Saturday, November 29, 2008

Get Ready For The Baking Season

December 1st is just around the corner and that means the prep season for Christmas baking. The number one complaint of all bakers is that they have to make time to buy ingredients. If you start your arsenal now, then you will have all the minutes needed to create those holiday batches.

The most important ingredient is flour. Stock up on it now. Some grocery stores are offering buy two for the price of one so buy as much as you think you’ll need. Another ingredient worth keeping up on is sugar both granulated and confectioner’s. You’ll need one fro baking and the other for icings. What else should you stock up on ? Chocolate chips in all sizes along with nonpareils, and sprinkles. You may also want to buy some oatmeal raisins, peanut butter and shredded coconut. Also think about adding some Baker’s chocolate (Unsweetened bars) as well as cocoa mix such as Droste. You can stock up on milk, butte rand eggs a few days before you bake.

This is also the time to look over your cookie sheets and cutters to see if you need new ones. If the last is plastic and cracked you can always buy some news ones at your local dollar store, grocery store , Target K-Mart or Wal-Mart. Check your spatulas to make sure they can handle stiff cookie dough. Buy a timer if you don’t; already have one as well as cooling racks. If you’re making brownies or bar cookies, look over your baking pans to see if they’re up to snuff.

Another thing is decide whether you’re going to bake alone or need help. Carve out a day in your calendar and devote the whole day t o baking. This way you’re not multitasking or rushed to finish your baking project quickly. Get help if you need it. Delegate and write down who will do what for a smoother operation.

The holidays will be here sooner than you think (or even wish for that matter). The demand for sweets will be great. Get your self ready ahead of time for the big baking project that lies ahead of you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Uh Oh!!!! Leftovers!!!

They're there, lurking in your fridge, waiting for you behind that yogurt and diet soda. What are these scary little critters?


Yup, every household that has cooked yesterday shoudl have a half gravy boat left and the remains of Mr Tom Turkey. There also may be a few ice cold Brussels sprouts and some mushy yams to deal with as well. Don't despair. There are a ton of ways to despose of your feast.

I'm sure that a few thousand households across the US are eating hot turkey sandwiches today. Good move. Gravy is the first leftover to go and you want to use it up ASAP. Put a different spin on it by using fresh croissants or those lovely yellow egg infused rolls supermarkets and bakeries sell. You can also hea t up your stuffing in the microwave and use it as the base. There's nothing like a cold turkey sandwich either. Try it with a tarragon mayonnaise or even a curry mustard. Of course you can make turkey soup using it for every kind from cream of to noodle.

Vegetables are another detrius of a holiday meal. Luckily you can reheat them in the microwave with some butter or margerine. If you're watching your weight then rehaeat with a few drops of olive oil. If the dish was too bland to begin with, liven it up with some chopped garlic or even better yet- minced scallions. Whole yams can be sliced up and sauteed or even mashed. Turnips can be cubed and then recooked with some olive oil and sea salt.

At this point there should be very little dessert left.Yet there's always that one stray piece of pie left over. Liven it up by a quick microwaving and top with ice cream. You cad some pumpkin pie spice or crushed pecans as toppings.The same treatment goes for any plain or pound cake that happens to be left over too.

Don't be fearful of all those extras left from yesterday. Be creative with them. They'll be gone before you know it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow foodies and Americans overseas and here at home. Be thankful for all that you have in your lives. Remember those who aren't so lucky and include them in your prayers and blessings.

Here in the States we now have a lot be thankful for. We have a new president who will get us out of these messes we 're in. We have food on our tables which many overseas do not have. Most of all we have each other .

Enjoy this day but also give thanks.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Feasting

Tomorrow is the day when American foodies go wild and feast like crazy. However there are some parts of the world that also have great dinners, full of delicious meals and sumptuous courses. All account for memorable meals and enjoyable times.

Maybe it's from their Etruscan ancestors or Roman influences but the Tuscans of central Italy know how to put on a good feast. Not only do they have pasta but also roasted boar and piglet to round out the meal. There are also soups and salads as well along with various flatbreads the Tuscani are known for.

