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Who is A Reluctant Foodie?

Not that you really care, but....

I'm originally from New Jersey and have lived in Pennsylvania (twice), New York (twice), Alabama, New Jersey (again), Kentucky (briefly) and currently in Northern Virginia. Along with my fairly extensive domestic travel, my reasonably broad overseas travel has exposed me to a wide variety of foods. However, it wasn't until I met and married Cynthia that food became important to me. If you're reading the blog, I'm sure you've realized by now that Cynthia is the inspiration for my love of food. My love of beer? I brought that to the table all by myself.

In November of 2011, I decided that I wanted to adopt the Meatless Monday philosophy.  I had heard about it a while before that, but around that time I did quite a bit of reading on the topic and decided to give it a try. Cynthia jumped right on board and has been a real trooper about keeping Monday night dinners meatless, interesting, nutritionally balanced and fun. I am, however, on my own the rest of the day. We've pledged to not take the simple route (salads, pasta, etc) and to really work at expanding our vegetable and grain horizons.

Why am I blogging? At first, I was convinced it was a way to "keep me honest", you know, having to report each week. But several months into it I realized how much I was enjoying writing, not only about Meatless Monday, but occasionally about other things. As I said earlier, I love beer, so you will see the occasional post about it here.

Cynthia and I are fortunate. We get to travel some, eat out when we want, (although the food I get at home is often better) and we live in a part of the country we love. We moved to Northern Virginia in 2009 and are enjoying life with our two Cocker Spaniels, Cooper and Jack.

Cynthia owns and runs her own floral design business, Design In Bloom, which specializes in weddings and corporate events. If you are in need of flowers for an event in the Northern Virginia, Washington, DC or Maryland area, you can find her contact information on the website.

I hope you find the things I write about interesting. I love to hear from readers and am happy to respond to questions and comments. Thanks for reading!

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Oven Roasting Fresh Tomatoes for Pasta Sauce

A while back I wrote a post about using the preserved tomato sauce from 2008 that we still had in our pantry. It was the last jar of what was the best tomato crop we have grown -- to date. This weekend we picked and roasted the first batch from this year's garden with high hopes that we could match the richness of flavor from that magical year.

I wanted to share the process, especially since it's so simple, at least up to the canning, which I won't cover here. Those of you that can know it's not really hard, just a little time consuming.

The first step is pretty obvious, get yourself some tomatoes. We like to grow our own, but you can also buy them from a farm or farm market. Here's a little tip if you decide to buy -- offer to buy the "seconds", you know, the less than perfect tomatoes that everyone else has passed on. They can have blemishes, partial spoilage and even the occasionally bug hole. Don't worry, you're going to cut away any bad par…

2008 was a very good year....

...for tomatoes in Newburgh, NY. That's where we lived then and where we grew, roasted and canned tomato sauce. We actually did that every year but there was something magical about the quart mason jars full of that 2008 vintage. Last night, as part of Meatless Monday dinner, we opened the last one.  Nearly 4 year old tomato sauce you say? Isn't that, um, dangerous? Not at all if the jars are initially prepared correctly, the canning process is carried out properly and the seal remains intact. It was both exciting and a little sad to crack open that seal, but the finished meal made it all worth it. Cynthia's original recipe was a perfect use for that special vintage.

Herbed Crepes with Ricotta, Spinach and Chard Filling
Ingredients (crepes) 1 cup AP flour1 cup + 2-4 tbsp liquid of your choice, could be stock, milk, beer, water or any combination thereof - I used 1 cup Better than Bouillon No Chicken and 3 tablespoons of Duck Rabbit Milk Stout beer3 large eggs2 tbsp unsalted q…

Authentic Unbeatable Swedish Meatballs!

Think Ikea, But 100 Times Better
A Guest Post by Anneli from Delicieux
I am delighted to be back here on A Reluctant Foodie doing another guest post for Al. Our last challenge (Stuffed Peppers) was such fun that we decided to do it again and this time I suggested 'Balls"!

'Balls' was a fun choice as it gives such a large scope for experimenting - meatballs, fish balls, rice balls, chocolate balls, ice cream balls...the possibilities are endless. Not to mention the childishness of repeatedly writing 'balls'!! (and yes, I'm 36, not 3!)

In fact, I had no trouble at all deciding which 'balls' I was going to make, it was inevitable. I am half Swedish and I was brought up in a house where certain Swedish foods were regulars at our table. I was aware of Ikea and their meatballs before the rest of the world began their love affair with them.

My Mormor (Grandma) used to make them fresh and serve them with dollops of sweet lingon berry sauce, boiled potatoes …