want to be this woman.

my beauteous grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday. she always says i take after someone she knows. i wouldn’t mind that at all.

my beauteous grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday. she always says i take after someone she knows. i wouldn’t mind that at all.


We must become ignorant of what we have been taught

and be instead bewildered.

Run from what is profitable and comfortable.

Distrust anyone who praises you.

Give your investment money, and the interest

on the capital, to those who are actually destitute.

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.

Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

I have tried prudent planning long enough.

From now on, I’ll be mad.

- Rumi

i’m moving..

hi dear sweet friends- i am moving my blog here-


in reasons i explain over there, i think it’s time to finally start connecting to other bloggers, foodies, and friends and blogspot happens to provide the tools to do so. it’s also a little bit more user-friendly for people like me! i will still check here but bookmark it and follow me there people!

thanks y’all!

baking all by myself.

With my recent success in baking fluffy and light scones all under careful supervision of course, I thought to myself that maybe this baking thing wasn’t so scary after all. I always thought it was this evil face of the kitchen full of flour and sugar and if you didn’t get the measurements right, then done. Failure. I decided I needed to tackle this for myself once and for all. Honestly, I think I kicked butt:

From Joy of Cooking:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk in a large bowl:

·      1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

·      1 cup sugar

·      1 ½ tsp baking soda

·      1 tsp baking powder

·      1 tsp ground cinnamon

·      1 tsp ground cloves

·      ½ tsp grated or ground nutmeg

·      ½ tsp ground allspice

·      ½ tsp salt

Whisk together well in a small bowl then stir into flour mixture:

·      2/3 cup vegetable oil

·      3 large eggs

Stir in:

·      1 ½ cups shredded carrots

·      1 cup chopped walnuts

·      1 cup raisins

Bake for 25-30 minutes. In a 13x9 pan, bake for 30-35 minutes.

And who has carrot cake without cream cheese frosting?

I used the recipe made for a food processor:

·      8 oz cold cream cheese

·      6 tblsp unsalted butter, softened

·      2 tsp vanilla extract

·      3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1. hulling 4# of strawberries.

2. yes, she’s standing on her scale. # of jackie and sugar- # of jackie= # of sugar.

3. adding balsamic, lemon juice, and black pepper to sugar and strawberries. oh yes please.

4. testing the consistency with frozen spoons. thanks to blue chair jam cookbook.

5. oh yes. that is me making scones. sadly my first time…

6. …but a success nonetheless! scones, strawberry balsamic jam, cream cheese, tea, and white wine.

7. a.j can’t even wait for me to take a photo.

a sample week in food.

My week in food:

Well I feel like my Austin culinary road has expanded by leaps and bounds just in a week or so time. I’ve been either in a food coma or wine drunk most of this week to even sit down and record it each step of the way. This blog is a little summary of my week in food:

Saturday- Haddingtons. Brand new restaurant opening in downtown Austin and the bar headed by a Fino-alum (and Somerset County, New Jersey alum), Bill Norris. It opened with the idea of a having a gastro-pub feel which they managed to create quite successfully. The space is beautiful, comfortable, and you feel like your Irish buddies down the street should be meeting you for a cocktail. My cohorts and I stuck with experimenting the cocktails- them progressive, me classic, and sampling some smaller snack platters. Duck fat sazeracs were amazingly balanced and savory and I had my first Japanese cocktail- cognac, orgeat, and bitters. We snacked on foie gras links, meatballs, and toast pots with garlic and white beans. The latter probably took my favorite and next time I will be trying the others and I definitely need to give brunch and dinner a try.

 Sunday- Dai Due dinner. The gods must have shined on me after reading this post: [http://racheleatsinaustin.tumblr.com/post/873890856/austin-i-may-be-starting-to-understand] because Fino’s “holiday party” happened to be a Dai Due dinner where I sat a  communal table with local food lovers and dear friends, opened a couple bottles of wine, and got served some of the craziest food I think I’ve ever eaten in one sitting. A local couple, Jesse and Tamara opened Dai Due, a butcher shop in downtown Austin and began doing their seasonal supper clubs. They also frequent local farmer’s markets with hot food and yummy mustards among other things. One year ago I was debating on whether to allow chicken stock into my body and THIS was the menu and yes, I ate every single thing:


I am amazed that my two favorite parts of this meal were trotters a.k.a. pig’s feet. Yes where the sinew and gelatin of pig’s feet gets rendered off, rolled into a ball, and fried. I loved it. I loved sinew and gelatin of pig’s feet rendered off and fried. The texture was perfect- crunch on the outside and soft on the inside with salty flavor. I know I can now share pig’s feet with Anthony Bourdain and actually enjoy it. THIS is a milestone.

