Monday, July 31, 2006

Time to Prepare for the Assumption

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is on August 15. I didn't realize until now that there is a traditional fast which happens for the first two weeks of August to prepare for this feast day. As we are told in A Continual Feast:
Before the celebration of the Assumption there is a traditional fast throughout much of the Christian world -- especially among the various Orthodox groups. (The Copts in particular keep this fast with the greatest devotion.) In Sicily and throughout much of Italy this fast and subsequent feast take an interesting form: for the first fourteen days of August no fruit at all is eaten. Then, on the day of the feast itself, every possible kind of fruit is eaten, along with an assortment of cheeses and breads. But no meat. This is, then a little like Christmas Eve: a "joyous fast." This tradition may also be related to the fact that on this day it has long been customary to implore the blessings of the Virgin over herbs, fruits, and flowers.
Now this is an unusual fast indeed. For some people who are continually trying to add fruit to their diets it may not seem like such a fast after all, but rather a treat!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Health Question & Answer Session

I thought it was important to get the word out on these medical theories. Via GOP Soccer Mom.
Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.
Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.
Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!
Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.
Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!
Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.
And remember: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mmmmm ... donuts ....

You Are a Powdered Devil's Food Donut

A total sweetheart on the outside, you love to fool people with your innocent image.

On the inside you're a little darker, richer, and more complex.

You're a hedonist who demands more than one pleasure at a time.

Decadent and daring, you test the limits of human indulgence.

Via Madame Chow who is glazed...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Best Sloppy Joes

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is lack of inspiration, my family has been lucky to get a home cooked meal from me these days. Luckily, they seem to have a strong liking for tuna sandwiches and I thank them for their forbearance.

When I do cook it is likely to be something like this which is also a well loved favorite. (I expect my cooking levels to rise next week since I have been STRONGLY inspired by Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes but more about that later.)

I am not positive but believe this recipe came from Gourmet in the letters from readers section quite a long time ago. I often skip the chopped onion when I am especially pressed for time.


Step 1:

1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion

Sauté beef and onion until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat.

Step 2:

1 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Dijon
Pepper to taste

Add all and cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tony Bourdain and "No Reservations" Crew Stranded in Beirut

eGullet founder, Jason Perlow, has an entry on his blog about this. Via SlashFood were they note, "Some of his updates sound sarcastic and as obnoxious as we would expect from Tony, but they also have some real insight into what is going on over there."

Myth Buster: Baking Soda in the Fridge

Now I can stop feeling guilty for never being a caring enough housewife to have that box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors ... because it doesn't work!
Question - I am attempting to find out how Baking Soda works to eliminate odors. In other words, what does it do, chemically speaking, to eliminate odors. I need to be able to explain this complex process in simplistic terms.
Hoping to not disappoint you, baking soda does not eliminate odors very well at all. As a wash solution, it is mildly alkaline and can serve to cut grease when dumped down a drain. However, crystal Drano is much more effective -- and far more dangerous to use. The popular "open box of Arm & Hammer® in the refrigerator" simply provides an adsorbent material that can soak up odors -- but not very effectively. For example, if some of the odoriferous materials floating around in the refrigerator are acidic, the alkaline baking soda can absorb and neutralize the acid. Even in that regard, it is not all that effective because, as the powder in the box contacts water vapor, it tends to crust over an lose a great deal of its already limited surface activity. It all sounds quite nice, but it does not work very well. Far better would be a canister of activated charcoal because it can indeed adsorb vapors that contact
the charcoal.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Now Serving Hot Links

It's been a while so some of these are a bit aged ... but the aging hasn't hurt them any!

Lonely Planet World Food Series is written up at Food Bound. Sounds fascinating. Now if only my library had even a single one of them!

I Confess ... Karen Hall tells her family the truth about the dishwasher fairy. So inspired that my family has been told the truth about this several times lately!

Ina Garten's Smoked Salmon Spread found at Madame Chow's Kitchen. Mmmmm, smoked salmon...

Catholic Cuisine ... foods you can thank heaven above for. Via Cathy Ward.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies reviews are pouring in from across the blogosphere ... well at least from SFO Mom and Sotto, Sotto.

Amazing Zucchini, How Huge the Yield ... a song in honor of the most giving vegetable ever.

Orange Dream Pops from Mama T. As she sagely notes, "Anything made with Eagle Brand has to be delicious."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Penni's Salsa

I haven't made this one yet but I trust Penni's palate.
here's one you will love. i make it every chance i get - it's really just a doctored-up salsa, but you will love it!

1/2 each, diced: red, green, yellow, orange pepper
1 jalapeno, cored and seeded
1 small red onion, diced
2 ripe avocados, cored and diced
about 3-4 T cilantro, chopped
s&p to taste
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar, Goya pico de gallo salsa


add all ingredients, toss gently, serve with tortilla chips or as a side - it's pretty and festive and it's wonderful.
Mmmmm, avocado...

It's a Small Internet After All...

Funny story---I went to my mom’s house the other day and she made this beautiful fresh potato salad with fresh parsley and I exclaimed over it and my mom said, oh I got the recipe online from this woman called “Happy Catholic”---
From an email sent by a blogging pal ...

Friday, July 07, 2006

If squash casserole is a virtue, which one would it be?

Who is the Kitchen Madonna?
She is the busy mother of four in small town Oklahoma who makes sure the poor get fed. She is the Southern grandmother who lives alone yet most days cooks family-sized meals for whoever drops by. She is the woman in New York City who always brings something good to eat to her office. She is every woman who knows to serve is to reign.

Kitchen Madonnas tape the Beatitudes to their refrigerators, and they pray when they wash the dishes. Kitchen Madonnas know how to cook a wolf when adversity is knocking at the door. Kitchen Madonnas are behind every party, every reception, every special event. In other words, kitchen madonnas know that food is love.

Where are the 21st century Kitchen Madonnas? Where are the women who take the time to create a home, cook for others, and offer their receptive feminine genius to the world weary?

If you find one, try to keep her.
I think that many of us know kitchen madonnas. Many of us strive to be kitchen madonnas.

The particular Kitchen Madonna who wrote that definition also writes equally good and thoughtful essays using food and cooking as a springboard into insights. Check her blog out for plenty of food for thought. You can find more of her articles here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What Will You Be Having For July 4?

We'll be having grilled chicken, watermelon, deviled eggs, apple pie and potato salad.

I love potato salad but very rarely like one that isn't homemade. There are three in my repetoire that get chosen at random, my mom's potato salad (which I think came from Gourmet magazine long ago) which is full of onions and nicely tart, Nanny's potato salad (not my Nanny, but that of my friend Angie) which is full of olives, and this one which came from Cook's Illustrated.

My mother says that this potato salad reminds her of the one that her mother used to make. Occasionally her mother would substitute chopped dill pickles instead of using sweet as is mentioned below. It is a nice variation and one that I make sometimes just depending on my mood. Also I will sometimes use red onion instead of the scallions.

American Potato Salad
2 pounds Red Bliss or new potatoes, boiled, peeled, in 3/4" cubes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 hard boiled eggs, in small dice
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced (app. 1/2 cup)
1 small celery stalk, in small dice (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sweet pickle (not relish) cut into small dice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Layer warm potato cubes in medium bowl; sprinkle with vinegar, salt and pepper as you go. Refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients.

Mix in remaining ingredients; refrigerate until ready to serve.