Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Cooking Ideas

I guess it's pretty lazy and cheesy to repost my Memorial Day Weekend roundup from 2011, but really, all the recipes I wanted to put in this are already there!

So accept my apologies for the quick and easy approach and check out some ideas here.

Have a great weekend and take a moment out of the festivities to remember our fallen.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Healthier Veg

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual list of vegetables and fruits with the most and least pesticide residue. The list is based on pesticide residue testing data from the USDA and FDA. These federal agencies produce the data, but don't collate it for the consumer, so the EWG provides this service for us.

Organic produce can be expensive, so it's helpful to know which items are more likely to have high levels of pesticides.  That way, we can pick and choose which ones, if any, we prefer to buy organic.  In many cases, produce sold at farm stands, grown on small farms, is grown using organic principles and little or no pesticides even if not certified as organic.  It's worth asking.

As in the past, strawberries and apples are at the top of the list of high pesticide residue. If concerned about pesticides in your food, simply buy organic for those items, even if you don't buy everything organic. The EWG refers to the top 12 items as "the dirty dozen" and recommends purchasing those organic if possible.  For the last few years, they've also added two more items to watch out for: leafy greens such as kale and collards and hot peppers. While these don't meet their usual criteria for the dirty dozen, they do show pesticides that are highly toxic to humans.  They recommend that if you eat a lot of these items, to purchase organic.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Check Your Sugar

Here's a brief update to my last blog entry, Sugar, Sugar, now that I've seen the movie Fed Up! and had a chance to process some of my thoughts.

This movie is an important public service because all of us need the smack in the head about sugar. Even those of us, like me, who are hyper conscious of what we're  eating, can learn from this movie. I appreciated the very simplified (almost dumbed down) scientific explanation of our bodies on sugar.  It made the reason to limit sugar much more clear.  The stories of the morbidly obese teens and families featured are compelling and heartbreaking, bringing me to tears more than once. I'm glad Paul saw it with me and I will take both my grown kids to see it when they're in town.

The experts interviewed are highly respected doctors, nutritionists, scientists and journalists. They are people who have been fighting this fight for many years. People like Margo Wootan of Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. David Kessler, a former head of the FDA who wrote The End of Overeating, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, the list goes on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sugar, Sugar

Trust in a sales relationship is a funny thing. I remember feeling somewhat unsettled when Paul and I bought our first piece of real estate, back in the day before buyer's brokers. Although I knew in my head and had been told many times, that both realtors worked for the seller, it was really hard to comprehend that even the broker we'd hired to show us potential homes still owed her duty to the sellers she might never have met. If there was some horrible flaw in a property that she wasn't legally bound to tell us, she was not going to tell us. If a particular property was out of our budget, she was not going to dissuade us.  And though we had a pretty nice relationship with that first broker, and she brought us a lovely Portmeiron bowl as a closing gift, I had felt a certain tension throughout the process.  She didn't behave like the stereotypical used car salesman. She was pleasant in a motherly sort of way. So though trained as a lawyer and a skeptic by nature, I still found myself pulled in and had to remind myself to be wary.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chinese Food at Home

I realize these green bits look a lot like avocado slices in the photo, but they are cucumber!  This is Kylie Kwong's Chicken with Cashews, a recipe that I have loved for years and forgot about until the other night. I've been trying lately, to be extra conscious of not wasting food.  This sometimes requires a last minute change of plans in order to avoid throwing out an about to go off cucumber or some rapidly desiccating scallions.  

I had thawed a small package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs with thoughts of crispy chicken dancing in my head and then the weather suddenly got unseasonably warm that day (and for only that day!) and I found said vegetables in need of saving.  

The Washington Post featured this recipe when Kwong's cookbook, Simple Chinese Cooking, came out in 2007. It's a great book, filled with recipes that, once you have a few basic staples of Asian cooking, are quite accessible. This one, in particular, is on the lighter side and tastes like you've ordered it in from the best new Chinese restaurant in town.  It is up there with monkeymom's Ma Po Tofu on food52! And, as the book title asserts, it is pretty simple. Have everything cut up and ready in advance for this one.  

I like to serve this with a little brown rice and another vegetable.  Steamed or roasted asparagus, broccoli or baby bok choi are all great.  With a vegetable side, this should serve well more than the 4 it recommends.