Finest Foodies Friday – August 28, 2009

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As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related. With a membership of over 5,000 food blogs, I am sure you can find much inspiration and new friends! :)

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

I am a regular reader of Amy’s blog. Amy has been living a GF and sugar free lifestyle for over 6 years. I know I have been trying to reduce sugar and gluten in my own diet, and so I understand the challenges with eating this way. But Amy’s blog is a source of delicious and inspired recipes. When I visit her blog, I can’t even believe that her recipes are free of anything, because they certainly are not free of flavor, texture and overall yumminess. I find Simply Sugar & Gluten Free to be not only informative, but also inspiring.


The Old Hen Blog

The Old Hen is a Bed and Breakfast located in The Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State. It is run by husband and wife team Deanna and John who had started talking about opening a B&B together even when they were just dating! So if you are looking for a place to stay near Seattle, or just to have a getaway, check out their B&B’s website . Their blog is all about the food, and Deanna has been cooking up a lot of Julia Child’s recipes lately, so you want to be sure to check it out!

Bake List

Written by a college student from California who is currently residing in Illinois. This blog is fairly new, only about 2 months old, but it looks like it has been around much longer. The photography is drool-worthy and the recipes, well they are just as tantalizing. There is also a wonderful travelogue of a recent European tour. But even at that, the food takes a top spot. For example, check out the most recent post about German coffee, Rudesheim Coffee. YUM.


Eatin’ on the Cheap

This blog is all about eating well, without spending a lot of money! Something we could all use every now and again. Author JodieMo has been cooking and baking since childhood and has worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years. But it isn’t all about food, she also loves photography (which is a great pairing when you are a food blogger!). She is now mom to twins, which means that cooking for her family on a budget has become a part of life. Check out her blog for great ideas on cooking delicious meals on a budget!


NutriChef’s Blog

“ This blog is dedicated to combining helpful nutritional information with a culinary flair. It is my hope to encourage people to eat healthier but enjoy what you are eating.” Sounds like a good philosophy to me! Check out the latest post for an Orange Lime Cilantro Sauce.  A recipe that was recreated after tasting a delicious chicken dish at a restaurant! I am sure this sauce would be a winner on shrimp or other seafood as well!

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s FFF. Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them.

I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!! I know we all have our favorite blogs that we read everyday, and I would love to know about them. We have a very diverse food community, and I would love to see more of the blogs you love featured. We also have a lot of humanitarians out in the Foodie Blogosphere. If you think there is a food blogger out there that deserves a little recognition for their culinary skills, or what they are doing to help the world through the lens of food, please tell us about them!!! Please post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday! They would love to have your feedback.

Eggplant Torta

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This is a great and easy recipe to make on a week night. I love eggplant dishes, especially those that are baked with cheese and sauce. So when I saw this recipe for eggplant torta, especially having a guest from Italy in the house (who is not used to American foods) I thought it would be perfect.

I really loved this recipe – and it made delicious leftovers. Dishes like this often taste better a day or two later (another concept that was lost on our Italian guest – I guess leftovers are a rarity in Italy), and this dish was no exception. I enjoyed it for lunch the next day!

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2 for 1 Chicken: Bone Broth and Chicken Tostadas

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Everyone loves 2 for 1 sales, that is, if you like the product being featured. Most of the time this is not the case for me. Usually at my grocery store, two for one deals are on pre-packaged foods that we choose not to eat. Some people may believe that this makes me mental but I chose to see myself as a concerned consumer.

I have been thinking a lot lately about food, the food industry, consumerism and, well being a concerned consumer. I have been reading Stuffed Nation by Hank Cardello over the past week and there is a lot of food for thought regarding being a concerned consumer in that book. Some of his points I agree with, some I don’t necessarily, however, I will be discussing this in more detail next week, when we announce the Foodie Blogroll giveaways for September, as his book is one of them! This will give us all a change to weigh in with our thoughts about food policy.

