Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Best Knife


My favorite knife used to be a cleaver. I bought it for $15 in Chinatown in Chicago.  With a knife like that, even the hardest squash doesn't stand a chance.  Hiya! Bam!  But, a couple of years ago I bought a knife for our vacation condo.  (Vacation condos tend to be bereft of decent knives.  It's part of their charm.)  I found this Chicago Cutlery knife ($20) at my favorite store: Target.  Sadly, they do not carry the knife anymore.  But you can find it on Amazon.

This is a knife worth swooning for. (Careful! Put the knife down first.)  It has a good weight and the blade is really thin and sharp.  It's good for cutting everything from onions to carrots to meat, fish, and, yes, squash.  It's good looking too, if a knife can be said to be handsome.  And it's less intimidating to dinner guests than a cleaver.  (Especially when said cleaver is being wielded by your eleven-year old son.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Incredible Edible Smoothie


I have found that the best way to boost my kids' daily fruit servings is to offer smoothies.  A smoothie is a great breakfast, snack or treat.  I make them with two or three kinds of fruit, ground flax seeds (for omega 3 fatty acids) and enriched soy milk (calcium!)  I don't add sugar and my kids have learned to drink it this way.  It's a little bit like a vitamin, but you could probably find a way to avoid mentioning that when you serve it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chewy Sugar Cookies



I've never been a fan of sugar cookies.  First of all they are crisp, and I like chewy cookies.  Secondly, they lack, well, complexity.  Still, this recipe from Cooks Illustrated caught my eye.  I would link you directly to the recipe except Cooks is one of those websites that requires you to subscribe.  It costs about $35 a year, and I think it's worth it--but not for one recipe.

I like this recipe because it is easy to prepare.  You don't even need a mixer.  It also uses some oil which is healthier than all butter so you can feel virtuous when feeding them to your kids.  Finally, these cookies are extremely addictive, even with my healthy modifications (substituting wheat flour for some of the white and adding omega 3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil). For complexity, you could roll them in cinnamon sugar or cardamom sugar instead of plain sugar.

Why I'm writing this blog

Moi?  Write a food blog?  Why?

More importantly, who would want to read it?

And yet, once the idea lodged itself in my mind, I could not deny that I just might have something to say on the subject of food once in a while.  Or maybe every few days.

The germ for the idea arrived when my sister-in-law, the best cook in our family, asked me if she could have some of my favorite recipes.  Her request surprised me.  Was it possible that she thought I had something to contribute to her superior culinary knowledge?

Hmmm.

I had also just completed making a family cookbook with all my in-laws favorite family recipes (as ranked by my husband.)  My family hasn't really left me a food legacy, but theirs did.  The wheels were starting to turn in my mind about how I would want to leave my recipes to my children.  A food blog could be just the thing.

Let me just say here that I have no formal training as a chef.  I'm just a curious home cook with a hungry family of five.  I try lots of recipes and add liberal doses of my own "improvements".  I've been doing this for years.  Decades, really.  And yet sometimes I have to stop and think, "Now, what exactly do I know how to make?"  This blog, then, serves as a record of what I've tried and how I modified it from the original recipe.  You will also find equipment and book recommendations, tips and techniques.  And even if it never finds a wider audience, I feel certain that my children will appreciate this compendium of all the foods from their childhood, one day.  You know--when they turn forty or fifty.

Enjoy!  And happy eating.