Archive | January, 2010

Food rules from Michael Pollan

28 Jan

Meet Michael Pollan. This man is a journalist, author teacher and public speaker. He has a common-sense approach to how we should eat to remain healthy. I was first introduced to Mr. Pollan through a co-worker ( I work for a holistic internist and physical therapist), and became very interested in his philosophy of how to eat to live. I then was fortunate enough to catch him on Oprah and his segment was riveting to me.

In the segment on Oprah, Mr. Pollan discussed how food conglomerates have made mass production of the food we consume into a science, but questions if our food production practices are healthy for us. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Michael Pollan’s website is http://www.michaelpollan.com

National Pie Day!!

24 Jan

Hey Guys and Gals,

Did you know that February 23 is National Pie Day?  Like Spongebob says, everybody likes pie.  Pies have been around for ages and originated as a container to hold fillings from meats, fruit and even live animals.  Today, pie is all encompassing; if you can encase it dough and bake it in a pan, it can be called a pie, or not ( shepard’s pie and tamale pie come to mind with a topping that acts as a crust)  Well, I say we chuck our diets and have a pie orgy.

Let’s see; I’ll start with a slab of Quiche Lorraine for breakfast,  Spinach Pie for lunch, and Chicken pot pie for dinner and was it down with a wedge of apple pie for dinner. Mmmm, heaven!  Now who can say no to Pie? I thought so.

The stuff of dreams!

(Thanks to Parrotnation.wordpress.com for this bodacious picture)

CC

Restaurant Week tips

21 Jan

Baltimore is currently celebrating its version of Restaurant Week from January 22, 2010 to February 7, 2010. Many restaurants are offering specials on menu items or prix-fixe offerings at reduced prices. If you have the time and money, this is the perfect time to try a new place out. Here are a few tips to remember when going out.

1). Make a reservation and arrive early– Most of these places are busy and making a reservation and arriving at least 15 minutes prior will ensure a pleasant dining experience.

2). Try something new– Now is not the time to order chicken. If scallops are available and you’ve never had them, try them. Don’t forget that glass of wine; ask the server for suggestions and he may find you a gem.

3). Try lunch as an alternative to dinner-Lunch is a great time to try something new. Portions are usually smaller and are great for the health conscious.

4). Be kind to your server– These people work hard, often with no benefits or other compensation. Tip them accordingly ( 15% good service, 18% great service, 20% for exceptional service). Remember that the discounted meal you enjoy during Restaurant Week would normally cost at least twice that amount other times.

5). If you like a place, go back– Restaurants are a business, and use this time to promote their businesses. If you enjoy a place, show them by giving them your return business.  Your dollars pay the salaries of cooks, dishwasher, porters and many vendors who supply everything from forks to the olives in your martini. This helps our economy and save jobs.

6). Say Thank You– You have no idea what this  simple gesture does for your server, especially if they are busy.

Many participating restaurants are offering a three-course lunch from $20.10 and three-course dinners from $35.10 ( excluding tax and gratuity).

Mangia Mangia!!

Gino’s is coming back! ( Sort of)

19 Jan

Gino's Hamburger, fries and drink If you lived in the Northeast corridor of the U.S.  in the late 50s  to the mid-80s, you are familiar with the picture on the left. Founded in Baltimore, Md;  this chain of restaurants was the formidable rival of McDonald’s.  The Sirloiner was their version of the Quarter-Pounder. Likewise, the Gino Giant was an alternative to the Big Mac. As a kid, Gino’s was synonymous wit KFC. In some regions the two chains merged, like how KFC merged with Taco Bell. We spent a lot of time between Gino’s and Mickey D’s, but Gino’s won out in my family.

Ahh, memories

So, imagine my glee when I discovered the link to many childhood memories is restarting. I was absolutely in heaven. Then, someone dropped the KIBOSH on me.

The new franchise will start in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and  not in Maryland. This is a travesty, and I implore anyone within eyeshot with this company to consider franchises in Maryland.

Please, because my soul needs a Gino Giant!

Kwik Killer Kale

16 Jan

Killer Kale with bacon, garlic and onions

Today at the office, one of the doctors at the practice received a very large “Edible Arrangement” from one of her clients. This thing was humongous, and we all ate chocolate-covered strawberries, pineapple and melon until we were full. Even then, there was enough fruit left over for an army and nobody wanted it. You know what I did.

Okay, for those folk who really know me will acknowledge that I waste nothing. NOTHING.

