Entries tagged with “healthy cooking”.
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Wed 18 Aug 2010
Roasted butternut squash on mixed greens with crispy shallots and sage leaves is pure vegan goodness
My hometown of Los Angeles can be a bit odd at times, to say the least. It’s not unusual to overhear someone at Starbucks place an order that would make even the most seasoned barista’s head spin: “Non-fat, half-caf, half-decaf, low-fat tall soy latte with one squirt of no-sugar vanilla syrup, extra hot and served in a grande-sized cup…to go.” It’s also quite common to see menu items that sound more like rabbit food than nourishment for humans, like macrobiotic sea cake with a side of millet or heirloom-varietal organic brown rice biscuits with honey and carob chips. In the health-conscious, model-and-actor Mecca of LA, people can be certifiably obsessed with what they put into their mouths, and restaurants and even Starbucks must cater to the oft-ridiculous requests of its customers if they want to stay in business.
In Drogheda, I get a double-take when I ask for low-fat salad dressing and I once got a cup of instant coffee when I asked for decaf at a local café (I sent it back). There aren’t a lot of choices around here, especially for people who want something healthy and/or beyond the average meat-and-potatoes fare. I imagine being a vegetarian in Ireland is about as unproblematic as being an alcoholic in Kuwait.
Thu 17 Jun 2010
The good life: Sheep graze on Ciara’s farm
Being someone who has never lived in the country before, I have a typical urbanite’s image of what a farm is like. The sun is shining, the grass is a deep shade of emerald green and the little lambs and big cows and chubby pigs all play together while being watched over by a talking spider named Charlotte.
Of course the truth is that most animal farms I’ve encountered in the United States are the complete opposite of that fantastical picture I created in my head. The only ones I ever came across were on my drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but they were more like factories than farms. Thousands of cows kept in a field of mucky dirt and mud, covered in filth and baking in the hot sun – not exactly a good life (the “Happy Cows” ad series by California Cheese has to be the most blatant example of false advertising I’ve ever seen – these cows are miserable). The “farmers” were actually minimum-wage employees of some big corporation, and I imagine none had any real farming experience or much care for the animals.
Mon 31 May 2010
Fresh sashimi sushi, one of the foods I miss!
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and there are still many days that I’m smacked upside the head with this realization. It’s been nearly three months since I upped sticks and moved from the urban metropolis of Los Angeles to small-town Ireland, but every day still brings a fresh realization of how different life is compared to the way it used to be.
I’ve mentioned before that living here reminds me of just how entitled I, and a lot of Americans, can be. In America, the customer is king. In Ireland, the customer is…well, just like anyone else. I recently went to Brown Thomas, a high-end department store in Dublin, to return a bottle of makeup foundation I had purchased the week before. Though the sales clerk let me try the makeup before I purchased it, the color of the makeup he put in my bag was much darker (I believe he grabbed the wrong color). When I got home and poured a tiny amount into my hand, I realized this, so I boxed it back up and took it – along with the receipt – back to BT.
Wed 21 Apr 2010
Mark of shame on my beloved blue car…
Just when you think things are going well, Life has a way of giving you a paper cut topped with a handful of salt and vinegar crisps. And if Life is feeling especially frisky, it will also toss your toast on the floor, jam-side down, before dropping a gigantic piano on your head.
Yesterday was one of those days. It started off well enough: it was only partly cloudy and relatively temperate, and I had a productive morning sending pitches out to a few magazines. I did the dishes, straightened up the apartment and readied myself for a workout. That’s when things took an ominous turn. As I pulled out of the parking garage to go to the gym, a man pulled his car nose-to-nose with mine, trying to get into the parking garage. Since I was already 90% out of the one-lane driveway, I stood my ground as it was HIS responsibility to back up and let me out. He stayed put, and started honking obnoxiously and waving at me to move back into the garage. Flustered, I threw the car into reverse and heard the most God-awful sound as my car scraped the concrete wall of my parking space. Feck!
Nothing like a hot meal after a bad day
The guy, in all his douchebaggery, failed to notice and just drove into his space with nary a comment or care in the world. I was too angry to get out of the car; though he pressured me and was all-around f*ckchop, technically it was my fault. I drove to the gym, got out of the car and inspected the damage. Two panels, scraped to sh*t and a nice, big dent near the tire. GREAT.
Mon 19 Apr 2010
I was recently chatting with a girl who works at a Chinese takeaway near my house, and she told me that most Irish who order from her restaurant request “no veg.” For example, they’d order a Kung Po Chicken, “no veg,” which means all they want is chicken, peanuts and sauce. Another interesting observation is that many prefer to get it with chips (French fries) – a common side dish offered by nearly all the Chinese restaurants around here – rather than with white rice. It should also be noted that one can also get onion rings, sausages or chicken nuggets on the side. These are all items you’d find on the menu of a Chinese restaurant in Drogheda and all are wildly popular.
Some Irish cite the over boiled turnips, waterlogged carrots and mushy peas cooked by their mums for their dislike of veg. The memories of such unappetizing dishes as Sopping Broccoli Surprise has been to painful to overcome, but the real victims here are the vegetables. Flagrantly tossed aside in favor of deep-fried starches and processed carbohydrates, the gorgeous mushrooms, onions and bell peppers of Ireland face slow deteoriation and even death on supermarket shelves. So in the interest of vegetables, I’d like to share my recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms, which are savory and delicious and gives vegetables the recognition they deserve. Go on, give vegetables a chance!
Tue 30 Mar 2010
Fresh salmon the way it should be served!
Here’s a recap of a conversation I had last night with one of my Irish friends last night:
Me: “I’m going to have a dinner party soon…what should I make?”
Friend: “Don’t make fish. I don’t like it.”
Me: “But you eat fish and chips, right?”
Friend: “Yes, but it’s fried. I don’t like fish unless it’s fried.”
Me: “Have you ever tried it not fried?”
Friend: “No, because I don’t like it.”
After a few more back-and-forths, it was determined that my friend has never eaten fish in any other form but fried, yet is adamant that he hates it. How does he know he doesn’t like something he’s never tried?
Strangely enough, we live in a fishing town and there is a wide selection of fresh, beautiful fish available at every grocery store in town. There are also several fishmongers who sell seafood that’s literally been caught that day. But from what I’ve observed so far, most people I know here not only prefer the fried variety, they actually like fish that’s had the shit cooked out of it – the complete opposite of what any fishmonger would recommend in regards to preparing fish.
Thu 25 Mar 2010
Food should be colorful and inviting
Grocery shopping in a new country is always a treat for me. I honestly believe that the food and eating habits of a country reveal insights into its culture and people. So far in Ireland, I’ve managed to shop at Tesco, the large UK-based grocery chain; Dunnes and SuperValu, both Irish-owned companies; and Aldi, a German grocery chain.
Drogheda Farmers’ Market – my lifesaver!
If I had to summarize the Irish based solely on what I’ve found at their food shops, here is verdict: They love beige and yellow food. By this I mean breads, cakes, crackers, cookies, potatoes and various breaded and fried proteins. In fact, about 75% of the frozen food sections at all of the aforementioned grocery stores is comprised of breaded chicken (sticks, fingers, patties) and breaded fish (same as the chicken). They love them some chicken nuggets, so they do. You can buy them in the form of smiley face circles, chunky chunks and even “Southern Fried,” which, by the looks of it, would make Colonel Sanders roll over in his grave.
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