Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fun With Dinner

Sometimes a summer dinner can lack luster.Thanks to hot weather it's just a quick thrown together salad or sandwich. However supper can  made made exciting again, just by serving it differently or adding a different spin on it.Dinner can not only be tasty but a real treat to eat.

Warm weather brings about salads. Let's face it they're easy to literally toss together and just douse with dressing. However a dinner of raw veggies can be made fun. Instead of  salad use bite sizd pieces of tomatoes,broccoli, and cauliflower along with celery bits, olives and peppers. Forget the lettuce. Now instead of the usual vinaigrette  try a fun  homemade French dressing made with two tablespoons of mayo to one tablespoons of ketchup(you can also make more if you'd like)Another idea is a fresh raw veggie kabob with a tangy honey mustard dip,

Sandwiches along with grilled meats can get a punching up too. Create barbecued mini heroes by taking a French or Italian bread, stuffing it to  the max with cold cuts and cheeses and then slicing it into smaller snadwiches. These can then be toasted over the grill  to get the cheeses melted and gooey. Hamburgers can be turned into sliders by either dividing already made patties or making smaller meat ball sized ones. Get mini rolls for them and  then create some fun and interesting dips. For hot dogs cut them into quarters and wrap some biscuit dough around them for pigs in blankets.

Dinner can be made  fun  if you try a different or another way to serve it. Have a good time with a summer supper. Doing this will bring a smile to everyone's faces.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation Eating On A Budget

Vacations usually mean  delicious food and over the top restaurants. However sometimes all this dining out can mean a big bite out of one's holiday budget. The best bet is splitting when to eat on the cheap and when to splurge. There can still be fun food but it can also be wallet friendly too.

Where you want to spend for your splurge meal is up to you. Some people feel that breakfast is the most important meal (which it is) and will go whole hog  on a lavish  pancakes and eggs breakfast. Some vacationers feel just a roll and coffee or tea would be OK. Others feel that a fancy dinner especially at the shore is worth it. Some feel that a burger or a few treats from  boardwalk stands  will satisfy them. The one meal where everyone scrimps is lunch. Usually a sandwich out or taken from a local deli will suffice.

Consider yourself lucky if you rent an apartment or motel room with a kitchen . This means a lot of home cooked meals that can save money. Luckily most resort areas have either the same  super markets that are back home or have farmer's markets. This means the family can still enjoy their favorite brands  as well as be fed fresh picked fruits and vegetables. It also means that a lot of money can be saved on daily meals which translates in splurging on fun treats. Another route to go is fast food although most chains don't offer breakfasts. Yet there are dollar meals or even kiddie meals that go  for a lower price. A plus is that these menus offer a variety from burgers to salads to even sodas and shakes.

You can still eat well on a vacation budget. This can mean more money for other activities or better yet a great meal at a good restaurant. Saving cents on vacation eating makes sense.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Temptations

Summer is the time of many temptations from sweet fizzy drinks to backyard barbecues .It's a tough time to be on a diet . Yet there are ways to avoid piling on the pounds and sticking to a healthy diet.

Hot weather always brings on thirst. The proper drink is water which keeps one's body properly hydrated. Yet many people love a big ice filled glass of Coke or Pepsi (or any other soda for that matter) While that may be refreshing it is also lethal . Soda carries so many calories and sugar  which is detrimental to any diet and waistline. If you have to have something flavored, think about zero calorie flavored waters or teas like Fuze. Another big problem is trying to find something cool. Most reach for a yummy bowl of ice cream or even frozen yogurt. While these do the trick they pack on the unnecessary pounds.. Again sub in Popsicles or frozen fruit juice. .These are just as refreshing but without all that dreadful fat and dairy.

Summer is also the time for easy eating and snacking. Most people usually go the fast food route whether they ;re on the road or at the beach. This means burgers or dogs along with fries and onion rings. Although delicious, especially with all that grease and salt ,they are pure fat bombs. Try to go for either a grilled chicken sandwich or even tenders. Another option is salad  which every fast food joint has on their menu. This is just as filling and some salad combos can be just as fun as a hamburger. Barbecues are also guilty of high calorie but tasty foods. Try to steer clear of sauce laden wings and ribs. Stick with making plain grilled chicken or salmon. Flavor with  a twist of lemon or lime.

Don't give in to summer's temptation.Try to eat and drink healthy , keeping your body swimsuit ready.Stick to the stuff that's good for you - not that tastes good.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Celebrate The 2012 London Games

The whole world has their eyes on London for the next few weeks. This is where history is going to happen along with international comraderie and bonhomie. It's also the place for letting English cuisine and the new wave of British cooking shine. Tradition along with the new will compete for the best dishes.

English food has long had a bead reputation. Yet some of the best beef has come out of the United Kingdom as it has since the 1800's. A traditional and easy dish celebrating this is Yorkshire pudding which is a kind of buttery popover served with the most British of meals the Sunday roast. Gravy is poured over this delicious bread along with thick slabs of roast beef. The English also love their poultry as well and Christmas tables have b een groaning with large turkeys and geese since the Hanoverian rule of the 1700's. Of course there is the working class favorite, fish and chips. This is a yummy deep fried fish , usually plaice in a beer batter accompanied by crispy fries or chips as the Limeys call them.

Tradition has grown into top haute cuisine. During the last two decades the UK has provided the world with some of the best chefs.There is Jamie Oliver who has also crusaded for healthy eating in both British and American cuisines. He has redefined cooking, going for a simple route to making elaborate dishes.. Nigella Lawson , another great cook also has updated classics such as sticky pudding along with that wonderful cheesy dish Welsh rarebit. Of course there is Gordon Ramsay the kitchen bad boy but who has also has some interesting seafood and poultry recipes along with a spicy take on the American dessert classic Bananas Forster.

Celebrate the London Games with British food. There are some good dishes from beef to pudding from fish and chips to Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shortcake With A Spin

One of the best desserts of the season is shortcake. There's some magical about combining a buttery shortcake with any kind of fruit.A  spin on this is one with fresh peaches. Together the flavors are just wonderful - edspecially drenched with fresh cream.

Peach shortcake was the subject of Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.She had added the spin of brandied peaches for a different take on the usual strawberry. Hers is a simple scratch recipe for the shortcake  involving brown sugar for an earthier flavor along with heavy cream and butter. She emphasizes the butter flavor again by brushing meted butter along with sugar on the tops of the unbaked short cake rounds.

Instead of going with strawberries. Ms Clark usues warm brandied peaches. You can also use just freshly cut peaches too however the cooked ones added an extra filip of sophistication. She cooks these in a mix of brandy or bourbon and more brown sugar.The peaches are only warmed until their juices are released . They are then layered on the rounds and doused with the heavy creams.You could also try this with nectarines or canned peaches too.
There's nothing like cake with fresh fruit. this is a more soyumyyyyyyyyyy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bouillabaisse A Summer Treat

Nothing signifies a good summer meal than the Provencale classic bouillabaisse.It's a delicious blend of spices, and stock. served with toasted bread and aioli. The soup is a relatively easy recipe to make and a perfect way to enjoy the seafood of the season.

This southern French treat was the subject of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Anything column in today's New York Times Dining section. Mr. Bittman is a pro at recipes and he simplifies and walks the reader through the various and sometimes complicated steps.The most important facet about bouillabaisse is getting the stock right. This is the base for the perfect one and it has to be made correctly. Cooks also have to beg their local fish market for not only fish bones but lobster and fish shells. These last two are easy to get if you buy a lot shellfish. Another must is buying a good mix of fish , from scallops to halibut along with clams. Fish should be boned and chopped.

Now here's the tricky part of the dish. Bouillabaisse requires some fancy , expensive ingredients too . These include saffron which can run up to 65 dollars along with the pricey liqueurs of Pernod or pastis. These are fennel tasting drinks that bring out the different meld of fish , spices and vegetables.Can bouillabaisse be made without them. Saffron has a unique taste that is delicious. Without it the treat would just be a fish stew. An alternative is possibly buying the Spanish saffron which all grocery stores  sell.It doesn't quite have the punch of a good one though.As for the liqueurs, possibly add more fennel.The recipe calls for one bulb but you can vary and add a second one to amp up the anise flavor.

Bouillabaisse is a wonderful summer treat. Make it to not only impress family and friends but to introduce them to this deliciousmeld of seafood and spices. It's a great way to celebrate the season.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vegan Birthdays

What to make for any birthday party can be tough. A vegan birthday is usually ten times as worse. There's no meat along with dairy or eggs. This can make any kind of food from appetizers to cake daunting.Yet surprisingly enough you can create a tasty feast from starters to desserts.

Beans and legumes are a big part of any vegans diet.A fun party treat is a garbanzo bean or white bean hummus. This can be made with several additions such as garlic or lemon along with lime. Have toasted pita cut into triangles for fun dipping. Salsa and guacamole dips can also be made and served with chips or even pretzels.As the party progresses soy or black bean burgers can be served on pitas or egg and dairy free rolls. (look into your local grocery store or make the rolls yourself ). There are even vegan corn dogs which can be served with a variety of dips. A veggie plate may seem cliched but it is the perfect platter and side for any vegan celebration.

