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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!

“What’s for dinner, baby?”

“Umm, I don’t know yet. Let’s see what we’ve got in the fridge…”

That’s usually how the whole creative process of cooking begins in our house. I dive into the refrigerator, then poke my head in the pantry, sniff around, scratch my forehead, wiggle my mouth back and forth, and then I hear the wheels turning – my mind is brewing a dinner menu.

Jason and moi

It’s a tough and rigorous journey that nevertheless takes my mind for a ride through different stages of bliss each and every time. The whole production is commenced in peace – chopping crunchy vegetables is a meditation. Just like that, I enter a zen state of mind while prepping all ingredients of my dish. Deciding on what spices to use suddenly stimulates my brain, and the excitement slowly begins to build as I marry all elements together. I let the time and heat work their magic. Then I scoop a teaspoon full of flavor to taste, let the flavors wrap around my tongue, and… euphoria. I reach the peak.

That’s why I cook.

At times it’s an exhausting exercise but always fully satisfying the same way you may find a good work out at the gym, or a Sunday morning love-making with your mate. Either one may be concluded with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a slice of a homemade blueberry curd cake. Is there a better way to start a day?

I should introduce myself. Well, it’s complicated. My name is long, and Polish, and a mouthful. Call me Agi, just like all my American peeps do.

Another character in the story you’ll be hearing about is Jason. He’s a white boy from Texas. He’s well mannered, funny, cute as a button, hot with his shirt off, with a BIG voice and a sharp mind. He’s my best friend, my lover, my mate. He supports whatever idea springs out of my head. He makes me giggle like a 6 year old, or laugh out loud and uncontrollably prompting our neighbors to slam shut their windows. He shares his world with me, teaches me new things each day, and gives inspiration for another meal I’ll build from scratch. He’s the love of my life and the adoptive father to our 3.5-year old pup, Cosmo.

Cosmo loves carrots

I’m dying to share with you the stories of my creations – the circumstances, the processes, the textures and colors, everything to the very last bite. Even though I’ve gone through a 6-week crash course in the traditional French culinary art, I tend to search for lighter fare. In my world there’s little or no cream, butter, or white flower. I choose whole wheat, whole grain, organic, free range, grass fed, locally grown ingredients, when available. I recycle. I use water with caution. I turn off the light behind me. I keep my car tires full and unplug chargers when not in use. I like it healthy and green style.

My promise to you is to keep this blog alive, bursting with flavors, colors, and endless recipes. I hope to keep you interested. I hope you’ll keep coming back for more. I hope to hear back from you.

Bon Appetit and Carpe Diem!

Agi

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