Life Archives - The Chef In Pearls

NEGLECT

NEGLECT

 

Ne-glect

verb. fail to care for properly

noun. the state or the fact of being uncared for

Had my blog been a child, the state would have swooped in and taken her from me already.Neglect is a serious matter. I have left this blog uncared for, not tended to, the bottom line is she was N.E.G.L.E.C.T.E.D. I want to hang my head in shame but I will not. You see everything happens for a reason. The reason I had to neglect this blog is because I was busy trying to make greatness happen within my life. And to be able to do that required me to lay some things to the wayside. With my youngest graduating high school in less than a week and half,  quitting my part time gig, and following my passion of cooking I needed to regroup and get some things in order.

So I throw myself at the mercy of my readers. I ask for forgiveness for my transgressions. Allow me the opportunity to provide you with all the wondefulness of food and fashion. Let me share with you my journey down my rabbit hole of life, filled with new adventures everyday. I don’t normally make promises but I will make an exception to that rule. (As I raise my right hand and place my left on the bible) I promise to do better in keeping you in the loop of all things The Chef In Pearls.

I want us to enjoy new restaurants, recipes and fashion that will bring some much needed color to our lives. I cannot wait for us to connect over food and fashion and life in general. Making and sharing memories we create. We’ve got to remember that neglect isn’t good for either of us. So I’m going to need more comments from you all. And more follows on social media. And just more of US on a whole so that we can become better overall. So now that we have moved on from my neglect, let’s move forward and make wonderful memories together.

Until next time!

The Chef In Pearls

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Pretty In Pink… A Memory of Sandra

Pretty In Pink… A Memory of Sandra

Lately I haven’t really enjoyed doing the whole mall thing. The other day while out with the mini me I ended up at the mall. More importantly I ended up in JC Penney. That’s where I saw the cutest pink outfit. It seemed so fun and flirty.  I already figured out so many ways to wear the two piece ensemble in less than 5 minutes of initially seeing it. I needed it in my closet but first a dressing room, please.

I tried on what used to be my size only to realize I needed a smaller size. YAY ME! Down 14 pounds but that’s not what this post is about. This little number that ended up in my closet ( a certain un-named person gifted it to me) was to be my ode to Breast Cancer awareness. A dear friend/neighbor of mine survived breast cancer only to later lose her life to cancer of the spine. I think about her often…missing her. I laugh about how I hated how perfect her home always looked. At that time she had no children and I had 3 so a clean house was hard to keep. She even had the nerve enough to have a white sofa. I secretly hated on her about that. Then she was blessed with a child of her own. And everything changed. The struggle became real and apparent, yet she only had one child. We became kindred spirits. I love the memories we were able to create. Laughing over tea in her kitchen about my oldest one running away from home to her house. Or the time she called my house because the wasband was playing his music too loud and way too late into the night. She threatened to bring her infant child over if he didn’t shut it down. Hell, I pulled the plug myself. I miss her. I wear this pink in her memory and for all the memories we shared. Sandra Hutchinson you are loved.

Go forward and make memories.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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A Quickie…Firsts

A Quickie…Firsts

We all can remember “the firsts” of so many things in life. I can remember the first boy I kissed. The first time I was allowed to wear high heels. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself. All firsts and all a little scary. But I took chances and got through them, mastering some more than others. As I become older, I still experience firsts. This past Saturday, I experienced a first that scared and saddened me deeply. This was the first time in 4 years that I cancelled one of my events. I did it quietly. Removing the event from the ticketing page I created and then refunding money to those already registered. I never made a formal announcement. I still thanked those who notified me they would not be able to attend as if everything was still a go. My family, closest friends and supporters knew. Each one trying their best to comfort me but the reality was it was a door that needed to be closed. Yeah, a really bummer.

My ladies lunch series came to life out of a need for me to get back into the kitchen. I had gone through a dark period in my life where cooking became something I avoided. I went from the mom that made everything from scratch to the Chef Boyardee-can opening-instant potato making-no more Sunday dinner making-I used to be a chef kind of cook.. It was hard for me to get out of that place and the lunch series helped me to re-embrace one of my loves. What started as a Mother’s Day lunch grew into a personalized therapy plan for me, something to soothe my soul. I looked forward to creating new menu ideas and fun ways of presenting food to my ever growing guest list. I always wanted everyone to walk away, not just full with food, but full with life from the interactions and connections they made while attending. I wanted everyone to walk away with gift bags and a desire to return and share in the fellowship the next time. The fact of the matter is the Ladies Lunch was successful as it served its purpose. I am back in the kitchen now. I am back to enjoying the kitchen as my place of peace. I am at a place where I want to share my knowledge with others and have fun doing it. Last year, I created the Exclusive Party of One as an avenue to do so. I will be focusing more of my time on educating and speaking about food and cooking as well as the importance it plays in the lives we lead. So much comes about because of food and the kitchen and I look forward to the mark I will make in this area.

So with a heavy heart I must say goodbye to the C.I.P. Ladies Lunch series and open my arms to today’s opportunities and ventures and those to come.

I’ll end with a quote from The Queendom, “Queen, keep your chin up. All is not lost. Sometimes you have to lose to gain.” I have abundant memories from all of those events and I will cherish them as I do of others. So please go forward today and make a memory, especially one in the kitchen. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

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Banana Bread Remixed

I love bananas…I mean I could eat bananas all everyday if…they didn’t cause me pain. Apparently at some point in my life I met my banana quota. My body’s way of letting me know this is by inflicting excruciating pain on my stomach. I don’t have to eat a whole banana for this phenomena to take place…a bite…hell a half a bite and BAM instant pain.  But that doesn’t stop me from creating wonderful banana inspired dishes (remember I love bananas).

Today I bring you the banana bread remixed.  This dish was inspired by a post a friend shared on Facebook, “20 Recipes that will make you never want to skip brunch Again,” by viral nova. On this list was a recipe for cream cheese filled  banana bread…..how could that not be good. I mean, I have done banana bread with a brown sugar cream cheese spread so I know cream cheese in the middle would definitely take it up a notch or 2. Here’s the thing though I wasn’t feeling the actual banana bread recipe that was posted so I went with my tried and true recipe from out of one of my old dusty notebooks. I now give you Banana Bread with cream cheese filling and candied walnuts….. So here ya go:

Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cream Cheese Filling

1 (8oz) block of cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of corn syrup

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter & flour a loaf pan. In a saucepan place walnuts, sugar and corn syrup.  Heat until sugar is melted and nuts are coated. Spread nuts out on a parchment lined baking sheets so as to cool and not form lumps.Mash bananas with a fork in a mixing bowl .With a wooden spoon mix melted butter into mashed bananas.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle salt & baking soda over mixture and then mix in. Add flour and mix until incorporated ( do not over mix as it will toughen the texture of the bread). Put to the side.  Place softened cream cheese into bowl with egg, sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth. Pour 1/2 the banana mixture into prepared loaf pan. Then pour cream cheese mixture on top of banana mixture in pan. Top that with a 1/4 cup of candied walnuts followed by the other 1/2 of banana mixture. Finish it by sprinkling the remaining walnuts on top.Place loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake 45 minutes to an hour. Insert knife or toothpick to test bread , if it comes out clean then done.  Cool pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan, allow to cool completely on rack. Cut using a serrated edge knife. Then enjoy :-) .

 

 

Well I hope you’ll share how your banana bread turns out. CIPapproved

 

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The Month of May

The Month of May

May. What can I say about the month of May except that it’s been one helluva ride.  May came complete with a roller coaster ride of up and downs.  I wanted to bask in the sun of Springtime but that seemed to get interrupted with life.  I am blessed to still be able to enjoy my mother on Mother’s Day. My Children did the one thing most people fear to do for me, they cooked me a lovely dinner. All the while trying to keep the sun on me I was still preparing for the one year anniversary of my other Dad’s death (Yes Cancer Sucks!). We planned a community outreach to help make people aware of their health and bring a little fun to the neighborhood. As if that was not hard enough, in the midst of all of the planning we got news that would break my mother’s heart once again. A close family friend, correction a son to my mother and a brother to me, was murdered. I tried to find solace in cooking but it hadn’t helped. The clouds were covering up my little sunshine.  It’s kind of hard to have all these beautiful memories of these great & wonderful men, knowing I wouldn’t be able to make new ones with them. I pushed those clouds to the side as I laughed and recalled the good times I had with the 2 of them.  Then life showed up once more as I try to bring closure to my marriage. Remembering the good times with my soon to be ex-husband made it hard but life must continue on. I try to find the silver lining in it all. The memories are what helps to pull you through the rough times. Life continued on.  I got some sunshine pushing hard through those clouds. It’s graduation season here in Atlanta and I knew quite a few graduates. I was more than happy for them and their families. Seeing the potential in all of them from the kindergarten graduate to my daughter-in-law who just presented her dissertation for her doctorates. Proud moments and some sun to bask in again. It’s the closing of the month. It’s a celebration of our fallen soldiers , which always marks the start of grilling season and the wearing of white. If ever there was a time when having wonderful memories to recall was most important the month  of May was it. I beg you to please go forward and make wonderful memories…tomorrow is promised to no one.

~The Chef In Pearls

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OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

April is high tailing it out of here and May is patiently waiting her turn. How did the time fly away from me so fast? I have been really busy this month. So busy that I haven’t written about not one thing I have done. I hang my head in shame…bad Chef In Pearls. I have been naughty and I kindly ask for your forgiveness.

Thank you for so graciously forgiving me. So since you have forgiven me I will provide you with a roundup of all I did this month.

 

Iris van Herpen

 

Let’s start with my first visit to the High Museum in Atlanta. It was a mother/daughter outing  to take in all the wonders of fashion Iris had to offer us. Iris van Herpen is a fashion designer like no other. I want you to think couture that is outside of the box now multiple that thought by…I don’t know…infinity.  There you have Iris van Herpen. She doesn’t just make dresses out of traditional fabric. She created clothing from things most would not even conceive of making clothing from. She collaborates with engineers, architects and so many more to create fabrics made of metal threads to dresses created through 3-D printing to everyday leather sculpted. Even when they told her it couldn’t be done she told them it could. What an inspiration!

Back at The High

As if one day at the museum wasn’t enough I went back two days later to check out the rest of the exhibits. Thanks to the Atlanta Haitian Consulate for sponsoring this day with free admission to the public. We got to view all the exhibits with special attention to Basquiat because he was Haitian. His work cut short by an early death but still well received by most. We got to experience a little Haitian culture while on the museum plaza. There was food to sample, dancing, music and so much culture. On the other side of the Basquiat exhibit was the Vik Muniz exhibit. I really enjoyed his works because a lot of the mediums he worked in were food. He worked in sugar, chocolate, peanut butter and jelly and so much more. I love people who can see things in new perspectives. His work reflected that

Music In Focus

I was able to attend the Music in Focus exhibit by Carolyn Grady at the Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. It was a trip down memory lane as I saw pictures of musicians I grew up with. It was such a delight see art from another angle.  She presented her photo work in a way that almost made them seem to pop of their canvas. All the work was black and white and printed on metal. It was like having each artist standing right their with you. I really love how she did that.

 

C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

Last but not least,The C.I.P. Ladies Lunch. It was the second meal of the year…Faux N.Y Strip(grilled Salmon, check out the Youtube video on how to create this dish right here), Indian Inspired Grilled Chicken Strips, Tri-Colored couscous with Sweet Peas & Mushrooms, Roasted Squash, Carrots and Asparagus and Tossed Salad. For dessert I taught the ladies how to make a Strawberry/Blackberry Compote that was served over Frozen Yogurt and Birthday cake. You read right we had another birthday celebration at this lunch. Only difference was that it was three different birthdays being celebrated and I had to allow Publix to make this birthday cake. They got an opportunity to be the first ones to purchase the new spice boxes I plan to roll out on the site. It included the major spices and the recipe card to use them. Be on the look out for them…coming soon. As always I want to thank the gift bag sponsors T.S.P, Naughty Goddess, Fab 222 and Botanical Bliss for the gifts they provided for the ladies. Don’t miss out on the next meal in September…From Dusk to Dark. It will be outdoors with a full tapas menu, wine and a few surprises for the evening. You can purchase your early bird tickets now right here

Life got a little carried away with me this month. I did make time for some memories though. I plan to to do better with posting…scout’s honor. May here we come even better than ever. Now get ready to go make new memories of your own in May.

~The Chef In Pearls

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We are at it again….C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

We are at it again….C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

Just in case you didn’t know I want to be the one to tell you. The Chef In Pearls is at it again. We will be hosting our second meal of the year on Sunday April 17, from 1-4 pm. The Chef In Pearls has long hosted a quarterly luncheon dedicated to women looking to connect, relax and enjoy a good meal. This year I officially opened it up to the public this year. With proper ID and a ticket purchase you can join in the festivities. To help keep things moving in the right direction I have joined forces with Kym Edwards, owner & founder of the Naughty Goddess, to be my co-host. While I throw it down in the kitchen she comes and facilitates the discussions with the ladies.  Our goal is to talk about health and wellness not just from the physical but mental and business aspects, too.We have discussions to help you make moves to the next step in your life, help you to see things from a different point of view.  Everyone is encouraged to kick back and relax because it’s a judge free zone.

 

The Menu

 

 

There’s still time to get your ticket for this event. Just click here and you’ll be a part of the fun.  Everyone who attends gets a full more, networking opportunities and a gift bag from our sponsors. You can view pics from our first meal of the year here.

Come on out so we can make new memories together.

~The Chef In Pearls

Gift Bag Sponsors

 

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About last night…

About last night…

It was supposed to be a party of four. Some how it ended up being a party of two but we still had fun. A night of live Brazilian Jazz music at Atlanta’s High Museum.  Chinese food for dinner along with very interesting conversations. It was a good night. We missed having out other friends there but we had fun nonetheless.

C.I.P.  Jumper: Lane Bryant

Necklace: Dillard’s

Earrings: Gems and Baubles

Go find out what’s happening at your local museum after hours and make some new memories.

~The Chef In Pearls

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February may have been short but…..

February may have been short but…..

February actually got an extra day because we’re in a leap year. How cool is that? It’s still the shortest month of the year but it was a good month to me. Let’s start with my feature on the blog site She Just Writes. They wanted to know all about me and my writing ways. Did I mention to you guys that I am working on a ecookbook? Well I am. Check out the interview right here.

she just writes promo

 

Then The Chef In Pearls turned 2 years old. I know to most that may not be a big deal. For me it is. So many things can crash and burn and never see 2 years. I feel pretty awesome to have been at this for 2 years with intentions of going further. I celebrated this milestone with a private tea party.  I invited just a handful of friends and family to attend. We had a good time, which you can see by the pictures. If you missed the post on that you can check it out here.

Pouring the first cup of tea

I was so very proud to be able to bring to life the #Hungry Entrepreneur t-shirt. It’s available in our shop section. So please go check it out. Order one for the entrepreneur in your life so they can show the world that they are hard at work. Check it out here.

H.E. products

And to round this lovely short month out. I was invited to be a part of the 4evaeva.com podcast. It was fun to sit in and participate in their conversation. It was even more fun when I got a chance to talk about my passion…cooking. Listen to me on the podcast here.

C.I.P. meets 4ev

 

February may have been a short month but it was packed to the brim. Looking forward to what March has in store for me and The Chef In Pearls. I can’t wait to make more memories to share with you all.  If you’ve enjoyed what I have been up to please let me know by leaving a comment.

~ The Chef In Pearls

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8 Things you need to throw your very own tea party

8 Things you need to throw your very own tea party

So you’ve seen them on television. You may have even attended one at a swanky hotel in town.  And now you want to throw your very own tea party. Most people tend to throw tea parties for special occasions like a bridal shower, or a baby shower or even a birthday. Why not throw one just to have friends over to chat? It isn’t very hard to do.

Here is a list of 8 things you’ll need to pull this off.

  1. The Usual Party Arrangements. Like any other get together you have to have a location, time and invitation. With modern technology you can do invitations through Facebook, a text message or so many other online invite systems like Evite. I still like a good old fashion printed invite sent by snail mail.
  2. Tea Pots & Tea Cups.  Your china does not have to match. Let me repeat: they DO NOT have to match. Check out what you have in your china cabinet. Or visit your local thrift store and see what goodies you may come across. You can make it part of the theme for each guest to bring her favorite tea-cup. Same thing goes for the tea pots. See what pieces your Mom or if you’re lucky your grandmother may have in her china cabinet and have at it. For my last tea party, I was blessed with a plethora to choose from because my Mom collects tea pots.
  3. Tea. Can you actually throw a tea party without tea? I think not.  I grew up with fresh peppermint growing in my backyard so I know what it’s like to enjoy freshly made tea straight from the garden. There is also the debate loose tea vs. tea bags. I say loose but tea bags aren’t bad if you get them from a reputable company. Some days you really can’t be sure what manufacturers are giving you. With that being said you can make your own tea bags with just a couple of items. (See below)
  4. Tea Sandwiches I know we have all seen the infamous cucumber tea sandwich. Please do not think that is your only option for sandwiches at your tea party. It’s all up to your imagination. Think it up and shrink it down in size. They should not be larger than a 2 bite sandwich. I made a caprese styled sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil, yellow grape tomatoes, spicy sliced turkey from the deli all on a toasted square of bread. If you really aren’t interested in making any small sandwiches find your favorite local restaurant and see what they can do for you.
  5. Scones. Now we all know it’s not really a tea party if there aren’t any scones. What exactly is a scone? I think the best description I have heard is that “a scone ain’t nothing but a glorified biscuit.” If you’ve been to a Starbuck’s you may have seen one or even eaten one. I made cranberry/orange scones and chocolate chip scones for my tea. Once again the choices are limited only by your imagination. Oh and don’t forget the lemon curd…it takes scone eating to a whole other level.
  6. Pastries.  Tea loaves, cookies, savory mini tarts, fruit tartlets: any of your favorite pastries in mini form. Remember they are meant to be eaten in 2 bites. Put them on a plate with a doilie (remember to use what you have as dishes or borrow from Mom) and set it on the table.
  7. Photos.  Pictures are important to immortalize the event. You can hire a photographer to capture all your hard work and the fun you and your guests will be having.  This will give everyone the chance to sit back a really enjoy. Your other option would be to make everyone the paparazzi for the night. With the digital age we live in now everyone has a smart phone, so picture-taking is inevitable. Create a hashtag just for your event so when attendees post pictures you can have access to them all in one place. Consider printing a photo book as a keepsake afterwards.
  8. Gift Bags. I always like for my guest t walk away with some sort of keepsake from whatever event I create. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate but it does have to show you put some thought into it. For my tea party I made tea bags for everyone, some lemon melt away cookies and placed a teaspoon in a goodie bag tied up with ribbon. I wanted them to continue the tea party for themselves when they got home. I am including how to create your own tea bags below.

How to make tea bags

You will need loose tea, old school white coffee filters, a stapler, and baker’s twine. Take one filter and flatten it out. Depending on if you plan to make bags for an individual cup or for a pot place 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon of loose tea along the center of filter. Do not come past 2 inches from either ends of the filter and forming a straight line done the middle. Fold either sides of the filter of the line of tea, making a rectangle with rounded ends. Starting with the end closest to you make 2 folds, one over the other. Then do the same with the other end. Now fold the filter in half, bring both folded ends together. Take a 5-6 inch piece of baker’s twine and attach it to the filter using the stapler. I like to leave a ½ of an inch of twine on the other end so that I can tie a knot and secure the twine on the staple. Viola you just made your very first tea bag and probably not your last.

I hope this has helped you in feeling like this is something yo can pull off because you know what? You can. Is there something you think should be added to this list. Drop me a comment below and let me know. Then take some time out and visit my It’s Tea Time board on Pinterest.

Now go forward and make some memories.

~Cassandra, The Chef In Pearls

 

 

Photo credit: Tonesha Smith Photography

 

 

 

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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