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2009: The year of discovering my inner culinary goddess

The year was 2009. It was a blank slate.  A fresh start from so many bad memories. And somehow, it ended up being my year in the kitchen.

I didn’t intend to flex my cooking muscles. It wasn’t even a resolution.

It happened organically. Hosting a party here, cooking a meal there, starting a fire and a tradition that will forever be known as Fire & Wine night.

And suddenly I had a new forum to try all these new recipes, and people who were as excited about eating as I was cooking. Not to mention a blog audience who was pretty pleased to read about my kitchen exploits!

And so, I present to you: Highlights from my kitchen 2009: A Q&A interview with myself. (Because no one called for the exclusive.)

Q: What surprised you the most in your kitchen this year?

A: Probably the amount of time I spent in there and how happy it made me. I always knew I liked to cook, but I didn’t know it could become such a powerful hobby. Also, getting a kitchen with a gas stove when we moved in September was a pleasant surprise.

Q: What 3 ingredients in 2009 became your favorites to work with?

1. Crushed red tomatoes – I have absolutely fallen head over heals for crushed red tomatoes. And the funny part is, I think I maybe used them once or twice before this year.  Now, I don’t know how I’ve been using jarred pasta sauce all these years when crushed red tomatoes were just an aisle away. Also, I’ve found so many new ways to use them – enchilada sauces, soups, enhancing veggies.

2. Pork – I don’t eat beef, and I get so sick of chicken. There are so many cuts of pork that I haven’t used yet, but every pork recipe I made in 2009 was delicious. Plus come on, bacon? I re-romanced myself to bacon this year. Back in my pseudo vegetarian days (pseudo b/c I ate fish) I thought bacon was something I didn’t like. Look, we all make mistakes in our younger years. Mine just happened to be thinking I didn’t like bacon.

3. Mushrooms – I have always loved mushrooms, but this year, they made their way into more dishes than I could ever have imagined. If I weren’t marrying the fiance, I’d probably marry a mushroom. Because I love them that much. Oh, and I’m cheating here, but how good are mushrooms with thyme and heavy cream? Those two ingredients just need mushrooms. Kind of like me.

Q: What was your greatest culinary achievement?

Hands down: the turkey. It was just so big and ominous. Plus, I felt so much pressure to wow my future in-laws. Not to mention the 5 gallons of broth I made for the brine. That was pretty outstanding.

Q: What intimidated you the most before you tried it?

Risotto. I don’t know why, because it’s so easy now. But something about the process of it, seemed unattainable to me. Honestly, we have it at least once a week now. I’m in love.

Q:What cooks inspired you this year?

Well, attending Blogher Food was probably the best thing I could have done for my kitchen mojo. But there were a few chefs and bloggers who had I not discovered in 2009, I would not be the cook I am today:

Simply Recipes, Steamy Kitchen, Macheesmo and Blog Well Done. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Pioneer Woman. That said, I am thrilled that in 2009 I got to meet all but one of these amazing cooks and bloggers in real life. (Macheesmo – I’m gunning to meet you someday!)

Q: What was your biggest failure in the kitchen?

Do I really have to answer this question? (Yes, Stephanie. You asked it.) Oh yeah. Ok, well the Chile Rellenos. I was a mess after those.

Q: What new dishes would you like to tackle in 2010?

Cornish hens, tasty tofu, a Spanish omelet, a savory tart, pesto & salsa (new food processor!), bread, homemade pasta,  pie crust…probably a million other things that I can’t think of now.

Q: What 1 event was your culinary turning point in 2009?

Probably catching that first oven fire during Fire & Wine night. Because DD Girl and I were already starting to get together for me to cook once a week, but suddenly it gave our night a name and then I came up with the idea that I had to cook something new each week. That really rocked my world. (And as Roomie claims, all of our waistlines.:))

Q: What was your go-to kitchen tool/cookware/gadget  in 2009?

Probably my cast iron skillet. Not only did it keep any wild animals out of the turkey brine, it also is my only stove-to-oven safe cookware.

So, those are my answers to this self-imposed interview.

Now is the fun part: you answer the Highlights from your Kitchen 2009 questions on your blog (if you have one) or on your Facebook page if you don’t. Even if you aren’t a mad crazy foodie, you should still play along. Because it’s fun. And I’m bossy. So do it.

Leave me a note in the comments to let me know if you posted!


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Seeing the world through pink colored glasses

Just because I’m going to Blogher this week doesn’t mean Queen of Quirky will be a ghost town. Oh no. It’s going to be rocking. In fact, it might even be better this week than ever. So stay tuned because there is a lot going on this week. 

To kick things off,  since I will be rubbing shoulders (and taking shots) with a ton of mommy bloggers this week, I thought I thought it would be appropriate to feature one of my favorite single gal mommies.2796_1154155891164_1145694898_434410_8319070_n

Meet Nicole. We met on a business trip. I’m not gonna say any more than that because I keep some separation of church and state on this here blog, yo. 🙂 But she’s totally awesome and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her.

Guys, this girl is smoking hot, and gives single moms everywhere a great name. Oh, and she recently met and started dating someone, so she’s off the market, but you can still drool over her. I would if I were you.

