Archive | May, 2013
31 May

Michael Pollan: why the family meal is crucial to civilization

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/25/michael-pollan-family-meal-civilisation#start-of-comments

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New kitchen essentials

29 May

One of the benefits of moving countries and not bringing everything (either intentionally or not!) with you is the excuse to go shopping ūüôā ¬†I moved house with the intention of buying a new set of pots and pans but after doing lots of internet research I decided the best way to go for our household was to buy a few separate, quality pieces that will make my time in the kitchen easier and more enjoyable.

So here’s what I settled on:

Le Creuset 5 quart enameled dutch oven

All-Clad tri-ply stainless steel 2 quart saucepan

Calphalon non-stick frypans (10 inch and 12 inch)

Lodge cast-iron frypans (1o inch and 12 inch)

I have discovered I still need a 3 quart saucepan so the All Clad one is on my wish list. I’m a big fan of saute pans and although my Cuisinart one is still going strong after 10+ years I think I’ll save for and indulge in the All Clad tri-ply set which comes with the 3 qt saucepan and the saute pan.

Some of these pieces cost a lot but boy do they bring me a lot of enjoyment.  I absolutely LOVE cooking in my beautiful blue Le Creuset dutch oven and it is so well used because these things are perfect for easy family meals.  By far the best buy is the Lodge pans from Walmart.  Solid cast iron for less than $20 each!!!

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The value of a meal plan

27 May

For me the biggest trap for not sticking to ¬†healthy, fresh food is running out of time or feeling tired. ¬†When these things happen if I’m not organized we turn to quick meal solutions which are invariably fairly unhealthy (think pizza delivery). ¬†To overcome this I try to stick to a weekly meal plan and shopping list to make sure we have everything on hand we need to make quick, healthy meals. ¬†It takes a bit of time one night a week (I admit a glass of wine helps) but it sure makes the rest of the week easier. ¬†One meal plan, one or two trips to the grocery store (usually a couple of trips a week for fresh fruit and veg and some Wholefoods bread because its preservative free and tastes great but doesn’t keep well) and the result is a pretty organized week when it comes to meals. ¬†The other benefit I’ve discovered is that I’m delving into my cookbooks to find recipes we don’t usually make and by choosing the family-friendly ones I’ve found that I’m exposing my children to a much wider range of foods. ¬†It also made me realize I’d fallen into the parenting trap of serving up the 2 or 3 meals they had decided they would eat just to make things easy. ¬†Now I make sure I’m serving up a better variety but making sure they still get a favorite each week.

Super easy meals the kids will actually eat

26 May

Energy levels have been low in our house this week due to some nasty cold germs so super easy meals have been the go.  These meals are quick and easy to prepare and the kids love them. Details recipes can be found in the recipe section

Lamb cutlets with smashed potatoes and peas.

Pizza- ham and pineapple; pepperoni

Beef casserole

Chicken cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore

Big changes but not a big effort

24 May

It occurred to me when I was grocery shopping the other day that we really have made some great changes and that these changes are now part of our everyday habits. ¬†I don’t need to think too much about it now; it’s routine. ¬†My shopping cart isn’t full of processed foods but instead full of vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs etc. ¬†That’s not to say there isn’t processed food but I tend to get processed food from stores such as Wholefoods where the chances of finding unnecessary additives is much lower (not ruled out though). I bake cookies instead of buying them and not only is it not that hard its actually fun and the kids can help. ¬†We occasionally bake bread (not as often as I’d like but hey I’m not perfect) and yes, its still white because I’m picking my battles and my kids won’t eat anything else (but its thick and crusty, doesn’t have preservatives in it and tastes pretty good). We are still learning as we go but the point is we have made some big changes but this hasn’t translated into a big effort. There was a bit of work at the start to work out what was out and what was in but now it is routine and when I’m waiting in line at the store I’m pretty happy with what’s in my cart.

Butter or margarine?

21 May

So I’ve found myself with a small dilemma- butter or margarine? ¬†Thinking that animal fats were “bad” for many years we’ve used margarine on toast (while continuing to cook with butter). ¬†My spread of choice was Nuttlex (an Australian product) with a list of not too-scary ingredients (sunflower oil, non-genetically modified canola oil, vegetables oils, emulsifiers, flavors (?) and vitamins). ¬†But, with the move to the U.S this is one of the many products not available so I went in search of a replacement. At this point I should point out that the first few grocery shops in this country took FOREVER! Anyway, the point is it has been difficult to find a spread without a long list of ingredients. ¬†I found one which was free from many of the additives I’ve been trying to avoid but I still have my doubts about some of the ingredients, especially in terms of GMOs. So I’ve made the switch to whipped butter which has two ingredients: cream and salt. So which is better I wonder- margarine or butter?

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