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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chicken Cacciatore

Paula, the insane cook, is an avid Baseball fan and a Boston Red Sox die-hard. So she has been busy with baseball and out of her kitchen for a bit. I honestly thought her next submission would be a Boston Red Sox Cake, but alas I guess she just cannot get the colors right! After all it only took almost a century for the Red Sox to come back!


Chicken Cacciatore


Ingredients:
  1. 3 Pound broiler/ fryer chicken
  2. 2 Cups Water
  3. 1 Cup Tomato Sauce (homemade or bought)
  4. 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano
  5. 1 Teaspoon Fresh Basil
  6. 1/2 Dry White Wine
  7. 1 Onion (diced)
  8. 1 Bell Pepper, sliced thin
  9. 1 Clove Garlic , minced
  10. 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  11. 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

You will need:
  1. Large Pot
  2. Measuring Cup


Directions:
  1. Fill Pot with 2 cups of water
  2. Add chicken and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and cool
  5. Remove 1 cup of stock (water from chicken) and discard
  6. Remove chicken from the bones, discard bones
  7. Cut chicken into chunks
  8. Place all ingredients in the pot and cover
  9. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

This is a fairly simple but good recipe for chicken. It also does not require a lot of "nursing" and can be ready with a bit of pre-planning in 60-90 minutes. The hard part is getting rid of all the bones, but once the chicken has been boiled, that is a fairly easy process. So Two stars for difficulty.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Great Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 4 large eggs
  4. 2 cups dried fruit
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup brown sugar
  8. lemon juice
  9. nuts
  10. Lots & Lots Of Chocolate
  11. 1 gallon Scotch - At least 12 Years Old (but in a pinch any kind will do!)
Utensils You Need:
One or two or three good scotch glasses.
Your eyeglasses to read the fine print on the Scotch bottle
Your bed all made up and ready

Directions:
  1. Sample the scotch to check for quality.
  2. Take a large bowl.
  3. Check the scotch again to be sure it is of the highest quality. Pour one level cup and drink.
  4. Repeat Step #3.
  5. Turn on the electric mixer.
  6. Beat 1 cup butter in a large, fluffy bowl.
  7. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and beat again.
  8. Make sure the scotch is still holding its own. Repeat Step #3.
  9. Turn off mixer. Break 2 legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the chocolate.
  10. Mix on the turner.
  11. If the chocalita gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.
  12. Eat some of the dried fruit.
  13. Repeat Step #3. Sample the scotch to check for tonsisticity.
  14. Next, sift 2 cups of salt. Or something. Who cares?
  15. Repeat Step #3.
  16. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
  17. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.
  18. Grease the oven.
  19. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner.
  20. Throw the bowl out of the window.
  21. Repeat Step #3. Check the Scotch again.
  22. Go to bed.Take the Scotch with you!
  23. Repeat Step #3 as many times as you can take it.
  24. Who the hell likes chocolate cake anyway?

Got Ya!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Help! I REALLY DO Have A Fire In My Kitchen

One of the readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, Keren, sent in this video of how to handle a real Fire In Your Kitchen.

(If you are reading this in a reader, you may have to visit Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen to see the video!)

It was attached with the following letter, which seems to have been forwarded to her.

FIRE SAFETY VIDEO
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO READ BEFORE YOU VIEW THE VIDEO.

This is a dramatic video (30-second, very short) about how to deal with a common kitchen fire ... Oil in a frying pan. Please read the following introduction and then watch the show ... It's a real eye-opener!! Perhaps you'll want to send this one on to your family and friends.

When I was stationed in Charleston Navy base at the Fire Fighting Training school we would demonstrate this with a deep fat fryer set on the fire field. An instructor would don a fire suit and using an 8 oz Cup at the end of a 10 foot pole toss water onto the grease fire.

The results got the attention of the students. The water, being heavier than the oil, sinks to the bottom where it instantly becomes superheated. The EXPLOSIVE force of the steam blows the burning oil up and out. On the open field, it became a thirty foot high fireball that resembled a Nuclear Blast. Inside the confines of a kitchen, the fire ball hits the Ceiling and fills the entire room.

Also, do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite.



video

(To see the video you should be in the blog, Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wish Upon Your Star

Wish Upon Your StarAfter some difficult planning "Wish Upon Your Star" a new blog has been opened for all those who wish to participate. Wish Upon Your Star was inspired by a combination of events but mostly to help renew our own faith in ourselves. Remember when you were in your early days at school and you drew those stick people pictures with a note or wish upon them? We all have wishes, deep inside of us. We look out upon the night sky, and find our star and make a wish. Wishes do come true! And Wish Upon Your Star is here to help them come true for you!

Wishes are as endless as the sand upon the sea

This is a blog where we will be posting and collecting wishes from all over the world in graphic format. You can take a look at Wish Upon Your Star and the instructions of submitting your own wish here.