On the other side of the world the Indians make luscious feasts too to celebrate weddings. There is always nan, along with a multitude of curries and kabobs. Chicken is done up several ways , in creamy sauces or sometimes grilled. There are Indian sweets to finish the meal off with.

Of course in America we're a country of foodies. We love any opportunity to throw a party whether it's for the Super Bowl or Christmas party. We love our summers of endless barbecues where four or five different meats are grilled or birthday parties where favorite foods are given to the birthday boy or girl , then finished off with a gooey cake. It's just who we are I guess.

Enjoy tomorrow's feasting. Take it easy and savor all that's on your table. Most of all be thankful for what you have.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Sides Are You On?

Thanksgiving is the time of sides. No, not the faction that you;re with family or friendwise but those extra little side dishes that had flavor to the dinner. Everyone has their favorite from the rich green bean casserole to pearl onions.

What makes a good side? It's a dish that complements the main one, in this case turkey. Green veggies are always a good choice. They are perfect for those watching their weight and aren't filled with calories or fat. You can make everything from collard greens to snow peas. Usually the best way to prepare a holiday side is to just sauteed with some butter or margarine, sea salt and some cracked pepper. You can add a little minced garlic or shredded thyme or oregano. Don't have a side dish that's too overpowering otherwise it will eclipse the main one.

As for potatoes, yes they make wonderful sides. Yet ask yourself do you want to serve them with stuffing and rolls. Homemade mashed ones are 237 calories a serving while baked ones are 290. Add on hefty desserts and you've got yourself a holiday fat explosion. If you;re looking to eat healthy then , stick to cooked carrots or string beans. Still craving taters? Then go with the much healthier sweet ones that come in at only 157 calories without the butter or marshmallow covering.

This holiday , if you can go crazy on all sides. They add to your meal , making the turkey stand out even more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's The 200th Column!!!!

Well Foodie Pantry is celebrating its' 200th column today. I've written about almost every cuisine and foodie favorite from absinthe lollipops to my great grandmother's recipes. There's still more to write about that's for sure.

All my loyal readers (and there are all five of you) may have noticed that I've just recently added links to This amazing site (where I've bought all of my Loreena McKennitt CDs and books)offers one of my favorite coffees, Gloria Jean's (the drink of choice for any aging mall rat like myself). You can also get good cookware at Amazon too, and there are sales as well.

I 'm also toying with the idea to revamp the site. Maybe it's time to get rid of the HoJo colors and think fresh for the New Year. I am also thinking about adding some how to videos and tours of my favorite restaurants and foodie towns. What readers may see is an interview or two with a famous chef. That's would be my coup d'etat for this blog. We'll see.

If you have any ideas or suggestions let me know. Like food, Foodie Pantry could always use a new recipe for success or extra spice for livening up.

Tomorrow it's back to business with an articles on side dishes.

Thanks for your readership.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Gravy!

Another Thanksgiving must is gravy. It's what holds the meal together, complimenting the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. How it's made is usually up to the cook.

Most people prefer a thick gravy , loaded with turkey bits and big on flavor.The best gravy to make is one involving your pan drippings. Add a spring of thyme for more flavor. Start by making a roux with butter and flour, then add turkey or chicken stock (preferably chicken stock since it's sold more readily) and then the pan drippings. Make sure that the roux is stirred together. This is the base and it should be smooth and lump free. Usually the amount of stock is four cup however if you want you can increase or decrease by half a cup to get either a thinner or much thicker consistency.

You can keep leftover gravy for two days after it was initially made. Keep it in the fridge in a small , shallow dish that's covered with Saran wrap or tin foil. when reheating, bring it to a full boil and serve hot over leftovers.

There's nothing like a good gravy with your turkey. It makes the meal memorable and brings a certain oomph to the table.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Stuffing

Stuffing is one of the symbols of Thanksgiving. The big bird is nothing without it anyway. There are several different ways to make It.We found that my grandfather's Swabian recipe, from Southern Germany is the best. He got it form his parents who were new to these shores but quick to incorporate it into American holidays.

Stuffing meats have been around since Roman times when even the occasional mouse was stuffed(my cats would love this! Meow!) The English have been preparing it since the 1600's as well as the French who first called it farce or stuffed meat. Stuffing or dressing got a renaissance in 1972 when Ruth Siems,a home economist was able to take breadcrumbs and flavorings and package them in a boxed mix called Stovetop Stuffing. Stuffing went from a once or biannual dish to something that could be made on a weekly basis.

What makes a good stuffing? The bread you put into it. Challah or any egg bread is the best but you can also add rye or pumpernickel for chewiness and more intense flavor.Some add chestnuts or sausage as well for body and flavor. Germans like to use sage in their dressing. This is what I grew up on and it is a wonderful flavor. My family recipe also includes sauteed celery and egg. This last almost makes for a cakelike stuffing that can be cut into squares. It's also easy to reheat int he microwave too.

Stuffing is what makes Thanksgiving hum. Even if you don't like turkey or yams, you;re sure to like stuffing. Who doesn't after all?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Goodness of Pie

There's nothing that can beat pie in the holiday dessert department. There's something about a warm flaky crust, en robing the warm blend of apples and cinnamon or offsetting a super sweet pecan pie. A cake is nice, but it connotes fancy celebrations and parties. A pie is like a comforting sweater or blanket. It means a good down to earth dessert at the end of a homey meal.

Pies are relatively easy to bake. You just need a simple crust and a good filling. It doesn't have to come out looking pretty like any other dessert. It just has to be made well and taste good. The best crusts are made with shortening, lard and flour. You can use butter instead of fat for a richer, taste but these are more for tartes such as a delicate pear or apricot. For a really easy one there's nothing like graham crackers ground up , mixed with melted butter and sugar and baked.You can also use chocolate, cinnamon or honey flavored ones too.

As for fillings, nothing beats fruit. You can vary a basic one like apples. adding caramel and walnuts for a caramel apple pie. (this is the best spin on the traditional apple). You can also add raisins or dried cranberries. Nothing beats a peach pie which is more of a summer dessert. However this is the season for pumpkin, and pear. For pumpkin the best bet is a can of processed cooking pumpkin (what you probably still have on your porch is a carving one). Pears are plentiful right now and can be baked into an open kind of tart.

Cream pies are an easy option for those who have little or no time to bake. You can create some interesting layers with puddings and whipped toppings. You can even add a layer of fruit or nuts on top. There's also the very easy to make ice cream pies which just require a baked crust and your favorite flavor. These are the pies that everyone from adults to kids will like.

Enjoy a slice of pie this Thanksgiving or Christmas. There's nothing like the homey goodness of one to warm your soul.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dressing For Success

What makes a memorable salad? well the veggies that go into it , to be sure. There's also the extras such as the, eggs, croutons meats or fish that go into it. However it's also the dressing that can make or even break a salad. It has to be the right mix of oil and vinegar or just enough mayo and ketchup combined to create the perfect French dressing.

Creating the perfect salad dressing is not for novices or for anyone wanting an easy way out. You have to use the right ingredients and just enough so that every piece of lettuce is lightly coated.It's usually two to three tablespoons of red wine vinegar to half a cup of olive oil. If you want you can also had small pinches of rosemary or oregano to add some zing. For a more robust dressing substitute the regular vinegar with balsamic. Go easy with this. Balsamic has an overpowering taste and can ruin an entire salad if there's too much of it.

Creamier dressings such as Russian and French are more to personal preferences . These are good if you're eating a chef salad and want something creamy to go over the various meats and cheeses. Ranch dressing is also a good foil for more involved salads. It has a cool taste that works well with grape tomatoes and broccoli bits.

Like a cake with a good icing, a salad with a good dressing is a must. it has to be the right mix of various ingredients to give boost to any bowl of mixed greens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fresh, Healthy Veggies

This is the time of year to eat right to stay healthy. That means incorporating more vegetables in your diet. The problem is the frozen stuff - well - it's the frozen stuff. There's no taste and thanks to processing all those vitamins and minerals have been eroded away.

What to do ? Buy fresh. Yup. Do what your grannies and great grannies did. Get carrots with the tops still attached (you can use these as mulch later on) Buy those heads of cabbage. Unprocessed vegetables will be a boon to your family. They'll get the e full impact of all those good things , such as Vitamin C, folic acid and betacarotene.They'll also appreciate the unadulterated taste too. So many processed greens don't have a strong flavor. Unfortunately we've had to load them up with unhealthy cheeses, and sauces to make them palatable. Just prepared dishes won't need those crutches to make them dinner worthy. Their true taste will come out; making them irresistible.

