So long, farewell, and dream of poutine!

I wish I had an exciting or reasonable excuse as to why I haven’t been updating this blog. I guess the truest thing I could say is that last semester in Creative Non-Fiction I was living and breath and writing pages upon pages of food writing. I was also extremely busy, running around like a headless hen, that my meals weren’t exactly exciting or terribly worth sharing. I also was falling for a new guy, and we all know courting takes up a lot of time ;)  I thought a lot about if I wanted to take this blog forward, can it, can all kinds of internet writing, or something of the sorts.

I’ve decided to move away from Peel, but when something goes away another takes its place. Come visit me on my new site I dream of poutine. The posts will be shorter and I’ll be extensively using Instagram (which I’ve genuinely fallen in love with over the past few months). Think of it as an Amuse-Bouche instead of a seven course meal.

Thank you for popping in and continue to Peel Away!

❤ Jocellyn

Tea Time

jocellyn88 instagram. Photo grid is the best thing since Reese’s Cups❤

Perhaps for obvious reasons pertaining to heat, I don’t drink tea until the snow starts to fall. I tried a few weeks ago, and my body pretty much shut down any attempts. My tongue and throat had no use for the warmth, faint flavor, and honey. (Bad) luck would have it, because Burlington, VT had a mini-flurry storm last week, and yesterday I finally accepted that my trusty circle scarf and cardigan were no match against the dropping temperatures and uptick in wind speed. I went to Old Navy and bought a long down jacket, purchased a small box of tea from TJ Maxx, and decided to see how the body would feel about it. Yankee candle lit and mug in hand, my tummy welcomed the hot liquid with open arms. Goodbye mason jars of flavored water and hello tea.

I’m off to Okemo, VT with a friend for a day of frolicking in the mountains and apparently a good bottle of wine.

Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

A New Dawn; A New Breakfast

Have no fear; things have been delicious and good in my life. Unfortunately, it has all been very chaotic and this has forced me to step away from the stove. Long days and tired nights have led me to fall in love with leftovers. I used to look down on them, but over the last few weeks they’ve grown to become my friends.

Our relationship with food is ever changing. Right now I simply don’t have the time for flair-tastic meals, but that doesn’t mean I’ve succumbed to take out and junk food. I’ve found new, fast, and fulfilling ways to keep my cooking hand strong while maintaining some semblance of sanity. I look forward to the less hectic days once this semester is over when I can find time to get back to my lackadaisical and ingredient heavy kitchen roots, but I’ve found enjoyment in this culinary break.

In the meantime, here is a savory dish I made for breakfast, which is outside the ordinary. I love eggs. I can easily go through a carton in a week. I understand the cholesterol in eggs isn’t necessarily bad, but something tells me the amount I eat is in the higher percentage and teetering on the edge of detrimental. Alas, I had no eggs left this morning, so instead of running to City Market for an egg and tomato breakfast sandwich, I sauntered over to the fruit bowl to try out a new recipe I found last night. It encompasses my love of bananas and avocados, and my sweet tooth gets to join in on the action. No one likes playing third wheel *wink/wink*

I “adapted” the amounts of cream and sugar for the recipe, due to the fact that I was borrowing the neighbor’s cream and I wanted to see if I could get that sweet taste while still drawing back on the amount of sugar. My “adaption” was most delicious and won’t leave you feeling like you’ve been cheated. Plus, it allows the flavor of the whole foods to shine through.

 

My instagram account is alive and well! Follow me at: jocellyn88

Avocado-Banana Salad (serves 2)

Ingredients
1 avocado, diced
1 banana, diced
1 tbsp ½ tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp ½ tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp 2 tbsp cream (I used half and half)

Instructions
1. Add diced avocado and banana to a bowl.
2. Measure lime juice, sugar and cream into the bowl.
3. Mix ingredients together gently.
4. Serve immediately.

Few things in life are better than cutting into an avocado to find  perfectly ripened, rich and (healthy) fatty perfection.

