Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spice up your next vodka and tonic.

Posted by Lyndi

Here’s a little something to spice up your next vodka and tonic…

Add sage.

One or two leaves will do nicely.


I found butter that does not say it is pasteurized! Oh, rats… it really is.

Posted by Lyndi

I am in constant search of butter that is unpasteurized. Why the obession? Because somewhere tucked away in the back crevices of my cranium a quiet voice is saying, “Eat as naturally as possible. Buy eggs from a farm. Get pure butter from a cow. Eat less potato chips.”

So I look and I look and I look some more.

Walmart doesn’t carry it. Ozark Natural Foods? Not there. Cooks Natural Foods? Nope. Harps? Ditto.

And then… there it was… Allen’s Market in Bella Vista has it!

An 8oz block LURPAK® Imported Butter, slightly salted, for $3.29.

Ingredients: Cream, culture, salt.

But wait.

I visited LURPAK’s website and it tells me that it IS pasteurized. “The cream used to make LURPAK butter is pasteurized. In this process the cream is heated to 95-105 degrees for approximately 15 seconds. This is done to ensure the destruction of undesirable microorganisms in the cream.”

However, after reviewing the history of the LURPAK brand, I still am impressed. Their quality control system dates back to early 1900s to maintain its consistent quality. Each week samples are strictly analyzed and tested, ensuring a consistently high quality LURPAK product.

So, unless I purchase a cow and raise her strictly in an organic environment, this will have to do. The FDA frowns heavily on unpasteurized milk products anyway.

What about you? Have you discovered a local source for unpasteurized butter? Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks? Or, do you think I need to just get over it? Stick with regular ole’ butter in a stick?

Williams-Sonoma at Pinnacle Promenade closed for inventory on Monday, February 1st.

Posted by Lyndi

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up. That also means no cooking classes today or tomorrow night.

Also, if anyone here in NWA has a commercial sized oven, Williams-Sonoma has two commercial sized baking sheets on clearance for $9.99. Regular price $26.00, so that represents a sweet savings! Only don’t do what I tried to do… I went to purchase it because it LOOKED like it would fit. 

It didn’t.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mmmm… A recipe for a quick white rice flour flatbread.

Posted by Lyndi

Confession time. I am an unskilled baker. Somehow the whole baking process is a complete mystery to me.

I can explain why I am an unskilled baker. (1) I grew up in an environment where we never had cakes or cookies. (2) I don’t have a sweet tooth. (3) I live a wheat-free life. (4) I’m terrible at measuring. 

There. I said it. I own it.

However… there IS a quick white rice flour flatbread recipe that I have baked time and time again that is foolproof! And my husband actually requests it! The best part is that he can eat wheat/gluten and he still loves this bread.

This recipe has inspired me. (I just may bake additional recipes from the book.) Enjoy!

The Wheat-Free Cook by Jacqueline Mallorca, 2007

¾ cup white rice flour, plus additional for forming loaves
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
¾ cup tapioca starch
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the ricer flour and almonds in a food processor, and grind to a fine meal. Add the tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum, and process to mix.

2. Combine the canola oil, yogurt, egg, and ½ cup water. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, and process to form a fluffy-looking, sticky batter, about 20 seconds. Scooping out the batter with a rubber spatula, form two equal mounds on the baking sheet, 5 inches apart. NOTE: I actually like to make 4 equal mounds, and it cooks the same as two. Sprinkle lightly with rice flour, and pat each one gently into a 6-inch disk (or smaller, if making 4). Form a rounded edge by dipping your fingers in rice flour and nudging the sides of the dough. Slash the top of each flatbread from side to side, forming a cross. Bake until golden brown and crusty, about 25 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and let cool.

Working on a healthy food lifestyle? Might I suggest “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan?

Last summer I read an amazing book by Michael Pollan titled In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto, a number one New York Times bestseller. This book explains three main areas we should concentrate on when it comes to healthy eating:

Eat food. 
Mostly plants. 
Not too much.

Pollan goes on to explain, in great detail, just why he recommends we live our lives in this manner. It is simple and to the point and it may change your life for the better simply by getting you to THINK about your eating habits and practices.

Fast forward. 

In December, Pollan released Food Rules, An Eater’s Manual. This is a concise companion guide where Pollan lists 64 “rules” when it comes to food. Essentially, it is a repeat of the book, without all the supporting facts. Perfect if you love lists or guidelines to help you tackle working on a healthy food lifestyle.

While I won’t list all 64 food rules (sorry), here are my top three favorites that we have incorporated into our life!

Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients (his rule #6). Shocking when you try this the next time you go food shopping. Compare two bags of potato chips: plain vs barbeque. Then move on to salad dressings. Do you really want to eat salad dressing made by a bleach company? ‘Nuf said.

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t (his rule #19). Brilliant. But so many of us do this! No more granola bars for me.

Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it (his rule #51). Believe it or not, this has actually been a challenge for us. We realized it last Sunday morning after Dennis prepared a fantastic breakfast frittata. After 30 minutes of preparation and another 10 for cooking, we promptly devoured the dish in about, oh 5 seconds flat. It was our ah-ha moment to slow down and respect the dish. And the cook.

Don’t worry. These 64 “food rules” will not feel like you are denying yourself. Instead, it should help you become in charge of your lifestyle and provide good common-sense wisdom to pass down to your children.

Now that’s health “insurance” you can count on.


Eat well, my friends. Eat well.

Williams-Sonoma class TODAY and tomorrow: Essential Cooking Techniques: Searing & Simmering

Looking for something to do today?

The Williams-Sonoma store in the Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers will be hosting the following complimentary technique class today and tomorrow.

> Sunday, January 24th at 12:00 p.m. (lasts about :45 minutes)

> (Repeat class) Monday, January 25th at 7:00 p.m.

Class description: Essential Cooking Techniques: Searing & Simmering

The third and final class in our series will demonstrate how to sear meats and vegetables, and to choose the correct plan and cooking temperature. You’ll also learn how to simmer, technique that’s used for making soups, sauces and more. We’ll show you the difference that the new All-Clad D5 technology can make with your food preparations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I know where you can get Alaskan Halibut… and next day delivery, too!

Posted by Lyndi

Hooray for the Internet and FedEx! Why? Because now we ALL have access to Alaskan Halibut, fished fresh from the icy-cold Kenai waters of Southern Alaska.

As you may remember, Dennis and I went to Alaska this summer and found ourselves in fabulous fresh fish heaven. Forget the scenery… the food was out of this world!

During our trip, we visited with friends from college who live on the Kenai Peninsula who treated us to a smorgasbord of fresh pan-fried halibut and grilled succulent salmon. Freshly caught. Ahhh… I am transported back even as we speak.

I know where you can get halibut… and next day delivery, too.

The friends we visited in Alaska has a brother who is a commercial fisherman. He has a website where you can order halibut, coho salmon, king salmon, and sockeye salmon.

We ordered some of everything the minute we arrived home from Alaska so the family could have a taste of Alaska, too. The halibut was everyone’s favorite and the coho salmon took top billing in the salmon family “taste test.”

Unfortunately the salmon supply has run out for this season. Don’t worry, I will let you know the minute the salmon runs begin and he starts shipping again!

The good news? Halibut is available year-round. If you have never tried halibut, it is a white fish (skins and scales, so it is “clean”) that has a very clean taste. It is a not a strong fish, so it is enhanced by seasoning or special sauces. We like to slice ours up and pan fry with a light macadamic nut oil with simple sea salt and crushed pepper.

It’s easy to order. Check out their web site to see the current prices. If you order 10 pounds, the shipping is free. If you order 20 pounds, the price per pound goes down -$2 a pound. A pretty good deal, if you ask me. Especially since you KNOW you are buying and eating something that is fresh and pure and pulled straight from the pristine waters of Alaska.

A tip: the website only allows you to order in bulk poundage. I chose to order by calling directly and they were able to mix and match according to my needs. Once you place your order the fish arrives next day, delivered on dry ice. It’s that simple.

