Saturday, 30 April 2011

Beef Jerky for My Sweetie

My boyfriend loves meat in all shapes and sizes (big preferably, but he'll take anything). In fact, he's practically a cave man when there's a big block of meat around.

But all that changed after I showed him information on sodium nitrate.

Sodium nitrate is not found in fresh meat but it is put into a lot of processed meats for a couple of different reasons.

The first reason is to simply preserve the colour of processed meats like salami, ham, bacon, pepperoni, and beef jerky.

I don't really care if my meat is super red or not but I guess people think it's fresher looking if it's red, so they'll throw it in there.

The other reason is that sodium nitrate prevents bacteria that causes botulism from forming.

This reason is great. I sure don't want to get botulism. I don't want any kind of food poisoning at all.

But after I looked into botulism I saw that it's really rare and only about 110 people in the United States out of the whole 300 million population get it a year. When I learned that, I didn't feel like I was in danger of getting it.

Now for the consequences of sodium nitrate.

I'm no expert, but this is what I've heard -- In high levels sodium nitrate can be very toxic and even cancer causing. You can get migraines and there have been studies done on relating lung disease to sodium nitrate as well.

So that means that because of the possible consequences of sodium nitrate, I'm going to limit the amount of processed meats I consume. I still eat ham and bacon, just less than I might have before I knew about sodium nitrate because those consequences only occur because of high level intake of sodium nitrate.

Still after hearing the consequences my stubborn boyfriend would prefer to eat only meat without sodium nitrate so I decided to make him some homemade beef jerky. I don't have a dehydrator so I had only my oven to help me.

I found a recipe on the Internet and changed it up to make it suit the ingredients I had on hand and to make it easier on myself. Here it is:

Beef Jerky

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

D'Italiano Reinvent Your Passion Recipe Competition -- Guess Who's a Finalist!!!

So about a month a ago I entered a few tasty recipes in this recipe competition. I thought it would be fun to share some recipes and I had a blast taking pictures and tasting my creations. Then time went by and I forgot all about the competition.

Easter Monday rolls around and I get a phone call. I don't have caller ID so I didn't know who was calling me. I thought it must be my mom but it wasn't! It was so much more exciting!

The person on the phone was a woman who works for D'Italiano and said that one of the two recipes I submitted was chosen as a finalist in their recipe competition. I'm in the top ten!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

April Camping Trip

The joys of camping have yet to be found for me but I try and enjoy the outdoors as much as Luke because it's important to him. He loves everything I don't about the outdoors, but I think that camping is growing on me.

We have a small camping stove and we can cook pretty much anything on it. Sometimes I bring a container of frozen pasta sauce and we enjoy heaping plates of spaghetti with gusto. Other times we make oatmeal with fruit to warm ourselves on a chilly morning. It almost makes camping fun to try and top myself when I plan food for our next camping trip.

I try and keep the menu different so that we don't get bored with what we eat, but there is one thing that is in common for each and every meal I plan. It's got to be warm.

I freeze easier than an ice cream sundae melts in the hot July sun so I need to plan carefully so I don't freeze and complain the night away.

Last night I had on three sweaters (two of them were cashmere), two pairs of pants, two pairs of sock, a winter coat, mittens, and a hat. I am proud to say that I didn't need wear the pashmina I brought nor did I need to break out the hand and feet warmers I had packed. I was actually warm.

It probably helped that I also brought with me a goose down filled sleeping bag built for negative twelve weather and maybe the wine I carried through the woods helped a bit too, but I think the food I brought had more to do with it.

What did I bring on our last camping trip? Well it was one of my favourite things to bring camping and we didn't even need to break out that trusty camping stove. All we needed was the little package of fire starters and a big bag of logs.

Did you guess what it was yet?

I made s'mores and spider dogs! Nothing fancy or amazing to some people but on a cold and wet April night in the woods, nothing is better to me than a warm campfire complete with the crispiest treats I have ever made.

S'mores of course are marshmallows cooked with a stick over a roaring fire and burnt to a crisp, or over hot coals and slow roasted to a golden brown (for people more patient than I'll ever be), then stuffed with chocolate, and sandwiched between two graham crackers. Yum, I'll always want some more.

But spider dogs you might not have heard of. They are simple little treats that light a smile on both my own and a child's face. All you do it stick a hot dog on a stick, take a knife to both sides, and slice to create little legs- four on each side. Then you roast it in the fire and as the hot dog cooks, the legs begin to curl up and separate. Try one dipped in Dijon mustard! Delicious!

Check me out enjoying a hot dog cooked the old fashioned way. All I have to say is with a nose as red as mine, thank goodness we live on Vancouver Island because anywhere else in Canada would have been ten times as cold!


Oh Easter. I don't go to church but I do understand the reason we celebrate Easter is not because chickens laid chocolate eggs and wanted us to share them.

However, those chocolate eggs are tasty and melt in my mouth like butter so that's what I'm thinking about today.

I finished eating an Easter feast of ham with all the fixings and began to contemplate how I've become one of the consumers that I never thought I would be.

It's not that I think people who enjoy cooking a big meal to share with friends are consuming too much. I really appreciated getting invited to a tasty dinner. It's more that I realized I've decorated my small apartment in an enormous amount of feathers, eggs, and bunnies.

