Georgette Whitbred: Teacher, Mother, Chef extradonaire

Three children, a teaching career and a plethora of bills to pay, however dinner was always hot and ready at the table. Dinner was the challenge, and she was the superhuman who accepted it, and defeated it with flying colors. Each member of the Whitbred clan was expected to stop what they were doing, turn off the cartoon or finish the magazine and take their place at the family dinner table. Despite our best efforts to numb our minds with television sitcoms while we ate, she inisted. It was at that table where we would discuss the events of our day, or in later years debate the price of fossil fuels. But in total, it was at that table where we grew as a family, all thanks to our fearless leader, my mother.

Before the years of wrestling three needy (yet clearly adorable) kids, my mother enjoyed eating in luxury. She claims her most favorite meal was when she dined on lobster for the first time. The salty claw making her feel decadent and refined as she licked her plate clean. However, once kids arrived, the closest to lobster that she consumed was whatever fish was breaded, microwaved and doused in ketchup. As the family size grew, so did the palate. With every new addition came a new request to the cook. The kids and husband developed high cholesterol so that ruled out any red meat. The youngest was allergic to strawberries, and the middle didn’t eat vegetables. However, as any superhero rises to a challenge, so did G.W. She rearranged the menu, made sure all tummies were satisfied, and still had the time to teach during the day and go to night school in the evening.

Once we all were seated at the table with our own personalized plates, historical events occurred. Colorful conversations mixed in the air as plates were devoured and licked clean. After everyone had finished, we all went about our own business and continued on. That table was a resting point in the journey of our days and allowed us to fill up on good food and converse with those we loved.

To this day, the table still sits in the same place. Impressions of its weight are grooved into the carpet below. That purple stain of spilt nail polish partially scratched off but still there, the marks from ruthless steak knives and long scratches from our two cats was veiny and recognizable on the legs. That table has seen it all and  represents a childhood of food, fun and laughter. Under the rule of our fearless leader, the Whitbred clan still sits at that table with tummies and hearts full.

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Urban Gourmet Goodies

Upon the streets of Oakland, a girl found herself in the most heavenly of places. One where fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and yes doughnuts, came to play. As we were guided through Telegraph, I found with every stop came a new story of flavor, and fun.

One of my favorite stops was The Sacred Cheese shop, where a cheese shop and community based store met as one. While enjoying a  hearty mac and cheese with a tangy Sriracha sauce and a cup of steamy tomato soup, we had the opportunity to listen to the owner speak about her goal for the shop. Focusing on the importance of family and community, the store has become much more than a simple gourmet food shop, but rather a place to meet and be apart of a family.

Another stop that made my stomach smile was Bakesale Betty’s, which was easy to spot y the extended line around the corner of hungry yet faithful customers. We tried one of their infamous fried chicken sandwiches; a crisp and tender breast with a zesty Jalepeno coleslaw pulled together by a light kaiser roll. Silence spread over our group as everyone chewed slowly. Delighting in the meditation of eating the sandwich, hoping that the taste would never cease. Cliche as it might seem, I do believe I had dreams of that sandwich that night.

As the tour came to a close, my tummy may have been way past finished but I was not ready to stop! I had tasted such goodness and I was not about ready to leave. Lingering a tad longer at the Barkada cafe,  we polished off a few pear ciders then begrudgingly made our way back home. Writing down all of the stops we had made, I would make sure to visit again sometime soon.

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JapanTown

Strolling through clean paved streets, a large building shields the sun above us and causes many onlookers to peer up. Bonsai trees corner the concrete sitting area and create a lovely environment.The Peace Pavilion, where we start our tour, sets the stage for a relaxing day eating through Japantown. As we took a trip down the rich history of this part of San Francisco, we were fed to the brim of cultural delights. Tasting many different foods including a dish that literally moved (its not what you think), Japan Town made quite the impression.

One particular stop we made was a quaint shop in the mall. We indulged in a cutely wrapped package of a snack called Onigiri. A crunchy seaweed wrapped triangle filled with steamed rice and a salty center of flaky salmon bits. A taste both smooth from the rice, and textured from the fish, I fell in love at first bite. A steamy cup of tea completed the love triangle and made for a delighting stop on our tour.

With every other stop came a new adventure for my taste buds. Going from sweet baked goods to curious fish dishes, I felt every slice of history and Japanese culture seep on my tongue. Leaving the unfamiliar quiet streets, I was full and very relaxed.

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Sunny Side up and Nuclear War tested

The smell of cured meat in saltwater filled the air as I fanned away fumes of bacon grease. Egg whites are beaten together with slivers of spinach and ladled into cups formed out of the porky meat. Cooked throughly then finished off with a cheesy topping, the mini quiches were done.

Three days later, I had picked three ingredients out of a bag, being bacon, black pepper, and Spam. With these items, I was given the challenge to create a recipe, and cook it. Looking over the handwritten slips, I recognized bacon and black pepper, then immediately questioned the third. Spam? I fully believed that this meat was an urban legend created to ease the minds of those preparing for the world to end, and stocking their pantries full of this unperishable brick. The pink fleshy glob stared back at me, trembling in the tin. With a plug of the nose, I slip it out, slapped it on the cutting board and chopped the mystery meat into chunks.
I gathered the other ingredients and decided to make something that could compliment any sort of salty meat; breakfast. A twist on traditional quiche, I used beaten egg, spinach, and diced spam for the center, all held together by a cup formed by wrapped bacon. It cooked quite nicely and when I broke into the center it was warm and soft. To my surprise, those little nuggets of spam I hesitated to throw in, made the center that much tastier. Unlike ham, the meat added a brine that flavored the egg and kept the bacon crispy. The smell of it uncooked may have been unbearable, but it was all worth it to feast on this snack made for a carnivore. Overall, Spam and I are a little bit closer. Still not ready for a commitment, but we are taking things slow.

Recipe:

2 eggs

1 lb bacon

handful of fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped Spam

Cheese

Black pepper to taste

Heaping amounts of Positive attitude

Preheat Oven to 350, then mold bacon into cupcake tins. Then, beat the eggs till smooth, then pour into the cups leaving plenty of space. Toss in Spam, spinach and black pepper then cook for about 1o minutes. Add cheese to the top then continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until golden on the top.

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There is a fire on Applewood Way, Blame the Blonde

It was a day like any other. The sun was bleating on the patchwork roofs, the scent of suburban pines filled the air. the neighborhood was in a pleasant mood. And it just so happens so was I! It had been another fulfilling day in seventh grade where no one made fun of me, and I got to sit next to the boy I had a crush on. overall, things were going well that day. Inspired by the day’s events, i decided to do what every pre teen does when she is in a god mood, make a batch of cookies.

I figured that the mix of sticky batter in the autumn air would increase my good mood, so I decided that oatmeal cookies would be the best choice. A mix of health and nutty sweetness at the same time. As I measured out the ingredients I danced along to my sister’s ipod listening to grown up music that was much too mature for my ears according to my parents. Lucky for me, they wouldn’t be home until five.Tapping my ninety nine cent polished nails on the linoleum, I mixed the ingredients together.

Forgetting the most important ingredient being flour, I poured the batter onto the tin sheet assuming it would form as it cooked. I assumed wrong. the heat and my carelessness caused the dough to run off the side and hit the sizzling coils. I still was too occupied with shaking along to Shakira so I didn’t notice. It was not until the smoke detector blew a sharp warning in my ear that I realized something was wrong. My nosy neighbor recognized the noise and decided to call the fire department, concerned for my safety. Moments later the street was buzzing with both hunky fireman and curious neighbors as they assessed the scene and realized it was a simple mistake.

