A few of my favorite…FOOD FILMS.

It’s that time of year when darkness falls early, cold weather chill sets in and some nights just couldn’t get any better than an evening indoors with a big mug of hot chocolate and a good movie.  Below is a listing of my favorite films in regards to food.  Bon Appetit!

Continue reading “A few of my favorite…FOOD FILMS.”


Barbecued Oysters, Bodega Bay

A few years back my best friend and I took a road trip through Northern California’s Wine Country.  After our fill of vineyards and vino we ventured along the Russian River until it emptied into the Pacific and headed back south along scenic Highway 1 to San Francisco.
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Brilliant Bayless

Rick Bayless is an amazing chef specializing in Mexican cuisine.  He lived in Mexico and studied their culture and food for 6 years.  Bayless is known for his PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time.  He also started 3 amazing restaurants in Chicago dedicated to tantalizing our taste buds to authentic Mexican cuisine.
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Hasta Luego Tomato

My grandpa ( a man I love MUCHO) recounts a time in his life  in the late 30’s and early 40’s when he worked in the produce section of a local market. Vegetables and fruits were seasonal and bananas were a BIG deal!  He told me that when bananas would come in they were reserved in the back of the store for the ‘good’ customers before offering to the general public!  Here is Grandpa….

Grandpa, photo by michelle.

Choices were very limited in comparison to what grocery stores offer today.  This topic on choice makes me question–Just because we can should we?

Do any of you recall that every summer we say just how good a juicy, sun-ripened tomato tastes or that a steamy bowl of fresh, butternut squash bisque hits the spot during the fall?  We say this because it’s true!!!  A tomato that is grown locally and in season IS going to taste far better than a tomato that was picked under-ripe and shipped halfway across the world to your local grocery store.  In the past seasonal eating was all we used to know.  Now with the onset of technology, globalization and supply and demand we are offered a myriad of choices ranging from Fiji to Switzerland.

I believe that seasonal eating is important to maintain balance and nutrients in our bodies.  It is not a coincidence that we crave certain types of food throughout the year.  Each season bears foods and cooking methods which support our bodies.  Winter time is dry and cold and sustains cold weather crops such as root vegetables.  Soups and stews warm and moisturize our bodies from the cold, dry air.  Warmer weather brings fresh and abundant crops ranging from berries, to greens and tomatoes.  We crave fresh and raw foods to cool our bodies from the heat.

In hopes of becoming a better seasonal eater my friends and I purchased a CSA share with a local farm (Trillium Haven Farm).  Each week we receive organic vegetables that are in season!   It is a challenge to keep up with the bounty of veggies and meal planning but it sure does feel good to eat this way.  I applaud those who do grow their own food, put it up and reap the benefits of their labor.  You’ve got a good thing going on!

The height of summer has come to an end and as this post mentions, sadly so have the tomatoes.  My farm share was pumping out gorgeous, succulent heirloom tomatoes.  Purple ones, green ones, red ones, yellow ones variegated ones….so so so GOOD!!!  I stored up enough of these beauties to make a great end of summer Heirloom Tomato Pie.

Heirloom Tomato Pie, photo by michelle.


Heirloom tomatoes

Roasted Red Peppers


Fresh Basil

Yogurt (I like Greek)

Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Pie Crust

I do not pride myself on my baking skills so for this recipe I bought a pre-made pie crust.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Slice up your tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for about 10 minutes in a strainer.  Chop up the roasted red peppers, slice the onion and chiffonade the basil and set aside.  In a bowl mix together about 1 cup yogurt  and 2 cups feta cheese.
Layer the tomatoes, roasted red pepper, onion and basil in the pie shell.  With a rubber spatula spread the yogurt and feta cheese mixture atop.  Pop it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool then slice it up and serve!

Tomato Pie with Feta Topping, photo by michelle.

End result, nicely browned and SO GOOD!


Phở….sounds like “fuh”

Some say that chicken noodle soup feeds the soul but for me it’s straight up Phở! Seriously, how can one say no to a slow simmered broth made from charred onions, beef bones, oxtails, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger?  This delish broth is served in a large bowl with a heaping parcel of white rice noodles to slurp up.   You also have your choice of thinly sliced flank steak (cooked or raw), tripe, tendon, brisket, meatballs or less traditionally chicken or pork.  Accoutrements include, mung bean sprouts, culantro, Thai basil, white onions, lime, fish sauce, Sriracha and hoisen sauce.
Phở is best eaten with chopsticks and little sighs of joy between each slurp of rice noodle and soul satisfying broth.

Eventually, when I am less daunted by bone broth I will attempt my own home-cooked version of Phở .  But for now where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan we have a few Phở places to check out… (like 4).  I recommend two dives–either Pho Sac Trang on Div-Ave. or Pho99 on 28th St. SW.  For those of us who are not too adventurous when it comes to restaurant ‘ambiance’ consider this your warning when I say dive.  Personally I’m okay with a little hole in the wall interior so long as the food is fantastic and fresh!

Phở broth can also be purchased in Asian markets much like chicken stock…

Pho stock, photo from google images

So, now that Phở has made a it’s move into mainstream America please extend nhiều nhờ (many thanks) to Vietnam the country in which pho hails from!



Pretty name, fluttery edges and melt in your mouth goodness. Let me introduce to you the lovely Chanterelle Mushroom.  The Chanterelle is only found in the wild. Cultivation has proven unsuccessful which makes these mushrooms extra special.  They have a nice meaty texture and are best served in a wine reduction.

My personal rendition of chanterelles in a shallot, garlic, butter and red wine reduction with fennel and frisee over egg noodles.

Chanterelles, photo by michelle.


Chanterelle Mushrooms




Red Wine


Fresh Egg Noodles


In a saucepan melt butter and saute garlic and shallots until soft.  Add red wine and reduce heat to a simmer.  Add chanterelles to garlic/wine reduction and simmer until cooked.  Add sliced fennel to the chanterelles and bring to warm, retaining their crunch.  In a separate pot, boil water to cook egg noodles until tender.

Serve on a platter beginning with a bed of egg noodles.  Drizzle the chanterelle and wine reduction over the noodles and top with chopped frisee.  Fresh ground pepper and salt to finish.



Fall is creeping in with crisp and cooler evenings.  Kitchens warmed with simmering stews and soups are quintessential classics.  This is a Brazilian take on “boiled dinner” or stew.
Continue reading “Cozido”