Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Intersection of Running and Cooking

I have been a runner since I was in the seventh grade and ran the Presidential Physical Fitness mile in under 6 minutes and 30 seconds. I competed through high school and college and have spent the years since running for myself. It may seem odd to think that running and cooking could intersect somewhere, they almost seem diametrically opposed. For me, both give a mental calm that I haven't been able to find through anything else.

When I set out on a run, or start chopping that first vegetable of a meal, my mind almost clears. I push out the things that are stressing me and just focus on the one task in front of me. In the case of running, it's as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, when it comes to cooking, most of the time I'm trying to not chop off any fingers. My favorite part of cooking, beside the eating, is the prep work. I love the monotony of it, slice red pepper, slice green pepper, dice onion, dice celery. When you have a recipe that you know so well, you don't have to think about what you are doing at all. Just like on a fantastic run, your mind can go completely clear.

I often find at the end of a great run, or after I have done the prep work for a great meal, that I don't actually remember any of what I was doing, and I don't remember thinking about anything. It's as if my mind has gotten some much needed rest, and my body has been on auto drive. It's the perfect beginning (running) and end (cooking) to any day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This past week, as I was relaxing in an all you can eat wonderland, I had two Food & Wine magazines to read. In a fantastic coincident I went out to buy the most recent issue on the Friday before leaving only to have my subscription start up on Saturday. The beauty of it all was I managed to get two different issues! I was in heaven.

The week was amazing and relaxing and by Wednesday I was seriously missing my kitchen. I kept dreaming about my beautiful All Clad frying pan that I haven't used enough, and which would be perfect for the New England scallops which just came into season. I was also craving fresh vegetables because if you can imagine, the tropical paradise that the Dominican republic is, does not include lots of vegetables.

On the flight home I found the perfect welcome home recipe in Aprils issue, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It was included in an article about Jess Jackson, the man behind Kendall-Jackson wines, and his quote about this recipe was to say half way through the bowl "We should have this once a week," and right after he finished, "OK, twice a week." How could I pass that up? So yesterday, I was still on vacation, although JR had to work, and I headed out to get all the ingredients to make a perfect Kentucky Gumbo.

I took my time, made it slowly, modified it a little from the recipe and it came out perfect! The consistency is almost cheesy, although there is no cheese in it. The shredded chicken and chicken andouille sausage add all the flavor you need. It's got just the right amount of kick and makes fantastic left-overs for work.

I haven't had my sister, brother-in-law and mother perfect it yet, so I may add some changes to this later, but here goes the most amazing Chicken-Sausage Gumbo recipe I have ever tried.

1 whole, roasted chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound chicken andouille sausage links (I used Whole Foods for these)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with zesty jalapeños
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked instant brown rice
Tabasco sauce, for serving

1. Discard the chicken skin. Pour 4 cups chicken broth into a large pot, add the skinless chicken and simmer. After 20 minutes, pull the chicken out of the pot, allow both the chicken and the broth to cool.
2. In a fry pan, brown the sausages over moderately high heat, 5 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate.
3. Transfer the chicken broth to a separate container, and add 1 tablespoon to the pot. Add the celery, bell peppers and onion and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the flour smells nutty, 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Add the sausages to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat until the sausages are cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
4. While your sausage is cooking, shred the chicken into bite size pieces and put aside. Once the sausage is done, transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Put both the chicken and the sausage into the pot and stir in the scallions and rice. Simmer until heated through, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve with Tabasco.

Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine - Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Gormandizing Revamped

Did'ya see my new header? Isn't it cool! That's all thanks to my big sister AF who designed it for me.

On a side note the tech PM in me (yes that's my day job) cringed as I wrote my sister an email trying to describe what I wanted and asking her to make it for me. I mean, here I am, 2 months into my first real blog and I am already working on a redesign. However modest it is, my clients have clearly trained me well!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mad Hatter

Food & Wine wrote up these lovely sugar and creamers in their January edition (I think). I fell so in love with them that I actually pulled out the page and put it in my cookbook, for lack of a better place.

I want all three of them dancing across my dining room table some day.

Summer loving....

March is the worse month. It’s that time of year where I want the summer. I crave the summer. I need the summer. I dream about grilled meat, potato salad, corn on the cob, amazing red juicy tomatoes, crispy green beans, runs in the sun in the morning, lemonade and iced tea. The problem is, it’s still winter.

The larger problem is I get tired of winter things. I am sick of my winter clothes. I am tired of running in the gym, and I don’t want to eat winter foods any more. It makes cooking really difficult for me because I can't get anything I want.

JR thinks he has the solution, he is taking me to the Dominican Republic next week. We’ll have sun, sand, Piña Coladas and hopefully amazing food! I keep hoping when I come back it will be spring!