Bio.


imageI have to write a Bio on myself.  My Solo Art Show is rapidly approaching in June.  Not only do I need to finish another 3, maybe 4, proper paintings but now I need to write a Bio.  Lord help me.  For the life of me I can’t think of what to say.

It’s easy to present yourself as this always-fabulous humanoid in the glossy scrolls on Instagram and write something witty on Facebook.  But to write something honest-yet-shiny about your Painter Self that somehow speaks truthfully to my inherent need to paint and capture the natural world… well, that’s where I feel short. So much so, it’s got me up this week wondering what on Earth to say.  How to not sound like some pretentious Artist-Mom-Cook.  Because there’s no separating my creative processes.  Cooking is much like Painting. For me, anyway.  Taking raw ingredients and assembling them into something beautiful and nourishing and lovely. Albeit for your wall, not the plate.

Painting what I see and feel around me is every bit a part of that revelry in food, family and wine that we strive to accomplish here in Sonoma County and beyond in California.  Because I paint beautifully rural CALIFORNIA.  I paint natural SONOMA COUNTY.  And because finding my inspiration in our lands and waters is usually woven into culinary adventures with my family.  Shucking oysters in Bodega and Tomales Bays.  Cheese in Valley Ford or Petaluma. Wildflower picking and picnics around our Parks and watersheds. Driving the preschool run up and down the beyond-scenic Valley of the Moon, stopping at local markets, taco trucks, and playgrounds with my babies.  Who have been incredible sports in this oft selfish pursuit to my Art when I stop to paint, take tons of photos, or just watch the shifting colors in changing Light.  And it’s really nap time.  Or cook dinner. Or get Anni to Ballet.

Studio time is solo time.

Studio time is solo time.

Feeding my family and writing about food is my relaxation and also very much a part of my artistic process.  I didn’t realize that until Gallerist, Ellen Easton, visited Annadel and recognized this truth about myself.  Something I do not feel guilty about because I am giving my children and husband good meals, cooking with my daughter, and creating (hopefully) warm and fuzzy memories in their childhoods.  Whereas painting has me up in the middle of most nights working.  Creating layer upon layer upon layer of natural Light and Lines found here in this most gorgeous of Valleys and States.  But what drives me to do this… and how to express it eloquently… is much harder to pinpoint.

I suppose painting is my form of meditation.  It is NOT relaxing.  But it IS Centering. And what I should be doing right now at 1:56 in the morning.  Not fretting over what to write in my Bio and secretly hoping this important Solo Show endeavor isn’t making me suck as a parent and wife until then.  Don’t get me wrong — Art and Painting can be so deeply satisfying.  And profoundly frustrating.  Where I scrape that damn canvas and start over.  Losing countless hours of sleep to get that filtered sunlight or twilight or sunrise or moonset or watery light or foggy haze or whatever just right.  This takes “it” out of me.  And whatever “it” is feels rather low in reserves these days.

There’s not much that nourishes me in return for these nocturnal hours.  Even after weekends where I sell a lot of art.  Often I feel grumpy the next day.  Not always the best version of my Mommy self.  Where I have that third cup of coffee and read another children’s book a bit on auto-pilot before starting the three meals, 10 diapers, 2 loads of laundry, 2-hour-preschool-commute Day.  But who wants to read that honest truth in an Artist Statement for a famed Art Gallery?

I’ll leave these honest words here with you tonight and get back to painting.  Luckily it’s coming along beautifully.  Maybe somewhere in the lilacs, warm grey blues of Wisteria I’ll find my answer to what the on Earth should I say about myself in my Bio.

Sonoma Wisteria: Inspiration for my current painting.

Sonoma Wisteria: Inspiration for my current painting. Shot by Rachel Hairston.

Dish 3: How to Eat Now from the Farmers Market

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ROAST A BIRD 

Roasting a Chicken is always delicious. Roasting a Chicken steaming itself in Garlic, herbs, fresh lemon and white wine? Meteoric gorgeousness. And beyond simple.

