Category Archives: Miscellaneous

TIME to Sing For Your Supper: Feature Fridays

TIME One of the great things about the internet is stumbling upon something you never knew existed, which can also be one of the down sides.  This is one I’m not sure about, so I thought I’d share to get your opinion.  I love food and I appreciate many music genres, but this had me scratching my head a little.  TIME Video featured a new book and CD called The Recipe Project  by Brooklyn band One Ring Zero.  The band turned recipes from famous chefs into songs, featuring recipes from Mario Batali, Michael Symon, David Chang, John Beck, and others.
Yep, you heard me right, you can sing a recipe, each one produced to the tune of the chef’s choosing.  It certainly puts a whole new twist on ‘sing for your supper’.  Is this one of those times when the words don’t matter as long as it’s a catchy tune?  Is this something you could listen to long enough to memorize the recipes?  Interesting … sort of … I think.

What say you?

Click on the TIME logo or check it out here.

(Dear subscribers, sorry for the 4785 post in your inbox, lesson learned about hitting “publish” before giving it a title.)

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Stir a Pot, Feed a Soul: Real Comfort Food

Chicken & Dumplings -- click on photo for recipe

When we hear someone say, “comfort food” thoughts drift to dinners from childhood imagining something warm, full of carbs, or sweetly satisfying. We dream of flavors and textures to feed our emotional funk or exhaustive schedule to quench and satisfy.  The focus is inward, self-gratifying.

What if our focus shifted outward instead?

This is not intended to make you feel guilty about surrounding yourself with good food or savoring a favorite meal, simply to think about comfort food differently.  Food not only soothes our moods and maladies, it brings comfort to those hurting, recovering, or overwhelmed. Of course, it fills a practical need, but so do restaurants and pizza delivery. Taking a meal to someone invests in community with a personal touch that goes far beyond the food itself.

When someone notices our need and offers to lift our burden for a moment we feel valued, encouraged, and less alone.

Our family has been the beneficiary of meals arriving at our door after a major car accident, sudden illness, and crisis.  The concern and kindness of friends, as well as others we didn’t even know, created emotional margin and physical relief when doctor appointments, decision-making, and grief consumed daily routine.  They were life-givers, every one, with encouraging words and reassurance they were there to do whatever they could … taking care of one of the basic needs like dinner or groceries was a vital part of the help we needed.

According to 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  When we serve others, it is a blessing no matter how big or small the gesture.  It doesn’t have to be a whole meal, if you bake amazing bread, make an extra loaf to give away.  I believe good food is one of the various forms of God’s grace we can use to meet someone’s need—real comfort food.

So what does that really look like?

You can start by responding to needs in your own sphere of influence at church, school, work, club, or neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be someone in crisis, it can be a single mom with a maxed schedule, a college student missing home, or a co-worker trying to finish a big project who would be grateful to know you care. Yes, it might feel weird to be the first one to do something like this, but caring for others is worth feeling a little awkward.

10 Tips for Stirring a Pot and Feeding a Soul:

1. Simple food is best. Make what you know and do well; this is not the time to try new recipes.  Check for allergies and strong dislikes. For food sensitivities and allergies, think outside the casserole. Casseroles are great comfort food for many, but are more apt to contain common food allergens like corn, wheat, milk, or soy.  Braised meats, steamed vegetables, soups, and salads easily accommodate those with food restrictions or strong dislikes of certain foods.

2. Use disposable containers.  Unless it is a neighbor or someone you see regularly, deliver meals in containers that do not need to be returned.  Keep it as simple as possible for those you are trying to bless.

3. Deliver the meal at dinnertime, if possible. If not, make it as close to ready with clear instructions. If delivering food to a family with a new baby, don’t ring the door bell.  Arrange a specific time and arrive with a gentle knock at the door in case the baby is sleeping.

4. Consider everyone in a family. Crisis, surgery, new babies, grief, affects everyone within a family. Try to include at least one thing everyone will like with the meal. If the family has small children, make sure you show up with ice cream or something specifically for them if you can.

