Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?

Now it is time to add some sort of oil to your skillet and actually start cooking your onions.

As far as which oil, that’s left to you…but some choices include olive oil, butter

You want to coat the bottom of the pan. Use 1tsp per onion. If you use too much oil, the onions will fry instead of caramelizing.

And now it’s time to actually start cooking…

You should have the following ingredients…

  • Onions—how ever many onions you want to cook—one large onion will make about makes about a 1/2C caramelized onions.
  • Fat—such as olive oil or butter
  • Salt—this will season the onions and help pull out some of the moisture.

Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you need to…Add half of the onions that you are going to cook, instead of dumping all of them at once so that the pan will not be too hard.

Season the onions with salt.

Stir the onions gently

How long you cook your onions will be based on how dark you want them to be, what you are going to use them for, and how many onions you are cooking.

As the onions cook, check them every five to ten minutes. As you do this, stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet. Adjust the heat if you’re afraid that they’re going to burn.

If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of liquid—such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or wine. This will not only deglaze your pan, but will also add more flavor.

Taste an onion once they start looking the color that you want them to be. If they do not taste as caramelized as you would like, continue cooking.

Now deglaze your skillet…Now that your onions have finished cooking, pour 1/4C liquid—such as wine, broth, balsamic vinegar, or water. As the liquid bubbles, scrape up the fond and stir it into the onions.

Now pour this sauce over your caramelized onions.

Storing

  • Caramelized onions can either be stored in the fridge for about a week or frozen for about three months.
  • Let the onions cool in the pan before transferring them to a storage container.

Making Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker…You could also caramelize your onions in a slow cooker. Thank goodness…because I think that a slow cooker is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

Once you have finished slicing and dicing your onions, add the onions to your slow cooker along with 2Tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat the onions evenly with the oil. Now add 1/2 tsp salt. Cook the onions for ten hours on low, stirring  occasionally to help them cook even more evenly.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Don’t Just Gaze…When You Could Deglaze

Now that you have finished sauteeing whatever it is that you are sauteeing, you will find that your skillet has little bits of brown stuff still stuck to the bottom.

Your first thought as you gaze at this skillet that you dread cleaning is that you now have to get out a Brillo and clean the darn thing…all the time wondering if you’re gonna scratch the new skillet that you just forked over how much for…

But wait…

There is a way not only to make cleaning this skillet easier, but also to use these bits to make your food taste even better.

What you find stuck on your skillet is actually a mixture of browned sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, and rendered fat that have collected on the bottom of the pan.

This caramelized “mess,” which the French call sucs, is actually packed with flavor and will only require some sort of liquid—such as wine, stock, or juice—to become something quite delicious.

How do I do that?

The way that you make this stuff actually taste good, not to mention cleaning your skillet is deglazing.

Deglazing transforms this messy residue into a delicious gravy or sauce that can be served with the food that you finished sauteeing or used to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

This will add an additional rich flavour to the dish, capture the food’s flavor that is lost during cooking, and tenderize the foods that have so often become dry as you have sautéed them.

So how do you deglaze?

First transfer whatever you have just cooked onto a platter and cover so that it stays warm while you are deglazing the skillet.

Next add a liquid—such as wine, beer, stock, wine, juice, or both—and any desired fresh herbs to the hot pan. Add enough liquid to make twice the amount of sauce you want to make.

The flavor of your sauce or gravy will ultimately be determined by the following three things…

  • the key ingredient
  • the liquid used for deglazing
  • any flavoring or finishing ingredients that you add—such as aromatics, herbs, or butter

Raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, and gently boil gently until the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and make them dissolve into the sauce.

Cook until the there seems to be half as much liquid as you started with.

Taste the sauce until you get the flavor that you like.

If you need to thicken your sauce or gravy so that you get a richer and more concentrated sauce or gravy, add some flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot…or simply simmer some more.

You could also add a tablespoon of whipping cream, olive oil, or butter to add even more flavor, give it a velvety texture, and thicken the sauce.

And there you go—not only a cleaner skillet that will be easier to wash, but also a delicious something extra to serve with whatever you had just sautéed…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Saute Your Meats and Vegetables

What is Sauteeing?…Sautéing uses relatively high, dry heat and motion to quickly brown meats and vegetables in a small amount of far.

Sautéing also gives food a lot of flavor in a short amount of time.

As far as meat, sautéing is a great way to cook meat because this method not only tenderizes the meat, but also takes advantage of the Maillard reaction, which is the caramelization of the sugars in food. Often this is done before continuing to cook the meat by another cooking method.

As far as veggies, sauteing is also a great way to cook veggies because this method brings out the true flavors of the food, produces a flavorful exterior with the best possible texture and color, and maintains the original flavor and texture of the veggies.

Sauteeing is very similar to two more cooking methods that we will be looking at—stir-frying and pan-frying. All three of these methods involve cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat.

However, stir-frying foods involves keeping the food in constant motion instead of letting the food rest at times during the cooking and requires higher heat….and pan-frying involves no tossing of your food, uses slightly more fat, and requires slightly lower temperatures.

So which foods can be sautéed, and which foods shouldn’t?…Virtually all foods can be sautéed, but since this is a quick cooking method, the food must be small and tender enough so that the center is done by the time the outside has browned.

This method works best with foods that are sliced thin so that they cook thoroughly without a lot of heat.

Since this is such a rapid technique, it does not offer the same tenderizing effect as some of other methods. For this reason, any food that you are going to sautee must be naturally tender.

Meat…As far as meat, sauteeing should only be used to cook the most tender cuts, those meats without a lot of tough connective tissue. If you try to sautée tough cuts of meat—such as a lamb shank or brisket—they will become even tougher because it is a dry heat method. These meats are much better suited for braising and other cooking methods that require a longer cooking time.

If you’re cooking a single serving of meat—such as a fish filet or pork chop, let the food develop the color and crust you want on one side before turning it over.

For chicken breasts or single-serving pieces of meat or fish, cook one side until golden brown, then flip over to brown the other side. This quick sear helps the food retain its natural juices.

  • Chicken…about 10min…until no longer pink and internal temperature is 170 degrees
  • Fish…about min…until golden and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork
  • Pork Chops…about 10min…to “medium” or 160
  • Steak: Cook until desired doneness—145 degrees for medium rare, 160 degrees for medium

Veggies…As far as veggies, any vegetable can be sautéed, but more tender vegetables—such as asparagus, baby artichokes, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sugar snap peas, and zucchini—are the best ones to choose.

Saute the veggies until they are al dente, meaning crisp-tender or almost “undercooked.” The veggies will continue to cooking even after you take them off the heat.

If you are going to be cooking several different vegetables together, start with those that will need a longer cooking times, and then add those that require shorter cooking times toward the end.

Overcrowding…Regardless if you are cooking veggies or meat, or a combination of the two. avoid overcrowding your skillet. Overcrowding your skillet will lower the heat of your skillet, and increase the chances that your food will be mushy and limp.

Your ingredients need enough space to move around, and any steam that is released as you cook needs enough room to escape, instead of staying in the pan in order for your food to brown, instead of steam.

Tossing and turning…You must keep the food moving as you sauté. This will make sure that your food cooks evenly keep the pan hot, and avoid food sticking to your skillet.

So often we see trained chefs on television shows, such as Iron Chef, holding the handle of the sauté pan firmly and then using a sharp elbow motion to quickly move the pan around….

And they make it look so easy. I am a normal home cook though, and my tossing and turning will never be quite the same as theirs…kinda like my pizza tossing skills…

So instead of even trying this at home, I use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to move the food around.

Just stir the food in a circular direction around the heating source. Wait a a few seconds, and then stir again.

