Page 1

CAT DISTASIO’S WRITING PORTFOLIO A COLLECTION OF WRITING BY CAT DISTASIO C A T . D ISTASIO @ GMAIL.COM


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

H OW TO FA K E GOURMET COOKING W H E N Y O U ’R E BUSY AS HELL MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010 How-to, Tips, Vegan WWW.THEVERDANTLIFE.COM

One


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day that made me realize I’m missing my mark here on Verdant Eats. What I mean is, my friend—who considers himself a foodie and rather handy in the kitchen—couldn’t fathom cooking the way I do. It’s too complicated, too time consuming, too out-there, too difficult. I was startled by his feedback, because I don’t feel that way at all. If only you all could be in the kitchen with me, I’d show you… tant are the successes, of which I try to share with you in totality. Looking back, I realize that I’m still leaving out a lot.

So, after his words rattled around in my head for a few days, I decided on a new plan of action. I’m going to reveal some super secret foodie wisdom to you all, and you have to promise to share it with as many people as possible. Or I’ll have to send someone to breaka’ your kneecaps.

Most of my meals – dinners in particular – are not cooked from a recipe. I’m not a chef, I’m a cook. I’m a food whisperer. I throw things in a pan and it all just comes together and I realize that’s a skill that not everyone possesses. But, there are a LOT of tips and tricks that I can tell you about to help make your kitchen dreams come true – or at least help you reduce your dinnertime stress. These’ll be my Food Rules and you can follow as many or as few of them as you like.

Keep in mind that you’re not seeing all of my meals, 3 times a day, 7 days a week. I’ve had plenty of dinners composed of olives and almonds and French bread, and spaghetti for breakfast. That’s not important. There have also been a few dinners that were such a big flop that I dare not even begin to admit to you what they were. That is also not important. What is impor-

Two


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

1. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Fresh, ripe tomatoes will take any dish over the top, as will most other veggies in season. For a guide on what’s in season in your state, check here or – my better suggestion – shop your local farmer’s market if you can. They’re starting around the country now, so make friends with your local farmer and get first dibs on the finest produce around. No time to shop? Lots of farms – even small ones – have CSA (community-supported agriculture) programs that allow you to purchase a box of organic produce for a reasonable price AND have it delivered to your doorstep. 2. If fresh produce isn’t available, use citrus and fresh herbs. Citrus includes lemon, lime, and oranges – and don’t forget all the different varieties of oranges out there, because they all have different flavors. I can’t think of a single type of cuisine that can’t benefit from some citrus at one point or another. Most major supermarkets sell fresh herbs in small quantities and – although they might be a tad expensive – they do a lot of work in the department of adding flavor and interest to your dishes without adding calories or fat. If you’re so inclined, consider growing a few of your favorite herbs indoors on a kitchen sill or in one of these grow kits. 3. Keep “old faithfuls” in the deep freeze. My freezer is stocked with frozen edamame, cut spinach, cut bell peppers and even dried mushrooms. I use these to supplement fresh ingredients in almost every dish I make. Because I do a little stocking up from time to time, I can get better deals (like those 10/$10 sales that don’t apply to single items) and I know I always have certain things around if/when I need them. (Frozen veggies, defrosted and

Three 6

The Verdant Life


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

lightly salted, also make excellent work-ready snacks.) Just get the plain veggies or veg mixes – avoid the stuff with the sauces and seasonings. It’s also getting easier to find frozen chopped herbs in the freezer section as well, from companies like Sabra and Dorot, for cilantro, basil and even garlic (although, I’ll freely admit to using the jarred crushed garlic from Trader Joe’s). 4. Cheat on your veggie broth. Unless it’s late summer and I’ve had an enormous amount of veggie scraps to

NO MATTER HOW LITTLE TIME OR ENERGY YOU HAVE TO PREPARE YOUR MEALS, THESE TIPS WILL HELP YOU STRETCH IT INTO FOREVER. use in homemade vegetable broth, I don’t typically keep cartons of the stuff on hand. It’s pricey and takes up valuable fridge real estate. So, I use Better than Boullion which is a concentrate paste/goo that tastes divine. Mixing 1 tsp of the concentrate with 1 cup of hot water gives you 1 cup of veg broth – but I sometimes add the concentrate straight to soups and sauces just for the flavor. Plus, one jar costs $5-6 and is equivalent to 9 1/2 quarts of vegetable broth. Can’t beat that with a stick.

