Food bloggers field trip

Utah food bloggers recently went on a field trip to Logan UT. The day started off at the Logan’s Historic Courthouse where the Gardeners Market (Farmers market) is located every Saturday during the summer. An abundance of fresh produce and other items were available to purchase. Here we were served free pancakes from “Stacked Pancakes”, complete with fresh fruit, and buttermilk syrup. We then wandered around the Gardeners Market which was incredible. After shopping for delicious fresh grown produce, we all drove to a local jam producer “Butchers Bunches”. This company started with a batch of jam and an idea, to make sugar free jam. This simple idea turned into a successful business. Following this stop we then went to “Gibbons Green Gate” a local farm in Smithfield UT They produces grass fed, free range, lamb, beef, fresh eggs and heirloom produce, which is then served on site at their farm to fork restaurant, “Carriage House Kitchen”. Here we sampled some of their delicious menu items, pepperoni omelet, fresh lamb sausage, zuchinni cookies. At this point I had to leave but the Annette and the rest of the group went on to Cafe Sabor for a delicious lunch, and they ended the day with a fresh batch of kettle corn from Craig Winder. I was sad to miss the last two event, but I look forward to our next field trip.

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The followign post contains sponsored links.  The authors received free products and services for participation in this event.

What fun can be had a a farmers market. Especially if it is a fantastic gardeners market. Like the one in Cache valley, which is held next to the Historic courthouse in Logan Utah also known as Cache Valley. This market had all the items one would expect, an abundance of fresh grown local fruits and vegetables and local vender’s of clothing, jewelry and crystals. As one would expect to find in Logan there was fresh local berries, which Cache valley is famous for. (In Utah anyway) Of course the sellers of the products were eager and willing to let you sample the product they were selling, raw honey and vinegar, salsa, bread, hummus. The variety found here was so fun and exciting I hated to leave.Cache Valley Garden Market can be found on the web at www.gardenersmarket.org

Short stack or tall stack which ever is your preference :Stacked Pancakes” has just what you are looking for. They can be found Saturday mornings at the Garden Market in Logan UT. The choices they have for finishing off your pancakes include; blueberries, strawberries bananas, pecans, peanut butter, Nutella and honey and their special homemade buttermilk syrup. The batter is whipped up right before your eyes using a cordless drill with a special whip attachment. The hot pancakes are cooked on a grill right before your eyes and the fresh topping are sliced and prepared  as you watch and wait for your name to be called. However you want your pancakes stacked this is the place to go. Get your pancakes and enjoy the rest of your day at the Garden Market in Logan UTTo find our more about Stacked and their services  www.stacked-pancakes.com

Liz Butcher greeted us in the loading bay of her commercial kitchen to show us her newest secret recipe.  I can’t tell you want exactly is in it, but the pictures give you an idea.   Her jams are all natural with no added sugar (ok one has some added sugar).  Even her pectin is gluten-free—–who knew that pectin had wheat flour in it?

Liz’s process is so much like homemade that if we weren’t using 20 gallon stock pots and standing down the hall from the loading dock I would have sworn we were at Liz’s house.  It’s simple, natural and obviously that makes it delicious.  We asked her all about how she choose her bottle design (turns out she was a graphic artist in another life), where she sourced her fruit (turns our she used to be a farmer), how she gets her inspiration (this one came from a pie), and most importantly we asked if we can sample.  And boy did we sample.  Liz combines unique flavors to create such amazing mixtures as Mint Lemonade Jam and Balsamic Berry Drizzle….I still can’t get over how they are all sugar free but without sugar substitute!  This tastes wonderful.  I have seen these jars at my local Harmon’s Grocery (guess they are at Whole Foods too)  and never understood why they held a space next too the gourmet cheese.  I comprehend it all now!!!!  And I am glad I know where to grab me a few jars.

Check out all their jams at butchersbunches.com

Gibbon’s Green Gate

“Farm to Table” have you heard of it?  Probably.  Have you experienced it?  Maybe.  Would you like to?  Definitely.  Green Gibbons Farm in Logan, Cache Valley is just that a farm to table breakfast joint situated in the middle of 6 acres of land used to breed cows, chicken and lamb.  With an extensive kitchen garden.

