Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cooking Rituals and Kitchen Style

   As crazy as I am sure I sound, I talk to myself in the kitchen all the time, sometimes the conversation is actually with myself, sometimes it is with an imaginary studio audience teaching others the "top secret" recipe of the day, but honestly most of the time in the kitchen it is me talking to my dog about cooking and teaching her what I am doing.  I guess my dog would technically be the Sous Chef in my kitchen, and lots of fun and daydreaming occurs in the kitchen. 

     I have some friends who will not cook in anything but complete silence, or others who choose to cook only when the kids are in other rooms, quiet and away from the happenings of the kitchen, or I know a few who talk non-stop in the kitchen, but really never get much cooking done.  We all have our own kitchen style, me personally I want my kitchen to be a place where memories are made, and epicenter for our home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Healthy Snacks and trying to "Eat the Rainbow"

     I am trying to eat healthier this year and be a more aware eater.  It is no secret that I love food and that I love to indulge on occasions on fabulous food, but for the most part I try to be a healthy eater.  This year I am focusing on eating mini meals throughout the day and cooking fresh and as unprocessed as possible.  I am also trying to "eat the rainbow"  it is true that you eat with your eyes first so to speak,  so I try to make my meals look as appealing and appetizing as possible.  Lately this has been especially so for my snacks, sometimes I wonder if snacks aren't as satisfying because we don't put in the effort to really make them a mini meal.   One of my favorite staples for quick snacks is salsas or pico de gallo with pita or hummus and veggies.  These are quick and easy to make but always seem to satisfy.

     I tend to have a much stronger salty, acidic, crunchy tooth than a sweet tooth, though I do indulge in sweets every so often.  I find that it helps so much to have an arsenal of basic snack recipes that can be added onto or adjusted as your tastes dictate.  For instance a basic hummus recipe that can be adjusted to feature roasted garlic, olives, or roasted red peppers.  Or a Greek fruit dip that can be sweetened with the addition of honey and cinnamon and vanilla, or made tangy with lemon juice.  I have also found these are great ways to get people to eat their veggies and fruits.  There is so much that you can do with all of them, and I find myself frequently using these also as marinades or toppings on my main dishes too,  The one I use the most would have to be pico de gallo, I love pico de gallo, it's great with chips or pita crisps, great with veggies, or on top of grilled chicken, topping for tacos, or thinned down and turned down into a marinade or dressing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What I have been reading Wednesday, The Escoffier Cookbook

     I am excited to be reviewing my first book for the Foodies Read 2013 Challenge.  I am reviewing a classic cookbook, and perhaps the most well known French cookbook ever, The Escoffier Cookbook.  I love this cookbook, it isn't a traditional cookbook in many ways.  The recipes are in paragraph form and there are many skills and techniques that you are expected to know before even beginning many of these recipes.  It is important to note that this book is not created for the standard at home cook, it was designed for a professional or aspiring professional chef.  This book is a must have for any serious cook and it is an amazing resource and reference when one already has a solid knowledge of the basics.  I especially love the sauce section, and there is a wealth of information in that section to help with your sauce techniques.  There are many tricks and hints that are written in the pages, and definitely a great resource to any aspiring chef.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Blessings...little things that are great blessings

     Something that I always grew up with was family dinner.  I loved all of us around the dinner eating and hearing how the day had been for my family.  It was always the best part of the day, enjoying food and enjoying each other's company.  Sometimes our schedules made it so hard and one of us would be missing or late to dinner or have to leave early, but we always tried our best to all be there.  Family dinner has been a huge blessing in my life, even though it seems like such a small thing.  The dinner table has been the center of all of the homes where I have lived, and it has been where so many memories have been created.  Usually our weekdays were relatively simple but delicious, Sunday dinner was always a bit more special.  Lots of times it was the standard that we see in so many homes, roast beef and potatoes. I get hungry just thinking about Sunday dinner, so good!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Food Goals and Food Adventures...

     Being fearless is something that I am working on for 2013, especially in the kitchen.  Sometimes we all fall into ruts, and I am trying to eliminate repetition in the kitchen this year and always be branching out and trying new things.  I have always been an adventurous eater, I will honestly try most anything, and most foods I like, Mr. Love From Scratch is not as adventurous of an eater as I am, and so much fussier, but together we explore the world of food and are constantly trying new things.  On our last vacation Mr. Love From Scratch got to try a few new things, among them were escargot, and pate, terrine and mousseline.  He didn't seem to enjoy any of them nearly as much as I did.  I love pate, and I actually love to make my own pates and terrines, its really simple and quite inexpensive to make, and great for parties, unless all your guests are timid eaters and if that's the case, good luck to you! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Snowy Day Activities and Goals

     Since its a snow day I am trying to be as productive as possible indoors, so that means I have a chance to do a few projects here at home.  I absolutely love to sew and quilt in addition to my cooking, but whenever I can mix the two I am particularly excited.  So today's project will be making a few new aprons, I love to make my own aprons, they just have way more personality that way.   One of my favorite sewing blogs is Bee In My Bonnet I love the way she mixes and matches her fabrics and quilts, and I always get tons of good ideas from her blog.  Not too long ago I purchased her one-yard apron pattern and I love it, and I am excited to make more one yard aprons today!  Actually this is a great pattern to use to make gifts, most of my friends know that I love to make personalized aprons as gifts!  The hardest thing for me actually about sewing these aprons isn't the sewing part at all, its the actual picking the  fabrics and trimmings for the apron, I think that is why I always have to make a couple every time I make this pattern.  This is a great pattern also to adjust to children tweens and adults.

Trying to stay warm and enjoying January Soup Month

     Its definitely a winter wonderland here where I live.  Last night it snowed and I mean it SNOWED!  We actually haven't had this big of a storm for a few years, so the schools are closed and for most homes here it is a snow day.  Friday usually tends to be an errand day so its too bad that I am falling behind on errands (maybe I will catch up on laundry then, here's to hoping).  With the cold weather it is definitely a good opportunity to share another soup recipe, this one is a little different in the sense that it features parsnips which a lot of people aren't familiar with.  I know that I have already shared my fondness for parsnips, but they really are a great vegetable to use in many recipes, especially soups.  Parsnips are great for you, definitely give this recipe a try, if you decide that parsnips aren't really your thing, you can easily substitute the parsnips for turnips, celery root, or sunchokes.  So make up a kettle of soup some french bread and try to stay warm!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Biggest Loser Challenge's to a fit 2013

     One of my favorite things about January is the return of The Biggest Loser, as I have mentioned before I LOVE that show.  I love that you see people taking control of their lives and making a positive difference.  This week as many of you know was the season premiere, and as usual it was AMAZING!  I was particularly pleased to see the show addressing the issue of childhood obesity, after all it is a huge issue for today's youth.  I have decided that I am going to participate in Challenge America, and I am excited to see the results.  Instead of making a goal of how many pounds I would like to shed, I have instead made the goal to lose two dress sizes during this season.  If I accomplished that I would be able to wear absolutely everything in my closet.  How great would that be in the morning to realize that I can wear everything in the closet and I can put all my clothes to good use.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Cold January means time for soups & stews!

     2013 is off to a really cold start, it has been super cold all week, my poor dog Chloe is hating it.  Cold weather has never been a favorite of mine either, but I try to make the best of it, at least it gives me a chance to make some nice warm soups and stews.  One of the decisions I made for this blog is that in 2013 each month will have a different theme or challenge, where I will focus at least 4 new recipes featuring the monthly challenge or theme.  With this January already being so cold and windy the theme was very easy to choose, for January we are highlighting soups and stews, after all on a cold day nothing warms you up as well as nice bowl of steaming soup, add some freshly baked bread and you have the perfect winter meal.  As I have mentioned before I love my Le Creuset french oven, it was a bit on the expensive side, but it has proven to be worth every penny.  I love Le Creuset and hope to acquire more (Hint, Hint Mr. Love From Scratch!). Anyway, my french oven has been perfect for making soups and stews, I am constantly looking for new recipes, however sometimes I want to enjoy a good classic as well, today is a classic day, definitely a Cheddar Broccoli day.  I love this soup, it is so creamy and decadent it just warms you straight down to your toes, I particularly love it with sourdough bread or baguettes.  Also a great meal for potlucks.  It will become a family favorite.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Carpe Diem, lessons from Winnie the Pooh

     TGIF!  It is the first Friday of the New Year, and the first weekend is beginning.  I love the month of January, because there are so many people trying to better themselves, and in turn better the world in which we live.  A couple days ago I wrote about knowing who you are, and where you are headed, and I remembered this quote from Winnie the Pooh, and I thought it tied in perfectly to that post.  It is so true that sometimes we lose sight of who we are and where we are headed, and what we are capable of accomplishing.  So my words of support to all of us this year as we go about our resolutions and goals to remember that we CAN do it, and we can probably do so much more than we ever have dreamed we could.

