Chemicals in My Foodie

Today is a goofball day.

I’m visiting out of town for an extended period and busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Hence, I’m skipping the usual fare. I apologize for the lack of postings lately in every theme. I’ve been ill and was in hospital for a bit.

Better now though, thanks.

I know enough about chemistry and physical science to be dangerous. (Some of it actually helps in the kitchen.) One day, in my Pins, I was introduced to Chemistry Cat and fell in love. I’m a cat person who also enjoys puns. So, for a little change of pace, Foodie offers up a short humorous post about food and cooking.

You’re welcome.

Don’t tell anyone I “lead” you into anything dangerous!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you next week, Foodies. Eat hardy.

Foodie Found the Way to His Heart

Once upon a time, I got the attention of a certain fellow and he asked me on a date. Well, actually, it was a blind date his cousin set up.

Time passed after a few dates and I decided I wanted to cook a meal and invite him over (to try and impress him, obviously). The main dish would be beef stroganoff, which I’d learned to make with my brother-in-law a year or two prior.

This was also the first time I’d made this particular dish for my family and I was pleased that it was a hit. Especially with that fellow. I eventually married him and we had a couple of children together. Our daughter, Sarah, who moved west and left her poor mother in the Midwest to pine for her…wait, that’s another story.

Sarah confessed some time after she got married that her husband would like more variety in the meals she served. (I hope he said it kindly.) She conceded that she had limits and wondered if I had any ideas. So I recruited family members to send me recipes for main dishes, appetizers, desserts–you name it–that were favorites at their house. Or dishes that were traditionally prepared on special occasions. We definitely had to include her Grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe. My siblings and I still talk about that cake that was so moist, we didn’t even care if it had frosting. That one had tradition written all over it.

She was delighted with the book we put together for her.

I included the recipe for Beef Stroganoff because a certain tale had been told over the years. It was almost legend that cooking that particular dish had turned her dad’s heart toward her mom. (I don’t know that it’s the only thing. I was pretty good with a sewing machine too.)

Love and food go together. And I don’t just mean “Goodness, I love to eat food,” although if we’re Foodies, we not only love to cook, we love to eat and feed others.

Maybe it’s the process of cooking and baking and then sharing the meal that makes for a true Foodie. I have a friend who says this is absolutely one of  the ways she shows love. If she cooks for you, she’s loving on you.

I don’t think it matters if it’s an elaborate meal for a Foodie to love on someone with what they prepare. It could be as simple as making your friend’s favorite oatmeal cookie recipe–just because he’s your friend. Maybe your kids could eat tacos ’til they’re coming out of their ears. Make a traditional Taco Night. And let them help in the kitchen. You never know; you might pass the soul of a Foodie to one of your children. Now wouldn’t that be love made visible?

Cook. Bake. Serve. Love. Enjoy being a Foodie. And eat hardy!

 

 

A Foodie Produce Storage Guide

It won’t be long now and we’ll be on our way to the farmers’ markets to buy fresh produce. That goes for people in my neck of the woods, anyway. I’m from the Midwest USA and, even though it’s still officially winter, we’re having unusually warm weather.

We’re counting the days until the robins come back and the crocuses bloom. Those are signs spring is here and summer isn’t far behind.  farmers-markets-local-produce-benefits

Last year, I became a more frequent visitor to the farmers’ market downtown in My Fair City. My favorite choices for produce in season were apples, lettuce, beets, sweet potatoes, peppers and onions. I paid a lot of attention to The Cheese People of Grand Rapids too. Regular readers know I must have cheese.

Then there was this family who sold fresh pork. Chops, roasts, bacon, sausage. Imagine: pork with no junk in it. More than once I treated myself to homemade pork sausage for which the man could list the ingredients in one quick breath.

Yeah, buddy.