After Jared Gibbon graduated from Utah State University in Horticulture, he came to his father with this new idea of shortening the supply chain in the food so small that people would come to the farm to eat.  They grabbed a few more acres, built a kitchen and dining area above the garage and now they serve up omelettes and goodness to  locals and snowbirds for breakfast two days a week (Friday and Saturday only).

Jared carefully choose animal breeds for taste and yield to ensure that this kitchen offers the finest.  I can tell you that I thought the idea of lamb as a breakfast meet would be, in a word, “yucky”.  But Jared and his sister (chief recipe designer) have proven me wrong.  I actually found the lamb sausage to be tasty and not overpowering with that dry grassy tasty I ave had with lamb.  We wer also served up their Sicilian Omlette:  fresh eggs with pepperoni, a feta from their coworker’s own goats, and some kalamata olives  (ok the olives aren’t local).

The food may be the purpose of this kitchen, but the dining area just invites you to come in, sit down and enjoy.  Looking our picture windows as the grassy expanse of their property with mountains in the background you feel a part of the slow pace of a farm life.  With touches of country home from the wild flower filled vases to the farmstead tables you want to pull up a chair and set a while.

To call for reservations refer to their website http://gggfarm.com/

Cafe Sabor

Our final stop on this amazing tour was at Cafe Sabor.  The restaurant is in an old train station building lending it a pleasant aged feeling and a sense of authenticity you can’t get anywhere.  There is another restaurant I know of in Salt Lake City that is in an old train station, but Cafe Sabor has me loving their food so much more.  Just look at the custom menu they did for us.  These are all their best dishes.  How is a girl to decided?

I was torn between the house signature of Pollo Durango and the Sweet Pork Quesadilla (I really can’t turn away a quesadilla).

For hours and menu details check their website www.cafesabor.com

Kettle Corn

Since this is a foodie tour we can’t leave our restaurant without food.  So Craig Winder, local lawyer turned Kettle corn maker, shared his product with us.  Apparently lawyers are subject to being concerned about rising college costs, because he said he started the kettle corn business to get money set aside for is kid’s college.  He began selling the corn at Aggie (Utah State University) football games.  And it’s still going strong….not so strong he doesn’t keep his day job.

As kettle corn goes, this is good stuff.  I am not a huge popcorn fan in general.  But kettle corn does have that appealing sweet-salty combo.  And KettleCopia does not disappoint.  Kind makes me crave football season.

And in the end we all had a wonderful time.  When can we get together again and enjoy all the delicious foodie-ness of Logan, Cache Valley?

My new food plan

have been on a paleo gluten free eating plan for a while. I started this plan because I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have been working with a doctor of functional medicine who has tested me in several ways and we discovered my allergies are milk, eggs, gluten, almonds, peanuts and soy. I also found out that I had zero bacteria in my gut, no good bacteria no bad bacteria. So basically my gut was not doing anything. Since being on this eating plan my overall well being has improved dramatically.

I have suffered with chronic joint pain most of my life. As I have mentioned before I have had severe depression for 25 years. I have also suffered with irritable bowels for over 12 years. I was waking up exhausted and dragging through the day. Then I would finally collapse in bed only to toss and turn and not be able to sleep because of the pain and discomfort I was living with.

Since starting this plan a few months ago, most of my pain has been relieved, by irritable bowel has ended, I have had less headaches and my depression has decreased to a manageable level. I am even sleeping at night. The greatest benefit has been that for the first time in more years than I can count I see hope in my future. I wake up happy and stay happy all day.

I have had to give up most of my favorite foods however. But once I began to see results it really was not that hard to avoid breads, milk, eggs, and sugar.  If I have a moment of weakness and eat pasta or sugar I actually get quite ill. I am reminded of my past ailments. Knowing the cause of my discomfort keeps me away from the trigger foods.

I am basically following a Paleo diet, this helps to prevent autoimmune reactions in the body. I am telling you about this because some of my recipes may sound strange to some. I encourage you to try them even if you are not doing Paleo. They are tasty and very nutritious. I will try to still include my delicious comfort foods, it is hard to make them when I can’t eat them.

There are so many books and websites about Paleo that I will not refer to any one resource. My version works for me, it may not work for others. You have to determine what are your triggers and avoid them.

The good thing about this diet is I get to eat. I have been on so many diets where I had to starve and my will power was never strong enough. With paleo I can eat lots of delicious foods. Best of all I can have chocolate (85% cacao and higher)

Triple Berry Pie (AKA Razzleberry)

This is my rendition of the famous Marie Calendars pie, so I all it Triple Berry Pie (don’t want to be stealing their recipes, just copycatting). I feel mine is a superb replica. I use a traditional pie crust. Fresh or frozen berries make this fantastic summertime dessert. This is a reminder of the wonderful pies that would have been taken to a small town gathering in the late 1800’s, complete with a hoe-down to follow.

I like to serve triple berry pie with vanilla ice cream while warm.  Now that’s totally preference.  You may like your pie naked.  And that’s ok too.

HOW TO BAKE

1. Prepare your pie crust for Triple Berry Pie.  This part often scares people the most.

2. Prepare filling: Put 1 1/2-2 cup of mixed berries in the bottom of the pie crust. This will help to ensure some nice juicy whole berries when eating. Combine cornstarch and sugar, add to berries and water.  Stir until mixed well. Place on medium to high burner.

Bring to boil, cook until thick and bubbly about 10-15 min (total cooking time). Stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Be cautious of popping liquid it can give you quite a deep burn.

3. Finishing your pie: Carefully place top crust on and seal the edges. Make any decorative crust and edges you desire. Vent the top. Bake on the BOTTOM rack in a 375º degree oven for 1 hour. When top is golden brown and juices are bubbling the pie is done. Cool before eating. Serve with fresh cream or vanilla ice cream.

To prevent edges getting too dark. You can cover the edges with tin foil if you desire. Removing foil half way through baking.

OPTIONS:

*As you can see I did not successfully get the top crust in place without it splitting. This is because I did not roll it soon enough and it dried out (because I was taking pictures when I should have been cooking 😉 . If you do not roll out the crust immediately cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
*Fortunately it still tastes fabulous.

While I was waiting for this to cool I made the mistake of leaving the room. When I came back someone had decided to eat my pie right out of the pan. The culprit confessed and said it was the best pie ever made, better than any pie ever bought. Well the saga continues. After dinner I go back to my pie to get a slice and half of it is now gone. I scoop me up a piece, when I return to put the pie away their is no pie remaining. Now I ask you there are 5 people in this house how did we eat a whole pie, in one night? This reminds me of the cartoons we watched as a kid. The one where the cook put the pie on the window sill to cool and it is stolen before she knows it. Bakers beware!!

TIPS:

*Make extra filling and this can be used as an ice cream topping.
*As I mentioned I do not use strawberries or blueberries when I make this. Most frozen berry blends come with both these berries. I just removed them. If you can find non-mixed berries you should buy them. I love the deep taste and color you get from using both blackberries and boysenberries.

*Hide the pie if you want it for any thing other than being eaten immediately 🙂

To make a lattice crust. Cut top crust in strips, then weave them as shown above. Seal each strip on edge

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 6 cups of berries, raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries (Frozen is acceptable)
  • 2 prepared pie crust, one for bottom one for top
Instructions
  1. Put one pie crust in bottom of pie pan. Prepare top crust, cover with plastic. Set aside
  2. Put 1½ cup of mixed berries in the bottom of the pie crust. This will help to ensure some nice juicy whole berries when eating.
  3. Combine cornstarch and sugar stir until mixed well, put in sauce pan, add remaining berries and water. Bring to boil, cook until thick and bubbly about 10-15 min total cooking time. Stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
  4. Pour mixture into pie shell. Fill to top.
  5. Carefully place top crust on and seal the edges. Make any decorative top crust and edges you desire. Vent the top.
  6. Bake on the BOTTOM rack in a 375º degree oven for 1 hour. You can cover the edges with tin foil if you desire. Removing foil half way through baking.
  7. When top is golden brown and juices are bubbling the pie is done. Cool before eating.
Notes
Serve with fresh cream or vanilla ice cream.
Make extra filling and this can be used as an ice cream topping.

Preventing Picky Eaters

Picky eaters is something every parent has had to combat at some time in their child rearing. I had two picky eaters one wouldn’t eat meat the other only ate white food, which was mostly true until she was about 10 or 12 when her taste buds began to change.

Yes as we mature our taste buds also mature as well. Infant  and child taste buds are very sensitive especially to bitter foods. This is actually a protective method nature gave us to prevent eating poisonous foods, much of the difficulty for kids is overcoming the texture of foods. We as parents are also to blame, we want our babies to be happy so in our efforts to keep them alive we give them the foods they will eat. Here is where we go wrong. Kids in Asia eat foods even American adults won’t eat, Aborigine children eats grubs without complaint. We Americans are very spoiled by the modern manufactures who produce not only infant food but now toddler food as well. These are all very convenient for busy moms and although they appear to be nutritious they are not the best option for teaching kids to eat healthy.

We need to teach our kids to learn to love all types of food. The longer they are fed processed foods the more difficult the battle of picky eaters will go on. Here are a few steps to over come the food battle. My first tip is to eat what your kids are eating. If you proclaim to hate broccoli your kids will also say they hate broccoli.

New feeding guidelines are very different than what has been taught by physicians in the past. The new guidelines are in an effort to prevent allergies as well as finickiness. As reported in US News the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology released a new set of recommendations for feeding infants to help prevent food allergy. It states that “once an infant over 4 months old has tolerated a few non-allergenic solid foods [such as] rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, apples or pears), parents can [introduce] other more allergenic foods…as with introducing all new solids, only one new food should be introduced every three to five days to help isolate triggers of any allergic reaction”(Freuman, 2013).

In summary when a child is 4 months old and can sit in a high chair, start to introduce all food with the exception of honey. This includes eggs, shellfish and nut products which have been restricted in the past. I personally recommend starting with bottled infant foods because they are one ingredient foods without any spices or fillers. This is the easiest method, this is where my recommendation for processed food ends. Once you have introduced all foods and the child has not had a reaction to it, move on to feeding them table food. Starting solids does not mean feeding them their first happy meal.

Step two entails the dislike of foods. Textures and flavors are new to infants so they may object to certain foods. Babies are products of nature and they will put everything they can reach in their mouths. During this developmental stage take advantage of this. Provide a small infant spoon to your child during meals and place the food that they are objecting to on their food tray (NOT A PLATE) and put the food on their spoon and let them make a mess, some food is bound to get in their mouth. As the parent, take turns putting the food in the babies mouth, even allowing them to feed you the food. When you are fed the food make the biggest happiest yummy face you can make. Baby will learn that food is good.

I know many of you are cringing as you envision the mess that will occur. This can be overcome with tricks such as feeding them in their diaper or onsie, putting a vinyl table cloth on the floor under the high chair, using large bibs that cover their shoulders and tummies. This should comes off easily, use it to wipe the child off, dump out any solid pieces in the garbage and throw it in the washer.

Step three is a difficult one for busy parents to handle. Throw away all the processed boxed food, or just never buy it. Start cooking, go back to basics. Make your own baby food in a blender or food processor. There are many products available today or you can use the basic blender or food processor which you have in your kitchen. As the babies tummy matures between four and 9 months old, slowly add foods that have been slow cooked that are soft and can be mashed with a fork. Use fresh or frozen foods since these do not have salt of chemicals in them.

From step one and throughout infancy, FEED THE CHILD FROM YOUR PLATE! They can eat mashed potatoes, cooked carrots and green peas, pasta, rice and any other food that can be mashed with a fork. This is probably the most important thing I can tell parents. The second is to stop being picky yourself and stop vocalizing your dislike.

Feed the child everything and when they complain use this next practice. Everyone at the table is required to eat whatever is on the table. This also requires having family meals at the table not in front of the TV, or other distraction device. As other family members eat the dinner, all eat with a smile and a verbal praising of the yummy food. Another method is combining foods or disguising food. The point is to get the child used to the flavor and texture.

A fun practice is renaming the undesirably food in a more desirable way. Fairy drops, dragon toes,  princess jewels, pirate plunder. Another method is cutting foods into fun shapes that tiny fingers can pick up. Remember step two, let them touch it and experiment with it. When encouraging them to eat an item, they only have to have one bite for every year that they are, up to age 10. To satisfy the picky eater rule. 5 peas for 5 years, 7 spoons of applesauce for 7 years, 10 noodles in sauce for every year over 10. I was tending my 3 year old nephew who was a picky eater, I made homemade lunchables and cut the meat and cheese in fun shapes using tiny cookie cutters, I then gave him tooth picks to eat with. This was fun and he ate all of his lunch. I told his mom of my success and she was impressed. She tried this technique later at home. He promptly told her, I only like this at Stacy mom’s house.

These steps may sound time consuming, consider the long term goal. Do you want to hear at every meal put on the table, I hate that, I don’t eat that, I only like… As the parent you need to be the boss. The child has a choice, the choice is eat what is offered or don’t eat.

I know my younger sister is screaming all her complaints about how her child would starve to death first. I do have a niece who went days without eating until my sister gave in. Her final plan was to offer the children a deal. Everyone gets to have one food that they have a free pass on and they don’t have to eat. This can be done with older kids. They pick the one food, when it is served they get to use their free pass at that meal they get to have a alternate item that they can prepare themselves. Mom does not make different meals to accommodate, picky kids.

The best tip ever is to get the kids in the kitchen with you. If they are preparing it then they will be excited about eating it. One thing I did was assign each kid to cook one meal each week, they chose the menu, there were guidelines, each meal had to have vegetables, and protein. Nobody could complain about what anyone else was cooking because it was their turn next. Also take them shopping for the items, let them pick out the fresh produce and see where food comes from, see that it does not come in a box.

My secret is to hide less desirable food in the good food. Shredded zucchini in spaghetti. Finely chopped spinach in ground beef. Chop onion in tiny pieces, kale in a berry smoothy. We had a saying “don’t ask what is in your food just eat it”.

I have seen some practices by parents that I cannot believe. One was a 14 year old daughter who refused every meal, the mother gave her a few dollars and the daughter was allowed to go to the fast food place across the street. Second is the mother who is making separate dishes for each child, because each child did not like specific foods. The third is the mom who is making a few specific foods for every meal because the child will only eat these few foods. Another that was really astonishing was the mom who was chasing her toddler around the house with bowl and spoon in hand, begging him to eat just one bite. We once invited a family to a week long vacation on our house boat, the mother brought a weeks worth of mac and cheese and fruit loops because that was the only food the child would eat. In all of these examples the parent had lost control and the child was running the show. If a parent can not get control of feeding, they are going to have huge discipline problems later in life. So when I say, get this one thing under control in infancy and you will have less battles in the life long goal of raising children, I am speaking the truth.

As I said I did have picky eaters, my son I just prevented vegetables until he ate meat so he was easy. My daughter and I struggled with this until she was a preteen, when amazingly she started eating broccoli, and hamburger (yes she hated hamburgers). She has progressed to even eating her most hated foods of tomatoes and mushrooms even though this did not happen until she was about 17. She finally got old enough and mature enough to finally try them, she even loves sushi with seaweed and niguri. I feel this is a success because she did finally get to that point, because she got used to tasting things that looked or sounded undesirable. She tasted the food and still had the choice of not liking it, but she was at least trying. As a baby I would sneak one tiny piece of peach (which she hated) into a spoonful of something and she wiggled that one piece of peach out of her mouth and refused to eat it. She still loves white food, it is still her most favorite, but she does experiment with new flavors.

I peeled grapes and oranges, cut off crusts and made meals without mushroom just like all moms do, but overall these were the rules. By the time they are a certain age babyish tantrums just were no longer accepted. Saying you don’t like something on the table before it is even served is unacceptable. Being rude to acquaintances when eating at their homes is unacceptable. I’ve raised three kids, and babysat numerous others for several years each, these rules applied to everyone who ate at my table. These kids would eat foods at my house that they would not eat at home, I can’t say these are 100% foolproof, but it is at least a game plan. Happy moms equal happy kids and visa versa.

