L is for Lentils {A to Z Challenge 2018}

Untitled-171

When it comes to wanting a cozy meal with a Middle Eastern flair, there’s an easy way to make a delicious, mouth-watering meal….

Untitled-198.jpg

Lentils and rice are one of my favorite meals. They’re nice and simple to make, plus nutritious so it’s a win all the way around.

To start, you rinse the lentils off and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small rocks mixed in. Then you put them in a pot with water – with plenty of room for them to expand – and boil them until they’re soft.

Meanwhile, you sauté onions, garlic, and celery together, dice up some carrots, and then add them to the cooking lentils. Add some cumin, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings that sound good, (ginger is one I like) and enjoy!

They taste delicious on their own, or on top of rice, or paired with flat bread and dill pickles.

Untitled-199

What I Listened to While Blogging:
I watched a movie 😉 
Where I Blogged:
At my brother and sister-in-laws house
Fun Fact: 
Chocolate was once used as a currency
Question of the Day: 
What is your favorite soup?

K is for…. Cabbage? *cue quizzical look* {A to Z Challenge 2018}

Folks! #DreamComeTrue time.

Today I have a vlog for y’all. I know, I know, it’s Thursday, so that’s kinda expected. But! Today’s vlog is different. Today we have a cooking vlog, which is something I’ve literally wanted to do since before I wanted to be a writer. Amazing, right?

There are obviously areas I need to improve in, yet I’m totally excited about this cause it’s my #FirstCookingVlogEver So yay! (And yes, I use hashtags when I’m excited.) Enjoy, folks!

J is for Jamming {A to Z Challenge 2018}

I nearly wrote about Jellybeans today. See, one day a couple years ago our family stopped at a mall that had a delicious chocolate store that was going out of business and so everything was on sale. And when I say sale, I mean it was like a childhood dream come true. There were jellybeans galore, and I, well, might have ended up buying a LOT of them.

Untitled-171

But then I decided to ditch that idea and instead go with…

Untitled-190.jpg

I guess it would make sense to talk about making jams. And I tried that once. I ventured deep into the briars, braved the blistering sun, contented with fussy little sisters (this was a while ago, folks), and emerged hours later with a pitiful bucket of blackberries to show for my labors. And I made jam. Jam that took forever and a day to boil down and work on, then only produced a small amount of gooey goodness. I’m pretty sure I was so horrified by the lack of yield that I simply stashed the jars in the back of the pantry, determined to hide them until I found an occasion suitable to celebrate by eating them. (And, shhhh, we won’t mention if the jars are still back there or not.)

But no. This is actually a different type of jamming. This type of jamming consisted of me lighting the world up with music while working in the kitchen with my little siblings.

I’ve enjoyed dancing around the kitchen with music playing in the background all my life. There’s something about familiar songs filling the house that makes the work seem faster and easier. Back when I was a kid though, it wasn’t always the most peaceful of occasions. See, I had this habit of liking a little bit more excitement than just one measly song playing at a time. So, I would commision my two little sisters to search the house for everyone’s CD players (this was back when those were still the norm), and then we’d line them up on the counter, put a different CD in each one, and let them play at full blast.

Looking back I’m sure this was extremely healthy for our ears (NOT), and there’s just a slight chance that it contributed to the interruptions in our house, ya know, since we were kinda training ourselves to be able to block things out.

Thankfully I don’t enjoy chaos as much as I once did. Although my kitchen time still flies by faster if I’m listening to music or an audiobook that generally happens with earbuds playing softly for me personally.

Untitled-191

What I Listened to While Blogging:
Speaking of nice and calm… This 
Where I Blogged:
My office
Fun Fact: 
The tradition of pairing lemon and fish started in the Middle Ages when a lemon slice was served with fish because it was thought the juice would dissolve any bones that were accidentally swallowed
Question of the Day: 
Do you perfer working with music or silence? 

F is for Fondue {A to Z Challenge 2018}

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.

Untitled-171

Every year we girl cousins try to have a few days where we get together and spend some good quality time connecting. My favorite thing to do during this special weekend is….

