Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chef Lynn Crawford's Pitchin In

Chef Lynn Crawford the star of Food Network's Pitchin In and Restaurant Makeover was Pitchin to the Students and Alumni and myself at a talk at George Brown College on a Snowy winter night. She was there to talk about her new and 1st ever cookbook from the recipes she has whipped up on the first 2 seasons of "Pitchin In". Lynn has been a chef for many years and has worked in the top Hotels in major cities and now has her own restaurant downtown on Queen St. East with a new little shop a few doors down. The restaurant is called Rubywatch Co. and the shop is called Ruby Eats. I think Chef Lynn had to be talked into finally producing a cookbook but from the looks of the cookbook it was worth the wait. It's a beautifully laid out book with photos of Chef Lynn at the farms she visited during the show and recipes that are beautifully photographed and drool worthy. Some cookbooks are sort of like coffee table books but this book looks like you want to cook all these recipes and that they are something that can be done at home with a little bit of basic skills and a great recipe.

Pitchin In is one of my favourite Food Network shows for a few reasons. The number one reason is that Chef Lynn is hilarious and passionate. She puts every ounce of her soul into her cooking and into the hearts of the people she meets. She has tremendous respect for the farmers and food providers and it comes across on her show. She loves people and respects everyone's contribution to what she does. She couldn't be a great chef without great food to cook with.

I also love the show because it really shows what local and organic means in food production. The show show almost a start to finish process on how food is grown and made for consumption. From the chicken to the egg process of what goes on the ground and what comes out of it. It's a full circle process with Lynn creating works of food art to reward the great growers and farmers that have demonstrated their skills.

Chef Lynn will try almost anything even with a fear of heights she soars in what she does.

I have tremendous respect for her because when she started as a chef there were few woman who would have been in the kitchen for her to look up to but now she is the Chef women aspire to be as good as. I admire her culinary skills as well as her personal integrity and passion.

I got a gift certificate for Rubywatchco for christmas and I am looking forward to finally tasting her food very soon.

Check out Chef Lynn Crawford's new cookbook "Pitchin In" or her show of the same name or drop into her restaurant RubyWatchCo or her shop Ruby Eats and see what Lynn can do.
I promise you will have fun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paula Deen's fried image

I decided to weigh in so to speak about the whole Paula Deen controversy because I think it's getting out of hand and spreading to any celebrity chefs that aren't fit or who were heavy in the past. Paula Deen is human. She makes mistakes like everyone else. This one happens to be a big health mistake that she is making in public for everyone to scrutinize. Paula Deen is not a college educated woman so why would everyone be so judgmental with her being the be all and end all of food experts. She is just a woman who had a problem trying to raise her 2 children and did it using food. She is not a trained chef as far as I know and is basically a housewife that loves to feed people. She is not a role model or poster child on diabetes. If anyone takes 5 minutes to watch her show they will realize that she is overweight because of the food she cooks and her lifestyle. Nobody in their right mind watches the show and thinks I am going to make all that food and it's good for me. Pounds of butter and deep fried fats and sugar isn't good for you and you are living under a rock if you think it is. She makes indulgent food and you know it. That's what she is known for. You cook it at your own risk. I know fried chicken is bad for me but every once in a while I will have a craving for fried chicken and Paula shows you how to make it. So make it once a year but not every day.

Did anyone ever think that maybe Paula eats and cooks bad foods because of stress or depression? She does her shows and has been doing a book tour and is now doing a cruise. Maybe she is tired and weak and food is what comforts her or gets her through her day. She smokes too... but for a women of her age it was the norm to smoke and once you have been smoking for years it's becomes a habit and an addiction. It's not something that is easy to just stop in one day because a lot of your life habits are tied to it.

She was videotaped eating a hamburger and french fries. While that's not a great idea for any diabetic or anyone with health problems to do I bet Paula probably didn't think about it and just ate what she felt like eating not thinking that people are now watching everything she sticks in her mouth. How would you like it if people followed you around with video camera and then had a bunch of people critique it for how bad it is.

