Many may be entering in to a moment of cooking fatigue after a year of lockdowns and limited access to restaurants, however many are also invigorated by the revolution that eating at home is enjoyable. Here are five secret weapons this homecook uses to make life easier while raising a family in no particular order.
Homemade Stocks and Broths
Using whole and homemade ingredients gives us all the homestead vibes. It adds flavor and texture to dishes. And an added benefit is it reduces food waste. Making these elements from scratch allows the cook to know exactly what is going into their food and the ability to adjust based on preference or health need. To make this broth I didn’t measure anything as I have been doing this for 15 years and just know what to do. But it I just add the bones from a whole roasted chicken, a yellow onion, a bulb of garlic, 3 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, salt and pepper, then covered with water. I brought that to a boil then reduced to simmer and let cook for 3-4 hours before cooling and straining flavor elements from the broth.
Homecooks prepare their ingredients and display them beautifully making easier and more appealing to use when it is time to make the next meal. From washed and ready to serve greens to a mason jar with fresh parsley to a table that is dressed with a table and fresh flowers homecooks love to set a feeling to everything which make the tasks of feeding yourself, friends, or family more desirable.
3. Flavorful Elements
Aromatics deepen the flavor of any dish that you make. Onion, garlic, and pepper are commonly used in most cuisines these add an additional punch of flavor to any dish. Many of these flavor enhancers can store for awhile on your counter which make them easy to keep on hand.
4. Quick Pickles
My personal favorite quick pickle is pickled red onions. To make I chop a red onion and place it in a jar with fresh cracked black pepper. Then in a saucepan I add 1 cup water, 3/4 distilled white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt (sometimes I use a little less than that) and bring to a boil. I pour that over the red onion in the mason jar and let cool before placing in the refrigerator when that stays good for at a month. This not only adds deep flavor it provides needed acidity to any dish.
5. Fresh Herbs
An easy way that homecooks bring freshness and the homestead vibe to their dishes is by incorporating fresh herbs into the meals they are making. Fresh herbs can be expensive if adding them to your grocery budget weekly. So keeping a small garden with herbs is fully easy and can be maintained yearly if you have window stall in your home. The pop of color and freshness herbs bring to dishes makes them a winner in my book.
A few years ago, I took a World Religions class where we studied most of the world’s religions in depth. We started off with Islam moved into Judaism then onto Christianity and forward to Hinduism among several others. When we were reading about Hinduism, we read a little about Mahatma Gandhi. While reading about more about Gandhi I remember reading something about him saying that the world is full of suffering and if we can have a meal that will sustain us without adding more suffering into the world why wouldn’t we. While writing this I searched desperately to find the exact quote but could not. Now I’m wondering if I made part of it up and added some into it, I don’t know. But the point is the same. Humans do not need to eat meat to survive. We can have very full and flavorful meals any time of the day that are nutritious and just as delicious as meals containing meat.
I love this article by Abigail Geer 5 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Slaughter Animals for Food. I would love to convince everyone to become a vegan but not only would I be a hypocrite if I advocated that I also think that is a very large ask of someone who still eats meat. I drive a car with leather seats, I eat yogurt and use butter so I am not vegan myself. What I don’t do is eat meat, chicken, fish, or anything that was once alive.
My manager and I got on the subject of me not eating meat because where I work, they give out turkeys to all the employees for Thanksgiving every year (ugh). And she asked me if I didn’t eat animals for political reasons. I laughed because I thought it was such an odd reason for anyone to not eat animals but it also opened my eyes to the fact that there are many reasons people come up with for not eating meat. Mine has always been out of concern for the animals first. I’ve enjoyed the clear conscious and added environmental benefits that come along with it but I adore sentient beings and know they have a soul and if nothing else it’s been proven that they have feelings. So, if I can get full from a delicious meal and not kill anything in the process of doing it why wouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I?
Most of the time it is the spices people add to meat that they enjoy. There are so many delicious meat alternatives, even local ones that are incredible like Herbivorous Butcher. Our teeth are made for grinding food not tearing flesh. There are numerous health benefits that are too long for me to even list when reducing meat intake. I guess the bottom line for me is, you don’t have to give up meat entirely if you don’t want to just enjoy it as a ‘treat’ for special occasions maybe not at every single meal.
This year I’ve decided to take my unsolicited Yelp reviews to another level, I’ve decided to blog about them.
