Saturday, January 31, 2009

Foodie Fumbles - Super Bowl Party Blunders

Tomorrow is the big day. No, not the Super Bowl itself but the parties attached to it. With every get together there will be fumbles and major accidents. Like your favorite team players you just have to be prepared for anything going wrong.

You have to be on the ball for cooking, especially frying., If your chicken wings do get a tad burnt, spritz some lime or lemon juice on them to mask that charred taste. Try adding some more cayenne pepper to them . You can also drench them in barbecue sauce. Or if they're basically unsavable, then run to your nearest fast food place and just order their wings.

What happens if the outdoor grill doesn't light and you can't dole out those burgers and dogs? Grill or fry them inside. If there's not enough room, use the microwave for the hot dogs. Okay, so they 'll have that bland taste but have guests pour on enough relish, chili, sauerkraut and/or mustard to hide that. If you run out of meat , then go out and get some cold cuts for quick sandwiches.

Avocados got too rotten for the dip? Then take the remaining onions and tomatoes, put into the food processor along with hot sauce and serve salsa instead. Sour cream gone sour for your onion dip? Use plain yogurt instead and get the same results. Spinach dip gone too thick and over cooked?A half cup of milk should fix that.

Don't worry if your party has a few fumbles during tomorrow's big game. That's to be expected. Just be prepared and quick on your feet to remedy any problems. Do what the pros do. Recover quickly and get on with it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Prep Time

Sunday is the Super Bowl which is also the super bowl of snacks. If you haven't already decided , then stick with the basics guacamole, chips., wings, ribs and of course beers. After all that, if you want dessert, hey, throw that in too. You need to get that sugar high going when you dance to Bruce at halftime.

For guacamole, make sure you get extra avocados. Why the extra? Because even though they make look good, some are almost fifty per cent rotten. You have to scoop around this black part , thus not getting the whole avocado. Select ones that are firm yet yield to a finger tap. I usually go for Haas, I like their brand the best and their avocado makes the best dip. Make the dip about half an hour before guests comes. Guacamole turns quick and you don;t want to be serving guests black gunk. I usually make mine with plum tomatoes and onion powder. If your guests like crunch add a cup of diced onions for flavor and texture.

Wings and ribs are always fun (albeit super messy foods). You can make wings in a variety of heat s for a different spin. If that;s too time consuming call your local Wing Zone , Popeye's or Pollo Tropical for some already made ones. They will also supply you with dips and wet naps. Pollo Tropical has excellent ribs and you can order these with some sides.

As far as dessert, go for simple cupcakes or a football shaped cake. These you can buy at your local supermarket. This is not a big cake celebration. Besides devils' food doesn't exactly go with Bud Lite. Have bowls of M&Ms or Hershey's kisses around if they want something sweet to munch on at the end.Also brew a pot of coffee for those who need it or want a cup of something hot at the end of the night.

Enjoy this year's Super Bowl and let's hope your team wins. In the meantime. enjoy the food.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lost In Translation

A lot of things lose their spin when they come to America. British humor. French attitude. This applies to food too. What makes for good eats in the mother country could induce gagging here in the States. Many dishes have to be adapted to fit our tastes.

Authentic Chinese and Italian are not what we're used to here in America. Real Chinese cooking doesn't have the sweet sauces that we clamor for. Also the dishes tend not to be as spiced up as what we're accustomed to eating. Some of them are just a little too bland, relying on the meats or vegetables' tastes. That also brings us to veggies. The Chinese are big on them. Our versions are not. While the real deal is laden with bok choi, tomatoes and Chinese broccoli , ours have sliver s of carrots, pieces of florets and wafer thin slices of water chestnuts. Italian cooking again is much different in translation too. Mention ziti to my cousins in Piedmont and you'll get a dumbfounded look. Yet it's a staple of Italian American restaurants here. Most Italian American dishes are from Naples (most of the immigrants from that region came from there). It took a while for the cuisine from other regions to become better known . Still even Italian Americans may not know what salsa verde is and what it's served with (usually with beef tongue) or have had stuffed onions which is a favorite in the North. These are typically Italian specialties but have yet to make it to American tables.There are several other cuisines such as Belgian or French that get lost in translation.

