Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My hero, Jamie Oliver

A must see video clip of Jamie Oliver discussing the importance of food education in America. America, the nation with the highest obesity, the worst diet and a horrid ignorance of food.

I needed to see this clip just as much as the rest of the world does.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html

It made me tremble at the thought that I need to do better for my children. I constantly teach Bella and Kris what each vegetable and fruit is, but am still battling getting them to actually eat them. I admit I fail and at times feed them what they like verses what's on the dinner menu . Something I didn't have as a child. I ate what my mom made for the family, period. She didn't make anything special for me. If I didn't like it, I didn't eat.

Sounds harsh, but that's the way it used to be and they way I should be. I didn't starve to death and to be honest, there wasn't a lot that I didn't like. Let's see....I didn't care for chicken livers much (still don't) and didn't like canned peas. Other than that, I rarely left food on my plate.

So as I try to prepare these healthy and diverse meals, my kids don't always partake. So, I make them something else they would like. I understand on meals that may be too spicy for them, but I'm doing them a great disservice by feeding them separate meals and it's double the work for me.

I truly admire Jamie for his work in this field. He changed the foods given to children at school in England and he's now over here trying to help us. We are the nation with the worst food standards. A nation full of fast food restaurants and processed foods wall to wall in the grocery store. I get the sudden urge at the grocery store to approach people about how they must educate themselves about food when I see carts filled with soda, boxed foods, chips, frozen meals and gobs of ground beef and hot dogs. I don't do that of course, I'd probably get an ear full or get my ass kicked!

Why is the cost of heath care so high here? Our poor diet, that's why. The highest percentage of deaths in this country now could have been avoided with proper diet and education. Death by crime is on the bottom. Heart attacks, stroke and diabetes are on the top.

So as I continue to be hard on myself, I do it because I know it's important to get my kids more involved with food. I need to pass cooking down, not shut it out. That's the problem with people today, they don't know how to cook. If they too were brought up on junk food, how would they have learned? There's also the convenience factor. It's easier to pop it open and nuke or drive to the window and just pick it up. That's what the food companies bank on and with most politicians having these companies in their pockets, it's almost impossible for change.

The best way for change is to educate. That's why Jamie is my hero.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another yummy adventure

I bought a package of sweet potato and whole wheat gnocchi last week and didn't want to prepare it like I did before with the cream based sauce. Well, I DID WANT to make the cream based sauce, just can't! Anyway, I did the next best thing. Roasted veg puree!

I roasted up 3 Roma tomatoes chopped, 2 red bell peppers cut up, 5 cloves of garlic and 1 large onion cut up. In my processor I pureed until smooth. I boiled up my gnocchi and in a separate pan I browned some chicken sausage, mushrooms and some black olives. In the pan with the sausage I added the gnocchi, 1 cup white wine, pinch of crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper and the vegetable puree. Simmered it up for about 15 minutes before serving with toasted pine and walnuts (ran out of pine nuts!) and some goat cheese on the side.

I have to say, I wanted a little bit of goat cheese with every bite. Seemed completely different without it. I have to remember that for a nice rich red sauce, this is a great and easy way to go. Just roast it up and puree it!

Return of the possessed stove

Not sure if you remember me posting about my stove being possessed. Well, it has been and still is. First and still to this present day, my front right burner will occasionally decide to go full blast (bright as the sun yellow) when I have it turned down to low or simmer. The only way to stop it is to turn the burner off. How do I know it's happening? When I smell something burning or whatever liquid begins boiling like mad when I know it shouldn't be.

Then I had my oven element break while using it and a bright spark of fire was going down the element to the other side even after turning it off. We had to turn off the breaker.

Then there was the episode last night. I was boiling pasta on the back left burner and simmering my red sauce on the right front. Those two are my only large burners. I was doing dishes but could smell burning wires. I looked over to the stove but could not see anything suspicious. Went around the house and found nothing. But when I removed the pot of boiling water from the back burner I see this foaming metallic goo crackling and expanding from the burner connection.
I left it there to mess with this evening. I'm sure we'll have to replace yet another burner on this thing. We can't afford to get a new range right now, but this thing makes me nervous. I'll be doing the happy dance in the front yard when I replace this thing.
Bella putting a fork in it. She may not like everything, but what she does like, she eats plenty of it. Except for junkfood of course.

Bella's room has become the kid's sanctuary. A great place to throw down blankets and pillows, cuddle up and watch a movie, color or play with toys. I love these moments. I have to capture them. They love each other so much, but wouldn't realize it when they're fighting over toys or attention. Before bed, Kristjan always climbs up in her bed to give her a kiss.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember us?

It's been a while since I posted any pictures of the kiddos. Here's one of the little man visiting me in the kitchen.

Current favorite beverage - a little of my iced Decaf Tazo Lotus tea
Current favorite toys - his "Baby Animal" books or anything Bella is playing with
Current favorite movie - Home on the Range (lots of cows)
Current favorite foods - yogurt or homemade pumpkin bread
Always a favorite! - Anything outdoors, especially blowing bubbles
Bella loving being in the city. One day I'll take her to New York City. She's going to be my fast paced city girl. Maybe she'll be on Broadway! Gotta find some affordable theatre companies. She loves to perform.

