So Close!

Since I found out I could participate in working on TV shows while working in Dallas, not in LA or New York, Food Network has been my endgame. Recently, I got one step closer to that goal. I’ve been editing a new show for Cooking Channel, which is owned by Food Network. The star, Chuck Hughes, has been on Food Network many times – he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and he was on Iron Chef All Stars last year. He also has another show on Cooking Channel besides ours.

So far, it’s only 6 episodes, and I was only brought in for the last two, but I had a blast and learned a lot. Last week, Chuck came to Dallas for a screening of episode 3. I got to go to lunch with him and the rest of the team, and I edited a blooper reel for the screening event. Getting to meet a Food Network star was awesome enough – he’s a really nice guy – but the fact that a Food Network star has seen my work (and complimented it! in person!) is just incredible. I feel very lucky to have taken part in this show, which is my sixth series on my third major cable network. I’ve actually just become the lead editor for another show on HGTV, so more news to come soon, but for now, here’s a photo of me and Chuck. Next stop, Food Network!

Fried Okra a la Griffith

I joined a community garden today because my backyard garden has failed me two years in a row. Either there’s not enough sun, the squirrels are eating all my seeds and seedlings, or I’m doing something horribly wrong. I stopped by the garden at Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff to see the plot, and the pastor told me to take some okra while I was there because they had too much. And he really wasn’t kidding. There were three plots completely full of 4-foot okra plants, so I took a good amount. I cooked it up for dinner tonight according to Boyfriend’s mother’s recipe, and it totally worked! I’ve never made it before at all, so I was glad it turned out edible, much less good. It’s not a total coating like in restaurants. I did learn that if okra is hard when you pick it, it’s going to be tough and gross when you chew it, like the tough ends of asparagus that get chopped off. Use the okra pods that are a bit spongy, and you’ll get a lovely result.  Here’s the “recipe,” which actually came from his paternal grandmother.


*Slice okra into rounds

*Season cornmeal/polenta with salt and pepper

*Roll okra rounds in seasoned cornmeal

*Heat oil in pan

*Fry okra in batches small enough for pieces to spend time on the bottom of the pan, for a few minutes, until soft

*Drain on paper towels before serving

Breakfast Waffles

I’ve been making healthy waffles for breakfast the last couple of months. My old stand-by is bran muffins, which are cheap, yummy, and a great way to use chocolate chips! But a girl can only eat so many bran muffins, and I’m in a waffle phase. I make a double bath of this recipe, freeze half, and keep the other half in the fridge for the week’s breakfasts. I put peanut butter and berry preserves on top and eat them segment by segment, sometimes even in the car on the way to work. They’re super cheap, super healthy, and super easy to make. This recipe calls for a mix of white and wheat flours, but I use all wheat. It also calls for applesauce and oil, but I just use twice the applesauce, in place of the oil. I also like to get the cinnamon applesauce and add some powdered spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger – whatever flavors you like. YUM.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs – beaten
  • 1 and 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flours, oats, flax meal, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar and salt).

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, applesauce, oil and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Cook waffles in a lightly-greased preheated waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Serve with pure maple syrup (or peanut butter and jelly!). Enjoy!

Top 5 Fabulous Things of the Month

Time for a fabulosity update!

1. I got to see my grandmother at a family wedding in Temple. I’ve really missed her, and it was so nice to be with her for a few hours.

2. My family and I went to Galveston for our family vacation. It was a lovely part of the shoreline, and the condo was lovely. My favorite part, though, was the pool. You can SEE the beautiful beach but not be bothered with the sand and salt water. Win-win.

3. I grew potatoes! I gave up on my backyard garden for the most part because when it got over 100 degrees every day, nothing would grow. I’m watering enough to keep the plants alive so that they may start producing in the Fall, but I’m not out there much these days. I did go out long enough to tear down the chicken-wire barrel around the dead potato plants, though, and I dug around to see if I had anything. And voila, tiny little potatoes! I don’t think they were really worth the water and effort, but at least I know I did it right this year, for the most part. I’m going to fry them up in some real butter and some salt and pepper, and enjoy the only fruits of my Summer labor. I’ve still got some carrots growing, but my six workhorse Swiss chard plants are pretty much done – although goodNESS they were prolific. The jalapenos never fruited, nor did the TEN zucchini plants. Annoying. But I will enjoy my potatoes and wait for Fall.

