Saturday, May 30, 2009

Late Night Snacking

Watching some of Jay Leno's last late night show got me to thinking about late night snacking. There are some foodies (not myself, however) who enjoy raiding the fridge or cookie jar after hours. There's something decadently fun about eating when the rest of the household is asleep.

Ice cream is a popular late nighter's snack. You don't have to worry about manners. Just take a spoon and eat it fresh from the container. You can even be a little selfish and add whipped cream and syrup to it. A word of warning though. Make sure all the extras are gone before you put it away. You'll hear screaming if a very fussy family member finds traces of your late night sundae as they scoop out for their dessert. Leftover cake is a very good bite when you're watching Conan or Jimmy (or that repeat of Larry King) Have it with the ice cream and a cup of tea . A few cookies or a brownie are also fun to nibble on. Just keep in mind that the sugar will keep you up til dawn. I'd recommned this on a Saturday or Sunday when you can stay in bed til noon.

Leftover dinner makes a good nosh. Everyone has eaten pizza some time or other after the midnight hour. That Chinese takeout you had at five or six is still good at one or two AM. Cold chicken or turkey are made for snacking and it's fun to chew on a wing or leg (if there are any left) as you're watching late night HBO or Starz. Reheated meat loaf or burger is good too a bit heavy but if you're beset by hunger pangs then nosh away.

OK, foodies,here's your chance to shine. Tell me and the rest of our readers what's your favorite late night nibbles are. Let's compare what's good to eat when the strs are out.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Icing On The Cake

Nothing complements a cake like a good old fashioned icing. There are several kinds from butter cream to glaze that work well on every kind from sheet cakes to cup cakes. The best ones are the ones from scratch. Don;t use the canned ones. They taste artificial and ruin the flavor of a good homemade no mix involved cake.

Icings have been around for along time. From the 1600's to the late 1800's boiled icings were the frosting of choice. (although interesting enough frosting and icing were two separate coverings). Early icings were similar to royal icing which are boiled. They consist of hot water, confectioners' sugar and egg whites. Most Americans prefer butter cream , the usual mix of confectioners sugar unsalted butter, flavoringsuch as usually vanilla and milk. Cocoa powder can be added to create fudge frosting. if you want a simple icing you can just mix water, milk or whole cream with powdered sugar to create a glaze. This last is perfect for Bundt cakes , doughnuts and holiday cookies such as gingerbread.

What kind of frosting tastes good with cakes. I prefer a lemon butter cream with a vanilla cake although orange is good. Chocolate cakes are better frosted with a fudge or a chocolate mint (add mint extract) . The mint will cut the sweetness as does the lemon. Cream cheese icing another good tasting and very versatile icing. It can be used for both carrot and red velvet cake. It;s about as much work as a regular butter cream.

Icings always finish off the cake Think of them as the frame around the picture. A good simple one is all you need to showcase your work.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pickled Pink

It's a new tradition here at Foodie Pantry to write about what was in yesterday's New York Times Food Section. The main article was about pickling. This is a great way of preserving not just summer produce but also meats. You can also store up on any favorite veggie or fruit and enjoy the taste at your leisure.

Canning is nothing new. It's been used for the last two centuries to preserve everything from chicken to strawberries. The Times article written by Julia Moskin also dispels some of the old myths such as using pectins. Pectins are emulsifiers used in the preservation process. You can make your own using green apples . Commercially made pectins are a recent addition to canning. Many purists believe that the fruits and veggies have enough of their own. The article also goes on about what also to can such as cucumbers along with various fruits . There is even a recipe for sun cooked strawberry preserves. This involves letting the sun do its' work after a quick boiling.

If you are thinking about canning this summer remember to also follow safety tips. You should have new jars and paper towels on hand. Canning takes place in a water bath locale so sterilizing the jars isn't an issue. They should be clean to begin with However is the lids that need looking at Make sure they are tight and not easily loosened. This will cause air to rush in. Some air space is needed for creating a vacuum seal. If you're having reservations about canning, attend classes or check the various magazines and web sites devoted to it.

Canning can be a great way to save a season's harvests. Homemade jams , relishes and pickles are a nice addition to any meal. They give an old fashioned flavor not found in the commercially canned stuff.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Winter Dishes In Summer

Just because the warm weather is here, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your favorite winter dishes.Cook them with a lighter hand . Go easy on the sauces and gravy. You can have the same good stuff now that you munched on in December.

