A food blog is something I've been thinking about doing for a while now, long before Julie and Julia became the phenomenon it is now, believe it or not. However, I was recently inspired to follow through with my threats because, to put it simply, life is hard. Allow me to elaborate...
While I promise to limit personal diatribes to an "as necessary" basis, I've been in a personal and professional slump lately, a preface I feel you need to know in order to understand my intentions. I have been working toward a masters in English since January 2009, a program which I entered into immediately after earning my B.A. in English (with minors in Italian, Technical Writing, and Psychology) in December 2008. For those of you keeping track, that's a mere month and a half break. As I dive into my sixth year as a college student, I'm finding that my poor little locomotive is losing steam far more quickly than I anticipated. I have also worked for the university in one way or another since Fall 2008. I am now a graduate-level Research Assistant and the head editor of the print and online editions of a creative writing publication.
Having my work and studies all conveniently rolled into one has provided me with allowances and opportunities that I would never have known otherwise, and I wouldn't change that for anything. However, this also meant that my life was entirely consumed by this ONE THING. This caused me to spiral into a pattern of doubt and depression. Every hour of every day was spent wondering what I was doing and why I was doing it. And was I really on the right path? As time went by, I found myself clinging to the one happy and pure thing in my life, and because of this (and without going into too much detail), I almost lost it forever.
Fast forward to the present day, and my realization that there is another thing in my life that has always been there for me: FOOD. Mmmm, food. How I love thee. I love trying new restaurants and cuisines. I love cooking new recipes. Oh, hell. I love eating. I'll admit it. I know you're not supposed to say that. In today's girthy, fast food nation, we're supposed to pretend that we have more to look forward to than our next meal, and heaven forbid this culinary free fall be a calorie-fest of shame and guilty satisfaction. "Oh, that Big Mac box? No, that's not mine. And that's certainly not my donut, either."
As I mentioned before, I began to drown and when this happened I had a daily, nay, hourly fantasy: that one day I would walk away from my job, my studies, my student loans, and the future I've been planning for (for as long as I care to remember) and seek refuge in a culinary school, where I would spend every day wrapped warm and snugly in the arms of my secret love: food. Then reality sets in, and although I think (maybe? possibly?) I've chosen the right path, I need something more.
So here we are. Amateur Noms. My escape from my every day life, courtesy of my kitchen, my grocery store, and my internet. I haven't set a specific goal on how often I'll be posting. Sometimes there will only be one post for the week. Sometimes there may be several. I'll also be updating with different types of posts, as well. Because I love to try new recipes, I'll share with you my epicurean journeys. However, in my years spent experimenting in kitchens of all sizes (they weren't all winners, I assure you), I've also created my own dishes, which I will be sharing here.
For all of you with a television that rarely strays from Food Network (much to the annoyance and chagrin of your housemates), for all of you whose mailbox is filled with food magazines (and you could actually jump up and down from excitement when they arrive), and for those of you who cook for others just so you can hear the Mmmms (no matter how much you fake humility)-- this blog is for you.
Oh yeah, and just for your own information:
Number of current food magazine subscriptions: 4
Number of food magazine offers waiting to be mailed: 3
Favorite Food Network chefs: Paula Deen, Sunny Anderson, Mario Batali, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown, Claire Robinson...
For my first recipe, we'll start off slowly. This is a southern snack staple and a favorite since my childhood: Boiled Peanuts (or Goobers, if you please). Although the recipe doesn't take very much effort, it is one that takes a lot of time from start to finish, so please don't begin this recipe until you have the time to dedicate to it.
Upcoming recipes: Curry (my first!), Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Irish Soda Bread. The curry has been put on hold because I haven't been able to find curry powder at my local grocery stores, much to my annoyance, and I'll have to actually make the trek to another town for it.
1.5 pounds raw peanuts (shells on)
6 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
6 quart (or larger) pot with lid
Pitcher/large cup (for adding water)
1. Pour the raw peanuts into the colander and rinse them with cool water until the grit has washed away. Meanwhile, pour the salt, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves into the pot.
2. Add the rinsed peanuts into the pot with the seasonings and fill the pot 3/4 full with water. The peanuts will float, but don't worry! As they cook, they'll submerge.
3. Cover and cook the peanuts at *medium-high heat for 2-5 hours. Every half hour, stir the peanuts and check the water level. Add more water as needed. The fresher your peanuts are, the faster they'll cook.
4. After 2 hours, pull a peanut out of the water and test it. When the peanuts are just past al dente, they're ready for the next step.
5. Turn off the heat and allow the peanuts to sit in the pot with the lid on for an hour.
6. Drain the peanuts in a colander and pick out the bay leaves. Allow to cool. Store in a ziploc or storage container in the fridge. Enjoy!
*Medium-high means that your water should constantly be at a rolling boil, but not high enough that the water boils over when the lid is on the pot.