Is It Or Isn’t It–How Do We Know?

One of my pet peeves is the word organic.  What exactly is organic?  What is the difference between Whole Foods and Wal-Mart’s organic?  The price is different so does that mean the quality is different?  What are the requirements for something to be considered organic?  Do we believe them?  I can tell you that I can tell the difference in cage-free eggs and regular eggs.  That’s about it though.  To be sure that our fruits and veggies are organic we need to plant and grow our own.

Then there is that meat thing. We all know that turkeys and chickens are not that large.  The mutant turnkey they sell us for Thanksgiving is as large as the pig the ham came from. I remember going to visit relatives once and seeing what they call a yard chicken.  I told my mom they needed to feed him, and that’s when she told me that was the size he should be.  And another thing, how many wings does a chicken have?  Where are the other parts of the chicken?  Seriously every restaurant has “wings” on the menu, but they don’t have thighs, breast or the other part of the wing on the menu.  So where are the other parts–mutant chickens with 10 wings?

The size of the chicken parts at different fast food restaurants is dramatically different.  At some, it seems you might be eating parakeets and others turkeys if you go by the size.  How is this possible that they say they are all serving chicken?

All of the different cooking oils from vegetable, olive, saffron, coconut, canola and so many more.  Which one is better, and do you need to keep one of each depending on

 

what you are cooking?  My mom used Crisco for everything, and she could cook.  In fact everyone I knew used Crisco.  Doesn’t seem that we are any healthier.  No, we never used lard so don’t go there.

I have a lot of other pet peeves when it comes to food, but you would be reading a novel.  My last one is expiration dates.  I don’t do a lot of cans or boxes, but when I do I look at the dates.  A recent report said they just put any date on the cans and boxes even the eggs and milk.  So when do I throw it out?  At one time I could tell you if an egg was good just by holding it in my hand–out of practice now.

I must admit that I do have about 5 different kinds of oil in my cabinets.  Can I tell the difference–sometimes.

cooking oil 2

When our mother’s, grandmother’s and my great-aunt Alice cooked they used Crisco in a can, but they cooked with love, and we loved it.  It was better than any 5-star restaurant Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  There is always something new, but love makes everything taste better.

 

 

 

There Is Nothing Wrong With A Little Help

I must confess, that I could do rich very well.  I would be very nice to the people who worked for me–the housekeeper, landscaper (yes, I would have someone to plant the pretty flowers), the driver, the one who purchases the groceries, everyone.  But since it does not seem to be in the cards that I will ever be wealthy, I have decided that I deserve some help some of the time.

You can ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I am a very good cook. When my children were young, I tried everything and had fun doing it.  Then one day they said the dreaded words “I don’t like that”.  Even then it was still fun, and I still enjoyed it.  As time has gone on, I have fallen in love with cooking shows.  If you ever watch the movie “Chef”, I even made his pasta dish after I went grocery shopping the following day.

There in part lies part of the problem that I face when it comes to cooking now.  There are basically three problems that make cooking unpleasant for me now.

  • Cooking the same thing time and time again.  It is easy to do.  It is just a habit that is hard to break and it makes everyone happy.
  • Grocery shopping is a job in itself.  When you do find a new recipe that you like, you have to go to the grocery store because there is a spice that it calls for, and you don’t have it.  Oh you can leave it out–it’s only a teaspoon, but that teaspoon matters. Then there are the questions, do I buy regular apples or organic apples?  What makes Central Market organic apples cost so much more than Walmart organic apples?  Are they even organic or is that just a fancy way to say pay more?
  • Cooking for two is so much harder than cooking for four.  There are recipes that are for two, but most are for at least a family of four.

I found the not so perfect solution to all three concerns.  I found *Blue Apron or my oldest daughter found it.  It does work.  First of all I noticed that she and my favorite son-in-law had lost weight.  She informed me that Blue Apron was portion controlled, and it did fill you up.  More importantly to me was the fact that all of the ingredients come with it, and the cost is reasonable.

I have enjoyed cooking new recipes for my hubby and myself, and even the girls like it.  I love the sides that come with it more than anything.  They are quick and easy.  The sides use ingredients that I usually have, but have never thought about putting together. My daughter wishes they would go one step further by chopping the ingredients too–that doesn’t bother me.  The meals are very tasty and the presentation is great too. The recipes are easy to follow–they have pictures to aid in this.  I have enjoyed every one of the meals with a few things that I would tweek if I did them again.