So now I have a reliable source where I can simply call his brother in case I am not satisfied. ha! And I don’t know about you, but I was always leery to order fish via the internet. Now I order with confidence because there is a personal connection. Hopefully this will be of comfort to you, too. Let me know how it goes.

Oh, and if anyone knows a reliable source that still has wild Alaskan salmon available right now. Let us know!

Sharing makes life special.

Posted by Lyndi

I started this blog because it is such a thrill to sleuth-around for secret ingredients, to locate a hole-in-the-wall market that has that extra special product that I cannot find anywhere else, or to discover a better way to prepare a dish. And then there is the heart-warming pleasure of sharing these discoveries with you.

The other motivating reason why I started this blog was for selfish reasons. I figured with the limited time I have to go exploring around town, my hopes were that all of you would start sharing with me your finds: secret ingredients, hole-in-the wall markets, extra special products, dish preparation, and more.

And you have not let me down.

Thanks so much for all of the enthusiastic support and suggestions I have received from friends, family, co-workers, and those of you whom I only know via the blogosphere. Thank you!

There is so much to share and I have barely scratched the surface. Stay tuned…

Williams-Sonoma class TODAY and tomorrow: Essential Cooking Techniques: Sautéing & Pan-frying

Looking for something to do today?

The Williams-Sonoma store in the Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers will be hosting the following complimentary technique class today and tomorrow.

> Sunday, January 17th at 12:00 p.m. (lasts about :45 minutes)

> (Repeat class) Monday, January 18th at 7:00 p.m.

Class description: Essential Cooking Techniques: Sautéing & Pan-frying

The second class in our series will explain the differences between sautéing and pan-frying – two of the techniques most commonly used at home. We’ll show you how to correctly sauté, a quick cooking method that yields delicious golden vegetables with just the right amount of crunch. You’ll also learn to panfry, a technique that is excellent for cooking larger pieces of meat and firmer vegetables.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An organic salad and hot bar that’s worth the drive!

Posted by Lyndi

How many times have you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish there was a healthier alternative for lunch that is quick AND good for you.”

There is such a place.

Did you know that Cooks Natural Market has an organic salad and hot bar available for lunch each day? It’s true, they do.

Pro: Everything is organic and natural. That means everything that is available each day is available for purchase at the store, too.
Pros: You can do your shopping over lunch… and grab your lunch to go.
Pros: Hot soups are available each day and a cup is $2.99. Again, even these can be wrapped to go.
Pros: If chicken tortilla soup is available the day you go, YOU MUST BUY IT. It’s that good.
Pros: Food offerings change every day. Salad options are the same: leafy green lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, olives, etc. There is always a brown rice offering and usually a chicken and beef entrée.
Pros: How does the food taste? It tastes like you are doing something good for your body. And I mean that in a good way. While it may not be the ooey-gooey comfort foods that you will find at a chain restaurant (remember, they add bad things to the food so it tastes like that), the food has such a clean taste and it reminds me of something either my mother would cook for us growing up, or something I would cook for dinner. In a nutshell: eat this if you want to make sure you are eating healthy food. If you want to load your body up with greasy fast-foods, drive on by. Wait… actually… if you want to load your body up with greasy fast-foods, you OUGHT TO try this out instead! Do your body proud.

Cons: Cooks is not the easiest place to get to. I work in Lowell and it takes me less than 15 minutes to get there. So I will combine lunch when I shop for my groceries. See how efficient I am.
Cons: Even though Cooks is a natural food store AND the salad/hot bar is organic, I find it odd that the to-go containers are Styrofoam.

And there you have it. Let me know what you think!

Cooks Natural Market in located in historic downtown Rogers at 726 W Walnut St. (corner of W. Walnut and 71B/8th Street). Hours are M-F 9:00-6:00 and Saturdays 9:00-5:00.
ORGANIC SALAD/HOT BAR AVAILABLE 11-2 every day. I would recommend not getting there much earlier than 11:30, since it is homemade on the premises, they are not always prompt in getting the food out by 11am. Also, the later you go, the food may be gone. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
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