But back to my 2 for 1. As I have mentioned before,  I am really in love with the book Nourishing Traditions and I have been trying some recipes from the cookbook portion of the book. I love that the book focuses on traditional foods and traditional food preparation. So many of the recipes seem like things I already enjoy making, but the preparation is a bit different, and it is the preparation that makes the difference for my belly and the bellies of others.

Bone broths are a very old idea, but also an idea that has kind of fallen out of common practice for the most part. If a recipe we are using calls for stock of any kind, we are more likely to go and purchase a can or box of stock at the grocery store, rather than reach into our freezer for homemade. I want to change this in my own home. Over the past few months, in addition to already baking my own breads and pastries from scratch, and making ice cream, I have started cleaning out my pantry of canned beans, and beginning to use dried beans, soaking them in a mixture of warm water and raw apple cider vinegar over night before cooking. I have also recently purchased a yogurt maker and the cultures for yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, creme fraiche and fromage blanc. Along those same lines, I have also started making bone broths. Bone broths are rich and nutritious as they contain gelatin which actually aids digestion and joint function. It also acts as a “protein sparer” that allows the body to more fully utilize the proteins that are taken in with it. To read more about the benefits of bone broth, check out Jenny’s blog, The Nourished Kitchen.

I have always made stocks with the bones from roasted chickens, and I have even been known to bring home fish bones and heads from the restaurant to make fish stock, but I have never made a stock with the whole animal, since I normally prepare it a different way. By following the directions, in Nourishing Traditions, I decided to do just that, boil up a chicken, for 24 hours, and then make a whole other meal with the cooked chicken (they have a ton of recipes dedicated to just this!).

I have to admit I had a fabulous time with this broth. You don’t have to cook it for 24 hours, you can do it from anywhere between 6-24 hours. But I figured for my first time, I might as well go all the way! It was very satisfying to cook a broth for this long – the house smelled amazing, and I was really in domestic bliss. Once the cooking was over, I waited for the broth to cool, and then I packed it, 2 cups (for convenience) at a time in freezer bags. I got 13 cups of stock!

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With the chicken I decided to make chicken tostadas. Roberto’s brother is visiting from Italy, and has never had Southwestern food before, and I was really craving it. So we gave it a go! It made enough for all of us (me and two very hungry menfolk) with leftovers! That plus the stock is certainly 2 for 1. I paid about $7 for the organic free range chicken, and maybe $1 for all the veggies that went into the stock. Add about $7 tops for all the toppings, tortillas and extra bits for the tostadas, and we are at a grand total of $15 for 6 meals and 13 cups of chicken stock (usually about $4 for 3 cups at the grocery for organic). That is less than $2 a man sized meal PLUS the stock. In my opinion that is money well spent. Who says it is expensive to eat organic, good quality food?

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Finest Foodies Friday for Friday, August 21, 2009

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As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

This week’s Finest Foodies Friday is courtesy of our friend Judy from No Fear Entertaining:

See her original post here : http://nofearentertaining.blogspot.com/2009/08/finest-foodies-friday-august-21-2009.html

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Shellfish Pasta cooked in Black Box Wine

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Here is the post I promised everyone on Monday. If you have not read or commented on Monday’s post, Concerned Consumer, or Mentally Ill? please take a moment to do so. I think this is a very important issue – that leads to other larger issues, that affects all of us. Anyway, you can read all my thoughts about it on that post, for today, onto something else!

Are you a food blogger? If so, have you signed up to be a Featured Publisher with Foodbuzz? If not, I ask you, why not? Foodbuzz is a great place to meet and interact with other food bloggers and non- food bloggers who just love food! Not only that, there are also a lot of other great benefits to being a Featured Publisher. One being that you get to try free stuff through their Tastemaker Outreach Program! Recently I was lucky enough to receive some wine through that program…Black Box Wine, that is.

