Thank God I Didn’t Sleep With Him Blog

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GOURMET LOVE

“Spreading love, one recipe at a time!”

The back-story that inspired the menu that inspired the recipes! Foodie and Love stories combining love, romance, and adventure (remember this is all fiction my friends)! Let me take my paintbrush, paint the scene and the mood to take you there…

Inspired quote to love by: “Be proud of who you are and not ashamed of how someone else sees you.” ~ Unknown

LOVE DATELINE: Italy, the country of love, romance and tents.

Where: Just outside of Venice, Italy in a tent (yes in a tent)

When: Summertime 1986

Mood: Light ‘n breezy, not a care in the world

Emotion: Joy, joy, joy!

Let’s Start in Paris

1986 was a great year for me. I worked as a nanny in Paris for a French film actress, having left my hometown in northern Ontario and my sometimes controlling boyfriend in the dust. Six months working as a nanny in Paris was great (other than gaining about 20 pounds, never good…another story). It was all good, oh right, except the working part. OK..other than my weight gain and the work it ‘was’ great. Let me explain, having worked previously in my industry of choice, it wasn’t easy to go backwards in time and iron someone else’s underwear as part of my job (I don’t even iron my own). I kid you not…not the part about not ironing my own underwear, I hope you don’t! Do you? The part about ironing underwear – period. I had to iron every single little item worn or slept on or practically touched by my ‘charge’ yep from pillowcases to underwear. As I stood there one day, iron in hand, sweat dripping (OK, slight exaggeration) and that was a turning point for me…”You just can’t do this long term!” I thought to myself. So…the minute my time was up, I was outta there, time to explore Europe with my sister and STOP EATING FRENCH CHOCOLATE (thus the extra 20 pounds) and ironing peoples underwear! We boarded a Contiki bus and never looked back. It was an incredible experience exploring Europe with a busload of 20 something year old guys and girls. It was like being in a candy store or for me a chocolate store. I also knew that I was going home to end my relationship with my controlling (and not exactly faithful) boyfriend, it had to be done.

Meet Todd from Texas

It was just a matter of time before I met Todd from Texas (I actually think he might have been from N’Awlins, but Texas sounds better so I’ll go with that). Tall, blonde, blue eyes…you know the type. You can spot ‘em in a crowded room or high atop a mountain peak! And on top of that, he was a nice, sweet guy. We met at a chateau/winery in Southern France one late evening over way, way to many glasses of flowing wine. How romantic does that sound? With 20+ of our closest travellers. He had a sweet southern drawl, I loved his voice and he had a face like Mom’s apple pie – the whole package. We travelled together on the bus, chatted, slept and watched the countries pass us by. In time we swapped seats so that we could travel side-by-side. Every single night was an adventure – another night, another country. He was also a gentleman – I had run out of $$ having spent my life’s savings in Paris on chocolate and clothes (I don’t know which one I spent more on) – he insisted on buying me souvenirs. How sweet is that? My sister didn’t think it was so sweet, not cool as I shouldn’t have let him, but he really wanted to. It wasn’t as though he bought me jewelry or one-piece ski suits from Austria or stuff like that. No. He bought me things like a corkscrew of grapevines from France (which I still have today), a pink hoodie from who knows where (had to let go of the hoodie, my sister made me…I always thought I’d wear it again someday, but no) and a beer or two in a glass boot from Germany! He was just plain ole sweet.

Venezia

Next destination on the map, Venice, Venezia, the city of love. Our bus joined the 18 million+ tourists who visit per year. It is quite the hot spot tourist destination, one of my favourites. What an amazing city, built on 118 small islands, with 400 bridges going across 160 canals. That’s a lot of numbers and a whole lot of water!! The most amazing feature of the city is the Grand Canal. It makes a huge ¨S¨ shape and winds through the whole city splitting the city in half. It’s a mixture of fresh water from the nearby river and salt water from the Mediterranean Sea. Beautiful, historic buildings line the canals. Our group walked around, toured St. Mark’s Square, and hung out with the pigeons. We tried to visit the St Mark’s Basilica, key word tried. They wouldn’t allow us to grace their doorstep because we weren’t properly covered. Oh well, live and learn – we had no way to retrieve our suitcases and clothes. We shook off the disappointment, continued on strolling the canals. Love and romance hung in the air, what a beautiful, romantic city. Ahhh Venice, romantic si, si, I was blind to all but the romance it seemed. Beautiful scenes of couples kissing, holding hands…where was Todd when you need him? Our groups had split up by that point, so I was solo with my sister and a couple of friends (not quite the same). Now to find Todd, where could he have gone? The man in my Contiki life! I also couldn’t afford to go on a gondola ride to explore the canals either, ah well, poor planning on my part. And I couldn’t, no wouldn’t expect Todd to pony up, so no gondola ride for me…next time to get to Venice! We made our way back to our camp site – yes, you heard it right – we were camping right outside of Venice. Girls in their tents, boys in theirs…just like Girl Guides (actually boys were never allowed)! The group all congregated for dinner and then I spied Todd from Texas. He smiled across the table, as I did. How sweet, had the romance of Venice rubbed off on him…on me? We’ll see…

Sunset Boulevard

After dinner Todd and I locked eyes, escaped the crowd and headed to what we thought was the Adriatic Sea. I’m sure you would have done the same…romance was in the air, it was Venice after all. It turns out it was a river…a bit disappointing as I had this whole romantic notion in my mind…never mind. The two of us holding hands and staring out over the Adriatic…oh well, it was water! We sat there. We chatted (I loved to listen to his southern drawl) and held hands as we watched the sunset over the river, it was tres romantique. And then came the turning point – handholding could have led to something much more. Two things came to mind and I just had to stop the ‘bus.’ Back to reality – first of all I had a boyfriend (kind of) back home (I say kind of because I had decided that I was no longer in love with him and was just about to break up with him the minute I touched Canadian soil). And secondly we were both sleeping in tents. I shared my thoughts, no pressure from him. We both agreed that it was a no fly zone. He was such a gentleman; we both made our way back to our tents and called it a night. I fell asleep thinking of our romantic interlude, it was one of the highlights of my trip. We remained friends for the rest of our travels, that is why I say ‘Thank God I didn’t sleep with him,” I think that it would have changed everything for Todd from Texas and I. And I hadn’t officially ended my relationship with Superman (another story). I wonder whatever happened to you Todd? Don’t ever stop being a gentleman, as I now know, we need more of you on this planet. I hope you are well and remember Venice as fondly as I do! You are truly a gentleman, thank you for being you, you’re one in a million! Sending you love across the planet to wherever you may be.

If the story had been different

I felt really good about how things worked out with us. We were both so honest and so respectful towards one another. Yes, first of all I was for the most part loyal to my ‘soon to be over’ boyfriend (other than the handholding) and secondly, Todd and I remained friends. It doesn’t always work out that way though. There are a whole slew of other facts about men and sex to consider before jumping between the sheets, here they are:

  • Just because a man has sex with you, doesn’t mean that he’s spent even a nano-second of his time thinking about wanting to be with you or having a relationship.
  • A man’s not going to ever “see your worth” just because you’ve slept with him (see quote above).
  • It’s not the physical attraction a man feels, nor getting close to you physically, that makes a man really “feel it” and want more. Sex doesn’t equal a relationship for a man.
  • Think of sex and relationships as two completely different things, mutually exclusive, which have nothing to do with one another.
  • What makes a man “see your worth” and end up feeling so strongly for you that he wants a real relationship is something other than sex, physical desire and attraction. It goes deeper than that.
  • After sex, you might want “something serious” (many, if not most women do). Thinking that sex means there should be a relationship and he should feel the same way about you is not necessarily the case for a man, they are wired differently than us.
  • The BEST thing to hold close to you is your integrity. At the end of the day, you just might say to yourself “Thank God I didn’t sleep with him” just as I did and remain friends with zero expectations.

XO

Jackie's 'signature'_Briar Rose

PS Love your food, what comes from the heart touches the heart! Craving isn’t a ‘Bad Word,’ food IS sexy!