Cooking fresh vegetables is an easy feat. Spinach can be left to simmer with a few tablespoons of water over a low flame. You can add a teeny bit of sea salt and cracked pepper to bring out its' earthy flavor. Yams can be cooked over a grill or even roasted in the back yard. Cabbages can be shredded and quickly stir fried for a tasty side to pork, beef or chicken.

On your next shopping trip, bypass the frozen food aisle. Head straight to the veggie section and pick out some fresh , healthy vegetables They're a brilliant and sensible way to protect your family against winter ills.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Food For The Holidays

This is going to be a back to normal column. I'm feeling somewhat better and can finally type up a storm. What I'm going to write about today is good holiday food. Yes, you know the stuff of memories and legends.

What makes a special dinner special? Well the obvious answer is TLC and love but let's face it, it's really the food. It's the way a turkey skin is so crispy and salty straight from the oven. It's the way a fresh baked pie smells as it's cooling on window sill. It's the way Madagascar vanilla beans perfume a Christmas cookie dough.

What constitutes a memorable meal? Top quality ingredients. Remember that when you shop. Even during these rough times you can still find top of the line fruits and vegetables as well as meats and baked goods.Be judicious that's all and try not to go for stuff that's too over processed or canned.Also take care in your cooking and baking. Don't rush. If you're not into this whole holiday meal thing then eat out. It beats making a lousy meal during a limited time allotment.

This holiday season take time and effort to create your best meal. This is what makes it memorable It's intelligent choices and hard work that will make it a standout dinner.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Comfort food

Well I still have a bum finger but at least I have my comfort food. Mine is Lady Grey tea. It's a soothing melange of orange and Pekoe tea. that and my Times crossword puzzle are the best. My other faves are pompeist Piedmontese breadcrumb soup, grissini, Piedmontese thin bread sticks, and any painkiller on the market.

Right now I'm going for the last.See you Monday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foodie Down

Readers I have cellulitis in my left hand index finger which make s it hard to type.

Anyway this foodie is down and dieting. Big time I hve high blood pressure and maybe the start of an insulin dependency. I may give up alot but I'll still be writing those delicious articles for you.

Not now though., I have a Vicoden sandwich to rip into. Thank God for heavy drugs. ON that note eat some Cherry Garcia ice cream.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kitchen Caution - Foodies Beware!

Well, my fellow foodies I may be in hospital for a few days. Why? Because of a simple blister that happened from a quick brushing with a hot . Strange but true. I know have a red hot, swollen index finger all because of simple carelessness.

For all of you who like to cook, you should always have a certain respect for your kitchen.Be careful around sharp knives and don't be distracted when you're cutting , slicing chopping or dicing. Always have oven mitts on when dealing with the oven and even the microwave.I have a tendency to just quickly grab a microwaved dish with my fingertips. Bad idea (on second thought , maybe that's how this Blisterzilla started). If you don't want to use the mitts, then a thick towel will do.

Another thing is be careful with all kitchen cleansers. Make sure that little ones or pets don't get to them. Keep your Comet and Bon Ami safely hidden away. The same goes for surface and glass cleaners. Don't keep bleach out in the open in your kitchen either.This is the most dangerous and should be in a pantry or in your basement.

Also any good foodie chef or even part time cook should have a kitchen safety kit. A box of bandages and Neosporin will do fine. This helps with those small cuts and burns that do occur. Stay clear of any old wives tales remedies. These may cause more harm than good.

I don't know when I'll be back at this blog. It may be several days. I don't know. Just wish me luck and be more careful than I was in the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gem Of The Holiday Table : Brussels Sprouts

Nothing offsets a holiday table other than Brussels sprouts. these emerald green gems are not only a beautiful additions but also healthy treats. They're perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner or even a weekend buffet.

