Archive for the ‘Eating Well’ Category

What I’m Eating: Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Monday, November 18th, 2013


Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Roasted vegetables, especially cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, on a restaurant menu get me every time. They’re never mushy, often seasoned with care and creative flair, and they taste like an indulgence. True, edges may be charred and I’ve had cauliflower so drenched in olive oil that I’ve been tempted to blot the floweret with my cloth napkin. But most of the time the dish becomes one of the meal’s highlights.

I roast veggies at home, too. Kale and cabbage would work, I suppose, but the leaves and shreds don’t appeal to me as much as the bite-sized chunks of cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Simply Roasted Vegetables:  Wash, dry and cut veggies and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle to taste with olive oil and season with your choice of herbs, seasonings, and salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute the oil. Place the veggies on a baking sheet and roast at 350o for 30 to 40 minutes. I opt for moderate heat and longer cooking time as there’s less chance of burned edges.Serve with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Veggies take to seasonings like meat does to rubs and sauces. In Bacon Brussels Sprouts above, I broiled a few strips of bacon, then added the chopped bacon and bacon fat as needed to the halved, washed Brussels sprouts. I tossed this mixture with half slices of white onion, turmeric, Worcestershire sauce and finished it just before serving with fresh lemon juice and cracked rock salt.

I’m experimenting often with turmeric these days. It teams very well with my stand-by favorite, smoked Spanish paprika, as in the Cauliflower-Asparagus Roast pictured below. I sprinkled the vegetables with the spices and then drizzled olive oil and tossed before placing in a single layer on a baking sheet.

An idea for your Thanksgiving table?


Cauliflower-Asparagus Roast




Salsa or Gazpacho? It Depends

Monday, August 26th, 2013

One day it dawned upon me that I have the same intention when making salsa or making the chunky summer soup, gazpacho. Either way, I’m going for a tomato base with veggies and a complex mix of sweet, salty and sour flavors, plus heat from chiles. That same day, I realized that most of the ingredients are identical, save a little more cilantro in the salsa and chopped cucumber added to the gazpacho. But, really, the combinations change every time. Jalapeno or habanero? Lemon or lime juice? Red or yellow or white or green onions or all four? Garlic cloves, garlic chives, or shallots? Red, green, yellow or orange sweet peppers? Salt or Vulcan Salt? Ground Black Pepper–always a resounding “Yes!” to that.

Today’s version started with the beautiful, meaty tomatoes from the Nicollet Mall Farmer’s Market, Thursdays, in Downtown Minneapolis. My own garden finally offered the first and then a second ripened San Marzano tomato to add to the mix. Lemon-colored peppers, green onions, chopped garlic cloves. I can’t help but stop and admire the burst of colors at this point.




The vegetables always outdo themselves. The seasonings take a bit more thought. I use fresh lemon or lime juice and a splash of olive oil. Vinaigrette calls for about 1/3 lemon juice to 2/3 oil. I flip those proportions and lean into the lemon or lime juice for an assertive, bracing quality to the dish. Sometimes, I augment the chiles’ heat with Crystal Hot Pepper Sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. If gazpacho has the upper hand, I splash in some Worcestershire sauce. Instead of giving you exact amount, I advise calibrating these ingredients by your taste preferences as I do for mine.

Before the mix

Before the mix

The chunkier the tomato, the more the dish tends toward gazpacho. Yet, it’s easier to scoop a salsa’s single, large tomato chunk onto a tortilla chip (in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I recommend those from El Burrito Mercado, sold across the metro area and in their St. Paul HQ). OK, it may be even easier to scoop the more uniformly, chopped vegetables. It just depends.

For certain, I know that from now until frost, salsa/gazpacho will be on the menu almost daily.

Everyday eating is too important to leave to celebrity chefs and media personalities

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I once was a food writer for a metro newspaper food section. My beat was writing about food at home. Food for family meals and snacks. Food for parties. Food for holidays. I tested quinoa recipes in 1981. I interviewed a grandmother who baked gluten-free treats for her grandkids. I wrote about the “latest” research linking a high-fiber diet to lower cholesterol levels. One story featured a Minneapolis woman whose particular Greek cookies were considered the best in the local Greek community. Every recipe in every story was tested in my kitchen: brioche, pickles, roll-your-own-rice paper bundles, chicken salad with edible flowers. My editor and my fellow writer did the same with their stories.