I took that bad boy home, took it apart and was surprised (as I pulled off the nearly five pounds of fruit left on this thing) about 1 1/2 lbs of fresh kale used as a base for the fruit-tastic sculpture. So I cooked it for dinner, and here is the recipe. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish.

(For all you veg-heads out there, omit the meat and substitute fire-roasted peppers for a little smoky flavor.  Similarly; if you loves the meat add as much or as little as you care to)

Kwik Killer Kale

2 lbs.  fresh kale

2 tbl. olive oil

4 strips diced bacon ( optional)

1/2 cup diced roasted peppers (optional)

1/2  cup thinly sliced onion

4 cloves chopped garlic ( about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped jalapenos, poblano, or banana peppers

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water or chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Kale comes washed and bagged in most upscale markets. If you get loose kale, pull off stems and discard. Float kale in a sink full of cold water for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to remove all of the grit.

Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Add bacon and saute until crisp over medium heat. Remove  bacon from pan and set aside. Add onions, garlic and peppers and saute until soft. Add kale, vinegar and stock, and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid.

Cook for five minutes, then remove lid and stir kale.  Replace lid and continue to stir kale until losing its bright green color, and leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper, then top with bacon. Serves around 2 to 4 people.

For the vegetarian/vegan crowd:  Add olive oil to pan. Over medium heat, saute hot peppers, garlic and onions until tender. Add  kale and roasted peppers to pan and toss with garlic mixture. Add water and cover pan with lid. Toss and cover until kale turns dark and leaves are tender. Season and serve.

Brown Rice for breakfast: Who Knew?

13 Jan

Brown Rice with pears, walnits and skim milk

In the search for a healthy way to start my morning, I have had issues with just about every breakfast option available to me.  I hate funky textures, so I can’t get past the first three bites of  hot oatmeal before the texture of it drives me crazy. I have valiantly tried eating cold cereal, but frankly the idea of it left me, well…you know. As a child I was raised on a hot breakfast, so I’m stuck on the idea.

I once had a personal trainer who extolled the virtues of egg whites and some sort of turkey bacon or sausage. So for the past eight years ( yes), this is what I would eat, along with the bi-monthly splurge of no-cholesterol pancakes.  If it was a hot July or August morning, then a pot of coffee and fruit and toast worked just fine. But, it’s been a real issue for me. So imagine my pleasure when my boss; a holistic doctor, suggested I treat brown rice as a breakfast alternative to oatmeal or a healthy addition to my egg whites.

Eureka! I just imagined all the possibilities. For those who don’t know, brown rice is considered a whole grain because only the husk is removed. It has a delightful nutty flavor and a chewy texture.  A note to those who may be diabetic: I ran across conflicting information on the web concerning  brown rice and glycemic load ( healthy)  and glycemic index (unhealthy), so consult your doctor before adding this to your diet.

Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl

½ cup Cooked brown rice ( cook according to package)
¼  of Raw apples/pears diced
½ cup berries
2 Tbl. Raisins ( optional)
1 tbl. Chopped walnuts or almonds
¼ tsp.  ground cinnamon
¼ c. skim milk/almond milk/rice milk
Honey/Stevia to taste

Just combine these ingredients in a bowl and heat in a microwave. Enjoy

Nectar of the Gods

12 Jan

Yes Indeed!

Coffee.  Black and strong, sweet and creamy, frothed or not, we all enjoy this brew. According to the website Just About Coffee, the drink was used as a medicine in ancient Muslim societies, coffee made its way to the New World by explorers looking to cultivate the popular drink.

Coffee drinkers drink an average of 3.1 cups of coffee a day in the U.S., the website coffeeresearch.org reports.  The beverage is a part of American culture and it is with this absolute adoration of the heady beverage that I write this brief homage to my favorite coffee company: Porto Rico Import Company.

Storefron of the best coffee EVER!

A dear friend sent me the store’s Cafe Blend coffee as a birthday gift seven years ago, and I’ve grown so fond of that I order it several times a year. I’ve given it as housewarming and birthday presents ever since.  You can keep your Starbucks;  I’ll take my coffee from these guys. They get a special ” Thumbs Up” from me because I ordered my coffee from them on a Thursday, and I got it the very next day. Sigh, now that’s customer service!

So, I’ve told you my favorite coffee. What’s yours?

Thanks to the following websites:

Coffee Research ( http://www.coffeeresearch.org)

Porto Rico Coffee Imports ( http://www.portorico.com)

Just About Coffee ( http://www.justaboutcoffee.com)

Coffee poster is courtesy of http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle