Monday, September 29, 2014

Then and Now - Mason Cooks

Then and Now - Mason Cooks - 2012-2014
Happy Monday! It's fall and it feels magnificent. Over the weekend, Mason and I were cooking at the Auburn Fall Home Show. We each had two demos but in reality, I had four (my two and sous cheffing for Mason while he did his two). It was great fun and it got me thinking, it was this very weekend/event where Mason did his very first cooking demo in September 2012 - he was 8 years old. Since that very first cooking demo, he's done nearly 30 live cooking demos from California to Connecticut and New York City in just 2 years. Additionally, he's made more than 100 videos for his You Tube channel - Wow! Very cool Mason, very cool! I've included a photo with that picture from the very first demo to the one he did yesterday. 

As September comes to a close, we are getting really excited for all the fun we have planned in October. The obvious holiday is Halloween and we all know how much Dave and Mason love Halloween. In addition to the pumpkins, decorations, trick or treating, and apple hill, we are going to Lexi and Jordan's wedding in Utah and after that, we are going on a Disney cruise! I am SO excited, it's possible I am more excited than Dave and Mason put together. 

So today I have homework to do and lots of other household minutia. Have a great day and set yourself up for an awesome week, it will be done before you know it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Auburn Fall Home Show is Coming!

California is on fire but it looks like we have some rain on the horizon! I sure hope so, it is fall after all.

Speaking of fall, this coming weekend is the Auburn Fall Home Show and Mason and I will be cooking up a storm - we each have 2 days of cooking. Mason is planning to make his Fall Harvest Hash with homemade breakfast sausage, which by the way, Dave says is the best recipe he's ever cooked up! I'll be making my blue ribbon Toasted Coconut Butternut Tart. Yep, I said blue ribbon, it won first place at the Auburn Community Festival a few years back. Part of what makes it such a winner for me is that Dave does not like coconut but he loves this tart. Stay tuned for what I am sure will be lots of fun photos from the home show, oh and here's another little snippet of something fun... click here to see the 27 second video of Mason promoting Red Walnuts.

You can get the recipes for both of Mason's dishes on his website at www.masonpartak.com.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I'm So Glad It's Monday!

Happy Monday! Yesterday was a tough day for me so I'm glad to be starting new today. Nothing tragic, just nonsense, Mason being a pill, my car breaking down, and for some reason I was not up to the challenge of keeping my usual sun-shiny attitude. It's true, we all have our down days and many would argue that if it weren't for the down days, the good ones could not exist. Whatever! I'm over it and ready to figure out what to do about my car. I've been advised I can put $3,000 into the needed repairs and my mechanic will basically make it like new - except it won't be new, and if I spend that money and something else goes wrong, I'm going to kick myself for spending the money. On the flip side, I don't want a car payment and I do not have enough money to just buy a car outright, so here comes a car payment. Grrr!

So let's switch gears, As the mom of a kid cook who doesn't only cook at home, he cooks on television and in live cooking demos at special events, I often get asked, "Who is this really for, you or him?" Hmmm, that's a loaded question and honestly, not completely unwarranted. Those of you who know me, know I am a trained commercial actor and someone who loves to create with food. At Christmas time, I make amazing decorated cookies, artisan breads and cakes and any number of amazing culinary delights. Is it any surprise that my son would find a place in my culinary wonderland? I don't think so.

With all that said, it just made sense to me that since I have the knowledge and know-how to help him foster a love of cooking and performing, why wouldn't I? Especially in light of his origination, at the ripe old age of 8 years old that he wanted to do a live cooking demo - all by himself. The real answer to the question is, it's for both of us. Mason has a You Tube channel with over 100 videos with everything from safety with knives, how to make gravy, and fun craft ideas. You can also find some of his television performances and live cooking demos there. He loves doing the live stuff! As a family, we all enter recipe contests and we often place and sometimes we win. While I am working with Mason to help him build a foundation to have some fun and possibly make a bit of money, I am doing things for myself, too. Again, I am always working on new and unusual recipes for contests, and recently I entered a contest to go to a cooking class to learn how to make my recipes healthier and then, the group of 6 contestants will come together to compete with their revamped dish. Yeah, I am not just teaching Mason what I know, I am showing him how I use my skills as well - for me, and for him. So ask me again, "Who are you really doing this for?" and I will say, "Everything I do is hopefully for the well being of my whole family. Teaching and inspiring them to take chances, embrace opportunities, and set great examples for our family and friends who are living vicariously though all of us."

Oh, and about that contest I entered, it looks like I get to be one of the six contestants! I'll post more as soon as my information is verified and I can share some details. Stay tuned, I think this is going to be really fun - and not just for me! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

1st Place! 2nd Place! 3rd Place! A Partak Sweep.

Happy Gorgeous Monday!

It's not officially fall yet, but it's really starting to feel like it. The mornings are cool and the nights are smelling more and more like it's time summer is fading and fall is knocking on our doors, I'm even starting to see little bits of red and orange popping in our trees. I love this time of year! 

The latest and greatest in the Partak household is that we all won a ribbon in the cupcake contest at the Gold Country Fair this weekend. Dave and I won 1st and 3rd in the adult competition and Mason won 2nd in the youth division. This is a small fair so we are not putting too much stock in these wins, but for us, it's always about fun and with our entries we get in free to the fair. This contest also gets us in recipe competition mode as the Mandarin Festival is fast approaching and we all have titles to defend, most noteworthy is Dave who won the grand prize last year. I have my idea now I just have to start working on it and as it goes, I was lying in bed last night and came up with another concept, not sure if it will work, but it will be fun to try and experiment with. Oh, and we also went to a concert on Saturday night, Steve Holy is a country artist from "back in the day." Laughing! Okay, it wasn't that long ago, but it feels like lifetimes that Dave and I were out country dancing and going to concerts. I thought it was especially fun to be at the concert with Mason. I reminded Dave that we had many a talk about wanting to be married and have a family, the only difference was we weren't referencing each other as our prospective spouses - too funny! It's all good, no, better than good, my life is extraordinary.

