Grief, Realistic Fiction

Get in My Belly!

It’s been a while since I lasted posted, but I hope to have several posts for you over the next few weeks!

North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

We are fast approaching the season of food. Thanksgiving is a month away, and if you celebrate Christmas like I do, you might already be searching for some trendy elastic waistband pants to get you through the season! In fact, a teacher friend of mine told me recently that she keeps a pair of maternity pants on hand for food holidays. Genius! This week’s blog post celebrates food, and I promise you can savor it without needing to change your pants.

DO NOT read this book on an empty stomach. Author Adi Alsaid writes tantalizing descriptions of food–from tacos to seafood, omelettes, sauces and sandwiches. This book will have you drooling!

Carlos knows it’s not healthy that he sees his dead brother’s ghost, and it’s definitely not healthy that he holds conversations with cet ghost. The trauma of losing Felix in a random shooting has deeply scarred Carlos, and the fact that their father wants Carlos to “forget about the past” makes it even worse. In response to his father’s insensitivity, Carlos makes a life changing last-minute decision. While watching a cooking show, he decides he’ll go to the featured restaurant–Provecho–located on an island in Washington state, thousands of miles away from his home in Mexico City.

While Carlos continues to see Felix’s ghost on the island, he finds his place at the restaurant, taking on a job as a dishwasher and falling for the head chef’s daughter, Emma. Carlos desperately wants the chance to feature his own recipes on the menu, and he suffers through hellish cooking lessons from the notoriously short-tempered “Chef” for the chance to improve his skills. It’s Chef’s ultimatum that he can’t stand; she makes it clear that he can’t date Emma if he wants to continue working at the restaurant. Carlos feels he has sacrificed enough, though, and wants both the chance to learn from Chef and enjoy Emma–even though ghost Felix thinks it’s a bad idea.

This is a book about grief, forgiveness and perseverance; it’s a stellar reminder that we should all do what we love and eat fabulous food along the way!

The audio is great, by the way.

Channeling My Inner Carlos

During the last three Thursday evenings in October, I have had an absolute blast attending a Basics of Cooking class with my friend Ali Jean. Now, if you’ve read any of my previous posts that relate to food, you know that I love to eat it, but I am really terrible at cooking. I lack the patience, the skills and the palate to make truly great food, so when Ali suggested we take a newbie cooking class together at the Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis, I thought I could at least improve my skills and write about the connection to North of Happy. I did not expect the experience to be such a highlight of my week!

My dear friend, Ali Jean, expert Fish Seasoner!

Our class was taught by Barb Nack, a no-nonsense teacher whom I liked immediately. At our first session, Barb provided each of us with a folder with the recipes we’d make that evening as well as some helpful cooking terminology. We had a chance to practice our knife-cutting skills before we dove into making a feast! In teams under Barb’s watchful eye, we made vegetable soup, garlic compound butter, pasta primavera, pasta soup, and beef and chicken stir-fry with rice. We learned how and when to use salt, why olive oil beats EVOO and why chopped veggies should all be the same size. I left the class stupidly full and happy. I’d cooked several dishes I was confident I could make at home without Barb’s guidance. Success!

Week 2: Roast beef with gravy, perfectly crisp green beans, root vegetables, cheese biscuits, mashed potatoes and chocolate ganache cake.

The second and third weeks of class proved to be even more tasty. During the second class, we collaborated to prepare an entire roast beef dinner complete with the best chocolate ganache cake I have ever had in my life. I ended up buying an in-oven thermometer after that class and used it to cook a pork roast to perfection in my own oven. During our third class, the highlights were the fried tilapia, homemade mac & cheese and chocolate mousse. So. Dang. Good. I have one more class to make up in January, but I’m flush with recipes to try on my Canadian family coming to visit in November. Hooray!

Chicken with vegetables and pan sauce.
Chocolate mousse.

While I didn’t exactly feel Carlos’ deep passion for cooking during my Kitchen Conservatory experience, the class was the most fun I’ve ever had in a kitchen. I looked forward each week to the opportunity to share the hectic, crowded space with ten or so other classmates, all working together to prepare a meal of which we could be proud! And who doesn’t love the chance to eat their hard work?

Me, Barb and Ali, all smiles in the kitchen!

Thanks for reading, and I promise to post next week!
~Kelly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *