The Gist……in a Pandemic

Hey guys! It’s been a while since my last post. As our world turns into something I’d never thought I/we’d ever experience. I’m hopeful, and believe me, I came close to losing hope. Thank God for family and friends that kept me encouraged, and talked me off the edge. Life goes on and we have to adjust accordingly.

Although my mind has been bombarded with this new Pandemic lifestyle, that has done a 360 on me. What is getting me through, and functioning at some normalcy in this new world is my cooking. It makes me happy and keeps me distracted (since traveling is a no go right now). For me, keeping busy with my recipes is a really good thing.

I’m a finger food/appetizer freak! Lol, these dishes are easy and fun, but most importantly they’re everything tasty!

Grilled shrimp on Deviled eggs

Ingredients deveined shrimp, boiled eggs, mayonnaise, fresh parsley, corn oil (for frying), paprika, salt and pepper to taste


Hard boil your eggs 10 min.

any number of shrimp you desire, according to your number of guests

For the grilled shrimp, any seasoning you desire, however, for your shrimp to be tasty, it’s safe to stick to flavors or a formula of salt/spicy/sweet.

Delicious Appetizers

Simplicity has always been a way of life for me. With all the shit life can throw at you, I’m always looking to keep things simple and sweet.

Avocado toast on toasted English muffin and sweet plantains with cinnamon

Ingredients Avocados (2), cilantro, olive oil, red onions, garlic (3 cloves), lemon (half)

Breakfast fit for a Queen, that was suppose to be in Mexico

Pina Colada

Ingredients Rum, Ice, frozen Pina Colada mixers

How: Blender 😁

Pina Coollllllaaaaaaattttttaaaaaassssss

I was on a mini quarantine, due to planning a vacation a year ago, but of course due to the pandemic, every thing got cancelled. So I’m home for two weeks, making the best of being trap in my thoughts. I was suppose to be in Mexico celebrating my sister’s retirement. A couple of my recipes may be Caribbean inspired.

BBQ Spareribs with Hawaiian macaroni salad


Spareribs (pork) and BBQ sauce

Macaroni salad ingredients

Elbow macaroni, ham, pineapple, ginger, scallions, mayonnaise, salt & pepper to taste

How: Ribs

Happy Memorial Day! From the living room! 😅

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I like to boil my ribs for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before putting them in the oven to bake (for extra tenderness), for 45 minutes to an hour. After boiling, season with the salty/spicy/sweet formula, that I mentioned earlier in the article. And, one of my suggestions for a seasoning is the 5 spice, that can be purchased in the Asian isle of most supermarkets.

If you’re having a lazy or just kinda in a rushed day. Getting a pre-made barbecue sauce is just as good as a homemade one.

Once you’ve seasoned, and poured your bbq sauce on the ribs, tighten your baking pan with aluminum foil on top. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Comfort food in an uncomfortable Pandemic continue

Who doesn’t like crab cakes, welp, I got the next best thing! Salmon cakes! Some great comfort food can be found right in your pantry. And, it’s gonna have to work considering the whole country is on lock down.

A neighbor of mines went to the food pantry. She said she had so many cans of salmon and “would I be a dear and take a few cans off her back!” I laughed, because I thought to myself I don’t consider “taking food off of someone’s back” stressful. I was hesitant, because I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it! However, my neighbor was being nice and helpful to me, because she knows I work a lot and I could probably use a quick bite of anything. And, so I took a couple cans. I appreciated her offer and kindness.

As long as “shelter in place” continues, food is not just a necessity, but it will in essence be our source for family gatherings and talk.

My salmon cakes are easy and delish!

Comfort food in an uncomfortable Pandemic

Today is March 22nd, 2020, and by now if you live in the United States, for the last three weeks, we’ve been dealing with an uncertainty of our near future. The “Coronavirus,” “covid-19,” “the disease,” “the sickness,” “the virus,” and, so disrespectfully the President of the United States calls it “the Chinese virus” and “the Kong Fu disease.” whatever you want to call this thing, because, I’m not here to talk about ignorance, I want to talk about a purposeful forward. When life for all of us has taken a drastic downward, frightening path, of course we tend to linger on what’s gonna happen to us and we want to start rebuilding immediately, but with this new world we are living in, unfortunately, rebuilding is not even on the lips of our politicians yet. Talking about rebuilding is just too early for that. Everyone’s convos today are talk about “survival,” “how much toilet paper and water to stock up on, and where do we go from here.” Not since 911 has our lives dealt with this monstrous type of circumstance, because at least we knew how to rebuild immediately after the attacks. It’s almost like life imitating art, because “pandemics” is only suppose to happen in the movies and tv shows. I think I can honestly say that someone or something has thrown a monkey wrench in everyone’s lifelong plans!

It’s hard to not watch the news, with updates every hour on the hour, that seem to get more and more frightening with every broadcast. I don’t know about you guys, but every time the governor is on tv, and he always says “there’s no need to panic.” Yet, when I see him on my television screen interrupting my programs in the middle of the day, I panic! I’m not a hypochondriac, but the more the media has “breaking news,” the more my heart start skipping beats!

I realize that living in America, born and raised in the “Big Apple,” Americans are somewhat spoiled. We have so many choices available to us. Where to live, what schools to attend to further our education, to the many career paths we can choose to take. Nowadays, we choose our work, with what we love to do, and please, don’t tell us we can’t do what we love. (And, that’s probably why most Americans are in school loan debts). I say that to say this, as intellectual Americans I believe it’s easy to become overwhelmed in something we haven’t experienced before since the Black Plague. Our planning through this has to be accordingly. However, last week at the supermarket what I experienced was far from intellectual, and/or adult rational behavior. I understand that people are scared, but we are only three weeks into this mess, now is not the time to panic. However, what I witnessed at the market was fear, unclear narcissistic thinking. The long haul of this BS is not even upon us yet! Wall to wall people, pushing, shoving, arguing. Later that afternoon my neighbor told me, a fist fight ensued over toilet paper! What! Really! Glad I missed that! Shopping carts overflowing with unnecessary perishable foods! Being a culinary grad, I was disgusted and appalled at looking at the waste. Unless you’re going to have filet mignon every day for the next two, three or four weeks of your “please stay-work from home,” from your government officials. You will waste money, precious time and energy!

When our Politicians suggests and/or of course by law, the possibility of having to stay home voluntarily or by force. Life as we know it, in this moment in time, has changed forever. With all the chaos happening around us, being at home should always be a comforting and safe place. Whether single, coupled or a family with two or three children. Home is where your heart is. When I’m home whether a pandemic is happening or not, my little apartment is my safe space, it’s my palace, because I’m a Queen, my oasis when I take a soothing bath, my resturant when I want to make an extravagant meal.

I’m not an expert on Pandemics, (my first and hopefully last one). However, with all the information given us from the medical experts on television. Also, from watching dozens of zombie apocalypse movies and tv shows, (hey, it can’t hurt)! I’ve gathered that being trapped in your home for maybe an uncertain amount of time, canned food and bottled water is the upmost importance for survival. We’re able to go out shopping now, but what about the upcoming months, when the seriousness of this virus really takes effect of our normal, and “wish it was simple again” in our every day ordinary lives. “Easy to make,” “spoil myself rotten, because I’m depressed” kinds of foods will be on this agenda or menu.

Here is my first recipe for what I deem to be comfort food during a pandemic: Johnny cakes! Why, because they’re sweet, buttery, and just sinfully deliciouso!

Johnny cakes or cornmeal pancakes, as some like to call them. I discovered these simple, tasty, filling and energetic pancakes, when I was finishing up my externship at an Italian catering company Acquolina Catering. Most of the chefs and prep cooks that trained me at Acquolina were of Mexican decent. No shame in this, if I sound condescending, but I believe they gave me the best training money can buy.

