i am taking the rest of July off from writing here. Time to relax, unwind, and release
The other day a friend asked me why I was not a professional chef since I love cooking. I love cooking, but those I know who aspire to be part of the culinary world professionally, live, eat and sleep food and that I do not do. I love cooking for friends because I love my friends and family, but I do not have visions of plates and how food is arranged on them. It is not something I dream about, feel that passionate about, or feel called to do.
On the other hand, I love being an Independent Consultant for Pampered Chef. It provides me with opportunities to interact with people and have made some great friendships because of it. No longer being able to freely leave my house has limited my ability to do so, so Pampered Chef has been my lifeline. It has also been a way for me to earn an additional stream of income and who can’t use a side gig that comes with flexible hours. I also get to share what I have come to learn about cooking with others. So I get to do mini culinary instruction, but only because of all the amazing skills I have learned from Pampered Chef.Read More
Zoe and I do not even an own a television anymore, so I get my cooking show addiction by watching shows and/or excerpts on YouTube. The other night I was watching a two part episode of Master Chef where Gordon Ramsey was teaching how to make a tarte tartin, which reminds me of Pampered Chef’s Upside Carmelized Banana Skillet Cake, but with a pie crust instead of a cake top. The second part of the episode was the home chefs making one, knowing that the worst one was the one would be eliminated.
There were more than a few that just looking at them, did not look edible or up to par. After going through them all, the judges were down to the bottom three. Fred was pretty sure he would be sent home. Sam was feeling the same and Evan knew his was amazing even though he was in the bottom three. If someone had asked me who I wanted them to send home, I would have said Evan. Why? Because there is something to be said for humility and being open to learn.
As a teacher, I am far more willing to work with with someone who is honest, has integrity, but is seeking to learn then those who think I have nothing to teach them and I am just a bad teacher who is not seeing their shear brilliance. For me Evan, was that latter student. Even as he walked out, it was about how awesome he was.
In order for one to gain new skills, one has to be open to learn. You have to be open to being a student and expanding your skill base. Whether it is associated with cooking or something else, being humble and recognizing you do not know it all is an important skill. The other day I was watching an interview with Marco Pierre White, who mentored Gordon Ramsey, where he talked about how he is ever learning and evolving in his cooking. Whether one is a home cook or a professional chef, if you are not willing to learn and grow, your cooking will remain the same.
When I was younger, I thought of pureed foods as baby foods and food for the elderly. Now I look at them and see them as smooth and luxurious. I have tried making them before but they never look like they do on the cooking shows. Imagine that. LOL. When I see them on cooking shows, they look so smooth and luxurious and I can only imagine how good they taste and feel. As I have been reading about and listening to chefs talk about them, I have been struck by a couple of simple steps which make all the difference.
One is to begin by peelings and/or washing your produce. This made me laugh, as this month the Pampered Chef guest special is your choice of serrated or vegetable peeler. Having a good vegetable and/or serrated peeler can be invaluable. I love serrated peelers for fruits and vegetables with hard to remove skins like kiwi, peaches, tomatoes, mangoes, etc. Having the right tools to begin is important.
The second step I learned is to steam your produce for 12-15 minutes. The best purees are from fruits and vegetables that soften as you cook them. Having a steamer insert for your pot is important. You can cook them without a steamer; however, the steamer makes it easier to get the produce in and out of the water.Read More
There are some things that every home cook, and chef, should know about and that is seasoning. For those of you who are new to my blog, there are two things you will learn. One is that I am a food show junkie. The other is that for me everything has a lesson about living life in a more spiritual and loving way. Seasoning my food is just one more lesson in my life.
Amongst my favorite shows, which I now watch on YouTube are MasterChef, Chopped, and MasterChef Professional for various reasons. One thing they have all taught me is the importance of seasoning every level. You don’t just season the breading on fried chicken, you season the chicken as well. As Gordon Ramsey let Season 10 contestants know you season the ground beef before you make the burgers as well as on the outside. Don’t over salt your burgers though because there is salt in the cheese as well, if you are having cheese on your burger. The key lesson is to season inside and out.Read More
I am not sure why I have been mindful that no two people are the same. As you get to know us, you become aware of our personalities, what we like, don’t like, how we behave, what we believe, and so much more about us as human beings. I was struck this week while watching food shows on youtube about how important it is to get to know the food you are cooking with. (Yes, I am a food show junkie).
I am not sure how many times I needed to hear the message before I got it. It started with the judges on Chopped stressing how important it is to taste all the ingredients. That I understood. However, then while watching an episode of MasterChef season 10 for the 3rd time I heard the passion with which Joe Bastianich spoke to a contestant about not making a test sample of a scallop as not all have the same level of sweetness to them. He pointed out those who made test samples and those who did not. Later I was watching Bobby flay make a breakfast omelet and he spoke about jalapenos and not all are equally spicy. He spoke about the importance of testing one to see how spicy it was. Knowing the spice level would help you to know how much to add to the recipe.Read More
We are all busy.
we all have lives.
but we should never be to busy
to stop and talk
as we share a meal.