PSS I came up with this handy wallet-sized ‘Manly Ranking Scale’ – pull it out when you need it! It’s similar to the Richter Magnitude Scale that measures earthquakes (the idea came to me as I survived a major earthquake in Vegas years ago). I’ll grade each man of my life at the time of my Love Dateline story! Feel free to grade the man of your life, If he’s a +10 (and I hope he is), I’d say go for it!:

Todd from Texas is such a gentleman, he’s a keeper. If only he didn’t live thousands of miles away!


Check out the complete “Thank God I Didn’t Sleep With Him” menu!


FOODIE DATELINE: Salsa Agli Aromi

Where: Tuscany

When: Early 2006

Mood: Filled with fascination, curiosity & inspiration

Emotion: Joy

Authentico Tuscany

I LOVED my taste of Tuscany, especially this particular farmhouse experience.  Here’s an excerpt from ‘My Safari Notes’ (my personal experience) when I travelled there on this Gourmet Safari R&D trip (you may not believe me, but it really was a research trip…someone has to do it)! Here are my notes: “If you want a true family farmhouse cooking experience, this is it! Papà Luigi, the master of the house, is omnipresent and will join in conversation and meals (despite the fact that he doesn’t speak one word of English, we communicated…the language of food knows no language). He is very friendly and you feel as though you have been transformed to another time period. The two sisters who run the show – Paola and Simonetta – go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome in their 13th century farmhouse perched on the side of the hills of Chianti. When we arrived and sat in front of the roaring fire to share coffee and cookies – it was very special. Paola’s two children burst into the kitchen when they arrived home from school – it was a sight to see, a charming scene of family life.

Let Me Take You There.

The décor is very traditional – ‘authentic Tuscan’ I call it – rustic, yet comfortable, filled to the brim with charm and character. The kitchen is a family kitchen and the heart of the house – well-used, well-loved and well-designed for cooking, cooking lessons and of course eating the fruits of your labour. We made a typical savoury Tuscan lunch together – Salsa Agli Aromi – basic translation = Aromatic Tomato Sauce made with fresh local produce. What an experience it was, I used a mezza luna for the first time.  If you don’t know what a mezza luna is (as I didn’t), let me help you out. It’s a knife consisting of a single or double curved blade with a handle on each end (imagine a rocking motion technique). Mostly used for chopping herbs, you guessed it, that’s exactly what we used it for – this sauce calls for a ton of fresh herbs.  Lunch started with bruschetta, next was a meat dish (I was hoping it wasn’t rabbit, it wasn’t), then a large rigatoni pasta was served with our herb-filled Tomato Sauce. We also enjoyed a fantastico Chianti Classico red wine right from their backyard and finally topped off lunch with vin santo (similar to ice wine) served with biscotti for dipping 2 or 3 at a time. Lunch was delicious and I learnt a valuable lesson from Papà Luigi – never cut your pasta, regardless of the size (it’s a faux pas). It’s an insult to the cook because it means that the pasta is undercooked (less than al dente) and it’s too hard – this wasn’t the case at lunch, I was being polite cutting my pasta into bite-sized pieces (or so I thought). This was a true Tuscan sensory experience in every way and highly recommended for those who want to experience the true culture & stay in a ‘real’ Italian home.”

FOODIE DATELINE: Gnocchi

Where: The Kawarthas – a nameless restaurant (which shall remain so)

When: Summertime 2009(ish)

Mood: Stoked…at first

Foreshadowing…

I will never, ever forget how to make gnocchi or should I say ‘devil’s pillows?’ I was excited, stoked, this was going to be my first experience working in a restaurant kitchen doing prep work! Yeah!

