Monday, February 29, 2016

Is Asparagus Your Enemy?

I never imagined vegetables could be considered evil until I heard a 12-year-old say, “Asparagus is my enemy.”  A food fight was brewing at my dinner table until a portion of salad took the place of the offending vegetable.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 43

Since meat is usually the most expensive ingredient in a meal, eat less of it. Bulk up dinner with an extra vegetable or a salad.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 44

Freeze ground meat in gallon-size plastic freezer bags. Flatten the meat as much as you can before sealing. It will freeze faster and thaw more quickly. If you decide you only need half the package for a meal, whack the still-frozen meat on the edge of the counter to split it in half.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

What I'm Serving at My Oscar Party

Chocolate Cheesecake
I grew up watching the Oscars, even though I never saw any of the nominated movies in my Pennsylvania coal-mining town.  The show seemed so glamorous.  Then I moved to California and went to hundreds of movies every year as part of my job as an entertainment journalist.

So far, no one has assigned me to cover the Oscars, and I’m glad.  I hear it’s agony for the reporters, who have to dress up and write their stories super-fast while missing most of the action.  Seldom do they eat until late evening.  Meanwhile, I sit around in front of the TV in sweats and slippers and see it all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 42

When buying grapes, shake the bunch gently. If grapes fall off, they’re not fresh. They may be wrinkled or getting moldy and need to be discarded.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 43

Measure salt over an empty bowl or pot.  If it isn't empty, a twist of the wrist can add in too much salt, and there’s no easy way to remove it.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lunch in London

Unless you’ve actually eaten in London recently, you probably imagine people dining badly on Beans on Toast, Bangers & Mash (sausages & mashed potatoes) and Cornish Pasties (a meat/potato/turnip/onion concoction encased in pastry). 

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Russell Hoban’s hilarious children’s book, “How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen,” you might even search for such unappetizing dishes as Greasy Bloaters and Mutton served with Cabbage and Potato Sog.  Roald Dahl fans might seek Mudburgers, Bird Pie and Stink Bugs’ Eggs.

These meals are no doubt still around.  But they weren’t on the menu at my friend Judy’s house when our plane landed an hour early.  We arrived before lunch instead of after it.  With no meal prepared, she reached into her cupboard for a selection of cheeses, crackers, a pot of plain yogurt, some cherry tomatoes and a few cut-up apples.  It was refreshing and healthy—the perfect antidote to jetlag.

For easy-to-make recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 42

Don’t press burgers flat to speed their cooking because their juices will escape, making the burger dry.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

If I Were Making Airline Food...

I would work hard to provide a decent breakfast, not one where sugar is the first or second ingredient in packaged "cakes" and yogurts.  It would be hard to make anything less appetizing than the breakfast I was served a few days ago on a non-stop flight to London.  Unfortunately my stomach was captive, and I had failed to bring any snacks.

Granted, the breakfast was free, even though we were flying economy.  But the airline just reported a $3.3 billion profit for the final quarter of 2015.  How about taking 1 percent of that to upgrade the meals?

Had I planned ahead, here's what I would have packed:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 40

Naval oranges are now in season
Eat seasonally. This means buy corn, tomatoes, peaches, figs and other fruit in the summer, when they’re grown locally. Not only are they cheaper than other times in the year but also they taste better. Groceries often advertise bargain prices for foods in season because there’s so much available.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 41

If your recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to milk and stir.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Recipe So Easy You Can Barely Call It Cooking

Sometimes I can’t face standing at the stove, and yet I can’t bring myself to order take-out either.  That’s when I turn to my secret ingredient—a pork tenderloin. If I don’t have one on hand, I will happily go to the store and get one.

I had never heard of this cut of meat growing up.  But some years ago when a new neighbor invited us for dinner and served Roast Pork Tenderloin, I was immediately hooked.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 39

Ethnic grocery stores sell specialty items like hoisin sauce and sesame oil cheaper than supermarket chains. You can also stock up on many varieties of lentils and spice mixtures at lower prices.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

A Happy Meal

What is a Happy Meal if you’re cooking it?  Definitely no toys, but otherwise anything is possible.  It just depends on whose happiness is at stake.  Do you want to make yourself happy by preparing your favorite meal?  Or would you rather be happy because you made someone else’s favorite meal and thus prevented bickering at the table?

As an eater, I’m easy.  I can make myself several dozen different dishes that qualify as a Happy Meal.  I recently discovered the joys of a fried egg sitting on a bed of couscous—but not the tiny granules of couscous I was used to.  I tried out some of Sadaf’s Toasted Couscous, which swells into BB-size granules when cooked.  It makes a perfect base for a fried egg.  Add salt, pepper and salsa.  I couldn’t be happier.