The dessert and birthday cake part is the  toughest.Most big cities do have dairy and egg free cakes and cupcakes. They  are usually in tasty flavors like chocolate mint or even cinnamon spice. However if you're far from the big city the Internet  can provide you with enough recipes so there can be celebratory cakes and sweets. Another fun idea is again as cliched as a veggie plate but a fruit platter with  a tangy honey lemon dip can be a lovely way to end a meat free , evening. Also homemade fruit palletas or Mexican Popsicles are a neat way of ending a summer barbecue,

A vegan party is a pretty easy affair to create. It may take some extra planning but you can have the same fun foods as a regular party. The only twist - no animals were harmed .

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nehi An American Classic

Americans love soda s bad as it is for us.It's encoded into our modern DNA. One of the most beloved is Nehi which was a part of American life and snacking for a long time. It also introduced the US ot fruit flavored soft drinks, a departure from Coca Cola.

Nehi first started in 1924, at the height of Prohibition and the Jazz Age. Chero Cola and Union Bottle Works introduced this alternative to cola with the different flavors of grape, root beer, peach and orange. Watermelon and cherry were later added. It hit a low in sales during the Depression but increased in sales during the Second World War. Glamourous celebrities from Hedy Lamarr to Joan Crawford became spokes models pushed it , .The name came from a salesman Claude Hatcher describing a competitor's bottle as being knee high hence the unusual name.It captured people's attention back in the Seventies when MASH character Radar O'Reilly  loved drinking grape NeHi.

Since it's not being mass produced as it once was, Nehi is kind of hard to find. Some sorts around the country do sell it. However fans can also buy it via Amazon and a site called Hometown Favorites. This last offers the drink as low as 79 cents a bottle along with peach and orange flavors along with grape. .Southern candy  stores and sweet shops also sell it and even make ice cream sodas with it. None of the newer sodas compete with it. Unfortunately it's original parent company Royal Crown doesn;t feature it on its' site.

Nehi is one of those American classics that satisfied millions of Americans during the last century.it was a sweet way to pass a summer afternoon or evening.It was a wonderful drink for a time slower than we know today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Birthdays

Summer birthdays can always be fun. There a reba variety of different ways to celebrate,from an elegant tea to a raucous barbecue. Either way it's good food and drink. Sometimes the best parties are just simple, quiet ones. A lovely Sunday afternoon tea works well.Create an atmosphere of elegance with small finger sandwiches and champagne or sparkling wine. Make easy chicken and ham salads using deviled meats mayo and herbs. These are always crowd pleasers. Other fillings can be cucumber and watercress on white bread. You can also serve shrimp cocktail in little bowls along with salads with a berry infused vinaigrette. Of course there should be a birthday cake but have an airy one. Try a sponge or plain vanilla with whipped cream. Serve with some strawberries and or blueberries. A summer birthday party can be loud and raucous too. There's nothing like a fun barbecue full of good food and drinks. Here you can have themes,from down home to Mexican. You can even go over the top with deep fried turkey or even a roasted suckling pig. Make sure you have enough servings as well as enough time to cook meats this major.On a smaller scale think ribs, steaks and quarter pounders. Fried or barbecued chicken is also fun.Of course there are themed from having Italian heroes to Mexican fajitas. End with a tasty store bought ice cream cake.Some family owned ice-cream parlors cam custom make them with peanut butter or chocolate mint ice-cream . Summer birthday parties can be as low key or as wold as you want.There are so many different ways to go and so many different types of food to serve.Any way is the best way.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Healthy Office Eating

Where's the one place where you can gain the most weight? Your office.Thanks to a combo of boredom, nerves and every kind of food available your cubicle or office becomes a buffet .Unfortunately ,it 's usually the wrong kind,full of sugar and salt not to mention fat and empty calories . How to avoid those workplace pounds? Eat healthy. Saying that is easier than doing it.Any office starts the day off with yummy glazed doughnuts or cream cheese topped bagels.Thera 's usually so e one's birthday or shower to celebrate and that means gooey , rich cake.Forget the lunches or snacks that involve every bad ingredient possible. A healthy way to start the work day is opting for a whole grain or pumpernickel bagel with a low calorie cream cheese if your office has it.Some offices will start their meetings off with these along with fresh fruit and cottage cheese.Have a few pieces with a scoop of the cottage cheese. As for lunches ,opt for light like grilled chicken and salad.Skip the sandwiches and go for the wraps along with again ,fresh fruit. Office snacks and parties will always ruin your waistline. Snack machines offer All sorts of varieties of chips and sweets along with the ubiquitous soda and ice cream machines. The best bet is bringing sandwich baggies of almonds ,fruit chunks and veggie pieces. These will keep you full but without all the extra bad stuff. You can even add some Greek yogurt mixed with lemon or lime along with herbs.This makes a nice dipping sauce and also a great source of calcium.Another great carry along snack is the Back To Nature crackers or cookies.These don't have all those artificial ingredients and less calories.As for birthday parties , think about a wafer thin slice as opposed to a slab.Another idea is one of those fruit arrangements in the shape of a cake.It's just as festive but without all that sugar. Eating healthy at the office can be a tricky job. Yet it can be done with the right foods. You just have to work at it and you'll have healthy workplace eating habits.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Too Many Veggies