 

Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

Mamma Mia

#instafood

I didn’t have the luxury of growing up in a food driven family. My mom wasn’t the domestic type. I specifically remember one meal she made that left little to be desire. She pulled out a delicious smelling, but not homemade, loaf of garlic bread from the oven. Hungry and eager to dig in, we quickly noticed that she hadn’t taken the plastic wrap off, creating an inedible layer. I cannot remember if we threw the loaf in the trash compactor, or if we cut it the long way and ate the buttery, garlicky middle—something tells me the latter happened—but I think it highlights my mom’s cooking prowess. Eating out and takeout was the Pulkkinen-Harvey way.  Sorry if you read this, mom: you were great at everything else. Except driving…I digress, I digress!

I got a real dosage of home cooking when I dated this kid named Matt Giglio in high school. Minus the large family, they were the stereotypical, loveable, loud Italians. And there was always food on the table. How he and his sister stayed so skinny, I will never know. Despite my true Haitian heritage, and my very English-German last name, I like to think that if kids are in my future (sweet lord I hope they aren’t!) that I would be of the Italian mom variety. Home cooked meals on the table five nights out of the week, whipped together with love and adoration…and of course a little bit of brassy attitude. The other two nights, if you were curious, would be reserved for a nice restaurant meal and the other would be for leftovers. Yeah, I’ve put a little thought into this.

So, a few nights ago I ignored my pungent fish sauce and decided to go the Italian route. Sorry Asian food, you’ll have to wait. I went with the laziest meal possible, while still being able to keep my culinary muscles flexed. Think of it as an ‘active rest’ day in the kitchen. Folks, you guessed it, I made some pasta. And since I can kind of be an ingredient snob from time to time, I turned my nose up at the jarred, thick, preservative laden sauces that filled the shelves. I find that pasta only feels like a heavy meal when slathered in that red goop, so I ventured out and made my own. Well, I actually slightly modified a Martha Stewart version. Something tells me Stewart isn’t an Italian last name, but her sauce utilizes fresh ingredients, so I figured Mamma Giglio, if she could see me, wouldn’t mind.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds unrefrigerated ripe tomatoes (preferably plum)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (from 2 garlic cloves), plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Variation: 1 cap-ful of balsamic vinegar to give it a little punch
  • 1 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Finely chop tomatoes, basil, parsley,balsamic, and garlic, and mix together with oil (or pulse ingredients, including oil, in a food processor to blend).*The photo above is an example of a halved recipe. If you are doing the small one, and only have a small food processor, you are going to want to do this in two or possibly three batches
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, and toss it in a serving bowl with the raw sauce. Transfer to 6 shallow bowls, and drizzle with oil. Serve with cheese.

I like to make the sauce and let it rest for at least fifteen minutes, an hour would be ideal, to let the flavors mingle. This sauce tastes great warmed but, but it is also phenomenal cold. Fresh basil is absolutely necessary in this recipe. The dried kind can’t compare. If you aren’t sure what to do with the leftover basil leaves, which can understandably be a deterrent when buying fresh herbs, make sure to grab a lemon at the grocery store and make some lemon-basil water, which is so refreshing after a workout (yeah, people, I’ve actually been working out!)

Lemom-basil water and my new fruit bowl. Isn’t it massive and magnificent?!

Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

Foliage and Butternut Squash

#instasoup

I never truly appreciated New England Fall until I spent my first semester of college at High Point University in North Carolina. I expected the leaves to do their gussied up business of turning all orange and rougey, but they kind of just fell off the tree in a zero climax death. Now I see why people travel up north to stop—dangerously—on the side of the road and take snap shots of our calendar worthy foliage, which is still hauntingly beautiful every single year.

I like fall for many reasons. For one I can pull out my arsenal of cowl neck scarves that sit, unloved, in the closet during the humid months. I can eat a few more sweet treats because all the layers of clothing hide my stomach which had to be at attention for days at the beach. And I can also fill said tummy with a variety of soups. I love soups because they give you artistic leeway in the kitchen, they are generally cheap and easy to make, and slurps are inevitable. Who doesn’t love slurping? So, behold the first soup of the season! It’s a homemade butternut squash recipe from the Whole Foods website.

I’ve never really been a huge squash fan or foe—I don’t really eat it much except during Thanksgiving when it takes on an applesauce form—so I was hesitant. Much to my surprise, the soup turned out superb.

