Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Extension of Human Kindness Is As Natural As Nature's Storms!

It's been way too long since my last post and I felt the need to remark on the many touches of human kindness I have seen in so many ways since the wake of Sandy here in Long Island!  It has not all been about long gas lines and fear of looting.  Far from it has been the reality that the haves have been providing in so many ways to the have nots!  Not because they were looking for recognition but because the Soul within them felt the need to provide comfort in what ever way they thought they could.

This was demonstrated by the group that went from wrecked home to wrecked home and pulled wet sheet rock from the walls and yanked cabinets out to prep for new beginnings.  It was shown through groups that went from door to door to providing meals for those without and clothing for those who lost all except hope!  I personally would like to thank my friends that washed the linens that we used to try and save our home from total destruction and our grimy clothes we wore over and over (yeah they weren't pretty) while ripping out our own sheet rock & rugs.  Taking a shower at LA Fitness with my family with clean towels is now among my top 10 best feeling moments in this lifetime! I just want to say thank you to everyone out there that has gone out of their way to assist those in need in the wake of this storm and I hope we all keep doing it.

I was in the middle of testing my Gourmet Detox Plan with several of my most favorite test subjects when Sandy hit with all her might!  More to come on that!

I have not seen much in the media regarding the drinking water here in Long Island, but I advise everyone to boil any and all water that you are using until confirmation that it is safe.

Naturally Respectful,
Cindy D

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mammas & Pappas Cooking 101

April 28, 2012
Blogging Naturally, entry # 11
Mammas & Pappas Cooking 101

As promised, I want to share a few things that I have learned at the Natural Gourmet Institute of Health & Culinary Arts and how I have infused (great word, don’t you think?) them into my own cooking for my family meals.  I like to call my style “Sensible Organic Cooking on a Dime”.

The following recipe was developed with all of the Mammas & Pappas in mind who have limited time to cook healthy meals for their little cubs!  I have incorporated store bought ingredients indicated by an * that if you have the time and energy (Bless You!) you can make yourself ahead of time to use.  Please contact me if you would like the recipes for any of those.

It is very important to me as the Head Chef in my home that I exert the maximum effort to cook health supportive meals that won’t break Pappas piggy bank!  So, when I buy 2 organic chickens for $20 you know I have learned ways to stretch out their yield into 3 meals for my family of 5!  I won’t get into that here for now.  I will just address how to use the leftover chicken from whatever cooking method you used and add to the following delicious (forgive me for saying so myself!) healthy soup.

So I combined Grandma’s chicken soup with a garlic- miso soup and added pasta and away we go!  What did you say?  Why is this soup so healthy?  I am so glad you asked that!  Short version, Grandma’s chicken stock is chock full of nutrients, vitamins & minerals that comes from the bones of the chicken and the vegetables (usually celery, carrots and onions) add to the nutritional value as well.  Miso is made from fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and kojikin (fungus).  Most Miso’s are made from soy.  However, you can go gluten and soy free by using a chickpea miso and brown rice pasta like that shown below.  So my friends who must be soy or gluten free have no fear…just Google where you can order or buy direct chickpea miso.  Fermented foods have been known to be health supportive by many cultures for thousands of years.  Miso is high in Vitamins B12, K and protein. Many believe that Miso has the ability to detoxify the body of heavy metals and radiation caused by numerous sources such as x-ray’s.  Garlic too has a long history of cultures using it for various remedies and use in daily consumption for overall health.  Aside from the great taste….o.k. downside is breath, but no one said you had to go on a first date after eating this soup!......Garlic is an antifungal and antibiotic.  So, slurp away (no really that is a compliment in other cultures!) and enjoy Cindy D’s “Chicken Garlic Miso Soup”!

Hey, what about us Vegan’s and Vegetarian’s?  Oh yeah, I respect that.  Please substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock and perhaps throw in either sautéed tofu or tempeh in place of the leftover chicken.   

Naturally Respectful,
Cindy D.