5. Customize the meal for the event/purpose. Bereavement, nursing mothers, recovering from surgery or illness can each pose a different need.
New moms
, especially nursing moms, eat often so snacks and easy breakfast foods are great too.  Avoiding spicy, acidic food is helpful to prevent adverse reactions from the baby.
Surgery
is hard on the body, when someone undergoes general anesthesia the entire digestive system shuts down. Provide a gentle and nourishing meal like chicken soup made from homemade bone broth. Consider foods that are soft, nourishing, and easy to digest. If you know they like smoothies, provide a few pre-packaged frozen smoothies easily assembled at home.

6. Offer to coordinate the meals.  Major crisis, trauma, accidents can be overwhelming and having an infant with the phone constantly ringing is no picnic either.  Having one person collect primary information and receive questions regarding meals is truly helpful.  Organizing a handful of suppers for a friend is pretty straight forward, but when a larger group or longer-term need is part of the equation, there are services to help.

Care Calendar
Meal Baby
Food Tidings
Lotsa Helping Hands
Take Them A Meal

7. Providing a meal is not the time to impose your nutritional agenda on someone else or “teach” them how to eat.  Try to understand what would bring comfort to them, even well-meaning advice can be overwhelming when someone is stressed.

8. Include the recipe. This can be especially helpful for those with food sensitivities or allergies too—they can have a little more confidence when they can review the recipe.

9. Include a note of encouragement, which mentions what you brought. This is helpful when a number of meals are provided. It can be difficult to remember and sort out who brought what when writing thank you cards. (Yes, I know, you didn’t do it to be thanked.)

10. Even if you don’t cook or have time to prepare a meal, you can help. Offer to run errands, clean, babysit, carpool kids, or provide a gift card for take-out.

What is comfort food to you? 

Have you comforted others with food or received this kind of comfort food from someone?  If so, what was your experience?

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Gallery of Favorites Holiday Edition

Pad Thai Recipe and Red Boat Fish Sauce

When writing about Emeril’s Wok Seared Duck Salad, I mentioned his recommendation for fish sauce with the ingredient list.  Shortly after posting, Red Boat Fish Sauce asked if I would try their sauce to compare.  I only recommend products I like and use, so it has taken me a couple of weeks to put it to the test.

Starting with Shrimp Lo Mein, I was pleased with the clean, bright flavor that melded perfectly into the sauce without being too salty or fishy.  The second recipe we tried it in was Pad Thai with Beef (below) and again, it brought a balanced dimension of savory flavor.  I was equally pleased to discover this new sauce has so few ingredients, just anchovies and sea salt.

Additives like hydrolyzed vegetable protein is commonly used in commercial fish sauces as a short cut to enhance flavor.  According to Celiac Solution, “HVP (hydrogenated vegetable protein), HPP (hydrolyzed plant protein), TVP (textured vegetable protein), MSG (monosodium glutamate) could contain wheat if made outside of the U.S.A.” This is a concern for anyone trying to avoid gluten and still enjoy Asian foods.

We cannot always be sure about the ingredients used in restaurants, but at home, I use pure, whole ingredients, as close to the natural source whenever possible.  I look for products like Red Boat to add to my pantry because quality ingredients make a difference in taste and eliminating unnecessary additives from our food is important to us.

To find out where to buy Red Boat Fish Sauce near you, just click on the link or order online directly from Red Boat.

Other recipes to try:
Thai Peanut Sauce
Beef Lo Mein
Thai-Style Pineapple Wraps

Pad Thai with Beef

Pad Thai with Beef

Adapted from Emeril’s Pad Thai
Serves 4
8       ounces  dried rice noodles
1/4    cup Red Boat Fish Sauce
2       tablespoons  rice wine vinegar
2-3       tablespoons  sugar or coconut palm sugar, adjust to taste
1       tablespoon  tamarind paste
1/2     teaspoon  crushed red pepper
3       tablespoons  coconut oil
7       cloves  garlic — minced
1       lb  beef, pork, or chicken (or a combination) — sliced in 1/4″ strips; or shrimp halved lengthwise
2       large  eggs
8       ounces  bean sprouts (about 2 cups) — rinsed and dry
2       cups  green onions (2-3 bunches) — white and green parts, chopped
1/3     cup  roasted, unsalted peanuts — coarsely chopped
1/3     cup  fresh cilantro leaves — minced
1        tablespoon  lime juice
1        whole  lime (optional) — cut into wedges for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the noodles with enough warm water to cover.  Soak until just tender, about 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, tamarind paste, crushed red pepper, and sugar; stir until the tamarind paste and sugar dissolves and is well blended. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or just fragrant.  Add the meat and cook until the just cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, about a minute.  Add the onions and allow to cook for 30 seconds to soften slightly. Add the sprouts, onions, fish sauce mixture, and noodles, and cook until mixed well and warmed through, stirring frequently.

