Freezing meat with options

Freezer full of real food ingredients
Freezer full of real food ingredients
With a selection of single serving meats in the freezer, cooking real food becomes quick and easy.

Freezing meat allows you to keep real ingredients on hand. You can save plenty of money when buying in bulk quantities, or stocking up at special prices. Purchase extra amounts of specialty or hard-to-find cuts and save time and travel costs.

But how do you know what portion of any one item you will need? Small families sometimes have guests, and even large families can need just a bit of a frozen meat.

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Spice control for real cooking

Real food spices in a market

Real food spices in a marketYou can’t make real food without spices. Period! Real food ingredients come in a naked state. That’s what makes them perfect. A blank canvas to paint your next meal, reflect your mood and custom-tease your senses. But you need a good method to store and use spices to unlock the full potential of spices in your cooking.

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Roasted peppers are worth the work

Roasted red pepper in a sandwich image
Roasted red peppers add substance and exciting taste to a simple sandwich with cream cheese, zucchini slices and shredded Swiss cheese.

Warning! This is not one of my simple tips. Making roasted peppers takes time. It’s fiddly. It’s also worth it. I’ve tried bottled roasted red pepper, and while I don’t know exactly how they make them, I taste a chemical undertone every time. The version you can buy at an olive bar in an upscale supermarket is often great, but very, very costly.

Once in a while, when I find a really good price on red pepper, I will buy a few and commit the time to roasting and freezing a supply.

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Real food variety: Around the world with a pot of stew

One of the best parts about cooking real food, is that you can change your mind in an instant. You might feel like Thai food on Saturday when you are shopping, but on Wednesday, you are leaning to Mexican. I’m spoiled, but I am spoiled because I have those choices. This article illustrates the freedom of real food with total transformations of basic crock-pot stew.

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Healthy Cream of Anything Soup

It’s June, but it’s also a blustery. and cold. Soup required. There is nothing faster, or more comforting than a bowl of hot soup. Good pre-made soup is very expensive. Cheap soup is not good. All but the premium-priced, organic, canned or packaged soups have an ingredients list that would test a professional chemist’s knowledge. And if you think you are doing yourself a favor to buy a ready-made version from a large grocery store, really do yourself a favor and request a nutrition statement.

There is a real-food option. In fact, homemade soup is a very simple meal. This post will just cover my cream soup method, but just increase the broth, and you have a non-cream version.

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Real food basics: Poached Eggs

Real food basics: Poached Eggs
Real food poached eggs on toast photo
Poached eggs on toast. As real as food gets.

Poached eggs are universally loved. Some would even call a perfect poached egg on toast comfort food. Poaching an egg free-floating in water is not hard, unless you hate your eggs wandering all over the pan, and don’t mind water on your toast. There are dedicated appliances for poaching eggs. I wish I had a dollar for each egg poacher bought around the world, and used only once. There are special little rubber tubs designed to poach eggs. Yet one more thing to clutter up your “what-the-heck-do-you-do-with-this drawer.” None are required for water-free, beautifully formed, poached eggs.

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Chicken stock the easy way

You can buy good chicken stock today. If you are willing to pony up some serious money, you can buy great chicken stock. However, I have never seen honest-to-goodness stock in a tetra pack. Homemade stock is thick, often solid when cold from the gelatin released from the bones.

My secret for making stock easily comes from being lazy. I hated making stock, but the only tough part was stripping the carcass. I no longer do that. I remember the last time — a turkey. I spent a long time with my fingers covered in juice and bits of meat, two bowls going — one for the meat, one for the bones. In the end, I had a very small pile of saturated meat. I decided on the spot it was not worth it.

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Preparing strawberries quickly

Real food strawberry with hull removed image
Strawberry washed, with hull removed. Ready to use or prepare for storage.

If you are trying to eat local strawberries year round (see why you should), you will be preparing a lot of berries at one time. Fresh locally-grown strawberries have a VERY short shelf, so you should plan to buy only what you can prepare immediately. Preparation is really quite simple, with removing the hull the only time-consuming part of the process.

I’ve tried a few special tools for hulling strawberries, but I always come back to a simple steak knife. If you have a really good paring knife, try that. Aside: for as much cooking as I do, and as much as I cherish my good chef’s knife, I have never owned a decent paring knife.

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Try something new: Jicama

Try something new: Jicama image
Jicama is an easy new food to try.

One of the best parts of real food today is the availability of strange foods, especially in the produce department. Jicama caught my attention many years ago, because I am a Canadian in love with Mexican food. For all the diversity in people and corresponding access to ethnic food, we are starved for good Mexican cuisine. If you want to eat authentic Mexican food, you must create it yourself. Jicama is a constant star in Mexican cookbooks.

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