Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Sunday January 24, 2010

Carole’s Concoctions:
The Organized Cook - Must Haves in your Pantry, Spice Cabinet and Fridge/Freezer

I realize that sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.  And for me, it is very obvious to keep certain items on hand at all times in my kitchen so I can whip up breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I also have a very organized mind when it comes to cooking and menu planning.  While I do enjoy grocery shopping, I know it is chore for some. So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on weekly menu planning and then provide a list of items to keep in your larder.

I generally do my shopping on Saturday morning.  The first thing I do is look in my pantry, fridge, and spice cabinets for items that I am "out" of that I need to replenish.  Then I think about meals for the next 6-7 days. What did we eat last week?  Will I be traveling this week and need to make extra so there are plenty of leftovers for Jim?  I like to eat a balance of meat, poultry, fish, pork and lamb with leafy greens and vegetables. I decide that we'll eat lamb, shrimp and chicken this week.  Then I think about how I might want to prepare them.  Right now it's winter and I love to make stews and braises.  Lamb works up nicely in a stew.  Shrimp would be perfect cooked in a risotto and chicken breasts can be done several ways but I know I don't need to decide.  If you can tell, these three meats will probably provide six nights of dinner.  My shopping list has the three meats, any vegetables that accompany the main meals - for the lamb stew - potatoes and green salad; for the risotto, broccoli or spinach; for the chicken, a green vegetable or two, some root vegetables etc.  To then re-invent the left-overs, I would make polenta with the lamb stew night two; I might add some asparagus to the risotto for night two; and with the chicken, I might turn it into a stir-fry - onions, garlic, peppers, diced chicken and rice.  My shopping list grows out of my menu.  But I don't need to buy everything because I already have many of the building blocks.

Here's the list of must-haves for every organized cook:


Spice Cabinet
Salt ( regular, kosher and sea salts)
Pepper (ground and pepper corns)
Nutmeg
Cinnamon (ground and sticks)
Crushed Red Pepper
Cayenne
Cumin
Bay Leaves
Tarragon
Thyme
Curry Powder
Chile Powder
Cardamon
Coriander (ground and seeds)
Paprika (smoked, spicy, plain)
Vanilla (extract and beans)
Sage
Marjoram
Ground Ginger
Cloves (ground and whole)
Molasses
Honey
Cocoa



Pantry
Flour
Sugars ( granulated, light and dark brown)
Powdered Sugar
Oats
Cornmeal
Pasta
Rice (white, brown, risotto)
Canned Tomatoes
Canned Beans (chick peas, cannellini, red kidney)
Lentils and Split Peas
Chicken Broth and Bullion Cubes
Bread Crumbs
Mustard
Vinegars ( red wine, cider, rice wine, tarragon, champagne)
Oils (olive, canola, sesame)
Shortening (I found some non-transfat organic)
Raisins
Chocolate Chips


Bittersweet Chocolate bars
Potatoes (russett and sweet)
Onions
Garlic
Shallots
Coffee (beans and instant)




Fridge
Milk
Half and Half
Heavy Cream
Butter - sweet
Eggs
Plain non-fat yogurt
Mayo
Cheese - parm, romano, mozzarella, goat, cheddar, ricotta
Capers
Olives
Lemons
Limes
Freezer
Bread
Organic Frozen Spinach, Corn and Broccoli
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
Phyllo
Puff Pastry
Chicken Breast
Sausage
 
 
 

Friday January 15, 2010

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Cooking Chat

Each week I co-host a radio show called Radio2Women with Serene Mastrianni. And Serene decided that she wanted to "interview" me.  We had a great time discussing how easy cooking really is.  The interview has inspired my next blog post....Alway prepared - must have spices, must have pantry and fridge/freezer items....so stay tuned!!

In the meantime, listen to the interview here and get ready for Heirloom Meals Radio beginning in February!

Sunday January 10, 2010

Life at Boulderwood:
Chow Time at Boulderwood Farm

 
Even the animals have to eat!  And their excitement when the see the hay coming is pretty amusing. This winter we've kept the horses and cows in the lower pasture because it is flat and there is a wonderful flowing stream where they can get fresh water that doesn't freeze. Our upper pasture is pretty steep with many under ground springs that create a skating rink environment which is hazardous to the animals. The hay barn is however at the top of upper the steep pasture. We heave the bales into the truck and drive them down. When we go to the barn, the cows begin to moooooo with excitement and the herd descends on the gate. I don't have to come up with a menu for the animals, but it sure is fun feeding them.
 
And for my other herd....here's a meal I put together after a vigourous cross country ski outing. While there was no mooing, the herd descended upon the table which always makes a cook feel good!!

Our meal consisted of:
Caesar Salad
Mushroom Quinoa Risotto
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Left over roasted chicken with gravy
Dark chocolate and clementines to sate our sweet tooth!

Monday January 04, 2010

Carole’s Concoctions:
A Meal for the New Year

I don't know about most of you but the holiday season seemed long, replete with parties galore and food a-plenty. This is not an overt complaint, just an observation. And for me, I am looking to eat on the lighter, healthier side as we march into the new year and decade.

So, what to eat? What not to eat? I remember this dialogue between my Mom and Nana when we were little, as they, too, were sick of cooking, eating all the impossible to resist goodies and undoubtedly feel as loagy as I do at the end of the season. I think this is where all the religious fasting rituals have evolved. I grew up a practicing Catholic so we were always giving something up for Lent, eating fish on Fridays, etc. I'll stop digressing and get to the point - I'm ready to dine on less fattening meals.

One of my goals for this blog in 2010 is to actually report the "meals" I make as frequently as I can, the inspiration and photos and recipes.

Our Monday night meal:
Broiled Salmon with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary
Steamed Asparagus
Mixed Greens and cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some goat cheese.



I didn't use a recipe.  I just concocted.

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