Someone sent me St. Patrick’s Day recipes for green smoothies. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to “sneak” some healthy greens into my daughter's diet- I"ll have to give these a try. If you do, let me know how it tastes!
They're from Omega Juicers - and no food coloring is necessary to make these drinks festive.
The Leaping Leprechaun
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup of spinach leaves
1 cup water
1 handful parsley
1 handful spinach
1-inch piece ginger
1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup of spinach leaves
1 cup water
One to two drops of vanilla essence
One cup of yogurt and add a teaspoon or two of honey for sweetness (optional)
3 cups fresh baby Spinach
1 Lime, 1 large Tomato
2-3 Carrots and 1/2 Carrot top bunch
1/2 bunch Parsley
1 stalk Celery
4 stalks of Celery
1 Macintosh or Yellow Apple
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend until really smooth, not still grainy or chunky or with bits of leaves floating about. It can be thick, as you can always thin with water, but it needs to be smooth. This should take only a couple of minutes. Blend until the greens are so pulverized that they are no longer visible other than infusing your smoothie with a beautiful green color.
This year, we’ll be paying more than ever for dinner. Food prices jumped a whopping 4 to 5 percent in 2011 and are expected to continue rising in 2012, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But you can have your chocolate cake and eat it, too, without breaking the bank, says Toni House, author of Savvy Shopping: How to Reduce Your Weekly Grocery Bill to $85 Per Week – or Less! (www.SaveYourMoneySaveYourFamily.com). A mom with executive-level experience in accounting and the restaurant industry, House pared the monthly grocery bill for her family of four to $250. And nobody complained.
“It takes savvy shopping,” she says. “You can have great everyday meals and special-occasion feasts and trim the household budget with planning, patience and grocery shopping ‘guardrails’ to keep your cart in line.”
House offers these tips:
• Be patient – wait for good deals. Save pricier purchases for double coupon days. If you’re planning for a special occasion or celebration, save now so you can splurge a bit later, The more you rush, the less you save.
• Be detail-oriented. There is a lot of fine print involved in being a savvy shopper, from expiration dates to special offers to asterisks. Know exactly when a coupon expires, how much it’s for, how much more it will be worth on double coupon days and whether or not it’s worth the price in the first place.
• Plan ahead. Plan a menu for at least three meals in advance; combined with leftovers; that should give you five days or more of meals, depending on the meal. This puts you in control of your shopping list; and not the other way around. Instead of always playing catch-up, replacing what you’ve run out of, you buy only when it’s on the menu. Same goes for cereal, yogurt, bananas, fresh herbs and spices, etc.
• Instead of making expensive foods (meat) the centerpiece of each meal, design menus that use the most expensive foods less often. For instance, from now on at least twice a week, try using meat as more of a filler than a main dish. Instead of making spaghetti with meat balls, or sausage, or chicken breasts, make spaghetti with a meat sauce of ground turkey, ground sausage or ground chicken breakfast sausage.
• At the grocery store, buy ONLY what you can eat. That means no paper plates, toilet paper, plastic cups, Army men, toothbrushes, jar candles, greeting cards. Grocery store prices for non-food items are higher than you’ll pay almost anywhere else, so make a hard-and-fast rule and stick to it.
• Do use coupons, but only for products you actually need. Let’s say you just bought twice as many hot dog buns as you needed last week and now you’ve run across a two-for-one coupon for…more hot dog buns? Do you really have room in your freezer for all those buns?
House’s $85-a-week budget does require tossing out some pricey products your family may have grown accustomed to (brand-name cereals, pre-packaged snack cakes) and changing the way you plan meals. But there are plenty of delicious, often healthier, and less expensive substitutes
“You are the leader of your family unit, not just at home but at the grocery store,” House says. “Your new quest to become a savvy shopper might meet with some…resistance… at first. Take the bull by the horns and lead the family in the right direction."
My life goes at 100 miles per hour during the work week, and then some, leaving me ready for down time by the weekend. It's not just the job, it's the whole enchilada- the family, the house, several extra curriculars I am active with, sad attempts at socializing.
My goal for weekends is to stay at home. I don't even want to go anywhere that I can't get to on my own locomotion, but if a car is required, then I prefer to stay within a five mile radius. Claus is kind of the same so our values align.
