The Moveable Feast Food Blog

The Moveable Feast is a Personal Chef Service that serves the Hampton Roads area of Southern Virginia. This blog is an extension of my web site and will go into more details about food and any food service industries. Any pictures and or recipes that are published here are all the property of The Moveable Feast unless otherwise noted.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Pesto and Pasta

I have the day off from cooking in a client's home and now I have a "play" day. I tried a few weeks ago to make Pesto with one of my client's basil. Most basil around here has gone to seed. I know mine has and I will be pulling up the plants for the fall planting of mums for color during the dreary months of winter.

I harvested the basil, got it home, washed it, made it, ate it and spit it out. I guess I didn't wash the basil well enough because it was very gritty. So determined to have basil in the winter months, I talked to the produce manager at my local chain market. He told me he could sell me a bulk box of basil. So since today is "play" day I have made Pesto. After making it I sprayed an ice cube tray. To keep the Pesto from turning that awful brown I put a piece of plastic wrap over it mashing out all the air bubbles that I could.
Then I popped it in the freezer and waited for it to get rock hard. It took about 3-4 hours. When I popped all of the Pesto out I put the cubes in a freezer bag and they went right back into the freezer.

I have a dish in mind for dinner so this is the first component of the dish. The second component involves cream, butter, flour, garlic, parmesan, s&p, and a lovely lobster tail. I made an Alfredo Sauce and added three heaping spoonfulls of the Pesto I did not freeze and stirred. It got pretty thick so I thinned it down with a little milk and that smoothed it out. I had a bag of Spinach & Chive Linguine pasta from Trader Joe's and used that for the pasta portion. This is the finished product.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

As Promised

As promised I made the wonderful recipe of Michelle's at Since I am really lactose intolerant I had to make some changes to the recipe...okay only one. I forgot to buy the cream to put in the potatoes but I think for my physical comfort level that was a good thing. So I substituted my Lactaid milk for the cream, but I did buy some white cheddar. You should have seen me out in the front yard in my bare feet in the dark clipping fresh chives. I also used three scallions. The skin on the potatoes added texture and of course more color. I thought really hard about all that butter, turned my head, covered my eyes with one hand, and dumped that whole stick in there. What can I say, it was every bit as good as I had hoped.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

For Michelle

I posted my dinner from last night on the blog a few hours after it was consummed and Michelle from The Accidental Scientist checked out my site and asked a question about what Satay is. I whipped out my Food Lover's Companion to be sure that I got the defination correct. According to the book Satay is an Indonesian favorite consisting of small marinated cubes of meat, fish, poultry threaded on skewers and grilled or broiled. Satay is usually served with a spicy peanut sauce. It's a favorite snack food but is also often served for an appetizer and sometimes a main dish. The Japanese called Satay Yakitori. It's a term that means grilled fowl usually referring to small pieces of marinated chicken that are skewered and grilled. I loved Yakitori as a kid when my father was stationed near Tokyo, Japan from 1970-72. Since the world seemed to be a safer place then, my mother turned us loose in the little town outside the base at Kanta Mura where we lived. I learned about fish markets, nightsoil (this is soil that has human waste and is used in the fields to fertilize their crops), Pocky sticks (little tiny biscuit sticks coated with chocolate) and of course rubber food displays. The education was priceless. I loved going out into town and eating strange foods. I loved the noodle soups and Tempura. To this day it's still my favorite kind of oriental food.

Here is a wonderful recipe from the book Sticks & Skewers by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern.

Serves 4
Yakitori Sauce
1/2 cup Sake or Vodka
1/4 cup Dark Soy Sauce
3 TBS Mirin (Sweet Rice Wine or Sherry)

Chicken Skewers
4 large Red or Yellow Bell Peppers (halved and seeded)
8 baby leeks or 12 scallions, halved lengthwise and blanched (I never blanch these things)
8-12 boned chicken thighs, each cut into 3 1-inch cubes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be used too)
Freshly ground black pepper or Japanese pepper

Put all the Yakitori sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, stir, bring to a boil, boil hard for 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Light an outdoor grill or preheat broiler or stovetop grill pan. Broil the halved peppers until the skin blisters, then put in saucepan and cover tightly. Let steam for 10 minutes, then scrap off the skin. Cut the peppers into 1 inch square pieces.

Grill or blanch the leeks or scallions, then cut into 1 inch sections. Grill the skewers over a very hot fire or under a very hot broiler (put the skewers as close to the heat as possible). Cook for 2 minutes on each side until the juices begin to flow, then transfer to the saucepan, sticks upward.

