Food has amazing powers. We use it to nurture our bodies, to comfort us, and to enjoy our loved ones. Just think of the times we use food to celebrate our lives: baby showers, family reunions, birthdays, a new job. The list is endless. Just last week my group of girlfriends got together for homemade pizza and champagne to celebrate a new job!
Food and recipes can also be used to comfort loved ones through hard times. There’s nothing more comforting in times of sickness, grief, or sadness than a warm, home cooked meal. My sister is so great about helping those in need with her wonderful cooking skills. She works a full-time job with two very young children, but will gladly take the time to make some French Onion Soup or a casserole, salad, and dessert for anyone in her community who is in need. What an amazing gift!
Last night my friend Mara asked me to join her at a favorite restaurant for Dine for Darfur night. Select restaurants in Seattle donated 25% of yesterday’s sales to relief efforts in Darfur. Not only were we participating in humanitarian relief for Darfur, but we ate at a restaurant that we frequent anyway. It’s amazing how you can give back by making choices and being aware of what events are happening in your community. Bake sales and dining events are a great way to support issues that you care about both locally and throughout the world.
Be sure to create your own Secret Ingredients cookbook to pass recipes throughout your family. Teaching your family members how to cook and passing on family recipes allows your children to carry on traditions and help others.
Last weekend I headed to Portland, Oregon with a group of girlfriends. We have all been working on big projects at work and thought a little “girl’s trip” would do us some good. After all, there’s little that good friends and good food can’t cure!
On Saturday morning, we walked through the downtown area into Old Town to find Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. One of the girls heard about this place from a foodie friend, and we thought this was the perfect way to start out our trip. Voodoo has the most impressive doughnuts I have ever seen in my life, and the menu is very funny with doughnut names like Grape Ape and Mango Tango. (It’s also a little PG-13, so beware before clicking on their link!)
The doughnut racks were a sight to behold. Circles covered in vanilla frosting and Fruit Loops or Oreos. Doughnuts the size of a dinner plates. Even doughnuts covered in maple frosting with two strips of bacon on top! What a treat!
The story behind Voodoo Doughnuts is really cute. Two guys decided to start a doughnut business together but didn’t know how to make them! They traveled to a town in California to learn the trade from veterans of the doughnut world, and then perfected the recipes themselves.
Because there was no calorie counting on this trip, we also stopped for gelato later in the day at Allota Gelato in Portland’s Alphabet District. I had rose and ginger gelato- yummy! This neat shop had a similar to story. A family brought gelato recipes over from Italy and perfected them with friends and family members as tasters.
Isn’t it amazing how far family recipes can go? It’s always amazing to hear the story behind the recipe, so be sure to include notes in your Secret Ingredients cookbook.
Here’s a great idea: Grab your Secret Ingredients cookbook, make a video of a family recipe, and post it on YouTube! This way your entire family will have access to a demo of a recipe that has been passed down for generations.
I absolutely love Desperate Housewives. In one of their recent episodes (although the issue itself led to a much bigger story line) I thought it was hilarious when the new “old” neighbor refused to share her recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie with Bree. It was even funnier to find out the lady actually kept her recipe box under lock and key.
So the question is; just how secret are your secret ingredients? Have you ever refused to share the names of the fives spices in your famous Five Spice Chicken Rub? Or have you ever been denied access to the key ingredients in your best bud’s Smoked Salmon Dip? We’ve all heard about recipe swapping and sharing parties, but what about the other side of the scope? What’s it like when you come across that one person who values their unique touch on a culinary treat as much as a precious gem?
We want to hear from you; share your “secret ingredient” stories with us! Simply reply to this blog or send us an email at email@example.com.
With each season comes new inspiration for themed potlucks, recipe sharing, and cookbooks! Each month my group of friends has a themed potluck. In September, we each brought a favorite recipe from our home state. This month we are celebrating one particular fall favorite, pumpkin!