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is to extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Take a look at Wish Upon Your Star and participate and let those wishes come true!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kosher Cooking Carnival (KCC) - 23


A Few Words Of Introduction:

It is my pleasure at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, to host the Twenty-Third Kosher Cooking Carnival or KCC #23 as it is known. The home page of the Kosher Cooking Carnivals allows those who wish to participate to submit their blogs and URL's to the next Kosher Cooking Carnival. The one that must be thanked for the idea, and the logo above, which believe me is an incredible amount of work, is Batya, over at her me-ander blog. Batya is a dedicated blogger and couples this with a strong community-minded spirit. (I think she is a bit worried about how I present KCC #23 so hopefully she will be surprised :) So you can stop biting your nails and stocking up on the aspirin and Valium Batya!)

The Kosher Cooking Carnivals have but one rule. Actually the same one that applies to Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen - which is, the recipes presented must be Kosher. That is it. You do not have to be Jewish to participate nor kosher yourself, as long as the recipes meet with the basic kosher standards, it is fine.

There is no doubt, if one bothers to take a look, the amount of recipe and cooking blogs, kosher and regular on the Internet, is simply mind-boggling. The amount of Kosher recipe blogs, which should come as no surprise these days, is also in the high thousands. It never ceases to amaze me how many variations can be created to make one specific item, even if it is a simple Mac & Cheese for the kids. There is a diverse group represented here and many of the blogs are not purely "recipe" blogs.

As I reviewed the previous KCC posts, it seems everyone presented in their own desired format, sometimes with a short review of the blog, sometimes with a description of the specific recipe, sometimes dividing it up into "meal" categories. Here at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen I am going to try to stay within the "blog review" format, e.g. try and let you know a bit about the blogs posting the recipes, combine that with some pictures from the blogs, and the recipes or links to the recipes.

However, all that being said, and specifically due to the post I made recently, Comments From Our Readers On Recipes, Fast-Food and Nutrition, I cannot be responsible for the accuracy of these recipes. They are not specific submissions to Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen but rather a compendium of some great (kosher) food bloggers on the Internet. Nor does Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen endorse any of the blogs or opinions of the blog owners listed within KCC #23 (be they political, religious, social or otherwise). KCC is about Kosher Cooking and all that goes along with cooking and eating and kosher issues. I keep politics out of my kitchen - even when it is on fire!

Additionally, due to the amount of submissions into KCC #23, unless specifically asked by some readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, I will not be linking to any recipes on this blog. There are just too many great submissions, and this post will be much longer than the expected norm as it is.

Since I found it incredibly difficult to categorize the recipes into specific headings, and this post was prepared over a series of days, the only order within these entries, is they are divided into recipes and informative posts. In that way I play no favorites.

If you are new to Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen please take some time to browse our recipes and stories. Recipes are categorized in many different ways, and if you are looking for something specific, try the site search. We love comments by the way, suggestions and new ideas. And if you are into submitting recipes, Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen in open to submissions from all over the world. Just read our guidelines here.

Once again thanks goes to Batya over at me-ander for her help and dedication, and a big Mazal Tov over the birth of her new grandchild.


Now down to the fun!


Recipes

#1 - Spinach Pesto with Penne posted at Best Kept Recipes.

Amanda Harris sent this recipe in from Best Kept Recipes. The site itself has a very pleasing and clear layout and is a perfect example of finding kosher recipes on a non-kosher blog. There are quite a few good recipes over at Best Kept Recipes it is well worth checking out. The introduction to Best Kept Recipes introduces us to its owner.
I’m Linda, an Administrative Assistant by day - a cook and writer by night. I love to create and putter in the Kitchen and at my keyboard, so why not share the recipes my friends and loved ones have come to enjoy? I am so excited to bring these recipes “to life” on the internet and hope you find dishes that you and yours may enjoy too.
The actual recipe itself,Spinach Pesto with Penne, is a mixture of pasta penne, Pecorino Romano cheese and spinach. The actual ingredients are listed below to give you a mouth-watering taste and you can get full directions over at: Spinach Pesto with Penne @ Best Kept Recipes.
  1. 3 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
  2. 2 cups fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  3. 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  4. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1/2 stick melted butter
  6. 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  7. 3 large garlic cloves, crushed or 1 heaping tsp. minced
  8. 1 tsp. kosher salt
  9. 1 lb. penne pasta

#2 - A GOOD RIBBING posted @ Blog d'Elisson

Here is an example of finding an interesting recipe on a blog I would never have come across. Despite the fact that the subtitle of Blog d'Elisson reads: "Another monumental exercise in self-aggrandizement and time-wastage" (which certainly made me laugh knowing how true this is for many of us!) it is safe to say the recipe for Ribs in a A GOOD RIBBING if very good. Indeed it actually shows that Ellison has a handle on cooking and understands different sauces and foods. Here below are the ingredients and for the whole recipe go take a look at A GOOD RIBBING posted @ Blog d'Elisson.
  1. 3 scallions
  2. 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  3. ½ cup soy sauce (I used ¼ cup Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce and ¼ cup Tabasco soy sauce)
  4. 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  5. 2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil (the seeds are toasted, not the oil, Emeril!)
  6. 6 tbsp sugar
  7. 1 ripe pear
  8. 1 thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  9. You can add a generous squirt of hot chile-infused sesame oil or a dash of red pepper flakes, if you like ’em spicy. I used the hot oil, and it was just right.

