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Tasty Entertaining, Drinking and Eating

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Thursday, 27 October 2011


This month's What's Tasty is a mash-up of delights for the foodie.  Whether you're looking for help entertaining, tea options, or hot from the oven breads we've got it…  

Bamboo Chic

ImageHave you ever seen those catalog ads for little plastic trays to carry appetizers, the ones that also have a built-in notch to hold the stem of a wine glass? The ad usually features a cocktail party filled with urbane-types chatting it up, each effortlessly balancing their personal stash of food and drink in one hand. Well, I've never been very tempted to try those trays-probably because I tend to talk with my hands. But if your friends are more subdued in their conversational skills, Totally Bamboo has made a good looking version out of-you guessed it-eco-friendly bamboo. But rather than destined to be hidden away until your next party, these dual-purpose 10 ½ x 6 ½ -inch Bamboo Puzzle Party Platters can be linked together and lined up on a buffet for an interesting serving piece.  Check out their web site www.totallybamboo.com for lots of other very cool bamboo gift items, many priced at under $20. —picked by Peggy Fallon

Sassy Tea

When life gets to be a bit much, not many things can calm and center me like a great cup of tea. That being the case, I'm always on the hunt for that next great brand to make the experience that much more satisfying. Enter Village Tea Company  (Dallas, TX), founded by a dashing, young, self-made man.  Village Tea Company offers teas such as Sassy Green Tea and Gentle Organic Lemon Ginger tea.  The quality of this tea is one that you can see as well as taste. Check them out at www.villageteaco.com. —picked by Heather Jones

Tandoor Flatbreads


ImageWant hot and tasty flatbread from the oven without making it yourself? Well, sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too… Stonefire Flatbreads use a commercial tandoor oven to produce authentic, buttery flatbread that will let you have that hot and tasty flatbread in minutes.  The instructions say to warm the flatbread in the oven, but I found that broiling a short time adds a bit of crispness to the outside that made them even tastier. Either way they offer a quick way to have warm flatbread (aka naan) with dinner.  And they store well in the freezer without compromising taste.  Available nationwide see www.stonefire.com for details. —picked by Foodie Pam

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 )
 

Eating Responsibly

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Written by foodie pam   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Do you eat responsibly? 

I know it sounds like a personal question along the lines of "Are you going to eat all of those cookies?", but how much you eat is not what eating responsibly is about.

So what is eating responsibly?  It's knowing where the food you eat comes from, how it is grown, how it is raised, how it is harvested, how it is slaughtered, how it is processed and how it is transported to your kitchen.  It is the knowledge that the choices you make in selecting the food you are putting into your mouth impacts more than you.  It means that when you choose to eat something that is inexpensive you understand the hidden costs of eating it.  Simply put, like drinking responsibly, eating responsibly means you consider the lives of others in your choices.

ImageLast month I was invited to a very special dinner in Des Moines Iowa in appreciation of the Hog Farmers who raise hogs for Niman Ranch.  The weekend long event included a tour of a working hog farm, educational presentations, a stop at the Des Moines farmers market (absolutely huge) and an awards dinner for the hog farmers.

While you might thing the educational presentations would focus on how great Niman Ranch is—surprisingly they were heavily weighted on education rather than marketing.  At the hog farm tour we learned how they ensure not only a consistent and high quality product but that the hogs are raised with care.  For example, the hog farmers must qualify to be  providers and are constantly scored on the quality of their product.  We also learned that breed, as well as how the hogs are treated, including reducing stress, are important for a great tasting piece of pork. 

ImageOn the hog farm tour we saw hogs ranging from 4 days old to several months old playing, eating and living on open ground.  And while they clearly were a bit unsettled with all of us imposing on their life, in general they seemed stress free.  We learned that the land on which the hogs are raised this year will rotate to another location next year so that the land can replenish itself while performing other duties.  This is in stark contrast to hogs raised in confinement with streams of manure cycling by and where stress is the way of life rather than the exception.  Ironically, yet not surprising in our profit driven world, we also learned that hogs raised in confinement facilities are cheaper to raise and as a result, the individual farmer may be a dying bread. 

ImageThe educational presentations continued the next day focusing on sustainability with a panel of experts from across the country discussing what sustainability is and how we achieve it.   Later that night we enjoyed a pork-centric dinner while the hog farmers received awards for the quality of their product.  Overall the weekend was very educational, and of course tasty, as we were served wonderful dishes made with pork the entire weekend.