The fact that her publicist quit tells me that she isn't making the best choices and isn't listening to some of her people. I think Dr. Oz is trying to help her but if she doesn't listen to the advice he gives her then there isn't much he can do to help her.

As for the fact that she is now a paid spokesperson for a diabetes medication that may have been a business decision or in Paula's eyes a way to help other people but what she doesn't realize but I bet she soon will is that the choices you make in your lifestyle ie. food and exercise will help a whole lot more than a pill will. It's also ironic that her son is trying to make over some of her trademark recipes to be healthier. I suppose she isn't really switching over to his way of preparing them.

My guess is that Paula is operating out of fear and ignorance. She may be afraid of what will be if she changes the way she eats. Maybe she is afraid of failing. Maybe she eats and smokes out of the fear that she may lose her popularity and in turn income which would put her back to where she was many years ago.

Look at things through a Paula Deen filter and you may see why she has made some of these poor decisions. Like I said, she is not a role model, trained chef, doctor, nutritionist or other health expert. She is a woman who likes comfort food and likes to share it with people.

So before you just slam her think about what she has gone through and how she has survived the challenges in her life and you might understand her a bit more.

While I think being a paid spokesperson for any drug is always a bad idea for any celebrity. I would rather see a celebrity be a spokesperson for the Diabetes Association and raise funds for research and healthcare...not drug care. Invest or promote healthy food choices.

All I can say in the end is that I have been thin and I have been fat a good portion of my life and I know that if I had everyone scrutinize every piece of food I ate everyday I would probably go insane. So lay off the criticism and provide love and assistance and maybe a little education.

The media hungry North American public criticize you whether you are Paula Deen and eating a french fry or Demi Moore losing too much weight. It's the same thing...It's an eating disorder and sometimes you get to a point where you don't know how to make it stop... it's not about the weight usually it's about what has caused them to get that way.

I hope Paula turns all the bad press around and does the right thing but don't persecute her if she doesn't. She is just a butter loving old woman. Isn't she the grandma you always wanted? Think of her that way.

What's in your Burger/fries?

Do you love your Happy Meals? Your McD's Burger/Fries? Are you a fast food junkie? Well I admit that when I am lazy or just craving a burger and fries it's really easy for me to walk across the street and grab a burger and fries from your well known fast food chain. I always feel guilty now after having seen Super Size Me and know it's bad for me but sometimes can't resist because it is quick, tasty and relatively cheap. But we all know it's bad for us but this video is shocking at how bad it really is.

Food is meant to decompose as are we. If it doesn't decompose it doesn't leave your body. Think of your body as a garbage bag. If you keep stuffing food and packaging in it and tie it up but keep stuffing it, it will just get bigger and stretch out more but if you poke a hole in the bag it will all come out but think about any liquid in the bag, that will be the first thing to come out of the bag. If your food doesn't decompose it can't liquify which means it's never going to leave your body. When they say "You are what you eat" it really becomes true when you eat a Big Mac because it will be in you forever it seems.

I find it really scary when I think about what I am eating these days because I never really trust any food anymore because the food industry seems to place an importance on profits over health so who knows if your food is GMO'd to death or if it has hormones, preservatives or any other toxic substances added to it.

I recently visited a family that grows all of their food or only buys from local markets and knows the farmers they buy from. They buy only certified organic meats from local vendors. They basically don't have to shop in a typical grocery store anymore. They are lean and fit and energetic and part of the reason's they do it is because of the health of the food that is sold and also the waste of all the packaging.

While they live in a house and the wife only works part time so she puts a lot of effort into cooking and maintaining the garden so this isn't an option for most of us. It's not an option for me since I live by myself and in an apartment so I can't exactly grow an abundance of food on my balcony but I will attempt to grow some herbs and whatever else I can grow on the balcony in the spring.

So what's the answer to this? It keeps coming back to knowing where your food comes from and buying local and if you can buy from people you know so they can be accountable for what they are producing and distributing. You don't know where the food comes from for the fast food outlets or how it was manufactured so you never know what you are really eating.

This stuff is as scary as war. It contributes to the war on obesity that we are battling in the First World.

I suppose the best way to make a change is to learn from this information and make change through consumerism and don't buy products like this but support your local farmer. Either the fast food chains will have to change or they will go out of business. Money talks, and that's the reason they add all the preservatives so they have long shelf lives guaranteeing them no spoilage losses. That's why organic food doesn't last as long. I know I get frustrated when I toss out organic food when it goes bad because I haven't eaten it but I also know that it's a 100% better for me and the environment when I buy it. I just need to buy less and find ways to use it all. It's an adjustment I need to make and one we need to make in the World. I myself know I need to waste less food so that there will be food in the world for everyone for years to come. We shouldn't need things like food banks, we shouldn't need to have so many people on medications because of complications from eating a poor diet. A poor diet.... if you think about it a poor diet is pretty accurate because it's generally the poor who eat a lot of fast foods or convenience foods because they are fast and cheap and they are the ones that need better food the most to sustain themselves. If you look at the poorest people in the western world I bet they are also the fattest. They are not overeating they are just eating things that are killing them. I could go on forever on this subject because there are many layers to the domino affect of the fast food industry.

My suggestion is to watch documentaries like these:

Forks over Knives
Super Size Me
Food Matters
No Impact Man
Food Inc.

Get Smart, Go Local, Think Global.

Change comes in baby steps... start with taking harmful foods out of your regular meals and keep going...you will get to your destination faster than you think.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lunar New Year Food traditions

It's the start of the Lunar New Year for Chinese people and I wanted to enjoy some of the Chinese Holiday traditional foods so I headed over to T&T Supermarket in Thornhill. One of the things I picked up were the Red Bean Sesame Balls as seen above. The first time I tried one of these Sesame Balls was when my mother brought them home from a lunch outing with friends. She had no idea what they were but thought I might like them so she brought one home for me to taste. I never had anything like it before and loved it. It was a long time before I saw it available at malls and supermarkets around the city. It now seems common place for me to see them around. I can go down to the mall in my building and get some from Furama even. The creamy centre and if they are fresh the outside will be fairly crispy and if done well not greasy. These ones weren't super fresh so I popped it in the microwave for about 15 sec and it softened them up.

What do these Sesame Balls symbolize making something small turn into big capital gains in the future.

Here is a recipe if you want to try making them for yourself.

Jien Duy (Sweet Sesame Seed Ball)

The following recipe is from renowned chef Joyce Jue.


1-1/3 cups water
4 or 5 sticks Chinese brown slab sugar
1 pound glutinous rice powder/flour
1 cup canned sweet red bean paste filling (or black bean or lotus paste)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Peanut oil for deep frying

Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Put rice powder into a large bowl. While the sugar-water is still hot, slowly stir it into the rice powder. Gather up the dough and knead until smooth. Roll dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Cut each into 1 1/2-inch rounds. Using the palms of your hands, roll one round into a ball. Flatten ball and place a 1/2 inch piece of bean paste in the center. Fold dough over and roll into a smooth ball to enclose the filling. Wet your hand and dip ball into sesame seeds to coat the surface of the ball. Press lightly to help the seeds adhere. Set aside, covered. Repeat with remaining dough.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 325 degrees. Carefully slip a few balls into hot oil and gently fry for 12 to 15 minutes. After the first 3 minutes, gently squeeze balls every few minutes with a pair of wooden cooking chopsticks. This helps the balls to expand. Continue squeezing and turning balls until they are gold brown and feel full of air. Drain on paper towels. Cool before serving.

Makes 16 balls.

Other foods that are eaten or popular during Chinese New Year are the following:

* Lotus seed - signify having many male offspring

* Ginkgo nut - represents silver ingots

* Black moss seaweed - is a homonym for exceeding in wealth

* Dried bean curd is another homonym for fulfillment of wealth and happiness

* Bamboo shoots - is a term which sounds like "wishing that everything would be well"

* Fresh bean curd or tofu is not included as it is white and unlucky for New Year as the color signifies death and misfortune.

* Whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance,
* Whole chicken for prosperity.

The Fish & chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.

The abundance of food prepared was meant to symbolize abundance and wealth.

* Chinese Dumplings - the more dumplings you eat during New Year celebration, more money you can make in the New Year.

Lucky Saying for Eating Dumplings: Bringing in wealth and treasure — felicitous wish of making money; amass fortunes

* Spring Roll

Lucky Saying for Eating Spring Roll: A ton of gold (because the fried spring rolls are all with golden color, which makes them looking like gold bars, the symbolism of treasure)

* Nian Gao (Glutinous Rice Cake)

In Chinese, Nian Gao sounds like "getting higher year by year". In Chinese people's mind, the higher you are, the more prosperous your business is. Main ingredients of Nian Gao are sticky rice, sugar, Chestnuts, Chinese date and lotus leaves.

What I love about a lot of the Chinese traditions and foods are that they consider certain foods good luck for health, wealth and prosperity and each different food is eaten for a different property.

Chinese people give gifts of things like Boxes of Mandarin oranges, the round fruits are especially lucky to them.

They give special boxes of seeds which is also a prosperity symbol for them.

Try something different with your friends and family and have a Lunar New Year Party, have some dumplings, spring rolls, oranges and a whole fish or chicken and enjoy the traditions and foods of the Chinese Culture.

Learn about other people through food and food cultures and you will always connect to the Global world around you.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

National Popcorn Day

Today is National Popcorn Day

So what's great about National Popcorn Day? When you think Movies what snack do you think of? Yes Popcorn. The one thing that hasn't changed much at the movies is that you can always get a bag of popcorn to go with your movie watching. I know people that go to the movies all the time and can't watch without a bag of popcorn in their lap.

You can get free popcorn at Cineplex Theatres in Toronto today so go out there and see a good movie and get some free popcorn to go with it. What a deal.

If you are bored of popcorn change it up by adding some additional flavours like turning it into a caramel corn or adding parmesan cheese or some cajun spices. Mix it up and experiment. A great place to try new flavour is at Kernels popcorn. They will let you test try a different flavour and you can pick up various sizes of popcorn.

So whether you buy some at the movies or you just rent a movie and make your own popcorn or pick up a bag of Kernels popcorn... it doesn't matter... as long as you are having some tasty popcorn and watching a good movie you will have a Great Time.

Pop it up...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toronto mayor holding public weigh-in Monday | CTV Toronto

Toronto mayor holding public weigh-in Monday | CTV Toronto

Our Mayor and his brother are launching a Cut the Waist Campain for themselves and other Mayors and residents of Toronto to Join.

I find it ironic that he is launching this on what is called "Blue Monday" which is considered the most depressing day of the year. It's the time where people start to give up on their New Year's Resolutions and realize that they can't pay for all the Christmas shopping and spending they did in December and when they have to stay indoors because of the cold and it's normally grey and gloomy and slushy outside. We got lucky on the grey/gloomy/slushy thing in Toronto but I am sure we didn't skip by the rest of it.

So do you think the Ford brothers can do it? How much weight do you think they can lose? Are you going to join them?

I wonder if the Ford brothers are going to start banning junk food from the Halls of the City?

Mayor Miller changed his lifestyle and lost 50 pounds while he was in office. Can the Ford brothers beat his results?

I guess we will have to wait and see how they do in the next 6 months.

What are your guesses on the total weight loss they will have?

I am all for a healthier City Hall in whatever form it comes in.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soylent Green crackers taste good

Soylent Green crackers debut in collectible box:  

I went to a couples house to do an interview for a Documentary that I am working on about Losing weight and Going Green. When we sat down at the table there was a curious box on the table that caught my eye. When I was a kid there was a movie that my mother used to watch called "SOYLENT GREEN" I never forgot it because it was a freaky sci fi movie at the time with Charleton Heston who I later saw at the LAX airport..but that's another story. Anyway the title and theme of this movie has stuck with me all these years so when I saw this box I was curious instantly. The couple had offered us some homemade organic Kale and Potato soup and served these crackers with the soup so I tried one and I was surprised at how tasty they were.