Current favorite beverage - water, only water
Current favorite toys - her growing collection of Schleich fantasy figurines from the Kingdom of "Bayala" full of Unicorns, Pegasus, elves, witches and wizards. She's also collecting different Knights in armor, on horseback, etc.
Current favorite movie - Lilo & Stitch
Current favorite food - macaroni & cheese
Always a favorite! - coloring or playing with her Bayala folks at the table

Our Renaissance Festival opened up this past weekend and will be going through March. I'm quite sure I'll have to take Bella so that she can meet some living knights, queens and kings! That should blow her mind. Nothing like a chess match with real people. Cool stuff.

No meat, yet a lot of attitude

I got a bookstore gift certificate for Christmas and finally got to go and use it. I got another cookbook of course! I picked the Food & Wine Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook which has a great assortment of quick, fresh and easy Italian style recipes.
I made the blog's feature soup recipe last week and it was very easy and packed full of flavor. It didn't even call for any animal protein yet you wouldn't have noticed with all the flavors and textures it had. It has a little heat from some cracked red pepper and the Swiss chard gives it a nice kick. It's a must try. Hey look! It looks pretty close the book's photo!

By the way, I made the feature recipe (also from my new book) of Farfalle with Prosciutto, Spinach, Pine Nuts and Raisins and Chris went crazy over it. Another must try that's super easy to make. Something about combining raisins with toasted pine nuts and prosciutto, it just explodes in your mouth! Yummy city.

It was on the menu, I had to make it.

I joined a very cool program online that I believe I mentioned before called www.plantoeat.com. With this program you can upload your favorite online recipes, type in your own and share recipes with friends. You plan your week, drag the appropriate recipe for the day and then print out your shopping list which grabs all the ingredients from each recipe onto the list for you to edit before printing. It's awesome!

Last week I planned ahead to make Martha's Baked penne with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes again forgetting that I had a cholesterol blood work appointment. Let's just say, it's a prohibited recipe for both Chris and I because of our high cholesterol levels. I only make this kind of thing very rarely because of our issues. I can't help it! Sometimes I want a little Alfredo, bechamel or some other "cream sauce" with pasta. It's the ultimate in comfort food for me as well as fat and calories!

This dish provides all the comfort in the world. It includes butter, whole milk, cheese and even more cheese.


Can you see the creamy, cheesy texture? Even looking at it makes my heart skip a beat; but I promise you, it's delicious. The first time I made it I used ham instead of chicken. I won't be making this again for a very, very long time. Especially now that my results are back from the doctor. They say, stay away!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm still here

I'm back for another visit! Once again, sorry for the delay folks. I swear I'll get my schedule handled to where I can be back on here almost daily. I also miss being able to read the blogs of those I admire so. I catch up whenever I can.

The kids are doing fine. We did have a little spell where Kristjan was back on the nebulizer and meds for wheezing. That always scares me and I don't play around when I hear any crackling when my kids breathe. When we took him to the doctor he was wheezing and coughing badly. Now, he's back to normal and no longer on the meds. Let's hope he stays clear of that bug!

Bella had a little fun with a tick on the top of her head. We quickly removed it, kept it and keep up to date on how she's feeling. So far no problems. Those Lyme disease ticks normally are found up in the north.

For me? I've been well actually. I have been rescheduling appointments (nice way of saying, putting them off) because of kid matters, work matters or money matters. I did finally make it to the oral surgeon on my sometimes troubled wisdom tooth. X-rays find that I'm one of those rare lucky folks (can you feel the sarcasm?) that has wisdom teeth that didn't really grow much. I'm good with three of them, but the one that was bothering me has it's root all the way into my jaw bone, all the way to the end and right through a major nerve. So removing it means a big chance I lose feeling in my lower lip or chin for the rest of my life and also the high chances of breaking my jaw bone. No surgery for me.

Let's get back to food, shall we? I made a couple of loaves of bread and decided to make some of those baked veggie slices again.

I cooked up quickly (not to over cook - never on my veg!) some red onion, orange bell pepper, ham, mushrooms and broccoli.
Topped the bread slices with the veg mixture and some goat cheese and baked until a bit golden. They are always a great treat.
Roasted veg on salad greens with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Here I roasted some garlic, eggplant, red onion and butternut squash. Chris had his blood work the following morning and thought I better get in a healthy meal. I usually forget about his appointment and feed him meat, pasta and cheese before he goes. He's always busting my chops about it.
Hmmm, does the goat cheese on sweet potato look familiar? Hell yes it does! Because it rocks! I've told everyone about that combo and so far, those that have tried it have loved it. With the potatoes I had seared some pork chops with dried herbs, salt and pepper and then with a little white wine made a reduction. Served it over some rocket.

This weekend I plan to attempt sushi with dad. I have this great program that a pal of mine introduced me to where you can plan your recipes, print out your shopping list, and even share them with friends. It's http://plantoeat.com/ . It's a great resource.

Be back soon, kisses. Nessa