Tao of cooking: Shortcuts

By: Craig Munhall, Executive Chef

Everyone would love to cook like a professional. Throw a few things in a bowl and turn out something suitable for a king. I know how frustrating it can be to put in a lot of effort and the result turns out to be absolutely inedible. But to be a really good cook takes time and experience. It would be nice to condense time and experience and get on a fast track, but it truly won’t be authentic unless you take the time – that time requires.

I have worked with close to a hundred different cooks from all sorts of backgrounds. I’ve seen people with varying skills sets and all sorts of different passions. Having said that, I can tell you that it is my experience that truly good food is in direct proportion to the length of time someone spends in the kitchen – not skill or education. Who can argue that grandma’s corn bread is the best? Here at Guilford we have several cooks that have been in this industry for over 30 years. Lois over at the vegan station can make water taste like a million bucks. And this is my point! I and many others would love to have that uncanny ability, but we have to wait in line until our experience matches hers.

That’s where the Tao comes in to play. There is no sense in being disappointed or upset about the food you do create. Every time you prepare something you learn more about it. You learn times, colors, temperatures, combinations, techniques, and most importantly you learn what YOU like. So the important thing is that you keep cooking. Encourage yourself and over time you’ll get it. There was a time when I was curious about wines. I wished I had the lingo and the knowledge of the differences between wines. But this is not something that you can just switch on, or pick up by reading a book. In order to truly understand and appreciate wines you need to grow into it. It would go against the Tao to assume that you know enough. That is when they say that your “cup is full”. And in order to learn something new, you must empty it. So with good food, like a whole host of other things in life, it takes time and there is no short cut. Try to be patient and appreciate where you are right now and over time more will be revealed.

Cool?

Weekly Wisdom – March 28 – April 1, 2011

March 30, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

Protein, Carbs & Weight
Eating more protein & picking the right carbs may help avoid regaining lost weight.

  • Limit sweets & white bread; don’t cut back on protein if your are trying to stay trim.
  • Aim for lower glycemic carbs like oats, beans & bulgur & 100 % whole grain bread.

 

Wednesday Wisdom – March 30

March 30, 2011Meriwether Godsey Wednesday Wisdom Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian Protein, Carbs & Weight Eating more protein & picking the right carbs may help avoid regaining lost weight.
  • Limit sweets & white bread; don’t cut back on protein if your are trying to stay trim.
  • Aim for lower glycemic carbs like oats, beans & bulgur & 100 % whole grain bread.

Are food trucks here to stay?

March 29, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I hope so! They are responsible for bringing a host of ethnic foods (or ‘world flavors’) to just about every large city in America. Food trucks also allow chefs, particularly young chefs, to offer their wares in a low-overhead environment.

I recently came across a website listing the 25 Best Food Trucks-Eat Cheap 2010 from New York magazine.

Just a few of the offerings listed for the 25 trucks:

  • Falafels
  • Taiwanese fried pork
  • Chicken Thai basil dumplings
  • Pork & avocado crema tacos
  • Belgian waffles
  • Whoopie pies (traditional chocolate & seasonal pumpkin)
  • Papusas
  • Nicoise Sandwiches
  • Curried Goat.

I wonder if food trucks will ever make it to smaller cities? I realize they wouldn’t be able to support the variety of foods offered in big cities, but hope that one day I can hit downtown Roanoke for a Kobe beef hot dog with apple slaw or a wasabi pea ice cream cone. Well…maybe not the wasabi pea ice cream…think I’d rather have granola frozen yogurt.

   



Breakfast of “Champions?”

March 29, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

Recently we made a trip to see my nephews in Ohio. My 3 year old son, Oliver, was beyond excited and wanted nothing more than to be just like his 8 year old cousins. Of course, this included eating anything and everything his cousins ingested. Fortunately, right now I still have some control over what Oliver is offered for his meals. However, as he grows up, I will gradually lose that control. Perhaps that loss is coming sooner that I had hoped. 
 
When I went to the kitchen Saturday morning, the three cousins were lined up in front of the television mesmerized by Sponge Bob and shoveling down Lucky Charms cereal. The dietitian in me was horrified..."meals in front of the TV eating high sugar cereal... this is going to lead to a lifetime of obesity!" Luckily the rational side of me took over and I realized that this one-time breakfast enjoyed with his cousins wasn't going to make or break my son's health. Plus, I know it is not about these "special occasion" meals or treats but more about what we do the majority of the day. As long as children are active and their TV time is limited they will likely grow into healthy adults. So, I let Oliver munch on bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms (then, out came the Fruit Loops) in front of the TV, knowing that when we got home, it would be back to his "healthy" breakfast.  
 
However, when my nephews requested McDonalds for lunch an hour later, I said "no."  After all, I had to draw the line somewhere!

 

Trash Talk March 28 – April 1, 2011

March 28, 2011
Leslie Phillips, Director of Business Development & Client Relations

More ways to kick the (trash) can:

  • Freeze herbs like basil, mint, tarragon. Lay flat on towel-lined tray, put in freezer, after a couple of hours, put in freezer Ziplocs; squeeze all the air out.
  • Whip up some Hippie Hash (what?!?) Hash browns and any other bits & pieces – veggies, meats – top with cheese. (oh – yum..,!)
  • Veggie puree – single veg or all together; for a soup, side or sauce; the amount of water you add determines which one!



 

April Featured Recipe: New Potato & Asparagus Salad

6 servings

3 lbs - small red new potatoes, halved
1 1/2 lbs - asparagus, trimmed
1T - dijon mustard
2T fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup - olive oil
2T - minced fresh chives
1/2 tsp ea - salt & freshly ground pepper


1. Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling water, about 20 minutes.
2. Drain & cool slightly.
3. Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain. Refresh under cold water.
4. Cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Toss vegetables together in large bowl.
5. Combine mustard, lemon juice, and S&P in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Pour over vegetables.
6. Add chives & toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Weekly Wisdom – March 21 – 25, 2011

March 23, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

The right foods can keep your brain young. Aim for colorful veggies.

  • Carrots to keep you cognitive. Along with bell peppers, celery, rosemary & thyme.
  • Beets to boost brain power. Also cabbages & radishes.
  • Asparagus “spares” memory. Plus leafy greens.

Wednesday Wisdom – March 23

March 23, 2011Meriwether Godsey Wednesday Wisdom Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian The right foods can keep your brain young. Aim for colorful veggies.
  • Carrots to keep you cognitive. Along with bell peppers, celery, rosemary & thyme.
  • Beets to boost brain power. Also cabbages & radishes.
  • Asparagus “spares” memory. Plus leafy greens.

Trash Talk March 21 – 25, 2011

March 21, 2011
Cate Smith, Director/Executive Chef

Water through your hands..

How much energy does it take to get clean water to you?

  • About 56 billion kilowatt-hours. Enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes.
  • AND, water facilities release approximately 116 billion pounds of CO2 per year (as much as 10 million cars).

Ways to reduce your water waste

  • Don’t let the faucet run – wasting 2 gallons per minute!
  • Fix leaks - a leaky faucet can waste 10 - 100 gallons a day.
  • Run the dishwasher when it’s FULL.
      • Hand washing uses more water than a fully loaded dishwasher.
      • Energy Star dishwasher can save 5,000 gallons of water over hand washing.
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