Resources

Freuman, Tamera. US News. 2013.  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/03/19/how-and-why-to-introduce-allergens-to-your-infant

Full article on new guidelines: http://www.jaci-inpractice.org/article/S2213-2198%2812%2900014-1/fulltext#sec5.1

Kitchen Essentials

If you are going to be even a basic chef you need tools and lots of them. I do not believe in one purpose tools. If it can be done with other tools I prefer to use a multi purpose tool. You can clutter up your precious drawer and cabinet space with one use tools. There is a myriad of one use appliances out there. Do not give in to the spur of the moment shopping. I prefer to use my knives as much as possible, they are your best multi purpose tool in the kitchen. I am sure some of you get the latest and greatest gadget every holiday, if it only has one use give it to the kids to use in the sand box. If you invest in a high quality item now you will not have to replace it many times over the years. Some of my utensils I have had for 30 years.

Spoons, spatulas, scrapers and turners??? What is the difference and does it matter??

There are a few types of spoons

A slotted spoon, a basic mixing spoon and a ladle. The slotted spoon is for serving items in a watery liquid, when you only want to serve the main item such as vegetables. The  ladle is also for watery liquids except when you want the liquid and the ingredients such as soup. The type of basic spoon you desire can be a personal preference. For cooking in a hot pan I like bamboo spoons, they do not scratch nonstick pans they have a sturdy feel and they don’t get hot. They are not the best for serving. They also work great for mixing heavy doughs and candy. I also have a silicon spoon for sauces, this easily scraps the sides of the pan. A pasta spoon is important as well. Make sure it is heat resistant and sturdy. I bought one once, a popular name brand, it felt sturdy in the store, once I put it in the hot water it became as limp as the noodles I marched it right back to the store.

Scrapers and spatulas are interchangeable terms.

For me these are what I use in food preparation, such as scraping the sides of the bowl. They can also be uses in hot pan if they are heat resistant. I prefer scrapers that are solid silicon. In two piece scrapers the handle can be removed often falling off in your food, or bacteria can settle in the groove ans harbor food borne illness and nobody wants that. I sturdy handle is again of utmost importance. When you are mixing heavy batters you want a tool that will not bend or break, especially if it is a boiling hot batter such as fudge.

Spatulas and turners are often interchangeable as well

This term is referring to what you would use to flip a grilled cheese sandwich. I prefer ones without slots so that bacteria will not settle in the grooves. I also prefer one that does not have raised sides, these can interfere with the turning process, especially if you are flipping and omelet or a pancake. We had an awesome once it was about 8 inches round we called it our phwackado, I loved it for crepes because it was ultra thin, and for omelets it was wide enough to fold over the whole thing in one stroke, It was also great for my world class lumberjack pancakes which bigger than your plate. I also like the bamboo spatulas shown here they work well for sauteing and cooking vegetable and meats in a skillet.

Other essential tools

* a pastry brush, preferably silicon as the hairs fall off in to your food of the bristle hair ones.

* a wire whisk with a solid handle, the cheap ones rust and the rust can fall into your souffle or meringue.

* a long pair of tongs, these work great for turning items in a skillet and serving these items.

* a meat mallet, This needs a sturdy handle with a rough side and a smooth side As you can see in the picture mine is old, but it works.

* a stainless steel vegetable peeler, choose one with a sharp blade so it cut the skins rather than tears it.

* a high quality garlic press, if it is not sturdy you will get frustrated and not use it.

* measuring scoops, I have three sizes these make cookies, fill cupcake pans and give proportionate scoops to several food items.

* measuring spoon make sure these contain a 1/8 spoon.

* measuring spoon get ones with 1/3 and 2/3 cups.

* glass measuring/liquid measuring cups, a 2 cup, 4 cup and 8 cup work well. A small 4 ounce size works good for salad dressing as well.

* pocket thermometer this works great to test yeast temperature, a quick check for meats and liquid temperature for other items.

* a pastry blender to cut butter/shortening into flour for pastries.

*a cheese grater, I like the one shown the long handle makes it easy to grate in to a cooking pan or over a bowl.

