Saturday, August 30, 2008
The tasting pavilion event we chose to attend is a collection of artisan food makers and educators that align with these Slow Food values. Let me walk you through our day:
Started at the fermented booth (they call it something cuter like Pickles and Chutneys...but it was fermented stuff) and I was re-inspired. A number of them rely on Sandoor Katz's "Wild Fermentation Book" which I myself have not purchased but might after realizing that their stuff tasted a lot better then mine - salt was the big one to actually add flavor. They had about 6 types of kraut, kimchee and one other thing I can't remember, and an amazing rye bread. Similar to the rest of the event each item at the tasting table is served and explained to you by people from all over the U.S. who make it. Adds a real nice touch.
Second we went down to Honey and Preserves - fantastic little vanilla cupcake with rose cream icing and a pistachio. Then a cheese roll with sweet potato butter (which is like apple butter but with sweet potato). This was tasty. They also had some nice jams and bread - tasty but nothing super exciting.
Then we headed over to the fish - they had a really cool display to show all the different types of local fish, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium was there talking about sustainability and sound practices with fishing. The food was interesting - smoked salmon on toast, marinated calamari with tomatoes and basil, tuna with white beans and dill and parsley and a herring wrapped around mozzarella, tomato and basil. This was nice because it all tasted fantastic and except maybe the white beans I would not have done this on my own.
Next in line was the spirits section. This of course was my husbands favorite (until we got to the meat section or 'Charcutiere'). There were about 6 bartenders and/or spirit makers present to let you taste ingredients separate, or mix you a drink. All were extremely tasty and our favorite was that we learned about this other style of gin (Dutch Gin vs London Gin which is what you usually have here in drinks like Bombay or 209). It was something I had never given any thought too, and the taste was pretty amazing - best of all we can visit the distillery here in San Francisco.
After that was coffee, which my husband didn't want to do, but he thanked me afterwards. We were greeted by a perky woman (dipping into the company yummies perhaps....) and a very chill red haired man who gave me a high five when I stopped at his station. He proceeded to tell me all about coffee processing techniques, where this one was from and then let me enjoy it in a nice little espresso cup. It was a nice break in my day for just a moment to sip on that loveliness (I generally don't drink coffee, but I do love the taste and flavor so I indulge here and there).
Then we hit up the ice cream booth which was not terribly impressive. There were some really good ice cream sandwiches that I hope to find in a grocery store soon. The guys are from Portland who make it.
Next was Indian - 3 types of naan (Indian bread) one was garlic, another chilies and the third was a sweet one with raisins and walnuts. They gave two chutneys with it and this was a fantastic snack while we waited in the long line for meats.
Meats were great. It may not be fashionable to be a woman who loves cured meats as much as my husband does for example, but I attribute it to my German heritage and growing up with a Dad and Grandmother who had an appreciation for the Old World connection to it. Anyway, point is I was pretty dang excited about this station. My husband wants to start curing his own meats and making more of his own sausage and everyone on this line was really helpful explaining to him where to start and what to look for. The people in line might have been mad because they just wanted to plug through, but thank you for waiting and thank you to the meat dudes who took the time. Here we had mortadella, sopprasata, pork confit with pepper jelly on toast and salami - all without nitrates/nitrites, all natural meat. It was a good moment.
We skipped cheese, chocolate, wine and olive oil because the line was around the corner and out the door for cheese, and the lines were long for the others and we just didn't see anything compelling to taste. Lines were the biggest problem at this event. Otherwise, so worth it. Pretty kid friendly too I would say.
We ended the day at the American Indian food booth - where I asked a woman in front of me if the Cheese booth was waiting in line for because I saw she had a plate. She looked at me and said 'oh yes, and actually we got two plates would you like the other'. THANKS! yes yes yes yes. And it was worth it. So although I skipped that booth, and although the chili and wild rice cakes at the American Indian booth were tasteless, I got some great cheese. After the American Indian booth we walked right across to the beer booth. Both full as heck by this time, we picked two each and that was the end of what our stomachs could handle. My favorite was this ale aged in pinot noir barrels- really unique.
All in all, a great day and I would recommend going next year. Definitely take the time to ask questions at the booths and the people standing around - most are working for a really great cause that you make want to take part in.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It was a basic interview with some reporter and a spokesperson from some national obesity society. They were talking about how this society opposes Michael Phelps signing with Corn Flakes to be their new spokesperson. The basis of the opposition is that Phelps should be encouraging children to eat broccoli and not corn flakes, and that parents already have a hard enough job and he is going to contribute to the obesity problem getting worse.