The summer gives us some amazing harvests.That means we have endless bushels of tomatoes ,corn and peppers along with anything else veggie.Yet what happens when we over buy or over pick? What can be done with all this bounty. Julia Moskin wondered the same thing in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.She wrote about what happens when there are too many veggies in the kitchen or pantry.Most adults only eat less than half of the produce they buy or harvest themselves. the rest usually rots or gets thrown away.This should not be the case. Cook veggies and then store.They make excellent toppings for pizza or pastas.You can also use them in salads too. How to make veggies fly. Go wild and mix them with oils, salts and butter.These are the ingredients that make peppers and onions tasty for all ages.You can also cook cooked veggies into all sorts of dishes.Ms.Moskin has an excellent recipe for a leek and summer vegetable fritter.This combines healthy combos such as leeks ,as wells carrots and peas in a crunchy buttery fried puff which is served with a lemon cream dip. Another idea is turning cooked veggies into a kind of relish such as caramelized onions mixed with peppers and tomatoes as a topping for burgers. Extra veggies in the fridge? Not to worry .Use them for innovative dishes that will make summer dining fun.It's a great way of eating healthy and fun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Welcome Sprouts!!!

The New York Times Dining section has a brand new and interesting column called Sprouts.It's all about teaching kids to not only eat healthy but cook healthy as well.The column now written by Elaine Louie will be a godsend to those parents who want to introduce their kids to the love of good food and good cooking. The first article is all about a subject dear to my heart - polenta.This is a tricky food to introduce to kids.Little ones through teens are not always happy with this corm mash because it's too mushy or served with meats and sauces that kids detest.This one is different. The recipe is by the chef of the famed Manhattan restaurant Toqueville,Marco Moreira and his ten year old daughter Francesca.It is an easy recipe that involves a yummy blend of polenta and butter along with Parmesan and topped with a simple pomodoro sauce. Anyone would love this as a dinner or even a simple Saturday lunch. In the upcoming months Sprouts will have interesting interviews with chefs and their children. The focus will not just be on young foodies but also good vegetarian eating with easy recipes.Also cookbook authors and restauranteurs along with their offspring will weigh in with all sorts of dishes and opinions. I like the accompanying recipes that come with Sprouts. They're very kid friendly with a strong emphasis on kitchen safety. Each step tells who should do what , the adult or the child.This is a great way of introducing kids to all aspects of cooking, from prep to the actual process. Sprouts is opening a new chapter in the Dining section history.Elaine Louie recognizes that children need to learn not only how to cook but how to eat healthy.It's a great way of turning the next generation into conscientious foodies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Wines

Most people eschew wines in the summer. They feel that a good beer or mixed drink goes better with  barbecue or pool party fare. However this is not true. There are plenty of good vintages that are excellent with grilled meats or salads. It's just a matter of picking the right one.

Barbecues consist of grilling mostly red meats. Everything from thick juicy steaks to quarter pounders are served. A great mate to these , even for burgers is a red Zinfandel. It's a bold zesty wine that compliments the meat's flavor with it's acidity and pepperiness. Another that works well with ribs and chicken is a Merlot.Its' fruitiness complements both beef and poultry. If you're serving fish or burgers then open a bottle of Pinot Noir.. Other good reds are Shiraz which goes well with saucy barbecues. If you're serving shrimp or grilled veggies then think about the German white Reisling.

Even wines can go well with salads.If you're making the ultra chic salad Nicoise then think about pairing it with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc It'll hold up well with the brininess of the anchovies and the tuna and the acidity of the tomatoes.It can also be great with a delicate seafood salad too A chicken Caesar salad calls for sweet Beaujolais. This wine is an extremely food friendly kind so you could also try it with a Cobb or chef salad.Spinach salad , a summer fave, can go with another popular one, the Pouilly Fume .It's gooseberry and smoky taste works well with th espinach leaves muskiness.Also try it with a Muscadet too.

