Lazy Weekends, Conferencing and more

8 Aug

Spring was here a minute ago and now summer is running by too fast. I made plans for what I was going to accomplish this summer and here we are, smack in the middle of it and I have done nothing –  except for baking. Talk about priorities. I wanted to get ahead and start canning and making pesto, but our garden didn’t quite    collaborate. So, I resorted to baking muffins and scones. Blueberry scones are the best and an excellent source of….goodness (?), especially if consumed at breakfast. Imagine waking up and knowing there is one of these beauties waiting for you and your tea. That’s my kind of morning, people.

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Most of the times, my baking is done on weekends, when it’s too hot to move and too humid to breathe…welcome to Virginia in the summer. Sure, the oven is on, but so is the AC. Win-win in my book. Baking is my release from life, from stress, from anger, from sadness, from exhaustion.  My brain works in overtime most days. I over analyze things to a point of no return.

So I bake – I follow a recipe (most of the times), I add this and sprinkle that, and I am at ease. I guess the best part is waiting for the results to come out of the oven. Baking is immediate satisfaction.

The smell from the oven veils every action I make and I would not want it any other way. I am not one to worry about my figure, I like to eat and I eat…if a few pounds magically appear on my body, it’s not the end of the world. Of course, everything in moderation.photo 3

Making Gelato is a rather new activity of mine, but I’ve enjoyed it since childhood. Here is proof. Francesco and I received a pretty spiffy ice cream maker as a wedding present a few years back and we have been best friends ever since. Francesco loves hazelnut and I love chocolate…queue melting chocolate and toasting nuts in the oven. The chocolate ice cream recipe I follow is a few recipes pieced together, but the main ingredients are: 2 (or more if you are me) ounces of bittersweet chocolate to melt, 2 1/4 cups of whole milk, 1/3 cup of heavy cream, 3/4 cup of sugar, 4 large eggs and 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s a deep, bitter chocolate gelato, but I don’t think there is anything better.

I love the meticulous steps needed to make this dessert: the chopping of the bittersweet chocolate; the melting of said chocolate in a hot bath (never in a microwave) that produces a dark and thick chocolate paste; the whipping of eggs and sugar and the later addition of warm milk. It’s really no surprise that the gelato was gone after less than 2 days. Francesco and I are big fans. Guess what I am doing this weekend?

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I have decided to add a pinch of myself and my life into the blog. The food I make is the reflection of me, my family and my culture. I hope you’ll stay for the ride.

I look around the web and read food blogs at all the time, but I don’t follow trends, food or otherwise, and I have no interest in making something a much bigger deal than it is. I started this blog because I love writing, cooking and eating. This is my way of sharing my passions and keep writing on an almost daily basis. I don’t take super professional photos. I use my phone. I am not interested in what a dish looks like, or whether the lighting is just optimal. I am much more interested and invested in the taste of it, its flavor profile, whether it needs more honey, vanilla, salt and pepper or whathaveyou. This blog is my kitchen diary in rough draft form and I am totally OK with it.photo 4

In another aspect of my life, I have a new job in marketing and communications. I get to come up with logos, play with colors, use social media, learn about new platforms and occasionally go to cool and interesting conferences. Couple of weeks ago, I was at the American Marketing Association’s OnPoint Conference for nonprofits. Since I am on the board of Market Central,  a nonprofit organization that supports all aspects of the Charlottesville City Market and of the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, I thought I could learn a few new tricks of the trade and apply them to my passions…and my job, obviously. Did you know that by 2030, millennials will be 75 percent of the workforce? Scary.

The experience was not complete without a food outing, of course. And photo5in Crystal City (Arlington, Virginia), restaurants abound – think Jose’ Andres and Top Chef alumn Spike Mendelsohn. It was decided that Spike’s Good Stuff Eatery was the way to go: burgers and milkshakes…and there is nothing better than that particular food group after all-day panels.

Holy mooly. It was delicious – really good burgers (cheeseburger for yours truly) and lots of steamy french fries. The perfect ending to a fulfilling work day.

What’s your favorite after-work meal?

One Response to “Lazy Weekends, Conferencing and more”

  1. Becky August 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    I love everything about this post! My garden has not cooperated on the pesto thing either and it’s good for me to hear I’m not alone. The beetles have had a field day with my basil, the other critters everything else I planted and I’m threatening to just give up the whole gardening idea.
    I will be definitely trying out that ice cream recipe soon. We have a new ice cream maker here and as it’s summer, we need ice cream every night.

    My favorite after work meal is whatever Chef Daniel of l’etoile puts in front of me. I love having someone else decide what I’m eating, prepare it, serve it and best of all, clean up the mess.

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