This was a box of cracker with great taste and a sense of humour. They are made from plankton which is also a good thing. I am not sure where you would find these crackers local to you but if you see them in an Organic store somewhere pick up a box and have a taste and see if you like eating people too....just kidding about the people part but if you haven't seen the movie you won't get this.

Here's the IMDB link to the movie info.


For a fun party night I would suggest getting the movie and a box of Soylent Green Crackers. I guarantee you will have a fun night.

Go Green...Soylent Green.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Grilled Cheese in the City

I had to go to an appointment at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto yesterday and had some time before my appointment so I stopped into a new Grilled Cheese Restaurant just south of Eglinton on the West side of Yonge Street. You will see a huge black and yellow sign that says CONSTRUCTION site but it's Grilled Cheese. I noticed this place go up a few months ago and since I am a Cheeseaholic I decided to check it out yesterday.

They have Savoury and Sweet Grilled Sandwiches. They had a Smores sandwich that intrigued me but I went in for lunch so I didn't try it.

That had 2 daily specials which seem to change everyday. I had one of the Specials. It was a pulled pork, arugula and oca cheese on a caraway bread. It was $10 and came with chips and a dipping sauce. I didn't finish the chips and probably would have preferred a coleslaw type of salad with it but that sandwich was delicious and an interesting combination. It didn't ooze cheese because Oka isn't an oozing cheese but they put in 2 slices on each side of the bread so it was nicely distributed in the sandwich.

The prices seem to vary but all under $10 for a sandwich. You might think it's expensive for a sandwich but it's a nice change from the regular sub and sandwich joints so I would recommend checking it out once and a while especially if you Looovveee Cheeeese like me.

for more info go to their website http://grldcheese.com/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Strombo | SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CANADA: Chuck Hughes On Poutine | CBC Television

Strombo | SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CANADA: Chuck Hughes On Poutine | CBC Television

Chuck Hughes on the origin of Poutine.

Spice it Up

Spices are one of my favourite things in the Kitchen. I am a bit of a Spice Queen. These spices you see are only half of the spices I have in my kitchen. I also have a lot of seasonings and some fresh herbs. Why do I have so many? I used to have a whole shelf full of spices. I love them because it allows me to travel the world of food with the use of a few spices.

Take a simple chicken, with a switch up of some spices you could have either Moroccan chicken, greek souvlaki, Italian scallopini, cajun chicken or spanish chicken.

Why have chicken that tastes the same every time you make it? Why not SPICE IT UP and experiment with flavours and try a new region every week with a few shakes of spices and seasonings.

If you like Greek food add Oregano to your garlic, lemon and olive oil marinade and you can make souvlaki flavoured chicken.

If can't go to New Orleans but want some Cajun feel make some blackened chicken with cajun spice rub.

Like French food then add some Herbs De Province and you will feel like you have been whisked away to a French Region.

You get the picture. Think of each spice as a place from around the world because that's where they came from. Each spice has been brought to us from somewhere in the world so we might as well use them that way.

Make your own custom spice rub if you do like your own specific flavours that you want to use everyday but mix it up.

One thing to note:

If you have one of those spice stands that has a whole bunch of spices that you never use or don't know what they are then get rid of them because you will probably never use them.

If you have had your spices in your pantry, kitchen cupboards, drawers or on the counter for years and never re filled them? Well it's time to toss them out. Spices should be changed once a year so buy a small amount of each.

Think of the foods you like when buying spices and try and buy spices to compliment those foods.

Switch it up and experiment. Smell the spices in a bulk store and see which ones smell good to you but you have never used and try them on something like chicken because chicken is like a sponge for different flavours. You can use almost anything on chicken but there are some things that just work better.

Here's a starter recipe that will get you thinking about spices differently when you cook your chicken. Roast a chicken and add some smoked paprika and salt and pepper on the skin of the chicken with olive oil before roasting and about 10 min before it's fully cooked take some blackberry jam and spread it over the chicken. You will end up with a smokey sweet bbq sauce glaze on your chicken. You can mix the paprika with the jam but I wouldn't suggest putting the jam on the chicken early because you may burn it because of the sugars in the jam.