You will need:

  • 1 small roasting chicken (2.75-4 lbs) from your Farmers Market or local butcher
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 Meyer Lemons
  • Fresh herbs: I bought Thyme but have Sage and Rosemary growing in the garden and dried Oregano in the Pantry. Think 1-2 tablespoons of each.

Preheat oven to 450’F. Rub the interior of a Dutch Oven with olive oil. I am a hopeless convert of Staub Dutch Ovens.

Place the heel of a bread loaf or a slice of French bread (stale or fresh) in the center. You must elevate the chicken in some way so it steams in the wine. (*And that gooey chicken-fat, white-wine bread is like crack at the end.)

Wash your chicken and pat very dry with a paper towel. Place chicken on top of bread in the center of the Dutch oven. Rub olive oil over the top of chicken  (Keep washing hands every time you touch raw chicken).

Pour 1/2 cup-2/3 cup dry white wine into the well if the pot around the chicken.

Lift chicken butt and stuff cavity with 1 sprig thyme, rosemary, and sage. Add 3 cloves garlic (unpeeled but topped) and “close” with half a lemon facing inward. This steams herbs up into the chicken while roasting. (Wash hands.)

Sprinkle chicken liberally with kosher salt (think spreading 1 tablespoon over the top and sides) and a few twists cracked pepper. I throw on a liberal pinch of dried Oregano here but that’s up to you. Coarsely chop fresh Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. Spread over top and sides.

Remove excess garlic skin and top 2 whole heads of garlic. Slice remaining lemons in halves. Place lemons and garlics around chicken.

Cover and slide chicken into oven for 80-90 minutes. Be sure to baste chicken with well juices half-way through at the 45 minutes mark.

Be sure to baste half way through to ensure a crispy, flavorful skin.

Be sure to baste half way through to ensure a crispy, flavorful skin.  Silicone basting brushes are ideal and dishwasher safe.

Remove from oven when finished and uncover. Let chicken stand for 5-10 minutes. Carve up. Serve alone for a deliciously protein-rich meal or with a fresh local greens salad. You can also roast root vegetables, onions and potatoes too from my BEST ROAST CHICKEN recipe which is this dish with a few more steps.  We served solo last night.

An easy, luscious one pot meal with minimal cleanup and all the flavor of a fancy dinner.

Very easy clean-up.

Very easy clean-up.

Happy Eating!

Pearls in the Kitchen

My llittle Anni loves clothes. She came out practically twirling in Fuscia tutu and matching lipgloss. Which has been a source of merriment for her more inherently casual parents.  Now don’t get me wrong.  We both own some phenomenal clothes. For Special Occassions or Trips to the City. Dean’s bespoke tuxedo by Valentino and tailored Zegna from Milan. My cocktail sheaths and Dolce evening wear. Glittering Louboutoin heels and matching clutch. But these clothes are hardly practical, not even appropriate, for everyday life on a Winery. Where farming and kids, dishes and sheep, cooking and crafts-time dominates our day. Or my day, rather. Ask anyone and my wardrobe has historically been:

  • Blue Jeans (7)
  • Theory shirts (long sleeves or short depending on weather)
  • signature Louis Vuitton bag (I am a hopeless convert)
  • Signature earrings from Penny Preville
  • Boots (the Jane Harness Boots by Frye for town (the best boots EVER) and Justins for the farm)
Wardrobe Staples: blue jeans, tunic, LV bag, and boots.

Amending my Wardrobe Staples with flats for the City.  Still my Go-To Clothes for adventures in San Francisco.

Letting my signature pieces (earrings, bag, and lipstick) make my “look” while saving “pretty clothes” for Special Occassions. Tucked away on quilted hangers waiting patiently for another day of something special.

Sometime last summer, a series of  simple events shifted my wardrobe. And how I thought about day-to-day appearance.  First, I bought a few French cotton dresses (from Louie et Lucie) from Bella Vita Boutique in Sonoma. I love(d) them but still saved for coming to town. One day, I was taking my dress off and placing it back in my closet. Pulling on my trusty black leggings when sparkle-clad Anni sighed (she actually SIGHED) “back to normal Mama.”

Back to normal Mama.

This may not seem like some monumental sentence. But her little sigh was an arrow to my adult ears.  For natural fashionistas like my daughter, this is already an obvious truth: dressing up is important. But for this “denim & diamonds” girl, dressing up is left for Date Nights or Parties.  Here my little 4 years old thought my yoga pants were… Dull. So I put that cute, colorful dress back on. And added pearls. Because she loves when I wear my big white pearls. “You look like Julia, Mama!” Then we shared a lipstick. Anni smiled, “You look so pretty, Mama!” Even though there’s no mirror in my Dressing Room, she was right. I FELT PRETTY. And just like that, my “special clothes” emerged from my closet as “every day” clothes.

Watering the Barn Roses in a great Modcloth dress.

Watering Barn Roses in this”Cruise Up the Coast” Dress from Modcloth.

And that’s just it. You know how you feel when you dress up? A new dress or heading out to a garden party? You’ve shaved your legs, spritzed a bit of perfume and applied a pretty lipgloss. You feel special. And PRETTY.  I’m not sure why it took me to 36 and mother to a twirling toddler to realize, “I can choose to feel this way EVERY day.” That clothes are fun. And more than that, they matter. Every day, feeling nice about yourself matters. Whatever your weight, your “To Do List” today, looking fine matters. And if that doesn’t convince you? The smiles and better cuts of beef or freebie of Duck Fat from the Butcher’s will convince you.

If you buy one dress from this article, this Pink Number is IT.

If you buy one dress from this article, this Bright Pink Number is IT.

Feeling Pretty is a celebration of myself today. I’m done waiting to break out cute clothes “in 5 lbs from now.” Dressing up in daily-cute-clothes that fit me and my food-loving curves has been a revelation. Arrogant or throw-back this may sound but I’m finding that wearing Pearls while cooking? It matters. That Lipstick matters. Bright, joyful patterns in wash-and-hang fabrics? They add happy value to my day.  Letting me revel in vibrant Color as a busy Mom. Running the same errands week after week but feeling fabulous. The Market. Post Office. Dry Cleaners. And the preschool run. I’m just doing it in a cute dress and flats or boots that are every bit as comfortable as flip flops and as easy to put on as yoga pants.

Dresses make me happy.

Dresses make me happy.  Especially this one called “Bake Shop Browsing.”

It’s not like I break the bank in couture but pairing an inexpensive dress from Modcloth with a high-end purse and shoes? No one is the wiser my colorful dress cost $45.

Now one trick I did inherit from my grandmother? If you don't see your cute outfits, you won't wear them. So you know those plastic, over-the-door hangers? They are amazing. Channeling my Mima, each season I line up my favorite dresses and work largely from that. So if I have 10 minutes to shower and get out the door as a Mama? I know what to pull from.

One trick I did inherit from my grandmother? Is that if you don’t see your cute outfits, you won’t remember to wear them. So you know those plastic, over-the-door hangers? They are amazing. Channeling my Mima, each season I line up my favorite dresses and work largely from that. So when I have 15 minutes to shower and get out the door as busy Mama? I know what to pull from.

Now, to be fair, we’ve weathered some comments. Last week, two guys in the juice aisle at Oliver’s Market smirked at Anni and I intentionally matching in pink and rudely said…to my little girl mind you… “Wow, aaallll dressed up for the market?!” And laughed AT us.  Laughed AT our dresses and pearls that I let Anni pick out for us an hour before. Little Anni crumpled. And for a second, I wavered between calling out “F*ck you” to those bozos. But looking down at my little girl now looking down at her own self? I wanted to safeguard her sparkly truth. To save what she’s taught me. That dressing UP is important. That there is real Value in beauty…even if beauty to Anni right now is 2 tutus, butterfly wings, and three necklaces. Reapplying my lipstick, I said “oh they don’t know anything. Don’t you still feel pretty?” Anni looked up and nodded. “See? That’s what matters. That WE Feel Pretty.”

