Monday, October 27, 2008

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is next month so I'm planning my dinner. I've been told I'm doing this considerably late, as most of my friends had there dinners planned as far back as August (or maybe she said April.) So far I have most of the meal planned with the exception of Dessert 2. One dessert will be Gingerbread flavored and the other will be pumpkin.
In December I will be braving the "homemade cakes" category. My dad hits a high note, birthday wise, and so I want to make him a cake I know he'll love. It'll have to be something peanut buttery or something with bananas. I saw a gorgeous cake at Smitten Kitchen that might be just what I'm looking for.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smarter Choices

It started in my teens when my mom started buying this stuff. The bag always said pop for under 2 minutes but it usually took 3 minutes. Then my family would pour REAL butter on the butter flavored bits and sprinkle with salt.

Mmm microwaved popcorn. It's quick, easy and convenient. It's also full of nice, delicious, additives that decrease it's nutritional value and can potentially make you physically ill. After becoming more aware of how unhealthy it really is I put a permanent ban on the stuff.

In September I caught an episode of Good Eats that was on popcorn. Somehow when a attractive man talks about stuff I listen very well. This month I bought an air popper that resembled the one my grandparents used in the 80's.

What I've learned in the past 12 days:
The convenience of microwave popcorn isn't enough to sacrifice the healthy properties of air popped. In my opinion the convenience is nonexistent. For my microwave, popcorn usually takes almost 3 minutes to pop. My air popper takes about 5. Cutting just over 2 minutes isn't convenient.

Lets not forget the nutritional part*.

Servings (note, 1 serving of air popped is 4x as much as microwavable)
Air popped = ½ cup unpopped
Microwaved** = 2 tbsp unpopped

Air popped: 108
Microwaved**: 120-170 (sometimes as high as 210)

Air popped: 3.5mg
Microwaved**: 310mg-380mg

I add unsalted butter and salt to our popcorn. Even with the additions, it's still healthier than microwavable.

*Air popped popcorn ... I could only find nutrition facts for 1 cup air popped. ½ cup unpopped is 1 serving according to the bag and it makes about 3 ½ cups.
**A popular microwavable popcorn brand


In the beginning when I started to learn to cook I would fail and give up. One example is my attempt to roast a chicken. It was overly dry and since then I've never made another. Over the years I've concluded one thing - this method produced zero improvement of my cooking skills.

My method has developed into: try, fail, figure out why, and try again. I'll keep going until I've figured it out. Same goes with trying new foods. If I try it and dislike it I try another method of preparation.

I attempted to make poached eggs and followed these instructions. My first attempt didn't go well because I didn't use enough water. My second attempt went better because I added enough water. Her suggestion to use vinegar was great and I used rice vinegar like she did.

Up next I'll be checking out the store link she provides in a recent post and hopefully get a bottle of Tahitian vanilla extra going.