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

Happy Trails and New Beginnings

Gal pals, dude friends, I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I have a new love and I’ve been spending all my time with it for the past few days. We spend wild nights together and sleepy eyed mornings. I sneak in quick, sexy bites between classes. I always go to bed content. My new love is food.

Alas, not a 6 foot, six-pack packing, smooth skinned man with locks that flow just so, but food doesn’t argue back with me, or steal the blanket, and we rarely have those “I swear that’s never happened before” moments. This all might seem rather silly, because I’ve always enjoyed food and cooking and sharing that enjoyment with people, but I think it has transferred finally over to love; it was a long time coming situation.

My shopping trips to City Market have been the highlight of my week. I look forward to poking around the bulk bins for spices, different gummy bears to try, and grains to consume. I give flirty eyes to this really cute black guy who works in the produce section (can I come see your band play sometime? Can we talk about afro maintenance?) I squeeze a lot of tomatoes and get super excited when I see bundles of organic bananas and pints of blueberries in the reduced produce section. I take my sweet, lush time in the wine section, selecting the perfect blend for a light-headed night. This is not to say my life has been so dull that I’ve resorted to elevating this seemingly mundane weekly task to the pinnacle of weekday fun, no. It’s just that this trip, which I no longer rush through, is what enables me to have magical mornings, evenings, and get me through the day afternoons. Hell, I even like schlepping back home the block and a half with reusable bags full of my day’s bounty- I consider it a solid workout.

Because of that, I’m “rebranding” the blog. Oh, the dreaded, throw around R-word. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be switching platforms, or even the new name, or what style font I’ll be using, but I’m turning this blog into one full of food and sumptuous photography. It’ll still be funny and sassy, sprinkled with innuendo, and  filled with lots of food to fill your soul and stomach. You’ll be getting the same me with a new look. Keep checking in for posts, though, so when the big changeover happens you won’t feel like I broke up with you on a sticky note.

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Follow Me Outside of WordPress

Hello, readers,

Here’s a techy heads up! News flash, I’m also on several other digital platforms. I highly encourage you to follow me! My Instagram page is primarily photos of all the foods I eat and make, with a few random pseudo-artsy crops of steeples and sunsets sprinkled in. And now that I just downloaded a framing app, you can see step by step pictures of how I bring meals together. My username is jocellyn88.

You can also find me over at Pinterest were I have food, clothing, crafts, and photos that I love. Pinterest is where I find a lot of my favorite recipes and food blogs to follow. It is also giving me lots of inspiration for fall fashion ideas; can you say sheer black tights all day every day for my senior year?

There is also my pseudo defunct Facebook page, which I would really consider booting up again if I had more followers.

Hint, Hint.

 

I like to write a lot on this blog, and that isn’t changing anytime soon, so Instagram and Pinterest are great places to pop in and pop out of my world having to read. Everyone needs an eye break.

Peel Away and onto those pages ❤

Jocellyn

Cooking for the ones you love: Why Italian mamma’s are always so happy

Sometime last week I was making dinner and wondering why it just felt different. Was I still easing my way into the new kitchen? Was I too lazy? Were the issues I was dealing with hampering my appetite?  These were all legitimate and probable ideas, but then it dawned on me halfway through. Chris was out, coming home sometime, and I wasn’t exactly making dinner for us. I was making dinner for me, myself, and I. And he would stumble in sweaty from basketball, ask what pans I was using, and then make dinner for himself.

Perhaps loving him made eating healthier, especially in the early stages, more enjoyable. I wasn’t nourishing my own body but someone else. I had another set of taste buds to please (or to wallow with me when I made a stinker of a meal.) Perhaps that is why I still regularly save a small spoon or fork full for him whenever I try out a new Thai-inspired sauce, which I’ve been doing quite often as of late. Part of me thinks I’m still showing off, but maybe I’m just trying to keep that small sliver of mutual satisfaction alive.

So this epiphany, though bittersweet, has inspired me to add another dimension to living a healthy lifestyle. It goes beyond healthy eating, exercise, mental clarity, and self esteem. You got to do it from the heart. And I mean do it from the heart for someone else. Love yourself. Love yourself a lot. But don’t forget to love others too when it comes to working out (invite a friend on a run or to yoga class!) or trying a new all natural skin care recipe with a gal pal (there is always so much left over anyway) or, in the case of this blog post, cooking a meal for someone (only the Pope should have to eat alone.) This other person doesn’t need to be a lover. It can be an old friend, a new friend, a sick or down classmate/co-worker, or your parents. Even if it is once a week—or even once a month—try making a commitment to that person (or large group of people) to get together and cook for each other. I know I had tons of fun making cookies and sangria when the girls came over awhile back. The meals don’t need to be extravagant. Bring your seven layer dip, your favorite mixed drink recipe, or your mom’s perfect chicken marinade. There’s no need for a theme, or dressing up, or pomp and circumstance (unless you want all of those , in which case pomp away.) As long as you are surrounded by people you enjoy (people that will gladly help you wash dishes) then I think that is love enough!

Okay, enough with the sap. You want a sappy black woman talking? Go watch Oprah, mmmhmmmm.

Here’s the recipe for the aforementioned Thai style meal: an orange-soy glaze over scallops.  Where I shop a pound of large scallops (not the small ones) is $16.99 and  that is probably on the cheap end. Check to see if your market sells scallop pieces, which I get for $7.99/LB! Your stomach won’t be the wiser, but your bank account will be much, much happier.

 

Seared Peppered Scallops with Orange-Soy Glaze

From Bon Appetit (don’t tell my internship supervisor @ EatingWell!)

“ Ingredients

4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided (I used coconut oil. Feel free to use whatever you have around)

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops, patted dry with paper towels

2 teaspoons ground peppercorn blend, or ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup orange juice (freshly juiced if possible!)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon (packed) grated orange peel

Preparation:

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle scallops with pepper blend and salt. Working in batches, add scallops to skillet in single layer; sauté until brown on outside and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate, leaving drippings in pan.

Add garlic and remaining oil to drippings in skillet; stir 30 seconds. Add orange juice, soy sauce, and orange peel. Boil until sauce thickens to syrup, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

Pour sauce over scallops and serve.”

I served this with a plate of green beans covered in salt and pepper that I cooked up in the cast iron. Okay, I do admit this recipe might be the one you make with a LONG TERM significant other or a best friend that you’ve known for ages, you know the one that held your hair back as you puked. Why? This sauce is to die for. Like, lick the plate clean to die for—I speak from experience. Your besties or beau will love you (well, they might have a disturbed look on their faces), but the first date and new found friend might, well, not call you back for round two!

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Summertime and the livin’s easy

^^ See this movie!

Summer break is here! I’ve sufficiently caught up on some much needed rest, thus it’s time for me to do what I assume many a blogger is doing and write the “my summer” post!

Read like a fiend

I have absolutely no excuse not to. Summer is great for reading and hobbies. Even if you are putting in mad hours at a job, you don’t have all that pesky paper work known as homework to consume your life when you’ve finished for the night. As you can see, I have a few books to preoccupy myself with. I have this habit during my breaks at The Goodwill of buying books that look interesting and then I never getting around to reading them. No longer! I’m really excited to take a peek at the two Carl Hiaasen books. I love his work! I even studied him Fall Semester during Literature Seminar. He never lets me down. Middlesex is a book I read in high school, but it was so good I’d love to read it again, which means a lot because I rarely give books a second go-around. I also have some cool yoga books in there (no, not EAT-PRAY-LOVE), and I hope to start reading bits and pieces of the Gita. It’s kind of a heavy read, so maybe I’ll chew on it like a sweet  bovine might munch on a clump of grass—slowly and deliberately. Sorry, the writer inside me likes to be silly, but really, I’ll probably do 2 pages a day and reflect back when all is finished. I also have a guilty read in there, you know, the kind of thing you bring to the beach. Bet you can figure out which one it is!  I also plan on keeping up with my poetry and writing a piece a week and submitting to a few places every month. Oh the toil’s of us writer folk.

Hone my food photography skills

This summer I’m buying a new camera and lens, but I swear I’m going to learn how to use it properly. I’m going to be sticking with the Canon family, so I’m very excited to get that security deposit check back so I can go shopping. Until then, I’ve been playing around with my little guy and seeing how I can tinker with lighting, aperture, and the “f” function.  I’m not sure what the “f” function means, but I know when I fiddle with it things get either lighter or darker in a very cool way. My user manual is AWOL so I’m kind of figuring stuff out for myself, which is honestly the best because its keeping me from becoming technologically overwhelmed.  So, I’m more of less ditzy-dancing my way into the world of photography! This blog post was SUPER helpful, and anyone else looking into food photography should go there. Taking some sage advice from the blogger, the first thing I did was go out and buy some white plates to shoot my food on. It really does look a lot cleaner. When I move into my new place I’m going to buy a little end table that is for my food photography and food photography only and plant it right in front of the window. I’m starting to realize I need to start making my fun meals for lunch so I can utilize the natural light #foodbloggerproblems.

Some shots I’ve been playing around with

 

Write a book

Yup, I’m writing a yoga book for my Capstone project, which isn’t due till next spring, but it obviously takes a few months to write, edit, and photograph a book. I’m thinking ahead! It’s going to be about arm balances and inversions, because I like living life on the edge and upside down (can you sense a possible title brewing?) Next week I start figuring out what poses I want to feature, and I’m sure you readers will all be my guinea pigs!

Besides devoting more time to the blog, those are my three biggest priorities, and I imagine keeping the list short and sweet will make these hopes more obtainable. Plus, I honestly want the chance to kind of relax this summer. I’ve been busting butt for a year, and a little chill time would be much appreciated.

I’d love to hear everyone’s plans for the summer!

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Butter Me Up

Life would be so boring if you always did everything the same. I mean, creating habits is important, but everyone should be willing to wiggle. Experiment with your wardrobe. Experiment with your workouts. Experiment in the bedroom. And, for the love of all things delicious, experiment in the kitchen! It’s a regular occurrence for me to see something online and decide I need to try it even if I have no clue what the end product will be.  A few weeks ago—I know, a little overdue—I was struck with this strong urge to go Indian. It had been ages since I had tasted the pillowy goodness of naan bread; enough was enough. I scoured the internet looking for an acceptable gluten free naan recipe. The bread was okay, though it didn’t live up to my expectation. The process of making it wasn’t extremely cathartic either, but all was not lost that day. I had decided to tackle not one but two kitchen feats. Earlier that morning, I made some ghee.

So what exactly is ghee? I didn’t really know much about it. But from the brief research I did, I learned it is a clarified butter that is extremely popular in Middle Eastern and Ayurvedic cook.  You use organic, cultured butter and let it melt (preferably in a cast iron) over heat. Within a few minutes the butter will start to crackle (and smell absolutely delicious) as the water floats to the top and creates a white foam and the milk solids sink to the bottom. The liquid in the middle will be a rich, clear yellow and the whole process smells heavenly. Visit this blog to see how I went about making this.

Ghee is a good butter alternative for people with high cholesterol: “Dr. Jay Glacer, in his book ”Body Renewal,” suggests that ghee is rich in natural antioxidants, composed mainly of short chain fatty acids, and its cholesterol fraction resists oxidation. This is important since cholesterol becomes harmful when it is broken down or oxidized by free radicals that lead to clogged arteries and heart problems. The short chain fatty acids present in ghee are metabolized and used for energy immediately by the liver and resist being stored in the body as fat. (Source)”  Ghee can also be stored on your shelf for up to six months—just make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight! Since it has a higher smoke point than butter, it’s great for stir frying and has a unique taste.

It didn’t take very long to make and I was able to find a good cultured, organic butter for around $4. You only have to skim the top layer off, so you barely waste any of the butter you buy, which was an initial concern I had. I admit I don’t use it often, but I really enjoyed learning about a new way of cooking and being successful on the first try. Are there any new recipes or techniques that you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try out? If so, set aside a specific day every week where you have more free time to try out new recipes or ones that are more elaborate. Thursdays are never dull in this apartment; Mondays are another story 😉

Peel Away Those Kitchen Insecurities and Expand Your Culinary Resume ❤

Jocellyn

Yoga Mania: Hips Don’t Lie

Hey everyone!

After a sufficient stay in time out, my batteries were feeling revitalized enough to make this video. Hip opening can be very frustrating for people with tight hips. If you run, bike, ellipitcal (yup, I’m making it a verb), or even walk a lot, your hips will slowly start to tighten up. Just take it slowly, breath deeply, and give your body time to open up. Your stretch should feel good and have a little ‘bite’ to it. The kind of bite, like, when you’re kissing someone and they gently bite your lip, type of bite. But don’t let the bite progress to the level of gnawing. It ain’t hot in kissing, and it definitely isn’t hot or good for your yoga practice.

 

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

So Juicy I’m Making Couture Jealous

This baby is older than me!

After working at Goodwill for 15 months, I’ve come up with a  sound theory on donated items. If someone has donated an appliance that is very old (from the early 90’s or 80’s and back) one can assume two things.

1 The item at hand was really amazing, but the person/family decided to upgrade after 10-20 years to the newer version of the appliance.

2 The item at hand had been stowed away for years, and the person/family had decided to donate it  because it had been collecting dust for 10-20 years.