We all love meat and gravy during the colder months and why not. We need those hearty hot roast beef or turkey sandwiches to get us through snow shoveling or holiday shopping. Eat one of those now and you'll pass out. Yet who hasn't craved one when the temps hit the nineties? You can make a lighter one, substituting the heavy roue based gravy with au jus (the French for with juice) and serve on a flayed pita or even a very thin slice of bread. You don't get all the heaviness this way, just the taste. Creamed veggies are also a winter staple. Yet somehow creamed cauliflower or lima beans aren't too yummy when you're sweltering in shorts. Turn these into steamed salads dressed with a cool ranch dressing. The taste is zippier even than and is great accompanying kabobs or steaks. You can also have your baked potato but wrap it in foil and bake it on th e grill. Add some herbed low fat sour cream or even creme fraiche as opposed to butter and American cheese.

Some winter desserts can be lightened up to suit winter tastes. A German BlackForest cake can be a chocolate Bundt cake with the middle filled with fresh picked pitted cherries and whipped cream. Bake airy meringues instead of the traditional cold weather chocolate chips and gingerbread. For some dash add cinnamon or dip them in chocolate. Even those rich and warm lattes can be made into cooling almost frozen drinks (check ou the Dunkin Donuts ones that taste like coffee shakes).

Have all your favorite winter foods now. Just "summerize" them so that they're light and not heavy. That way you'll enjoy them all year round.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Brownstone - A True Jersey Diner

New Jersey is full of diners. You can't throw a rock and not hit one. There are good ones and then there are so so ones. The Brownstone in Jersey City is one iof Jersey's best. It's owned by Chris and Irene both from the amazing isle of Chios in the Dodecanese. They took a small railway car , expanded it and turned it into one of Hudson County 's and the NY metro area's premiere pancake house and diner.

Since the diner is all about pancakes, there are so many to choose from. You can try the fruity ones such as the peach walnut and the strawberry. There is also the traditional blueberry as well. For chocolate and candy lovers there are the turtle ones filled with caramel and chocolate chips. There's also the chocolate chip pancakes. For meat lovers there's the pigs in blankets and the meat lovers pancake that can come with ham , bacon or sausage bit s inside buttermilk pancakes. Waffles are not forgotten here. You can try the original or ones with fruit and nuts added. All are about the size of a small hubcap!!! No wonder Guy Fienga , host of the Food Channel's "Diners And Dives" loved this place!

"Regular" food is not neglected here. I ordered a grilled cheese on rye which was very tasty. There are also burgers, and roasts along with steaks and chops. You can get any kind of seafood along with chicken prepared a variety of different ways. The Brownstone also has an extensive salad menu as well an healthy grilled sandwiches and paninis. Like any diner they also have a cake and sweet section however theirs is as varied a s a specialty cake store.

Iif you're in the Liberty Park area of Jersey City (not too far from the harbor front and the Jersey City coast - and yes it does have a coast and beaches too!) stop in to see The Brownstone. Just the pancakes alone are worth the trip.

The Brownstone Diner is located at 426 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ. It's catty corner from Wilitz Hospital.(use this as your landmark when going there).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember Our Brave Ones This Memorial Day

Today is memorial Day here in the US. We should take time out from our barbecues , picnics, movies and beach days to thank those who have served this amazing nation. Think of their sacrifices, their lives lost so we and the rest of the world can enjoy all our freedoms and liberties.

Celebrate their selflessness and valor and be inspired by these traits.

Think of their importance to world history and freedom when you're serving your kids ice pops or helping mom make her special potato salad.

Have a good Memorial Day.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cool Summer Cocktails

Nothing quite says summer like a cool cocktail sipped in the shade , by a pool or near the ocean's edge. There are so many different combos. What's the best summer thirst quencher? Is it a fruity mix of flavored drinks ? Or something with fruit added?

Summer cocktails usually evoke the tropics. A good one is a mai tai, a wild and fruity combination of three kinds of rum curacao, almond syrup and orange juice. Another is a pina colada, a yummy mix of rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream . Think of it as an adult malted or shake. Any rum mixer is good too . You can be creative and try your hand at different combos.

Vodka mixed with any fruit juice is tasty. You can try Cosmos, that Sex And The City classic made with Stoli, cranberry juice and Cointreau. Another chiller is a watermelon vodka slushie, a mix of pureed watermelon, vodka along with simple syrup and melon liqueur. Put into the watermelon into an ice cube tray, freeze until frozen and then mix with the other ingredients. A less labor intensive is the Cape Codder (and my favorite) which is only vodka and cranberry juice.

This is the season to chill out with a cool, relaxing drink. Don't worry about the temperature climbing. Enjoy the balmy breezes with drink in hand.