Besides, who wouldn’t want to feel like this everyday? I know I do.

Tutus do create Joy. Pink is such a HAPPY color.

Pink is such a HAPPY color.

Happy Dressing! & Eating!

Delicious, Throw Down Shrimp Curry

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The fastest, most delicious, and throw down Shrimp Curry Recipe. So fast I can write this up over a cup of coffee and make it with a fussy toddler on my hip.

For Amada & BIG THANKS to Asha Food Fashion Party for 95% of this amazing Recipe!

ingredients (& feel free to play with the amounts but not the process.)

  • 20-30 Shrimp (medium sized, peeled and deveined, tails attached)
  • 1 red onion
  • 3-5″ fresh ginger (skinned & coarse chopped)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1 15 box/can chopped tomatoes (by Pomi preferably) or 1-2 fresh tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala (find in spice section)
  • 1 cup dry white wine or water
  • pinch to 1/2 tspn red chili flakes (or chili powder if you have it)
  • 1/2-2/3 tspn Tumeric
  • 1 15oz can Lite Coconut Milk
  • Cilantro (for garnish)
  • 2-3 Limes (for garnish)
  • Basmati Rice

Start the Rice.

In a small Cuisinart, finely chop the red onion.  Heat 3 tblspns neutral oil (grapeseed oil is best) in a large pan and add pulsed red onion. Fry red onions for a few minutes stirring frequently. (A small bit of blackened bits can impart glorious Flavors to curry.) Splash with white wine or water if it looks too dry.

Add ginger and garlic cloves to Cuisinart and pulse until finely chopped… Practically a paste. Add quickly to red onion stirring quickly. Splash with white wine or water if looks too dry. When the sharp smell of garlic-ginger ends, stir in tomato, herbs, and pinch of kosher salt.  Add whatever white wine or water is left. Mix well. COVER and cook on LOW for 5-7 minutes.

Do not be afraid of making curry. Follow the process!

Do not be afraid of making curry. Follow the process! Asha is an amazing instructor!

Do NOT let mixture burn.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry while curry is simmering. Add shrimp into Curry mixture. Cover again and let them cook. (They will curl up and turn pink-ish.)

Once shrimp have cooked, stir in a good 2/3 of the can of Coconut Milk (about 1 cup). Saving the last of the coconut milk to stir into the Basmati Rice with salt and butter for flavor (& a small handful frozen green peas for color if you like).

Serve in wide shallow bowls spooned over the Rice. Or not — I love this without rice. I’ve made this twice in a week and loved it more “soupy” with the white wine add.  Garnish with fresh chopped Colantro and at least 2 halves of lime juice squeezed over the top.

And a gorgeously dry Sauvignon Blanc.

Happy Eating!

Part 2: How to Eat Now from the Farmers Market

The finished meal: it looks ramshackle but delicious!

The finished meal: Ramshackle but delicious!

Welcome to Part 2 of What to Eat Now from the Farmers Market!  I promised you all food and little rhetoric. So here goes:  Spring has definitely “sprung” and our local Farmers Markets are alive with fresh bouquets of flowers, spring vegetables, and juicy crops of late winter citrus (I couldn’t resist). This dish is an amalgamation from a Morning Glory Farms recipe. It is beyond versatile and lends itself to whatever you find!

You will need:

  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 1 leek or 3 Spring onions — halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, kale or baby spinach (if they have it) — cleaned and sliced into edible sizes
  • 10-12 bunches of wild asparagus or baby Brocoli rabe — toughest part of stalks removed
  • Cheese — opt for a mild cheese like salted Feta or clean tasting Cheddar. Nothing too  spicy — crumbled or shredded
  • Garnish herbs like Italian Parsley or Chives (but these aren’t really in season yet.)

Preheat oven to 300’F

Toss asparagus or broccoli with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Slide into warming oven on the 2nd shelf and roast.