     So one of the crazy undertakings I have made for this year is having a completely clean and organized home.  I can already hear some of the groans...I know an organized home is such an overwhelming task, and I feel like  every time I make progress in front of me I turn around and there is a disaster behind me.  So I was reading various blogs and I saw on the 2013 Declutter Calender.  Seriously this challenge has me very intrigued each day you do a different 15 minute task and at the end of the year you are supposed to have a completely organized home.  I have decided that I will definitely do this challenge, 15 minutes a day I can do, and if I have a completely organized home at the end of the year I will be thrilled!  Additionally there is still a lot of great info on that website,  it really does break down the overwhelming task and make it seem far more easy to accomplish.  Are any of you taking on a goal or resolution that seems completely overwhelming? I would love to hear what other goals people are up to!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Foodie" Goals for 2013

     I have always been the type to make lots of goals and resolutions for myself, sometimes even to the extreme, leaving me to feel completely overwhelmed in January.  Goals and resolutions have always been a way of expressing the changes that I want to see with in myself, and the manner in which I plan to accomplish them.  This year I have physical goals, spiritual goals, family goals, financial/career goals, and so many more.  One particular category of goals and resolutions I created for this year is "Foodie Goals & Resolutions" tied in within those are some of the goals I would like to see happen for this blog during 2013.  I am excited at these goals, some of them are stretch goals, but I am hopeful that with commitment and hard work those goals will become reality.

Love From Scratch "Foodie Goals & Resolutions":

1) Eat in season.

2) Bake more often & find people to share the new recipes with.

3) Complete my reading challenge for Foodies Read 2013.

4) Avoid processed foods as much as possible.

5) Keep kitchen clean and organized.

6) Make sure to document recipes onto recipe cards (I have way too many clippings & recipes only in my head.)

7) Each day find a moment to relax and savor the tastes of the day.

8) Try more recipes in all of those food magazines I get.

9) Eat healthier and look for more ways to make healthy substitutions.

10) Use my formal china more often, make meals more of an occasion for our family,

11) Average 5 posts a week for the blog.

12) Double the Love From Scratch audience during 2013.

13) Have a monthly challenge for Love From Scratch during 2013.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I Have Been Reading Wednesday, Accepting the Challenge, Foodies Read 2013

Foodie's Read 2013     It is the first What I Have Been Reading Wednesday of the year, which gives me an opportunity to introduce one of the goals and resolutions I have for the year.  One of the blogs that I have followed for a while is it is a very interesting blog, the general premise of the blog is a group of foodies reading books somehow pertaining to food and sharing them with the group.  This is a group that is right up my alley, I love to read, and I especially love to read cookbooks, or food fiction. memoirs or anything food relates so I jumped at subscribing to this blog.  The Blog has introduced their reading challenge for 2013, aptly named Foodies Read 2013.  You set the goal for how many books you will read and review for the year, and there is a level associated with whatever number of books that you choose to read,  for example the levels are as follows:
Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Les Miserables, A New Year & Redemption

     Tonight I had the chance to go see the movie, Les Miserables with some friends, and it got me thinking about things.  I think it was a very fitting movie to watch on New Years, as the story is about redemption, knowing who you are, and commitment and dedication.  I won't go into reviewing the movie or the actors in this post, that perhaps will be for another time.  I had read the book and have seen the play, so I hoped the movie would be equally satisfying.  I have always liked the story, and some of the lessons it teaches, especially about redemption.  One of the characters, Jean ValJean, is seen as a criminal a thief, a dangerous man who can never overcome his past.  At times in the story even Jean ValJean succumbs to the trap of thinking he is nothing more than a common criminal, forgetting all of the acts of goodness and mercy he has committed.