Monday, February 28, 2011

Dry Cows

Tandy is awesome. She found out about the cows' accents and all sorts of weird stuff. Even though I laughed out loud, then shuddered at her gimp dungeon, I love how her mind works. Funny how she wrote about cows this week. Cows are on our minds as of late. I am sure it is inevitable with the approach of spring. We are all gearing up for the onslaught of work and itching for the new stuff to come in. We are planning our schedules and Dan mentions that we have a problem. Our awesome dairy herd is having problems. What!?!?! Well, it seems that when you are as picky as we are and our standards are as high as they are, you tend to limit your options. We love this milk. We love those cows. We love that farmer. It seems that he has a lot of dry cows. Dry cows? What are those you ask. Well, they are dairy cows who are not producing milk. It's normal for him and the girls, but scary for us. He only has around 50 bovines. This is a problem. He is on it! He promised. Mark is not only a dairy farmer, but a vet. These cows are loved. Look at him and the love!

Just as Dan and I were discussing this, Ian, our farmer's son, and an outstanding farmer in his own right, just stopped by. We talked about getting old and shared some old pics. We talked about how this winter will never end and how much we are looking forward to spring. He needs the ground to thaw and I need the warmth in order to save my sanity. Just ask my husband. I know I am nuts, it is part of my charm. Ian and his lovely girl Barbie just want to get the leeks out of the ground and start the work. This led to "Steph, what do you want me to grow for you? I have some really interesting green cardamom leaves that I want you to try." Oh man, are you in trouble!! I will take those leaves and get to work! They look waxy and tough. Ian assures me that the flavor is easy to extract. Okay! It looks purdy. see?

What about wild fennel??? The purple kind? Absolutely!! Ian just needs the seeds. I have got connections. I got yer back. I told him that it is great for sausage and Marc Vetri will take some. He does not know it yet. I will let him know. What about Camomille? Hmmmm? Oh, so many ideas. Ian wants to know if want lemongrass. Yes, please.

People, spring is HERE! I know it. It has to be. Let's all join hands and will it to happen. We need the warmth, we need the grass to grow, we need the cows to begin producing, we need onion grass for the cows (the love it!), we need the happiness. WE NEED GELATO! I love the winter flavors, but I want something new. I want some wild fennel with...with...with....chocolate? Ricotta? Is that too savory? I am going to make my own Ricotta. Yup. Close your eyes, can you taste it?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The pork sings to me. Though the avocado is piping up too...

So I was laying in bed the other day playing golf. On my phone, obviously. The unidentifiable announcer has an unidentifiable European accent, and I swear every time he says, "Just a sand wedge" I think it's "Just a sandwich." And then I get to thinking, "Y'know...we're rolling out a new panini menu...maybe I SHOULD TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THEM."

Not that there was anything wrong with all of your favorite classic panini--and they're not going anywhere. Hell, I'd START the riot if someone suggested getting rid of the BLT. But there are so MANY delightful ways to use bacon! So now we're putting it on our own version of a Club...ham, turkey, and that infamously good bacon all co-mingling on a crispy piece of focaccia. GOOD.

And you know, I love our Tuna panini...but sometimes a brother needs a little cheese. Tuna Melt Time! Keeping this one simple--just our classic oil-packed tuna and cheddar cheese on our hearty whole wheat.

"But!," I hear some of you saying! "But I'm NOT an ovo-lacto-pescatarian! I actually keep it real and don't eat any meat at all!" And bully for you, my low carbon footprint friend--we've got you covered. How does hummus, avocado, roasted red peppers, and cucumbers on that same hearty whole wheat sound? Sounds good, right? YOU GOT IT. And your Vegetable Toast ain't goin' nowhere either--we wouldn't do that to you! There's our new All Vegetable panini too--artichoke hearts, carrot, cucumbers and more on ciabatta. Fresh!

"BUT!," I hear others of you saying! "BUT YOU'VE GOT ALL THAT BACON. YOU MUST GIVE US THE BACON." (Or maybe that's just in my own head.) And oh, we'll GIVE YOU THE BACON. How about...grilled cheeses! To order! FIVE types of cheese. Added veggies GALORE. And bacon and ham! You better bacon up that muenster, boy! (Someday soon, someone is going to get that joke, and we'll cackle together.)

