Food Blogger Prop Swap

Great little dishes from the Foodblogger Prop Swap

Great little dishes from the Foodblogger Prop Swap

One of the great things I’ve experienced since getting into the food blogging business is the opportunity to connect with other bloggers from all over the world. It gives me a chance to converse with people who are equally passionate about the things that interest me most…that being FOOD! Recently I came upon an event called The Food Blogger Prop Swap, which was hosted by two fellow bloggers named, Alyssa at Everyday Maven,  and Faith who writes the blog An Edible Mosaic.

One of the most important components of every post a food blogger creates are the photographs that accompany our story and recipe. Yes, the food is the “star” of the photo, but we all use props to enhance the photo to make it more visually appealing to the eye. Naturally you don’t want to keep using the same props over and over, and it can get a little costly to continually go out and buy new ones. So Faith and Alyssa organized a group of 30 food bloggers to swap props with one another. It was truly a great idea. I sent my box of props to a blogger named Rachelle at Blinded by the Bite, and I received a wonderful box of props from a blogger named Debbie who writes her blog called Parents Need to Eat Too. As you can see from the photo above, one of the things she sent me were these great little white dishes!

It was very cool when my box arrived in the mail and I quickly tore into it to see what I had received. I hope they host another prop swap because I’m definitely in!


Strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh California Strawberries

Strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh California Strawberries

Strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh California Strawberries

What could be more fun for a girl obsessed with strawberries, than the opportunity to spend the day frolicking in the fields of a strawberry farm in Oxnard, California!  Yes, it’s true.  I was invited by the California Strawberry Commission to tour a working strawberry farm along with a group of fellow foodbloggers. The farm is run by Bill Reiman who took us out into his fields and showed us how this gorgeous fruit is picked, processed and packed. As our group stood there in the warm California sun, Bill explained  how environmentally conscious California strawberry farmers are, and how they have invested millions into research and sustainable farming practices.  He went on to explain how 88% of the nation’s strawberries are grown in California, and that California has a 12 month growing season. So guess what, you can enjoy your strawberries 24/7!

The final highlight of the day was a strawberry-themed dinner prepared by Executive Chef Tim Kilcoyne. Our hosts had set up a white canopied tent that was surrounded by strawberries as far as the eye could see, and our backdrop was the Santa Monica Mountains. A Hollywood set designer couldn’t have done a better job. As if this wasn’t enough, each guest was sent home with a flat of  sweet, California Strawberries. Yes, it was a most excellent adventure, and one I’ll never forget.

So what did I do with all those berries you ask…well, I turned them into ice cream of course.

Strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh California Strawberries

Strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh California Strawberries

Strawberry Ice Cream

Williams Sonoma “Ice Cream”

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (185g) sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) fresh California strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cream and milk. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the vanilla. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes so that the flavors begin to blend together. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, from 3-8 hours.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mash half of the chopped strawberries until they break down into small chunks, then add the remaining coarsely chopped strawberries to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate these strawberries for an hour.
  3. After an hour, pour the milk/cream mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When nearly frozen and the mixture looks like thick whipped cream, add the strawberries. Churn just until blended. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm, about three hours, or up to 3 days before serving.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

Fresh California Strawberries

Fresh California Strawberries

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We were treated to a chef prepared, strawberry themed meal in a tent set up in the middle of the strawberry field. The Santa Monica Mountains were the perfect backdrop.

Fun Strawberry Facts:

8 strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange. They’re low in sugar, with only about 50 calories, and strawberries are a great source of fiber, folate and potassium. Yeah, so who else can make that claim!

Strawberries are good for your heart folks. Potassium found in strawberries can help control blood pressure and fight strokes. The antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals in strawberries has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.

California strawberry farmers use less than one percent of California’s cropland, but create nearly 10 percent of all California’s farm-related jobs. You go California farmers!

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Mama had a grand old day in the California Strawberry Fields.

Recipe: Easy

* Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The California Strawberry Commission. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.


The Versatile Blogger and Inspiring Blogger Awards

I didn’t know that when I got into foodblogging, that one of the wonderful side benefits would be connecting with other bloggers. It happens to be a very friendly community out there on the internet, and it’s filled with some extremely talented people. I was nominated by a lovely lady who is the voice behind Tasha in the Kitchen for the Versatile Blogger and Inspiring Blogger award. She’s a 20-year old student from Scotland and her blog is filled with great recipes and spectacular photography, so please check her out.

Okay, so as an award nominee you must share seven things about yourself. Whether you want to know them or not…here goes.

  1. I watch all of Bravo Network’s “Real Housewife” series episodes
  2. I look at the desserts on the menu first
  3. Good character is the first thing I look for in a human being
  4. I love Etta James and Billie Holiday
  5. My two sons are the most important thing to me
  6. Growing up in Philadelphia was very special to me, and I still have the same friends since 7th grade
  7. I would like to be friends with CeeLo Green

Part two of receiving this nomination, is to pass these awards on to five other deserving bloggers.

Filing Away Cupcakes - She writes great restaurant reviews and loves her doggie, just like I love mine!

Frugal Feeding - eating well on a budget!

Tiny Kitchen Stories - tiny kitchen, big recipes!

Wuppenif - lovely photos and heartfelt stories

Savory Simple – unusual recipes, easy to follow and beautifully photographed

So my blogging friends, I hope you enjoy these awards as much as I enjoy reading your blogs. These are the rules:

  • Thank the person that nominated you
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Choose 5 nominees
  • Comment on your nominees blogs to let them know they’ve been nominated


When the Student Becomes the Teacher

The students of the Academy of Culinary Education

I’m not an early riser, but at 6:30 this morning I jumped out of bed with a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm. I never do that at 6:30 a.m., trust me. I did it because I was asked by Chef Cecilia DeCastro of the Academy of Culinary Education, to teach breadmaking to her professional pastry class. It was just five months ago that I was one of chef’s pastry students, and was sitting at one of the long work tables in the kitchen of her Woodland Hills school.

As I reflect on my past, I realize how lucky I have been to be blessed with such good teachers. My most influential teachers are my parents, who to this day still encourage me to be the best person I can be. There have been so many other people along the way who have shared with me a bit of themselves, they’ve taught me, inspired me and encouraged me. To them I say, thank you.

Me and Chef

Teaching is a giving back, a giving back of knowledge and life’s experience. I’m so lucky to have crossed paths with Chef Cecilia because she has so much to share. She came from the Phillipines to Los Angeles and landed her first job working at Ma Maison in West Hollywood. In the early 80′s it was THE celebrity restaurant, so exclusive it had a private phone number. At Ma Maison, she met a young Wolfgang Puck who was the chef, and her working relationship with him has continued for over thirty years. In her career, Cecilia has worked in every facet of the food industry. She has a catering business, has produced cooking shows, developed cookbooks, worked alongside the best and brightest in the business, and has taught.

ACE students learning the importance of kneading their dough

I am one of the thousands of beneficiaries of Cecilia’s experiences. In 2008 I was a student of her Professional Cooking Program and then in 2010 I completed her Professional Pastry Program. She instructs with a great deal of passion, and her desire to see each one of her students succeed is evident. Even after her students graduate her program, she’s helped so many find jobs and she continues to mentor them.

I love coming back to the kitchen at ACE where I found so much inspiration and joy. Today, I have been given the opportunity to give back, to pass on the little bit of knowledge that I have about my favorite topic, bread. The students are so receptive, and I realize that teaching is a gift for both student and teacher.

Breads baked by ACE Students

Academy of Culinary Education, 4917 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA

818 887-CHEF


Crisis In Japan

I really couldn’t write anything today, other than my thoughts were with the people of Japan and an end to their suffering. The images we’ve seen over the last several days are heart-breaking.


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