4. I threw an awesome party for Beth and Deanna! It was a combination of engagement/Deanna’s birthday/wedding shower/bachelorette. My brother offered me his extra grill, and although it was nice of him, it was totally rusted out inside, and it fell apart trying to get it out of my car. The old propane grill wouldn’t come off of the hose, and my dad diagnosed it as unusable. He cut the hose, took the tank to dispose of it, and it will be my offering to the landfill on bulk trash day. So without a grill, I had to make due with my two George Foremans and my two grill pans. One is fancy and non-stick with a handle, and it worked really well, but I also got to take my estate-sale find for a spin! A while back, I got a cast-iron grill pan that fits over two burners, and this was the perfect time to give it a try. My mother came to the rescue and helped me grill enough chicken, hamburgers, and veggies to feed 20 people in my kitchen – she was such a party-saver! I got to meet some women who knew Beth’s mom, a bunch of Irving teachers, which was neat. And there was even a former student of my mother’s, who is married to a GP teacher who taught my sister. I also got to know Deanna’s attendants, Stacy and Susan better, which was nice – they’re so sweet!

5. Restaurant Week! I’ve wanted to participate many time but just never did, as it’s $35/person anywhere you go. I won the food lottery this year – I got to go twice for free! Mom and I went to Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen, which specializes in local, seasonal, and organic food. I had a wedge salad with a very powerful green goddess dressing, Paula Lambert cottage cheese, and bacon, which I picked off. This dressing made my breath bad for two full days, but man, was it good! I had the Dr. Pepper BBQ chicken – it didn’t taste like BBQ, but it was yummy. I’ve never liked cottage cheese, but this stuff was so fresh and awesome – it made a fan out of me. I also tried the fried oyster that came with my mom’s salad – oh my goodness, it was good. I’ve never tried any kind of oyster – I’m kind of theoretically opposed to them. But I went to try one tiny bite just to get the idea, and I ate the whole thing. Just more proof that if you think you don’t like something, you probably would were it made correctly and with fresh, wholesome ingredients.

My second Restaurant Week outing was to Central 214, culinary home of Chef Blythe Beck. I’ve been wanting to eat here since seeing her reality show The Naughty Kitchen (so named because she uses cheese, butter, and big hunks of meat with abandon) on Oxygen. Barry and I went with his mother and brother. The starter was a mushroom and spinach empanada with a chimichurri sauce and pico – excellent! The brisket was really fatty, but the meat I got off of it was really nice. It was served with what looked like gravy in a small bowl but turned out to be a sweet dipping sauce. Strange, but it worked. Desert was banana bread pudding, which was awesome, but far too large of a portion to eat all of, even for a big eater like me. The cake pictured below was Barry’s – chocolate peanut butter – he won the dessert course for sure. The best part of the whole meal for me, though, was the bread that came before the food. It was served with English butter, which was really, really good, and cayenne pimiento cheese!! I ate all of the cheese and far too much of the butter. But, you know, most of my meat was left on my plate encased in fat, so it all worked out. We got RW gifts of naughty cookies to take home, and they were yummy. I can’t wait to go back and try the chicken fried kobe!

I hope you’re having a fabulous month of your own!

2010 Checklist

The summer hibernation has begun. Time to slow down a bit and take stock.

Name in the credits on national television: Check.

Hiked one of the Wonders of the Natural World, the Grand Canyon, with my father: Check.

Fell in love with a wonderful man: Check.

Other highlights include being a movie extra, conducting an interview with a FEMA director, walking the streets of Washington, D.C. and seeing Julie Child’s kitchen, buying myself an awesome queen-sized bed, taking my Soul Twin on her first trip to Austin, constructing my very own raised garden bed, surviving a gym class including both yoga and dancing without crying, touring Las Vegas with my family for my sister’s 21st birthday, learning to appreciate hockey, helping my sister try on wedding dresses, and making a peach tart from scratch. So far, 2010 is looking pretty good!