And listen, we're Capogiro. We keep it light, remember? A dirty secret of the restaurant industry: do you know why you love the mayonnaise so much at certain other establishments? Because it's called "Extra Heavy Duty" mayonnaise. It has 40% more fat than your store-bought mayonnaise so that it "performs" better. It comes in a bucket deep enough to sink your arm in shoulder-deep. It jiggles unpleasantly and can be kept at room temperature indefinitely. It weighs 35 bloody pounds. This is not how we do things at Capogiro. We make our own mayonnaise out of real ingredients. It's light and it's different and it's delicious--like everything we do. We're not going to foist Chipotle-Ginger-Bacon-Ranchonnaise or some such shenanigans on you. You know that, right? We keep it real, we keep it light, and we keep it food--not commodity.

So the new panini menu? Already available at Penn. Like, right now! And you'll find it VERY soon at 13th and 2oth. We'll see you this weekend, and don't forget the chips!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You kidding Ma?

Tuesday morning I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. There it was. Snow. Covering the sidewalks, cars and street. Of course, we are in Philly and the streets were not plowed and I am guessing will not be plowed. I tiptoed into Michaela's room and pulled up the kids' schools' websites on her laptop to check for delays and there you go! Philly's schools are closed! Sev's school was delayed by two hours. I made breakfast, walked the dumb pups, shoveled the bricks out front, and dug out my car. Are you kidding Mother Nature?!! We are ready for spring. Jay is frothing at the mouth for baseball. You cannot play baseball in the snow! It was 70 degrees last week! I started training for the Broad Street Run. I don't like running on icy sidewalks. This is unacceptable. What are we to do? Mother, put your weapons down.

Well, I am going to try and get my mind off this weather. Phil never saw his shadow. Why is this happening? I think I am going to work on new stuff for Capo. New items. I have been cooking up crepes at home and I think I have the recipe down. The kids loved them. What do you think of crepes? Let me know. We have the new panini menu featuring a plethora of grilled cheeses. I love grilled cheese. What do y'all think? What are you looking for?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A cow says, "G'day!"

Today's lesson is all about cows. Did you know that cows have regional accents? This means that while one herd of cows might moo to you with a, "Howdy, ma'am," another herd might sneer something along the lines of, "'Ey, I'm walkin' 'ere!" True story. Here are some other fun facts about cows:

A group of twelve or more cows is called a flink. Twelve or more cows object to being involved in something with such a ridiculous name as flink.

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. This is a fun trick when you want to surprise your dear sleeping granny with a GIANT BOVINE in her bedchamber. Alas, this also means that you can never get a cow to go down into your creepy gimp dungeon. Bummer.

Cows can feel the air pressure drop before an impending storm and will lie down. They do this in preparation for an epic mud wrestling match. My money's on the heifer in the tube top!

Cows cannot vomit. This means that cow hangovers are horrendously painful.

Cows can produce up to 125 lbs. of saliva per day. This explains why so many cows find gainful employment licking stamps in corporate mail rooms.

The Sanskrit word for 'war' means 'desire for more cows'. The Sanskrit word for 'train wreck' translates into 'Lindsay Lohan'. No joke!

Capogiro loves cows. The cows that we get our milk from are Scottish Ayrshire cows from Wholesome Dairy Farms, which is located deep in Amish country in Yellow House, PA. Our cows have cute names like Moxy, Dottie, Daisy, KitKat, and Tequila. Our cows are from a closed herd and are grass fed. Our cows are happy cows. Happy cows make for the best gelato. Yum.

Big Kitchen manager Dan bonding with the bovines

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Morning, Philadelphia

You know, I was thinking the other day. Over the past few months we've been so pumped to promote our new breakfast items (cut fruit, bagels, and bagel sandwiches to name a few) that I'm wondering if we've completely ignored the original staple of a Capogiro breakfast: the pastries!!

Baked fresh and hand delivered to us every morning, our mouth water pastries are what set the AM side of Capogiro off to begin with. And if you didn't know already, we've got plain, cheese, almond, and chocolate croissants, pain au raisins (or, "the raisin thingies" as they's more often called,) cinnamon rolls, and of course, brioche!

Here's a little hint, ask for them warmed up!! There's nothing better than a toasted cinnamon roll before noon. NOTHING.

Friday, February 18, 2011

So close I can smell it...

