Eat your greens, but watch out for E coli

by MooshiMooshi

Reasons why lettuce in particular, and raw veggies overall, are now the big culprits in E. coli outbreaks.

I  try to avoid bagged lettuce in general because it is too often not as fresh as I would like, and also often has a strange smell and texture. I would rather rip and wash my own lettuce, but it is getting harder and harder to buy whole head lettuce. In the summer, I grow a lot of lettuce but that does not work well in winter.
What do you guys do to lessen the risk?

 

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Food shows!

by Honolulu Mother

Do you enjoy watching food and cooking shows on your screen of choice? NYMag suggests the best cooking shows to match different moods:

The 7 Best Food Shows to Match Your Mood

Cooking shows aren’t a harmless pleasure to everyone, though. Like this Quartz article, some have questioned whether the competition shows’ judges really have the knowledge base to fairly rate the execution of the wide variety of cuisines that may come before them:

A COOKING SHOW CONTROVERSY OVER CRISPY CHICKEN REVEALS THE LACK OF CULINARY DIVERSITY ON TV

And of course, there are the long-standing complaints that most food tv shows don’t so much teach viewers how to cook as put viewers off cooking, by making it look too difficult and setting an unobtainable standard. I’ve watched some of a French show that’s certainly guilty of that — it takes a bad but functional cook’s signature dish, and a chef has them do a version that bears only a slight relation to the original and is many times more expensive and time-consuming. For instance, from spaghetti with jarred sauce and chopped cucumbers:

to some kind of tubular pasta structure filled with a meat-and-vegetable reduction inspired by bolognese sauce, napped with bechamel and garnished with cucumber:

The message is, “Your stand-by dinner is terrible, and the way to fix it is to spend ten times as much time and money.” The show, for anyone interested, is:

NORBERT COMMIS D’OFFICE

(No, it doesn’t have English subtitles, but it’s reality tv — your French doesn’t have to be that good for you to still get the gist.)

What, if any, food tv shows do you watch?

Buying Wine Online

by Honolulu Mother

According to this Washington Post article, it’s become harder to buy wine online in recent years:

Why is it becoming harder to buy wine online?

According to the article, the court victory a few years ago didn’t significantly change things because it applied only to direct-from-winery shipments:

We thought we’d won the direct shipping battle a decade ago when the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that states should not treat their wineries favorably over wineries from other states. But that ruling didn’t end the battle over direct shipping; it just put it back into state legislatures, perhaps with a more even playing field. Most of us can now buy directly from wineries in California, Oregon or elsewhere in the United States — but not from retailers in those states.

In fact, only 13 states and the District of Columbia allow shipments from out-of-state retailers to their residents, while more than 40 states allow such shipments from out-of-state wineries, according to winefreedom.org, a website operated by the National Association of Wine Retailers.

And the states have been cracking down, so wine lovers who used to be able to order from out-of-state retailers are finding it’s no longer possible.

We’ve ordered wine from out-of-state retailers on a few occasions, though mostly pre-kids. Around the time our oldest was born the local retail options got better, and we suddenly found that we no longer were drinking any category but inexpensive week-night go-to bottles. I did do a big shipment a year and a half ago, though, not of wine, but of various obscure liquors that I’d been unable to get locally. How about you? Do you, or does your spouse, like to order wine from wineries or retailers outside your state? Or are you content with your local options?

The Kids’ Menu

by Honolulu Mother

This guy feels strongly that kids’ menus should not be a thing:

Why ordering from the kids menu is harmful to children

I cannot say I agree. While we didn’t rely heavily on the kids’ menu when ours were in that age group, clearly there are pickier eaters out there than mine were and why shouldn’t restaurants offer some safe and relatively inexpensive options for families that want them? He sounds like a man who would have strong views on screen time.

