Thursday, September 29, 2011

Surely the Apple is the Noblest of Fruits*

Last weekend my darling girl made a trip to a local apple orchard and requested a recipe or two for apples. Ahh .. the apple ... little kids love the juice, grown-ups love pie ... so many recipes, so little time. I especially had fun this week researching this lovely fruit, and learned many new things! 

Just Google the word “apple” and pages of links appear bearing stories, descriptions and recipes galore. So what is it about the apple that is so intriguing? We identify it as the “forbidden” fruit, yet it’s not specifically mentioned in the Book of Genesis. (They were painted into our consciousness by artists of the millennia.) Apples appear in Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology tied to gods and goddesses bribing, tempting and fighting over each other for them; Snow White bit hers and fell into a deep sleep; Irish folklore says a continuous peel from an apple tossed over your shoulder will bear the initial of a future beloved; in King Arthur’s mythical time the mystical isle of Avalon is believed to be the Isle of Apples; upon witnessing an apple falling from a tree Sir Isaac Newton developed his theory on gravitation, and an amusing one: Danish folklore says that an apple will whither around adulterers.   
Let’s deal with today. Apples come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, 7,500 of them to be exact. Whether they are called mela, manzana or pomme it’s a yummy and delicious fruit - and oh so good for you. We’ve all heard the proverb "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of many types of cancer and are a rich source of antioxidant compounds. The fiber contained in apples reduces cholesterol by preventing reabsorption, and (like most fruits and vegetables) they are bulky for their caloric content. We use them in all sorts of ways: snacking, desserts, sauces, juice and liquors. After reading many things about this ubiquitous ingredient I wondered what I could do that was just a little bit different? 
First, lets focus on just a few that you will come across everyday: Red Delicious,  a crispy apple great for snacking; Golden Delicious: an all purpose apple that has a rich flavor, great for baking and making applesauce; MacIntosh: tart and soft, great for apple pies; and last the Granny Smith: a crunchy, sweet and tart variety great for snacking (because it’s a little firmer and will take longer to to cook). 

Applesauce is just about the easiest thing to do with your apple, other than cutting it up and dipping in caramel sauce or peanut butter. All you need to do is peel, chop and place in a pan with about a half inch of water. Then cook over medium to low heat. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice to keep the color pretty and a bit of brown sugar to sweeten it and voila! you have fresh applesauce. 
I wanted to take it a step further, but still be something easy. I had in my mind that for this exercise I wanted to show you something savory, rather than sweet. Start to finish, my active time on this dish was probably about 30 minutes. After I finished making it I decided that I was hungry and cooked up a pork chop. (Which by the way only cost about $2.50. Bone-in pork chops are around $4.99 a pound and usually come in a package of two.) A culinary match coined by W.C Fields and perpetuated by Peter Brady, of the Brady Bunch: “pork chops and applesauce.” Anyway, into the frying pan my chop went, seasoned lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Basically in less than an hour I was eating my lovely dinner. 

Apple - Red Onion Taboulleh
Makes 4-6 servings
1 1/2 cups Bulgar Wheat 
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1/2 cup Red Onion, 1/4” dice
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 cup MacIntosh Apples, 1/4” dice
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon, divided
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Thyme, roughly chopped and divided
1 cup Arugula, optional
1/2 cup chopped Hazelnuts, optional
Combine the bulgar wheat and boiling water in a bowl. Wrap tightly with plastic and set aside for about an hour. 
My onion is quite huge, and as you can see just half of it yields well over a cup. Go ahead and chop the half, but you will only use 1/2 cup for this recipe. I placed the rest in 2 zip lock bags for another use. 
Sweat the onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. (Lets talk briefly about “sweating”: in a previous recipe I described “caramelizing” the onion, making it golden brown. For this recipe we are only going to “sweat” it,  or just bring it to a soft stage. It’s another cooking technique, this time giving you a mellow flavor to the onion.) Add the garlic and soften as well, for about 2 minutes. 
Add the apple and juice from half of your lemon. Cook slightly and then turn off the heat, leaving the pan on the burner. The goal is to warm the apple through, keeping the integrity of the texture. We don't want mushy here! Add in 1 tablespoon of thyme and let the pan cool. 
Going back to our bulgar wheat. The bowl should be cool and the water completely absorbed in the grains. Fluff it up with a fork, then add the zest of 1/2 of the lemon, the juice of the other half of the lemon and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Add in the cooled apple mixture and toss gently. Taste for seasoning. Add the nuts and arugula if you want at this point, serve, and enjoy!
I refrigerated the leftovers that night and the next day it tasted even better. By the way this dinner came in under $5.00!

I hope you like this recipe, please feel free to send me ideas and thoughts on my blog. I’m looking to give it some personality and a new name! 
Buon appetito tutti!

* Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slow Food $5.00 Value Meal Challenge

What a great long weekend Larry and I had not only in Upstate NY, but also our favorite city in Vermont, Burlington! Notwithstanding the gorgeous landscape of the green mountain state, we got to see our very special college girl and meet her lovely friends … but more on that later!

Lets chat about Slow Food: the Slow Food movement was founded in Italy by Carlo Petrini in 1986. It is basically promoted as an alternative to fast food, and strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine by encouraging the use of local farm products like vegetables and livestock. from its roots in Bra, Piemonte it’s grown to over 132 countries with nearly 800 chapters, 360 of which are in Italy. When I was in culinary school, in 2007, part of my practical training took place just outside of Parma, in a village called Colorno. From there we took field trips every week. One of the weeks we did a tour of Piemonte and I visited the University of Gastromomic Sciences, that was created in 2004 by Carlo Petrini and Massimo Montanari. It was quite amazing, I must say.

So how does all that tie in with this week? Well, Slow Food has issued a challenge to create the equivalent of a $5.00 “value meal” that is found in a fast food restaurant, using local fresh ingredients. (Slow Food Challenge) It sounds like it might be difficult, but as you will see below I managed to do exactly that, with some money to spare! Let me also say that many of the ingredients can be found in the grocery store, and some found at the farmers market. While farmers markets are just about the most awesome things on the planet – some of you may not be near one. Like I said in the previous blogs, look at everything before you buy it and make sure it’s fresh!

As you also know, from my previous posts, this blog is devoted to helping new apartment dwellers, in college or just out, learn to manage their way through the kitchen on a limited budget. I knew my work was cut out for me last weekend when I opened Elinor’s ‘fridge on Friday night and found mostly half used condiment jars, a prehistoric box that at one point contained a pizza and an empty butter dish. (Sorry for calling you out, babe.) No one said that balancing your budget was going to be easy. Choices are what life is all about. That’s what it all comes down to … a pack of cigarettes is about the same amount of money as a box of eggs, loaf of bread and a container of milk. However, my goal is to not be “preachy” -- everyone has to figure it out on their own – I certainly had to do so at your age. My goal here is to present you with tasty and healthy recipes for meals that are not going to break the bank!

So on Saturday night Larry and I asked Elinor and Julifer to invite some friends over for a “Slow Food” dinner. I was cooking a little “on the fly” (to use a kitchen term) that night with things they had in their pantry. After getting their input and comments, which were thoughtful, sincere and invaluable! I tweaked the recipes when I got home. So this post is dedicated to them!

You will notice inside the recipes I went through the exercise of estimating the value of all of the food, to give you an idea of how little these items really end up costing, in the final analysis. Also, each of the recipes are based on 4 servings. You could break them down to 2, but it’s just as easy to make enough for 4. If you have leftovers each of these dishes freeze extremely well and can be reheated easily. These recipes also take into consideration that you have a few things in the pantry and ‘fridge we discussed a few weeks ago. If you do need to buy a few of these items, they won’t push your budget too much.
Quinoa Cakes with Caramelized Vegetables
Serves 4

3/4 cup of Quinoa ($1.87)