This is, frankly, my least favorite time of year when it comes to pro sports. Football's season is over after yet one more unsatisfying Super Bowl (I'm a vicarious Steelers fan, given some family and friend loyalties), leaving us with nothing but a gaping maw

Everyone get so up in arms about college basketball. I just don't get it. The season just goes on and on and on. There are HUNDREDS of teams to try to keep track of, dozens of divisions, new "stars" every year who are always proven to be over-hyped when they get to the NBA. And don't even get me started on things like the deplorable graduation rates of front-line college athletes, the lackluster education any 0f them acquire traipsing around the country playing road games, the HUGELY over-paid and over-worshiped coaches, etc, etc. Oh man, and THE NEVER-ENDING TIMEOUTS...lame.

And professional basketball is just so...ego-driven. LeBron James? Way to alienate an entire state, dude. So ugly and cynical. The less said the better.

But baseball. BASEBALL!!! Pitchers and catchers are in camp! We're reading stories about how quirky and (allegedly) lovable ManRam is! Breathless reports about Albert Pujols! The Pirates and Mariners fans are talking about how this could be the year! Okay, maybe not the Pirates fans. They're realistic and embody "long-suffering." (Quick aside--one of my friends is friends with a journeyman MLB bench coach who spent a few seasons with the Pirates. Apparently they make all they coaches pay for their uniforms. What IS that?) And the PHILLIES. Oh man. We're gonna have four 20 game winners this year! JUST YOU WAIT. We're gonna win 140 games! Sweep every NL East series--home AND away! Ryan Howard's gonna hit 93 homers and put up 354 RBI! We're gonna be YOOGE.

Okay, let's go ahead and all admit to ourselves that, as a city entire, tempering our expectations a wee-bit might do us all some good. If you remember the Vet with any fondness at all, you know that the south end of Broad Street is far too often where dreams go to weep bitterly in a corner. And this is Philly--shouldn't we always be the town that is pleasantly surprised that we did so well instead of being angry that our overblown demands weren't met? It's gonna be a great season one way or another. Realistically, I'm betting we see more than one no-hitter from our rotation (studs! all of 'em!), the offense actually gets its act together, and we won't miss Werth at all. Trust me--we're not gonna miss Werth. He was fun to watch, but mostly because his defense was always so...exciting. Know what I mean? IS IT OPENING DAY YET!?!?!?

(Hockey? We have a hockey team? Do they even show hockey on television anymore?)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Awakening

I'll admit it, I am in love with Katy Perry. Even as I write this, I am bopping my head to her latest single, 'Firework'. On my way in to work this morning two separate cars passed me by blaring this song as well, the drivers singing their fool heads off. It's a great feeling, the lightness that comes with being all stupid and happy over something so simple. To me, this is the feeling of spring.

Everything is about to change. It's getting warmer, the ice is finally melting, the jackets are getting lighter, and everyone on the street is smiling. This weekend is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL, and we are ready for it. At Capogiro, things get a little quieter over the winter, and we keep our customers warm with delicious soups and gourmet espresso drinks, in addition to our gelato. In the spring and summer however, it's a whole different story.

At 20th Street, our gelato gladiators are preparing for the onslaught. The baristi have been training all winter, making sure that we meet the crowd with perfectly scooped cups and masterful cappuccinos. All I can say to you, spring, is BRING IT.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Kidnapping of Ronald

It seems as though I have been bombarded with the "I love Food!" v. "I hate Foodies!" phenomenon lately. Each time I tune into my favorite web pages, there it is in large letters shouting their hatred. Back in ancient times it seems as though people who worshipped food were simpletons put in the same categories as lepers, actors and gladiators. Trimalchio's feast? I think not. I am a big Michael Pollan fan and have read every book. I do worship food, but I truly hate any type of fanaticism. Any type of lemming style worship. I think you can be passionate about something, but the second that person gets into my face and insists their opinion is the only opinion, I am gone. I don't care if I even agree with them. I am always open for a good round of solid discussion, where one listens and considers and may even change their mind. Now granted, I am pretty stuck in certain areas and close to nuthin will change my mind, but that does not mean I don't love to talk it up and explore. Could I be wrong? Maybe? Sometimes? Yup. I never close the door. But, that love of the exploration does not mean I do not move to my own beat. I do. I choose not use my passion in combat.

So recently, I have found myself truly annoyed with crazed food people. We buy local; we purchase grass fed milk from a closed herd of cows here locally; if it is grow in PA, we buy it in PA; we are fanatical about quality. You would think that these are my peeps!! Right? Well, why are my peeps so critical? Why do my peeps feel the need to get online and scream at people? I have read some recent comments on food forums that make me cringe. I actually want to find out who there are and go to their desk or stage or office at the jobs where they work and critique their performance. Who cares if I have zero training in what they do, I KNOW what good 'work' is and I can comment and slam them in a public forum!! Are they trying to be harsh? Are they trying to promote change? Change can be good, but it ain't happening when you hurt the one you are trying to influence. Ever agree or even like someone who just calling you a nasty ho? Didn't think so.

