My Week Cooking from The Pollan Family Table Cookbook

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 “It is never to late to find your way in the kitchen.”                                                         – Authors Corky, Lori, Dana & Tracy Pollan

“What’s for dinner?”            

                                       “I’m hungry!”

                                                                       “Is there any food??”

Yes, it’s true.  If you have a family, they WILL want dinner, every… single… night.

We’ve all been there… sometimes by dinnertime, you’re just not feeling creative, energetic or inspired enough to drive to the grocery store and buy raw ingredients to put together in the form of dinner.

So you speed dial for pizza delivery in the car pick up lane at school, buy what you think is “good quality” processed food, or carry out from a “healthy” place- for a stir fry or bean burrito.

I believe that you can do better and reach higher.  

Will you join me in changing the food culture here in America?

Simply begin with one home cooked dinner a week.  Then two nights a week, then three… until pretty soon, you are actually

MEAL PLANNING.

And this cookbook can help.

We ALL need to bring the focus back to the family table and real food.  In order to do that, you might need some reference material, like a few good cookbooks.  Now is the time to further develop your children’s taste buds, and yours.

I spent this week cooking from The Pollan Family Table Cookbook.  While doing so, i had four goals.

1.)  Is it easy and helpful for me to put dinner on the table?

2.)  Do they use real food in their recipes?

3.) What is their philosophy on food & family?

4.)  Does it taste good enough for my family to eat it?  Especially my kids?

And i had a busy week, just like you:

Monday i took down holiday decorations (and i’m telling you i go ALL OUT) and moved them into storage. Whew.  And i had a “date day” planned with my husband while the kids were in school.  But i made Spaghetti Aglio E Olio and Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Chips.  (Kind of wish i had MY sisters and mom helping me flip those zucchini circles! Ha ha)  I even had time for a short run!                                               IMG_3557

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Tuesday  one daughter had a half day at school while our other daughter had a dental appointment to have three teeth pulled. Homework needed to get done. Doctors orders were “soft food.”  I found a healthy version of her favorite soup in this cookbook, so I made Creamless Broccoli Soup with Whole Roasted Garlic and Frizzled Leeks.

IMG_3599Wednesday i had a mandatory work day due to inventory.  However, i planned ahead and turned out a Citrus-Roasted Chicken with Grand Marnier, thus spoiling my husband. :)

IMG_3634Thursday after biking the kids to school, i had six glorious hours all to myself.  I first had to do my sink full of dishes from last night’s meal.  It was my turn to work, so i needed to find a meal for my family that they could reheat when they got home from jumping around with their daddy at a trampoline house.  But my husband’s car battery died and he had to take MY car to work!  No car? No problem!

Ever since i got my bike i’ve dreamed of filling my front basket with groceries. :) And now i finally got to do it!IMG_3638

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I got home and whipped up a Jalapeño, Pork, & Hominy Chili!  While making the puree of garlic, onions, jalapeños and broth, i think i breathed in for the first time that day… ahhhh.  My senses were awakened…IMG_3646

Here she is below, looking all beautiful…

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Friday, I helped prep, cook and clean all day- but not for me or my family!  About 4 months ago, out of my passion for food education, I snagged a job assisting chefs with their culinary classes! (They have the culinary degree- i do not. But i’m proud to call myself a home cook! And you should be too!) So for this day, i needed a fast dish so i could put my feet up and RELAX after the busy week.

I quickly dredged dover sole fish in milk and flour, sautéed a couple of minutes each side in butter, parsley, lemon & capers, and in no time i made a french Classic Sole Meuniere.IMG_3684

It made me remember one of my favorite dishes from my childhood that i had forgotten- Sole Amandine. (I paired it with some boiled potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.)

Is it quick and simple?  Well, if you count planning, grocery shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning up afterwards… everyday…honestly… it takes some time and energy.

But anything worth striving for usually does.

This week, my children ate zucchini, parsley, leeks, potatoes, broccoli, lots of onion, jalapeños, cilantro, lots of garlic &  more!

The more you meal plan and cook, the better you get at it.  Here are three tips:

1.)  Pick out a few recipes you think your family would like, make printed copies of them, and stick them in your purse, car, whatever.  Then when you find yourself at the store, whip them out. Viola, you are organized! I’ve been winging it like this for a while now, and it works. This year i’m going to try to take it a step further and actually pick out at least three recipes in the beginning of the week and make time sometime that week to cook them.

2.)  The second tip, is “mise en place,”  which they mention in The Pollan Family Cookbook.  It is french for everything in its place.  Before you begin cooking, do ALL the prep work.  Then, when the kiddos have a question with homework, or the dog wants food, or their pencil broke, or they need a new eraser, the phone rings, etc., you won’t break a sweat.IMG_3569

3.) It is so nice to already have the ingredients on hand, so maybe shop the day before you plan to cook to take some of the burden off- unless you are buying something like fish, then the “day of” is best! Also don’t forget to ask, gently persuade, bribe or DEMAND (LOL) help with the dishes. I should talk- i’m bad at asking for help. It’s a good thing my husband does dishes (and laundry.) (Thank you God.)

I found that this cookbook did offer my family “user-friendly’ recipes using real ingredients.  The Pollan philosophy is simply to…

COOK MORE AT HOME & EVERYONE EAT THE SAME MEAL. 

Restaurant chains, fast food joints, and other types of eateries may use more fat, salt and sugar than we would use at home, to make their food taste better.  They also may use cheaper ingredients, chemicals and fillers. Most establishments are thinking taste and profit, not health and quality.

Sharing the same meal- not short order cooking- is a goal we should strive for- unless of course allergies or diet restrictions.  There is something very communal, warm and satisfying about politely digging into the same bowl, pot or platter. It sets a certain mood or tone- satisfying the soul.

Family members, including children, in a perfect world, should be expected to pitch in to help grocery shop, set the table, help chop or clean up.  (This is what i need to work on a bit more.)

While cooking from this book, it’s nice to keep in mind that recipes are guidelines- so feel free to make adaptations to suit your family’s table.

In fact, the cookbook is so wonderful, i am

giving away one copy of The Pollan Family Cookbook

to whoever can win me over with your answer to this question…

“Why do you want to cook more home cooked meals?”

GO!!!

Posted in Healthy School Kids, Health, Parenting, Obesity, Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, foodie love, Cookbook | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Up For a Family Cooking Adventure?

A package arrived at my doorstep, with my name on it.  

I tore it open, and was giddy over the fact that author Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of Crunch a Color, sent me her new book titled, “The 52 New Foods Challenge.”

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I immediately bit off one little chunk- like a 70% dark belgian chocolate bar- reading the forewood written by none other than the fabulous Chef Ann Cooper. I bit off another small, “probably should stop now” chunk- and read her “Note to the Reader,”  before folding in the sides and wrapping it up quickly and tightly indulging in one more quick quote from Mary Poppins before putting it away for now.

“In every job that must be done… there is an element of fun…you find the fun, and snap!  The job’s a game.”

I picked it up later that evening.  First thoughts?  Hmmm, well-written.  Current.  It contains some of my favorite quotes, like the one from Michael Pollan,

“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”

Ms. Jennifer reached out to all the appropriate people and organizations too for their opinions and research- like Harvard Health for example, whom i follow on Twitter.

She was honest about her struggles, her family, her kids.  She, like myself at first, had a hard time with those beginning messes that indoctrinate you when you first introduce your child(ren) to the kitchen.

I knew she had been through the battlefield.  

Not just the cooking battlefield, but the food education and nutrition one too.  Front line stuff.  I liked the way she honored her husband by giving him the inspiration credit for turning “eating healthy” into a game.

Can you introduce new real foods to your family each week in a meal you all shop, cook and eat together?  Are you up for The 52 New Foods Challenge?

I immediately baked a persimmon, LOL.  No seriously.

I ran into this nice acquaintance (who i run into all the time and we still don’t know each other’s names- we must live parallel lives) in the produce aisle and we struck up a conversation about persimmons.  I was clueless about this fruit, but she was food educated about them and we talked and talked.  I bought one.  She said for the price i will pay for one, i can get a whole pound at the Asian market!

So, lo and behold, Jennifer Tyler Lee had a recipe for a persimmon, using pantry ingredients.  So i baked it off.  Isn’t she beautiful??

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My two daughters tried it- it was a new taste for them.  I was talking to their taste buds, and their taste buds were listening- they didn’t slam the door.  It intrigued them, and they kind of liked it.  Food Education!!!

Maybe you’ll check out this new book and introduce “the fam” to a new food, and maybe even nominate three friends to try a new food this week too.

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, foodie love, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dying” Food Culture Video / Happy October 01

HAPPY FRIGHT MONTH READERS, WOO HOO HA HA HA

Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t be THAT house…

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with a dying food culture.

Click on this link below to watch a ONE MINUTE

SCARY Food Education Video:

http://youtu.be/U8-a1u-EEaA.

What do YOU have buried in that garden?

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Posted in Celebrations, Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humble Risotto

Warmth in a bowl.

A little parmesan cheese, a lot of homemade chicken stock, and the scent of onions and celery softening away in butter & olive oil.  I’m home.

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Jamie Oliver just came out with his latest cookbook,

Jamie’s Comfort Food

 and i get to cook from it’s pages and write about it.  Life is good.

I started off with guts and glory and dialed up my butcher to reserve four bone-in veal shanks, for Ossobuco alla Milanese to top the risotto. My butcher mentioned they were frozen, but he’d thaw them out for pick up tomorrow.  I agreed. Unfortunately, he forgot to thaw them.

And you know what?  I’m glad the butcher forgot.

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We enjoyed a comforting, humble bowl of homemade goodness that was-

rich enough to stand alone,

flavorful enough to satisfy our souls,

and filling enough to make us happy.

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Cook Simple.  Cook Real.  Cook from the heart.

Speaking of hearts, i was reminded last night what a celery “heart” was.  I just called the whole vegetable, celery.  Jamie describes it in his cookbook this way, “Click off 6 sticks of celery… leaving you with the central, yellow heart (the best and often neglected bit).”

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I figured out that the 200ml of white wine which the recipe calls for is exactly one of these little guys that come in those four packs for us Americanos… but next time, i’ll get the regular-sized bottle so i can choose the brand.

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I’m talking about food education-  can’t get enough of it.

This meal was perfect for our family game night on Meatless Monday.

Risotto allo Zafferano is it’s name. Monopoly was our game.  Can’t wait to experiment with other variations of this recipe.

Quote of the night goes to one of my daughters with piles of fake Monopoly money and hotels on all the orange properties-  “I eat luxury tax for breakfast.”

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Posted in Celebrations, Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, foodie love, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jamie Oliver’s New #ComfortFood Cookbook

I forgot how much i love a steak sandwich.

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Want to know what i say every time i cook a Jamie Oliver recipe?

“I can’t believe i just made this!!!”

It’s that good.

I love playing in the kitchen with such beautiful ingredients-

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feeding the people i love real food in home cooked meals.

(It’s nice to see more smiles at our table.)

Still on my culinary high from the Jamie Oliver Recipe app, this British celebrity chef rolls out Jamie’s Comfort Food- his new cookbook featuring special occasion recipes for those weekends, holidays, and other celebrations where we may want to indulge just a bit more than the everyday.  But Jamie keeps us in check reminding us to eat sensibly and even shares his Top Ten Tips for living a balanced lifestyle.

One of the featured recipes is his

NEXT-LEVEL STEAK & ONION SANDWICH.

I got busy shopping for the ingredients and dug into this particular recipe which gives some much deserved focus to the almighty onion, which he simmers in red wine vinegar and brown sugar to create an addicting flavor- the perfect union for the affordable and flavorful flank steak which gets seared beautifully.

I like to embrace teachable food education moments to my children as they wander in and out of the kitchen.  So when it came time for tenderizing the meat i called for three assistants- my two daughters and the long-haired blonde who made hitting things with a frying pan famous … Rapunzel!  And we bashed that flank steak silly.

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I won’t spoil the rest of the recipe for you.  Ciabatta.  Ok, seriously stop me.

(Watercress.)

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Jamie’s Comfort Food is out now. Go get yourself a copy and prove to yourself and others that you can cook like the best of them.

Peace, love & real food,

-Amy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Amy Baker Wambold follows her passion for real food, food education and teaching cooking skills through her writing and food photography in her blog, http://www.junkfoodjournal.com.  Amy was honored to become a “Food Revolution Hero” and enjoys making cooking videos, freelance writing projects, assisting in culinary classes, connecting with people on social media, and experimenting with recipe variations in her own kitchen.  Visit Amy Wambold at youtube- click on this link to enjoy a sweet “food love” video- http://youtu.be/43BSP1gwEhE.

Posted in Celebrations, Education, foodie love, Health, Parenting, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Sunk My Battleship

School breakfasts.  My children eat breakfast at home, so I don’t see first hand how bad it is on the front lines.  Well today i witnessed a little, sweet, innocent kindergarden girl on the school food battlefield.

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My daughter and i had gone in early to talk to a teacher about time management on a project.  The teacher’s daughter, the little kindergartner, was emotional- I think because she was hungry.  She asked her mom if she could go to the school cafeteria to get breakfast.  The little girl came back with chocolate milk, apple juice, processed prepackaged brand name mini waffles, and i think one other packaged item.

Then, in that cute “little Cindy Lou Who voice,” asked her mom the burning key question.

“Mommy?  Should i not eat these waffles so my tummy won’t hurt?  Should i throw them out?’

Her mom, the teacher, after acknowledging the lack of nutrition responded.

“No, that would be wasteful.  Save them for later or give them back to the cafeteria.”

In the well spoken words of one of my fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors, “She already knows what doesn’t work for her, but that knowing is being undermined.”

Bad school food is wrong.  It’s stupid.  It’s heartless. It’s directed toward big business profit and not at our children’s health.  Day after day, year after year, this poor excuse for food is feeding disease into our American students and damaging their perfect bodies.

Feed those kiddos especially well this weekend!  Peace, love & real food.

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, Education, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment