Secrets of “in season” cooking

28 Jul

Have you noticed that locally produced food is all the rage?  Do you wonder whether you should use in season produce you see at farmers markets, but you’re not sure what to buy or how to use it? Keep in mind that locally produced fruit and vegetables are sold in grocery stores, too  – not just farmers markets.

Go ahead – try some of that luscious food you see in bushels or on tables at the farmer’s market or marked with a big sign in your grocery store. Using locally produced ingredients could make your food taste infinitely better and even save you money without any extra work.

If it sounds too good to be true, try two tests.

First – the taste test. Buy a tomato that is mass-produced, far away from wherever you live and looks ripe. Now buy a ripe tomato that is local, either at a grocery or farmer’s market. Take a bite from each. Can you tell the difference?  I’m betting that the local tomato tests a lot better than one that traveled thousands of miles.

Second – the price test. Go to a reasonably large grocery store and check out the price of a fruit that is out of season locally and is imported from a climate where the fruit can grow at this time of year. For example, now (mid-late summer) you may find Granny Smith apples in US stores that come from New Zealand or Australia.  A few months from now, when the fruit is in season in your area, price the same fruit grown locally. Usually, the imported, out-of-season produce (fruit or vegetable) will be more expensive than the locally grown version that is available only in season.

So, if you make an effort to eat fruits and vegetable that are in season and produced locally, you’ll probably enjoy their taste more and may well find them less expensive than out-of-season produce shipped from far away.

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French toast is simple and quick to make

28 Jul

Ever look in the refrigerator on a weekend morning and have that sinking feeling? Don’t despair! If you have bread, milk and eggs, and butter or margarine, you’re ready to make luscious French toast.

french toast ingredients and pan

All four ingredients you need for French toast

The best bread to use is slightly stale without a hard crust. If your bread is super fresh, put it in a toaster oven at 325 degrees for a few minutes to dry it out. If yours has a hard crust, just cut it off. For one person, use 2-3 slices of bread.

Mix two eggs and ¼ cup of milk in a low-sided pan.

Soak the bread in the egg/milk mixture for a few minutes until all or most of the mixture is absorbed into the bread.

No need to be precise on amounts or timing. If your bread soaked up all the egg/milk and it looks like isn’t saturated, be brave – add another egg and a bit of milk.  On the other hand, if your bread is delightfully soaked and there is still mixture left, add another piece of bread – you can always cook and freeze it for later. (Frozen French toast can be reheated just like the frozen stuff you buy that costs a bundle and doesn’t taste nearly as good as the yummy version you’re making.)

Meanwhile, melt about 1/2 tablespoon of butter/margarine for each piece of bread in a frying pan that is big enough to hold all your bread, or do it in batches.

Fry the “soaked” bread slices for a few minutes until golden brown on one side, then turn the bread over to brown the other side. If the butter/margarine has all disappeared before the second side is done, add a bit more.

french toast frying in the pan

yummy french toast is almost done

When the bread is piping hot and brown on both sides – you’re done, and ready to enjoy. I like either syrup or cinnamon and sugar on top of French toast – strawberries or blueberries make great toppings too.

french toast with syrup and strawberries

french toast ready to eat - just minutes after you looked in refrigerator

Why learn to cook for yourself and others?

28 Jul

There’s no question that restaurant chefs cook better than you probably ever will. And cooking takes time, not to mention shopping for food and planning what to make.  Plus, if you’re living alone, why bother cooking when it’s just a hassle? If you live with a significant other or roommates who don’t cook, why be the one who goes to the trouble while others take advantage of your efforts and barely wash the dishes afterwards?

While we’re at it, any other reasons not to cook?  Oh yes, there’s the expense and space required to buy and keep all those kitchen pots, pans and gadgets that TV chefs wield like culinary samurai.

So why bother?

  • How wonderful is it to eat something delicious right out of the oven, in your pajamas if you don’t feel like getting dressed?
  • How nice is it not to have to worry about whether the restaurant will be crowded if you go at a popular time or whether it will be open when you want to eat late at night?
  • Have you noticed how expensive it is to eat out?
  • Aren’t you tired of eating the same thing all the time if you only know a couple of dishes, like that easy pasta dish you learned from your mom years ago or found in a magazine at the doctor’s office?
  • Have you ever had someone marvel at your cooking and beg for recipes, vowing that they have never, ever eaten anything so wonderful?

For food lovers who can’t cook

28 Jul
food friends - happy ingredients waiting to be used in your delicious cooking

you're among friends - food friends

If you love good food, this blog is for you. This blog is really, definitely, and especially for you …

if you haven’t done much cooking up until now, and

if you wish you could bake and cook up a storm – or just make a really good meal, and

if you don’t ask for recipes from your mom or friends because you’re afraid you won’t be able to make the dish as well as they did, and

if you’re not conversant with all the intricacies of kitchen gadgets or knowledgeable about various types of cuisine, and

if you are adventurous by nature, but perhaps a bit intimidated by the foodie bloggers and celebrity chefs, and

if you like to be health conscious but you’re not health-crazed, and

if you can’t afford to eat out as much as you would like or just prefer not to eat out all the time.