Meat Rehab

I love a challenge.

I think it’s my stubborn nature but I love a good challenge for myself and for some inexplicable reason I love taking on a challenge for Lent. I guess it’s a timeline that I can make peace with, I find it to be calming, and I’m trying to get into VIP Heaven. Last year I gave up all social media and became vegetarian. This year I’ve decided to be vegan. And I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew (ba-dum cha).

I approached this vegan project with the same neurotic obsessiveness I approach all menu planning with. I did research, made lists of recipes, created a spreadsheet of planned meals, snacks, and grocery lists. I knew that if I was going to give up cheese I needed structure. But like they say, “if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans”. I had taken account of the fact that I would be hungry and would need foods that I enjoy to fill me up. What I didn’t take account of is just how bad the cravings would be.

At this very moment as I type up this rant I am 100% sure that I would come to bodily harm to eat a cheeseburger. To eat a spoonful of mac and cheese. Honestly, to have a spoonful of yogurt. I’ve been vegetarian before and I foolishly thought that the risks would be no different. Sure you can’t have a burger, just eat some pesto (I miss you so much parmesan). Can’t have a piece of salmon? Have some yellow rice (chicken bouillon I MISS YOU). But in this current habitat I feel constantly aware of that which I can’t have. Did you know that McDonald’s fries are not vegan? Not even vegetarian? That they contain 18 ingredients?! This was a horrible realization I was brought to this weekend and I honestly almost had an emotional breakdown over the thought that I couldn’t eat fries for another month.

All of this moping is to say, I knew meat and meat-based products were a drug but now I am truly aware of the extent of their reach. I don’t drink milk I find the flavor to be rather repulsive but I could eat a stick of butter straight right now (funnily enough, I did as a child). I feel like I have an inkling of what addicts must feel like and am consuming avocado at an alarming rate. But I’m digging my heels in, attempting to get comfortable, and sticking with this thing. I’m using this as a diary of sorts and will update as the weeks pass. Also check out my Veganism Plan if you want to see how I’m attempting to tackle this diet (it’ll be updated too!)

Week One:

  • All I want to eat is bread and butter but I can’t have butter and don’t you dare tell me that olive oil is as good.
  • I threw out all meat-related things in my fridge prior to this undertaking but couldn’t bring myself to toss my bacon. Some things are sacred (though it was tossed yesterday)
  • I’ve made the mistake this week of not eating any grains and let me tell you that is a surefire way to keep yourself from feeling full
  • What are you all’s thoughts on consuming honey as a vegan? I’ve heard opposing viewpoints and find this conversation necessarily distracting.
  • The smell of meat cooking is too good it should be a sin.
  • I had to pass a buffalo wild wings on the way to the movies this weekend and I can honestly say I’ve never wanted garlic-parmesan wings more in my life
  • I went out to brunch on Sunday and had to marvel at the complete and utter lack of options in my neighborhood. At the restaurant I went to I had to get avocado toast minus the fried egg. It was still $8. I guess what they say about millenials is true. I still love avocado toast.

Week Two:

  • I did some research and found out I can still eat Chipotle so I am now giving them all of my money
  • I invested in vegan buttery sticks which amuse me to no end and I’ve been tossing pats into rice and baking with them.
  • The desire for a burger and fries grows inside of me and I find it more and more difficult to resist.
  • My brother was talking to me about Popeyes and I can’t even go near let alone have Popeyes in my home and I can no longer discuss it.
  • Pasta without cheese can still be delicious and it also reminds me of the pasta my dad made as a kid. The nostalgia kept me going.
  • Grocery shopping is a thrilling experience because not only am I actually checking labels and seeing what’s in my food; I’m also buying a rainbow of fruits and veggies and I feel so healthy
  • I’m losing weight and if I have abs by the end of this, it will all be worth it.


Be good, eat happily, and wish me luck Piggies!


You Can’t Beat Meat, or Rather Its Industry

I am a proud omnivore and the proudest carnivore.

I have dabbled in a vegetarian lifestyle and may be attempting a vegan lifestyle eventually as well, but I love meat and there’s no way around that.

The unfortunate reality is that meat in the States and more specifically its lobby are fire-breathing demons. Let me elaborate. We all know, hopefully, that to enjoy a delicious nugget or steak an animal has to die, and then be butchered up and delivered to restaurants and grocery stores and the like. Through years of marketing coupled with willful ignorance the meat lobby has been able to trick many people into believing that cows, pigs, and chickens graze through green pastures living their best lives until it just so happens they reach peak maturity (and fat content) and then they are plucked, ceremoniously slaughtered, and quartered. The reality could not be farther away from this. Animals are kept in dark factories where they are force-fed, unceremoniously killed and made to feel pain, then the meat is dipped in a plethora of chemicals, wrapped in cling-wrap and shipped off. But you’ve seen the vegan/vegetarian propaganda and I don’t need to fill you in.

While I don’t believe the solution to all of this is for everyone in the world to become a vegan (what would we do with millions of cows and pigs with no natural predators just released into the world?) I do think something has to be done. First and foremost, we have to severe the connection millions of marketers have made between the big red farmhouse and the meat section in the grocery store. Waking up and realizing that unless you are going to a farmer’s market or buying free-range (which is still rather fishy) our meat is coming from a factory.  Second, we need to get over our obsession with the “prime cuts” most meat is wasted because people are only interested in very specific cuts from each animal. This means a few things:

  1. Pounds of meat are wasted constantly because they are cuts we are not interested in
  2. More animals have to be killed because there are only but so many prime cuts on each animal
  3. Animals are pumped full of hormones to increase the size of said prime cut (think chickens with breasts too big for them to walk, pigs with hocks and shoulders that break their own legs from the weight).

Dario Cecchini, a prolific butcher who I love and would gladly marry, sums it up in his philosophy. He states that, “Having respect of the animal, of it’s life, of it’s death, and using everything to the very last tendon with conscience is what I have been doing every day for the past 40 years”. He sells the entire cut of the animal, even the offal, because there is worth and flavor there. Severing our attachment to prime cuts and being more open to the entirety of the animal would rather quickly translate into less animals rifling through the meat industry.

Also, as a country, we need to cut down on meat consumption. I am being a complete hypocrite right now, but for the most part many of us just eat too much meat. 3 meals a day with meat featured as the star in each, adding up to 21 meals a week, per person, that require some cut of meat is wild. Considering that we only like the prime cuts, that means multiple animals per person per week. I remember as a little girl, my father was preparing a vegetarian dinner and I told him flat out “it’s not dinner if there isn’t any meat” and he kindly responded “you don’t need to eat meat for every meal of every day”. That’s all it took to break the spell for me, but it’s still a troubling issue to deal with. Breakfast is perhaps the only meal that not eating meat is mildly “appropriate” and even then its most likely replaced with dairy in the form of cereal. Controlling the urge to consume meat for each meal has been a difficult but rewarding task with which I struggle.

But all in all, I have one hope that I think is rather practical when it comes to the meat industry, and that is I hope they change how they actually kill each animal. Currently, the process is disgusting, endangers the butcher and the animal, leads to high stress levels in the meat, and that translates into more chemicals being mixed into the cut. The “weapon” of choice right now is an electrical current in the noggin. This does not result in immediate death, the animals are often still sentient as their throat is slit, and  this “flavors” the meat. I think this should change. There have been millennia of farmers who did not need nor want to electrocute their animals to kill them. I don’t know if you watched American Gods, but one of the main characters was a vintage meat farmer. Though they painted him in an evil light, his method was blunt force with a sledgehammer to the top of the animal’s head. And as he claimed, “a good butcher knows the exact spot to strike”. Do I think we ought to revert to such a simple method? Yes and no, while it does produce less cortisol in the animal thus not “flavoring” the meat, its not the easiest tradition to pass on. However, I believe there are other methods to achieve the same end goal that don’t use excess energy nor require the animal to continue to feel pain.

We each have to decide on our own diet and what we want from food and how we expect food to live in harmony with our body. I know that in a very real sense I will never completely give up meat (or dairy) but in order to affect change we sometimes have to be uncomfortable. I’d love to see a world where the number of animals going through the meat industry can decrease because the “need” has decreased and methods are more palatable. Where hormones are not affecting me and my future progeny before they’re even birthed. I’d love to have a medium-rare burger and not be told by my friends that I’m eating poison.

