Feastly Fun – Part One

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For those of you who are wondering what Feastly is, let me tell you. It’s this wonderful website that connects people who love being a part of new dining experiences with those who love to cook for others. It’s so much more than going to a restaurant because you actually have the option of dining in either a cook’s home, a farm, a park, a warehouse, and so on. Think daily dinner parties with various settings where you’re constantly meeting new people and tasting amazing food. Sounds intriguing, right?

I’ve been hooked on this concept since last year and finally took the plunge towards hosting my first dinner. As you can imagine, I’m pretty much jumping out of my skin with excitement. The theme is “An Ode to Smitten Kitchen”. Both Naomi and I are guilty of loving just about everything that comes across Deb Perelman’s blog. If I ever meet her, I just might pass out (after getting her to sign her cookbook for me, of course). The dinner’s taking place on Monday August 16th at 6:30pm at my residence. The menu and other information can be found by clicking here. If you’re interested, purchase a seat and come join me!

In other news, the personal chef service is slowly but surely starting to kick off :-). One client gained, 3 more to go! By mid-fall, I should be sitting in a content place, if not before. My current client is gluten and dairy-free and so far it’s been a blast cooking for her. While I’ve known what restrictions come with gluten and dairy allergies, I never actually had to cook for someone who actually had those allergies until now so it presented an awesome challenge. It definitely allows you to get more creative with ingredients and substitutes. Take for instance, this vegan lasagna: zucchini “noodles”, tomato and red pepper marinara sauce with squash, onions, mushrooms, and herbs, and soft tofu with lemon, salt, pepper, and lots of fresh herbage. I’m not vegan but I’d eat this. Just needs some ground turkey or beef. The “noodles” were so simple to make, too. You just take a zucchini and peel away it vertically to make strips. This can be done to zucchini and yellow squash. Add spaghetti squash to that and you’ve got yourself a slammin’ pasta substitute.

Clockwise left to right: chicken breast with garlic herb "cream" sauce, Mongolian beef with jasmine rice, lamb stew, and vegan lasagna.

Clockwise left to right: chicken breast with garlic herb “cream” sauce, Mongolian beef with jasmine rice, lamb stew, and vegan lasagna.

The chicken dish had a creamless “cream sauce”: herbs, garlic, shallots, and unflavored almond milk thickened with a slurry. I have to admit, that was pretty tasty as well. Cooking for someone with a severe allergy has definitely opened my eyes to alternatives that work just as well, if not better. As much as I love pasta, cream, butter, and cheese, I might try to implement one of these into what I cook at home for me and the hubs. I’m a strong believer of having what I want in moderation, but it also definitely wouldn’t hurt to go just a bit healthier with some things.

Inching Forward to Get Back in the Saddle… and the Kitchen

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It’s going on about 5 months since I’ve cooked anything major, blogged, enjoyed anything real, and so on. Dinner’s been made a couple of times but nothing really major. The last time I was on here I was boiling over with starry-eyed pregnant woman feelings for everything food and baby-related.  Unfortunately, as some of you may and may not know my husband and I lost our son Anthony D. Younger II during a weekend in early February a few weeks before he was due to arrive. He was stillborn at 37 weeks and 6 days. Following that, due to severe medical complications, I was hospitalized until about the end of February. Thank God, my health is back to where it was pre-pregnancy. However, as you can imagine, nothing is the same.

The world is different. I’ve taken on a completely different way of thinking and feeling regarding everything and everyone. Waking up is different. Weekends are different. There’s a void, an empty space, and a bit of your heart goes with them when they go. Living is different because nothing has really turned out the way that I expected that it would when I found out that I was pregnant in June of last year. Life continues to go by but at that point you just feel so… stuck. Without the hubs I would go certifiably bonkers. People just don’t really get it.

The pain is consistent and unbearable at times. In addition to being alive, I’m also strangely thankful for it. Pregnancy memories are ever-present but time passes by so fast. Minutes, days, and weeks go by. Holidays come and go. It seems like only yesterday that everything occurred. The pain is really the only piece of him that I have left. You can understand why I’m holding on and feeling more than slightly frazzled and spread out mentally.

Cooking is the only thing nowadays that really seems to make sense and bring me a bit of joy. It also is a bit of a sad place due to so many hopes and dreams for my son going away when he did. Getting pregnant gave me a push in the entrepreneurship direction. Sixty percent of me wanting to start my own personal chef business so fast was so that I could be a mom and be there for the little things and the big things in the midst of carrying out my dream career. I wanted to be 100% involved. With that being said, I feel an obligation to do it still, to remember, to move forward little by little and honor his memory by striving to succeed. He lived. While it was only for a short amount of time, he lived. He’s no longer here so this fact is never going to be enough, but what can you do? It has to be.

So! I’m still on the mission this year. By the end of this summer, the legalities and tax requirements should be completed, the website should be up if not in progress, and the marketing will have started. It’s time to grab at every piece of happiness that I can find. I was on a bit of a hiatus but I’ve gotten back into doing the food events and recaps for Johnna Knows Good Food. I’ll be having my debut as a Feastly cook during the 1st part of July, so stay tuned for that escapade.

The mission: live and try to cry less, cook/work, eat, take care of the hubs, blog, and then cook/work some more? Yeah, that sounds about right.