1 1/2 cups of Water
Kosher Salt ($.03)
Ground Black Pepper ($.02)
3 Carrots, 1/4” dice ($.99)
1 Celery Rib, 1/4” dice ($.15)
1/2 Onion, 1/4” dice ($.25)
1 Garlic Clove, minced ($.04)
1 Egg, beaten ($.20)
2 tablespoons Corn Meal ($.19)
Carrot Greens, from the carrots
Canola Oil ($.24)

Add ½ teaspoon of salt and quinoa to a pot with the boiling water. Once the water comes back to a boil lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes covered. Lay the quinoa out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and let it cool completely. This will take about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile sauté the vegetables with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until caramelized. Remove from pan and mix in with the cooling quinoa.

Once the quinoa mix is completely cold add to a mixing bowl with the egg and sprinkle the cornmeal over it. Add another ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped carrot greens. (You will have more greens left to use with the chicken recipe below.) Mix well and form into 4 patties. Let the patties rest for about 5 minutes. In a non-stick pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil and gently place the patties in a hot pan. Cook for about 2-4 minutes on each side to get a nice golden crust. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Total cost of ingredients is $3.98, or .$99 per person.

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Roulades
Serves 4

½ Onion, ¼” dice (.$25)
1 Garlic Clove, minced ($.04)
8 oz of Mushrooms, sliced ($1.99)
1 bunch of Kale, about 1 pound, rib removed and sliced very thin ($.99)
1 17 oz carton of low sodium Chicken Stock ($1.00)
1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breast Cutlets, rinsed and pat dry ($3.99)
2 tablespoons Butter ($.24)
2 tablespoons Corn Meal ($.19)
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese ($.35)
Kosher Salt ($.03)
Ground Black Pepper ($.02)
2 tablespoons Chopped Celery Greens
Olive Oil ($.50)

In a large pan sauté the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. When they just begin to get soft add the garlic, mushrooms and the 1 tablespoon of chopped carrot greens from the previous recipe. Add another ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and sauté until the mushrooms become golden and most of the liquid evaporates. Add the kale to the pan gently tossing with the mushrooms. Add another ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and ½ cup of stock. Cover and steam for 5 minutes, or until the kale is soft. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Lay your chicken out on a plastic cutting board. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each piece with a little corn meal and parmesan cheese. Divide the cooled kale mix evenly between each of the thin cutlets leaving a 1/4 edge around each. (The filling will spread out a little when you roll it.) Roll each firmly and fasten with either a toothpick in one or two places to hold the rolls together, or with kitchen twine. 

In a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of oil carefully sear the rolls all the way around. This will take up to 10 minutes. Once you achieve a nice golden brown all the way around remove the rolls and cover loosely with foil to keep them warm.

Now for the sauce: In the same pan melt the butter and add the cornmeal. (When I made this in Burlington, I had to improvise when I discovered Elinor did not have flour in the cabinet to make the roux, or thickener, for the sauce. But you know what? The cornmeal added a really nice earthy quality that everyone liked.) When it gets slightly foamy slowly add the remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time. When the sauce reaches a consistency of thin to medium thickness add the chicken back along with a tablespoon of chopped celery greens. Lower the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes bathing the chicken rolls in the sauce.

Cost of ingredients is $9.60 or $2.40 per person.

*Cook’s note: If you are not able to find carrots with green tops parsley may be substituted. The cost difference will be a wash as the carrots with green tops are approximately $1.99 and a regular bag plus the parsley will be about the same.

When I realized I had a little money to spare I thought I would give you one of the easiest recipes I have in my box – focaccia bread. What follows is the most basic version. I have done toppings in all shapes and sizes … olives, red pepper, cheese, meat … you name it. The pizza dough is a blank canvas and you can be as crazy and creative as you like. All you need is a little olive oil and some herbs!

Focaccia Bread
Serves 4

1 ball of prepared Pizza Dough, room temperature ($2.00)
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil ($.50)
2 teaspoons of blended dry herbs (.50)
Kosher Salt ($.03)
Ground Black Pepper ($.02)

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in a warm spot in the kitchen. Punch down and press out into a small oiled cookie sheet, cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.


 Cost of ingredients: $3.05 or $.76 per person.

Let’s recap:

Quinoa Cake: $.99
Chicken Roulade: $2.40
Focaccia Bread: $.76
Total meal = $4.15 per person! 

As you can see, you even have $.95 to spare or $3.80. You can use that for a nice dessert!

My last thought I will leave you with this week: Please don’t hesitate to send me your comments, questions or suggestions. I would love to make this blog interactive with you. I would also love to hear your suggestions for dishes you would like to learn how to prepare.

Until next week, buon appetito tutti!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making a Hearty Soup

Now that your pantry is set up (see posts 1 and 2), lets dive in and make a nice hearty soup. Fall is in the air, well, at least on the east coast, so it seems as good a time as any to share one of my favorite recipes. 
I will be honest and say that making a soup stock does take some time. However, it’s one of those things can can be started and left to bubble on the stove for a few hours, while you are doing other things. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon! The house (or apartment) will be filled with a warm yummy aroma, that is very cozy. 
So lets get to it. First you are going to want to start the stock. The rule of thumb here is the longer the better. But given that you are all on the move and time is precious I am suggesting at least a few hours of simmering. If you can let it go a bit longer, even better; but just at a simmer. You don’t want all of your liquid to boil away. 
Last week I talked about reading the ingredient labels and thinking about the end result. Take a close look at everything you buy. For instance, the cost difference per pound of chicken could swing .50 to .80 cents, or more. What does that mean? not all that much for a 4 pound chicken. I paid $1.79 a pound for the one I used in this recipe. The difference between that and the others I looked at came to $2.40. In my opinion buying a better products and spreading the cost over many meals will make it worthwhile in the end. Ask almost any chef the question and you will get this statement: "mediocre ingredients give you a mediocre dish."
Staying on that thought, the overall cost for the ingredients for this dinner will run you around $20, with items left over for other uses: chicken stock, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, tortilla chips and shredded cheese. For just this soup I am estimating about $10-$12. Not bad when you consider you get many servings from this recipe!
Chicken Stock,  Makes 4 quarts
1 4 lb Chicken, giblets removed, place in a zip lock freezer bag, in freezer.
1 medium Onion
2 Carrots, peeled and cut in 3 pieces
2 Celery Ribs, cleaned and cut in 3 pieces
2 Whole Garlic Cloves
5 whole Black Peppercorns
4 sprigs of Parsley 
3 sprigs of Thyme
Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cool running water and place in a large stock pot with the remaining ingredients. Fill the pot with 10 cups of cold water. The water should almost cover the chicken. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once you reach a boil lower the heat and simmer (little tiny bubbles) uncovered for a several hours.  Occasionally skim off the foam that rises to the top of the liquid. The foam is basically the proteins being released from the chicken. It won’t hurt you, just make your stock cloudy, so best to skim off. 

After simmering for at least 2 -3 hours turn off the heat and allow the pot to cool down for about 30 minutes, then remove the chicken to a pan. Let the veggies hang out in the water for another 30 minutes while the chicken cools down. When you are able, remove the meat from the bones and place in a bowl. You should have about 5 cups of shredded meat.  Strain the vegetables from the stock and place in a clean container.

You will have enough stock for the soup recipe below, and another. Take the stock that is left over and allow to cool completely. (You never want to put hot items in your ‘fridge or freezer!) Place it in two pint size containers, or in plastic ziplock freezer bags, and place in the freezer for future use.
This is basically my recipe for the tortilla soup base. Don’t worry about being completely exact with your measurements. If you end up with a little more or less onion and pepper it will be fine. One of the things I like best about cooking is that it’s a fluid process, unlike baking were you need to be precise in your measuring.

Mexican Tortilla Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium Onions, 1/4” dice, about 2 cups
1 Poblano Pepper*, 1/4” dice, about 1/2 cup
2 Garlic Cloves, minced, about 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper, plus more to taste
1 14 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
1 bunch of Cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Limes, 1 quartered and 1 zested and juiced
4 cups Shredded Chicken
4 cups Chicken Stock
Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheese
Avocado (optional)

* For a spicier soup 1-2 small Jalapenos can be substituted.
In a 4 quart stock pot, over medium-low heat saute the onions, pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, until the vegetables are soft. That will take about 5-10 minutes. Continue to cook it until it takes on a golden brown color. This is called “caramelization.” Caramelization is a chemical reaction by which the natural sugars in the vegetables are released during exposure to high heat, which turns them a brown “caramel” color and allows them to take on a nutty flavor. That will be about another 5-10 minutes.

Once you have achieved a beautiful caramel color add the tomatoes and turn the heat down to low. Allow everything to cook down to a nice rich pulpy texture. This step will take about 15 to 20 minutes, low and slow. 

I start the tortilla soup base once I take the chicken out of the stock and it’s cooling. At the point where you add the tomatoes to the onion mix, your chicken should be cool enough to handle and start to shred. Make sure you get every last piece of the bone!
When your base is nice and thick add in the shredded chicken, chicken stock, half of the chopped cilantro, the zest of one lime and it’s juice. Raise the heat slightly to achieve a low simmer and taste for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as needed.

Top your soup with additional cilantro, a squeeze of lime, shredded cheese, slightly crushed tortilla chips and avocado, if desired. This is a really hearty soup that is very filling.  

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Next week I’ll be coming “live” from Elinor and Julifer’s kitchen in Burlington. We’ll see what the girls are cooking up, in Vermont! 
Buon appetito tutti! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finishing up the Pantry.

I remember asking Elinor and her roommate Julifer recently what the best day would be for my blog entries, and they replied Thursday afternoon or evening. Somehow this seems to be the day that makes the coming weekend more real for college students. I suppose that is the same for many adults. It’s also a good day to start thinking about and planning what you want to cook over the weekend. It occurs to me that it might be helpful to provide recipes in the coming blogs that can be made on Sunday and used for a few nights during the week too.

In the meantime, let’s get back to our pantry set up. Last week I gave you the run down on your dry goods, today I want to focus on perishable items found in your ‘Fridge and Freezer.

Let’s talk condiments first. You will only need regular to small size containers:

·         Ketchup, Relish, Mayonnaise, Yellow and Dijon Mustard and Pickles.

I’m not going to suggest brands, by the time you are in your 20’s you pretty much know what flavors you like. Keep an eye out at the store; these items are frequently rotated on sale. When you see a “buy-one-get-one free,” or “two-for” sale snap them up. Check the dates, but typically these are items with long shelf lives.

Condiments are typically used for sandwiches. Again, less is more when purchasing Lunch Meat and sliced Cheese. Purchase only what you will eat within a few days. Lunch meat will generally stay fresh in the ‘fridge 3-5 days from the time you purchase it. If you find a good deal and want to buy more, divide it when you get home and freeze it. Cheeses last a bit longer, but better safe than sorry. Divide and freeze if you think you won’t finish it in time.

On that note let’s talk Bread. If your kitchen tends to be on the warm side you might want to consider keeping your bread in the ‘fridge. Bread and bagels fair well in the freezer too, just make sure they are wrapped tightly and placed in a zip lock freezer bag.

Some thoughts on dairy items:

·    Milk is a must-have. Brand and type is up to you. If you are not a regular user of this beverage you might want to consider having Parmalat containers in the cabinet. Milk generally stays fresh for 7 days after opening. While bigger containers are a better value, in the end it’s money down the drain if you don’t consume it. Check the expiration dates carefully.

·    Yogurt is a great way to get calcium in a fast and flavorful way. If you are lactose intolerant like me, go for the non-fat variety. This is another item rotated weekly on sale. Find a brand you like and stock up when you see the sale. Shelf life on yogurt tends to be long, so look for dates a few weeks out when shopping.

·    Cream Cheese, Butter and Spreads: again, watch for the sale and pick up a pound box of unsalted butter sticks. If you don’t plan on using them right away, drop them in the freezer. On the subject of spreads, there are many out there. You basically want to stay away from anything that is loaded with trans-fat. Your goal should be a total of 20% or less total fat. Why bother? Well, spreads are a fast and easy way to “butter” your toast in the morning. Let’s face it, when you pull the butter stick out of the ‘fridge it’s pretty solid and not easily spreadable. But you will need it for cooking and baking.

·    Last, but not least, Eggs. Yes, I have an opinion here too, but first a small commentary on organic ingredients: Sometimes it’s just not possible to buy organic items if you are on a budget. (What are they anyway? Organic items are basically those that have been produced using methods without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and/or chemical additives. In some cases the difference in cost is minimal and in others significant.) For now, let’s focus on eggs. The cost difference is probably only about a dollar a carton; or $1.99 vs. $2.99. So forget the candy bar at check out and do yourself a favor; go for the organic, farm raised eggs. The chickens are fed only organic feed, are free to roam the outside and are not raised in cages. The product is just so much tastier and healthier than the mass produced variety. I promise to delve more in to this subject later - we just need to get through our task at hand!

Other basics for the ‘fridge:

·    Soy Sauce, Hot Sauce, a favorite Salad Dressing, Jam, Hummus, Salsa, Bread and Bagels.

On the topic of fruits and veggies: the best rule of thumb is to not over buy. Get what you need for the week and stop. The last thing you want is for items to go bad and have to be tossed. Good things to have on hand are:

·    Apples, Pears, a bunch of Bananas, Carrots, Grape Tomatoes, Celery to make sticks for dipping.

·    Other basics: Lettuce, Tomato, Broccoli, and Zucchini, maybe even Eggplant that can be pan fried or grilled.

On that note, let’s move to the Freezer. The freezer is a holding place for items you want to save for a later date, or when you’re too tired to cook a whole meal. For instance, if you make lasagna on Sunday break it down in to individual portions and freeze. A perfect dish for those nights you are just too tired to cook after a long day. Add a small salad and/or a side of veggies and you are set.

In terms of the basics for the freezer the vegetables that translate well (in my opinion) are Corn, Peas and Spinach. Beans tend to be horribly soggy when cooked as well as broccoli. If you really like to eat those veggies just buy them fresh and steam. Corn, peas and spinach are always on sale. Look for the “two-for” deal and stock up. They can be boiled or micro-waved in a snap for dinner. Later I’m going to give you a few recipes in for using chopped spinach - which will help stretch your burgers and frittatas. It’s a freezer staple I always have on hand for us. Let us not forget your freezer will also be home to ice cream ... find a good quality brand and look for the sale.

Moving back to the ‘fridge, I’m sure you noticed I haven’t touched on proteins, other than lunch meat. We’ll talk more on that subject when we get into some recipes. In the meantime, if you do pick up poultry or meat at the market, and know you won’t be cooking it right away, break it down into manageable portions and freeze it. Get a good quality plastic wrap and heavy freezer plastic zip-lock bags. The last thing you need is freezer burn on your food. Freezer burn is that unappetizing frost that forms on frozen foods that have either not been sealed tight or have been kept in the freezer way too long.  It leaves an unpleasant metallic taste after cooking.

So my last thought this week is on bacteria ... aren’t you excited?! Harmful bacteria can survive freezing. If present, once thawed they will begin to grow again. It can also be found when food, intended to be in the ‘fridge, is left out on the counter. Take extra precaution once you get things home. Wash your hands before and after repackaging your proteins (i.e., chicken, fish and meat). Always use separate cutting boards for your proteins and immediately place in the sink when finished. Fruit and veggies should always be washed under running water before consuming. The only caveat would be items specifically marked “ready to eat” or “washed.”The very last thing you need is to get sick from a dirty counter, dirty hands or contaminated food.

Next week I was thinking we would jump in and do a Chicken Soup from scratch. One will be a basic with noodles and the other spicy. Have a great Labor Day and get yourself to a farmers market this weekend!

Buon appetito tutti!