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Coffee Date with Eleanor


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It’s Springing here in Northern Utah, finally.

Can we talk?  Let’s chat, over coffee, or whatever is speaking to you right now.  Tea, sparkling water, soda?  Cool.

It’s nice to get out from behind the blog to chat over what has been happening.  Catching up like old friends.

I love the four seasons, I swear.  Five months of Winter is a bit much though.  It’s dark for too long.  Three months would be better.   I am glad I learned how to ski, the adrenaline keeps the Winter blues away.  Do you ski?  If so, where do you like to go.

We like Sundance, Alta and Brighton.  They are so different from each other.  Sundance is beautiful with mountain-y, cabin-y vibes and is small.  It’s also outside of Utah Valley so it’s pretty much a locals hangout.  Alta is steeper so there are only a few choices for beginners.  The cafeterias and restaurants are on the mountain though which is super neat to ski right up to your lunch and then continue skiing down the mountain.  The views are amazing too.  Brighton is probably the best for different abilities.  It has easy blues as well as difficult ones.

I’m an introvert by nature.  Staying huddled up at home when the snow is thick on the ground is comforting.  Are you an introvert?  You may enjoy this article from Huffington Post, 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert.

Do you fit any of these?  All of them describe me except 9,11 and 13.  Twenty signs out of twenty three.  Hmmm….

Are you feeling the Spring fever?  I am.  I’ve planted a couple of dozen plants already.  What have you been up to?  Too many questions?  I get it, I’ll stop now.

On my nightstand

As soon as this book arrived, I dove right in.  I haven’t read a supernatural genre in a long time.

While traveling to trailheads in Wyoming for backpacking trips, I always wondered – “Who lives in these small towns?  What do they do for fun?”.

Eleanor is set in a small Wyoming town.  So apparently, I am about to find out what people do for fun in those small Wyoming towns.

The first chapter reeled me in.  The descriptive details of the coyote surveying the seven year old put me there in the scene.  I could smell her breath.  I won’t be the spoiler.  Pinky promise.  You’ll have to read the book.  I will tell you though,  I am enjoying this book.   Enjoy!  Let me know if you read it.  Have you read anything else by Johnny Worthen?  Whatcha think?

I have been reading another set of books.  This might sound insane but I am training to lead backpacking trips.  It’s official, I’m off my rocker.

What this means to you as a reader is that another genre of cuisine will pop up on the blog every now and again.  Backpackers like to share their recipes and ask others for their recipes.

I’ve been on many trips where I was fed some amazing food.  Trying to swap recipes while in the outback is a bit tricky.  It’s easier to hand them my blog card and tell them to search ‘backpacking’ in the search box on my website when they get to a computer.

If you think you are interested in backpacking, cool.  This may be another resource for you.

I highly recommend Lipsmackin’ Backpacking’  – sure it has a lot of recipes but more importantly, it explains food systems which is super important if you are going on long trips.

Onward my friends, just go for it.

What’s inspiring me lately?

I have two periodicals that come quarterly.  Bon Appetit and Milk Street.

They come just at the right time when I feel the need for inspiration in the kitchen and with food photography.

Milk Street has brightly colored food with high shadows and a few background scenes thrown in from their roving editor that has a job that I am absolutely jealous over.  I’m looking at you J.M.

Both periodicals have amazing photography and recipes/flavor profiles that are new to me.  That really gets to me.  The exploration of new cuisine.  You too?

My inspiration mostly comes from a question that rattles in my head after seeing or hearing about something I have never made before.  Polenta?  How do you make that?  I have eaten it at a restaurant but have never made it.

O.K., I have made it, now what?  Then a quick trip down the rabbit hole yields many trips to my bookshelf and Wikipedia.  Then a meal appears.  Sometimes amazing and sometimes not.  The amazing ones make it to the blog, especially if a newer cook can do it.  Those are my jam.

I gifted myself two BBQ books.

Franklin’s book I read cover-to-cover.  I am just now diving in to Adam’s cookbook.  They both explain their philosophies on long and slow BBQ and have a few recipes to get you started.  The knowledge part is much more valuable.  Their wisdom will save you loads of money and much embarrassment as you try to share our BBQ lode with friends.  Who knew that brown sugar in your dry rub or fruit juice can burn and leave your bark bitter?  I do now and it’s true.  I took the brown sugar out of my rub but kept using the fruit juice.  It still tasted good but could be better.  Next time, I am going to use apple cider vinegar instead.  Stay tuned.

I am teaching myself how to use my Oklahoma Joe Smoker.  It’s a quest to make the perfect ribs and perfect smoked pork butt.  A life spent learning to smoke meat perfectly is a life not wasted.

Franklins cookbook.

Franklins Cookbook.


Behind the scenes of a food blog.

Bookshelf with cookbooks.

If you are an aspiring home cook or a budding food blogger, you need tools.  Not hammers and screw drivers but… you know what I mean.

I keep my food encyclopedias in one spot so that I don’t need to hunt for them.  I use them often, like when I want to know how to cook polenta, I grab The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Great Cook.

When I need a flavor profile for dumplings, I grab The Flavor Bible.  What is your favorite go-to cookbook for inspiration?

Spice rack at the Russian market.

One of my favorite adventures as a food blogger is exploring foreign foods, which means trips to foreign markets, which means exploring the World in my own town.  At least that is what it feels like to me.  The pic above is from European Tastees, a small but mighty market in South Salt Lake City that especially caters to Eastern European and Russian ex-pats.

When I am in an Asian market in my area, I am actually in an exotic locale somewhere in Southeast Asia as a tourist trying out new foods and flavors.  I might as well be, everybody around me is speaking another language and the sights and smell are new to me.  Go out, explore, I dare you.

Me taking pictures in my kitchen.

My kitchen is my studio.  Seventy Five square feet of 1954 bungalow awesomeness.  Do you have a tiny kitchen?  Really?  How small?  Any tips?


Untying a gift.

We had two birthdays recently.  David’s mom is now 83 years young and Bianca is 22 years old.

David’s mom really is young.  She keeps her neighbors cows watered when they are away and herds wayward sheep.  She speed walks with her younger friend, that might be 20 years younger, I can’t quite remember.  She mows her own grass.  She serves others cheerfully.  She seems to have more energy than I do.  I find her quite amazing.  I hope to be like her when I grow up.

What do you give someone who gives so much?  Hand-rolled caramels.  Because she loves them.  There is only one place in these parts that carries hand-rolled caramels.  The Little Red Hen Candy Company.

Bianca, well… she likes mani/pedis and lunch at off the beaten path places.  So that’s what we did.  Lunch at Red Fuego – A Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken Restaurant.

Oh my gosh, really.  The Lomo Saltado.  Just do it.


Apricot blossoms.

In the midst of new blooms and baby birds nesting – the annual signs of new beginnings – it’s hard to believe another school shooting took place last week.    Eight children and two teachers will not be coming home.    Funerals are being planned and birthday parties are being cancelled.    A Pakistani teen, here as a youth ambassador in an attempt to bridge two cultures, will be returned to her parents so they can plan her funeral back home.    As a mother of a soon-to-be teacher, the school shootings have taken on another level of fear.    What kind of training will she receive?    What will the Texas legislature plan and implement to protect our children and teachers?    Will it be enough?    Probably not.    School shootings have been going on in this country since 1764.    One thing we can do as parents is to be proactive and keep vigilant when it comes to bullying.  Stay informed on what to do when a child you know is being bullied.    Know the signs of cyberbullying and discuss with your children.    Who knows how many deaths could have been prevented if somebody stood up for someone being bullied.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu