Does Claude Have Spring Fever?

I want to thank Claude for the wonderful interview he did. He really helped me a lot with those award nominations!

In case you don’t know who Claude is, here’s a picture of him relaxing at home.

It is me, Claude.

It is me, Claude.

And now it seems Claude has been inspired to speak up after almost a year. (I suspect he may be inspired by his latest crush, Flat Kathy!) I’m so glad he’s back! Since you all seemed to like Claude’s interview so much I thought I’d share the  short fiction he wrote for the WordPress Daily Prompt today.

http://itismeclaude.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/daily-prompt-the-clock/

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It Is Me, Claude, Your Award Show Host for Today

Bonjour! Eet eez me, Claude Mouse.

Eet eez award season très certainement! Grammys, Screen Actors Guild, zee People’s Choice, and of course zee Oscars–Academy Awards–coming up. J’adore awards ever seence I was honored weeth zee LIfetime Achievement Kitchen Inspiration Award last February. Squeek! Squeek!

Zeez eez me weeth my award!

Zeez eez me weeth my award!

And, mes amis, eet eez award season here in zee blogosphere as well eet seems. So many of our blogging friends are honored weeth so many wonderful awards! Mycookinglifebypatty aussi! Pattee shee eez also bestowed weeth such awards thees year. Eeen fact, she eez feeling un peu timide–umm–“shy” eez zee word–about all zeez attention.

But I tell her, Pattee, “Vous méritez, zeez awards!” Alors, I deecide to help her weeth thees post. I eenterview her.

Me: Pattee, what eez zee award you just receive?

Patty:  It was the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award,” Claude.

Me:  And who geeve theez award to you?

Patty:  I received this honor from Kenton Lewis, published author and writer of The Jittery Goat which is an entertaining blog that I recently discovered and have been following. Thank you, Kenton! This is what the award looks like:

Very inspiring blogger award

Claude:  Eet eez tres chic! Now, Pattee, every blogging award comes weeth zee, how you say, rules of zee game, no? What are zee rules for zeez award?

Patty:  Well Claude, there are four things. 1. Display the award logo on your blog; 2. Link back to the person who nominated you; 3. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them; and 4. State 7 things about yourself.

Claude:  Okay Pattee. You have done zee first two theengs. Let’s move on. Who are you going to nomeenate for zee Very Eeenspiring Blogger Award?

Patty: I picked the blogs that inspire me especially on the subject of cooking, Claude.

  1. Fig and Quince. This blog features Persian recipes and cooking which is something I didn’t know much about.
  2. Homemade Delish. Roberta from Philly writes this and she’s become a celebrity chef in her area. Go Roberta!
  3. Foodimentary. John-Bryant Hopkins coined this term himself. Probably lots of us know him. I’m inspired by his seemingly endless knowledge of food trivia and history.
  4. Plant Based Diet Adventures. She does a great job changing omnivore recipes into vegan.
  5. Afternoon Popcorn Snack. The name alone is inspiring. I think of Amy around 3 p.m. every afternoon–wishing I had popcorn. And a snack. Maybe one of her cookies.
  6. Sybaritica. C. John Thompson is a lawyer way up in Northern Canada who is very sybaritic when it comes to food and ambience. (I had to look it up too. It means devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury.)
  7. Florastable. Authentic Italian meets Traditional American. Anyone who thinks giving us a great scallops recipe is a good Valentine’s Day gift is A-Okay in my book!
  8. Cook Up a Story. It’s the name of a blog and the name of a book both featuring Vinny Grette. No, not kidding you! It’s delightful.
  9. Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy. This mama is all about Indonesian cooking and showing us how easy it is to make very tasty and exotic foods from her part of the world.
  10. Chef Mimi Blog. Pumpkin Pancakes? Wild Rice Pancakes? Yes! That is definitely inspiring!
  11. 1227 Foster. Danny is a very creative and inspired chef plus he’s a designer. I read just about every post he writes.
  12. My Sister’s Pantry Healthy, vegan, easy and great advice and cooking tips. Also excellent and timely use of chocolate!
  13. The House By the Sea. Gorgeously aesthetic blog by Soffia who is an Icelandic photographer, cook and artist. The pictures alone are worth the visit!
  14. David Lebovitz Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Yes he is a professional. But why not give him the shout out he deserves? I have learned a lot from reading David’s blog. He goes into great detail and it’s always interesting!
  15. She Cooks Macro. Been lurking here and now following! Most recipes shown with a gallery of very professional-looking photos

Claude: Merci beaucoup pour toutes ces merveilleuses adresses! I can’t wait to take a look at theeze.  Now, Meez Pattee, can you tell us seven theengs about yourself?

Patty:  Hmmm.  I’ll try Claude.

  1. I prefer cooking with gas.
  2. I do not like microwave ovens at all and try to avoid them.
  3. I would like to live in Italy.
  4. I’m an east-coast girl at heart.
  5. I like to stay busy. Half a day off is about all I can take unless there is something really fascinating to do.
  6. I’m a great cook but not such a great housekeeper.
  7. I love anything pickled.

Claude: Bon. Félicitations à vous, Pattee, et à tous vos candidats!

I Am My Own Genie

I decided to take up today’s WordPress Daily Prompt: A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

From miles above the Earth my writing space cannot be seen, but I know it is there. You see, I create this space myself each time I sit down to the keyboard to write and because circumstances in my life change day to day and even moment to moment, the space changes too.

Today as I zoom in to get a closer look, I see my room is in the United States on the eastern coast. Oceanside. Right next to the water perched on a cliff with galloping waves racing toward a crashing explosion against the rocks.

maine cliffs

(Photo credit: kenyee)

The year is still quite young–only February third–and it is quite cold way up north here by the sea. So we are inside, my husband and I. He doing his work and I, with my cup of coffee, am about to tend to mine.

Come, let me show you one of my favorite spaces where magic is made!

We will pass through the grand living room full of warm wood and sturdy stone. It’s such a welcoming place but it is for family activities and guests and hosting parties–not for my most solemn and private endeavor.

Let’s go through the kitchen now. It’s beautiful isn’t it? I love all the cabinetry, my fine professional six-burner gas stove; I love how spacious and clean it all looks. Miles of counters, too! How do you like my pantry? It has space for everything and anything I want to keep on hand. And maybe when we’re through touring, I’ll show you my dish collection which I keep in these antique hutches. I love collecting all kinds of dishes and unusual serving items. So much fun!

The kitchen is my practical laboratory where I create what I think is the most delicious food in the world. I love to put on my apron and see what’s in the pantry and refrigerator and go to town making something that is new and that we haven’t had before. I especially love this little area by the window because it affords just the right natural light to photograph my creations! I love my kitchen, but it isn’t where I write. It’s very close to the kitchen though.

My writing space is just through this door. It’s a warm and cozy room off the back of my kitchen. One whole wall is nothing but windows looking out onto the cliffs and the ocean beyond. Sometimes you can see the faraway lighthouse on the horizon and once in a while you can watch sailboats gliding past on their way to the harbor several miles south. It’s too cold to go out there today, but in the summer there’s nothing better than opening the glass doors, sitting out on the deck, with my laptop on the little table, typing away to the rhythm of the rolling waves and sipping a cold lemonade or an iced tea.

The opposite wall draws me in wintertime. There’s nothing like a roaring fire in that huge stone fireplace during a cold and gray February day! The crackling fire is so soothing and mesmerizing. See where my husband has built me a cast iron crane that holds this wonderful dutch oven cooking pot? Now that’s a cooking method!

I guess you could call my writing room my library.  After all, it is lined floor to ceiling with shelves of books. I have a lot of books! And this entire section here is cookbooks, and these are travel books, and over here is fiction, religion on this shelf–lots of categories. One of my favorite things is the heavy wood sliding ladder we built so I can reach any book on the shelf. Just like a real library!

Have a seat on one of my over-sized cushiony chairs; they’re guaranteed to be comfortable. No doubt you’ll feel like Alice herself because sitting in this huge chair, the library shelves loom above and seem to go on forever. The chairs are big enough for an adult to curl up in or dangle the feet from. Everything in the room is comfortable–the warm lights, colors, textures and shapes that fill the spaces. I’ve collected these things from all over the world and enjoy each and every item and the memories they ignite!

Ah yes! Here is my actual writing table. It is just a plain table with space for my keyboard and monitor and for maybe a coaster for a cup of something hot to drink. Nothing else. You don’t even see the computer, do you? No clock, no knick knacks, no papers. Just a plain table and my writing tools. No television in the library. No radio, no CD player. Those are all elsewhere.

Here it is just my ocean, my fireplace, my writing tools. It’s just me and my thoughts, that is all. Those are the ingredients for writing today.