The Verdant Life

5. Stir fry is your friend. No matter what’s in your fridge – fresh veg, leftover lentils, scraps of lettuce, rice or other random things – chances are, you can throw it all together with a little soy sauce and garlic and call it supper. If you really wanna kick it up a notch, add some curry paste and coconut milk and go all out. Pair with rice, quinoa, pasta, naan or flatbread of your choice and you’re all set. And chances are, you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day. No matter how little time or energy you have to prepare your meals, these tips will help you stretch it into forever. Another tip that is just as great but just doesn’t quite make my Top 5 is using your free time to its utmost. Got a spare hour on Sunday afternoon, maybe while the laundry is going? Make up a batch of my vegan pizza dough (or two), divide and freeze it to become pizza one night and naan for another, or even cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning. Doing a little extra prep work when you have the time can make those super busy weeknights an easy-peasy breeze. And you don’t have to take it from me – try it yourself. If you still can’t make it work, get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to give you even more free advice. Whatever it takes to get more good eats on your table, I’m there.

Four


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Get Creative Blog

HOW TO PROOF A PRINT JOB WEDNESDAY, 03 AUGUST 2011 WWW.GETCREATIVEPC.COM

Five


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Get Creative Blog

You’ve worked on a design with your graphic artist. You’ve decided whether your business cards should be matte or glossy. You’ve settled on the quantity of new brochures to order for your small business. What’s left? Once the design and layout of your print job are finalized, you’ll be asked to review a proof. A proof is a document or image that will show you exactly what your item will look like when it’s printed. This is your last opportunity to change your mind about design elements and to check all the details to ensure there are no mistakes. Here is what to look for when you review a printing proof: 1. Check the colors. Make sure the colors you see are what you expected. Do the font and background colors coordinate with your company logo? 2. Check the graphics. Make sure the correct, current version of your company logo is being used. If you’ve been thinking about redesigning your logo, consider doing that before ordering new print supplies that will soon be outdated. 3. Check the text — including phone numbers and addresses. Your print professionals can help with colors and graphics, but they might not realize that your office phone number ends in 2354 rather than 2345. Check and double-check these important details. 4. Take a step back and review the overall print job. Is it generally pleasing to the eye, interesting, and easy to read? Remember, this is your last chance to make any changes, so if you have reservations, now is the time to speak up. What happens if there is an error or change needed on your printing proof? Don’t worry! We’ll make the changes and create a new proof for your review. You’ll have to sign off on all the changes and approve the proof before we proceed with the print job, giving you final control over what we print. We understand budgets and deadlines. A careful review of your printing proof can save you both money and time, important resources for any small business.

Six


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

KICKING PLASTICS OUT OF YOUR KITCHEN THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2010 Food Storage, Glass, Plastic, Steel WWW.THEVERDANTLIFE.COM

Seven


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

PL A S TIC has gotten a bad rap over the last few years. As we learn more about what happens to plastics over time and the way they degrade due to heat exposure, more and more of us are tempted to kick plastic out of our kitchen entirely. If you grew up dependent on plastic wrap and Tupperware, that might seem like a pretty radical idea. But it doesn’t have to be scary, or expensive! 1. Use up what you have. Don’t throw away a halfused box of plastic wrap because the fact of the matter is that continuing to use it until the package is empty won’t kill you. This is all about finding a balance between your health and the environmental impact of your consumption. 2. Donate your plastic ware. Have a cupboard full of Tupperware and Rubbermaid leftover containers? Sort through them, recycle ( if you can) the ones that are warped or have no lid, and donate the rest to your local shelter or community group. 3. Find other uses for your plastics. Use leftover containers to store beads, loose change, marbles, teabags or dry goods. I will even admit to using plastic containers in my pantry before I figured out that there were other solutions.

The Verdant Life

plastic lids as well as oven & microwave safe glass lids. Many other brands such as Anchor Hocking offer glass containers with glass lids for baking and storage use. Glass containers are also becoming more affordable. Check out this 12-bowl set from Crate & Barrel for $19.95. Healthy, affordable, and stylish, too! You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons before making the decision to switch your family fridge to glass. Glass does have one big benefit over plastic: it’s easier to clean. Plastic stains and warps, but glass doesn’t have this problem. Of course, there is one major down side to switching to glass. It breaks! Look for thicker-walled glass containers which are less prone to chipping and cracking. Also, use care when washing or when traveling with glass, like in your lunch bag. You may also want to think twice about making the switch if you have small children who like to help themselves to fridge containers. STEEL

There are a few alternatives to plasticware.

GL ASS

Another unbreakable option is stainless steel. Although these containers still have plastic lids, the body is made from recyclable stainless steel. Steel containers can be a bit pricey, but the upside is that they will last you a lifetime. You can find a 4-bowl set like this at GoGreenStages.com.