Before I go ahead with this story, I should lay the groundwork. My interview for the job consisted of two parts with the female Chef/Owner – a brief conversation about my passion for food and a demo. I had to show that I had the ‘chops’ for the job, I had to do a demo to showcase my chopping skills.  I thought to myself “I’ve chopped many a food item before, taken and taught cooking classes, so I can do this no problem. I may not be the fastest with a knife, but I can handle a knife.” OK, I was ready for my ‘test’. Wouldn’t you know it, my ‘sacrificial lamb’ was an onion.  What, an onion? The thing is that my eyes are really, really sensitive to onions and the minute that I slice one, my eyes water and I can’t see what I’m doing. Believe me, I’ve tried everything to work around this. I know the slicing technique, so I laid out the groundwork painstakingly slicing the onion in the exact way so that I’d finish with a finely diced onion (as per her exact instruction). After the slicing, when I started the actual chopping, that’s when I couldn’t see the onion for the tears in my eyes (never fails). I did my best and chopped as quickly and efficiently as I could through teary eyes thinking to myself that I just lost the job. There done – finely diced onions. The good news is that I passed the test – she said that no one knows how the chop onions properly – not even Chefs. I was set up for failure, I was no different. That should have been a big red warning sign to me…but it wasn’t. I was happy and excited to go in and roll my sleeves up the next morning.

Devil’s Pillows?

The thing is that I love to work with food and I love to learn. I arrived, washed hands, hair back, sleeves up, apron on, good to go. The first dish I was taught to make was gnocchi. OK, “How difficult can that be?” I thought. I watched as the Chef made the first batch as her Mom and I stood by. The Chef initially came across as sweet as pie to me – complete with braided pigtails, a sweet high-pitched voice and smile to match. She almost (keyword almost) had a ‘hippy, 70’s’ peace ‘n love vibe to her. The gnocchi seemed simple enough to make, not too complicated. She then ‘demo’d’ the making of the individual gnocchi. Rolling out the long tubes of pasta, the technique, the squeezing, the slicing et voila angel’s pillows as she called them. OK, got it, I can do this next time.

I Can Do This

Next day, next shift. OMG, it was so stifling hot, humid and no A/C upstairs in the kitchen (who puts a prep kitchen upstairs…we all know heat rises). Whew it was a hot one and it was still early in the morning. Assigned duty that morning gnocchi – yes sir (I mean ma’am). True story, in a day I was starting to feel a certain vibe in the air. It was not the initial peace ‘n love, group hug vibe that I thought I felt, no, that wasn’t quite it. It was more of a ‘kitchen boot camp’ vibe – do exactly as I say, no questions. She – now I’ll call her Cruela de Vil (true colours shining through) – did another gnocchi demo for her mom and I in the sweltering heat. Listen up and do as I say, we were at attention. Sweat already dripping as we stood and watched. She lovingly made one batch of her ‘angel pillow’ gnocchi, now over to us. She left us, headed downstairs to her cooler kitchen…hmmm? We boiled potatoes, riced ‘em, mixed ‘em and started to roll our own ‘angel’s pillows.’ Beads of sweat, yep sweat dripping from my brow, this felt like a real life ‘sweat shop.’ Undeterred by the sweat burning our eyes, we rolled, pinched and sliced our little ‘angel pillows’ of love. They all looked perfect to us. We gently placed them on baking trays to go into the freezer. We were happy with our work. Then! Curela de Vill appeared. Still happy with our efforts, we proudly showed them to her.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

She stopped, frozen in time, silence. We waited, holding our ‘group-of-two’ breaths. I couldn’t believe her next move – she told us that our angel’s pillows were more like devil’s pillows and proceeded to toss almost all of them into the garbage can. What? Next barked order, start over, we don’t have time to waste! I was in shock? Now I was really sweating, our poor little angel’s pillows, all gone. No time to lament them, start over. By this point the kitchen was steaming hot – more boiled potatoes – more sweat. We prepped and started rolling, by this point I was so unnerved by Cruela de Vil that my poor hands were shaking as I rolled. We painstakingly sliced our gnocchi, hoping that they were the perfect angel’s pillows and not the hated devil’s pillows. She reappeared, assessed our work and thank goodness we passed muster this time. I use this term as it describes how I felt. This expression originally meant “to undergo a military review without censure,” muster referring to an assembling of troops for inspection. Whew our little gnocchi passed inspection! Needless to say, my career in this prep kitchen was short-lived. My integrity wouldn’t allow me to continue… The upside is that I have a great gnocchi recipe that I modified for my cooking classes and made my own. I’ll never forget the angel’s pillows technique either, its etched into my mind forever. Today I lovingly make my angels pillows my own way for myself. They do nourish my soul.

XO

Jackie's 'signature'_Briar Rose


Author: Jackie DeKnock

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