One should always be weary of more recent or seemingly brand spankin’ new appliances that have been donated. For example, several months ago I bought a Sharper Image juicer at said store. I was beyond miffed to find out how inefficient it was (I could practically drink the left over pulp that should have been dry!) Thus, I realized the excited person/family must have used it once after the 30 days they had bought it, been unable to return it, and had driven to the Goodwill in anger and donated it. My Kitchen Aid mixer from the 60’s has proven to be an absolute tank, so when my eyes settled upon the Tefal Juicer from 1989, my heart fluttered like a twitterpated song bird.

Note: The day I left early to buy the juicer was the day I was forced to block one of my neighbors in…oh the drama, but it was sooooo worth it.

I’ve been into green smoothies for more than a year. In fact, they were what catapulted me into a more sound and healthy diet. However, I’ve always been intrigued by juicers, as it’s nice to add something new to the mix. Unfortunately, you are way more likely to find affordable  blenders than you are affordable juicers. The cheapest, reputable one is Jack Lalanne’s at $100, and most others can cost around $200 and up. Sadly, $200 was something I was unable to magically pull out of thin air, so I jumped when I saw the juicer at GW for $12.99 (they rarely come in.)

Juicing is great because it allows you to liquefy vegetables for easy consumption. My blender is not super powerful, so when I make green smoothies I can really only incorporate greens like spinach, collard greens, and the occasional Swiss chard. There was a whole land of carrot, beet, celery, and apple juice that I was not privy to, sigh. Plus, when you make your own juice there aren’t any added sugars and chemicals that are found in store bought juices. Yup, you heard me, this is juice you can actually drink on a regular basis!

When you blend or juice fruits and vegetables, the enzymes break down and your body has a far easier job of digesting them. With smoothies (which I will be writing a post on), since you don’t strain anything you are able to maintain the fiber. With juicing, the fiber is removed in the form of pulp and you are left with what I like to call: the essence. I don’t think one is significantly better than the other, though, I will admit that smoothie-ing is less of a process than juicing—there are so many parts of a juicer to clean! However, I think you do miss out if you are only able to do one. So, if your finances allow you, buy both!

So far I’ve made three awesome juices with my juicer (which has yet to be named!) I made a lot of stinker green smoothies at the beginning, so perhaps this learning curve is a lot better.

Recipe #1- I decided to try out a really simple juice so I could acclimate my taste-y buds

4 Oranges

2 Carrots

Teeeeny, weeeeny piece of ginger

I bought some Valencia juicing oranges at my local co-op for 30 cents a piece! Carrots are great because they do yield a large amount of juice and oranges are a sweet punch of vitamin c. The ginger was for some pizzazz and to make me feel a little hard-core.

Recipe #2- Getting a little green!

3 Oranges

3 Carrots

2 Kale Leaves + Tiny bit of spinach

I was really excited to use kale, because it doesn’t blend so well in my little Proctor Silex Blender. I first put in the carrots, then the kale, and finally the oranges. If you decide to use greens make sure you have something to add afterward to push through any leftover pieces and juice that might be sitting in the spout! I’ve noticed that when adding greens you can definitely taste them initially, but if you have something sweet in the drink (like the oranges) that is the taste you’ll be left with.

Recipe #3- Just Beet It

2 Beets

3 Carrots

2 Oranges

Chris and I don’t get many things at the co-op (wayyyy outside our budget for a full trip), but when I saw a bunch of 4 beets for $2.99 I had to get them.  This definitely wasn’t as sweet as the other juices, but still palatable. Because of that, I wasn’t able to slurp it down as fast as the other recipes and the rest is in my fridge for tomorrow morning. Here are some ones to tips, recipes, and nutritional facts on this voluptuous purple root veggie.

When you are showering, making breakfast, or have a few spare minutes, listen to this video on juicing. You’ll pick up great tips on what fruits/vegetables will fill your cup up and what greens won’t leave you feeling like you bought a bunch for nothing.

Some things to remember with green juices:

If you aren’t used to eating fruits and vegetables tread lightly into the realm for the first week or two. Most of these recipes have topped off my 12 oz mason jars. That’s a lot of fruits and vegetables to be drinking in one sitting and can cause what is kindly called “runny tummy.”  Your body will soon adjust, trust me, but you might find yourself having to go to the bathroom if you sip it down with the same amount of ease as Tropicana Orange Juice.  Finally, freshly prepared juices start to lose nutrients quickly. It’s advisable to drink them immediately or within 24 hours. As the video above mentions, grapefruit and orange juice can last up to two days if properly stored.

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Be ready for a delicious hip opening sequence tomorrow!!!