No. I don't think so. To be more specific, yes I would have liked to see Phelps promoting something I believe in more, like broccoli, but this is America and these are the behaviors of basic economics. Furthermore, this is not a new concept for any of these large food conglomerates. They know how to sell and it works.
Luckily, I was on the bike when I was watching this so at least I got a really good workout in, but I was fuming when I heard this spokesperson raging on about how terrible the Corn Flake deal was with Phelps. The truth is, the responsibility is on the parents, educators, and other support figures that are involved in the everyday life of our children. There are parents out there successfully keeping their kids away from junk food and high sugar cereals like corn flakes. Maybe not everyday, but they have a way of managing the manipulated food dilemma in our country. So it begs the question that if some have done it, why are we pinning the problem on a third party for the growing population that is not addressing this issue in their home.
Quite simply, Phelps cannot be held accountable for that. Nor can Kellogg's. Everyone has a choice and everyone has the right to raise their children and provide an education - whether it be about books, finances, food or love - they have the right to do it how they want and it is up to them to get the message across.
Also, if you don't want your kids eating corn flakes, and they ask in the store, you can always say no. Phelps is not in the store telling you that you have to.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wah') is just about one of the most amazing grains. It is non glutinous, meaning it does not contain gluten and which also means it is not as inflammatory to our bodies as wheat is for example. It is the only grain that contains all 9 essential amino acids (meat also contains all 9 essential amino's on its own, but all other grains have to be combined with something else to make a 'complete' protein).
It tastes somewhat nutty, and it's texture can be a bit like couscous meets rice. It takes no more than 15 minutes to cook, and you always follow a 2 to 1 ratio of liquid to quinoa to cook it. It makes a great salad, cereal, side dish, and main dish. It absorbs whatever you put into it.
About 1/2 cup on it's own is one serving and that packs approximately 12 grams of protein!
Here is the recipe for the cereal. If you have 15 minutes in the morning to make this, it would be best fresh. Otherwise, you can make a batch and re-warm with a bit of almond or rice milk.
This would serve about 4 people
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups almond milk
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup goji berries
4 tbsp golden flax seeds
1 tbls agave nectar or honey
Bring quinoa, almonds milk, spices, agave or honey, goji berries and apple to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in flax seeds and top with a bit more almond milk if you want.
The flax seeds really should be stirred in at the end as the extreme cooking heat is damaging to flax. You can use regular milk, rice milk or something else in place of almond milk of course, but I encourage you to just try the almond milk - for some it may sound too alternative, but you never know if you will like something and your body might just be waiting for the right recipe to come along - and HERE IT IS!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Monday - Chile verde casserole (using leftove chile verde from this weekend)
Tuesday - Turkey meatballs and whole wheat pasta with Nonnie's sauce and a salad
Wednesday - Grilled chicken with brown rice and grilled radicchio salad
Thursday - Panini night (grilled vegetable and pesto sandwiches - using leftover veg from Wednesay)
Friday - Napa inspired appetizer and a movie night - olives, wine, cheese, bread, steamed artichokes and a salad
Something this menu utilizes is reusing ingredients in different forms. For example on Wednesday, the grill will already be fired up for the chicken so I will do some extra vegetables on the side because they reheat well, and use them in panini's on Thursday. This helps cut down on cooking time, but makes sure I have the components to assemble a fresh meal for myself each day.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- Plain yogurt with an ounce of almonds and dried cranberries
- Almonds or walnuts and cranberries
- Hard boiled egg and a handful of raw vegetables like carrots, celery and bell pepper
- Hummus and raw vegetables
- Brown rice cakes with peanut butter
- A piece of fruit or veg
- 3 slices cheese on ak mak with celery or carrots
Snacks can also be a little more fancy. Here are some ideas:
- Mini tofu, lettuce, tomato and avo sammy - 'Marinate' 2 slices of tofu in soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Pan fry or grill to get a bit of carmelization on it. Toast 2 slices of Ezekial bread (sprouted grain bread), spread 1/2 avocado over the two slices, layer the lettuce, tomato and tofu. Could also add sprouts.
- Nori-Romaine boats - Take 2 whole romaine leaves and layer in a sheet of nori (toasted, dried seaweed) in each. Spread a dollop of hummus and top with more veg or slices of roast chicken.
