Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Local Boy Does Good

Well - actually it's three local boys who've done good - and I mean REALLY GOOD!

I have a favorite new restaurant that I can't wait to share with you all - Local Three Kitchen & Bar.  I've been there twice in the past month and it gets TWO BIG thumbs up!  It's a great place that combines a casual, fun atmosphere with artfully prepared fresh, local and sustainable food.  I've attached the link - spend a little time on their website and you will be intrigued...who can resist a place that describes its style as "Foie Gras in Flip Flops" and touts their daily operating philosophy as :  People Matter Most. Local Is Priority. Seasonal Makes Sense. Authenticity Rules. Quality Governs. Delicious Trumps. Pretense Loses. Comfort Feels Good. Appreciation Tastes Better. Prudence Sustains It All.  I admit it - I'm totally smitten!

I've enjoyed some pretty yummy food there on my two visits - Cheddar, Bacon and Thyme popcorn as a snack for the table, Spring Pea Carbonara as a starter, Wood Oven Roasted Hanger Steak, Panko Crusted Atlantic Flounder.  It's kind of addicting - even though I'm over-the-moon satisfied with the food in front of me while I'm there, I'm already planning what I'll have the next time I come (Lobster Pot Pie anyone?).

Rosie enjoying a birthday treat
We had dinner there tonight to celebrate my dear friend Rosie's birthday (with a belated shout out to Neighbor Greg's birthday as well). I've captured Rosie enjoying her birthday dessert - a tasty apple pie accompanied by a cheddar crisp and rosemary ice cream.

You'll also note that this place bosts quite a pig collection - makes perfect sense, right - after all, who can resist those adorable squealers (clearly Rosie can't!!).  

If you are in the ATL - run, don't walk, to Local Three - I promise you'll have a great meal and a great time. If you are an out-of-towner - make sure you hit Local Three on your next trip to town -- call me, I'll be glad to go with you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Madness

Spring has definitely sprung  - it's in full bloom here in the ATL and it's glorious!  Of course, I choose to focus on the beautiful blue skies, warm days, budding dogwoods and blooming daffodils rather than dwelling on the thick layer of green-yellow pollen that has settled onto every surface of my house, car and nasal passages! 
Weather this beautiful just beckons you to leave the house and soak it up - and there's no problem with that plan except last weekend was when I had planned to make my "March Cake" (you remember - 2012 is the Year of the Cake, a new cake every month - it seemed like such a great idea back in the dead of winter!).  Quite frankly, March Madness seems like an apt description for my life right now - things have been incredibly crazy at work since I made my announcement to leave, I'm trying to make some contacts in the culinary world so I have been meeting folks at night and on the weekend, and I also plan to head to Ohio next weekend to visit my mom!  Good grief - how's a girl supposed to fit in making a fabulous Spring Cake with all that going on AND find time to play outside in the sunshine?  Well - my answer to this conundrum is to rely on one of my favorite "Go-to" recipes - you know, one of those ones you can always count on to turn out great without alot of fuss and trouble - for me, that's my Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake.  I've been making this recipe for years - it's easy to make, doesn't take any fancy ingredients or culinary acrobatics, and never disappoints - and it's fresh, lemony taste is a great way to welcome Spring. 

Blooms in the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Blooms in the Atlanta Botanical Garden

So - embrace Spring! Get outside, breathe in the scent of blooming flowers and soak up the sunshine - it's a sure cure for the madness that fills your days!  And, if you have an extra hour or so - try the Lemon Buttermilk Poundcake - it's especially great topped with fresh berries and shared with friends.

A fresh, lemon glaze keeps the cake moist

Fresh strawberries definitely add to the Spring feeling

This cake must be good - Madeline ate 2 peices!

Sharing cake with friends after a walk in the park - what a great way to celebrate Spring!

Lemon Buttermilk Poundcake (Fine Cooking Magazine, May 2001)

6 3/4 oz (1 1/2 c) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz (1/2 c) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 c sugar
1/2 c buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temp
Zest of one lemon, finely grated or chopped

Juice of 1 lemon
4-6 Tbsp confectioner's sugar

Heat oven to 325.  Butter an 8 x 5 loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until well blended. 
With an electric mixer (I use paddle attachment on stand mixer) beat butter until pale with little tails.  Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides of bowl, then add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. 
With mixer on low, add flour mixture and buttermilk in parts, ending with flour.  Just before all of the flour is incorporated, switch to a stiff rubber spatula, add lemon zest and stir slowly until all is incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and toothpick comes out with just a few clumps clinging to it when inserted into the center - 50-55 minutes. 
Let cake cool for about 10 minutes in pan - as it is cooling, stir together lemon juice and conf sugar to make glaze.  
Carefully invert pan, tap to release.  Brush sugar glaze on cake while it is still warm.  Cool completely before serving.

(Note - recipe can be doubled and made in two pans).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coming Out of the Culinary Closet

Well - I did it - I took the plunge!  Two weeks ago I gave my notice at Kimberly-Clark - telling my boss that I was leaving the corporate world to pursue my culinary dreams.  WOW - what a mix of emotions. 

Although I had been planning it, talking about it with my friends and family, and dreaming about this day for over two years, it was quite surreal to actually say the words out loud "I'm leaving my job to do something in the culinary world".  I would be lying if I didn't tell you there was a little bit of stammering, sweating and even some hyperventilation that accompanied that statement.  Of course, because he's a great guy, my boss took it well.  After asking if there was anything he could do to change my mind, to which I responded "no", he gave me a big hug, wished me all the best, and asked me how I would like to announce it more broadly and handle my transition. 

While it seemed like a big step, telling him was really only dipping my toe in the water  - the real belly flop into the deep end came last week - when he actually published my annoucement to a few thousand of my closest friends and colleages at KC.  There it was in black and white, flung out via email to computers and iphones across the globe...

CRYSTAL LEACH, KCP R&E Director for Global Safety and Productivity, has announced her decision to leave K-C effective mid-May 2012.  Crystal is leaving to pursue her longtime dream of attending culinary school.

YIKES - no going back now!!  I feel relieved, excited, scared, exhilarated, nervous - all at the same time - there is no other way to describe it than "surreal".

So - what happens now, you might be asking?  After I finish at KC, I will spend most of the month of June on vacation in France - a great itinerary that includes a week in the French countryside and a week-long bike trip on the Canal du Midi with Guy, an amazing wine trip in Provence and the Rhone Valley, and a week relaxing with friends (I know - rough gig, huh?).  Culinary school then starts in July. 

There is still much to decide and much to do - but I am taking it one day at a time.  Of course, I'll take you all along with me on the blog as I try to finalize my decision on which culinary school to attend and what I'm actually going to do with my life AFTER school.  And - the good news is, I have actually made the blog "public" now - so it should be much easier for you all to read and access.

Of course, I have to take a minute to thank my husband for his support through all of this - but, especially during my "culinary coming out" period - I must admit, I was a little bit of nutcase over the last few weeks. But, I think I've actually gotten used to being public about something that I've been keeping close to the vest for so long. 

So -  I've done it - taken that first big step on Mon Voyage Culinaire - and it actually feels pretty good.