Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am still here

Sorry for the lack of updates for a while (too long).  I am still here.  I've just not had the time/ideas to update.  I have yet to find a recipe from a cookbook and execute it.  Who knew it would be so stinkin' difficult?  I am going to do it.  I like that this is challenging me.

So I will update with something soon.  :-D

Monday, January 10, 2011

I love cookbooks

I really do.  I read cookbooks like others read novels.  I have well over 100 books, I'm sure.  Sadly many are in plastic totes, as I don't have the space for them all yet.  Someday I will have them all out again.  For now I have a selection in my kitchen of ones I look at most often.  Yes, "look at."  I love cookbooks, but I don't often cook directly from them.  I tend to use them more for ideas, tweaking the recipe, or abandoning it altogether in favour of something that it has inspired me to create.

Right now I've got barbecue books and canning books (canning recipes are always followed) on the middle shelf, baking and holiday books above them, along with books that came with things like my food processor and mixer, and on the bottom shelf are a few of my all-purpose books, from chefs like Jamie Oliver and Michael Smith, plus Betty Crocker and Taste of Home.  There are also a few of my "escape" books that I love to read just because.  All Around the World with Sheila Lukins, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, The Silver Palate Cookbook...  They aren't "pretty" books, but they inspire me with tales of food from other places and cultures.  A well written cookbook can transport and inspire me in so many ways.  I also own two books by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford.  Hot Sour Salty Sweet and  Home Baking.  Both are wonderful just to look at and read, even if one never cooks from them.  I have a few books by Nigella Lawson which really need to get into the cupboard too.

So recently another local blogger who inspires me as much as my cookbooks (just read Eating Niagara and try NOT to be inspired... good luck) took up a challenge to not only enjoy a particular cookbook as an inspiring read, but to actually cook from it.  Shocking idea, that!  I am looking forward to reading her "Tuesdays With Tony" entries.  Several of us began talking about the challenge and decided to step up and try it ourselves.  Thus far I have no clever name for mine, nor a set date to start, but I am looking forward to it.

For those who follow my blog, you're familiar with my gourmet group.  9 ladies who get together regularly to share food.  The hostess sets the menu and hands out the recipes, and it is our job to make the recipe as written.  For some it's easy.  For me it's a challenge.  I read something and think, "That would be better with..." or "I'm not sure 'x' will work in this."  But I follow the recipe nonetheless, because that's the "rule." This challenge reminds me of gourmet nights.  I need to choose a recipe and actually follow it.  I need to use a cookbook, not only for inspiration, but for actual instructions.  I'm really looking forward to it.  And I will blog about it, even if I don't come up with a clever name.  :-D

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 food trends?

I'm a little torn reading about the projected food trends for this bright, shiny new year.  More local food.  Great!  Burning vegetables, powdering their ash and calling it a condiment.  Weird.  Adding sea salt to french fries and calling it healthy.  Misleading.  New buzzwords like "snackify" and "drinkify."  Stupid. 

Don't we enter every year like this?  New predictions for what we'll all be seeing and wanting in the months ahead.  If the predictions are at least partially correct and we see an upswing in the demand for local, seasonal produce and meats, I'll be very happy.  I'll be happier still if it's not a "trend" but instead a very real shift in the way we eat.  We exist on a globe, but first and foremost we live in a community.  And there are wonderful, hard working people right here whom we can turn to for nourishment and quality.  Not to mention variety.  Have you seen the list of things Linda Crago of Tree and Twig has both in seeds and transplants?  The mind boggles at the vastness of her list of tomatoes alone.  And she is not the only one out there.  Farmstands dot the landscape across the peninsula, giving us all the opportunity to divert some of our money directly back into the community.  The rewards range from fresher produce for us to a boost to the local economy, to a reduced carbon footprint for those who are inclined to measure their impact on the planet in such a way.

And as with most predictions for each new year, there are the ones that make you roll your eyes and wonder how we ever got here.  The pendulum swings this year from artisinal cheeses and farmer's markets to the idea that adding sea salt to fries or whole wheat to a fast food pizza crust will add "healthiness" to the food.  Isn't that like ordering a diet cola with a greasy burger, or topping your double stuffed deep fried vaguely Mexican sounding meal with low-fat sour cream?  Can we really feel more virtuous because our pizza has an insignificant amount of fibre in each slice?  Aren't we missing the point of how to eat healthy in the first place?

And speaking of which, don't even get me started on Pepsi, and their dollar sign driven desire to dupe people into believing that they are giving kids a healthy alternative to sugar loaded juice by offering sugar loaded juice with fruit pulp.  Um, what?  Yep, apparently Pepsi believes that their "Tropolis" drink is going to facilitate getting kids to eat fruit. Because the process of introducing kids to fruit apparently needs  sugar laden middleman now.

Before my head blows off from the increase in blood preasure, I'll leave you with my favourite Top 10 Food Trend List for 2011.  It's from an incredibly clever blogger whose name I do not know at 5 Second Rule, and contains the wisdom of many years of food trend lists.  Enjoy.  The Most Superlative Food Trends List Anywhere