Here are a few more things to remember…

  • Cook only one layer of food cooks in your pan at a time.
  • Do not press down on your meats and veggies while you are cooking them in order to get them brown. If your pan is hot enough and contains enough fat, doing this will only rob them of both moisture and taste.
  • If you are cooking a lot of food, cook the food in batches instead.
  • If you are cooking meat, have at least 1/2″ between each piece of meat.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Best Cooking Oils to Use for Diabetics

  • The next step in our learning how to saute food is choosing which oil we would like to cook in.
  • There are at least a dozen choices out there…each of which not only affects the final taste of your food, but also your health—even more so as a diabetic.
  • Let’s take a look at some of these choices, starting with the most commonly used—or at least the most commonly used cooking oil in my own house—olive oil. 

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Olive Oil

The What

  • Most of us think that about huge bottle of olive oil that we hide under the sink with the other bottles—such as rum and vodka—that we might want to have close at hand.
  • And most of us think that olive oil is olive oil—never having any variety as far as flavor–ranging in flavor from fruity to peppery,, viscosity, and color.
  • Some of the olive oils found around the world that can make you change your mind about all olive oil’s tasting the same include…
  • Badia, ..a great, inexpensive well-rounded olive oil from Spain, found in many supermarkets.
  • Ravida…a brightly-colored green Italian olive oil with a pungent taste that stands up well to the robust flavor of Sicilian cooking
  • Terra Medi…a smooth, well-rounded, and not too heavy olibr oil from Greece
  • Unió…a mild and fruity olive oil from Spain with a soft peppery finish

The Why

  • Olive oil is considered by many to be the healthiest of all the cooking oils, mainly for helping to reduce the risks of heart-related conditions.
  • As far as diabetics are concerned, olive oil is a good choice because olive oil helps improve the sensitivity of the body towards insulin.
  • Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats.

Almond Oil…Another cooking oil that can be used to saute your foods is almond oil.

Nutrients...Almond oil is not only a good source of monounsaturated fats, but also a rich source of nutrients—including potassium, zinc, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.

Benefits…

  1. can help you lose weight and prevent weight gain
  2. can reduce your risk of colon cancer.
  3. decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease
  4. helps fight inflammation in the body
  5. helps naturally regulate blood sugar levels
  6. keeps you feeling full, which helps to prevent snacking and overeating
  7. may also work as a natural laxative, relieving constipation and IBS
  8. naturally reduces cholesterol levels
  9. promotes the flow of oxygen and nutrients through the blood
  10. reduces the risk of heart disease
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Oh “Huck,” Where Have You Been

Okay, I just told you to dry your food that you are going to be sauteeing off with a paper towel…and many of you cringed at the thought that I would even dare to have them in my house…aren’t we all “going green” these days?

Even though you might be much better off using this on the food that you are going to be sauteeing…after all, do you really want to risk making your family sick by drying foods such as raw chicken on something that you might then wash and use to clean your mirrors, windows, and wood furniture? 

But right now I am taking a break to look at all the other things that can be used as alternatives to standard paper towels so that we can do one more thing to be “eco-friendly” and do our art in saving the environment.

Basically in the school of “green thinking,” there are three trains of thought—find something similar, use something else instead, or use something that you already have on hand.

So let’s first look at “Something Similar”…

When it comes to ordinary paper towels, the next something similar would have to be other towels and napkins that are made of a fabric that can be washed and re-used. Examples of this include Huck towels, microfiber cloths, and napkins from such materials as chambray, cotton, and linen.

1. Huck Towels

  • Color…may be white or dyed different colors…designate a specific color for each specific use
  • Commercial Uses…to clean surgical instruments…also used by rofessional window washers, car detailers, and cleaning companies
  • Durability…long-lasting, tend to hold up well even after many washings
  • Fabric….pure cotton…whenever buying Huck towels, make sure that the towels are 100% cotton because blended fabrics are not as absorbent.
  • Household Uses…window cleaning, drying dishes, dusting and polishing furniture, wiping down furniture on the patio and porch
  • Source…Rag Lady…looks like an excellent source for all sorts of recyclable, well…rags…
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

These Knives Made the Cut

7" Chinese Chef's Knife Vegetable Cleaver, , large

So in my quest for the best knife to buy as far as veggies, which ones did I find worth considering…