The editor-in-chief of said metro daily, decreed that restaurants were entertainment. Our food section supplied ideas for people who went to the grocery store and came home to cook. Any chef recipes we printed were adapted to the home audience.

I say all this to make a distinction between food as entertainment and food as nourishment in every sense, which may include entertainment, but only as an additional factor to health, well being, satisfaction, sharing and making time for and with others.

Every day eating is too important to leave to the celebrity chefs and media food personalities, whose success, creativity, and business savvy, I laud. It just seems wrong to me that culinary education has become a high and holy calling that at best leads to inspiration for the viewer and media and financial success for the star, and at worst glorifies absolutely horrid eating habits.

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen

Everyday eating is really, quite ordinary. It doesn’t have to be ready for prime time.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are the core of your state of health, the basis of your children’s life-long well being, the building blocks of every day of your life.

What if your daily food intake isn’t entertainment, something to keep you distracted from life’s challenges and problems? What if what you eat every day is survival, itself? What if the most commonplace thing you do every day is the most important? Cooking healthy, delicious food has extraordinary implications for the rest of your life.

Pine Ridge: Seeds of Hope and a Buffalo Snack

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Tonight, the ABC program, 20/20, devoted its entire program to Pine Ridge, the town and the reservation, Land of the Lakota,  in southwestern South Dakota. On Hidden America: Children of the Plains, Diane Sawyer rode a horse, wore a dancing shawl, and met Lakota in schools, business, law, and recovery. Those she interviewed painted a story with seeds of hope in a community awash in alcoholism, diabetes, and teen pregnancy. If there can be a Lakota Spring and a better future for Lakota children, these are the people who will help make it happen.

There’s a food angle in Sawyer’s portrayal of Pine Ridge. She covered it in two ways.  First, a Subway restaurant opened on Pine Ridge and a customer exclaimed that she hadn’t eaten a cucumber since she couldn’t remember. The report portrayed the restaurant as offering veggies in a food desert.

Second, the report featured the Tanka company, a home-grown Lakota business that makes and sells buffalo and cranberry-based snack sticks, sausages, and hot dogs, no doubt inspired by the traditional tribal mainstay, pemmican made of pounded buffalo meat and dried wild berries. The products with such names as Tanka Wild, Tanka Bars, Tanka Bites, and Tanka Dogs are gluten-, nitrates-, msg-, and hormone-free. Sawyer reported the Tanka Bars are available at 4000 outlets around the U.S., including Whole Foods. I’m making a trip there tomorrow to find a Tanka bar and have a taste.

To be continued….


Meatloaf and Pot Roast: Midwest Americana Redux

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Ordered meatloaf for lunch today. Meatloaf with potatoes and gravy, vegetables, and a roll: that’s what the menu said.  The server brought two GIANT slices of meatloaf with gravy, perfectly cooked broccoli and cauliflower, and two nice dinner rolls. (No potatoes. Allergy.)

The restaurant, Taste of Scandinavia with locations in two St. Paul suburbs, was founded in 1990 by Soile Anderson, using recipes from her native Finland. She no longer owns the place, but the current owners maintain her quality. And, they make her frosted kringle, untested during this trip.

While I tucked into the excellent meatloaf (with enough leftover for another meal,)” my lunch partner, Vicky, enjoyed her pot roast quesadilla on a whole-wheat flour tortilla. Both the meatloaf and the pot roast were thoroughly modern takes on classic Midwestern food.

Our talk over lunch was of corporate business, consumer affairs, blogs, and marketing.  That is, it was until our conversation shifted to the classic cafe lunch both she and I remember from our small-town childhoods, hers in Northern Minnesota, mine in South Dakota.

Every cafe and small restaurant across Minnesota, South Dakota, and probably every adjacent state, had a ‘dinner’ special. Dinner was what we called the noon meal, except for the meal at school which was lunch.  The classic cafe ‘dinner’ special was either a hot sandwich (beef pot roast, pork, or meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and gravy over a slice of white bread) or a hot dinner, which was the same items sans bread slice, but with a dinner roll on the side. The menu moved out of the cafe for farmer appreciation dinners or any community dinner that wasn’t a potluck.

I box up my extra slice of meatloaf.  While I wrapped my roll in a napkin, Vicky, slyly, remembered when at meal’s end of many community events, some women would tuck a napkin-wrapped roll in their purses, along with packets of sugar, salt, and pepper.

Busted.  Me.  I trust those purse-packers of yore felt as I did today: the roll was simply too good to not enjoy for another meal.