We totally bonded over our divorce stories. (Ex-husband jerks!) Even though (thank GOD!) I don’t have children, we could relate to one another’s sordid tales. 

Wanna get to know her better? Good because you are about to. She took some time to participate in a Facebook message interview for her new friends here in Quirkyville….

Q. You have two daughters and you work a full time job. What keeps you sane?

What keeps me sane….
I run. Running is a great stress reliever. I used to feel guilty about taking time to run but I have come to learn that I am a better mother when I take 45 minutes to myself to run.

Q. I know you love wine. So what’s your current fave?

There is a local winery called Adams County that has a great red. It’s called Three Ships. It’s perfect for summer time, not to dry and not to sweet. I also enjoy Hauser Estate’s (another local winery) Jenmy Wade White, but it is a little more on the sweet side.

Q. What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?

Several years ago I was asked to go to Annapolis, MD to ride jet skis. This was not a first date, had seen the guy several times. He was a perfect gentleman every time we had gone out previously. This time was NOT the same. First he couldn’t get the jet skis started so he decided we would take the boat in to town. When I was climbing in I handed him my clothes as I was wearing my bikini and sarong to take advantage of the sun. He dropped them into the water. So now they were soaked. Layed them on the seat to dry in the sun on the way across the river. Got half way to town and it started to storm! Needlesstosay, they never dried. He docked at a bar and climbed out. Again, I’m in a bikini and sarong. They wouldn’t allow me to sit at the bar w/o a shirt. So we took our drinks to go. He bought be a shirt so I could sit at the bar with him at the next place. At this place he proceeded to have several oyster shooters and several more beers. We then headed back to the house. At the house while I got ready to go out on the town, he drank an entire 6 pack of beer by himself. We drove into town and he chose sushi for dinner. I DON”T eat sushi. He also had several more beers. Then onto the next bar… this continued for a few hours! When it was time to leave he tried to jam his tongue down my throat in the middle of the street and I nearly had to slap him to get him to stop. Then I had to force him to give me the keys b/c there was no way I would ride home w/ him. Once in the car he tried to climb on top of me! At this point I did slap him. He finally passed out in the passenger seat. And here I was in a city where I had NO clue how to get out. I just started driving and praying I would make it home. I never saw him again although he did call and ask me to go away with him the following weekend! 

Q.  When we met, we bonded over our divorce stories, commiserating over failed marriages in our early 20’s/30’s. Do you think it’s made you a stronger person?

YES! I truly feel like what I went through at the age I went through it made me not only a stronger person but a better one. Better b/c I found myself I mean truly found myself, who I was and what I wanted. But I don’t see it as a failed marriage as much as two people who grew apart.

Q. Do you have strong opinions on Internet dating?

I don’t necessarily have strong opinions on it one way or another. I personally would not do it for myself but I know several people who have found their perfect match that way.

Q.What are some of the unqique challenges single parents with kids face when dating? How do you deal?

I think the biggest challenge single parents have when it comes to dating is time. Finding the time to get together with someone. Especially if both people have children. Most custody agreements allow one parent the visitation on the weekend and the other parent through the week. If schedules are opposite it is hard for people to make time. And then there is the problem of when things are going well and you decide to allow the children to meet the date. That has been a stressful sitation for me. One way I have dealt with these issues is to either A. only date people without children (that is getting harder and harder the older I get) or B. don’t date!

Q. What’s your favorite weeknight meal to cook your girls?

Well we are a very busy single parent family b/c both children play sports so we are not home a lot through the week. But when we are, my fav meal to make is either spaghetti or honey mustard chicken. I have been blessed with children that are very good eaters.

Q. You sure do like pink. What’s the dealio?

My favorite color is PINK. But I have also been called princess for a long time by co-workers and family. So pink is just natural for a princess! I am quite the girly girl so pink is just a given.

Q.One of my favorite things about you is the shock factor when you tell people you are a mother of two school-age girls (because let’s face it –you look 21.) Do you have a favorite story about that shock factor?

Well first let me start by saying THANK YOU! I don’t have a favorite story about that but not many people believe me when I tell them that. I often get the response “Did you start having children when you were 12” And I have also heard the infamous ‘you must be the older sister line’. The funny thing is my oldest daughter thinks that I am soooo old. I always tell her to ask all of her friends how old their mom’s are b/c I am certain I am probably the youngest and if not the youngest i’m def one of the youngest. I wouldn’t change it though. I enjoy the fact that I am young with my children. It makes for an interesting time. And my girls like sharing my clothes!

Q. What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not sure what the quirkiest thing I have ever done is. Is that sad? Maybe that means I lead an uneventful life… who knows? I belong to the Hanover Area Parrothead Society and we do a lot of fundraisers. Over Memorial Day weekend we were having a chicken bar-b-que to raise money for a lady that needs a heart transplant and I dressed up in a blow up shark costume and stood along the main highway in our town and flagged people down to buy some chicken. Does that count as quirky?

Yes, yes it does. And thank you, Nicole. Have a question for Nicole or a comment about the awesomeness of single motherhood? Comment. 



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