- Spinach salad - take spinach and toss with a bit of balsamic, garbanzo beans, walnuts and cranberries.
- Fruit smoothies - I have a number of favorite combinations but here are a few: frozen cherries and blueberries with almond milk, banana and strawberry with soy milk, strawberry, blueberry and banana with rice milk or there is also the Orange Julius style with orange juice, banana and egg white protein powder.
- Not really a fruit smoothie, but I love 1/2 banana, with rice or soy milk and 1 tbls peanut butter with vanilla protein powder (we primarily use a pure egg white protein powder with no weird ingredients in it)
(shame on me too for assuming convenience)
This is why I love thinking about food in the same way several generations ago treated it. You know, simple stuff like the idea that chickens have legs and should run free. Or you really should only eat what you need to and get it fresh from your own garden - not from a shelf with stabilizers and additives and other weirdness.
The original idea behind convenience foods might have been good - food that you can grab quickly and prepare without much effort so the now hard working man and woman in the house can be extra productive. But the food that comes pre-packaged is largely manipulated to only slightly resemble real food when you look at the actual ingredients (try actually reading the ingredients from time to time and see if you can pinpoint exactly what each is - I guarantee it will be a difficult exercise). We have gotten so used to the idea of having foods so readily available, and not reading the packaging, that we have also forgotten what real food is!
Times are different now and while both men and women work full time most of the time, and run a family and household etc, our economy, our accessibility, awareness - it has all changed since these foods first came out. So let's adjust our eating habits to re-align with traditional choices in a modern manner.
I won't say don't ever reach for the convenience foods - that is not realistic. But take the time to shop the farmers markets and eat seasonally. Take the time to prepare at least 4 dinners a week at home, and pack your lunch half the time when you go to work. Instead of buying a cake for your sweet craving try to make a new recipe from your favorite baking book. Just pick one thing to add each week and in a year you will have added 52 good habits!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Lunch was also tasty and the leftovers will be lunch for the next few days for each of us. It was a delicious roast chicken which we brined before roasting this time, with a HUGE medley of veg roasted along side it (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic and summer squash). We had an arugula salad with avocado and balsamic vinegar on the side.
Here is the menu for this dinners this week:
Saturday, August 16, 2008
4 cups homemade chicken broth
1 cup roast chicken chopped up
1 cup brown rice already cooked
1/2 cup each chopped of onion, celery and carrots
2 tbls olive oil
1 cup large pieces of chopped napa cabbage
In a pot saute the onion, celery and carrots with the olive oil over med-high heat until just softened. Put the broth in and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and rice. After 3 minutes add the cabbage. Serve in large bowls and savor.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It reminded me of two things:
1 - I don't advocate 'dieting'. Atkins, South Beach are all good in their own way, but none are sustainable and none advocate a wide spectrum of wholesome and nutritious foods that work for your body (because remember, we are all unique in how we digest our food based on genetics, toxic exposure, tastes and physiology). A well balanced diet is what helps maintain weight, good health, immunity and happiness. Not to mention, depriving yourself of a fabulous glass of wine, or a piece of cake to celebrate with friends is just plain wrong and will drive you nuts to the point where you binge and ruin your mindset and weight management goals.
2 - Food should be about more than just key words like 'easy'. Eating is something that keeps you alive and healthy and energetic. You do it at least 2-3 times a day, EVERY DAY! I really feel that on the whole, our culture has lost sight of how much of a direct impact food has on your health, your skin, your mood, your hormones, my list goes on. I will talk a lot about food quality and that is part of it, but really what I am trying to address here is that it is not always about getting a meal done in under 30 minutes, or picking up to go food - you have to feed yourself properly! And don't get me wrong, I love the 30 minute meal uprising in the last few years, but I also have a significant appreciation for a slow cooked roast, or stews that cook for hours and I love to shop for that meal, plan it out and feed myself and those around me with it.
Some people don't share this same opinion, and I admit, food and food quality are very high on my priority list in life. I have some core values about food, and I just simply stick to it.
The next three weeks are going to be interesting. We are doing a cleanse (a program through Standard Process (a vitamin company) ) and it basically does not allow sugar, alcohol, dairy, and caffeine. Vegetables are unlimited, fruit is ok (twice as much veg as fruit though), meat and eggs are ok but no more than 8 oz a day and the only grains allowed are brown rice and lentils and quinoa (the non glutinous ones for their properties of being easily digested). Good fats are allowed so flax, olive oil, grapeseed and coconut - in moderation. There are shakes and supplements along with this program to aid in the cleansing and re-mineralizing process. Great program. Cleansing is something good to do seasonally, and at least once or twice a year. It gives our drainage organs (kidneys, liver, etc) a break, lets our digestive system regenerate, and gives us an opportunity to add back to our mineral and vitamin reserves.
Monday - Baked chicken bites tossed with heirloom tomato, quinoa, zucchini sauteed with leeks
Tuesday - Roast chicken with roasted brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots and red onion
Wednesday - Chicken soup with veggies and a salad and a steamed artichoke
Thursday - baked salmon or halibut (plan to go to fish market that day) with sauteed brussel sprouts and leeks and quinoa
Friday - roasted eggplant with onion marinated (grate the onions) baked chicken kebabs with quinoa tabbouleh
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The key to the whole thing I am convinced, were the cultured foods. I made cultured vegetables out of cabbages, kale, carrots. They are good, and I still make them occasionally, but they are not really convenient for bringing into work (and actually, don't do this if you make it - it can be mistaken for sewage or something totally rotten). And you may ask why eat these things that smell so bad - but I tell you, they taste great and when you eat anything that has been cultured you feel amazing. It takes away sweet cravings, aids digestion and just balances you out. Truly, truly amazing stuff.
The other thing I cultured was young coconut juice and the meat inside. I got this from The Body Ecology Diet www.bodyecology.com. This book changed my life (Thank you Donna Gates!). Now this stuff is amazing for you, and tastes fantastic. It does not have a strong coconut flavor, but has a light essence. And because it is fermented, it has a bubbly champagne like mouthfeel.
Culturing I think is a job best done with a group. First of all, it is a bit cumbersome so it is nice to split the duties. Second, food and health are about community and I have found a great group of friends to share in this culturing exercise with me about every 6-8 weeks.
This weekend was all about culturing. We always do coconuts, and then one new thing. And I finally found a kombucha mother to make our own kombucha (You read my posting about limiting the budget to no more than $120 - and $2.50 bottles of kombucha are not in the budget but I love it dearly and so does the hubby!).
So many people have asked me 'what is kombucha'. I looked it up and it is a 'SCOBY' - Symbiotic Colony of Bacterial Yeast. It is so, so simple to make. Really the hardest part is getting a mother from someone (the mother is the starter - kind of like what you do with sourdough bread). And I found someone in Alameda (thank you again Melissa).
Basically what you do is boil some water, dump some sugar in and brew tea (pure black tea or green tea - no herbal, oils, flavors, etc). Let it cool and then add the kombucha mother. This should be done in a glass container. Cover with a paper towel and let sit for a week in a dark, 70 degree-ish area. After a week, the mother will have split and created 'babies' and the babies can be made for a new batch, composted, or shared with a friend. You drain the liquid out, put it in the fridge and brew a new batch with the mother or babies.
So every week you can continue to make your own kombucha, and the mother just keeps regenerating. Makes for some interesting symbolism.
It seems odd. But let me tell you, it is only in the last 50-75 years that we as a society stopped culturing our food. We have lost this part of our relationship with food and it is sad because cultured foods are so amazing for you - vitamins, digestive aids, probiotics.......the list goes on. It takes a little bit of work, but this is your health and well being - take the time to invest a little extra in it.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It fired me up and made me yell "I have to write about this on the blog!".
So here I am. What the heck is the obsession?!! Just two days before I was sitting in the lunch room at my regular office job the other day and overheard two co workers talking about breakfast the next morning.
Co worker 1: Ooooo before I come in do you want me to get you a McD breakfast sango?
Co worker 2: hmm yeah that might be a good option
Co worker 1: OMG yay?! They are so good, like the best breakfast ever.
And there was no sarcasm there. It was a serious conversation. I don't really know the point of this posting other than to point out that real food, made with love, real ingredients and with a conscious in mind not only make sense and make for good health, but they just down right taste better.
I get the idea that it is convenient. I get that it is cheap. But for Pete's sake it takes less than 5 minutes to assemble a sandwich, or pour a bowl of cereal and scramble an egg!
Like any habit it takes time to break. So if you have a McObsession (or something similar), try spending an extra 5 minutes a day or 20 minutes a week preparing your own food. I imagine you will feel better about the mindful choice and have more energy!
What do you do to make sure you eat wholesome meals when you get back from vacation?