This is the core. Ground zero. Couched within. The library plays a part in the space. The kitchen plays a part in the space. The deck, the house, the cliffs and the ocean play a part in the space. The cold February sky, the gracefully turning planet, the universe. I use them to help create the space.

Though this is one of my favorite writing spaces, there are others. For tomorrow I may linger above the Earth and locate a desert spot–all pink and purple and green and cream and gray. Perhaps my writing space will be in a tiny old Airstream and I will look out onto the desert and marvel at the huge desert sky and inspect the nuances of the barrel cactus flowers that surround my space. And I will again be free to write–just me, my tools and my thoughts.

Barrel Cactus Flowers

Barrel Cactus Flowers (Photo credit: Lon&Queta)

For you see I am my own genie and my writing space is my creation with endless possibilities. I am so lucky to know that!

How Do You Talk to No One

How do you talk to no one

When you’re trying to talk to someone?

Are you talking to yourself, as if writing a journal,

All the while intending for someone to pick it up and read?

Or do you imagine there is a mob of people

Patiently waiting, listening, for your every word?

Are you writing to someone in particular?

A friend, or dare you think, a fan?

Or maybe you envision sitting down for coffee and

Exchanging an intimate chat with someone you trust.

Only they do all the listening and you have to do

All the talking.

How courageous you are to speak into the silence,

To pour your heart out, to teach your lessons.

You reveal yourself in front of everyone and no one

As you discover what it is you had to say.

Mentor and pupil, writer and reader, you carry both ends

Of a conversation you trust you are having.

Hello out there!

Hello out there!

Like Quicksand

Well now I’ve done it!

Last week I was perusing my WordPress Reader where I follow my favorite blogs and I decided on a whim to suggest a topic for the Daily Prompt. This is a WordPress feature in which an idea for a post is given and bloggers can use it as a jumping off point for a post. I suggested a topic about rules. Is it true “Rules are made to be broken?” And I prompted, “When have you broken a rule and did you get burned or did it turn out for the best?”

WordPress took me up on the idea today! Only the editor changed it to “Laws” not just “Rules.”

I would like to say here that I fully believe it is wisest and best to follow the laws of the land. Period.

If Daily Prompt uses your suggestion, you are expected to write a post on the subject. Okay then; I won’t break that rule.

English: Warning sign for quicksand in Frederi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So how does my prompt apply to the subject of food and cooking? Health and diet? The field of dietary advice shifts and changes like quicksand. There are thousands of “experts” who all claim to know the best way to eat, the best way to cook, the latest miracle foods, the hottest nutrients, the must-have dietary supplements.

Some say we should be vegan (no animal foods or animal by-products whatsoever) and some claim the Paleo diet (which includes quite a bit of animal food) is the way to go. Some people promote brown rice and other whole grains as a basis for a healthy diet while others say we should avoid carbohydrates and gluten.

Really, why does feeding our bodies seem to require so many rules in the first place? Shouldn’t it be easy and simple and . . . natural?

Yes, it should be and it can be if we are starting from a central point of balance. My first and only rule is: Eat real, whole food that has not been chemicalized, genetically engineered, formulated in a laboratory, or extracted from its natural source and greatly altered into something else.

Some of us are starting at a point of great imbalance and it will take a lot of care and perhaps following of rules in order to stabilize. Some have found their balance and know that if they venture away from their “rules” there is no harm done as long as they find their way back again.

And then there’s the subject of sugar, that I so adamantly advised against in several major blog posts throughout 2012. And I meant every single word I wrote! And I follow my own advice.

Most of the time.

So why, in 2013 am I featuring dark chocolate mousse once a month and why was my January mousse made with sugar? And how is that working out for me?

It is too early to say, except that January’s Dark Chocolate Mousse was absolutely divine, though short-lived. We each had our serving of this wonderful dessert and we are looking forward to February’s mousse.

Is breaking this rule the equivalent of “removing the tag from your pillow?” Or does this make me into a food hypocrite undeserving of your attention?

I guess you’re the judge of that depending on your own viewpoint and level of fanaticism when it comes to rules about eating. Believe me there are those who would consider my Quest for Dark Chocolate Mousse to be sheer heresy. But I do not.

One thing I have gleaned from writing this post is that I do not wish to be a “food/dietary” expert so much as I like to show people how I cook using foods that fit into my one and only rule of using organic, mostly unrefined, traditional whole foods. And that the purpose of writing this blog is to express my very personal passion for cooking as an outlet for creative expression.

