Food Stories, Gold Dust, and a Cookbook Giveaway to Celebrate Three Years of Blogging!

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When I spoke on the food storytelling panel at BlogHerFood last June, my message was a simple one: Everybody has a food story. Sounds obvious but when it comes to food, so often people dismiss the possibility by saying:

Food storyI’m not a foodie.

I can’t cook.

I eat to live, not live to eat.

I’ve found, though, that even the staunchest denier of their inner foodie, has a great food story to share.

  • The guy who swears he’s happy living off of hot dogs and burgers – well he turns out to be an award-winning canner of jams and spaghetti sauce.
  • The I-can’t-cook person has vivid memories of her childhood in the Ukraine picking fresh cherries so her grandma could fix a Ukrainian dumpling for her and her sister.
  • And the I-only-eat-to-live person texts me a picture of matzo ball soup because she is so happy that it has survived the freezer and still tastes fantastic. And did I mention the soup is homemade?

My third year of blogging included many highlights in addition to speaking at BlogHerFood– a feature in the Mercury New food section, teaching my first cooking class, and launching the Tasting Jerusalem cooking community are among them. But as I look back on my three years of blogging, nothing nourishes my desire to continue blogging more than food stories like this:

food story“I decided I would make Boeuf Bourguignon. I followed Julia (Child’s) recipe and added some le Soeur peas. I used more burgundy than Julia asked for and we both loved it.  I was darn proud of myself.  Last Sunday we went to a little French bistro and Alan had the Boeuf Bourguignon and although it was very good, I liked mine better.

And I have to say that it is due, in large part, to you and your blog.  

So, thank you, my dear, for the inspiration.” 

Tasting JerusalemAs a THANK YOU to my readers for your inspirational food stories, I’m giving away a cookbook of colorful recipes and stories called: RIPE: A Fresh Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables by the talented food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule with stunning photos by Paulette Phlipot. If you haven’t stopped by Cheryl Sternman Rule’s blog, 5SecondRule, then you are missing out on some extraordinary storytelling. Whether you consider yourself a foodie or not, her writing will draw you in and keep you reading until the very last crumb is gone.

The cookbook offers simple, approachable, and creative uses for fruits and vegetables organized by color. A feast for the eyes and the mind — Cheryl’s words are as evocative as Paulette’s photos.

And Cheryl will sign the book specifically for the winner of the giveaway. This contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada. You can enter until Feb 28 at midnight.

To enter, leave your own food story about a fruit or vegetable in the comments below – all stories count even if it’s about the canned grean beans you hated when you were a kid. If you want to enter more than once you may follow my OMG! Yummy page on Facebook, add me to a circle on Google Plus, or follow me on Twitter (and let me know if you do so I can keep track). But the only requirement is the food story so start sharing!

3/1/2013: This giveaway is now closed – thanks to everyone who shared their colorful stories. Now to pick the winner!

green beans w dustFor a little extra incentive, I am including Cheryl’s recipe for Green Beans with Pistachio Dust below to give you an idea of how creatively simple the recipes in RIPE are. Most of you probably know how to prepare a plate of slightly crunchy green beans but what if you add a bit of gold pistachio dust to top them off? Once you make a batch of this golden pistachio topping – your taste buds will want to know when they get to enjoy that flavor again. Perhaps on roasted or steamed asparagus or maybe pasta? Remember my beggar’s linguine post with Dorie Greenspan’s recipe that includes pistachios and dried fruit? I’m sure this dust and some olive oil or butter with pasta would be lovely. I know cauliflower marries well with hazelnuts, I’m sure a little pistachio dust would sparkle as well. Or how about a pistachio-crusted rack of lamb? Do I have your attention yet?
food storiesfood storiesThe dust is only four ingredients – pistachios, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper – but the sum is definitely greater than the parts.

Green Beans with Smoky Pistachio Dust
Recipe type: Vegetable
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This dish has it all: beauty, flavor, and a unique texture from the pistachio dust. In our family, we eat them like French fries, not stopping until we’ve cleaned the bowl. Sprinkle the extra dust over boiled potatoes, steamed cauliflower, or grilled asparagus.
  • 1 pound (454g) green beans, rinsed, stem ends snapped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup (90g) dry-roasted, unsalted pistachios, toasted and cooled completely
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Fill a bowl with ice water.
  2. Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Drop in the green beans and boil until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer the beans immediately to the ice bath to set their color and stop the cooking process. Drain again, pat dry, and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  3. Combine the pistachios, smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for 30 seconds, or until finely ground and reduced to “dust.” Sprinkle ½ cup (60g) dust (reserve the rest for future use) over the green beans, adjust seasonings, and serve at room temperature.
Tip: When grinding the pistachios, use a full-size food processor if you have one, as it will give you the finest, “dustiest” consistency. A mini chop is fine in a pinch but won’t break the nuts down quite as much.
    Recipes reprinted with permission from RIPE © 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
      Photography © 2012 by Paulette Phlipot.



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        45 Responses to Food Stories, Gold Dust, and a Cookbook Giveaway to Celebrate Three Years of Blogging!

        1. Melissa | Dash of East February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

          Congrats on 3 years Beth! I am now reminiscing about BlogHer Food and how fun it was to meet and speak with you last summer! One of these days I will make it out to the West Coast and we can explore food spots together again 🙂

          Now that my little one is getting close to eating solid food, I am very much looking forward to taking her fruit picking – starting with strawberry picking in just over a month. It’s something that Paul and I have enjoyed doing for the past few years and we can’t wait to pass the tradition down to our little girl.

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:59 am #

            I can already see her face covered in strawberry juice – take a lot of pictures and send me a couple! Would love to explore food with you here – please let me know if you plan a trip west so we can get together. BlogHerFood was a great experience!

        2. Andrea February 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

          I totally live to eat. Is that wrong? Oh lawdy! Thank you for visiting BeQuoted today!!!

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:57 am #

            Wrong – no way. I think it’s fantastic! I hope you had a great SITS day Andrea!

        3. Renee G February 23, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

          When I was little I planted a pumpkin in our garden. It was kinda a sick looking vine— but one day I came home and there was a full grown cantalope on it. Of course, no one told me until I was about 25 that they had just put a cantalope from the store out there. I thought I was a fantastic gardener.

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:57 am #

            Ha – I love it! We’ll do anything to build self-esteem in our kids, won’t we!! 🙂

        4. Diane February 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

          My story is about canning fruits and veggies. My husband and I started probably the 4th year we were married, back in the early 70’s. We had a very small vegetable garden and decided to grow and can zucchini! The growing was simple! We bought lots of jars, rings and lids. We bought a huge pressure canner. We followed directions. The canned zucchini came out great! BUT did you know that once you open the jar, then you have to boil the zucchini for about 10 minutes to make sure it is safe to eat?!? You can imagine what the zucchini looks like after that! Ugh. In our next home, we had a huge garden and 20 fruit trees and probably as many tomato plants, along with other vegetables. I soon decided that I would stick to canning fruit and jams (is there anything better than homemade apricot jam?) and tomato products. To fill my 20+ dozen jars, I made vegetable juice, tomato juice, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, salsa. I froze Anaheim chiles for Chile Rellenos. I made pickled figs-so good! Plum jam, cherry jam, apple pie filling and the best green tomato mince meat for pies! It was wonderful. Yes, we still grew zucchini, but ate it fresh! The only problem was that the tomatoes didn’t ripen until late August, so I was doing most of the canning in hot September!!! After 16 years, we moved to an even bigger home but the smallest back yard so my canning days were over. I kept one set of jars just for the memories. But what wonderful memories!

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:56 am #

            Wow and to think such an expert canner only lives two doors away! I am so seriously impressed and am particularly intrigued by the pickled figs!!!!

        5. Dana February 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

          congratulations on 3 years!! my food story is about cabbage and how much I love it. every year for my birthday growing up I’d request steamed cabbage, which is such a strange choice for a child! even now, I have 2 cabbages sitting in my kitchen. my mom knows that when I come to visit I will always request steamed cabbage as part of my welcome home dinner!

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:55 am #

            Thanks for stopping back over and reposting here! Tastebuds are not always rational or typical – cabbage lovers of the world unite!

        6. Lana February 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

          I love the concept of Cheryl’s book and the photos are just stunning:) Congratulations on persevering! Wishing you many more years of blogging:)
          And I have to jump on the Ottolenghi project ASAP! (I just got a job in a restaurant and my life is beyond hectic:)
          Hugs to you, my friend!

          • Beth Lee February 27, 2013 at 11:54 am #

            We will welcome your photos, commentary, blog posts, or quick hello anytime. Stop by soon Lana!

        7. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) February 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

          …and followed you on Twitter.

        8. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) February 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

          I also followed “OMG! Yummy” on Facebook.

        9. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) February 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

          Wow, blogging for three whole years already? Congratulations! Oh my goodness, and I would love to win a copy of “Ripe.” I’ve enjoyed many posts on Cheryl Sternman Rule’s website and actually bought that cookbook for my sister for her birthday, but I still don’t have my own copy!

          My food story is that years and years before I actually learned how to cook anything, I remember that our neighbor– who had a daughter a little younger than my younger sister– would invite us over, and the three of us kids would be allowed to toss any ingredients together at all, without using any recipe and bake them in the oven. I can only vaguely remember that we came up with some pretty disgusting creations of flour, sugar, blueberries, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and probably way too much baking soda/powder, too, yet somehow our creations usually at least turned out to be *edible*, which in itself was a feat! Now years later, as an adult, I can’t believe that neighbor had the patience and generosity (and humor) to allow us the freedom to bake anything we wanted and however we wanted as small children.

          • Beth Lee February 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

            That is a great story – I would have had a hard time letting my kids do that on a regular basis but it’s such a great activity for kids in so many ways. I can recall letting my daughter and her friend combine ridiculous stuff a couple of times – they had a blast.

            So glad to have met you through Tasting Jerusalem and happy to have you on board on Twitter and FB! Thanks! Hope the extra entries turn luck in your favor for the book!

        10. Donna H February 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

          Fruits and veggies were always included on any plate when dinner was served at my house. My daughter always knew you were expected to eat those 2 items off your plate, if nothing else. To this day she would prefer to eat fruits and especially vegetables… When she comes home from work she will generally just have veggies for dinner. And lima beans are her all-time favorite!! So I would love to give her this cookbook for her birthday to encourage her to experiment more and branch out with her preparation. Thank you so much!!

          • Beth Lee February 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

            One of my favorite parts of the book is that Cheryl shows you how to use under-appreciated vegetables – such as celery in new creative ways. Yes – your daughter would love RIPE – easy ways to enjoy fruits and veggies. What’s not to love?! Thanks so much for stopping by. Come back again soon!

        11. Joan February 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

          Congrats on three years. I grew up with a Mom and Grands who loved to can. I passed on that love to my daughter. Several years ago Mom, my daughter and I had a tomato canning marathon. We ended up with almost a hundred quarts of lovely red canned tomatoes to enjoy in soups and stews during the winter and we also love to just drink them.

          • Beth Lee February 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

            I see a 3-generation theme going on here! I have a friend – who I mention in this post – who is an expert canner but if you met him, you would never guess. I just love the fact that you do it together and that you drink it 🙂 Can-on Joan! And thanks for dropping by to enter the giveaway!

        12. Martha Brochu February 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

          My dear mother always made oyster stuffing for our Thanksgiving turkey, my father, brothers and I anticipated it every year..I don’t think she ever made it at any other time of the year…she taught me how to make it when I got married 47 1/2 years ago. 25 years ago my friend and I started merging our Thanksgiving dinners, only her mother always made sausage stuffing, so I merged our 2 stuffings using my mothers recipe. The oyster,sausage stuffing has become what my moms stuffing became to our whole family, 4 brothers and their wives. When my grandchildren got older and discovered what was in the stuffing they were freaked out, just at the mention of oysters, but that hasn’t stopped them from eating it. I now make it for Thanksgiving in July, when we do a whole dinner on the grill and have corn on the cob instead of corn pudding, grilled turkey and sweet potatoes and whatever else we serve at Thanksgiving only with a summer grill tweak to it. It’s a little labor intensive for other times of the year but well worth the smiles it evokes from my 2 granddaughters and daughter know how to make the stuffing, all I have to do is supervise. They all sleep over on the eve of Thanksgiving to pre-prep the turkey and stuffing ingredients and then get up at 5 am to put it all together and start the roasting of the bird..It’s become a wonderful and loving tradition for us girls (3 generations of making the turkey). My mom must be so proud, smiling down on us !

          • Beth Lee February 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

            Story of the day for sure – 3 generations of oyster stuffing lovers plus a grilled summer Thanksgiving! Wow – thanks for sharing Martha!

        13. Pam February 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

          How do we enter the giveaway?

          • Beth Lee February 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

            Hi Pam – just tell me a story – about food, especially a “colorful” story about fruits and vegetables. If you want to enter more than once, you can like my FB page, add me to a circle on Google Plus, or follow me on Twitter, or even on Pinterest. If you do any of those things – pop over here and let me know so I can keep track! Thanks!

        14. Amber February 21, 2013 at 9:40 am #

          Every fall my parents and I would can applesauce from the apples we grew on our trees. It’s a favorite childhood memory!

          • Beth February 21, 2013 at 9:47 am #

            And as I recall, you wrote a pretty fantastic post about an apple/pineapple guava sauce that you make as a result of those memories! Thanks for sharing Amber!

        15. Hannah February 21, 2013 at 9:13 am #

          Mazel tov on your anniversary, Beth! I am just delighted to have met you through your blog and appreciate all the inspiration you provide. And I can’t wait til we can cook together sometime! Thank you for sharing Cheryl’s green beans – I need to make some of this pistachio dust quickly. I’m still disappointed to have missed your storytelling panel at BlogHer. Food stories/memories are marvelous! The first “recipe” I created when I was about 6 years old was for whipped cream pie – it combined my 3 favorites at the time: fruit, whipped cream and pie crust. Still 3 of my favorites now!

          • Beth February 21, 2013 at 9:32 am #

            It doesn’t surprise me that you were creating recipes when you were 6 Hannah! You are a master at it – I do hope that someday you plan to put them together in a book but for now, I really enjoy seeing and reading your creativity each week. Thanks for sharing your fruit story – You would absolutely love Cheryl’s book. And let me know when you make the pistachio dust – I know you’ll find all kinds of fun things to sprinkle it on!

        16. Melissa @ Fit 'n' Well Mommy February 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

          Congrats on 3 years! I just stumbled upon your blog from SITS and I am enjoying reading through your posts, as well as drooling over your recipes! I’m also from California, but in the Sacramento area. I look forward to following your blog!

          • Beth February 21, 2013 at 9:30 am #

            Welcome Melissa – I have met so many great people through SITS. I aim to mess up your keyboard with drool so I am glad to hear I succeeded. Let me know if you make it south – let’s hook up for lunch. And come back and tell me a colorful story so I can enter you to win Cheryl’s book – if you don’t already have it – you’d love it!

        17. Sarene (FringeFood) February 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

          Congratulations to you, my Tasting Jerusalem partner!

          • Beth February 21, 2013 at 9:28 am #

            Do you have Cheryl’s book yet? If not, come back and tell me a fringefood-worthy story – maybe you’ll be the proud owner of a personalized copy soon!

        18. Britton February 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

          Congrats on 3 years! Such a wonderful thing! Visiting from SITS!

          • Beth February 21, 2013 at 9:27 am #

            Thanks for stopping in – SITS is such an important part of my 3 years of blogging – it always makes me smile to see your smiling faces on my blog!

        19. Carol Sacks February 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

          A hearty congratulations to you, dear Beth! To many more years of telling and writing great stories and making loads of friends along the way.

          • Beth February 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

            And the friends are the best part, aren’t they??!!!! Thanks Carol.

        20. anneliesz February 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

          Congrats on three years Beth!

          • Beth February 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

            Thanks Anneliesz! I still think the food poetry and food stories need to team up…

        21. gretchen February 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

          Smoked Paprika! OH JOY! I was sent a tin of this from my dear friend Mickey, who lives in a little village near Grenoble, FR, and who scored it on a recent trip to Spain.

          So far I have roasted a chicken with it and some baby back ribs (find the recipe for these in Ad Hoc., cooking at home by Thomas Keller). Both the chicken and ribs were huge hits with me and my husband. They will reappear on our menu soon!

          These dusted Green Beans sound perfect! I can imagine them served with a Sole Meuniere or a simply braised chicken breast. Or maybe even a light appetizer to nibble with some white wine on a summer’s afternoon…..I’ll try them out soon with thanks to Cheryl and Beth and Mickey!!

          • Beth February 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

            Perfect timing (we’ll have to connect up Mickey with my hubby who works for a company with an office in Grenoble and just came back from there last week!)

            But back to the food – I love all the ways you are using the paprika – you bring up a great point about buying a specialty spice and wanting to find other ways to use it.

            Definitely try this dust – it is just lovely, so easy, and you’ll find lots places to sprinkle it, I just know it.

            Thanks for the food stories Gretchen!

        22. Sandy Corman February 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

          Sounds good. I may even try it. Where do you get smoked paprika? I can’t recall seeing that not even in Budapest.

          • Beth February 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

            Good question! I found it at the New Leaf near me but I’m sure Whole Foods, maybe TJs, or any slightly upscale store would have it – also smaller ethnic grocery stores might as well.

        23. Lizthechef February 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

          Congrats on three years! I have a copy of “Ripe” and you inspire me to get cooking from it – a lovely give-away.

          • Beth February 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

            Thanks Liz! Yes, just thumbing through the book makes you want to cook (and eat), doesn’t it?

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