Sunday, June 30, 2013

Forke Art

Twisted Forke Art

Today my back feels a little twisted on the
tines, so I am taking the day off and going
to relax.
Hope you will too and we'll all be refreshed.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Everyday Edification and Affection

Sunbowl with Candle setting

I’m lucky—I am intuitive. I can feel the vibrational resonance of things. I know which ingredients are filled with the most love and light and will provide the most beneficial nurturing. On some level we all do it. When we shop we choose a certain apple or banana. We reach for certain mushrooms in the bin, we hand select the snow peas. One by one, we move though the market making choices. Even one box or jar over another on the shelf, one check out line over another.

What we interact with does mingle with us. That’s why sometimes you may not enjoy a meal. Every person involved in the process of food makery has energy that is being infused into what you eat. Low vibration—funky energy from others, or from the seed itself—can find its way to your table.

In our family we were taught to pray over our food. The blessing of giving thanks for the food we were about to enjoy was essential. It’s more important now than ever. You hear a good deal about what is happening in our food chain, some quite alarming. The simple addition of praying over your food will help rebalance the equation. How you pray, or what you say is important. Be mindful of your intention and words. Thank you comes first.

Next time you go to the market, eat out, or find yourself at a banquet…stop for a moment—center yourself and sense the vortex's of vitality. Listen to your instincts and you will feel its nudging's to nourishment. Your intuition will talk to you.

Also, when you cook—be grateful. Exude your appreciation for every ingredient. Friend your food and it will pay you back in kind. Serve it with joy. It will feel good and taste better. The secret sauce is gratitude.

Your family and customers will taste the calibration. You’ve balanced everything—you’ve engaged the essence; you’ve infused the ingredients and your environment with your vitality, your love.

Never underestimate your skill in crafting cuisine into the full on flavor of The Divine. You make the difference. You are a valuable instrument in the kitchen. Even how you wash your dishes and pans is to be done with grace. Think about it. You eat from these every day. Your vibration and focus affect the resonant outcome.

It’s called energetics.  Nourishment starts with enjoyment. Entrain your brain and heart to the song of satisfaction.

Why? It matters. GMO and other things influence whether or not your food is truly feeding you.

Pray over your food and rebalance it with your love. If possible, light a candle. Eat slowly, savor each bite and be thankful. If you are preparing or serving food to others, give it an extra boost of vitality before you offer a plate…your energetic signature is all over it. Make it worthwhile with a smile.

TIP: Your own mood, and energy attitude is a part of what you are drawn to. Do take the time to align with positivity and your table will be set for success.

Note: This inner ringed bowl with the candle centerpiece, set on a sheet of nori, is an artistic representation of our rings of influence. The ripple effect. Shine your light of edification and affection in all you do—please and thank you.


Labyrinth Bowl
Earthbowl on Nori

Warm Hearts to the Brim

Artful setting of plate on measuring surface

I mentioned you would see this setting again and here it is. 
The warmth of the light in this image feels so naturally emanative.
See if you can feel it in your heart.

Also, I am going to repost my Solstice message. It got lost last week and the message is too important not to have in the mix.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What I do when no one’s lookin’ for dinner and dessert on a hot summer night.

Summer green salad with fork in bowl

Dinner…well, yes—when it’s hot, salad is my favorite summer meal. I had no intention of photographing this…I was just hungry. The one nice surprise was how the goat cheese came out in nice shapes…but they went into the mix. I did try to keep them in place once I saw how nice they came out…but when it’s this warm…no can do. It’s one shot and you’re done with goat cheese. I started eating it before I realized how yummy it looked…so, I did take a picture. Anyway…it tasted great.

Romaine, watercress, red peppers, carrots, goat cheese, Bragg’s apple cider vinaigrette, S&P, and a few roasted chicken shred pieces. Just a few…

Next, I think I was sleep walking. Not really, but I did feel compelled. I don’t even eat dessert, or very rarely. But, there I was…in the kitchen with nothing sweet. Ahh, but maybe…so the next thing I know, I’m pulling out graham crackers, vanilla wafers, almonds, chocolate, frozen banana. First, I took the vanilla wafers and ground them up in my wire mesh colander by hand. Easier than a box grater, and no appliance needed.

