Our January Culinary Quarterly is usually devoted to the health/fitness issues surrounding food that weighs heavy (literally) on everyone's mind around this time of year.
Eating healthy and eating well can be synonymousand it's important to realize that prepping your own food at home does NOT mean you'll require a state-of-the-art kitchen equipped with the best industrial-ware that money can be or a nightly devotion to Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals (some of which might actually put you off food entirely). But you do need to make a few mental adjustments and an occasional investment.
If you can't afford to drop a few grand on a set of knives, one really good chef's knife will go a LONG way in the kitchen. Most cooks in most cultures DO manage to run their kitchens perfectly well with one good knifewhich they might use for everything from slaughtering a goat to spreading butter on the bread. (OK, it doesn't sound that hygienic, but you get the idea.)
If you only buy ONE kitchen appliance this year (seriously), make it the Braun hand blender. It's around $20 bucks or so at any discount store and it'll change your life in the kitchenand it may be heresy to say, but it's a better, more convenient, more affordable option than a Cuisinart (which is a very good tool if you're a committed baker). And it does almost all the same thingswithOUT requiring a bowl change. (Blending soups on the stove is probably its best feature. Using the chopping/blending attachment cup for salsa and sauces and marinades is the second best.)
Do you have a spice rack? Did it come free with your house? Have you moved it with you more than once? If so, throw them out (all of them). And learn the difference between spices and herbs. Use fresh herbs every chance you get, and for spices, it's worth an investment to select the ones you really will use and get them from Dean and Deluca. Cheap seasonings will make for a cheap-tasting dish. This isn't an area where you want to economize. (And for heaven's sake, spring for the coarse kosher salt for everyday use. A box'll last a family of four about a year. Along with a pepper grinder, which does not need to be as tall as you area hand model will suffice.)
Invest in a few good cookbooks (southern Junior League cookbooks are always full of genius finds; and for basics, Martha Stewart's still the go-to gal to beat), and occasionally tune into a decent food show (Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten has an easy-to-follow show on Food Network, and a series of books. She also looks like you can trust her because she's clearly ingested a meal or two, and her husband Jeffrey always looks happy and well-fed).
It is a MYTH that GOOD food is pricier than crummy food. At Farmers' Market, you can get a dozen ears of corn for $4 or $5 bucks. That's less than a "Value Meal" with tax at any fast food chain. To say nothing of what you're going to shell out on Lipitor and insulin when you get old and fat. Whatever a box of Mac 'n Cheese costs (maybe not the healthiest fare on the shelves), you can make more portions of it, more cheaply, from scratch. And it won't be neon orange.
The fewer ingredients, and the fresher they are, the better your cooking will be. If you start out with good food, you'll probably end up with good food on the other side. And with a little practice, it's quick, and it's easy. Leaving little justification for happy meals or lunchables and breeding another generation of obesity. n
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Mail: 486 West Second St , Lexington, Ky 40507
Give What You Can
Local broadcast media will be available in the KMart parking lot on Nicholasville Road Thursday, January 20, from 4pm to 8pm collecting donations for Tsunami Relief. Stop by and give what you can. (There is a traffic light in the vicinity with an arrow that will actually allow you to leave Nicholasville Road during Rush Hour.)
The public is invited to a workshop on Enlistment, Registration & Conscientious Objection. It will be 7pm Thursday, January 27th at the Quaker Meetinghouse, 651 Price Avenue, in Lexington. Young women and men 13 - 22 years old and those who counsel them are urged to attend.
Once-a-week garbage collection for all residents with Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government garbage service is coming soon.
To reduce trash, residents who are not currently recycling through the Rosie program or Lenny yard waste program are encouraged to sign up. To request a Rosie, Lenny or coupons for yard waste bags, call LexCall, 425-2255, or visit www.lfucg.com.
By now, you should've received mailings with information about your collection day. If you and your family are especially "trashy," you can order an additional Herbie cart at the cost of $60. An additional $4.50 a month will also be on your water bill for disposal of the garbage.
If you occasionally you have too much garbage for the Herbie, you may put garbage in heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and set them beside the Herbie.
Under frequently asked questions on the LFUCG web site, they list, "With my garbage collected only once a week, what do I do about the odor of food waste?" Answer: "City ordinance requires that garbage be placed in plastic bags before being put in the Herbie cart. If garbage is bagged properly and the cart lid is closed, odor should not be a problem." (C'mon. Who are they kiddin?)
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