Sometimes what works in one country gets a makeover in America. Like the immigrants themselves who work hard to fit in, native cuisines also becomes remade . Somehow it all gets lost in translation and the original recipe is diminished

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowy Day Projects

There's nothing like a snowy day to drive you crazy. The kids are home and restless. You;re home and restless. What's a foodie to do? Cook! Or bake!Or create something fun everyone will enjoy snacking on.It keeps them from wall papering the cat and gets them to enjoy the kitchen.

Baking is the easiest and the most fun activity on a frosty day. There's nothing like a batch of fresh cookies after time spent shoveling or sledding. Always have a roll of cookie dough in the fridge for when the kids are bored. Let them slice and bake the batch themselves if they're ten or older. Cupcakes are another fun choice. They're easy to bake and fun to decorate. If you're planning on this then buy confectioner's sugar along with food dyes and candies The little ones can have a ball decorating the cupcakes til their hearts' content. Candy making is fun especially for the 'tween set (and it'll stop them from playing the Jonas Brothers nonstop) Haystacks are easy to make using just the microwave , semisweet chocolate morsels and coconut (The recipe is in my entry on candy making). Bark is another fun candy and easy to make. melt semisweet pieces with some water . Add some almonds slivers. Spread on waxed paper or a greased cookie sheet and let cool. Break into large pieces. Peanut brittle is also fun to make and it just takes sugar and water cooked to the hard candy stage and then poured over peanuts in a greased brownie dish.

If the young'uns want to experiment more switch them over to dinner time. A fun supper is hot Pillsbury bread sticks dipped in [pizza or marinara sauce. (this is actually a Pizza Hut classic). You can bake the bread sticks in the toaster oven and buy a jar of sauce. Grilled cheese is another fun treat. The kids can add ham , bacon or tomato to their sandwiches or substitute American with cheddar or even pepperjack for a spicy spin. Scrambled eggs are easy to make and can be made fun. Add cheddar or bacon bits. or slice ham and serve on large slice s of sourdough bread. if the kids are adept then have them make hamburgers or hot dogs for a fun day in.

Let a snowy day i n be a blast in the kitchen. Turn those housebound hours (and days) into training time for young chefs and bakers. All of you will be glad you dud.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Goodness Of Brown Rice

This is the season to stock up on healthy foods. One of those is brown rice. It's versatile enough to b e made into main meals and desserts. It's also chock full of vitamins and minerals, essentials to fighting colds and viruses.

Why is brown rice healthier than white rice when they're basically the some thing? Because only the hull is washed off of the brown where as the white is stripped of everything. White rice is the result of scrubbing away several different layers to produce a pure white kernel. It was preferred eating because brown was connected with poverty. However it's this kind that provides you with manganese and magnesium along with selenese. Brown rice is also an excellent source of fiber.

What to do with brown rice? It' an excellent accompaniment to any stir fry.It can also be a good stuffing for turkey . It is also a versatile side that can be mixed with chopped veggies and nuts for a protein and vitamin packed boost.As with white rice, leftover brown rice can be turned into rice salad. Just add some broccoli , sliced peppers, onions, and tomatoes. You can also make a healthy rice pudding with it too. Use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener and add some sliced almonds.

This winter, try to incorporate at least four servings of brown rice a week into your meals. It';s a good way to add much needed vitamins and minerals during this cold and virus season.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pollo Tropical - Fast Food Island Style

Combine flavorful Caribbean cooking with fast food and you have Pollo Tropical. It's hitting my neighborhood with a vengeance. The food is a salute to home island cooking, full of spices and textures. I have to admit it's about the best tasting fast food out there.

