Author Archives: Carey

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Nolan.  Many of you already know who he is, others of you will only recognize this button that has resided on my sidebar for 3 years.

NolanLink

Until today. Today I'm taking the button off my site because....

NOLAN KICKED CANCER IN THE JELLY BEANS!

This video tells the story way better than I could.
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/63340975 w=403&h=227]

Watching that video just now was not so easy for me.  Those were hard, hard days in the beginning.  Cancer touched us all in a new way. Nolan was still a toddler when he was diagnosed with leukemia 3 years ago.  After 3 grueling years of chemotherapy, steroids, blood tests, house arrest (usually on the holidays), infusions, spinal taps and so, so much more, he is finally done with the chemotherapy treatments! He no longer has leukemia and he is free to go on and live life to the fullest.

I couldn't be more proud of his parents who have weathered this storm with bravery and grace.  And I couldn't be more proud of Nolan.  You are the real super-hero buddy!

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side pork raw original

I'm not sure that "sprinkle with salt & pepper; broil for 10-15 minutes" qualifies as a recipe but I really, really wanted to share this favorite food with you today.  I was shocked (shocked I tell you!) to discover how many people have never heard of this product after I put a picture of it up on my Instagram feed.

side pork raw

Everyone assumed it was bacon because, well, it does look an awful lot like thick cut bacon.  But it's not bacon. Close but no cigar.

There were some other great guesses:

  • duck belly (which sounds wonderful!)
  • pancetta
  • Serrano ham (which was also in the fridge)
  • fat back
  • raccoon (that is a story for another day)

We had this about once per week growing up and there was never enough because everyone loved it.  Hot, meaty, salty, a little crunchy...

side pork cooked final

... It's called Side Pork!

Yes, it looks just like bacon but there are some distinct differences.  I will share:

First of all, Side Pork is not cured.  It is raw as raw can be which is why you need to generously salt it before cooking.  No curing means no nitrates, yippeee!

Secondly, Side Pork is from a little further up the side of the pig than bacon.  Bacon is closer to the belly where all the fat is.  Side Pork does have fat on it but certainly less than bacon, especially after it renders down.  Side Pork is much meatier than bacon which makes it a perfect, protein-packed breakfast food.  I have been known to eat it for dinner as well.

side pork rinds

Lastly, Side Pork has a sort of...rind.  I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's the skin of the piggie, the part that you would normally use to make crack'lins or chicharron.  For me, this is what Side Pork is all about because after it cooks in the oven, it gets all curly and crispy and toasted.  Some parts of the rind also get sorta chewy. It will be the last part you eat and you will chew on it for a while.  I'm not gonna lie, it can be tough and rubbery. Kind of like pork-flavored chewing gum.  But I grew up gnawing on those skinny rinds so it doesn't seem weird to me, I suppose just like Spam is normal to some people. You will either love it or hate it.  If you hate it, just don't eat it or you can cut it off before cooking.

Side Pork can be hard to find.  Once I asked one of the youngsters at the meat counter of my local supermarket if they had any Side Pork and he pointed me to the "fat back" next to the bacon.  I didn't know whether to correct him or pat him on the head & pinch his cheeks.  Kids today!

If you have a reliable, experienced butcher he can order Side Pork for you and may even have some in stock.  My Uncle P. (you also know him as Uncle Farmer's Market) has a butcher that orders it for him.  A couple weeks ago he paid $2.99/lb for it.  I'm a little embarrassed to tell you that I don't know how that price compares to bacon but I just don't buy bacon that often so... maybe you can tell me.

If given the choice, I prefer it cut thinner rather than thicker.  Certainly no thicker than thick-cut bacon.  I like it on the thinner side because I feel that the fat renders out a little better.  But don't get me wrong... I'll eat it thick, thin or anywhere in between.

Once you find some Side Pork, cooking it is pretty simple.  Generously salt both sides with salt and a little pepper.  Place it on a baking sheet lined with foil or broiler pan and broil for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness).  It needs to get well browned so that the fat melts out and the rind curls up and gets dark in some spots.  Flip it over and let the other side get a little toasty as well, about 2 minutes.  Place the cooked Side Pork on paper towel to drain off any extra fat and serve hot.

I hope you can find some Side Pork and give it a try!

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It feels a little strange to be back here, I haven't written a real post in... well, a really long time.  I did not intend to take an extended break from the blog, but then life happened.  A lot of little things all added up to weeks and weeks away from the computer.

But I'm back! Ish.  Here is how it all played out:

First was the infamous knee surgery.  (if you are squeemish, you might want to scroll by this one quickly)

knee surgery II

Back in 2008 my ACL was replaced but my knee never really recovered.  We tried physical therapy, shots, creams, meds; nothings seemed to help.  So my doctor determined that my body was rejecting the metal hardware that was installed to keep the new ACL in place.  Since the bone had grown over the graft, making it secure, the hardware was no longer needed.  While taking out the hardware (pictured above), he would look around and see if he could find any other problems.  It turns out, missing cartilage was the other problem.  I still don't fully understand what he did to fix the cartilage but he did...something painful.

photo 4

Logically, I knew it was going to be a tough recovery but for some strange reason I thought I would be up to writing right away.  Not so.  The pain killers left me barely grasping at reality for about  a week and not long after I went back to work.  I feel as though I've been playing catch-up ever since.  The meds also tore up my stomach and left me with no appetite.  That means, no cooking.  No real cooking for over a month.  A whole bunch of pro-biotics later, I'm finally eating real food again.

The good news is that my knee gets a little better every week.  Next week I should be cleared to begin physical therapy, which I'm both excited for and dreading at the same time.

Next came my much anticipated vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  It was my first time in South Carolina and while I didn't find much of interest in Myrtle Beach, the day we spent in Charleston was so much fun.  I loved strolling those historical streets and looking at buildings that were part of the very birth of our nation.2f8421f2972b11e2bf2722000a1fbc66_7

shacks

We also visited the Boone plantation just outside of Charleston.  It was so fascinating and so disturbing all at once.  One of the most eye-opening spots on the plantation is a row of small wooden cabins where the "elite" slaves of the plantation lived.  In each building was a tv monitor that told a different story of slavery: how many slaves lived per building, their religious practices, their work, their eventual emancipation. It's such an ugly part of our history but so important that we do not forget so that we never repeat it.

photo 1

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When I got back home to Northern California, it was time to celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ.  We spent a whole glorious day eating great food, lounging on the porch, spending time together as a family.  It was a beautiful, beautiful day.

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Tonight was my first trek back into the kitchen, mostly prepping some veggies for the next week.  But it's a start.

 

The 1/8th of Irish in me (thanks to Grandpa Patterson!) wishes you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's been a crazy, crazy week. So instead of leaving you hanging on our regular Friday Recipe article, I'm reposting an older (short) one that you may have missed! Have a great weekend!!

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Food & Wine Magazine

I just got back into town and I couldn't wait to get this week's Friday Recipe posted.  It doesn't matter the time of year, I'm ready to eat pasta.  This recipe from Food & Wine Magazine is chock full of spinach which is so good for you but also luscious ricotta and creamy fontina which makes it xtra yummy.  Use the rigatoni or any other favorite pasta shape.  Just follow the link to get the full recipe.

Have a happy, relaxing weekend everyone!

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12lemon ricotta oil title

Like you didn't see that one coming, right?

Obviously I was going to use my own new recipe for our Friday Recipe even though I kinda-sorta shared it with you already on Tuesday because:

1.  My knee has recovered enough that I can drive and walk reasonably well, so I've been running all sorts of errands this week and didn't have time to come up with a different recipe.

2.  It's a really good recipe.  Really.  And I don't want my readers to miss it.

2lemon ricotta prep

4lemon ricotta ready

This recipe comes together in the food processor and has a short list of ingredients.

5lemon ricotta prep dish

There is just a teensy bit of butter involved. Or you can omit the butter and just use olive oil.  I'm flexible like that.

11lemon ricotta finished muffin

I ate the leftovers for breakfast.  This recipe is good hot out of the oven or later after it's cooled off a bit.

I have updated this post with the full recipe below or you can visit this post over at The Ranting Chef.

LEMON-DILL BAKED RICOTTA

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup cream cheese

1 small to medium garlic clove, chopped

1 loose Tablespoon chopped dill

1 green onion, green and white parts

Zest of one lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon

Olive oil to drizzle, about 2 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 375⁰.  In the bowl of a small food processor combine the ricotta, cream cheese, garlic, dill, green onion, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pulse for about 1 minute.

Transfer mixture to an 8 oz. ramekin that has been lightly greased with butter.  Place the ramekin on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until mixture begins to lightly brown on the top and along the edges.

Serve warm with pita chips, crostini or English muffins.

 

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300rectangle

I am a member at Influence Network, a site dedicated to bringing bloggers, writers and dreamers together under the umbrella of dedicating our lives to making our online lives mean something.  We encourage each other, equip ourselves with articles and classes and share, share, share.

Today the Influence Network is hosting a linkup where we all share a bit about ourselves and get to know each other (and our sites) better.  We each must post 3 things:

1. A photo of yourself that you love. We want to put a face with a name! 

2.  Three get-to-know-me things. Deep, quirky, fun - you pick. 

3. One valuable thing you've gained from the Network. So without further ado, let's get to the questions:

1. A photo of me that I love- no woman over 30 likes to either post pictures of herself or say that she likes a photo of herself,  talk about pushing us out of our comfort zone!  I'm usually the one behind the camera so I don't have a ton of recent pictures of myself but if I had to pick my favorite from the past year it would be this one: colorrun2012

It's kind of cheating because the real reason this is my favorite picture is because it's of my nephew Jake at the Color Run.  But it's a decent photo of me, paint and all.  And it is a great memory.

2.  Three get-to-know-me-things:  OK, where to start....

  • I am a 4th degree black belt (Yon-Dan) in Shotokan Karate-do.  At one time (a very long time ago) I was 3rd in the nation in my weight division in sparring and was invited to compete at the Pan American Games in Peru for the United States Karate Team.  Yup, that's true.

karate

  • The next thing you should know about me is... and most of my readers know this already... I think God put squirrels on this planet just to make me laugh.  Show me a squirrel and I will laugh.

Source: Alexa on Pinterest

  • Lastly, you should know that I love to cook and share a lot of that cookery here on my site.  Every Friday (OK, most Fridays) are dedicated to sharing a recipe, either my own or someone else's.  If you have a recipe to share, I would love to include it on a future Friday Recipe post!

3. One valuable thing I've gained from the Influence Network:   We all have a dream, big or small, and we (members of The Influence Network) are doing our best to frame those dreams within the idea that our online life should glorify the God that created us.  It shouldn't be this way, but it takes a lot of guts to admit that you have a dream, and at The Influence Network we have the space and safety to talk about those dreams and even receive insight from other dreamers. We are trusting God with our dreams and encouraging each other along the way.

So that's my input on this linkup, I can't wait to get to see the other gals and their answers!  If you would like to see the other bloggers in this linkup or learn more about The Influence Network, hop on over to The Influence Blog!

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1lemon dill baked ricotta title

Oh my gosh I'm so excited I can't stand it!  I have had something in the works, a little something up my sleeve but I was keeping it a secret... well because I had to. I thought it was going to "launch" tomorrow but I came home from dinner tonight and noticed the traffic on my site was waaaay up.  Guess what?!  It happened today so now I can share it with you!!

Today I have the privilege of being a guest poster over at the amazing site The Ranting Chef!!

The Ranting Chef (Pat), has a site that is chock-full of inspiring recipes, helpful tips and fun community of food writers and people who just like to eat!  One of my favorite things about The Ranting Chef is that you can search his recipes by ingredient...brilliant!  Please, please pop on over to Pat's site and check it out, I promise you won't be disappointed!!

You can click here to jump to my recipe that is featured today: Lemon Dill Baked Ricotta

4lemon ricotta ready

I'm really proud of this recipe, I put months and months of thought into the flavor combos, using Bree & LeiLani as my taste-testers.  This Lemon-Dill Baked Ricotta dip comes together in a flash, is cheap to make and is very versatile.

12lemon ricotta oil title

I just know you will love this recipe as much as I do, please jump over to The Ranting Chef and give it a shot!  Oh, and let me know how you like it!!

lemon dill baked ricotta title long lemon ricotta oil title long

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my acl hardware

It's been a while since we had a heart-to-heart so let's catch up!

Currently I am recovering from my 7th surgery in 9 years.  This last surgery (ohhh, please be THE LAST) was to remove the titanium hardware from my knee that was used to attach my new ACL in surgery #6.  The hardware you see in the above photo is not leftover from an Ikea cabinet, it's what came out of my knee! I am in awe and completely baffled as to how all that fit inside my little knee.

fruyo-vanilla

I have found a new yogurt obsession!  You know how much I love my Fage Plain Greek Style yogurt (with honey), it's by far, in my most humble opinion, the best Greek yogurt on the market.  Well.... now they are selling it in prepared flavors like vanilla, cherry & peach!  Same velvety, thick texture, now with delicious flavorings already mixed in.  They call it "Fruyo" and since it's so new it can be hard.  Try Whole Foods, that's where I found it!