Don;t be afraid to serve wine with your summer meals.Any bottle is perfect with a delicious grilled meat or cool salad. Try one to liven up warm weather dining and to bring out the flavors of good cooking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Provincial Picnics

Summer is the time for picnics.It's always fun to eat en pleine air as the French would say and what better than to add a Gallic twist to a fun outing.There's nothing like a baguette stuff ed with good meats and cheese, along with crudites. Add some cider or sparkling water , bring pillows and have une pique-nique worthy of Provence.

Sandwiches are a must for any picnic. Bring a crusty , light baguette instead of the usual boring white bread. it's delicious when cut into long slices and slaterhered with pate and cornichons. If you cant;get a good pate, sub in liverwurst mixed with a little brandy. You can also spoon tuna in olive oil on slices as well for a kind of Nicoise . Also layer on sliced roasted peppers and tomatoes and some olives too. Another treat is pissaladeire  Provencal pizza. This is usually premade but you can take an already made focaccio and top with chopped anchovies andblack olives along with  , caramelized onions that can be quicky made that morning.

Salad and fruit are vital parts of any good French picnic.  You can make a simple salad with a classic vinaigrette but instead of olive oil, try walnut oil or huille de noille. It's very popular in Southwestern France and usually drizzled over endive and Crumbled Roquefort cheese. Provence also yields up the famed salade Nicoise which is chock full of tuna and anchovies along with a host of veggies and greens. Fruit and cheese are musts and nicely finish off a piqué nique. Try cold plums or sliced strawberries. You can serve both with a creamy Brie or Camembert along with crackers. you even top the berries with the Brie. A French style picnic is a great way to celebrate the warm weather. Pack a few baguettes ,some anchovies or pate , fruit and a good creamy cheese.These are the perfect foods for a summer outing .Their flavors are reminiscent of a lovely meal in a beautiful country.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Plums Rediscovered

There's nothing that says summer quite like a plump juicy plum. It's flavor is sweeter than any candy and it;s just fun to bite into. Another version of it, the prune is another great treat(don't smirk, it really is!)

I love plums any time of year, but especially now during the hot weather. I think it;s because of my grandfather planted a plum tree in our backyard and every summer we had deep purple Italian plums. These are smaller than the ones we get today in the supermarket but just as sweet. To me they were better than any ice cream or cookie.They still are. There's nothing like a chilled one for dessert with iced tea or seltzer.Better yet plums don't need embellishment like cream as strawberries do or be dipped in caramel like apples and pears. Because their taste is just perfectly satisfying, they're just good on their own. One caveat though, once you eat one, you'll want another.They can be a bit strong on the stomach  but that's it.

Dried plums or prunes are another treat. Yes, they are used as a laxative and are the drink of choice by most old people. Yet the taste is like that of a ripe plum, sweet, mellow and earthy. Surprisingly one famed soft drink is made with prune juice  and that is Dr. Pepper. You can make your own with eighty percent juice to twenty percent (just a splash ) of seltzer. The taste is the same without all the extra added corn syrup. Another treat is Sunsweet, Plum Bits. Sunsweet has long been the distributor of prunes and has even campagined to change the name to dried plums. They;ve come up with an addictive snack - dried plum but dipped in dark chocolate. These are the greatest and one of the most healthiest treats for you.Instead of reaching for other candies have these.A bag will be gone in a day.

Instead of the usual summer berries and melons try plums and prunes instead. They are a wonderful treat whether in fruit or juice form for a summer day.Rediscover their earthy, sweetness as a true warm weather snack.

Happy Bastille Days to all my French and francophile fooie readers. Bon fete toute le personne!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Apple Update

Is there anything more perfect than an apple.It's not only sweet and delicious  but full of vitamins and antioxidants. Unfortunately there are some people who don't think that way . They want to alter and genetically change it? Why? Because after millennia of being accepted the way it is , scientists want it to improve it.

This was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Business section. The piece written by Andrew Pollack tells of scientists want to create an apple that doesn't spoil. Doing this requires genetic modification. On one level it would be perfect. People usually buy only one or two apples nowadays for fear of buying several will result in rotten fruit. An apple that keeps its'' freshness means more shoppers will buy more of the fruit, Since apple sales have fallen in the past few years this is a boon to the industry.

Yet it raises the question of genetic alteration. Despite this(and let's face it every kind of food stuff either gets stale or turns brown) the apple is fine left alone. Alter the fruit does change its' taste. it loses that sweet mellowness that makes it tasty. The same is becoming true with corn. There are now varieties of corn that have had their gene sequence rearranged. It results in a super maize however it also makes for a relatively tasteless ear. This is also happening with some strains of squash and tomatoes. These supposedly have a stronger flavor plus more antioxidants in them. I'd like to taste test them to believe these claims.