However, I do agree that if you’re not dealing with a picky eater, there’s no reason to limit kids to the kids’ menu options, For smaller kids with smaller appetites sharing food works well, and you can order an appetizer to supplement if needed. And of course they eventually want to order their own entrees, which our policy was to allow as long as the kid would reliably eat what s/he ordered and the item wasn’t ridiculously expensive (and even if the kid thinks hot chocolate is the ideal beverage choice to go with salmon).

How about others? How long were your kids ordering off the kids’ menu? Do you agree with him that it’s preferable to avoid the kids’ menu? Does anyone agree with him that restaurants should not even offer a kids’ menu?

Leftovers

by Honolulu Mother

I thought of Rhett when I saw this headline:

Why Americans have stopped eating leftovers

Despite years of training, my kids are not what I’d call enthusiastic leftover eaters. They will eat them, but grudgingly. Still, we get through most of our leftovers.

Does your household eat leftovers, or at least most of them? Do you have clever ways to re-use them, or do you just zap them?

Good Old Cookbooks

by Honolulu Mother

The Washington Post recently ran an article on three cookbooks published in the early 80s that were big sellers at the time, and continue to be popular today:

These three cookbooks went viral before the Internet existed — and they still hold up today

The cookbooks in the article are the Silver Palate Cookbook, Entertaining: Martha Stewart, and the Victory Garden Cookbook.

I don’t have any of those. My parents’ cookbook collection was pretty much complete by 1982, and I didn’t start my own until a couple of years later. But I have plenty of old cookbooks! Leaving aside the ones I have primarily for historical interest or sentimental reasons or reference, some old favorites that I still cook from include Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks for Italian food and Julie Sahni’s for Indian food, and Laurie Colwin’s books (essays with recipes) that I picked up in law school.

What good old cookbooks do you still cook from?

Cocktail hour

by Honolulu Mother

The Daily Beast recently ran this fun ode to the Manhattan:

How Manhattan Drinkers Are Different From Martini Drinkers

(Side note: Imagine an era where she put that on her head, looked in the mirror, and thought, “Oooh, so chic!”)

Do you like Manhattans? And if so, is it a year-round drink or do you switch to something like a G&T in the summer? Is a little bowl of nuts, olives, or cheese straws a necessary accompaniment? (Recommendation: Hunter Mix combined with Bombay Mix. I discovered when googling for the links that I’m not the only one who likes this combination.)

What’s your tipple?

Pies

by Mémé

I love pies. Double crust, lattice, open face. Sweet – Fruit pies of all kinds, lemon meringue, key lime, transparent (such as pecan), tarte tatin (for me, not so much cream pies). Savory pies, too. Turkey or chicken pot pies, English pub pies, quiche.

For chicken or turkey pot pie, I use Pillsbury crusts. I sautée coarsely diced onion and carrot in butter, then add chopped mushroom. After that gets cooked a bit (more butter usually needed) I add flour and cook it a bit more (not quite a roux). Then add some broth, the chopped chicken or turkey, shredded parmesan. Then the green veggie, either uncooked English peas or cut up sugar snap peas, and some coarsely diced red bell pepper. Last step is to stir in some sour cream (stop cooking it now). Salt and pepper to taste. If the stock isn’t flavorful, maybe a little herb mix. Then into the pie shell, put the other shell on top with slits and crimp the edges, and into oven at 375 for 40 min. I use an aluminum ring around the edge of the pie plate to prevent burning.

My dessert specialty is very tart strawberry rhubarb, usually lattice top. Secret ingredients are orange zest and a beaten egg along with the flour to bind.

Totebaggers, share your pie preferences and recipes, please.

What Weird Food Do You Order Online?

by Honolulu Mother

This NYMag article, and the one on cult condiments linked at the bottom, made me think of the various oddball food items I get from Amazon.

I Only Want to Cook With Things in Tubes

We buy the little tubes of hollandaise and bearnaise sauce (the Christian Poitier stuff — it’s pretty good!), curry pastes, sausage casings, fancy maraschino cherries from Tillen Farms, all of them things that if found locally at all will be pricey specialty items.

