Monday, September 8, 2014

Childhood favorite

There is no wonder why I have a fondness for the oceans. Not, only am I a native Californian, born in Berkeley and raised in the beautiful scenic wonderland known as Oakland, California.... ocean is in my blood. As a small child the fearsome five (me my Mother, Father, Brother and Sister) would venture to the Ocean at least once or twice a month..

Destination San Francisco! Nothing like the Pacific Ocean inches away from soft sand. Waves crashing and the laughter of seagulls above. We'd build sandcastles, read books and run on the shore barefoot. The ocean waters are cold, but the crisp air is fresh and clean. Afterwards we'd walk up a short hill to a San Francisco landmark known as the Cliff House.

Ocean crab, scallops and lobster to name a few were my favorite dishes to order at the Cliff House. The panaramic view is one of the many sites to see in Northern California. There is a great deal of history found inside of the humble doors of the Cliff House. Built in 1863 the Cliff House has been a haven for Senators, Presidents, celebrities, City-goers and locals. The building has gone through several transformations since 1863 along with the surrounding area. Gone are the Fair Grounds (replaced by apartments) and the glamour of yester year. However, the tradition of great food lives on.

Visiting places of my childhood brings back memories of laughter and sand filled shoes and a passion for food and elegance.

Cooking with love and a dash of passion for food and San Francisco made every recipe taste better at the Cliff House. To read more about the history and current restaurant at the Cliff House to go:

Monday, September 1, 2014

CIA ... Culinary Institue of America

 
The Culinary Institute of America located in the beautiful tree lined streets of Saint Helena, California. Needless to say, I've been anticipating this culinary tour for months. Timing each minute with precision to our departure, arrival and focus to touring one of the best known culinary schools in California. What is it they say about anticipation?  Benjamin Disraeli said, " What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens." Well, in this case Benjamin Disraeli hit that quote with a bulls-eye. And, I don't mean that in a "Oh, boy that was a great tour" kind of way.

First I have to admit, we were running a tad bit late. Late meaning that, when traveling with others who have never been or set foot in wine country in YEARS, give them time to revel in all that the wine country has to offer. Let them savor that last glass of wine, let them lounge at the table having exciting dialog with friends/family. Don't push it... it's way too hot in wine country to rush. Secondly, consider ... if tour cost money ask what you will get for your $10.00 per person? Third, do some research before you go, such as location, timing of the tour and identify a purpose. In this case the tour did cost $10.00 per person, even my 13 year old Niece.

The tour itself started out fine with a historical viewpoint of the institute with glass cases, upon glass cases of kitchen utensils of years past. Actually, the 15 minutes of a woman pontificating about the winery, the selling of my beloved Christian Brothers land to help build the institute and the legacy were pretty interesting. At least to me. I'm a GAEL and spent many memorable times at the Christian Brothers landmark on retreats in High School and College. So learning of the separation of a..literally Church to institute followed by me cheering very loudly, 'GO GAELS!" No one, I mean no one, other than myself understood what that meant. Even the tour guide gave me a sneer of "how dare you darling interrupt me". Well, at the end of her lengthy monologue we were placed in the hands of a graduating student to take us on the tour of the facility. At which time, my trusty LECooks resident Techie, Seraphina, said "Wait, what?!? She leaving us?"
The space was beautifully decorated. A nice mixture of the Old and The New regime. However, I felt the tour was lacking something. Something personal. The Student Guide pointed us from one floor to next with enthusiasm, but no personal interaction. One finger to the left, this is where we prepare our meals". One finger to the right, this is where we "Baker's" clash with the real "Cooks". Two fingers straight ahead and this is where we are holding a wedding reception this evening and no... don't go past the imaginary line. No sign. Just the stern glare from the guide. See the barrels in the picture. Yeah, the one to the left. The barrels have carvings of influential Vintners from the past to current day on each barrel. Being the curious little Gemini I've always been... I wanted to see. But, no. That's not allowed. Maybe I was hoping the tour would be similar to Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. Now, that was a tour! No cost. Personal floor by floor tour of each section of the gallery. Introduction to Chefs' left and right. Most of all ... and dare I say the most seductive of the entire tour, was the caressing of a stand mixer almost as tall as me. Now, that's sexy kitchen machinery!
So disappointed. So much so if,  I or even a impending student was considering enrollment, I'd have to take pause... and wonder. There has got to be somewhere else to learn the culinary arts. My opinon aside. I hope the school offers an excellent education and promising opportunities to it's graduating students. After all they are in the middle of wine country with land so fertile even in a drought magic still makes it into each bottle and on the many restaurants in the area.
I don't mean to give any one sour notes on the place.... just ask question. Do your research and know why you are taking the tour. On a positive note... the hand made chocolate in the gallery on the first floor next to the gift shop is really good.
Cooking with love, makes every recipe taste better.... and I'm sure they cook with love... I just wish they put the same love into their tours.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Napa Valley Farmer's Market ....

Note: Yesterday, August 24, 20014, Napa Valley experienced a 6.0-6.1 earthquake. Many of the business, families and land suffered damage in the wake of the 3:20 am PST quake. My wishes for a speedy recovery for all and prayers to continued safety.

Having spent most of my time as an adult in wine country either sampling wine, being educated about wine or wandering the roads on an adventure... One thing is true. Napa Valley is magical.

By all accounts The City of Napa is the beginning of what most Northern Californians call the foot of Wine Country. Fertile land, sun drenched days and cool breezy nights make this location a must visit if you travel to California. The Napa Valley Farmers Market is not an exception. A rather small venue with local and unusual products that you most likely will not find anywhere else. For instance, The Pasta Poetry ... freshly made pasta from porcini pappardelle to parsley pappardelle and beyond. The artisanal pasta is rolled and delicate to the taste. I couldn't wait to get home and prepare a meal with the porcini pappardelle with wild mushroom, shallots and parmesan cheese. In the midst of my preparation I would have paid my sweetie to venture out to buy sherry, but he didn't trust me alone with the main dish... thinking I would eat it all.
Such a wide variety of flavors. However, I think the best time to visit Pasta Poetry's stand is the beginning of spring when the flowers are just in bloom. I've heard that her pasta with wild flowers is divine. 
On to the local honey. I try to make it a habit to buy local honey. It’s supposed to be good for the immune system. But in this case, how can one pass up on honey from the wild flower fields of Napa Valley? Or the honey from fields of lavender? I sure didn't' and the scent alone is intoxicating.
Worth the trip. Yes! Yes! And Yes! For those of you looking for hand rolled pasta, you can locate Pasta Poetry on Facebook and at http://www.pastapoetry.com/. Warning: This pasta will NOT sit on your shelves for an eternity. But, then once you taste it ... you find many reasons to eat it all way before the expiration date.
 
Cooking with love, makes any recipe taste better ... and from my experience from the farmers to the vintners in Napa Valley they do the same with all their ingredients.
 



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Napa Farmers Market

By all accounts The City of Napa is the beginning of what most Northern Californians call the foot of Wine Country. Fertile land, sun drenched days and cool breezy nights make this location a must visit if you travel to California. The Napa Valley Farmers Market is not exception. A rather small venue with local and unusual products that you most likely will not find anywhere else.
For instance, The Pasta Poetry ... freshly made pasta from porcini pappardelle to parsley pappardelle and beyond. The artisanal pasta is rolled and delicate to the taste. I couldn't wait to get home and prepare a meal with the porcini pappardelle with wild mushroom, shallots and parmesan cheese. In the midst of my preparation I would have paid my sweetie to venture out to buy sherry, but he didn't trust me alone with the main dish... thinking I would eat it all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Living it and loving it!

August 22, 2011 was the first day a post was entered on blogspot for Lady E Cooks. Three years later I never imagined the impact the blog would have on me, my team and the readers. Three years later I can honestly say the journey has been well worth it.

Like most stories journeys don't spontaneously happen with the click of a mouse, a mobile phone camera or the tap, tap, tapping of a keyboard. My journey began years ago, at age 10, lying on the family room floor being mesmerized by the culinary genius of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and even The Galloping Gourmet.

I have to pay props to my Mother and Father. They noticed their baby girl was transfixed by PBS and cooking shows and stepped into action by immersing me in all things food. My Grandmother was even shipped in to teach me the Copeland Family recipes for gumbo, corn fritters, and lemon cake …even her holiday fruit cake. I was a sponge. Shortly after I started creating my own recipes, testing recipes and forcing my family to eat whatever I prepared. My most famous recipes I created Garlic and Scallion mashed potatoes and Lousiana Sweet Time Potatoes (In honor of my Grandmother). The best day was when I prepared a meal for my parents. The china and silver were placed elegantly on the marble table. The crystal glasses were spaced just as my Mother had taught me. And the napkins folded with care. The dish, I will never forget, was my very first Cheese SoufflĂ©. Science, imagination and creativity came to life in each spoonful.

You’d think the journey would have continued. However, life happens, distractions take place, foundations are shattered and sometimes even a child’s self-esteem waivers during adolescence. So the twist and turns of life take you down roads, like College, marriage, divorce, graduating from Law School, touring the famous Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, relationships that end and a multitude of job layoffs. After the fourth layoff in three years, I yearned for an opportunity to shift into a new direction with confidence, happiness and inspiration.

The journey led me right back to where it began … laying on a family room floor absorbing knowledge and finding joy in my escape called food. Imagination, inspiration and creativity…my old friends. Along withJulia and Jacques who were waiting for me with rerun TV series and antique books found at flea markets and bookstore. Hand in hand, they brought me from a depth of doubt and frustration, while Julia posthumously breathed a new version of life into a grown woman. Coupled with a driving force, once denied and now accepted/acknowledged. My love for the written word.


Three years, a new team member (my Niece Mahlet Copeland) countless readers around the world and the US, 100+ articles, with 5.452 views and hours of tasting, testing, reading and writing has landed me in the middle of joy. With a dash of inspiration from new friends like Giada De Laurentis and Ina Gratin. The road ahead will include completing my French lessons, parle en francais, video clips, more adventures in Northern California and a vision for five year anniversary article in France.
Here’s to food and writing … always remembering cooking with love, makes any recipe taste better. ...and similar to cooking, sometimes finding your true joy has to marinade, stew, grow, bake or boil over to manifest in your life.

Special acknowledgement to my team members, Seraphina Uludong who is my rock and Jeanette Robinson for bringing your talents to the team. To my lovely Niece Mahlet Copeland...welcome to the team and hopefully whatever I've learned over the years from your Great Grand Mother to her child (Grandpapa) you will absorb the culianry arts like I did.. You are my video Guru! Love you all! Most of all ... THANK YOU to the readers both on Facebook and the blog. you're the reason I continue on the journey.

XO
Lady E



Monday, August 18, 2014

Treasure Chest of culinary finds ..

Culinary arts is more than just food... and in this case it's about fun finds at the Alameda Flea Market in Alameda, California. It’s interesting to me… I’ve been writing our blog posts for 3 years (and counting) and in addition, I’ve been reading and researching other blog posts. Very few blogs focus on the other four senses for readers. Where do you find cultry at a reasonble price? Place settings old fashioned or elegant? Plates? Turines? I could go on and on....

I thought of this while walking the many miles of rows of the Alameda Flea Market. Rows upon rows of just about everything that is in the sphere of the culinary arts. My favorite item was the four foot tall wood carving of a Chef which included the handheld chalk board. He was, amazingly, only $80 dollars, but I hesitated (always financially conservative) … but, the image of him has been lingering in my mind ever since I walked in the opposite direction. If it is meant to be ... he will come back into my life.

The antique salt and pepper shaker with glass holders in the shape of grapes on a vine. the silver lids unscrew to fill either side with salt or pepper. So darling and reasonably priced. These would be perfect for a Tea Party, Wedding or Bridal Shower, Wine Tasting at home... and last but not least Dinner for Two. Throughout the Flea Market there are hundreds of vendors selling anything and everything related to food, including the ever present caste iron skillets…every vendor has a stand with their version of the kitchen staple.

So what is my mission from now on? At least once per month feature the unspoken and unrewarded part of cooking … the ambience, the staging, the visual art so to speak that increases our senses to more than just the joy of cooking...and eating.

Cooking with love makes any recipe taste better … napkins, glasses, centerpieces all contribute to the overall experience and joy.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Not food related...but profound words to following and living your dream...

Jim Carey gave a very heartfelt and profound graduation speech that sums up how I became a writer.

Live boldly
Love profoundly
Embrace and share your dream and do what you love.

If link does not work, please go to YouTube and search Jim Carey graduation speech. 

Full Speech: Jim Carrey's Commencement Address at…: http://youtu.be/V80-gPkpH6M