Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranberry http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145#healthbenefits http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17533652?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19921981?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=2
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Most of us have very busy lives. We frequently find ourselves over-scheduled, constantly feeling like we are behind the eight-ball. The to-do list gets longer and longer and we wind up feeling more and more stressed. In the course of our busy lives many people do not take time for themselves.
My friend Vicki has a business teaching folks about self-care. I believe it is a sign of the times that there is a need for a business like that because so many of us have lost the skill of taking time for ourselves, for downtime. We need to learn to acknowledge and take joy in those small moments, such as 15 quiet minutes to drink a cup of tea. With Vicki's help I've been working on finding and being more mindful of those small recharging moments. She calls it "refilling your well."
Recently I was able to treat myself to the luxury of an entire day spent with my good friend, Doris. Talk about refilling my well, this was an amazing treat, I felt almost giddy at the end of the day because we had so much fun. Doris and I tend to have very full schedules; between family obligations, household responsibilities, volunteer commitments, and work it's not that easy to find time to get together. To have an entire day together was an amazing treat.
We are both avid foodies. Living in the Houston area there is certainly no lack of places to go and things to do that involve food. We started off with a visit to the Chantal Outlet's once-a-year warehouse sale. I was able to get some really adorable ramekins; I'm working on a new custard recipe that I promise to share as soon as it's ready. I also managed to pick up a few holiday presents while we were there.
Our next stop was Penzey's Spices which is an indulgence. It's fascinating to see and smell all the different spices from around the world, talk to the friendly folks who work there to learn about different uses for everything. I love using good quality herbs and spices in food. These are booster foods that add scent, flavor, and micronutrients. They help make a meal so much more satisfying. It's always hard to resist the lure of their wares, I did, however, manage to restrain myself to only what I really needed to replenish.
After Penzey's we went to Canino's Farmers Market, a great semi-outdoor market with an enormous amount of produce and fruit as well as nuts, including fresh Texas pecans. Walking up and down the aisles trading recipe ideas back and forth we were thrilled by the variety of fresh food available. Finally we finished with a stop at Pizza Fusion a new and amazing pizza place. I definitely plan to go back and sample other wares on their menu.
When you look at it we basically did our food shopping together and then stopped for lunch. While we might have spent a little more time on these errands than if we raced around by ourselves, checking off a list of chores, this no longer felt like a chore. I believe that food shopping, or any activity really, becomes more enjoyable when you are able to do it with someone else, you have time to talk and you share ideas. We both went home at the end of the day feeling like we had accomplished something, reconnected and recharged.
Look for opportunities to recharge your life. They don't need to be big ones, just mindful ones.
photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
No Knead Mesquite Bread Recipe
3 cups white flour
3 tbls mesquite flour
½ tsp yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups of water
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl
Add water and mix
Stir with fork (mix will be sticky)
Cover in a bowl, let sit overnight
Place bread dough on cutting board covered with towel for 2 hours
In metal bowl bake in sun oven @ 350 for 1 hour
Friday, October 23, 2009
This is her first "official" Cindi recipe and I'm just thrilled that she's allowing me to share it with you here. These sound absolutely fabulous and I can't wait to make up a batch of almond flour and try them.
Cindi's Almond Delights
2 cups almond flour
3/4 cups evap. cane juice crystals
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
blend softened butter for a minute or two
add all the other ingredients and mix well
roll into balls and press with a fork
bake at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes; cookies will not brown
to decorate, top with sliced almonds or drizzled or dip in dark chocolate
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Somehow when I got older I never had it in the house. Then I had kids and, like most kids I know, they had an instant love affair with creamy ranch. That and vinaigrette became the house standards. Oh sure, every now and then we'd get wild and throw in French Catalina or a Thousand Island, but most of the time we stuck with our good old standby dressings.
I recently had an excess of parsley; not wanting to freeze it, since frozen tiny packets of herbs tend to get lost in my freezer, I was casting around for an idea when I remembered this dressing. Paging through my favorite cook book of all times, the 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking, I found a recipe on page 364. I made a few changes based on ingredient availability and personal taste (I do not like anchovies). This is my modified version:
Green Goddess Dressing
1 C. mayonnaise
1 minced clove garlic
1/4 C. minced green onions
1/2 C. minced parsley (the original recipe calls for 1/4 C. but I like it with more parsley)
1 T. lime juice (it's supposed to be lemon but I was out)
1 T. tarragon vinegar
1/2 t. salt
ground black pepper
1/2 C. yogurt (this is supposed to be sour cream but I was also out of that)
Blend it all together and put in the fridge until ready to use. This makes almost a pint however ,in addition to a salad dressing it also makes a delicious dressing for wrap sandwiches.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars (make ahead for quick breakfast or breakfast that must travel with you)
3/4 cup pumpkin purée (can be canned)
1/4 cup butter or ghee at room temperature
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (can use walnuts or sunflower seeds)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp grated orange rind from an organic orange (optional)
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dried blueberries, wild
Measure out the 2 cups of oats and pour just enough warm water over them to cover them.
Soak for about 5 minutes while you’re mixing up the wet ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs, butter or ghee, honey and banana.
You may want to mash the banana before adding to the bowl if it’s not really soft.
Before adding the oats, drain them well; add the oats, nuts, coconut, oat bran, cinnamon, salt, orange rind, currants and blueberries, and stir until ingredients are well combined.
Spread mixture into a lightly greased (butter, ghee or coconut oil) pan so the batter is no more than an inch or two deep. An 8” x 10” baking dish works well.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until it’s beginning to brown.
If they fall apart when you cut them into bars, you might try baking for about 10 minutes longer.
For very crisp bars, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Cut the bars when cool.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pomakis
Thursday, October 1, 2009
As part of explaining how I modify recipes until I come up with what I want for the final version I thought I would give you the next step in the creation of this torte. I will start by pointing out, as you will see below, that it is not always a straightforward process. Inspiration takes over, mistakes cause you to go in a different direction, taste testers make suggestions that help you refine what you are doing. It's more than just a matter of measuring out ingredients.
First a huge thank you goes to my friend Teresa who gave me another bag of these most delicious pears. They may not look like much but they are fabulous in both flavor and texture. Unfortunately I am using a picture of the pears again because I forgot to take a picture of the torte before it was devoured by the folks at home and other taste testers.
I had originally thought to change the recipe by adding some applesauce to moisten it, or soaking the flour, or adding some fat; instead I made the following changes:
Whole Wheat Ginger Pear Torte
1/2 C. milk (the original recipe was 1/4 C.)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 C. crystalized ginger chopped (this was a new addition)
1 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. all purpose flour (this was a tip borrowed from my King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book)
1 t. vanilla
The original recipe had cinnamon, this version has none because of the addition of the ginger
Preheat oven to 350 deg F
Peel, core, and slice pears
Mix together eggs, milk, salt, vanilla, evaporated cane juice crystals, and chopped ginger
Add flour and mix well
Grease a 9" cake pan
Coat the pan with evaporated cane juice crystals
Layer the pears into the bottom of the pan (the original recipe called for the pears to be folded into the batter)
Pour torte mixture over pears
Bake 40-45 minutes or until done
The torte was delicious, The balance of flavors was just right. The outer 1/2 of the cake was perfect, the middle of the cake had a more pudding-y consistency. I think the problem with the middle was either because of the way I arranged the pears (too many in the center made it more damp, checking the torte too early caused it to fall slightly, possibly not having the right amount of baking soda leavening*, or perhaps the pan was too big and I need to consider making this in my 8" pan and adjusting the amount of batter.
So now I'm hoping that Teresa will once again generously offer some more of those fabulous pears and I can try again. I'll keep you posted.
*Shirley Corriher's book BakeWise says if there is too much leavening it can create too many bubbles in the batter which then rise to the top and cause the cake to be too heavy in the middle. The formula is supposed to be 1 t. of baking powder or 1/4 t. of baking soda for every cup of flour. Because I used both I did "fuzzy-math" to come up with 1/2 t. and 1/2 t. that may have been part of the problem. I really need to stop borrowing this book from the library and just break down and buy it, it's a great resource for bakers.
I was not able to find any specific information relating to using the berries or their powder as a flu preventative.
I think the best ways to avoid the flu are the obvious ones of washing your hands frequently with soap; it's very important to monitor small kids who may skip the soap part, check out this article for proper hand hygiene including a video on how to wash your hands the right way. it's also important to avoid contact with anyone who has the flu and to make sure that you are consuming immune boosting foods such as garlic, ginger, cayenne, and vitamin C.
Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:EugeneZelenko
The Complete Medicinal Herbal
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
If you think this sounds like a joke. It's not.
Strangely when cherry growers began to promote this information in marketing their product it caught the attention of the FDA. Mind you this is the same agency that is failing at food safety. Responsible for under-inspecting food production facilities and imported food, unreliable in Pharmacolocial oversight, the FDA has nonetheless opted to go after whole food. While I'm not sure how the government would intend to regulate the sale of cherries if it were somehow indeed cast into the category of a drug, it seems bizarre and completely the wrong direction. The FDA should be keeping BPA out of our plastics, melamine out of our food supply, inspecting plant safety according to their mandate, and making sure that the drug manufacturers are responsible for their products (so that drugs are not released early before all symptoms are known, such as Vioxx or Accutane).
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I have a few tips about whole grain baking and some yummy recipes on the blog, you can find the baking section here.
I will share from personal experience that if you try to change everything at once you may find that you get an unpleasant result and that you're not sure why it happened. I usually change the flour first, then the fat, then the sugar. I've made some great doorstops/hockey pucks in my time by switching everything in the recipe and not understanding where I need to make further changes. Keeping notes along the way helps me to understand the evolution of the recipe.
Melt 3 sticks of butter
Mix together with 2 C. Sucanat
Add 2 eggs
Add 2 t. baking powder, 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. ginger, 1 t. cloves
Add 5 cups. soft white flour (if you don't mill your own you can use King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
Let dough sit in fridge for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 F
Make small balls, roll in Sucanat/cinnamon mixture or white sugar and bake on un-greased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes
Let cookies sit 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cookie rack
Friday, September 11, 2009
Turnips are a member of the brassica family which means they are related to cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and others. Although there is an old fashioned tradition of cutting turnips into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, I think they are far to tasty to be put to this use; far better to eat them. One of the wonderful things about turnips is that you not only eat the root, but also the greens.