Melt 3 tblspns Butter or olive oil in a skillet or large pan. I use a wok.   Sautée leeks or spring onions until they smell sweet. Toss in sliced greens and sauté briefly. Salt & pepper to taste.

Sauteing spring onions in butter.

Sauteing spring onions in butter.

Being low-carn focused these days, I am always looking for ways to use my cute pie pans. I transfer the vegetable mixtures into my heritage Emile Henri pie pan.

Create six “wells” in the veggies and drop 1 egg into each well. Crumble or spread your chosen cheese over the top. How much you use is up to you. I used a cup of crumbled feta from Petaluma.

Ready for Cheese and then the Oven. This all takes about 12 minutes up until this point.

Ready for Cheese and then the Oven. This all takes about 12 minutes up until this point.

Toss asparagus or broccoli with a spatula.

Slide skillet or pie dish into the Oven on the top rack and bake for 15-20 minutes or until egg whites look set. Yolks will be cooking but still moist for that warm farm-fresh yellow goodness.

In a shallow, wide bowl layer roasted asparagus or broccoli topped with a wide scoop of the eggs vegetable cheese mixture. Garnish with chopped parsely or chives. For adult plates, a dash of hot sauce is fabulous.

I serve this meal on the table so family and guests can help themselves.

I serve this meal on the table so family and guests can help themselves.

Happy Eating!

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1: What to Eat NOW from the Farmers Market


imageMary “MFK” Fisher wrote once about the silly way Americans have been taught to ‘need’ three big, complex meals a day. That in Europe, food consumption is generally more simple. I’m paraphrasing here but her words changed how I ate — and cooked — immediately.

And what is more fun than shopping at your weekly Farmers Market? Buying what is fresh, locally grown, and vastly more delicious than some giant corporate tomato. That, and by supporting our regional farmers, we support vital parts to our communities.

Recently, I polled some of my most fabulous women friends here in Wine Country for “what do you want me to write? What do you want to read?” and friend Ursula Zopp thought quick recipes for “what’s in season NOW” would be good. I agree.  And I LOVE Farmers Markets but don’t always get there…

So dear friends, This is the launch of a new series: What to Eat Now from The Farmers Market.  I pledge to visit my FM every week, buy what’s right there, and cook something up. Then write you a full account and one recipe here.  Your ingredients and volumes may vary based on tastes and what you find at your stalls. Grab a friend, cute date, or a kid and join me! I think this will be a fun Sunmer/Fall of eating together.

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Roasted Roots

ingredients:

  • 1-3 bunches spring onions
  • 1 bundle spring garlic (usually 3)
  • WILD ASPARAGUS (10-15 stalks)
  • 2 Meyer Lemons
  • Garlic
  • 1 head of something like Cauliflower or Romanesco — I had Cauliflower from the store. (whoops)
  • Optional: 1 yellow onion
  • Optional: great local Cheese. I picked up a small round of Skyhill Farms goat cheese out of Petaluma, California. It is Excellent! Soft notes of nuts mingle perfectly with this light and creamy cheese.

Preheat your Oven to 375’F.

Prep your vegetables:

Remove surplus skin from your garlic clove and cut off tops so garlic can breathe its gorgeousness into your greens.

Clean and remove any sand or dirt from your spring onions. Remove outer layer if needed. Trim off most of the tough green tops. And slice in half longways, keeping their little hairy butts attached.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Clean spring garlics like the onions but skip removing any outer layer.

Slice Lemons into halves and remove any obvious seeds.

Remove any tough green leaves from Caulifower or Romanesco. Cut off tough stalk underneath. Slice cauliflower into planes about 1/4-1/2″ thick. They will look like broad, flat little flowers.

Throw everything into one or two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Be sure to coat garlic clove tops so the garlic steams, not burns.

Arrange into a somewhat even layer and slide into Oven. Roast for about 45 minutes tossing them every 15. If you like yours a bit blackened, we crank heat to 475′ for a few minutes at the end.