The potluck is this Sunday, and I still don’t know what to make! The obvious choices for pumpkin recipes are desserts, breads, and beer, so I am trying to think of something different. I’m tempted to create my own pumpkin soufflé. (I’m totally obsessed with soufflés and always look for a reason to make one!) If anyone has any ideas, please let me know…
Although opportunities like this are wonderful for trying new things, you can’t help but worry about cooking something for the first time… for a crowd of people. Ah! My inner type-A perfectionist needs confirmation that everything will go well in the kitchen and taste wonderfully. I completely understand that perfection comes with mistakes, and that’s fine when I’m cooking for myself- not for others!
It all comes down to this: You can never underestimate the importance and convenience of a time-tested recipe from someone you know can cook! So, be sure to make a cookbook full of your favorite recipes and give copies to the ones you love. Next time they have a potluck, dinner party, or need to make the perfect meal for a friend in need, they will thank you!
The first weekend of Fall here in the Southeast was unseasonably warm. I spent it at a lake with my boyfriend, his family, and a few dozen close friends and extended family members.
Although it was the first weekend of Fall, the day at the lake seemed more like mid-summer fun. I personally wore short-sleeves and a denim skirt. The sun was shining very brightly on the water, and the temperature was high. People were dancing to music, kids were on the shore, and most of the adults were playing cards. We all dined on some very delicious summer delights. Things like smoked ribs, BBQ chicken, burgers, baked beans, and plenty of noodle salads. There were also several coolers filled with chilled drinks like soda, beer, and iced tea, plus a table full of yummy desserts.
I love summer and welcoming cooler weather, and all that comes with it, isn’t exactly something I look forward to, but I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the first weekend of Fall. A-typical outings like these are great inspirations for cookbook projects. Things like Christmas in July or Fall Cookouts at the lake.
I recently came across Cooking Up a Story on YouTube, and I have become a huge fan. Cooking Up a Story releases about one video a week that tells “stories about real people and their special connections to food and sustainable living”.
This recent video, Cooking with Love: Alice’s Kitchen, is one of my favorites. It is a beautiful story of a daughter continuing the legacy of Lebanese cooking learned by her mother. You will see the cookbook she made to keep the traditions going.
Monday is Menu Planning day on Organizing Junkie’s blog, and I’m inspired! As a busy, entreprenuerial, type A woman I try not to plan my meals because every other aspect of my day is planned to a tee. However, I’m always up for trying something new, and I thought this might be refreshing. Plus, I want to take advantage of some of the beautiful local apples I’ve seen coming into the markets.
I spent my weekend in Florida at an annual event almost as great as my birthday (haha)! For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of joining my boyfriend and his parents at their annual family reunion. This year, the festivities were held in Fort Myers, Florida. The weather was great, and the food was awesome.
Friday night, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, and more were greeted by a traditional southern fish fry. Saturday, we all headed down to the pier and dined on barbequed chicken and ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh fruit and veggies. That evening, following a very entertaining family fashion show, we stuffed our bellies with sliced turkey, green beans, stuffing, and macaroni and cheese. Finally for dessert, a delicious strawberry filled caked decorated with a picture of last year’s family reunion.
I could spend hours recanting the great time I had, but most people know how awesome it is to get together with family members you don’t see very often, especially when you have great food to eat as you laugh and reminisce. Weekends like these are the perfect recipe for a Secret Ingredients Heirloom Cookbook. Thanks to modern day technology, creating a cookbook project is a fun and easy activity to include when planning a family reunion. Stock up on stories, pictures, and favorites recipes one year, and present your cookbook the next.
Here’s a family reunion cookbook TIP: give Secret Ingredients Keepsake Cookbooks out as favors and create an Heirloom Cookbook to present to a very special member of the family. Perhaps whoever hosted the reunion that year, or the matriarch of the family.
I’d love to hear about your cool family reunion traditions and stories! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, ATTN: Ashley.
That’s it for me, until next time…
Secret Ingredients offers custom cookbook options perfect for every family. Kate Walling, President and Founder, built her company as a platform through which she explores the importance of food traditions, cooking, and their integral place in the lives of modern families. Check back often for updates on Secret Ingredients products, as well as tips, recipes, inspiration, and ideas!