Thursday, September 21, 2017

Finding Fit and Finding Time

I love a nap! There, I said it and I mean it. I wish someone would tell me everyday around 2:00 "Lara Lyn, go lay down and take a nap for at least an hour!" Isn't it hilarious how the thing we avoid the most as a child is the thing we miss the most as an adult. I will also admit that I do not bounce back after a restless nights sleep when my 4 year old is sick as I did in my 20's and 30's when I had my first two boys. I feel like I walk around all day wanting to break out into that sleepy cry that nothing can console just like a toddler does when they are tired.

Making time for myself is hard. I have to make myself do it. I get "mommy guilt" if I go to bed and I have not laid everything out for the next morning so that we can get out the door without any trauma. Then I will lay there awake until I make myself get up and go do it so that I can sleep. Sound familiar?

Well, if you are expecting that I have had an epiphany or that I have been imparted with some amazing wisdom to share with you, your out of luck. What I have learned is that kids will survive without a perfect mommy. I did everything you can imagine with my oldest, a little less with my middle. When Dylan came along at almost 43 my body and energy was not able to keep up with my ambition. But do you know what? Dylan is happy, he is not damaged in any way because I didn't throw the biggest birthday party of the year or that he has the oldest mom in his class at Mothers Morning Out. That sweet little boy knows he is loved and he loves his mommy.

I am steeling a quote form one this 80's teens favorite movies. "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it!" Which movie??? Yep, Ferris Bueller's Day Off!

Bottom line is, we can't be perfect for everyone else no matter how hard we try; and we won't even come close if we don't take care of ourselves first. Now, since I couldn't give you any great wisdom, I will leave you with a helpful hint.

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well I was one of those that considered my 3 cups of coffee to be breakfast. If I skip breakfast it was one less meal and set of calories to offset. Not to mention I didn't make time for myself to eat it! Well, not only was I shutting my metabolism down, I was adding fuel to that sleepy toddler cry I mentioned earlier! So here is my!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Finding Fit at 47

It happens to all of us sooner or later. There is “that birthday” looming on the horizon that makes you stop and think. For some it’s 40 for others 50, but for me it was 47. It was three months before my 47th birthday when I decided to change my life. I had to get in shape and lose weight, but how do you avoid food when your life revolves around it.

I am a private chef, television host, author, and gourmet product line developer, so my life literally is all about food. In addition, I am a wife and mother of three boys, ages 21, 15, and 4, YES 4! Food is just as big a part of my family life as it is my professional life and no one was going to be happy if mommy cooks boring food so that she can lose weight. So I made the decision that I was going to have to make everyone, myself included, happy and make delicious food just as I always had but healthier and cleaner. No boring baked chicken and plain salads would dare grace my Southern table.

I made a commitment that I would work out six days a week faithfully and incorporate weight training with cardio. Keep in mind that the exercise in itself was a challenge. I have always told people “If you see me running, call the police because someone is chasing me!” Exercise was something I did half way in the past, now it was going to be part of my daily life.

As a chef, I knew that I would have to push my culinary skills to keep my family and me happy. I couldn’t imagine being bored with cooking when it is what I love so dearly and look forward to do everyday. Every single day since I began this, I have created a new recipe. Now 4 months down the road, I am planning a new cookbook.

I have lost 35 pounds and gone from a size 10 to a 4 in 4 months. What began as something that I thought I would suffer through to get where I wanted to be health and fitness wise has become a new passion. I actually love working out. I still don’t run, but I do everything else. I have discovered muscles I never knew I had. And I found that it is actually possible to lose the weight from having a baby at almost 43! And the cooking, it has been the biggest blessing. My creativity is challenged everyday and I LOVE IT! I haven’t given up anything. I have simply added a new culinary passion. Food, glorious food, that is delicious, beautiful, and healthy!

I admit that I still have a cheat day once a week and I will never give up wine. It isn’t about giving up it is about finding the balance. Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to chase a 4 year old!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stocking My Bar Cart

My approach to stocking my bar or bar cart is very similar to my approach with cooking. Classics are a must, but don’t be afraid to put a twist on them! When stocking a bar cart you need some staples such as whiskey, vodka, gin, and scotch. You will also need some basic mixers like club soda and tonic water. Finally, you will need glassware. Glassware for the various types of cocktails and carafes and pitchers for things like juices, simple syrup, and ice. You may notice that I don’t include wine here. It is my preference to keep wines separate from spirits.

Once you have the basics, then you can start to add the fun and interest to your cart. My absolute favorite thing to add to my bart cart is some specialty small crafted spirits. You may find a locally produced spirit in your area that you have never tried. My personal favorite is a selection of whiskey, gin, and vodka from a distillery located less than an hour from my home. Thirteenth Colony Distillery was the first legal distillery in my home state of Georgia and I have enjoyed their spirits in both cocktails and in recipes from my kitchen as well! Finding something unique to add to your bar cart creates opportunities to try a new spirit in a classic cocktail and even something totally new. Some of the spirit makers have created signature cocktails with their products and you can find all sorts of refreshing new ideas on their websites! I love the idea of using a specialty drink at a party already prepared in a pretty pitcher that people can help themselves to easily. These specialty drinks are always great conversation starters at any party.

Now that you have your spirits in place it is time to accessorize. Just like a well appointed dinner table, your bar cart can take on any look that you want from traditional to contemporary, dressy to casual, with what you choose to fill it with. When thinking of the glassware you want to use, go with what fits your taste. I am very classic, so I like to collect things like sterling silver julep cups and crystal decanters. I also like to use a mini clear glass ice bucket as a vase to hold fresh herbs for guests to use as garnish in their cocktails or to muddle for a drink of their choice. I must admit that I absolutely love to collect pretty cocktail napkins and I think they add such great color.

The more parties I have, the more I have discovered that many of my friends have created their own version of a classic cocktail or made up something of their own that is wonderful. I have started keeping a small journal in my bar for friends to add their favorite cocktail recipes to and that I can add to as well. This is a great deal of fun and gives guests something to get an idea from.

Lastly, I like to keep something on hand for guests to nibble on while enjoying their cocktail. Basic cocktail nuts have their place, but I have a recipe that guests love and it adds a little extra something to a cocktail party, my Rosemary Pecans. Not only are these great for your guests to enjoy during the party but they also make a great gift for guests to take with them after the party. Simply wrap some in a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty ribbon to give guests as they leave.

                               Rosemary Pecans
   6 cups of pecan halves 
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of coarse salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat all of the pecans. Spread pecans evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degreees for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Easter Memories

As this wonderful Easter Sunday approaches I can't help but recall ones from the past. My childhood Easter memories are very special to me. We had the same tradition year after year. Much like Christmas, preparations began way ahead of time. 

My mother would take me to a lovely little store that was in my town called Chamas to pick my Easter dress. This was always followed by a trip to Dub Cone Shoes for the right shoes to match the dress. For some reason I always wanted either yellow or purple dresses!

For the next couple of weeks my mother and Grandmother Jones, my paternal grandmother, would talk about what we would eat for lunch that special day. It was always a big event and made more so by the fact that all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins form Atlanta and other places would be here.

When Easter Sunday finally came I always woke up early, ran to see what was in my basket and try to eat as much of the candy as I could get away with before my mother would tell me to "stop or you will be sick!" I would get dressed in my new Easter outfit and then spend a horrible amount of time with my mother trying to curl my hair which never held more than 5 minutes. Then, Daddy would get the Polaroid camera out and have me pose in front of the Azaleas in the yard for an Easter picture. 

When we got toSunday School and Church it was always one of my favorite days. Seeing the cross draped in white linen and lilies and hearing the Hallelujah chorus performed by the choir, I felt joy and happiness in my heart that I still get every year.

After church we would head straight to Grandmother and Grandaddy Jones house to celebrate with the whole family. We had a meal that easily rivaled Thanksgiving in size, but with all of the spring bounty. Again, Daddy would make me pose with my cousins for pictures in front of my grandfathers azaleas. His azaleas were, in my opinion, the most lovely in town! Finally the egg hunts would start!

We hunted eggs over and over! My grandfather always hid a "golden egg" with money in it. We couldn't stop hunting until everyone had the chance to get the egg. If you found the egg a second time, you had to leave it and sometimes the older cousins would give clues to the younger ones to help them find it. Everyone left my grandparents house with a basket full of candy! For weeks my grandmother would stock up on jelly beans, peeps, chocolate eggs, and more.

Now I prepare to take my youngest son on his first Easter Egg Hunt at the church tomorrow. I cannot wait to see the joy in his eyes, the color in the azaleas, and the cross draped in white. He is Risen!

This warm and spicy glaze is a surprising spin on the traditional ham glaze.  You will find that you receive rave reviews.

Glazed Ham
1 12 pound cooked ham
1 ½ cups mayhaw jelly 
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
¾ tsp. ground ginger

Place ham on a baking rack and cover with foil.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  While ham cooks make the glaze by combining the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat over low heat until melted and mix well.  After the ham has cooked the first 30 minutes remove ham from the oven and baste with the glaze.  Cover the ham loosely and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.  Uncover ham and baste again.  Return ham to oven for another 30 minutes.  Allow ham to stand for 20 minutes before slicing.  If you cannot find mayhaw jelly you may substitute with grape, apple, or even peach.  The leftovers of this ham make great ham biscuits the next morning!