Today, we have for your perusal a produce storage guide from Real Simple Magazine. (It lists the foods in alphabetical order and you’ll click through from page to page.) I go to their web page sometimes for tips because, hey, they’ve already done the work for me. You’ll find them in the sidebar because they’re Stuff I Read. Knowing how to buy quality fruits and veggies is one thing, but we also need to store them so they’re at their peak when we get around to using them.

I hate rusty lettuce, don’t you?

peppersSomeone told me a good rule of thumb for storing produce from the market, farmers’ market or otherwise. They said if the store doesn’t have it refrigerated, it probably doesn’t need to be refrigerated when you get it home. I’m not so sure about that. I tend to store some things in the fridge because they last longer there. Some things I put in the fridge because I want to delay their ripening.

I learn from people like the folks at Real Simple Magazine or by just doing it and seeing what happens. I hate to waste food, so I’m certainly not averse to taking someone’s advice.

A couple of my friends who keep a garden were generous last summer with kale, banana peppers, beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers. As an apartment dweller, that’s a windfall I hope for again.

Whether or not you have access to good fresh produce in season right now, you might want to browse Real Simple’s site.

They really do keep things simple. Be a blessing and eat hardy!

 

 

 

 

Thirsty Foodie: 6 Reasons to Drink More Water

Water. I tend to take it for granted even though I use it all the time. I drink it, wash in it, launder clothes in it, clean the dishes in it, fill the fishbowl with it, and feed it to my rabbit.

That can add up to gallons and gallons of water.

When it comes to feeding myself with water, I take it for granted sometimes then too. I really do need to drink more water. How about you? Maybe you’re confused about just how much you’re supposed to drink. There’s a lot of advice out there. And maybe you, like me, don’t drink bottled water. Is that okay? I don’t know about all that.kids-at-fountain

We’re not going to delve into that sort of thing today. I want to talk about why we should be drinking water. It’s not that hard to add water to whatever you’re already eating and the benefits can be seen right away. (It’s not like dieting where you must wait and wait and wait and wait…)

Replenish What’s Already There Our bodies are naturally 60% water. We need to stay hydrated to maintain a level which is healthy to our bodies since water is always flowing out. Science Nerds appreciate this reason because they get to discuss every aspect of the human physiology associated with water-in-water-out. But this is a good old common sense reason too, so relax and drink your water.

Energize Your Muscles Muscles become tired when they don’t have an adequate number of electrolytes flowing through their tissue. If you’re experiencing muscle fatigue, you probably need a few swallows of water. Don’t let the term “electrolytes” fool you into thinking you need special beverages. Water, in this case, can do a fine job of giving your body what it’s thirsty for. A Science Nerd knows how that all works, but I’m not a science nerd, just a foodie who drinks plenty of water every day.

Your Skin Looks Better Drinking plenty of water doesn’t get rid of wrinkles or fine lines if you already have them. But when you’re dehydrated just a tad, your skin appears more dry and wrinkled. Drink water to fill the tissues. Then use a moisturizer of some kind to create a physical barrier to lock in the moisture you just got from a glass of water. It just might be the secret to more ‘glowy’ skin.

Flush Your Kidneys Not to get all scientific on you, but maybe a little science doesn’t hurt. A chemical called ‘blood urea nitrogen’ is the main toxin your body needs relief from. It’s water soluble so if you drink adequate amounts of water, your kidneys are better able to flush the toxins. Ever heard of a kidney stone? Those painful little (or large) nuisances can form for many reasons. But a lack of fluid to flush your system is a common one.

Prevent Pain That may sound like I’m talking ‘cure-all’ for pain. Believe me, I’m not. However, what many people suffer from as far as pain which can be helped with more water consumption is pain in joints and muscles. Think “fluid motion” with the key word being “fluid.” Joint pain and muscle cramps can be minimized when we drink more fluids.elderly-woman-w-water

Control Your Appetite Maybe when you have that feeling in your gut (literally) that you’re hungry, you really aren’t. Maybe you’re thirsty and your body will respond with a simple 8 ounces of water. See there? Your tummy isn’t growling anymore.

If you’d like to start giving your body what’s it’s thirsty for, here are a few tips.

Have a beverage with each meal or snack.

Choose beverages that meet your needs. You may need to limit sugar or sodium in bottled drinks.

Keep a bottle of water with you always. It’s easy to keep something in the car when you’re commuting, shopping, or running errands.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Really. Their water content is high. We get about 20% of our fluid intake from fruits and vegetables. As a side note, it’s healthier to eat the fruit than to drink the juice from a bottle or from frozen concentrate. In addition to getting the fluid, you get the fiber; both in natural form.

Staying aware of both health needs and common sense, choose drinks you enjoy. You’re likely to drink more. If you’ve always thought plain water was boring, start slowly with it. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime and see how refreshing it can be.

Finally, if you have a chronic health condition, consult your doctor before changing the amount of or types of fluid you drink.

Eat, oops, Drink Hearty!

Foodie Snacks For 100 Or Less

I can always make a long story longer, but the short of it is I don’t eat the way I used to.

What I mean by that is I read food product labels; I don’t eat as much processed food; I cook from scratch even more than I used to; I log my food with an online app; and I eat ‘normal’ portion sizes.

Today’s post is about snacking. I still snack because I need to. Snacking is “doctor’s orders” and a strong suggestion from a dietician I see regularly.

You all know how much I like to cook, how much I like to try new flavors, and how much I enjoy experimenting with new recipes. This list is a sampling of my favorite snacks that are 100 calories or fewer.

It’s Almost Apple Pie Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on 1 cup unsweetened applesauce.

Miniature Tostada On a small corn tortilla, spread 1/4 cup nonfat refried beans. Top it with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and a sprinkle of shredded low fat cheese.

Mediterranean Tomato Dice a medium tomato and top it with 2 tablespoons feta cheese.

Cottage Cheese With Melon For a twist on cottage cheese with fruit, combine 3/4 cup diced cantaloupe with 1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese. If you’re craving sweetness, drizzle a little raw honey over it.cottage-cheese-cantaloupe

Carrots With Hummus This is the old veggie dip idea but with protein instead of fat. Crunch on nine or ten 2-inch carrot sticks dipped in hummus. Bonus points if you make your own hummus. Hey, it’s easy to make and tastes better than store-bought.

Santa Fe Black Beans Combine 1/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt. It’s a hearty snack with protein that won’t quit.

Greek Watermelon Can you tell I enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean? This one combines watermelon (1 cup) and 2 tablespoons feta cheese. Those seemingly incompatible flavors do work. (And I really like feta cheese.)

Oh-So-Sweet-Potato This is not a sugary sweet potato; it’s sweet because of the lack of sugar. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get used to not eating sugar on food. Just bake a small sweet potato and sprinkle salt or cinnamon on it. If you want to, microwave it in a potato bag. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, here’s an easy pattern for making your own bag. The potatoes come out great this way and it’s so quick.

Turkey Tartine It’s a fancy name for a foodie snack that’s a simple open faced sandwich. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on a slice of toasted whole grain bread and lay on 2 thin slices of deli turkey.

Carrot ‘Salad’ Mix two grated carrots with 1 tablespoon raisins, 1 teaspoon raw sunflower seeds, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar.

Black Bean Salad This one’s not only lean, it has protein and fiber. Mix 1/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans, 1 small chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper, and a pinch of chili powder.

Spiced Cottage Cheese Mix 3/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese with a pinch of chili powder and a pinch of curry powder. A garnish of chopped scallions is nice.

strawberryspinachsaladStrawberry and Spinach Salad Mixing savory and sweet reminds me of those cooking shows on the food networks. So be a pro and mix 1 cup baby spinach with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

My tastes run to the spicy and savory so this baker’s dozen snack sampling reflects that. You probably have some favorite healthy low-cal snacks as well. Share them in the comments. I’ll give you bonus points for that too!

In the meantime, you know what I always say: get creative in the kitchen. Life’s too short to eat boring food.

Eat hardy!

Foodie Bucket List

This past year, I came up with a list of cooking-related activities I’d like to accomplish or participate in before I die. We’re facing a new calendar year in my part of the world and people often make lists of goals to accomplish for the coming year. So this list seems appropriate right now.

Of course you’ve heard of Bucket Lists. Here’s a Foodie oriented one for me. I came up with a list of 20, but am always open to adding to it. Perhaps as I check these off, I’ll post about the experience. Eat Hardy!list-learn-to-cook

  1. Bake a batch of filled cupcakes
  2. Bake a new recipe from an old cookbook
  3. Make a cheesecake from scratch
  4. Cook a new-to-me Asian dish
  5. Try my hand at seafood gumbo
  6. Make a chowder
  7. Cook with an herb/spice I’ve never used
  8. Try a decorative lattice top for a pie
  9. Decorate a pie top with dough cutouts
  10. Participate in a progressive dinner
  11. Eat vegetarian for a week
  12. Create a piece of food art
  13. Make cheese
  14. Make a pesto
  15. Make salsa
  16. Shop at a different farmer’s market
  17. Try a new fruit
  18. Make plantain chips
  19. Make/bake an edible gift for Christmas or other celebration
  20. Learn a new kitchen technique
  21. Always open to another challenge!

Foodie (Thick As) Pea Soup

It’s been a lazy sort of day. Looking out the window, I see big chunks of snow falling from a cloudy sky. There’s no wind so the snow, which has been falling all day, is sticking to the tree branches and trunks.

It’s beautiful. And time for comfort food; like pea soup, maybe.

This is what I’d be conjuring up in the kitchen if my refrigerator wasn’t already full of enough food to keep me going for about a week and a half. (I’ve been on a spree.)

There’s no reason why I can’t share a couple of recipe ideas with you, though.split-pea-soup-960x1438

One is from a blog I follow almost daily when I log my food on MyFitnessPal. They’ve set me up with some great recipes which I add to my database. When I’ve eaten that food for one of my meals, I go in and log from the recipe database. I love how easy that is. Here’s one, Split Pea Soup With Bacon, which came from the blog, HelloHealthy.

I like ham in my split pea soup and most often use a good leftover bone with meat on it. That’s how my mom always made a soup with ham in it. This Canadian Yellow Split Pea Soup includes ham and might be more to your taste.

Whether or not it’s snowing in your neck of the woods, comfort food may be exactly what you’re hungry for. As always, make adjustments to the recipes so they work for you.

And eat hardy.

Scout Saturday: Irresistible Bunnies

A friend came over to have dinner with me recently and we enjoyed the company. We also watched my rabbit, Scout, frolic in the apartment while we chatted in the living room. He steals the show. The cameras came out and we caught him chilling out in a couple of his favorite spots.

One is The Library. Scout loves my books. He chews on them if I don’t catch him, but he also just likes to sit among them and run through the shelves.

These photos are especially for my food blogger friend, Genie on Bunny Eats Design. You can check out a few of her Tofu Tuesday posts featuring her mini-lop, Tofu. He’s a cutie and reminds me of Scout. Check out some of her recipes and culinary adventures too. Her recipes often reflect her culture and the culinary adventures, well, they make you a little jealous.

Today officially becomes “Scout Saturday.” Enjoy, and eat hardy.

loves-the-bookcase-10-16scout-sits-quietly

Shake it Up, Foodie

As a busy young mother (oh, so many years ago), I took shortcuts in the kitchen if I could. Because it gave baked chicken a flavor my husband liked (and because someone came up with an easy way to add flavor and crispiness to baked chicken), Shake ‘n Bake brand coating mix was a staple in our house.

Not anymore. I prefer to make my own ‘mixes’ when I can from ingredients I have in my cupboards. That way I know what’s in it and avoid additives. The flavors are usually the same and sometimes even better (depending on how I tinker with the concoction) than the so-called original.

Here’s my coating mix recipe for meat––chicken or pork––you can make easily. In fact, if you don’t want to make it up ahead of time and store it, you only need a few minutes to mix it up while you’re preparing dinner. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled.chicken-in-pan

Crispy Coating Baking Mix

  • 1 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. poultry seasoning
  • 1 t. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients (shake ’em up in a plastic bag, if you want!). The recipe as written coats all the pieces of a whole chicken. Obviously, for more or less chicken, use more or less mix. It’s good on pork chops too, but you may want to substitute a combination of basil, oregano and rosemary for the poultry seasoning.

Store in a tightly sealed container or zipper bag. Depending on the humidity, you can store in the cupboard up to 4 months. DO NOT store any mix which has already been used for coating meat. Toss it!

I make my own bread crumbs too. I just chug 3-4 slices of bread around in the blender until they’re finely ground, stopping to stir the larger pieces toward the blades. When I want an Italian flavor as in the commercially prepared Italian crumbs, I add 1 t. Italian seasoning for every 4 slices of bread. Another variation you can try is adding 1 1/2 t. of ranch dressing mix, but that defeats the purpose of avoiding additives. Folks with gluten intolerances: you know how to adapt ingredients.

When baking chicken, just like when you’re frying, coating mix stays on better when you dip it in a mixture of 1/2 c. buttermilk and one beaten egg. It also gives it a Southern-fried flavor.

So there you go. You can shake it and bake it with your own homemade mix. I’m happy to say, “And I helped!”

Eat Hardy!

 

Hey Foodie, Say “Cheese”

I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.

It could be that someday a new taste will not set well with me in that dairy category, but so far, cheese has always made me smile. Like Little Miss Muffet, I even like my curds and whey.**

Here in my area of the planet, it’s autumn and getting chillier outside every day. We naturally begin to add comfort foods to the menu which we might not have eaten during the hot summer days.

Like soup. Chicken soup, chili, bean soup, pea soup. Nothing like a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew.

I’ll keep my pie hole closed for most of this post and give you a couple recipes using cheese. These come right out of my recipe box (stained 3×5 cards and all). First, the soup, featuring two favorite foods.about-cheese

Cheddar and Bacon Soup

  • 6 slices bacon cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2/3 c. chopped onion
  • 2 T. flour
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
  • 1 quart milk
  • ¼ t. pepper

In a medium saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Reduce heat to low. Add onions and sauté about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.

Stir in flour; cook one minute. Stir in milk. Raise heat to medium-high. Add cheese and cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until cheese is melted and soup is heated through (about 10 minutes). Do Not Boil! Add the pepper; stir until mixed. Yields about 6 1-cup servings

Now for a quick appetizer for snacking on crackers while you cuddle up in your recliner to watch a good movie. Or “Walking Dead,” if that’s your thing. This spread also tastes good on a sandwich with tomato. Use whole grain bread, an English muffin, croissant, bagel thins or whatever you like. You know me, I throw it together and see what comes out.

Pimiento Cheese Spread

  • 2 7-oz. jars sliced pimientos, drained
  • 3 8 oz. bricks sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 c. mayonnaise

Place the drained pimientos in a blender or food processor and puree them until almost smooth. In a very large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the cheese and pimiento, beating until partially blended. Beat in the mayonnaise.

The spread can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Allow the spread to reach room temperature before serving. Yields about 32 servings, 2 T. each.

Don’t forget the family favorite: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Or homemade macaroni and cheese. Loaded baked potatoes. Big old cheeseburgers, and, well you get the idea. In my world, any time is a great time for a dish made with cheese.

Eat hardy!

*Cottage Cheese