Since I can’t hire a chef, Blue Apron has become my personal chef, and it is worth it. I am not cooking the same things over and over and even going to the grocery store is more enjoyable.

*Blue Apron is not the only meal delivery service, I have friends who use others including Home Chef, Hello Fresh and Plated.  You might want to give one of them a try.  You do not have to receive a shipment every week, and there are vegetarian meals to choose from.

Everyone deserves a little help.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Bon appetit!

 

The World In A Box

See, smell and taste the world through food–sounds interesting doesn’t it.  You can do it! Every time I fly I take a look at the airline magazine, and try to do the puzzles.  This time while flying on American Airlines I ran across an article on Try The World and it caught my attention.

One thing that it seems most people can agree on is food.  The world is always interested in trying new and exotic taste.  Home cooks are trying to amp up their standard recipes by using different herbs and spices.  Try The World gives  you that opportunity in a cute box.

The box not only comes with ingredients, it comes with recipes, and a cultural guide to the country that the box features. If you only want snack foods, you can order their snack boxes.  My box is shown below–it came from Thailand.  My sister and I could not wait to taste some of the things that came in it.  Our first try was the Coconut Flower Syrup. She put it in tea and I tried it on toast.  We gave it 2 thumbs up. We’re kind of on a schedule to try the other items.  Each trying it a different way–Soft Dried Jackfruit is next.

You can find out more about this wonderful taste experience by going to Try The World and starting your adventure.  It’s the next best thing to traveling there.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear“.  Try The World in a box.

Let’s Get Ready To Cook–Top Chef Fort Worth

It gets hot in Texas, and it was hotter during the finals of Fort Worth, Texas Magazine’s annual Top Chef competition. An excited sold out crowd was on hand to cheer on their favorite chef, well some were on hand to eat the wonderful food.  I can say this with all honesty Chef Tom Colicchio better watch out, Chef Jon Bonnell and the cast of Fort Worth’s Top Chef are coming for you.

The cocktail hour before the main event had the excitement of a professional prize-fight with patrons discussing why their favorite chef was going to win.  There was talk of the restaurants where each of the participating chefs worked, and talk of trying all of them in the future.

Hal Brown, who is the founder and publisher of the Fort Worth, Texas Magazine and veteran sportscaster Scott Murray started the main event off with excitement.  All that was missing was “let’s get ready to rumble”. There was an introduction of each of the chefs that would have made any professional athlete envious.

Head judge, Chef Jon Bonnell led the chefs in a quick fire challenge, a blind taste test and then on to the main event.  The main event had 2 secret ingredients–beef and langostinos.  For an added challenge Chef Bonnell had each contestant to cut their own steak to showcase their butchering skills.

While the chefs cooked with their sous chef, there was conversation, food, drink and an auction to be able to eat each of the chefs final plates.  The big auction allowed attendees a chance to have each of the celebrity chefs to personally come to the winning bidders home to prepare dinner for a private party of 8.  The chef would furnish the food.  As an extra incentive, Hal Brown announced that a bartender and spirits had been added to each dinner.  The bidding was so fast and furious that each chef agreed to do the dinner twice, so there were two winners for each chef. The money raised from the auctions went to charities selected by each chef.

As the judges came back to the stage, Chef Bonnell announced the winner–Chef Stefon Rishel of Max’s Wine Dive.  Chef Rishel had been the favorite of the student chefs from O. D. Wyatt High School who were sitting on the table with me (he is their mentor).  They were as excited as he was.

The contestants in the Top Chef final were: Jerrett Joslin of The Wild Mushroom, Charles Youts of The Classic Café, Kalen Morgenstern of Tillman’s Roadhouse (she survived Gordon Ramsey in Hell’s Kitchen which makes her a shero of mine), and of course the winner Stefon Rishel of Max’s Wine Dive.  I know all 4 of the restaurants will see a jump in their reservations.

It is said everything is bigger and better in Texas, and on this hot night in Fort Worth, Texas it was.  Fort Worth, Texas Magazine’s Top Chef is ready for its closeup.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. 

Cooking At Pirch And Much More

Written by blog contributor CY Cooper.

There’s a store at NorthPark Center in Dallas, Texas that when you walk in, you will want to tear out everything in your kitchen and bathroom and start from scratch. The name of this store is PIRCH and it’s simply AMAZING. I went to this incredible store to attend an event hosted by the FABULOUS, Quenita Fagan or Que, who writes the blog CURVA-LISH. The purpose of CURVA-LISH is to empower women to live authentically with purpose, grace and style. Que’s event at PIRCH was empowering, stylish and just a whole lot of FUN.

