A Few Changes: Gingerbread Granola

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

-I've been a little busy as you can see...-

I'm not one for clutter. Once a year I gather up all the clothes I haven't worn in a few years, the books that I realize will never be read again for they have no great memories or adventures of our times together stitched into the bindings, and perhaps a strange and warped kettle I had in college that has survived all the previous moves. They get stacked into boxes (or tossed into a bin if it's really no good) and it goes to the Goodwill where I leave it on the step and never remember to get that yellow donation ticket for my taxes.

I don't do it for taxes, though. I do it for sanity. 

I thrive on order and am an apostle to cleanliness in the most archaic sense. It doesn't matter how beat I am when I come home, or how terribly sick I may be, or if my deadline is in, "Oh shit, I have a half hour before this is due to my editor!" I will flagellate myself on a stack of dirty dishes until they're properly stacked and each wine glass sparkles like my credit score.

Christmas & Corgis: Vanilla Bean & Citrus Shortbread

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hey All,
So this weekend I hosted my annual holiday brunch and with that all encompassing event there was no time to really blog because I was cooking food for forty people all weekend.

So yeah...

Some Updates and BLAMS

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

-Also, 'muh tree is up. Yes, it's November. No, I don't care. See Cid the Cat? Cid cares. Cid basks in the righteous glow of a Christmas tree put up the day after Thanksgiving.-

Hey all, sorry, but I have no proper post this week. I've had about as much time to sit down and write this week as Glee has time to develop well-rounded character arcs. Which, if you watched anything past season 2, means absolutely none.

It's not that I encourage dealing out excuses for my short-fallings of which there are many - both valid and otherwise - but I sorta just got wrecked from all sides this last week. My new job has had me developing a database of every single counselor and financial aide officer in every high school and college in Northern California and Colorado, which has been sort of all-encompassing (read: suffocating). A million days later and a few more relatives later with the fact that Brian and I hosted a rather packed family Thanksgiving and I am drained. This also included keeping said family members entertained and occupied for three days.

Oof. I have been freebasing Advil for days.

Needless to say, blogging fell by the wayside a bit. It's not that the blog is unloved this week it's just, "Blog, go away and leave mommy alone for a minute because she needs a drink goddamnit." Let me tell you that once I hit the publish button me and this bottle of Zin next to me are going to bake some scones and be all swagger next to the Christmas tree that is already up in my living room because I loves me a tree up in November.

Don't judge me on this. I will end you.

Anyways... I have some updates and you like those right? BLAM! So here they are:

God Damn It: Pumpkin Butter

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


So today - this day that I am writing this and not the day this post is going up - is one of those days. One of those days where a string of unfortunate events all seem to connect and painfully pull each other along like a anal beads out of a virgin butthole. Let us go over the last few hours:

1. Decide to make pumpkin butter.

2. Hack open pumpkin and begin processing it. Somehow completely forget that I am totally allergic to raw pumpkin flesh. Hands, understandably, begin to swell and burn. The skin on my palms begins to peel away as if I have been scourged with leprosy.

3. Wash hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and vinegar - which stings like a bitch when you don't have a lot of goddamn skin - to get the proteins and amino acids that are doing this to me off.

4. Now wearing latex gloves, I rub the pumpkin flesh with olive oil. Pumpkin roasts in the oven. Mini-migraine now sets in. Rest for a while.

5. Dog finds errants pumpkin seed. The dog, apparently, is not keen on pumpkins either and promptly throws it up along with the rest of his stomach contents onto the bathroom rug.

A Case for Handwriting: Candied Chestnuts

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

-Chestnuts, a treat that demands a bit of sweat.-

So what happened to handwriting? It's a good question to ponder and after reading Philip Hensher's recent article from The Guardian, I think we all should. Handwriting is a task that involves a steady hand and practiced thought, and it's quickly disappearing from our world of electronic correspondence.

Everyone prefers to print these days, or so it seems, and that's fine. It's almost guaranteed to be understood, so that's a plus. But I feel printing lacks real and true conviction. I see it as a means to an end.

(Plus, I must admit, my printing is atrocious. Just... it looks like a third grader with Parkinson's. I am ashamed of it, so I never use it. Too much cursive crippled my print.)

While most of my classmates quickly abandoned their scripts like pets left behind after a move and cruelly put out of sight and mind I nurtured mine. For me, the strange looped G's and terribly affluent "z's" of cursive handwriting were a gateway. Cursive was a key to adulthood. A way to show sophistication and maturity. It was a means to set myself apart from my peers. But, most importantly, it was to model myself after my parents.

Halfway There: Lemon, Yogurt, and Almond Custard Pots

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

-I AM so lucky!-

Done, done, done.

So done.

A finished draft of the book with all its pictures, appendices, intros, and recipes tested by over 85 people has been turned into our editor at Little, Brown & Company. All 409 pages of it.

Four. Hundred. And. Nine. Pages.

So excuse me if my posting has been a little, short as of late. It's just, you know, 409 pages. The last two weeks I have done nothing but read-tinker-edit-futz-delete-edit-again-add-change-and-putz-with those 409 pages. I can recite whole recipes and headnotes to you from memory.

If we were to take an MRI of my brain all that grey matter would somehow resemble elbow macaroni and globs of melted cheese.