Remove and cook for 1 minute on each side, then dip into the sauce again. each time you dip, let the excess sauce run off back into the pan. Cook again, until tender but not dried out. Remove to a serving platter and serve sprinkled with pepper.

Monday, September 26, 2005

What's for Dinner?
I know that I am not unique at worrying about what's for dinner on a weeknight when I have to work all day. Mondays are my day off and I get to play that day. Today I had to work on menus for clients so playing had to be done while standing at the kitchen island watching Oprah. Since my refrigerator is over stocked with veggies, I have to cook them here pretty quick. So tonight I decided that I would do some stir fry and chicken satay. I fell in love with Satays of all kinds when I lived in Japan as a kid. So tonight is a Chicken Satay on the grill, Snow Pea and Mushroom stir fry and a bowl of sticky rice. I will make a dipping sauce of soy sauce, Sake, scallions, garlic, and ginger. I never measure any of this so it's hard to tell you what portions to use. Since my husband takes his lunch to work everyday, I try to make at least enough to have three portions. I used snow peas (a few handfulls) half of a red bell pepper, 3 extra large button mushrooms (I would have used something else if I had it on hand), three or four scallions, two garlic cloves, 1 medium carrot (very thinly sliced) and a 2 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced. Then I pounded the boneless chicken breasts and cut them into strips cutting them against the grain of the breasts. When I cook the satay on the grill I cook them just to the very point they are cooked. Below are the finished products.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Trip to the Farmer's Market
I have always know about Farmer's Markets because I had family that were beef farmers and corn farmers. My cousin's husband used to be the President of the Corn Growers Association. When my father retired from the Air Force he moved us to a very small town. We rented a house on a dairy farm five miles outside the city limit. I lived with Holstein cows my last three months of high school. I loved living in the country. It's sort of sappy, but everytime I go back through that small little town, I drive out to the country and down the dirt road to one of the smelliest places I have ever been. Once you have smelled a dairy farm, you NEVER forget that smell. For some reason it never bothered me. I loved the cows, the field corn, the weekly dairy trucks, and the flat bed trucks loaded to the gills with hay bales. I think secretly I always wanted to be a farmer I admire those who can take a seed and feed millions. The time, the effort, the brut strength it takes to be a farmer is so impressive. I never did milk cows, I never picked the corn, but have had the utmost respect for those who have.

So yesterday my husband and I headed out to our local Farmer's Market and we spent a while out there just walking around taking pictures of all the wonderful produce. Fall produce is so beautiful not to mention very tasty. So below you will see what turns me on about the market and all it has to offer.
If you have a Farmer's Market near you, go out there and just walk around and take a look at what REAL food looks like after it has been picked, cleaned and driven to market. Support your local Farmer's Market as much as you can. These folks feed our country and many others. They deserve our respect and our dollars to help them to continue to thrive.

Food Trinkets
I have not been able to be much of a jewerly person since becoming a chef. In culinary school they require that you NOT wear jewerly except for a wedding band and that had to be plain. I don't have a plain band so I put mine away and have bearly worn it since 1995. So the next best thing for me to express my love for food was wearing a food watch and having a food related key chain. There are two fellow chefs that started a business called The Decorated Chef (please see Links section) This business revolves around food items. They have an array of different items for sale that are just so cute. I have bought a food related watch and now have just purchased myself a "Peas in a Pod" key ring.

I know this is a shameless promotion but I am a huge fan of female run businesses and do my very best to promote other small female owed and operated businesses. I love their stuff and even know the designer's mother of the fruit and vegetable note cards, of which I have bought more than a few packages of! The note cards are pictures of carrots, eggplants, cherries, radishes, and pea pods. I love using them for notes to my clients, family and friends.
Since I love getting things in the mail I wanted to show how the items come packaged. I just thought this was such a cleaver idea that I had to post it here. I think that packaging in any form is the same as what we do when we eat. If it looks nice it much taste nice. If they package my key rings nicely, they much care about having my repeat business.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thanks for the Memories
I was extremely fond of my mother's mother, Nanny. I have the fondest food memories of her. When we would go to Nanny's house in the summer months we knew there was work involved with getting dinner ready. I was the kind of child who could occupy my alone time very well. So my grandmother would give me peas to shell and beans to snap. I was totally engrossed in the task to the point that I never noticed that the tips of my little 6 year old fingers were turning purple from shelling black eyed peas. I loved doing this simple yet monotonous task. I loved feeling of the little shiny, soft but firm feeling peas in my grubby hands. Eating them was the best part of my labor. My grandmother would take nice thick slice of bacon and an onion and cut them into small pieces and throw them in the pot along with my shelled peas. When dinner was ready I would eat a HUGE bowl of peas with some butter, salt and pepper. I didn't need meat or anything else, just those peas. It is memories like these that makes food so comforting to me.