PIRCH on Saturdays has cooking classes called Sourcing Saturday where participants are encouraged to get involved in the cooking process, while learning about fresh, seasonal ingredients and method cooking. For almost two (2) hours my fellow attendees and I chopped, sliced, sautéed and peeled gorgeous fresh vegetables along with seasoning beautiful flank steaks. The end product was an incredible, flavorful meal which consisted of a mixed greens salad with goat cheese and grapefruit, an egg frittata with fresh vegetables, side dish of shiitake mushrooms and parsnips along with flank steak. A PIRCH Chef mixed chocolate ice cream on a salt block for dessert which was out of this world DELICIOUS.

The two (2) hours allotted for this class goes quickly, as you are busy preparing the food and conversing with your fellow attendees. PIRCH chefs are present the entire time demonstrating techniques, answering questions and guiding you along the way. In my opinion, when you attend an event where you participate, learn new techniques, have great conversation, enjoy delicious food and just have a good old-time, that’s a WINNER in my book. This is a great event for a girlfriend’s day out or a date night.

Thanks Que/Curva-Lish and PIRCH.  You can read more of Curva-Lish at: http://curva-lish.blogspot.com/

PIRCH is located at NorthPark Center, Dallas, Texas, and their website is: http://www.pirch.com/location/dallas/ 

thisisyourbestyear

Free Women’s Health Event

For Women for Life Women’s Health Event

women's health event

Baylor All Saints is throwing it’s annual women’s health event, “For Women For Life” on Saturday, January 24, 2015 from 7 AM to 11 AM at 10 locations in and around North Texas. It is offered free to you, but you must register.

They are inviting you to enjoy breakfast, and then receive lots of free health screenings.  They want you to enjoy watching healthy cooking demonstrations, visit health booths, and learn from various panel discussions that will be led by physicians.

Some of the topics that will have question and answer sessions are:  Heart Health, Cancer Care, Orthopedics and Women’s Health.

Check the link above (For Women for Life Women’s Health Event) to see if your area is offering this event.  If not contact your local hospital to inquire.

Grab your friends and enjoy learning more about your health.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Food For Thought

This post is written by guest blogger Ms. Carol Cooper–Enjoy!

ICentral Market1n case you’ve never been or you aren’t fortunate enough to have one in your city, Central Market is an extraordinary grocery store.  It has just about everything you could possibly desire when grocery shopping INCLUDING a Cooking School.  The Fort Worth Cooking School always has something deliciously going on each and every month.

Cooking Classes are scheduled with chefs from Texas and throughout the country.  If you are a true foodie you can’t help but LOVE these classes.  Not only do you get to eat delicious, fabulous food but you also pick up some helpful tips on improving your own culinary skills.  These classes are perfect for girlfriends get-togethers, date nights or you can go alone and eat something wonderful and learn how to make it.  It’s an enjoyable 2 to 2 1/2 hours with extraordinary food and its preparation as the main focus. Central Market 5

Recently I attended the class that featured Fort Worth Top Chef Blaine Staniford of Little Red Wasp and GRACE Restaurant fame. There was of course, delicious food, good conversation and just an all-around enjoyable evening. Chef Staniford was insightful, entertaining and passionate about his craft.  Oh, did I mention the food.

Trust me when I tell you no one left the Central Market Cooking School hungry.   The cost of the classes vary.  For full class descriptions, registration information and to make reservations, visit www.centralmarket.com.

Bon Appetit, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Central Market4

Here’s the menu of what we sampled:  Braised Brisket Pot stickers w/Citrus Dipping Sauce; Shrimp & Grits w/Andouille Sausage & Creole Butter; Aged Cheddar Biscuits w/Braised Short Rib, Spinach & Poached Eggs; Hollandaise made in a Blender and for dessert–Butterscotch Pudding w/Salted Caramel Gelato, Dulce de Leche & Almond Crumble.

Central Market7

Revisiting

Today I revisited two places that I have told you about before.  The first place I went back to was Aria Salt Therapy Center for my second session.  This time I was in a semiprivate room.  I do think that the treatments help with sinus and allergy problems.  I have not had the sneezing episodes that I previously had.  My absolute favorite part of the entire experience is the zero gravity massage chair.  It is awesome–soft music, zero gravity and dim lights.  Do I need to say more?  It is a wonderful experience.

zero gravity chair

Then I was off to the The Virgin Olive Oiler to get a refill of Organic Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Durango Smoke Flavored Salt. I love both of these products.  You can use these products on a variety of foods.  **You can use them to make the best baked potatoes.  Nothing else but a little freshly ground pepper is needed. While there I did purchase a Rosemary Flavored Salt. to try.

The Virgin Olive Oiler

**Recipe for the best darn baked potatoes.  Use whatever type of white potatoes you prefer.  Scrub them–don’t wash, scrub them.  After scrubbing the potatoes, pierce them many, many times with a fork.  Then take the Organic Extra Virgin Butter Olive Oil and rub it all over the potato making sure you cover it well.  Sprinkle with the Durango Salt and freshly ground pepper.  Wrap in foil and bake on 375 until done.  If you want the skin crispy then uncover the potatoes for the last ten minutes or you can bake uncovered the entire time.  You can eat the entire thing.

Another way to do it without using foil.  Follow the washing instructions then slice the potatoes, but not all the way through–you want them to look like an accordian.  Drizzle with the Organic Extra Virgin Butter Olive Oil, sprinkle with the Durango Salt and freshly ground pepper then bake in a 400 degree oven until done.  So much better than french fries.

Sliced Bake potatoes

Take time to visit these two wonderful places.  You can visit them online at:  www.ariasalt.com and www. and www.thevirginoliveoiler.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Stop and Smell the Flowers (Take Care of You)

As women of a certain age, we sometimes think that we must be everything to everybody–especially during the holiday season.  Some of us are from the old school, and we must prepare holiday meals the way our mothers and grandmothers did back in the day.  Some of us even think we must show our new-found culinary skills (by way of the Food Network) in order to make our families happy.  We decorate our homes sometimes to the extreme.  It has to be perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, I cook, clean and start the process all over again–I enjoy it.

But I have learned from life experiences that I must take care of “me”, because if I am not at my healthiest, not only do I suffer, my family suffers too.  I’m not talking about being physically ill, nor am I talking about being mentally sick.  I’m talking about an illness that has no name so for the sake of this post it will be call “MyItis”.  “MyItis” can be defined as forgetting to stop and smell the flowers.  There is a gospel song that says “Give me my flowers while I yet live”.  That’s what we should do for ourselves as we mature. 

Take a little time to stop, look and smell the flowers.  Take time to look at the beauty that God has created for our enjoyment.  I’m not saying you have to buy them;  you can if you wish, but you can just look and smell while shopping for that holiday meal or that special gift for that someone special.

Stopping to smell the flowers is not all about “flowers”.  You are a beautiful flower that has opened its petals that needs a little extra attention (more than a  flower whose petals have not open yet).  Take time to cure your “MyItis”.  If at all possible take a day, weekend or more to rest and recharge.  Use this time to “rest”, not think about the next meal (believe it or not they will not starve before you get back).  If you feel they will, make meals ahead of time.  If the house doesn’t stay clean for a day, you will live–you clean everyday any way.

Take a break away from your phone, pick up that magazine or use your tablet to read your favorite magazine that you haven’t had time for.   Sleep late, can’t sleep late, then just lay there and thank God for the flowers in your life.  Do something that soothes you, not something that everybody else does.  You want to cure your “MyItis”, not theirs.  Take time to let someone else take care of you.  Have a meal at a nice restaurant, and this time don’t think that you can make it better, just enjoy the fact that you didn’t have to make it, and/or wash the dishes and/or clean the kitchen.  Take time to enjoy the little things.  Drink a glass of wine in the prettiest glass that you can get it in–you are the Flower that keeps the weeds from taking over your garden, you deserve the best. If you don’t drink wine, soda or tea will do.  It’s all about taking care of you.

I truly love my family, but I also love me.  When I am at my best, I plan better, decorate better, show off my culinary skills more and even look better.  I’ve cured my “MyItis” for a while by way of The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. 

My baby sister loves her big sister (this was my birthday gift from her).  Everyone was excited to see me when I got home, and I was excited to see all of them– from the kiss of my grandson to the kiss of my hubby. I know that in a couple of months I will have another bout of “MyItis”, and I will cure it whether it be in my sunroom looking at the flowers in my backyard, drinking my wine out of the prettiest glass I can find or somewhere else in the world.  I will do this, and you should to because “thisisyourbestyear.”