Several years ago I read an article that discussed screw top wine bottles and how there was mostly just an aesthetic difference between those and bottles topped with corks. So I started giving some screw tops a chance, and found some pretty good ones. So when Foodbuzz announced they were going to be featuring Black Box Wines in their next Tastemaker Outreach Program, I decided to sign up. I wanted to see what wine in a box would be like. It got a lot of good reviews, and so it really piqued my interest. Black Box wines feature vintage-dated wines from the world’s premier growing regions, and delivers great taste at half the price of bottled wines of the same quality. Plus it comes from a portable, re-sealable, recyclable box. Cool.

So about 2 weeks ago I received my box of wine in the mail. I was not sure what variety I would be receiving, and I must admit, I was a little disappointed to see a Sauvingnon Blanc. We are not really white wine drinkers in this family, but keeping an open mind I put it in the fridge to chill, waiting to get that urge for white wine.

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Roberto’s brother, Davide is visiting from Italy for the first time, so we really wanted him to enjoy some fresh FL seafood as soon as he got here! So the first full day he was here, we went to our local fish market and I got local shrimp, as well as mussels and scallops. When we got them home, I decided to cook them with garlic and wine, and serve it all over some nice pasta.

As part of my gluten free journey I have looked into alternatives to straight semolina (durum wheat) pasta. One of my favorites is De Boles pasta that is made with part semolina and part Jerusalem artichoke flour. The Jerusalem artichoke flour is high in inulin, a pre-biotic, that is a digestive aid. Inulin also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Artichoke flour gives the pasta a lower glycemic index making it easier for those with gluten sensitivity (not for those with a gluten allergy or celiacs because there is still some semolina flour) to process.  However, De Boles does carry a gluten free line, yet I have not seen it at my grocery store. For me, the difference between the Jerusalem artichoke flour pasta and “regular pasta” is non- existent. It cooks up nice and al dente, every time, just the way I like it.

The other gluten free pasta I have come to love is Mrs. Leepers 100% organic corn spaghetti – not a huge fan of their slow to load website, however.  My husband really loves this pasta, and he would be a good judge of all things pasta. I also like it. It does not get sticky or mushy and tastes…just like pasta!You would never know it was made from corn flour.

Although I am beginning to lean in the direction that I originally thought about my health, which is that I am just not very tolerant of grains in general, I don’t seem to be bothered by corn or artichoke. Therefore,  I may try to increase the number of times we eat these pastas. Roberto LOVES pasta, and I really only cook it once a month, at the most, when I don’t mid falling asleep at 8 PM. I highly recommend these products. They are really good.

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So back to the seafood. We brought it home and as I was putting it in the fridge, a light bulb went off – I could cook it in the Black Box wine and then drink some to go with it! So I did a simple sautee of garlic and onions in olive oil. I added the seafood and then about a cup of the wine, juice from one lemon (and the lemon peels)  and some fresh herbs from the garden – basil, chives and lemon balm.

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I let it all steam away for about 3-5 minutes, and then served it over the De Boles pasta with a drizzle of lemon olive oil on top, for fun. I also served it with a loaf of Artisan Bread in 5′s Olive Oil Bread , to which I subbed one half cup of water for plain kefir and added about 1 TBS of honey (instead of sugar). Of course I had to have a chunk too, to dip into the delicious sauce from the seafood boil! It was great.

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This meal was a huge hit and we all enjoyed the glass of Black Box Sauvignon Blanc that we drank with it! I can’t say I would chose to buy that variety again, however, I think I would try some of their reds! Thanks so much Foodbuzz for giving me the chance to sample this!

Concerned Consumer or Mentally Ill?

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Today I was going to write a post about local Florida seafood that I recently cooked with Black Box wine to go over some great gluten free pasta that I recently discovered. But as I was perusing the morning headlines, I came across this article that states having a passion for food quality or worrying about what you eat could indicate a “severe psychological disorder”, an eating disorder called orthorexia.

This article is written by Amelia Hill who is an education reporter for The Observer. She states that those who have this disease are people who “… are solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies…Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.”

