Category Archives: Comments from Faith

Team Organic or Team Skeptic?

http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf

Once a major skeptic, I am recently curious about the world of organic foods. I laughed so hard when my mom said, “the whole organic thing was blown out of proportion.”  She believes that while some foods benefit from being organic, in other cases it is just not worth the added price. She is right! Some foods really do not have less nutrition or have pesticides that will affect its quality. If you have ever met my mom you know she is one of the most resourceful, practical, level-headed persons you will ever meet.

Mom’s practical approach to organic foods:

If you are not eating the peel, then don’t bother getting organic.  If you have to buy fruits or vegetables that are not organic, you can rinse with Veggie Wash to remove wax, pesticides, agricultural chemicals and soil.  Focus your grocery funds to the organic meats.

So I went to a friend who I consider a very reliable source on organics and sustainable living.  My friend, Liz*, pointed me here: EWG’s Food News: Full List (Printer friendly version)

Here is Liz’s practical approach to organics:

“…if it has a peel that we’re not eating, I typically don’t buy organic. [From the] list that ranks fruits and veggies based on their pesticide residue…I try to buy the top 15 organic. I also try to buy my Thinkliz.commeat, eggs and dairy organic just because pesticide/weird hormone contamination concentrates the higher up the food chain it gets.”

Unbelievable– SO SIMILAR! …so I have adopted these ladies views on organics.

Kim Z., a Pediatric nurse and mom in Dallas, TX made a comment to me saying that there is something to be said about hormones injected in our chicken and teens approaching puberty at a younger age than previous generations.

Leah Schnitman, a Trauma nurse in Austin, TX commented saying that word from the neonatal trauma unit is that it is not talked about much, but that it is surprising how rampant defective births are –currently, they are linking it to pesticides from unwashed raw fruits and vegetables.

I think the important principle to hold to is, be conscientious about your food (and your budget).  If I buy canned goods they often are organic but that is because I am looking at sodium count (there’s the fitness mentality kicking in).   Organic canned goods sometimes have less sodium than their non-organic counterparts, but sometimes budget wins over sodium.  I am new to the world of organics, so bear with me as I explore.

Printer friendly Pesticide Residue List 🙂 I keep a copy of this list by my magnetic grocery list so I can star items as I jot them down (until I have it memorized anyway ^_^). Thank you Liz!

EWG’s The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

*thinkliz.com is chock-full of recipes and blogs of sewing, LIFE, sustainable living and anything else that crosses her path, plus great photographic documentation :).  Check it out!

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Health/Fitness

Hot & Steamy

Steaming your veggies is a great way to maintain the flavor and nutrients.  Since it is so easy, it is a great option for those busy weeknights.

The key is to not over-cook the vegetables.  The veggies should always be firm but tender, never mushy. (My personal preference is to leave them slightly raw 🙂 ) I have the Oster 5711 Steamer and have really gotten accustomed to how much time certain veggies need.  If you do not have a steamer here is a great tutorial with a video on how to do it stove-top!

Our local grocer just delivered a few crates of perfect ears of corn.  Husk and all, we steamed the sweet corn for about 20 minutes.  PERFECT-O!  To protect my steamer, I usually season my veggies after they are cooked.  This corn, however, did not need a thing! Delicious and crisp.

10 Days of Veggies

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Corn, Eat-Clean, Grains, Vegetarian, Veggies

Veggies!

My friend, Jenny, and I were chatting today about veggies. It is so easy for us to do the saute, stir-fry thing on our veggies especially on weeknights or when we are busy. We are Asian, that’s how we roll. But, we love to cook and this screams “monotony” to us! Can I get an amen? Who isn’t in the same boat as us?

I am going to try 10 days of a new twist on veggies. I will only post them after I have personally tried them, as I do with all my posted recipes.

If you have recipes to suggest, send them my way! I would love to try them 🙂

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Sides, Vegetarian, Veggies

Dry White Wine

When a recipe calls for dry white wine, what do you normally use?

I have been cooking with cooking wines for years and occasionally with the real deal, but until faced with French cooking, I never bothered to question the difference. Welp, apparently my trusty cooking wines are quite frowned upon in the world of chefs, ha!

I stumbled upon this site chowhound.chow.com and found suggestions and recommendations from fellow cooking lovers.

Dry White Wine Suggestions:
Chablis
Chardonnay
Dry Vermouth, Noilly Pratt
Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier
Chenin Blanc
Dry Champagne
Pinot Grigio

Too Sweet to use:
Cooking wines
Reisling
Sauternes

New to using REAL wine while cooking, I welcome comments from your personal experiences! Have you had better success with a particular white wine?

I am still suffering from a broken tailbone, so now I just need to call on a willing friend to bring me a bottle for my next recipe attempt tonight.

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Ingredients, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Wines and Spirits for cooking

Hard Peaks

I attempted the Reine De Saba (Chocolate and Almond Cake) and my favorite part was pulverizing the almonds. Tip…use a tablespoon of sugar per cup of almonds so that they wont become oily and unusable when pulverizing. The part that was most gratifying was soft peaks and hard peaks on those egg whites. It felt much like a milestone for a novice.

I had to use a 9″ round cake pan though the recipe called for an 8″ round. My failure…I forgot to consider the heat dispersion and thereby reduce the time, so I cooked the cake all the way through (It was supposed to remain slightly undone in the center to create a creamy texture).

My save…I perfected the Glacage au Chocolate (chocolate icing) and it wrapped the cake with aesthetic decadence. Save.

This was not the most amazing chocolate cake, but it was extremely good. Maybe I’ll get it right next time with the creamy quality.

[Recipe source: Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking]

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Sweets

Outward Appearances: a note on presentation

If your food LOOKS good, people will be more apt to eating it, am I right?!

There was this one [particular] time I wanted to experiment [among the many other days that I am experimenting]. I wanted to marinate my chicken in a red wine and serve it over pasta.  I cubed the chicken and marinated it overnight.  the next day…purple chicken.  I decided to go through with it.  I seasoned it lightly and served it over seasoned pasta just like I had envisioned.  I couldn’t eat it. It was like taking a jell0 shot…”chicken shot” with my pasta.  My husband actually ate it and even complimented me on my vigor for trying new things, but did kindly say that he would prefer not to eat it again mostly because it was purple and that’s weird.

Whenever I cook I always serve it onto the plate in an arranged fashion or use serving platters.  The added touch may be ridiculed as excessive or unnecessary, but cooking is an art.  Right, mom?! I love making dinner an experience.  And honestly…it only adds a couple more items to wash while making a huge impact on the experience.  Enjoy and revel in the spread you have prepared 🙂

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Cheese: The Waiting Game

I am still waiting for my yogurt cheese to form.  I think my problem is possibly a) my fridge is too humid or b) my sieve is too narrow and therefore disallowing a faster straining process.

yogurt-cheese

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Eat-Clean, Recipes

Eat-Clean Split Pea Soup

I have a lot of trouble following recipes 1) Because I prefer to pave my own road and 2) the recipes just never taste that great because they lack flavor.  I love flavor.  This split pea recipe is from Tosca Reno’s “The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook”.  I loved her sweet potato oven fries and her oats & leek stuffed turkey breast.  Both were PACKED with flavor, so I was not as leery when I decided to try her split pea soup.

1.5 hours later, I now have a chunky split pea soup.  A comment or two: A dash of nutmeg might be a nice touch for a cold day to warm the cockles of your soul – or cayenne pepper to give it an extra zing.  Additionally, I personally would reduce the water significantly. After all the veggies were cooked the recipe called for 2 cups of chicken broth (or preferred cooking liquid) AND 6 cups of water.  I like a really chunky, creamy, thick soup.  I think the recipe was not going for that, so all in all the soup came out as expected.  Her salt suggestions are to taste, and it does need salt.

Great recipe, Tosca!

My first split-pea soup. A-hhh success.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups/480 ml dried split peas

12 cups/2.9 L water

4 bay leaves

Sea salt

1 Tbsp/15 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

4 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped

3 thick carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups/480 ml low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (gluten free if necessary)

6 cups/1.4 L water

1 tsp/5 ml fresh thyme, chopped

1 1/2 cups/360 ml cubed roasted turkey breast (I used black forest ham) if vegetarian, remove turkey breast

PREPARATION:

1 Put dried peas in large saucepann and cover with 12 cups/ 2.9 L of water. ADd 2 bay leaves and sea salt and bring to a boil. Let cook on meduim heat for 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2 In a Dutch oven, place olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 8 minutes until onion begins to turn translucent.

3 Add chicken broth or preferred cooking liquid and 6 cups / 1.4 L water. Add 2 more bay leaves, peas, and thyme and bring to a boil. Add roasted turkey breast. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for an hour. The peas need to be soft. Check the pot now and then, since the peas have a tendency to settle to the bottom and burn. You’ll have to break them up by stirring them.

4. Remove the bay leaves and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve hot!

servings: 10
prep time: 20min
total cook time: 1hr 30min

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Eat-Clean, Recipes, Soups

The Adventures of L and Fe and the Missing Cheesecloth

Last night was our weekly “Date Night”, AKA Chef’s night off 🙂  We love trying new places every week!  We always have a great time over dinner and talk for hours.  We ended up staying at the restaurant until 8:53pm when we realized the Bed Bath & Beyond closes at 9:00! Oh my stars and stripes…I NEED MY CHEESECLOTH!!! So we rushed over and made it just at 9:00.  The doors were still open, but the cashier looked so exhausted I felt terrible asking if we could get my LIST of items I needed.  So, we agreed we would rather spend a little extra and just try our local grocery store for the list of items than bother those tired BBB employees.

We risked it…and CAME OUT LIKE BANDITS! Woohoo! They even had several of my oils on sale that I have been needing to stock up on!  My husband laughs at how happy cooking supplies make me.  I went home, walking from the car with a stupid grin and an arm full of oils, a new sieve, cheesecloth and….OMGOSH I FORGOT TO BUY YOGURT!  My stomach sank as I realized I forgot the key ingredient I needed to make my yogurt cheese.

Instead of making the trek back, I decided it would not be the end of the world if I postponed the Oven-roasted Bison Tenderloin recipe for Saturday.

Tonight…(God-willing) I will pick up some yogurt and make that yogurt cheese while making a steaming pot of split pea soup.

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Gearing Up

I am preparing myself and my kitchen for my next adventures…hmm yogurt cheese…sounds interesting…oven roasted bison tenderloin and a good old fashioned split-pea soup (Eat-Clean style).  Tonight my husband has promised me a trip to acquire my tools in exchange for some good eats.  It’s a win-win!

I am mostly looking forward to making yogurt cheese which I will partly use for my bison (which I am also ecstatic about attempting).

Am I out of control with the excitement?…probably..but cooking would be a chore if I wasn’t having fun, right?! ^_^

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