What's cooking?

My best friend is a gourmet cook. She's fearless in the kitchen. I am amazed at the concoctions she puts together. Not to say that everything she makes turns out terrific--but her courage and creativity are unmatched.

So when Leah invited me to join her at the Taste of Home Cooking School recently, I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. Attendees troll the expo, then find their seats in the auditorium, where recipes are cooked on the stage kitchen. Two large screens on either side of the stage broadcast feed from the camera suspended above the cooking area. Each attendee received a goody bag full of coupons and recipes. On each chair was a five pound bag of potatoes.

The room was absolutely packed and after finding our seats, we quickly realized we weren't going anywhere until the show was over. There was no room to move. We were literally crammed into this hotel conference room elbow to elbow and thigh to thigh. However, once the show began, I was able to put my claustrophobic feelings on hold and despite my reservations, I found myself enjoying the evening.

I will take this time to issue an official apology to the serious cooks who were in my immediate vicinity. I was completely irreverent. (My excuse is that Leah makes me laugh and I can't help it. I know. Very mature.)

So we're sitting there as we watch someone cook and Leah's getting hungrier and hungrier. The room is filled with a savory aroma, which doesn't help. We can't leave our seats, so Leah finally breaks down and eats a raw potato from her bag. I tried not to giggle, but I couldn't get over the irony of being at a cooking show and starving. 

I'll leave you with this recipe for Orange Chocolate Tart, which we saw demonstrated at cooking school. 

P.S. I'll let you know if I pass the class. :)


Road trip to Nelson

Isn't this a classically lovely vignette? You never know where you might find bits of beauty. Here's how I captured this one.

I've been running in the rat race lately and finishing in last place despite my best efforts. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to jump in the car and hit the road. We didn't know where we were headed, but I was tired of planning and tired of details and Ryan didn't mind not having an official destination. 

We ended up at the Wisconsin/Minnesota border at the Nelson Creamery. If you're not from Wisconsin, you might scoff at the idea of cheese factory in the middle of "nowhere," but it's not passe. Far from it. Ryan and I enjoyed a glass of wine in the fireplace room before browsing the delectable selection of gourmet food and drink. I'll definitely be making a return trip soon. 


Tying the knot

My father is a pastor and one of his favorite lines can only be used after a wedding. "Everything went well, it went off with just one hitch." (Bah-dum-dum). There's a good chance I inherited my love of corny jokes from him. Weddings bring out the crazy in me. (Incidentally, family get-togethers have the same effect. Two for the price of one! Good times all around.)

Anyway, my younger brother got married a couple weeks ago. Mark and Gretchen's nuptials were uniquely theirs, from the altar flower arrangements to the ceremony itself. My father preached the wedding sermon  and my sisters and I sang a hymn. Paul returned the favor of speaking at the reception, as Mark had done for him only five months earlier. My mom made the cake and cupcakes. Gretchen's sisters and brothers all participated in the wedding as well. It was a true family affair.