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

I just watched the premiere episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and it was brilliant! PLEASE take a few minutes to watch it on! Here is the link and synopsis from the website. It’s fascinating to see Jamie take on the public school lunch system. Those lunch ladies are TOUGH BROADS.

“When we first heard the term “Food Revolution,” we weren’t exactly sure what that meant. Did a lazy Susan suddenly start spinning out of control? Was ketchup attempting a hostile takeover to dethrone salsa as top condiment? But then, with world-renowned chef and best-selling author Jamie Oliver’s name attached, we knew it was going to be all about “good food.” Enough said.

Yes, Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef is taking on obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the USA, where our nation’s children are the first generation NOT expected to live as long as their parents. Now that’s scary!

Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces with the thought-provoking new series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which has a special sneak preview SUNDAY, MARCH 21 10|9c on ABC, followed by a 2-hour premiere on FRIDAY MARCH 26 8|7c.

In the six-part series, Jamie heads to Huntington, West Virginia. Why? Well, Huntington has been called the unhealthiest city in America. Jamie wants to do something about that. Through his efforts in this one town, he hopes to start a chain reaction of positive change across the country.

Jamie says, “There’s an incredible community in Huntington, and I want this experience to be a celebration of what we can achieve when people come together.” Jamie goes on to say, “Wonderful stories will unfold in Huntington, and hopefully this will inspire the rest of the States.” Sounds like a plan!

Needled by local naysayers, challenged by ingrained unhealthy habits and government bureaucracy, and welcomed by some of the most surprising youngsters, families and local leaders, Jamie shows how, in just a few short months, he tried to transform Huntington as a template for the entire country. The stakes? Simply the health of our country’s citizens and the legacy for its children.

The series is loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s U.K. series, Jamie’s Ministry of Food and Jamie’s School Dinners, which saw his successful grass-roots efforts improve the school lunches in communities there. For the latter show, it resulted in a total overhaul of the school dinner program in the U.K. In America, he’s turning his attention to helping people of all ages eat more balanced meals and cook with fresh ingredients, not only at schools, but also homes, and workplaces.

Jamie’s recent television credits include Oprah’s Big Give for ABC. He is the author of nine popular cookbooks, including “The Naked Chef”, “Cook with Jamie” and “Jamie at Home.” Hyperion published his latest cookbook, “Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals”, in October 2009. Packed with quick, flavorful recipes and step-by-step photos shows beginning and accomplished cooks how to achieve great results with fresh ingredients. You can buy it now!.

We can’t wait to see how Jamie makes out in Huntington. We’re also curious to see if his efforts there catch on in other places. Let the revolution begin!”

Sign the petition here, and join the Food Revolution!

Spring Garden Miscellany

A few interesting things occurring in my garden…

1. We’ve had some over-70-degree days this week, which means my red-leaf lettuce is bolting! That means the growing stalks up the middle are going to shoot up some flowers and therefore seeds. In this picture the red-leaf are the two reddish ones to the right of the onions – you can see on the top one that it’s getting taller. I’m going to try my hand at harvesting and saving some of those seeds to plant next time. I’ve never done this before, but people have been doing it since the beginning of agriculture – so I think I can figure it out. Hopefully.

2. I have spinach sprouts! The radish sprouts came up last week, but the spinach just broke the surface in the last couple of days. I feel so much better. The suspense was killing me! The carrots still haven’t appeared. Wondering if the seeds were too old or something.

3. The more Swiss chard I pick, the more new growth suddenly appears. I was trying to conserve because the plants weren’t producing much, but I decided I should just go for it before it gets too much warmer, and lo and behold, they are looking better, bigger, and brighter every day. So interesting! The same has been happening with my other lettuces – arugula (far bottom left) and the mesclun mix (bottom middle and second photo). They are the very definition of sustainability, and I’m so thankful to be able to walk out my back door, grab a handful, wash it off, and have a salad or drop some chard into a sautee pan or a pot of soup. I have long since blown past the $2 each plant cost me in savings at the grocery store.