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Eating Well in the New Year


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I've made a resolution to eat well in the new year. That doesn't mean start a diet or make a resolution that I'll never keep (like exercising or losing weight). What I mean by eating well is that I will raise the quality of the food that I make during the year, and will actually COOK more of the food I eat during this year. We're all the victims of convenience and time. Ordering a pizza here, or getting a whole roasted chicken at CostCo for $4 is quick and easy, but it's not always good.

To start out the new year, I bought a pound of lamb sausage and made a nice ragu out of canned Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, and various dried herbs and spices. I cooked some nice flat pasta to almost al dente and finished it with the sauce. Accompanied by some bruscetta rubbed with a garlic clove (now that's real garlic bread baby!) it was heavenly, and one of the better meals I've had in a long time.

What I'd like to see here is recipes, tips, tricks, techniques, whatever you're using to improve your eating in the new year. It may be as simple as keeping some cooked and rinsed pasta in the fridge for a quick meal when you're short on time, or cutting all of your veg as soon as you get home from the store so they're in there ready to snack on/throw in the frying pan. Let's hear it :smile:

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I'm going to screw up the nerve to go to the live animal market, pick out a chicken, and have it butchered fresh. Then I'm going to see how many dishes I can stretch that chicken over. The quality of supermarket chicken in China is appalling.

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Ooh good question, Shamanjoe. I'm a single girl and I definitely started the slide toward too much takeout and ready-made food toward the end of last year. One of my resolutions for this year is to get back in the kitchen and cooking more than once a week!

Specifically, my strategies are:

1. Cook more complicated dishes during the weekend that I can eat/modify during the week (i.e., short ribs, soups, lasagna, etc)

2. Actually cook the stuff I buy - I swear I have thrown away a hundred bucks worth of stuff over the past few months because while grilling a batch of chicken breasts on Sunday night sounds like a great idea, I often end up either too busy, too tired, distracted, etc and they sit in the fridge for two weeks. The same goes for the vegetables I have every intention of steaming and having on hand for salad. This year, I'm going to start cooking/prepping the food I bring home the same day I go shopping - and have realistic expectations about how much I'm actually going to cook

3. Start cooking outside my comfort zone. I have a good handle on the fundamentals of American and Italian cuisine, but this year I want to start learning the basics of Asian, Indian, and Latin cooking as well. I've already started collecting some basic recipes, and I'm writing one on my calendar to try each weekend.

I'm really excited about this year - I finally have an apartment with a kitchen, and I think it's going to be a year when I can cook some memorable dishes and grow as a cook. And I definitely have eGullet (and all you wonderful eGulleteers) to thank for inspiring me!

Sarah Fernandez aka "mssurgeon81"

Philadelphia, PA

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2. Actually cook the stuff I buy - I swear I have thrown away a hundred bucks worth of stuff over the past few months because while grilling a batch of chicken breasts on Sunday night sounds like a great idea, I often end up either too busy, too tired, distracted, etc and they sit in the fridge for two weeks. The same goes for the vegetables I have every intention of steaming and having on hand for salad. This year, I'm going to start cooking/prepping the food I bring home the same day I go shopping - and have realistic expectations about how much I'm actually going to cook.

That is a HUGE issue for me. Just the other day I had a little tear in my eye as I had to throw away some beautiful (when they were new that is!) red peppers that were in the fridge because I never got around to making that roasted red pepper pasta sauce I was so jazzed up about.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I am going to try to eat more fish, and specifically, to buy it from our local fish shack, Pearson's Port, nicely reviewed by Russ Parsons in the Los Angles Times in 2008. This tiny shack sits on stilts above Newport Harbor, in the midst of the suburban sprawl of Orange County, CA. There are pelicans hanging around, and it smells like the sea. You can rent a kayak next door, and scoot around Upper Newport Bay (a not-very pristine mixed fresh/salt water estuary) before you take your fish home. I hope I make the time to do that.

I am otherwise pretty happy with how I am eating. I just do too much of it! So that is another goal.

