He was a rockstar of the culinary world. Rest easy now, Bourdain.


One of the few idols I had left is dead. I watched his shows religiously. Bourdain’s culinary adventures became my obsession- I was able to travel the world through HIS eyes. His show was my foodie porn. What a masterpiece it was!

A few years back, Bourdain filmed his Filipino episode at my former co-star’s flat in Manila. I was so star struck by this fact and pumped my friend for all the info I could get.

My friend said he seemed tired and overwhelmed- or something to that effect. I don’t doubt that at all. His shooting schedule had to be extremely grueling.

CNN reports that he was found dead by hanging, in an apparent suicide, by his friend Eric Ripert. He left 2 ex-wives, a daughter, and his current girlfriend, actress Asia Argento, to mourn him along with the rest of us.

I don’t understand suicide, I wish I could understand it more. This tragedy brings to mind all of those people who survived loved ones that died in this manner. The families who will weep forever over the loss. 

If you are contemplating suicide, I urge you, please rethink it. Get help, there is help available. Don’t let the world mourn what could have been. Don’t let your children grow up without a parent. Don’t let your parents have to bury their child.

When you kill yourself, you kill a bit of everyone around you.

We are all one, connected to each other through our joys and tragedies.




VINTAGE RECIPE: My Great Aunt Ellen’s Chicken and Dumplings- MY VERSION!!


My version

After I finished writing the last blog post, I started on the chicken and dumplings.


The original version omits any thickener for sauce

right away I could tell that 2 tsp baking powder in one cup of flour was WAY too much- also, most recipes call for some form of fat, which I added.

Aunt Ellen used ‘chicken cooking water’ and canned broth. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my OWN broth.


2 packages of boneless skinless chicken breast (3 breasts per package)
a couple stalks of celery, leaves on, broken up in large chunks
a couple unpeeled carrots, broken up into large chunks
UNPEELED onion, cut in quarters.
water to cover
handful of fresh parsley (do not chop)
tablespoon of chicken bouillon

Basically, I just dumped it all in a pot on high- when it reached a full boil, I covered it and let it cook on low for an hour.

After, I plucked chicken breasts out and chopped them into small pieces.

I strained the broth and discarded the solid vegetables.

Then, I measured out about 2 to 2.5 quarts of the broth for the ‘sauce’ later.

isn’t this beautiful?


Aunt Ellen’s granddaughter warned me to test out the recipe before totally committing, as her grandmother had different variations of the same recipe floating around. I immediately noticed that the baking powder to flour ration was WAY too high and would have resulted in a very bitter product. I increased the flour to 2 cups and decreased the baking powder to 1 tsp. I also added 1/3 cup of lard (or crisco), as it makes for a more tender dumpling and can be found in most chicken and dumpling recipes online. When I experimented WITHOUT the fat, it didn’t taste as good.



2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken boullion
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 c lard or crisco
1 cup milk

(instructions are underneath photos)

first I rubbed the fat into the dry ingredients until it was kind of mealy

after, I added the milk and just mixed it all up with my hands. Next time I will use my stand mixer- I then made the dough into a smooth ball.

rolled it out- we liked the thicker ones- cut them into squares using pizza cutter





2 quarts of reserved chicken stock from boiling the chicken breasts
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup flour
stick of butter
salt and pepper to taste
(optional: garlic powder, parsley, etc)

Melt stick of butter in pot over medium-high. Add flour and cook for a minute. Slowly add the cream and milk, a bit at a time, stirring until it becomes a white cream gravy. Add the 2 quarts of chicken stock and adjust seasoning. If you worry about lumps, use a stick blender or whisk while incorporating the broth. Return to a boil, stirring constantly.

When it begins bubbling again, add most of the dumplings and cover. Lower heat to low and cook about 12 minutes. Add rest of dumplings and cook uncovered on medium for about 20 minutes. Keep a close eye on it or it will boil over (like mine did).

Add chopped chicken and cover, set heat down to low, until warmed through.

it boiled over when I turned my back


This is definitely a keeper. I have to admit, I’ve never eaten real chicken and dumplings before. The only other exposure to it that I had was Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie and the stuff that comes out of a can (yuck). I was truly impressed with the delicate flavor.

I can see why my father loved it so much.


Oregon White Truffle Pasta


wide egg noodles with Oregon white truffles


The Oregon white truffle is a strange thing:

Raw, it is VERY strong and pungent- however, once warmed lightly in a pan of butter for a few moments, it mellows out to a more agreeable and subtly luscious form.

My second experiment was a pasta dish. It was a huge hit with everyone, even the truffle hating Man.

I read somewhere that Oregon white truffles should be treated more like the European black ones- slightly warmed so that their true flavor shines through (and to temper the sharpness that they have when raw).

I threw a knob of butter in a pan and warmed it over low heat- then added shaved truffle slices- HEAVEN!

It completely changed the flavor profile.

While the truffles were warming, I boiled the noodles. I asked R to buy pappardelle, but he brought homemade German wide egg noodles back instead by mistake. It wasn’t a bad substitute and actually tasted better than the last batch of pappardelle noodles I bought.

I drained the cooked noodles, threw them back in the pot- added a splash of heavy cream, a small handful of good parmesan, the truffle-infused butter… omg! PERFECTION!

I shaved more raw truffle over my plate when serving and LOVED the contrast between the cooked and raw flavors.

R isn’t pleased with the pasta quality, so today we are going to hunt for better quality noodles for today’s batch (I am making some for my parents).

These things are starting to really grow on me…




Toddler Meal Ideas… International, Vegetarian,Carnivore, Exotic- She Eats It All!

People say that my kid eats better than they do and this might be true.

I love to cook and I am not crazy about ‘conventional’ American food at all.

I am attempting to limit our red meat consumption and have been doing a lot of vegan and vegetarian meals lately.

Luckily, my Maisie is not a very picky girl and she has a healthy appetite (and is consistently off the charts for height and a very healthy weight- but not fat- ).

Pasta carbonara! #foodgasm #babyfood #foodie #food #ToddlerMeals #toddlerdinner #toddlerfood #babyfoodie

A photo posted by Miss Maisie (@missmaisiebabyfashionista) on

She basically eats everything that we eat- which can be vegan, carnivore, or any number of foreign foods, depending on my mood.

Pasta carbonara! #toddlerfood #pastacarbonara #carbonara #toddlerdinner #ToddlerMeals #food #foodie #babyfood #babyfood #foodgasm

A photo posted by Miss Maisie (@missmaisiebabyfashionista) on

You’ll see a lot of persimmons and mandarin oranges lately on her plate because it is in season and her fave (and I bought a case of persimmons!).
Here are some highlights from her meals on Instagram.




Maisie is a garlic pasta addict- and ended up with linguine up her nose, which scared the shit out of us. #notatapeworm

all she wants to eat is carbonara or garlic pasta with clam sauce.

I made cereal and yogurt and fruit for breakie and she asked for “Passa!”

Here is a video of the child today:

So, we were on porch an hour ago with my parents and dad saw something coming out of her nose

Dad: “What’s that in her nose?!”

I went to investigate and ended up pulling out a 3 inch length of linguine… all the while we all were kinda freaking out.

It looked like a bloody tape worm!!


Food Porn Wednesday… Blueberry Clafoutis, Beef & Cauliflower, Beef and Bok Chok, Fermented Chili Bean Curd…

Some highlights from my Instagram this week. Been too lazy to post recipes (or post much at all)… but I’ve been cooking up a storm!

Blueberry Clafoutis: 

I made this for dessert tonight- it’s blueberry season here in Michigan and the French clafoutis is one of my favorite easy desserts of all time! Imagine the bastard (sweet) lovechild of a Dutch pancake (the real kind) and a Yorkshire pudding… with fruit… so good.

Here is an excellent recipe similar to the one I make- with a little clafoutis history thrown in!

View this post on Instagram

#blueberry #clafoutis #dessert #food #foodie #foodies #foodporn

A post shared by Miss Maisie & Mommy (@missmaisiebabyfashionista) on

Beef, Mushroom, Cauliflower Stir Fry:

Found this excellent little recipe on this site. We loved it and finally used up a head of cauliflower lingering in the fridge.

Beef and Bok Choy:

I really loved this- I am in the process of typing out the recipe. Will post it soon.

View this post on Instagram

#beef #babybokchoy #stirfry #food #foodie #foodies #foodporn

A post shared by Miss Maisie & Mommy (@missmaisiebabyfashionista) on

Fermented Chili Bean Curd:

This is a favorite of mine since childhood. My mother used to feed it to us as a condiment with hot rice. I always preferred it as ancient as possible.

From Wiki:

“Fermented tofu is commonly used as a condiment and is consumed at breakfast to flavor rice, porridge, gruel or congee. Usually either several bricks are placed in a small bowl covered in the flavored brine or one to one half bricks are placed into a bowl. Then, chunks are broken off the brick and consumed with a mouthful of porridge or gruel. The brine may also be used for flavoring. Fermented bean curd can also be added in small amounts, together with its brine, to flavor stir-fried or braised vegetable dishes (particularly leafy green vegetables such as water spinach).”

More about it here.


Homemade Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding Saved Me From A Nervous Breakdown Today


Maisie ate most of this bowl

I bought a bag of medium pearl tapioca from my local Indian grocer and decided to make some for the kids. After the flood that happened this afternoon in my basement, I credit this pudding with saving me from a nervous breakdown.

There is some great tapioca food history at this site.

Tapioca Pudding

I prefer my pudding very thick and with lots of tapioca- if you’d like yours creamier, with less pearls, cut the tapioca in half and omit the cornstarch mixture.

1 cup of medium pearl tapioca, soaked in a quart of cold water overnight (NOT INSTANT OR QUICK TAPIOCA)

4 cups of half whole milk/half heavy cream

1 whole egg

3 egg yolks

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of cold milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Place the tapioca in a large bowl with a quart of cold water. Cover and allow the tapioca to soak for at least 12 hours. When ready to use, use a fine mesh strainer to drain off the water and set the soaked pearls aside.

    what the tapioca looked like after being soaked overnight

    what the tapioca looked like after being soaked overnight

  2. In a large saucepan, combine the milk/cream, vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt and set aside. Place the eggs and yolks in a large bowl and whisk them until they are combined. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, whisking constantly, until all of the sugar is added. Whisk until the egg mixture is a very light yellow color, about two minutes, then set aside.

    milk mixture, with nutmeg added

    milk mixture, with nutmeg added

    egg/sugar mixture

    egg/sugar mixture

  3. Place the saucepan with the milk mixture over low heat and bring to a simmer. Once it begins to bubble, remove the pot from heat and temper the eggs with the hot liquid by whisking the eggs constantly as you add the liquid a little at a time.

    before I added the egg mixture

    after I added the egg mixture

  4. Once the two mixtures are completely combined, pour the custard back into the original pot and and add the tapioca. Add the nutmeg. Whisk constantly over low heat. Add cornstarch mixture. As you whisk, the mixture will begin to thicken. Watch the pearls, they will become translucent, with just a bit of cloudiness in the centers, indicating that the pudding is done. . Scrape the pudding into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the top surface. Chill in the fridge, at least 2 hours.

    my version is thicker than most, but that's because I like it like that.

    my version is thicker than most, but that’s because I like it like that.


Vintage Pink Depression Glass and Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies


yummy homemade peanut butter cookies on a pretty garage sale depression glass plate

I actually have a ton of Dumpster Diary posts I am working on, because we’ve been SO busy with the back room and upstairs kitchen into closet redo, but I have yet to finish them. I’ve been way too tired til now to even blog. I am taking a wee break right now while baby sleeps to catch my breath and check my email, so I decided to post.

The other day my mom and I went to some rummage sales. I found a GORGEOUS circa. 1935-1938 Pink Depression Glass plate in perfect shape for $3! It was in the Princess pattern by Hocking. I usually don’t go for glassware of any sort (even my drinking glasses are utilitarian antique Mason Ball jars from my parents’ barn), but it was so pretty. I could definitely see cookies on it in my mind’s eye. Yeah, I know I don’t need more STUFF, but I needed a break for a few hours from this house.

C and I made/froze peanut butter cookie dough the day the stove went off. The recipe was amazing- you can find it HERE. They tasted like bakery cookies and were so easy to make.

Anyway, that’s my post and my pic… back to work for me now!


Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk/Cornmeal Breading

salted sliced tomatoes and all the things to dip it in, ready for cooking

I used this recipe and added some cajun spice to the flour mixture. They turned out GREAT. Sam and I ate the entire thing!

Fried green tomatoes are such a summer treat that I look forward to each year. Usually I have heirloom tomatoes growing in the raised beds of my garden, but for the first time in 6 yrs I didn’t plant any. Luckily, they sell them now at my local grocery store. My cousin posted on her Facebook today that she fried some up, so I decided to do the same.

I have not been able to find any solid history on fried green tomatoes. Smithsonian says they’re possibly not even Southern, but of Jewish origin. Other sources maintain that they were not really a thing until after the 1980s. I remember eating them as a child way back in the 1970s, so those ‘other sources’ can’t be right. Wikipedia has absolutely NOTHING on their page regarding their history, either.

Whatever the history, they sure are delicious!

these things may not be pretty, but they sure taste good!

the fried green tomatoes were polished off within 30 minutes


Beef Rendang with Mushrooms, Basmati Rice, and Cucumber Salad


Beef rendang, basmati rice, cucumber salad

Tonight I made dinner for everyone and did a Malaysian/Indonesian Beef Rendang. I loosely followed THIS RECIPE and a few others I found online. This is the third or fourth time I’ve made this and it’s always a huge hit in my house. We always eat this until we’re sick, I’ve noticed. It’s so good and truly worth the trouble and wait.

The addition of mushrooms was my mom’s idea- I added an entire package of sliced baby bellas right about 10 minutes prior to serving.

CNN called it one of ‘the World’s 50 Best Foods” and I completely agree! Even my father, who isn’t fond of Asian food, loves it.

The beef is slow cooked in spices and coconut milk until it is fall-apart tender. TECHNICALLY, you’re supposed to cook it until it’s dry, but the ones I’ve tasted in Amsterdam at Indonesian places always had a gravy, so this is how I cook mine.

It’s served on a bed of white rice (I prefer Basmati), with a side of sweet and sour cucumber salad with onions and chilis. I made the salad with an English cucumber, small onion (both cut in half moons), bit of white sugar, salt and pepper, Filipino white vinegar, and a half teaspoon of Indonesian sambal (a chili condiment). You mix them all up and let them sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes prior to serving- SO easy!

this is something everyone should have at least once in their lives- delish!

this is something everyone should have at least once in their lives- delish!