Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Food - Segment I

Here's something you should know about me: I don't stage or style my food shots.

Oh, you've noticed?

What usually happens is that two bites in I remember that I might want a photo, so I run and grab the camera, rotate the bowl so the smudgy edges are out of the shot, and take two tight shots. Sometimes just one, because I'm hungry, dang it.

I admire great food photographers like the saints that they are. I bow before their ironed vintage tablecloths and spoonless bowls. I respect their perfect white balances.

I just happen to be more of an eat-and-shoot kind of girl. I hope you understand. 

This is what I like to call basil gremolata pasta salad. Boil your pasta, blanch some asparagus and green beans, toss in some artichoke hearts, black olives and halved grape tomatoes.

Mix the zest and juice of a lemon (squeeze the life out of it) with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, salt, pepper, a big fistful of chopped fresh basil, and olive oil.

It's zingy.

Don't do as I did the last time and decide that it's too zingy and add more olive oil. You'll regret that a little.

Still? Yum.

Remember how I sometimes only take one shot? I present to you Exhibit A. But it's still too good to not share. It's not the oatmeal's fault that the sky was so sunless and the photographer was so half-asleep.

Boil up some real oatmeal. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and a spoonful of brown sugar. Heap it on top of frozen raspberries, blackberries and chopped peaches. It melts 'em up so nice.

And can I pause for a moment to express that at this very moment, I find it hard to believe that any one of you cares about my blurry fruitmeal or my oily pasta? It's a wonder that will never cease to amaze.

Wait - am I on a secret reality show this entire time? Were you all paid to pretend to be readers? Am I the girl version of Matthew Kennedy Gould???

Now, nothing says Spring to me quite like cucumbers and onions. That's what it's called, "Cucumbers and Onions". Fancy.

I'm not sure if this is something everyone knows about, or if it's more along the lines of baloney boats.

All I know is, peel and slice 4 cucumbers and one big sweet onion. Toss them in a bowl along with 2 cups of sugar, a pinch of salt, 1.5 cups of white vinegar and 4 cups of water. The next day you'll be in pickly, sweet, sour, veggie heaven.

Sidenote: If in a rush you forget to add the vinegar, your cukes will lack a little...something. But the kids might like them better.

And now, I have a very bold statement to make. It is not without a great deal of contemplation and and soul searching and humility that I, as the first unofficial connoisseur of not-too-spicy salsa,  announce that my salsa is indeed the best there ever was or ever will be.

For a while, the title belonged to La Fiesta in Troy, Ohio. But upon further review, the crown only first one head, and that head happens to have crooked ears and flat hair. I know it probably seems like I rigged the results, but I care too much about salsa to deny you the truth.

It's the lime juice, people. You've got to wring that sucker out.

I made a batch two weeks ago and was entirely powerless to its charms. I ate it on a full stomach. I ate it late into the night. I felt like Calvin after a trip to IHOP. I could. not. stop.

I've posted the recipe before, but it just feels right to do it again. Plus, I've tweaked it a bit over the years.

1 large can of whole tomatoes, undrained
1 regular-sized can Ro-Tel mild tomatoes with green chilies, well-drained
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 jalapenos, membranes and seeds removed (leave some in if you like it spicier)
3 cloves of garlic
juice of one lime (every single drop)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cumin (I usually use a little less than 1/4 tsp.)
1.5 cups loosley packed fresh cilantro leaves (this is not optional!)

Pulse everything except cilantro until is the desired consistency, then add the cilantro and pulse again. Serve with Santitas white corn tortilla chips. Say it with me, "White corn!"

Then thank your lucky stars that you waded through the first part of this post to get to the salsa, because in the end, it really is all about the salsa.

Tell me, what's your signature dish? I'm not willing to share my crown, but I'd be happy to send you a gold-plated replica.


  1. GIRL. yummo.
    can't wait to try the salsa recipe.
    i do believe, it just might change my life.

    love you, hope all is well xoxo

  2. Signature Dish? I make great REAL popcorn (like in a pan with oil and a heckuvalotta shaking going on)...and a pretty decent Carrot Cake...and really good potato salad (learned that one from my Mom and her Mom before her). Oh, and I know how to make homemade marshmellows (YUM! They are NOTHING like storebought). And my pot roast is to die for...

    wait, listing that many means none of them are really my signature dish huh?

    Want to try a yummy oatmeal recipe? Make your oatmeal as usual--whether it's real oatmeal or instant...then add a tablespoon of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey. It's like a warm oatmeal cookie for breakfast.

  3. strawberry shortcake - using baking powder biscuits (the secret is in adding 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to the flour to make them - sweet - biscuits)...layer sweet biscuits (crumbled) and sugared/sliced strawberries with a little dab of milk and maybe some more sugar...and if you're lucky, you won't end up even at the end and need to add more strawberries - or biscuits - or milk. eat until the bowl is empty!

    the oatmeal looks yum-derful!

  4. you are funny! and never cease to disappoint!


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  6. Homemade pizza and monster cookies. My salsa is pretty good too, but I won't challenge your title. That pasta salad looks so good.

  7. Cucumbers and onions! LOVE that. You could have totally fooled me : ) I thought you styled them up like crazy... ; )

  8. My signature dish... do you hear the laughter?

    Let's go ahead and do us both a favor. Just mail me the salsa. I can make it a thousand times and it will never EVER taste like yours.



