In Defense of Food

20 Jul

Have just started reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”.  Halfway through and really enjoying it.  Recommend it if you are interested in understanding how people think about food and how our thinking has been shaped.

To be a better cook…

18 Jun

Had to share a great quote from Michael Symon (co-host of ABC’s “The Chew”)

“the first thing to do to be a better cook is to buy better ingredients”

And with that I need to make a plan to find a nearby farmers market that I can manage with two kids in tow over the summer 🙂

Life’s little pleasures

4 Jun

One of the most annoying things about moving countries is leaving behind electrical appliances which aren’t compatible.  Sounds dramatic but I hated leaving behind my coffee maker.  As far as I’m concerned nothing beats the smell of freshly ground beans and espresso. I got through the first few months here drinking filtered coffee (I use the term loosely) before deciding something had to be done.  We are not here permanently so spending $800 to replace my coffee machine didn’t appeal.  Now, I’ve always steered away from pod coffee machines because I like fresh ground beans. But after trialling my sister-in-laws Nespresso I’m a convert.  After returning from our trip visiting her I marched straight into Macy’s and bought myself one. Now my coffee is my daily treat.  After dropping son number one off at school son number two and I return home for a half hour of down time before the chores and errands and playtime begins.

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Oops- red food dye

1 Jun

Really disappointed tonight.  Last Sunday I did my weekly menu for this week and was excited to come across a recipe for butter chicken using tandoori paste (my kids love the Pataks jars of butter chicken sauce but I’m not a fan and it’s expensive to buy these all the time).  Anyway, I made up my shopping list and was pretty happy to find we already had tandoori paste in the fridge thanks to one of my husband’s previous shopping trips.  But, as I’m ready to put it in the pan tonight I read the ingredients to find that it contains Red 40 color.  Given that we try to avoid all artificial colors I was really disappointed but too far into the meal to change now.

I did a google search for tandoori paste without red food coloring in but couldn’t find anything.  I did find a blogger who was also annoyed to find artificial color in tandoori paste and set about to make her own (I’ll reblog this).  I don’t mind making my own but I’ll be crossing this version of butter chicken off my list as a quick family meal.

Note:  Patak’s butter chicken simmer sauce is free from artificial colors, preservatives and flavors so a much better option.

red food dye? I don’t think so

1 Jun

Here’s another blogger disappointed to find red food dye in tandoori paste who has come up with a pretty good looking alternative.

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

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 🙂  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.

The Meat & Potatoes of Life

By Lisa Smith Molinari

MARILYN R. GARDNER

COMMUNICATING ACROSS BOUNDARIES

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