Why I have decided to do a blog?
I have a lot of information in my head, this is an effort to get that info out of my head and onto paper for others to benefit from. These are my secrets some have never been shared. I am hoping they will be of benefit to someone. Here are some of my food beliefs.
Fresh is best and eat your vegetable.
I have always used a variety of fruits and vegetable in my cooking this has resulted in three adult children who not only love fruits and vegetable but crave them. I served at least one fruit and one vegetable at every meal. Even my pickiest eater eventually learned to love broccoli and spinach. We had a saying that she only ate white food. Now, she eats most everything. A child will not know you are putting onions or spinach in your food, if you disguise it well enough. Another trick was to make it have a desirable appearance. Sprinkles can be irresistible, as is bite sized food or finger foods in loving animal shapes. Many foods get fun desirable names. This makes the mundane fun and appetizing.
“Don’t ask what is in your food. Just eat it!”
This was a common saying in our household. There are many adults who will not eat something, if they know what is in it. It is amazing how many adults will say they don’t like onions, but will devour most things I create. Onions included. The same goes with spinach. Call it “parsley” (without the air quotes) and they will enjoy it.
High Flavor-High Nutrition
I like foods with high flavor and high nutrition. I like to enhance the natural qualities of food this is done with spices and seasoning, or natural oils. I do not like to mask a flavor. One seasoning may bring out simple nuances where another may cover it up. This can depend on your tolerance for some exotic foods. Continued exposure can build your tolerance. Blue cheese, for example, few people can eat a piece of it but in a sauce or other food they become palatable. Bitter lettuces are another example. Iceberg has zero flavor and zero nutritious value so I rarely use it. I replace it with romaine which has a lovely crispness and a mild bitterness.
Fat-Free and Sugar-Free
To have fat free or sugar free one product is replaced with another to create a palatable food or high levels of chemicals are added. At one point in my life I attempted to cook fat free but this also resulted in flavor free, texture free food that just were not enjoyed. So I use butter, olive oil, or canola oil in my recipes which add a delicious flavor and texture. If you are watching your calories, my suggestion is to eat small portions this allows you to enjoy the flavor. Since depriving yourself of your favorite foods often ends in a binge at some point which only leads to guilt as you restart you eating plan. If you absolutely cannot avoid eating a whole red velvet cake then by all means don’t make it.
Sugar free there are many packaged options for sugar free. However in baking from scratch there are few alternatives, particularly in the case of candies and baking. Sugar has a chemical process that cannot be replaced by a sugar alternative. I recommend just eating in moderation or avoid it if you can’t resist. Any brand of sugar is acceptable. The options are cane sugar or sugar from sugar beets. There is a chemical process involved in both to reduce them to their final product. I have no preference but if you do by all means use your desired product. I am unfamiliar with raw sugar so I have no opinion.
Most of my menu items did not evolve from a recipe I have a saying when someone asks me for a recipe “It’s in my head” This means I did not follow a recipe and I most likely made it up. My sister is always asking me to go to a restaurant and eat something then come home and make a recipe for her. I have not taken any cooking classes so I do not have the theory behind my choice it is just what my palate tells me to combine. Often I will go to the spice cupboard and sniff and smell until I achieve the desired result. This is a gift and a talent that has been nurtured over decades of experimentation. Sometimes I get it wrong.
Cook for a family or for one
My household has gone from an active family of five, down to a household of one. During those days my children were an active presence. We had a love for cooking together every child had a day of the week which they were assigned to choose and prepare the menu. This was in an effort to keep me out of the kitchen and teach them a valuable lesson. To this day when they are home we often converge in the kitchen and enjoy cooking together. My babies were put in the kitchen sink from their early days, they were given whole food items and utensils to “play” with giving them a love of being in the kitchen and learning the different flavors available.
For me I rarely cook large meals anymore so a simple soup or sandwich will suffice. I cook one large meal and eat it for the next week. Cook in bulk freeze for later. If a recipe calls for pork, beef or chicken I will make a double portion of meat and divide up the leftovers to be used in later uses. Such as stir fry, sandwiches or pasta. This saves time and energy for those quick after work meals. Nobody has time to prepare shredded pork at the end of a long day. Generally one roast can make 4 or more meals depending on your family. If you’re going to cook one roast why not cook two at the same time?
I rarely buy fast food for lunches preferring to take a leftover. I package these in single serving to take to work. I don’t like to spend hours in the kitchen for just one meal unless it is a holiday, I want to get in and get out and enjoy my life. Although cooking is a pleasure and stress relief for me I don’t want it to be a burden for me or else the joy is taken out of it. I do not miss the days when I asked myself every morning “what’s for dinner”. My food specialties are Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and good old Americana. I also enjoy making baked goods including breads, pies and pastries and cookies, as well as, candy. I don’t generally combine flavors such as mexican alfredo it just sound wrong to me.
But as my family and friends will tell you if I am cooking, you will not be disappointed unless you don’t show up to the table. I can feed a crowd of 50 or less without any stress. I don’t cook large meals anymore, but I still have holidays and special events. I can plan the menu in my sleep. This is a natural talent. I have done little catering these have been family or church meals.