Serve in wide bowls with that cute cheese on a sweet platter and a glass of bright, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. None of that grassy or cat pee stuff. But a leaner, more elegant coastal Californian SB or one grown here in Sonoma County like ours from Annadel Estate Winery, Beltane Ranch or Benziger! Wine with dinner is a must.

And that gorgeously roasted lemon? Drizzle juice over everything. image

Happy Eating!

Mama Sheep vs baby Lambs = Fight Club. The Bitches.

Fight Club: Baby Lambs.

Fight Club: Baby Lambs.

We love “our” Sheep.  Every year, “Ed the Sheep Guy” brings us a whole flock of mamas and babies to mow our Vineyards before “budbreak” — when the vines swell tiny buds into growing the new Vintage.  This year, Ed brought us 90 sheep.  A good 50 of them baby Lambs.

Sheep are fantastic at helping us grow organic grapes.  We seed legumes, fava beans, and mustards before the rainy season (November-ish) in anticipation of the Sheep arriving in early Spring (March-ish). The Sheep have homing beacons for eating these delicious greens and flowers down to the nub. Getting into the hard to reach places between each vine.  (Grasses can attract unwanted pests and blight into a “cleanly grown” vineyard like ours.)  So Sheep are monumental in helping us.  They eat EVERYTHING.  Then they poop.  A Lot. Leaving behind nitrate rich fertilizer that their sharp hooves burrow into the soil while aerating simultaneously.   And they are so darn CUTE too! So sweet, dense, and delicious.

Or so we thought.

Before dawn, we awoke to the sounds of Soccer Practice.  Sounds of running defense, grass being roughly moved, and bodies colliding.  We looked out from our bedroom window once it began to get light and peered into our vineyard.  We were surprised to find EVERY single lamb playing rough-house on the Bocce Court.  As in all 50 of them! Running back and forth.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Aggressively “playing.” Lots of poop. Dean sort of ran a fake-football commentary for a few as the lambs, chased, head-butted, body checked, and humped each other.  (No other word for it).  The choice comment up to that point was “they are so funny Mama! And yummy!” (I love my kids).

And then, a large Mama Sheep body-checked a baby lamb BACK onto the Bocce Court. A small one.  She forcibly did NOT let this little guy back up into the grassy Merlot Block. She went back to grazing — as were the other Mama Sheep.  And we kept watching her (and a few other Mamas) physically hip-check or head-butt all Lambs who tried to come back into the Vineyard for grass.  With the sounds of big-skull-onto-little. Keeping the grass for themselves.  And letting baby Lambs fight it out for dominance.  And for grass, presumably.  On the Bocce Court. Those bitches.

Mama Sheep: Serious Bitches Today.

Mama Sheep: Serious Bitches Today.

Rather a sheepish moment of reality for these grape growers.  It looked to us there was enough grass to go around…but maybe not according to the Animal Kingdom.  So I turned on Dinosaur Train (PBS) for the kids.  Loud.  And Dean is now off to buy several bales of sweet hay for the sheep to eat.  As we don’t move them ’til Monday to greener pastures.

Red Curry Chicken Meatballs

I love Curry.  Capitalizing the “C” in Curry. That is how much I revere Curry. As a Grad Student in the late 90s, I ate Curry.  A lot of Curry.  A decade later, I went to India, Thailand, Cambodia, and fell deeply in love with Curry. Something about India — the scents and smells maybe of cooking food everywhere, the sizzling meats, and musky incense — somehow shifted my brain.  As cliche as that sounds.  But instead spiritual awakening, mine was largely a gastro-awakening, if you will.  Shifting my focus to elevate Food to join Wine and Art.  Looking back, I think India is where I first started to think I wanted to Cook. Not just knowing a handful of dishes.  In India, I started browsing spice markets just to smell, started taking pictures of food, and stopped to *discreetly take notes on how street vendors cooked samosas, meats, and sweets.