Glass is the best choice both in function and in affordability. Yes, glass leftover containers often come paired with plastic lids, but most plastic lids on the market now are BPA-free. Pyrex offers a line of glass lids storage sets that contains both BPA-free

If you have to stick with plastic, go with an eco-friendly option like this affordable 6-container set from Preserve. Preserve products are made from 100% recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable. They also make cutting boards, colanders and mixing bowls from the same material and have a pretty nifty recycled toothbrush mail-in program if you’re looking to spread your green living from the kitchen into the bathroom.

Eight


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

JOYFUL ALMOND SUPERFOOD SQUARES ( No Bake Recipe!) THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2011 Dessert, Healthy, No Bake, Snack, Vegan WWW.THEVERDANTLIFE.COM

Nine


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

In an effort to “health up” my summertime treat, I turned to my pantry and sought out a few handy superfoods to help me along... Summertime in the Midwest USA feels nearly as hot as the surface of the sun. Or at least that’s how it feels. But sunshine and hot weather don’t eliminate my desire for decadent, sweet treats. The heat does discourage me from turning on my oven, though, so I decided it was time to put my mind to dreaming up a new “no bake” dessert/snack item that would fulfill my personal cravings.

decided to make healthy spin.

a

sweet

treat

with

a

When I first saw these No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispies on Oh She Glows, I thought they looked pretty darn good. I bookmarked the recipe and then forgot about them entirely until now. When I revisited Angela’s recipe, I realized that I’d want to make a few big changes to satisfy my personal cravings. The trio of almonds, dark chocolate and coconut is my absolute favorite flavor combination. In fact, I think there’s something quite magical about the medley. Since I wouldn’t dare wrap my lips around an Almond Joy, I

Raw cocoa powder is a powerful antioxidant that promotes cardiovascular health. It also boosts neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin and endorphins, which act as a natural anti-depressant and just plain make you feel good.

In an effort to “health up” my summertime treat, I turned to my pantry and sought out a few handy superfoods to help me along. I grabbed two of my favorite staples: raw cocoa powder and chia seeds. (Well, the cocoa powder was in the pantry. I store my chia seeds in the freezer.)

Chia seeds are a smart choice, especially for treats, because they help you feel fuller, longer. Chia also boosts your energy without jittery side effects and is an abundant source of Omega 3 and fiber. Win, win, win.

Eleven


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Joyful Almond Superfood Squares (inspired by Oh She Glows) Yield: 16 1/2 cup almond butter 1/2 cup agave syrup 2 tsp vanilla extract 1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk 1/2 cup sifted raw cocoa powder (like Navitas Naturals) 1/2 tsp salt 3 cups puffed millet (or any puffed grain) 1/4 cup chopped almonds 1 Tbsp chia seeds 1/3 cup chopped vegan dark chocolate (I like 80-85%) 1/2 cup shredded coconut

The Verdant Life

1. Line an 8Ă—8 or 9Ă—7 baking dish with two sheets of parchment, one running in each direction and up the sides of the dish. 2. In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt together the almond butter, agave, vanilla and almond milk. You may need to use a whisk to break up the almond butter. 3. Stir in sifted cocoa powder and salt until just combined. The mixture will look thick, black and dense. 4. Remove from heat and fold in puffed millet using a spatula. 5. Fold in almonds, chia seeds and chocolate pieces. 6. Press the mixture into the baking dish as evenly as possible. 7. Sprinkle coconut on top and press down slightly with your hands. 8. Cover and freeze for about 45 minutes. Cut into squares and store in the fridge or freezer.

Twelve


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Get Creative Blog

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS CARDS WEDNESDAY, 22 JUNE 2011 WWW.GETCREATIVEPC.COM

Thirteen


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Business cards are the most important marketing tool that your company uses. They are often the first representative of your business and easily the one that sticks around the longest. How can you make sure that your business cards are doing everything they can to promote your business in a positive way?

Get Creative Blog

Or these clear plastic business cards:

Here’s what you need to know: 1. Go with the pros. Running a small business on a budget—or starting a new business from scratch—might require some creative financial planning, but don’t skimp on business cards. DIY cards look cheap and make your potential clients think you don’t care about the details. Hire a professional printing company to print your business cards, and show your clients that you’re serious about your business. 2. Short and sweet. Don’t try to write a novel on your business cards. Only include the information that is actually pertinent, such as company name, your name, basic contact information including your e-mail address and website. 3. Don’t be cute. Every small business owner wants their business cards to be memorable, to stand out from the crowd. Don’t try to do this by being cutesy with your business cards. This means no knock-knock jokes and no cartoon characters (unless you happen to be in the cartoon business). Instead, stand out by using a sharp design and textured paper. Or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, consider something really out-of-the-box like a structural aspect, like this business card with tear-tabs

4. Use a smart design. The design of your business cards should be appropriate for your business. If you run a landscaping business, don’t put wine glasses on your business cards. Choose graphics and layouts because they represent your business, not because they’re your favorite color or because they remind you of your favorite vacation spot. 5. Catch the typos. Handing out typoridden business cards is a death sentence for your marketing efforts. Be sure to check and double-check spelling of names and especially addresses and phone numbers. And if you get a new number or your website URL changes, it’s time to get new cardsand toss your old ones in the recycling bin.