Add the reserved meat and peanuts, and cook for 30 seconds to incorporate into the noodles.  Toss with the cilantro, lime juice, and serve immediately with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce on the side.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Premeditated Leftovers Hearth and Soul

Wild West Dining Tour Offers Tidbits and Tales in Old Colorado City

Take a walk down Colorado Avenue in Old Colorado City and its charm invites you to relax and stay awhile.  Sprinkled among the shops, select restaurants welcome neighbors and visitors stopping-in on a Wild West Dining Tour guided by Samantha Bruner of Colorado Springs Food Tours.  Samantha provides historic anecdotes of the brick and mortar, the boom and bust, and threads of the past, now woven into the fabric of Old Colorado City’s tourism and community.

Food is plentiful, each establishment serving choice samples of their menu, and some include wine, if desired.  The VIP service is friendly and efficient to ensure you stay on schedule with 5-7 restaurants on the agenda. Of course, the tours are wisely arranged on weekday evenings and Saturday afternoon—ideal times to meet the owners and managers who take great pride in their business.  Even with fickle Colorado weather, the walking tours are scheduled year round embracing the weather as part of the unique experience.

Gertrude’s

In our group of six (there can be up to 12), was a mix of locals and vacationers, the tour appealed to each in a different way.  Accustomed to dining in Old Colorado City from our 14 years living on the Westside, my husband and I were pleased to see some of our favorites on the tour.  We enjoyed meeting the owners of familiar haunts and noshing at new places too.  For those visiting from out-of-town the culinary sampling provided insight for dinner plans during the rest of their trip.


Gertrude’s
was our first tasting with Coconut Shrimp and choice wine, followed by wood-fired oven pizza with freshly made mozzarella at Pizzeria Rustica.  Next, we were on our way to Jake and Telly’s for traditional Greek fare including Spinach and Feta Spanakopita. With a toast of ouzo, our send-off was as warm as our welcome.  Just a few doors down, a select scoop of ice cream (I had black walnut!) at Colorado City Creamery was quite refreshing to the palate, Samantha’s storytelling accompanied each delicious stop.

Jake and Telly’s

Paired with each choice sampling of food, all but one restaurant included an alcoholic beverage so be sure to pace yourself.  Strolling between restaurants is a nice stretch for the legs and respite for the stomach.  Upon arrival at Meadow Muffins, we were escorted to their new upstairs lounge to relax with chicken wings and a pitcher of Fat Tire while gaining insight about the mingling of the city’s past and present.  We concluded our outing at Garden of the God Gourmet with a mousse filled double chocolate cup and a bright Two Rivers Riesling.

Samantha creates a delightful experience to the last bite whether you are venturing through Downtown Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, or Old Colorado City.  Colorado Springs Food Tours is a fun way to get to know these unique cities. Visit her website at www.ColoradoSpringsFoodTours.com or call (719) 322-5731 for more information or to book a tour.

Shared on Gallery of Favorites.

Common Cooking Mistakes: Feature Fridays

The Most Common Cooking Mistakes

I like lists it simplifies life.  I don’t like making mistakes in the kitchen it complicates life.  When I Stumbled across this list of common cooking mistakes by Cooking Light, it satisfied both.  Reviewing the list I could relate with two in particular, #3 because I forget baking isn’t like cooking (it requires more precision), and #20 because, well, like a lot of other things I assume I’ll remember (I do the same thing with garlic bread).  It really is a handy list to have around.  Enjoy!

And the Winner of Emeril’s Zak! Table Art Serving Bowls is…

Greg, of Sherwood, Arkansas is the lucky winner of Emeril’s Zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving BowlsGreg can look forward to receiving this versatile serving set just in time for holiday entertaining.