Brussels sprouts are a cousin of the wild cabbage and belong to the Brassicae family. They are cousins of cabbage, collard greens and kale. Originally eaten in ancient Rome, the vegetable originated in central Italy and then went up to Belgium. The French brought them to the Louisiana Territory in the early 1800's. Now they are grown commercially along the Californian coast and Long Island. The soil has to be dark and rich with moist weather conditions

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, and contain cancer fighting antioxidants. They are good in preventing colon cancer thanks to the enzyme sinigrin found in other cruciferous veggies. The sprouts are also high in Vitamin's A & C. Try to get everyone hooked on these little gems. They are perfect in helping to fight off colds and flus. If your family balks at eating them, remember that Brussels sprouts are good with garlic or just simply cooked with a topping of butter and Parmesan cheese (this last is my family's recipe.) To be honest once you;re hooked on their sweet nutty flavor, you'll be hooked for life.

Remember to include these perfect little gems in your holiday fare. They are not only tasty but good for you. Serve up plate next to your holiday turkey or ham.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Down Home Goodness Of Ham

Hams , like turkeys are synonymous with holiday cooking. Yet you can eat this versatile meat all year long.It doesn't come out just for Christmas or fall Sunday dinners. You can bake it any time you like, slice it up for dinner or save it for leftovers.

What exactly is ham? It's usually the cured haunch or rump of a boar or a pig. Most people have eaten the former although boar ham is popular in some countries. Hams were eaten throughout antiquity and the Romans often wrote about it. Most hams are dry cured although there are the wet cured ones (ones that have been pickled in brine and then tinned). Almost every country has their take on dry cure ham, the most notable being Italy and Germany . Italians are known for their dry cured prosciutto which is cured with just salt. There are no nitrates or spices added for extra preservation and taste. It's just coated in fat or lard which speeds up the curing process. The Germans are known for two varieties, Westphalian ham which is cured over juniper and beechwood fire and Black Forest which is smoked over sawdust and fir. Both are tasty and make wonderful fillings for sandwiches.

Consider yourself lucky if you have leftover ham this season. You can make the ubiquitous ham sandwich but you can also make your own deviled ham (this by grinding ham and mayo together in your food processor). Ham bits are wonderful in omelets as well as in quiches. Ham croquettes are another good idea. Don't forget to use the leftover bone when making pea soup. This will give it extra flavor and a certain smokiness.

If you're running out of meal ideas , then consider a nice ham. It's good any time of year any day of the week. You can use it as the main meal and for two or three days of meals afterwards.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yolato Gelati A Fat Foodie's Dream

I've discovered the Yolato stand at my local mall. For anyone this is a great treat, frozen yogurt in a variety of different flavors. For a fat foodie like me this is a dream come true. It's low in calorie and high in taste.

What this gelato is frozen yogurt done in the gelato style of ice cream making. The sorbets are great because they come in traditional flavors like raspberry and lemon but also come in punchier ones like pink grapefruit (a must try ) and watermelon. These are also low in calories with the first two being only 120 a cup while the latter is 140 a cup.

The yolatos themselves are anywhere from 150 to 170 calories. The flavors are amazing and have a richness about that. Try the hazelnut which tastes as good as any of the ones I've had in Italy. The chocolate is very good as well. There's also a tiramisu and the unusual green tea and seasonal pumpkin. At some Yolato stands you can also purchase yolato bars and cakes.

If you have a Yolato in your neighborhood , visit it. You'll get a premium gelato or sorbet without feeling guilty. It's the best treat our there for foodies watching their weight.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Goodness of Maple Syrup

This time of year calls for hot breakfasts, redolent of waffles, pancakes and French toast. What better than maple syrup to pour over these treats. Mixed with melted butter it has the perfect , sweet, nutty taste that adds oomph to any breakfast.

Maple syrup is as old as this continent. Canadian Indians first used it, tapping trees and boiling it to eliminate the water. It was widely used in the 18th and 19th Centuries because it was easily accessible , especially for New Englanders and upstate New Yorkers. Surprisingly enough it's early Spring and not fall when maples are tapped for syrup. A hole is bored into the trunk and then a tap or faucet is installed. This enables maple "farmers" to harvest the sap and bring it to the sugar house. The sugar house is where the sap is then boiled over high temperatures of 217degrees Farenheit and turned into syrup.The whole process from tree to waiting pan must be done quickly because the sap is perishable. From there it's poured into waiting plastic, metal or glass containers and sealed.