Spice Markets anywhere in the world make me very, very happy. Calcutta 2008

Spice Markets anywhere in the world make me very, very happy. Calcutta 2008

*Note: one stands out already as 6’1″ American gal . Openly paying attention to any male stranger was/is a big no-no, especially in India. That said, we traveled with Drag Queens mostly in Thailand and Cambodia so no one paid us much attention as women.

Rooftops, Calcutta, India 2008

Rooftops, Calcutta, India 2008

One meal stands out. We were traveling to India for friend Suparna’s cousin’s wedding. On the rooftop of her family’s apartment building, a man cooked a superb meal for 30 people. He had a handful of battered pots and a small flame. He wore sandals and crouched as he cooked. The pots and flame were on the rooftop itself.

Rooftop Kitchen in Calcutta from this very first meal. 2008

Rooftop Kitchen in Calcutta from this very first meal. 2008

The food prepared was marvelous. Simple, clean flavors. Minerally driven fish from the Ganges, flash fried root vegetables, rice, and assorted garnish. I learned to scoop neatly and eat curry by hand at that meal and NOT to ever use my left hand. It is considered “unclean” in that part of the world. That meal and our time in India still brings back memories of warmth and happiness.

Seven years later, I cook curry as much as my perfect husband and two kids can handle. There have been some real misfires is the kitchen. Curry takes timing and precision more than any other culturally based food. But this dish, is pretty much foolproof. Not too spicy for young mouths. Delicious and HEALTHY for those of us adults not wanting to sacrifice flavor for thinner waistlines.

And the best part? You can make in a slow cooker OR in your Dutch Oven.

RED CURRY CHICKEN MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4-2lbs ground chicken
  • 2/3-1 cup good bread crumbs
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3-4 limes.  You will use the skin of one lime for the Cuisinart.  Trick: use a vegetable peeler vs a zester.
  • 3-5″ piece of ginger (peeled and coarse chopped) OR 1 fresh lemongrass stalk (rough parts removed and sliced)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can Coconut milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Red Thai Chili Paste
  • Grapeseed oil
  • kosher salt

Preheat Oven to 300’F.

In a small Cuisinart, chop garlic, ginger, lime skins, and half of the cilantro (stalks too).  Hand mix ground chicken, pinch of salt, breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes (to taste), and this garlic/herb mixture in a clean bowl.

Chicken mixture thoroughly hand mixed.

Chicken mixture thoroughly hand mixed.

Next, roll out meatballs the size of large walnuts.  Place on a clean plate and heat 3-4 tablespoons of Grapeseed oil in a wok (nonstick ideally).

Ready for browning.

Ready for browning.

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I place my Dutch Oven right next to the wok and simply lift the meatballs directly into the Oven. If you want a bit less grease in the dish, place on a paper towel lined plate before the Oven.

Working in batches, generally brown the meatballs.  Each batch will take a few minutes.  Add oil when necessary and use a lid to protect yourself from any hot splatter.

On the last batch of meatballs? Stage your sauce ingredients.  Shake and open the Coconut milk.  Open the tomato paste and have spoon ready.  Same for the Thai paste.

Standing by.

Standing by.

When the last of the chicken meatballs are finished, quickly add the entire can of tomato paste and 2-3 heaping tablespoons of Thai Paste to the hot oil.  Stir Stir Stir Stir to thoroughly mix the pastes together.  Keep stirring for about a minute or so to “brown” the pastes — the paste will start to look darker and smell stronger.

Before browning. MIX MIX MIX quickly with a whisk.

Before browning. MIX MIX MIX quickly with a whisk.

Add Coconut Milk and keep stirring to combine the pastes and milk entirely.

Almost there.

Almost there.

Once Sauce is mixed, pour over all meatballs.  Use a spatula to scrape all sauce from the pan and smooth over meatballs.

Ready for the sauce. Notice meatballs are snugly packed into a single layer.

Ready for the sauce. Notice meatballs are snugly packed into a single layer.

Sauce applied evenly and ready for the oven.

Sauce applied evenly and ready for the oven.

Cover and cook for 3 hours at 300’F.  Sauce will condense around each ball as the chicken cooks.  If you are using a Slow Cooker, cook on Low for 6 hours or High for 3 hours.

Serve immediately garnished with 3-4 wedges of fresh lime per plate and chopped cilantro.  My kids like this with Basmati Rice made with butter and coconut milk.  Dean and I opt for carb-free version of this dish and simply serve the meatballs.  Feeds a family of four or six.

Finished Plate.

Finished Plate.

Happy Eating!

Mason Jar and Ferret Boy

The best cinnamon role. Ever. Thanks to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California.

The best cinnamon role. Ever. Thanks to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California.

My husband and I took our kids to the beach today. Mind you, this is northern California so we dress in Patagonia, down vests, and socks to explore northern Sonoma County beaches. On the way, we stopped at our most favorite coastal bakery. A real foodie-haunt on Bohemian Highway in Freestone. Wild Flour Bakery is a truly unique, hands-on, artisan bakery. With no pretensions.  Incredible gardens. All brawn and yeast and gorgeous flour. Just pure love of food and product, cheerful bakers and salespeople, and beyond Great coffee.

So at 8:55am, after driving 45 minutes for our monthly Sunday treat, we happily greet Dezzy behind the till. She is a serious baking fiend in the biscotti market and a 100% lovely human being.  She patiently lets our wee hellions ask about bread and then about coffee-stirrers (aka Popsicle sticks that in their mind should forever lodge frozen bananas.) Dezzy graciously takes our order of hot coffee (him), Earl Grey tea (me) wt extra Bergamot, and an assortment of the best of the North Bay’s finest sourdough loaf (for the week), Meyer lemon scone, and literally the most bomb-ass-level-One Sweet Cinnamon Bun you’ve ever, ever had. Ever.

Then the guy next to us orders a latte. And it’s served to him in a Mason Jar. He has the 2-piece lid in his right hand. We both take note appreciatively. My Dean asks him and Dezzy “is that the new way to have coffee?” Hipster-beard-flannel-dude answers quickly and says,”um, No.” At this point, perhaps we should have taken cues from our acquaintance behind the counter to shut the hell up. Alas, I chime in “what a great idea!” And Flannel Dude emphasizes, looking at my hot tea receptacle, “well I wouldn’t want to waste… Just on my coffee.” And walks away.

One of those moments, dear reader, where you look at some asshat — before 9am mind you on a SUNDAY — who is totally attempting to make a very good point but with very foolish delivery skills — and with both of us AND the lovely Wild Flour ladies kind of mentally chiming in together “he is soooo Not worth it!” — to zenfully proceeded on with our morning. To only really come back to it late tonight because I can’t sleep.  And because this idiot pissed me off. And insulted my husband. My mulching, composting, cutting-lotion bottles in half for the last drop, ‘don’t waste water!’, take our 50 acres Sonoma farm and Annadel Estate Winery organic ‘if it kills us’ husband.

Because what could I have said?  That this über sheen bozo has a good idea? That I have a good 20 now-empty Mason Jars waiting at home to be refilled this canning season with blackberries, carrots, apricots, onions, pestos, cherries cured in bourbon? That Wild Flour Bakery wonderfully accepts Mason mugs/jars? Or That I’ve spent my entire decade of my 20s not being a kid but rather working for nonprofits and Eco-assertive politicos? That I later left NASA to mulch, make wine, garden and cook from the land? At 30 embraced my “midlife crisis” to ditch all pretensions, live authentically, and put my sweat where my dollar has always been?  And that my husband — who only asked a kindly meant question about your glassware? Spends hours each week after work prepping our soils for spring planting because I have two torn discs. And that you, Flannel Boy, with your oddly trimmed beard, now seems like a mustached ferret with your Mason Jar coffee and lame smug ego.

But I will nonetheless go home and bring one clean Mason Jar and 2 piece lid with me to Scooteria tomorrow.  Not that I would ever tell you that. Flannel Boy.