When you think of summer produce, which vegetable or fruit first comes to mind? Corn? Watermelon? Tomatoes?
I'd wager that Swiss chard isn't anywhere in your top 10 ... or even your top 20.
Swiss chard zipped across my radar when my CSA (community supported agriculture) box arrived the other week. Inside was a big bag filled with chard and all its colorful stems; yellow, pale green, magenta and red. Chard's leaves look like spinach, only larger.
Right now I have eight medium-to-large zucchini in my refrigerator just waiting for me to decide their ultimate fate. Why? I joined Maple Spring Gardens CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Cedar Grove, this spring.
It's so tempting to write that Michael Ruhlman's newest book "Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient," (Little Brown, 2014) is egg-actly the book you need. Cute.
As I cleaned my grill in preparation for regular summer use, I started thinking about the history of backyard grills and grilling in general.
Believe it or not, some Chicago back yards are the epicenter for the creation of backyard barbecue grills; not Texas, or Georgia or even North Carolina. Two of the grills most of us use today were invented in Chicago’s suburbs.
The 1950s were a hotbed for grilling. In 1952, George Stephen invented what we now know as the Weber kettle grill by taking half of a marine buoy, welding three legs on the bottom, opening up vents underneath and pounded-out a vented, domed cover (at that time, Stephen was a welder for the Weber Company Metal Works). The story goes that his neighbors called it a "sputnik" after Russia's first space ship.
The Food Fact labels we've all become accustomed to have been around for 21 years. Those labels have gone relatively unchanged throughout the years except for eight years ago when the Food and Drug Administration started requiring food companies to include trans fats.
Those familiar Food Fact labels are about to change again, and in some significant ways. Before we take a look at what's proposed, let's understand why.
Break out the shorts, T-shirts and swimsuits, warmer weather's here and some folks are doing their best to figure out how to be both healthy and look their best.
Here's some assistance.
Michel Guerard, 81-year-old chef and cookbook author frequently is described as a driving force behind France's nouvelle cuisine.
You remember nouvelle cuisine, right? Sure, now "new cuisine" seems like ancient history, but at its dawn in the 1960s it rocked the world of haute cuisine. Nouvelle cuisine is, at its best, a refinement of classic French cuisine. Lightened sauces and delicate dishes presented with artistic flair defined the nouvelle cuisine movement.
A single coupon did more than just save me money, it opened my eyes.
Looking at that $1 coupon for Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread I couldn't help but recall the days when I deemed coconut oil as the poster child for bad fats.
While perusing the contents of my pantry, a friend came across an older box of Hamburger Helper and asked "how can you have that in your pantry when you write about such healthy foods?"
I explained that my fondness for Hamburger Helper bloomed at a time when I didn't closely read product ingredient lists and sometimes still get the taste for it.
My friend then rattled off the ingredient list: "Enriched macaroni, cornstarch, salt ..."
So many Chinese take-out restaurants now litter the Triangle you'd think that it's easy to find one that's: reasonably priced, understands my leaner ways and produces better-than-average dishes. I finally found one, but keep it's location to myself for fear that it'll be overwhelmed and begin a downward slide from which it'll never recover.
It all started on one of the r-e-a-l-l-y cold days we had this winter in the middle of a string of cold days when I spied a recipe for a farro, kale and butternut squash soup on the online food magazine Relish (relish.com).
It wasn't the recipe that caught my eye as much as the deliciously colorful picture that looked wonderful in contrast to the white and gray snow that had surrounded me for weeks and weeks. Yet another glance at the ingredient list and I almost turned the page without second thought. Here's why.
When I shared my Fat Free Chocolate Cake on "Good Morning America" back in 1994 Joan Lunden and Spencer Christian raved about it. Plain, fat-free yogurt stepped in as the chocolate cake's unique fat-fighting ingredient.
As years went by, I discovered drained, unsweetened applesauce worked magically as a fat substitute and made better chocolate cakes and desserts, like my Decadent Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake or Double Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies. I left fat-free yogurt back in the '90s and continued to explore ways to make chocolate work in a lean diet plan.
Years ago I stumbled across persimmons in an Asian market. I picked up a soft, almost spongy fruit but put it back dismissing it as overripe. That was an error in judgment; I didn't know any better.
Even if I had brought it home, what would I have done with it? If I cut it open would it look like a pomegranate with wall-to-wall seeds, or an avocado with a huge pit. Should I crunch into it like an apple or peel it like an orange? Out of the thousands of recipes I'd collected over the years I didn't have a single persimmon recipe.
This month many of us swore off fat and calories and signed onto salads.
For many of my "less-than-lean" years a wide wedge of iceberg lettuce drenched with Thousand Island dressing was a favorite salad. Later, I learned that a 2-tablespoon serving of that dressing delivered 111 calories and 10.5 fat grams.
Ten years ago there was a paradigm shift that affected millions of hearts, but first, a very short story.
In the late 1990s, I stood at a checkered tablecloth covered table in front of a store in Northgate Mall that was selling my cookbooks and offered tasting samples from those books. A normal-sized, healthy looking young man walked up to me, asked for a small brownie sample and then questioned me closely about the fat content in my recipes. Overcome by curiosity, since more women than men buy my books, I asked him if he cooked.