Although my cookies were ruined, I was surprisingly still in a chipper mood. I mean who can say that they  had that many attractive fireman in their kitchen at once?

A Day Devoured in the Mission

While taking a stroll through the edible history of a vibrant part of San Francisco, I was able to learn new things about the neighborhood, get a sense of the community, and of course eat my little heart out. From taquerias to Delis, there was a diverse arrangement of food that made me giddy to be a tourist.

One of our stops was at Wise sons Delicatessan; a family oriented shop focusing on the traditions and food from their Jewish culture. walking through the door reminds one of walking into a grandmother’s house. Both warm and comforting and filled with vintage pictures of past family members. With every sacred food item down to the pickle being made within the very shop, one can really get a sense of how family tradition is very important.

Next stop was the local Eatery, a quaint restaurant that offered more than meets the eye. Seated at a long wood panelled table, we were given the opportunity to meet one of the owners and have a taste of the local vegetation in a petite crust called, the winter vegetable. It was a buttery crunch on the exterior that when broken, gave way to a light layer of ricotta cheese that mingled with pumpkin butter. A few sprigs of kale joined the party, and a bittersweet apple slaw balanced it out.  The owner emphasized using only the freshest ingredients and only doing business with local farms in order to have the most sustainable and accessible meals.

Another stop was at the Pig and pie, a hip spot selling both dense meats and quirky sweets. We were given the chance to taste one of their more classic options that being a bratwurst complete with spicy mustard and sauerkraut. The shell of the tender meat held together a juicy combination of pork, veal, salt and spices. With each chew, a new exciting flavor arose. Another fun item on the menu that was too hard to resist was a homemade twist on the infamous twinkie. It was red velvet and filled to the brim with cream cheese frosting in the center. I mean with both dinner and dessert at the same venue, who could not resist?

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A dish down under

Fourteen hours on an aircraft and let me tell you I was hungry. I could have eaten anything I could get my hands on but as I was a visitor in this new country, I did not want to come off as a typical tourist. I coolly waited until finally we were brought to a restaurant overlooking the harbour. 43 steps later, we arrived at a dining room of a rustic nature complete with wood panels, vintage beer taps and a jukebox. A long clothed table was laid before us and we took our seats; careful to make the best seating arrangement in hopes of sitting next to someone who shares the same interests, and trying to stray away from those who came off to me as loud chewers.

Small talk commenced as thirty Americans chatted about new adventures that awaited for them in this magical new world. Plans for scuba diving, jungle touring and koala petting ensued. Once our plates were placed with care in front of us, the table was silent. Every weary traveler started stuffing their face of the steamy entrée laid before us.

Assesing at first what this slab of animal could possibly be, I decided there was no time for judgment and practically unhinged my jaw in order to consume the entire portion. Through a thick bite I could taste a sweet meat that danced along a sauce made of a sinful whiskey blend. Red potatoes with a crisped skin and dark pickled beets were poked around the plate at first and devoured. With each bite my tongue grew tired as I chewed it over and over again, hoping that it would never end. Feeling as though I had finished a marathon as soon as my plate turned empty, I leaned back in my chair and took a good look around the room. So many bright faces of these new people now new classmates made my hands clammy and made my stomach flip with excitement. Speaking of stomach, which was now a full and happy fellow, I started to ask, “What was that meat?”. With a gleeful pitch the waiter said, “That Miss is kangaroo steak!”.

That happy tummy dropped immediately. Just my luck! I have been in this country for nearly a day and I am already scarfing down their national animal? My panic must have read loudly on my face for the waiter then assured me that it is a delicacy there and that those animals are so overpopulated to not feel bad.

This made me feel adequately better and to be honest I have never tasted more tender meat than that of our dear pouchy friends. I remember that moment as my favorite meal because for the first time I was half way across the world, trying something new, and about to embark on the adventure of my life.

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There is nothing in life that cannot be cured by a few sprinkles