There are three levels of maple syrup. The best is Grade A which is then subcatagorized into Light Amber, Medium Amber and Dark Amber. Your more expensive syrups can be any of these. The most widely produced is the grade B which is a darker color and has overtones of caramel. This is mainly used in commercial cooking. The last Grade C is the darkest of all and is the maple syrup found in table syrups. The best is the Grade A , Light Amber which is the most expensive. This is what you should use over your waffles and pancakes. You can also use it along with the Grade C kind for your oatmeal.

This is the time for a hot pancake or waffle breakfast with maple syrup. Enjoy this treat to get you through the cold dreary mornings.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Casual Friday - Eat Whatever

Fridays have gone casual even in eating. What used to be a restrictive day for Catholics (fish only) and some other religions is now just relaxed as any Saturday. Some office allow their employees to work during their lunch hours to get out early. Some work places offer free breakfasts and lunches as a way of saying thanks. Anyway you look at it, Fridays are days to gear up for the weekend and enjoy food.

All you can eat buffets are big with everyone on the last work day of the week. That's the day I usually go to my local one and I've noticed a swell in customers. There's no waiting for a table when I've gone on a Tuesday or Saturday with my Mom and brother. It seems people want to celebrate the end of their work weeks with a big plate of chicken or shrimp. I've also noticed longer lines in some of my town's fast food joints. There may be a recession but people still want that Friday treat of a hamburger , fries and a Coke. I'm sure there are folks who are still brown bagging it. Hopefully they're putting little luxuries like avocado salad or Dove chocolates in those little brown bags of theirs.

Another trend is eating out Friday night. It was always a traditional night to send out for pizza or Chinese. It still is. My favorite pizzeria reports that take out sales are brisk during this night. Food courts are packed and not just with bored teens. It seems now entire families from grandparents to the stroller set are chowing down at their local mall.

Fridays are now associated with anything casual. That includes eating,from buffets to food courts. This is the new way of celebrating a hard week of labor and toil.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Newest Italian Phenomenon - Bruschetta

There's nothing like a good brushetta. That age old Italian hors oeuvre has hit American shores with a big wallop. Now it's all over from pizzerias selling it as a topping to homemakers incorporating it on their holiday menus. It's one of the easiest dishes to make and the most tastiest.

Bruschetta is nothing new. The Italians have been making it since the 1500s. The name comes from the Roman dialect "bruscare" or to be roasted over coals. It's just simpkyslices of oil brushed Italian bread roasted over a fire. Bruschetta means the whole slice but in the US its' meaning has shifted to also mean the topping. The Tuscans call it fettunta meaning oiled slice. In the southern Abruzzi region it's known as ventricina and covered with a raw spiced pork paste and then grilled.

Americans usually like their bruschetta with equal parts mozzarella and tomato.Basil is added to give it a woodsy "green flavor" You can also buy a veggie mix known as vegetable bruschetta which can be slathered on hot grilled Italian bread slices. To mix it up, make your bruschetta with a base of any Italian cold cuts from soprasutta to salami. You can also sub the mozzarella with Parmesan cheese and add chopped peppers to the tomato mix,. Olive, whole or minced are another good topping.

Bruschetta may be a new phenomenon here in the States but it's got old country goodness added to it. It's the perfect pre-meal appetizer to feed hungry guests and the perfect hors d'oeuvre for holiday get togethers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mall Food

I was one of the first generation of mall rats. Weekends were spent at the local mall shopping and heading to the food court. Some thirty years I'm still a mall rat (and thankfully a much smarter shopper.) Yet I can't resist the lure of anything my neighborhood mall has to offer. Nowadays there's some really good stuff there. It's not just burgers and fries anymore.

I have to admit my new favorite is Villa Pizza. This is a spin off from New York City's Villa Pizza near the famous Ed Sullivan Theater. Their avocado salad is the best. Imagine a Caesar salad chock full of thick ,creamy slices of avocado covered in Parmesan cheese.Another favorite is their Neapolitan pizza which is a thin, crispy, crust topped with a rich tomato sauce. Not to be outdone is the chain Great Wraps. This is a neat place where you can buy any kind of wrap along with their curly fries. The fries themselves are awesome because there are six different kind of flavored salts you can sprinkle on them.