Ronald McDonald was just kidnapped. Where are we moving to people? I know, I know, it's a joke. But seriously? Food violence is a joke? It is just food. Hopefully delicious food, but just food. We have a choice. Are we trying to change the world? Jamie Oliver is getting off his ass and educating. That is his passion. I have not eaten in a McDonald's in 13 years. I don't miss it. I read Fast Food Nation. Can we possibly move toward a better world with out all that crazy? Passion should bring joy. Making gelato brings me joy. The relationship I have with the farmers and the way I feel about how I feed my family brings me joy. The people I work with bring me joy. Food is joy for me. It really is a selfish thing. I don't feel superior, I feel happy. When I read about the fetishism of chefs and cooking shows, and the incredible feat of making the simplest food preparations incredibly hard, I roll my eyes. BUT, it is passion. McDonald's is not doing world any service. Sometimes it is all people can afford. What to do? Who is right? Who is wrong? How can we change things?

Can't we all just get along? Food does not mean pain.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Best Thing EVER!!

So we've been having Peanut Butter gelato a lot lately at 13th street, and yesterday I tried something with it that I can not for the life of me figure out why I've never done before...
Peanut Butter gelato con Brioche!! Amazing. Simply, amazing.

Just ask Jackie.


Friday, February 11, 2011

You can take this holiday and SHOVE IT.

Look, the Valentine’s Day we all know and loathe is undeniably the primary example of a cynical, pulled-out-of-thin air, what-can-we-get-people-to-spend-money-on-in-February Hallmark Holiday. Wikipedia blames it on a British publisher who in the late 18th century started selling the first pre-printed greeting cards with canned, vapid sweet-nothings for poor blokes without a creatively sentimental bone in their body. Combined with cheap postal rates, this let people send creepy, unoriginal, and repetitive love notes easily and anonymously. So THAT’S certainly romantic and not at all stalker-ish.

Alright, I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve had some truly horrendous Valentine’s Days. One year I really put my best effort into it. I got us a room for the night at a tucked-away hotel, set up said room with wine, candles, fancy bath stuff and a new mix tape for her to relax with while I was at work in the afternoon and did all the prep work to make her a fancy, oft-requested dinner—not to mention some seriously thoughtful and hard-to-find gifts. Now you’re just DYING to know how it all worked out, right? She got lost on the way to the hotel and called me at work to yell at me for whatever hare-brained idea I’d gotten her into. The dinner? Suffice it to say that the dead of winter in northern Vermont is a sub-optimal time and place for one’s first try at sashimi. And the kicker is that I’d figured out two or three days before Valentine’s Day that I wanted to dump her. But I wasn’t going to be that guy that dumped his girlfriend on (or even remotely near) Valentine’s Day! Some other sucker can be the horrible ex she tells the same stories about over and over again with her girlfriends! Holy crap it was an awful night.

And WHY? Why do we put ourselves through all this malarkey? Because the greeting card industry is full of money-grubbing emotional vampires, that’s why. If you’ve got a significant other, don’t let there be only one highly predictable and over-exposed day on which you tell them how you feel about them. And if you’re single, spend that money on yourself instead. I recommend spending it at the bar! With enough lubricant you can TOTALLY convince yourself that you’re not at all bummed to be single on Valentine’s Day (again) because it’s a stupid holiday for suckers anyway. And remember—Valentine’s Day is always right around when pitchers and catchers report! Baseball—so close you can smell it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bad Idea Jeans...

So, Capo kid Joe is an all-around good guy. He's nice looking, polite, creative, and adorably goofy. However, he just told me that he got his girlfriend a furby for Valentine's Day. This leads me to believe that Joe has never had a long-term girlfriend. Ever. At all. I'd like to help my buddy Joe by compiling a short list of...

Things You Should Never Buy Your Partner for Valentine's Day.

Stuffed animals (of the talking or mute varieties). Whenever you give someone who is over the age of 10 a stuffed animal, they are socially forced to say "Awwww, how cute," and give it a squeeze and/or pet. This is degrading in and of itself, but what is worse is the situation that you put the person in after the gift-giving is over. How long are they supposed to hang on to the stuffed animal? Are you expecting to see said stuffed animal sitting on their couch or bed the next time you come over? Worse yet is how to get rid of the stuffed animal. Shoving Teddy into a trash bag with his little beady eyes staring up at you always feels a bit too much like homicide.

Soap. Although one might think that a partner would love some nice lotions or massage oils for Valentine's Day, you always run the risk of offending them. It's best to steer clear of scented things, lest they take it as, "hey, I love you but GEEZ would it kill you to bathe once in a while?!" This being said, the most obvious product to avoid is a bar of soap. If anyone ever gave me a bar of soap I would have to immediately put it in a sock and use it as a weapon of retaliation.

Gym Membership. This is a no-brainer. It would only be less obvious if you were to sign the card with, "I want to spend my life with you but your backside is starting to look like two hams wrestling". Don't do it.

Walking Papers. Years ago, I seriously had a girlfriend break up with me on Valentine's Day. Who does that?! What's worse is that she was probably the hottest woman I have ever dated, hands down. Thanks a lot, Brooke, what swell timing you had. At least I'm consoled by the hope that there is a special place in Hell for soulless harpies like you. Kisses!

An STD. You may be thinking, "Nothing says I love you like a raging case of herpes". You would be wrong. Get tested and play safe. Although it would definitely be a bonding experience to share the same strain of chlamydia, it's probably not the heartfelt gift you were going for.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Philadelphia Tattoo Convention has nothing to do with gelato.

So, in case ya didnt know.... this weekend was Christmas The Philly tattoo convention over at the ol'Sheraton. I went with the kids from Tru Blu Tatu. The convention hall was packed in to capacity for 3 solid days and there were so many tattoo machines buzzing that it blew the breakers on the house lights a dozen times. The first rule of the tattoo convention is; wear comfy shoes. The second rule of conventions is; move fast in those shoes when the Zombie burlesque troop and the dancers from Risque start a topless brawl in the hallway, because every boy on the planet is going to risk life and limb for a better view.

It wasn't my first rodeo but, it was my first time as a working artist (the last few times I was an apprentice...). You can always pick out the apprentices, they're the ones scurrying around the halls with a panicked look on their faces, an arm-full of crap and they're generally searching for something unattainable. "APPRENTICE, go fetch me the Hope diamond! I need it for reference on a traditional chest piece.... Don't come back without it." 

I did my very first convention tattoo (not my first tattoo.... 1st convention tattoo.) It was a Misfits skull on a sweet Jersey girl. We sang David Bowie songs together and she sent me this sweet pic of her piece. [above].  

The bad part of the weekend was the food. I'm talkin' to you, Sheraton hotel. Not to be like one of those angry foodie bloggers BUT... if I pay $11 for a turkey sandwich, it had better be the best turkey sandwich I've ever had. That sandwich had better tap dance off my plate, gobble out a turkey rendition of Freebird and tip it's hat at me before I take a bite.... Needless to say, it did not. The sandwich took forever, came out on the wrong bread and the meat tasted like old slimy deli turkey. The french fries were soggy, the order was botched and I was too crunched for time to wait another 30 minutes for a redo. For the rest of the weekend, I lived on beef jerky, trail mix and tootsie rolls.

My friends at Leah Creation sold their awesome jewelry downstairs and offered me sweet sanctuary from my chaotic booth. I even sold some crafty little boxes.
(Yay, beer money!!) All in all, it was a really fun event. I stayed in a fancy hotel and ogled an awe-striking amount of art. I did so much running around that it wore the heels off my boots and I feel like I could sleep for a month. Thanks for rockin' my weekend, Philly... you always wear me out :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Arithmetic de le Capogiro

What do you call a Peppermint Sugar Cookie Confidential cookie on top of Stracciatella gelato?


Best part? After Peppermint Sugar you've got four other flavors to try.

Monday morning wing over.....

I have been having a really hard time latey. This weather is beating me down. I am in the gelato business. It should be a happy happy place. I work with amazing people and we usually have a blast. Yet, I find myself complaining and complaining. I hate complaining. I hate being a nuisance. Today is warm. Warm comparably. My youngest told me that he had heard the birds chirping this morning and that spring must be coming.

