3/29/11

Kitchen Basics Workshop - Week 5 of 5

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One last time: It's Ginny again from Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo. I have so enjoyed being with you this month. I'd like to leave you with a few (random) kitchen tips and ideas.


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Perking Up Fresh Herbs:


Fresh parsley is something I always have on hand. It lends tremendous flavor to many recipes and makes them more visually appealing.


But it gets kind of flaccid and wilty in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

So I treat it like the fresh plant that it is!

I snip off about an inch of the stems,


put the bunch in water,


and it will perk right up.

(Forgot to snap a pic of the perked-up parsley. Sorry.)

The parsley will stay fresh for almost a week this way.

And it's kind of pretty to look at.

(This trick works with almost all types of fresh herbs.)


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Steaming Fresh Veggies:


Fresh steamed vegetables are an excellent addition to any meal.


The steaming process is gentle and helps preserve all the great attributes of the vegetables (as long as you don't overdo it).


Drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice over the steamed veggies and VOILA! You have a delicious, healthy side dish.


I use this pot every time I steam veggies.


The thing on the top is a steamer basket.


The veggies hang out here and have their little spa day as the steam rises from the boiling water in the pot beneath the basket.



Steamed asparagus are my favorite.


Even my 2-year old enjoys them.


(Too bad there's no audio clip: my four-year old, sitting nearby, is gagging on his asparagus in the background, crying because I'm "such a mean mommy to make him try it" and he's pretty sure "other mommies don't make this kind of yucky stuff.")

You win some, you lose some.

I also love to steam fresh green beans.

We have these about once a week, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with slivered almonds.


Here's a helpful guide to steaming vegetables:

Artichoke (medium)....................40 minutes


Asparagus (thin spears)...............3 to 4 minutes


Asparagus (thick spears).............5 to 6 minutes


Beets......................................30 to 35 minutes


Broccoli florets..........................4 to 5 minutes


Broccoli spears..........................5 to 6 minutes


Brussels Sprouts........................7 to 11 minutes


Cabbage, cut in wedges..............6 minutes


Carrots, cut 1/4-inch thick..........6 to 8 minutes


Cauliflower, head......................12 to 15 minutes


Cauliflower spears.....................4 to 6 minutes


Corn on the Cob.......................5 minutes


Green Beans.............................4 to 5 minutes


Kale.......................................4 to 5 minutes


Parsnips, 1-1/2-inch pieces.......8 to 10 minutes


Peas..........................................2 minutes


Potatoes, new (small size).........12 minutes


Potatoes (2-inch pieces)............15 minutes


Spinach.....................................4 to 5 minutes


Sweet Potatoes, whole..............40 to 50 minutes


Sweet Potatoes (2-inch pieces)..12 to 15 minutes


Winter Squash, peeled, 2-inch pieces....15 to 20 minutes


Zucchini, 1/4-inch slices............5 to 7 minutes


from info found here


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Pots, Pans, Whisks, and Docking Stations:


I get a lot of questions about my most-used kitchen equipment.


Here is an ever-growing list: My Favorite Kitchen Things




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Kids in the Kitchen:


You may have noticed (*wink*) that it can be a bit of a challenge to cook a meal with little ones (4 and under) in the kitchen.
I put together a page with a few tips to occupy those precious little hands and minds while you cook. Please (please!) comment or email me (cookingwithchopin@yahoo.com) if you have a tip that needs to be on this list: Cooking with Kids in the Kitchen.






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The Power of the Table Experience


In closing, I'd like to talk about something very near and dear to my heart.


The act of gathering your family around your table.


Dinnertime. What once was simple has now become complex.


Our schedules? They're crazy. Soccer, piano, dance, gymnastics, baseball, football, basketball, swim lessons.
But you already know this.


As moms of the 21st century, we have a harder time than any of our predecessors in getting hineys to fill up all of the chairs around our tables on any given night of the week.
We live so much of our lives on the road. In our cars. In the drive-thrus.


I'm reading an incredible book called "The Table Experience" by Devi Titus.


Devi highlights the link between regular family meals (around the table) and stronger families who have deeper connections and healthier relationships.



Several research studies have confirmed that families who take time to eat together at the dinner table do better in every area--body, mind, soul and spirit.


In fact, a decade-long study by the American Psychological Association reports that children who eat at the family dinner table have greater academic motivation and are less likely to experiment with drugs and sex.


(I realize no one is eating in these pictures...my family gets wary of all my picture-taking, so I try to be "present" when we're eating, and not behind the camera. These were taken after a meal.)


Devi very much intertwines biblical insight into the fact that God Himself designed the dinner table to be central to the family.


In fact, she points out, God could have created our bodies so that we never had to eat at all, or perhaps we'd only need to eat once a month or even yearly. Why, then, did He make our bodies in such a way that eating is a DAILY need--even three times a day?


Because eating together is a powerful tool for healthy family relationships. Being only a table-width apart and having eye-to-eye, face-to-face conversations with the precious members of your family is the way to establish safe and secure bonds and to really FORM those darling hearts.


I could go on and go because I am completely enthralled by this book and its principles.


But at the same I realize we're busy people, living in a culture that applauds busyness.


So let's not heap guilt on ourselves if we rarely gather our family around the table for a meal.



No self-condemnation allowed!

Let's start small.


What if you just ask yourself this question: When CAN you eat together as a family? Saturday mornings? Sunday nights?


Set an achievable goal: once a week perhaps.


You don't have to spend money. Use what you have. Want to use paper plates and cups? GO FOR IT.
Just get some bottoms in those chairs and make eye-to-eye and face-to-face connections with your family over a meal.
I think you will be blown away by the positive impact it will have on your family.


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Thanks again to Megan and Stephanie at CrazyDomestic for giving me the opportunity to share these posts during this workshop. It's been a true blessing for me.


Please stop by my blog for a visit anytime: cookingwithchopin.blogspot.com


Warmly,
Ginny


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Steph and I can't thank Ginny enough for sharing her amazing talent and extensive knowledge with us this month! This was definitely one of my favorite workshops we've had! I learned A TON, and laughed a lot along the way! Be sure you check back often with Ginny @ cookingwithchopin.blogspot.com.

2 comments:

Stacy said...

way to go Ginny!!

Lori@momsbyheart.net said...

Thanks for the great encouragement! I think a family that tends to eat at the table together is also a family that tends to care more about other nurturing aspects of parenting...helping with homework, reading to kids before bed...I'm just saying that I think the "eating at the table together" is not causal to "better academics...less experimentation with sex and drugs..." It is only an indication of a family that cares about each other. And because they care, other stuff is avoided. Know what I mean?

The eating at the table is a sign of caring. And caring is what causes all the other stuff.