DowntonAbbey

I just  have to get this off my chest, and don't worry I won't put out any spoilers in case some of you are not completely caught up on the season finale of Downton Abbey but JULIAN FELLOWS SHOULD BE HORSE WHIPPED!  There, I said it.  I feel better now. (Julian Fellows is the writer of the show, and he's not my favorite person right now.)

quartet

And speaking of Dame Maggie Smith (Downton's Dowager Countess Violet Crawley of Grantham) my cousin and I went to see her in the movie "Quartet", directed by Dustin Hoffman and it was truly delightful!  The cast is packed with silver screen and stage veterans (Dame Maggie, Michael Gambon, Billy Connoly)  and the script is funny but will touch your heart at the same time.  I'm excited for it to come to DVD this spring so I can watch it again.

divergent

One of the few perks to lying around waiting for the swelling in your knee to go down is you get a ton of reading done.  I finished off the book Divergent by Veronica Roth and I have to tell you, I kinda liked it.  If you liked the Hunger Games and are looking for something similar, this is a good option.  I can't say I was quite as engrossed as I was in the Hunger Games, but the plot puts forth some good food for thought.  I liked it enough to order the 2nd book in the series.

heirloom tomatoes

The sun has been peeking out here and there and the days are beginning to warm up, finally.  That has me thinking about the vegetable garden.  Tomatoes are definitely going to be on the list.  And of course my annual forest of basil.  I still have a few cups of last summer's homemade pesto in the freezer, that's how much basil I was able to get from my plants last year.

So that's what has been on my mind the past few days, sitting around, waiting for this leg to get better.  What's been on your mind?

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thai coconut soup
from Epicurious.com

It all started with a birthday celebration and Voxer.

6 girlfriends and I went to a local Italian restaurant for Spaghetti Night and to celebrate some recent birthdays.  This group of gals could not be a more mixed bag: some married, some single; some with kids, some with no kids; ages ranging from early 30's to 60's.  Some have known each other since birth, some are new to the group.  But we are all friends.  We care about each other.  We do life together.

We had a great time celebrating and eating heartily (no one in this group is bashful about eating) then we hopped in our cars, drove away to our 7 different homes and went to bed.

And then the next day something strange and beautiful happened.

Bright and early the next day, I heard my phone buzzing, messages coming in on Voxer (an app that is like walkie-talkie meets voicemail).  But I was at work and I didn't have time to stop.  It seemed every 10 or 15 minutes my phone was alerting me to a new message!  Later in the morning I had a few moments and I listened to the thread of messages from all 6 of my friends and it went something like this (paraphrasing for the sake of time):

(Friend 1) Thank you everyone for coming out last night, I loved spending an evening with all of you, eating and being loud.

(Friend 2) Yes, thank you everyone, it was amazing to spend time with you all.  Let's do it again on St. Patrick's Day!

(Friend 3) I want to second that, I had so much fun with you all.  Send pictures!

(Friend 4) Amen, all my favorite girls in one place!  Will have to do a Shamrock Day just to have an excuse to get together again!

(Friend 5) Thank you all for such a wonderful night, I had such a good time laughing with you. Thank you for reminding me how beautiful life is.

Here's what I forgot to tell you about this group of gals: every single one of us is going through something.  Big things, little things. Life things.  And although we spent a good amount of time laughing and celebrating the night before, we also shared the challenges and heartaches we were dealing with that week.  That day.

So the Voxer conversation took a turn later in the morning that went like this:

(Friend 3) Friend 5, I went to bed with you on my mind and woke up with you on my mind.  I'm praying for you today!

(Friend 4)  Amen, I'm praying for all of you!

(Friend 6) Can someone pray for me, I've been sick for a month and now I've thrown my back out!

So we spent the next few hours sending each other words of encouragement and prayer.

Then out of the blue, the subject of soup came up:

(Friend 4) I know what will make you feel better Friend 6, my Thai Coconut Soup that you love so much.

(Friend 1) Umm... I really like your Thai Coconut Soup too!

(Friend 3) Yeah, I've been feeling under the weather.... I need some healing soup....

(Me) I don't think I've ever had this soup....

(Friend 5) I like soup too!!

So Friend Number 4 did something completely and totally selfless: she volunteered to make a vat of Thai Coconut Soup for all of us to share.  She packaged it up individually and all we had to do was show up at her house and pick it up.

And we did.Every single girl drove over to her house to receive her gift of soup.  And while we ate her Thai Coconut Soup later that day we knew we were loved, that we were not alone in this mean world.

I know I've shared this with you before, but I'm going to share it again today and I'll go on sharing it every time I feel like I should. Jesus made a big deal out of feeding people.  There is a connection between nourishing someone's body and nourishing someone's soul.  It's such a small act, but conveys so much.

I hope you all have a support group as amazing as mine.  I hope you have people in your life who will make soup for you when they find out you are sick.  If not, you just let me know.

Here is the link to the recipe on Epicurious for Thai Chicken Coconut Soup.  This is not the exact recipe that Friend 4 used but I think it's pretty close.

Maybe you can make a little extra and share it with someone this weekend.