Virtual Potluck’s Official Launch

Today is the day — it’s the first day, of the first event, for Virtual Potluck.

Don’t know what a Virtual Potluck is?

It’s good times, good friends and plenty of good food (or at least recipes), shared — potluck stylie (to borrow from Jamie Oliver‘s lexicon. Luv Jamie!)

The quick and dirty on us and our events is this — 100 became 20 then narrowed to 13 and finally settled at a dozen — how appropos!

A dozen passionate food bloggers linking up a network of posts, tastes and Tweets just for YOU! (Want the long version — check out the link up top for the complete Virtual Potluck story.)

Today’s event features a variety of recipes, recommendations and chit chat about Abrams Books cookbooks. To get in on all the fun visit the host page  (Donna Currie of Cookistry for today’s VP event. It will link you to each and every participating blog and give you sneak peak at what they’ll sharing with you today.

Join us at the Virtual Potluck!

But wait! That’s not all. Like every good party — it’s not just about the food, it’s about the mingling. So join us on Twitter hashtag #virtualpotluck throughout the day to whet your appetite, get your recipe card filled and your drink refreshed!

Head on over and meet my friends ~ I’ll be happy to make the introductions.

See you at the potluck!

Top Food Books and Movies: Recommendations for the Hungry

There are so many great books and movies that tell stories of relationships through food. So many, in fact, that it is truly hard to know where to begin. This is why I have decided to just begin by making a listing of all those that I have read or seen and then I will slowly work my way down the list, one at a time, to describe them in snapshot. If they are on these lists, I assure you, I have seen or read and enjoyed them.

Cover of "Fatso"

Cover of Fatso

Of course there are some movies and books that others may feel belong on these lists, but to me, food does not just have to make appearance it must be used as a character, a plot device or central theme. Therefore, for example a movie like Fatso, starring Dom Deluise, which is funny and charming and sweet and does have food in it, would still not appear on my lists. The food is a minor element (it’s not even yummy to look at nor is it intended to evoke anything other than disgust at its heaviness and in the overall gluttony of it all) it is instead a story about acceptance, which I love but it does not qualify as foodie territory for me.

Then there are movies at which others cringe like, The Cook, Thief, His Wife and Her Lover for being on my list. I can understand the trepidation some others may have at inclusion of this movie because the  unappetizing, yet well-deserved finale, leaves some stomachs turning. But this for me is one of the finest movies there is, not only for it’s beautiful presentations of food as well as the phenomenal lighting and artistic direction that make this film truly a visual feast but because food is integral to the story —  not just as setting but as device and quite literally, in the end as character. This one knocks it out of the park, especially for someone like me, who both enjoys reading and cooking. The idea of falling in love through one’s love for food (and books ) is utterly sumptuous. Plus, it stars the incomparable (and sumptuous in her own right), Helen Mirren. This one is a MUST SEE on my foodie list.


A good food story makes you hungry, inspires you to make new dishes or even order in a certain type of food. It is, in effect, food porn. It ignites your fire for the epicurean delights that await you in this wide world, with it’s presentation, focus, writing or dialogue about the food. Really good foodie movies and books do this through the eyes of one or more culinarily impassioned characters and imbue you with the fever of their love, inspiring you to greater heights.

When I did my cleanse a few weeks back and certain glorious foods were off limits to me, movies and books like these helped me to feel a bit less deprived, satiating my desires through the sights, sounds and tastes described therein.

So, if you’re looking for some foodie approved recommendations for your reading and viewing pleasure, check out my newly posted list of books and movies in the Groo-V Books and Groo-V Movies sections of the site.

Feel free to post your own favorites for me to explore and add to the list.

Like good food this site is meant to be shared.

Feeling under the weather? Soup is a cure-all

The end of our short-lived summer here in Portland came with a whiplash-tastic weather change, that brought with it the bug from hell. Headaches, sinus congestion, body aches  and a lingering cough were the maladies that struck our humble abode, a little over a week ago now.

Because I view food as medicine, as well as comfort in my home, I cleared out all sugary treats, alcohol and congesting dairy from our food stuffs. In our weakened state,  we embarked on a journey filled with the immune-shoring properties of garlic, ginger, orange juice, watercress and other mind-blowingly powerful and delicious veggies and herbs.

Drinking tons of water (close to 200 ounces a day) and herbal teas (Echinacea/elderberry, dandelion and peppermint), we kept the diet light. Eating whole wheat toast, fresh fruit like apples, oranges and red grapes (great for strengthening your lung tissue) plenty of hot homemade soups and meals of brown rice, veg and grilled fish, tofu or chicken. I also used jalapeno peppers liberally to open sinus passages.

Here are a couple tried and true soup recipes for when you’re illin’.

Easy Curried Carrot Ginger Soup

Easy Curried Carrot Ginger Soup

1 bag of carrots (full size not minis) peeled and chopped into chunks

1 whole apple (cored, peeled and chopped)

1 cup orange juice

1   32 oz aseptic container of free range organic chicken broth

3 inch knob of ginger (peeled and smashed)

2 to 3 tbsp of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry sauce

Put all ingredients (except curry sauce) in a deep sauce pan or in a Dutch oven letting it boil until carrots are soft enough to mush with a fork. Once carrots are soft, pour soup into a food processor or blender (about half at a time) and puree until smooth. If broth has evaporated and puree is too thick, add additional broth, water or orange juice (depending on your tastes) until you achieve desired thickness and consistency. Pour back into pan and add curry sauce to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with yogurt or soy sour cream (if you’re avoiding dairy during a cold, like I was.) Delish! Makes four HUGE bowls of soup.

Garlic, Chicken and Watercress Soup

Garlic, Chicken and Watercress Soup

1 whole organic chicken (2 to 3 pounds)

1 4 inch knob of ginger (peeled and smashed)

1 medium yellow onion (peeled and chopped)

2 shallots (peeled and chopped)

4 garlic cloves (peeled and finely minced)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 32 oz aseptic of free range organic chicken broth

2 heads of watercress (washed and leaves de-stemmed)

(Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste)

Fill a dutch oven or deep stew pot with water (enough to cover the chicken.) Place the chicken, breast side down, in the pan along with the smashed ginger and let boil until meat falls off the bone and water turns into a flavorful broth. While the chicken cooks prep onions, garlic, shallots and watercress. Once chicken is ready remove chicken from the broth, taking care to remove all fat, bones and debris from the broth (strain, if necessary.) Replace broth in pan and skim any liquefied fat from the top of the broth and return to a boil.

While the chicken is cooling a bit, heat a skillet with a tbsp of olive oil and cook shallots and onions until transparent, throw garlic in last, letting it release its flavor and fragrance (about one minute.) Once the onion/garlic mixture is soft and translucent ladle out  about a cup of the boiling broth to the skillet to deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any caramelized onions and flavor that may be on the bottom of the skillet. Pour all into the boiling broth, turning the heat down to the -of medium. If your overall broth level has reduced through evaporation, add free range organic chicken broth to desired amount.

Turn your attention to the chicken, removing the skin and discarding and picking all the chicken meat from the bone. Tear or chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the broth.  Then add the watercress, letting the soup cook until the leaves turn vibrant green. Remove from heat and allow soup to cool for a few minutes before serving. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. For extra zip, add sliced jalapeno peppers before serving. (Makes 8 to 10 servings)