I’m sure many of my readers are people who just love to cook. They love to tinker in the kitchen, concoct some new and amazing dish, dress it up just perfectly and place it before an appreciative audience. But wait, can you really do that with screaming kids, tired spouses, and other responsibilities looming large? How often have you dreamed of being able to create and cook amazing meals that no-one has ever tasted before. If the answer is often, maybe you need to turn your dreams into reality.
One way you can do that is to change your hobby into a career by becoming a chef. How do you do that? By attending one of the best culinary schools in America of course. I can see you laughing. Who has time to go off to a culinary school? Well, you may not actually have to go anywhere. There are now online culinary schools that might meet your needs. Also, you might be surprised to find a culinary school nearby. With the right program you could be on your way to making a dream a reality.
One thing you might want to look at is if you really want to do the cooking, or stage the event? Maybe you like cooking the meal, but you love all the beforehand preparations even more. You like making sure the table is set just so, that the menu is pleasing, that you have the right drinks on hand, etc. Then maybe instead of becoming a chef you would be more interested in the management aspect of dining.
Another possibility is if you’re concerned about the meals children are receiving in school or the elderly in care facilities, or even hospital food getting such a bad rap, then consider foodservice management.
What you really need is a passion and dedication to whatever aspect of food service you find the most intriguing and then you’ll be set to take on the task of getting a degree. You could start out with a certificate or associates program, to make sure you really want to do this as a career change. Once you know that this is the dream you want, then you can go all the way to a Master’s Degree if you so desire.
At any rate, there’s really no reason to pine away thinking you can never have the career you dreamed of. So, get out there and create some more healthy gourmet restaurants, so I’ll have someplace to eat when I travel!
Just want to give you a heads up. I’m going to be offering a free demonstration of my “Cooking by Feel” method of food preparation on June 12th, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. It will be held at The Creative Center in Greensboro, NC. You can see the calendar listing. I discovered I have a knack for being able to just grab things out of the fridge, willy-nilly, and end up preparing a delicious dish or meal. My goal, through the demonstration and classes, is to get people eating more freshly prepared food, with minimal time involvement, and make it so tasty they won’t want to go back to pre-prepared or fast foods.
I don’t have a clue what I’m going to fix, because what I’ll do is, the day of the event, I’ll grab stuff out of my fridge, load it up, take it to the site where the demo is, and I’ll prepare one or two dishes for people to taste.
I will make sure I have a wide selection of my most used herbs, as well as all my food fixers. You know those things that you add when you made it too salty, bitter, sour, etc. Other than that it will just be whatever whim I happen to have that day.
These demos are a lot of fun and you get to taste whatever concoction I come up with. I hope you’ll join me as I venture into in-person opportunities to learn healthy gourmet meal preparation.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Solonynko.
This past weekend I needed to cook two meals a day for eight people. I have to admit that I had a terrible time getting the proportions right. The first day I made way too many grains, the second not enough.
Also, because there was no kitchen where I had to serve I had to make all the food in crock pots. It was tasty, but the vegetables were more of a soup than a dish and the grains got overcooked and mushy.
Another problem I had was just how much salt, herbs, and spices I needed to put in. It is very frustrating to be an excellent cook and feel like you fed a group of people a very mediocre meal. They all raved about it, but still, I know that it could have been so much better.
The things that worked well were the bread and the salad. Other than that I felt like people were OK with what was served, but not really excited about it.
So, what is your best tip for cooking for crowds from 8 to 30? I know that I’m going to need to be preparing large scale meals again. Also, what do you serve for snacks? Remember it needs to be healthy. No white sugar or flour, something prepared fresh that will feed a small army of munchers. I had fruit and freshly made popcorn that went over fairly well, but I want to get away from chips and overly sweet treats. Please leave a comment below. I’d be interested and I’m sure others would to. We’ve all come up against this bugger at one time or another.
Thanks for the guest post by Jo Levy
My husband is definitely the technology guru of our house. He is great with gadgets and computers, and can really repair anything. It’s awesome to have someone like him around since we increasingly use technology to get though our everyday lives. We use a ton of electronic appliances in our kitchen, so whenever one of those starts acting up, it gets fixed immediately. Last time my phone was acting weird, it was my husband who fixed it. Then when our computer started going crazy, he came to the rescue again. Sometimes I just wish I could fix things myself! That is why I was so excited when I searched St. Paul wireless internet and found Clear Wireless. My husband was really impressed that I found a service that not only provided wireless internet service for our home, but I got him a mobile hotspot too. It felt really good to finally be the one in the family to fix one of our problems! From now on my husband can keep on fixing things and messing with all of our gadgets, but I’m officially in charge of finding great internet deals!
