Family & Home

To Raise Intrepid Eaters, Skip the Children's Menu

One spring weekend, during a college semester abroad in Paris, I found myself the houseguest of a large French family at their home on the coast in Brittany. I didn't know them, but my friend Jenny's French aunt, Katherine, did, and she had insisted they would be thrilled to host Jenny and me for a long weekend.

Instead they had no idea who we were when we arrived with only Katherine's phone call as an introduction. Still, they opened their doors and offered us the guest room. Even though I was a couch-surfing, poor college kid, our brazen arrival still managed to embarrass me.

But that was nothing compared to the self-consciousness I felt the next day when the family's traditional Sunday brunch evolved into a five-course gastronomic feast featuring, among other things, oysters. I had never seen an oyster, much less tasted or manhandled one. I felt so provincial.

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Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper Takes On Another School-Lunch Makeover

Last week, I stepped back in time to have lunch in a high school cafeteria. Only this time, it was with Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann Cooper. Ann built a national reputation from her work with the School Lunch Initiative to bring healthy, whole foods into school lunchrooms throughout the Berkeley, California, school district. Now she was in Boulder, Colorado, to do the same thing. As I pulled together research for my visit, I became convinced that California’s loss was Colorado’s coup. You can have Jamie Oliver, West Virginia. We’ll take Ann Cooper.

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Using Up My Farmers Market Booty with Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Here in Minnesota, our farmers markets have been up and running for a few weeks now, and even though we may be behind other parts of the country in terms of what’s available because of our loooooong winters, it is exactly those loooooong winters that cause people like me (and you, I would guess) to get a little breathless and grabby at the sight of a bundle of fresh, green, locally grown anything.

In the absence of more colorful splashy things like berries, tomatoes, and stone fruit, the myriad greens and slightly purple characters we’re seeing now get to take center stage for some well deserved adulation. Baby lettuces, asparagus, rhubarb, ramps, scallions and radishes are all getting to strut their stuff and I, for one, am riveted.

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Grilling Season Opener: A Collection of the Best Grilling TIps

Today's Memorial Day, so we're kind of taking the day off here at Simple, Good and Tasty. Instead of writing an original blog post, as we do just about every other day of the year, we're going to refer you to a collection of previous posts about grilling. (Among them, by the way, is the top-viewed SGT post of all time.)

So enjoy your day off and grill up something delicious. Back to the usual routine tomorrow, right? Right.

Better Burgers: A Guide to Buying Top-Quality, Great-Tasting Ground Beef -- Founder of the Artisan Beef Institute Carrie Oliver gave great tips for finding "artisan" ground beef and convinced many of us why the extra time and effort are worth it.

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What's Your Family Food Plan For the Summer?

Although I spend a lot of my time thinking and writing about good food, I'm pretty inconsistent when it comes to what I actually do. When my (then) three-year-old boy went on a calcium strike, for example, I caved in after about four minutes and made him chocolate milk. When my daughter pouted instead of getting dressed for school, I offered a piece of candy as motivation to speed things up. When I picked the kids up from school, I'd bring lollipops and crackers. When I had a rough day at work, I'd reward myself with a piece of ice cream pie.

I'm writing about these things in the past tense because I'm committed to change. Summer's coming, and my strategy of doling out treats in order to keep people happy needs to change. It will change.

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A Sugar by Any Other Name Would Taste as Sweet

Sugar is enjoying a resurgence in popularity after years of being vilified for empty calories and its role in things like tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. As the negative effects of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have become better known, sugar's profile has risen. Cane sugar, as opposed to cheaper beet sugar, has especially benefited from HFCS's bad press; it is actually being touted as a healthful ingredient. Yet cane and beet sugars are highly processed, refined and provide no nutritional value. Other, less refined, sweeteners have some benefits that sugar doesn't. Yet nearly all of them raise blood sugar, and have little nutritive value. So why bother?

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Kid-Friendly Meals: It's All About Packaging

I think most people associate the term “kid-friendly” with bright colors. A kid-friendly party would have a clown in a neon costume. A kid-friendly park would have some kind of large climbing apparatus painted in blinding primary colors.

To me, however, kid-friendly is the color white. As in a white flag.  As in “I surrender.” The most kid-friendly item in our house is, of course, the TV; when a kid is in front of it watching a show with say, a bright purple dinosaur, it’s a reminder of the fact that I’ve simply given up for half an hour.

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This Mother’s Day, Tell Mom to Go to Her Room for Breakfast in Bed

I begin with a confession. I’m a mother and I don’t like Mother’s Day. There. I said it.

I know I'm not the only one. Admit it. You, too, think Mother's Day is another contrived holiday, a la Valentines’ Day, that pressures normally reasonable people to (a) buy silly, impersonal cards, (b) send pesticide-ridden flowers, (c) take their loved ones to crowded restaurants at odd times of the day because all the reservations at normal meal times (like before 10:00 p.m.) have been overbooked for six weeks.

Or (d) do something really outrageous, like make mom eat breakfast in bed.

Don't get me wrong. I love the original intent of breakfast in bed, but the right setting with the right company is crucial to its success. (Imagine, if you will, a romantic, lakeside inn; a bed pilled high with pillows, down comforters, and sheets I will never have to wash; and a passionate, pleasing and playful BFWB. You get the picture?)

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Rhubarbaritas and Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hate it when I invent something that’s already been invented. Maybe I’m not very original, or maybe I’m just a classic Johnnie-come-lately, but I seem to have a penchant for coming up with the best best BEST ideas only to be smacked down by the cool unforgiving hand of Google. I won’t get into the specifics of my past inventions, because I’m afraid I’ll start getting a reputation around here, but this last one, the invention that I invented specifically for you... well, we’re just going to have to sit down and talk about this because it really is good, and just because someone else invented it first is no reason to deprive you of my genius.

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The Revolution Was Televised: Looking Back at Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Over the last two months, ABC aired Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a six-episode reality series documenting the English chef's mission to improve school food in Huntington, West Virginia. (The preview episode was the subject for one of my previous posts for Simple, Good and Tasty.) Was it a success?

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