  9. Totally inspired and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I might have to try the cucumbers and onions (woah) and the salsa is a for-sure. :)
    ~Gini :)

  10. Dang it. Now I'm so excited to make oatmeal. Weird.

    1. Lady, I made myself a bowl at 10 pm one night. It has a hold on me.

  11. i did not know about the cucumbers and onions, but i can fully vouch for the salsa. i made your recipe last year for the first time, and i'm pretty sure i nearly cried from mouth happiness.

  12. My signature dish? Your caramelized brussel sprouts. Seriously, I CANNOT STOP eating them. OMG.

  13. Shannon, you are an awesome writer. I give this post a standing ovation.

    And I want that salsa.

  14. YUM! I love all those foods. I have never done the cucumber onion thing, but I'm doing it soon. My kids love eating sliced cucumbers with sea salt and dried dill sprinkled over the top of them. We call them "green chips".

  15. you make the best bowls of stuff ever.

    i want that oatmeal. really. love the idea of a vanilla touch.

    and salsa is my love language.

    oh and ps! we got netflix... i know we're like five years late. but hey! at least now i can watch something besides five channels. Friday Night Lights here i come!

  16. golly I could totally use some salsa now.

  17. You do realize Lent is over right? I keep waiting for you to post at midnight. Could it possibly be that our night owl farmgirl has become a robin? Love the onions & cucumbers haven't known life without 'em. Thanks for your "special" salsa recipe --I'm honored you shared. I'll be pinning that just as soon as I get at a real computer. Nighty-nite!

  18. Your "this is not optional" note after the cilantro makes me want to weep with joy. I always have to set some salsa aside for my hubby before adding it, and I feel as though I'm committing a crime.

  19. that would have to be maida heatter's pecan bar. i bake it and people swoon. dip them in a little chocolate, if that's your thing.

    having never made salsa before, i am inspired to try out your recipe. it looks delicious!

  20. my signature dish...is not really a dish. It's my chocolate chip cookies. I'm kinda famous for them...with like 4 people.
    And it is so on like Donkey Kong with the salsa. I LURVE me some La Fiesta but will be whipping up your version this weekend for sure!!

  21. We have started making a pasta dish very similar to your first dish except I have not done olives or artichoke hearts. But we do add feta cheese and let me tell you, it goes perfectly!

  22. I just pinned all of these. And now I'm very hungry.

  23. I'm also now very, very hungry. "thanks!"

    I want to make the pasta salad and the cucumber thingy? Looks yummy.

    IF you did stage your food shots, wouldn't you have to use hot, hot lights AND faux foods? What would "stand in" for the oatmeal? So hard to say! I know they use glue for milk in cereal shots...what would "play" the role of the noodle? The cucumber?

    Something to think about!

    Hankering for Pad Thai above all else, but ANY of these dishes will do!



  24. Yum. I am a foodie. I like looking at food, and more importantly eating it :)
    That pasta - doin it.
    That oatmeal - yeppers.
    Those cucumbers - hubby is gonna give me onion breath kisses when I make em.

    Ok, dont wanna rain on your salsa parade (altho that sounds fun!) but I am pretty darn pleased with my salsa crown that I like to put on occasionally.
    Here is my addition to your fab recipe -
    after you pulse that magic potion, add some chopped green onions with the cilantro and mildly pulse.
    THEN....add avocado chunks. The avocados stay nice and fresh cuz of the lime juice.

    Youre welcome :)


    ps - I heart u

  25. I think you are in the wrong line of work.... you are just so witty. I love to read your blog because I feel like I am sitting across the table with an old friend.... not to imply your old or me either for that matter.

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  27. Oh my goodness, the cucumbers remind me of when I was a little girl! What a throwback recipe. And that salsa--I have a recipe almost exactly like that and you're right--it IS the best ever. I think I'll make some this week. Mmmmm.

  28. Cucumbers and onions are my fave!

  29. yum.

    i'm s sucker for fresh guacamole.

    but that salsa recipe might just change my life! ;)

  30. I made your oatmeal this morning! Yummy!! Will make salsa this afternoon. My signature dishes change, lately they've been Italian breadcrumb/parmasean/Panko crusted chicken and grits and eggs for breakfast.

  31. I pinned your salsa recipe.
    I'll make it this weekend and tell you all about it.

  32. So because La Fiesta is still number one on my list, I'm going to HAVE TO try this salsa recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  33. my signature dish? I'm gonna go with...Eggo waffles with a drizzle of syrup. Not just any drizzle, a fancy drizzle.

    I'm just that talented in the kitchen, shan.

    I am eating your salsa when next we meet. Be prepared.

  34. Catching up on everything I've missed here...

    Yum and Yum. I decided to make my own oatmeal, you know, with no added sugar and all, so I used peanut butter and bananas. Which was pretty good, but lacked a little something. So I switched the bananas for chocolate chips (ghiradelli) and yep, that was it...it lacked...sugar. I'll be giving yours a try, though. And I will definitely will make the salsa...lime?! Genius, I tell ya.

    1. That's right, I will definitely will. ;)

  35. The salsa was DIVINE...as in, I ate it for dinner and dessert, and my hubby (already brushed his teeth ready for bed) ate it and complimentarily (is that a word?)cursed at how marvelous it was and the next morning proceeded to take OVER HALF of it with him to work....thank you for sharing such lusciousness....fan-tab-ulous....truly.

  36. Just pinned this post TWICE -- once for the pasta salad pic and once for the cucumbers. :)

  37. About your salsa - I stopped reading the entire blog as soon as I read, 1 large "CAN" of whole tomatoes, un-drained... Bye bye...