Until then I will still be a proud carnivore, hoping for change.


Eat happily and be good, free-range piggies.


Liquor Lacquer

Continuing down the path of French nostalgia: my dad has a phrase that goes: l’alcool preserve les fruits, la fumée les viandes.

It’s a good clapback to have in your pocket when people tell you to stop doing something you enjoy, and who are also familiar with medieval preservation practices. Mind you, if the logic follows, drinking is something done to preserve “your fruits” or make something delicious so it should also be something delicious. Before you all jump down my throat no this is not a lecture and believe me this blog has no hopes about guiding your moral compass, just your culinary one.

So back to liquor, drink delicious ones! I don’t know what delicious means to you and I don’t have to. But I know that when it comes to me, I will always choose gin over Hennessy, vodka is not a liquor I will ever sip, and rum and I are dear close friends. There are also goals I have in mind for my future, involving alcohol. Whiskey and I need to grow old together, without our intermittent lover, Sour Mix, in the mix (badum-cha). Scotch, brandy, and all of the “old man” liquors as I call them need to also become a part of my language. I want to be like my French grandmother, a hearty woman of 5 feet, who sips on whatever drink she pleases without even a trace of a grimace, and surely does not drink cocktails.

But anyways, the point of this rant isn’t about me telling you my palate goals (though I probably will more than once) its about you not buying into the hype. Let your tastes be shaped by yourself and not by clever marketing campaigns or seemingly catchy products. I come from DC, and they have handheld Hennessy carriers in most liquor stores, an entirely wild concept to me. Jameson, had its time in the sun a couple years back as Chocolate City became Irish Cream City and accepted the drink into their hearts and livers. Bulleit Bourbon has been a solid fan fave both inside and outside of DC and makes a dang good Old Fashioned. But to be honest with you, I think Henny is nasty, Jameson and I could be friends, and Bourbon just isn’t my dark liquor of choice, though I’ll put up with it. But these are ~informed~ opinions, I’ve tasted and sampled and realized what isn’t for me. So don’t be ashamed for your tastes, always ALWAYS drink in moderation, and let’s inform our tastes in 2018.


Stay unique my piggies.



Childhood Tastes

Now I know I recently gave y’all a rant about my childhood, but I’m back in DC and I’m feeling nostalgic.

How many times has someone told you a flavor is “an acquired taste”?

After your first sip of wine? Beer?

After you tried split pea soup that one time and barfed because it’s gross?

We are constantly told that we will like better things when we get older, and that if we like something when we’re older it is superior.

I think this is a crock of BS.

While yes it is true that that we grow and enjoy different flavors as we grow and get different experiences, and perhaps we are not as scared of the color green, I find it difficult to believe that EVERYTHING we liked as kids gets thrown out of the window. In fact, I believe that we return to all of these flavors just in newfound ways. Like I said, I’m back in DC and I always learn something new about food from speaking with my father. This visit’s lesson seems to be that we always return to our childhood cravings, be it presentation or flavor. If you look at new restaurants and their menus, the entirety is often influenced by their childhood favorites. French chefs often pay compliments by saying “you transported me back to my childhood”. There is something innocent and pure about the flavors of our childhoods, the first time we experienced them. So yes, maybe you have to try something a few times to discover you like it, but don’t be fooled, you’ll remember that first time your household chef passed you a spoonful like they passed you a secret.

So don’t let anyone shame you for eating that honeybun we all know they’re delicious.


Happy Thanksgiving Piglettes, remember these meals fondly.


Fireside Story

“I don’t know where I was when they were passing out patience. I must’ve been behind the door somewhere, because I don’t have any.” – Leah Chase, Chef and Owner of Dooky Chase

I feel you Leah, I feel you. With Halloween basically here I thought I’d give you a somewhat scary story with a golden nugget of wisdom hidden in the center. Here we go.

