Lamb Recipe Archive

Because I wholesale lamb for my North Bay-based cousin every summer, friends and family assume that I have a stash of secret recipes for utilizing all of the bits and pieces that come with buying whole (or half) animals. I do, and they’re saved to my computer and I faithfully pull them up every year and send them around. Sometimes I use these recipes myself, sometimes I freestyle, and sometimes I just go with my favorite standby (this Lavender Salt from Eatwell Farm) and keep it simple. But in prepping for this year’s lamb–which includes finishing up the last few bits from last year–I realized that a list of links posted here to the blog is way more efficient than emailing PDFs around to those in need of inspiration.

With the exception of the jerky, I’ve made all of these recipes and can happily vouch for them. And there’s more–this is just a starting place. Hoping I’ll have time to make the jerky this week, so I’ll report back soon.

When Direct Mail Goes Wrong

As someone who has worked with direct mail on-and-off for the past ~15 years, I know all too well how hard it can be to maintain up-to-date lists. Depending on USPS and end users to self-report updates can be frustrating and all too often, inaccurate. But seeing that you’re sending materials to these folks in hopes that they’ll buy whatever product it is that you’re selling, you do what you can to ease the process for the sender, recipient, and of course, the mail house.

And if they want off the mailing list, you do it. Like immediately. Because angry customers can be loud–especially in these days of social media–and can do a substantial amount of damage to your brand.

Case in point:

I’ve lived in my apartment for 11+ years now. And of course I still receive direct mail for previous tenants…don’t we all? I’m tired of getting this junk–and I’d rather trees not be killed on my behalf for no good reason–so rather than dump these promotional pieces directly in the recycling bin, I’m getting in touch with the sender and asking to be removed from their database. And most of the time, it’s worked. But Oceania Cruises.

Oh Oceania. I used to receive a few pieces per year. But I called the number provided on their mailers earlier this year, and supplied the requested information to remove the previous tenant from their database. And ever since, I’ve received multiple pieces per week–and now they’re addressed to me–not a previous tenant! I’ve tweeted, asking them to remove me. I’ve called. I’ve emailed. Nothing has worked. So today, I put together this Storify, “Please Forget Me, Oceania Cruises” and asked the FTC for help. Who knows if it’ll do something, but maybe this round of public shaming will do the trick. A girl can hope. But I do know that this girl will never, ever, go on an Oceania Cruise.

February Challenge: To Be Continued

Hello March! I didn’t post about it, but I stayed committed to this challenge throughout February. And I’m going to continue on through this month. I ate out more than planned, so I wasn’t able to clear out the kitchen as much as I’d hoped. But here’s a sampling of some of the things I’ve made/ate over the past couple weeks:

Libby’s Pumpkin Bread
Ingredients used up: 1 can of pureed pumpkin, 1 package of brown sugar.
Ingredients purchased: eggs (which I purchase on a regular basis anyways…)
This made two large loafs. I kept one for myself, and took the other to a friend’s potluck birthday party for her kids. They were pretty tasty, but I prefer banana bread.

I buy 6-7 lb briskets at Costco on a regular basis, cook them with my super-secret family recipe, and freeze them in 1/2 lb portions.  I’ve eaten a couple portions this past month.
Ingredients purchased: none!

Chicken breasts
I typically poach these for mason jar salads, but needed a break from the routine. I pounded and baked two breasts with a coating of zatar spice blend that has been sitting around for far too long.
Ingredients purchased: none!

Lamb loin chops
Every spring, I get 1/2 lamb from a cousin that raises them in the North Bay. I still have a leg and a few other pieces from last year’s lamb, and it’s time to clear them out. No real recipe, I just pan-fry the chops with lavender salt and olive oil.
Ingredients purchased: none!

“Mock” Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Yes, I made them again last night. They’re delicious!
Ingredients purchased: Cauliflower. Yum.

Roasted peppers/sunchokes
Roasted veggies and starches are so easy to make and so tasty. I’ve been chopping up peppers and sunchokes and roasting them as sides for many a meal recently.
Ingredients purchased: none!

Bulgar pilaf
I grew up eating pilaf, and this is a slightly healthier version, as bulgar is a whole grain. No recipe, but I used up some canned chicken broth and bulgar.
Ingredients purchased: none!

February challenge: Cleaning out the pantry

Most people go on healthy/clean eating challenges at the beginning of each year. Me? I’m going on a clean-out-the-pantry challenge for February.

See, I used to enjoy cooking and baking. A lot. A few jobs ago, I was that person regularly bringing in cookies and cakes and quick breads for coworkers to enjoy, and I cooked regularly. And I enjoyed it. But time marched on, and I lost interest in bringing goodies to my most recent office. Too many food allergies and strong dislikes and even stronger opinions took the fun out of it. And I traveled. A lot. (Which I do love, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.) When I settled back into my apartment after each trip, I wanted quick and easy meals that were relatively healthy, but didn’t require much time and creativity. So my freezer and fridge were heavily populated from the prepared foods and freezer sections at TJs. But I also kept buying interesting ingredients and spices and other goodies at various grocery stores and farmers markets and other specialty stores. Looking back, my subconscious was clearly trying to push me back into the cooking/baking groove, but I didn’t want to hear it, and just threw everything into the cupboards, freezer, and fridge to deal with later.

Fast forward to last month. I started cleaning out the kitchen for a first time in too long, and I found some of these goodies. Homemade schmaltz. Rancho Gordo beans. Bags of pistachios and almonds from Fresno. Lots of frozen too-ripe bananas. Gah. I’ve become a food hoarder! But with this realization also came the “hey, I finally have the time and energy to get creative about my cooking and baking again!” call. So I’m going to hold myself accountable to this realization by blogging about it here. I’m not out to recreate Julie and Julia or become a master chef…I just want to find my happy creative space in the kitchen again. And use up some of this stuff.

So, my February challenge to myself: use as many ingredients as possible from my kitchen. Only buy things if they directly tie in with a dish, and if I can’t use a substitute that’s already in the kitchen. Stop wasting fresh fruits and veggies. I know these are pretty basic rules, but I’ll admit that I haven’t followed them in the past couple years. Since we’re already 11 days into the month, I’ve already begun the challenge. Here’s a few things that I’ve made thus far:

Vegan black bean and squash chili

  • Ingredients used up: butternut squash, chicken broth, avocado, green chilis, cheddar cheese, sour cream, black beans
  • Ingredients purchased: onion, peppers, scallions, chilis in adobo
  • This was easily 5-6 meals for me, so I threw leftovers in the freezer. Will definitely make it again.


  • No recipe, but I used up 1.5 avocados, a kumquat, part of a meyer lemon, and a shallot

“Mock” Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • I purchased the cauliflower before I decided to take on the challenge, so no ingredients were actually purchased for this. I swapped out the cream cheese for sour cream because I already had it on hand, and it was delicious! Will definitely make again.


It’s Time for a Reboot

I’m excited to announce that I’ll soon be seeking new work opportunities. I look forward to working with an organization that will be eager to utilize the skills learned and knowledge gained in my Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program, as well as the marketing and publishing experience that I’ve gained over the past 16 years in the workforce. An updated resume is in the works, and can be provided upon request.

Here’s to fresh beginnings in 2016!

Blog Abandonment

Dear blog:

I’m sorry for abandoning you. I’ve been writing–a lot–but it’s been for clients and school and friends and family and goodness knows what else. I’ll try to be better this year.


Communication is Key

As I prepare to enter the online MARA program through San Jose State, I feel lucky for having had many years of work-at-home experience. Many of my former employers offered work-at-home days, knowing that the the employees could use the quiet time to write and/or analyze reports, meet with overseas colleagues via phone or Skype, and intensely focus on work without having someone knocking at the office door. And having consulted with various clients worldwide for the past 20 months, I’ve grown used to working off-hours and adjusting to the needs of various clients. As such, I feel relatively prepared to become an online student, knowing that much of my interaction with my cohort and instructors will take place online and in an asynchronous manner.

Having recently listened to two different presentations on the importance of effective teamwork, I’ve been thinking back to previous team-related work experiences, and what went right, and what went wrong. Teamwork, when done well, can produce awesome results and incredible goodwill amongst team mates. But it can be challenging to bring together a group of people, and ask them to cooperate. The common denominator of my team work experiences boil down to communication…when the members communicated well, great things happened; when they didn’t, the final product was often a disappointment. While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that I have been on teams that experienced many of Dr. Haycock’s “5 Dysfunctions of Teams,” which are as follows:

  1. Absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflict
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results

And Enid Erwin’s list of negative behaviors: silent, absent, controlling, and stubborn have also been forces that I’ve learned to work with in previous workplaces.

Now, having listened to both presentations, I look forward to using Dr. Haycock’s “Stages of Team Development”–either as a team member or leader–to recognize and move beyond these challenges, to create effective teams and projects. These stages consist of:

  1. Forming (creating the team)
  2. Storming (learning about each other’s differences, challenging each other, and visualizing how to work together)
  3. Norming (utilizing individuals strengths and establishing process)
  4. Performing (using established processes to succeed)

Ms. Erwin’s presentation also provided some keys to successful teamwork, including the importance of positive attitudes, an eagerness to collaborate and learn from each other, effective communication, and taking the time to create a realistic and beneficial process.

These two presentations were ultimately quite similar in scope; the main difference being that Dr. Haycock’s presentation was procedural, and Ms. Erwin’s was informal and casual. Both provided some great tips and advice for identifying weaknesses in individuals and groups, and how to move beyond them to create strong teams. My main takeaway? The reinforcement that successful teamwork is based on regular and respectful communication amongst team members.