Mini Photo Essay: The Last Pizza Party of the Year

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A few friends got together to celebrate the last bit of warm outdoor weather we'll have for a bit, still with October in full swing the air did get nippy. Firing pizzas in a wood burning oven, plenty of red wine, and a few seasonal Ottolenghi-style salads made for a good way to stay warm. Of course, the camaraderie was probably the hottest thing there. The night was finished with apples tossed with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar cooked in the oven before being served with homemade vanilla ice cream and salted caramel.

God, I love my friends.

As for what pizza I made? Smoked mozzarella, aleppo pepper, kalamata olive, capers, and plenty of anchovies. Salty, like that cranky woman who sells me apples at the Farmer's Market and tells off color jokes even when children are nearby. (Loves it.)

-This fire, while cool looking, is burning way too hot for pizza.-

A Few Promises: Earl Grey Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

-I promise you will lick the screen. Like. A. Savage.-

I promise that I have done all in my power to destroy any pictures that show that I once dressed up - against my will, mind you - for a comic-con. Tiger stripes on my skin, white-dyed hair, and about 200 black belts were involved.

I promise that I still have that dog collar I wore in college.

I promise to judge people based on what email provider they use. ("AOL. Wow, really?")

I promise to be just a little wary of religious people.

I promise to remind myself not to be closed minded and to then judge a person based on who they are as a person and all the parts that make them up, and not just where they place their faith.

I promise to not edit myself at pretty much all times and embarrass people who are in my company.

I promise I have no idea and nor will I ever about football, baseball, or basketball. As far as I am concerned, last year's Super Bowl was just a Madonna concert with a pre and post-show athletics display.

Celebration: Moroccan-ish Chicken Stew with Dates and Olives (Plus Giveaway)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

-Changes may or may not involve stewed dates.-

I don't really ever adapt well to change. I mean, I adapt eventually, but often not without a good fight. Forget kicking and screaming. I'm usually attempting to chew the face off of whoever or whatever seems to be trying to get me to change some major aspect of my life.

However, when I myself am to blame, then said face chewing can be somewhat problematic (not to mention mandible-ly impossible).

I recently started a new job, and by recently I mean it happened all of the sudden with an interview, call back, and letter of resignation slash acceptance. Bam! Like lightning. I wasn't even looking, but when two friends call with what can only be described as near apocalyptic urgency insisting that you fire off a resume that would surely "make the heavenly Human Resources choir begrudgingly applaud,"it's wise to simply do just that.

Behind the Scenes of the Melt Cookbook Shoot

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This last few days the photography for the cookbook took place. It's essentially the physical marker for the halfway point of the book. A year ago we found a publisher and a year from now the book will be in print and, hopefully, resting in your hands waiting to be stained with cheese and smeared from use and love in your kitchen.

-A composed shot of cheese.-

Stephanie and I made our way down to Long Beach in Southern California, my old stomping ground where I grew up just thirty minutes south in Mission Viejo. Our friends, Matt Armendariz and his partner in love and creation, Adam Pearson, kindly took us on as clients and would be shooting and styling 47 recipes from the book as well as taking a few style shots and cover shots.

No Creativity Today: (A Link to) Pickled Okra

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

-Pickles and Instagram. Quality blogging here at Vanilla Garlic.-

This week I looked in my fridge and realized I just didn't care about being creative this week with my food. I was tired and exhausted. I had hosted a potluck days earlier that had been smashing and where I had cleverly whipped up a rather smashing sweet potato and blue cheese galette using only detritus strewn about the pantry that had been long since forgotten. I am currently in the middle of my last week at my job, and as a celebration I busted out - sweet Jesus - cupcakes all because none of them had had them before and I had worked in a cupcake shop once. They had never had them so why not now?

(Also, I am lying. I freaking bought the cupcakes from the bakery I used to work at. Happy?)

Add that to trying to cook a decent meal every night and I realized - have you ever experienced this? - I just didn't care about whatever food I made. Or, I did. But I my brain was frazzled. An entire year developing recipes for book, blog, and any other number of venues and sometimes you just hit a wall. The left side of your brain just gives you the finger and retreats to the corner with a glass of scotch.

"Eff this noise." Or so says my brain.

The Good Life: Gruyere, Blue, and Turkey Panini

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

-What defines a good life?-

The good life is having a jar full of rendered duck fat in your fridge.

The good life is celebrating a friend's birthday with a bunch of wonderful people while eating too much and drinking too much on a Tuesday night.

The good life is a Corgi who comes when you whistle the whistle from The Hunger Games.

The good life is coming home after pulling an eleven hour day to find that your partner has made pan seared Brussels sprouts with Parmesan, walnuts, Maldon salt, and said duck fat. These are then served with a glass of Riesling and nothing more.

The good life is having a reliable Internet connection.

The good life is finally painting that wall you always meant to get around to.

-The good life is having a cheese knife and board at the ready.-

The Wedding

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No recipe as I'm away at a three day intensive cheese education class learning more about the chemistry and biology of cheese. Instead I offer you the last wedding post. Seriously. Swear to god.

It's just a few of the thousand-plus photos, but it'll give you a good idea of what went down.