Nothing more and nothing less.

~~~

So far I have read over thirty entries by other bloggers based on this prompt and found some very personal and moving pieces. I have much admiration for that.

Inspired to Make a List

Inspiration to set a goal can happen anywhere.

Inspiration to set a goal can happen anywhere. (Photo credit: Patty Allread)

I was thinking about lists–such as shopping lists.  Sometimes when I shop for groceries I use a list and sometimes I go free-wheeling through the aisles picking out whatever strikes my fancy. We all know how that can turn out, especially if you’re hungry while food shopping! You might eat all the free samples and end up buying nothing particularly useful or you might discover things that you’d never have put on your list and end up with the makings for a fresh, fabulous feast.

There are all kinds of lists! Each reflects a slightly different character.

BUCKET LIST

Morbid. This is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Not my kind of list. I’m not planning for my death, I’m planning for my life! You won’t catch me making any bucket lists as a premise for fulfilling my dreams.

BLACK LIST

Nasty. I cannot condone black lists because each of us has the basic human right not to be discriminated against–including bucket-listers..

HIT LIST

This could be one of two things.

  • Antagonistic. What are you the Mafia? Get a breath of fresh air or take a walk. Sit down and relax. Try developing a more positive viewpoint about getting things done.
  • Admiration. As in your top ten list of favorites. This list can be a lot of fun to make and it’s fun to see what others have experienced and put on their top ten.

CONTACT LIST

Broad. Action pending. It’s everyone you know in a certain category or maybe there is no category and it’s simply everyone you know! It’s fun to grow this list as it shows an expanding zone of influence or reach. And it can go two ways: people you add to your list or people who add you to theirs–like the list of people who follow or subscribe to your blog. (That is a very cool list!)

GUEST LIST

Narrowed down. Put into motion. These are the people you know that you want to know better or become closer friends with. So you’re going to invite them to share an important moment with you or just have fun with you!

TO-DO LIST

Conservative. Nothing wrong with having a list of things to get done. Love checking things off a to-do list! Sometimes you don’t want to rely on being strictly spontaneous so you make this list. The to-do list might show a sequence of actions or it could be completely disjointed.

CHRISTMAS LIST

  • Wish list Hope for the future if it is your wish list!  But it also implies you’re hoping someone else will deliver the goods. Of course, there are those of us who have no problem whatsoever with gifting ourselves every once in a while!
  • Gift list If it is your list for presents you intend to give others, then there is a whole sub-scale here that runs from obligated-to-exchange-with-these-people, to keep-the-budget-in-mind, to wow-it-would-be-so-cool-to-get-them-this-I-just-have-to-work-out-how-to-pull-it-off!

GROCERY/SHOPPING LIST

In control. It could be that you have made a decision to achieve certain goals diet-wise, cooking-wise (like a goal to learn how to make the world’s best dark chocolate mousse), budget-wise, production-wise, etc. You plan what you’ll need to achieve the goal and you also plan to avoid procuring things that don’t help you achieve that goal. Or it could be that you are economizing your time by not forgetting something vital which would cause you to have to return to the store. So you’re armed with a list!

BATTLE PLAN

Clear intentions. Speaking of being “armed,” a battle plan is so much more than a list. It is a reflection of strategic planning directed at meeting a goal. You’ve got your goal, you’ve worked out what it would take to get there, and now you are laying out your tactics–step-by-step–using your battle plan.

NO LIST

Create as you go, moment-to-moment. No itinerary, no agenda, no deadline. Play it by ear. Improvise.

Make it a game and this can be awesome fun and adventure.

Make it a lifetime philosophy and you can find yourself in total apathy with nothing achieved ever.

My Recipe

Convert your Wish List into a list of your Goals, sifting out any Bucket or Black Lists.

Make your overall Battle Plan and incorporate your To-Do, Shopping or Grocery Lists and gently knead.

Continue kneading, liberally adding Contacts.

Keep your Contact List Dough warm, letting it rise. Contacts may double or triple in size. You do this by offering gifts such as visiting, smiling, responding, and being an encouraging friend.

No need most of the time to put these into a Gift List except for Christmas or Birthdays. But a variation could include helping a Contact with an Item on one of their Lists.

Roll out your Guest List and bring your people together.  Find out how they are doing, what they’ve been doing, what they’ve put on their Hit List (the admiration kind)

Use the No-List method according to preference throughout, but not all the time.