The root is a great source of fiber, calcium, potassium and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Turnip greens are high in fiber, folate, iron, vitamin C, and calcium. They are also an excellent source of manganese (an antioxidant which is important for bone health and digestion), vitamin K (important for bone health and coagulation of the blood), and Vitamin A (an antioxidant which contributes to eyesight, tissue and skin health and may help lower your risk for cancer). So all around they are an excellent choice to have in your Fall/Winter pantry. To take advantage of all of that nutritional goodness, turnips can be cooked in a variety of ways: sauteed, mashed, baked, boiled, the list goes on.
My very favorite cookbook for greens is “Greene on Greens” by the late Bert Greene who was a Food Columnist for The New York Daily News. In it he writes about the tonic power of turnip greens,” It must have had some therapeutic effect, for turnip foliage was brewed into potions, restoratives, and pick-me-ps from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century with vary report of it's good pharmacy. Even today in the deep South, a cup of turnip green “pot likker” is still reputed to be the best cure for hangover ever invented.” While I've never tried pot likker as a cure for hangover I do know that when I get turnips I like to use the greens to add extra flavor, texture and nutrition to whatever I am making.
As the weather gets cooler, soup becomes a weekly item on our family menu. Warm and comforting, it's an easy meal and a great way to use turnips and their greens together. This recipe is based on Bert Greene's Mixed Turnip Chowder. I simply substituted a leek for the onion, added turnip greens and a couple of cloves of garlic. If you can't get rutabagas you can increase the turnips and potatoes to make up for them.
Mixed Turnip Chowder
2 T. unsalted buttermilk
1 leek rinsed and finely chopped
1 large rib celery finely chopped
1 pound turnips peeled and diced
1 ½ pounds rutabagas peeled and diced
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 quart vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1/8 t. mace (note: I don't use this)
Melt the butter, add the leek and garlic and cook a couple of minutes
Add the celery and cook a few minutes longer
Add the root vegetables and broth
bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer
Simmer about 20 minutes
Remove half of the vegetables and 1 C. broth
Add greens to the remaining soup in the pot
Blend the removed vegetables and broth until smooth
Return to the pot and add salt and pepper
Simmer another 5 minutes and then serve
photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turnip_2622027.jpg
staying healthy with nutrition, Elson Haas – pp 95, 108-109
Greene on Greens, pp 185, 387
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Below is my letter to Ms. Rosenfeld:
"As a Nutrition Educator and the mother of two children who are sensitive to food coloring I am pleased to see that you have removed the artificial colorants and aspartame from your products sold in other countries. I feel that this was a responsible decision made in reaction to the demands of your consumers which highlights that KraftFoods has the ability to effect change in partnership with the requests of it's consumers. I am stunned, however, by your decision to continue to use these very chemical additives in the U.S. version of the same products.
There are a number of studies which underscore the health risks posed by synthetic additives, especially when it comes to the developing bodies of young children, a prime market for many of your products. Given the overwhelming reach of your company into the pantries across this country and around the world I would think that a response to such consumer requests should have prompted a revision in your manufacturing processes across the global market instead of merely in a few countries.
There is no need whatsoever for these ingredients, and indeed they are harmful to your consumers. I urge you and your company to be a responsible member of the global community, to care about the health of those who buy your products and make the same change that you did in Europe, Australia and other countries by removing artificial colorants, aspartame and other unhealthful chemical additives to the foodstuffs that you sell, not only in the United States, but around the world.
Mira Dessy, NE"
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
My reply: "This certainly looks great and your picture looks wonderful!! I would make one small change. Instead of brown sugar (which these days is nothing more than white sugar stained with molasses) I would try demerara sugar which is a lower process than white sugar and has a fairly good moisture content mimicking the effect of brown sugar.
In case you are wondering why manufacturers pull the molasses out of sugar to make white sugar and then add it back to make brown, it's so that they can get a consistent color palette in the product. Silly but that's why they do it.
As to the moisture...the cake probably came out a little drier because you used less sweetener. You can try to modify that by either adding a little more fat (oil or butter) or by adding something like sour cream (just a little) to help which would also give a subtle richness to the cake or applesauce which would help add moisture. The applesauce typically doesn't add anything to the flavor profile, just moisture.
Since I personally encourage people to eat more whole grains I would leave the whole wheat the way it is is the recipe, switching back to 100% enriched flour is nutritionally less desirable and will also significantly change the properties of the cake."
As a general note, when you are modifying recipes it's sometimes difficult to remember all the different pieces that make up the whole. Changing one ingredient can have a major effect on the overall result. When working with baked goods the most important things to think about are if your change will impact the loft (whole grains are more dense requiring possibly more moisture or more leavening), the moisture, or the flavor. But most importantly, like Claire, have fun and experiment with your food.
Photo: Courtesy of Claire Wang