I encourage you to share these with a friend who doesn't believe in gay marriage. These pictures demonstrate that, obviously, Husband and I are a threat to their personal morals and the degradation of society as a whole. We must be stopped before we have brunch or something, which will inevitably - somehow - demean straight marriage and bring about some stylishly planned apocalypse. (I'm fuzzy on the argument. Send them here next for my rebuttal.)

At the end of the post is a copy of the reading from the ceremony, "The Day the Saucers Came," by Neil Gaiman. Wonky, odd, delightful, and involving zombies.

Our recessional music was Trip the Light, by Alicia Lemke. Upbeat and it felt very right. The perfect song to spend the first few minutes married together to.

Our first dance was, "Marry Me," by Train. The mother-son dance song was classically, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," by The Beatles. The group dance being some classic Aerosmith ballads ("I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," obviously). The last dance was, "Fly Me to the Moon," preformed by the dapper Olivia Ong.

I doubt I need to point it out but this post will be image heavy. Enjoy.

Garrett out.

Melt Website Goes Live

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hey all, just a quick little cookbook update to share with you all in a special post. The website for, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, went up today. On it you'll see information about the book, recipes, cheese information, and details about events related to the book that will become more robust with dates and times as next October approaches. Before then, though, expect a lot of interesting and engaging content that will baptize you in whey and lead you into the gooey, striny, meltable world of macaroni and cheese.

We have to thank our web guru, Ben De Jesus, for lending us his epic talent and HTML skills in developing this site. If you like what you see then be sure to check out his website (that is still under construction as he has been hard at work on our site).

There are a few other ways that you can stay in touch with what's happening in the Melt kitchen. First, you can follow us on Facebook, and you can chat with us on Twitter. You can also add our blog feed to your RSS reader or subscribe to blog posts by email, which you should receive every two weeks. We would also like to invite you to join our monthly macaroni and cheese newsletter, where we will share special list-only details such as giveaways, photos, and a few special recipes that will only be sent out via the mailing list. We promise to not share your information with anyone else, and we also guarantee that you will be delighted by all the luscious macaroni and cheese details we will be sharing to our list members.

Thanks a ton!



So This Happened: Chocolate Banana Waffles

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

-Enjoy this post where I just sort of let my brain purge out this story about awesome people and dumb people. Ranting ensues.-

So this takes place a few weeks Before Wedding, which seems to recently be the way I chronicle my life at the moment, B.W. (Before Wedding) and B.C. (Ball and Chained). The latter being a joke between Husband and I because we're sort of hand flitting away that concept that everything is supposed to be different now that we're married because it just is apparently. The thing is that it's not - everything is the same as before we were wed except now we have a lot of thank you cards to write and matching silverware that is just bomb to look at.

So yes, B.C. because we aren't actually ball and chained. Though I sometimes say I am ball and chained and Husband sort of sighs and walks away because this is how I am and I yell at him that he knew this before the vows.

Our life is surprisingly easy. For me at least. I don't have to put up with me and that makes it easier.

But we are good hubbies. We share chores, we talk things through, we discuss important topics like finances, voting, careers and where to bury that squirrel that committed harakiri in the tomatillo plant. There are no surprises. (We suspected the squirrel was bipolar for months and turned away help from his fellow squirrels.) At least, not the bad kind.

We're financially well-prepared for most anything that might come. Well, we're comfortable, at least. If my car suddenly implodes on itself as I suspect it will the moment I let my guard down I don't have to stress too hard about getting a new one assuming said implosion doesn't kill me in a fiery, wrought-steel hell cage on the Business 80.

Cookbooks: Peach Cobbler

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

-Yes, I keep the skins on the peaches. They give the cobbler a beautiful rhodocrosite color.-

So this may sound odd, but I'm not a big cookbook person. Most of my food friends have walls - literally, walls - stuffed full of cookbooks and their floors are dotted with towers of information on such topics as gluten-free baking and how to cure a tagine. Rooms are bordered by imposing culinary skylines pushed against the walls in order to make a path to the kitchen.

To me it's like a head packed to the brim with too many thoughts. No way to give them all enough attention or sort them all properly. And like thoughts, some are lost never to be seen again until one day you seem to trip over it out of the blue (probably when moving). Others are gems that you treasure and invest your time into while others are inane and you wonder how on earth this awkward tome came to be.

I ask these friends if they use all of these cookbooks. These literally hundreds - and for one, thousands - of tomes. Do you use them all? Really?

The answer is usually yes. Often followed by the modifier, "Eventually..."

Dot. Dot. Dot.

-I'm not sure I always believe them.-


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

To-Do List

-Wrap gifts. If I learned anything from working at Borders Books (you know, when it was existing and solvent) it was how to wrap better than those biddies at Macy’s during the holidays. Fold and tape, bitches. It’s something I actually enjoy doing.

-Write thank you cards. I already have a head start on this and have some specially monogrammed stationary for it. I have very posh handwriting (read: loopy and illegible) that looks smashing. The written letter is a lost art. People also love to get an actual hand written note as opposed to a text or e-mail. Their astonishment is both brilliant and a bit worrisome as this simple courtesy is apparently well in the ground.

-Let suit breath. It’s linen and I detest ironing above all other chores.