Thank you, everyone, who participated in the giveaway!  Special thanks to Zak! Designs, The Secret Ingredient, and Emeril for making this giveaway possible.

Click on the Photo to Order NOW!

Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders is now available in bookstores and on-line, you will love having this cookbook in your collection!  You can meet Emeril on the “Sizzling Skillets” book tour! Check Emeril’s Newsroom for details and cities.  Also, check out ‘EMERIL’S TABLE’ on the Hallmark Channel.  He describes it this way, “Food brings us all a little closer together and I hope that as we’re gathering around my table each day everyone will invite us in to their kitchens and be inspired to cook along.”  I couldn’t agree more!  This is sure to be a great series.


Stone Soup and The Well-Fed College Student

College is a season of life with precious little time or money for nutritious food. Most meals are heavy on carbs to fuel the schedule, yet light on the sustaining nutrition the brain requires. However, being a well-fed college student goes beyond checking the mail for the next care package or searching the grocery aisles for cheap convenience foods.

How do you avoid buying Ramen in bulk or the nutritional void of fast food?

Don’t try to do it alone, make Stone Soup.  I don’t know if this old folk story is read anymore, but the lesson is timeless—there is enough for everyone when we pool resources for a common goal. In this case, eating was the goal and the soup was far better than the bits of food they would have had independently.

So how do you make Stone Soup these days?

Share resources, both talent and financial. It does not take an entire village just a handful of people with the same goal of escaping the grab-n-go trap. Divide the responsibilities and a few dollars and you’re on your way. One student told me she cooked for a group of guys who agreed to buy the food if she would prepare it. Her labor and their funds meant they all ate well.

My friend and I cook together once a month to prepare meals in advance for our family. We both save money on bulk items and enjoy the ease of having a menu of items to choose from for dinner. She has the benefit of a freezer (not all students do), so she can pull something out for dinner when she is studying for a test.

Whether it is one cooking for others, a small group cooking together, or two families making multiple meals to last a month, the concept is the same—you are sharing resources (and great food) instead of trying to do it alone.

Practical items you will need:
♦  A stove or a good countertop burner
♦  1 large pot (8 qt or larger)
♦  Skillet (optional, but helpful)
♦  Large casserole dish 9″x13″ (optional, and requires an oven)
♦  Cutting board
♦  Sharp knife – even old knives get a second chance with AccuSharp
♦  Utensils – spatula, stirring spoons, tongs
♦  Mixing bowls
♦  Storage bowls with lids to divide the food amongst the group
♦  Recipes, and patience to work things out
*Many of these items can be found at thrift stores or garage sales for little cost.  Borrowing larger pots or mixing bowls can work too, my friends and I have shared a stock pot for years.

Divide the Responsibilities:
♦  Organizing, searching out the recipes, creating shopping lists
♦  Shopping
♦  Prepping/Cooking
♦  Clean-up
♦  Managing the money/contributions
Note: If you have food sensitivities or strong food preferences, it is ideal to cook with a like-minded group.

Agree on a time to put it all together, enjoy good food, and divide the leftovers.  Cooking together enables students to have nutritionally superior, great tasting food, while building community at the same time.  This is not limited to soups, that’s just an easy, inexpensive way to begin. Spaghetti or skillet suppers, salads, and casseroles work well for groups too.  Below is a recipe to get started.

White Chicken Green Chili

Source: Mary Schoenecker
Yields 7 servings
1       pound boneless chicken, cut into 1″ cubes
1       medium onion, chopped
1       ½ tsp. garlic powder
1       tablespoon oil
2 15  ½ oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1       can 14 ½ oz. chicken broth
2      cans (4 oz.) green chilies
1       tsp. salt
1       tsp. cumin
1       tsp. oregano
½    tsp. pepper
¼    tsp. cayenne pepper
1       cup sour cream
½    cup heavy whipping cream

In a large pot, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream.

Other recipes to consider:
Chicken & Dumplings
Curry Chicken Salad
Red Beans & Rice
Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Skillet Beef Fajitas
Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake

Savoring Today was nominated for a Top Foodie Blog Award at eCollegeFinder and asked to write a student centered post, which is what you find here. Dedicating this to my friend, Pati, who went back to school much later in life. I admire her courage and determination.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Premeditated Leftovers Gallery of Favorites