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Mary’s Memo – July 7th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Wish you could cook fish, roasts or even risotto perfectly every single time? "The trick," says foremost cooking authority James Peterson "is to know when to stop cooking." If you hate worrying about whether your cooking will turn out half-raw or overdone, Peterson's latest book, Done (Chronicle Books, May, 2014; $27.50/hardback), tells you exactly how to know by sound, smell, look and feel when more than 85 of the most vexing-to-cook foods are perfectly done. So if you suffer from too-firm artichokes, rubbery shellfish, raw-in-the-middle salmon and fried chicken, rubbery shellfish, hard cooked eggs with gray yolks, fallen soufflés, runny berry pie, limp bacon, dry-as-dirt turkey, too gooey brownies or greasy buttercream frosting, suffer no more! This book is your salvation in the kitchen.

James Peterson is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, photographer, cooking instructor and former restaurant chef. He is the author of fifteen books and has won seven James Beard Foundation Awards. He cooks, writes and photographs in Brooklyn, New York.
Order Done by James Peterson via Amazon.com.

HOW ACID LOAD IN YOUR DIET CAN AFFECT YOUR HEALTH


Unless you have sensitive teeth or acid reflux disease, the amount of acid in your system probably isn't something you think about too often, But according to an article published in the December 2012 issue of Osteoporosis International, limiting acid load in your diet may help prevent sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass and function that raises the risk of fracture, injury and disability in older adults. "On its own, the body is an excellent at stabilizing blood pH," says Alissa Lupu, RD, a clinical dietitian at Weill Cornel Medical Center. "It does so by removing excess acid via urine." However, it appears that an imbalance of proportions of acidic and alkaline foods may contribute to health problems. A balanced diet that consists of a ratio of two parts alkaline to 1 part acid seems to be the healthiest. Alkaline foods include most fresh fruits and vegetables, tofu, almonds, herbs and spices and mineral water. "Foods highest in acid include dairy, meat and poultry, fish, most grains, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine," says Lupu. You may be surprised to learn that some foods generally considered acidic, such as lemons and other citrus fruits, become alkaline once they are metabolized by the body. In fact, adding a splash of lemon juice to your water will make it an alkaline drink. Emphasizing alkaline foods means a diet that is plant-food focused, high in fiber and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But don't rule out acidic foods, either…. your body needs both.

"A meal of vegetables and tofu with a small serving of poultry, meat or dairy would be ideal, Lupu says.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women's Nutrition Connection, July 2014.

HEALTHY SNACKS


There are plenty of snacks available but not all of them healthy. Planters introduced 4 new peanut varieties including Salted Caramel and Cocoa. Do they taste good? Of course they do but reading the label they also contain ingredients I avoid like fructose. As for fat, label says they're processed in peanut or cottonseed oil (Which is it, Kraft?). A single serving of each has 160 calories including 110 fat calories or 1.5 percent saturated fat. Manufacturers think that because a lot of foods are seasoned with sea salt today consumers are more likely to buy it but sorry, folks, it's still sodium chloride and should be limited. When we're blessed with so much fresh produce in the summertime and most of it grown in the USA, doesn't it make sense to replace unhealthy snacks with a wedge of watermelon, a piece of cantaloupe, a plum or apricot? If you still crave something salty, have a bowl of popped corn with not too many calories and loaded with fiber. Another suggestion is to fill Popsicle molds with fresh fruit juice such as lemonade or limeade, orange, cranberry, pineapple, etc. If you don't have regular molds, freeze in Dixie-type cups and insert a wooden stick when juice begins to freeze.

BRINING BEFORE GRILLING


I resisted brining meat for a long time thinking it would increase my consumption of salt but I have to admit that it does make grilled meat more tender and juicy. That said here are the proportions for brining 2 boneless pork loin chops or 2 boneless, skinless breast halves (you can also use bone-in breast halves).

• 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

Dissolve sugar in water; add salt and stir to dissolve. In a 1.5-quart oblong glass dish add meat to brining solution making sure meat is covered. Brine for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Drain and discard brine, then wipe meat dry with paper towels. I have told you before that I grill over indirect heat, not over the flame. So meat has grill marks, lay meat briefly over flame.
Source: Mary Ann Thaman.

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