Noms: New Year 2014

we have a problem.
we have been asked by a few guests if we "cook" cook every night.

if that means using fresh ingredients with minimum half to three-quarters of the meal made from scratch, i would have to say yes.  in this journey of teaching myself to cook (almost 2 years now!), i have learned a lot.  i have learned to pay attention to the ingredients list on food packages.  that was the first step.  there really shouldn't be a huge list of ingredients, and  if you can't pronounce half of them then it's probably a good sign to put it back on the shelf.

i have learned that although cooking from scratch does take a little more planning and a little more time, the end product is always worth it in terms of taste and health benefits.  the way i feel after a processed meal often ends with that McDonald's halo.  i don't mind it every once in a while when out of my element, but nevertheless, it's notable that i feel the difference.  and it isn't just the physical feelings, but an emotional one as well.  i don't feel like i have a rock in my stomach, my poo doesn't smell quite as pooey, and on top of that, not only do i feel guilt-free but i feel proud of myself for sticking to my guns (especially on really long and challenging days with the kids…)

like anything, it takes practice, discipline, and commitment.  i'm still no expert at it and i still have ongoing struggles, but i'm proud of how far i have come.  i am a lot less intimidated by recipes and have finally realized the benefit of reading them through a few times and having everything prepped beforehand.  i am proud of being able to take 3 recipes and bring them together to create something else.  i feel like i have a reasonable understanding of basics.  i feel good about integrating more organics into the household.  i mean ideally i would go all organic, but i'd be in some serious debt at this point…  and if i am feeling good about what i am eating, then i'm feeling good about what the kids are eating.

i want them to know what healthy food tastes like and that junk food and easy processed options are not always worth the time and the preservatives.  i'm not in denial.  i know that as they grow older and spend more time out with their friends and gain more independence that they will probably get sucked into chips and pop and pizza and candies.  we all did.  but what i want for them is a good base.  i know i won't be able to control what goes into their bodies as they get older, so now is the time to immerse them in healthier choices.  balance their future poor dietary decisions with meals that are delicious and healthy.  and maybe if i am lucky, once they are on their own and they gain the freshman 15 and start missing home cooked meals, they will be more open to trying out their cooking skills.

so far, we have included them in cooking if it is less complicated and doesn't necessarily involve a lot of time near the hot stove.  perhaps if we keep them included enough in the meals, they will have a better sense of the time and effort and process and be less afraid to try their hand at creating their own meals.   
Poached Eggs
i grabbed a few Martha Stewart living magazines looking for some food inspiration.  i have only attempted poached eggs once and failed.  after a year of soft boiled eggs with toast and seeing this yummy number in one of the mags, i bravely attempted poached eggs again … and rocked them!!!  the recipe i used did not tell me to do the whirlpool.  it was only when it came time to drop the egg that i panicked because i could just see the egg dispersing into a watery mess.  from out of nowhere, Neighbour Cait's advice to make a swirl came back to me and saved the day.  
Organic non-GMO toast, regular avocado (regular lemon, s&p), organic mixed baby greens, topped with a lovely poached free run egg and some sriracha in place of pepper flakes.  though a little hesitant about the greens, the kids have managed to finish theirs with minimal fight.
last night was supposed to be super fast pizza on corn tortillas.  i prepped all the veggies and texted kevin the menu.  he did not want to do tortillas.  he pulled out his gluten-free  pizza dough recipe and we had real pizza.  
tomato paste, boconcini, avocado, soppressata salami, yellow peppers, mushrooms, brown tomatoes, sliced shallots, and organic baby mixed greens.  this is just the photo plate.  the actual slices all had a good helping of the greens on top which the kids begrudgingly ate below the burning death stare of their tiger mom.

i know, i know, the corn tortillas would have been faster!  however!  you might be pleasantly surprised to know that making this gluten-free pizza dough is faster than if you bought the pre made pizza crust from the grocery store.  once the dough is made, they only need to go into the oven for 2 minutes.  OH and this recipe is actually not gluten-free pizza crust, it's gluten-free naan!
dessert was the easiest ever.  sliced bananas, dipped in 70% chocolate and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.  so easy and visually still very fun, pretty much no effort.  get some good quality chocolate, melt in a double boiler and dip and plate and freeze and done.  bananas are organic.

and just so you know, this post began this afternoon while cooking up a pot of Annie's Bunny Pasta.  it's 80% organic, as in the pasta is organic and the package of cheese is still kraft dinner… probably.  i should look into it in case i get in trouble.  i can't hate.  i had my share of Kraft Dinner… with hotdogs… and ketchup.  those were the days...
i picked up more magazines at the library yesterday.  returned the Marthas and picked up a few bon appétit ones.  i don't really ever do fish.  i did a Honey Cardamom Glazed Salmon September 2012.  that was pretty good.  i am so happy tonight's Butter-Basted Halibut Steaks (minus the capers because i can't spent $4 on a tiny jar of capers and also i totally forgot) turned out well!  the fish was not cooked perfectly but it was super close and considering these two steaks cost me $20, i'm just so happy that i didn't destroy them and have to throw them out.

i have roasted enough vegetables enough times that i know what i like to throw together.  it's the laziest and most delicious way to eat veggies.  toss the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and throw them in the oven for about 45 minutes.  i also added a few slices of lemon and a few smashed garlic cloves to the parsnip, organic carrots, local red potatoes, celery, yellow pepper, and cherry tomatoes.  it's so easy and so satisfying.  the fish only took about 20 minutes and dinner was done and delish.

i feel so happy with my progress.  i'm so happy with my comfort level in the kitchen.  i am so happy that what i used to hate and not understand is becoming a labour of love.  i enjoy the rhythm and the focus and knowing that not only do i now have control of what i get to eat, but also knowing that it's going to taste damn good!


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