This post is going to be about several things so don't let the jumping around trip you up, it's just my ADD mind at work.
First off, Julie of Noshtalgia tagged me for the 8 Things Meme. Thanks, Julie. This is a fun one!
8 Things You Didn't Know About Me:
1. All of my books look like hell because I read in the bathtub. I've only ever actually dropped one in but the steam really messes up the pages.
2. I made ice cream for a living for a while but the cold from the deep freezers kept making me sick. Guess what? That's how I found out I have asthma.
3. I have a not-so-secret addiction to both Sonic vanilla limeades and Braum's regular limeades. I like the vanilla from Sonic but the Braum's limeades are more tart. it's a mood kind of thing.
4. One of the kids in Respiratory School nick-named me "G Spot", hence the name of my personal blog.
5. Gene and I are such character actor fans that we play a game. Whenever we see an actor that rings a bell with us we try to name as many credits as we can before we go look the person up on the Internet Movie Database. For example, on last week's episode of Big Love, the owner of the video poker machine company (Jim Beaver) played Mr. Ellsworth, the mine foreman who married the Widow Garrett on Deadwood. See how that works?
Let me tell you, it took ME a full season before I figured out Ted Levine, Captain Stuttlemeyer on Monk. Gene got it right away and laughed his A** off at me every time I'd sit and miss the plot of Monk because I was saying out loud "WHERE IN THE HELL HAVE I HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE?" Finally, one night Gene said, as I was washing up the dishes or something, "Hey, come watch this movie with me." I took one look at the screen and said "I've seen that a million times." But as I turned around to leave the room, I heard HIS VOICE, whipped and around and screamed "NO F****** WAY!"
Anybody get what I'm talking about?
6. Halloween is my favorite holiday.
7. I'm from the south in my heart even if I technically miss it geographically by about 30 miles, so it hurts me to admit I hate "swet eye tay", known to the rest of the country as "sweet iced tea". Straight up and with several slices of lemon, please. I like a little tea in my lemon water, to be more accurate.
8. For some reason, I have no idea why, I accomplish writing more pages on my novel when I'm sitting in a restaurant or pub with blaring music and people talking all around me than I ever do sitting in my quiet office typing on the computer. I call those excusions the Hemingway Writing Tour.
I tag the following people along with anyone who sees this and would like to "reveal" themselves:
Kyleen @ The Texan New Yorker
Deborah @ Taste & Tell
Cynthia @ Tastes Like Home
Tanna @ My Kitchen in Half Cups
Alisha @ Cook. Craft. Enjoy.
The New Mrs. Q :-) @ Butta Buns
Margaret @ Kitchen - Delights
Rachel @ Foodie Rachel
Brian @ Recipes for the Future
Mehgan@ A Craving for Perfection
Candy @ Eat Here Get Gas (love that name)
Jaden @ Steamy Kitchen
Check out this cake made by Muffin of Never Bashful with Butter for Sauce TV. This is a gal who bakes cakes and makes lychee & lime martinis. Well, hell, I'm thinking I found a new friend. She runs two blogs. The full story and more pics of the cake are here at A Muffin Story.
Next, a couple of new blogs I've seen lately--
Mehgan, stationed in Washington with the Coast Guard, is an avid baker who not only has her husband to cook for but a very eager little brother. She's at A Craving for Perfection.
Brian, another Missouri blogger, writes Recipes for the Future. One of the things that got my attention was his suggestion of adding a bit of cardamom (you know I love that) or cinnamon to the crust of a cheesecake to turn the flavor up a notch.
I love that Denise at Plain Ol Food isn't afraid to blog her disappointments along with her triumphs, along with some cute pics of family.
Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has great food and THE MOST adorable pics of her two pre-school boys helping her make German Baked Pancakes. These boys are going to be heartbreakers someday, gorgeous and good in the kitchen. Reminds me of Paula Deen's sons...
And finally, click below for the recipe Thomas Keller created for the signature title of the movie Ratatouille. I haven't seen the film yet but can't wait. The New York Times ran an article talking about how Keller (The French Laundry) was consulted on every step of kitchen and cooking in the movie and that he was very impressed by their dedication to getting it right, even down to how the knife work looks.
I'm so jealous. Become an animator for Pixar, get to take cooking lessons from Thomas Keller. It doesn't get much better than that.
Hmmm...it's Friday...this would be a good movie day, don't you think?
Also, I find this really clever and amusing but wish I could remember where I saw it. On some message board, I saw a posting by a couple who said that their baker went out of business ONE MONTH prior to their wedding. Rather than let it ruin the celebration, they notified close friends and family what had happened and had guests, if they wanted to participate, bring a single cake to the wedding which they then had sort of a mock cake contest. I really loved that. I think it showed a great deal of that couple's character. I used to plan weddings for a living so I've seen the kind of brides who would have let the cake thing ruin their wedding and seen it as a tragedy and a victimization. It did suck. Truly. But I loved the way that couple turned the situation into something fun and very memorable. So memorable that for the next wedding in my family I might even suggest it.
Adapted from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, Yountville
A byaldi is a layered vegetable dish. This one rests on a layer of piperade, a Basque specialty of sweet peppers and tomatoes cooked in olive oil.
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bay leaf
1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Koshersalt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme) Koshersalt and freshly ground black pepper
To make piperade: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
Combine oil, garlic and onion in medium skillet and cook over low heat on stovetop until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch ovenproof skillet.
To prepare vegetables: Heat oven to 275 degrees. In center of skillet arrange 8 alternating slices of vegetables, 2 each of zucchini, eggplant, squash and tomatoes, over piperade, overlapping in a circle so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Continue alternating and overlapping vegetables in close spiral that lets slices mound slightly in center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.
Mix garlic, oil and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover skillet with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. If desired, reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)
To make vinaigrette: Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
To serve: Heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Cut in quarters and very carefully lift one quarter onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate.
Adapted from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, Yountville