Guest Post and Food Memoir Giveaway: Rachel Randolph of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
August 13, 2013 update:
Winners: Congrats to Becky Laliberte and Shelly Kachuck for each winning a copy of Rachel and Becky’s food memoir!
Today, I am happy to introduce a guest post (and a giveaway!) from Rachel Randolph of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.
I met Rachel and her mom Becky when attending a food blogger conference last year in Portland, Oregon. It was my first trip away from Connor (he was 1.5 at the time), and it was all I could do to to hold the tears in when I talked to him every night. One evening I saw Rachel with her then 1 year old son and I just had to introduce myself. We chatted about baby/toddler things, and she listened sympathetically while I talked about how much I was missing my baby. I’m so happy we have kept in touch – I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a fellow mommy food blogger who is going through all the same challenges!
Rachel and Becky just released their food memoir We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, and are giving away TWO free copies to you, my wonderful readers! Scroll down to enter your name in to win, and to get a scrumptious recipe for Spicy Puttanesca Sauce from Rachel and Becky!
I met Jacquelyn last fall at the after party during the International Food Blogger Conference in Portland. Among young professionals mixing and mingling and hitting up the open bar, I was the “elephant in the room” with a baby in footie pajamas on her hip. I knew I liked Jacquelyn right away when she came over and gave my son a gentle tickle and a warm smile. She told me how much she was missing her own son. You know … the one she’d been professional enough to leave at home.
I was a new food blogger with a food memoir in the works and my publisher had offered to send me and my mom (my co-author) to the conference. I was in a bind. Do I leave my still nursing baby for several days (and risk weaning before either of us were ready) or opt out of IFBC and possibly disappoint my publisher? I couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on an opportunity to learn about this new food blogging world I’d fallen into … or almost worse, my mom going without me. And still, I simply couldn’t bring myself to leave my son for that long. After all, I reasoned, I started this gig so I could work from home and be with him.
Not long after he was born, my mom and I brainstormed my next career move. I wanted to stay home, but needed an income. Mom is an author to 40+ books, her first and second written with her mother, and we had been talking about writing a book together for years. At this time, I was newly vegan and had completely fallen in love with cooking. My mom had also become quite the gourmet home cook in her empty nesting years, though she couldn’t imagine a life without butter and bacon. It was while cooking a Spicy Puttanesca Pasta Dish together that we thought of the idea for a food memoir that played off of our differences both in the kitchen and in personality (I’m Type A, she’s Type M … for Messy). While she was pulling everything out of the cupboards and dirtying every dish in the process, I was trying my best to follow behind and clean as we cooked, my preferred method. She simmered the sauce in one pan and browned ground beef in another to add to her’s. I popped some chickpeas in the oven with some seasoning for a little vegan protein. My mom hadn’t thought of this and was surprised that she liked the chickpeas even better than the meat. I literally licked every bit of her briny sweet sauce from my plate. Despite our differences, we somehow make it work in the kitchen.
When we told our literary agent (who is conveniently my mom’s husband, but also our hardest critic) our idea for a mother/daughter food memoir with recipes, he loved it, but warned that we’d need a foodie platform. So we got busy right away simultaneously writing our proposal and first few chapters and starting our food blog where we took turns posting recipes three to five days a week (in the beginning). It was an absolute whirlwind, but to our surprise, we were offered a two-book deal within weeks of our proposal submission. …and just like that we were navigating both this new food blogging adventure, trying to figure out the ins and outs, and writing an entire book with recipes that was due in six months…all while I was also navigating my first year of motherhood.
When the option to go to IFBC came up. I knew I needed to go. For my son’s sake and mine, I needed to make this career move work and taking him along was the best solution I could come up with. I hired a local acquaintance’s daughter to babysit my boy for the crucial parts of the conference and opted out of the extra activities. It went as well as I could hope for, but when I headed upstairs to the hotel room the last night to relieve the babysitter, and my mom and the rest of the fabulous foodies headed to the after party, I felt the pull of my two worlds—mother and writer, baby talker and hopeful speaker, foodie and food source. To my surprise and disappointment, my little man was wide-eyed and ready to party when I walked in ready to crash. He clearly wasn’t going down anytime soon, so I figured, what the heck? A little mixing and mingling might be just what the both of us need!
I met more people that night than I had all weekend. In fact, if you have a baby handy, I highly recommend taking one to your next networking event. You won’t have to walk up nervously to a single person and try to find common ground or something witty to say. They will all flock to you, especially the mommies missing their kids at home.
That trip was crazy. I’m not sure I’d do it the same way again, but in mothering, you just do the best you can with what you know at the time. And then you find other moms like Jacquelyn who seems to be pulling it off and you stalk them on Instagram and Facebook until they have no other option but to be your friend or file for a restraining order.
Rachel and Becky are giving away TWO copies of their food memoir, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mother and Daughter Dish About the Food that Delights Them and the Love that Binds Them, to TWO lucky winners. To be entered to win, leave a comment below answering this question: “If you could cook with one person who would it be?“. Contest closes August 13, 2013.
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, squash, eggplant, carrots, whatever you’ve got on hand)
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1 tablespoon capers or 2 tablespoon olives (any variety), pitted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons pesto sauce (optional, but toss it in if you have
- it on hand)
- 2 tablespoons pepperoncini peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, diced
- 1 – 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil and garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper (or to taste)
- 16 ounces dry pasta, cooked per package instructions
- Optional: ½ pound of cooked ground beef and ½ pound cooked Italian sausage, or 1 can garbanzo beans, roasted (see instructions)
- In a medium-hot skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add other vegetables; cook about 5 more minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients except spices and pasta. Turn heat to medium high. Stir and simmer until sauce is thick and chunky.
- Stir in optional meat or garbanzo beans. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian spices to taste. Add more brown sugar if more sweetness is desired. Simmer 5 more minutes. Serve atop pasta.
- Heat oven to 400˚. Rinse garbanzos (also called chickpeas) and pat dry.
- On baking pan, mix garbanzos with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (we love McCormick’s Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder), and ¼ teaspoon sea salt.
- Roast for 10 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times during the cooking. (You can also do this on the stove top over medium heat for 5 – 7 minutes, shaking every minute.)
- Check for seasoning; sprinkle with more salt or balsamic if desired.
• Vegan friendly (leave out meat; use dairy-free pesto or just omit it)
• Gluten free (substitute pasta with spaghetti squash or gluten-free pasta, like the ones made of quinoa, corn, or rice)