It is time to
turn off the technology and
be present with those we love.
We need to take time to sit, talk
and create memories
as we share a meal
Sharing a meal
is more than just eating the same food.
It is about sharing time
with each other,
with each other and
honoring each other’s lives
Usually when we talk about creating mealtime memories, it is about in the present to carry us forward. However, for me this last week I have been mindful of the memories I carry with me from friends and family members who have passed away. My mother, for example, was not the best of cooks, but she was an amazing baker and the smell of cinnamon reminds me of her rugelach and I can feel her presence with me whenever I make them. Sometimes I wake up and I can smell them baking in the oven even though there is nothing there.
Every year on her birthday, my friend Laura would ask me to make my lasagna and orange brownies. That is all she ever wanted for her birthday. I can not make either of those dishes without thinking about her and my heart is filled with memories of our time together and the love I still hold for her. I also remember the look on her face as she savored every bite and had this glow of glee when I told her I would pack up the leftovers for her to bring home. I know she savored those leftovers and waited in anticipation for her next birthday. It was the last meal I made for her before she died. I am so grateful for the joy it bought her during a dark time in her life.Read More
I seem to have stumped quite a few of my friends with a simple, or what I thought was a simple question. What food do you consider spiritual? I asked my wife and she looked at me like I had three heads. It wasn’t anything she had every thought of before. Made me wonder how many of us think about our food as spiritual. Are there foods we think of as more spiritual than others?
If we thought about our food as spiritual, would we select it differently? Would we prepare it differently? Would we ingest it differently? If we thought about the sacrifices made by that which we eat, would we think about it differently? Would we make different choices in what we eat or where our food came from?
As I thought about these questions today, I found myself thinking about some of the changes I have made in my life recently. They may have been for health reasons, but they were also spiritual. So my reflection today, is not long, but here to challenge you to think about what you eat, how you eat it, where it comes from, how you prepare it and to recognize that everything we eat or drink is a gift that others have given so we may eat and drink what is before us. How does that change the way you think for yourself?
The next ten days are grading frenzy for me. This is the time when I have more on my plate then I feel as if I can handle. In the past, I have burnt the candles at both ends and did not take the time I needed to sleep, eat properly, do my physical therapy or take care of myself as I should have. This semester, I have decided to do all these things out of an expression of self-respect for myself and for my relationship with my Higher Power.
How can I say I honor myself and the Divine if I am not taking care of myself or the one who dwells within me. This semester I have decided to take a moment to plan out meals to eat which are quick and easy to prepare, that I can prep once and dine multiple times, and that are easy enough for Zoe to reheat when she is hungry. I have budgeted time in for my exercises and physical therapy. I have given myself permission to take power naps when I need to.Read More
Maybe its because Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching or that a picture of my mom appeared in my Facebook memories page, or that we have been talking about mom memories as Pampered Chef consultants, or all of the above that has me thinking about my mom and the lessons she taught me in the kitchen. Even though my mom passed away in 2001, the memories live with me. There are days I can even smell the memories coming out of my oven, even thought it is not on.
My mother was an amazing baker, but necessarily the best cook. However, one thing she taught me was to skim off the scum from the top when making chicken broth. She would tell me the scum would rise to the top and I needed to skim it off. What needs to be removed will let you know it does not belong here. So I would always skim it off. She told me mixing it back in would give a bitter taste to the soup because I was not listening to the soup telling me what needed to be removed. This process continues to teach me to listen to how God speaks to me about who and what needs to be removed from my life.Read More
Jess S. Scott, in his book The Intern wrote, “When somebody loves you, the way they talk about you is different. You feel safe and comfortable.” I used this quote earlier this week as our thought for the day. We all know what it feels like to feel loved. For me it is like being wrapped in a blanket where I feel the warmth, safety and comfort of those who love me.
I could edit this quote a bit and say “When somebody loves you, the way they cook for you is different. You taste the love and the positive energy.” You may be able to think of a meal or a person whose food you can taste the love in. For my friend Tom, it is my Smac n Cheese. He and his wife drive 90 minutes each way for him to eat this. The look on his face while he is doing so is priceless. He consistently tells me he can taste the love. I am so glad because I do think about how much I love him when I make it for him. My friend Laura, who is no longer with us, would always request a tray of lasagna and a tray of orange brownies for her birthday. I would think of her and how much I love her as I made it and I would always be rewarded by that look and the smile and the joy that radiated from her as she slowly savored each and every bite. She would then take the leftovers home and savor them and make them last as long as possible.