*rolling pin one that has free flowing ball bearings or a solid piece work fine what ever you prefer. Mine I have had since I married in 1986. Do not wash the wooden ones in the dishwasher as this will rust the interior ball bearings. I just rub mine down with a wet wash cloth.  You can buy one that  has slide on rings to perfect the dough thickness. After years of practice you will be able to feel the thickness desired.

These are the most basic there are other gadgets that do work well, a lemon zester is handy, a ginger grater, a cheese slicer.

POTS and PANS

This area is well worth spending some money on. A cheap pan will scorch your food or leave fleck of nonstick stuff in your food. YUCK nobody want that. If a pan set costs less than $200 it should be passed by. Costco has a good anodized set, Bed bath and beyond has several good stainless steel sets. I have not tried the new enamel pans so I have no opinion. Your best bet is to buy open stock so you can get the pieces you want and don’t have to have the ones you don’t. There are many brands bought from home shows, I am talking about the ones that sell pans and nothing else. These are good products and can cost you $1000-$4000 a set. You do not need these but if you desire them and can afford them then go for it.

I used nonstick pans for years, until I coaxed my son (with many months of hinting and pleading) to but me a stainless set for Christmas. The transition was difficult but the flavor of the food was so worth all my begging. Plus the cleanup is easy, since they can be washed in the dishwasher, no more greasy pans. Unless I scorch something, then I have to use a stainless steel scrubber, everything has come off easily. My mom has the most awesome heavy aluminum pan ever. It was once a stove top pressure cooker, it is a 4 quart size, the ultra heavy metal is prime for deep frying or stocks. Nothing gets scorched in it. Unfortunately the chances of finding anything similar today is out of the question. So go raid your grandmas cupboard and find her heavy old pans. Maybe she is old enough she won’t remember :-). When buying pans lift them, feel the handles in your hands test the lids. You want ones that feel comfortable in your hands especially the saute pans since you will be lifting them a lot. I am not exceptionally please with my lids since the handles are not heat resistant. I traded that feature for a pan handle that I felt comfortable with. I can use a hot pad on the lid, but if I drop my food because the handle doesn’t fit in my hand or is loose, all my food can be lost.

Necessary sizes

* 8 quart stock pan with lid

* 6 quart sauce pan with lid

* 4 quart sauce pan with lid

* 12 inch fryer with straight sides and a lid

* 1 inch saute pan

* 6 inch saute pan

* flat square griddle

Food Beliefs

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.

Recipes

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.

Cooking Terms

Al dente: Pasta cooked until just firm. From the Italian “to the tooth.”

Bake: To cook food in an oven, surrounded with dry heat; called roasting when applied to meat or poultry.

Baking powder: Most common type is double-acting baking powder, which acts when mixed with liquid and again when heated.

Baking soda: Used when there is acid (buttermilk or sour cream) in a recipe. Always mix with other dry ingredients before adding any liquid, since leavening begins as soon as soda comes in contact with liquid.

Barbecue: To cook foods on a rack or a spit over coals. Usually outdoors.

Baste: To moisten food for added flavor and to prevent drying out while cooking.

Batter: An uncooked pourable mixture usually made up of flour, a liquid, and other ingredients.

Beat: To stir rapidly to make a mixture smooth, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer.

Blanch: To cook briefly in boiling water then cooled in ice bath. Used to seal in flavor and color; usually for vegetables or fruit, to prepare for freezing, and to ease skin removal.

Blend: To thoroughly combine 2 or more ingredients, either by hand with a whisk or spoon, or with a mixer.

Boil: To cook in bubbling liquid that has reached 212 degrees F.

Bone: To remove bones from poultry, meat, or fish.

Bouquet garni: A tied bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, that is added to flavor soups, stews, and sauces but removed before serving.

Braise: To cook first by browning, then gently simmering in a small amount of liquid over low heat in a covered pan until tender.

Bread: To coat with crumbs or cornmeal before cooking.

Broil: To cook on a rack under direct heat, usually in an oven.

Brown: To cook food over high heat, usually on top of the stove.

Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown. Also refers to onions.