Should we allow our food to be tampered with? Personally no. I think our fruits and veggies are fine the way they are. I prefer my apples. at 2.0 not 9.0

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Zucchini Flowers A Tasty Summer Treat

This is the time of year when zucchini plants are in full blossom.Gardens and even farmers' markets are showing these delicate bright orange blooms.They're an interesting and delicious addition to any summer table. Melissa Clark highlighted them in her A Good Appetite Column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Gourmets and Northern Italians have been cooking them for years.They were and are big part of my summer eating .Our family usually makes them two ways ,breaded and fried in butter or dipped in a delicate crepe batter and then fried, again in butter until they are crispy.Ms .Clark serves them raw in a salad or stuffed with mozzarella cheese. Either way is good .Raw squash flowers have a fragile taste ,sweet and slight Y herbal.Their stems are like arugula,spicier with a slight bite.The dressing should be Light.I'm thinking of a simple vinaigrette with just olive oil and red wine vinegar.The other way is fried and stuffed with a kind of mozzarella called bur rata.This is made from buffalo milk and has a creamy inside.Ms. Clark adds anchovies for a briny contrast along with garlic.The blooms are then deep fried in olive oil and Sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Squash flowers are a lovely and colorful addition to a summer table.Experience their delicacy in salads or stuffed and fried.Either way you'll fall for these bright,summery blossoms bursting with flavor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Camp Haute Cuisine

Camp food ranged from overburned wienies and gooey s'mores to mystery meat and over boiled veggies. Good food always came in care packages from home , However that's all changing .Camp food is now full of good things with healthy and tasty recipes.It's no longer fare to be tossed to the bears.It's actually good stuff.

Camp cuisine was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece written by Jan Hoffman, explores the cuisine of a few camps. This is a new breed of kiddie camp with nutritionists and chefs who create good, nutritious food for tweens and teens. They are sensitive and cook accordingly to children who have all sorts of allergies and intolerance. This makes the whole experience even more fun for those who previously could not attend sleepover camps because of their limitations. Kids get to cook and bake too, often helping out with kitchen duties.

The food itself is tasty and nutritious. There is fresh baked zucchini bread along with homemade hummus. Salad bars are big with veggies grown on the camp premises and also attended to by the campers. Dressings are low calorie yet tasty and a departure from the usual tween fare of fast food..Breakfast is not  gummy oatmeal or rubber eggs and burnt bacon but buffets laden with wild Columbia River steelhead smoked salon and whitefish salad. Dinner is lemon chicken coated with fresh ground Japanese pangko breadcrumbs.There are still treats such as homemade chocolate chip cookies but they're made with whole wheat flour and othe natural ingredients

Camp fare is changing for the better. Kids are not only learning how to build fires but also to garden and cook as well as bake nutritious and tasty foods.That's better than learning how to rub two sticks together to create fire!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Food Gifts

What do you bring to summer parties? A bottle of wine or cake seems too wintry as does candy. You can take advantage of the warm weather harvests as well as lighter versions of cold weather hostess gifts.These are great for any barbecue or pool party.

Fruit trays are wonderful for any indoor or outdoor soiree. They're not only pretty but liked by almost everyone. A tray full of cut strawberries and melon is not only refreshing but elegant looking on any table. They're also soothing after a dinner of spicy ribs or fiery chicken wings.A fun gift is any kind of berry with either a can of whipped cream or a tub of Cool Whip.Layers these to create tasty and low calorie parfaits for the hosts and guests. Even more fun is bringing a whole watermelon.Everyone loves a sweet ,cool slice to finish after a feast. Ice cream is also a fun gift to bring to a summer party.You can treat everyone to sundaes by bringing not only a tub but also whipped cream ,syrups , nuts and candies.An ice cream cake such as the ones that Friendly's and Baskin Robbins sell.Baskin Robbins also sells mini cones that come twelve to a box.Bring these as a festive end to a get together.Friendly's also has ice cream cupcakes that are another neat hostess treat.If you can make homemade ice cream that's another sweet present that's always appreciated. Bringing sweet cool treats to a summer party are always fun.They're also thoughtful ways of saying thank you when you're invited to a warm weather get together.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Exotic Sides for Summer

Summer's eating can be transformed into an exotic adventure just by switching up your side dishes. Instead of the usual macaroni salads and slaws , try other dishes such as bulgur or couscous. You can also make variations of salads using atypical veggies too, It's a fun departure from the usual picnic table or backyard barbecue fare.

