Archive for Food 101

The How (and Why) of My Homemade Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

 

Until recently, sauerkraut showed up at my house only slightly more often than Ed McMahon and the film crew from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes.

mcmahonAnd when it was included on the bill of fare, it was in a tertiary role playing a bit part behind one of two dinner-time leading men-spareribs or smoked sausage.

But now, in my culinary arena sauerkraut has ascended to the status of “staple.” It’s always on hand, in a big container in the ‘fridge, usually toward the front because I eat at least a couple bites of it (or its close cousin kimchi) nearly every day. Why this sudden reversal of roles for what’s nothing more than fermented cabbage?

 

It all started with an off-the-cuff comment from my wife after she returned from a weekend with some college friends.
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I’ve Decided To Eat Like an Ape

When I learned I had lymphoma one of the first things I did was try to figure out what to eat in order to help fight it.

apeseatI spent some time as a vegetarian back in my college days. And while I eventually abandoned that diet regime for something more “meat ‘n’ taters”, the experience left me with an innate sense of the important part that food plays in our health.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think I needed to drop a few pounds so over the years I’ve spent plenty of time looking for an answer to the question, “What should I eat?”

The answer I’ve come up with after seemingly endless hours of research? “I don’t know.”

As far as I can tell, neither does anyone else. Show me a purported expert and I’ll show you a diet guru who asserts just the opposite. For example:

  • The still-popular Atkins diet promotes low carbohydrate consumption and LOTS of protein (read: red meat, cheese, eggs). The USDA “Food Pyramid” recommends LOTS of carbs (whole grains, fruits, veggies) with protein being almost an afterthought.

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Avocado Toast-Are You Kiddin’ Me?

Avocado toast with egg.

Avocado toast with egg.

Who’s ever heard of spreading mashed avocado on toast for breakfast?

I hadn’t until last week when I saw a TV commercial suggesting I give Cap’n Crunch the day off and try something different. It sounded like a match made in Hades to me but this morning my curiosity got the best of me and I gave it a whirl.

I began by doing a quick Google search and lo and behold, there were hundreds of recipes all proclaiming the delicious-ness of this seemingly unlikely union of foods. And they all were pretty much the same recipe:

“Toast bread, mash avocado, spread avocado on toast, eat.”

I thought I’d “up” the stakes a bit and add a nice runny-yolk egg, but before getting into the chicken embryo I tried just the toast and avocado-OMG!

If you’re an avocado fan I really encourage you to try this. It’s a nutritious blend of carbohydrates and healthy fats; add the egg and you’ve got protein to boot. That combo should easily keep the stomach growls at bay till noon.

Hints

  • Use a good, whole-grain bread-I used Brownberry 12 Grain.
  • Before mashing the avocado (I did it the night before) I added salt, pepper and lemon juice (lemon juice keeps the avocado from turning an unsightly brown).

Recipe: The Best Clam Chowder I’ve Ever Eaten!

January 27, 2014

clam chowder

In 1985 the Indianapolis Junior League published a collection of members’ recipes and called it “Winners”. It was a local cult favorite and copies are still selling for over $50 on eBay. It was full of good and often novel ideas but one recipe accounted for the legendary status of “Winners” more than any other-New England Clam Chowder.

My wife is a talented cook so delicious meals from her do not surprise me.

But as I watched her assemble this soup I could only imagine the culinary joy I was about to experience. Red potatoes, sour cream, lots of spices, clams-lots of clams!

Doritos-pug-attack2Super Bowl XLVIII is next Sunday and next to the commercials, food is the biggest attraction (the game, of course, comes in a distant 3rd). I’ve decided to invite the Junior League’s chowder to join us for the game, and if you’re a fan of New England Clam Chowder I recommend you consider doing the same. You may even find it more enjoyable than the Doritos commercial!

 

Spicy Clam Chowder from the Indianapolis Junior League

  • (2 slices smoky bacon, diced, then sautéed)*
  • ½ cup (1 stick?) butter or margarine
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons seasoned SALT
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 (6 ½) ounce cans minced clams, undrained
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium red potatoes; boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

* My addition

Method

Chop and sauté bacon till brown, then remove from pan and save.

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, salt and cayenne. Stir until smooth, and then remove from heat.

Add milk all at once and whisk thoroughly.**

Add remaining ingredients (don’t forget the bacon!); simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Note: This is better made the day before. It freezes well.

**There will be a lot of the roux. I removed about a third of it (1 cup) to give myself more control of the texture of the chowder as I prefer it a little thinner. You can always add some back if you want to thicken it up.

Yield: 12 cups

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 1 hour