-Collect ice chest for ice. The wedding location is about 30+ minutes from the nearest convenience store so plan well ahead. It’ll be a hot August night and no one likes warm champagne. Although with this group at least I know no one will turn it down.

-Clean flask and fill with gin. It will be hidden in my boot. I’m a born and raised WASP. It’s what we do for all weddings, birthdays, social events, Tuesdays, breakfasts, etc.

Five Things That Confuse Me: White Sangria

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

-Because a good bitching session is in order.-

Reality Cooking Competition Shows 

I don’t watch a lot of television. Mainly, it causes me to lose hope in humanity. If there’s a God and he’s judging us based on how we entertain ourselves then all he has to do is catch a rerun of Toddlers and Tiaras before he ends it all for us with a meteor and starts over. I admit that I watch True Blood, The Legend of Korra, and Downton Abbey. I’ve also a penchant for watching the Real Housewives once in a blue moon because it helps me stop and say, “Garrett, you know what? You do have your shit together!” before I turn off my brain and drool on the couch for fifty minutes while a loud Italian woman banshees at her cousin.

But cooking competitions. Why? What is the fascination with people doing what you (supposedly) do every day except they might get cash while you only get dishes? Watching a traditional cooking show you can learn something, like how to hide the fact you flipped on omelets on the counter or how to whiz together hummus.

On a cooking competition show you’re watching people be bitches – sure – like every other reality show. But at the end there are composed plates of food! Styled! Haute! (Well, maybe.) Seen before in your copy of the French Laundry cookbook, but with far less talent and forethought. You can’t taste it. You can’t smell it. You barely get to look at it.

However, the judges will spend 10 minutes telling you how great it is, grinning it up that the shmucks at home aren’t here to try this god damn epic filet of salmon with blueberry-lavender reduction. It’s a culinary cock tease.

Fiancé Revealed: Vanilla and Corn Summer Salad

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

-I really do wish that all my posts started with champagne.-

No formal post today. Instead I want to share some pictures from my recent engagement shoot. Our photographer, Sarah Maren, arrived for a BBQ lunch at our home along with her husband, our florist, and our wedding planner. It was a rather relaxed meal. We went through a pitcher or three of white sangria loaded with peaches, apricots, nectarines, triple sec, and mint. I made my reliable pluot almond cake. Fiancé went to work at the grill with chicken slathered in a homemade coffee-chipotle barbeque sauce as well as southern-style dry rubbed ribs. I used my friend Tori’s recipe for watermelon and feta salad. I also crafted up a quick and adoringly addictive vanilla and corn salad bejeweled with cherry tomatoes from the garden for which the recipe is provided at the end.

It was light, breezy, and just what you wanted in heat that threatens to set you alight. And while it was odd trying to pose for two cameras clicking away it was fun and strangely intimate, too.

Also, I just realized that I’ve never introduced you all properly to Fiancé. Now seems a good time.

-Of course, the cat demands your attention, too.-

This is Brian. I’m very happy for you all to finally meet.

Notes From July: Cheddar Rosemary Scones

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

-Scones fix the butthurt.-

So I’m dealing with a lot of butthurt now. Not the proctological kind, but the emotional kind.

(Detour: I’m rather amused with myself as I think this is the first time I have ever had the opportunity to write out the word “proctological.” Yes, we’ll call it an opportunity. Like Daryl Hannah and “gargantuan” in Kill Bill. I’m glad I spelled it right the first time, too, so go me.)

Anyways. Yes. Butthurt. I’ve had to kindly let down a few people about the wedding. During lunch the other day a sometimes-in-town friend-slash-acquaintance began asking about various wedding plans.

I am the wedding person amongst people I know and amongst people I don’t. It’s my identity now. I do not exist outside of it. In fact, random strangers who hear me going on about the topic (and can I go on though honestly and often it is against my will) will come up and congratulate me. I find it endearing and thank them.

Sometimes, they ask what her name is and when I say his name they get a bit confused or taken aback. Some find it awkward and shuffle away. Most don’t miss a beat and offer their well wishes and possibly an apology for the assumption.

Many more simply ask, “What’s your partner’s name?” This makes me wonder if I’m really that obviously gay or if Sacramento is just ahead of the socially aware curve.

I’m getting sidetracked again. I blame it on 'muh brain meats being swallowed by The Wedding.

Any 'ol Reason: Almond Pluot Cake

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

-I love the fancy color of pluots. Somehow it makes it look like more work than it is.-

I’m a comfort eater in the worst form. I admit it. I enjoy finding solace in food when my mood turns afoul and when life seems to reinforce the concept that I am at times nothing more than the universe’s personal rectal thermometer due to the number of assholes as crappy situations I have to deal with. (Or when, like, half of you unsubscribe due to that sentence. It's okay. I understand.)

I’m also a lazy cook. It may be hard to fathom at times with the sometimes rather intricate recipes on here and the fact that I’m cobbling together an entire book of recipes – some of which, I admit, are rather fussy though so fulfilling and completely worth the investment of your time and sweat. On a regular basis I would rather piece together a simple meal than something over the top. Though, I like to think that I think a bit like Alice Waters or David Tanis in that a simple salad or rustically (read: haphazardly) prepared produce and meats are delightful in their own right and need little touching up in the kitchen outside the application of a bit of heat.

