Sunday, July 25, 2010

Things Of Note

Good morning everyone! I hope all of your weekends have been enjoyable so far. Today's blog post is a quick one. We just have a few things that we feel are worth your time to check out, read or look into. These are a collection of books and websites that are full of interesting information or part of a good cause.

Books Worth Looking Into:

Food: A Handbook Of Terminology, Purchasing & Preparation

We found this little guy in our local Half Priced Books over the weekend. It's a collection of nearly anything you want or need to know about food. It has tips ranging from defining a certain cut of meat, telling you how to purchase said cut of meat, how long that cut of meat can be stored (and how it should be stored) all the way down to what temperature to cook that cut of meat at to guarantee the best result for your recipe. It covers everything from grains, fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, shellfish, meat, to herbs and spices. You can pick up a copy at the link posted above, or at Amazon. It's an interesting (and useful) book if you plan to get serious about cooking. 

Creating Chefs: A Journey Through Culinary School With Recipes And Lessons

This book is was written and photographed by a culinary school professor. Recipes are approached the same way they would be in a culinary school. Each section begins with a description of flavors, combinations and preparation techniques for the given recipes, along with thorough descriptions of the recipes. The recipes themselves, while admittedly few in the book, are very detailed and are accompanied with notes from the author about things to watch out for and tips. It's a completely unique way to read a cookbook (in fact, I'd argue it's not really a cookbook - more of a 'leisure read...with recipes'). However, it is worth a look if you enjoy cooking. Grab it from Amazon by clicking the link above.

The Man Who Ate Everything 

Falling under the 'something completely different' category is 'The Man Who Ate Everything'. The book follows Jeffery Steingarten as he "systematically sets out to overcome his distaste for such things as kimehi, lard, greek cuisine and blue food". Steingarten had just become the food critic for Vogue and decided that he needed to cleanse himself of all outside food prejudices in order to be truly great at his job. This journey takes him around the world as he samples different cuisine and even tires to perfect his own recipes. It's entertaining, it's offbeat and it's hilarious. A great read for a food lover. Grab it off of Amazon using the above link. 

Recommended Websites: 

If you're a regular reader of our blog, you know I am a champion of chef Jaime Oliver. First of all, I love his recipes, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) I love his cause. Jaime's Food Revolution is a simple concept; he believes that the start to a healthier country, a healthier planet begins at a young age. His mission is straightforward, start the revolution at the school level. Feed children, good - healthy, fresh food and watch them grow up healthier and make better decisions. His ABC series over the summer was a great showcase of how this concept worked. Children, he proved, will eat whatever you put in front of them even if it's (gasp!) healthy. Go to ABC and watch full episodes of the show if you missed them this summer (they are worth it!)

I'll quote Jaime directly here to give you a better idea of what this whole movement is about: 

My philosophy to food and healthy eating has always been about enjoying everything in a balanced, and sane way. Food is one of life's greatest joys yet we've reached this really sad point where we're turning food into the enemy, and something to be afraid of. I believe that when you use good ingredients to make pasta dishes, salads, stews, burgers, grilled vegetables, fruit salads, and even outrageous cakes, they all have a place in our diets. We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that's alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don't eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.

Knowing how to cook means you'll be able to turn all sorts of fresh ingredients into meals when they're in season, at their best, and cheapest! Cooking this way will always be cheaper than buying processed food, not to mention better for you. And because you'll be cooking a variety of lovely things, you'll naturally start to find a sensible balance. Some days you'll feel like making something light, and fresh, other days you'll want something warming and hearty. If you've got to snack between meals, try to go for something healthy rather than loading up on chocolate or potato crisps. Basically, as long as we all recognize that treats should be treats, not a daily occurrence, we'll be in a good place. So when I talk about having a 'healthy' approach to food, and eating better I'm talking about achieving that sense of balance: lots of the good stuff, loads of variety, and the odd indulgence every now and then.

For the past couple of years I’ve been campaigning to ban the junk in schools and get kids eating fresh, tasty nutritious food instead. I can’t do it without your help though – so start a revolution in your school and help us prove that school meals can be better.

It’s all about making radical changes to the school meals system and challenging the junk food culture by showing schools they can serve fresh nutritious meals that kids enjoy eating.

What we eat affects everything: our mood, behaviour, health, growth, even our ability to concentrate. A lunchtime school meal should provide a growing child with one third of their daily nutritional intake. 

Local and national government need to come up with a ten-year strategy and some real money to re-educate people about proper eating habits. This is what I think needs to happen now:

1. In schools: make cooking and life skills classes compulsory for all kids so they learn about food and good eating habits while they're young.

2. For teachers: recruit and train new cookery teachers, otherwise the new right that kids have to cookery lessons just isn’t going to happen.

3. For heads: empower heads to make every school a junk food free zone.

4. For parents: educate parents and help them to understand the basics of family cooking and responsible nutrition.

5. For dinner ladies: invest in dinner ladies with proper training and enough paid hours to cook their food with fresh ingredients.

6. Commit to a ten-year strategic plan and fund a long-term public campaign to get people back on to a proper diet and empower/persuade (and possibly scare, if needed) the public to make better choices. With obesity costing the NHS more than smoking, it seems logical that a similar campaign should be appropriate. 

It sounds so simple doesn't it? That's because it is. The problem is, the government subsidizes school food programs, and as most of you now - anything that the government is involved in becomes corrupted by lobbyists. In this case, major corporations have a death grip over the school lunch programs across the country because they are allowed to influence the guidelines (French fries count as a vegetable serving under these rules!) and can undersell nearly everyone on the market. Chicken tenders for 35 cents? Of course they win against fresh chicken. Here's where you can come in. Click this link, sign the petition and let the country know that you believe children should be eating fresh meals instead of processed junk for school lunches. There is a ton of information on Jaime's website if you are not convinced yet. Read it, take it all in and make an informed decision. You can always click the 'sign the petition' badge on the side of our website as well. 

That's all we have for you today. I really hope you give Jaime's Food Revolution a read, and sign the petition. A healthy country has to start somewhere after all! At the very least, here's hoping you enjoy one of the books we shared with you today. They are all worth a look! We're back tomorrow with a list of our ingredients for the week. Until then, 


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