Bulgur is popular in Middle Eastern cultures.It can be eaten hot or cold and makes a perfect foil for fresh veggies. Cook some and chill it. Add  some farm fresh sliced tomatoes and onions along mint and lemon  to it for an exotic side.Another variation is adding some green onions to it and garbanzo beans along with cilantro and olive oil. Serve alongside of lamb or beef kabobs.Couscous also makes for an adventurous side dish. It is basically like rice and has a slightly  nutty flavor. You can make a savory side using again tomatoes and green peppers .Made this way it would be good with any grilled meat. You can also add dried peaches , raisins and almonds as a bed for grilled  chicken or skewered chicken

Varying salad ingredients will also add flair and a hint of  the exotic to your summer picnic, Try Asian pear (which can be bought at most Asian based grocery stores) .It can be sliced into strips and served with a tangy orange vinaigrette and almonds. This is a perfect dish for any seafood such as grilled salmon or shrimp kabobs.Garbanzo beans , usually mashed for hummus are excellent in salads that are loaed with scallions and cilantro. Dress with a light Italian dressing and serve with burtgers or sausage sandwiches,

Exotic sides makes for amore interesting summer meal. Try something with a Middle Eastern flavor or Asisan flair for some interesting dishes. They will liven up any warm weather lunch or dinner.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Food Pantry in The Summer

Even though it's warm outside there's still a need for food pantries across the country. Poverty and the need for food doesn't just go away in summer and come back in winter. There are families across the US that still need decent, home cooked meals no matter what the temperature is. They need fresh ingredients for  healthy living.

What are some of the items that can go to a food pantry now? Cases of bottled water are always needed. Everyone from the young to the elderly need hydration especially when the weather has been scorching as it has been  in the big cities like New York and Chicago as of late.Also fruit ades would be appreciated as are fresh lemons and limes for making those drinks. Easy to prepare ingredients such as greens as veggies help as well. For anyone running  a farm stand or small farm , think about donating some of your crop to your local town or church food bank. The same stands for fresh fruits too. These are much better than sugary snacks.

Other donation ideas are breads and low sodium cold cuts to make sandwiches for picnics or just to create an easy lunch or dinner.If any butcher or owner of a poultry farm or fish market reads this then think about giving some of your meats too to local food banks. Cold cuts are great but fresh meat and fish is a better warm weather diet.Poultry farmers, if they can also donate eggs, do so . These are always wanted and a good source of protein. Everyone else should alos give boxes of the basics such as rice and pasta. These can be mixed with meats and veggies to create a tasty meal that can be stretched out for days or just simply frozen.

Just because it's summer doesn't mean that the food pantries close down. Hunger and poverty happen all year round.Remember that when you go food shopping now. Add something extra for those who need it to your cart or wagon.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Homemade Extras

This is the season for condiments. Bottles of ketchup and mustard are gracing picnic tables throughout the country. Dishes of pickles are vying for space between salads. These are the little things that make our burgers and dogs taste extra special. However you can take it up a notch and make these yourself.

This was Melissa Clark’s philosophy in her Wednesday’s A Good Appetite Column in the New York Times Dining section.. She found that making condiments are a relatively easy process and also much more healthier. With bespoke toppings , there’s no need for high fructose corn syrup and all those preservatives. Everything is made with garden fresh vegetables. Her ketchup has grape tomatoes for sweetness along with dark brown sugar and Worcester sauce along with red wine vinegar.


Ms. Clark also makes a good mustard that is nice and textured. It is a grainy kind similar to Grey Poupon, being made with both brown and yellow mustard seeds. Her bread and butter pickles are easy to make and have all that old fashioned pantry goodness. She creates a brine made from kosher salt and cider vinegar, ,fresh dill along with black pepper and coriander berries. Brown sugar is then added a to give it a certain amount of sweetness. Her cucumber of choice? Kirbys. Because they are a nice , plump cuke that makes for nice rounded slices.

There’s nothing like a homemade topping to add zest and zing to burgers and dogs. They make these ordinary barbecue and picnic staples extraordinary.. They also give them some old fashioned and old school taste that bring back many summer memories.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

That Secret Ingredient ? Store Bought!

Most chefs go for the most artisanal products they can find.It has to be hand whipped mayo or a specially pressed olive oil.Yet , surprisingly some of the top professionals actually use ordinary every day products to enhance a dish. Is this kosher? Yes. More and more are using just ordinary food stuffs in extraordinary dishes.