-Genius way to write a book, too.-

Pastry Origami: Fortune Cookies

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

-Man who folds fortune cookies gets bent.-

350 fortune cookies. 5 friends. 1 industry convection oven. 1 culinary classroom.

This is how you have a party.

When one of our friends stated that she and her husband planned to have a garden party to reveal their new Chinese Garden - a project that had been two years in the making involving lots of heavy equipment, talented artists, and a research trip to China – we decided to pitch in and help with the food. When we were told it would be for 300+ guests we balked. "No problem," we said, because we fancy ourselves both gluttons for both cookies and punishment.

All of us had professional baking or restaurant experience, but none of us had ever made a fortune cookie. I was, technically, an exception as I had made them once, but it had been 10 years earlier and I couldn’t remember anything of the experience except I knew I would burn my fingers.

So we printed out some fortunes, cut out some stencils so we could spread out perfect circles of tuile dough, and after watching a few too many Youtube tutorials set to it.

-For those of you curious, "He Who conquers himself is happy," and "Man should walk in women's pants." I can't recall the others. One said something about BFE.-

-A serious factory line of people makes this WAY easier. As does a professional kitchen, but hey...-

For Many Reasons: Blood and Chocolate Pudding

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

-Yep, it really is.-

"Do you need some pork belly?"

"That's a stupid question. I always need some pork belly," I replied.

Hank sat down on his knees and started to dig into his kitchen freezer before pulling out a slab of pork belly that weighed more than the pig it came from and handing it to me. "My pork guy loves me, so I sometimes get freebies. This is a bit too much for me to use though."

Hank, an avid writer, cook, and hunter, had decimated a small portion of the duck population this last season. Due to this he had plenty ducks in his freezer and each one of them was plucked, processed, and vacuum-sealed. (If you've ever killed your own bird for food before, then you know that just one is no small task.) Hank's freezer, now packed with birds (not to mention elk, pork, goat, wild goose, and many other of God's tasty creatures), was beyond capacity. To remedy the situation he had called me up to see if I would take some off his hands.

Now, it's illegal to sell wild duck in the state of California, so the only way to get them is to shoot them yourself or have friends who can handle a shotgun. Considering that the thought of crawling out of bed at 2AM to muck around in wetlands on a rainy day sounds as much fun as chewing tinfoil I happily took him up on the offer.

-You won't find chocolate and blood pairing together in too many other recipes.-

"Do you want some headcheese, too? I made it this morning with that spare pig head I had," said Hank nonchalantly.

"My God, I love you, Hank." Seriously. How can you not love someone who makes his own headcheese?

He cut off a piece of the head cheese slab and wrapped it up and plopped it in my bag where he had also put four ducks, the pork belly, some crab meat, a few homemade Chinese-style sausages, and a near bushel of candy-striped beets from his garden. A veritable bounty of meat and produce. The dainty half-pint of homemade kumquat-vanilla bean marmalade I had brought as a gift now seemed somewhat inadequate.

"I've also got a gallon of pig's blood if you need any," he casually noted.

I peered into the fridge to see a gallon jug whose crimson pitch contents, though perhaps not the source, were immediately identifiable. In any other house one would start wondering where the sacrificial glyph drawn with the ground bones of wayward children was and if there was time to call the police. Of course, this sort of ingredient sitting in the fridge was pretty standard fare for Hank's kitchen, so the only question I had was why there was so much.

"The guy I got it from only sells it in gallon quantities. I only needed a small amount for this pasta I made," he pulled out a ball of burgundy-colored dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. I had an image of Hank as Sweeny Todd except that instead of meat pies on Fleet Street he had been given a slot on the Cooking Channel to make Italian food.

Sassy Blue Cheese Burgers

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey all, caught up in a lot of book and wedding stuff right now, as well as recovering from a rather bad case of dehydration. I'm going to be a bit behind in posting this week and possibly next so I'm throwing up one of my first and still most favorite recipes. This was originally posted in 2006. ~Garrett

-Because blue cheese is the sassiest of all the cheeses.-

I'm not much of a griller to be honest with you. I have a tendency to burn thing rather easily, I often forget to grease the grill leaving me a clean up job I'd rather simply avoid, and more than once have I set myself on fire.

Leave me inside to prep the meat, brine the chicken breasts, or craft a sauce. I'm good with that. Let someone else stand over the flames in the withering heat. I'm all good with a pitcher of sangria and a knife in my hand, thank you.

Still, there are times when you're required to sit at the grill. Often this involves triple digit weather, beer, and a company of friends. During these times it's best to have a good game plan.

Mine involves blue cheese. Always, blue cheese.

These blue cheese burgers always get a warm reception for their creamy and spicy profile. Use a fine, piquant blue cheese that'll stand out; something creamy, but with an almost nefarious amount of veining such as Stilton, Valdeon, or Cabrales. A milder blue such as Dolcelatte or Point Reyes Original Blue won't steer you wrong either. The biggest clove of garlic you can find in a must, as is a smashing Dijon or homemade mustard.