Remember to drink and act responsibly if you've have a few of your favorite coolers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chill Out Foods For A Long Weekend

It's the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Even though it should be and is considered a solemn holiday to remember our armed forces, it's also a time of just chilling out. After all it's the first official weekend of Summer 2009. You can relax with some hot weather favorites whether in the back yard or at the beach.

The one foodie indulgence must have is a cold drink. Soda is fine but it can put on the calories and doesn't thoroughly quench your thirst. Homemade lemonade or limeade would do the trick better. If you don't have the time (or the energy) to make it then buy a jug of it from your local supermarket. if you want to liven it up add a splash of vodka to it along with more ice. Iced tea is refreshing, especially if it's fresh brewed with just the right amount of lemon and ice.

What 's a good snack after a hard day of yard work or a fun time at the beach? Crispy tortilla chips with salsa. These are less fattening than potato chips and you can make your own guacamole or veggie salsa. Kabobs are good for you and fun to nosh on. You can vary the meats and add the veggies you like. This is also a great way of baptizing the grill for the summer ahead.
Finish off with some ice from your local Rita's or homemade granita.

This weekend chill out with fun foods . Enjoy the first rays of the summer sun with a drink or munchies . Relax and eat well.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Burn Wood Not Coal

Yesterday's Food Section in the New York Times expressed the merits of a wood burning barbecue. While this is a bit more labor intensive than your average charcoal grill, it's better for you and the environment. There's not that overt threat of carcinogens and there's a better taste imparted on the food.

There s a few difference between wood and charcoal grilling. The first is what you use. You're better off at a hardware store like Lowe's than at Williams and Sonoma. You'll need long flame resistant gloves for one along with longhandled tong and an instant read thermometer. Instead of a spatula use a broad , stainless steel spackle knife to flip. As for wood, the article recommends starting off with pine but then quickly throwing on oak or applewood for flavor. Pine is good with getting a fire started but leaves an acrid flavor on the meats and veggies. Also get griddles to cook salmon and vegetables.

What kind of marinade should you grill with? Canola oil is probably the best bet. Don't use olive because it can quickly break down over high heat. Since the flavor is from the wood itself, try to use less herbs and avoid intense marinades. The wood, especially the applewood should give it a rich distinct aroma and taste.

Wood grilling is a better way to go for summer cooking. it's not only healthier for you but for the environment as well. Not only that your steak chicken and even vegetables will taste better cooked over an open flame.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our Children Are Starving Please Help

Yesterday I received an email from Share Our Strength. This organization which helps starving American children asked me if I could place their widget here on this blog. I decided to do more than that. This is the perfect moment to educate American foodies about the plight of so many children here in the richest country in the world. Our kids are starving.

Here are the plain facts. !2 million kids will go hungry tonight in the US. Poor nutrition will lead to all sorts of ills from the common cold to infections along with obesity and mental health problems. America's starving children are also prone to problems at school from aggression to absenteeism. They have impaired cognitive functioning along with the diminished incapacity to learn. Most live in the South but there are some in our major cities that need our help. A lot come from single parent households as well. If the parent loses his or her job, that's it.

What can you do to help?Host a bake sale. You can combine this with a garage sale to draw in more customers. Or you can try your local schools from high school down to day care. Get your religious organization involved too. You could also buy the Great American Bake Sale ebook or post a Chipin widget on your banner or blog.

This is America, land of good and healthy foods. It's a shame that 12 million of our children won't be eating any. Do what you can to stop this problem. Do so today.

To host a bake sale go to

To buy the great American Bake Sale EBook

Post a Chipin widget

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fun Foodie Gadgets

I love my Vidalia Chop Wizard. It's supposed to be for chopping onions and fruit but it"s also good at mincing hard boiled eggs for egg salad. it gets the egg pieces just right, small meaty bits that are what a good egg salad is all about. I'm not alone. other foodies go into raptures over other gadgets as well. These kitchen toys may look like fun but they're really a necessity. Besides they make the whole process fun and also time saving as well.

Another fun gadget are the Slurpee machines. these are great for the warm days just coming around . Pop in a few ice cubes and out comes ice chips ready to be drizzled with some kind of fruity syrup. These can also be used to make frosty margaritas as well. The Slurpee machine's cousin, the ice cream maker is another fun kitchen plaything. You can create all sorts of fantastic flavors as well as making your own fresh vanilla and chocolate ones.

Another fun gadget that foodies are now living are the salt grinders. Thanks to the increase in sea salt sales, these fun gadgets are in every kitchen. let's face it freshly ground salt tastes better than the plain iodized kind and it adds more crunch and texture than just the smaller grains. Pepper grinders are also big right now. There's nothing like the taste of freshly ground pepper in soups or even on roast beef or ham sandwiches. Like sea salt, it adds texture and a much needed zip you can't get with regular pepper.

OK , foodies, tell me what gadgets make your day. What do you like? Slicers? Melon ballers? Silicon bakeware (which really aren't gadgets). Let me know here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

An English Tea Food Elegance At Its’ Best

There’s nothing like a proper English tea. It has all the feel of a Merchant Ivory or Masterpiece Theater period piece. There’s something inherently elegant about sipping a fine Darjeeling or Earl Gray out of bone china. The sandwiches and sweets are perfect, delicate yet satisfying. It’s not hard to recreate one. Even for us Yank foodies who love fast food and messy dishes.

There are actually three kinds of tea to consider. The first is the cream tea. This is where tea scones and jam are only served. For a more substantial fare there is light tea which has sweets added to the menu and then there is the full tea which adds savories and a dessert (possibly a light trifle or small cakes). Savories usually mean small sandwiches , usually watercress or egg salad. Most English hotels serve the last , and cater to American tastes. The entire tea idea started during the Victorian era when Anna Maria Stanhope, Duchess of Bedford and one of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting felt a “sinking feeling around four in the afternoon. Borrowing from the Continental idea of having tea she arranged for the drink to be served with small sandwiches and cakes. This helped sustain her and her guests until the main meal which was probably served at seven or eight. Hence a British tradition was born.

Creating a full British tea is easy to do in this former colony. You can serve any kind of tea and have with it light sandwiches and scones. Supermarkets sell smaller loaves or what’s known as party loaves . These can be filled with cucumber, watercress, and cream cheese. You could put an American spin on them and use deviled ham or chicken as fillings too. Scones can be bought or made. The question is acquiring the clotted cream to go with them. Luckily it can be bought in any major city or on the Internet. As for having small cakes think cupcakes dusted with powdered sugar as opposed to being topped with a large mound of frosting.

An English tea is an elegant way of getting together with friends. It symbolizes timely elegance with delicate food. It's wonderful to indulge your foodie side while being civilized at the same time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Start of The Summer Party Season

Now that May is here, it's the start of the official summer party season. There are showers and weddings to plan for . Not to be left out are barbecues and graduation blow outs. What to serve? There's he question.

Small weddings and showers call for easy elegance. You may want to try the finger sandwich route . Here you can get creative with all sorts of yummy fillings such as deviled ham and chicken as well as with egg salad and cucumber. Add some watercress and cream cheese to bring an English tea vibe to it. To accompany these think small. Small dishes of pitted black and green olives or plates of grape tomatoes mingled with baby gherkins. To end it , think small again. Cupcake trees are better than an entire cake and then have plates of petit fours and butter cookies put on individual tables. Serve a champagne fruit punch foist followed by coffee and tea. This fare is light but still filling and perfect for a warm day.

For graduations and barbecues, think grilling. Nothing feeds a crowd like kabobs. They're simple to make, simple to cook and simple to eat. You can have steak chicken,veggie or shrimp ones to satisfy everyones' tastes. For sides think huge bowls of homemade potato, macaroni and pasta salads. These can be made the night before and easily chilled in the fridge. End with a store bought ice cream cake or easy to make pudding cream pies.

Get ready for the season ahead. May not only brings flowers but also promises of big get togethers that require a lot of planning and prepping. Be ready for these with easy dishes and desserts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lemonade That Warm Weather Friend

Thanks to global warming we're having unbearably hot days even in April and now mid May. How to cool down when the rest of the world is sizzling? BY drinking that old standby lemonade. This is a lovely throwback to Colonial days when ladies used to sip the freshly made stuff on their verandas. The idea is still appealing even though there are very few real ladies and few verandas left nowadays too.

Lemonade , it turns out, was not just favored by our founding mothers but by the medieval Egyptians as well. In fact bottles of it were imported from Cairo and sent to Europe aboard trading vessels. The recipe hasn't changed much. Freshly squeezed lemon, sugar (or honey and water). Th French first coined limonade in the mid 1600's. The French make a fizzy version of it today (imagine a tangy lemon soda) while the Americans Canadian and Indians make the water based version. The English like their carbonated (wouldn't this be considered lemon soda??. Any kind is good as long as it's served up in a tall glass with a lot of ice.

What's the best recipe for lemonade? I prefer using fresh lemons and spring water. The reconstituted lemon juice is good enough to work with if you don't want any rinds and mess to clean up afterwards. Just be careful with how much you use because it can be very tart. As for sweetening, boil up a simple sugar syrup . This flavors the drink and leaves a nice , pure sweetness to balance the lemons. You can add a sprig of fresh mint to individual servings as well.

Don't fret if you can'tt take the heat. Make yourself a big pitcher of lemonade and chill out. Enjoy the tangy cool sweetness of this summery treat.

Best Lemonade Recipe Ever
(by Jo, taken from

1 3/4 cups white sugar
8 cups water
1 1/2 cups lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water. Serve in tall glasses with straws.

Add mint sprigs to pitcher or individual servings if you want.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Ever Happened To The Old Fashioned Candy Store?

In yesterday's New York Times' Food Section, there was a small mention of a candy store that feature homemade sweets. The article got me to thinking. Why aren't there more old fashioned candy stores around? What has happened to them?

When I was growing up there was Helen Elliot where you could buy hand dipped chocolate pretzels and fudge. There still is Hannah Krause which still has hand dipped strawberries and truffles but it's about the only true old fashioned store left. If you want hand dipped or home made sweets in New Jersey you have to head down to the Jersey shore. There you can buy molasses paddles , those slabs of molasses candy dipped in milk chocolate and put on top of a lollipop stick. James Candy , famous in Altantic City still has haystacks, thouse glorious mounds of milk or dark chocolate riddled with toasted coconut. Any Jersey boardwalk will serve every kind of fresh made caramel to ready dipped candy apples.

New York City has some good individual chcolate shops. There's the famous Li-Lac CHocolates located on Hudson in Greenwich Village. They have been around for eighty years or more and offer a fine assortment of chcocolates. there are even small chocolate pops for kiddies. However it's great if you live in the neighborhood or are visiting the Village. There should be more Li-Lacs in other parts of the country where old time candy goodness can be enjoyed.

There are chain candy stores, like Rocky Mounty Chocolate Factory if you want a similar taste. Their products are good The caramel and candy apples are always made the day of purchase. the chocolates are fresh as well andare appealing. Yet , one, they are expensive, and two they are a chain. The apples are five dollars a shot which makes them a once in a rare moment treat and the chcocolates are not that creative. Don't get me wrong. Rocky Mountain's are tasty but they lack the creativity an indiviual chocolatier would bring to the mix. Still the store fills a need.

Foodies ,let us know if there are any old fashioned candy stores in your area. We just might stop in and visit. it would be worth the trek, believe me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can't Escape Cantaloupe's Goodness

Melons are wonderful, especially cantaloupes. Their sweet taste is almost too heavenly and sinful. Yet they're the perfect snack and breakfast for dieters thanks to each melon having only fifty calories. They're also the perfect cooler for a hot day and treat after a hard day's work. Best of all they 're easy to eat and don't leave half the mess other fruits d0.

Cantaloupes are one of the world's oldest fruits, first being cultivated 2500 years ago in India and Asia. They arrived in ancient Rome around the time of Christ and became a staple of their diet.The fruit were named for the Cantaloupe Gardens, one of the Papal estates around Vatican City. What we have in America is not that, , it's the musk melon. Here in the states they're grown year round on farms in California, Arizona and Texas. When looking for a ripe one , look for one that has a pale cream or yellow color and no stem. If there are stems that means these have been picked prematurely and are unripened.

What I love about cantaloupe is that they're only fifty calories and no fat. They're the perfect light breakfast and great snack for summer. There's nothing like sitting outside on a hot summer night with a plate of chilled cantaloupe slices. The taste is candy sweet but light. The flesh is firm yet yielding. To be honest I've been scattering the seeds in my garden , hoping one or two vines will sprout up. (although this can be dangerous. Like any melon, cantaloupe plants can take over an entire lawn and choke out other plants). I would love to grown my own melons and just the idea of picking fresh cantaloupe is very appealing.

Cantaloupe is one of summer's must have. It's refreshing sweet and light. It's the perfect refreshment after a hot, sticky day.Best of all eat as many as you want and you won;t gain a pound!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Juiced Up

Now that there are a variety of fruits in the supermarket , it's time to start thinking about juicing them. After all, there's nothing like freshly squeezed glass of orange juice or apricot nectar. They re' also what the Obamas demand in this new era of healthy eating and drinking. The best part is that fresh squeezed juice won't be laden with anything artificial or packed with sugar. Everything is all natural and good for you.