Core: To remove the seeds or tough woody centers from fruits and vegetables.

Cream: To beat ingredients, usually sugar and a fat, until smooth and fluffy. The butterfat portion of milk.

Cube: To cut food into small (about 1/2- inch) cubes.

Cut in: To distribute a solid fat in flour using a cutting motion, until divided evenly into tiny pieces. Usually refers to making pastry. Technique accomplished via 2 knives in a scissors-fashion or with a pastry blender,

Deep-fry: To cook by completely immersing food in hot fat.

Deglaze: To loosen brown bits from a pan by adding a liquid, then heating while stirring and scraping the pan. Usually with broth or wine.

Dice: To cut food into very small (1/8-to 1/4-inch) cubes.

Dollop: A spoonful of soft food such as whipped cream or mashed potatoes.

Dot: To scatter small pieces of butter or bits of dough over food.

Dredge: To cover or coat uncooked food, usually with a flour, cornmeal mixture or bread crumbs.

Dress: To coat foods such as salad with a sauce. Also, to clean fish, poultry, or game for cooking.

Drippings: Juices and fats rendered by meat or poultry during cooking.

Drizzle: To pour melted butter, oil, syrup, melted chocolate, or other liquid back and forth over food in a fine stream.

Dust: To coat lightly with confectioners’ sugar or cocoa (cakes and pastries) or another powdery ingredient.

Fillet: A flat piece of boneless meat, poultry, or fish. Also, to cut the bones from a piece of meat, poultry, or fish.

Flambé: To drizzle liquor over a food while it is cooking, then when the alcohol has warmed, ignite the food just before serving.

Flute: To make decorative grooves. Usually refers to pastry.

Fold: To combine light ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites with a heavier mixture, using a gentle over-and-under motion, usually with a rubber spatula.

Glaze: To coat foods with glossy mixtures such as jellies or sauces.

Grate: To rub foods against a serrated surface to produce shredded or fine bits.

Grease: To rub the interior surface of a cooking dish or pan with shortening, oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking to it.

Grill: To cook food on a rack under or over direct heat, as on a barbecue or in a broiler.

Grind: To reduce food to tiny particles using a grinder or a food processor.

Julienne: To cut into long, thin strips, matchsticklike in shape.

Knead: To blend dough together with hands or in a mixer to form a pliable mass.

Macerate: To soak in a flavored liquid; usually refers to fruit.

Marinate: To soak in a flavored liquid; usually refers to meat, poultry, or fish.

Mince: To cut into tiny pieces, usually with a knife.

Parboil: To partially cook by boiling. Usually done to prepare food for final cooking by another method.

Poach: To cook gently over very low heat in barely simmering liquid just to cover.

Purée: To mash or grind food until completely smooth, usually in a food processor, blender, sieve, or food mill.

Reduce: To thicken a liquid and concentrate its flavor by boiling.

Render: To cook fatty meat or poultry—such as bacon or goose—over low heat to obtain drippings.

Roast: To cook a large piece of meat or poultry uncovered with dry heat in an oven.

Sauté or panfry: To cook food in a small amount of fat over relatively high heat.

Scald: To heat liquid almost to a boil until bubbles begin to form around the edge.

Sear: To brown the surface of meat by quick-cooking over high heat in order to seal in the meat’s juices.

Shred: To cut food into narrow strips with a knife or a grater.

Simmer: To cook in liquid just below the boiling point; bubbles form but do not burst on the surface of the liquid.

Skim: To remove surface foam or fat from a liquid.

Steam: To cook food on a rack or in a steamer set over boiling or simmering water in a covered pan.

Steep: To soak in a liquid just under the boiling point to extract the essence—e.g., tea.

Stew: To cook covered over low heat in a liquid.

Stir-fry: To quickly cook small pieces of food over high heat, stirring constantly.

Truss: To tie whole poultry with string or skewers so it will hold its shape during cooking.

Whip: To beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce volume.

Whisk: To beat ingredients (such as heavy or whipping cream, eggs, salad dressings, or sauces) with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Zest: The outer, colored part of the peel of citrus fruit.

Cooking terms from Betty Crocker