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.

Monday, January 30, 2006

We Interrupt this food blog for a Knitting and Spinning commercial...Part 1 of 2

I promised someone on the left coast that I would sneak this in. So consider it sneaked in...

This is my new spinning wheel.

Another view of the spinning wheel with the emphasis on the bobbin.

I know it's hard to see but this is the last step in a very long process to get the wool to roving. The roving is usually in a ball. Then the ball is spun into yarn. This ball is about 16 oz. This wool is brown, although they call it black. Who knows, it's just lovely stuff no matter what the color.

That thing that I do…Part 1

I am a bit leery about doing a whole blog entry about what I do for a living. S’kat from s’kat the Food sent me an E mail telling me I should do a blog entry about what I do for a living. So this is for s’kat.

Ever since I can remember I have been totally enthralled with food and hence a life long battle with compulsive over eating. After spending a year in therapy to get a grip on what was causing me to over eat, I had gastric by-pass surgery in 1993. That surgery caused a very positive domino effect in my life. Weighing 260 at 5’2” was not conducive to getting around without being winded and I won’t even go into what it did for my self esteem. I lost 110lbs and decided to change my life.

I wanted to make my obsession with food to be a positive force in my life. I found out via a co-worker that there was a culinary school very near where I live. I hadn’t been in school in 20 some odd years but went and submitted my paperwork to attend Johnson & Wales University. Imagine my total shock when they accepted me. I started school in the fall of 1995 and graduated in May of 97.

My first job after graduation was less than fulfilling and I started to get restless after 4 months of working for $6 an hour and 40+ hours a week. A Sous chef in the kitchen where I worked was having a day with a snippy attitude and made a comment that changed my life. The chef snapped that he should just be a personal chef and quit this crappy job. Ding, ding, ding! Bells went off in my head so loud I thought everyone else could hear them.

I could not wait to get home and do a search on the internet. Sure enough I found a group called, The United States Personal Chef Association. I called the 800 number at least three times to ask a multitude of questions. No one here had ever heard of this sort of a profession. I wanted to research this group. I went to my instructors at J&W and they pooh-poohed the idea. Was I nuts?

Well, I have never been known for always making the best decisions with my money, so what else would I do but plunge head first with my trusty credit card and do it. The USPCA had a plan to teach you how to set up a Personal Chef business. I charged the plan and prayed they weren’t a scam. Sure enough about two weeks later, I got the whole deal delivered to my door.

I read that book from cover to cover and back again. I had a headache! What had I done? I had zero business experience and what the hell was I thinking???

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend Dog Blogging
Thanks for Sweetnicks for hosting Weekend Dog Blog. You can see other blogger's favorite dog poses at her place.

We had lovely weather yesterday here in Southeastern Virginia and the dogs took full advantage of the sun and mild temperatures. Sadie dearly loves being outside and laying in the sun is her way to escape the other three doxies. This is her quality time!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pesto Re-Visited
Back this past summer I did a blog entry on how to make Pesto (blog entry dated Friday, Sept. 30, 2005 ) then freeze it. I used an ice cube tray to freeze my Pesto. After it was completely frozen, I popped out the little green cubes and put them into a freezer bag. I had honestly forgotten about them until the other day when I was digging around in our second refrigerator and found the bag. I needed a quick idea right before payday to make for dinner so I used my Pesto cubes.

I took 2 TBS of butter and melted them in the skillet. I added 2 TBS all-purpose flour so that I could make a Roux. A roux is 50% fat and 50% flour. The fat in a roux can be canola oil, olive oil, bacon fat, or butter.

Since I wanted a creamy sauce, I used 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream (that is the smallest container they sell in the dairy section). Then I whisked it well...
and took my little frozen Pesto cubes and put them into the skillet. I had thought about thawing them but decided what the heck, let's see what happens. If nothing else, I could always have a salad from Wendy's if this fails. I whisked the Pesto cubes into the cream sauce until they melted. That did take a little bit of time because I had the stove down to medium low so I wouldn't burn the cream. Eventually the sauce turned a lovely shade of green. I diced up some boneless, skinless chicken breast and sprinkled them with some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I sauteed the chicken until it was almost done. I wanted to toss my Pesto Cream Sauce with some pasta so I used Fettuccine...and then it was dinner!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Picture Perfect Piccata
I couldn't resist the temptation to do the three P's. This is the tease to the Crummy Day entry. I know I have taken my time but I have been wrapped up in yarn and wool. Sometimes, my thoughts don't even entertain what to put on the blog. Parish the thought!!

I had some chicken in the freezer and after two days of thawing in the refrigerator I had to either fix the it or throw it out. Since I wasn't going to do the home shopping for another three days, I had to break down and cook dinner! Rats, I would much rather knit. Oh well....

I have never made Piccata and now after making it and loving it, I haven't the foggiest idea why I have never made this. It's so simple you don't even need a recipe. Of course I used one, this time, but will never use one again. It's that easy. Okay, Michelle at Accidental Scientist, you can do this too! For sure! First I used three boneless, skinless chicken breast. Then I used my trusty meat mallet and beat them to death, well almost... I took one egg and beat it in a small bowl. I took my whole wheat bread crumbs and put them on a flat dish. Then I dipped the chicken breasts in the egg and then in those wonderful whole wheat bread crumbs. I heated up my All-Clad 8" skillet with a little olive oil, about 1-1/2 TBS olive oil and sauteed half of one white onion very finely chopped. Then sauteed the chicken breast until they were nicely browned on the outside. I took the chicken breast out and set them on a plate while I added 1 cup of chicken stock to the hot pan and little bubble a bit. I sliced one lemon in half that I had rolled on the counter top to loosen up the inside for better juicing and then squeezed that in the skillet. While that made my kitchen smell like a lemon grove, I drained 1/2 of a jar of capers and rinsed them off a bit. They can be on the salty side. I put them in and then added 2 TBS of butter and then the chicken breast to the skillet. I let the chicken finish cooking at a medium low setting for the stove and dinner was done. It really was just that simple.
Dinner was sauteed yellow squash and one microwaved potato along with the Chicken Piccata and the pan sauce. I wish I had used my green plates so it showed up better, but honestly I was looking for quick and easy so I could got back to my knitting.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What a Crummy day!
I wasn't able to get into the mood to do "Play Day Friday", but did manage to get something else done. Hubby took out a loaf of Wonder Lite Whole Wheat bread from the freezer last week and half of every slice was a bit discolored. It had freezer burn due to a tiny hole in the bag. I hate wasting bread when I know I can still use it even with freezer burn. So I spread the slices out on the cutting board and left them out in the open for three days. Every day I turned them over to make sure that they were dried out really well. Friday I whipped out the mini chopper and ground up all those slices of dried out whole wheat bread. I do love my Panko Japanese bread crumbs, but whole wheat is better for me. So these crumbs will evolve into something else later down the road. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Weekend Dog Blogging
Thanks to Sweetnicks for hosting us once again!

Charlie heard there was a kitty out in the waiting room that was begging to be chased!

Here is the youngest of my brood. He is going for his yearly check up with his Daddy.

The “Seven” Meme
I was tagged by Melissa at Tasty Design for this Meme. I have seen others where you only name 5 things. I like coming up with a list of 5 things. My attention span for 7 is just way too short these days. I am cooking for living, learning to spin, learning to knit, crocheting a table cloth that is nearly finished and trying to keep up on my blogging. My brain is on activity overload! How about you guys??

7 Things to Do Before I Die
1. I would like to be less heavy than I am
2. Go back to France and take more cooking classes
3. Become a sheep shepherd
4. Scuba dive with the sharks in the Grand Caymans
5. Learn to dance
6. Write a book
7. Speak fluent French

7 Things That I can not do (or do not enjoy doing)
1. I hate cleaning house (mostly my office)
2. Dance without leading my partner
3. Can’t sing very well unless a bucket or shower are involved
4. Sit-ups
5. Self editing my mouth
6. Saying I am sorry and meaning it when I know I am right
7. Being more patient my youngest son

7 Things That Attracted Me to Blogging
1. Documenting what I cook
2. Spreading the word about Personal Chefs
3. Trying new foods and photographing them
4. Making new friends
5. It’s something that I can do without knowing too much technical stuff
6. Reading what others have to say started me blogging
7. Seeing how others eat, play and live from other parts of the USA and other countries

7 Things That I Say Most Often
1. Get down
2. Get a grip
3. Oops
4., I don’t think so; think again.
5. 6. 7. All four letter words that I won’t put up here; use your imagination

7 Books I Love
1. The Sue Grafton ABC series
2. Patricia Cornwell books
3. Living The Simple Life by Elaine St. James
4. A year in Provence by Peter Mayle
5. Salt A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
6 Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep by Paula Simmons & Carol Ekarius
7. Ann Rule books

7 Movies That I Watch Over and Over
1. Nemo
2. You’ve Got Mail
3. Any kind of an action, murder movie
(I don't remember half of the movies I have seen and never buy DVDs because just as soon as I do, they will come out with a better way to watch movies and then I will have to buy yet another player of some sort. 8 tracks, need I say more???)

