Thursday, September 16, 2010

PFB #1 A gypsy's tale

View my official contestant profile here!

Here we are, on the first leg of the Project Food Buzz marathon.  I've got my running shoes on and I'm ready to go!   Competitions of any sort are like a red flag in front of a bull to me.  As a Sagittarius, and the stereotypical overachieving perfectionist, if something isn’t challenging, it soon falls off my radar!  As a die-hard foodie, I want the recipes to stand upon their own merit.

 Maybe I should explain the gypsy thing.  I'm not a nomad who roams all over in a wagon with my goats, chickens and belongings in tow, although I may LOOK like a gypsy!

 Which do you prefer?  The scarf-clad deer in the headlights or...
The silver bracelts caught in the wild red hair?   This is who makes all the normal looking food you see on here.  Please don't stop reading my blog now!

The gypsy thing started with my Serbian ex (late) father-in-law.  He said I looked like the gypsies he remembered from his childhood in Yugoslavia.  Even though I am a Tennessee girl, by way of Chicago, Kentucky and now Florida, my recipes may be from anywhere in the world.  I guess that DOES make me a gypsy!

Were you to stand face to face and ask me, " who is The Homegrown Gourmet,” the answer might not be what you expect.  I can tell you it has nothing to do with gardening, which many seemed to think initially. Do these look like nails that dig in the dirt? They are not fake...nothing about me is fake! Flamboyant definately but this is  who I am.

The Homegrown Gourmet came about as a name for my catering business.  I  was also serving as Executive Chef for the Orlando based food cooperative, Get Green Organics.  The emphasis of my catering was fresh, organic, healthy foods but it became apparent to everyone that I’d set out to prove you didn’t have to eat tree bark and live in a commune to enjoy real food.

 I was asked to teach healthy cooking classes for a variety of venues; even being a featured speaker for Central Florida Veg Fest and Earth Day.  Someone suggested that I start blogging to share my creative cooking ideas with others.  It took six months for me to figure out what a blog was!  I’m not the dimmest bulb, but I’m not the brightest one either.

menu from the Get Green Organics booth at Earth Day, 2009

The gardening question kept coming up so I finally wrote an article explaining that “homegrown” alludes to the fact that I am self-taught.  It's also a nod to my grandparents; all of whom were amazing cooks.  I am convinced that I inherited a cooking gene. I carry with me the memories of all the cooking entailed: heirloom recipes penned by a hand that was gone before I was born, the practical kitchen wisdom of generations, the funny stories of recipes gone awry, holiday tables ladened with the signature dishes of great- aunts.  It is part and parcel of who I am and the family that made me.

The “gourmet” part might be delusions of grandeur. I think I’m a gourmet but whether anyone else shares that opinion is purely subjective. However, you find no cocktail wieners in a crock-pot concoction of grape jelly and ketchup on my blog!  You will find a lifetime of dedication to learning who I am as a cook and what I deem worthy of the people who take time out of their day to read my posts.

bento without a box

vegan chicken-less chicken salad in whole grain pita

citrus rosemary chicken with herb garlic roasted potatoes

mango swirl yogurt cheesecake

The Homegrown Gourmet Blog is an outlet for the creative cacophony in my head.  It may be a play on words that brings a phrase and a recipe full circle.  It may be the strangest marriage of ingredients, cultures and anecdotes you’ve ever read.  It is the musings of a middle-aged gypsy surrounded by her bohemian treasures and a well-stocked pantry. 

Sometimes it is the salve for my emotional wounds which I share in hopes of soothing someone else’s.  It has been both diary and a window into my life to the friends I’ve made in the blogging community.  Most of all it has become the instrument enabling me to share 25 years worth of original recipes. 

"skinny" yogurt panna cotta with triple berry compote

triple chocolate fleur de sel caramel brownies

last year's gingerbread mansion

If it seems a little quirky at times that’s okay because I’m quirky.  If you find yourself laughing hysterically, shaking your head thinking, “that girl is nuts”, that’s even better.  If you become inspired to get into your kitchen and cook, that is best of all!  If you need of an invitation to dinner, give me a call when you are down this way.

Sunday dinner, rosemary and salt crusted, garlic-studded leg of lamb.

Let me gather my wits about me to convince the judges and readers that I am the logical choice for the next Food Buzz Blog Star. “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m the next FB Blog star and you know it too.” It’s catchy but not exactly compelling.

“Little Jillyan, when she wanted to bake,
went to her kitchen and whipped up a cake.

This cake was so lip-smacking good
 she won the contest, like she knew she would.

The judges asked for a beautiful picture as well.
She forgot the flash…do you think they could tell?

She’s got mad skills when it comes to cooking;
 doesn’t dip her fingers in the bowl when no one is looking!

(but she can't vouch for other people's fingers!)

What kind of food do you want today?
 Shall it be from home or far away?

individual chicken pot pies

thai spring rolls with coconut lime dipping sauce

Shall it be something fancy with a snooty French name,
 or snacks to nosh watching the football game?

Tarte aux tomates séchées polenta au fromage de chèvre et deux courges

guacamole and mango black bean salsa with organic blue corn chips

There is nothing too farfetched for her to try.
She’s an adventurous gypsy with spatula held high.

avocado fudge brownie with feta cheesecake swirl

individual walnut crusted sweet feta cheesecakes with gingered agave syrup

When end of day comes and the cooking is done,
she turns to her blog and shares what she’s done.

Food Buzz/Electrolux banana split challenge - all vegan coconut chocolate chip ice cream in pineapple boats

If it’s humor, great food and a slice of reality on the side,
The Homegrown Gourmet blog has got it and that cannot be denied!

NOTHING could be more humorous than this!  I was obviously out on a day pass that day.

grilled eggplant with gremolata and fresh grape tomatoes is just good food!

and why settle for a slice when you can have the whole thing?


  1. JillyAn-Great post!! Love the bracelets, and I think the scarf looks nice in your hair (I try to wear scarves/headbands and they just fall out!!). Good luck with Project Food Blog!!

  2. Mom, you need to put a link for us to vote!

  3. I wanted to tell you, I put a link for you on my blog.

  4. I will post a link when the voting starts. Voting begins on Monday. In the meantime,any of the foodbuzz widgets that you see on the blog are also hot buttons...they will take you right to the site. What do you think of the entry?? Does this define me as a foodie/blogger and person??

  5. This is fabulous and your photos look soooo yummmy! Best of wishes to you!!

  6. I loved reading your story and your poem, and salivated over all the gorgeous photos. We have so much in common and I can't wait to spend more time at your blog. I'm from the Midwest and now live in Florida. I was a vegetarian chef and started my own catering company. So, I was totally engrossed in your story. You've got my vote because this was one of the best PFB challenges I have read! Good luck in the competition!

  7. Your dishes are fantastic!! Go Sagittarius!

  8. Hey Jilly, this was so well written and interesting to read. I already knew you were an awesome Gypsy though (smile). And you know I will keep up with you through the challenge. Yeah;)!
    p.s.-I prefer the silver bracelets caught in the wild red hair look for sure...

  9. Great post. Good luck!

  10. This is such a great post Jill...Love it, and everything you do :) I know you will do very well, but just to keep the karma out there...Good luck :)

  11. Jilly, some of my closest friends are Sagittarians. I find them so compelling, and now that I've read your post, I know why I like them even more! You're so funny and talented, I hope you'll do well in PFB. Good luck!

  12. Thank you to everyone! This was a deceptively difficult post to write..LOL It's not like you can just say..."I think I should win cause I can cook good" :)

  13. I love it!! So much fun to read about your mad skills in the kitchen and with Iambic pentameter!

  14. You did a fantastic job on your post! It was entertaining, real and a fun read! Good luck with the contest!! :)

  15. LOL Kristen...I'm only poetically sophisticated enough to manage Iambic Pentameter. I am REALLY good a writing naughty limericks for that very reason but I didn't think that would be appropriate ;)~

  16. I came to check out the competition. Wow so much great food! Good Luck. GREG

  17. Thank you Greg...I stop by your blog often. It's wonderful! I didn't realize you were no I've got to go read!

  18. Great job here and way more food than I could ever imagine you have great talent here much luck to you! awesome posting!

  19. Wow!!! Jill, you have made some incredible foods!! what a cavalcade of delectable delights!! You are going to be such a star in this competition!! Best of luck to you my friend!
    oh and my vote is for wild red head!!

  20. Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great! I always enjoy stopping by your blog. :)

  21. great post, i love all the amazing food you feature...good luck in the comp, I am sure you will do awesome


  22. Great post! That avocado fudge brownie is uh-maze-ing!

  23. Great introduction love! You will do great. You are so full of life, beatuy and creativity! Thank you for sharing some of yourself with us today. I feel like I know you better!

  24. Wonderful. I can not believe the breadth of dishes you have displayed in this post. They are absolutely breathtaking. And your bio is perfectly you; humorous, sincere, passionate. Thank you for sharing yourself like that.

  25. Well, besides both being foodies, I'm also a Sagittarius and my maternal grandfather's family is from Tennessee. Cool!

    Your post made me smile--you've got a bright, shiny personality that pairs well with your beautiful creations. Much luck on PFB!

  26. Hey Jilly! Great post! I must say you are definitely very creative and everything looks and sounds fabulous. All the best for PFB!

  27. Sent a HAPPY ♥ vote your way. See you in round two Jilly!

  28. You know you got my vote! Good luck, friend. Hope we both make it to the second round! fingers crossed! =)

  29. I'm off to FB to vote for my friends!!

  30. Thanks Katie, for putting me in touch with your Mom's blog of AMAZING FOOD! Now, which to try first? Ginny

  31. Hi Ginny! Thanks for stopping buy and thanks for voting!!

  32. What a lovely post, you have such an impressive background. I wish you best of luck with the PFB challenge. Great photos.

  33. Yo go girl! Love the post (and the nails)! You had my vote from the get-go! Happy Wednesday! - Megan

  34. Great post and it's nice to meet you Jilly and vote for you! You food looks so good, I'm coming back to check on you. Good Luck!

  35. Nice to meet you as well Gina! Come back anytime!

  36. wow, what a delicious spread of food!


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Fort Myers, Florida, United States