Wednesday, April 14, 2004
I have a deep abiding love of Persian food. Especially those dishes that combine meat and fruit. It's a combination that's pretty common in Middle Eastern cooking, and was once common in the West during the Medieval period.
Earlier this week I tried some lamb stew (khoresh) with apples that came out really well.
Sautee some onions, and brown some lamb stew meat, then add water to cover and set them to braise with some cinnamon, just a little cumin, and black pepper.
When the meat is tender (an hour or so) sautee some cut-up apples (I used ghee for grease, and used half Braeburn and half Pink Lady apples). Add some lime juice to keep the apples from browning, and maybe a little sweetener if they're too tart.
When the apples are just tender, throw them in with the meat, and add salt to taste.
Goes well with chelow, a Persian saffroned rice.
The NYTimes has a very interesting article
(reg. req.) on a kind of "truffle" which is vaguely related to the French kind that grows in the desert between Syria and Iraq. Cool. What's even more interesting is that the article says the Bedouin say the truffles are more prolific if there's more thunder in the Spring, and it turns out there's a scientific reason why that's really true. Even cooler.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
I saw a really interesting tidbit in the new issue of EatingWell (which, BTW, is a great magazine: good recipes, and great nutrition info) that really hilights the fact that what you eat is at least as important as how many calories you eat.
Anyway, a study took a group of overweight men and women and put them on 1,000 calorie-a-day diets. Half of those calories were from the same foods for all the participants. The other half came from different sources. Half the people got those calories from complex carbs like pasta and bread, the other half got the same number of calories from almonds. The almond people lost 62% more weight, and more body fat.
That's pretty dramatic. That's why the whole low-glycemic thing makes sense to me. I think the biggest problem with low-carb versus low-glycemic is that low-carb encourages people (since most people don't think very carefully about it) to eat lots of calories in the form of fat, which has other consequences. Just because you aren't eating carbs doesn't mean you aren't eating calories, and no matter what food you eat, if you eat more calories than you burn, you won't lose weight. The key to the low-glycemic diets is that you encourage your body to burn the fats you are eating, so that you are burning all the calories you are eating instead of storing them in favor of burning carbs. That's true of low-carb diets too, but my personal feeling is that low-glycemic diets encourage healthier long-term eating habits as opposed to the either all meat or all fake foods that people tend to fall into on the low-carb diets.
That said, I eat my fare share of low-carb protein bars, sweets, etc. But I also try to get good low-glycemic whole foods that are nutritious. It's tough on a busy schedule, but it can be done.
Unfortunately, my life has been pretty much crazed lately, and as a result I've been eating a lot of really crappy food. It's hard to motivate yourself to cook when you get home at 8:30 or 9:00 at night (and have to get the kids to bed, etc).
Last night I rebelled against fast / frozed food (which unfortunately has been my mainstay the last few weeks) and brought home a giant pile of salads and fresh veggies. Inside of 15 minutes I had raw celery, cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms, some goop to dip them in, coleslaw, and some French bread and whole grain roles. Good eats, simple, fast, and (relatively) nutritious. And the kids totally went for it, which was an extra bonus. I threw in some string cheese for variety and for the pickier, although she pretty much ate her veggies too .
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
The New York Times (reg. req.) has a great article about halvah, the sweetened sesame seed confection common to healthfood stores and Middle Eastern markets. It talks about the nostalgic effect halvah has on lots of people, and I'm one of them.
In my hippie vegetarian youth, my sister and I weren't allowed "regular" candy like chocolate, etc. I don't think I had a snickers until I was in High School. What we had instead were things like carob bars, honey/sesame candy, and halvah. Halvah was always one of my favorites. It's made from ground seseme seeds (tahini) sweetened with sugar or honey and pressed into bars. Great stuff. The texture is fantastic. It's grainy, sticky, melting... Boy, now I'm jonesing.
Monday, March 22, 2004
On Jason's recommendation, my wife and I finally checked out Monteaux's last night. I'd have to say I was overall pretty impressed. It's a nice place, good ambience, and the food was excellent. Some of the best clam chowder I've had in a while, and the Flat Iron Steak was excellent. The veggies were done to perfection, as was the steak and everything was very flavorful. Well worth checking out if you're in the area.
Friday, March 19, 2004
I thought I was being lazy last night when I decided to make some Salad Nicoise for dinner. It's a French "composed salad" which basically means you throw a bunch of stuff on a plate without stiring it up first. Easy, and anyone who's picky can just leave off the bits they don't like.
I started with some butter lettuce (last summer I got some red butter lettuce at the farmers market. Can't wait for veggie season) and then set out:
- sliced, hard-boiled eggs
- tuna (I was hoping for fresh, but there wasn't any, so I went with canned Tongul tuna)
- anchovies (pretty dang good actually)
- nicoise olives (my favorite grocery actually had pitted nicoise!)
- grape tomatoes
- sliced radishes (a mixed bunch with red, purple and white radishes)
- some blue cheese
Everyone got to choose what they wanted, which worked out great. The whole family raved. My son actually thanked me this morning for the salad last night. That's something you don't get every day. I'll have to remember this one for future quick dinners. I'd like to try it with freshly poached Ahi, and maybe try some different anchovies. I used the basic Napoleon brand, but they also had Spanish or Italian ones. For the fish phobic or weak at heart I might try some nice salt-cured capers instead of the anchovies. Kalamata olives would probably do in a pinch, but the pitted nicoise were perfect. They're a bit less salty than Kalamatas, and just slightly bitter, which was nice.
To go with the salad we had some oven-roasted asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and some nice garlic aioli. It must be getting closer to Spring, as the price of organic asparagus is approaching reasonable.
It was set off pretty well by a nice glass of Abby Ale from Brewery Ommegang, which was slightly sweet, although not too, which worked well against the salty salad.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I can't say I'm surprised, but the CDC officially declares
that we as a society are eating ourselves to death. Diet related health problems are causing almost as many deaths as smoking. That should serve as a wakeup call. Remember those "Stop violating your mind with television!" bumper stickers from the 80's? Went along with Bob Dobbs
? We need new ones that say "Stop violating your body with crappy food!".
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
OK, "riblet" is a pretty bizarre word, but the meatless ones from Gardenburger are really good. I've seen them around for a while, and finally took the plunge last night. Not only were they really tasty, but very easy to work with. They come in little bags, which you can microwave or boil (I boiled). There were also cooking instructions for grilling them, but I'd be concerned about them drying out.
Anyway, they're great. Very nice texture, reasonably like ribs (only there's no mad soy disease) and the BBQ sauce they come packed in was very flavorful.
Even my (extremely) picky, sauce-phobic 5 year old daughter loved them, which is saying quite a bit. We threw them in sandwiches with some cheese, lettuce and pickles.
Way less work then actual ribs, and by far superior to things like McRibs.
I couldn't help myself. I know it's still pretty early in the year, but my local grocery store finally got in some organic asparagus, the first I've seen this year. They were pretty thick, and priced somewhere around gold bullion, but it was totally worth it.
I was time contrained, so I ended up stir-frying the asparagus with a little chicken, some ginger, a dash of dark soy sauce and some hoisin sauce. Very tasty. Just what I wanted. Chicken and asparagus was something my Mom used to make a lot when I was a kid, and it always reminds me of big Chinese food dinner parties. And it's amazingly easy. Added to that I whipped up some stir-fried cucumber with chili-bean sauce (cucumber is really good cooked) and some bean sprouts. Total cooking time was probably on the order of half an hour, and I dawdled.
Sometimes I forget how quickly you can make real food. But I'm always glad when I do.
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