I have really been looking forward to this blog. I am writing about one of my favorite things. Good food. Coming from a Southern family, baking has always been an important way of showing love and appreciation. I picked up my love of cooking "real food" from my exposure to Greeks and Italians. I have learned how food is woven into everyday life and traditions. Traveling abroad and living with people who cook totally different than I do, has had a huge effect on how I cook. Another way I have come to appreciate good food is through actually having a restaurant. Customers who love to cook, love to talk about it. Over the years, many have shared recipes and ideas with me, just because they know that we appreciate something yummy to eat. Also, eating and entertaining go hand in hand, and all who know me, know I LOVE a party. I will use any excuse to have people in my kitchen. Even if they are all 6 years old and under.
Speaking of that, I would say what had the most profound affect on how I cook was having children. While pregnant with Steven, I could not read enough about healthy eating and how food has a direct effect on our bodies (and our children's). You all know how every Mother has their "thing". It's the one thing that no matter what, she doesn't compromise. That for me is what goes into my children's mouths. For others, it may be making sure they have a helmet and knee pads on while ridding bikes. (my children have them, but seldom wear them) You all know what I mean. Everyone is different, and I do not judge other mom's for their choices of what to feed their kids. And, I would appreciate no judgement on the helmet thing. (: The only time I cringe is when I see my own child making poor choices on what to eat.....not others. However, if I could give some gentle advice, and you are willing to take it, read on.
In my cooking, I try my best to cook with fresh ingredients. This means cooking with no cans and no boxes. If you can't cook with organic ingredients, do your best to make sure they are fresh and without hormones. I once read that the best foods for you to chose in the supermarket are on the four walls of the place, not down the aisles. I encourage you all to give it a try. Next time you are at your grocery store, only shop the walls. Don't go down the aisles unless it is for cleaning products, etc. (Cleaning products are another blog) For me, vinegar and water are great.
You can also stop at your local fruit and vegetable stand. It is very likely that the food sold there is fresh and hasn't traveled far. Cook your veggies in a steamer pot. If you boil them, it zaps a lot of the nutrients right out. This is most every vegetable.
I have no problem with butter and spices, as long as it is the real thing. Ask yourself if it comes from the earth. "Did the Good Lord make this product I am about to put in my mouth?" He doesn't make fat free or substitute sweeteners, so splenda and anything containing aspartame are NOT ideal. (unless you have a specific dietary reason) Also, I encourage you all to give cooking with herbs a try. I have a small herb garden in pots on my lanai, that I use almost everyday in cooking. If a recipe calls for herbs, just use a little more fresh than you would dried, as the fresh herbs are less potent.
As a result of all this, my children have come to appreciate good food. They have such advanced palates, and eat some of the most non "kid friendly" food. They are willing to try most anything, and are very picky about what they eat, but in a good way. Imagine me taking them over to Greece for the summer, as we do. How in the world could I get them to eat over there, if they weren't used to eating real food? In Greece, they do not have processed foods. No boxed up or canned foods. I would have to pack a whole suitcase full of mac n cheese boxes. No Thanks! Put food that comes out of a can in front of Steven, and he'll look at you like your crazy. Ask my brother who once tried to feed him spaghetti o's. Steven said, "Umm, no thank you" then pushed the plate away. The child knows good food better than most adults. Also, Amanda Lily LOVES to help me cook. She loves watering the herbs, etc. Taking on good nutrition is a fun process. I know most people won't take it up like we do. It is just something I am passionate about.
Another thought is Teflon.....I do not cook with anything that is coated in the stuff. All stainless steel pots and pans in my kitchen. Think about it. When you heat up a pot or pan, then add your food, how much Teflon is leaching into your food????? Not to mention if your husband cooks and decides to use a metal spoon then scrapes little shavings of the stuff into your food. Also, do not heat plastic or melamine in the microwave, or you get the same cancer causing plastics leaching into your food. Only use glass when using your microwave, otherwise you might end up eating more than just your day old pizza, or even worse, serving it to your child.
Ok. So, I could go on and on and on(fast food and soda, etc) but I'll stop here. I hope you all have taken something from this post that you can use in your cooking experience.
Jeanne, this one was for you. (: