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  • Location: Roanoke, VA
  • Favorite foods: I love the flavor of produce fresh from the farmer, the taste of a perfectly cooked hamburger, the soothing warmth of homemade stew. I love food in all its forms and incarnations and can't imagine picking favorites.
  • Last bite on earth: Sushi. No, wait: chicken parmesan. No, wait: a full southern breakfast, complete with ham, biscuits, and grits. No, wait: navratan korma, garlic naan, and chai. No, wait: cinci-style chili on spaghetti. No, wait: a tomato sandwich in the middle of summer.

Cooking with Sesame Oil

Rub chicken, pork or seafood with it right before cooking, or use as part of a marinade with a little citrus juice, spices, and salt.

Mix a tablespoon with a 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 tbsp soy sauce (to taste), 1 tbsp honey (again, to taste), and a bit of chili oil or a pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve over cooked noodles or with shrimp or chicken.

Replace some of the olive oil in a vinaigrette with sesame oil.

Stir-fry some veggies, meat, and/or leftover rice in sesame oil.

Use as a facial moisturizer (yes, really) or massage oil.

Velveeta, I mean really, what's in it?

It's roughly equivalent to 50/50 mild cheddar and Monterey Jack with emulsifiers and colors. The emulsifiers are what make it melt nicely.

A kitchen appliance you are scared to use

Another one scared of the pressure cooker. My mother exploded one when I was a little kid; since then, I've had a more than healthy respect for the thing. Canning may be my eventual downfall on that issue, as I love to preserve food and covet my mother's pressure canner.

No fear of the mandoline, but I don't use mine much, either.

I also have a healthy respect - I wouldn't call it fear per se - of large serrated knives. I don't know why, but I can't seem to use a bread knife without injuring myself. I own knives of all different shapes and makes, all properly sharpened and honed, and it's always the serrated knife that gets me.

What do you feed your pets?

My cats eat grain-free food (both dry kibble and wet food) from Blue Buffalo Company, as one cat has a bad corn/wheat allergy. Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and homegrown 'nip count as treats. Occasionally, I'll let them have a taste of human food, but usually only one of the three is interested. Ironically, the cat with the corn allergy LOVES popcorn.

I also have a red eared slider. She eats pretty much the same thing I do: lots of raw and par-cooked veggies, fruit, and bit of lean protein. Her protein comes as mealworms and goldfish, although she appreciates a bit of cooked chicken as a treat.

"Private Chefs of Beverly Hills" Has FN Completely Lost It?

I watched it. It was on ... last Sunday, I think? Perhaps Monday. Not entirely sure, as I was nursing a cold earlier this week, and was just sort of staring at Food Network in a haze.

I concur, it was awful. I don't care much for reality TV (other than a Top Chef addiction, natch), and this is why. Prima donnas and drama drama drama. Spare me the gargantuan egos.

Cook the Book: 'Osteria'

Homemade chicken and dumplings.

Cook the Book: 'Baking Unplugged'

The first time I tried making pie crust, I used so much water that the waxed paper I was using disintegrated into bits and got mixed in with the dough. The pie was tasty, but we were all picking waxed paper out of our teeth while we were eating it.

Cook the Book: 'The Great Wings Book'

It's all about the chips and onion dip!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes? Really?

It's okay - the basic bread from that book is a little too salty and yeasty for my tastes, but it improves as the dough ages. It really is as easy as the book makes it out to be, though, and the texture is quite nice.

Cook the Book: 'The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook'

hate to cook, love to eat?

I hate breaking down raw chickens. It always bothers me, having to dislocate joints and crack bones. If it's already broken down or if it's been cooked, no problem - but raw whole chickens creep me right out. Pity whole chickens are cheaper and are more useful than their broken-down counterparts.

Grapefruit: Way or No Way?

Way! Love it, both as juice and as fruit. It used to be one of my favorite snacks as a kid. I like the juice unsweetened and plain, but like to sprinkle a little sugar on the fruit.

Any food you thought you hated until you finally tried it?

Scallops. Tried some on vacation last year, and thought they were the best thing ever.

In Videos: Slap Chop Infomercial Featuring Vince, the Enthusiastic Host

...wait, it's for real?

hot wintertime comfort drinks

Pity "hot buttered rum" doesn't fit. ;)

I like Celestial Seasoning's Mandarin Zinger in a mixture of cranberry and orange juice. It's very tasty.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Zingerman's Praise the Lard Gift Box

Breakfast with my grandmother - pancakes and Neese's sausage. Yum!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Southside Market Sausage

If you had your own Food Network show, what would it be?

Sadly, AB already beat me to the kind of show I'd love to have. As far as I'm concerned, he and Julia Child have pretty much cornered the market.

I'd settle for being the next Shirley Corriher, though. But a photographer instead of a writer. As long as I could show up on Good Eats. ;)

Anchovies: Way or No Way?

Way, sort of. I don't like them plain, but I enjoy the flavor in Caesar salads, Worcestershire sauce, and other such things.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Edible Chocolate Box from Charles Chocolates

Flourless chocolate cake.

Just Like Mom Used To Make...

My mom makes the BEST pork chops. I've spent years trying to get close. I used to request them for my birthday dinner when I was a kid (oh, who am I kidding? I still request 'em). She's a pretty good cook all around, and definitely encouraged my early foodie leanings.

I can't remember anything particularly terrible, other than the thing she had for Chef Boyardee pizza kits. I suspect that was mainly because she's not much of a baker and couldn't really afford pizza for us kids any other way. The dough and sauce weren't that bad, but all we had was the included Parmesan to top it with. I haven't seen one in her house since my brother and I both left the nest.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Two Peter Luger Steaks

dulce le leche

Brownies! OMG so good.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: D'Artagnan Boneless Heritage Ham

A little mayo and mustard, and some provolone. And ham, obviously.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Southside Market Sausage

Love me some Bullocks!

Whoops! Rancid Cast-Iron Seasoning

Silly me stuck the lid on my cast iron dutch oven, and in that lovely air-tight environment, the seasoning developed a lovely rancid scent. Other than completely stripping the seasoning out of it, how can I restore it? Or just I just throw my roast in it and not worry about it?

SE Videos in High Res?

I love Chewing the Fat - but I hate watching it in the internet-standard size of minuscule by tiny (and what I assume is the "make this bigger" button doesn't work)! Any plans to switch to a higher-res streaming service like Hulu or Vimeo in the future?

Zucchini, I want to like you!

I have an aversion to summer squashes. I grew up with my mom making this terrible zucchini-onion-celery seed dish that tasted of dirt and was incredibly slimy (my stomach turns thinking of it even now, and I haven't even seen the dish in nearly 20 years). Since then, I can't stand to eat them, and even the sight of a sliced squash is enough to make me slightly queasy.

Of course, now the Internets are taunting me with delicious-looking zucchini and summer squash dishes that I want to try, but I don't know if I can quite get past the texture and non-flavor flavor without outright revolt on my body's part.

Anyone have a 12-step program to overcome my aversion (or just some great recipes)? I've gotten past step one: the zucchini bread, but would like to move on to something a little less ... camouflaged. So, Serious Eaters, how do you like your squash?

Guily Pleasures and other Embarrassing Pantry Items

On the heels of top 10 things you'd never have in the kitchen.... what are some of the things you keep around, even though you're a little embarrassed by it?


1. Pasteurized processed cheese food slices. I prefer it on sandwiches to good cheese; I don't know why. I blame my mother for denying me in my youth.
2. Sugar-coated cereal. Golden Grahams is my favorite, Capt'n Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch are close seconds.
3. Individual Jello cups, the kind with the fruit in them.
4. Instant lemonade mix. It's my roommate's, I swear! Never mind that I make cups of the stuff as well....
5. Lipton iced tea bags - this hangup, I suspect, is uniquely my own. I'm a tea snob, and I always feel a little dirty buying Lipton tea dust. It's like a wine snob buying Boone's Farm.
6. Seasoning salt. I resisted the stuff for years, but now I find it kind of useful on things like chicken breasts and french fries.
7. Canned cream of mushroom soup. Like the French's onions, it's really only used twice a year, for green bean casserole. Yet, for some reason, it's in the pantry year-round....
8. Instant mashed potatoes. Okay, I'm lazy. And it makes an acceptable side with a little sour cream and garlic powder.
9. Bisquick. I don't use it for biscuits or any other advertised usage, I use it for those trashy appetizers that just don't taste right without it.
10. Bush's chili starter. Please see: lazy. But it's also surprisingly good.

Quick, easy dinners?

I've got fibro and CFIDS, which means that some nights, cooking anything much more complicated than "open box, boil water, mix" is really difficult for me. I'm getting pretty sick of my standard easy meals, and I'm looking for some ideas for more. Rachael Ray is pretty useless, since she doesn't factor in the hour of dishwashing each 30 Minute Meal takes.

Of course, there's a couple of catches. Well, a lot. I'm allergic to MSG, so a lot of normal convenience foods are out. I also try to eat free-range/organically, as I find that makes a huge difference in how I feel. Beef, pork, and eggs are easy to come by; we only eat chicken once a month or so (it's hard for me to cut the thing up). I buy produce seasonally, but have year-round access to things like apples, lettuce, and potatoes. I prefer vegetables steamed or raw; the other doesn't like them much at all (one day I'll change his mind). I'm also allergic to bell peppers, eggplant, and summer squashes. Ideally, I'd like to add some more vegetables or fruit to the party, since I know I don't get my 5 to 9.

Any suggestions?

Cooking with Offal

After finishing Julie & Julia and reading about Chris Cosentino's & Michael Ruhlman's recent "Head to Tail" dinner (post here, I've found myself interested in learning how to cook offal. I bought a pretty piece of beef liver from our local free-range farmer and I'm looking forward to using it, but... how? I'm a little trepidatious, remembering the foul liver and onions dish my mother made once as a child; but at the same time, remember my first experience with foie gras and how much I loved it. What do I do with it? What can I do to make it tasty instead mushy and funny tasting?

Assuming the other half finds my first attempt at serving offal palatable, anyone have suggestions for what to try next? We're lucky enough to have good connections in the area for local-raised meat, although anything beyond the big three (beef, pork and chicken) can be a little hard to get.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Got a fantastic recipe or a happy offal story you'd be willing to share?

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