When I was younger, I’d say from the ages of 9-14, I baked as often as possible. Cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls even. If it was sweet and went in the oven, I was on top of it. One of my favorite things to make, because we almost always had the ingredients in the house, was pound cake. Pound cake amongst the women of my family is somewhat of a trainer for further culinary exploits. Understanding your own rendition, its strengths, its weaknesses, is part of growing up as a young lady in the kitchen. I was well on my way to having my own defined version of pound cake. It couldn’t compete with my grandmother’s or my great aunt’s (my family often gets into yelling matches over slices of the latter) but it was mine and I loved it.

One Friday afternoon I was endeavoring to make a pound cake while also relaxing and watching tv with my brother (this was during the phase of my life when my parents only let us watch TV on the weekend, and even though I was baking I held fast to my 3:00pm call time in front of the TV). Like most young chefs, mis-en-place and all other preparation eluded me. I preferred to fly by the seat of my pants and make my way through all recipes like that. Thus, of course, I hadn’t pulled the butter out of the fridge the night before in order to let it soften. In fact, it was in the freezer. I did what I had done what felt like a million times before, I got out a tiny pan to melt the butter on the stove (a phase in my life when we did not have a microwave as well). However, this time, instead of using the normal mini cast iron pan I always did, I instead used a thin tin cup, the kind cowboys cook their coffee in in movies. I stood up the butter in the cup, the two sticks reaching far above the top of the cup, set the flame to full force (because EFFICIENCY) and went back to enjoy my tv show.

I came back a couple minutes later to what can be called a truly beautiful grease fire. The tin cup was holding 2 foot flames that reached the hood of the stove in vibrant blues, yellows, and oranges. For a moment I stood and thought “hm. Well this is quite a predicament you’ve gotten yourself into”, then I leapt to action. I was able to turn off the flame on the stove, grab a potholder, grab the tin cup, carry the flames over to the sink and dump water all over the situation. Luckily this was a small grease fire so the water succeeded in smothering the flame but it should be noted: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PUT OUT GREASE FIRES WITH WATER, SMOTHER THEM OR DUMP BAKING SODA ON THEM. I was but a child and did not know the rules of grease fires and thankfully got lucky. I let the tin cup cool, washed it out, melted some more butter (without leaving the kitchen), and returned to the living room shaken up, but more wise. The funniest thing about this story is that no one knew. I didn’t scream when I got to the kitchen so my brother in the living room had no idea and my parents weren’t there. To be honest, I think reading this post will be the first anyone in my family hears of it. Surpriiiiiise.

But now for the nugget of wisdom: patience and preparation matters in cooking. People who remember to pull out their butter and eggs the day before so they can come to room temp, make better cakes. Those who measure out all of their ingredients and read the recipe over a few times before diving in, make better food upon the first attempt. I am impatient person learning patience and the kitchen is a great teacher. Things of great beauty, often take time. So yes, you could feasibly cook a chicken in half the time if you roasted it at 500 degrees, but it would be dry and sad. So while I agree with Leah, I know she is patient where it matters: with food and not people. And while I will never blame you for throwing together a meal; the thrill can be addicting, I will always think you are so cool if you prepare first.

And if you don’t throw water on grease fires.


Now eat happily and be good.


(Don’t) Trust the Process

Though my friends now would probably find it hard to believe, I grew up lacking processed foods. Like Pandora was tempted by that box I was tempted by every neon-colored sugar (or salt) packed box in the grocery store. I would beg and plead with my father that Froot Loops would change my life (they did) and that Gatorade would actually turn me into a superhero. He avidly declined my supplications and instead would give me water or Berry Crunch Organic cereal, to this day freeze-dried strawberries hold a special place in my heart.