Since Pollo Tropical means chicken tropical style, there are of course chicken dishes but also beef, shrimp and pork. The grilled chicken is coated with lime and adobe, cooked crisp on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. I had the value meal which also includes savory yellow rice and red beans in a mild chili sauce. A small roll and soda are added to this for a grand price of $4.21. The rice and beans were wonderful, redolent with spices but not too seasoned. I also bought the flan which is the best I've had. This is what flan should be - a creamy little custard, eggy and not too sweet with a deep dark caramel sauce over it.

You can also get pork ribs for a dinner along with ropa veja, that Cuban classic of shredded beef. Pollo Tropical also has fajitas (OK ,maybe a nod to Mexico here) along with Casar and Cobb salad. unlike other fast food joints it also offers soup. The sides reflect the islands with yucca and fried plantanos along with corm. There are even tropical fruit smoothies too. The food itself is low in calories and not at all laden with the usual fast food evils of grease of over salting.

If Pollo Tropical moves into your neighborhood,go to it. The food is excellent along with the pricing. It's a great way of eating good Caribbean food with out the travel.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Instant Food

It's good to be a foodie in today's modern world. Everything can either be popped into a microwave or a toaster oven. We can add boiling water to a bowl and get everything from oatmeal to soup. It's downright amazing what can be rustled up in a minute or two.

There's a lot of meal ideas to be had from these "instant " foods. For a quick lunch or even Sunday night dinner, bake Pillsbury breadsticks and then serve hot with a just cooked jar of marinara sauce Add salad and you have a satisfying dinner. Another idea is taking leftover white rice and adding it to tomato soup. You could also had some precooked shrimp and crab meat for a seafood stew. Ramen noodles are a fast way of satisfying those hunger cravings. Toss in some ginger or soy sauce for flair.

Anyone's sweet tooth can be instantly satisfied. There are the logs of cookie dough that can be sliced bake d and eaten within a span of twenty minutes. Microwavable cakes (which taste like soft baked pudding) are now the quickie dessert of choice. You can even make yourself an individual baked apple or poached pear thanks to the microwave. Fruit can be easily cooked this way and you can make all sorts of healthy snacks and desserts with some creativity and a few minutes to spare. A caramel baked apple just requires it to be cored, stuffed with caramel and butter and microwaved on high for a minute or two. Instant bliss and happiness.

It used to be just the "Jetsons"had instant food. Not so in today's 21st century kitchen. Anything is possible. Anything can be whipped up in a minute or two to be gobbled down in a few seconds.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What Makes A Good Lunch?

Even worse than trying to find something for dinner is trying to find something that constitutes a good lunch. After all this is meal that has to sustain through the afternoon, crash periods and early evening. it should be tasty and nutritious yet not too heavy that we fall asleep around two or three PM. What's the best bet then?

To be honest my mom and I are of the same mind when it comes to a hot lunch. We prefer to follow our Italian cousins with a hot meal , one that's delicious and can carry us through to the six 'o' clock news. It can be pasta with salad, a filling soup, or a roast chicken bought from our local A&P. Sometimes, but rarely these days, we'll head to Wendy's or Subway for a fun sandwich Coke and fries. This is what everyone does and a daily dose of wreaks havoc with the blood pressure and puts on pounds. The secret is creating or ordering a meal you like , that has health benefits and won't screw up your dieting. It may sound like an impossibility but it can be done.


Order healthy meats like grilled salmon or chicken either as a main course or in a mixed salad. If you are intent on salad, avoid the croutons and heavy dressings like Russian or French. Try lighter oil and red wine vinegar or light olive oil with a squeeze of lemon or lime.Keep the bread down to a minimum one or two slices (especially if Italian or French is served with it) and pass on the butter. Wine is good with a meal however don't down a carafe the afternoon of the big business meeting. Just plain iced tea or if you must, diet soda to wash everything down. End with a piece of fresh fruit like a pear or banana if you crave something sweet.

