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March 30, 2011

Cooking Tip: How to Calibrate Your Meat Thermometer

Make sure your meat thermometer is properly calibrated. To test its accuracy, hold it in boiling water using tongs. If it doesn’t read 212°F or within one or two degrees, then you need to adjust your thermometer. Repeat the test, this time in a bowl filled with crushed ice and water. It should register 32°F; adjust accordingly if it doesn’t. Most dial thermometers will allow you to adjust the dial to the proper temperature. We like to check ours a couple times a year.

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Tips and Tricks

March 25, 2011

Cooking Tip: Reserve Pasta Water

It’s good practice to reserve about ½ cup of the seasoned pasta water before you drain your cooked pasta. This will allow you to adjust the consistency of your pasta sauce, if need be. The starch in the water will add more body than if you were to just use tap water.

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Tips and Tricks

March 15, 2011

Confused About What Salt to Use?

Confused about what salt to use? Table? Sea? Kosher? The main difference between them is texture. Here’s the breakdown on the rest:

pictured from left to right: table, sea, kosher salt

Table salt is the most common salt found in home kitchens and on tables at restaurants. It’s mined from underground salt deposits and refined so most minerals are removed. It includes a small amount of an anti-caking agent and iodine is usually added. Table salt can have a sharp taste to it. Because the crystals are so fine, it is not an equal substitution with kosher salt. Figure about 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt.

Sea salt is harvested from naturally evaporated (through wind and sun) seawater. Because manufacturers use little processing, trace amounts of minerals are left behind giving the salt its characteristic color and flavor, depending on where it’s from. Many claim that sea salt is fresh, pure and briny tasting. It’s available in coarse and fine grains as well as various flakes, depending on how it’s handled. Because of the expense of the more artisan sea salts, and the fact that the flavor subtleties disappear into cooked foods, it is often used as a finishing salt on foods like salads or tomatoes. The crunch is an added bonus.

Kosher salt is what we at do it Delicious prefer to use because it dissolves quickly, has a clean flavor, is inexpensive, and, due to the shape and size of its small flaky crystals, it’s easy to pinch. Kosher salt doesn’t contain additives and can be derived from either sea or salt mines.

One more thing to remember: the total recommended daily sodium intake is from 1500mg to 2300mg (that’s about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon table salt).

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Tips and Tricks

March 9, 2011

Freezer Storage Containers

As a follow-up to our How to Freeze and Thaw blog post we thought it might be helpful to share our favorite freezer storage containers.

We love Pyrex’s Bake, Serve ‘N Store series because you can do just that.

You can bake, microwave, freeze or refrigerate in them. And most importantly, you can bake directly from the freezer to the oven! (This is such a great time saver.) We also love that the series includes 2 types of lids: BPA-free plastic lids for airtight storage and glass lids for cooking (don’t use the plastic lids in the microwave or oven).

The rectangle shape (as opposed to round) is great for utilizing space efficiently in your refrigerator or freezer, and they nest as well, leaving a smaller footprint in your cupboard when not in use. Because the glass is non-porous, they won’t absorb stains or odors like many plastic containers. They are also dishwasher safe and made in the USA.

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Products We Love

March 7, 2011

I’m an Eatie. Are you?

Last Saturday night, Jerry and I went out for dinner with our best couple friends. As a treat, we decided to go to a new “it” restaurant—one that had a magnificent review in an esteemed paper. When we got there, we were impressed by the ambiance. The room was lovely—exceptional flowers dotted the tables and beautiful dogwood branches were elegantly placed throughout. A very proper maître d’ greeted us, and a sommelier came to take our wine order. The items on the menu were meticulously described, and it was hard to choose—so much so that we decided to share all of our dishes—appetizers and main courses.

All of the elements were in place for a memorable meal.

Then the food began to arrive. To call it fancy would be an understatement. There was foam, there were architectural elements, and there were animal parts none of us had ever tried. The food was prepared in very special and highly considered ways that are difficult to describe.

We all suddenly felt a little low class for this joint.

Our little group prefers a more low-key, rustic type of food—the kind that is not precious in any way.

Despite the design and display of food at this restaurant, none of us loved our dishes the way you want to when you are getting dressed up and entering into an atmosphere that suggests such greatness.

When we got the bill, we were in shock. Yes, we fully understand and respect how labor intensive it is to prepare dishes so delicately and how much training it requires to be capable of doing so. But, when we compared the cost to our level of enjoyment, the numbers just didn’t make sense to us. And it was then that we came to a revelatory conclusion: WE ARE NOT FOODIES.

This was a major admission on our part. We love food, and we like to think of ourselves as open-minded and adventurous eaters. But the cult and fetishization of fancy food is simply not us, and we are comfortable with that. As my husband—who has coined a phrase once or twice in his life—eloquently said, “We are not foodies, we’re EATIES!”

YES! We are EATIES!!! Simply put, we just love to eat good food that is not complicated, overwrought, and over thought.

This realization gave me new insight into my approach to food preparation. I have written two books aimed at offering food solutions for families. The first emphasized ways to blend healthy vegetables into kids’ favorite meals, while the second one expanded the concept of good family meals by adding in grains and other nutritious supplements. Both books were best sellers, but more importantly, both resulted in a massive outpouring of feedback from parents who were ecstatic to find simple approaches to feeding their children better—and craving more.

Many foodies and other food puritans (many of whom have never cooked a meal for a child) don’t like the approach of turning vegetables and other nutrients into invisible ingredients. Which is fine! Not every tactic is right for everyone. Some have children who have loved whole vegetables from the time they started eating solid food. Mazel Tov! Believe me, I tried it their way for years, but when dinner becomes stressful or when your child has never eaten anything that was grown fresh from the ground, it’s time to try something else.

So I set about solving my own problem, and it worked. My kids now eat salad every night, and loads of fresh veggies. And since I started sharing my experiences and recipes, I have been overwhelmed by the reaction from people who are grateful to have seen a green vegetable enter their child’s body for the first time—especially from the many highly sensitive or autistic kids who need their vegetables pureed.

But when Jerry said, “You are an Eatie,” I realized suddenly who I am, professionally. Just because I write books and make videos about food, doesn’t mean I should be categorized as a foodie. I am really just a schlep who came up with a way to feel better as a mother in how I feed my extremely picky eaters. It’s okay that some disagree with how I feed my family vegetables, but it’s working for us.

Families that have food issues—big or small—that’s who I’m focused on. As an Eatie, I am dedicated to simple, basically prepared fare that is delicious, wholesome, and affordable. I hope you will join me in our Eatie Club. We are accepting new members.

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Personal Thoughts