Friends First Competitors Second

My favorite kitchen helper at work measuring out the hot chocolate mix

One of the big advantages of being a competitive home cook is the meeting of like-minded people. In my recipe contest travels I have been fortunate to make friends all over the country. My competitors inspire me nearly every day with their creativity not only as winning cooks, but also as parents, craftsmen and entrepreneurs. Their ability to juggle family life, full time jobs and their desires to extend themselves even further in finding their passion is remarkable. Today, I just feel lucky to know so many kind and generous ladies and gents some of which I have never even met face to face.

Let me tell you about the award-winning cook and Etsy shop owner Shannon Imlay. Shannon and I are FB friends. I believe I first came to know and admire her in an online cooking group better known as The Real Women of Philadelphia. I will never forget my first impression when seeing her online profile photo and saying, “WOW”. Shannon is strikingly lovely. She is also an extremely talented party hostess and certified floral designer all the while taking care of a special needs son on her own. She is impressive.

Shannon has had her share of grief, but truly maintains a positive outlook on life. Her generosity of spirit never ceases to amaze me. Recently, she kindly sent me a most glamorous and decadent giftbox filled with products from her Etsy shop, Shannon’s Romantic Life. 

I could not wait to try both of her hot chocolate mixes inspired by the romantic-comedy movie Chocolat (thus the spelling of her products). Made from just a few high quality and organic ingredients her sipping chocolate is like none other I have tasted. Rich and creamy this is a luscious dark chocolate blend with just the right amount of sweetness. The Spicy Kiss version has a touch of chipotle chili which adds a smokey subtle burn in the back of the throat which was thoroughly enjoyed. All you have to do to make this decadent drink is add milk, whisk and bring to a boil.

If you need a gift (Easter & Mother’s Day) or a reason to spoil yourself then check out Shannon”s Romantic Life on Etsy. Everything in Shannon’s shop is crafted with love, kindness and the highest quality ingredients. She is also very happy to customize any order.

one of the many beautiful pieces Shannon makes…customized with me in mind

The Heart & Artichokes

artichokes

The heart is my favorite

Recently, a young lady so dear to my heart shared this poem with me. Since April is National Poetry Month I thought I would share it with you. The poem speaks of a romance so true that I am ever grateful that my son was so loved.

i carry your heart with me 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

~e. e. cummings

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Elinore taught Will a thing or two about hunting

When it comes to food the best heart in the fridge comes from the artichoke. Don’t argue with me because I don’t do dove heart, or chicken heart or any other heart that comes with a pair of eyes. Truth is I could easily be a vegetarian, but I digress. Enjoy the recipe.  Thanks to my sweet daughter for creating this recipe with me. She does my heart good.

Grilled Artichokes with Sweet Asian Chile Mayo

4 medium artichokes

½ lemon

½ cup light mayonnaise (I like Hellmann’s)

2 tablespoons sweet Asian chile sauce

2 teaspoons sriracha

Using a serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch off the top of each artichoke. Cut each in half vertically. With a scissors, trim the pointy ends off the leaves. Using a spoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke in the center and discard. Rub artichokes all over with lemon. Fill a large pot with water and fit with a steaming rack. Place artichokes on rack and steam until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.Meanwhile, preheat grill to high heat. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sweet Asian chile sauce and sriracha; blend well. Set aside. Grill artichokes, cut side down, on a greased grill rack, until nicely charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with dipping sauce.