Not only is my door outfitted with a huge ribbon and egg adorned wreath, but this year I actually purchased an Easter tree.

Actually I should clarify that, I ran out to purchase a fluffy yellow feather tree with an immense amount of delight. It is covered in porcelain, glass, and sequin covered ornaments and even though it's the Tuesday after Easter, it's still up.

But hey, it makes me smile and it's not hurting anyone, so I'll keep it up until the weekend and try to figure out how to use up all my leftover Easter food. Yes I know I enjoyed dinner elsewhere but I still cooked a big fat turkey for myself. I couldn't help it. :)

Here's something to make you laugh at me or maybe, better yet, you'll want to pick one up for yourself next year. I can tell you where I got mine if you want!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

MSG - Monosodium Glutamate or Maximum Salty Grub?

As soon as I walk into a Chinese restaurant that uses MSG in their cooking, I can feel it. I don't know if it has a smell that wafts through the air to greet me like a unwelcome pimple or if the ambiance of aged decor just makes me expect it, but for some reason I always know it's going to appear in my food when I walk in.

This tasty additive found me today at lunch in a Victoria BC restaurant and I was not impressed. Nine hours and at least a litre of water later, I still feel dehydrated and uncomfortable.

It's not like a bar where they serve complimentary salty nuts to encourage an increase liquor sales. I mean it was lunchtime, and even if it was dinner, the drinking and driving laws in BC have increased to barely allow even one alcoholic beverage before driving. 

MSG's marketed as a flavour enhancer but what does that really mean? Other than what I know about salt bringing out flavour in food, I can't tell you. So why not just use salt?

Learning to be my own videographer

Gosh, I had no idea how difficult it would be to be the "star" and the cameraman at the same time. It takes so much longer and sometimes I can't even manage to film my whole face at once.

Luckily I have my Luke to film me most of the time, but when my cameraman heads out for a much needed break of mountain biking and creativity strikes, I am left to my own devices.

As you can see the result is less than stellar.

Luckily for me, I believe that my (somewhat dorky) personality still shines as does my love of cooking. That meant that I submitted this recipe for corn pudding to the Philadelphia contest in hopes of being considered based solely on personality and recipe creation talent.

So thank you Luke for not making all the contestants suffer through watching me attempt to film myself too often. I am sure each and everyone of them are very thankful.

Here is another entry where Luke filmed me, you can use this one to compare our techniques. This entry for polenta two ways is equally delicious even if it looks a little better on film.

Who is better? Be honest...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Getting burnt

One the least enjoyable aspects involved with cooking is getting burnt. I'm not taking about burning your dinner, that isn't enjoyable either, but rather physically burning yourself. I have great oven mitts but somehow I either forgot to wear them, decide that I don't need them, or some sneaky bit of hot metal, steam, or glass manages to find me.

There was no exception to this rule last night -- as I pulled a turkey from the oven I not only came out with the turkey but with a hot red welt on my arm too. Very attractive and it felt great.

Luckily Luke has a great cream to put on burns and it really takes any pain away. It's called Mopiko and you can purchase this at any Asian stores. I can't read any of the ingredients on the package, it's all in Chinese, but I am going to guess that it's a natural product because the smell of peppermint is so delicious that I almost want a lick. Maybe the Asian writing is one of the reasons the product isn't carried in Canadian pharmacies?

Since I've had this great product I've been less upset with burning myself but last night I was filming a short video for an entry into the Philadelphia challenge. I had my arm covered in the white cream but like a true actor, I stayed in character and smiled during the filming.

Five points to anyone that can see the cream on my arm in the video, ten points if you tell me you can't see it at all.

Anyway, I hope you can find this product because every cook should have a tube in their kitchen, especially if you're a klutz like me.

Let me know what you think of my entry for Fresh Pea and Mint Risotto.

It's actually my third entry but my second one was disqualified  because I was so creative that I filmed Polenta Two Ways, creamy polenta for dinner one night and grilled polenta with the leftovers the next night. I guess you can't use two recipes in one video.

Oh well, I'll just have to create more recipes and enter again. It's not a bad thing when you are told you have to enjoy more cheese!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Real Women of Philadelphia Canada

Hi everyone! This is my first post on a blog and I am excited to begin my journey. The first thing that I want to share with everyone is a contest I have recently entered called the Real Women of Philadelphia.

Here's the website incase any of you are interested in entering -- just remember me if you win the $20,000!

My first entry was my delish in a dish recipe called Philly Pineapple Meatballs. I used my yummy meatball recipe and instead of baking them with pineapple, I stuffed the meatballs full of ooey gooey Pineapple Philadelphia Cream Cheese and served them with a fresh mint and toothpicks of pineapple. Wow, were those puppies ever good, and I should know because I ate a whole plate of them.

I find out if I am through to the finals tomorrow and if not I will be uploading a pile of videos for the second week of the contest. I have a few great ideas - Polenta Two Ways, Party Stuffed Potatoes, and Fresh Pea Risotto. I don't know about you but my mouth is watering already. I almost hope I am not through to the finals so that I can make all those dishes!

Check out my first entry and let me know what you think :)