The Sharpest Knife In The Box

Today was a great day. I realized today that I really enjoy my life. Aerosmith came on the radio after a Tupac song, the sun was shining, the breeze was blowing through my hair, the scent of fried chicken was in the air...

And I got the chance to meet and greet with some awesome people today.

Today's plan was to go to the Top Chef demonstration in Charlotte, NC. I planned to meet Spike and Andrew, shake hands, kiss cheeks, take photos, get in a little Q&A and go home happy. Well, Ike decided to scare the beejeezus out of everyone, prompting $5 gas, and even though I filled up before the scare...I didn't want to take any chances.

I had a back-up plan. It's been in my pocket for a month, and I'm glad I had it.

The Forsyth County (NC) Public Library has a festival each year called Bookmarks. It's sponsored by the local newspaper (not mine), a few radio stations, grocery stores, and the library, of course. Last year, I met Amy Sedaris (our photo together is on Facebook, if you want to see it. Oh, and you have to have Facebook AND be my friend to see it so...), Sue Monk Kidd, and Elizabeth Edwards (I do believe she knew about Rielle when I was shaking her hand).

This year, I went to meet the author of The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Kathleen Flinn. I bought her book when I bought this but I have yet to actually read it. I felt inspired by our meeting today, so I'll be reading it soon.

What's it about? Well, Courtney at CocoCooks does a better job than I would, so click here.

Kathleen seems fun, regular and someone who you want to invite over for Sunday dinner (with her gracious husband who was a catalyst for her going to Le Cordon Bleu).

She was so sweet when signing my book.

Me and Kathleen Flinn. She's so awesome. And nice. Nice people rock.

So when I got home, I was tired, but not too tired to cook. I haven't cooked in days. The following is a recipe from the book.

Spaghetti Bolognaise de Sharon
(Sharon's Bolognese sauce for spaghetti)
adapted from The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

1 cup onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 carrots, grated
1 lb 97% fat free ground beef
1 mini bottle (350 ml) dry red wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Italian herbs (I ripped up fresh basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, & thyme)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked and drained
Parmesan, grated

In a saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and cook onions and carrots over medium heat until softened. Don't brown them. Stir in the garlic and beef. Stir and mash, using a fork or tined-utensil, until the meat cooks through and separates into crumbly pieces.

Add the wine and turn up the heat so that the wine bubbles continuously. Reduce by half. Skim off any gray foam. Add tomato paste and stir. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for a minimum of two hours and up to four. Stir from time to time, scraping the bottom to ensure nothing sticks or burns (a rubber spatula is great for this part). Shortly before serving, stir in the Italian herbs, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Taste again and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve with pasta sprinkled with Parmesan.

I like more pasta than sauce, so a little bit goes a long way for me. And I'm a big cheese whore (I buy 5-8 different kinds every time I go to the grocery) so there was probably more cheese on this than sauce.

Thank you, Kat's friend and classmate, Sharon. This was good. No, no... delicious.

And I think that I'll submit this to Presto Pasta Nights, too. There's a first time for everything and this will be my 1st entry ever. I think this is the perfect dish for that. Go by and see Psychgrad, she's hosting this week. She and her people are hiLARious over there. For real.

Oh, and I met these people too:

Rue McClanahan, better known as Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls

The Nikkis.

Famed poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni. And me.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Nikki,

    Quite a day kid. I want to meet Rue McClanahan, not fair. Great blogging......

  2. Robert: I didn't even know Rue was going to be there. A big surprise to me! And thanks ;)

  3. Looks like you had a great time! From Jan
    and also on your Facebook!

  4. Sounds like you had an awesome day even though you didn't make that trip to Charlotte. We did have an awesome feature in Go Triad about Rue being at Bookmarks. You'll have to go back and read it.