Cutco Vegetable Knife #1735

  • Blade…wide enough to easily move ingredients from the cutting board to the pan
  • Blade Length…7-3/4″
  • Blade Material…410 High-Carbon, Stainless Steel
  • Cost…$150
  • Edge…straight
  • Engraving…available
  • Guarantee…Cutco’s Forever Guarantee means that they will sharpen, hone, buff, repair and if necessary replace your CUTCO knives and accessories for FREE, no receipt required
  • Handle…ergonomically designed for all hands—both large and small…both left and right
  • Handle Color…classic brown or pearl white
  • Handle Material…highly engineered thermo-resin
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Review…On the Gas
  • Source…”American Made. American Proud.”
  • Tang…full, meaning that the blade extends the full length of the handle
  • Use…to chop, slice and dice ingredients for soups, stews and vegetable platters
  • Weight…7.6 oz.

Dalstrong Phantom Series 6” Nakiri Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Length…6”
  • Blade Material…forged from a single piece of ice tempered steel with high levels of chromium added for stain resistance…the ice-tempering ensures excellent resilience and superior edge retention
  • Cost…$149.99…on sale now for $44.04
  • Edge…straight…double-bevel…tapered to minimize surface resistance and to increase both durability and flexibility
  • Handle Material…traditional Japanese D-shaped black pakkawood with a distinct red spacer, carefully crafted mosaic of copper and brass, and hand-polished stainless steel end cap designed to create counterbalance and distinction
  • Review…That’s a Knife
  • Tang…full tang for incredible robustness and quality
  • Use…prepping vegetables in bulk

Global Cutlery USA SAI 6″ Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Material…three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Cost…$164.95
  • Edge…12.5-degree convex convex blade edge
  • Handle…unique thumb rest to give added comfort and control.
  • Handle Material…metal, totally wood free….three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Review…Knifeista
  • Tang…full
  • Warranty…lifetime warranty against defects and breakage
  • Weight…1.3 pounds

Shun Classic 7-in. Vegetable Cleaver

  • Blade…hand-sharpened 16° double-bevel blade
  • Blade Length..7 in
  • Blade Material..high-performance VG-MAX stainless steel.
  • Cost…300.00
  • Handle Material…D-shaped ebony PakkaWood
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Source…Japan

ZWILLING Cutlery TWIN Signature 7″ Chinese Chef’s Knife Vegetable Cleaver

  • Cost…90
  • Edge…laser-controlled edge that is incredibly sharp, honed, and hand-finished
  • Handle…three-rivet handle
  • Handle Material…polymer
  • Source…a German manufacturer that has been making knives for over 280 years
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

On the Chopping Block

The first step in sauteeing your food is to cut whatever you’re going to saute into uniform, bite-size pieces…

And unless you totally want to ruin both your countertops and your knives, it is very important to invest in a decent cutting board.

As you are shopping for your new cutting board, it is important to consider several things—such as size, maintenance, material, and cost.

Size…As far as size, I have found that it is smart to have at least two different sized cutting boards—a small one for cutting up fruit and small vegetables—such as strawberries, lemons, and limes…and a larger one for everything else.

As far as the larger cutting board, a general rule of thumb is to buy a board that measures 15″x20″. 

You should be able to lay your knife diagonally on your cutting board and have at least 1″-2″ on either side of the knife.

Buying such a large board is great for several reasons, including…

  • allowing you to better control the board as well as the knife
  • being more comfortable in general
  • giving you plenty of room to work safely and effectively
  • making cutting both easier and safer
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Back to Bok

Okay, the last few articles have been an attempt to start writing about home organization, but lately I have been thinking more about this and have decided that the one thing I want to accomplish as I write is to teach, if only to myself, better cooking methods and the raw foods….especially now that my beloved souse has been diagnosed with diabetes this year.

So I am now back to bok…bok choy.

 

I thought that this would also be a great time to start talking about the various cooking methods and how to make each of these methods more healthy before moving higher on the Raw Foods ladder.

