Posts tagged ‘cooking’

October 20, 2019

A Perfect Pair

If you don’t have a recipe, how do find a perfect pair of flavors? My oldest son once called me during a layover in Vegas on his way home asking me to make Mexican lasagne for dinner. I had no idea what that was. He described it as a layered dish with lasagne noodles, meat, red sauce seasoned with a ton of spices like you’d use in tacos plus those in traditional lasagne, and cheese. I told him I’d give it a shot.

In that instance, I imagined the flavors in tacos. For that flavor profile, I chose salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. For the lasagne flavors, I added oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary. I combined both of these profiles using sight, smell, and taste to judge the amount of each to add. The result turned out better than I would have guessed when he suggested it.

This request didn’t throw me because I rarely use recipes when I’m cooking for my family. So how do I know what to put in the pot? I’ve probably mentioned before that I imagine flavor combinations in my head. I do. But there are several things in play when I’m cooking.
perfect pair
For one, I use my sense of smell. If you hold your head over a pan and smell for a moment, you’ll realize you can smell salt as well as garlic, and curry powder, and basil. When the balance of the aroma is off, the taste will be as well.

I also use my eyes. If I’m adding beans to chili or cranberries to a salad, I use proportions that look pleasing. This results in a full combination of flavors in each bite.

Throwing something together often begins with inspiration or imagination. Sometimes I take a bite of something and have a sudden thought that it would pair well with X. Other times, I take the ingredients in my refrigerator and imagine different combinations of the flavors there. Sometimes I do this when I’m choosing my groceries for pickup or purchasing items at the farmers market.

Beyond my senses and imagination, I use memory. I both watched and helped my grandmother cook. I think about how she seasoned things. I also pay attention to the flavors and ingredients I can identify in restaurant dishes. And I envision combinations I’ve seen in recipes before.

Even if I can remember the general ingredients, once I get started I have to determine proportions. Knowing how something should look is helpful. If I’ve seen the consistency of pancake batter, then I can tell if there’s too much liquid or not enough.

Cooking experience is valuable as well. If you’ve baked a lot of cakes, you’ll have an idea what the ratio of flour to sugar, oil, and eggs should be. It’s probably worth noting that when you make gluten or dairy-free versions, traditional rules may not apply.

The best gluten-free sandwich bread I make has a dough that’s more like batter than dough. But once you’re practiced in these adaptations, you’ll still be able to rely on experience to help you.

If you have never cooked, or watched anyone cook, from scratch and cannot imagine flavor pairings, there’s a handy tool called The Flavor Bible that tells you what to mix and match. This comprehensive reference book of compatible flavors was named by Forbes as one of the 10 best cookbooks in the world of the past century. It also won a James Beard Book Award.

Following a specific recipe to the letter will yield a more consistent result, but using a flavor guide can introduce playfulness into your cooking. Life is made of so many repetitious chores, I like to add a sense of fun and play whenever I can. Sometimes the best way to do that is to try to find yet another perfect pair.

https://www.karenandandrew.com/books/the-flavor-bible/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 19, 2018

Cough Drop Pep Talk for Thanksgiving?

Do I really need a cough drop pep talk for Thanksgiving? Why does my cough drop wrapper say, “A PEP TALK IN EVERY DROP” anyway? If I have fever high enough to think cough drops talk, I need something besides a pep talk. The pesky little ovals don’t stop there. They advise me to “Buckle down and push forth!”; “Power Through!”; and “Seize the day.” Whaaat?
coughdrop
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because I can’t sleep, my throat hurts, and my ear is full of fluid. Eating green beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and oranges may be culinary medicine, but they aren’t doing the trick to kick this virus. Now, I’m out of food and I don’t want to get out in the cold to go to the store.

Should I take the cough drop wrapper’s advice and power through? After all, I just have a cold, not the flu. OMG, I’m rhyming in a blog post – I must be sick. That aside, I don’t like clothes with affirmations on the tags or wrappers that tell me what to do. It’s not that I mind affirmations, I just don’t like them in my clothes. It makes me feel like a walking fortune cookie. And it’s not that I don’t sometimes need to be told to buck up, I just don’t want that advice from something I take when I’m sick. It seems inappropriate.

If the wrapper said, “A delicious complement to hot tea.” or “Stay home and sleep.” or “A warm snuggle for your throat!” or “Take time to heal.”, perhaps I could get behind wrapper advice. But telling me to be unstoppable is really bad advice when I’m ill.

The people following that advice are more likely to go to work, church, and the store, sick. They’re more likely to stay stick longer. They’re more likely to be too tired to do their best at work or be as safe a driver as usual on the road. And no doubt they will contaminate the air on my next flight. So stop encouraging them already!

Most of us have been programmed to keep going when we would get well faster if we went to bed and got some rest. We feel like we can’t miss work or class, a family birthday, or a soccer game. Many bosses are happy to reinforce this belief.

And then there’s all of that holiday cooking to be done! That’s certainly something we shouldn’t be doing when we’re sick. Seriously, preparing food for others when you’re sick can expose them. Most states have food prep guidelines for restaurant employees that include restrictions for those with cold, flu, and bronchitis as well as more serious illnesses.

I know it’s tempting to minimize the risks when we think of beloved holiday traditions, but if someone in your family has a compromised immune system, exposure to the flu could put them at serious risk even if they’ve had the vaccine. Having a medically fragile grandchild has increased my awareness of the need to be mindful about spreading germs. It also means I felt the frustration of missing out when the family welcomed her home from a recent hospitalization.

Perhaps those cough drop pep talks are meant to encourage malingering patients to get back to the business of every day, but they’re most likely to feed the determination of those who won’t stop in the first place. If we want to assist our immune systems, it is important to recognize the value of down time. Resting leaves our bodies with more energy available to fight off bugs and rebuild cells.

So, if you’re sick this holiday season, forget the cough drop pep talk! Eat some soup. Order food. Go to bed. Take time to heal. Not only will you get well faster in the long run, you’ll help contain the spread of viruses and/or bacteria.

Now it’s time for me to follow my own advice and take a healing nap!!!

http://www.moodmaybe.com/2016/05/flax-affirmations.html

https://www.gethalls.com/

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html

http://www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety/dwi/eicondguide.pdf

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/easy-gluten-free-thanksgiving-menu/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/small-crowd-small-bird-cornish-game-hen-thanksgiving/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/hosting-thanksgiving-easy/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 12, 2018

Some Medical Schools Now Offer Classes in Culinary Medicine

Some medical schools now offer classes in culinary medicine. In the realm of recent Western modern medicine, that could easily be assumed to be instruction on suturing knife wounds and avoiding cross contamination. Actually, the news is more exciting than that! Tulane University School of Medicine created the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine and introduced a 60-credit curriculum for medical students. The program has now partnered with over 50 medical and nursing schools.
prep
Many people seek nutritional advice from their physician. It seems logical because that same physician often advises a healthy diet and exercise to prevent or improve disease progression. Often the doctor then refers the patient to a nutrition counselor with no additional discussion. That referral is often where the cycle ends.

While the physician may be aware of current dietary recommendations for the amount of protein, fat, or sugar consumption, he/she may not know much about the art of cooking. The doctor won’t necessarily know what flavors and textures play well together when adding vegetables to traditional dishes to make them nutritionally rich. Even a nutritionist may not be skilled in the practical kitchen application of preparing healthy meals within a realistic time frame and budget.

Thanks in part to the wandering career of Tulane’s Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS, who leads the team at Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, that’s beginning to change. A large shift in the practice of medicine will take time, but I find this beginning of change thrilling!

Before he became a physician, Dr. Harlan discovered his love of food. He learned cooking techniques from chefs during the time he managed and owned restaurants. While training at Emory University School of Medicine, he began writing about the link between food and health. He now serves as Executive Director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.

The Goldring Center has developed a 60-credit curriculum that includes online nutrition training and live conferences as well as attendance at hands-on teaching kitchen modules. Completion of the course can result in earning the designation of Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist (CCMS). Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Pharmacists, Registered Dietitians and Nurse Practitioners are eligible for certification.

When you visit a practitioner with the CCMS certification, you will have the advantage of that clinician’s knowledge of how to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. Not only can they provide nutrition information, they have been trained in culinary techniques to prepare food that is consistent with real-world budgets and time constraints. That’s the sort of detailed support that can make you feel like you can succeed without being overwhelmed.

What I like about this approach is the practical aspect. If a practitioner actually has hands-on experience, it is much easier to offer real solutions that will resonate. The minute a patient realizes a doctor has no idea about cooking or feeding a family of 5 on a budget, they are likely to tune her out or adopt an attitude that he has no business telling them what to eat. After all, that practitioner clearly doesn’t understand the patient’s circumstances.

The Goldring Center also offers free cooking/nutrition classes for the community supported in part by a Celebrity Chef Dinner Series in which renowned regional chefs prepare a multi-course meal with wine pairings at the center. Not only does this bring additional connection with the community, it keeps reminds us that healthy food can also be delicious food. This is a mantra that bears repeating, especially when it comes to gluten-free food.

Good nutrition is the basis for mental and motor development in children and good health in adults. At long last, modern medicine is incorporating food preparation into the practice of medicine. This is a welcome shift.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4379645/

https://culinarymedicine.org/

https://www.healthmeetsfood.com/

https://www.drgourmet.com/pr/#.W-mnY4FKjnE
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April 12, 2018

Free-Range Grazing in My Kitchen

My family just spent a couple of days free-range grazing in my kitchen. That wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. All I wanted to do was have a large pot of something prepared before my out-of-town guests arrived so that there was food within reach if anyone got hungry.

I don’t know about your family, but you don’t ever want mine to get hungry. We don’t just get hangry, we go ballistic. It is not a pretty sight!

I settled on beef stew and bought stew meat, small purple and white potatoes, various colors of carrots, and boiling onions. So that my sauce would thicken on its own, I coated the meat with a mixture of corn starch, tapioca starch, sweet white sorghum flour, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper before browning it in olive oil.

A couple of hours later, I had traditional beef stew boiling on the stove and a plane to meet at the airport. The crew arrived hungry and started on the beef stew immediately. I threw together some cornbread. All was well.

The next morning, two more sections of the family would arrive. Instead of fixing breakfast while the LA crowd slept, I made pasta sauce enhanced with salami and pork chops with rice. At the time I thought I was prepping for the following days. That’s not how it worked out.

Somehow, as the crowd gathered food started disappearing. I brought out the left over stew and cooked gluten-free pasta to add to my sauce. Before long everyone had a plate of something. A few hours later, everyone had a plate of something else.

The snack bucket I had stocked with gluten-free pretzels, trail mix, peanut butter, crackers, and chips began to empty. Green banana eaters and ripe banana eaters grabbed bananas. The left over cornbread got slathered with honey.

Food disappeared in waves. I ran out of bowls. We grabbed mixing bowls. I cooked frozen gluten-free pizza to fill in the pasta gap once the pasta was gone. The extra salami not used in pasta sauce ended up on crackers.

The kids played, we laughed, and no one ever got hungry. In fact, no one even got fussy much less hangry. Eventually, the dishes got washed. And after a couple of days of free-range grazing, most everyone went home to graze in their own kitchens.

I still have some clean-up to do, but it was a great visit proving a little food can go a long way toward building happy families!