Category Archives: party

Mind-Swimming and Mind-Diving

Things have been pretty crazy ’round here.
Shady Shot of Caramelized Cabbage & Roasted Roots!

I had the first test-run cooking class on April 5th, and the second on May 3rd. Both menus showcased Scottish cuisine, and were a blast to put on. I also hosted a little dinner party on April 13th, between a work trip to Memphis and another to Omaha, and oh- let’s not forget that I was in DC for my birthday (April 20th) before jetting out to Italy for a week’s vacation.

“A little month,” as Hamlet says.

I’ve been in a state that I call “Mind-Swimming,” inspired by the feeling that I am awash in details, projects, and ideas. My mind literally feels like it is navigating water because it is so crowded in there!

Last Saturday though, I had a day of “Mind-Diving,” meaning I chose one topic for a “deep dive.” I woke up at 4 AM after a dream and decided to jump into some behind-the-scenes blog work that I’ve been wrestling with (with the happy assistance of friend and blog coach Ethan Waldman of Cloud Coach). It continued until about 5 PM, and I made some good progress.

This swimming/diving metaphor is another way of expressing Emilie’s (of Puttylike fame) concept of the Three C’s: that there is some technique involved in organizing your time according to the type of activity. Is the activity one of creation, consumption, or connection? This concept sort of blew my mind a few months ago, and I’ve been using it as a touchstone for getting things done in a way that doesn’t burn me out- highly recommended.

Speaking of burnout, while I’ve been doing all this ‘swimming’ through ideas, and projects, and research, you may well ask what sustains me? The answer to that, and what gives me confidence that this venture will be a success, is that I keep doing it.

That’s right. I’m using the insanity to prove I’m not insane.

Of course, what I mean is that if I didn’t enjoy the cooking, hosting, planning, researching, why would I keep doing it? It gives this introvert energy, and that’s the secret of following your bliss, folks.

It’ll probably change and evolve, since that’s what multipotentialites do, and that’s okay! I’ll be keeping a weather eye on the horizon, a firm hand on the rudder, and I’ll adapt.

But for now, this is the hot ticket! :-)

I invited two couples of friends over for this Friday night dinner, and I knew when I did so that it needed to be creative. One of the husbands is a fancy cook. He had also previously commented on there not being enough food at one of my dinners, by which he meant the main dish. Lesson learned in my book, and so I wanted to be a little more impressive this time.
I started with sweet potatoes, as I often do (love this Ode to the Sweet Potato from Tasty Kitchen). I added paprika. I roasted with olive oil and salt.

I bought taco shells and shredded (the horror!) jack cheese, thinking of a potential different recipe, but collapsed them into a topping/stuffing/filling bar instead: with this red cabbage with apples recipe being the long-simmered and aromatic star.

I combined some unusual bedfellows when composing hors d’oeuvres: Saltines, black olive paste, and boquerones (marinated white anchovies).

The boquerones, by the way, were inspired by the tapas at Estadio– also delicious- but bought at Vace, an Italian delicatessen at Cleveland Park, much less expensively. Score!

There were a lot of choices in little bowls around the table, which was a little awkward to pass, but tasted good in the mouth. The husband previously referred to said that it was unusual to offer red cabbage as a taco filling.

Good observation.
We like doing unusual here.
Do try the red cabbage recipe- it’s a smash hit, as well as cheap and easy (earning it a place on my next Favorites List). Let me know if you like it, or find good variations, in the comments!

The 411 on the TLT Cooking School

I’m happy to hear of the interest in the armchair-travel style cooking courses (and thankful to all the friends spreading the word! :-), so I thought I would provide a few more details about what the night will include.

Pub Short Ribs, an American view

  • Three-course (minimum) meal consisting of traditional researched regional food, adapted from authentic recipes
  • Quality organic, seasonal, and local produce and other ingredients, as much as possible

Ah, the simple joys of hosting!
  • Being hosted in my home, an apartment in the Logan Circle neighborhood
  • Explanation of cooking techniques involved in the preparation of the meal
  • Tidbits of historical and cultural interest about the food, the region, and the culture
Another theme to look forward to…

I’m really looking forward to diving into the next research project, which will involve a certain boot-shaped mass of land… I will say no more!
…except to say that having just returned from a week in Napoli and Sicily, they will be influential resources!

If you’re interested and live in the DC area, please feel free to drop me a line at margaret [at] taste-life-twice [dot] com and I’ll be happy to accommodate you!

If you’re interested but living outside the DC Metro area, tell those you know about the idea!

Also, I take suggestions, and would love to chat about food and/or travel, so don’t hold back in the comments.
Ciao for now~!

Gingered Lemon Pie for Pi Day

Shadow Puppet Pie Theatre!
Welcome to the Pi Day Post! Working with engineers and following Gesine’s blog made me very excited about the possibilities for this day which honors… an irrational number.
Happily, Pi Day this year coincided with a Green-themed Potluck at work, so I wasn’t forced to eat the whole pie myself. (Wouldn’t that have been awful?)
What’s so green about a lemon pie, you ask? Well, lemons are in season in winter, and ginger is easily frozen, making both of these organic choices great ones for this March (even though this winter has hardly earned its stripes). Add in the fact that I was using crushed Ikea ginger cookie leftovers and the final sweetened condensed milk can from a Costco raid a couple years ago, and it becomes also a thrifty and economical use of my pantry ingredients! Ah, happiness found. :-)
I was excited to use such a great recipe from Leah at So How’s It Taste?, whom I met through the Food Bloggers’ Cookie Swap last Christmas. She has crafted a pie with many layers of both lemon and ginger flavor, for a fantastic result! Her recipe follows, with my adaptive tweaks.
Gingered Lemon Icebox Pie
makes 8 servings 12 modest slices


1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Triple Ikea ginger cookie crumbs (or gingersnap cookie crumbs)
1 tbsp. crystallized ginger
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
6 tbsp. melted butter (could’ve done with 5 tbsp, I think)
1/2 cup 1/3 cup was fine fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons, mailed from the backyard tree at home in California!)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 egg yolks
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
zest from 1 lemon

1. For the crust, preheat oven to 350°F. Blend the cookie crumbs and the crystallized ginger in a food processor until well blended and no unappetizing chunks of the ginger remain. Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl and add the sugar and ground ginger; mix well. Add the melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

Down to the bottom after baking, cooling
Up the sides before baking…

2. For the filling, in a small saucepan add the lemon juice and minced ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and whisk. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the lemon zest. Strain the ginger lemon juice mixture over the same bowl, pressing on the ginger to release its flavor (save to flavor tea). Whisk all ingredients until well combined.
4. Pour lemon mixture into baked pie crust. Bake at 325°F for 30-35 minutes, until filling is set. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Place pie in refrigerator and let set for at least 3 hours (I made mine 2 days in advance and it wasn’t adversely affected). Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

The behind the scenes shots show my battle array:
From window to wall…
From wall to window!

And from this you can understand why each and every baking effort of mine results in a sinkful of dishes! From Left to Right: egg yolks being whisked, sink starting to fill, open can of sweetened, condensed milk, ginger-lemon juice mixture steeping on a burner, pie crust awaiting filling, zesting accomplished. Phew!

Lots of steps and utensils, but sooo worth it!

Did you make a pie for Pi Day??
Do you have advice about how to stop a cookie-crumb-crust from sliding down while baking?
Are you laughing at the size of my kitchen?

Let me know in the comments so I can laugh along. :-)

And make this pie. You won’t be sorry.