It has a wholesome simplicity to it. It’s not filled with a myriad of flavors, but it isn’t bland either. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and you have yourself a warm, soothing bowl that can be a main dish or paired with half a sandwich or even chicken. Tip: if you have the self-control to hold off, make it during the evening and don’t eat it until the following afternoon. Just like you shouldn’t immediately cut into meat that’s hot out of the oven, soup also needs time to settle, which allows the flavors to mingle.

Whole Food’s Classic Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced [I used 2 carrots and omitted the celery; I detest celery]
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash, fresh or frozen [I got more than 4 cups worth for $3.00]
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth [Since this soup doesn’t need lots of expensive ingredients, look for the best broth you can find!]
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method:

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook until vegetables have begun to soften and onion turns translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in butternut squash, thyme, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender [the best gadget you could possibly buy] to purée soup. Alternatively, let the soup cool slightly and carefully purée in batches in a traditional blender.

Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

Sake Bombs and Boozy Afternoons

Evan questioning the legitimacy of my sake. Hey, I originally bought it for cooking!

I read The Great Gatsby when I was a sixteen year old in boarding school. I didn’t really understand the eggs, or the American dream, and all the other literary sneak-ins we were supposed to grasp, but I was intrigued by this idea of day drinking. And I mean casual day drinking. Not like Saint Patrick’s Day drinking where someone is inevitably booting their brains out by noon. I wanted to be one of those mostly classy, but sometimes loose, women in fun dresses drinking casually, but sometimes wildly, in those awesome pent house apartments in broad day light. Day drinking is opportunistic. You have more energy. You have hours to drink instead of a few short ones where you pound back Trashcans, Vodka Redbulls, and Kamikazee’s hoping to get drunk, have fun, and be back in bed in three to four hours. How unappealing, yet we all force ourselves to do it. Le Sigh.

Romanticizing aside, I’m usually the one trying to wrangle my friends into afternoon drinks while the bars are still quiet and you can hold a conversation without yelling and expelling little bits of spit. Or I’m trying to convince them that, yes, a glass of wine on the porch while watching people drive by would be a glorious idea. Alas, these plans usually never take off. Expect for yesterday, when in return for someday using my friends huge claw foot bath tub (the type that you can take a bath in and your boobs will actually make it fully underwater!) I said he could do laundry at my place. Laundry is a mundane task, but when you add in some Sake Bombs and a sunny day on the porch, followed by a trip to the bar during the dry cycle, life could not be any better.

The Sake bomb is simple. Fill a glass with beer, precariously balance of shot of sake on chop sticks (or bamboo skewers, which I think keeps in line with the Asian theme), and bang your fists on the table yelling out “ichi..ni..san!” (one, two, three in Japanese) until it falls in, and then you chug, chug, chug while silently praying your gag reflex doesn’t kick in. Or you can just drop it in, which I did because the mason jar mouth wasn’t extremely wide, but it felt so lack luster, so Jagermeister. Bring out a wide class for this feat.

So maybe this day would be better classified as mildly wild (I don’t think Sake Bombs constitute classy drinking), but there is always time for Sunday brunch with accompanying mimosas– fresh squeezed OJ, of course.
Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

The Sickies

I’ve only had the flu once. And not even the long, drawn out two week flu where you lose six pounds and get to gain it all back with pizza and ice cream. It was the 24 hour flu that takes your life away and gives it back, well, 24 hours later. I’m also not prone to the stomach virus. Everything I get tends to be in the upper regions. Post nasal drips and ear infections are my specialty. A little over a week ago I started to get the scratchy/wet feeling creeping down my throat, and as the day progressed I started to feel myself getting more and more congested. Naturally, these ailments always seem to happen during our busiest days.

Over the past year, I’ve taken a 70% homeopathic 30% medicinal approach to staving off sickness. Since this cough didn’t seem like anything unnaturally horrible, I decided that a few days of tea would be both soothing and delicious. Lucky for me, I had most recently Pinned a Martha Stewart Spearmint tea recipe. A bundle of fresh mint at City Market was three dollars. I already had agave on hand. There is always the odd lemon lying around the kitchen in some phase of freshness or decomposition. The cold was in the opposite corner, and I was about to come out swinging hard.

^^ Brave. Sad. This is how I often feel every time I get a cold. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatics😉

 

Mint Tea

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 4 ounces fresh mint (1 large bunch), leaves and stems
  • 2 strips lemon zest, about 1/4 by 2 inches each

Directions

  1. In a teapot or large measuring cup, combine agave nectar, mint, and lemon zest. Top with 4 cups boiling water and stir to combine.
  2. Steep for 5 minutes and strain.
  3. Serve hot or over ice.

The lemon zest isn’t entirely necessary—I forgot to use it the first time—but I think it adds a nice touch and makes it smell a little better. And, all you mason jar lovers out there, the tea is the perfect temperature after it has steeped for 5 minutes and sat for another 2-3, so don’t even think about putting it in some unsightly, bulky mug.

Drink this during the day to keep things “loose” and have some before you go to bed to make sure you don’t get stuck up. I knew this tea was the perfect blend for me when, after trying it for the first time, the next morning I woke up and expelled the most vile glob of mucus from my throat. Oh how the little gross things matter in the annual war against the common cold.

It’s not a 100% cure all, which is why I threw out the “red stool” (Aka: some Ibuprofen , Aka: Million Dollar Baby Reference) for some added reassurance. Hey, all is fair in love and war and colds.

 

Peel Away❤

Jocellyn

You’d think I was cutting onions…

from all the crying I’m doing. Not real crying, mind you. Just some inner, writerly crying. I suppose I should be honored to have made it this far into blogging for this catastrophe. I wrote a post up at school. I copied and pasted it into the body of an e-mail and saved it. I went to copy it out but I pasted something over it that I had previously copied. I tried to back out, hoping Gmail would give me the “save changes?” prompt. It did not. It has been 10 minutes since “the incident” and I’m still salty about it. This sucks almost as badly as making a yucky dinner that you’ve inevitably put a lot of time and capital into (i.e, the cauliflower pizza debacle of 2012).

 

I guess I’ll just have to tempt you with a little drink I’ve been making, in hopes of staving off this cough that is going around campus.

Carrot-apple-lemon-beet-ginger-in no particular order juice.

Striped Beets: cool beans, right?

 

Lesson learned: back it up like a Tonka Truck.

Peel Away❤
Jocellyn

 

 

…and all we need is a fixed gear bike

#Instagram Because I’ve been too lazy to charge my camera batteries 0:-)

I’m going to pull the infrequently used hipster card out of my wallet and throw it down on the table. I was into mason jars before this whole craze blew up. I swear. Which means when people are throwing away their mason jars tricked out in lace designs and gold matte spray paint—geesh, blasphemy, why don’t we just start burning hotel Bibles or something—I’ll still be prominently featuring my non-bastardized version in the kitchen cabinet.

During the summer of 2011, when I worked at the Goodwill, someone brought in a bunch of mason jars, lids still intact, which I scooped up the moment they went on sale. They’re great glasses to have: sturdy, thick lipped to make Beyonce jealous, and rustic. They come in all shapes and sizes and willingly accept smoothies, leftovers, salads, spa water, and cocktails to-go. But never wine. Never, ever, ever wine. Whip out the good glasses for that! Though, you might be able to make an exception for sangria….

Lately I’ve been moving away from the  liquid-only mind set, and thus, the rumors are true, I have been spotted heating up ball jars of left over Thai noodles and nourishing quinoa meals. For class on Thursday, which I scampered into at the last minute, fending off a rough night of Le Vielle de Ferme Rose (13.5%) and a strong Vodka  Redbull, I sheepishly took sips of water from my big girl mason jar and preoccupied my woozy mind by tending to a regular size jar, which I filled with layers of tomatoes. Stacked in alternating colors, I salvaged these beauties from the reduced produce bin at City Market. Drizzled in a drop of olive oil and a generous helping of balsamic vinegar, I rotated the jar the between my hands to ensure even coverage. After a good two hours of soaking, I broke into them during the afternoon shift at my workstudy job. By then the world didn’t seem like such a bright, cruel place.