However, when my mother went grocery shopping, a rare treat, she would allow all of the things my little stomach was missing into my life. Cap’n Crunch, Ice Cream, Nutri-Grain bars (an offense to my father’s palette, a necessary portion of my brother and I’s diet), and even the occasional microwave meal (a TRUE treat). I would happily gobble down everything and think how downright upsetting it was that I was denied this food. This food that every commercial on tv was alive with, this food that promised bright futures and well-balanced nutritious breakfasts. The food that I was told was real, spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

When I think back to these early days of exposure to processed foods I realize, like many things in my life, I only wanted them because I could not have them. The meals I remember from my youth don’t have a ‘™’ at the end and were prepared in a kitchen not a factory. Of course, I still love an occasional Cheeto and you cannot tell me that Cookie Crunch is not the best way to start the day (I’ll argue with y’all on cereals later). But the foods that bring me true joy and nostalgia are all handmade. Radishes my dad taught me how to pick at the grocery slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt. Warm oatmeal-raisin-chocolate-chip-walnut cookies from the oven (a classic of mine). Peanut butter tomato turkey stew that I crave to this day whenever I am sad, cold, or just plain hungry.

There are some icons of the processed food world that are praiseworthy and that I do partake in. I love a good McGriddle. Tell me I’m killing my body but we all are fam, I might as well enjoy this McGriddle while I’m here on Earth because I promise you there is not a McDonald’s in heaven. I love sugary-sweet, “what flavor is this?” breakfast cereals. Think: so sweet the only apparent flavor is sugar and you could punch a moose after you finish a bowl sweet. I have a pure hatred for homemade oatmeal but Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal is the g.o.a.t. Of hot breakfast cereals and will be treated as such.

I don’t believe it is in your own best interest to swear off of all processed foods, even my own father enjoys a Nutty Buddy every now and again. What’s important here is to discover your own palette and learn how to play with the flavors that bring you the most joy. Often, it will be fat and sugar, but fat and sugar can vary infinitely in how they are presented. Cutting yourself off from processed foods can lead you to binge on them later (ask any college student what they ate for a month when they first moved out of their parent’s home). But finding a balance between what is processed and what is homemade can bring you to dietary nirvana.

All of this is to say: discover your own palette and be wary of the process.


Also eat happily and be good, friends.


Prezzie Plain Jane

You can make the best souffle or whipped mousse ever but if you don’t know how to present it then no one will care.

McDonald’s made a fortune over putting a burger in a cardboard box, presentation matters.

Now everyone loves a good show, it’s the reason Benihana restaurants thrive, but otherwise food presentation ought to be exceedingly simple. Think about it, almost every restaurant serves you on white plates. This is because they create contrast that balances beautifully with the numerous colors you will pile onto the plate. Aside from white dishes, slabs of wood stand in as an excellent presentation base. It is because they harken back to earlier on in your food’s journey (a cutting board) or earlier on in man’s journey to civilization. Not to mention they’re quite chic and again provide contrast against the deep browns and reds of the meat that is served on them.

That “hipster” place you love that serves the food in all different vintage dishes that were handmade and painted? Still pretty simple in presentation. A plain color, that draws the eye in and stands stark against the food held within, and though it doesn’t match its other dishes they all pair nicely. In fact, the most ornate dishes I’ve seen are of the Mediterranean persuasion, and have deep royal blue contrasting with crisp white in swirling patterns with maybe a hint of yellow. The camera loves to pick up this color and contrast and anything green on those plates is sure to stand out. That is as intricate as plate coloring and design in professional restaurants get. Most, wouldn’t even dare for mismatched dishes or color at all (I think it’s kind of cute, distracts you from how little food there is on your plate).

As presentation is almost entirely made up of accenting empty space on a plate, it is important that that space be noted while not becoming the star (I took art in high school I know what I’m talking about). White plates allow for depth and intrigue that other colors often steal away. Think about it, you’re never taken aback by the way the white plate gleams when your food comes, you marvel at how the food stands out and is accentuated. However, you will probably find yourself distracted by a black or heavily painted dish, as it has its own *star power*. White plates also allow the chef to manipulate how much you think you are consuming, and therefore, paying for.

Too much space? Add a dollop of sauce, now the plate looks full

Too little space? (Never a complaint) but one can alway size up the plate and force you to believe that you ought to clean it. Maggiano’s, I’m looking at you.

By playing with size of the plate, concentration of ingredients, and overall how to “paint” the plate, chefs easily convince us that we are full, still hungry, or have just enough room for dessert. All of it comes back to that white plate though, who knew a plain jane could clean up so nice?

Now use your white plates to trick yourself into eating happily, and be good.