Another way to do this is to pan fry chicken pieces until they are golden and then add a chipotle spice and blackberry jam mixture to the pan and melt it down and coat the chicken for about a minute or so. This makes a great sauce something like a chinese sweet and sour sauce.

Cinnamon is your friend. Did you know that Cinnamon has a whole bunch of health properties? Add some to your hot chocolate or your chicken or your stews.

Buy a new spice a week and experiment with it and by the end of the year you will be a spice expert.

A lot of spices have anti-infammatory properties like Tumeric and some aid with digestion like ginger so do your research and see what spices can do to give your foods a flavour and health boost.

Have fun and spice it up.


Monday, January 9, 2012

What's your Magic Drink of Choice?

Today started off like any other day but it then became increasingly frustrating beginning with my Ipod getting stuck and not being able to shut off and then dealing with legal matters that just made me want to give up the day so I went back to bed to shake off the aggravation of the day. I can do that because I wasn't working today. Once I got up I needed to have something to make me feel better.

Do you have a Magic Drink of Choice that will take your stress away?

Is it:

1. Beer
2. Wine
3. Spirits
4. Coffee
5. Tea
6. Power smoothie
7. Hot Chocolate

Which one would you choose? Which one satisfies your stress?

Guess which one I chose today?

Yup #7. Not what you thought I would choose is it?

It's not just a packet of hot chocolate it's real milk with some high quality sipping chocolate mixed in and heated with a cinnamon stick which is also good for you.

The beer/wine/alcohol thing don't do it for me but a nice hot cup of chocolate is like a Magic drink. Chocolate has endorphins that just go to that place in your brain that make you feel good.

While it didn't fix my issues it did make me feel a lot more satisfied.

So next time you feel like you want to skip the day make a pot of hot chocolate. You can even make it mexican style by adding some cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully I won't need the Hot Chocolate to get through it.

At least I can drink and Blog after having a cup.


Get your Greens

Get Your Greens

There was a deal at Loblaws for 3 kinds of greens for $5 so I decided to Go Green and save some $$ for the New Year. I picked up a bunch of Collard Greens, Kale and Some Beets. Beets aren't technically green but there are greens attached to them so I suppose they fit in the green category.

Greens... you don't eat them because:

A. You don't like the taste
B. You don't know what to do with them
C. They take too much work to cook.

and then there is the storage of them. They take up a lot of room in your fridge so I have a couple of tips for you.

Greens are loaded with water and when cooked melt down to a third of the size but they also come with stems that are generally tough so most of the time get discarded.

So why not prep your greens when you bring them home from the store.

Cut the tough centre stems away and chop the pieces into manageable bite size pieces and then just put them into either Ziplock bags or glass storage containers. I prefer glass containers but you can use plastic to store but just don't cook in them.

Don't wash the greens before you store them so that they don't get soggy.

You can even split them up into individual portions so you can just grab a bag to cook when you need it. Prep once and have it ready to go for multiple meals.

Here's what I did with my 3 greens.

1. Cut the stems off the Kale and chopped it up and stored it in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge for later cooking.

2. I cut the beets off the beet green stems and took the tops off and rinsed them and roasted them in the oven for about an Hour wrapped in tin foil with a dash of olive oil. After they cooled slightly I broke out the rubber gloves and peeled them and cut them into slices and then put them in a jar with a pickling liquid of boiled water, sugar and vinegar to keep in the fridge for the week.

3. Then I prepped the Collard Greens and added chopped bacon to a dutch oven to crisp up and then added diced onions and sweated them off before adding the rinsed and Chopped Collard Greens. The moisture from the water will steam the greens when you cook them. Add salt and pepper to taste and I added some chili flakes. You can add nutmeg and other seasonings if you like. Close to the end I added 2 different vinegars, sherry vinegar and cider vinegar. They both have distinct tastes and enhance the flavour of the greens and break down the bitterness. You can squeeze in lemon or add white wine for flavour too. I added a nob of butter at the end for a bit of creaminess.

and here you have it.... Beets and Collard Greens:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Food/Eco Doc Project

I began a new Documentary Project yesterday called Eco Losers. The Film is about a family that lives in Oakville with their 2 year old son an a dog and have made the decision to lead healthier and greener lives. They began a year long journey the beginning of January to reduce 2 things in their life. They want to reduce their weight while also reducing their eco footprint on the world.