#3 - Baked French Toast posted @ F r u g a l J o u r n e y

Annette Berlin over @ F r u g a l J o u r n e y sent this Baked French Toast recipe in to KCC. F r u g a l J o u r n e y has a very interesting introduction, something I think we can all relate to:
Do you compare prices at the grocery store? Do you try to stay out of debt? If you answered yes to the above questions, you’re in good company. Most people do consider themselves frugal, even thrifty. And yet, according to MSN Money, the average American family is $8,000.00 in credit card debt. How is that possible?

The answer is that in today’s economy, just comparing prices and making small concessions to frugality isn’t enough. In order to balance your budget today, you need to do more. A lot more.

Our site is devoted to making it easier for you to handle your money. You’ll find lots of great hints, tips, recipes, links and articles to help you in your Frugal Journey.
This specific recipe came in with the following remark: "Israel has an abundance of cheap and delicious bread, so we enjoy it during almost every meal." While this is true, I certainly would not suggest eating bread at every meal unless your metabolism burns calories like a jet engine. Go easy on bread and carbohydrates. But this recipe for Baked French Toast is very good and though posted with two variations I will just post the ingredients for Annette’s Baked French Toast Variation, while personally suggesting to add some berries to the whole dish. I personally liked the inclusion of honey and apples. Take a look at Baked French Toast posted @ F r u g a l J o u r n e y for directions and another variation on this recipe.

Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 6 eggs
  3. 1/4 cup honey
  4. 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 8 slices white sandwich bread or challah
  8. powdered sugar
  9. apple preserves

#4 - Cooked Vegetables posted @ me-ander



Batya, over at me-ander, posted a short post though important information on how to properly cook veggies in her post Cooked Vegetables. Go read cause veggies and fruit are great for you and great for a healthy life style.

And while we are on healthy eating take a look at the following book reviews here @ Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen which are about health and keeping your body fit. Tosca Reno - The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook Book Review & Holly Cleggs Trim And Terrific Diabetic Cooking - Book Review.

#5 - Shemitah and Chicken Soup Posted @ Shemittah Rediscovered

This next recipe took a bit of reworking for the ingredients, but one can tell that this is one of these favorite home-made recipes for chicken soup which Robin Ticker submitted. I put the ingredients in some semblance of order and take a look at Shemitah and Chicken Soup Posted @ Shemittah Rediscovered for the directions.

Ingredients For Chicken Soup:
  1. 1 chicken
  2. 9-10 cups of cold water
  3. 1 Medium onion
  4. 2 cloves of garlic
  5. 2 teaspoon salt or salt to taste
  6. 4-5 carrots
  7. 1 parsnip
  8. 1 turnip
  9. 2 celery stalks
  10. 1 leek (cut leek down side and wash the individual leaves from dirt)

#6 - A Warm and Tasty Yom Tov posted @ OU's Shabbat Shalom Featured Articles

Carolyn over @ Juggling Frogs (and you should take a look at Juggling Frogs if only for the name!) sent this submission in. For those who need some background, the OU or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, has been for many many years a trusted name for Kosher products. When you see their unique stamp on a product you can rely on the fact that it is kosher. I seriously cannot count the amount of times I was stranded in some small town or city during my days in High Tech, and that little stamp on half the products in the local supermarket saved me from starving. From NYC to the deep backwoods of Texas (I kid you not!) I was always able to at least buy some kosher food product. While there are a great many good and trusted names these days, (see the post in Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen entitled: How Do You Know A Processed Product Is Kosher?) I have a soft spot for the OU because my Uncle Nat a'h, was once President of the OU years and years and years ago, and for a few years I worked in informal education in their youth groups, NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth) as a Regional Director. O.k. enough with the nostalgia and down to food.

In the post submitted, A Warm and Tasty Yom Tov, there are actually four recipes, and they are certainly not only for the holidays. The recipes were posted by Tamar Ansh who is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist with a very strict copyright notice. Therefore we cannot repeat or reproduce the recipes nor will I repost the ingredients. So if you are interested in any of the recipes below you will have to mosey over to A Warm and Tasty Yom Tov.

The first one entitled, Savory Vegetable ‘n Meat Sauce, is really an excellent recipe and worth a look-see. Check out the directions (which are actually written fairly well) over @ A Warm and Tasty Yom Tov. The next two listed in the post are Veggie ‘n Meat Stuffed Squash and Pumpkin Lentil Soup. If these meet your taste buds then take a peek over there. The final one - the "there goes my diet" one - is Peanut Butter Chip Crumb Cake.

