Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Do You Prefer Convenience or Taste?

When I was growing up, my mother went through a phase of buying Swanson Frozen TV Dinners for the family.  She loved the idea of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes and green peas organized in their own compartments on a lightweight aluminum tray.  Taste was a distant third to convenience and novelty. 

I didn’t go that route.  Once I realized that food could be more than just something to put in my mouth, I wanted good tastes.  The Meatball Sandwich I discovered at a take-out counter on New York’s West 43rd Street, just down the block from my first real job, tasted better than any homemade food I had in my youth.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 19

Turn a simple soup into a main course by adding one or more of these ingredients and then, after bringing to a boil, cooking for 8-10 minutes: 1 can black beans, 2 raw eggs, 1/2 cup uncooked broken pieces of spaghetti or 3/4 cup cooked rice or other cooked grain.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 20

If you like the taste of lamb, try the ground version. It’s is cheaper than lamb chops and makes excellent burgers and seekh kebabs.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Can Eating Tomatoes Make You Smarter?

Photo by Andy Mills
There’s no real proof that this is true, but here’s how I see it.  If you’re eating tomatoes, you’re not eating something else that could be bad for you.  And tomatoes are certainly good for you.  Food experts call them “a nutrient-dense, super-food.”

Medical News Today says, “Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.”

Sounds impressive, but the bottom line to me is the taste.  Summer dinners during my Pennsylvania childhood were almost palatable because of homegrown tomatoes served on the side.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 19

Turkeyburgers should never be rare. When cooking them on the grill, keep them there long enough to get grill marks and then bake them in a pan in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees to make sure they are fully cooked. If you fully cook them on the grill, they may be incinerated.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 18

Be flexible when grocery shopping. Be prepared to change your menu if you discover more expensive ingredients on sale. My grocery store has regular sales of chicken and pork at 1/2 price.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Laila Ali Reminded Me Why I Cook

Spaghetti Bolognese (photo by Andy Mills)

Seldom do I have an opportunity to talk about cooking with a well-known public figure.  But the subject came up recently when I was interviewing Laila Ali for USA Today’s Back to School magazine.  Ali is the daughter of heavyweight boxing legend Mohammad Ali and an undefeated boxing champion herself.  She was discussing the importance of being present in the lives of her two young children, Curtis Jr., 7, and Sydney, 4, and husband Curtis Conway.

Although long retired from boxing, Ali has a heavy travel schedule and hosts several TV shows.  She could easily afford to employ a cook, but she told me she doesn’t.  “I cook dinner every night, and when I'm out of town I cook and freeze dinners before I leave. It runs me a little ragged, but it's all about priorities.”

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 17

If your milk turns sour, use it for baking. Freeze extra sour milk, and defrost it when the urge to bake bread or a cake strikes you.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 18

Instead of using a beaten egg to get breadcrumbs to stick to chicken, fish or vegetable pieces before baking or frying, dip the pieces in 1 teaspoon oil spread out on a plate. Then dip them into the breadcrumbs.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Birthday Dinner

Lasagna with Meatballs (photo by Andy Mills)
We have a tradition in our family that whenever someone has a birthday, he or she gets to pick the Sunday dinner menu, and I will be the personal chef.  With kids I can usually count on Homemade Pizza as the object of desire.  Other choices over the years have included Eggplant Parmesan (from an adult vegetarian), Greek Salad (from a junior vegetarian), Noodle/Meatball Soup and Spicy Pork Noodles.  When it’s my birthday, I always pick Blinis because everyone likes them, and Kevin (my cookbook co-author) will make them.

Last week Andy, who was celebrating his 14th birthday and who I thought was a committed vegetarian, surprised me with his choice: Lasagna with Meatballs.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 17

When using a glass baking pan, set the oven 25 degrees lower than what the recipe calls for to prevent over-baking.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 16

Don’t buy "light” juice. My colleague at foodfitter.com explains why: “Manufacturers add water to the juice so you don’t have to. When they do, they then have to pay by weight to transport the juice to the store. You’re paying as much for watered-down juice as you would for a product that is all juice.” Add your own water at home.

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