So how does this fit in with my question of eating responsibly?  Honestly, it is the basis for the question.  A weekend of observing people passionate about the product they produce made as great an impression as the various educational aspects of the weekend.  And while I can't say I've consciously thought of eating responsibly for very long, indirectly I've been doing it for a while with my choices of eating locally, eating seasonally, shopping at farmers' markets, and making as much of my own food as possible.   Yet, I admit, until the weekend in Des Moines I bought meat at the grocery store without thinking of where it came from or why that was important to understand (beyond that higher quality meat tastes better).  I failed to ask myself was the animal raised responsibly and if not what impact does that have?  Does this mean I will never again buy meat in the grocery store without an assurance of how it is raised?  No, because sometimes we have very limited choices, sometimes money is tight and sometimes we are rushed. But, armed with the knowledge of the impact of my choices, I will try whenever possible to make a responsible choice.

I hope you will do the same and that the next time someone asks "Do you eat responsibly?" you can proudly declare you do.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 September 2011 )
 

Tasty Fun in the Kitchen and Beyond

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Written by foodie pam   
Thursday, 18 August 2011

Whether you're looking for some fun while cooking, a handy condiment, a great Spanish wine, or a weekend of wine tasting, you'll find it in this month's What's Tasty...

ImageI"m not sure my mother actually said this, but I'm sure someone's mother tagged the phrase—"Dress for the job".  That's why construction workers don't wear suits and chefs wear aprons, but nothing says that an apron has to look like a rag.  Still, I admit accessorizing in the kitchen with a gorgeous apron isn't something I'd normally fall head-over-heals for. Yet... I have thanks to Flirty Aprons: fashionable aprons that add a little extra something to time in the kitchen! The aprons come in fun-named styles like Sugar n’ Spice, Strawberry Shortcake, Very Cherry, Frosted Cupcake, Sassy Black and more. Frosted Cupcake adds fun in everyday cooking but Sassy Black has a chic flair to it that will be perfect for me to wear while finishing dinner at my next dinner party.  They also have matching aprons for kids, although Strawberry Shortcake is probably a better choice for that than Sassy Black!

ImageYes, I know, I know tomato season has barely ended and here I am talking about canned pasta sauce.  But even the best of us don't always have the time, energy or desire to make our own sauce.  Or perhaps you have a lack of tomatoes as I did this year (I'm blaming the weather...).  Whatever the reason commercial sauce has its place.  La Famiglia DelGrosso — a family-owned pasta sauce producer that has a line of sauces inspired by family members.  Each sauce matches with a family member's memories that inspired the flavors such as Aunt Mary Ann’s Sunday Marinara,  Aunt Linda’s Arrabbiata Memories and Uncle Bo’s Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.   Not only is it fun to read the inspirational memories but the different sauces are also fun to try and they taste good too!
 
ImageIn recent months I've tried several Spanish whites.  I wasn't on a specific quest, I was just looking for something other than a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.  To my surprise not only did I find a great tasting white but one that  won't break the bank. Albariño (US $15) is a crisp, fruit-forward wine from the signature varietal of Spanish winery Martín Códax.  Had I been on a quest it would have been very successful indeed!

ImageSpeaking of wine, if you live near the California Central Coast and enjoy wine then you may want to check out Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast.  This 4-day event includes area winemakers, chefs, and artisanal food producers.  On October 1, Paso Roble's will host Paso Glow—a food and wine dinner under the stars and with star chef Celebrity Chef Cat Cora.  Better yet, until midnight August 25th, Travel Paso Robles Alliance is offering a chance to win tickets to the events. Get all the details on the contest at the Travel Paso Robles Alliance website

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 August 2011 )
 

What's Tasty: Breakfast, Gourmet Treasures, Wine and Dining…

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Written by foodie pam   
Monday, 23 May 2011

A Wholesome Breakfast

ImageWhile I love a hot cooked breakfast, I'm not much of a morning person so I often resort to cold cereal for breakfast.  If that rings a bell with you or if you prefer not to search for a recipe prior to your first cup of coffee then Jack and Jason's Pancakes may be a great option for you.  Unlike many prepared pancakes Jack and Jason's are made with organic ingredients.  And they are made with whole wheat flour which gives them a healthful slant.  They do require measuring milk and mixing an egg but otherwise are a prepared mix.  Available flavors are original, blueberry, banana walnut, double chocolate and pumpkin spice. 