#7 - Chicken Salad - This one comes from a regular here Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen and submitted especially for KCC 23 - we call her Paula our Insane Cook

She writes:
This is an easy recipe for a light meal. Make extra and it can be used for lunch the next day. I prefer the chicken cold and cut up over my salad.
Chicken Salad



Ingredients:
  1. 1 Bunch Romaine Lettuce, washed and cut
  2. 6 Chicken Breasts
  3. 2 Eggs, beaten
  4. 2 Cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  5. Canola Oil for Frying
Variations:
  1. Add croûtons
  2. Add other vegetables such as carrots, radish, onions, etc
  3. Use Panko Rice Flakes (Japanese) in place of bread crumbs (Used also in this recipe: Ultimate Chicken Fingers.)
Utensils You Need:
  1. 2 Bowls
  2. 1 Pan for Frying
  3. Large Serving Platter
Directions:
  1. Cut up lettuce and place on a large platter
  2. Place eggs in bowl and beat with a whisk or fork
  3. Wash Chicken and place in bowl with eggs
  4. Let soak for five minutes
  5. Place Seasoned bread crumbs in bowl
  6. Take one piece of chicken at a time, place in bowl of bread crumbs. Turn it to coat both sides
  7. Heat oil
  8. Place chicken in oil to fry
  9. Cook for five minutes, turn over and cook until golden brown ( approx 6-8 minutes)
  10. Take chicken from the oil and place on paper towel to blot excess oil
  11. Cut chicken into strips and place over lettuce
  12. Serve with your favorite salad dressing.


Informative Posts

***There is no order of importance to these listings. Pick and choose to your heart's content.

#1 - Spice Your Way to a Healthier Life Posted @ Healthmad


Carolyn over @ Juggling Frogs a well known blogger in the Kosher food arena, sent this one in. Spice Your Way to a Healthier Life is a great post. Let me say this again...GREAT. The post covers some common uses for some common spices - food and health uses. And after perusing Healthmad for a bit it entered my list of preferred bookmarks. I highly recommend Healthmad if only to give you some extra knowledge about all the things that you can gain nutrition and health from. Let's give an example from the entry on Basil:
Another common spice found in thousands of kitchens would be basil. Basil is a wonderful addition to many of our favorite Italian dishes, but it is also an excellent choice as an insect repellent, and for the treatment of bad breath, warts, emphysema, head aches, and high blood pressure.

Rubbing basil leaves directly on the skin wards off mosquitoes. In the country of India this is quite common practice. If you do not have the luxury of planting outside, this plant will grow quite nicely in a sunny window planter.

There are six compounds found in basil that are useful as expectorants, which make basil beneficial in ridding the body of mucus and congestion. Basil and black pepper each contain six compounds known to lower blood pressure.

Fresh crushed basil leaves can be applied directly to a wart and covered over with a bandage, as basil carries many antiviral compounds. Fresh leaves should be applied and the bandaging changed daily for five to seven days.
Take a peek at Spice Your Way to a Healthier Life Posted @ Healthmad, It is well worth your time.


#2 - Eruv Tavshilin (Cooking on a Holiday for the Sabbath)

Over at Shilo Musings, a blog in the family of Batya who runs KCC, comes a short informative post for those who need to cook from Yom Tov (Holiday) which falls on Friday for the Shabbat immediately following. For just a quick understanding of the problem. Traditional Jews are allowed to use fire on Yom Tov (Holiday) for cooking - but not on Shabbat (Sabbath). The use of fire and all its permutations is forbidden on the Sabbath. The caveat is that the if we cook on the Holiday the food must be actually needed for that specific day. However, when a Holiday falls out on Friday we can with a custom called "Eruv Tavshilin" prepare food and heat it up for the Sabbath as well. You will find a good short explanation in this post Erev Tavshilim, Cooking on Chag for Shabbat over at Shilo Musings.

#3 - Some Health Stores In Jerusalem

Over at Avodah Ivrit, in the post entitled, To Your Health!, there is a short review of two health food stores in Jerusalem. Take a peek.

#4 - What to do with the Lulav & Etrog After Sukkot?

In an interesting post Mystical Paths Blog and Emunah Paths Podcasts: Mitzvah Recycling posted at Mystical Paths Blog & Emunah Paths Podcasts Akiva has some suggestions for the Lulav and Etrog which make use of them after Sukkot.

#5 - Sukkot in Jerusalem

The Streets of Jerusalem is dedicated to Jerusalem. During Sukkot, traditional Jews build the "Sukkah" outside and eat, live and sleep in it for the next 7 days. In looking for a good picture of a Sukkah, I remembered that Batya, the one who runs and organizes the Kosher Cooking Carnivals, loves to post her pictures. So I stole this one from her, (click on the picture to go to her original posting.) Sukkah's can be fancy or simple affairs depending upon the needs and desires of who builds it. In Jerusalem, during the holiday of Sukkot their is a Sukkah Food Fair. Over at The Streets of Jerusalem you can view quite a few pictures of the this year's Sukkah Food Fair in the post: Food, Glorious Food.

#6 - Favorite Kosher Restaurants & The Invasion of Krembos @ Esser Agaroth

Over at Esser Agaroth we find a tagging meme going in which people list there five favorite kosher restaurants. It is a way to get a normal and unbiased reviews of the small restaurants one usually never hears of. Go take a look at Restaurant Meme posted at Esser Agaroth.

