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Entries in cooking (3)

Tuesday
Apr052011

Cooking Matters class part 2: the chef and the food and what matters

If you are new here you might want to read Cooking Matters class part 1

Learning to cook takes a dash of curious mixed with a pinch of bravery

 

Cooking matters volunteers and groceries

Cooking Matters is a program developed by the folks at Share Our Strength and supported by the wonderful people at ConAgra Foods Foundation that helps those in need learn to shop, and prepare healthier meals while staying on a budget. In this economy, this is something we can all learn to do better and the boot camp and classes I sat in on were chock full of useful advice!

As someone who cooks but does not consider herself "a cook", I often fumble my way through a recipe. Occasionally I have a moment of genius (where I am brave enough to risk an entire meal) where I decide to toss in fresh basil and curry and somehow it works.

But usually I stick to my same-old recipes. 

Now imagine you are someone who lives below the poverty level and you have barely enough money for food. You might not even have a stove! To say cooking would be a challenge is quite an understatement. Yet this is what many people face every day.

Eating is Important but Cooking Matters

 

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The Cooking Matters program not only covers nutritional information, but each lesson involves a real chef leading a cooking lesson using a recipe that participants will repeat later that week at home! In the classes I attended we learned the proper way to cut (an onion, a carrot, kale, chicken, etc), simmer, and even how to keep cutting boards and the work surface sanitized.

We learned about seasoning with onion and garlic and pasta water instead of adding salt.

We learned that you can't keep the oil heating too long or it will start to smoke...and then the smoke alarms will go off and then the building is evacuated and then...well you can imagine.

Most important was the exercise of working together to prepare a meal.

Cooking together with people, as a family, with fresh ingredients really can make a difference in our lives.

Cooking gives us time to chat and get to know one another. It allows us time to appreciate the food we have, the color, the vitamins, and the techniques used to prepare this life sustaining element, so that we can nourish our bodies. This process, this thing called cooking, also seems to nourish our souls.

Cooking, not just opening a package and reheating, matters.

For more information on Cooking Matters and how you can get involved with your local Share Our Strength partner or food bank visit cookingmatters.org and how to participate.

Janine

Disclosure: ConAgra Food Foundation and Share our Strength paid for my trip to Texas and I will receive a stipend for my work helping to tell the story and promote Cooking Matters. As always, all opinions and experiences are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.

Wednesday
Jan122011

Homemade Bagels May Look Funny but Taste Deelish

This weekend we made homemade bagels.

I've had the recipe from TammysRecipes.com for a year now and just haven't found a day to make them. Now, I think we'll make these once a month at least!

I have edited this recipe a bit for 2 reasons.

1) I didn't have enough yeast and, as I'm a hack in the kitchen anyway, I decided to just under cut the rest of the recipe. Hardley a measure was used too. It's how I roll.

2) I had no idea how long it takes for dough to rise! I 'think' I gave it an hour...maybe more. The recipe calls for it to double but frankly, I was tired and wanted to get on with it so I'm not even sure it completely doubled.

If you are like me...a non-perfectionist, then this recipe is for you because even with all of that - they turned out delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water  (112-115 degrees F) - this is apparently very important so be sure you have a thermometer! Note: real recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast (real recipe calls for 2 tbsp)
  • 2+ tablespoons sugar (real recipe calls for 3 tbsp)
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt (real recipe calls for 1 tbsp)
  • 4 cups bread flour (real recipe calls for 4 1/4 cups)
  • 8 cups of water for boiling
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Toppings for bagels: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion (dried works fine!), garlic, cinnamon/raisin

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl mix yeast, sugar and warm water and let stand 3 minutes

2. Mix 2 cups of flour with the salt in a larger bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir until combined. Slowly mix in the rest of the flour.

3. Knead dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Dough should be fairly smooth and firm. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover (I used a dish towel), and let it rise until double.

4. Watch TV, check email, or clean the house cause you'll be waiting at least an hour, maybe two if you do this right!

5. Punch dough down (if adding cinnamon raisin add in now and knead dough just enough to swirl). Divide dough and shape into 12 balls (for small bagels - 8 balls for larger ones). Let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Bring water to boil, make a hole in each ball of dough and shape into a bagel! Place bagels on cookie sheet and cover (again, I used dish towel) for 10 minutes. Set aside some dough for the kids to play with while they wait for the next part!

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop 2-3 bagels at a time into boiling water for about 45 seconds, turning once.

8. Drain bagels on a wire rack. Brush with egg white mixture and top with whatever toppings you want!

9. Place bagels on greased baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until they are light brown and shiny. If making plain bagels turn them once.

10. Cool for a few minutes but definitely eat some of these while they are hot!

Let me know how yours come out!

Janine

Monday
Sep062010

We're helping to save the bears! The honey bears that is.

Honey.com is a great resource for all things honey.

The bees from Bee Movie would be proud I think. Honey.com has all kinds of information about honey including different types of honey, honey recipes and the benefits of honey.

I use honey regularly in my tea and to make homemade granola bars, but when I thought about it, I couldn't remember the last time I bought one of those cute little honey bears!

So, I grabbed two of the t-shirts they were offering:

honey,twins honey bears

 

And decided to let you all know about The National Honey Board and their effor to save the endangered honey bear!

Tell me how you use honey in your kitchen...

Janine