Posts by: the Blind Cook

in memory of josh marks

October 11 of last year, evening. Dinner was beef Wellington and glazed carrots. One couple had brought whipped potatoes, another a salad. After everyone had left, the hubs helped me gather dirty dishes into the sink. I pulled on my gloves and began rinsing the stemware.

My cell phone rang. Who would be calling me so late?

“It’s Monti,” John said after checking my caller ID.

“I’ll call her back after I’m done with the dishes,” I said.

My phone chimed again—this time, a text message.

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cooking panang curry on “steven and chris”

Steven and Chris is one of my favorite talk shows in Canada: the boys (as their crew affectionally refers to them), their producers, and their whole staff, really, are lovely. (That’s another thing I noticed during my three-week stint as a Canadian: they use the word “lovely” a lot. I was told it’s the British in some of them.) But indeed, I love going on “Steven and Chris”—the hosts are nice and very funny. No wonder their CBC show has been syndicated in the U.S. on the Live Well Network.
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eating nyc 2.2: my first visit to the bronx


Created with flickr slideshow.

I know very little about the Bronx. Actually, I’ve never been outside Manhattan to any of the surrounding boroughs, with the exception of getting to and from LaGuardia airport and a couple of trips to Brooklyn. I only knew three things about the Bronx: (1) it had a zoo, (2) the Yankees play there, and (3) J. Lo is from the Bronx.

From what I’ve gathered from media over the years, I pictured the Bronx as home to the blue-collared working class. Tell me I’m not that far off…?

The thing about the working class is they are a no-bullsh*t type of people, which means their food is usually unpretentious, inexpensive, and flavorful.

Eating was, however, the secondary reason as to why I came to the Bronx in June. Danielle, founder of Global Pop-Up, asked me to visit the Lavelle School for the Blind to inspire the kids with a little talk and cooking demo. I’ve been so fortunate to be placed in such a position—to be able to inspire others towards unbound heights—so I accepted the invitation since I was in NYC already for the AFB 2014 HKAAs.
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eating nyc 2.1: fior di latte, raw baby octopus, and fish sauce cocktails


Created with flickr slideshow.

Even though I was in New York City this June for the AFB 2014 Helen Keller Achievement Awards, I made sure I set aside time for some good eaten’ since NYC is such a gastronomical destination. Because MasterChef season 4 winner Luca Manfé’s cookbook, My Italian Kitchen had just published, I also made it a point to meet up with Luca to get my copy signed and for a little MC reunion.

Luca set up an evening of cocktails and pizzas at Zio Ristorante, a bumpin’ Italian restaurant from his friend, also named Luca. (Who would’ve thought?) There I met Christine Silverstein and Elizabeth Cauvel from MasterChef season 5 (which was currently airing at the time). That’s right, three generations of MasterChef contestants getting together to eat and drink. I was also ecstatic to meet up with some familiar faces from crew: Perry, Trask, and JP, who were like my guardians during my sequestered time away at MC3. (Perry and Trask even refer to themselves as my MC3 “mom and dad”—they’ve seen all of us contestants at our best and our worst.)

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recap of the afb 2014 helen keller achievement awards

My blog was on a little hiatus while I was in Toronto filming ”Four Senses” season 2–long work days with only two days off out of 22 was a bit of a blog buzzkill. But I’m back, baby!

My last gastronomical travels took us to Denver, and if we are to follow my trips chronologically, we would land in New York City where I spent a few days mid-June for the 2014 Helen Keller Achievement Awards. But before we get on to the good eats, the purpose for my being in NYC deserves a post itself.

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behind the voice of siri

At the end of July, I released Episode 4: How the Blind Email, Tweet, and Blog (or “Yes, That’s Really Me on Facebook!”) of my Blind Life YouTube series. It was my response to all the questions about how those with vision loss use technology.

Yes, I use my iPhone every day, and without it, I’d be bored, disconnected, and lost. The hubs had showed me this video a long time ago about how Siri’s voice was created, and it’s so weird to hear “Siri” speak about anything other than telling me my message is sent, my reminder is set, or that she is searching the web for “‘House of Cards’ plot synopsis.”

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eating denver 1.0: my first key lime pie, lots of sausage, and tons of goat cheese

I was in Denver this summer at a fundraising gala for Phamaly Theatre Company, a theatre group giving those with various disabilities opportunities to take the stage. As a writer and graduate of University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, I am naturally a supporter of the arts and jumped at the chance to support the performing and musical arts for a group of people With special needs.

As a person with a disability, I have firsthand experience on what sort of a toll it takes on the self-esteem. Phamaly provides a way for those with disabilities to take center stage, helping raise self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression.

But enough about my soapbox for the day. Let’s move on to what I ate in Denver!

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chromecast: how i get my tv on

Growing up, summer breaks were equated to a ton of TV time. I had no siblings, so my summer companions were LeVar Burton at ”Reading Rainbow” at 9 AM, Jon Baker and the Ponch from ”CHiPs” at 10 AM, and Woody Woodpecker and Looney Tunes in the afternoon. (Mid-day TV always sucked, as soap operas and “People’s Court” didn’t appeal to my nine-year-old self.)

As an adult, the summer break is a sentimental thing of the past (unless, of course, you’re a teacher, which I am not). But that doesn’t mean I don’t get my TV on.

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blind life episode 5: what’s in my freezer?

I sometimes get accosted in the grocery store by people who have seen me on TV. They say hello, tell me I’ve inspired them to cook, shake my hand, maybe ask for a photo. There have been a couple of times when shoppers tell me they’re actually at the store collecting ingredients to make one of my recipes from my cookbook—that’s indeed a cool feeling. All the while we are conversing, though, I can’t help but imagine their eyes cutting to the contents of my cart. And then I internally blush when I realize I probably have two pounds of butter and three pints of ice cream in the basket.

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