Figuring what makes a good lunch should be a no brainer. Settle for dishes that will keep you satisfed and full along with being tasty and nutritious.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Food Chains

Ever notice the number of chain restaurants along your local highway or in your neighborhood mall? It seems America has produced about a million chain restaurants from Pizza Hut to Johnny Rocket's. Some are upscale, some look like neighborhood hang outs. All in all this is
what 's feeding our country.

There are some really good chain restaurants out there. Red Lobster, for all the criticism (and the one snarky novel written about it) does serve up some mean seafood dishes at affordable pricing. Not only that but all the meals are affordable. Families can splurge every now and then on a lobster for a birthday or graduation. This same philosophy is true with Ruby Tuesday's. The chain offers some great steak cuts along with an expansive salad bar. They also have cool creative drinks that are fun for a night out. For super luxurious there's The Grand Luxe Cafe that looks like a part of an Atlantic City or Las Vegas casino (and a division of of another chain, The Cheesecake Factory). There's also Legal Seafoods which offers high class seafood and chic atmosphere at a relatively well priced rate.

The low end chains do pretty well too. Johnny Rocket's, that mall favorite offers a variety of burgers and shakes with a fun atmosphere. A relatively unheard of chain, Pollo Tropical gives people a superb taste of the islands without the high pricing. It's where foodies can dig into Caribbean favorites and follow with flan or dulce de leche.

Chain restaurants may not get a four or five star rating from critics but they're still good. They give Americans a chance for good food and fun without the high pricing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Distinctly American Meats

Yesterday's Inauguration lunch featured truly American meats such as pheasant and duck (although these are also found in Europe). This country has a lot of game that has been popular rover our four hundred year history . We've dined on wild turkey and terrapin, sold raccoon and squirrel in our 19th century meat markets, and made chili out of just about any meat we could find. America may be known to embrace foreign dishes but we also love our native meats as well.

Pheasants are primarily found in Asia . How they got to America is anyone's guess, probably crossing over from the land bridge that is now the Bering Strait. They are a small gamy bird, consisting of more bones than meat. Most recipes call for roasting them ,preferably with some kind of juice such as orange or lemon. They can also be sauteed in a port wine. As with any fowl, pheasant meat can be versatile. it can be made into nuggets (tiny) or as a base for a savory pot pie. You can do pheasant wings a la Buffalo style or pan fry the breast meat.

Duck , the other meat served on yesterday, is an American classic. It has been served since our precolonial days by the indigenous peoples of North America. Luckily ,almost every ethnic group that has settled here has duck on their menu. We can enjoy a Peking style or duck a l'orange. It's also good to serve with wild rice and mushrooms for a more American flair. Luckily for foodies it is more readily and more widely available in supermarkets.

America is known for a lot of good food. It should also be recognized for its' variety of distinct meats that have graced tables for four hundred years.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Deep Dish Pizza In The White House

Today is inauguration day and one of the most exciting days in world history. It’s also a great day for foodies because the Obamas will hopefully bring their love of food and restaurants to the forefront.

Chicago may be the “city of big shoulders” according to our great poet , Walt Whitman, but it’s also the home of some of the best pizza and ribs in the world. Deep dish pie is a pretty recent invention , first made in 1943 by Ike Sewell for his Pizzeria Uno restaurant. The crust is usually an inch thick and extra flaky. It’s kind of like an American pizza rustica with a variety of fillings. Most traditional are pepperoni and pepper but you can also fulfill that other Chi-town passion and fold in cooked steak strips to it.

Chicagoans love their steaks and other cuts of beef. It makes sense considering Chicago housed many of the country’s slaughterhouses. There are some excellent steak houses throughout the city. Ribs and hamburgers also are big in the Windy City.

What will the Obamas bring to the White House kitchens? Their Chicagoan love of food for one thing along with the different and varied dishes that made up our new president’s childhood.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fair Trade Foods

Conscientious foodies should be well aware of fair trade practices and foodstuffs. In order to support new businesses and hemp empower nations we must buy their items. There is a lot to go for, from cocoa and tea to various fruits and vegetables.