If you are interested in finding any Kosher restaurants in Israel with a bona-fide discount from the Internet, take a look at Batya's post in me-ander entitled, Israeli Resturant Guides.

And while you are at it, go take a look at Krembos Have Arrived! in Esser Agaroth as well. I really do not like Krembos, they are disgustingly sweet and made with cheap chocolate. But this is a favorite Israeli treat given to children for a snack, and my children when they were younger could take em or leave em. But Krembos are as much of the scene now as Sufganiyot, and will be around until after Hanukkah.

#7 - Shmitah Subjects over at Life in Israel

If you are interested in following some of the differing opinions on Shmitah a farily well laid article can be found in Shmitta: some of the basics and Otzar Ha'aretz. Shmitah is the Hebrew term form the Bible where every seven years we are commanded to let the land "rest". There are a great deal of laws regarding Shmitah, and certainly it is a hotly debated subject. This is one opinion, well written and articulate. Take a look.

#8 - Baltimore Kosher News & Bagels @ Presence

Presence is a blog devoted to the Baltimore and Greater Washington Jewish Communities. In this post they update the community with new Kosher news. Baltimore Kosher News Update and here an update on a new Bagel Store.


And finally - as they say Save the best for last!

#9 - Coffee & Jazz Heaven in You Could Smell The Coffee over @ me-ander

Some things you just don't pass up. We take café's for granted here. Batya at me-ander
posted about a morning at a café and includes a little about a couple of Jerusalem cafés in her post You Could Smell The Coffee. But really you should look at this post because of the picture she took. In this case a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

Blog Carnival archive - kosher cooking carnival

A listing of the previous Kosher Cooking Carnivals.

#1, #2, #3 Thanks Ezzie, #4 Thanks Sarah, #5, #6, #7 Thanks Sadie, #8, #9 Thanks Sarah, #10 Thanks, Elf, #11, #12 Thanks Renegade KC, #13, #14 Thanks Elisheva, #15, #16, #17 Thanks Baleboosteh, #18, #19 Thanks Baleboosteh, #20 Thanks Mom in Israel, #21 Thanks Juggling Frogs, KC meta-Carnival, Thanks Juggling Frogs, #22, #23 - Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ever Have One Of Those Days?!



So last night my son arrives home with 4 friends in tow. I was really not prepared for anything and was kind of totally immersed and dead to the outside world in writing. So after a half hour I go out of my study where I was summarily sent so as not to embarrass the kid, I sneak into the Kitchen to look at what is in the fridge to give his friends. ACK! Zilch! Nada! So I run to the grocery store with my golden retriever Rainbow, who was in my son's words "bothering them while they were on the playstation" - bad dog!) to get some food.

There I am a proud father walking home, figuring I am going to get brownie points for being unobtrusive and getting some real good junk into his friend's stomachs. So opening the door with a big flourish with a big, stupid, dumb smile on my face I look around and..and...and..

Oh good Lord! No kids! No son! All gone! Of course where did they go? To another friend's house to watch a movie.

"Abba I told you we were not hungry! Don't embarrass me!"

"Hey Kid. You guys were not hungry but you sure did a job on two bottles of Coke!"

"Coke is not food!"

So the kid arrives back home after nine, and guess what? He is hungry!

Throws up hands and gives up!

Lesson to be learned: If you have only $5 to buy food make absolutely sure you get as many bottles of Coke as you can!

On another note KCC #23 will be released in two days. If you wish to submit and have not done so yet either go here to me-ander, or here straight to the Blog Carnival Kosher Cooking Carnival submission page, or here where I explain it all in A New Year - Great Recipes Coming Up And Hosting KCC 23.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Comments From Our Readers On Recipes, Fast-Food and Nutrition

I opened my inbox and found two actually funny and interesting letters from two of the readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen.

The first from Kali, whose subject bore the title "picky picky" I read with great interest. In it she pointed out some failings and mistakes and some big boo-boos posted here at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen. I could find absolutely nothing wrong with what she said. She tells of her two pet peeves, two of which are very true in any recipe site or book.

1. people who write recipes "out of order". sure some people may get out every ingredient ahead of time and have them ready to use, but why can't the listed ingredients follow the same order as the preparation instructions? if the instructions say "add X, Y & Z to A", i don't want to have to search thru the ingredient list to find what the measurements are for those particular ingredients because they're not listed just under "A", but rather at the bottom of the list.
This is so right and correct. And when I looked back upon some of the recipes given as examples, I was shocked to see that this was the case more times than I care to think about. We should not have to be given ingredients than forced to figure out when and where and in what measure they should go in the recipe by searching the list again while reading directions.
2. people who don't proof-read their recipes. missing ingredients, missing directions, or ingredients listed that don't appear in the actual recipe instructions.
I once watched a show about how they made a famous series of detective shows, (I guess I was truly bored that day!). When the director began talking candidly, he admitted that in one show they had killed someone off, and yet afterwards there was never a reference to the dead person. The murder was not solved, had no purpose and the whole scene was just totally superfluous. They did not even notice the problem until people started writing in and calling after the show was aired asking what the hell happened to that dead person?

