Archive for category You Are What You Eat
The funny thing about food and eating is that it is constantly changing. We eat to live and some of us love to eat. Most of us manage that love with proper balance or else we know it can easily have it lead us down a path of destruction.
Life is bursting with ups and downs. We eat to celebrate. We eat to comfort.
Somewhere in the middle is balance.
Too many celebrations can lead to excess if we aren’t careful. Too many stresses can do the same.
A few days ago a posted I comment on facebook about comfort foods. I asked, “…what’s your poison?” The choice of “poison” was purposeful. After all, it is comfort food that we were talking about. It’s how we self medicate.
The answers took the expected route: ice cream, chips, whiskey (that one cracked me up), fried chicken, you know, all the tasty stuff we all love to indulge in. Yet, there were two things I was curious to see in the answers: (1) who would list something actually healthy and (2) who would call me out because I didn’t list my answer.
It made me wonder…
Why is comfort food usually something you should not consume in excess… or even in small doses?
Why couldn’t I come up with answer to my own question?
A small seed of an idea is planted within me.
Why can’t we rethink the definition of comfort foods? Why don’t we ignore conventional wisdom and step out from the crowds. Think about how much sensory pleasure you get when creating a simple dish with clean foods that celebrate its unique flavors. Think about how great it feels to sit down with a beautiful dish of just ripe avocado, with sliced Vidalia onions, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, and heart of palm. Most of the time these types of dishes take less time to prepare than it does to heat up or run out and buy our traditional bowls of calories.
Who wants to join me in this revolution?
Everything is about making personal connection these days. We are living in a remarkable age of technology and networks. Take twitter for instance. I am amazed how often I casually mention a favorite cookbook author or chef and, lo and behold, they tweet me back.
A fleeting connection, yes, yet still a touching point.
There are days when I open a cupboard and stare at my vast array of cookbooks. Who will inspire me today?, I ask. Sometimes a vivid photo of a dish or ingredient will capture my heart and inspire me to scribble down a shopping list. Then there are other times where I am looking to be inspired to prepare chicken a different way or find a unique way to “use up” eggs as the dozens pile up in my refrigerator. If I have to be honest, 90% of the time I just open a cookbook simple to browse, drool, and dream.
Today was a day like that.
Bill Telepan’s book, Inspired by Ingredients, caught my eye. It had been awhile since I had browsed its pages. Purchased on New Years Eve 2010 while visiting NYC, page after page flooded back foodie memories that rank at the top of my favorite eating moments. I stopped for a moment and tweeted a little comment about how this book inspired me today.
Unexpectedly, Bill Telepan tweeted back.
Are we friends? No. Does he remember me? No way. What he doesn’t know is that he made an impression on me that pre-blizzard night. My husband and I scored an OpenTable reservation early that evening in his restaurant on the Upper West Side. It had an understated, classy, quiet yet not ackwardly-so, and romantic atmosphere. The menu was clean food, simple ingredients that burst with flavors that were anything put simple. The staff was personable and treated us as long-lost friends. From beginning to end, each bite was a revelation.
As we were leaving, I glanced to my right and noticed Bill Telepan sitting down with his wife and kid, enjoying their meal together. He was dressed in his chef’s coat yet his demeanor was unhurried and relaxed. He was simply enjoying his family. As we purchased his cookbook, he noticed and came up to thank us for dining at his restaurant. He signed my book and went back to his family. I hesitated leaving and instead asked for an unusual request, would our waitress sign the book, too? I realized this place wasn’t just his namesake; it was the family of staff who served the patrons, too. My wonderful dinner memory involved the entire experience, from the water glass to the foie gras.
It wasn’t just that I had a great meal, bought a book, got it signed, and tweeted back and forth. An experience like this reminds me just why there are so many of us that embrace the world of food: food blogs, food communities, forums, and food trends.
It’s about how food makes us feel.
Happy and connected.
Happy eating, my foodie friends.
*Images courtesy of NWA Foodie.
We are in a nostalgic time of year. Acorns have fallen. Hickory nuts are begging to drop. Leaves swirling. Savory soups. Heavenly cinnamon-baked goodies baking in the oven with their beckoning scent wafting in the air.
Are you ever sentimental about certain foods? We are tied to our pasts. Foods have strong connections for us.
As a child, I remember my mother having a stack of vintage cooking pamphlets. Only, they weren’t vintage then. They were just “old.” They came in all types of topics: cooking with aluminum foil, cooking with Diamond almonds, oh, and yes, many of ours had covers that boasted gelatin molds of various concoctions: fruits, meats, and vegetables. Others were filled with page after page of margarine, shortening and ingredients unknown to me with recipes with otherworldly names such as bone marrow on toast.
Vintage cooking pamphlets provide a culinary stroll down memory lane.
As the air turns to crisp and ovens are heating up around the country, now is the time to pull out and dust off your own vintage cooking pamphlets. Raid your mothers or grandmothers cabinets. Not finding any? Do what I do and search out a local used bookstore. Head to the cookbook section and look around. I guarantee you will find them. They’re inexpensive, too. Mine are a quarter each.
Not all have strange and unheard of ingredients. Not all have shortening-laded ingredients. Many of these gems have wonderful comfort foods and forgotten dishes that have fallen out of style.
Here’s an example. This recipe book comes from Chiquita Banana and it is filled to the brim with recipes featuring the humble banana. It was a revelation!
4 firm bananas (use all-yellow or slightly green-tipped bananas)
1 ½ tablespoons melted butter (or margarine)
Peel bananas. Place into well-greased baking dish. Brush well with butter or margarine and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) 15 to 18 minutes, or until bananas are tender… easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot as a vegetable, or as a dessert with cream, syrup or a hot fruit sauce. Important: When browning is desired, place the baked bananas under broiler heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
See what I mean?
Serve hot as a vegetable? Would you have thought of that? Me? No way. And that is exactly why I am obsessed with vintage cooking pamphlets and their unexpected offerings.
These days as you browse blogs, subscribe to newsletters and purchase the latest cookbooks, are you finding the same recipes repeated again and again? That’s one of the joys of these little inexpensive gems. They are a breath of fresh air.
Try something new by going with the old.
Please check out Lyndi’s popular food blog NWA Foodie!
This isn’t your first rodeo. You already know that homemade chicken broth outshines canned or boxed every time.
There is nothing like reaching in and tenderly pulling a chicken out of the oven or opening a crock pot lid and viewing the glistening sparkle of deep, rich, bountiful broth.
Want to take your broth-making to the next level?
Instead of filing a large pot or slow-cooker to the brim and adding a whole fryer chicken, may I suggest leaving out the water?
The other day I was baking chicken for use in recreating Whole Food’s chicken tortilla soup. I purchased cut-up fryer pieces and baked in the oven on low-heat for 2.5 hours.
In went a plethora of seasonings including onions, cilantro, cumin, salsa, and jalapenos. I wanted a subtle imbibing of flavors nestled deep within the muscle of the chicken.
I left out adding water.
The end result yielded an intensely concentrated juice that packed a wow of flavor!
Preparing chicken broth in this manner allows you to customize the flavor. In this case, since I was making Chicken Tortilla Soup, the broth was bursting with subtle salsa undertones. If you are planning to make an Italian soup, change your herbs accordingly by adding oregano, basil, arugula, garlic, okay you’re “feeling it” now, aren’t you?
Another added benefit of this no-water cooking method is that you end up with gorgeous crispy chicken. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Editor’s Note: Please check out Lyndi’s popular food blog NWA Foodie!