Sunday, April 8, 2018

Arctic char: a good choice for folk who aren't sure if they like fish

My wife isn't sure that she likes fish. In fact, she often claims she doesn't like fish. It's that fishy taste she hates. I tell her that properly handled fish, kept cold and fresh, doesn't have that off flavour. Good fish tastes good. Period.

The other day she noticed Arctic char on sale at our local fresh food market. She bought a 12 oz. fillet for the two of us to share. I cooked it that night.

I baked some large, thick slivers of sweet pepper, brushed with olive oil and salted, for about fifteen minutes at 375 degrees fahrenheit. With the time about half gone, I opened the oven door and add four tomatoes to the pan, and sprinkled on some basil, and, when only four minutes remained, I cleared a spot and added some washed and still wet baby spinach. I covered the pan for those last four minutes in the oven. This gently wilted the spinach.

Meanwhile, I pan fried the salted and peppered Arctic char in a little olive oil. I started with four minutes skin-side down and then flipped the fish for another three minutes. These fillets were not an inch thick.

Dinner was quick, under half an hour, looked good on our plates and delighted my wife. And the wine I paired with dinner, a dry pinot grigio.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Healthy Eating Is Easy!

Healthy eating is easy. Follow a few simple rules and all falls into place  — and weight control falls into reach.
  • Plan your meals around vegetables and fruits and not meat. Often your plate will be at least half-filled with fruits and veggies or have fruit or salad on the side. 
  • Mix the food groups at each meal. Try to always include at least one serving from most food groups.
  • If you're hungry, eat! Do not starve yourself. It is counterproductive. You will simply overeat later. Remember, you are allowed almost unlimited consumption of vegetables and fruits.
  • Put pleasure first. Don’t sacrifice enjoyment. Think flavour and not calories first.
  • Plan meals a week at a time. This will guarantee you have all the right ingredients on hand to complete each meal.
  • Eat 'real' food. Avoid processed foods or limit their consumption. This includes many canned and most boxed and convenience foods. Processed foods often include unwanted fat, sugar, calories and salt. It is better to lean towards whole, fresh foods still in their natural state. This includes most frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Count 'add-ons' in servings. Dressings and dips for vegetables and fruits, as well as cream, milk or sugar in coffee or tea are not calorie free.
  • Be flexible with yourself. Every food you eat doesn't have to be a source of excellent nutrition. We are all allowed a guilty pleasure now and then. Just don't make them a daily occurrence. (My weakness it my wife's turtle cookies; don't ask.)
  • Look for shortcuts. Buy pre-cut veggies and fruits, precooked meats, and shredded low-fat cheese for quick, healthy meals.
  • Tomorrow is another day. If you didn't get enough veggies Monday, add extra Tuesday and Wednesday. Try not to get stuck on exact servings each day.
  • Beverages — including alcohol — count. When considering calories, don't forget to count what you drink. Juice may be made from fruit but it often contains oodles of added sugar. Milk contains lots of important nutrients but it can be high in calories, as well. One percent, or even skim, milk is best. And don't forget water: it is often the best choice when it comes to satisfying thirst and cutting down on the urge to snack.
The above was taken from the tips for using The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. These are rules I try to follow when planning my diet and I am finding it works.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Broccoli Soup with Undertones of Onion and Cheddar

I like soup, if you hadn't noticed. Soup is fun to make. It usually keeps well. And, it is easy to get to the table on time.

I often make a cauliflower soup that even my granddaughters enjoy. (This is possibly because even small children can break the head into small florets. Letting them do this, helps to make the soup theirs.)

Inspired, I decided to try a broccoli version of my popular dinner time fare. I believe it worked out quite nicely and, more importantly, my wife liked it. She's my harshest critic.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. of broccoli, stems peeled and chopped
3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of 1% milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, I like the medium to old cheddar best
a few tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
some crumbled blue cheese
some chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste


Warm the olive oil in a large, stainless steel pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. This should take from three to five minutes. Add the minced garlic cloves and continue to sauté for another minute. Do not let the garlic burn. Add the broccoli and continue to sauté until the broccoli begins to soften, turning a bright green.

Add the stock and milk and bring all to a simmer over medium heat. When bubbles appears, turn the heat to simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until the broccoli is tender. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Although the following can be done in either a food processor or blender, I like to use a handheld immersion mixer. I find the KitchenAid with the metal housing surrounding the blade very good.