My relationship with food with has always been positive – yes I was that kid asking my parents for another serving of veggies. Something about the flavors and chemistry of every dish has always pulled me in. So when I was old enough to go out with my friends and grab dinners at all the popular restaurant, I went all overboard. We often used popular Twin Cities Instagram account Eat.Drink.Dish.Mpls as our guide to explore new and innovating restaurants that opened up in the city. My friends and I would go out to eat so often that it started to effect my bank account and my mother wasn’t happy at all. I’ve pulled back since then and only go out for special occasions (suddenly my students loans inspired me to eat at home more often)- like birthdays and graduations.
Recently I took a trip to Washington, DC for school purposes and it happened to also be during my birthday weekend – needless to say I called my cousins who lived in the area and we went out to eat. My cousin recommended a little restaurant called Chloe located in the Navy Pier area, and to my surprise this “little” restaurant was Michelin Star certified.
As soon as we walked in we were greeted warmly by the hostess and ushered to our table. Our waiter came by seconds later and introduced himself, followed by the usually questions. “Have you dined with us before? Are you familiar with our menu? Do you have any dietary restrictions or allergies the chef should know?” After that he dived into the extensive shared menu that had dishes ranging from crispy fingerling potatoes to Chile glazed sablefish; to say that we were excited to order would be an understatement.
We settled on the Cobio Crudo, an avocado and Thai chili lime fish sauce with shallots; Caramelized Cauliflower and Potato Gnocchi that we ordered twice; Roasted Cod; and a Hanger Steak that had creamed Swiss chard, shishito peppers , crispy onions, and chimichurri. The dishes were shareable and that made the experience 10 times better. The mastermind behind Chloe is Chef Haidar Karoum, a Lebanese-American whose dishes are inspired by his heritage and travels around the world.
My experience at Chloe was intimate and their dishes were the perfect combination of appetizing and sensual. Rarely do I rave about a restaurant like this but Chloe deserves the praise. I’ll be making a trip out to DC sometime soon and within the first 2 hours of my visit, you’ll catch me at Chloe ordering my fourth bowl of Caramelized Cauliflower.
Since when is it a crime to help another person in need out?
People have been getting charged with misdemeanors for sharing food out in public. I understand that the spreading of Hepatitis is a problem, but there are other ways to go about the situation. The lawmakers should be putting their efforts into educating the public to helping in the proper way and how to cleanly hand out food.
Lawmakers are going straight to not allowing people to provide for those who can’t afford it, which isn’t helping those who have been getting Hepatitis because they are taking their meal away all together and additionally punishing those who are out in the world trying to do good and help others. It logically doesn’t make sense. They are concerned about a mess being left behind when there are bigger worries at stake. Solving the problem of having starving people and spreading education should be priority to marking people’s records.
Some of these cities are taking it even further to banning sitting or sleeping in public spaces. I don’t see incarcerating someone for sitting in public doing anyone any good or preventing Hepatitis A. Anybody should be allowed to sit out in public as a part of their rights. These areas are known for common areas for people to collectively be in. Some people don’t have options and if they are cold or starving or emotionally drained in need for human contact they should have the option to be out in public areas.
The New York Post released an article that depict the subject of Doritos plans on making “lady-friendly” chips that won’t crunch. Apparently, women dislike the sound of crunch and something less messy. Also stating that “women” dislike the idea of having to like their fingers after consuming chips. The idea of Doritos generalizing “women” and their likes and dislikes is infuriating. The global chief, Indra Nooyi is implying that “although women would love to crunch [chips] loudly, lick their fingers and pour crumbs from the bag into their mouth afterwards, they prefer not to do this in public,” (2018, para. 2.) I’m assuming that the Doritos team and/or the New Your Post is targeting a specific age group of women because, I know multiple women who loves chips for their crunch, taste, and most of all, licking the flavors off their fingers. Though the idea of licking your fingers in public may disturbing or looked down upon (especially for girls, because we all know the double standards society has for women,) it is one of the best part about eating chips. Also, I think that the intentions behind this “invention” is probably well intended but, in it’s own ways, it has pushed it even further towards gender stereotypes. It’ll be even more ironic if the team who decided all this is a group of women who is trying to include women as a whole but, in response to that, it’s the opposite. I would argue that the author of this post is pretty neutral. If anything, they’re just trying to throw the news out there through this article, it is not bias nor favoring one side of a story. Something that the author left out was the input of men. Though, I would understand why. This article as a whole is already about discriminating women and/or targeting them, there’s no need to hear the inputs of male. Who, in the article, opinion’s does not matter because this isn’t chips for them. Men’s opinion has always been added to news outlet, I think that the fact that they left out men’s input in general, makes sense.
Who doesn’t want to feel good? No matter what your age, race, gender, weight, healthy eating in combination with exercise will positively impact YOUR overall health. Yes, I said YOU. There are so many other weight loss products on the market right now that promise miraculous weight loss and boost in energy. The only promise they will fulfill is a dent in your bank account. The only proven way to look and feel better is through good old fashioned eating healthy in combination with exercise.
Think of eating healthy as an investment to your body. Eating out is not only expensive but can lead to poor food choices. The top 5 benefits of eating healthy according to Heathline.com highlight why committing to a healthy diet can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
1) Controls weight
2) Improves mood
3) Combats disease
4) Boots energy
5) Improves longevity
I get it, everyone has really busy schedules, but the gym doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. The top 5 benefits of exercise according to naturalbalancefoods.co.uk highlight why adding just 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times per week can change your life.
1) Get a natural high
2) Sleep better
3) Look good
4) Get a healthier mind
5) Improve your health
Do all of these benefits sound like something you are interested in? There are obvious benefits to each action but you cannot be successful with one without the other. Imagine the endless possibilities that eating healthy in combination of exercise will bring to your life.
I work in downtown St. Paul and over the last couple of years the number of food trucks has increased throughout the area at lunchtime. I see the number of people waiting in line to get food. I look at the menu boards and think that the prices are reasonable, but I often times wonder, how clean and safe is the food that is being prepared.
Large corporations have jumped on the band wagon and are using food trucks for catering to their employees in their parking lots. This new style of catering is cheaper than paying a catering business within the company. This also keeps their employees on-site which means fewer employees are traveling to restaurants for lunch. The only drawback is that corporations may need to work with the cities they reside in because of city ordinances. Some cities such as St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Burnsville and Lakeville have changed ordnances to resolve this issue in order for food trucks to sell in the suburbs.
I found that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has a process that is quite extensive and you really have to a strategy and plan if you want to run a food truck at least 30 days in advance of construction of a truck. You also have to purchase licenses, meet NSF standards for equipment, dishwashing and hand washing facilities, water supply and liquid waste disposal plans that are not hazardous to public health.
In 2012, CBS investigated food truck safety and noted that legitimate food trucks should have a license displayed where people can see it and they need to have an inspection a minimum of one time per year. Inspectors found food temperatures to be the most common problem, but other issues could be heating lamps not working properly, melted ice cube tubs holding soft drinks spreading germs from hands onto the counter, and chemicals used for cleaning that did not have proper labeling and could potentially be mixed with food bottles. In all, even though there were minor issues, they say that none of these issues would be life threatening and that food trucks are relatively safe.
I’m not saying that there aren’t salmonella or other bacterial issues, but after researching food safety on the food trucks, I am now more inclined to purchase food on the streets next time a see a food truck.
When you hear the word hunger, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you think of that empty feeling in you have in the pit of your stomach sometime between your bowl of Cheerios at 8:00 AM and your turkey sandwich at noon. But hunger has another definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, “a strong desire for something or to do something.” For people trying to solve the problem of food insecurity in our community, it is that second definition that drives them. Providing for the immediate needs of hungry families is an absolute necessity, but solving the underlying problems that lead to food insecurity, and the problems that are a result of it, is an even bigger challenge.
Solving the problem of hunger in Minnesota will require more from each of us than buying an extra box of spaghetti at the grocery store and placing it in the bin. Knowing who in your community is at risk or currently suffers from food insecurity is a start. Reaching out to them is the next step. Compassion. Understanding. Communication. These are the things that will help eradicate the stigma that is sometimes associated with food insecurity and will allow those who need help seek it without fear of being shamed or judged in the check-out line at Cub. No one should have to be embarrassed to accept help.
The recession has pushed social services, community service providers, and our food shelves to their very limits. Visits to food shelves by Minnesota seniors has more than quadrupled since 2008 and 1 in 6 Minnesota children live in hunger. There are too many people in need and not enough resources to meet those needs. Innovative programs like Second Harvest Heartland’s Harvest To Home are helping to reduce waste by collecting fresh unsold or un-harvested fruits and vegetables from farmers and farmer’s markets and using them to feed our local, hungry neighbors. Big problems call for big thinkers and big solutions. What are you hungry for?