That last sentence just really stuns me…are we that far gone in society that articles like this can be written and published in a major news journal? Wow. I mean isn’t avoiding harmful ingredients, or ingredients that we are allergic/sensitive to a GOOD thing? Shouldn’t we be concerned about the food we put into our bodies, where it comes from and to avoid those foods that we know to have pesticides, herbicides and artificial additives???? I would think yes, but I suppose, as is evidenced by my blog where I discuss so much about eating local, organic when you can, avoiding harmful additives and GMO foods, that I must have this so called disorder, according to Ms. Hill.

Apparently this disorder affects people mostly commonly over the age of 30, who are “ middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives”. HUH. Well in that case most of the food bloggers and real life people I know also have this disorder. Interesting that this disease is commonly found in people that are educated about food and are demanding better food for themselves and their family. Now, rather than a force to be reckoned with, we are being reduced to people with an eating disorder. The article also attacks nutritionists, dietitians and naturopaths “who believe in curing problems through entirely natural methods” who are our allies in the fight for better food.

When you look at the Wikipedia information on orthorexia nervosa , Dr. Steven Bratman, an MD, coined this disorder to describe people that take healthy eating to the level of obsession where they actually become malnourished in the process. It goes on to describe subjects that avoid certain foods, like fats, animal products, or other ingredients considered to be “unhealthy” by the subject, severely restricting their diet to sometimes only a few foods. Improperly managed diets like this can lead to starvation. That is what this disorder is all about. This is very sad and also very different from the light that Ms. Hill paints it in her article. An article that is going out to subscribers of this newspaper world wide. Most of whom will only skim it, and get the wrong idea.

Reading an article like this, that has been published in a major newspaper which reaches millions of people is scary to me, in a who is backing this and why kind of way. Perhaps it is a backlash to movies like Food Inc. or King Corn . Or maybe it is a response to Michael Pollan or Nina Planck and their writings which have become so popular lately, showing the food industry that the quality of our food is a concern for many, many people these days. Articles like this fly in the face of the entire organic, natural foods and slow food movements that have been gaining a lot of political power in the past few years, making them out to be a bunch of crazy people. These movements have been hugely successful, already putting a big wrench in the corn industry by forcing them to reduce products containing corn syrup. The same way, a few years before, that the public put a major halt in the production of hydrogenated oils and the prominence of them in our food.

These are both examples of something the public educated themselves on, and then voted with their wallets, again a sign that Ms. Hill says could mean you have this eating disorder. An article like this just serves to spread misinformation to readers while patting the backs of the food industry that keeps putting crap in our food, allowing the cycle to continue. This point of view basically says that eating McDonald’s, pre-packaged foods full of chemicals, or fruits laden with pesticides and not worrying about what it does to your body is a “healthier” way to look at things than going to the farmers market or sourcing your own better produced food alternatives because you are concerned about where your food is coming from. Not only is it healthier, but if you don’t think this way, you have a severe psychological disorder.

The author notes that for some people, “eating becomes so stressful their personal relationships can come under pressure and they become socially isolated.” Granted, when I worked for a holistic doctor, I did see some people who were overly concerned about food and what they didn’t eat. Some took it to an extreme measure. However, the way this article is written, by including pesticides and chemical additives or common allergens like dairy, gluten or soy, as examples for what people with this disorder might exclude from their diets, is lumping a whole lot of people into a group of people with mental disorders, that have no business being there. This article looks like a cheap attempt to discredit all the legitimate concerns that many of us have been raising over the past few years, by lumping us, and those health care providers that use non-invasive practices, into the same basket as those who do unfortunately suffer from mental illness.

The author quotes Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders for saying: “modern society has lost its way with food”. Articles like this prove that could very well be so. No wonder newspaper readership is going down.

* food photo courtesy of thebittenword.com’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/galant/

Finest Foodies Friday – August 14, 2009

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As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites and yours!

