Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Off the Catwalk’ Category

Nomad Libs – Move Story Complete

The story of our move to New York is now complete on Nomad Libs.  Click the link in the menu bar at the top of this blog  if you’d like to read about a dog “episode” in the car, Lisa plus Eight, courthouses, dolphins and other adventures during our 5,200+ miles of wandering this summer.

Joy to You,



Wanna-Be Food Blogger Nabbed by the CIA

Molly and I visited the Apple Pie Café at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY yesterday. I guess I missed the signs that said I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. When I snapped one right under the nose of the man standing behind a case full of treats I was informed of the policy. I apologized and put my camera/phone away. (Maybe next time I’ll print up a Kitchen Catwalk press pass and wow them with that…if I can keep a straight face.) Fortunately, I had already stored a few shots and the kind gentleman didn’t seem troubled by that, so here are the ignorance-is-bliss images.

Do you see any signs that say no cameras?

Toasted Meringues. These got the camera binge started – like photographing clouds indoors.

I was mainly focused on the cookies in the bottom row. They looked pretty good. I’m going to work on a brownie-like cookie next winter and the Ranger Cookies beside them caused Molly to recall a recipe that she has in a box at home that needs to be tried again. See…this was official blog work.

The baguettes looked delicious but they were not actually twinkling. That was a special and totally intentional camera effect I was after.

This was the shot that got me nailed. I can’t even identify most of the items in this picture. You could water board me and I wouldn’t be able to give up the culinary secrets contained here. I will however tell you to go and try some of these. The students and staff are lovely and charming and the food was wonderful.

No more photos.

Visualize with me: for lunch, I ordered a Portobello sandwich with soft goat cheese, red onions, and baby spinach tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and Molly got oven-roasted turkey with gruyere cheese, cucumbers and chipotle mayonnaise. We traded halves so we each got both. (Kids, these were no PBJ’s!)

We were full and happy after the scrumptious sandwiches, but we are Americans. We push through the satiation point and move on to dessert!

Okay, two more photos.

It started innocently. I had a legitimate reason to pull my phone out of my purse. I was nearly 3000 miles away from my family. Then I reasoned that these were my cupcakes. I bought and paid for them (well, actually Molly did, but my point remains). I could take their sweet little pictures if I wanted to. So, I bravely pretended to be texting in order for you to see the Brownie Cupcake with fudge frosting and the Pink Lemonade cupcakes that we shared.

The frosting was so light and fluffy on these little dabs of decadence. Molly says she’s going to learn how to make this sort of frosting and she bought a camera today. Maybe she’ll share her wisdom one day.

I am going to find sugar crystals like this before molasses sugar cookie season starts.

Here we are in front of the Culinary Institute Restaurant building’s front entrance. How many homeschooling moms does it take to take a self-portrait with an i-phone?

Here’s the view we were facing. The CIA campus is beautiful. If you ever have a chance to visit, it’s worth the trip.

While we were in the neighborhood it seemed rude not to stop and visit the Roosevelt’s.

What do you think of this recipe for fruitcake, Mr. President? (Fruitcake was one of his favorites.)

Victorian Tea – Tour of Tables

As I mentioned in my last post, our church has a Victorian Tea each spring. I was on the kitchen staff which meant I had the chance early Saturday morning to see all of the beautiful tables that had been set up by the hostesses the prior evening. I decided to take pictures. Some of them are missing centerpieces that probably arrived later in the day while I was busy with food, but they were still beautiful. I’d love to hear which ones were your favorites if you care to comment!
We’ll start with the first table I photographed, which was also probably my favorite. I love the colors and theme. The tea pot is an Appaloosa horse, which is named for the area where we currently live – The Palouse.

Here’s the table that was set by Shelley who did a marvelous job of coordinating the whole event. I love the colors and the fun bottles of old-fashioned soda she set out for her ladies.

Here you see beautiful soothing colors from our very-gifted Children’s Ministry coordinator.

Fun bright colors from one of our most dedicated youth workers who just had a precious new baby.

I love the feminine feel and colors of this classy table.

This one had gorgeous china and napkin rings with a cute tea-cozy from The Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC if I’m not missing my guess?

What fun colors with the classic vintage glassware on this beauty.

Serene colors and a very dignified arrangement for this lovely table. Photography falls a little short on this one.

I’m a sucker for blue and yellow, so this was one of my favorite tables. I loved the lemon drops and little packages. (I would like to know what was in them but I resisted the urge to sneak a peak in the empty room on Saturday morning.)

More fun and festive colors from a very fun hostess. I wanted to sneak some of those malted eggs too. Good thing she had them tied up in such cute bundles.

Here we have one decorated by our middle-school girls with the help of my delightful neighbor. It had a gummy theme, with gummy worms and bears. Adorable!!

The high school girls, with the help of our youth pastor’s wife, decorated their entire table with duct tape. The flowers for the centerpiece were even made of duct tape. It was really cool and I’m sure that the girls at the table have a cooler word than “cool” to describe their work.

By contrast, this one was so classy with its formal setting and lovely gold utensils and chargers.

This table was almost as striking as the beautiful hostess. Her husband helped her set it and the red was gorgeous.

Here’s another fun one that really fit the vivacious personality of the hostess.

This setting was by our pastor’s sweet wife. I love that her daughter’s places were set with extra special care.

Here we have one that was simply gorgeous and so well appointed.

This table was by our International Pastor’s wife. She is the nicest lady you could ever meet. Her centerpiece was pictured at the top of this post. Check out the dishes and tea pot.

Another one of my neighbors set this one. (I live on a very talented block.) I love Fiesta ware and the colors on this pretty table were so vibrant! I couldn’t resist taking an extra picture of the place set for her daughter.

The last table I photographed had one of my favorite centerpieces. I like the combination of deep colors and spring flowers – very fitting for the spring we’re having on The Palouse.

Thanks to Shelley and all of the hostesses for such an extravaganza of eye candy!
If you’d like a behind the scene’s look in the kitchen, go to my prior post.

Victorian Tea – View into the Kitchen

Our church has a Ladies Victorian Tea every spring and for the last two years I’ve gotten to work in the kitchen for the event. It makes me feel like a member of an elite team. I’ve dubbed it the dream team because these ladies are so good that it’s a dream to work with them. Sandy moves so fast, she couldn’t even freeze for a photo.

Susie and Sandy are the ones who do all the planning and they are geniuses when it comes to large scale production with pretty presentation. Sandy handles most of the sweet treats and Susie is the sandwich and salad queen. Diane and I do what we’re told, as efficiently as possible. A lot has to happen at the end of two days of hard core prep work.

There were 160 ladies this year seated at twenty tables, so everything had to be done 160 times and divided into groups of eight to be placed on trays for the twenty servers. To complicate things further, some things need to stay cold until the very end and the kitchen barely holds 20 trays set out at once, let alone the one’s were trying to load for the next course. Garnishing has to be done at lightening speed! It’s fun.

This is the list of courses:

Day one of preparation looks something like this hodgepodge. Thankfully, we had some extra help that morning.

On Saturday morning it all starts to come together.

Sandy handles the scones which go out as the first course.

Then the parade of tea sandwiches begins.
The cucumber sandwiches were very cute. The dill and pimentos on top make it pretty and force us to hustle at the end! Here’s Susie holding out the first prototype.

Then, she repeated the procedure 160 times.

Egg salad is spread on egg-shaped bread with a little “yolk” window cut in the top. Diane and Ruth cut all of those tops and bottoms…and cut all of those cute little holes. I made the filling and we all worked fast to poke little parsley sprigs in at the last minute.

The turkey avocado sandwiches don’t require cookie cutters so they assemble a little bit more efficiently, but they are garnished with – get this, blanched chives tied into a cute little knot – a sandwich bow tie atop a tomato. Picture me and Diane tying knots in 160 little sprigs of blanched chives. They were adorable…once we were done.

Next up is pasta. Susie handled this one and it gives us a breather during the rush. Easy to put on trays and no garnishes at the end, but delicious!

Kebabs were the very pretty fruit of Sandy’s labor with a sweet creamy dip.

Once the fruit is out, the dessert round begins.

The lemon cupcakes were wonderful – another one of Sandy’s masterpieces.

These little Bavarian cream tarts were Susie’s idea and they came with pre-baked shells, which was great. I got to pipe in the filling and put the raspberries on these little guys.

Last, but certainly not least…brownie bites. Oh, how I wish you could taste the raspberry cream frosting on the top of these guys. I LOVE chocolate and raspberry! Thankfully we had a few extras to “check for quality” in the morning.

Of course, it takes a lot of tea for a Tea. This was about a third of the final pile. We brewed 12 batches in large pots.

In my next post I’ll show you the GORGEOUS tables!

My Man’s First Married Meal

I got married about 20 years ago, young and naive, but very blessed. Ric was a great catch.

Poor guy! He had no idea what he was in for the next time I fed him!

Our honey moon was a five-day drive from Macon, Georgia to South Prairie, Washington. My grandmother lived there and it was conveniently close to Fort Lewis, where Ric’s first assignment in the Army was to help supervise ROTC summer camp for two months before proceeding to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

We were newly-weds in my Grandma’s house which was weird, but my grandma was very cool and we were pretty close to broke, so the price was right.

The price was also SO right on a perspective apartment in Lawton, Oklahoma that we decided I should go ahead of Ric to nab that dive before any other bottom feeders snagged it. The trek with two cats in a Blazer and a trailer that I couldn’t backup is another story, but it places me in Oklahoma, well out from under the umbrella of Grandma’s cooking, to greet my husband upon his triumphant arrival.

I should mention here that I didn’t know how to cook anything that mom hadn’t dictated via notes atop my formative kitchen catwalk (that’s the countertop) regarding what to drop in the crock-pot before I left for my days in middle school.

But…I was married now.

So, I tore into to the stack of wedding gifts and unboxed my very own slow cooker, with a chic early ’90’s cornflower adorning the poorly designed crock. I was in my microscopic culinary comfort zone but married life called for something sexier than the meat and veggies that mom had always set forth.

Chili, of course!

I can’t even remember what I might have dumped into that mess, but I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t humble enough to consult a cookbook. Ugg!

Anyway, everything was fine until Ric was getting closer and the chili was runny. My solution seemed ingenious at the time – yellow cornmeal! After all, chili goes SO well with cornBREAD. Surely dumping cornMEAL into chili would be a tasty way to soak up extra “juice” and perfect my first wifely culinary offering.

For the record, cornmeal does NOT smooth out the texture of runny chili. It hangs tough in the face of tomato acid and remains just as hard and grainy as it is raw. And, the chili is still runny.

After 30 hours on the road, Ric arrived to his first romantic, home-cooked meal.

I wish you could see the color in my face twenty years later as I recall that first taste. I learned a valuable lesson that night about my own kitchen intuition and began to consult the printed work of experts.

My officer and gentleman never acknowledged any issues. What a man!