Yesterday we began filming although they began their journey by making small changes since the beginning of the month by collecting their non compostable trash.

Heather the wife began by cooking a meal for her family. After the meal i gave her the tip of taking the leftover bones from the chicken she cooked and some already prepared vegetables and turning it into a chicken stock to be used for future meals. Heather would have just tossed the bones into a compostable recycle bin. But this way she got 2 meals or more done with one chicken thus reducing packaging and waste.

After dinner she began the process of reassessing her pantry and realized how much garbage she was putting in her body and in her pantry.

This the container she filled up of things that will now get composted, recycled or just thrown in the trash.

Their goal is to live a leaner and greener life at the end of a year and will take on monthly challenges to build on their progress.

You can follow along with Heather's Blog at http://www.ecolosers.net

I will add Food relevant updates here as the process goes along.

Look at what you have in your kitchen right now! Is it junk or useful to your life?

Read the labels on the products you have in your kitchen. My new mantra is: If you can't pronounce it, it can't be good for you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food and plastics

Is Healthy Food still healthy if it comes packaged in Plastic?

I went to Whole Foods to pick up some tasty foods yesterday. I like going to Whole Foods because the quality of the food is very high and they have options that no other grocery stores have.

I picked up an assortment of fruits, veggies, and grains and some staples like bread, milk and eggs.

This morning I had some of the cut up pineapple that I picked up. I find that if I buy the cut up pineapple I don't waste it as much as if I were to buy a whole pineapple.

But is it still healthy when it comes in a plastic container? or when you dip it in chocolate? I had some chocolate sauce leftover from a party tray I had from the holidays.

I have been realizing that I am a slave to packaging and convenience. Yes it is easier to buy a nice little container of pineapple from the store in a container you just put in the fridge and it's ready to go anytime you want to eat it. Whereas a whole pineapple... those don't fit in your fridge nicely and then you have to spend 15 minutes cutting them up and the peels fill up your garbage so you then have to take out the garbage. Yes I know what you are thinking... LAZY... well there must be a whole lot of us lazy people because everything comes in nice little plastic containers these days.

Here's another thing I bought at whole foods, Chocolate Covered Almonds.

People keep telling you to eat almonds and this is the way I like them. Anything covered in chocolate is good.
But once again.... plastic container. On the package it says no preservatives, no artificial flavours, minimally processed and no sulphites but it is surrounded in plastic. It doesn't say that the plastic it comes in is no good for you or the environment. And I might add impossible to open this thing.

I suppose the answer to this is to shop in bulk but you still have to put it in something so you use plastic bags. Or you can shop at farmers markets but then you can't get everything you want either.

I watched the Documentary "NO IMPACT MAN" yesterday and it made me think about the amount of garbage I produce in my everyday life. I brought home 3 bags of groceries yesterday. I am sure a bag of it will end up as garbage. But am I willing to go radical and eliminate all waste packaging...no was the answer i came up with. I like convenience because it means that I have the time to do other things like write this blog. But at the same time I would like it if manufacturers found a way to package food products in a way that doesn't destroy the planet. I understand that packaging is meant to be able to transport products without damaging them but some manufacturers just package for packaging. I bought a teeny tiny Camera card yesterday and it came in a HUGE box.. WHY? it only needs a small box to fit the size.. why do we need to have a small thing encassed in a plastic wrapping and then encased in a large box that will all be thrown out as soon as you open it. WASTE WASTE WASTE. I am guilty of it and I bet you are too.... but can you do anything to eliminate the problem? You probably can but will you?

Here's my dilemma.. I know better but I don't do better. Why? Because it's easier not to.... but you have to make choices on what you can do that might work for you. I think it's much easier to eliminate packaging when you are a family because you can buy supersize products and use less packaging. For me I find that I can't buy a whole watermelon ...for 1 because I live in an apartment and that would be all I could eat if I put it in the fridge so it would be wasted. As a family you can buy a watermelon and split it up for dinner and then it's gone. No waste.

