Cooking With Love

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Wednesday night, The Queen Mother treated me (an early birthday present) to a Cooking Workshop (Cooking w/Butternut Squash) at Alchemy by Carla Hall. What a wonderful treat. Throughout the whole workshop, you could tell just how much she loves to cook and to share her joy of cooking with others.


In between the cooking demonstration of each dish, Carla shared with us little tips & tidbits to make cooking easier and fun. Her husband ended up being our sommelier for the evening and was extraordinarily knowledgeable about each and every wine that was paired with each course. While Carla demonstrated cooking of each dish, we at each course, drank the pairing and took copious notes of everything.


Here is what was on the menu:

  • Mixed Greens with Butternut Squash, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds & Apple Cider Vinaigrette (Savignon, Domaine de l’Hermoniere Touraine 2009)
  • Moroccan Spiced Squash Rounds w/Dates, Pistachios & Mint (Chardonnay, Oak Grove 2009)
  • Pork and Roasted Butternut Squash Chili w/Crisp Grits (D’Autrefois Pinot Noir, 2009)
  • Butternut Squash Brulee w/Apple Chips (Presidential Ruby Porto)



Here are some of the tidbit I took home:

  • Always have a Bowl of Compliments (Salt) – If you don’t use it, you won’t get any compliments.
  • There is flavor in the brown.
  • Almost ready, almost ready, burnt (Bwaaahaahaa! Keep an eye on the stove, you might not have time to make that call)
  • If you can develop a quick & efficient way to get through prep (stage your ingredients) – cooking will be a joy.
  • Oil (or use cooking spray) your knife when cutting sticky foods (dates and such). Keeps things from sticking to knife. Also oil a bowl or measuring cup when using honey or other sticky liquids – no waste, wont stick to bowl.
  • Clean your coffee/spice grinder by grinding up white rice in it. Sparkly clean.
  • To see how a wine changes with food – make a wine sandwich: Wine, Food, Wine
  • If you want your grits/oatmeal to be ultimate creamy, add to cold water or milk and cook from there. CREAMY!
  • Put rubber bands on the teeth of tongs. It provides a grip to the tongs so things won’t slip as you try and grip them to take out of oven.
  • If you having a bad day or have an attitude, the only thing you should cook up is a reservation.

I learned an easy ways to make my own stock, syrups, finishing salt/sugar and more…and those apple chips…THE BOMB. This is going to be my new treat instead of chips(and Princess Cara’s). Maybe the chili too!


Yes, Chef Carla talked a little about Top Chef and the current All Stars Season she is on, but she couldn’t go into any real detail since the season is not over. After the class, Momz & I went home and were able to see Chef Carla win the challenge and a trip. GO CARLA! She didn’t say a word about it to the class either.


I left the workshop with not only an entire dinner menu using Butternut Squash and a bunch of other cooking gems, but also a renewed love for cooking and preparing wonderful meals for my friends & family.