And So This Is 60… by Dana Williams

Monday, April 3rd. I turned 60 years old. 21,900 days. That’s a lotta days.

People often laugh (okay, at me) when I tell them that I usually wake up with a song in my head but it’s true. It will stay in my head most of the day. Sometimes I’ll add it to our Spotify list at Marcel’s, often having it deleted by one of my beloved coworkers as soon as I turn my back. Seriously, who doesn’t love “One Less Bell To Answer” by The 5th Dimension? Anyway, the last few weeks before the big day,  I was consistently waking up to John Lennon’s “And So This Is Christmas” only it had morphed into “And So This Is 60.” It became a sort of mantra of accomplishments and disappointments, changing at any given moment, all sung to myself to that comforting tune.

The second half of my 59th year was pretty momentous on a very personal level. On Wednesday, October 26th, I decided that enough was enough and that entering my 60’s at 200+ pounds was probably a really bad idea. Major change was needed. With the guidance and support of a wonderful doctor, my husband and sons and one coworker (Hi, Anne), I quietly made the life adjustments needed. My days (mostly, just in case anyone reading this has seen the celebratory birthday pics!)  have consisted of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. BOOM! That’s it. I stayed on the QT until people started to notice – it took about 30 pounds or so – and then I became an open book. One of the things that I find interesting is the assumption that for someone who loves food and cooking as much as I do, this must be a miserable journey! Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, loving to cook has made this process far less painless than one would think. You just need to get creative.


One small piece of equipment that I invested in is a traditional two-tiered  bamboo steamer that we carry at Marcel’s. It offers endless variations using fresh veggies, fish and chicken. I line the baskets with fresh kale, cabbage or Swiss chard, pile loads of vegetables in the top basket and nestle my protein in the bottom basket. I place the steamer in my wok to which I’ve added two inches of broth and twenty to thirty minutes later a complete meal is ready. I’ll add a side of grains or potatoes for my family and everyone’s happy!

So, here I am – 50 pounds down with 15 – 20 to go. I’ve never felt better. I walk two to five miles daily. My darling husband gave me my first new bike in 40 years for my birthday. “And So This Is 60.”  Bring it.

The Joys of a Food Memory by Rita Cevaal

This time of the year is the perfect excuse to cozy up and watch all of the great Academy Award nominated films. One of my favorites this year was the film Lion. Based on a true story, it is about a small boy who gets lost on a train that takes him thousands of miles from home. He is eventually adopted by a couple from Australia, and settles comfortably there. It is not until he is at University that he meets other Indian students; the smell and sight of Indian food and culture trigger childhood memories .

This story reminds me of when my Grandma would visit from California, always arriving with trinkets and stories of her travels. While she was staying with us she would always bake. We would place bookmarks in cookbooks, marking the things we wanted her to make the next time she was in town. Food certainly has a way of generating memories, and this is especially true with a particular recipe of hers. She visited one time with a recipe cut out from a newspaper for “Boiled Cookies,” and it became an instant favorite. Not only were they yummy, but we loved that they were called “boiled” cookies. Today, many call these “No-Bake Cookies.” Despite the different names, they are still made the same way, bringing butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa to a boil on the stove before adding vanilla, peanut butter, and oatmeal. The next step is to spoon the mixture onto sheets of waxed or parchment on the kitchen counter, while fighting the willpower not to eat them before they cool.

I know my family now has their own memories of these cookies since they were a regular after school snack. We call these a semi-healthy cookie since they are gluten-free and we make them with organic sugar and oats!

 

 

No Bake Cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. ¼ cup cocoa
  3. ½ cup milk
  4. ½ cup butter
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  6. pinch of salt
  7. ½ cup peanut butter
  8. 3 cups rolled oats
Instructions
  1. Mix sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until it boils. Remove from heat and cool for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax or parchment paper. Let cool completely before removing from paper.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Making the Sale by Kelly Montgomery

Without a doubt Marcel’s is a great place to work. It offers fun co-workers, customers who become friends, the smell of bacon frying or onions caramelizing back in the kitchen, and so much more. But this job is not without its occupational hazards. Being continually and relentlessly exposed to terrific cooking tools and beautiful home accents can lead to overspending, marital strain and insufficient cabinet space.

As you might imagine, I’ve got quite a collection of kitchen stuff and exquisite tableware. Brock, my husband, has developed a certain look when he sees me coming in with a Marcel’s bag. It’s a look that says, “Is it necessary to have four different machines to make coffee?” (Um….kind of! They’re all different! And anyway we have 5 not 4. Just saying.). It asks “Don’t we already have way too many plates?” (Well, technically yes, but look at how gorgeous these are and how great they look with all our other Juliska plates!!)

It begins innocently enough. I’m having a discussion about the wonderful features of a product with a customer and next thing I know I’m the one who’s standing at the counter purchasing it. I’ve literally sold it to myself!! It was in this exact way that I recently became the owner of a Fagor Lux Multi-Cooker. I think selling that machine to me may have been the best sale I’ve ever made.

So I brought it home. And when, as expected, I got “the look”. I countered, “But it’s a pressure cooker and a slow cooker and a rice cooker and an egg cooker and a steamer! It browns and simmers and keeps food warm until you’re ready to eat it! It makes yogurt for crying out loud!  It even does the dishes!”  (Wait. No. But you can brown things and then finish them in the same pan so it basically helps with the dishes!)  I sound like an infomercial!!

I’ve owned my Multi-Cooker for about a month and have had so much fun trying new recipes and learning easier and faster ways of doing things.  And when Brock recently wondered aloud  “Where has this thing been all our lives?”, I shot him my look that says “Told ya!”

Stay tuned for my upcoming demo using the Multi Cooker to make Pressure Cooker Penne with Squash and Ricotta.

See you at Marcel’s!

Gratitude in the Small Things by Teri Hiben

teriblog2Yes, things are getting busy. With Thanksgiving dinner and then holiday shopping and baking and visiting, life can get a bit hectic. Recent family health issues have caused me to slow down and reflect on the things that matter. While I’m thankful for so many big blessings like family, friends and home, I’m also thankful for many smaller joys.

I love the way the rain hangs on the crabapples in the back tree, the voices of the new neighbor boys as they play in the backyard reminding me of my own boys. There’s nothing like a great book on a cold evening, the hoot of the owl when I can’t sleep at night. And I think my favorite meal consists of a great bowl of soup and some homemade bread. Simple is many times better.

teriblog1I encourage you this holiday season to take some time to slow down and be thankful for your many blessings, help those who have less than you, look for the good in those around you, enjoy a job well done, show simple kindness and enjoy it in others. And sit down and enjoy a bowl of soup and some fresh, homemade bread.

Enjoy the holidays ahead!

Oatmeal Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups boiling water
  2. 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  3. 2 packages dry yeast or 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  4. 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  5. 1 tablespoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup honey
  7. 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  8. 5-6 cups flour
  9. 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. In a large mixer bowl, pour the boiling water over the oats and let the mixture rest until the oats are completely softened, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the lukewarm water and allow to stand 10 minutes.
  3. To the oat mixture, add the salt, honey and melted butter; combine, then stir in the yeast. Gradually add enough flour to make the dough soft and kneadable. Knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed. The dough should be elastic, soft and smooth.
  4. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 325.
  6. After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide into 2 8”x4” loaf pans that have been sprayed with Pam and sprinkled with rolled oats. There is no need for further rising. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle some additional oats on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Tip bread out onto a wire rack to cool.
Notes
  1. This bread freezes well in a Ziploc freezer bag.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Homemade Vanilla Extract by Judy Fitzgerald

judyblog1During a specialty farm tour this past summer at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company located on the Big Island of Hawaii, my family and I had a behind-the-scenes look to see how one family with 25 acres and a growing family of five kids produce 300 pounds of vanilla a year.  Owner Jim Reddekopp is the personal tour guide and explains how vanilla is grown and cultivated.  The whole Reddekopp family chips in to cultivate the vanilla and share the process with travelers. They host vanilla tastings and luncheons are accompanied by a presentation on raising vanilla and making it’s extract.  As they explained how easy it is to make at home since it requires only 2 simple ingredients and no special equipment, I couldn’t help but think how fabulous homemade batches of vanilla extract would be for baking back at home (or if you are really planning ahead, gifting for the 2017 holiday season!).  Below, I’ve included the recipe straight from www.hawaiianvanilla.com

 

Homemade Vanilla Extract
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Ingredients
  1. 3 vanilla beans, minimum (you can double this amount to intensify flavor)
  2. 12 ounces of alcohol*
Instructions
  1. Lay the vanilla beans on a cutting board and carefully slice them length-wise, using a small paring or kitchen utility knife.
  2. Scoop out the soft sticky seeds inside the beans with a small spoon. Spoon the beans into a 12-ounce or larger glass jar.
  3. Chop the remaining bean husks into a few small pieces that can fit into the bottle.
  4. Add the 12 ounces of alcohol, making sure all beans and husks are fully submerged.
  5. Seal the jar tightly, shake well, and store in a cupboard that will not be exposed to direct sunlight.
  6. This is the only challenging part of a homemade vanilla extract recipe – patience! The mixture will need to infuse for about six months. The longer you wait, the more intense the flavor will be.
  7. After the infusion period is over, strain the mixture through a simple paper filter or cheesecloth. Now you can pour the resulting liquid into a pretty bottle or decanter. Be sure to mark the bottle clearly – vanilla extract is alcoholic and not suitable for tasting by curious kids in the kitchen!
Notes
  1. *What kind of alcohol is best? Many chefs prefer to use vodka, as this spirit has the most neutral and “clean” taste, keeping the emphasis on the vanilla flavor. However, you can experiment with a more richly flavored alcohol, such as brandy or rum.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Kind of Lunch/Snack: Triangle Sushi (Samgak Kimbap) by Jenny Chang