 The second favorite- the catfish terrine. No one would ever think that catfish from the local Lake Travis could be good. They’re bottom-feeders, muddy-tasting but when you catch the thing an hour before you smoke it and prepare it fabulously- it’s as addictive as any dip you could imagine.

 The dinner pretty much rocked my ex-vegetarian world. I’m going to leave it at that.

 Tuesday- Jackie and Rachel eat German food. What better way to supplement huge nights out than with a nice night in having a German feast. We had been talking about doing this for a long time in celebration of A.J’s and my (yes I’m not just Italian) German heritages. Our menu included bratwurst, wiener schnitzel which happened to be my first experience with veal, homemade gravy, potato latkes, red cabbage and a couple bottles of Riesling. Delicious and quite a success. The red cabbage was a nice little throwback and homage to my grandfather with the addition of applesauce and apple cider vinegar- a nice little secret from my mother.

Thursday- Chez Zee American Bistro. This is the kind of place that is a guilty pleasure for me. It’s not gourmet food, it’s not mind-blowing, and it’s not beef tongue and guinea livers but it’s happiness. It’s comfort. Growing up when it wasn’t Italian food, it was diners for Sunday meals and bars and grills for daytime holidays and birthday celebrations. Chez Zee reminds you of just that with creamy chicken and artichoke soups and arrays of sandwiches and salads with goat cheese and nuts. It’s the grown-up version of childhood comfort restaurants for when your mom’s in town and you have lunch dates with the girls. The decorations are perfect for that and the desserts are a pretty fantastic way to finish it off.

 Thursday dinner- Chardonnay and Muller-Thurgau wine. No food needed.

 Saturday- Asti Trattoria finally! I’m a loyal employee at Fino Restaurant, the younger sibling to Hyde Park’s Italian restaurant, Asti. I had yet to make it here and finally made it out with Dennis and Phil for dinner on Saturday night. So perks of being an employee of these restaurant duos make for a pretty fantastic meal anyways but the food I ate definitely held up (and I’m not being biased). There were glasses of prosecco with stuffed mushrooms, caprese with soft mozzarella burrata and roasted tomatoes, chicken liver mousse with golden raisins, and meatballs in tomato sauce and that was just to start. I’m still craving homemade pappardelle with mushrooms and parmesan cream. I kind of wish I could eat that all the time. Finally for dessert- a New Jersey girl’s first meeting with a cannoli in Texas. Okay- so it’s not the same, it was a fancier chocolate version but good just the same. They made up for it with ricotta brulee that I haven’t shut up about at work since I left.

 I’ve since toned it down on the wine this week and held back in eating away my money. I also balanced out the good food this week by burning brussel sprouts, living on Chinese takeout for the Golden globes, and ripping my fire alarm out of the ceiling. 

But here’s to the good weeks of eating well..

Tamales. Little did I know how limited by knowledge of Mexican cuisine had been until I was given quite the lesson by a fellow co-worker. Masa? No idea. Ojas? Beats me. I feel like I’ve made a huge leap in my expansion of culinary knowledge. 

Apparently tamales have been around since between 8000 to 5000 BC and used by Aztec and Mayan civilizations to support their large armies. They were also used by Spanish conquistadors and brought back to Spain as evidence of civilization in the New World. Here is my lesson in New World civilization:

We used blended chiles and chuck roast for the filling and ended up making our own masa. Which is as I learned a dough traditionally made of hominy. We added some lard to lighten up the density and you know when it’s ready when it floats in water. Spread the masa in the corn husks or the ojas with room at the top at bottom to wrap, fill with a spoonful of chile, and close tightly. I swear it was much more labor intensive than it sounds. 

Steam and eat and you too can live like an Aztec warrior.

This is how your christmas present came to be. Whiskey and clementine marmalade for the holidays. I hope everyone who had the chance to try it enjoyed it as much as I did making it.

I could handle being locked in a kitchen for weeks at a time creating recipes, slicing and cooking fruit, and jarring. I would definitely be okay with that.

This is a jam company that put out the cook(jam?)book that Jackie got from me for Christmas:


How adorable is this business and how amazing are these flavors?! What an inspiration so here’s to a new season of fruit and a new year of canning!