 

There are basically three categories of cooking methods. These are..,

  1. Dry-Heat Cooking Method
  2. Moist-Heat Cooking Methods
  3. Combination Cooking Methoda

 

 

Dry heat cooking methods involve applying either direct or indirect heat to the food, and include…

Baking and Roasting

  • Broiling
  • Deep-frying
  • Grilling
  • Pan-frying
  • Sautéing

Moist heat cooking methods involve submerging food directly into a hot liquid or exposing it to steam, and include…

  • Boiling
  • Poaching
  • Simmering
  • Steaming

Combination cooking methods involve using a combination of both dry-heat and moist-heat cooking techniques, and include…

  • Braising
  • Stewing

 

In this next series, I would like to go into detail about each of the cooking methods and the tools needed or that are useful for each method.

Then having this list in hand of the different tools needed for each method, I am going to share my efforts on organizing my own kitchen.

Join me for the journey…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Here’s to a Super Bowl

Now that we’ve learned that there are way more salad greens to choose from than the ordinary iceberg lettuce, let’s talk about the good stuff that actually makes salad good.

One major difference that makes a salad that you actually enjoy eating better than the salad that you dread seating is using just as many vegetables as your do leafy greens.

Raw veggies and other add-ins will give your salad texture as well as more surface area for dressings and toppings.

Here are some of the most common choices as far as salad add-ins…

Note…I was going to be more detailed when I first started this, but decided that since one of my goals is to finish working my way through the Raw Foods yamid, thought that this would be rather redundant, and for making salads, this would be more useful instead…

Vegetables…

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Baby Carrots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Black Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn kernels
  • Cucumbers
  • Green bell pepper…
  • Green olive…
  • Heirloom Tomato…
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  •  Pickled beets
  • Portabello mushroom
  • Radishes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Apple
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Strawberries

Legumes

  • Chickpeas.
  • Kidney beans

Carbs

  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
    peanuts

    pumpkin seeds,
    Sesame seeds,
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • xsummer squash, hot peppers, possibilities are endless!

  • minced garlic,
    garlic powder,
    cayenne pepper,
  • oregano,
  • cumin,
  • paprika,
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • black beans,
  • lentils,
  • pinto beans
  • Herbs
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano

Meats

  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Ham
  • Steak
  • Turkey
  • ————————————————-
Uncategorized

Raising the Bar at the Salad Bar

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit because you’re on a diet or a diabetic or health nut…you will very quickly get sick and tired of the average bagged salad that sits in your fridge drawer quickly forgotten until it starts smelling bad or you stumble on it when looking for something else behind the mayo and mustard.

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit, you must learn to raise the bar on your home salad bar…otherwise eating salad will become just another health food to log into your food diary.

But before we talk about all of the different leafy greens that are available, let’s learn a few basic rules that you should remember…

Nutrition…As far as nutrition goes, all leafy greens are good for you—being great sources of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and calcium…but not all leafy greens are as healthy as the rest of the family.

As a general rule, the darker the green, the healthier the green.

Kale and spinach are always better choices than iceberg lettuce or endive.

Lettuce is about 95 percent water…and gives you half as much of the recommended daily value of vitamin K and vitamin A.

Selecting Leafy Greens...Make sure that the leafy greens are buying to make your salad are fresh and crisp… not wilted, limp, and withered.

Avoid any leafy greens that have brown or yellow edges, or dark or slimy spots.

If you are buying bagged greens, always check the use-by-date.

Storing Leafy Greens..Always rinse your leafy greens before using because the folds in leafy green vegetables easily accumulate dirt.

The best way to store your leafy greens is to wash and dry them, layer the leaves in wet paper towels or a kitchen towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate in the crisper drawer.

Never store greens near fruits, such as apples or bananas, Fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and will cause the greens to develop brown spots and decay rapidly.

Drying Greens…Always make sure that the greens are bone-dry before using them in your salad. Otherwise the dressing will not cling to the leaves and you’re more likely to have a soggy salad.