I'm on the map! Well, sort of. Let me explain what I mean. When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I didn't realize how many people already had blogs. I was thinking that I had a semi-original idea.
Recently, I've had a couple of people ask me why I have so many photos of food. That's easy. I love to eat, and I like to have some documentation of the memory of a good meal. While others have considered odd my propensity for photographing a meal before eating it, I've recently learned that there are people who live their lives this way, and I'm nowhere near their league -- neither in the maturity of my palate, nor in photography skills.
Craig sent me a link to an interesting news article a few months ago, and that got me started on something new. Although I've only posted two items, it seems like a lot of fun to participate in "food spotting". Unfortunately, in order to be considered an expert, one must spend quite a lot of time -- and, of course, money -- eating in restaurants. While this is something we do enjoy as a family, our real preference is toward home-cooked meals. We love to be in the kitchen -- planning, baking, cooking, showing off our aprons, laughing, singing, dancing, and the best part: eating.
I started this post by saying that I'm on the map. What I mean is that on foodspotting.com, someone clicked "want" for one of the (only two) items I've "spotted" and enjoyed. Amazingly, the young lady who showed interest in the quiche I ate, also has the same name as our oldest daughter, with a different spelling. (I just thought I'd add that notable tidbit.)
Some of the best food I've eaten in my life has come from friends, family, and even my own kitchen. The above photo features my dad's famous homemade pizza. At least, it's famous among our family and the few friends privileged enough to have tried it. I took that photo in the summer of 2008 when my parents visited us in Alabama. Trust me, there is no better pizza than my dad's. Anywhere.
I know that there is a plethora of foodie blogs floating around the web, so there's no sense in wishing that someone would start spotting food from the kitchens of ordinary folks like me around the world. But I'd love to raise more of an awareness of the value of sharing meals at home with friends and family. The truth is that I'm terrified of starting a food blog. I'm not sure which aspect of it scares me the most, but I think it's too much pressure. I'd rather just invite you over and have you sample my cravings. It's worked fine thus far.
One of my "foodspotting" items that I shared is the Aska Salad. Aska is a Japanese restaurant in Maputo that offers very peaceful ambiance. I think the best salad I've ever had is one that Caelyn makes for us at home. It's so delicious that our friend, Jason, once opted for more of it, rather than having a slice of my favorite chocolate cake from The Essence of Chocolate. Now, that's a good salad!
We are lovers of Mediterranean food, and our first encounter with Lebanese cuisine was when we were nigh famished in London a few years ago. We hadn't enjoyed any of the food we'd tried within the first day and a half of our trip, so we opted for foreign food, per a friend's suggestion. After one visit to Maroush on Seymour Street, we were hooked! (By far, they have the best tabbouleh I've tasted.) Since then, I've added several Mediterranean cookbooks to my growing collection.
Wherever we go, we spy out restaurants serving any variety of Mediterranean fare. Along I-10 in Baton Rouge, LA, we found a quaint restaurant that serves fantastic moussaka. I must make this one day. I did, however, venture into the realm of spanakopita about two years ago. I owe this feat to Martha Stewart. It was a great memory. Our sons' friend, Jacob, from the middle of our cul-de-sac, offered to help me assemble the layers of filo while he was visiting that day. What a sweet boy. I'll never forget it.
The children and I had a blast experimenting with ricotta gnocchi (a la Moosewood) a while back. (Graham was so little here!) Our kitchen hadn't been this messy since we made dozens of Mexican wedding cookies for our friend's reception.
The Pioneer Woman's stuffed jalapeno peppers made a big hit with Craig's Tuesday morning Bible study group that met at our house in Alabama.
The children surprised me a couple of years ago on our anniversary. Craig took me out for a "day" date while the children prepared a dinner for the two of us. We arrived to find them dressed as servers. The girls love an excuse for a formal table setting, and they even made a menu. I still recall the amazing potato soup that they served. Many thanks to our friend, Lauren, for taking them to the grocery store during my absence to ensure my surprise.
Do you like scones? My favorite is the chocolate chip variety. We have a friend who has absolutely mastered chocolate chip scones. Once when my parents were visiting, we called on the spur of the moment to announce that we were bringing them to meet Dave and his beautiful wife, Gracie. This great man immediately set to making his fantastic scones for us! Here, he's pictured making them for our special family Christmas celebration that we held at our house a couple of years ago. What a wonderful day we had. Not only did we devour Dave's delectable scones, but we enjoyed having him read a Christmas story to all of us while Gracie worked on a knitting project. It was a sweet time of fellowship.
If you love omelets, you simply must have breakfast at our house on a weekend. When I get tired of quiche or frittata, I like to make rolled omelets. They are best, of course, with fresh herbs. (I miss my herb garden so much.) I made these at our Grandparents' Breakfast that we had during one of my parents' visits, when Nana also joined us. (Nana is our Italian "grandmother". She's the mother of my friend, Gena, but we've claimed her as ours. She was our first US visitor to Moçambique.)
My parents are probably the best cooks I know. I'd like to get them a placard for their kitchen that says, "Grandma & Pap: Making Ordinary Things Extraordinary Since 1966". Even tuna salad is cause for inviting friends over, when my mom makes it. And if you like BBQ, my dad's your man. This plate represents July 4th, 2008. I ended up forfeiting my tortellini salad for the other half of my pulled pork sandwich. The tortellini salad is great, and it comes from the Co-op cookbook of Moscow, ID, that I picked up in our travels. However, it couldn't stand up that day to Daddy's pulled pork. I just wanted more. In the background, you can see the heirloom tomato quiche that I found in one of my magazines. (Sorry, I don't recall which one.)
You know those peppercorn-crusted pork tenderloins that are available at most grocery stores? Well, I like to have that with Moosewood's mango salsa. Caelyn makes this, and it is SO good. I serve it, myself, in order to make sure that no one else gets more than I think they deserve.
I had to save this for last. My friend, Terri's, daughter, Ashley, makes really yummy Kentucky Derby Pie. Last year while we stayed with my parents for a period of time, I was really craving a piece of this. My dad, never having heard of this pie before (bless his heart), agreed to try to make one for me. I found a recipe online, and Oh. My. That man is gifted! (But I already knew that.) He takes everything to a new level.
I hope you've enjoyed "spotting" some of the food we enjoy as a family. There's much more where these came from. Perhaps I'll one day get over my fear of food blogging. In the meantime, if you're looking for the best pizza you'll ever experience -- and food should be an experience, engaging as many of the senses as possible -- go to my dad's house. With a bit of persuasion, he'll agree to share his food, even if he's never met you before. All you have to do is 1. bake him some chocolate chip cookies (be sure and preface it with, "I know these are nothing compared with yours, but..." , 2. give him a hat from your job or favorite vacation spot, or 3. make some contribution to his tool collection. I guarantee, he'll be putty in your hands after any one of those. After all, Proverbs 18:16 says,
"A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great."