TriangleSushiHaving grown up in a traditional Korean home, there were many dishes that I was often embarrassed or afraid to introduce to my friends. Kimbap was one of them. I distinctly remember going on a preschool field trip to the circus where my mom had to pack a lunch for me to eat on the bus. My mother, having only known what kids in Korea ate for lunches, packed me two rolls of kimbap (aka. Sushi) neatly packed in what would today be known as a bento box. I looked around me and saw my fellow classmates eating ham or PB&J sandwiches, and so desperately didn’t want to be different with my rice rolls and seaweed.  It was mortifying as a 5 year old to open my lunch and have to quickly eat my rice rolls to avoid as many “What is that?” questions from classmates. Who in preschool wants to be different? Certainly not me.

Flash forward thirty years later, and I have a different story to share. You see, my oldest son (who is now 12) loves kimbap and his favorite is triangle kimbap. He begs me every year to send him to school with these cute rice triangles and every year I turn him down. You see, I’m still scarred by my own experience in school where bringing something different and foreign for lunch made me somehow not normal.  Succumbing to his ongoing request, I finally relinquished and sent him to school with seasoned rice and nori. Unsurprisingly, many of his friends asked what it was, but truly out of curiosity. Even more to my surprise many of them asked if they could try it. And some even LIKED it!!!

Triangle kimbap is a staple snack, lunch or even light dinner in our home. It’s a quick meal that can be made from staple pantry ingredients served with a green salad, veggies, or even soup. In fact, often in Korea, it is served alongside miso soup. Through my son and his adventurous classmates, I’ve learned that children today are far more open to trying new things and certainly more exposed to other cultures and food. It’s encouraging to see that my children can enjoy what they like, when they like it without fear or trepidation that someone might be offended by their snack or lunch. It’s comforting to know that our world and society has developed into a food-loving domain where all cultures are not only celebrated and appreciated but also sampled! Mash-shee-suh (Yummy in Korean)!

Tuna Triangle Sushi (Samgak Kimbap)
Yields 6
A delicious Korean snack.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of cooked rice (can also substitute half with brown rice)
  2. 1 T. toasted sesame oil
  3. ¼ t. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  4. ½ t. salt
  5. 1 t. rice vinegar
  6. tuna in oil, drained (I love the white tuna sold at Marcels)
  7. 3 sheets of sushi nori (cut in half)
  8. ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Gently mix cooked rice with sesame oil, salt, vinegar, and sesame seeds. Place the triangle mold* on the top half of the ½ sheet of sushi nori and fill 1/3 with the seasoned rice. Add a small amount of tuna on top of the seasoned rice (about ½ tablespoon) and fill triangle mold with more seasoned rice. Tap with the top of the mold and push the rice through the mold using the top. Fold over the bottom half of the sushi nori over the rice triangle and fold sides down. Dip fingertips into the water and gently rub some water on the top sides of the nori still folded down and fold over the triangle.
Notes
  1. *Sushi Triangle Molds are available at most Asian grocery stores
  2. I often use tuna, but this dish can be prepared using cooked salmon, chicken, beef or even pickled vegetables. Just be sure that whatever you use to fill the triangle doesn’t have any liquid, as excess liquid can make the rice watery.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A “Go-To” Birthday Cake by Rita Cevaal

I have two kinds of recipes that I cook from. One is a collection that I go to automatically; it contains recipes that are quick and easy and family recipes that I have been making for decades – my “go-tos.” The other collection has more elaborate recipes that require more time and ingredients, saved for special occasions.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.22.42 PMI have a recipe that you will want to add to your “go-to” collection of recipes. It is quick and easy, looks beautiful, and of course it’s delicious! When reading Bon Appetit last spring this Raspberry Ricotta Cake caught my eye not only because it looked so cute but also because the ingredients were items I had at home. It makes a 9” round pan (you can also make it square, but it is prettier in a round).  It is the perfect size when you need to bring a dessert somewhere, it does not need any embellishment, and you can make it throughout the year since it uses frozen raspberries. No mixer required. It’s so easy. It’s delicious. It’s a pretty cake. It has become “the” cake for our birthdays here at Marcel’s. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake
Print
Ingredients
  1. nonstick vegetable oil spray
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 t. baking powder
  5. 3/4 t. kosher salt
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  8. 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  10. 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  3. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Notes
  1. Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
  2. You can also make this in 2 6” round cake pans. Reduce baking time to 40-50 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Rediscovered Recipe by Julie Busteed

It’s that rare but valuable experience – where you set off in search of one thing, and find something completely different. Such was the case during a recent recipe search.  I was given a large cardboard box full of cookbooks.  Or so I thought…

The box with filled with items from a dear friend of mine who had passed away last year.  She was a wonderful cook who also had the gift of hospitality. I was blessed to receive her cookbooks. What a treasure!  

LemonBars1Upon looking more closely, I discovered that the box contained not only cookbooks but also three ring binder notebooks where she kept all of her recipes from food magazines like Bon Appetit and Food and Wine.  While leafing through the notebooks I found that she kept a list of every dinner party she had hosted, who was there, and what she served.  Her journal was a gold mine of 25 years worth of dinner parties, with notes about what worked and what did not. Since we were often guests at her home, my name reappeared many times… the earlier entries dating back to before I was married.  I, of course, don’t remember exactly what she served at every meal, but my memories were of delicious evenings feeling loved and cared for. 

I had also been looking for a lemon bar recipe that I used to make, but couldn’t find in my own files. It was such a surprise to find a copy of my recipe in her files!  I hope that you enjoy this rediscovered favorite recipe!

Lemon Bars
Print
Crust
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  3. 1 cup butter
Filling
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1/3 cup lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup flour
  5. 1/2 t. baking powder
Crust
  1. Preheat over to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour and sugar and cut with butter until it clings together. Press with a fork into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
Filling
  1. Beat eggs, lemon juice and sugar together. Sift flour and baking powder and stir into egg mixture. Pour over baked crust.
  2. Bake for 25 more minutes.
  3. Sift powdered sugar over top when ready to serve.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

#mymarcels by Alicia Sitley

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to have a guest blog post this week from one of our delightful customers, Alicia Sitley.  Join Alicia and start hash-tagging your favorite finds from Marcel’s with #mymarcels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  We can’t wait to see and share your stories.  Thanks Alicia!

As I go through my daily routines, I realize that each trip to Marcel’s has helped me to collect beautiful “home souvenirs” that quickly become part of our family’s tradition. Like keepsakes from a beautiful journey, everything I buy at Marcel’s now inspires a story.

#mymarcels1Beginning with coffee, the #mymarcels Nespresso machine saved us from severe “espresso depression” by continuing our daily cappuccino and espresso indulgences after a trip to Italy. (We even bought a second Nespresso for our college freshman, which means #mymarcels extends as far south as Champaign-Urbana.)

#mymarcels also includes our cheery cherry Le Creuset French Press; black Epicurean cutting boards so sleek they triggered a friend to confess cutting-board envy; and the gorgeous Chilewich placemats that gracefully catch our spills and withstand my daughter’s aggressive wipe downs.

And please, let us pay special tribute to the Camerons Stovetop Smoker, an “emotional purchase” after a three-minute description of its flair for mouth-watering, smoked yumminess. This smoking won’t kill you because everything it produces is so good you’d die for it first. Cheese, veggies, fish, meat, everything’s better when we smoke it!

When I visit Marcel’s, I admit I look around and long to adopt nearly everything displayed as #mymarcels, but that would just be gluttonous. Time and life’s events will inspire my next purchases, because Marcel’s rewards our journeys. What souvenirs have you taken home from Marcel’s? Look around your kitchen, then tell everyone at #mymarcels. 

Homespun by Anne Farnum

PoundcakeMy mom is a baker and has always been a baker…homemade only.  Scratch-made, homemade, homespun…call it what you would like but a box mix has never graced the shelves of my mother’s pantry or cabinets.
 
I know that time and memories can play tricks on you but I recall coming home every day from school and there being a fresh baked good waiting for me and my six siblings to enjoy.  The only prerequisite that my mom had was that we had to eat a bowl of cereal or a piece of fruit first.  I am now 47 years old, have four children of my own and my mom continues to bake almost daily.  In fact, my children walked to my parent’s house after school today and a pan of brownies were in the oven.  
 
When there is a family occasion, my mom is our go-to baker.  Whether it be a holiday, birthday, Big Game party or just a regular family dinner, it is her baked goods that are always the dessert and it’s usually not just one dessert.  There is an “appetizer” dessert and a main dessert.
 
My children always put in their birthday cake requests to my mom, (their Mimi), prior to the birthday celebration. My son Luke loves Miss Bebe’s Spice Cake, my daughters Lucy and Tess ask for the checkerboard Oreo Ice Cream Cake and my 10 year-old son, Hugh, always puts in his request for Delicious Poundcake. Poundcake isn’t the typical birthday cake a 10 year-old boy would request but without fail, it’s ALWAYS the one — and it is delicious! 
 
So, thank you Mom, for always baking for me over the years and for continuing the tradition for the next generation’s enjoyment.  
 
Poundcake2