Sunday January 24, 2010
My friend Joanna recently told me that she wanted an immersion blender for her birthday but she didn't know which one to buy. And as you might imagine, I immediately told her which one I purchased, and why. But I know there are a few great models out there - so Joanna - this review is for you!!
Breville BCS500XL 9.6 Volt Cordless Immersion Blender with Recharging Base
This is the immersion blender that I use. One of the main considerations for me was the convenience of a cordless immersion blender. I have limited counter space near my stove where I predominantly use it. It does the trick for me but its controls are sensitive and finicky, and sometimes stalls out. I, of course, have figured how to outwit it but it may frustrate others. I think if you can live with a corded model, I would get a different one. You can buy this model at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BCS500XL-Cordless-Immersion-Recharging/dp/B000MDASFC
SmartStick Brushed Chrome Hand Blender
I figure when a model is back-ordered due to overwhelming demand and the majority of the reviews are raves, AND if the price is compelling, look no further....Here are the features according to the manufacturer:
Powerful 200-watt motor handles more blending tasks
Stick design reaches into pots, pitchers and bowls to extend blending options
Ergonomically designed grip offers comfortable hold and more control while blending
Operates with a one-touch control for easy, one-handed blending
KitchenAid® Immersion Blender
Here are the benefits according to the manufacturer:
Variable speeds provide greater processing control that adjusts to handle a variety of foods, beverages and soups.
The premium stainless steel blending attachment reaches an 8-inch immersion depth.
The stainless steel splashguard covers the blending blade to prevent splattering of ingredients.
The stainless steel whisk maximizes air in mixtures for fluffier egg whites and whipped cream.
The 4-piece chopper attachment quickly chops herbs, vegetables, fruits, cooked meats, nuts and cheese.
5-ft. power cord provides exceptional freedom to move around the kitchen.
Most of the Kitchenaid reviews were extremely positive. I think these new models have a lot going for them - the 8" immersion depth, for one. And they have made the power cords longer if you can live without the cordless. Some of the Kitchenaid models come in fun colors like red. The one I would have on my wish list, if price were not a concern can be purchased at www.surlatable.com http://www.surlatable.com/product/id/131824.do#
Sunday January 24, 2010
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:
Salt ( regular, kosher and sea salts)
Pepper (ground and pepper corns)
Cinnamon (ground and sticks)
Crushed Red Pepper
Coriander (ground and seeds)
Paprika (smoked, spicy, plain)
Vanilla (extract and beans)
Cloves (ground and whole)
Sugars ( granulated, light and dark brown)
Rice (white, brown, risotto)
Canned Beans (chick peas, cannellini, red kidney)
Lentils and Split Peas
Chicken Broth and Bullion Cubes
Vinegars ( red wine, cider, rice wine, tarragon, champagne)
Oils (olive, canola, sesame)
Shortening (I found some non-transfat organic)
Bittersweet Chocolate bars
Potatoes (russett and sweet)
Coffee (beans and instant)
Half and Half
Butter - sweet
Plain non-fat yogurt
Cheese - parm, romano, mozzarella, goat, cheddar, ricotta
Organic Frozen Spinach, Corn and Broccoli
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
Friday January 15, 2010
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
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:
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
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
Mixed Greens and cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some goat cheese.
I didn't use a recipe. I just concocted.
Saturday December 26, 2009
Herb-crusted Rib Roast
Mashed yellow potatoes and celeriac (from my CSA stash)
Roasted brussel sprouts
Broccoli sauteed with garlic and olive oil
Turnip and Potato Gratin
Arugula Salad with Dijon vinaigrette
Ice cream and sherbet cake
Had a love-filled afternoon cooking with my Mom and then sharing this wonderful meal that we were all so grateful to enjoy. Present were my Mom and Dad, Jim (my man), Jen (my sis), Johnny (her husband), August (my bro), Sandra (his wife), AJ (my nephew). We celebrated being together and the spirit of the day. Thank you all for such a wonderful day.
Click the photo to watch a clip of the beef waiting to go in the oven: