Here’s the deal. It’s Sunday. I’m exhausted from a weekend full of debauchery (can chicks “debauch”?) with a gaggle of Carhartt clad lumberjacks, and summer is just around the corner. So, we’re doing a giveaway!
With this glorious onslaught of summer comes sun, warm weather (finally), days at the beach, seeing it stay light out past 6pm, driving with your windows down, wearing short sleeves again and last but certainly not least – BBQ’s.
And whilst barbecuing and traveling to and fro, you need something to cart around that food, keep it hot or cold. I have the solution!! You all know of my self proclaimed fascination and all out obsession with World Market, well – it struck again.
For this giveaway, one of you completely fabulous people I call my friends can win this lovely red insulted carrier.
How can you not love this ridiculously adorable red?
The carrier fits up to a 13×9 in pan, perfect for packing your fried chicken to a church picnic, or toting a tart for your and your hunny on a little excursion to the beach.
This giveaway will run until next Sunday, and I will announce the winner Monday morning, on Memorial Day!
If you haven’t been enlightened to the wonders of the komado pot – let me take a moment to fill you in on the single best BBQ/Grilling/outdoor cooking contraption in existence.
It all started back in the ’60′s by some American pilot who liked the ceramic cooking pots he found in Japan, modified them, started producing them and shipped them Stateside where they took off – Big Green Egg ring a bell? Well, the one we have is NOT the green egg thing, ours is an original. And here’s the thing about these pots – they last forever.
The komado pot does everything from barbaquing a full on turkey, to burgers, and fish to fabulously fabulous chicken.
Last weekend Ben, Huck and I sauntered down to my parent’s place to do a little cooking and Dad broke out the komado pot to grill up the best chicken, ever. A few BBQ briquettes, a little fire and voi la – Dad’s famous komado chicken.
So, if you ever ever ever get the chance to own one of these bad boys – do it.
Check out a swap meet, rummage sale, garage sale – or even if you must – break down and invest in a Big Green Egg. It will be so worth your money.
This adventure started with me, a kitchen and a camera. And even a year and change later, I’d like to think it still is just me, my kitchen and my camera – plus a 1 or 2 extra pounds. Whew, at least it was only a couple, I’m still in the same jeans as college. Crisis averted.
The one thing that has changed over this year at least is my photography. Food photography is tough, oh man. I learned loads of wonderful things when I was in college taking a black and white film class with Beka our senior year – best move of my college education – but transferring what I learned there to the kitchen was another hurdle that I am still hoisting my arse over.
Or well rather, shimmying my arse through the doggie door to the patio where I’ve been taking my photos of finished dishes lately has been…never mind.
Last weekend I took a three day (really I only watched the first two – had stuff to do Sunday) online food photography class hosted by Penny de los Santos right here in Seattle. And the best part was that it was free. You can’t get better than that. This is the same online seminar that you may have found out about on PW’s photography page, but I found it first. So, there PW! (Okay, I take it back – I heart you Ree you know that.)
Penny’s photography is exceptional, amazing, awe-inspiring, and absolutely yumtastic. She’s been featured in practically ever major publication from Nat-Geo to Saveur. I learned a ton and got refreshed on all those pesky little rules every photographer needs to know about food photography, or photography in general.
Here is a quick list of what I compiled from her seminar. Some of them you’ll pull a “no, duh”, and some are truly enlightening tidbits for food, photography and life.
~Don’t forget the foreground, mid-ground and background of your photos.
~ Think beyond the assignment you are shooting.
~ Redefine your business occasionally and feed your soul.
~ Know what works for you – it may not work for everyone else.
~ Find the story that relates to you.
~ Conceptualize the story you’re looking to shoot.
~ When critquing or being critiqued – Never lie, be honest, but try to coach and identify the positives as well as the negatives.
~Natural light, natural light, natural light!
~ Don’t zoom, it’s a crutch. Move to find your frame, get intimate with your subject, push an envelope, get into your story. (Probably the single best thing I learned, seriously.)
~ Look for the new angles – overhead in particular.
~ Photograph with the dishes you use everyday or that you’ve had for years. They help tell your story, you’ve both done the work together – it will help convey your story and journey in the kitchen.
~ Use a white or black card stock to shadow or lighten angles of your photographs. I totally forgot this technique!! It’s so basic and easy.
~ Play with your food – make it art.
~Ask questions, be polite.
~ Wait for your photo, it will come to you when it’s ready.
~No matter what – do three photo assignments just for yourself. Find your story and shoot it for your soul.
~ Feed your soul – often.
Thanks to these tips, tricks, lessons and snip it’s I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years.
All of this helped me go from this….
(Boob cupcakes for my friend Peggy’s Breast Cancer Party)
It’s Tuesday, I’m stuffed on left over lasagna, fresh broccoli, and a few happy hour nachos from the bar with some friends. Oi vie. Really that last thing I should be doing is talking about food, because that means thinking of food, and thinking of food makes me remember how absolutely stuffed I am – uncomfortable stuffed. Sweat pants here I come!
But first – your Grocery List for this delectable dish for you and your hunny!
~ 4 slices of whole wheat French Bread
~ 6 slices Prosciutto
~ 3 leaves Kale (de-stemmed)
~ 3-4 slices of Havarti cheese
~ Pam or choice of cooking spray
~ Panini Press, or go grilled cheese style with no pressing involved – I won’t judge.
Slap ‘er all together, cheese, meat, kale, meat and cheese. Toss ‘er on a hot cast iron skillet sprayed with a little Pam, and Pam-up the panini press that has been heated on a separate element.
This is the Norpro cast iron press that I have. Super handy, not an actual electric press that takes up too much space. This retails for around $20. Just heat ‘er up on a separate element and lay on top of your sammie when you’re ready to grill.
Pre-grill picture….almost ready…. wait for it…
And boom goes the dynamite!
Start to finish was 20 minutes. How can you lose? Next time, I’m going for the addition of sweet onions and a little fig jam just to sweeten it up a teensy bit, cause that’s the rebel I am…
Hurry and get on this panini bandwagon, you know you wanna!
*Editor’s Note* – This PSA was released to coincide with the related blog post below. Caffeine can do some really crazy things to a person. Especially a person who did not eat nearly enough that morning. It was also an experiment into the side effects of caffeine and what a Starbucks Trenta will do to the human body…Be warned that nonsensical ideas may spewed and confuzzlement abound is sprayed amongst the masses for their reading and entertainment…Don’t let this sully your ideas of Megan, “the country cleaver”, she really is a good person…
Side effects of caffeine may include shakes, jitters, lots of cleaning, nap-deprivation, unrelenting shouting at the TV while watching the Kentucky Derby, heightened awareness of craziness in endeavoring into something so absolutely nuts as to consume the equivalent of a Starbucks Trenta on a Saturday afternoon…
A few weeks ago when Starbucks released the info on the Trenta, I was shocked. This could only be something to push the American population over the edge of turning us all into the blubbery messes we saw in Wall-E, minus the hover crafts and jumpsuits. What were they thinking doing this to us? We don’t have any self control, who are we kidding.
But alas, Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic and Kat from Tenaciously Yours went in and decided this was something we collectively MUST try, kinda like that beer bong in college where you already know your lightweight boozing self really can’t do or finish – but it’s a right of passage – you simply must try. Or am I the only person who had that problem?
So three crazy ladies go into a Starbucks and chronicle their adventures into Trenta Oblivion… that sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke.
Today was the day. Starbucks officially released the Trenta to the masses…or so we thought. My original plan was to head to the Mothership – Starbucks at Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle – the place it all started. That plan was abruptly stopped due to the opening of boating season and getting to Seattle would have been to difficult with all that traffic bogging down the city. Sorry, I deal with traffic on a daily basis, and I refuse to on the weekend.
And in the end it’s a good thing I woosed out.
Instead, I dragged Ben out of the house to traipse on over to the Starbucks around the corner from our place. After placing my order, the kindly barista informed me that they didn’t carry them yet. Asking her counterpart, we were both informed that they will only be selling Trentas in warm weather climates. Seriously? Seattle started the Starbucks revolution – don’t you think we could get an exception? C’mon.
Now do you see why I’m glad I didn’t waste my time going to the Mothership (30 minute drive each way) to get turned away and denied my Trenta? Le Sigh.
Later, I resolved to go back around the corner and buy two Grandes to supplement the original Trenta I was denied.
And four hours later, I’m still only through one of them. Oi vie.
Oh don’t worry, my grande non fat iced coffee with sugar free hazelnut is sitting in the fridge waiting for me to go out tonight, assuring me and my company that I will not face plant into the dinner table later.
Is it a Trenta yet?
All I can say from this experience thus far – is that I’m glad they are only making the Trenta for iced coffee drinks – Lord only knows how many calories a Trenta Chocolate Chip Frappacino with whip or a Trenta Hazelnut Mocha with whip would be and how many hours you’d have to spend on the treadmill running that goo off.
But to put it into true perspective of what our bodies can actually handle, I give you this. Shake your head in shame of what Starbucks is doing to us…and what we do to ourselves. AHHHH!!!
In conclusion, it’s taken all strength and concentration to get this far in the post, I have to get up and burn off some of this caffeine. Back to the Cleaning!! (As I slurp the last remnants of my grande sugar free hazel nut iced coffee)
*Editor’s Final Note* Dang, Megan’s apartment is really clean. That may be the only good thing to come out of this experiment, because the heartburn that ensued long into the night was the equivalent of the battle scene from “300″ – epic…
Right now, I’m hopped up on caffeine but utterly exhausted so this is probably going to be the briefest post I’ve ever done. Last night Ben and I required fries. So I got to it. Take the lessons I’ve learned from America’s Test Kitchen, I went to work.