Where to find these companies? Look on the web. Go to any search engine and type in fair trade foods. You'd be surprised at what come s up. For the US there is Garuda International, for the UK there is Fair Trade Foods. Also look to your local stores and hangouts to buy fair trade coffee and tea and baked good with fair trade spices and cocoas.

On this day we can be inspired by the man we honor and think of others who need us. For foodies that means helping countries who depend on our cravings for coffee and tea, chocolate bars and spice cookies.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Real Story Of Pepperidge Farm

If you're like me, you have always been in love with Pepperidge Farm products. From their famous goldfish to their cookies to their breads, they represent good quality baking at affordable prices. What I didn't know was their story. I had always assumed that this was a quaint baking outfit left over from another time. The real story is much different.

Pepperidge farm came about thanks to its' owner Margaret Rudkin. She had come up with a healthy alternative to white bread for her son who was beset with allergies. This was in 1937, long before grocery stores touted wheat and gluten free products. She made her son an all natural stone ground flour bread that not only helped him but was a hit amongst family and friends. The Rudkin family doctor even prescribed it to other patients and an industry was born. The company got its' name from the estate that the Rudkins owned , Pepperidge Farm.

The company added their rich line of Milano and Brussels cookies thanks to Margaret's being impressed with Belgian bakers and their creativity. This was in the 1950's and American cookies had yet to be sophisticated. Pepperidge Farm changed all that. Soon white bread America was being introduced to luxe styles of chocolate sandwiches and almond flour snaps. A few years later goldfish were brought to the line thanks to Margaret's trip to Switzerland and discovering Swiss fish crackers. The company was bought out by Campbell Soups a little after that however this enabled Pepperidge farm to now work on frozen pastries - another first for America.

Pepperidge Farm now has a whole host of elegant cookies along with down home sugar and chocolate chip kind.s The goldfish line has expanded as well , bringing all sorts of flavors from pizza to pretzels. This foodie wants to know. What's your favorite Pepperidge Farm treat?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Guilty Pleasures Foodie Style

OK, fellow foodies, here's the first big question of 2009 - what's your guiltiest food pleasure?

For this foodie it has to be Pepperidge's Farm's Sugar Cookie. Yes, I know to other fellow food lovers it 's probably the most boring thing out there but not to me. There's something almost sinful about the way the cookie snaps under my teeth or the melange of different ingredients coming together to create a very comforting taste. These are the downfalls of my diet. I can eat an entire bag during the course of a day. They're irresistible.

Another treat that's almost right on a part with the PFSC's are Skittles. I rediscovered these over the Christmas holidays and now can't get enough of them. After all that cloying holiday chocolate there's something refreshing about the tart little bursts of fruit flavor. Plus they're just fun to eat.

These are some of my guiltiest food pleasures ( I can go on and on about my favorite restaurant, Villa Napoli's old fashioned cheeseless pizza) . Write in . I'm curious as to what everyone else's guiltiest food pleasures are.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quick Hot Meals

Quick and hot don't normally go together when describing a meal, yet you can make one none the less. It's important for us to have something warm and filling in us during these cold wintry days. The problem is time. How to come up with something that will be oven fresh in a minimum of minutes?

The best of anything hot and hasty is a good soup. Of course the homemade kind does take hours to create. You can cheat here by using instant soup and adding some ingredients. Toss in some extra veggies or steak strips to a minestrone. Throw in some rice to a tomato to make it heartier. You can also serve hot biscuits with it or toasted Italian bread. You can also serve it over a huge hunk of the last to make it more rib sticking.

Other quick and hot meals include grilled cheese and panini. These are great because you can vary the cheeses and stuffings. Try some slabs of ham or a layer of bacon under sharp cheddar . Paninis could be stuffed with grilled veggies such as peppers, onions and eggplants. Add chicken or ham to round it out.

You can create quick and hot meals. It doesn't take a lot of time and effort. Just a few minutes and a few cans of soup or slices of bread.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Spins On Old Classics

Old recipes are the greatest. You get a sense of tradition along with rib sticking meals. However as with anything old, sometimes they need tweaking to be a bit more accommodating. Anyone can put a new spin on an old classic Updating recipes keeps them fresh and interesting too.

Currently I'm obsessed with updating rice pudding. I'm not too fond of this classic dessert to be gin with but I found a recipe that calls for brown rice. Now that intrigues me. It also call for non traditional recipes such as nutmeg and maple syrup. As with any rice pudding there are to be raisins but I've decided to add almonds for crunch and texture. Thanks to all of these ingredients, the traditional bland mix is now turned into something a bit wilder and earthier.

If you have a recipe that you;re bored with tweak it up some. For example bruschetta can always use an extra kick with a layer of spicy salami added to it. Grilled cheese can benefit from thick slabs of ham under the cheese or subbing regular cheddar with pepper jack. Pasta sauce can be made healthier with chicken instead of the traditional beef . You can even add more spices to it for a pasta arriabiata. For cakes and cookies think about tweaking up classic recipes. Everyone appreciates a chocolate chocolate chip cake or an oatmeal cookie with walnuts instead of with raisins.

Have fun with your old recipes. Tweak them a bit to create new and tasty spins. It'll make dinner and dessert a bit more fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Nice Hot Sandwich

Nothing beats a hot lunch during these cold times. There's something so satisfying as oven fresh meat on bread slathered with gravy. Not only that , it gives you fortification when you're facing a hard day and freezing temps.

Sandwiches began with the Earl of Sandwich wanting something quick and fuss free to eat during his time at the gaming tables .His cook's creations were a variation of the hot sandwich, cold roast beef on toasted bread. The first real hot sandwich was the BLT, a variation of a Victorian tea sandwich. Move to fifty years later when diners are all the rage in America. They were the first to serve hot open faced sandwiches, using roast and turkey along with ladles of gravy.

Other countries have their variations on this. Italian has the hot pressed paninis while the Cubans create their version , full of hot pork and ham. The French have that yummy fried cheese, the croque monsieur which is a lovely blend of Gruyere cheese and ham fired golden brown in butter. (they also have a croque madame which subs turkey for the ham).

However you slice it there;s nothing like a hot sandwich on a cold day. It;s the perfect buffer for those cold temps and an empty, growling stomach.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FinallyThe Bagna Calda Entry

I finally feel well enough (OK so almost well enough) to actually write about bagna calda. this is a gourmet and foodie treat that my Piedmontese relatives make during the winter months. It's an interesting melange of anchovy with beef or veggies.

Bagna calda means hot bath in Italian (it's bagna caoda in Piedmontese) and it's definitely that. Savory anchovies fillets are melted into a mix of butter and oil in a fondue pot. Minced garlic is then added for more flavor. Traditionally Savoy cabbage was put in to it to cook up and soak up the "bath" however a Paterson NJ version also was created. Paterson was the East Coast's home for silk and it lured the silk weavers from Piedmonte's towns such as Biella . The workers brought their own spins to traditional recipes such as bagna and pascoi (stuffed Savoy cabbage). One was adding raw London broil to the dip. It cooks up beautifully adding a rich red meat juice. This blends perfectly with the anchovies' saltiness. (if you;re wondering how anchovies got to the landlocked region, it's because of the Genovese fish merchants, directly south of Piedmont, who used the alpine hills and valleys as drying spots for their catches. This was done during the winter months).

Of course bagna wouldn't be complete without a long crusty loaf of Italian or French bread. use it to sop up the dip from your plate or take a hunk and let it cook up in the pot. This is a treat until itself especially when you're able to get your hands on the heel .

Bagna calda is a fun and tasty winter dish. It's the best thing a bout the New Year!

My family's recipe

1 tin anchovy fillets.
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced,

Sliced raw London broil or steak, cut up Savoy cabbage and mushrooms.

