Tuesday, December 16, 2008

a food rant...

A few days back, I was talking to a friend about what "food" has become in this country. I'm very fortunate to have grown up in a home where we learned to embrace whole wheat, have a salad with dinner every night, and where we were encouraged to keep an open mind when it came to food. For me, those three simple things fostered the beginning of my own loving relationship with food, and now, thinking of those same three things, I can see how many others have moved away from them. When I was introduced to food, it was a learning process -- not just a substance on a plate in front of me. Through my parents, I learned the basics of balanced nutrition, and over the last few years, it has become more and more clear to me that eating healthy food makes my body feel good.

It's somewhat shocking to me that my fellow twenty-somethings tend to be headed in two mutually exclusive directions -- there are those who are committed to getting back to our roots as beings, embracing nature, and promoting a sustainable lifestyle. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who eat three meals a day out of a box, fill their bodies with food preservatives, and throw out the evidence by the barrel-full. So many people my age have no idea how to cook anything -- because they were never impressed upon to learn about how our bodies work with food! I feel like so many have lost (or never gained) an appreciation for what "food" really is. Behind those pre-packaged meals are plants -- whole fruits with pits and seeds, vegetables with peel, grains that grow on stalks, spices, and God forbid -- flavor!!! Yet at this point, part of our generation is so far removed from those whole foods that they are freaked out by the sight of a raw tomato. What is going on here?! It seems to me that we've progressed to the point that some people don't know what to do with whole food ingredients anymore.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Housemade gifts :: #1 Pickled Peppers

So, it's really no secret anymore that I give my brother hot pickled peppers. I don't often have luck growing hot peppers, so I buy them from local growers like River Berry and Pomykala. I slice them up and pickle them with garlic, salt, and a mix of white and apple cider vinegars (and a little boiling water, of course). I've also become accustomed to adding a little "Pickle Crisp" to each jar (which is really just calcium chloride)-- it keeps whatever you're pickling crisp through the boiling or steaming process.
I like to layer the pickles by color to give them more of a holiday look.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

spiced squash custard

This year, as I'm sure many of my fellow turkey-roasters were, I was thinking ahead of time about what on earth I could do with leftovers. For the big dinner, I made a giant pan of roasted mixed root veggies, and planned to make a pureed veggie soup with the extras the next day.

However, I did not plan to have extra filling for my double layer pecan squash pie. I had mixed together about 4 cups of pureed roasted mixed varieties of squash, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and mace. When I added the mix to two pie crusts, I realized I had too much! So I spooned the extra into a few ramekins and came up with this delicious squash custard.

It's got a smooth texture, it melts in your mouth, and packs a more complex flavor than traditional pumpkin pie. What can you do with your leftovers?
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