If you start to feel apathetic or unproductive, go back to your Battle Plan. This is the time to use the other kind of Hit List and change anything that doesn’t work well for you.

Let us know how it all bakes out!

Dark Chocolate Snowball

My resolution to discover and learn to make the best dark chocolate mousse on the planet is taking on a life of its own.

No offense  to Ben & Jerry's, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

No offense to Ben & Jerry’s, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

First of all, there’s the pressure.  I said I’d make one dark chocolate mousse a month and the first week of January is already slipping by.

“So,” I thought, “Now I have to decide when this monthly merry mousse-making is going to appear.”

Before I could reach a decision my thoughts jumped ahead to some other issues–some of which were instigated by reading other blogs.

I follow “Foodimentary” and learned today is National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day. This used to be my all-time favorite candy but I don’t eat it much any more because the chocolate is usually so cheap and not worth it. (There’s a subject for a post!)

That got me thinking about chocolate quality in general and what do I really know about chocolate?  No doubt there are chocolate connoisseurs in the world. In fact, there are some here in New Mexico and maybe I can consult with them or interview them for my blog.  (There’s a subject for a post!)

Then I read this great post about making a New Year’s resolution to kiss more people more often.  (It was really good, you should read it.)  That got me thinking about my husband and what a great kisser he is and somehow that led to the idea of the famous Chocolate Kisses and the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up in February and that I’d like to make a really special dark chocolate mousse for that month.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

I also read one of my favorite blogger’s excellent advice on the whole new-year-new-diet scene and how to effectively improve your health and lifestyle by making aware decisions about what you eat.  (Yes, I recommend this post to you.)  I had been thinking about the fact that in order to try a different dark chocolate mousse every month, I will inevitably use some recipes that call for a little sugar and some cream–both of which I usually don’t eat–and how do I justify that?

Well, I am no saint and I do sometimes eat those things and this blogger helped me realize that with the right attitude (No, I don’t mean justification, I mean attitude), I can make eating dark chocolate mousse work very well for me.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

And then there’s presentation.  My second New Year’s Resolution is to learn how to do food photography better.  Which leads to props.  Which leads to shopping. (Love shopping). Which leads to finding creative ways to feature my future dark chocolate meeces (Huh?) in beautiful and enticing photographs.  Imagine the dessert bowls and ramekins! The garnishes! Slenderize Your Dark Chocolate Mousse With Vertical White Chocolate Stripes. Dark Chocolate Mousse Fashion Design. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

Many of my blogging friends are doing interactive things with their blogs like the Virtual Vegan Potluck (invite meeee! I’ll bring a Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse that I want to make.) and Giveaways.  My third New Year’s resolution is to have guest bloggers and that fits right in with being interactive and they may decide to make dark chocolate mousse with photographs supplied.  I thought of quite a few people I could ask to be guests and then I thought of some people I could actually visit and we can make dark chocolate mousse together with photos etc. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

My husband-the-great-kisser, by the way, is more than happy to be the taste tester for my experimental mousse-making.  We will make beautiful moussic together.  (Couldn’t resist saying that!)  In the spirit of being more interactive, I’d like to invite other taste-testers too and have them render their opinions. Of dark chocolate mousse, not of my husband’s kissing thank you very much. (There’s a subject for another great post!)

In fact, why don’t I work out some kind of dark chocolate mousse-making contest and solicit original recipes that I can make during the year as part of my Dark Chocolate Mousse Star Search!? (There’s a subject for another great post, for sure!)

Or the updated versions:  So You Think You Can Mousse.  Moussing With the Stars (Gosh! Do you think I could even pull in a celebrity dark chocolate mousse recipe?)

Moussing with Bullwinkle.

Johnny Depp!  How About You? You were in that Chocolate Factory movie, right? In fact, you were in Chocolat too. Sure, just come on over and we’ll mousse up a Dark Chocolate Storm! I need an expert like you, Johnny.

Chinese New Year:  Year of the Dark Chocolate Moussssse (It’s the year of the snake, and snakes, hiss, and . . . maybe they all can’t be winners).

A Dark Chocolate Day.  Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. Dark Chocolate–Aphrodisiac or Bitter End? Famous Chocolate Marriages – Meet the Reese’s. South of the Border with Mexican Chocolate. How to Remove Chocolate Stains. They Called Me a “Dip.” Lose Ten Pounds on the Dark Chocolate Mousse Diet! Lifestyles of the Dark, Rich and Famous (Chocolate, That Is). Death By Chocolate–Thirty Ways To Do It. Deep Dark Beauty Secrets or How to Have Flawless Chocolate Coating.

Mousse is Not a Hair Product.

I LIke Vanilla: Confessions of a Chocolate Maven.

Where’s my writer’s notepad and pen? I’m drowning ecstatically in my own Dark Chocolate Dreams!  (Yes, another subject for a great post!)

Like I said, there’s the pressure.  And if there wasn’t enough of it before, I’ve certainly magnified it a thousand-fold with these entertainingly bloggy chocolate thoughts, haven’t I?  See what happens when you make what at first seems like a simple resolution?

It is now a Quest.

Surely I’ll be looking for a little help from my blogging friends and we’ll come out okay and probably coated in Delicious Dark Chocolate.  I can just see the words “Chocolate” and “Mousse” looming larger and larger in my tag cloud!

In the meantime I’ve got to choose a dark chocolate mousse recipe to try out and feature for January.  And I think I know just the lady to go to for that.  (Not telling because that will be the subject–you guessed it–for another great post!)

2013 is looking very Dark Chocolate Moussey, I must say!

A Very Fine Year to Become Queen

English: The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edit...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I celebrated my first anniversary as a blogger on November 24th.  And now that 2012 is coming to a close, I’m about to reach the 5,000 hit mark.  Not bad for a first year!

I wrote this post to celebrate as part of the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge.

To Write or Not to Write.  That was the question.

It had been about 35 years since I’d written anything that got published. I still considered myself to be “a writer” and if I did write something, I still put my all into it–letters, emails, shopping lists, reports for work.  I still loved any type of writing.

In the meantime over those 35 years I became an accomplished cook and taught cooking for 25 of those years. Cooking became my art and my craft.  It replaced writing as my creative outlet. This is convenient since I also eat food daily and have people to cook for but the writing bug was still within me, patiently waiting for the day when I would start my novel or my series of short stories or whatever it was that I would promise myself I was going to eventually write.

Love to cook.  Love to cook for others to enjoy.  Love to write.  Love to communicate to others. Scared to try a big project like writing a novel.  (Wow.  I am actually admitting I’ve been scared to start that novel. That is a first.)

And not interested in opening a restaurant, catering business, or cooking school. Or write a cookbook for that matter.  That would seem to be the logical solution to loving cooking and loving writing.  But that idea just didn’t meet my needs.

I Became Queen of My Realm

So I decided to start a blog about cooking.  Short writing projects about my cooking life that can be completed in a sitting.  I’m the dreamer, author, editor, photographer, designer, publisher and promoter.  I’m the Queen of My Blog, Baby!

I tested the waters with all kinds of food and cooking-related topics.  I shared about my growing up and family life, I got on my soapbox about the evils of sugar and GMOs, I introduced some favorite characters (Claude Mouse, Lars and Edith), I posted some of my standby favorite recipes and some new ones I created just for you to read in this blog, and I dabbled in the  food photography arena.  (So far, not extremely successful with that endeavor.)

I do throw in some original recipes.  Sometimes I do the recipe thing because I think, “That’s what people want.”  But it was never my intention to have that kind of recipe-cooking tips-how-to blog.  Not strictly.

More enticing to me is the expression of life through cooking and the way cooking has seemed to weave its way into every part of my life.  I get some of my best ideas while cooking and as a matter of fact, when I’m writing a post for this blog, I often get my best ideas for cooking.  Blogging has provided on-the-spot cooking inspiration and vice versa!  See how it is for me in my cooking life?

As my fellow Kings and Queens of Blogging know very well, receiving encouragement and comments in response is the pay.  Thank you for responding to me over the past year! Along the way I met many wonderful people and fantastic bloggers and found out that reading blogs is not only a lot of fun, but it is a great way to find the cutting edge of current thinking about all kinds of subjects.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your interest in reading what I have to say, for trying some of my recipes and cooking tips and for responding to me so generously.  It is such an inspiration and encouragement for any writer to be acknowledged and know that someone heard (or in this case read) what was communicated! So thank you, thank you, thank you my readers and fellow bloggers! Thank you, husband Jack and my sons, for your enthusiastic encouragement and support for me to keep on cooking and writing!

And thank you WordPress, for providing this medium where I can become one with my writing and my cooking by sharing My Cooking Life.

Bouquet of roses

Bouquet of roses just for you! (Photo credit: Robo Android)

It’s a Wonderful Blog

Christmastime

Christmastime in Golden, Colorado (Photo credit:  Patty Allread)

Time to bring back an old Christmas favorite!  You know the story, don’t you?

THE DEDICATED & HARDWORKING SMALL-TIME BLOGGER

Hard-working blogger has big lifelong dreams of becoming a famous writer and traveling the world promoting her bestselling books, etc.  But for now she is just a good-natured, regular blogger who pounds on her keyboard at home and puts her contributions out into the ether for her blogging community to find.  She also reads what her friends blog about and faithfully offers comments of encouragement and tries to help those friends get more blogging hits.

But sometimes she gets lonely.  Sometimes she thinks the blogging world can do just fine without her.  And sometimes she doesn’t sit down at her computer and write anything at all.  And sometimes . . . well, recently . . . she thought, “I’m not sure if I should even renew my domain name.  No one reads my stuff anyway.”

And she stopped blogging.

MEET EDITH

This is the part where the guardian angel comes in.  In this case, it’s Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson and she’s a very dedicated muse who is trying hard to earn her angel wings.  You can just call her “Edith.”

Edith has been hanging around ever since our hapless blogger started writing.  Way, way back when there weren’t any computers and writing required actual typewriting and there were no “delete” keys.  Man oh man.  Back then if a writer made a mistake or wanted to change something, she had to use correction tape or white out or start over.  And over.  And over. That made musing a very tough business!

If it weren’t for Edith, our writer might have given up totally.  But Edith pulled her through every time.  At first our writer didn’t have a clue that Edith existed.  Then one day, friend Martha tried to show her that Edith really does exist!  But our writer didn’t believe in Edith.  Not really.

Poor Edith.  It would be impossible for Edith to earn her wings if the writer in her charge did not believe.  Edith felt like an old worn eraser stuck away in someone’s desk drawer and forgotten about. In fact that’s exactly where she was stuck for many years.

THE POWER OF MUSES

The months rolled on with no new posts and now it was Christmastime.  There were no new followers of the blog.  No new comments.  No new ideas written about.  Our protagonist’s blogging future was bleak indeed!

However the Christmas Season was calling and the least our writer could do was write some Christmas cards.  That would be okay.  Rifling through the desk drawers to find the cards, the red and green gel pens and some stamps, our writer spotted Edith lying beneath a ragged half-empty package of AA batteries.  Beautiful, clever, inspiring Edith!

Edith leapt out of the drawer and dove into a nearby wastebasket!  It was a desperate but brave move.  Edith floundered in the rolling, rough sea of paper and cardboard coffee cups calling out, “Help! Help!” hoping our writer would save her.

Our writer reached into the icy sea of trash and pulled Edith out, not realizing that Edith was really an angel.  Edith explained to our girl that she needed help to earn her wings and she would show our blogger what life would have been like without mycookinglifebypatty. No stories about cherished cooking memories.  People dying from eating so much sugar.  Coffee Man a completely unknown superhero. Claude Mouse homeless, forgotten and unappreciated. No new recipes.  No newly inspired cooks.  No new blogging friends.  No new pen pal.

With a sudden infusion of fresh inspiration and a new lease on blogging (literally–domain name paid for another year) our writer rushed to her keyboard and wrote a new post.  And then another one, and another one, and another one!  It was a flurry of blogging and cooking the likes of which our dear writer had not experienced in a long, long time.  And it was joyous!

And it was a wonderful blog.  Immediately upon publishing the first new post, family, friends, fellow bloggers and pen pal gathered around the Christmas tree singing carols and enjoying the warmth and love and hope of the season.  And remember–this very second, with the click of the mouse and this brand new post published . . . . .

“Every time a blogger publishes a new post, a blog angel gets her wings!”

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings.

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings while serving miso soup.

And this year’s Lifetime Achievement Kitchen Inspiration Award goes to . . .

Claude is looking a little down in the mouth lately.  And who could blame him?  He’s been hanging around in my kitchen for at least twenty years.  Here I am going on and on in my blog about all the people and things that inspire me and how I am the big-time cooking expert and I never once even mentioned Claude.

Before I introduce you to Claude, believe me when I say I am dead serious about the important place he has in my cooking life.  A day without Claude would be like a day without a stove to cook on or a spoon to taste with.  I would be a lost soul without Claude.

Claude is dedicated.  Who else do you know that expresses his love of food and cooking by wearing a sweater with a big orange carrot on it every single day?  He’s downright insouciant, that’s what he is!

Walt Disney’s Ratatouille has nothing on Claude.  True, they are both French.  Claude has been inspiring great things from my kitchen for two decades and has never taken a bow or taken credit for his work.  In fact, more than likely the famous Disney character was inspired by Claude.  I’ll have to do the research on that.

So without further ado, I’m announcing the recipient of the Lifetime Kitchen Inspiration Achievement Award, Claude!

[Claude accepts]

Merci. Merci.   Je suis tellement honoree!

[more applause]

Claude

“Thank you very much. [Nods humbly and squeaks] I am overwhelmed by theez enormous gesture of acknowledgement.  What a suprise to receive theez wonderful award and theez beautiful toaster!  I hardly know what to say.

“Meez Patty, eet has been mon honneur to leeve in your kitchen and to be a part of your legendary creativity in zee field of cooking.  I have always wanted to inspire greatness in others and my lifelong dream has been fulfilled by your generosity, your kindness, your devotion and of course, your unmatched culinary skill.  I am truly grateful for zee opportunity you have geeven me and I dedicate myself to you and your unequalled–je ne sais quoi.  I am your humble servant tousjours plus.

[Four-minute standing ovation.  Applause, whistles and “woot woots” heard throughout the auditorium.  Patty blushes and bows demurely.]

“I weell never forget zee day I met Meez Patty and she took me home.  That eez when my life really began.  Watching her and oui, inspiring her as best I could, I have seen amazing meals emerge from Patty’s cutting board and stove.  You seemply haven’t leeved unteel you’ve tasted her cooking!  Once you try eet, you weell NEVER go back.  I promeese.

“Of course there have been rough times.  I remember zee many times Meez Patty  managed to burn water.  Mais oui, eet eez possible to burn water.  They always say ‘a watched pot never boils.’  But once eet starts boiling you should watch eet.  Fortunately, we only lost one pan that way, zee rest were salvaged.  Patty eez nothing eef not persistent.  And even though I know she hates washing pots and pans, she has been no less than heroic een saving most of those burnt pots no matter what she burned een them.

“Then there was zee time when Patty put boiling-hot cream of asparagus soup into zee blender to puree eet and she filled zee blender tres full.  I was so fortunate not to get heet when that blender exploded.  Not so for Meez Patty.  Trooper that she eez, Patty was on zee front lines and didn’t escape zee burning asparagus shrapnel.  [Teary-eyed, sniffling] She still bears those scars on her chest, like leettle medals of honor.  Je remerci Dieu Meez Patty eez alive today!  She suffered emotional scars aussi and never made zee cream of asparagus soup again.  C’est la vie, Patty.

“And speaking of explosions, you have never seen anything like a pressure-cooker explosion.  Brown rice all over zee ceiling and everywhere else!  That time Patty was lucky because she ducked just een time before getting decapitated by zee flying pressure-cooker leed.  Deed that stop Patty?  Of course not!  She freaked out and got someone else to clean up zee mess and then got right back eento that kitchen with another pressure cooker!  Zee brown rice has never been more delicious.  Since then.

“When I think of Meez Patty’s kitchen and all zee exciting times we’ve had together, I can only hope that her millions of devoted followers will one day have zee opportunity I have been so lucky to endure.

“We in zee Kitchen Inspiration Industry understand that we do not work alone.  Without zee rest of zee team, we are nothing.  I would like to thank my manufacturer–zee Boyd’s Collection, Ltd, thanks also to zee personne who kneet me my tres fabulaux carrot sweater (I could not inspire without eet), thanks to le secteur Francais de la Chine–China–where I was born, and of course my deepest respect to zee most infamous–non, I mean famous–home cook een zee world (Excusez mon Anglais), zee personne whose cooking cannot be equalled, zee woman every mouse or man wants to spend their time weeth een zee kitchen, my mentor, my teacher, my friend, my fellow artiste and homemaker extraordinaire, (and she would never say theez about herself so I am saying eet for her) LE MEILLEUR CUISINIER DANS LE VASTE MONDE ENTIER –ZEE BEST COOK IN ZEE WHOLE WIDE WORLD–thank you Meez Patty–mon amie, merci! My life has truly been blessed by your existence.

Vous . . .

Me completer.”