So yes, I am obviously guilty lately of not proofreading some of the recipes. And I must assume that like the dead person in the mystery series, ingredients are listed and then magically do not appear in the directions! Sometimes I try the recipes out before posting them, other times, due to constraints of time, kitchen hives and pity on my diet, I just don't try everything. Proofreading though I do, however, mistakes do creep in. I do not have an editor for the blog, and sometimes as in the examples Kali pointed out, tablespoons seem to have magically become teaspoons, and baking soda and sugar are mixed all up and listed ingredients do not make into the recipe!

Kali is right. I will do my best to proofread better in the recipes to come. If anyone does find mistakes in recipes, please do not hesitate to comment or just send in a quick email to fireinmykitchen@gmail.com. All corrections, notations, comments good or bad are appreciated.

Next up, and this should come as no surprise, Paula our insane cook, sent in an email describing a recent family event. The subject of this one is "Fast Food Lifestyle". Some of the email must be edited so Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen does not get sued!
My niece hosted a party today where she invited friends and family to her home for a demonstration by a company...(company's name deleted..editor)

They are similar to Tupperware and Pampered Chef parties where the host earns free items, depending on the sales made from her party. Lucky for me, I don't think I'll be invited to another one anytime soon.

Companies such as this thrive on the fact that we live in a fast food world and many people survive on less than healthy eating habits due to lack of time or knowledge in the kitchen.

My niece Caryn is a twenty five year old, single mother and works as a cardiac critical care ICU nurse. She sees the effects of this lifestyle on a daily basis, yet she rarely cooks a healthy meal. This baffles me.

She shared with them that her aunt (me) is over the top when it comes to cooking. She had them all laughing when telling them that I don't use pre packaged items, fast food, pizza's or chinese food.

While all the guests were tasting the treats offered by this company, I was reading the nutritional information. Many of their products call for either the addition of only water or two ingredients to be added. It wasn't long before I had my own little group gathered in the kitchen, telling them how easy it is to make a healthy meal with few items.

Another factor for these prepared items is cost. They have a relish on their list that sells for $8.99 per ten ounce jar. I make relish and it costs me approx. $2.00 per quart. Sure it takes time but in the end, it tastes better, has NO PRESERVATIVES and provides me with enough for a year or two.

I think the host was a little less than thrilled with me but I can't help it. In the time it takes to prepare a pre packaged food item, you can have a less expensive, healthier option made.

I was amused and horrified when one of the girls asked me why her chicken Parmesan turned out awful. I asked how she prepared it.

" I bought frozen breaded chicken and put chunks of mozzarella on it." .....
I think we can safely assume no one will be sending in such a recipe for Chicken Parmesan!

Keep the comments coming, complaints and of course praise. (I love praise!!!!!) And when you do find a mistake, even if it is just a spelling mistake, let me know - immediately. I cannot promise an immediate response but I will do my best.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tosca Reno - The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook Book Review



The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

(***Due to layout of this review, if viewed in an RSS reader, certain sections may seem duplicated.)

Before we begin, the review of the The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook normal disclaimer.

This book review was solicited by the publicists of the The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook and contains my personal opinion of the book. For kosher readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen - This is not a "kosher" cookbook though the majority of recipes in the The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook can be used as is, or with just a few sane and healthy substitutions, can be kept kosher. It is not that difficult to find equivalent and healthy kosher substitutes these days, especially in the United States.

Author & Book Details:

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is part of the overall Eat-Clean Diet Books written by Tosca Reno.
They include:
  1. The Eat-Clean Diet: Fast Fat-Loss that lasts Forever!
  2. The Eat-Clean Diet Workout: Quick Routines for Your Best Body Ever
  3. The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook
Tosca Reno also has one other book worth mentioning here simply because I love the title and certainly if The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is any judge would be well worth checking out as well. The Butt Book: How to Build a Non-Cellulite and Fat-Free Butt in 9 Weeks and I think the title says it all, don't you?

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is not just a dietary cookbook. This is a way of life. This is a commitment. This is a major life change if you are serious about making it. This is something that you must concentrate on all the time in order to reap the desired results.Unlike many other cookbook and recipe authors Tosca Reno comes to the arena of cooking from the vantage point of health, diet and workout. This is a plus in my eyes. Certainly much of The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is devoted to healthy living and eating and the recipes reflect as much. It is about a whole life-style and not just recipes. Tosca Reno herself, is one of those people who have serious credentials to write the book. In a bit of research on the author and her history, it is clear that she has become quite serious, dedicated and professional to the art of healthy living and cooking.
Tosca Reno, weighed over 200 pounds when she graduated from University in her 20s. At age 40 the still-overweight mother of three discovered eating clean. By 41 Tosca had become a fitness participant and swimsuit model, appearing in such magazines as American Curves. She now writes a regular over-40 column in Oxygen magazine and has written many articles for Reps! and Maximum Fitnss.
Her picture which graces all her books, and certainly does justice to The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook pages attests to the ability of one person to make a serious life-style change and adopt a mode of clean and healthy living.