In other news, Mason has a meeting today with one of our county supervisors about a donation to his school kitchen project, he is hoping to get a donation from the revenue sharing program. This is a program that allots $20,000 to each of our supervisors to dole out back into the community as they see fit, I'll be sure to update you when we know if a donation is coming Mason's way. With just $6,000 more dollars to raise to reach $25,000, my favorite part of this whole process has been seeing Mason step up to the plate and ask for help for something he sees will improve the condition of his school and the lives of his peers. He has had the opportunity to speak in front of groups of 50 and today, a meeting with a county official. This kind of community involvement and fundraising experience is priceless. Keep in mind, he is only 10 years old (almost 11 now) and there have been many lessons in sacrifice and having to do the work one doesn't like to do to be able to do the stuff one really wants and loves to do. Learning that lesson is never easy, heck, many of us are still working on it in our 30s, 40s, 50s and then some!

Have an awesome week and get the work done that needs doing so you can go have some fun!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Colors of Fall are Starting to Arrive!

As all of you know, Dave and I have been on Weight Watchers and doing lots more physical activity. Dave goes to a cross fit class two nights a week and I have been working a 3 mile hike 3-4 days a week. We usually go in the evening when it starts to cool off but when it's just me, I will often go in the morning. Look what I came upon while on my hike, yes, that is a gorgeous fall leaf! The trees are starting to change colors and though the days are still plenty warm, even hot, the mornings are crisp and cool. Ah, I love this time of year! I'm going to invite you into my kitchen to have a cup of coffee with me and send you off to have an awesome week! I have lots of fun mugs, but this is one of my all time favorites! Do you have a favorite coffee mug? Show me!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Everybody Now, "Back to School!"

Happy Monday!

I am SO excited, I get to go back to school this week! I know, so many people don't find that appealing at all, but it is such a privilege for me to get an education at this point in my life, I would be a professional student if I could. That means I have lots to do to get things in order so we have a smooth running household for the coming 16 weeks. I will be in classes from 9:30 AM until 10:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays which means planning ahead for dinners and meals for me to talk along. The cafeteria/restaurant at the school is very good, but it gets expensive eating there every day. 

Mason is liking the 5th grade and seems to be settling in just fine. Dave is not liking his current classes any more than he's liked his previous classes, unlike me, he would not opt to be a professional student! 

There is not much new to report, Mason and I are working like crazy to raise the last $7,000 for his school project and it looks like the new stove and oven will be installed and working before Mason is off to middle school. What a great accomplishment this will be once it's done.

Have an awesome week and think with greatness. If that seems lofty, then think with kindness, we can all use a little more kindness don't you think? 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Funday!

Happy Monday!

Last week was relatively uneventful other than Mason starting back to school, which all in all went really well. Dave is back to school and I start again on the 26th - I'm totally excited! Going back this time is sheer joy, versus when I first went back, it was completely overwhelming. Now I know the drill, I know where my classes are and I know that just because I don't have a class I need right now doesn't mean I won't get it. Yeah, it's all good.

Dave and I are enrolled in Weight Watchers together and I have to tell you, it's so much easier with him on board with me. There are still challenges like the fact that he gets to eat almost 50% more food than I do and of course, he loses more weight than I do. I really want to find a balance in being able to make healthy, low fat food choices most of the time so that when something special comes along, I'm not feeling deprived or left out of the celebration. The biggest obstacle seems to be that we live in a world where every meal is interpreted to be "something special." No! That is not the case, we do not need to have 3-4 items for dinner along with a high calorie beverage and dessert EVERY DAY. I'm not shouting at you, I'm shouting out of frustration for myself and hopeful that I will hear me and keep it simple during the day to day routines of my life. We have been hiking on average 12-15 miles a week in addition to that, Dave has joined a cross-fit group near where he works. My additional two days of exercise will come from my yoga class at school starting next week. Wish us loss, weight loss that is!

Finally, the premier of Rachel VS Guy Kids Cook Off Season 3 aired last night on the Food Network and it is not obvious to me why Mason wasn't chosen. We all high-fived though at the remark that was made noting that 1000s of kids auditioned and Mason was #9, if only there were 10 kids. Some of the most rewarding accomplishments come from a series of disappointments and with that said, Mason is on track to hone his skills, learn new ones and audition again next season. We have a fun plan to create a deck of cards with 52 different recipes, each card will have a recipe written on it (corresponding to a printed recipe) and that is what Mason will be making for dinner. It's my job to create this game and make sure lots of new techniques are included. Mason wants to learn things like how to use a pressure cooker, make and bake meringue - maybe a baked Alaska, and more! What is a cooking skill, appliance or technique you would like to learn? Of course, as I noted above Dave and I are eating per the WW philosophy so I need to make sure these recipes are mostly all healthy. I'll be sure to blog about the progress of this game and share the fun. I have no doubt there will be laughs, tears, some really good food in addition to a few "new recipes" created. 

Now it's time to get back to work but not without putting in print that today we are exactly 2 months away from leaving for Florida on our Disney Cruise! AHHH! I'm so excited, I know Mason is too, but I think I am way more excited that Dave and Mason put together. Have a great week and try not to let the set backs really set you back. Take a moment, look around, take it in and get up and back to whatever it is you are working to achieve - keep on keep'n on!