Then, I melted the chocolate adding honey, milk, smidge of light brown sugar, butter. I laid it all out on a lined sheet pan. First the vanilla wafer crumbs, then drizzled the chocolate all over. Then I tossed on the almonds, more vanilla wafer crumble and popped it in the freezer.

Once it was firm, I took my trusty turner spatula and placed a small amount of the mix on to the graham cracker, topped with two slices of frozen banana and a tiny sprinkle of vanilla wafers.

It’s a nice summer snack for both kids and adults. Enjoy.

It’s a new twist of fresh from the freezer.

PS. I don’t really style these shots…they are true as true can be for the real thing.
The love is in the relationship I have with food as art. Kiss, Kiss.

I’m not a cookie person but when my sister lived here before her passing she liked
sweets. You never know when you might want a vanilla wafer…so thank you Kate.

frozen chocolate banana crumble on graham cracker dessert

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Measuring Success

All-Clad Measuring cups on towel landscape
All-Clad in Glad. Heavy-Gauge Happiness. Polished Finish.

Good kitchen tools can inspire us to be our best. Something as simple as a nice set of measuring cups and you instantly feel cheffy. When you can, buy the nicest tools possible. I actually got these on sale…so, shop around for the things you love.

The detailing of these is beyond compare. Their non-reactive nature keeps them from imparting any taste to the food. The riveted handles put confidence in your grip and don’t worry, their stainless-steel finish is dishwasher safe.

I prefer to wash mine by hand for the simple pleasure of touching them.

On a personal note…great cooking tools set a perfect example of excellence. Look to them to perform at the top of your game and think of them as little instructors who will assist you in being all-clad in glad.

As you can see, I could not settle on just one shot today. Being in love is that way. One look is not enough.

All-clad measuring cups still life

Still life of measuring cups and ingredients
Measuring cup wit increments

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moribana Broccolini

Moribana Broccolini Still Life

Ikebana means living flowers. The beautiful Japanese art of flower arranging. Nature and humanity brought together. A time to appreciate things you may overlook as beautiful when you are too busy to notice. It’s a practice done in silence, and the arrangements speak without words.

This basic ikebana is in moribana style. I hope it inspires you to see the lovely food the earth provides with new eyes, and hear their voice in your heart.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top This! Pizza

Pizza Creations
Man, oh man. I thought I’d do a little ditty on pizza…looked around and everyone has basically the same info stuffing’s. Topping that, none of it was that compelling. I think what I enjoyed the most was trolling my brain for taglines that stick like mozzarella to the roof of your sensory stimulations. First is Pizza! Pizza! recently reintroduced by Little Caesar’s. Next, Get the door, It’s Domino’s! Third, It’s not delivery, It’s DiGiorno.

Two use a bang to end their expressive declarations…like that’s gonna make you ask you for extra pepperoni and put them on speed dial. Maybe so?

I did not create any of these but I think they hit the mark for short and sweet. No question about what they are offering or what their positioning is. Fast, delicious is the big delivery.

Last night was ‘what’s in the freezer night.’ Usually, I have a good idea of what I want well ahead of time. I shop for the ingredients, do the prep and then start my personal masterpiece.  ‘What’s in the freezer night’ is different for everyone, and what you do with it can make all the difference.

One thing is for sure—pizza is a good thing to have stashed away. I like thin crust with nothing on it but cheese so I can make it my own creation. Self-rising are also good. Of course, there is nothing like hand-tossed, fresh dough, but when you don’t have that…well, most times it’s just you and your pizza anyway—so dive into the freezer and pull out your secret favorite.

Globally, flavor preferences are quite varied. My weird favorite is dill pickles and feta. All that brinery seems to cut the overly oilio of cheese. One that does not appeal to me is a favorite in Russia. A mix of fishy—sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and red onions. Have never tried it, but they like Squid ink in Japan. Thanks, I’ll stick with black olives if I want a little dark contrast on my pizza horizon. How about coconut, mutton, peas, eel or eggs? Overall, anchovies are the least favored pizza topping.

Who care’s what anyone else likes. When it comes to your pizza…pick what you like.  If I were coming up with a brand name/tagline for a line of pizzas and toppings, it would be “Top This!” with a bang. I would like to see a copious selection of toppings—fresh and frozen, right next to the basic cheese varieties. That way, I could grab a selection of my favorites and get toppin’ my signature pie.

The pizza in my image is a frozen, self-rising, private label version. Can you tell who’s it is? I added the fresh toppings. Simple, but nice.

Pizza on Cutting Board
TIP: Even if it’s frozen, it’s still cooked by you. Add some love, designed and delivered by you. Oh, and keep an eye out for TOP THIS! PIZZA PIE & TOPPINGS™.Theme: It’s all about homemade. This is what happens when you create your own anything. You come up with great ideas like I did. Get cookin' and start lookin' for the next wonderful wave.

Pizza Creations!™ and other fun things by you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Today in the Test Kitchen...a Creative Snack

Today|Test KItchen graphic light to dark

Sometimes you have an idea…then, you can’t let it go. I didn’t have much in the kitchen to work with, but I did it anyway…I created Tortilla Tasting Trays for lunch. What? Why would anyone cut out three half moon tortilla shapings into tasting trays with tiny bites of pico de gallo-ish salsa, underscored with a mix of Mexican shredded cheese, topped with one black bean and side of salad garnish with a mini-mini squeeze of ranch dressing and a centerpiece of watercress…because they are crazy about the test kitchen in their mind. It can haunt you…so, beware. It’s like a rooster beak in your mind, pecking at you non-stop. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can make it, taste it, and see if it’s viable. Well, guess what…I love it. I shot the plate and then ate it. Every last crispy crunch of my Tortilla Tasting Trays are gone. All gone. It was a complete run-on sentence!

TIP: When you don’t have things you need, you improvise. I used a spice jar top to cut out the half rounds. A sharp knife did the rest of the work. When I toasted them in the oven I kept a very close eye, and turned them over a few times to crisp each side perfectly. Then, I started the insane assembly of fresh ingredients for the fun of it. Okay, I admit…it’s a bit over the top with the one bean thing, but try it yourself…top with whatever you want…but if you see these trend setting tortilla tasting trays in your local market, at your next catered event or house party…you saw it here first.

PS. The right size stainless cutter or a shot glass could work for the half-rounds.
I had neither of these on hand…but the spice cap did a fine job.

The original photos were quite nice, but since I was making art for lunch—I decided to complete the task with a little digital enhancement for the pure pleasure of playing it all up. The last one up is a small shot of the original.

Tortilla Tasting Trays with side of salad on green plate
Two Tortilla Tasting Tray with Side Salad on Green PlateTortilla Tasting Tray Art Imaging

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bikini Burger…this is no slopper!

Bikini Burger with grape tomato salad with fresh basil, side of fingerling potatoes on white plate
Grow some love, fresh Basil on garden table in sunshine
There’s so much talk about burgers. Every Country and State has its own version. Even who invented it is not a sure thing. Some say Louis’ Lassen of the famed Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut—rivals contest. It gained national recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World’s fair. The Library of Congress declares Louis the winner of the first hamburger in 1900. The term, hamburger, originates from Hamburg, Germany. There’s lots of history on the hamburger, and who created it, but all claims aside—everyone loves a burger.

On the lighter side of burgers, one of my favorites hailed from The Good Earth. It was called a Planet Burger. It’s the only veggie burger I’ve ever loved. No matter how many burgers you have tasted, this one was without a doubt…delicious x10…x10! Cooked brown rice, chickpeas, onion, cooked red or adzuki beans, carrot, almonds, (flour or breadcrumbs work too), unsalted sunflowers seeds, fresh parsley, soy sauce, eggs and dried thyme. Cooks in about 5 minutes. Amazing.

I know, yesterday was Father’s Day and there were probably more than enough burgers to go around…but my Dad’s gone grazin’ and so I still felt the urge to grill.

This is what I call the Bikini Burger. A bunless delight of prime flavors. Mini-portions to help keep calories to a minimum.

The burger had Habanero and Jalapeno pepper bits grilled into the yummy. I served it with a quick toss of grape tomatoes, basil from the garden, a touch of salt and a splash of vinaigrette. I quickly de-seed the little gems, but leave a few for flavor, thin slice the basil, and before you can say, hamburger…its hopped on top.

Add a few fingerling potatoes. I just massage them in EVOO after a good wash and then top them with red pepper flakes and black pepper. If you like them spicy…pile on the hotties. Depending on the size, and how you like your potatoes…20 minutes should do it.

If I have leftover potatoes, as I often do…I make skinny fries the next day or breakfast hashbrowns. They are also great for cold potato salad. Keep them on the al dente side and they will re-cook and re-serve with much better results.

TIP: Eat this! and you will have a much more likely chance of feeling good in your bikini…thus the name. Keep fresh basil on hand and you will never be without some nice meal attire. If anyone asks you who invented the Bikini Burger…you will know, without a doubt, it came from me on this day in history. 6-17-2013…in my backyard, on a sunny, breezy evening—cooking by myself, for myself. Amen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dinner for Two, Wedding Bells and Beautiful Settings.

Wood handled brushed finish fork on scroll board with plate on tiger oak table
I could have spent a week styling this shot, but got so excited I just laid it out—shot the pics and started writing. The inspiration is really about falling in love with this fork. Yes, I love the others too, but I think I fondled the salad fork for about 20 minutes—feeling the weight in my hand. There was one set that was similar in design. One-third the price, but it was all metal. In the end, I chose this…because I fell in love. It is the closest thing to a paintbrush I have ever felt. Ahhh! Delicious.

Last week I wrote about chopsticks…this is a close second on being light in your hand. It’s salad fork ballet.

Then, I started thinking wow—this is great date night attire. Next it was, wow, this would make a great wedding gift…if I didn’t stop to write this, I’d still be thinking up more ideas…

So, here’s the skinny. It’s wedding time—and if you’re looking for a perfect gift…this is it! Buy two place settings. Indicate with your card that these can only be used by the couple on special occasions, or date night, and that no one else ever eats from them. They are sacred instruments to be honored.

I think it’s an amazing tradition to start…so I’m doing it…starting now. Pick whatever plates and other stuff you want to include…but remember, only two place settings!

If couples start to honor date night and special occasions as celebrations of love, sit down for a great meal and enjoy each others company—it will go a long way toward keeping the romance alive.

And, the dish ran away with the spoon…

TIP: If possible, check in with the other guests to decide who will present this gift at the reception with a toast. It’s not something that will work if more than one set is bought. Maybe this is best suited to being given by parents of the couple, or best friends. If you are not yet a couple, you can always buy them and put them in your hope chest. BTW-Crate&Barrel.

PS. This isn't the last you have seen of this set...I love it so much, I'll be showcasing it in other shots. It has already paid for itself in joy.

fork, knife, spoon of wood handled place setting on table on plate

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Herbs & Spice make Nice

Art of Herbs/Spices and other ingredients with bowl and brush on cutting board surface
Play with your food.

Using outdated herbs, spices and other ingredients to craft some beautiful, great smelling art is fun. Whether you’re a grown up or kid who loves art—here is a sample of what you can do with a few of your leftovers. We all know the deep staining power of mustard, ketchup, wine, berry juice, coffee, tea, tomato-based sauces and chocolate—with a little imagination, you can turn these into wonderful art supplies straight from your kitchen or pantry.

This one is very simple. Using a small, store-bought, card-back canvas and painting with one of my good fan brushes, it took just a few minutes—and it smells great. In their natural state, these can even be used as table decorations to set the tone of the meal event. You might even try decorating the rim of a high quality paper plate with your ingredients. It’s a great way to theme your picnic.

Once I did the original, I photographed it and then did a little digital transformation.
In one of my earlier blog posts I talked about the amazing things you can do with your digital art…lamination is another way to preserve your food art images and will make it water-proof. Mod Podge® is an alternative medium to hold it together—offering matte, satin, high-gloss, hard coat, fabric, paper, outdoor, sparkle, glow-in-the-dark, brushstroke, kids wash out and antique versions. If desired, finish with a clear acrylic spray.

My mind is now whirling with new ideas. Hope this adds a little inspiration to your day and helps you re-purpose what could have found its way to the trash.

TIP: Try a number of different surfaces to see what works best for you.
The more porous the surface, the darker the stain. If you are dying fabric,
test a swatch to get the desired color. Using light plastic or rubber gloves
and wearing a smock is advised…or you will be Googling ten worst food
stains and how to get them out.

Cutting board with herb and spice ingredients and brush as food art

Monday, June 10, 2013

Big Brands that Stand the Test of Time

Bob's Big Boy Mascot West Coast Version at Capitola Car Show in California
My specialization is branding for top-tier food and beverage brands. I’ve named products, companies and services in most categories, but food is my favorite arena.

Building a food brand with iconic status, including a mascot character, has always felt friendlier by nature. It greets you and adds valuable engagement with the brand. One of my favorites is Big Boy.

I grew up when eating out was a special treat, not an every day thing. Our meals were home centered and traditional, so getting a burger out was quite special.

Going to the Mainliner Frisch’s Big Boy in Cincinnati was fun. It was a drive-in restaurant where we would all pile into the station wagon and enjoy a family meal in the car. A Big Boy with fries and a chocolate shake. Wow, what delicious fun for all. 

How did the name Big Boy® come in to being?  Bob’s Big Boy, Home of the Original Double Decker was born in 1936. Bob Wian had dreams of buying a hamburger stand in Glendale, California and had to sell his prized DeSoto Roadster to do it. The first name was Bob’s Pantry…but not for long.

A year later, a customer asked for something new. Being a regular, Bob got busy with his new creation and the double-decker burger was on its way to being famous.

One young boy who helped Bob clean up around the restaurant wore droopy overalls. This chubby six year old would get a free hamburger in exchange for his work—but who would know that in honor of him, a mascot would be created. Bob Wian was lucky enough to have another regular customer (a movie studio animator) sketch this happy character on a napkin and create one of the most famous burger icons in history.

The Big Boy came to life one day when Wian, trying to come up with a name, greeted his friend with, “Hello, Big Boy” struck a chord, and the Big Boy name was born. The character has gone through a few changes over the years. There are East Coast and West Coast versions of the Big Boy mascot. The one pictured is the West Coast version. The East Coast version, created for Dave Frisch, is slimmer with a side cap and the Big Boy in a skipping posture.

Today, Big Boy is Big Boy Restaurants International LLC. Big Boy International and Frisch's now are co-registrants of the Big Boy® name and trademark but have no other affiliation.

TIP: If you want a make it at home, Big Boy of your own…Frisch’s Tartar Sauce is one of the best of the best. You can order it by calling (513) 761-1242 or by writing or visit

Photo taken at The Capitola Car Show in Capitola, California

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Downside to Knowing or Being a Great Chef

Too Much of a Good Thing?
Chef art abstract Special Chef's
Once you have an appetite for excellence, very little else satisfies. Even if it’s something as simple as tater tots, you expect them to be crispy and browned to perfection. Sauces must be silky, meats sensationally seared, poultry and fish, super moist with excellent mouth feel, salads lightly dressed, fresh and crunchy. If it’s deep-fried, never battered too heavily or greasy. Pasta al dente. Always fresh herbs and spices...Does this make me a picky eater?

I ate out three times this week and on one occasion the med-rare was seriously burned to black char on the edges and it was a very tough rib-eye. Not wanting to send it back and wait for a new meal, I endured it.