Untitled-183

Fondues are perfect for a number of reasons, so let’s start out by naming a few of them:

-It’s out of the ordinary, so, therefore, it’s a memory-making event
-Fondue take a long time which means you get to sit back and really spend quality time with each other
-On a scale of one to deliciousness, fondue takes the cake (although, not really cause cake is crumbly)

So, what exactly is fondue? Great question, peeps! It’s where you have a community pot of something hot (like broth) or melted (like chocolate) and then you dip pieces of food into it with long, thin speared forks, then eat it. *cue the happiness*

When we have our cousins weekend we generally have three courses – the first one is cheese. Yes, a whole pot full of melted, yummy, mouth-watering goodness. For our dipping foods, we have a platter of toasted French bread squares, apple chunks, mushrooms, etc… Next, we move on to the second course – broth. With a pot of simmering goodness, we pretty much make soup, one bite at a time. With platters of raw meat and numerous veggies (carrots, potatoes, etc…) cut up into small chunks, we spear them and then have wonderful conversations while they sit there cooking. For the third and final course, we make (cue the trumpets) a chocolate fondue. Actually, we generally have two pots for this one – one of white chocolate and one of regular chocolate. (Are you beginning to see why this meal is so fun?) Pretty much anything can be dipped into this pot: bananas, strawberries, cookies, gram crackers, pretzels… yumminess abounds and it’s a fantastic way to end one of the best meals ever.

If you ever decide to make this meal yourself, then make sure you plan at the very least two hours for the eating process – three or four hours is even better. Have your guests come with a relaxed attitude, ready to just sit and visit and eat a very leisurely pace. It’s also tons of fun if you have a list of questions to go through. Another option is divvying up who does the prep work for each course, then letting that same person decide a (lowkey) talking game or topic to discuss as you eat.

Untitled-184.jpg

What I Listened To While Blogging:
Movie soundtracks from Youtube
Where I Blogged:
My sister’s lovely house
Fun Fact:
I have 17 cousins, and I already have nearly as many nieces and nephews
Question of the Day:
Have you ever had fondue?

Efficiency in the Kitchen {A to Z Challenge 2018}

Untitled-171

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.

The letter for today is….

Untitled-182.jpg

Tips for Working in the Kitchen

– Before you begin baking gather all the ingredients you need so you don’t get halfway through a baking project only to realize you don’t have a necessary item

– Start in a clean kitchen. Seriously, folks, there’s nothing like having to clean up your own mess on top of an old mess to make you lose momentum

– If you’re following a recipe, read the whole thing before starting. Making a cheesecake for dessert and realizing at the last moment that it needs to chill for three hours is rather disheartening

– Conserve the dishes you use – rinsing out mixing bowls and reusing them, or washing them as you go along helps the stack next to the sink not become overwhelming

– Keep your knives sharp. It cuts down on so much work and makes life a lot better when you don’t have to saw through everything

– Instead of having a lot of odds containers to store food in, go with a couple of key sizes and all the same kind. That way you won’t always be searching for the correct lid because you only have two or three different sizes of lids and two or three different sizes of containers

– I generally also wear an apron and carry around either a washcloth or towel in the pocket to clean up spills as I go along

That’s it for today, folks!

What I Listened To While Blogging:
Some DYI show on TV
Where I Blogged:
At my adopted parent’s house
Fun Fact:
I remember “helping” in the kitchen when I was as young three
Question of the Day:
What’s your favorite kitchen tip?

C is for: Cream of Cauliflower Soup – Paleo Version! {A to Z Challenge 2018}

Untitled-171

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.

I’m a writer, but in addition to writing (because let’s face it, life happens to consist of more than words), I also cook. This month we’re getting to explore all things kitcheny. Today’s letter is…

Untitled-174

Today it’s recipe time! I don’t have a ton of these written down because mostly I just cook by taste – meaning I add a little of this and a little of that until it seems right. But I had so many people ask me for this recipe that I finally measured the ingredients (gasp) and wrote it down.

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies (I know, I’m that weird child who not only likes broccoli and cauliflower, but also thinks Brussels sprouts are nearly heaven-sent), and this is one of my favorite ways to eat it.

This is a Paleo recipe, created without any dairy. BUT! If you’re not dairy free, then you can go ahead and exchange the coconut milk for regular milk, and thereby cut the costs of the soup way down.