 Stay clear of the handheld immersion mixers with a plastic housing surrounding the blade. This can soften when mixing hot foods allowing the sharp, quickly spinning blade to come in contact with the bottom of your pot. The damage can be extensive.

Purée the soup until smooth and then, with the soup still retaining heat, add the shredded cheese. Blend with a whisk until the cheese disappears. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the soup to the heat, when hot ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream, some crumbled blue cheese and a few chopped chives. (I forgot the blue cheese when taking the picture. The soup, although excellent, did miss something.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fruit and nuts make a great salad

I took my wife out for dinner the other evening. It was our 27th wedding anniversary. The dinner, at The Springs, was very good and very inspiring.

At noon today I served my wife a salad inspired by our anniversary dinner.

I picked up some organic baby greens at Remark, a small, local grocery store specializing in high quality food stuffs: vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses and more.

My salad contained the following;

  • About half a bag of organic baby green
  • Thin slices from one peeled and cored Ambrosia apple
  • A little more than half an ounce of pan-toasted almond slivers - use more if not counting calories
  • About half an ounce of goat cheese feta in large chunks - again, use more if not watching the waist
  • Two Tbsp of Rootham Blackberry/Raspberry dressing - the amount here will be determined by the amount of baby greens you have used. My salad wasn't all that big. Taste your salad and use more if you cannot taste the dressing. The flavour of the berries should be there but not overpowering. The feta and almond slivers and apple slices should all have a presence, too.

I tossed the entire salad until I was sure all was gently coated with the fruit-flavoured dressing and then I served it in a small, salad bowl. It was yummy. It may not have been as good as the one I had at The Springs but on the other hand I can afford to enjoy this one often.

Next, I may try a baked or grilled salmon fillet with a carmelized fruit topping. Another dinner inspired by The Springs.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Vegetarian Lasagna

I got my recipe from the New York Times but there are simply oodles of noodle recipes to be found on the Net. And most are quite delicious.

This vegetable lasagna has layers of zuchini, spinach, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses plus tomatoes, both a marinara sauce and fresh, diced tomatoes.

The hidden little surprise is the pinch of cinnamon. My wife was hesitant when she learned I was putting cinnamon, even a very small amount, into the mix. But, it worked. I liked it, as did my wife.

My doctor has me on a diet that is meatless every other day. The cheese is a bit of a cheat but I'm sure I kept my cholesterol below 100mgs for the day.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Something fast: pasta

A sprinkle of dried hot pepper seeds, added at the table, kicked up this dish a notch.
I took two of my granddaughters to their ski lessons today. It was cold on the hill and my oldest granddaughter suffered from the the cold today. This is not like her but it does happen and it was a disaster. She didn't want to whine and so she didn't tell her instructor that her feet were feezing. By the time I got her inside, she was sobbing from the pain.

It was quite the morning. When those two left with their dad, I was tuckered. I opened a beer and before I got it down, my third granddaughter arrived. It was a busy afternoon following a very busy morning.

I had no energy for preparing a nice weekend dinner. I rummaged about the fridge and found some Egg Creations, a Danish Fontina cheese, cherry tomatoes, garlic and a big head of broccoli.

I am not allowed eggs. The yolks contain too much cholesterol. Therefore, I eat Egg Creations Original with the yolks removed. And the Danish Fontina cheese may be a knock off of the Italian original but it is less expensive and melts wonderfully when chopped into small pieces to be added to steaming hot pasta. I always love cherry tomatoes fried with a little olive oil and chopped garlic. I knew I could not go wrong.

I cooked the pasta and drained it, added the tomatoes fried with chopped garlic, added the Egg Creations and stirred. When the eggs stuff began to set, I added the Dutch Fontina cheese. The small cubes began melting immediately.

I divided the pasta in half in order to serve both my wife and me. I dressed the dinner with the steamed (micro waved) broccoli and voila, dinner was served -- and it was good, not great, but damn good. (I hope my one granddaughter, the one with the cold feet, is feeling better and will be up for skiing next weekend. A bad experience can sour a person . . . )

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cauliflower as a side dish

Forgive the picture. It's winter and the sun sets before I serve dinner. I must shoot my pictures under the glaring light of the kitchen pot lights. Ugh.

Now, that I've got that out of the way. Check out the pan-roasted cauliflower with garlic, parsley and rosemary posting in the cooking section of the New York Times. I served this to company and the woman, a fine cook in her own right, wanted the recipe.

I add some large, cherry tomatoes and some sliced almonds to my version. It was yummy. And the squeeze of lemon added at the table proved very important. So, don't forget the lemon slices.