For your grocery list include:
~ 2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into even wedges
~ 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoon Canola Oil
~ 1/4 tsp pepper
~ 1/2 salt
~ 2 tablespoon parsley chopped
~ 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
~ 1/2 teaspoon Lowry’s Seasoning salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl soak your cut taters in hot tap water for 10 minutes. This will remove some of the extra starch from them.
See the white at the bottom of the bowl – extra starch. This will help keep your potatoes crisp and crunchy on the outside as opposed to sad and soggy.
When they are done soaking, lay them out on paper towel or two and pat dry. Wipe out bowl to dry. Set aside momentarily.
Cover a non stick pan with 1/4 cup canola oil.
In the large bowl that you dried, add remaining 2 tablespoon canola oil, 1/2 tablespoon garlic, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir together. Toss potato wedges in mixture until evenly coated.
Place them on your non stick pan, covering with tin foil. Place in oven for 7 minutes. After that 7 minutes, remove foil and continue to roast for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes onto their other sides, roasting for 7 more minutes. When crispy and brown let drain on paper towel to remove any excess oil. Cover with Lowry’s salt and parmesan. Promptly devour.
1. There were approximately 50 loads of laundry that had to get done this weekend. At least we’re down to the last 48… Oi.
2. When I get bored, I bake. No, I didn’t use my time wisely and go to the gym – why do you ask?
This week’s adventure was a Lemon Mini Bundt Cake with rosemary glaze. Not bad, not bad at all…
2b. They are sitting in the micro under the assumption that if they are out of my site, they will be out of my mind. That philosophy could be going better…I just have to take these to work tomorrow. Good thing I work with a group of hungry dudes. I make no apologies about fattening them up. Better them than me.
3. I received this book in the mail yesterday from the lovely Ms. Kim at LivLife. Jill Colonna is a genius and since yesterday I have developed an inner French monologue, watching Ratatouille, drinking wine and imagining life bistro-ing next to the Eiffel Tower.
(Photos by Jill Colonna – I just took pictures of the pictures from the book because they’re gorgeous)
I mean C’MON – Rose Macarons.
(Photos by Jill Colonna – I just took pictures of the pictures from the book because they’re gorgeous)
And Chocolate and Beetroot macarons. I’m having flashbacks to the Beet Red Velvet Cake I made last month. To die for – so I know that me and these macarons will be getting to know each other very intimately, very soon.
4. There has been a little bit of crafting going on at the apartment lately. And by “a little”, I mean that the entire dining room has been turned into my craft nook.
It’s a good thing Ben is constantly studying and holed up in our room so it doesn’t seem like this mess bothers him much. We’re rationing space here, it’s not perfect but it’s home.
5. But out of chaos comes beauty (I’m sure someone smart said that first…). Cupcake wrappers!
If you have not seen these before, they’re not the foil or paper cups you bake cupcakes in, but a firmer paper cylinder you toss the already made cupcakes in to dress ‘em up just a bit. Not to mention, they’re re-useable if you don’t trash them with frosting and goo before hand.
Here’s an example if you’re not seeing what I’m throwin’ at ya.
Feel me now?
6. To wrap this whole cupcake wrapper explanation up – I’m giving away three sets of 12 wrappers and their corresponding toppers away to three lucky winners! It’s my blog’s one year anniversary, so I wanted to show you guys the love for putting up with me for this long.
Now here’s the deets.
Find Wanna Be A Country Cleaver on Facebook and “like” the page.
Find Wanna Be A Country Cleaver on Twitter and send me a tweet!
Leave a comment here and tell me which one you wanna win!
For each of these, you’ll get an entry. That’s up to three right there.
And if you tell your friends on Twitter or Facebook – there ya go – two more!
Ben had just left from a weekend with me in Seattle, and in the 4 1/2 hours from the time he left until the time that the “Honey, I’m home in Pullman” phone call, I jumped on my computer determined to pass the time. In those four plus hours, my fingers flew and this here little blog was created.
When I finally got to talk to Ben that night, I sheepishly admitted that I created a blog. Waiting with bated breath for the imaginary eye-roll I was receiving from my hunny over the phone he (smartly) replie, “That’s great hun, I’m sure it’ll be fun”. Good man, huh?
Over this last year, I have been so fortunate as to meet some of the most wonderful people, who tune in to read about the foibles, trials and tribulations I experience, all while trying to maintain my “country” attitude here in Seattle. Everyone who reads and laughs with (read: at) me along the way has made this a wonderful experience I hope to continue for the long haul. Yup – you’re all stuck with me, better get used to it.