So natually, being a personal chef I have the ability to give those memories and feelings of comfort back to my clients. Over the last few years I have aquired three or four sets of Senior clients. These are folks who want to stay in their homes to live out the rest of their lives surrounded by the things that are most familiar to them. I feel honored to go into their homes and be with them. The thing about this arrangement is that it's a win win situation. I get to feel like I am that little kid back on my grandmother's front porch shelling peas and they get to talk about memories from the past. For some reason I connect with these people like no other age group that I have worked for. They remind me of my grandmother so much. They are a reminder to me that our past is slipping away one person at a time. Food history and memories die with these people. Memories of their family gatherings die with them. If their family members don't carry on those traditions, they are gone forever.

I take this gift very seriously and the lesson that comes with it. Food is the great connector for all of us. There are so many memories revolving around food. The lesson that I have learned the most is to do whatever it takes to continue my family's traditions that were set forth by my grandmother and mother. It is my responsibility to carry on the traditions and memories that I hold near and dear to my heart. It is a honor for me to be with these folks and honestly I can't think of a better way to spend a day.

Mrs. Evans is in her 80s and wheelchair bound. She never fails to spend time with me in her kitchen when I come. We talk about what has gone on with my family and hers. We look out at her garlic chives and talk about them coming back again next spring. When all is quiet, I look up and she has fallen asleep in the wheelchair. I just keeping talking away and she picks up the convervsation right where we left off when she wakes up. She is always amazed at the amount of equipment that I drag in and what I can create with four bags of groceries. Her and Mr. Evans are pretty simple eaters and I find comfort in this fact. They come from a more simple time in life and I think they have carried that into their love for plain uncomplicated food. I consider this an honor and a privledge to spend time with them all because of food. Thanks for the memories, Mrs. Evans!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Since I had to work yesterday, I decided that it would be great that I take pictures of what I cook. Well shoot! I got so distracted by my client that I did the before shot and not the after too. I wanted to show what something looks like when it's prepped and then show the fruits of my efforts.
I think I have the attention span of a gnat these days. I was in the "zone" until my newest client laid it on me that she is pregnant...with #4. I don't know who was more shocked, her or me. She is horrified to have to tell friends and family that she is expecting baby #4 when #3 is 2 1/2. I assured her that it didn't matter what everyone else thought. Thus the distraction about the after picture. I can tell you about it though. The bowl of zucchini was spread on an ungreased sheet pan and then roasted in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. I took a spatula and flipped everything over and stuck it back in the oven for about another 10 minutes. It turned out nicely (you'll have to take my word for it since...well you know...ugh!). Tomorrow I will be working for the sweetest elderly couple and maybe then I can gather myself and have before and after pictures.

Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms and Onions-D-LS
Serves 8
6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick-about one pound total weight
3 cups mushrooms, sliced (I used button but something more earthy would do as well)
2 medium onions, sliced and separated into strips
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp Italian Herb Seasoning (I NEVER just use 1 tsp. I think I use more like 1-1 1/2 TBS-I would rather use fresh everything but it wasn't possible)
Preheat the oven to 450 (Yes this says 450 but I only did 350 which took longer but I was talking so there you go)
Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.
Coat your sheet pan with non-stick spray and spead mixture evenly on sheet pan.
Baked for about 15 minutes and then slip ingredients over and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until desired doneness.

The notation after the recipe name is my way of knowing that this is a Diabetic recipe that is also Low Sodium. I have a lot of special diet clients and it helps me to use those notations when menu planning. This recipe came from an automated service of FREE Diabetic recipes from the Diabetic Gourmet Magazine at

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Fellow Blogger's Recipe
I went to a lovely site of Accidental Scientist and took a gander today. I loved the site. I scrolled down and read some of the recipes and found one that was right up my alley. I have been trying to eat more vegetables and this was the perfect recipe to implement this plan. The recipe was Yellow Squash Ribbons with Red Onion and Parmesan (from Cooking Light magazine, adapted slightly) Since I spent a fortune at the commissary yesterday I figured I had to cook. So for dinner we had a dry rubbed flank steak, the Yellow Squash with Red Onions and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes. I think when I took the picture I should have used a white plate but I had in my head that the squash would pop on the green plate.

Adventurous Eating
Since hubby is working 60 hours a week for the next month or so, I have been tasked with doing the shopping for the two of us. I am a Personal Chef and shop three to four days a week for clients. I have boycotted doing my own personal grocery shopping. This is for two reasons. One, I am already in a grocery store more than the average housewife. Two, it takes me forever to shop. I get so distracted that I leave with either too much stuff or not enough. I find a new thing and focus on that. I get so excited about it, I have to pay and leave immediately so I can go home and either make something with it or eat it in the car before leaving the parking lot. I know that I am not the only one out there eating new things in the parking lot. Come you guys all know who you are...
Today true to form I got distracted and couldn't focus. I was in the produce section on my way to the deli counter and there they were...little plastic neatly wrapped boxes of Sushi. Now I am a beginner at eating Sushi. I am a Certified ServSafe Instructor and I teach the horrors of foodborne illnesses. I just couldn't make myself eat that raw fish. I know I have heard it a million times how the fish is frozenit kills any worm, and blah, blah, blah. Okay, so I have begun to cave. I have eaten California Rolls and have eaten a few tuna rolls, but today I found something that I could actually wrap my head around. They were labeled Avacado Salad Roll. Yummy. I snatched that package up so hard I got a plastic box cut on my finger! Never shop when you are hungry. $292.85 later I left the store. I could not stop thinking about that healthy stuff in the brown bag calling my name. I got home, unloaded the car and made a beeline for the plates. I read the label and I wilted a bit. Tapioca paper (tapioca, salt, water), Avocado, Cucumber, Carrots, Red Cabbage, Leaf Lettuce. Okay, I understand these so, Spices, Caramel Color, Acetic Acid, FD&C Red NO.40, Dehydrated Onion, Roasted Peanuts) Chili Sauce (Water, Red Chili, Sugar, Salt, Vinegar)

Was this really all that healthy? If you leave off the sauce packet that came in the box it would be healthier. Okay, I ate the stuff anyway. It was really good and that makes me sad because I have been trying to eat healthier and I think soy sauce with ginger and scallions would have made a better choice. So live and learn. Eat the lovely rolls, make your own dipping sauce and throw the packet away.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Collecting Out of Control
When is a collection out of control? I started collecting watermelon glassware back in the 80s. Then I went to a Wangs store in Memphis (they are no longer there) and I spotted a few fruit and vegetable pitchers and teapots. I snapped! I had to collect every fruit and vegetable known to man in glassware. Then as if that wasn't enough...Now it has taken over my window in the form of painted fruit pictures on glass. Then there is the cabinet over the sink.. and then there is the shelf above the kitchen sliding glass door. It's the Twinkie that ate Texas. The worst part is...I CAN'T HELP MYSELF! I will be walking through a mall or some store and see a pitcher or a tea pot and have to have it. Will this obsession ever go away before I run out of wall space and shelves? Is anyone else out there as smitten with eating food and then collecting it as I am?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Food Demo at Fresh Market
About once a month I have the privledge of doing a food demo at the Virginia Beach Fresh Market Today's demo was Chicken Breasts with Scallions, Shiitake Mushrooms and Tomatoes. Chefs USA hires Personal Chefs to do in-store demos to promote food and wine. Below you will find the recipe.

Chicken Breasts with Scallions, Shiitake Mushrooms and Tomatoes

3 Whole Boneless Chicken Breasts, Halved
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Minced Garlic
½ C Minced Shallot
1 T Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 C Fresh Shiitake Mushroom Sliced, Stems Discarded
¼ C Pinot Noir wine
1 ¼ C Chicken Broth
¾ C Chopped Scallions
2 t Corn Starch
3 Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced

1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot, but not smoking. Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden. Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. After cooking, transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.
2. In the skillet add the garlic, shallot and half of the thyme and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for one minute and then add wine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add chicken broth and scallions. Simmer for 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup chicken broth and corn starch. Add this mixture to the skillet with the tomatoes. Add the chicken back into the sauce and continue to cook until sauce thickens (3-4 minutes).

Tidewater Chapter attends Bridal Show
A few of the members of the Tidewater Chapter of USPCA(United States Personal Chef Association) manned a table at a Bridal Show at the Chesapeake Conference Center on Sunday, Sept. 11. From left to right pictured are Bobo (Anne) Smith, Heide Walker and myself, Vickie Brown.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

At this point in my life have been wanting to get more active and lose some weight. So to help myself achieve this goal, I signed up to walk in the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Sept. of this year. It was my goal for the year 2005. I completed it in 4:05:56. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would actually succeed. What a rush and and an emtional relief to walk over that finish line.