7 Bloggers That I Am Tagging
I would love to tag more bloggers, but I think that everyone I know has already been tagged! I really need to expand my horizons! lol!

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Knitting Olympics
I don't normally do too much about outside interests here since this is supposed to be a food blog, but I wanted to declare that I have entered a challenge from the Yarn Harlot, to knit something that challenges me as a knitter during the '06 Winter Olympics. I have chosen to do a throw for one of my elderly clients. Since I am a new knitter, I have no idea how this will go but I am going to try!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It was Two Chili on Saturday!
This past Saturday I worked at my local Fresh Market doing a demo for White Bean Turkey Chili. As always I see monthly visitors that always come by and chat with me about food. Fresh Market has an on-line program to send out notices about the cooking demo and certain featured food items. For those of you who live close to one you really should get on their E mail list.

This past Saturday it was my pleasure to demo White Bean Turkey Chili. As smart as I think I am, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. I stand in one spot behind a table cook and hand out free samples to the featured recipe. I am there 3 hours and sometimes it’s very hectic, hence no photo. Take my word for it, the chili was well received and it smells so fragrant. Below you will find the recipe.

While I love turkey, later that night I was really in the mood for beef. After cooking the demo item, I did not want to go home and make it again. So I decided on Cheater Chili. Now, this is not a recipe as recipes go but it’s easy and hits the spot every time. I made the chili recipe along with some Jiffy Corn Muffins. The process is really simple if you only follow the instructions off the back of the bag, but you know me! I needed some veggies in my chili so I cut up one whole green pepper and two small onions. I put a little canola oil, maybe a few tablespoons, then I sautéed the pepper and onion and added the ground beef. From there I followed the back of the bag. I did add the small packet of cayenne despite my husband’s hesitation. I like my food to have good flavor but not heat enough to suffer over. You know what I mean? I don’t understand crying or sweating while eating my food.

Here is my Cheater Chili fixins’

This is the Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Brand Chili Kit. The kit is enough to make chili with 2 pounds of meat. If I were in Texas I would have used "chili meat". "Chili meat" is a coarse grind of beef. Don't ask what's in there or you might cringe. It's not a Weight Watcher's friendly kind of meat. I did try to keep this on the healthy side by using the 93% lean ground meat.

Inside the bag is four packets. Two packets are optional; the salt packet and the cayenne pepper packet. The two larger bags are necessary! The first packet is the Spice packet. It contains ground chili peppers, masa flour, cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, paprika and salt. The second packet is more Masa flour. I like thick chili rather than thin and watery so for me that packet is necessary.

Here are the directions from the back of the bag that I used.
Brown 2 pounds of beef in a skillet (I used a dutch oven) or saucepan. Drain fat. Dump in one 8 oz. can tomato sauce (of course I didn't have any so I used one 15 can of diced tomatoes and didn't drain them) and 2 8 oz cans of water (again I just used my best judgement for the water since I like thicker chili). Add large Spice packet and salt to your likin'. If you want it hot, dump in some cayenne pepper (Small Red Packet) but go easy unless you're real brave. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. For thickier chili, mix Masa Flour (White packet) with 1/3 cup of water, stir in and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Makes 6 1 cup servings.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Weekend Dog Blog
(Left to right) Sadie, Charlie and Moose want to thank Sweetnicks for hosting the Weekend Dog Blog. This is where old quilts and blankets go to a doggie bed.

Watching Weight Oriental Style
I can’t say that I am LOVE Chinese food but it’s good and it is one of the easiest cuisines to make healthy I have ever cooked. How easy are a few teaspoons of a good quality of oil in a very hot pan with cut up veggies? These days you don’t even have to take the time to cut up the veggies. There are so many different kinds of vegetables that are already sold shredded or cut up. You can even go into some grocery stores and use the salad bar vegetables instead of cutting up things for yourself. I used to think that only super lazy people cruise the salad bar for what they were going to create at home, until I had to use cut up broccoli. The lack whole heads of broccoli in the produce section of my local store had to give way for me to be creative. I quickly found value in that salad bar. Eating crow sticks in my craw!

Eating out is off the table for this month so I had to actually plan ahead and cook dinner. Since I am trying to eat healthier, I whipped out my Weight Watchers Flex Points cookbook. I found two recipes that tripped my trigger at that moment and dashed out to the Asian Market to gather up supplies. I got to do one stop shopping this time. I do love not hopping from store to store at $2.27 a gallon for gas. Here is what was for dinner last night. We will be eating leftovers tonight. I have to work today and know that I will not feel like cooking.
Stir-Fried Sesame Bok Choy-Serves 4
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 pounds baby bok choy, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar (not really necessary)
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sesame seeds

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables-Serves 6
1 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 TBS finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 TBS Asian sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS sesame seeds
5 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups cooked brown rice.

What Snow?
I remember a really cute young sailor telling me in 1979 that it NEVER snows at the beach. He lied. In 1980 there was a blizzard…need I say more?

I didn’t watch the weather last night. I was spinning. Then at 3 am when 4 tiny bladders said they had to potty, I climbed out of a perfectly warm comfortable bed to this…

Monday, January 09, 2006

Crockery Cookery
Last weekend I knew that I would be really busy so I looked for a way to do dinner without "doing" dinner. I am famous for buying appliances and then deciding after using them once or twice I wasn't that happy with them. There is an exception to every rule and I have one; the Crock Pot. I have been married almost 27 years and still have the very first crockpot that we were given. It's the kind that you can't take the ceramic bowl out of to wash, so it got little use. What a pain in the keester.

I was cruising through Sam's one day and saw a Crock Pot on sale for around $50. I checked out the box and it had the removable kind of bowl and a second bowl that was divided into a main dish and the "what ever" section. I am guessing the "what ever" is meant to be a side dish of some sort to accompany the entree. I have never used that bowl but maybe some day I will.

I love things cooked in my Crock Pot. Since I am trying to lose more weight I had to find something that would come close to a Weight Watchers recipe. I found such a recipe in the book Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery.

The recipe is called Chicken Cacciatore. It was so simple and it really was great when it was done. As usual I didn't really follow the recipe. Why should I change now?

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 5-6
1 (2 ½ to 3 ½ pound) broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp dried basil or oregano
½ tsp lemon
¼ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup rose wine
1 TBS sugar
½ green bell pepper, sliced
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup mushroom, sliced
Cooked pasta

I threw in all the ingredients in, covered the pot, set the timer and walked away knowing that dinner was going to be ready when I said so! The especially nice thing about this crock pot is the fact it has a timer for 4, 6, 8 and 10 hours of cooking. The recipe called for 5-6 but I set it for 8.

I threw in all the ingredients except the pasta and just let it go all day. We did eat the dish over pasta. I had bought the Garlic and Basil Penne pasta from Trader Joe's so we ate that. I have to say that my kitchen smelled like heaven while the chicken was cooking all day. Later while the pasta boiled, my mouth got watery smelling that in conjunction with the Cacciatore. I will warn anyone who does do this dish to be aware about how tender the chicken and how you will have to pick for bones before you eat too far into the chicken. I could not get it out of the crock pot without it just falling off the bones. That part was tricky, but well worth it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Trading at Joe's Place
I got this idea from S'kat at S'kat and the Food. We recently got our very first Trader Joe's in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I was just beside myself they finally had seen the error of their ways of only doing business in the Northern VA, Washington DC area. I had written two letters more than several years ago begging them to come and give us more choices besides the Heritage. I am all for competition and Heritage really doesn't seem to have very much of it. I also begged Whole Foods too. I still have hope that they will come here and fill up some huge empty box store spaces.

I wasn't able to make the 45 minute drive from my house through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel before Christmas to spend quality time at Trader Joe's but went yesterday for a spending freenzy. S'kat had already been and did a blog entry about what $100 would buy at TJ's. So I thought I would give that concept a try and see how our purchases differed.

TJ's was crowded and people looked like they were high on the fact that they had a new place to buy organic and unusual foods that regular grocery stores around here don't normally carry. My husband and I just started at one end of the store and the high began. Here is the list of everything that we bought and it came to $97.04. If you read the whole list you will notice a theme in some of the items. This theme goes along with the 10 Foods I Can't Live Without.