Yesterday I stayed inside and cooked and cooked and cooked. The Super Bowl is a chance for us to eat nachos, hot wings and pork tacos in front of the TV. The kids love it. So there we were, huddled together watching football. I finally nailed my wing recipe. John is from upstate NY and he complains about my wings. Not hot enough or hot enough, but the taste is just not right. He prefers baked to fried, when homemade and uber crispy. This can dry out the wings, which it did, but my flavor was ON! It really is just a sauce of several types of hot peppers and butter. My brother lives in Buffalo and told me that there is only one way to judge wings. My brother's test - when they serve them to you in a restaurant, a metal bowl should be covering your wings. The bowl is for the bones. The wings should be piping hot. When you remove this bowl, a billow of steam that is infused with hot sauce and vinegar should shoot upward into your face. If you cough from the combination of hot sauce, vinegar steam, the wings are right. If not, don't bother. I have to say that my wing sauce produced the cough.

So, chicken wings have made me happy. That is how I am going to get through to spring. One recipe at a time. That, and this show....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Holy Booze, Batman!

I think one of the things I hear the most when talking to customers is "You guys have a bar?!" YES! Yes we do! Yes we do and it's pretty rad! We run the gamut of old school Italian amari (some of my favorite things in this world, Fernet Branca being top dog) to off the wall gelato cocktails, to super classic libations. We try to keep things simple, and with the weather being what it is lately, we figured we should conjure some warmth up in this piece...of West Philly.Can I just say that there's something about coffee with whiskey in it that can make me feel better regardless of circumstance? Maybe it's the Irish in me (aka, the lush), but it's comforting in a way I can't fully understand or describe, I just know that it heals. Ditto on Hot Toddy's, although Jo (our illustrious bar manager) has concocted a fancy one appropriate for all occasions, not just the flu - it's got black & green teas with Vieux Carre absinthe (we love you Philadelphia Distilling!), maraschino liquor, lemon & honey. Crazy good. She's also got a mulled wine, offered daily, that'll take the chill off any Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon...snow....period. Pretty much something for all, from the crazy bitter, to the crazy sweet and girlie, to the oh so stoic (Blood and Sand, anyone?) Come see us. We mix things up all the time, and are flexible, although don't ask us for PBR...we do our own "City Wide".
By the way, did you hear? Phil didn't see his shadow...and someone told me there's a big American sports gathering this weekend? Pah. We're way cooler. Need more inspiration for weekend festivities? Go see our very own KAMALA SMITH as she kills it (er...inks it?) at the Philadelphia Tattoo convention. Screw you, winter! We're taking it back.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The best way to get your vitamin on!

One of the most delicious things that has happened to me this winter was the first time I drank a nice tall glass of Blood Orange Juice. Deeeeeeelicious! It's here at Capogiro for a limited time, so come grab some today. Seriously, it's the best thing ever. Refreshing and tart, blood oranges have the perfect citrus taste. As a bonus, one glass of this magnificent juice can save you from scurvy for at least a fully year!

If you're really lucky, you can catch one of our illustrious owners dashing into 20th Street to make himself a glass. If you ask real nice, maybe you can even snap a picture. ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mama Knows Best

I really really love to cook. I like cooking for myself and enjoying my meal, but I looooooove cooking for other people.

Choice characteristics of my kitchen self? Above all else, I aim to please. Aside from that, I credit my mother with my ability to multitask in the kitchen, my ability to improvise with ingredients, and my general disregard for following recipes.

On occasion (perhaps four or five times a year) I actually follow a recipe step for step, and frankly, it rarely goes well. Most recent occurrence? Last week when I had friends over for dinner. I place all of the blame on Jamie Oliver.

Now, I get it, he's cute, charming, has an adorable accent, and makes exceedingly yummy food... But I am not charmed. Or impressed. Or pleased with the outcome of "Jamie Oliver's Tray Baked Chicken" recipe, published in Parade magazine a few Sundays ago.

The chicken was perfect, which I'm excited to tell you, since after eight years of being a vegetarian (bacon brought me back in August 2009), I still experience a brief moment of doubt when I cook with meat. The garlic cloves roasted to a delicious golden brown, as did the onion and redskin potatoes, but the sweet potatoes were still crunchy. After over an hour of being in the oven?! Crunchy? Really? So, I can't lie, I improvised a little and added red and yellow peppers, broccoli, and a few purple potatoes to spruce up the recipe... but I didn't mess with the basic ingredients, set-up, or cook time and it just didn't come out right!

My frustration probably stems more from the fact that I didn't wow my friends with the meal that evening than the fact that Jamie Oliver's Tray Baked Chicken didn't come out as it should have. In all fairness, I diced up the left overs yesterday afternoon and made an absolutely delicious soup which was promptly devoured by my housemates. But I've learned my lesson yet again. Mama knows best. Recipes should be treated as guidelines. The best meals come from within and end up within ;)