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featured friends, pt. 4 – meet sara.

February 18, 2011

Wait a second, Michelle.  Did you just say, “meet sara”? Didn’t you already do a Featured Friends post on Sarah? Sorry for the confusion, my friends – but this IS another Featured Friend post for another person I know named Sara. Sara without the “h” but Sara with a lot of pizzazz!

I have known my friend Sara since 2nd grade, when I first set foot inside an American classroom. My family and I had just moved to America, specifically Irving (the former home of the Dallas Cowboys) and I entered school barely speaking English, nervous as can be. My first memory of Sara is when our teacher, Mrs. Tappmeyer, introduced me to her and they both led me to the back of the classroom where our “cubbies” (lockers for little people) were – that Sara and I would be cubby buddies.

Sara is truly one of the most extraordinary people I know, kind and humble, with a huge heart that loves people for who they are, no matter their backgrounds. She has been a wonderful friend to me, through good times and bad, and despite time and distance. She threw me a surprise party for my 16th birthday at her house – a special event in my life showing me that my friends truly cared. We’ve plastered oatmeal on our faces in an effort to beautify ourselves (facials, hello!), hosted friends for a breakfast at her house (remember when the fridge was leaking, Sara? Duct tape solves any problem!), gone to a Business Professionals of America trip to Houston (really it was just a glorified school field trip), and suffered/enjoyed theater in high school (Prom Queens Unchained).

Fast forward through high school and college years and Sara is now a food blogger extraordinaire (you definitely should visit her website regularly – Nomad with Cookies). She’s a brave and creative chef (with training at the French Culinary Institute in New York City), tackling seemingly scary ingredients that you and I would hesitate on even touching. Plus, I learn very practical kitchen tips from her website – stuff that every home cook should know (see question #6 below). I was super happy when she agreed to be a “featured friend” on here. I’ve tried a few of her recipes and they have never disappointed. I love that she encourages me to be brave in my attempts at cooking. I mean, come on! I used beets in a cheesecake. Beets! And it was an amazing decision that I will never regret. (I believe a part of my life has been changed because of the beet.)

So, without further adieu, I present my fantastic FEATURED FRIEND on this Friday, Sara from Nomad with Cookies. (How’s that for some alliteration?)

1. first name and what do you do?
Sara from Texas. Chef, writer, web extraordinaire.

2. what do you do to relax and unwind from the busy-ness of life?
Cook and travel.

3. name a movie that you like and why.
Under the Tuscan Sun. Whenever I’m having a truly awful time, I throw that movie on and it makes me feel better.

4. what are some of your favorite foods to eat?
Hmmm, everything?! But if I had to narrow it down, just about any kind of raw fish (sushi, ceviche, oysters, etc.). Great French pastries like croissants and apple tart. Barbecue, primarily brisket because I’m a Texan. Oh, and PORK.

5. do you like to cook? if yes, what do you like to make? if no, what do you do about meals?
Oh yes, indeed. I try to make, or at least attempt to make, just about everything I can. Last week I made a Roasted Butternut Squash and Ginger sorbet. Next week, it’ll be an experiment in making brochten, a traditional German roll eaten with bratwurst and ‘kraut.

6. any fun kitchen/meal/grocery tips?
Recently, I found out that Basil is incredibly light sensitive, which is the reason it spoils so quickly. Now when I store it, I always wrap it in a paper towel to keep it dry, then in a ziploc bag then wrap it in foil. The foil keeps the light out and keeps it from wilting and turning black. It will last for up to two weeks in the fridge that way, sometimes longer.

7. what’s a recipe you’d like to share?
Life can be so hectic during the week. At least once a week, we have pasta. I make a simple red tomato sauce that is quick, delicious and can be modified to take different shapes. Add vodka and cream for penne alla vodka. Add cooked ground beef for a quick meat sauce. Throw it in lasagna. Or by itself with spaghetti and a good scoop of Parmesan.

Heat 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 large red onion, diced. Stir to coat in the oil. Cook until soft and translucent, not caramelized, about 7-10m. Add a good pinch crushed red pepper and 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Cook 1m.  Add 1 cup of red wine. Raise heat and cook until wine has evaporated. Open 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled unsalted tomatoes. Using your hands (yes, your hands), break up the tomatoes and add to pan. Also add 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce along with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Stir and let simmer for 15m. Taste and season as needed.

I like to make double batches. Let it cool, and scoop the extra into ziploc bags and freeze. Then just break off frozen pieces as needed.

8. what’s an interesting fact about you?
Don’t like mayo. Won’t eat it, or anything it touches. But I’d eat caramel off a bumper, so hopefully that makes up for it.

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