I really enjoyed this new monthly column by Mark Bittman in the New York Times Dining section: Healthy, Meet Delicious. Bittman’s philosophy of eating vegan before 6pm and having what he likes for dinner seems like an easy way to eat more healthfully and make sure you get your vegetables in. I have been trying something similar, although I allow myself yogurt and occasionally eggs. But I like this method because I don’t feel deprived and because it is an easy lifestyle change to adopt.
I tried Bittman’s recipe for chopped salad last week and I liked it a lot. If you shred a lot of cabbage and carrots at one time, they will keep for a while undressed and can then easily be incorporated into chopped salad, coleslaw, other salads, stir-fries and so on. I have found that the easiest way to prompt myself to eat more vegetables is to have them prepped and ready for when I get hungry, so I don’t default to an easier and less healthy option at lunchtime.
The smoothie recipe also looks good, and is very similar to one I make often, especially during the summer months.
Are you planting a vegetable garden this year? Here is some good advice for newbie gardeners: How To Spot And Avoid A Crappy Seedling.
The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart
Around the world, there is not a tree, shrub or wildflower that hasn’t been brewed or bottled, according to The Drunken Botanist, a fascinating look at the relationships between plants and alcohol. Amy Stewart explores history, horticulture, trivia, tips for growing your own and, of course, recipes.
Humankind’s relationship with alcohol is a long one. If it grows, we’ve tried to ferment, distill or brew it. There are so many fun facts in this book, found on every page. How to drink absinthe, a particularly literary liqueur. The role bugs play in making booze. Why beer bottles are brown. How to make alcohol from bananas, sweet potatoes and even parsnips. I’m an avid wine drinker, and now I want to try aromatized wines; before this book, I didn’t even know what those were, but they sure sound delicious.
The Drunken Botanist is a pleasure to leaf through, preferably with a drink close at hand. It reminds me of an old-fashioned reference manual, with its charming black-and-white sketches and cocktail recipe “cards.” This book should appeal to all kinds of hobbyists: nature lovers, gardeners, brewers, cooks, mixologists and anyone who enjoys a tipple from time to time.
Note: I received a free advance review copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Macaroni and cheese is an American comfort food (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The New York Times dining section this week had an article on comfort foods: Comfort Without Color – In Praise of Pale Food – NYTimes.com. We all have our beloved comfort foods, those foods that typically remind us of childhood, and are usually white, fattening and delicious. Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorites; the article also gives recipes for rice pudding and potpie.
I’m thinking I might have to make a batch of mac and cheese tonight, just to kick winter’s butt out the door. We’ve had an unusually cold week for the last week of March, and I am so ready for spring.
What are your favorite comfort foods?
(nl: IJssla krop)Iceberg lettuce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the 1940s, iceberg lettuce was the only variety bred to survive cross-country shipping, which is why it became ubiquitous in American salad bowls. Its name came from the piles of ice it was packed in for shipping. Now, with so many kinds of salad greens available, iceberg remains popular on restaurant menus.
I can’t stand the stuff, unless it’s slathered with blue cheese dressing. My husband, however, prefers tasteless iceberg over any lettuce that has a modicum of flavor, although he will eat romaine if he has to. What’s your go-to salad green?
Read: Tip of the Iceberg: Our Love-Hate Relationship With the Nation’s Blandest Vegetable | Food & Think.
101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes (2012) is a beautiful compendium of recipes from 101 great cookbooks that span time and encompass many types of cooking, cuisines and ways of eating. I was pleased to see many of my favorite cookbook writers included, such as Mark Bittman, Alice Waters, Patricia Wells and Marcella Hazan. The book opens with a summary of each selected cookbook and scans of interior pages, showcasing the cookbook’s unique style. Following are 501 recipes selected from the cookbooks to illustrate what makes each one special. If you like to cook broadly and try new cookbooks, you can’t go wrong with a compendium like this.
- The Only Cookbooks You Need (simplycooking.wordpress.com)
Seriously, trying to eat healthy can make you crazy. I have been there. Read: The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.
Don’t Fear That Expired Food posted at The Salt by NPR provides generally good advice about eating foods once the package’s expiration date has passed, with one caveat: Highly processed foods, like cheese sticks, sometimes don’t smell bad when they spoil, and it’s only after you’ve taken a bite and resisted the urge to vomit that you realize it went bad probably several months ago. Yes, this happened to me. I guess that’s yet another argument against eating processed foods.
I enjoy testing out web-based tools to see if they can make my cooking life easier. One recent discovery that I have found very useful is Eat Your Books. There is a small annual fee to join, but it’s worth it for what you get: an index of the recipes in most major cookbooks, categorized by type of dish, ingredients, cuisine and other factors. You can bookmark dishes to make, put together a printable shopping list, and rate and review recipes from your cookbooks.
While Eat Your Books has been a helpful tool for menu planning, I also needed a place where I can store recipes and access them quickly — a virtual recipe box. Eat Your Books enables subscribers to enter and save personal recipes, but I find the interface a bit too clunky for that purpose, particularly on my tablet.
A solution has been Springpad, which is free note-taking software. It has customized formats for different kinds of notes, including a recipe format. You can enter your own recipes into a notebook called Recipe Box and then tag them to make them easy to find. Even better, you can use a bookmarklet to “spring” recipes when you find them on different websites, and Springpad will add them to your virtual recipe box properly formatted as recipes, complete with photos. No typing required! Springpad provides a nice app that works well on my Android tablet, so it’s easy to access my recipes while cooking. This is definitely an improvement over my old method of copying all my recipes and printing them out to put in a three-ring binder.
Note: I am not affiliated with either Eat Your Books or Springpad. These are just tools that I love to use, and I want to recommend to you.
My son and I made these yummy popcorn balls yesterday. They were very easy to make, and a fun project to do with kids. The result was similar to rice krispies treats, only with popcorn. Some chocolate chips would be a welcome addition. These would make a great addition to a spread at a kid’s birthday party. Get the recipe: Popcorn Balls Recipe | MyRecipes.com.