I was at a vending event once and a woman told me how she hated chocolate chip cookies and then she tasted mine. She was floored. She asked me what my secret ingredient is and I very humbly told her love. We are not always conscious of how love and the positive energy we carry with us while we are cooking changes the way we cook and the way the food tastes.
A friend of mine shared a story with me about a time he was cooking dinner for his family. It was a dish he had made hundreds of times. However, this time he was not thinking about his family and how much he loved them. Rather he was thinking about all the things on his to do list and the frustrating day he had experienced at work. As he shared nothing came out right. His mother asked him if he had a bad day. She could taste it in the food.
It is not about the complexity of what you are making, but the love and attention you pour into whatever you are making. So as you prepare to make your next meal for yourself or others, fill yourself with love and then start cooking.
It has been years since we had a television and the only thing I miss is my cooking shows. Go figure. I especially love it when you can see someone grow, take a risk, push themselves, or step forward with integrity. One of the shows I enjoy watching on YouTube is Master Chef. While I prefer the other countries over the US version most episodes, I have been struck by two episodes of Master Chef US where the judges gave those who had the least successful dishes the opportunity to act from a place of integrity.
I can only begin to imagine the pressure contestants on cooking shows are under. To want to stay in a competition which will give you additional training and mentoring as you begin to move into a new career is important. To then voluntarily leave, knowing it is the right thing to do, takes courage, integrity, and honesty. I appreciated in the two episodes I saw this happen how the judges gave the home chefs the opportunity to leave on their own. As you watched the contestants you could see the struggle within them. You could see the battle between wanting to stay and grow and knowing your opponent deserved to be the one to stay more than you.Read More
In our family, anything that can be done in one dish and in less than 30 minutes wins. So when I was debating over one of several zucchini recipes or the Zesty Ravioli Skillet, Zoe voted for the Zesty Ravioli Skillet. She has been craving Italian and Mexican foods lately, so this was perfect and it met one of my criteria – it has green vegetables (spinach). It is only fitting that the Z in my life got to pick the Z recipe for this last blog of the alphabet.
I loved this recipe because it gave me an opportunity to use my new Stainless Steel Nonstick Wok in a dish that is not a stir fry. Italian and stir fry make an interesting combination to think about. It is like when we first began dating. Zoe had no idea what a mustard seed was, never mind where to find one. We had so little in common, but 18 years later we have come to realize that sometimes differences can create something amazing. Think about some of your favorite pairings. At one point many of them were considered strange. Like peanut butter and chocolate, bacon and maple syrup, bacon and chocolate, or my personal favorite habanero’s and chocolate. So maybe I am still on the strange pairing list. LOL
I have known I can cook pasta in fluids like water and broth, but this will be my first time to cook ravioli in the juices of the diced tomato’s. I can only imagine how much of the tomato flavor is going to get absorbed into the pasta as it cooks in the pan. It reminds me of how we absorb so much of the energy and ideas we have from other people. I would like to think that those who soak me up are absorbing love, light, and positive energy.
I love this recipe for a few reasons. It is simple, yummy, and balanced. Even though I work at home, I do not always have or take the time to make a well-balanced breakfast. What I love is that in just a few minutes I can grab some of the granola I premade, some berries out of the refrigerator and some Greek Yogurt and I have a great breakfast filled with protein and fiber, I can eat while I am working and sipping my morning cup of coffee.
The other thing I like about this is that with the Make and Take Snack Jar I have portion control at breakfast, which is one of those skills I need to work on in my life. I also have a balance of protein and fiber and I do not need to worry about what is really in my granola a I made it myself.
Making my own parfaits reminds me to maintain balance in my life, to make time for what is important, and not take on more than I need in my life. If you want to make these, here is the link https://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/sharonjacobson/recipe/Appetizers+%26+Snacks/Healthy/Yogurt+%26+Granola+Parfait/1113008 and you can find the Make and Take Snack Jars at https://pamperedchef.biz/sharonjacobson
Growing up pies, were one of the many baked goods my mother excelled at. Although she was much better at her cakes and pastries like rugelach. I can still close my eyes and smell those aromas floating through the house. When she made her pies she always made her own dough and had her own secrets about making pie crust, which are no longer secrets, but that will be another blog.
What I do remember, however, is that all her pie crusts looked the same. She always went around and made little pinches with her fingers. I wonder what she would think of some of the creative ways Pampered Chef has come up with to decorate pie crusts and tops. This X marked pie crust is just one of them. It is quick, easy and creative. All you do is press the dough into your pie pan, trim off the excess, and then use the releasing end of the Cake Tester and Releasing tool to make X marks on your dough. If you then brush the crust with beaten egg, using the Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush, it will enhance the details and make the X pop.
