Archives for June 2013

How to make homemade microwave popcorn in two easy steps

On Tuesday evening this week, I pushed back my chair and closed my laptop with a sigh after putting the first two thousand words of the cookbook down on virtual paper.

I was ravenous; there is something about transferring a small part of yourself into writing that leaves one feeling mentally drained. Satisfied, but peculiarly empty.

I thought of the quickest snack possible and tipped a quarter cup of popcorn kernels into a paper sandwich bag. I slid it into the microwave and exactly two minutes later was wolfing down popcorn. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of melted butter was all I needed to transform it into a gourmet treat.

With a glass of apple cider and my popcorn, I tiptoed upstairs, past the rooms housing three sleeping children, and to our loft, where Danny was still awake.

How to make homemade microwave popcorn

“Two thousand words”, I said, as I sank onto the bed with a groan. “Do you know what this means? I’ve started.”

Through mouthfuls of popcorn, I offered every cliche I could think of related to beginning. I’m out of the gate. I’m off and away. I’ve set sail.

Danny didn’t seem quite as struck as I was with the magnitude of my commencement, but he hadn’t witnessed my internal sluggishness leading up to this point. I have been busy, ohmyyes, but busy with everything except writing a cookbook.

The pantry has had a rigorous clean out and restocking. My kitchen stove has been deemed slightly above useless and a replacement has been researched. I’ve taken a roll call of the pots, pans and casseroles in my kitchen and made a list of missing members. A kitchen timer has been procured, as well as two thermometers – meat and candy. One must be precise when recipe testing for a cookbook.

I’ve even ordered a quilted table runner from New Zealand, for goodness sake, although that -maybe, just maybe- was a random Etsy impulse buy. It’s as though I’ve been nesting – only this baby is words, photos and recipes.

In retrospect, I see now that it all had to be done (except for the table runner, perhaps) before I could start the book in earnest. Like decluttering an old work desk before sitting down to compose a new piece of writing, I’ve been organizing both my thoughts and my kitchen.

Here’s hoping the gears are sufficiently oiled and all the moving parts will function as a whole as I embark on this project.

For now, I offer a bowl of popcorn, easily made, free of preservatives, and popped in your microwave.

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The most versatile sauce you’ll make this summer (recipe for chimichurri)

When it comes to grilling, my modus operandi is simple: use good quality products – of which there are many hanging out around the markets these days – and coat them liberally with a persuasive sauce, marinade, or condiment.

Are you familiar with chimichurri? This Argentinian dressing is one of my favorites, and boasts the freshest of flavors thanks to the marriage of simple garden herbs (parsley and oregano) garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

Vibrant and fragrant, this sauce is my go-to summer seasoning and makes a frequent appearance at my dinner table in the warm-weather months.

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How to build a grilled green bean salad with ingredients you already have

Sometimes I don’t always see how ingredients can come together for a finished dish and, like everyone, I have my moments where I open the refrigerator and wonder what on earth there is to eat for dinner.

Of course, it helps to stay stocked with fresh produce, favorite condiments, and a small herb garden; that way, it’s fairly easy to whip something up that is tasty and exciting. Today’s grilled green bean salad is a perfect example.

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A new chapter. Actually, make that twelve of them.

If I were to backtrack to where this story truly began, I would have to return to a conversation with my best friend at a ski cabin sleepover, back when we were fourteen-year-old dreamers.

In that hut on the side of a mountain, I remember talking into the darkness above me, declaring that I would be a writer and be published one day. She was going to study medicine and be a doctor. I had already decided that I would marry the boy from Québec, so we conveniently paired her up with one of his brothers, although that part played out differently.

My friend went on to become a nurse practitioner and was my bridesmaid when I married the boy I had loved since my teens. I launched a food blog and published regularly, so that made me a writer. Kind of.

Fast-forward twenty years from that innocent forecast of our futures and you will find me now, eyes wide open with equal amounts of excitement and fright, on the cusp of making my childhood dream an actuality.

You see, I have accepted an offer to write two books with Penguin and am now actively working on my first cookbook. A book born out of this very space.

Yes, it’s absolutely bonkers! [Read more…]

Homemade Orange Soda Recipe

The moment we were allowed to each summer, my sister and I would collect our quarters and jump on our bikes. We’d weave through our suburban streets, heading off in the direction of the asphalt path that would lead to the corner store.

Bike locks optional, we’d lean our pedals and handlebars against the brown brick exterior and head inside, the cold blast of air conditioning hitting us in the face and prying our eyelids open on the way in. In the back corner we’d sit, staring through the floor-to-ceiling cooler doors at the bottles of colored soda. [Read more…]