A Daily Treasure

ImageDaily Gourmet provides a daily blast of new food products combined with great deals for the savvy foodie.  Dubbed as a 'personalized guide to the world of gourmet food' the Daily Gourmet offers great deals on gourmet food items.  For example, today's deal is on a two-bottle set of single-varietal Vino Vinegar.   Both of the vinegars are award winning.  The Syrah vinegar won a 2009 Gold medal and the Merlot vinegar won a 2010 double-gold both at the Sonoma County Harvest fair.  We recently had the pleasure of testing out these vinegars which have the character of their corresponding fine wine translated into a tasty vinegar.  The Daily Gourmet offer for this two-bottle set is $22.00 which includes shipping.  Normal retail price is $30 + shipping.  Other Daily Gourmet offerings are both equally cost conscience and tasty.   

Adult-Style Summer Fun

As the weather turns warmer we're happy to adjust to open windows, shorts and patio dining.  Similarly, our wine choices need to transition; those bold red wines become less appealing and lighter wines make it to the table more and more frequently.  A rising trend we've observed this year is the Rosé. Be it a Sangiovese Rosato from Silverado  Vineyards in Napa, a Jaboulet Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone Rosé from France, or an El Coto de Rioja Rioja Rosado from Spain, Rosé provides the cool refreshing crispness of a chilled wine while giving you a hint of their bold red cousins.  Indeed a Rosé is almost like having your cake and eating it too…

Foodie Find of the Restaurant Kind

Last up, while I don't normally talk about restaurants this find deserves a great big shout out.  Located in a modern version of a barn, BarnDiva (Healdsburg, CA), quite simply knocked my socks off last month when I dinned there.  The flavors were bold, innovative and refined all at once. And unlike many restaurants the greatness followed thru all the way to dessert.  If you find yourself in Healdsburg I recommend giving them a try.

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 June 2011 )
 

Admit it, we're all addicted to cookbooks…

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Written by foodie pam   
Monday, 09 May 2011

Ok, my turn. Hi, my name is Pam and I love cookbooks. No, the truth is I'm addicted to cookbooks. And I'm willing to bet that if you're reading this you probably are too.

Image
Just one of my many cookbook stashes

For me, it all started innocently enough.  I moved out of my parents house, got an apartment and my mom bought me my first cookbook-"The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook" (Yeah, that's it, we'll blame this all on mom!).  It had the recipes I grew up on.  But since I was on my own I wanted to try *new* recipes.  I subscribed to a magazine.  The next year I subscribed to more and by the time I got married my husband and I were eagerly trying new recipes all the time. 

Life was good.  We'd get a few magazines a month, pick out recipes to try and cook them.  Over time the magazine pile grew, the recipes to try grew and we couldn't possibly cook them all. 

I'm not one for chaos.  That's why I started Project Foodie - I kept losing track of the recipes in all those magazines.
For a short time life was good again. Chaos was limited.

Then one day, a package arrived by UPS.  I hesitantly opened this unexpected package finding a cookbook.  I honestly don't remember which one; but I am sure that when that book arrived I owned less than 10 cookbooks.

I was a cookbook novice.  I'd heard stories of people who owned hundreds of cookbooks, but couldn't imagine why.  Until I sat down and read the cookbook. 

That was the day my addiction started. Today, my cookbook collection spans several rooms.  I've lost count how many I have.  I frequently enter a room and 'find' some cookbooks in a corner.  And lest you think I'm the only addict in my house my husband has his own piles of cookbooks.

Chaos again entered my life.  But not in the way you might think.  This time my problem was finding new cookbooks to feed my addiction.

Search the web for cookbook reviews and book sellers pop-up.  Sure you'll find some reviews but, I at least, find it difficult to find lots of reviews in one place.  That was the seed for CookBookKarma. Finding cookbooks.

Then one day while browsing tastespotting, or was it foodgawker, I'm not sure which, it hit me.  Wouldn't it be cool if we could get a visual on the cookbook reviews?  BINGO - cookbook reviews + fabulous food photos; CookBookKarma was born.

And life is good again. 

CookBookKarma feeds my cookbook lovin' soul.  If you love cookbooks check it and I bet it will feed yours as well…

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 June 2011 )
 
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