The first step is finding the right juicer. There are several different types such as the masticator (Or chewer- It brings memories of a line from "The Glass Menagerie" when the mother tells her kids to masticate their food). This is great for pulping bananas if you want smoothies. The best bet for any novice juicer is a centrifugal type where the machine grinds fruits as well as vegetables and puts them through a strainer (similar to your washing machine on spin cycle) You get more juice and less pulp. Another option is the triturating or twin gear juicer. This type of juicer first crushes the fruit and then presses it. You get more fiber and trace minerals. Also look for juicers that can easily eliminate the pulp. This allows for less mess and less clean up.

Once you have your juicer the sky's the limit. You can make fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice for breakfast. A hot day can be alleviated with just made lemonade or limeade. You can also infuse teas with juices for a different taste. Blend different juices for a maximum intake of vitamins and minerals. Anything is possible and you can create some tasty flavor combinations such as cherry orange or raspberry lemon.

Juicing is a great way of getting more good stuff into your system. It's also a great way of introducing your family to real fruit juice, not that sugary store bought kind. Juicing should be one of the stepping stones to a better diet and a better you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Marinade Season -Make The Best One For Your BBQ

Now that we're into the grilling season , it's time for good marinade recipes. Marinades are fun and easy to make . You can customize them to your tastes and make them four alarm spicy or tangy sweet.Marinades are one of the easiest barbecue recipes to make. They just require a dash of this and a pinch of that.

Any marinade starts off with liquid. This could be olive oil , juice, wine, honey or even vinegar.Then you can add what you want to it. For a zesty marinade, try any citrus juice including freshly squeezed grapefruit (or a cup of the store bought unsweetened). and some pepper flakes. For a more traditional one you can add some oil,vinegar, freshly picked and crushed rosemary . and oregano If you're looking for a traditional Southwest one, think about adding agave juice and some jalapenos with a touch of sugar to balance out the heat. Adding any fresh herbs or spices can turn a blah marinade into something wonderful. Experiment with different ones to give you the flavor that you most like

Sometimes it's the meat that demands a certain kind of marinade. Just plain lemon juice and oregano work on lamb while pork ribs call for something sweeter. Chicken and steak can be versatile. You can marinade them both with a traditional bath or try variations to make their flavor pop. Fish calls for a light marinade such as a lemon based one, possibly infused with thyme or dill. Anything too oily and it will create havoc with the meat's natural oiliness.

It's time to start creating amazing marinades. You can use time honored recipes or whip up your own creations. Either way they'll add zest and character to any barbecue.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day To All Foodie Moms

Yep, tomorrow is Mother's Day and we should honor the lady that not only raised us but gave us our favorite dishes over the years. After all hers is the original comfort food.Whose brownies did wee need in times of heartbreak or distress? Whose chicken soup got us through cold and fever? Who's hamburgers and sandwiches gave us more joy after a day at the beach. Our mothers not only give us love but also good recipes.

I'd like to hear what you foodies have to say about your moms' cooking. What was the signature recipe that she gave to you or that you loved? Let me know here. I know what mine were. Any and every soup recipe (including the family's panne pesto one from Piedmont. , sauerbraten (again from t he family). Actually with my Mom it was every baked and cooked dish since my Mom and still is a master chef (not cook but chef).

To all you moms out there have a good day and let the father of your children or your children cook. You deserve a day off.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Free Fast Food Thanks To Oprah

Shame on you Ms. Winfrey!!!

You're aiding and abetting in Americans to eat badly!

My Mom and I were recently visiting the KFC in our town when we noticed an unusually long line at the counter. To be honest this particular fast food joint has always attracted crowd. We didn't think much of it. Except when half the town showed up after us.

What was going on? We soon found out that that paragon of good eating, Oprah Winfrey, was giving away free coupons to KFC on her website. OK, maybe she wanted to help those who didn't have jobs and I can see that. Maybe she wanted to help introduce chicken lovers to KFC's new healthier grilled chicken. I can understand why. (it is better for you). However I think she could have given out coupons for either fresh fruit or vegetables. She, who is right behind Michelle Obama on eating better and more organically. Wouldn't it make more sense to bring more tomatoes and grapes on America's table than fast food chicken and sides (luckily the sides weren't fried at all)? Oprah should have introduced more parents to creating more valuable eating habits. The chicken may have been grilled but it is still fast food.

Don't get me wrong. I love this new KFC's grilled chicken. It's much healthier than Popeye's (sorry about that, Popeye's) and has a juicy texture that even supermarket chicken doesn't have. I love the fact that you can get steamed corn, or seasoned rice as opposed to greasy fries or onion rings. Maybe the only down side is the biscuit but even that's good. Any KFC meal is good in a pinch to eat or if you want something other than the typical fast food hamburger fare.

However it is still fast food. Mass produced and quick cooked. Again I think Oprah should have thought this one out (Not unless there was a KFC tie in. I don't know. I 'm one of the few Americans who never watch her show). It would have been better if the health conscious Ms. W. had extolled the virtues of broccoli and apples and the joys of discovering Dole.

Then again, that's just me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Frozen Zone

Yesterday's Food section of the New York Times featured an article about freezing various food including leftovers. This is a good idea because it eliminates waste and also gives us instant meals on busy hectic days. Another good reason for freezing is that it keeps herbs and produce fresher longer and there's no need to constantly replenish your culinary arsenal.

What should you freeze? Leftovers for certain but freeze them with extra oil or water to eliminate freezer burn. You can freeze beans and grains , usually in water. If you have a lot if fresh veggies, then the freezer is the best place for any extra. Tomatoes and peppers should be frozen raw, cut into sections or strips(this for easier storage). Tomato sauce, however , should be put into Ziploc bags with the air squeezed out. Other vegetables such as cauliflower or greens beans should be blanched. Fruits should be slightly cooked and pureed for better results. If you have any citrus squeeze them and put the juice into deep freeze.

Remember herbs can be frozen as well. My freezer is full of my Mom's pesto sauce and also cut chives. Other herbs such as dill and sage can also be frozen usually with a layer of water on top of them. You can also freeze sauces other than tomatoes too.

This spring and summer use your freezer It's not just that hangout for ice cream and some of last Christmas' puddings. You can use it to store extra sauces or any leftover dishes too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Season For Green Beans

Springtime means fresh and with it means fresh tasting, fresh looking foods. This includes the green bean. Long a staple of American dinners, it can be seen as one of the components of healthier eating. It's also versatile . Green beans can be the base of a casserole or a salad. They can be a wonderful side dish as well or even a snack.

Green beans or haricots verts from the French have been around for a long time. They're grown almost everywhere in the world, primarily coming from South American . Conquistadors introduced them to Spain and the French court as early as 1597 . It was only until the 19th Century that they became widely available to the masses. There are two kinds, pole and bush. Bush beans come from short plants two feet long. while pole beans comes form vines that grow up to six feet (these require a lot of staking and tying up if you decide to add them to your backyard garden). All in all any kind of green bean is good for you. They're rich in Vitamin C and are only 34 calories per cup.

What's the best way of serving green beans? My favorite is my Mom's salad, redolent with chopped onions and dressed in a simple vinaigrette. To me this is the best way of bringing out the beans' flavor. Southerners batter dip and fry them 9to me a waste of time, sorry). There;s the ubiquitous green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and those frizzled onions by French's. This is fine if you're into casseroles but I think the soup and various seasonings hides the beans' taste. Again I think the best way to enjoy green beans are if they're freshly picked and in any kind of salad with a light dressing. That way you'll be able to enjoy their earthy, sweet flavor.

Green beans are a healthy way to welcome Spring and summer eating. there;s nothing like them in a salad. Make them a part of your diet this warm weather season.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Healthy Gardening Means Healthy Eating

We all know that planting a garden means one more step to better eating habits. Thanks to it, we'll get organic veggies and fruits , free of pesticides and salmonella risks. It also means we'll be picking up more vitamins and minerals as well as teaching ourselves and our kids the importance of an organic plant based diet.

You can't go wrong with any fruit or vegetable selection. After all they're all good for you. If you decide to grown melons along with apples and plums, you'll be weaning yourself and the family away from harmful sweets such as cakes and candies. Try to get your kids addicted to these freshly picked treats. They'll reach for a slice of watermelon more readily than for an ice cream soda or a cookie. A neat summer dessert is peaches or plums grilled on an outdoor barbecue and sprinkled with some freshly grated ginger or mint Also get the offspring involved in harvesting. This gets them out of the house and exercising. Veggies are even more fun and there are so many choices when it comes to planting and eating. Steer yourself towards tomatoes and broccoli. These have the most health benefits for you. Other good choices are beets and cauliflowers as well as Lima beans and summer corn. Peppers are a versatile vegetable as well. They can be used in salads or kabobs . Fresh picked veggies are also good in home made soups. Your recipes for potages and chowders are free of the sodium overdose that happens when you eat regular store bought soups.

Growing an herb garden is also good. Cultivate such standards as oregano and rosemary. This way you can use them instead of salt. They will make for much healthier eating and also leave a fresher flavor to marinades, salads and sauces. Also try growing garlic and chives along with scallions.These not only improve the flavor of dishes but also have several health benefits as well.

Healthy gardening leads to healthy eating. This means lowering weight as well as eliminating carbs, salt and processed sugars from your and your family's diets. By investing time and effort into your garden, you'll be ensuring a better lifestyle for your family.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sprinkle This On The Story of Sprinkles

Warm weather means ice cream and with it those rainbow or chocolate sprinkles or jimmies. How many times has a sundae or even a cone been made more special with the addition of these little candies? They’re’ also fun on cakes , cupcakes and cookies too.

Sprinkles were invented in the early 1930s by the man who gave us Peeps, Samuel Born . They were named jimmies after the inventor, Jimmy Bartholomew. In England and Australia sprinkles are called hundreds of thousands (what else???) The Dutch also lay claim to inventing sprinkles with a one Gerard de Vries who created them for a school boy who wanted chocolate on his buttered bread. The Dutch still like them thickly layered on a slice of butter slathered white bread.

Whether you like rainbow or chocolate ones, sprinkles are a welcome and fun addition to any dessert. There’s nothing like soft ice cream covered with them to provide a certain “crunchy” texture. They add a festive air to butter cookies (especially the big ones you get in a bakery). Sprinkles or jimmies are even neat on a chocolate or vanilla iced cake as well as in the filling. They’re also good for adding color to ice cream sandwiches.

Sprinkles are a fun way to eat ice cream or any dessert for that matter. Pile them on for real color or just ad a pinch for a small bit of a fun look.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gummy Bears That Kid’s Classic For Everyone

Mention Gummy bears and foodies go into rhapsodies about them. Everyone loves these chewy little ursines . They’re the candy version of the fuzzy cousin Teddy. They come in almost all flavors and are fun to snack on no matter how old you are.
Gummi or gummy bears got their start in Germany in 1922 where they were christened Gummibars or rubber bears. Hans Reigel of Bonn first developed these tasty little treats where they were made from sugar ,glucose syrup and starch. Various fruit flavorings such as orange and pineapple are added along with citric acid , gelatin and food coloring. There is a vegetarian version which substitutes fruit pectin instead of gelatin (which is derived from horse or pig hooves). Most gummy bears come in orange, raspberry, pineapple, lime and strawberry The vegetarian version has more exotic flavors.
Gummy or gummi bears have spawned other gummy animals such as lobsters , octopi rings cola bottles and the like. There are even the fun but icky gummy worms and snakes along with sharks and hippos. (have yet to see these.) There is even a kid’s vitamin , called Bear Essentials, packed full of Vitamin C, that’s being offered now too (the original Gummies have no calories whatsoever and are considered empty by nutritionists).

Nothing says bliss and comfort like a handful of Gummy Bears . They’re a holdover from childhood that we all enjoy snacking on. They’re the candy version of a Teddy bear.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's May Time For Picnics

Even though it's a rainy May1st where I am, nonetheless it's the start of picnic month. This is th etime of year to brush off the hampers and get the brain going on sandwich ideas. What to make? What to bring? What to drink? What goes with what ? What would go good where? These are all big picnic questions.

As always sandwiches are a good idea. You can create a provencale them with crusty baguettes, sundried tomatoes and aioli sauce (basically mayo with a touch of garlic and a few drops of olive oil added). With this you cana add a fresh onion salad. You can also bring a salad Nicoise, that lovely concoction of various lettuces , tuna, hard boiled eggs and black olives. Add some fresh tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower and you've got a good meal. Add a few bottles of Orangina or Italian lemonade and it's a a great meal for an early season beach day. if you're planning on going hiking then bring ham and roast beef sandwiches on some hearty rye along with a strong cup of coffee. to keep you alert. (you never know who you'll run into) some granola bars and oatmeal cookies.

For a more elegant evening kind of picnic, think about a small roast chicken you can get at your local grocery store. Add some asparagus or string bean salad. For sandwiches bring a small container of tarragon infused mayo or Dijon mustard and some pre cut croissants. You can also add a small bottle of champagne or white whine and finish off with a lovely chocolate or angel food gateau. Some fresh fruits would be appreciated here and you can bring some strawberries or raspberries to end the meal along with chocolates.

May is the perfect month to go out and enjoy the fine days. This includes packing a picnic and heading to the beach, mountains or your backyard. Enjoy the fresh air and warm temps with a good meal.