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A year ago, Craig and Nancy Goodwin were burned out. Tired of the running around, tired of the Christmas commercialism. Ready for a change. So the Goodwins, both pastors at Millwood Community Presbyterian Church, launched a yearlong experiment. In 2008, they and their two daughters pledged to eat only locally grown and produced foods. They would reduce their consumption and buy things secondhand. They would make and grow what they could.
Whether you’re resolving to eat more meals at home, learn to love vegetables or add a few new kitchen tricks to your repertoire, there’s help for those New Year’s promises. Here are some places to turn for ideas and inspiration:
Need an appetizer in a hurry or an outstanding dessert for a dinner party? One ingredient that adds flavor and richness to many recipes is sour cream. It’s usually suitable for everyone’s tastes because it’s available in regular, light or fat-free varieties.
Vegetable side dishes are minutes away with the new Valley Fresh Steamers from Green Giant. Food panel members liked the flavors inside the new microwave steamer bags, giving highest marks to the roasted red potatoes and green beans in rosemary butter sauce, and cheesy rice and broccoli. Both received three-and-a-half-star ratings on a five-star scale.
Still searching for holiday gifts? Don’t despair. Cookbooks are the perfect solution for food lovers. Many foodies love to curl up with a good cookbook – some actually cook from them, too. To get your hands on any of these books, first call your favorite local bookstore and see if they have one in stock. They can generally get one to you pretty quickly.
There’s a new cook in town, and he’s already winning awards. Joshua Martin, lead banquet chef at The Davenport Hotel, recently competed in the European Culinary Challenge in Lucerne, Switzerland. His polished performance and imaginative recipe in this Iron Chef-style contest earned him a silver medal.
Aah, autumn. The days are getting shorter, there’s a nip in the air, you can’t afford to drive your car, and the economy is going belly-up: It must be time to cook a big pot of warm, comforting beans. Almost the whole world over, throughout recorded history, dependable, nutritious and adaptable beans have been the sustenance that kept people alive when times were tough. One would think that during the current recession, Americans would be eating beans and cornbread again, like settlers did on the frontier just over a century ago. But Ken Albala, author of “Beans: A History,” notes that America is the exception to the rule. We have a somewhat tepid love affair with baked beans and pork and beans, but these are relegated to side dish status. What we really care about, apparently, is animal protein.
Helping the children in our care to enjoy preparing and eating good food doesn't always have to be about standing over a hot stove. In the summer, spending a little time with the children preparing simple sandwich fixings for eating al fresco, garden party style, will help vacation days stay festive and relaxed. There's something special about not having to come inside to eat. Even when my son has been playing in the mud I try not to break the spell, bringing him hot soapy water in a bowl outside rather than making him come inside to wash up for lunch.
If your family celebrates the Easter holiday by decorating Easter eggs, you might very well end up with lots of perfectly good eggs – real, as opposed to chocolate – that would be extravagant to let go to waste. Why not try some egg recipes with your children as part of the holiday celebrations? I remember, when I was young, poking holes in both ends of the egg with a needle and then blowing the yolk and white out of the eggs into a bowl. We then decorated the intact but empty eggshells, and my mother made scrambled eggs. For special scrambled eggs, use cream cheese instead of milk and add some fresh chopped basil as they're cooking.
Spring is around the corner. Ambitious home cooks already may be thinking about the menus for Easter and Passover feasts. Ham might be on that menu. Or a rib roast. Or maybe lamb. Lamb is not a meat that everyone enjoys. Some people can't get past the fact that lambs are, well, cute. Other people simply don't like the taste.
When the winter is long and cold, the answer to so many problems is simple: Soup. Children tend to go for a hot bowl of it without too much ado, it's simple to make, and warms you inside and out. But most importantly, if you teach your children how to make soup they'll never starve after they grow up and leave home.
It's a New Year; time to make those New Year's resolutions, right? Instead of making a list just for yourself, try making this easy resolution that will benefit your whole household: Cook a meal together with your family at least once a week. I'm not going to tell you exactly what to cook, or even that the meal should always be what some diet guru would consider "healthy." The important thing is, to take some real foods – fruits, vegetables, grains, meat or fish, dairy products – and working together, turn them into something resembling a meal.
'You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" Remember the story of this defiant little cookie who ran away from the people who cared about him? He got eaten by a fox in the end. A tad scary for toddlers, perhaps, but for preschoolers, it's something to think about. Why not read the story, and then bake the cookies? Even if you choose to skip the literary side of gingerbread, making gingerbread people is still a great way to spend a cold afternoon at home during the holiday season. Cookies are fairly childproof baked goods. Unlike cakes and muffins, cookies aren't ruined by overmixing, the dough can be handled with bare hands, and using cookie cutters to make real cookies makes all those hours of practice with play dough pay off.
The kitchen is Julie Sherwood's home office. A longtime collector of cookbooks who likes to experiment with ingredients and create her own recipes, Sherwood didn't expect to turn her love of cooking into a home-based business. But three years ago, Sherwood looked for a "girly" activity outside of dance classes for her daughter, Madeline, who wasn't into sports. Not finding what she was looking for, Sherwood stepped into the void by starting a cooking club called Sugar and Spice.
Carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween is fun for the whole family. For those of us who love to eat pumpkin pie, however, jack-o'-lanterns are a sad sight, because once they've been cut open and sit leering on the front step for a couple of weeks, they're inedible. Our family's remedy for this is to buy a few extra pumpkins when we're shopping for one to carve, so we have some that we can eat, too. For kids who have only eaten pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin, cooking a pumpkin for pie from scratch can be a revelation. Canned pumpkin is convenient and good, but from-scratch is worth trying at least once. Children will also get a kick out of roasting and eating their own mini pumpkin, or making pumpkin soup using the pumpkin itself as the serving tureen.
Gordon Ramsay's Fast Foods Web: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/ tol/life_and_style/food_and_ drink/gordon_ramsay