Now, some people like to stuff blue cheese in the middle of their burgers. That's adorable. More so when you bit into the middle and molten cheese sends your tongue to the doctor for skin grafts. If you allow the burger to cool - something that seems like a rather obvious problem in an of itself - then then outer edges of the burger have no cheese and the middle is just only cheese.

Burger fail.

No, rather mix the crumbled cheese in with the meat. The cheese is distributed into every bite. The ones in the middle get warm and melty while the cheese on the outside that makes contact with the grill gets melted into cheesey, crispy bits making for a sassy salty bite.

These burgers are delightful smeared with a bit of buffalo sauce or perhaps some just-whisked-together aioli.

Sassy Blue Cheese Burgers
makes 6 burgers

1 pound ground hamburger (16%-20%)
1 tablespoon of Dijon, spicy, or homemade mustard (not yellow, for god's sake)
1 clove garlic, minced very finely
2 green onions, diced finely
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
pinch freshly cracked pepper
pinch kosher salt

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Get your hands in there and feel the squish until it's all well mixed. Form balls of the meat into patties about 1/2 to 1-inch thick and allow to rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes. While the meat rests grease and heat the grill and allow it to come to a nice medium-high heat.

2. Give the burgers about 5 minutes on each side, or to taste. Be sure not to press on the burgers as this will forces the juices out (why do people insist on pressing them?). After the burgers are done allow them to rest for about 1-2 minutes so the meat reabsorbs those hauntingly good juices. Serve on buns and garnish as desired.

Vintage Recipe: Oreo Cream Pie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

-I love how 1970's that photo is. Who want's to bet that the whipped cream is actually shaving cream?-

So a few weeks ago I was moderating a panel at BlogHer discussing the topic of vintage food, its value, and how to modernize it. Sounds nebulous, no? The best designers in the world can barely agree on whether a brass, claw footed lamp is, “Holy shit, that’s awesome!” or, “Holy shit, let’s burn it.” How then are food writers supposed to come to agreement on a jell-o salad? Cool or cliché? The term vintage is about to breathlessly collapse like a starving model due to running between every individual’s idea of what it is.

This isn’t to take into consideration the various aspects of vintage food that bloggers may want to consider: Does it affect SEO? Does blogging vintage food make you boring? Does tweaking or modernizing something make you a sellout or just creative? Do advertisers want to see retro or revamp?

It was a rather ornery beast to wrangle within 75 minutes and I’m not sure that I and the two distinguished panelists I got to work with were able to give a lot of answers except that there is intrinsic value in vintage.

Heck, we couldn’t really even agree on a definition of vintage due to the very subjective nature of the subject.

-Instagram, I gotta hand it to you on making vintage-style pics.-

So, then, allow me to provide you a situation to consider:

29: Almond Joy Ice Cream

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

-Almost the end of an era.-


I know that doesn't generate a lot of sympathy for those of you who have already seen this number come and go. You've made your peace with your twenties. They were swell, you had a shitty apartment and your older friends bought the drinks. You made a few bad decisions that - with luck and a bit of hindsight - hopefully haven't been repeated in your thirties-plus. I'm sure you think your twenties were nice and you have some great memories, but who would want to go back to that?

But bear with me for a bit. Remember that once it was suddenly the last year of your twenties. How suddenly that number had the gravity to yank you down to actualized adulthood. Think of how the next blank-9 birthday of your own is coming up and how another decade in your life will be closing so fast that if you turn to look at the days gone by you'll risk way-back whiplash.

A few years ago - heck, at 28 - the looming possibility of 30 seemed so abstract. It was a number. Something far, far away. Way over there and so distant you needed binoculars to get a fuzzy view of it. Little did you know it was charging in your direction like a pissed-off menstrual rhino.

We all poo-poo'ed our friends who turned 29. "It's just a number, after all. Who cares? Don't stress," we said so haughtily.

Then, sweet Georgia Ann, it's your turn. What the hell did you know a year ago and how did your older friends not backhand the shit out of you every time you opened your dismissive maw with another age joke or half-handed condolence? You're a god damn twenty-something anyways. What do YOU know about life?!

Names: Riesling Roasted Apricots

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

-What's in a name?-

It's rare that I ever get hit with a wave of panic in the middle of a good book and Caesar salad, but then again my mother had always been rather unpredictable. The phone began blaring at me in the middle of the cafe patio and not in a place or with reason to ignore the call, I picked up.

"Hey mom," I said without giving away the fact that I was still reading my kindle. "What's up?"

"Are you planning on changing your name?"

"What?" the tone was enough to make me stop reading but the question is what arrested me. "Name? What do you mean?" I said knowing full well what she meant.

"Are you changing your last name after the wedding?" she reiterated knowing that I knew what she meant.

-My thinly veiled ploys rarely work with her anyways.-

I had been giving a lot of thought to the subject recently. My name and my identity and whether I was ready or even willing to change it. It doesn't seem like much of a matter at first, it's just a name after all and the names of bridges, people, and places change all the time. Look at Ceylon and Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta. I mean, they changed their names and they seem do be doing much better for it.

Yet, just like that old pair of jeans you've had since college and you swear every season you're going to replace when it comes time to toss them out a name, you realize, is something you've been with far too long. You've worn it in. It fits you not just right, but perfectly. It's a skin. Part of who you are to the world. You can't possibly imagine parting with it.

A Donation Refused: Roasted Marrow Bones

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

-Is there anything so lust-worthy that kind of looks like a booger? I doubt it.-

Men Who Have Sex with Men

Men who have had sex with other men within the past 5 years are currently not eligible to join the Be The Match Registry® as a potential marrow donor. This is because men who have sex with other men are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV.

The long-standing exclusion of at-risk groups for HIV from the registry aligns with the policy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which was set to minimize the risk of HIV transmission through blood and tissue donation.

More information regarding the FDA’s tissue donation policy pertinent to men who have sex with men is available on the FDA website (see section IV.E).

We periodically revisit this issue in consultation with our independent Donor and Patient Safety Committee, weighing the risk and benefit to patients in need of a transplant as new information becomes available. The FDA also periodically revisits this issue, and we continue to take into account their guidance in evaluating our own policy.

~National Marrow Donor Program

-"Sorry if we hurt your feelings."-

I highly recommend you read that section IV.E. It's a doozy of a list, but you'll notice a few odd things. If you've been incarcerated you only have to wait a year to donate blood, organs, or bone marrow. If you're gay you have to be celibate for five years and that has about as much chance happening as Michael Bay making a film where nothing explodes.

But, then again, there's a bunch of odd rules like being banned from donating if you lived in the UK for three consecutive months, or in greater Europe for five years, or if you have dementia because somehow that affects how sturdy your marrow might be, I guess.

The reason I bring this is up is because a few weeks back I had finally decided to look into becoming a bone marrow donor. I was healthy, I had good insurance, and I wasn't getting any younger for it as much as I would like to think otherwise. (I turn 29 this weekend, godhelpme.)

I had heard the procedure was a more than a bit painful and the recovery somewhat tedious, though medical advances had been made for the procedure to be less invasive. Or, at least as less invasive as harvesting the tender humors from the inside your femur with a drill can be.

"What do you mean, I'm not an ideal candidate?" I asked poor Tiffany, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) girl I was now raising my voice at over the phone.

To Impress a Boy: Rhubarb Polenta Cake

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

-The things we do to impress someone...-

The first time I did ecstasy I did it because a boy I liked gave me a tab of it. Being just recently twenty-one and, obviously, immortal in the sense that newly minted twenty-one year olds think they are I slipped it down my throat with a shot of whisky and thought how damn cool I must have looked, how effortlessly nonchalant I must have seemed, and that surely this boy would like me. I effused coolness as I nursed a neat glass of brown liquor – nursed it as if it were a dying patient as I had yet to actually develop a taste for whisky. It took every drop of willpower not to cringe from every sip as the booze burned my flesh lips to stomach.

But the boy seemed worth it. He was my height – that is to say six feet, give or take – with jet hair, full eyebrows, and eyes the color of robins’ eggs. He was a philosophy major, I think, or some degree that was largely inconsequential to the real world job market but that was cool to talk about on the quad with people who usually wore sandals all year regardless of season. He was cordial; the type of person you can’t help but be enamoured with for their compassionate demeanor. He wasn’t the smartest boy – he would eventually be kicked out of the university for failing too many classes and how one fails in philosophy is still a mystery; or is it? – but he was intelligent when it came to matters of finding a way to be happy with his life in that it seemed he had no regrets.

(This would prove untrue after his dismissal from the university.)

-His original major was biological chemistry. You can imagine how well that worked out.-

Visit to Redwood Hill Farm: Caramelized Pineapple

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

-Caramelized pineapple over goat's milk yogurt.-

This last weekend Stephanie and I were invited up to Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol, Sonoma County. We came into contact with Scott and Jennifer who run the farm, through their PR Maven, Kathleen. We were invited up to come see their beautiful dairy where they care for about 300+ goats as we wanted some pictures of a dairy for the cookbook.

-Yogurt from start to finish.-

Right now the farm is in the middle of the birthing season so the place is cacophonous in the sound of newborn kids braying and crying for pettings, food, and play. The kids, as you can guess, are abso-freakin-adorable.

Stomach Pains: Bitters and Soda Panacea

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

-The kitchen cure for an upset stomach.-

When you’re cooking and eating three, or four, or five, and sometimes six different macaroni and cheese recipes within a 24 hour time span it can kinda rock your system a little. Even if you’ve built up a mighty tolerance to take in and process copious amounts of pasta and well-aged milk that much food can just knock you out. Even if you relegate yourself to just tastes you have to taste and taste and taste throughout each and every step so it results in staggering amounts of consumption.

It’s part of what comes with working as a food blogger or cookbook writer, I suppose. One must throw themselves upon the sword, or, perhaps, a steak knife and suffer for their craft so that others may benefit. While the meal may be delicious, the photos spectacular, and the writing practically sacrosanct so polished and holy are the words the eater in question may well suffer.

We’ve all had those meals that shift our focus on food and leave an indelible mark on how we cook. We’ve also had those ones where we stuff ourselves stupid and have to sit on the curb outside for fifteen minutes without moving as any motion to our now-potbellied gyroscopic selves will make us hurl into the parking lot. After a while we can waddle our way to the car and the emergency ration of Tums that Why-for-the-love-of-God-don’t-they-work-instantaneously.

It’s the price we pay. Unless, of course, you know a few tricks.

So It Was Hot This Weekend: Ancho Almond Caramel Corn

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

-Perfect for those outdoor picnics, baseball games, or if you have the munchies.-

It is 98 degrees outside. I'm told Fahrenheit, but I believe it to be Celsius because I am sweating like a homo in a hardware store*. The fan is set to full on Arctic Chill, which is more like Delta Breeze because I'm learning that the sun penetrates our house in the warmer months like a hooker's anonymous John making it a veritable hot box of scorchy death.

It's April. People... God... Why is it in the upper nineties in April?!

I'm in the kitchen right now, which is in the hundreds right now because I have the oven preheating and I'm over a gas burner cooking pots full of popcorn and stirring together a caramel sauce. Baked air, coils of steam caressing as much skin and surface as possible, and wrathful sunlight all invade the kitchen at once to destroy me. And I, masochist that I am, am choosing to be here.

Why? Because it's springtime. Baseball season is here. And it's April. And darn it I have a potluck to be at.

-A seriously slammin' potluck.-

Missing: Spring Vegetable Cheese Dip

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

-Cheese: A wonderful way to deal with stress.- 

I unexpectedly found myself in dress pants, my gardening shirt, a hunting jacket, and sockless in my old kitchen clogs that were still stained from flour and sugar the weekend before walking southward on Calford Avenue screaming out my cat’s name – Cid – at 7:23 in the morning. I was only just showered and my hair still wet and tousled. Unready in the slightest to be seen by another person and barely sure what day it was still. Yet, regardless, and even without my usual jolt of caffeine, fear was enough to propel me through the cold drizzle.

Because my baby was missing.

All I could think of was last night - sitting in bed reading with Cid purring contently on my lap - could not be the last time I had him with me. The universe could not allow it to be this way. The universe and circumstance could not let my last interaction with Cid be me kicking him off at four in the morning because he insisted on sleeping over my knees and buckling them as a purr-crazy feline show of affection.

Cid, my companion of the last ten years who had seen me through break-ups and an engagement, college and grad school, who had listened quietly and intently to my ramblings, who creeped on to the couch to sit on my nap like a ninja so that I couldn't possibly see him coming in case I wasn’t in the mood, and who rode around on Fiance’s shoulder’s like a pirate’s parrot…

This could not be actually happening.

But it was.

Suit Up: Strawberry-Lime Buttermilk Cake

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

-Who says you can't have your cake and then try on fourteen different jackets?- 

I'm on the verge of getting my Pink Card rejected for a number of infractions - last and probably most prominent of which is my total inability to dress myself like an actual adult.

Most days I just sort of throw myself at the closet and hope for the best. On some days I somehow cobble together an outfit that's actually passable, and if the light hits me just right rather dapper (to match my cunning, rather witty personality that I envision myself having). Other days it looks like I'm on the Fashion Police's Most Wanted List, needed for questioning on the brutal murder of good taste and matching socks.

Of course, this probably stems from my other - and far greater - gay crime: my total apathy for shopping. I hate shopping for furniture, a new broom, paper towels, frames, and so on. I despise dragging myself through throngs of people who invariably bump into you and who have no sense of decency or manners. I despise salespeople who don't get that I want them to leave me alone and who somehow vanish off the face of the earth in order to have a collective coffee break the moment I do. I despise comparing and trying on clothes and the fact that making out in a changing room is apparently a crime. (Fun Fact: I'm banned from the Gottschalks in Davis, California.)

-Getting to second base is the best way to break in new shoes, amiright?-

Most of my homos are abhorred by these admissions. I shrug. I explain it's just how it is. My gay genes were skimped a bit. I blame taking wood shop and golf as my electives in Middle School. My scarves are practical knits and none of them have fringe or patterns.

I'm just not that swishy.

Lessons: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

-A strange but fascinating combination. No, seriously. Hey, don't you dare click away to stare at LOLcats. Just trust me...- 

I like to think that I can find new learning experiences every day. Every activity from the mundane sweeping of the floor to the more exciting ventures of cobbling together a wedding registry offers the chance of discovery if you’re paying enough attention. For example, this week I have learned the following:

1. Having sex on a your brand new, high end comfy sack chair may seem like a good, rather whimsically naughty activity. Coy, suggestive eyes and a smack on the bum may encourage such things. It is dear readers, not so fun. It's similar to doing ballet on a sinking ship in a hurricane; stupid, clumsy, and more awkward than you might expect it to be.

2. Another note on said comfy sack. I love otherwise un-stainable, svelte, chocolate brown microsuede it comes in. But I swear to God if Fiance spills his coffee on it I will literally die.

3. Scratch that. Fiance will be killed.

4. Puppies like to nap in dirt. I’m not sure why, but they do. Furthermore, they will sniff it out whenever possible as said dirt is the most comfortable thing ever. You can fence off every bit of vegetable garden you have and seed as much grass as you want. A puppy will somehow find that one tiny, two square inches of mud and contort their body in such a way that it all fits in that tiny square ensuring that they emerge caked in crud. Said puppy will then whine when you have to give him yet another bath. Eventually, you hope, the puppy will make the connection between the two.

-I do it on purpose.- 

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