Looking for dessert? If you haven't tried the Yolato stand in your mall now is the time. It sells both low cal yogurt gelati and sorbet in a host of flavors. I'm gearing up for their watermelon sorbet on my next trip. Another mall must have is the Nestle's cookies. These stands are few and far between but the product, fresh baked toll house cookies are even better than Mrs Fields's. (sorry, Mrs, F)

OK, America and the world (who has surely visited at least one American shopping mall by now) What's your favorite mall food? Write me here at Foodie Pantry. I'm up for shopping around for a new mall favorite.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote!!!! Read This Tomorrow!

Today is one of the most historic election days in US history. Instead of reading about the history of the tomatillo here go out and contribute to the never ending history of this amazing and great nation.

If you do feel foodie patriotic, then have a slice of apple pie or a malted or that US dinner standard: mashed potatoes (like I just did).

The most important thing you do today is not have three square meals but to go out and vote. Yours means something.

Then tonight, kick back with your favorite snacks and watch the election returns. I have my bottle of champagne ready for when my candidate wins. You should too.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Make Wiggle Room For Jello

There's nothing like the American classic, Jello. It's perfect for dessert or even as a side dish at a buffet.Not only that it's low in calories so you can splurge on it without feeling guilty. It's also versatile and you can eat it plain, with fruits or whipped cream.

Jello was invented in 1897 by Pearle Waite of Le Roy , New York. Gelatin was nothing new. The French had been creating it since 1682 when gelatin's; inventor Dennis Papin boiled animal bones and culled the glutinous matter from them. The result was a clear sticky , protein enriched gel. This used it in all aspects of cooking from meats to sweet desserts. Gelatin dishes in the 1800's were not widely consumed nor were they popular. It took Mr. Waite a little over two centuries later, to develop a palatable gelatin that would be tasty and easy to make. He added fruit syrup for color and taste and a new American classic was born. His wife named it "Jell-O". Waite sold the patent for it to Frank Woodward. Woodward was able to make it the most popular dish out there.

Gelatin soon became a staple in American households. Housewives soon realized they could give their families a fun colorful dessert for only pennies.The flavors were good, the original ,being strawberry , lemon ,orange and raspberry (lime was added in the 1930s). In this modern high tech age we still crave the low tech easiness and goodness of a cup of Jello. It's a fun dessert that can come in a variety of ways. Also it's good for nails. Eat Jello three or four times a week and you'll have strong healthy ones.

If any of you have any good Jello recipes please feel free to share them. Do you make yours into shapes? Or add fruits of the season? Do you like bubbly Jello made with club soda or ginger ale? Let Foodie Pantry know about it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chestnuts For All Soul's Day

November 1st is All Soul's Day, an important holy day for Catholics throughout the world. It's the day to honor the souls of loved ones who have passed. In Mexico , it's called Day of The Dead. Families spend it at a picnic in the cemetery honoring their ancestors. There are special skull shaped candies and foods that are eaten. My family has always followed my grandmother's Piedmontese tradition and eaten hot chestnuts. Crosses were made on the tops and the steam rising from them represented the souls of the dead.

Chestnuts themselves are a wonderful and versatile food. They are the fruit of the beech tree and grown on five continents. The nuts were first introduced to southern Europe by the ancient Sardis from Asia Minor (present day Turkey) and have become a staple of Italy, southern France and Greece. (Alexander's army were sustained by chestnuts) They are well known in Italy with chestnut festivals during this time in the North. The Tuscans soak them in wine while the French make the decadent treat marron glace or candied chestnut. The flour can also be ground into flour for baking cakes. Chestnut flour was used in making the original version of polenta

The chestnut is the only nut that has Vitamin C in it. Other vitamins are B1, B2 and B3 along with the minerals zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. Because of these it is a good staple to introduce into a fall and winter diet. Most people usually just eat them on Thanksgiving when they're blended with stuffing. However to get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals try to have chestnuts on a twice weekly basis when they're in season.

Today is the day we honor our beloved ones who have left us. With that we eat chestnuts to symbolize them. Chestnuts are truly the food of November .Go out and buy them today.