When I worked/studied at Acquolina Catering, little did I know it would be the integral part of my training. Although it was hard work, (I’ll explain that in a later chapter) I believe my creativity evolved during my time at Acquolina. One day I came into the main kitchen starving! The one lady chef, her and I became fast friends. And, although there was a language barrier when days were tough for me, she had this motherly way with me, that made me feel so special. She was so funny, l would laugh so hard. One morning she had these pancakes waiting for the all the kitchen staff to eat, before starting the busy day. I thought they were just plain pancakes, but when I tasted one, I started daydreaming because I thought I was in another dimension. The butter, the cheese, the sweet, the salt, it was the most delicious pancake I’ve ever had, seriously!

Johnny Cakes

Prep time: 15 min, yields: 5 servings


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup cornmeal

3 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 slices of soft butter for batter

How to make

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a kitchen aid (if you have), if not a good whisk and bowl will do. Whisk dry ingredients first. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl, with butter. Combine wet to the dry slowly, while mixing together. At this point you’re should have a batter consistency.

Heat up a pan with half a cup of vegetable oil. Scoop your batter with a 1/3 measuring cup. Takes about a minute and a half to brown on each side. And, should be rising. Place on a cooling rack, and then transfer to a baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. May be more or less as long as they cook through.

When cooled, slice open and slather some butter and cheese, any cheese you prefer. I prefer mozzarella. Butter is also good by itself, or syrup, but these are too good to be just considered a pancake, or just breakfast food. Anytime of the day, because binge watching on Netflix takes place all day. And, this is our new America, shelter in home, time passing by.

NOLA Darling

New Orleans please……🍺
Mardi Gras Parades!
Making my way through Bourbon Street!

What can I say about New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, it’s insane! “Fat Tuesday” is the last day of celebration, I arrived Monday, however, during my trip I found out that the people of New Orleans start their partying January 7th, the day after the three kings day. I can’t imagine a month and a half of partying, but I guess that’s what makes NOLA a one of a kind city.

Bourbon Street, French Quarter! The Colonel and Mrs Sanders!
Bourbon Street, French Quarter! I dream of Jeannie!
French Quarter Fat Tuesday! I don’t know what this is, but it was worth a pic!

And NOLA’s Food

One of my reasons for traveling to New Orleans is for the food. New Orleans has a melting pot of the differences or variety of nationalities of their foods. The Louisiana purchase happened in 1804. The United States paid 15 million dollars for New Orleans, which was owned by France. And, because of that historical act it brought together a unique collaboration of French, Spanish, Southern and African recipes that NOLA is famously known for.

Napoleon’s was my first stop jambalaya, gumbo and Planters punch. All delicious!
Next stop Deanies seafood! 😋

An actual quiet, nice little walk on my last day through the French Quarter.

N’awlins French Quarter

Let’s not forget the beignets

Having Beignets at city park in N’awlins. Cafe Du Monde! Sweet 😋
Best cafe in the French Quarter to have breakfast! Cafè Conti! Never tasted creamy, delicious grits in my life!

When in Rome, eat what the Romans eat!

Last year I went to Italy for the first time. Something that I’ve been wanting to do for six years. Because, of culinary school and work, my trip had been put off several times. However, I finally made it. Rome was to be the anchor of my trip. Although I visited other parts of Italy, like (Capri and Naples), I predominately stayed in Rome 5 full day. There were Resturants, some worthy of the best Italian restaurants here in New York. And, some hole in the wall places that had the best tasting roast pork sandwiches with all the fixens, that would make you slap ya momma, because it’s so good.

I had the best Lasagna from a little Resturant near the Vatican
First meal in Italy, and of course, spaghetti!
Fried Baccala/salted cod fish

Rome was beautiful. The city is ancient, the streets were old, yet intriguing and site full. From the colosseum to the Vatican. Art and inspiration is at an abundance in Rome.

Colosseum at night!
The Vatican
For Fertility (if you’re into that) no judgement
At the Vatican
The in’s and out’s of Rome’s city life

Did Someone Say, Paris!

My first full day in Paris, France, it rained, but I actually think the rain made it more romantic and intriguing to explore. Talk about being scared and alone, Paris was one of those spur of the moment’s for me when I decided to just book it and go. Back in 2012 I felt the need to do something totally freeing, (my divorce became final, a year prior to me booking the trip). And, I wanted to do something for myself or at least test myself, a challenged sort of. I felt the need to be in a different environment, different people, different food. I needed to feel that there is a lot more to life, than a broken marriage, a doggy dog job, or the demise of a close relative. However, my experience was so worth the growth, because I believe if you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never make worthwhile moves to a better job, additional education, or just putting yourself out there to enhancing your life.

Rainy day in Paris
Lafayette Street in Paris, outside my hotel, the Excalibur
Eiffel Tower, up close and personal
Me! On my way to a tour in the middle of the night in Paris!
In’s and out’s of Paris

In order to really explore France, you have to get out of Paris. I’ve always been one to enjoy period times and era’s. I booked an all day tour that consisted of visiting four castles of King Louie the II or V, who cares really. At the time I was a big fan of this show called “The Tudors” and, visiting a real life 17th century castle was more mouth watering to me than a bag of chips (Wise-onion & garlic preferable).

The three hour drive was the most amazing to me, time seemed to have stood still because, I was enjoying the views of the misty, morning dew, greenery, old farm houses, lakes and meadows. Lovely sites that I could not ignore, or the calmness of how they made me feel.

Views of northern France, on my way to the Castles.
Early morning dew at the castle
On the Rooftop of the castle

Having a great tour guide, made touring the castles amazing. I went off to see some of the land on my own and it was nice to find the little cottages and crevices, that were a site to be seen.

17th century kitchen

Being a culinary enthusiast, my tour led me to a 17th century kitchen. I believe I would of faired well back than, but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

Old, sweet little church in France

Capri and me

Beauty of this isle is an understatement!

Last year when I went to Italy, I was scared and excited at the same time. Excited, because I knew I would see the most amazing scenery, and scared because I knew once I’ve seen these amazing sites, that I was definitely far from home. However, I’m not one to shy away from a travel challenge, as I like to call it. (Paris, was my first travel challenge). The thought of just booking a airline ticket and hotel room, and going was a quick thought, because if I would of pondered it any longer, I would not have gone.

Just beautiful!
Caught my sailboat in time
Grilled octopus with a delicious Capri salad for lunch
Beautiful Capri
A little wine with lunch, watching the sailboats come in

My visit to Italy, included a day trip to Capri. It was cheaper to just do a day trip, than to book a hotel for a couple of nights. I booked my day trip through, I’ve use them in the past for my tour of the 15th and 17th century castles while in France. It worked out perfectly.

I took one of those high speed trains from Rome to Naples (another adventure), and met my tour guide in front of the train station in Naples. The drive to the shores of Naples to catch my sail boat was about 20 minutes. Naples is a bustling city, however it was old and beautiful.

About Me

Hi! My name is Francie, and just like all other blogs, I definitely feel like I got lots to talk about, and share with the world. Especially, about food and travel. I put myself through culinary school, and I would say for the last 15 years I’ve traveled the globe a fair amount. Of course, I had to have a start somewhere for my love of cooking and traveling. My love for cooking started with my Mom, who I personally feel could give the best chefs out there a run for their money. My love for travel came through my big sister DeeDee (her nickname). Her encouragement to me for travel, just inspired me to go beyond places I never would of considered in my life to go. In this blog, I will share with you all the places I’ve traveled and the foods I’ve eaten there, and the recipes I’ve created.