In a fondue pot add olive oil anchovies and garlic Stir until melted. Toss in meats and veggies. and cook until done.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Still Need More TLC Tender Loving Citrus

Sorry guys, I still feel like sludge. Monday should be a better day and a longer entry (especially about bagna calda)

Hopefully the grapefruit juice my Mom has given me will kick in. I need more tender loving citrus

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another Postponed Entry

Sorry foodies, I'm going to wimp out yet again and postpone my article on bagna calda. The ocld is just too much for me to handle. Sorry.

Anyway, this sick, little foodie would like suggestions about how to deal with them/
Please write - now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cold Case Foodie

Guys, this will be the shortest entry to date. I am racked with a God awful cold and find it hard to even stand up. I'm taking it easy today with a lot of bed rest.

Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow to write about bagna calda - that great Piedmontese winter dish.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Foodie , Heal Thyself

Guess what, gang, Little Miss Eat This , It's Good For You has not followed her own advice. I am suffering from a killer cold and I'm thinking partially due to not eating enough Vitamin C. This is the time of year when catching anything runs rampant. Gird yourself, fellow foodies and prepare for a long, sneezy, coughy winter ahead.

Stave off a cold by eating foods rich in Vitamin C. I know this is the oldest adage in the book but it's true. Supermarkets have oranges and grapefruits piled high. Buy one or two for yourself for the week. Use your juicer for fresh made juice. Remember that you can use orange and grapefruit juice as marinades and a substitute for vinegar in salads. Pineapple is one of the fruits highest in the vitamin. Get your hands on some for a healthy snack. For veggies tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes (yes potatoes!) give you some dose of Vitamin C. Add more tomatoes slices to your sandwiches or make a tasty bruschetta for lunch. Also think about baked potatoes lavishly topped with broccoli and cheddar for a relatively healthy meal (OK, so the cheese spoils it , but the cheese is rich in calcium).

Once you embrace your cold, then stick to foodie comfort foods. I am living on soup, popsicles, and juice right now along with hot oatmeal for breakfast. That orange that's sitting on my table with be added to the mix today too.

If any of you fellow foodies are sick or starting to get even a sniffle, heed my advice. Eat healthier to prevent getting any kind of crud.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Updating Old Classics

Yesterday I had written about Ida Bailey Allen's wonderful cookbook Delicious Meals At Low Cost. This is a time capsule of great recipes however it is sixty years old. Luckily with any old recipe you can update it and fit it into modern cookery and baking.

Sometimes older recipe s or receipts call for ingredients that were easy to get in the 18 and 1900's but are hard to acquire now. Let's face it we can't easily go out and shoot a brace of partridge. We can substitute them with turkey or even Cornish hen. As far as with different cuts of beef we can more or less replace one cut with another. We can also update prep methods thanks to food processors and portable grills.

Cakes are another matter . Some older recipes call for a pinch of this and a cup of that . Unfortunately there is always some debate about what constitutes a pinch or a cup. Usually housewives added just s few grains of some thing as a pinch. A cup was usually a demitasse cup also used for measuring flour and sugar. A few scratch cakes call for duck eggs which produce a richer taste and a yellower batter. The problem is how many markets still sell them. Another dilemma with older recipes are the tastes. years ago people were quite used to spicier cakes or less sweeter ones. You have to experiment with recipes a few times and adjust the amounts to get the desired taste.

Updating old recipes takes a lot pf thought and consideration. It can be done however. Just work on them and experiment until you get the desired taste.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lessons From Old Cookbooks

A very good friend of the family recently gave me one of her cookbooks from the mid 1940's. The author, Ida Bailey Allen created a cookbook entitled Delicious Meals At Low Cost. This is a foodie's gem of low budget yet traditional meals that still can be served today.

The author herself published around fifty or so cookbooks dealing with a variety of topics. Ida Bailey Allen was born in 1888 and came of an age when home cooking required a lot of blood sweat and tears. She left in 1973 during the era of convenience foods and the rise of fast food empires. This book that was given me is a meld of traditional old school recipes and new , more "modern" ones. What I love about it is the fact that Ms Allen goes into great detail about ingredients. All sorts of meats are completely analyzed form their taste and texture to what can and should be done about them. Dairy is carefully broken down into specialized categories along with their benefits. Then there are the suggestions as to what to do with leftovers. This was way before the microwave era and Ms. Allen has some very creative ideas as to what to do with them. All in all it makes for a fascinating read.