If you live with a chef, or are a chef yourself, it’s even harder to appreciate a meal out. You know a great meal because you have made so many yourself and you have high expectations going in. Great Chef's always grace your plate with amazing. Once, I even cried tasting the nuance of every ingredient in some Osso Buco—my whole body relaxed into the sensation of delicious. It melted in my mouth and was an epiphany of flavor like I had never tasted. It was an awe inspiring event.

Almost every restaurant has a Chef’s Special, but it’s not often that you hear about Special Chef’s that cook to perfection both at work and at home. After long days and nights at a restaurant, they still come home and cook beautiful meals. They shop for the best in-season ingredients, and make eating a soulful blessing.

I admit, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing…making a meal out a disappointment.  Even the best restaurants can have off days—not the norm, but it does happen. When I cook at home, I have about a 95% success rate at making it great, and when I do fail—I know why…I stepped away for a minute too long, lost my focus, or experimented with an ingredient that was not to my liking.

My exposure to wonderful food and Chef's has shaped my worldview, and there's no going back...I do try to be forgiving when a meal goes wrong, but please, if you don’t know how to grill a steak…get out of the kitchen.

To all of you Chef’s out there who make special one of your ingredients…thank you.

TIP: Kiss the Chef at home and if possible, talk to your restaurant Chef and tell them how much you appreciate all they do.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Get your Peach On

Trio of peaches on wood table with basket weave tray Summer shows one of its most delicious fruits starting now. Peaches add sweetness to your day with their amazing, juicy flavor. Filled with vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber and potassium, it’s a good nutritional boost—but it’s their unmistakable fragrance that is especially divine.

Recipes that use peaches are abundant—pies, cakes, crisps, puddings, tarts, jams, salsas, dumplings, cobblers, ice cream, beverages, salads…you can even grill them. While all of these are wonderful tributes to this summer belle, the best way to enjoy a peach is all by itself.

You only have a few months to get your peach on, so start now.

History note: Giving a peach is a sign of friendship and also a symbol of hope and longevity.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Fine Art of Chopsticks

Slow down your eating chop-chop.

Lotus plate with chopsticks and rest on wood round serving platter
Originating in China as early as 1766-1122 BCE, chopsticks are now used around the world.

Learn the fine art of using chopsticks and cut back on calories at the same time.

Using chopsticks is the simplest way to portion your intake and slow down your eating. More graceful than a fork or spoon—chopsticks provide ample surface to gather food in smaller bites, making it easier for you to consume less.

It shows a more prayerful reverence for the food. You will notice each bite and interact with it more than with other utensils. Think of it as Zen for your taste buds.

Americans—Teach your children to use chopsticks early in life and you will help them become more mindful of their eating.

TIP: Break tradition. Chopsticks are not just for Asian cuisine. You can use them with any food you like.

Here’s a great quote to encourage your kids toward chopsticks.

“Man who catch fly with chopstick capable of anything”

—The Karate Kid

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grill Stories

Propane level gauge Quick fix when your grill gives you the cold shoulder...midway.

Everything is ready—steaks are on, you’re all set for a great dinner with friends—uh oh…you forgot to check the propane level. Everything goes cold.

What to do? Let the steak sit for a few minutes to keep the juices in. Next, get to chopping. Cut the steak in to tiny cubes. Heat up your skillet to finish cooking the meat—it already has a nice sear & grill marks, so this is a quick step. Add in some diced red peppers, jalapeƱo and serrano chile to taste. Finally, add in salsa. Fresh is best, but a good jar sauce will do in a pinch.

Now you can relax! You’ve saved the day. Take this delicious mix and tuck it into a quesadilla, or top a salad for the quickest fix.

If you have leftovers—make ranchero steak and egg omelets, yummy steak on bruschetta topped with a little cheese, or freeze it and add to your next batch of soup.

Tip: If you want to avoid your grill giving you the cold shoulder…always check your propane levels before grilling.