  5. What fun. I've been hearing a lot about that book too & think its one Matt & I might enjoy

  6. Jan: Hey again! I'm adding you to Foodbuzz, too!

    Andrea: Yeah, I did. I don't regret my decision at all. As much as I love Top Chef, these ladies trumped the men. Big time. And I'll go read the Rue piece right now.

    Kat: Yeah, you guys would like it a lot. It's really inspired me for the weeks ahead. Maybe I'll write a book, too.

  7. Hi Trikki! It's Noodle! I am so happy for you! You seem really happy doing what you do! I hope to actually make it to one of your classes one day.

    Miss you!

  8. That is so cool! What a fun day! Glad you enjoyed yourself!

  9. Look at you hanging with Blanche! Very cool! I like what the author wrote on your book, sounds like a great day. Life is good.

  10. What an awesome day! You met tons of cool people, and it involved food and fun :) Very, very, happy for you. I'm going to have to be on the lookout for Tupac and Aerosmith on the radio, and maybe I'll play the lottery :)

  11. Nikki, how wonderful is that? How great to meet all these incredible celebrities. But hey, you've become quite a celebrity yourself, so my dear friend, you were in your element. Good job.

  12. How come you get to have all the celebutastic fun, whilst I must wither away (a difficult thing to do while simultaneously gaining weight-yet somehow I manage) in the bowels of Texas, watching giant spiders carry off my genius bit by bit? And yes, there are giant spiders here. People call them wolf spiders and claim they're harmless, but whatever. You say potato, I say tarantula. I envy you to no end.

  13. Okay, you're funny.

    I can already tell from reading the first post that you're blog is great. How fun to get to go to this event! I LOVED the Golden Girls, how sweet that you got to meet Blanche {she'll always be Blanche to me}.

    And I can't believe you take all of these pictures with a cell phone camera! -Did I read that right?! You're a magician!

  14. How great you got to meet all these greats!You look really happy.

  15. Babeth: Hi! And thank you! Well, merci!

    Noodle: Hey, girl! I am! Really. And you just let me know when you want to come and I'll make sure you're in the front row! My next class is on kid's snacks. Maybe Council could organize something....I'll email you about that...

    Jenn: Thanks, friend. I think I deserved that day.

    Aggie: I know! I felt like we were old friends. She'll always be Blanche to me to. The man in line behind me said, "She looks just like herself!" We all laughed about that.

    Adam: I'm starting to have awesome fun/food-filled weekends. I hope something like this happens to me again. Oh and after the Aerosmith song? "Tainted Love" came on. Umm hmm.

    Teresa: Me? A celebrity? nice of you to say :) Not yet. Maybe soon. I'm getting my face out there, though. Maybe someone will take pity on me and help me get to where I want to be.

    Spiteful: But heyyyy...You have a tiara. I do not. 'Nuff said LOL

    Hot garlic: LOL Thanks! I try my best to be funny. It keeps me from crying. And yes ma'am...everything is done with my cell phone. It works better than my digital one and the imaginary trust fund won't allow for a new one.

    Courtney: :) I was very happy that day. I can see it in my face, too.

  16. I love that right in the moment you recognised that you love your life! So rare to see it when it is happening.

  17. What a great experience. I love the inscription on your book.

    I am looking to develop my own perfect bolognese recipe, so you have my attention on that.

  18. Foodycat: And I was alone for most of the day...and I was OK with that. Very content.

    Rachel: Me too! I need to think of something witty to write in my future book :)

  19. Look at u all over the place. So, can I say that I love the golden girls? Like, I can watch them for hours and hours - they're classic. That and that Lucy Ricardo.

  20. D: I love the Golden Girls, too. I used to watch it on Saturday nights with my grandma. It came on right before Empty Nest.

  21. Aw, it's too bad you missed the Top Chef event. The book festival sounds like a fun alternative.

    I loved Rose (Betty White). Which Golden Girl are you?

  22. Heyyy, thanks for the little link thingy, Maggie. :) Yeah, the festival was fun. Food, folks, and fun...


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