You can learn a lot from old cookbooks. Culinary history is always fascinating, especially when it comes with asides. What's even neater is that the recipes can be updated today and used in our diets.

Note: You can still buy any of Ida Bailey Allen's books on the web. Use Google to do so and a complete list will come up.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

To Drive The Cold Winter Away

Today's title come from a Loreena McKennett album (I'm one of her biggest fans). It also means the warm food and drinks we have to drive the winter away. Yes it's January and we need that extra dollop of heat to keep us from turning into Popsicles.

What to eat? Spicy chilies are good and easy to make. Add a extra flip of chili turning it from a one alarm to a three alarm. You can also heat up your hot cocoa this way too. Make Mexican hot chocolate for yourself by using Droste plain cocoa powder and a pinch of chili powder. Add a drop or two of hot water to make a paste, some sugar to taste and then the hot (not boiling ) milk. You may have to experiment with this to get the taste right . The first time may result in a five alarm drink. Another heat generator is curry. Curry powder lends a wonderful taste to beef, chicken or vegetables not to mention keeps you toasty.

January is the month for , comforting soothing soups and stews. You can make creamy corn or lobster bisque's for a delicious hot supper. Add toasted bread and a salad and you're good to go. A big slow cooked pot of beef stew is not only perfect on a cold snowy day, it's also nutritious. Add some carrots , leeks, onions and turnips for needed vitamins and minerals. Make dumplings to go with it to create a dish that will stick to your ribs.

Don't let the cold temps get you down. Warm up with some hot drinks and hot food during this January. Treat yourself to yummy foods that will certain drive the cold winter away.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Foodie Predictions 2009

This is only the second day of the New Year but already there are predictions as to what will be the foods of the year. 2009 might be the year of innovation but it might also be the year that we discover old favorites. What will our palates crave in these next 12 month?

It seems the New York Times Food section has already predicted that salted caramel will be hot in '09. Our president and first lady elect , the Obamas are mad about homemade caramel that has a shot of smoky sea salt added. These are created by Fran's a longstanding Seattle candy company. More mainstream companies like Hershey's and Russell Stover will be jumping on this bandwagon and giving us these unique goodies (although they've long been a favorite in Brittany where they originated from).

I think shaved ice, that Hawaiian classic and Barack Obama's favorite boyhood treat will also be popular. People will be rediscovered Hawaiian cuisine thanks to our new president. Another prediction is that Chicago will be rediscovered as a foodie town , again due to President elect Obama's roots there. Why not? The town has a rich tradition of good Italian, German and Polish food. It's also has a lush history of the meat industry and producing hearty steaks and burgers.
Other predictions? New York State residents will drop regular soda from their diets thanks to the tax Governor Patterson has proposed. More fast food restaurants like Wendy's and Mc Donald's will be putting out more salads and following Subway's menu of healthier sandwiches. On the home front , people may be reaching back to Fifties recipes, thanks to movies like "Revolutionary Road" (Jello salad, T-bone steak and highballs, anyone?)

OK, foodies, what do you think will be the culinary hits and misses of 2009? Write in and let me know.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Foodie New Year’s Traditions

Today is January 1st of a new year. With it comes all sorts of culinary traditions that have been followed for centuries. They’re a way of bringing the old into the new and ensuring that well loved foods are with us always.

The Germans have many New Year’s day traditions. One is eating herring. My family always had jars of pickled ones on the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day tables. It’s eaten for good luck. Americans celebrate with hopping john or black eyed peas for the New Year. Eat them with hog jowls to celebrate prosperity. (or just plain old ham if you don't have the jowls!)

What are your New Year’s foodie traditions? How will you ring in the New Year?

Let me know and to all of you a good and healthy 2009!!!!