Christmas is a time when we think of family get-togethers, memories and traditional treats and meals. With many of the traditional ingredients: white sugar and flour, dairy products, trans and saturated fats, and refined carbs, on the “no-no” list you may be wondering what you’ll eat this holiday season. We don’t want our families to feel deprived of the traditional treats they’ve come to associate with the holidays, yet we want to provide healthier choices.
You might want to try some raw food desserts and see how friends and family respond. Most people make faces when you tell them you’ll bring something raw, but once they’ve tasted it, they come away grinning and smacking their lips. With just a few simple kitchen appliances you can put together a great dish. Jenny Cornbleet’s book called Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People is a great place to start. I’ve tried a number of recipes in this book and they’ve all be delicious. In it there are dessert recipes for cakes, cookies, fruit crisps, pies, tarts, puddings, mousses, shakes, and ice cream. All of them are totally raw. Guess what? They taste better than their sugar-laden counterparts.
One recipe is for a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. It calls for 1 ½ cups walnuts, dash of salt, 8 pitted medjool dates, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp water. For the raspberry sauce you use 1-cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thaw and drain if frozen) with ¼ cup pitted medjool dates, soaked for 30 minutes and drained. Place the walnuts and salt in a food processor with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla … process until mixture becomes sticky. Add water and process briefly. Transfer to a serving plate and form a 5 inch round cake. Place the raspberries and dates in a blender and mix until smooth, pouring over the cake just before serving.
You don’t need to give up all your comfort foods, just find a healthier recipe for it. The taste may be a bit strange to you the first time, but after you’ve switched to healthier ingredients for a while, you’ll find the original recipe inedible. Should you choose to nibble on a few old favorites, don’t go down the guilt trail, thoroughly enjoy those few bites, but use moderation. Over time you’ll replace the unhealthy treat with a healthy one and start a whole new set of traditions for you and generations to come.
Maybe this is your first holiday as a vegetarian, or your college age child just announced they’ve gone vegetarian. Maybe you’ll be having some vegetarian guests, or you just want to eat less meat yourself. Whatever the reason, having several options for a holiday meal is a good idea.
For main dishes there’s the mock turkey recipe from my last post, but you can also have winter squash. I remember attending my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. The people had cooked a huge, and I mean gigantic squash. They’d taken zucchinis and turnips and made legs out of them and made the whole thing look like a giant turkey. It was really fun!
You can still have your usual sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, and stuffing (made outside the bird, but it still tastes great!) You’ll have to buy vegetarian marshmallows, though. Bean casserole is OK, too, as long as you make sure the sauce doesn’t have any meat or meat broth in it. Use honey or evaporated cane juice for sugar, as some white sugar is processed using bone char, which they may object to. Everything will have a nice earthy sweet flavor and will be good for you, too!
You’ll have to substitute something for your usual Jello salad, as gelatin is made from animal hooves, maybe a green salad. Gravy can be done, but not from the bird drippings, and you’ll need a good pumpkin pie recipe that doesn’t use eggs.
You can also ask a vegetarian to bring one of their favorite dishes to share, as well. Most often they’ll be happy to oblige. I’ve even offered to cook several dishes when I’ve been visiting family. That way they get introduced to new and delicious altrenatives and I have more than one dish to eat!
Here’s a good vegetarian pumpkin pie recipe. It may not taste exactly like what you grew up with, but it is darn good! This is a recipe from a friend of mine, who likes to bake.
Tofu Pumpkin Pie from Anna
Servings: 1 – 9″ pie
Cooking Time: 55-60 min.
- 1 16 oz. can pureed pumpkin
- 3/4 c Sucanat
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1 10-12 oz. pkg. firm tofu
Blend tofu until smooth. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in a 9″ pie crust. Bake at 425˚ for 15 min., then lower heat to 350˚ for 40 min. Cool and serve.
With the holidays just around the corner, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for entertaining. Often at least one of these parties requires evening attire. You’re probably fretting these events if you’re not a Make Up guru. The last thing you want to do is to host your gourmet group and feel like you look like somebody hit you in the eyes. If you don’t do the techniques right you can end up looking pretty bad.
Sometimes your friends can help you out with Cosmetics Tips. However, even they may not know all the make up tips for the smokey eyes, or how to apply a metallic shadow effectively, as it’s not something they would do everyday. In those instances some good online Make Up Tutorials can really help you achieve the sultry look you desire. So, be the talk of the party this year, but for all the right reasons. Be the one that turns heads this year.
Looking at the calendar today I was shocked to see we’re just two and half weeks away from Thanksgiving! Now’s the time to start looking through your cookbooks to pick out those just right recipes. Most families have their traditional favorites, but why not add a little something new and different. Maybe it’s just a new pumpkin pie recipe, that uses different spices than you ordinarily do. Or maybe you want to try something entirely different, something healthier than in the past.
Whatever it is, having the right ingredients and equipment on hand makes the day run much more smoothly. Nothing like getting ready to make the whipped cream for on top of the pies and finding out you forgot the whipping cream.
If you’ve never cooked the main meal before then checking things out on Google or Wiki could be in order. Our favorite saying around here is, “Google knows everything.”
Feeding a large crowd may be a little hard on a tight budget. Now you can save on goods and groceries with coupons at Savings.com. They have the latest coupons for savings on all your favorite items and they’ve recently added groceries to the list.
So whether you’re going for the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes, or going to give a vegetarian meal a try, there’s probably a coupon to help you save on doing it. Now that’s giving yourself a early holiday gift and leaves you more to spend on other’s gifts, too.
It’s amazing how, as you get older, the type in your cookbooks can appear to get smaller and smaller. Or maybe you feel like you need to hold it further and further away to see it clearly.
If that’s the case, then it’s probably time to make an appointment with your eye doctor. In many instances you may just need reading glasses. You might want to buy a pair of cheap eyeglasses to keep in the kitchen. That way you’ll never have to run all over the house locating your glasses before you can prepare a meal.
Just the other day I heard a funny story. This guy owned a Mexican restaurant and was very well known for his delicious salsa. One day, one of his servers comes into the kitchen and tells him that there’s a customer complaining about his salsa. The owner is livid. How can anyone have a complaint about his famous salsa, he thinks. Once in the dining room he sees it is a friend of his who has complained. He’s about to give him a piece of his mind, when his friend plunks the salsa in front of him and tells him to taste it. The owner does and gets a horrified look on his face. His salsa tastes terrible! What had happened was the prep chef had accidentally grabbed the sugar instead of the salt, and the result was ghastly.
The point is, you could be reaching for sugar instead of salt yourself if you can’t see the ingredients well, or adding too much or too little of a key ingredient. So, in order to keep your friends and family munching happily, take the time to get the cookbook in focus with a fun or fanciful pair of glasses.
Very dear to my heart is helping kids to stay healthy and vibrant. Today over 30% of children are considered obese, what a tragedy. Obese children usually make obese adults, and obese adults leave themselves open for many more diseases than adults within their normal range of health.
One thing we need to remember is that kid’s taste is different than adults. Finding recipes for kids that they really like is an important key to the success of a healthy diet. If the kids don’t like the food, they won’t eat it. They’ll trade with their friends for food less desirable, but more tasty.
Children set their taste preferences early, so it is important to offer them what you would like to see them to eat when they get older. Don’t start out using white bread and then expect your child to willingly change over to whole wheat, even if it is better for them and tastes better to you. Avoid foods that are high on the glycemic index. Those are foods that are converted into sugar rapidly and often contribute to weight gain. That means all the white stuff: sugar, flour, rice, etc. You can find a list of foods by doing a quick search on the Internet.
Another thing to remember is that kids don’t eat as much. They are smaller, so make their portions smaller. Cut up fruit and only give them half and apple at a time. Make carrot sticks that are small and easy to crunch, then add a nice hummus or bean dip to go with them. Using a thermos and sending nice hot homemade soups or chilled smoothies when the weather is cold or hot is always a welcome treat.
I’ve heard many parents moan that they can’t get their kids to eat anything healthy. I’ve never known children to starve themselves to death, so just start having only healthy alternatives available. If you don’t have sodas, candy, white bread, and other highly processed foods available they will eat what is there. You might have to experiment a little to find what will satisfy their sweet tooth without it being a disaster nutritionally. Maybe try fresh fruit, a smoothie, frozen banana with peanut butter, yogurt with some fruit in it, etc. The best thing, though, is to start them out right.
I was on a diet when I was eleven, because my mother was concerned that I was gaining too much weight. I hated it, but it taught me a very important lesson. If I don’t regulate my own eating, someone else will, be it a parent or doctor. I didn’t want that, so I’ve managed my diet carefully since and I’ve never been seriously overweight my entire teen and adult life. Now I choose healthy food with a 5% leeway for some old favorite, comfort food. If you start them off right their comfort food will also be healthy for them!