Archive | May, 2007

You Are What You Eat

29 May

By Stephanie Dickison

What you carry in your wallet can reveal a lot about your personality. Dipping into a friends medicine cabinet can tell you how high (or low) maintenance a person they are. Whether they are addicted to nasal spray or a mental flosser is immediately apparent. But nothing unveils a person’s true inner beast like a look into their fridge.

Like a litmus test, your fridge reveals parts of you heretofore previously unknown. Your penchant for dark chocolate late into the night or lactose intolerance is laid bare, but only for the owners of said fridge. It is rare that anyone else ever gets a glimpse.

That is, until now.

I decided that it was time to take the gloves off and really look at what people have on hand at a moments notice, with no chance to tidy or shop for more ingredients. What I found is astonishing.

Most people have crammed theirs full of stuff, but this does not immediately translate to being a home chef. And some of the sparsest fridges are the ones that are used the most – the owners use what they have on hand before stuffing it full with jars, bottles and bags of stuff.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote in An Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life that she didn’t like the feeling that came with having just grocery shopped. She found it overwhelming and doesn’t completely relax until the family has had a chance to work through some of the items.

I can understand that. Because I like to do a big shop and then pick up odds and ends when needed, my fridge is either bursting with possibility and goodness or else 6 kinds of mustard and a forlorn little pear stare back at me.

So I asked people to send in pictures of their fridges – no retouching or rearranging allowed. I have also submitted a picture of my own fridge for your ridicule and judgment. Enjoy. (Click on pictures to enlarge them)

Just one thing – you have to match the picture with the person’s profession. Good luck. The answers will follow in a later entry.

A) A retired couple

B) Two writers

C) A senior computer technologist for a bank

D) An artist and her family

E) A television producer and actor/comedian

Book Reviews – Vegetarian Cookbooks by Nava Atlas

28 May

Vegetarian Soups for all Seasons: Bountiful Vegan Soups and Stews for Every Time of Year – the updated edition, now dairy-free and featuring 20 new recipes

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook

The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet: 250 Simple Recipes and Dozens of Healthy Menus for Eating Well Every Day

All by Nava Atlas

By Stephanie Dickison

One of my favourite cookbook authors is Nava Atlas. She writes tasty recipes that are good for you and don’t take much time or effort at all. That is hard to do and she does it extremely well!

She’s had a ton of experience, as these are not her first books, and each one gets better and better!

You do not have to be a vegetarian to appreciate them and in fact, I think they are a great accompaniment to any cookbook collection because they all contain incredibly healthy food. You do not have to sift through each recipe searching for something that’s good for you. It’s ALL good for you. I just love that!

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook is a thick tome featuring more than 275 quick recippes for quick breakfasts, healthy snacks and lunches, classic comfort foods, hearty main dishes, wholesome baked goods, to name just a few.

There are also options for vegans throughout, but I’m neither and I have picked out a whole bunch of favourite dishes that I think might just become your favourites too. Like Mexican Green Rice, Vegetable Upside-Down Casserole, Mixed Mushrooms Stroganoff and Cincinnati Chili Mac. And Nava offers different variations on the dish, so you can change it up and keep it interesting.

In The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet, you can eat well and quickly, which is what we’re all craving these days. There’s emails to answer, meetings to ruch off to and have you ever tried to cook during house hunting? It’s a nightmare!

But with Nava’s guide in hand, you can make simple meals that will satisfy everyone at the table. How about White Pizza Florentine, Barbecue-Flavoured Baked Beans and Red Onion and Almond-Stuffed Winter Squash?

There’s 247 more of them. Isn’t that exciting?!

And if you are a soup freak like me, you’ll love Nava’s Vegetarian Soups for all Seasons filled with 120 soups and stews. And as an extra bonus, she’s included breads, muffins and scones like Quick Sunflower-Cheese Bread, Onion-Rye Scones and Scallion Pancakes.

Oh my!

And the soups? Devine, delicious and so ready to be devoured! There are so many that it might take you months to get to them all. Next on my list to make are Okra-Rice Gumbo, Red Bean Puree with Zucchini and Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage and Bread Stew.

When I see a Nava Atlas cookbook, I know I’m getting a book filled with scrumptious dishes that will transform my regular meal routines.

These are just three of her books.

You’re going to want all of them and the rest of her collection too.

Book Review – Simply Salads

21 May

Simply Salads
Jennifer Chandler
Thomas Nelson Publishers
272 pages
$30.99 CDN

By Stephanie Dickison

I love salad more than anything but I find it hard to think outside the box and really get creative with them.

Thank goodness for Jennifer Chandler.

She has created a book filled with over 100 recipes that are made from packaged greens and “a few easy-to-find ingredients.” It is also beautifully photographed so you get a real sense of what it should look like – always helpful when assembling a salad, I think.

The book is divided into succinct sections – greens, poultry, meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, beans/grains/rice/pasta, slaws and vinaigrettes and dressings – so you can find what you’re looking got quickly.

Jennifer gives you a list for what to stock in your kitchen in order to make salads. The list includes basic kitchen utensils, pantry items and perishable and refrigerator items, so you can be sure that you will have what you need on hand when making your salad.

I am excited to add these new salads to my roster of usual suspects. I would have never come up with these on my own, like:

Southern Caesar Salad (with grits croutons)
Jalapeno Chicken Salad with Avocado Dressing
Grilled Lamb and Tabbouleh Salad
Lobster Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Crawfish Salad with Spicy Cajun Remoulade

So tonight, I am going to leave my Italian mixed greens with carrots behind and try something completely different.

I can’t wait.

Book Review – Food Play

14 May

Food Play
Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

Chronicle Books
320 pages
$21.95 CDN

By Stephanie Dickison

This is the perfect gift for the surrealist and food lover in your life.

A fun, playful look at how food can be transformed into familiar faces and places in 350 ways, you may never look at an orange or beet the same way again.

It’s the kind of thing that you really have to experience because it’s so oddly fascinating that there aren’t sufficient words to describe what you’re about to see – a radish cat, aliens from red peppers the cutest little mushroom people.

Like the Surrealist Gourmet, you are in for a visual treat. You may just have to wait an hour before eating. The screaming orange stays with you.