Is there a point where you pass being proud of having written so many posts and move into “Am I really still doing this?” No? OK good because I’m still happy writing and still enjoying my blog. I hope you are too. I decided for this milestone to share my 5 Tips to Greatly Improve the Taste of Your Food and 9 Thrilling Facts About Me.
But first! I have received requests and I have listened. Now, at the end of each post, you have the option to email the recipe. You can send it to yourself, your friend, your mom. Hopefully someone who appreciates being emailed recipes. Thanks, as always, to my amazing designer Kaytlyn who was able to figure this out and implement the change in less than 24 hours. Also, this is the third non-food related post I’ve written in a row. Yes, I remember this is a food blog. So to thank you for your patience and endurance, I promise to talk about food – with emailable recipes! - Monday through Friday of this upcoming week. Deal? Hope you enjoy.
5 Tips to Greatly Improve the Taste of Your Food
1) Always make your own salad dressing. I know store-bought is easy and it keeps forever. It is also expensive and contains ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Making your own, once you get in the habit of doing it, is super quick and easy and you most likely always have the ingredients on hand. You can make it to your taste (I like mine with a lot of bite), it will keep for a week or more, it tastes much better, and is much less expensive.
2) Whenever you can, use fresh herbs. And a lot of them. There is a time and place for dried herbs. Something that is simmering for a long time on the stove (like a sauce or a stew) is a great place to use dried. The subtlety of fresh would be lost in that case. Same goes with roasting in the oven. But other than that, the flavor is fresh herbs is so lovely and adds so much to your food. Fresh rosemary and fresh oregano are strong, so you might want to use a light hand with those two, but otherwise you can be generous with your fresh herbs.
3) Throw out your spices. I touched on this when I wrote about my favorite gingerbread cookies. Spices have a shelf life. Most people agree it’s about a year. They don’t spoil, they just lose their oomph. As we were packing up from the year we spent in London, I found out that we were not allowed to bring any food stuffs back into the U.S. Not even canned goods. So I had to give away everything in my little kitchen, including my considerable spice collection. I saved all my jars and, once back home, I restocked everything. I was blown away by how much better my food, savory and sweet, tasted with new spices.
4) Always use fresh citrus. Those little plastic lemon shaped bottles of lemon juice? Don’t buy them. Or do and then taste that juice next to the juice of a fresh lemon. No comparison. Fresh lemons (and limes and oranges) keep very well in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and they also have the added benefit of possessing zest which is super flavorful. I don’t think a Microplane would work on a plastic bottle.
5) Never buy bagged cheese or cheese in a tub. I know, again, the convenience is tempting. Grating cheese is one of the kitchen tasks I like the least. But grated cheese has been mixed with things like flour or cornstarch so that it doesn’t stick together and who knows how long that cheese has been sitting in a bag. Buy a hunk of cheese and grate or slice it yourself. It is one extra step for a lot more flavor. Do the same with feta or blue cheese and the increase in taste will be more than worth the work.
And now, 9 Thrilling Facts About Me. I did this once before for my 300 Posts post.
1) In my life I have owned six cars and they have all been different colors. Red, dark gray, green, silver, blue, and black. It looks like yellow is next, huh?
2) My favorite color is purple. My least favorite is yellow. (See above.)
3) My name and my husband’s name are both unisexual (is that a word?) Meaning that a guy or girl can be named Dana or Randy. In fact, before I met him, the only other Randy I ever knew was a girl in my grade school whose sister, coincidentally, was named Dana. The only other Dana that Randy ever knew was a giant African American man.
4) I have been practicing yoga for 14 years, taking a couple years off while I was having my kids, nursing, dealing with infants, etc. You might think that means I can put both my feet behind my head but I am very very far from that. I started off doing Bikram yoga for a year and it almost destroyed my back. Fortunately, I found my way to the Yoga Tree, a wonderful studio in Seattle, where they teach Iyengar based yoga. Iyengar is the yoga of alignment so I really learned how to do the poses correctly. I now try and practice 3 times a week and it is truly what my body likes best. If you are tempted to try yoga and are scared off because you are “not flexible”, know that strength is equally important to flexibility. Being tight allows you to learn to use your body’s own strength to open up, rather than just flopping into poses.
5) I am a big reader. I subscribe to the New Yorker and I always have a book going. I like modern fiction, the good stuff, and have read some really terrific things in the last year. Lord of Misrule, A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Land of Marvels. I’m currently reading The Marriage Plot.
6) I sometimes suffer from crushing self-doubt when it comes to this blog and this food-related job that I have created for myself. I start to feel some of the same insecurities that rocked me in middle and high school – not pretty enough, not smart enough, not working hard enough, not getting invited to the right parties. Sometimes I just want to back away from it all – blog, Facebook, Twitter. It is during those moments that I honestly ask myself why I am writing this blog – why I have been writing it for all these years. And the truth is that it is for me. I love that people read and share, I love that I have met some amazing people and have made some lifelong friends. I love that I have been able to start teaching classes and that a big driver for those classes is my blog. But ultimately, I am keeping a record of my life through food so that someday, we as a family can look back and see what our life was in these years. I don’t say this as a cry for sympathy or a request for praise. I just want to put it out there that, at times, I feel very inadequate in this space.
7) My 20th college reunion is this year in June. I’m alternating between excitement and horror. Randy and I went for my 10th. We were about to be married, we stayed in the same dorm where I lived my freshman year, and I had a blast. I remember looking at the tables of 20th year people thinking that would probably be the next reunion I would attend. Early 40′s, married and kids seemed far away. And here I am.
8) People ask me, at least several times a week, if my hair is naturally curly. Yes, my hair is naturally curly. Then they say that they always wanted naturally curly hair. I’m confused by this. Why do straight irons, Brazillian blow-outs, and places whose sole point of business is to blow out curly hair exist if curly hair is so desirable? I, in keeping with the tradition that the grass is always greener, have always wanted straight hair, but at the ripe old age of 41, I have made peace with my curls.
9) In March, Randy and I are going on a trip to the country that is about as far away from Seattle as you can get. Guesses? Book recommendations?