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Crooked Sky Farms

Guess what I got to do on Friday morning?!?  I got to go on a private farm tour! So how did this lucky event come along for me?  As usual, it’s all in who you know. 

I met Jennifer Woods back in October 2011, when Peggy and I attended that super cool dinner at The Accidental Yard – CLICK HERE to read all about it. Jennifer is a full time mom to Patrick who is 5 and two-year-old Gretchen (pictured above), a contributor to Chow Bella (CLICK HERE to read just one of the nice articles Jennifer has written about me), and the Marketing Manager for Crooked Sky Farms. Yeah, Jennifer has a full plate!

Anyhow, Jennifer emailed me a week or so ago and asked if I’d like to tour the farm. Would I? Heck, YES!!  There was supposed to be a group of us but the others rescheduled (maybe because they looked at the forecast and noticed that Friday’s high was supposed to be 112 degrees!).  So I met Jennifer and her two adorable, outgoing, well-mannered, articulate, farm-enthusiast kids at the farm at 8:00 AM.

We jumped in the Gator, which looked something like this, but without the hay in the back, and headed out into the fields.

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June 2, 2012   3 Comments

Christmas side #1

This is one of the two side dishes we had for Christmas Eve dinner to accompany a pork roast.  I also served a pumpkin and chipotle soup. The soup, the second side, and the pork recipes will be posted in the next couple of days, but this corn pudding was, by far, the favorite dish of the night!

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December 28, 2011   1 Comment

top it!

I made this cornbread to go along with my Two Bean-Two Corn Chorizo and Poblano Chili on our “no poultry” day (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving).  But is equally delicious served with leftover turkey and gravy or with a creamed turkey mixture served over the top.

I even toasted a half slice and had a poached egg on top for breakfast, it is that versatile, so top it with anything you would like.

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November 25, 2011   1 Comment

no poultry

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, the last thing any of us wants to eat is turkey or chicken! In fact, today – the day and night before Turkey Day – is the biggest day for pizza delivery for the entire year! Bigger than Super Bowl Sunday, bigger than New Year’s Eve (we always ordered delivery pizza for our kids that night just as we were heading out the door), bigger than any other day! Why??? Because everyone is sick of cooking, the refrigerators are full, and we are all anticipating cooking and eating turkey tomorrow!

In honor of the “no poultry” unwritten rule, I’ve got some spicy chili for your dining pleasure. I purchased a package of chorizo bolita at the Mexican market thinking I was going to be trying some new and exciting style of chorizo.  After some internet research, I learned that chorizo bolita is just regular chorizo in little links. Bolita means pellets. Oh well, I tried, and it turns out it is a convenient way to buy chorizo. You can cut off as many links as you need and then repackage and freeze the rest in smaller amounts. I used 3 pellets, or about 5 ounces, for this chili recipe. Plus I really wanted to cook and slice the chorizo as links instead of cooking and crumbling it as I usually do.  Removing the casing very carefully and then cooking the links in a bit of water, gave me the exact result I was looking for.

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November 23, 2011   4 Comments


Last Monday morning, once Marissa had left for work and I returned to her apartment after taking Dave to the airport, I sat down to eat lunch. It consisted of a boxed salad I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s the day before. My plan was to eat half of it and save the remaining half for lunch on Tuesday – that didn’t happen.

I scarfed down the entire tasty thing.  Monday night, when Marissa came home from work, we jumped in her car and headed back to Trader Joe’s to do her “big” grocery run.  She would finally have stocked shelves, refrigerator, freezer, and wine rack and could stop eating like a “third grader with a drinking problem.”

Instead she is now a young woman with healthy choices and plenty of nice wine to accompany her adult meals. (Did you know that in California “Two Buck Chuck” is actually two bucks, well actually $1.99?  Not that the $2.99 we pay in AZ is a bad deal, but I always wondered why it was called “Two Buck” when it really cost three bucks… now I know.)

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August 8, 2011   6 Comments

Christmas or anytime

Just because I’ve named these Christmas custards, don’t think that they wouldn’t be good anytime of the year… in fact – it has been requested that I make them again for New Years Eve, and I just may!

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December 28, 2010   No Comments


I wouldn’t actually call this true “fusion” cooking, but the idea is mixing two cuisines, in this case Italian and Mexican.  According to Wikipedia, Fusion cuisine combines elements of various culinary traditions while not fitting specifically into any. The term generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.  So, true fusion cooking would do a bit more than just add pepper jack cheese and corn to risotto!  No matter, it’s delicious anyway. [Read more →]

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June 5, 2010   No Comments

summer colors and classes

Today is the final day of the first week of kids’ summer classes. I had a great group, 9 darling girls and 1 adorable boy. Connor is a fantastic assistant, so all is well and wonderful. Wednesday was “Mexican Day” and this beautiful and fresh salad was one of the featured dishes. Quite a bit of slicing and dicing, but after the initial prep work, it comes together in a matter of minutes, making it a great do-ahead choice for a summer menu.

