste. It's so much fun to try something and then do the best you can to make it better. Plus, I'm lucky. I have a household of approximately 30 people to test recipes on. They make such wonderful guinea pigs. :)

Anyway, I have a question. I'm working on a bar recipe that my sister actually got me thinking about. In essence, it's a sugar cookie base that has a layer of peanut butter and chocolate on top. I'm still working on the cookie recipe right now. It's not quite moist enough yet.

But my question to you is, if you had the choice would you rather have a thicker cookie layer or thinner? Or would you like it in a cup form, more like a Reese' cup? Or something else, how about a peanut butter cookie base topped with a layer of peanut butter and chocolate?

Any thoughts or suggestions?