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Monday
Mar172014

Staying Vertical — A Tribute to Mitch Leigh

A while back I encountered an older gentleman at my physical therapist's office. We would often chat while waiting for our appointments.

One day he paused mid conversation, looked at me and said, "Sweetheart, if I were 30 years younger, I would show you a good time, but now all I can offer you is conversation." We both laughed.

And so converse we did.

I came to learn his name was Mitch and that he was a composer, though of what kind of music, I didn't know. He learned that I was a triathlete and liked to play with my food.

Finally, he told me about The Man of La Mancha, Yul Brenner and his real estate ventures. I also learned about his children and family.

When asked how he was feeling by anyone in the office, he would look them squarely in the eye and say, "I'm vertical!" That brightened the moods of everyone in the office.

I adopted the phrase and started saying it all the time. To me, it encapsulated the best reality check. Yes, it might be a shitty day. The music may not be flowing, the legs not going anywhere fast, but I was vertical so, you know, world's smallest violin—the rest is just details.

I only saw him on occasion, but he was always positive, thoughtful and interested in chatting. I began hoping I would run into him during my PT sessions and looked forward to his stories.

My physical therapist texted me today to tell me he had passed away. I felt an odd sadness at the news. Odd because I didn't know him that well, but he had touched my life in a comparatively large way with his outlook.

Staying vertical.

And so, I dedicate this recipe collection to Mitch Leigh. It's a collection of past recipes that I think fall in line with his theme...staying vertical, remembering what's important in life and being grateful for all that good stuff.

Rest in peace, Mr. Leigh

Potatoes for Rocky

Tiramisu

A Post About Toast

Forbidden Donuts

Kitchen Sink Granola

Smoothies

Apple Pie for John Locke

Thursday
Feb132014

Be a Man and Celebrate Valentine's (Video)

Pizza Drives Me Crazy from John Iaciofano on Vimeo.

 

This week contains the wildly controversial holiday: Valentine's Day.  For many men, V-Day is often coupled with some sort of negativity.  It could be owing to a paralyzing inability to make plans with your honey for fear of underwhelming her expectations.  Or maybe it's because you're just not an emotional type of guy.  Nothing wrong with that, Clint Eastwood.  Perhaps you don't even like your girlfriend/wife/significant other.  I've been there, bro.  Even still, maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum in that you are single, and Valentine's Day makes you feel lonely, depressed, and susceptible to crying at strange events, like that time over Christmas when you teared up after viewing that awesome Dick's Sporting Goods Commercial.

Fellow men, fear not.  Your lady, or lack thereof, may indeed be screwing with your ability to process rational thought, but regardless of your parallels with any of the aforementioned criteria, you indeed have the ability to enjoy this Valentine's Day in some way shape or form.  Simply find what/who it is you love, and celebrate the freaking hell out of it.  It doesn't need to be a person, per se, just something you can't live without -  like Sam Malone's relationship with Cheers.   Let me give you an example from my own life.

One thing I love in this world? Pizza.  I love it so much that I often google image pictures of melted mozzarella blobs against the brilliant red backdrop of crushed San Marzano tomatoes.  I love it so much, I've written poetry about it.  And, lately, I love it so much, I'm willing to publicly profess my love for my favorite pizzeria (DiFara's in Brooklyn - previously reviewed on the blog and truly one of the world's greatest pizzerias) by featuring it in a self made imovie-music video to the tune of, what else, "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals.  The above video is how I (prematurely) celebrated Valentine's Day, and I could not have been happier.  And my date was Elana, so there were no awkward good-byes, or fretting about eating my six slices to her two (true story). 

So, Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.  Go out and give that special someone or something your emotional "all" - however "crazy" it may be.

Wednesday
Feb052014

Snow Day Coffee

There is all kinds of wack-a-doodle weather happening. Funny weather brings out fascinating personal revelations. This happens when you are cooped up at home like a common household appliance. An appliance, like, for instance a COFFEE MAKER.

John does not know how to use the coffee maker at Iaciofano HQ. I just figured this out. It's one of these percolator coffee makers

So we had to have a tutorial via text about it. Because I was not at Iaciofano HQ. And John wanted coffee. And so here you have it for all of you that don't know how to use percolator coffee makers. And for those of you who DO...this should be entertaining anyway.