Nine of the 10 kids from week 1 - with their creative individual pizzas

Another happening on Wednesday was my appearance on Valley Dish with Tram Mai.  It was a bit more hectic than usual, what with cooking with the kids all morning, cleaning up from class, then prepping and packing to go to the station…  So a couple items were forgotten at home, but we managed to make it through the show. My friend, Sharon Salomon, who is a writer for Edible Phoenix, interviewed Tram a couple months ago and their article is in this summer’s issue.  The editor of the magazine, Pamela Hamilton, generously drops off a box with 100 copies each summer for me to hand out to my students.  I took a dozen copies to Tram yesterday and upon reading the article found the sweetest quote from her right about in the center of the page. Here is a link to the article that made my day.  And if you’re local, Edible is a wonderful local resource, I highly recommend subscribing to it!

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June 4, 2010   3 Comments


On Sunday, my friend and neighbor, Ronnie had a party to introduce and welcome new neighbors to “the hood”.  She made this colorful fresh and flavorful salad that we all went crazy for. It is inspired by a recipe she found in a cookbook by Rick Rodgers.

I had two servings, and would have had a third if I could have gotten away with it! The original recipe called for 3 ears of corn to be roasted on a grill. This simple take on that uses frozen roasted corn kernels found at Trader Joe’s.  One medium cob of corn yields about 3/4 cup of kernels. So that is convenience item number one.  

And here is number two … a new way to freeze and store chipotle peppers. As you know, chipotle peppers are sold in cans and they are packed in adobo sauce. The sauce is just about as good as the peppers themselves, spicy and smokey and just so addictive. I can’t think of a time when you would use an entire  7-ounce can of the peppers. Recipes most often call for just a few peppers and then you have the rest of the can to deal with.  In the past I have  placed the remaining peppers on a small greased baking sheet, frozen them, then removed the frozen peppers and placed them in ziplock bags to freeze. But now… I have an even better way. In the majority of recipes the peppers are very finely chopped, so why not freeze them that way?

First place all the remaining peppers and all the adobo sauce left in the can in a food processor and puree it. Next, carefully spoon the puree into the little holes of an empty garlic cube package. What is a garlic cube package, you ask. In a prior post, I told you how much I love to use the minced garlic cubes sold at Trader Joe’s. My freezer is full of them… so I reuse those empty containers and now I always have chipotle cubes on hand too.  One chipotle cube equals about 1/2 chipotle pepper. Plus they pop out just as easily as the garlic does.

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March 31, 2010   3 Comments

casserole – are you excited or disappointed?


Say the word “casserole” and you will generally get one of two typical responses… a huge smile filled with excitment from the person who knows that something hearty, filling, and tasty is about to come their way… or a turned up nose and rolling eyes from the person who envisions a sticky, gooey, mess of food about to be forced upon them.

Because of that second reaction, I was tempted to call this dish a “Bake” instead of a “Casserole”.  I even searched through online thesauruses looking for an alternate name, but call it what you may, it’s a casserole.  And exactly what is that?  A casserole is an ovenproof dish sometimes with a tightly fitting lid, made from earthenware, glass or metal. The word ‘casserole’ also refers to the mixture of food itself which is prepared in the oven in this dish. The word is derived from the Old French word casse and the Latin word cattia meaning a “frying pan or saucepan.” As often happens, the name of the cooking utensil was used for the name of the dish.

So, if the word if derived from a French word, then how does it end up sounding so pedestrian? Maybe it is because, when some of us were growing up, the contents in the casserole dish were often called “surprise”, as in Turkey Surprise, or even worse, Spam Surprise; almost a guarantee that this would not be a happy or delicious “surprise” at all!

As with many casseroles, this one is made using leftover meat, pork from Christmas dinner, to be exact. Feel free to use another leftover meat, such as chicken or beef in place of the pork. Additional vegetables can be used as well; bell peppers, green beans, kidney beans, or whatever you have on hand or dream up. I used a mix of three different “green” salsas to get my 3 cups needed, do the same if you have a mix of jars in your refrigerator.  I hope the only surprise you receive upon making and tasting this casserole, is that it makes your taste-buds sing!
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December 30, 2009   No Comments