In honor of Wanna Be A Country Cleaver’s one year anniversary, I wanted to show my appreciation to y’all by giving away a little something made by myself.
We all know I’m a cupcake nerd – so what better way to let my freak flag fly than by giving away 3 (yup, three) sets of cupcake wrappers and toppers made by me. Sorry, I only have pictures of two of the three right now, but I’ll fill you all in on the last one later today.
I felt inspired by spring to create a set with butterflies. How can you not be cheered up by these?
I’m dyin’ here!
And a little argyle never hurt anyone. Perfect for the preppy little dude in your life.
So – here’s the fun part. The giveaway starts today and will run until Friday (May 6th).
~Follow me here on WBACC. Leave a comment telling me which set of wrappers you want to win!
~ Find WBACC on Facebook and “Like” Me. And leave a comment telling me which set of wrappers you want to win!
~ Follow WBACC on Twitter. And tweet at me telling me which set of wrappers you want to win – are you seeing a pattern here?
~ And lastly, post a status update to your friends on Twitter or Facebook tell them about the giveaway!
And don’t worry, if you already follow the blog, like the blog or stalk the blog – you’re entered to win.
Thanks again everyone, this blog has been an unbelievable adventure and learning experience. Thanks for all the laughs and support. You all rock!
It’s in the wee final hours of the Royal Wedding and I simply can’t take it any longer! Every time I hear a wedding chime, or hear the word “wedding”, “Royal”, “William”, “Kate” – my ears perk up and I drop everything I’m doing just to see what I could have possibly missed. This whole thing needs to be over so that I can move on with my life. Ben is at his wits end. Don’t know how he’s kept composed for so long. Bless him.
For the last recipe I wanted to find the ultimate in traditional English desserts, and a Sherry Trifle seemed appropriate. Now there were plenty of recipes to choose from that were also so typically, “English”, from Eton Mess, a Jelly, a biscuit cake like Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic made (Gawd, I love this lady! She speaks to me) but a trifle just seemed to be “it”.
I searched high and low through the online universe for the quintessential english trifle and I stumbled upon it at BBC Recipes. Bless them. Over there amongst the laundry list of various trifles, was the Traditional English Trifle by Rick Stein. The only difficulty here was translating a couple of things like 3 oz of butter into a unit that an American can actually use. 3 oz of butter translated into 6 Tablespoons and 3 oz of caster sugar if 6 1/2 Tablespoons. Thanks English, let me take over from here.
For the Grocery List he required:
~ 3 oz ( 6 Tbsp) Butter, room temp.
~ 3 oz (6 1/2 Tbsp) Baker’s Sugar
~ 2 medium egg
~ 4 1/2 oz Self-Raising Flour
~ 3 Tbsp Whole Milk
~ 1/2 lemon zest
Start with your oven at 350 and grease a loaf pan. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in one egg at a time, tossing in 1 Tablespoon of the flour in with the last egg to prevent curdling.
After folding in the flour and adding the milk,
I added in the glorious lemon zest. Really, is there anything lemon zest can’t go? That’s what I thought.
This will be another thick English batter, so make sure to spread it out level in the pan.
After baking it for 30 minutes, it was ready to go.
I wanted to make the most out of the small loaf, serving Ben, Beka (who is coming over tonight for the Royal Wedding Fiasco Live!), and myself.
Normally, I would go all out and make my own Devon Custard as well. And yes, I did buy all of the proper stuff to make it, double cream and all. But really, buying it in the can worked just fine for me!!
So here I was being lazy and crackin’ a can. I’ll own up to it. At least you can’t tell me I’m hidin’ things from ya.
I laid out a little cutout of madeira in each trifle dish,
covered it in raspberry jam,
dumped a little sherry over the top,
and a giant dollop of custard. Lather, rinsing and repeating the process with another layer of cake, etc.
Look at that baby. It’s taking everything I have not to dive into it as well speak. But I will allow it the three hours of rest before I lick the dish clean. Don’t judge me.
And now – to avoid hoovering this positively yummy dessert – a nap is in order. My alarm is set and my fascinator is waiting to be thrown into my hair.
How am I expected to sleep at all with this excitement? Any bets on whether Kate is getting any sleep at all tonight? I think an Ambien would be in order. I’ll just have a glass of champagne myself.
He may be weird. He may be allergy ridden like that sniffly kid in 3rd grade. He may be goofy. He may be gooby, uncoordinated, and make sounds that no earth walking creature ought to. He may have excess sagging skin that can only be compared to a old woman who gravity has done her wrong, but he is squishy and he’s all mine. He shall (always) be my Squishy.
That squishy face is only half the reason I love my kid.
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more