1. Whole Grain Rye Bread
2. Low Fat Kettle Chips
3. Baked Blue Corn Chips
4. Papudums, Tandori Masala Snacks
5. Black Mission Figs
6. Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans ( My sister-in-law from Dallas got me hooked on these babies and they really do equal a cup of coffee for me!)
7. Kitchen Basics Beef Stock (stranglely enough my local Farm Fresh only carries the Chicken and Vegetable stocks-wonder why they don't carry beef?)
8. Pomegrante Juice (My husband saw a thing on TV about how Pomegrante juice is good for you on the Today Show on Saturday.)
9. Villa Tialia Grapefruit Soda (curosity got the best of me-I don't make it a habit of drinking soda.)
10. 5 lbs of Mc Intosh apples (I have been on an apple kick)
11. Whole Wheat Hamburger buns (I really have sticking to my guns about eating whole wheat breads and they discovered they made whole wheat buns-I was tickled that I could have my Boca burger on a whole wheat bun. I know, I know, it's just silly.)
12. Dried Pesto Tortellini
13. Garlic Basil Penne
14. Garlic Basil Rotelle
15. Dry Roasted and Salted Pistachio nuts
16. Dry Roasted Salted Almonds
17. Thai Lime Chili Cashews
18. 2 bags of dried Blueberries
19. 1 bag of Mixed Berry Medley
20. Dried Cinnamon Apple Rings
21. Dry Roasted Pine Nuts
22. Multigran Breton Crackers
23. 1 lb fresh Asparagus
24. 5 lb Clementines
25. 4 pack of assorted flavored Goat Cheeses
26. 3/4 lb. Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate

I didn't buy any meats or frozen items because we left the ice chest at home by accident. Next time I think I will concentrate on those items. I have to say that I had a great time and think that shopping at Trader Joe's will have to be done with a great deal of personal restraint. I could have spent my whole monthly budget in there. While I am not eating organic as a regular thing, I found that there at lots of items that I do like that happen to be organic. All in all, it was a day out and I know I will be a regular customer, but one who has a list and a set amount to spend.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Culinary Challenges for 2006
I have been putting off working on my blog entries for 2006 because I have been thinking about how I would like to see this year evolve for my culinary life. I have been professionally cooking as a Personal Chef since 1997 and think sadly, I have not expanded my horizons often enough. I know that some of you that come here to read my blog have already accomplished far more than I have and may find this list on the amusing side. Yes, I went to culinary school but not every chef is an expert in every field in cooking. Okay, now that I have confessed that I lack in certain area of my culinary education I can move on. Which brings me to my list. I was thinking all during my Christmas vacation that I needed to make a list of things that either I do poorly or not at all. So here is the list so far. This list will be ever evolving so stay tuned. As soon as I accomplish one I would like to replace it with another challenge. So here is the list as of today...

1. Tamales-Dawn at So Cal Foodie inspired this. She sent me a lovely gift over the holidays and I want to show her that I used her thoughtful gift. Enclosed in the envelope was a really cute little gingerbread man. He has a little string hanging from him and you pull the string and his arms and legs move in unision. Also there was a little gingerbread cookie cutter. I love cookie cutters and have a huge drawer full of them. Last but not lest there was a small bag of dried Chilie peppers and a recipe for homemade tamales. I am a native Texan and sadly can't make homemade tortillas or tamales.
2. Souffle-I watched someone in culinary school make a carrot souffle once and want to learn how to do this. I doubt it will be something that I will fix on a regular basis but I think it's a challange that I can rise too. Yes, the pun was intended! lol!
3. Fish-Now, this is a really broad category but I seldom eat fish. I know it's a healthy source of protein that I need to eat at least once a week, so I am going to try different fishes. I am not fond of Salmon but will suck it up and give it a try again.
4. Bread-another broad category. I love to bake bread. I am not very good at it and have gotten away from it. I will sell the bread machine in a yard sale this year to insure no back sliding to the easy way of doing things.
5. Homemade Pasta-I bought this wonderful hand crank pasta machine while at a conference and have used it a sum total of three times. I love pasta but don't have a clue how to do it. So I would love to try and experiment with different types.
6. Creme Brulee and Flan-Since I am lactose intolerant I don't usually eat this kind of thing. For me it's a painful food, but I would love to learn how to do them and do them well. Plus my mother bought me a little Creme Brulee set for Christmas and if she ever reads this blog, she will know that I appreciate the gift and it will be used.

So there is my little list. I hope that others of you will feel inspired to try new things that scare you but delight you at the same time. What is that saying, "It's not the destination, but the journey". So I am going to try to make 2006 a more exciting journey for myself and for those who come to read my blog.