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That sounds pretty good, I make have to make the hour drive down there and check it out.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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2. Actually cook the stuff I buy - I swear I have thrown away a hundred bucks worth of stuff over the past few months because while grilling a batch of chicken breasts on Sunday night sounds like a great idea, I often end up either too busy, too tired, distracted, etc and they sit in the fridge for two weeks. The same goes for the vegetables I have every intention of steaming and having on hand for salad. This year, I'm going to start cooking/prepping the food I bring home the same day I go shopping - and have realistic expectations about how much I'm actually going to cook.

That is a HUGE issue for me. Just the other day I had a little tear in my eye as I had to throw away some beautiful (when they were new that is!) red peppers that were in the fridge because I never got around to making that roasted red pepper pasta sauce I was so jazzed up about.

You must both be getting into my head! That is also my biggest issue and one I really, really cannot afford. If I can just get a handle on that habit I will be able to eat better simply because there will be more food dollars to go around!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I hear you mssurgeon81, Shamanjoe and Anna N. For me, throwing out food is right up there with filing tax returns and dental surgery -- unpleasant but sometimes required.

I hope to buy and consume smaller amounts of better ingredients. I've already picked up some rather small cups, bowls, glasses and plates which I hope will help with the portions. And for the first time in a long time, I will go grocery shopping with only cash.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I'm planning to cook with more dried beans/legumes. I already eat a decent amount of them, but would like to use them more as they are cheap, convenient (if you cook up a big batch and store them) and very very good for you... lots of fibre, protein, very low fat, usually low/mid GI etc.

Hopefully I'll discover some great new recipes along the way - lots of Indian dhals, middle eastern dishes, perhaps some mediterranean stews and so on :)

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It is my hope that I can not waste food. As a singleton, one who also has a small appetite and can get 6 servings out of something that is said to serve 4, this might be tough.

The other is to take my lunch to work/school and not rely on disgusting hospital cafeteria food.

Erin

"American by birth, Irish by the grace of God"

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Despite my talk, my new year hasn't started off as well as I wanted. I've been redoing the kitchen and currently do not have a stove. So a lot of things that I wanted to do, I haven't been able to. But a new stove is coming next week, so many good things will be coming out of the kitchen soon!

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I did good in the last couple of years - sourcing most of meat locally, using almost all of my CSA share all summer long, really keeping away from processed foods, finding some great staple recipes and methods (I will now by default roast any vegetable I don't know what do do with, for example). There's tweaking left, though.

I'm moving toward eliminating eating any restaurant food that isn't delicious, or for a specific purpose. Basically, eating out more mindfully. I've gotten better about it in 2009, and I hope that 2010 will be even better. In that vein, I want my eating out this year to be nothing but conscious choices.

I would also really like to get out of my rut for packed lunches for DBF and I. I do it dutifully every night (and I've been packing myself lunch in a Mr. Bento for almost 4 years), but it's started to feel more like a chore and less like a labor of love. The bento is set up perfectly for lunch + 2 snacks, and packed right, it really makes my workday better. But lately all I can muster up is PB&J, cut fruit, and something crunchy, with nuts and dried fruit to snack on. So I'm resolving to infuse the creativity and joy back into that process, so I can look forward to planning, preparing, and eating lunch again. Suggestions on this are welcome.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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I would also really like to get out of my rut for packed lunches for DBF and I. I do it dutifully every night (and I've been packing myself lunch in a Mr. Bento for almost 4 years), but it's started to feel more like a chore and less like a labor of love. The bento is set up perfectly for lunch + 2 snacks, and packed right, it really makes my workday better. But lately all I can muster up is PB&J, cut fruit, and something crunchy, with nuts and dried fruit to snack on. So I'm resolving to infuse the creativity and joy back into that process, so I can look forward to planning, preparing, and eating lunch again. Suggestions on this are welcome.

Check out the Bento topic here

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I hear you mssurgeon81, Shamanjoe and Anna N. For me, throwing out food is right up there with filing tax returns and dental surgery -- unpleasant but sometimes required.

I hope to buy and consume smaller amounts of better ingredients. I've already picked up some rather small cups, bowls, glasses and plates which I hope will help with the portions. And for the first time in a long time, I will go grocery shopping with only cash.

