A Year of Slow Cooking

I borrowed the book “Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking” at the local library, and have started reading it. I’m exciting to learn more about using my slow cooker, and some of the recipes are so interesting. How cool would it be to make Creme Brulee in the slow cooker?!!! hahaa.

So, the author, Stephanie O’Dea started out with a New Year’s resolution to use her slow cooker every day for the year 2008. You can find more about Stephanie and the 365 project at her blog “A Year of Slow Cooking” Oh and did I mention that she’s a gluten-free home cook?!

She also has a discussion forum to learn more!

For those that want to follow her journey, start with her first post:
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2007/12/crockpot-resolution.html

I absolutely love that she was such a newbie when she started. She used this experience to learn more about cooking and I find that so refreshing! Reading the comments posted from other readers are just as educational as her posts!

I think someone should create a new TV cooking show about slow cooking and slow cookers. It’s probably the only thing that hasn’t been done yet!

The only caveat I have right now is I need to test my slow cooker crock for lead. I’ll be picking up a lead tester at my local hardware store soon.

I’ll edit this post with a few of my favorite recipes.

Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag – Cookbook Cooking Show on the New OWN Network

I watched an episode of the new cookbook cooking show called “Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag” and fell in love! It’s on Oprah Winfrey’s new TV network, OWN.

The premise of the show is refreshing! Each episode is different. Two home cooks (Anna & Kristina) choose a specific cookbook, read it, experiment, then come together for one afternoon of cooking a few distinct recipes; then they ask an expert chef to taste their culinary creations and he/she rates the finished dishes.

The show is true to life with mistakes and food “disasters” – while I have read others criticize them for this, I think that is what makes the show so endearing! They are not expert chefs, so they make mistakes and we can learn from them through the show! I love that they bring it down to our level! Don’t be afraid, just try it, and who cares if you fail!

The show also offers tips and recommendations on ingredients, cooking tools, and equipment. For example, one show I watched, centered on the cook book “Nobu West“, also had an impromptu crab tasting, asking passersby to decide whether fresh is really better than canned crab, and yes, it was! They also had a kitchen tool testing segment on why it’s better to use a “sushi knife” than a chef knife when cutting sushi rolls and ingredients.

It’s such a great idea for a show, as there are so many web blogs online cooking through specific cookbooks. It’s great that someone finally created a show about the same thing! After doing research on Anna & Kristina, it appears the show isn’t actually “new” – it premiered in Canada in 2008, and they completed their 3rd season.

I am so bummed I didn’t start DVRing their shows until the other day, but thankfully I only missed a few episodes from last week, and it appears that OWN is replaying them throughout the day, so hopefully I’ll eventually be able to catch all of the episodes, especially the “Cook With Jamie” episode!

I’m so enthused about this show, I can hardly wait to learn more about all of these wonderful cookbooks, whether they receive their “seal of approval” or not!

You can find out more about Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag show by visiting their web site. There’s also a lot of detailed info about each episode from all three seasons, including recipes, ingredients, tools, and cook book reviews.

OWN = Oprah Winfrey Network, check your local listings for channel info, or check the OWN web site.

UPDATED January 30, 2011: I’ve been watching episodes from Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag on my DVR (in fact, I’m all caught up) and I still really like the show. Some episodes are better than others, but I really enjoy the equipment and food reviews, as well as learning more about cookbooks, most of which I hadn’t heard of before. I plan on borrowing a lot of them from my local library!

Back to Cooking

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love. – “Kitchen Primer”

Craig Claiborne
American food writer, 20th century

How true! Families need to cook meals more often! I used to love to help my mom cook and especially bake!

I didn’t truly appreciate real cooking until just a few years ago though. I was a shortcut cook using ingredients like canned soup or a box of frozen lasagna. That’s not real cooking and I’m convinced that it’s what made me (and my husband) fat!

Let’s get rid of the processed food products and getting back to basics!

Influx of iPhone Cooking Apps

Wow, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of new cooking iPhone apps! Everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon.

Cook’s Illustrated (free)
Gordan Ramsay
Rachel Allen
Mario Batali – on my wish list!
MasterChef Academy
Free version – How To Cook Everything
Apple Recipes

Plus the ones that have been around for a little while:

How To Cook Everything (Paid)
Epicurious
20 Minute Meals Jamie Oliver – I have this one on my wish list
Martha Stewart Everyday Food
Rachel Ray Tasty Bites
170,000+ Recipes Big Oven
Betty Crocker
Women’s Day
All Recipes Dinner Spinner
Weber’s on the Grill
The Photo Cookbook

Cookbooks on the iPhone/iPad are really a wonderful medium. It’s interactive, you can include video, timers, shopping lists, etc. I think the future is looking bright and it’s only just begun!

Christmas 2009 Woes and Joys

Yeah, I didn’t do such a wonderful job on my food choices during the holiday, but it’s okay. I am back on track today (Saturday, Dec 26) and will continue to stay on track!

It was a bit scary, because I got a wake up call. It’s so easy for me to revert back to my old ways! But I just have to forget the past, and move forward. You can’t dwell on mistakes too much. Just learn from them, and try not to repeat them!

Christmas Eve, we went over to my sister in law’s home, as usual.

Lots of high calorie appetizer foods, mini hot dogs in pop-n-fresh dough, little hamburger meat pies, shrimp, and calzone (which we brought, with keilbasa & grape jelly – I only had one piece of calzone and didn’t have any keilbasa). I remained fairly in control.

Thankfully there was veggies and dip, which I LOVED. Probably shouldn’t have had so much dip, but I loved the veggie sticks. That saved me.

Desserts, I did okay as well. Not too bad. We made gingerbread cookies with homemade frosting. I had a couple of different cookies. Didn’t pig out too badly.

I think my big downfall was Christmas Day, when my family comes over. I did eh, okay with dinner. We had all natural Wellshire ham (from Whole Foods), taco dip w/ tortilla chips, smoked salmon w/ whipped cream cheese & crackers, cheese, pepperoni & crackers, shrimp with cocktail sauce.

Dinner was okay, I tried to limit myself. I ate a lot of shrimp, but I did have some of the other foods too.

Desserts! My sister brought a cute frosted birthday cake made from a bunch of cupcakes. I had one cupcake, and a couple of cookies we brought home from the night before.

My mom brought her famous magic cookie bars, which are to die for. I saved us a big hunk of the bars, and I had a big piece last night, and again this morning for breakfast. Thank God they are all gone now….and I can try to get back to healthy choices.

It’s good to splurge once in awhile, but this year, I did go a bit overboard. And like I said, it was a bit scary that I could revert to my old bad ways soo easily.

It just goes to show, you are NEVER safe! NEVER! I can never take it for granted that I have it all completely under control. I must always remember that I always must remain on guard, but I also can’t beat myself up too much. When I fall backward, I must forgive myself!

Oh but the good part of Christmas was my presents!

My wonderful husband gave me the Wii console, along with the Wii Fit Plus. And my mom gave me the Cuisinart 7 cup Classic Food Processor. I thought it over, and she said it is okay if I upgrade to a larger model. I am thinking of the Cuisinart Elite Collection Food Processor, either the 12 or 14 cup. The Elite model includes a mini bowl insert, and the larger model, also includes a 3rd medium sized bowl. It will be great for pastry, bread dough, cookie dough, veggies, grinding meat, making dressings, etc.

I am happy! Happy that I am back on track, and happy that I have such fun presents to play with.