Well, not the most creative name, but I had to choose something! I’ve been asked over and over to share some very simple cooking tips and so that’s what I intend to do with this blog. Saving the hard core cooking for in person cooking. So why the blog? well, if you are wanting to learn the very basics and create delicious meals that do NOT come out of a box or the freezer section of your grocery store, you’ve come to the right place! I’m not sure how often this will be updated, but I will try to keep it up to date as much as possible.
So here we go….
What should we make together? How about a basic grocery list?
Before you can cook, you need to know how to shop for fresh ingredients.
Think “Perimeter” – yep. All the best foods are found around the perimeter of any grocery store. Produce. Dairy. Meats. Fish. Plan your menu and your shopping trip around these items. I start with the produce aisle. Nearly a third of my cart is filled with fresh produce. Don’t forget fresh herbs! You can often find live plants in your produce section, if you cannot then try the small bunches of fresh herbs. Using herbs will revolutionize your cooking! Not sure what goes with what? Experiment! Find taste combinations that you like! We’ll discuss that in a future blog – Using Herbs.
Meats – pick fresh meats – try to steer clear of frozen meat. I have found that reading the label on frozen chicken breasts can be scary – they are generally ‘seasoned’. You don’t want that. Stay away from anything that’s pre-seasoned. Yes, the meat is tasty, and tender, but is it healthy for you? Not likely! Exception – turkey! If you are buying a turkey early, ahead of a major holiday go ahead and buy a frozen one. But, if you haven’t tried a fresh turkey yet, you don’t know what you are missing! Choose lean cuts of beef. If you can find it, choose beef that is grass fed (free range) as opposed to ‘grain fed’. The same with chicken – free range is much better. Happy chickens are yummy chickens! Ha!! Sausage… seriously… a no no, it’s so high in fat. If you NEED to eat it (and who doesn’t?) moderation is the key and again choose high quality sausage. If you happen to be in Kitchener or St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market (Ontario) anytime, try the wonderful fresh sausages made by the Mennonites. YUM!
If you can afford it, organic is great – no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no crap in your foods.
Dairy – skim milk has all the protein as other milk without the fat. Eggs – look for free range eggs (they’d be the ones from those happy chickens! ha ha) I often keep Egg Whites in my fridge for cooking emergencies! Unsalted butter. Well, if you are a Julia Child fan, and I am, you can never have too much butter! But seriously, lose the salt! Choose only unsalted butter. It lets you taste your food and not the butter!
Now, the inside aisles. Use these with caution! Steer clear of anything processed – the junk food! No chips, cheesies, pop, etc. That goes for the cookie aisle too! We’re learning to cook/bake here in this blog, so why are you BUYING crappy tasting cookies? Have you ever read the nutritional analysis on a box of cookies? Or, for that matter, read the list of ingredients? Avoid white sugar wherever possible! Oils – EVOO. Great for salads, not so great for cooking at high temps. We’ll discuss OILS in a future blog.
The grocery store is your friend – but it can be your worst nightmare too! Don’t go hungry! Don’t go without a list! Don’t buy anything that is not on your list! Hmmm, I’m preaching to myself here!
So, what should we make together first? How about ONE recipe that can be used 3 different ways? Sound yummy? It is!
Stay tuned! Tomorrow it’s Muffins, Tea Biscuits, and Scones!! Mastering the ‘light and fluffy’