Cooking competition. Chocolate covered strawberries - and MORE!

These videos are still happening weekly, over on YouTube and on Patreon, but I think a weekly mail in your inbox is a bit much. If I'm wrong, if you like seeing these every week, let me know and I can revert back.

Otherwise, it's a once-a-month roundup! You'll get all the stories, all the videos, and all the love, just in one spot. Thanks for reading! (as always, there are details of the recipes in the Youtube links - scroll down!)

It was Christmas vacation, and we'd rented a house on the Outer Banks, North Carolina, with friends. Well, actually, they rented the house and we crashed the party. Details. We brought food, though, does that count?

While waiting for them to arrive we got settled in the house, put away groceries, and set up this competition. Jeremy, Julian, and Bee each had $10 to buy ingredients and put together something not-main-course. We had a blast filming and eating.

Who won?

As you might have guessed from the previous video, Julian's got some serious plating chops. I came home from some errand or another one afternoon and found him creating these. He melted chocolate chips, dunked berries in the melted deliciousness, and then took it over the top with a layer of texture (2, actually, if you count the powdered sugar on the final final version). Never underestimate the power of presentation. To me, that involves visual texture as well as color. I suppose someone else might call it the architectural appeal of food . . . that's weird. Never mind.

Bananas are delicious. And energy-dense. And they turn brown SO FREAKING FAST. Yes, I love banana bread along with the rest of everyone. What else can you do with them? You make these energy balls that require no heat, no cooking, and give you a great bit of energy. They saved my hide in Indianapolis earlier in the summer when I was there for a conference; 2 of these with coffee and I was set for the morning. Yum.

When living on a boat, you need to take advantage of amazing opportunities when they come along. Sometimes that's in the form of abundant veggies or spices - but how do you keep them when your fridge space is severely limited? Vodka to the rescue. Ginger forever!

Presentation was the watchword for the first video in this post, and it's the watchword for the last as well. Here you can see the glories of visual texture as well as color as the white creamy fluffy yogurt contrasts with the brittle brown of the granola and the jewel-like softness of the fruit. And don't get me started on how delicious it is!

Pretty much all of these recipes are based on a few consistent themes. 1) Make it your own. From staging a cooking competition to creating layered masterpieces in a glass and even to preserving ginger, there's nothing sacred or detailed about how you craft any of these. Take a breath, dive in, and have fun! 2) Presentation can make a huge difference. Julian's strawberries were beautiful before he added the drizzle; they went over the top with those few lines of pop. It didn't take a lot more effort to make the end result feel a whole lot more special.

Go cook. Create. And enjoy. Yes, you really can.