You already know why I like the Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush, but the Cake Tester and Releaser is not only a baker’s dream, it also represents some spiritual lessons for me. this tool not only can check to make sure something is done, but it can also help to release the baked goods from your pan. I have known folks who use it to piece potatoes and those who used to bring them out at fondue parties to dip fruit into melted chocolate. Of course, that was before we came out with our S’more and Fondue Stick Set.Read More
One of my wife’s favorite foods is a waffle. Until recently, one of the wisest investments we made was in the waffle iron we bought. It is one of those waffle makers that takes all the guesswork out of making waffles. The only challenge was the first batch getting them to the proper level of crispness for my boo. That accomplished, which for her was between a 4 and a 5, the rest was a cakewalk. You plug it in and it beeps when it is properly heated. Put in the batter and close the lid and it beeps when your waffle is done. Perfectly prepared waffles every time. The main problem I have is that sometimes I put a bit too much batter in and then it overflows and I have to clean up the overflow once her waffle is done. Life, like a waffle does not always go smoothly or seem to come out perfectly.
Watching my wife drool and moan as she dreamingly devoured two buttermilk waffles smothered in melted butter and syrup, she asked me if I was going to have one. No. don’t get me wrong, waffles can be awesome. And every once in a while, I can have a waffle the way she likes them, but most times, if I am going to have a waffle, I have to do something to it. Like one day, I added blueberries and ricotta cheese to my waffle batter. Oh my, those were so good. Especially when I would come to this little pocket of ricotta cheese and then a blueberry. It was almost like eating a cross between a blintz and a waffle.
But my favorite way to eat a waffle is with some shredded cheddar cheese and some salsa mixed into the batter. So it is kind of like this quesadilla waffle. Sometimes I will hold the salsa, just add some taco meat, cheese, diced jalapenos, onions, and tomatoes to the batter, and then put salsa on top, kind of like the syrup. There really is no right way to eat a waffle.Read More
When I was a kid we would play a game to build our vocabulary. I remember V being for vegetables and victory and a few other words. It was fun to be able to say that V is for V shaped. I love the shape of our V-Shaped Baking Pan Set for a few reasons. One being that it helps me make healthy snacks for my family, which is a challenge. It is going to also be making one of what Zoe calls junk food night, “taco night” fresher and easier. I can even use it to make some fresh and easy to make desserts. With my busy schedule, anything which can make my life easier and help me get fresh and healthy food on the table is a blessing.
My wife is a chip addict. So I love that in minutes I can make her fresh potato chips and if I am feeling risky, I can try getting her to eat some homemade fruit and vegetable chips. What I love about this new set is that it lets me bake twice as many ships as I could on a sheet pan. So now I can make tortilla and potato chips on demand, well with some notice at least. LOL As long as I have potatoes and tortillas in the house I can make chips.
What I am looking forward to trying next is making dessert tacos with pie crust and my favorite fillings. The more I look at these pans, the more I realize that what I can create with this pan is limited by my own imagination.Read More
For the last few days I have been looking at these cookie cutters admiring the shapes and the playfulness of the seven cutters: pirate, sailboat, octopus, crab, shark, seashell, and turtle. These 3 ½” diameter cutters make the cutest 3” cookies. Not only are they dishwasher safe but they snap together for easy storage.
What I love about these cookie cutters is that each one is different and each has a different story to tell about the sea. You can use them with children to tell different stories about the sea and the different gifts each brings to the world and the environment. They provide a great way to teach about these sea animals, about life on the sea and explore the myths and facts about being a pirate.
What I also love is that they remind me to value the diversity of those in my community. When we focus on each other’s gifts, we make room at the Welcome Table for all of humanity and by snapping together we also make sure none of us get lost. We stay connected and protective of the bonds we share, despite our differences.Read More
Three Onion Rub is more than a few of my customer’s favorite rubs and is a staple in their homes. Besides which, at $6 a bottle, it is easily affordable. So it was easy to pick this product as one of the many products we carry starting with a T.
What many people do not know is that our pantry products are exclusive eto the Pampered Chef and designed in our Test Kitchens at our Home Office. It is a blend of red onion, yellow onion, and onion powder. Three kinds of onions which live harmoniously in one bottle, each bringing their unique flavors and gifts to the table. Not only that but if you somehow run out of onions, which I have managed to do, you can use three tablespoons of Three Onion Rub to replace one medium onion.
Did you know that our tasty spice rubs & blends are kosher & gluten free?What I love most is the simple lesson it teaches me. If we allow ourselves to open ourselves up we can be like any one of the three onions and work together in perfect harmony. It is a reminder that a diverse group of people (onions) can come together to create something even greater then themselves. We each have a purpose in life. However, we also have the opportunity to work together with others to make this world a better place. Our Three Onion rub can do that to your food and we can do that as human beings.