Untitled-177

Ingredients:

1 Pound Boneless Chicken Thighs
1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled and diced
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
5 cups Cauliflower Florets
3 cups Water
1 cup canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk
3 Bacon strips
1 Large Carrot
Coconut oil
Pepper
Sage
Seasoning Salt
Garlic powder
Tuscan Garlic seasoning blend
Chicken Flavored soup base, Gluten and MSG free

Directions: 

1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, cook in coconut oil and season with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and Tuscan Garlic blend. After the chicken is cooked, set aside. Fry bacon, remove bacon from fat and crumble. (Optional: Save bacon fat and add to soup as it’s cooking for extra flavor)

2. Sauté onions and garlic in coconut oil

3. Add cut up cauliflower florets, water, unsweetened coconut milk, add seasonings to taste, simmer until tender.

4. Mash or blend about half of the cauliflower, then put back in the soup

5. Add chopped carrot and chicken

6. Serve and Enjoy!

Untitled-178

What I Listened To While Blogging:
The soundtrack for “The Prince of Egypt” (yes, again!
Where I Blogged:
In my office on the mattress in the corner
Fun Fact:
I have always liked veggies – as a kid I preferred them over sweets sometimes 
Question of the Day: 
What’s your favorite veggie? 

B is for: Baking, Flames, and Smoked Pie {A to Z Challenge 2018}

The people have spoken! Y’all, I’m excited to announce the theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is:

Untitled-171

And yes, we can all groan at the fact that I am actually making a lame pun with my last name.

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day. Today’s letter is…

Untitled-172

Yes, I work in the kitchen at a coffee shop. And yes, I am in charge of the kitchen at a private retreat center. And yes, I have regularly cooked for my family since I was a wee mite. But, the truth of the matter is mishaps come in all shapes and sizes and delight to find me even now – so yo, folks! It’s story time with Lydia.

Once upon a time, unfortunately not so long ago and in a land quite close, there was a Retreat taking place. Like good little kitchen workers everywhere, I was up early, clipboard in hand, making sure everything was getting done on time. With a limited amount of oven space, we had to hurry to get the apple pies in before the roast needed to be cooked.

Thankfully, I have a fantastic co-worker who’s pie making skills are unmatched. We did the prep work, she whipped up an oven full of pies, set the timer, and left. Her pies are delicious – juicy, sweet, bubbling over, and quite often creating epic amounts of smoke as the sweetness runs out of the pie dish and drips onto the bottom of the oven where it sizzles and burns.

It wasn’t long until smoke was filling the kitchen, so like any brilliant leader would do who’s hands were knee-deep (or wrist deep?) in dough, I asked one of my co-workers to put some foil paper on the bottom of the oven to catch the drips so they wouldn’t take forever and a day to scrub off. (As I said, it was a pretty brilliant move.)

I would like to think if it had been ME doing the actual task that I would have paid attention and read the words written on the bottom of the oven that very clearly state that you are NOT supposed to put foil on it. But, in reality, I probably would have been in such a hurry I wouldn’t have noticed the warning, either.

Before long the smoke cleared away, but instead of relief filling us, we saw bright orange flames hopping around inside the stove. Panic ensued. Pandemonium broke out. The world stilled for about three seconds. We peered transfixed at the oven. Then someone grabbed a fire extinguisher, and we looked at each other in horror, knowing that as soon as the door was open more oxygen would rush in, creating even bigger flames (which we so did not need).

My one actual smart move of the day was to tell them to put the fire extinguisher away as I grabbed for a ten-pound bag of baking soda instead – that way we’d still be able to serve the pie without poisoning everyone.

With a lot of nervous giggles (the kitchen staff was all girls at the moment), we worked it out so that one of my co-workers would open the door while I tossed handfuls of baking soda on the flames. Our support team danced around in the background, cheering us on with squeals.

It took several times of the door being jerked open, me throwing handfuls of baking soda at the fire while trying desperately to miss the actual pies, and then the door being slammed shut as the flames jumped out at us before we were successful.

That day the kitchen was full of laughter, our hearts were racing, and we served everyone “Campfire Apple Pie” – playing off the fact that every piece had a strange smokey flavor, with a slight baking soda aftertaste.

Untitled-173

What I Listened To While Blogging:
The soundtrack for “The Prince of Egypt
Where I Blogged:
At my desk while drinking coffee with slightly curdled milk
Fun Fact:
My brother bought me lovely tulips last week, simply because he’s amazing