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Missed me? Good. I missed you, too. All the writing I’d done over the last year and a half about my love for cooking, and my dream to turn this passion into a bill-paying hobby now has come to fruition. The fact I’m here so seldom these days is due to my fully booked schedule. Yoohoo!

Last month I was working closely with my dear friend and a talented vegan chef, Melissa Costello of KarmaChow, on a project that involved cooking three meals a day for a group of 15 people over a period of three weeks. You can imagine our hands were full. However, I returned home with a roster of recipes that will serve as an inspiration to my own meals that I’ll then exhibit on these pages for you to enjoy.

Instead of a recipe, however, today I want to introduce you all to an Australian food stylist and a celebrity chef, Donna Hay. OK, some of you may not be that impressed as you and Donna go way back. Good for you! I myself, however, only discovered her last year, and, what can I say, I was head over heals for the Aussie gal and her culinary chops.

There are books, videos, an Australian TV show on food styling, and the magazine I’m a fan of. Only six or seven issues a year, which come to America with an irritating delay. Nonetheless, I am able to snatch each one every two months or so from my local Barnes & Noble. And so can you. I invite you to look through its pages for not only a gold mine of brand new recipes, but also the stylings of the dishes Donna and her team put together. Her signature color, pale blue, transcends across most of the recipes creating a casual, somewhat relaxing, and yet very elegant image. Juxtaposed against that gently humming background are vibrant reds, greens and yellows that make all dishes presented jump out of the pages. Literally! The arrangements on plates are an artistic expression in its own right. Simplicity screams through all Donna’s creations. Each element on the plate is exposed while being a coherent part of the entire dish, and yet there’s no chaos. Brilliant!

Even Oprah (I can’t believe I’m mentioning her visit to Australia once again, as if there wasn’t enough talk about it already) knew who to call when in the Aussie Land in order to have a feast of senses of her life…

 

It’s only fair to mention that my attitude towards Oprah is rather bitter-sweet, to put it mildly. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with BITTER-SWEET, especially when it comes to such chocolate bites sprinkled over thick slices of French Brie and topped with fresh basil chiffonade, then enclosed within two crispy slices of sourdough bread and melted in a panini maker. Aha! That’s a little secret I know from my gal, Giada De Laurentiis, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me spilling the beans.

And just like that I snuck in a recipe. A little bonus before I get down to sharing more of my own culinary tips and ideas. Check out the Australian cook extraordinaire and try something new today. Let your curiosity be stirred and your taste buds tickled. Always try to use the best, the purest, the freshest ingredients, and the pay off will be ongoing though your lasting satisfaction, infectious happiness, and vitality!

Hello, have we met? I’m Agi, or better Agnieszka, also known as

A RTISTIC

G RATEFUL

N ATURAL

I RRESISTIBLE

E ARTHQUAKE-FREE

S TIMULATING

Z ESTFUL

K ICK-ASS

A GELESS

This newfound and boosted self-esteem is a result of doing a few simple exercises with my wonderful and so inspiring circle of women-friends. As the New Moon arrived, Missy gathered us in her cozy abode and guided us as we set our intentions for 2010. Camilla got the energy moving with the above-mentioned fun practice. Writing those down really got me all excited about the POWER OF ME, and only then was I able to write down

MY TOP 10 TRIUMPHS OF 2009:

1.   I ended my slavery to various employers, which brought on the whole theme of reinventing of self along with so-longed-for sense of freedom.

2.   We found and created with Jason our first home together. It’s beautiful, cozy and really does feel like home, at last.

3.   Living together only strengthened and enriched our relationship.

4.   I unleashed my creative “monster”, as I truly believe that nothing can stop me now from creating whatever I want in my life. I do have a shit load of confidence in myself all of a sudden. Yee-haw!

5.   I created “One More Bite” – the blog you’re reading, which was a pretty kick-ass idea and quite a bold move considering the commitment. I love it!

6.   I mastered my culinary skills, which is and forever will be a work in progress as it’s nothing like riding a bike, kid yourself not.

7.   Hey, I became a PERSONAL CHEF! Hello! Give yourself the gift of being served a homemade, delicious and organic meal that will make your hair shine and a bod so fine – send me an email through facebook or twitter.

8.   I chopped off my hair, thus marking the end of my healing process from various pains of my 20s (that manifested with miserable eating disorders and such, now just a vague and sad memory) and embracing my commitment to living in balance with nature and loving myself for I rock my world!

9.   I built many new and wonderful friendships, and boosted the existing ones, which is HUGE considering my ALIEN status with a green card. My kinfolks, for the most part, are all on the other side of the BIG POND, a.k.a. Atlantic. Hence, my friends are my immediate family over here.

10.  I felt GREAT for the most part of 2009. Let’s see: 365 days – 12 days (PMS) = 353 days of pure, nauseating, daring HAPPINESS.

Yup, it was a good year. Now you go. Stop whatever it is you’re doing, put that doughnut down, stop reading nonsense on the Internet, don’t scratch yourself there!, leave the dishes for later, stop worrying about the bills for a moment, ignore your meowing companion (whoever it is) and take a 10 minute break to write down, hence see with your bare eyes, how successful your 2009 was, how powerful being you are, and feel the energy flowing through your temple of a body.

Done? Feeling MIGHTY? Purrfect. Now take that elevated spirit and translate it into a hearty and comforting meal you deserve right now. Here’s an idea – SPANISH RICE a’la Agi that will punch you in the face with its rich and robust flavor.

Here I used this fancy-shmancy blend of rice grains mixed with black barley that added to the drama of the final look of my dish.

You can use leftover rice that you don’t know what to do with. Or just as well get yourself a pot full of brown rice, or any other unbleached, husk-on variety, and plan on feeding your lovely self and all your neighbors for weeks to come. I don’t care. All I want from you is a batch of cooked rice that you will now flavor to your liking.

Let’s begin with infusing olive oil with yummy flavors. Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan; drop in a handful of peeled and crashed garlic cloves, one or two branches of fresh thyme, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Keep the pan over low heat thus letting everyone get comfy in the warmth of the oil for about 2 minutes.

Next, remove the herb and smash the garlic with a fork, enforcing it even deeper into the oil. Now, instantly add the rice (about 3 cups of cooked grain) and stir and fold it to ensure everything gets coated evenly with your flavored olive oil. Open a small can of tomato paste and empty it into the pan. Season it with a touch of kosher salt and one tablespoon of dry paprika. If you’re going for that smashing HIT in your mouth, feel free to add cayenne pepper as well. Once again, shuffle the rice and spread the paste all over it. When the mass is of a coherent color, spread it evenly over the surface of the pan and let it sit there over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the bottom gets a little crispy.

In the end, add a touch of Mother Nature in the form of fresh parlsey and/or dill, roughly chopped and sprinkled like snowflakes over the tip of Mount Everest.

I love my SPANISH RICE on its own, however for Jason I stir-fry a few chicken tenders that later tend to his six-pack, biceps, and those delicious cheek muscles (my favorite cut).

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