This was the subject of  an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The piece written by Dining regular Jeff Gordinier, tells about some of the country's greatest cooks' greatest secrets. Some like Napa Valley'sMichael Chiarello find that mass produced is better than bespoke. He saw that especially in peanut butter. Artisanal or gourmet kinds has a tendency to be dry while Skippy's has   a lovely smooth oil enriched texture. This is due to it being mass produced along with all those artificial ingredients that are dumped into it.

Another chef,Tony Maws, of Craigie on Main in Cambridge Mass, extols the virtue s of Hellmans' mayo. He also loves Frito Lays chips even though he makes something similar in his restaurant.One chef has even tried to copy Heintz's ketchup recipe and has used the original in several of his recipes. This is nothing new, Jamie Oliver, that famed and cool British chef has always told his fans to use as much processed food as possible in recipes. The artisanal stuff is sometimes too rough and raw and actually doesn't work. A splash of  Coke or a dollop of Hellman's is much better in making a dish taste phenomenal..A lot fo chefs start thwir sandwiches out with Wonderbread, the most blandest of any commerical baked good

Sometimes that special ingredient isn;t so special. Yet if it makes a dish sing, then use it. A dollop of Hellman;s mayo or a scoop of Skippy's is all it takes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th Everyone

Happy July 4th to all my American foodies around the world! Enjoy today -eat wise eat healthy.

Remember to also say a prayer for our servicepeople still abroad and who are having their barbecues in some foreign desert or on a sip in the middle of an ocean,Pray that this is their very last tour a broad and that all their American holidays are now spent at home ,

Enjoy those fireworks!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Healthy Summer Eating

With July 4th tomorrow , the official summer eating season is now on. It's a time to enjoy farm fresh friit and veggies. Yet most people get sloppy about their diets. After al lit's too hot. High fat  and, overly sweet convenience foods are easy to prepare and eat. Yet this is the time to stay healthy especially when temps spike.

The most important thing to do during this heat is stay hydrated.It's so easy to reach for a refreshing glass of icy soda but 'it's loaded with calories and sugar. The same for all those frosty, cream and candy topped  coffees. Stay away from them. Water is the best , followed by unsweetened iced tea and fresh fruit juices, As for snacks again stay away from the salty stuff like chips and fries. Stick with veggie or fruit bits .If you wnat a dip, then  try Greek yogurt.It's thick and creamy but without the calories of a regukar sour cream spread//.

For main meals think salads. This is the time of year to have fun with them , mixing different veggies. If you want protein then add lean meats such as salmon, tuna, chicken or turkey. Tossing in a few hard boiled eggs is fine too . As for dressings, stay away from the creamy ones such as Russian, Thousand Island and French. Instead opt for the lighter and airier vinaigrette or a low calorie Italian. Use these too in potato and macaroni salads for a healthier  twist instead of heavy  mayonnaise. Barbecued meats can be left plain without the heavy sugary sauces. Think about brushing olive oil and lemon or lime them for a crispier xrust,

This summer season eat light. Heavy foods and heat don;t mix. If you want to feel better then go for low calorie fare that won't leave you  stuffed and bloated. Go for the healthier foods such as fruits and veggies. You'll feel better and enjoy the warm weather much more.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Must Grilled Bread

One of the summer table's must haves is grilled bread. It can be used in a variety of different ways , from breakfast to dinner, from appetizers to snacks. It's a great way of turning those plain slices into something special.
The grilling process is easy .Just slather pieces with olive oil, butter or lard and grill for two to three
minutes. From there you can do anything you want with it.For brekafast,think of a grilled whole wheat or rye grilled in butter and then heaped with bacon and eggs. for more decadence add some Hollandiase sauce for a spin on Eggs Benedict, You can also layer ham, cheddar , and scrambled eggs for an open faced breakfast sandwich. Lunch time try the bread with tomato and mozzarella for a pizza or layer with bruschetta and cold cuts . Try grilled veggies too such as cooked asparagus,leeks or fresh cut Swiss,chard, sprinkled with a litttle Parmesan cheese.
Grilled bread can be wonderful with dinner.Use it as a base for open faced grilled steak sandwiches. Brush Italian or French bread with a garlicky olive oil grill and then top with thick slabs of meat. It's also good for sliced chicken or turkey and slightly covered with a tarragon mayonnaise. A sweet grilled bread is a perfect base for desserts. Grill challah shices  with butter and use as the base for cut peaches and strawberries. Topped off with a marscapone cheese or whipped cream.  Grilled raisin bread can be good with vanilla ice cream and topped with a hot caramel sauce.

B+Grilled bread is a summer must have. It can be made a variety of ways. Try for a different breakfast or as a variation of a lunch or dinner sandwich, or maybe even dessert. Any way it's a tasty treat during the warm weatherQ