Now and then, on a quiet Sunday, I will get a wild hair, as a I did last weekend. "I'm going to run a quick errand at the mall," I announced. "Want me to take Olivia so you can have some quiet time?"
"Are you just going to the one store?" he asked. He hates going to the mall with me. He hates waiting.
"Well... depending on energy, I might go to the pet shop to look at more opae ula," I said.
He likes to be together. "I'll come too," he offered. And then he got all ambitious on me and threw in a couple more errands, including this: "Let's go to the new Safeway on Beretania to look at it!"
"Ooh, good idea. Let's check it out," I agreed. We piled in the car and left.
The new Safeway was all big, clean, and gourmet inside, with an elevator and a fancy escalator that accommodates shopping carts. So 21st century. Wow! It wasn't as Whole Foody as we thought it might be, but we still liked it. It's better than our old Safeway on Beretania, if you recall that one, which was in need of a makeover.
It made grocery shopping more exciting, so nearly three digits later, we were walking out with all kinds of Iron-Chef-aspirational things to try for dinner that night.
I laughed to Claus that this trip was an amusing indicator for our life stage, one in which checking out a new grocery store is a planned outing, perhaps even verging on date material. I recalled with a little nostalgia the days where the standard for excitement was higher - a new restaurant, wine bar opening, or to go really crazy, a music concert on a weeknight.
Then I realized: I've become my parents. In fact, they did check this place out on its opening day!
Boston pastry chef Joanne Chang is a fantastic baker. Most diehard foodies know that. Chang is certainly on her way to becoming a household name; a rising star in the pantheon of celebrity chefs.
But what I think she's better at is selling a dream. My dream is to be a great baker. I had the fortune of watching her do a pastry demonstration for a ballroom of 120 people last weekend at my hotel. She was amazing.
Her culinary knowledge was vast, her stage presence was magnetic, and her public speaking skills were friendly and comfortable. She made it feel like it was just she and I at her kitchen at home. This had the effect of sucking me in to her presentation, and as I sat there, I felt like I, too, could make brioche!
My regular readers know I spent seven months taking cake decorating classes (thanks for coming on that journey with me.) That doesn't mean I'm a good baker. I'm a decent home cook, but baking- the preciseness of it evades me.
Diane and Joanne Chang
Yet, here I was watching her knead dough and explain how yeast "farts and burps" to magically expand things and make it all yummier, and I felt inspired! Maybe I could quit my job and bake my way through her Flour cookbook while my kid is at school! Maybe it is as easy as she promises! Joanne Chang, you make me want to be a housewife again!
During her time here, my job required that I (happily) interact with her. I asked for tips on how I might improve my skills. "Get your mise en place together before you start. Mise en place is 'everything in its place' in French. You look at the recipe and read it through, measure the ingredients, put them in little cups, and if you do that, then it really is step by step."
Chang continued, "Also, if you read the recipe from start to finish, that’s a big step up that you have over a lot of people. You look at the recipe and look at the ingredients and say, I’m going to do this. And then midway through they realize they don’t have half the ingredients." Claus would attest that I am often one of those half-prepared cooks. I know it all sounds so basic but yes, I'm lame like that.
Chang has a new cookbook that just made it to the printer last Friday. Flour Too will be available in early 2013. She describes how it came to be: "The book is the continuation of this book (Flour) which is all the savory things we do at the bakery. We do sandwiches, soups, salads, dinner specials, a lot of party desserts, things for special events. I thought this book contained everything. As soon as it came out people started emailing asking, Where this and that recipe? We originally had a savory portion in this book but it got too long so when it came to cutting I said we’ll cut the savory part because it’s a baking book. We don’t need the savory part. It was good because it led to the second book."
The more I learn about this James Beard Award nominee, the more I find her career path to be a study in contradictions. First, there's the radial change from a very left-brained mathematics field, to the very right-brained creative world of food.
An honors graduate of Harvard University, Chang majored in Applied Mathematics and Economics and took a job straight out of college as a management consultant. "Two years in, I thought to myself, I don’t want to be doing this when I grow up. I decided to take a year off and go into cooking, which I loved at home. It wasn’t meant to be long term."
Luckily for pastry lovers, it was. "Once I got into a professional kitchen I was hooked, I loved it. I blinked and it was five years later and I was still cooking and I hadn’t planned it. I moved from job to job based on how much I was able to learn at my current job. There’s a fair amount of moving around that’s expected when you’re young."
Then, she says, "I thought, I don’t know who I want to work for anymore and I don’t know if I want to keep working for somebody. So maybe I’ll think about opening a bakery. If I’m learning, having fun, I’ll stick with it. That’s what kept me going." Her Boston-based bakery expanded to three locations. She also manages a restaurant, Myers+Chang, with her husband Christopher Myers.
Secondly, there's her very Asian upbringing, which did not expose her to many overly-sweet American treats when she was young. "A lot of people say our pastries are not super sweet, which comes from my background of not eating dessert growing up. I didn’t have opportunities to eat it because we had oranges at the end of dinner. My palate isn’t attuned to super sweet things," reflects Chang, a second-generation Taiwanese whose parents emigrated to Texas for graduate school and met each other in America.
"I grew up eating Chinese food until I was 18," she says. She's not even crazy about cheese. “That’s a very funny taste. It’s not something I grew up with."
So back to the demo. Chang explained in simple but not condescending language how to make her famous sticky buns, a gooey, caramel-pecan-honey piece of pure goodness. These buns won Bobby Flay's Throwdown in 2007, as seen on Food Network. Then it was served as the first course of the brunch, so we could all see why.
I change my mind. I think my new dream is to have regular access to Chang's creations.
Chang's visit was made possible due to Kapiolani Community College in cooperation with the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, funded by the Lyle S. Guslander Distinguished Visitors Program.
To see raw footage of 2 interviews with Joanne Chang, click here:
I come from a long, stubborn line of hoarders. Oh, they would never acknowledge it, but they all know it deep down.
It's my Chinese side. My mom's relatives. Lots of them. It's the kind where you have to walk sideways through their house and two people cannot be in the aisle at the same time.
On the plus side, it encourages weight-control, because those lanes can get pretty tight.
I remember one aunt, who everyone called Popo Nellie, had boxes piled to the ceiling in her apartment. Floor to ceiling!
She no longer cooked, and there was so little light getting in the kitchen, and so much grime, a little plant started growing out of the sink muck around the back of the faucet.
None of those relatives ever had dead kittens in their piles of junk (did you see that episode of Hoarders?) but it was still quite enough for me.
As long as I can remember, when I walk into a room that's really cluttered (note: not dirty, cluttered) , I feel a strong desire to clean it.
My dad's side, the Hawaiian side, is normal. There are varying degrees of mess, but I can't think of anyone who has out of control issues.
Thankfully, I got the clean gene from my paternal lineage. I like to throw stuff away. I like to clean my house; throwing away clutter makes me feel lighter.
My mom's house isn't as bad as Popo Nellie's - yet?- but you know, habits only ingrain with age.
I used to try to clean her house when I was younger but, to her delight, I'm way, way, way too busy now that I have a child, a husband, and a career. All her carefully washed and dried milk cartons and twisters are safe now.
Growing up in mild hoarding conditions reinforced my vow to to myself to never, ever be a saver.
That is, until I had a child. I have started saving things that I think she will need down the road for school projects.
I saved the plastic jar from the time we had the chameleon, Rango. It's in the attic. I save empty blowing-bubble wands and containers in case I have a group of kids and I need to split up the bubble solution for everyone to have one. I saved an ugly plastic lei in case we need it for some school craft project.
I also started saving empty containers, like after you buy poke, or after you use up the pre-mixed salad. It's for when I bake cupcakes or make food that I want to share with other people. It does tie into having a child; I'm just so much more domestic now.
I find myself bringing baked goods a lot of places. I had to meet a friend and I wanted to bring him soup for dinner.
About the soup friend - I did not have a large container for soup, so I had to ask my mom if she had a disposable container that could be given away.
"What for?" she asked. When I explained why, she sniffed, "Hmm. So you're saving containers now? I thought you love to throw everything away."
"Yes, well. It's different now," I mumbled. I had to eat crow. Decades of crow.
She riffled around her kitchen and presented something. "Will this do?"
"Yes, Mom. Thanks, Mom. Yes, you are right to save some stuff. When you need a one gallon plastic container for soup, then you'll have a one gallon plastic container for soup," I admitted, as I placed the humble pie inside the plastic jar.
I still vow I will never walk sideways in my own house.