There are a myriad of health lessons one can learn from this book without adopting the whole philosophy of "Clean-Eating" if one so wishes. Fresh vegetables and fruit are touted as critical aspects of any good diet. You will find little use for sugar in any of these recipes, a very good thing by the way. What oils to use in cooking and why? A Q&A section in the back of the book for the "Clean-Eating" lifestyle. All this is great information and important for our healthy lives.The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook contains over 150 recipes (though I did not manually count them.) Each recipe is accompanied by incredible, mouth-watering photographs. And let us face it - this is a big plus and important part of any recipe book. Actually the only photograph in this book not to my appeal, was the front cover as it just seems way too "busy" for me, but that is a matter of personal taste and I am far from being a book/graphic designer.

The philosophy behind The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is expressed in Reno's catchphrase, "Clean-Eating". Reno's eating and health world revolves around the "Clean-Eating" philosophy.

As in all excellent recipe books, and make no mistake this is an excellent recipe book for those who have healthy eating in mind and that is the audience, each recipe is divided into a few basic parts.
  1. A full page Color picture
  2. A note about the recipe and its historical and ingredients background. Something which is really a good addition to any cook book
  3. Ingredients Section
  4. Preparation Section - Written incredibly well without making it too short or long.
  5. A little Tip - sometimes worthwhile sometimes just a page filler
  6. How many servings and how long it takes to make - a big YES in my book
  7. Nutritional Value Per Serving which is certainly a must in such a book. Complete nutritional information accompanies every recipe. This includes:
  • Calories
  • Calories From Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Sugars
  • Fat
  • Sodium
The philosophy behind The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is expressed in Reno's catchphrase, "Clean-Eating". Reno's eating and health world revolves around the "Clean-Eating" philosophy. To actually eat according to the "Clean-Eating" plan, you must change your taste-buds. This is a hell of a lot harder than it sounds. You must be convinced, dedicated and totally centered around "Clean-Eating" in order to adopt the methods and many of the recipes in this book. You must have a hell of a lot of willpower as well and then some.From time to time the recipes are interrupted by full pages or health and dietary information. This too follows the theme of the book. For instance a whole two pages are devoted to the meaning of Protein in your diet. Tosca Reno finds this critical to any diet you adopt for "Clean-Eating" and gets her point across with facts and information. But actually my favorite two page spread has a picture of Reno with the following quote:
"I'll let you in on a little secret... I don't spend hours in the kitchen! One-dish meals are my favorite to save time and avoid doing dishes. They should be called one-dish wonders!"
The Recipes:

However, all this being said for the book, and its wonderful layout, we still have to look and judge the actual recipes. The categories are divided as follows:
  1. Breakfast
  2. Soup
  3. Grains
  4. Sauces, Spreads and Salsas
  5. One-Dish & Easy Meals
  6. Proteins
  7. Vegetables
  8. Pasta
  9. Sweets & Breads
  10. A Festive Occasion
One recipe we can reproduce here will give you an idea. (The headings in Purple are to show you how they are placed in the book) In it you will notice a good knowledge of grains and spices. The unsweetened applesauce (to avoid the sugar), the use of real oatmeal, and fresh products as well. (The only thing that I could even complain about here is in the alternative of using a Sweet Potato instead of pumpkin. Reno suggests zapping it in the microwave, to avoid the time consuming process of baking it I guess. Readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen know already how much I dislike zapping anything in the microwave.)

APPLESAUCE PUMPKIN MUFFINS



Tip: Everyone loves a delicious muffin, especially with a steaming cup of coffee, but few of us like the nasty calorie surprise that comes with most commercially made muffins. Did you know some popular coffee chains offer muffins that pack a whopping 600 plus calories? Try these little gems for your morning wake-up call.

Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal, not instant
  2. ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  3. ½ cup canned pumpkin
  4. 2 large egg whites + one yolk, lightly beaten
  5. 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil
  6. 1 Tbsp double acting baking powder
  7. ½ tsp baking soda
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  10. 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  11. ½ cup milk or milk alternative or ½ cup apple juice
  12. ½ cup amaranth or quinoa flour or flour of your choice
  13. ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  14. ¼ cup maple sugar flakes
  15. ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Line muffin pan with paper or silicon liners or coat with nonfat cooking spray.
  2. Combine oatmeal, pumpkin, applesauce, juice or milk, eggs and oil. Mix until all ingredients are blended.
  3. Measure and mix all dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour wet ingredients into dry. Add dried fruit if using. Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  4. Alternative: If you don't have pumpkin you can use a sweet potato. Simply microwave the sweet potato and let cool. Remove the skin and mash the flesh. Measure out the required quantity. Voilà!
Yield: Makes 12 Muffins

Nutritional Value Per Muffin:

Calories: 189 | Calories from fat: 78 | Protein: 6g | Carbs: 21g | Dietary Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 25mg

There are a myriad of health lessons one can learn from this book without adopting the whole philosophy of "Clean-Eating" if one so wishes. Fresh vegetables and fruit are touted as critical aspects of any good diet. You will find little use for sugar in any of these recipes, a very good thing by the way. What oils to use in cooking and why? A Q&A section in the back of the book for the "Clean-Eating" lifestyle. All this is great information and important for our healthy lives.

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook itself is expert in presentation, makes no excuses, and has beautiful photographs.

All in all between giving The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook the top 5 star rating or 4½ star rating is a difficult choice. If one is looking for a great recipe book without the health additions and substitutions, then it goes to a 4½ star rating. However, since Reno is clear in her motivation, clear about her objectives and clear about the lifestyle, we must give this recipe book a top 5 star rating as it has all the necessary ingredients of a professional, well done, well thought out, and informative recipe book, not to mention the fact that many of the recipes themselves are truly delicious.

Tosca Reno is an avid evangelist of a healthy lifestyle. The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook clearly makes this point and does so in a very distinct though easy manner. Reno does not preach - she explains. She gives the reasons; she shows; she tells of the upside - she motivates.

Certainly much of The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is devoted to healthy living and eating and the recipes reflect as much. It is about a whole life-style and not just recipes.She also does not promise you anything but a healthy lifestyle. Of course we would all love to have her curves and her smile. And that does not come from only from healthy eating, but from serious working out and exercise. But healthy eating is certainly critical. Remember the plus side:
Once an overweight mother of three, Reno discovered the Eat-Clean lifestyle at age forty; within a year she lost weight and gained body tone and overall fitness. She is now a forty-eight year-old cover girl and fitness model, and an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of women throughout North America.
In her own words:
"Having a cookbook filled with Clean-Eating recipes is like having life insurance ­ it's a plan for you to follow which gives you the rules, the results and the outcomes for a healthier life."
The Drawbacks:
  1. I guess I will say this again and again and get blue in the face from saying it. I personally believe cookbooks should, along with ingredients and directions have a section for Utensils You Need To Make This Recipe, on the page of the recipe itself. Beginning cooks and even those moderately experienced really do want to know how many pots, pans, grinders and special tools a recipe demands before they begin to prepare it! But this is really a general complaint I have with almost all cookbooks. Authors, editors and publishers should take note of this. Making a great cake, but having to pull out every pot, pan and 5 attachments for the Kitchenaid (assuming you own something close to a Kitchenaid) to do it, are those little details you should know beforehand.

  2. The other drawback has me vacillating between actually saying this and being branded as a killjoy or keeping my mouth shut. But hell - in for a penny in for a pound as they say. Reno is an avid evangelist of "Clean-Eating" and a "Healthy Lifestyle". Her methods certainly work for her and probably millions of her fans. When a person decides to work out, swim, run, or do exercise in any form - which all of you should be doing - that is a decision that effects your current lifestyle. You go to a gym or run in the park or join a pool or a gym. It takes time. It takes fortitude. And you have to silence that little voice in your head telling you it is much easier just to stay at home and chill out.

    When it comes to eating this is a bit different. To actually eat according to the "Clean-Eating" plan, you must change your taste-buds. This is a hell of a lot harder than it sounds. You must be convinced, dedicated and totally centered around "Clean-Eating" in order to adopt the methods and many of the recipes in this book. You must have a hell of a lot of willpower as well and then some.

    Since Reno is clear in her motivation, clear about her objectives and clear about the lifestyle, we must give this recipe book a top 5 star rating as it has all the necessary ingredients of a professional, well done, well thought out, and informative recipe book, not to mention the fact that many of the recipes themselves are truly delicious. I am one of those people who actually knows my metabolism. I know the key to loosing weight in my own body is very simple - exercise. If I don't exercise my body goes to hell; if I do my muscle mass gets better and the pounds slowly but surely go away. Indeed, I would rather swim my 100 laps a day and then run for an hour than change my taste buds. Whereas I do have the will power to not let a piece of cake or cookie in my house, and whereas some other things I can truly give up easily, I am not one of those people who will totally change my taste buds - even knowing that "Clean-Eating" is really incredibly good for me. (Hey, at least I admit it!)

    But "Clean-Eating" is not about only loosing weight. The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is not just a dietary cookbook. This is a way of life. This is a commitment. This is a major life change if you are serious about making it. This is something that you must concentrate on all the time in order to reap the desired results.
So I will personally use The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook to substitute recipes and I have already learned an incredible amount of information on food categories. And if you are like me, and are not going to adopt the whole philosophy in one swift kick to your body - The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is still an excellent choice in recipe books. More than excellent by the way.

If you are not yet a fan of Tosca Reno The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook will make you one. My advice would be to take it slow and easy. Decide what works for your taste buds and what does not. What works for your budget and what does not. Go slow. Work your way into it. And if you are already a fan, The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is simply a must have.