Fourteen


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

JUST YOUR CUP OF TEA FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011 Black Tea, Herbal Tea, Jars, Tea WWW.THEVERDANTLIFE.COM

Fifteen


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

Sixteen

The Verdant Life


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

The Verdant Life

If you’re already a tea drinker, you might have tried mixing up your own tea blends before. I have my favorites but I think it’s fun to experiment with new combinations and it certainly helps keep the taste bud boredom at bay. These are my tips on what teas to use, methods for blending and my top favorite tea blends. Choosing your Tea You may think you can only make tea blends from loose leaf teas but it’s not true! Bagged teas are perfect for blending and it’s stupid easy. Really. I’ll show you. You can use any bagged tea you like but I’m partial to Celestial Seasonings because (a) there’s no string or tag and (b) they have so many delicious varieties. Also, their fruity herbal varieties typically don’t need any sweeteners so this is a zero calorie treat that tastes good while keeping you warm and hydrated throughout the day. Some of my favorites are: TangerineOrange Zinger, Sleepytime Vanilla, True Blueberry, Morning Thunder (black-mate), and Gen Mai Cha Green. There are over 60 vari eties so, no doubt, there’s some-

everyone - and the vast majority are vegan (some contain honey; read the ingredients list). Blending Methods The in-your-cup method is great but if you’re going to blend 3 different flavors, you’ll need a Venti-sized mug to do it in. If you drink a lot of tea already, this method isn’t difficult to adjust to but if you’re just starting out with tea, I might suggest saving this approach until later on. Making your own tea concentrate is a great option. By steeping 3 tea bags in just 1 cup of hot water, you can make enough tea concentrate for 3 regular cups of tea. Just use 1/3 cup concentrate and 2/3 cup fresh hot water, stir and enjoy!

Seventeen 6


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

With a quart-sized mason jar, you can make large batch tea blends for drinking throughout the day (or as iced tea). A quart-sized jar is best for 4-6 bags, depending on how strong you like your flavors. I suggest always brewing tea a little strong when using this method, because you can always add fresh hot water to dilute it. Flavor Combinations So, what kind of blends can you make? Here are some of my favorite flavor pairings and trios, as well as the “recipe” which is simply the ratio of each flavor in parentheses. Blueberry-lemon-mint (1-1-1) At my favorite vegan brunch spot in Seattle, Georgetown Liquor Company, I fell in love with a blueberry lemonade mojito. On first read, I thought there might be a bit too much going on, but it wasn’t so. It’s delicious, refreshing and unexpected. Teas to use: Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry, Lemon Zinger and Peppermint.

The Verdant Life

Raspberry-Cinnamon Apple (2-1) Fruity, spicy, yummy and good for you! This combination is a lot like dessert but without all those pesky calories and fat grams. Raspberry leaves are also known for their benefits to women’s health. Teas to use: Raspberry Zinger and Cinnamon Apple Spice Spiced Mandarin-Tangerine (1-1) If you’re a fan of orangey things, like I am, you’ll love this one. I love the subtle chai-like spices of Mandarin Orange Spice but if I’m feeling a bit more orangey, I just add another Tangerine tea bag and all is well. Teas to use: Mandarin Orange Spice and Tangerine-Orange Zinger I hope these ideas have inspired you to try some new flavor combinations in your next cup of tea. With enough experimentation, you’re certain to find THE perfect mix for your tastebuds and that’s the blend you can name after yourself, even if it really should be called Strawberry / Cinnamon / Vanilla/ Mango.

Eighteen


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

About Cat

ABOUT CAT DISTASIO

Nineteen 6


Cat DiStasio

Writing Portfolio

About Cat

Cat is a writer who always has her hands on a lot of other things. Sometimes, it’s freshly made bread dough. At others, it’s the latest high-tech device. Whatever the topic at hand, Cat is relentless in asking the right questions and seeking answers with a persistent, yet gentle, nature. Her writing ranges from certifiably “foodie”— with original recipes and cooking techniques—to practical down-to-earth informational articles to traditional marketing collateral. She’s also a budding photographer and a horror film addict. Cat’s been chronicling her culinary adventures on her blog The Verdant Life since 2009. In addition, she also works as a freelance writer, marketing consultant, and personal chef. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Twenty


Cat DiStasio's Writing Portfolio  

This is a portfolio of writing samples by Cat DiStasio

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you