* NOTE: By "the Hatch" John refers to the Dharma Swan Station from LOST.

End Scene.

Tuesday
Nov192013

Fry, Bake, Sautée, Dress, Marinate, Grill and Roast a Pumpkin

Just in time for your Thanksgiving preparations, we bring to you our ULTIMATE PUMPKIN GUIDE (did you hear an echo?)! 

I produced this for Colavita as an Olive Oil Guide. The Olive Oil Guide is a seasonal quarterly that offers healthy recipes (well, we do stick a fry recipe in there...) based around one seasonal ingredient. This season's special ingredient is.... PUMPKIN.

Within the pages of this magazine, you will find recipes that instruct you on grilling, frying, roasting, sautéeing, baking, dressing, and marinating with pumpkin and pumpkin parts.

They are all delicious (I should know, I personally tested them). One of my favorites is the glamorous cover recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes:

You can also watch a short instructional video here:

Other highlights include Pumpkin Marinated Chicken:

And a very handy-dandy chart on how to replace butter with heart-healthy olive oil in your recipes:

Colavita is also running a contest in conjunction with this pumpkin recipe book. You can learn all about it on Facebook, but you can win a trip to Italy...so that's pretty cool.

Download the full recipe book here, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

 

Friday
Oct042013

Forbidden Donuts

It was September 22nd and I was sitting on the floor of my parents' basement, unpacking from my London trip. I was rifling through my suitcase, pulling out all my race gear: heartrate monitor, aero helmet, running shoes stuffed with a finisher's medal and assorted GU's...

I lined all these things up on the floor and just stared at them. And then I started to cry. Real tears! Why?

Let's be clear: I had just disembarked from an international flight in which I had spent the duration of seven hours:

1. Watching the Karate Kid.

2. Poking a travesty of an airline BBQ chicken chunk with a plastic fork, willing it to be something better than what it was.

3. Begging my eardrums not to burst due to a raging sinus infection.

I was clearly not in good form.

The sight of my squished and useless racing flats stuffed with gooey carbs that I no longer required pushed me over the edge much like that unpainted fence post for Daniel-Son. Except now, the final tourney was over.

So I cried because it felt like the end of a relationship, rather than the end of a racing season. I had spent a year prepping for this race. A year of mental Olympics, early mornings, injuries, sweat and not eating things like donuts.

And so now I'm on the other side...the "off season", and even though I can stuff my face full of donuts, sleep in, and take it easy a bit, it feels like a loss somehow. At least for now.

So I am approaching those forbidden donuts with caution, much like my off season. Instead of committing to the full-fledged fried version, I baked them. And made them mini-sized. And gluten-free!

At the very least, this slightly healthier version makes me think I really CAN stuff my face full of them while sleeping in to the barbaric hour of 7am.

Go on...eat one...No, I shouldn't....Well, maybe just one. Or twelve...

Gluten Free, BAKED Cider Mini Donuts (for your on and off again season).

Recipe adapted from this one.

What You Need:
2 cups of apple cider, preferably freshly pressed; boiled down to yield 2/3 cups and cooled

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ cup almond or coconut milk

1 3/4 cups sweet sorghum flour

1 3/4 cups gluten free oat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible

For the topping:

2 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut butter)

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

What You Do:

NOTE: I used a Sunbeam mini-donut maker. But you can pop them in the oven, too.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
 
In a food processor, cream the butter.  Add the coconut sugar and cream together.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add the milk and reduced apple cider. Mix to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (in the food processor) 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.

Prepare donut pans or donut iron with cooking spray.  Fill the donut cavities no more than 2/3 full.  Place in the oven for 7-9 minutes until donuts spring back to the touch. If using the Sunbeam donut iron, bake according to manufacturer's instructions.

Remove donuts and allow to sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Prepare the topping by mixing together the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Lightly paint the melted butter onto the top of a donut with a cooking/basting brush.  Then, sprinkle the sugar and spice mix onto the buttered donut.

 

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