With so many people living alone these days compared to the large families in the past, things have changed in the process of changing lives. Single serve items have taken over. Families don't eat meals together and have different tastes so individual portions has become the norm in current days.

I don't have all the answers but I know that it takes a huge commitment to make a big impact in the environment. It's something you have to think about everyday like a diet.

Are you willing to go on a plastic food container diet? I thought so.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jewish Food

I go through food phases for some reason. One month I crave Southern Food, another month I crave French Food, this month I seem to be craving Jewish Food. I used to have good to bad jewish food when I was a kid depending on who made it. Most jewish food is fairly simple peasant style food but it's amazing how many people make it badly.

This week I attempted to make Chopped Liver and Brisket with current 2012 cooking techniques and trends. One was successful and one not so much.

My first attempt was the Chopped Liver. When I was a kid my mother would make it about once a year if that. Sometimes it was good...sometimes not so much. My dad would buy it at jewish deli stores when he wanted to have some. Also sometimes good ...sometimes average. I think I may have made it once in my life with my mom around but pretty much on my own. This time I made it on my own with my food network knowledge into improving it slightly. If it's not broke don't fix it but if it could use a boost...boost away.

I picked up a kosher package of chicken livers from No Frills, I would classify this as peasant food for sure since the package cost just about $2.00 so I would say this is a great thing to make for a group of people if you are on a budget.

I began by dredging the chicken livers in flour and setting aside for the flour to soak into the chicken livers.

I chopped 3 medium onions into rings and sauteed them in oil and salt and pepper until they were caramelized.

I took the onions out of the pan and then tossed in the chicken livers cooking them on medium until they were fully cooked. I added a good pinch of paprika and cayenne pepper to give it a slight kick of flavour and added salt and pepper to season.

Once the livers were cooked I added the onions back to the pan and a nob of butter and then added about a 1/4 cup of Brandy and let the alcohol cook down until the juices reduced.

I cooked 3 hard boiled eggs at the same time and peeled them.

I then put the chicken liver mixture into a food processor with the hard boiled eggs and on the chop function processed until smooth but still a little chunky. I toasted some slices of baguette to eat with the Chopped Liver. I also added a dash of olive oil on top of the chopped liver. Here's what it looked like:

This one was successful.

The Brisket not as much.

With the Brisket I started with searing the brisket in a pan and then setting it aside in a dutch oven.
I then added sliced onions, carrots, garlic, shallots, celery, parsnips, a bay leaf, tomato paste and salt and pepper into the pan to cook until tender. I then added about 2 cups of water and added the whole mixture into the dutch oven with the meat and then added Pomegranate syrup. That was one of the big mistakes. I added too much... as it reduces the sugar content increases so it's tough to judge how the end result will be. So I would recommend only adding about 2 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup just to add sweetness. I also added some worsteshire sauce and some soya sauce for color. I didn't have any beef stock but if I did I would have added that. You could also add some red wine but I didn't this time.

I then put it into the oven and cooked it for a few hours. A little too long.. I wanted to break down the meat to make it tender but it just dried it out a bit. It probably would have been better if I had put the whole thing in a crockpot and let it go slowly while checking it along the way for tenderness.

So those are my tips if you try and attempt to make this. It tasted ok but this one falls into it still needs tweaking area.

So why am I craving these Jewish Foods? I am not sure exactly but maybe it's because I don't have the relatives alive that used to make these things at family dinners. These are things I didn't grow up making. I would make things like Italian food or mexican foods.. things that my mother didn't make or didn't make well. My mother never mastered spaghetti so I had to learn how to do it right if I wanted to be able to eat it.

I guess I learned how to cook by trying to improve on whatever my mother couldn't master. If she mastered it I didn't attempt to make it. Every now and then now I miss some of those foods and have been trying to re create some of them. I will master my own recipes eventually.

Jewish Food 2.0 in 2012.