What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related. With a membership of over 4,700 food blogs, I am sure you can find much inspiration and new friends! :)

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Savory Sweet Life

Alice has been a part of the food industry in various capacities for a long time. First on the food service industry, then on to owning her own wedding cake business, and now as a freelancer and blogger! She specializes in everything from baking, to last minute dishes and dishes with flair. Her blog is just as well rounded, and you will enjoy her mouthwatering photos, especially during this season with super fresh cuisine at her disposal!

Madurai Style

This blog is full of recipies from Madurai in India. I have always enjoyed Indian food, but it wasn’t until I became a part of the blogging community that I have learned so much about Indian cuisine, and also realize how much more I have to learn about it! There are so many regional specialities, the possibilities are endless! If you want to spice up your kitchen Priyameena’s blog is a great place to start! She shares with you both her good and bad experiences in the kitchen.

The Austerity Kitchen

The Austerity kitchen is dedicated to the best in austere fare, past and present. From the Victorian era, to the Great Depression to contemporary austere cuisine, the blog showcases the best and tastiest recipes from hard times. Each month, as part of their “Austerity Kitchen Challenge” a new recipe is developed to feature inexpensive and readily available ingredients that is neither bland nor humdrum. An example, Lazy Pierogi, which is similar to a dish I created some time ago.

Cook, Eat & Live

This blog is written by a “gal in Singapore”, nicknamed, Xiaopang. There are a lot of delicious recipes on her blog that are totally new to me, which I find to be very exciting! I always love learning new things about food, and various cuisines, so a blog like this is always a goldmine of information! For example, did you know that rice pizza is common in Japan and other Asian countries, and their love of rice has created amazing dishes like, rice burgers? To learn more, check out this blog!

The Cookie Shop

This blog is written by Paula in Brazil and it is her virtual bakery! She loves to bake, and started making too many sweet things. As a way to prevent herself from gaining weight she gave away her goodies to friends, who then told their friends about it and they started to make orders and so she had a little business going! This makes her virtual bakery, less fictional! You will be amazed by some of her combinations and I am sure will find inspiration for your next baking endeavor!

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s FFF. Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them.

I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!! I know we all have our favorite blogs that we read everyday, and I would love to know about them. We have a very diverse food community, and I would love to see more of the blogs you love featured. We also have a lot of humanitarians out in the Foodie Blogosphere. If you think there is a food blogger out there that deserves a little recognition for their culinary skills, or what they are doing to help the world through the lens of food, please tell us about them!!! Please post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday! They would love to have your feedback.

Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates…on a salad with balsamic glaze

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A few years ago when I was still teaching at the cooking school, we had a summer camp program for kids. It was really fun teaching a room full of young people the joy of cooking and food. Inspiring them to eat with their taste buds, and not worry about whether they thought they liked something or not based on principle, but to expand their horizons. Little foodies in the making. As part of this teaching we tried creating dishes with unique flavor profiles, that packed a wallop, a real flavor sensation!

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One of the dishes we made up covered all the basics – super sweet, salty and savory. We stuffed dried dates with parmesan cheese, wrapped them in bacon and broiled them until the bacon was nice and crispy. We called them bugs – because that is kind of what they look like if you are a kid. For me, I easily looked past their outward appearance, this was one of the most amazing flavor combinations! One of those bites that you really can’t wrap your head around, until you have tried it! For me, it was love at first bite.

It has been a while since I last had these, but recently I got a craving for them. We had just picked up some dried dates from the health food store and I had some turkey bacon in the fridge that needed using up – and of course we always have Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar in the fridge (what kind of displaced Vermonters would we be without it?), so a plan started coming together in my head. We also had some nice peppery arugula in the fridge, straight from the farmers market and I thought that would marry nicely with the sweet and savory date bites. Topping everything off with some thick, black balsamic glaze, and it really was heaven on a plate. The stuffed dates are great on a salad, but certainly can be served alone as an hors d’oeuvre . They are so quick to put together, but the taste is totally amazing. Sure to impress anyone. Go ahead and make some – you know you wanna try them!