Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato Dip Courtesy of Author Jenny Gardiner

I have been making this simple appetizer for years and every time I serve it anywhere, people ask for the recipe. I found it in a newspaper probably almost 15 years ago in an article about local community cookbooks--this was from a cookbook put out by the Great Falls Elementary School PTA. It's totally addicting and fabulous with really fresh french bread slices:

SUN DRIED TOMATO DIP

12 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
7-oz. (1 jar) roasted red peppers, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbl. chopped parsley
1 tbl. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
dash salt
4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed
1/2 c. sour cream

Rinse & pat dry tomatoes and red peppers. In food processor w/ blade, chop garlic and parsley. Add tomatoes and peppers, and puree. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Process till smooth, scraping sides of bowl to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately, or cover and chill. Serve on baguette slices

About the Author:

Writing has always been my “thing,” despite that D I got in handwriting in second grade (thanks a lot Mrs. Garvin). Early on I learned I could boost my flagging math grades by writing extra-credit reports. I figured if I couldn't compute, at least I could snow job my way into a better grade. Ah, the fine art of fiction writing.

As I grew up, void of more remunerative skills, I pursued a writing-related career. I wrote and edited for my college newspaper, worked in radio, was even a TV news reporter (don't ask). I earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Penn State, but quickly abandoned the TV career because I hated helmet hair, a job prerequisite at the time. I'll admit I was envious, watching all those college friends with business degrees racking up the big bucks in corporate America while I floundered in debt working at poverty level as a publicist on Capitol Hill. But after a while I got used to having my mattress on the floor, cardboard boxes for dresser drawers, and ramen noodles for dinner every night. Eventually I became a “glamorous” Washington photographer, shooting an eclectic range of events and people (including Prince Charles!). I knew I had arrived when I shot a World Welter Weight Boxing Championship and got spattered by the fighters' blood and saliva from my vantage point on the apron.

But marriage and motherhood beckoned, and those professional “glory days” gave way to the raising of three children. The only writing I did for many years were grocery lists and an annual holiday letter to family and friends. I re-launched my writing career with the onset of a terrible drought in my state a few years ago. It dawned on me that with water rationing in place, no one would dare have a holiday party. After all, who could host a hundred houseguests for four hours of festive drinking yet ban them from using the bathroom? All that flushing would alert the water police! And so I wrote about it. Lucky for me, an editor immediately bought the story, which deluded me into believing that publishing was a piece of cake. Well, that piece of cake quickly grew stale, as I tried to sell more witty essays, with mixed success.

I did eventually sell more of my writing, including to the Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal and NPR's Day to Day. I started doing radio essays on a regional NPR affiliate. I landed a column in my city's newspaper. And then my generous mother bought me a laptop, which enabled me to write while at soccer practice, which opened up a whole new world of opportunities for a mom on the run as I am. And so I continued to hone my craft, joining writers groups (RWA, VRW, WRW, LLL, and Backspace) and researching the industry, only to discover that creative non-fiction doesn't sell unless you have a standing time-slot on National Public Radio and your name is David Sedaris, or you have a tendency to do stupid things like stage your own kidnapping in order to escape an ill-conceived wedding. I kept writing, and reading, and as I read I kept saying to myself, “I can write this well!” And thus began my fiction phase. As a journalist by training, I never dreamed I'd actually make up things for publication. I guess there are those journalists who do that, but they're not exactly supposed to. But I learned quickly that fabricating information was pretty liberating--not being constrained by such nuisances as facts made it that much easier for me.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jay Bush, who read aloud Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash to his Latin students each year before Christmas break. It's a wonderfully written memoir that has lingered in my memory for nearly three decades and really demonstrates the staying power of fine writing. Who says teens don't like to have stories read to them? Mr. Bush motivated me to strive for excellence, at least in English and Latin. Shame I didn't have him for math.

There comes a time when a writer really needs an ally. And I have found that in Suzanne Macpherson, a writer who was kind enough to take me under her wing and really show me the ropes. It was she who got me involved in the Romance Writers of America, an invaluable resource that has led to so many wonderful things. She's a lot of fun and a great writer--you should check out her books.

A few things I will admit about myself: I love old Bruce Springsteen songs and Rod Stewart's torch songs. I always have to hang the toilet paper roll so it descends from the top. I'm pretty certain I'm allergic to housework. I can't get enough peanut M&Ms (with movie theater popcorn, even better), loathe cilantro, love to cook (and fervently believe in the Slow Food movement), love yoga, study Italian and adore international travel.


For more information, please make sure to visit:

www.jennygardiner.net
www.jennygardiner.net/blog/

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