I’ve also been known to order Irish-style bangers and white and black puddings from some outfit in NJ. And I have to admit, I’m very tempted by a place in Maine that does smoked haddock, if I can ever talk myself into paying the shipping. (It was that year I spent in Ireland way back when that formed these particular tastes.)

What foods do others order online? Any that you’d recommend generally?

Food finds

by S&M

What are you eating these days? I don’t mean matzoh balls, Cadbury Creme eggs or springtime asparagus. What have you recently started eating? Have you “columbused” any good new-to-you foods?

I came across Chobani roasted red pepper dip in the deli section recently. I like that company’s Greek yogurt, so I gave this a try. Yum! It’s good on all the standby crackers and veggies. I’ve dived into a couple of “old” foods with renewed vigor. Since learning that scallops, which I once thought of as an occasional treat, are pretty much straight protein and no fat, I’ve eaten them nearly every other day. Lunch today was pasta, scallops sautéed with leeks, and the dip as a sauce. I’ve also put scallops into salads, often with sun dried tomatoes. Another thing that’s new to me is protein powder. I haven’t figured out very many ways to use it yet, other than stirring it into Greek yogurt. It can supposedly be substituted for up to half the flour in baked goods, but I chicken out every time I think I’m going to try that.

My issue with gluten seems to be over now. It expanded until corn and rice, which have no gluten, were also giving me problems, and then one day I had to have a bite of something my son was eating because it looked so good, and I was fine. That means I can renew all my old favorites. I’m glad because quinoa takes more time and attention to make than couscous. I can put water on the stove, chop veggies, pour the water over the couscous, saute the veggies, and dump them over the grain with a squirt of lemon juice and a little EVOO in ten minutes. Another old thing that’s new again are pizzelles, for the simple reason that the very thin waffles don’t have many calories or fat grams. I tell myself that they are cookies, and I can eat the whole thing.

So what’s new on your table?

Impact of Social Acceptance on Food and Lifestyle Choices

by Louise

The article below caught my eye. We now drink more bottled water than soda. A big part of this has to do with how we as a society now perceive soda. Sure we still drink it but at least among the Totebag set it is a once in a way item (or banned completely) rather than drunk daily.

What food or lifestyle habits have you made changes to over the years. Any items you have given up due to social pressure?

Soda Loses Its U.S. Crown: Americans Now Drink More Bottled Water

A Different Way to Meal Plan

by Lark

For years I have done our weekly meal plan around our protein. Each week I jot down a chicken dish, a beef dish, a pork dish, a soup or seafood (depending on the season), and a pasta dish. We have pizza once each week, and that just leaves one night to go out, get take out or eat cereal for dinner. After I write down the main dish, I fill it in with whatever sides/veggies I can think of. It has been my standby system for at least 10 years, maybe more.

Lately, though, I’ve switched it up. Winter in the South has some of my favorite vegetables, and I’m finding that I’m planning more around what vegetables are available rather than the old system. I find I want to eat as many of my favorites as I can before the season passes. So, this week’s meal plan started like this:

Monday – Kale salad
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts
Wednesday – Black beans (okay, not a vegetable but one of my favorite foods, and I have such a good recipe for homemade, I love them)
Thursday – Sweet potatoes
Friday – Caesar salad

Once I knew what veggies I wanted to eat, I filled in the rest. Now the meal plan looks like this:

Monday – Kale salad, pan seared tuna, garlic rice
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts, pan fried chicken thighs (this meal needs something else – will probably add sweet potato biscuits because I have some in my freezer)
Wednesday – Black bean soup and cheese quesadillas
Thursday – Sweet potatoes, grilled pork chops (will probably add green beans this night as the boys don’t like sweet potatoes)
Friday – Caesar salad, pizza (will do homemade salad and DH will pick up the pizza on the way home)
Saturday – Oyster roast with friends

Next week I want to fit in broccoli and winter squash.

Totebaggers (that does NOT roll of the tongue as easily as “Jugglers” used to): what’s for dinner tonight at your house? Any great recipes to share? What are your favorite vegetables?