This past year I finally semed to get a better handle on consuming all that I bought. I started shopping at a local farm market (not to be confused with a farmer's market with different purveyors) that had a small, but quality selection. Because I wasn't shopping in the huge Asian market with tons of new and unusual produce, I didn't have so many ideas running through my head. I used to want to make so many things that I would buy all the stuff and never get around to making it all.

This year, I am starting to eat better in the wellness sense. And to keep my mind off all the things I "can't" have, I am going to make the stuff I can have the best that it can be.

And cook and eat more fish at home.

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I am the evil one. My wife's office just finished a Biggest Loser competition and I am sure many have made New Years resolutions to eat healthy. I have already sent them a batch of brown butter muscovado blondies (a variation on the cookies I found here) and a sour cream coffee cake. They both dissapeared very quickly, or so I am told. :cool:

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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My Sous Vide Magic controller arrived on Christmas Eve, causing me to rush out for a rice cooker. Since then, I've been discovering the delights of vacuum-packed goodies - the fridge is accumulating a quantity of interesting plastic bags.

Aside from how the food tastes/feels (best-ever steak last night, in the cooker for 24 hours at 55°C), I commend sous vide as a possible solution for the 'buy nice stuff then throw it out a couple of weeks later' syndrome noted in other posts above. For example (I'm thinking of you singles here), if you find a nice chicken, say, you can break it down into meal-sized portions in individual bags with a bit of butter and/or whatever you fancy as soon as you get it home, then freeze the bags. A couple of hours in the water bath and your meal is ready.

Is it obvious I'm a convert ... ?

Even if you're not going all the way with sous vide, a vacuum sealer might be worth adding to your wishlist to extend the life of things like Shamanjoe's red peppers.

More specifically on-topic, this year I can see I'm going to be cooking more of the cheaper meat cuts. Sous vide, of course.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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I am the evil one. My wife's office just finished a Biggest Loser competition and I am sure many have made New Years resolutions to eat healthy. I have already sent them a batch of brown butter muscovado blondies (a variation on the cookies I found here) and a sour cream coffee cake. They both dissapeared very quickly, or so I am told. :cool:

Dan

Dan, those cookies sound amazing. I think they're definitely something I want to try as part of my eating well. I don't make NEARLY enough cookies. Feel free to post both of the recipes here. Please :wink:

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Towards the end of last year I signed up for a weekly food delivery box from Boston Organics. I can order the dogma box and have local, organic produce delivered to me each Friday. I spend the weekend baking one cake/pie/bar/set of muffins and breaking down vegetables for my "weekly meal." I find that by making a set dinner that can be reheated, I eat better after work. This week I made roasted root vegetables (turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots)

and chicken thighs in a vermouth, mushroom, thyme cream sauce. I also make time each night before I go to bed to prep breakfast and lunch to bring to work. It only takes about 15 minutes and the rewards are: a slice of apple cake for breakfast; goat cheese, roasted beet, walnut sardine salad for lunch; yogurt with almonds and kiwi for afternoon snack. If you can make the time on Sunday to prep your vegetables and make one baked good for snacking, I think eating well can be painless.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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For the singletons who are trying to deal with cooking for one/leftovers/not throwing out food, here are a couple of suggestions:

--Recycle the leftovers. Leftover chicken goes in a salad, or in a soup; a pot roast winds up as vegetable soup or beef stew; roast pork reappears in quesadillas; roasted root vegetables go into a salad with wheatberries (who'd'a thunk it? Saw the recipe and had to try it; it's good!); a slice of meatloaf gets wrapped in puff pastry and baked.

--The vacuum sealer is a great invention.

-- Fresh veggies like peppers, etc., can be diced, spread out on a cookie sheet and frozen, and then stored in a ziploc bag, to be taken out and used as needed.

-- Fresh avocados can be scooped from their skins, mashed with a little lime juice, and frozen in a ziploc or with a vacuum sealer. Then you have them for soup or guacamole.

-- Keep bread in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh longer. I buy a big loaf of sliced bakery sourdough, freeze it, and take it out to use a slice at a time.

-- Tortillas are your friend. You can make a wrap out of anything.

I take lunch to work four days out of five, if I don't have a lunch meeting. It may be leftover veggies, soup, or something as simple as an apple and a few slices of cheese. Makes a difference in the budget AND in my waistline!

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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