Cindy D’s Chicken Garlic Miso Soup
Yield:  6-8 (10oz. servings)
2 heads of garlic (apx. 20 cloves), peeled
8 cups organic chicken stock *
3 cups water
3 tablespoons white miso
? leftover chicken, whatever you got!, cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound organic brown rice pasta *
2 bags of frozen organic vegetables, optional *

1.  In a large pot, simmer garlic in stock and 2 cups water with pot covered for 15  minutes.
2.  Remove garlic and 1 cup liquid and place in blender along with miso.  Blend and pour back into soup pot.
3.  Add leftover chicken and frozen organic vegetables (optional) and simmer for 15 minutes.
4.  Bring to a boil and add pasta, note time.  Bring back to a boil once pasta is added and add ½ cup cold water once boiling is reached again.   Stir constantly.
Repeat once again with remaining ½ cup of cold water and bring back to a boil. 
Continue to simmer for a total of 10 minutes from when the pasta was added.
5.  Serve in individual bowls with fresh cut vegetables on the side if you did not opt to add frozen vegetables.

  *  Here are some easy peasy time saver options and where to buy:
(Kirkland’s Organic Chicken Stock* Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Pasta* Frozen Organic Vegetables, available in most stores.)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh My Everlasting Lucy Ways: Gallette Pastry Exam

January 31, 2012

Blogging Naturally, Entry #10
Oh My Everlasting Lucy Ways:  Gallette Pastry Exam

Lately I am so about truly trying to keep things short and sweet!  Love that pun!  I just had my pastry exam at the Natural Gourmet Instititute of Health & Culinary Arts and thought I would pass on a laugh that my classmates and I enjoyed at my expense.

Yes, my Lucille Ball ways are still shining through regardless of how I try to contain them!  I must set up the scene for you to appreciate it (I hope you do anyway).  We are swiftly coming to the end of our Chef’s Training Program (CTP) at the NGI and we just were given our pastry exam.  We are actually given the ingredients of a Vegan pastry crust to form a hopefully attractive little French Galette.  We are also given the ingredients for the apple filling that is to hopefully fit into our Galette in an attractive manner.  There are no procedures given from the temperature to cook the pastry to the how to prepare the dough to cooking of the filling to finally firing in the oven.

So, with approximately 4 hours sleep the night before I went into the City via the LIRR, then a ride on my French White Scooter (who some kids at the train station told me was cool, but not my own kids).  No silly, not a motorized scooter but one that is powered by my rather large legs.  Just a side bar, they have gotten bigger due to where we are in the program……Baking, cakes, pies, pastries….which followed Pasta and we are now looking forward towards bread, foccacia and pizza!  I am mentally moving the buttons on my chef’s jacket…because I ain’t got time to actually sew one stitch!

The recipe calls for ¾ cup whole wheat pasty flour (you know so that it is health supportive, I think in some way!)  and ¾ cup all purpose flour.  Well my sleepy head starts out with my 1 cup measuring cup and my ½ cup measuring cup.  I proceed to start my mise en place (gather my ingredients for my preparation).  I get all of my flour after waiting for some of my classmates to gather theirs, Momma taught me to be polite.  I am in no rush and apparently am operating on less than full faculties.  I gather the rest of my items and bring them back to my real estate (I love saying that!).  Now I start racking my brain to remember the steps of the procedures.  I amaze myself that I actually remember them and begin, up until the mixing and rolling of the dough, a perfect execution of my little French Galette!  Ooh La La or shortly after the exam was over and grading commenced Ha Ha Ha!

When I was adding the moisture to my dough…..I could not understand why I had to keep adding and adding and adding.  Truly I felt like there was something in that bowl that was drinking my water.  I know that the Chef who demonstrated our first Galette said don’t worry about how much water you use “just use your instincts and add what your gut tells you to, does that make sense?”  I kept working that dough and have to tell you I didn’t feel anything but raw dry flour! That’s when I realized I left out the maple syrup that was sitting to my right just begging to dive in.  Still no relief, I resigned to adding a few more tablespoons of water and finally gathered my specimen into plastic and placed in the refrigerator. 

Then came what I used to think was the fun part!  Roll that little ball out.  I did take a little notice when I put mine into the fridge it was considerably bigger than my classmates.  I don’t let these little details bother me when I am finally in the zone!  So out comes my dough and down goes my rolling pin.  I am rolling and rolling and rolling and rolling and rolling.  No kidding here, I was the last person to be rolling.  It started to remind me of the blob!  It totally took over my workstation and aggressively took over my classmate’s real-estate!  Thank God they were done at this point.  With that, all could and did take notice of my ever-growing blob!  I actually snapped out of my Zen like mode and started to realize something is terribly wrong!  But, the test must go on as does life.

I once again felt like that episode of Lucy with the chocolates at the factory where the conveyor belt spun by way too quickly and she compensated by hiding the chocolates on her person wherever they would fit after shoving them in her mouth to full capacity!  I must cut my 9 inch circle and hope…maybe pray….yeah why not….that the grading Chef does not see the extra dough that could easily make what looks like one or two more pastries!

While my Galette is cooling and waiting to be graded a few of my classmates start discussing my abnormal rolling adventure.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhh I said a judge must not be presented with preconceived notions.  Please let him tell me what, if anything is wrong with my pretty little Galette.  I have to say it truly looked spot on.  But you know how deceiving looks can be……Chef looked at it and commented on how nice it looked…but did say that he noticed me “overworking” my dough and made notes during the test.  Little did the Chef or I know for that matter what the problem actually was.  Chef then tried to cut into my little beauty with a butter knife….looked more like the action of sawing at this point….after much labor the cut was made.  Comments, very doughy but nice taste and texture on filling and looks appealing.

When the Galette was done being graded my classmates told me that they saw me use the 1 & the ½ cup vs. the ½ & ¼ cup for measuring the flour!  Does that make sense!  I laughed so hard with them that I couldn’t stand still long enough to take a good picture of the poor little butchered Galette of mine.  Turns out I got a 95 on that!  Thank you Chef.

I didn’t fail this exam; however I did fail to make this short!  Sorry.  Till next time,

Naturally Respectful,

Cindy D

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blogging Naturally, Entry # 9, December 20, 2011 New New Year’s Resolution: Contact All On Your List

Blogging Naturally, Entry # 9, December 20, 2011
New New Year’s Resolution:  Contact All On Your List

Wowie!  Can’t believe it’s been this long since my last confession!  This lifetime truly is way too short!  I have been researching for my next post and the Natural Gourmet Institute has been demanding quite a bit of my time……..I promise to deliver the post regarding GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Foods real, real soon!

In the meantime……I just finished one of the holiday’s most laborious chores…..Greeting Cards! Ugh!!! After the 125th and my 2nd big, fat glass of red wine, I couldn’t help but to state out loud (who cares if only to myself!) I so need to call her, him or them!  Some of the beautiful souls that I send a card with 3 strangers (my beautiful souls) to I have not been in touch with in over 5 years!  Way too long!  I must stop this madness and make a commitment to sit down and physically contact by phone…..not email…..text…..or snail mail…..these wonderful people who have touched my life in one way or another for my own good.

So, I vow to make this post short & sweet! (Promises, Promises)  I make this coming New New Year’s Resolution (I know I can only truly commit to one…because I can’t remember more than one thing at a time at this time!)  I will start January 2nd 2012 to call each and every individual or family on my Christmas Card List to ask and truly listen how you all are.  I know that I am fortunate to have you on my list and that you came to be there for a special reason. 

I sincerely Wish Each and Every One of You a Very Healthy, Happy & Personally Fulfilling New Year!

Naturally Respectful,
And with so much Love,
Cindy D.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sometimes Life Throws You A Wasabi Pea!

Blogging Naturally, Entry #8, October 7, 2011

Sometimes Life Throws You A Wasabi Pea!

If you know me and are familiar with the incredible journey I have been on you may understand why I have this need to share what I learn.  Share, share that’s fair!  This is one of my favorite mottos; ask my 3 kids and my husband!

I went through an epiphany several years back where I realized that I should eliminate any and all China-made products from my home that related to food.  I threw out any food products that were manufactured there and also threw away all my dishes and cups and converted to glass made by Anchor Hocking, a U.S. company who verifies that they do not have toxins in their glass, also food grade stainless steel and beautiful pottery from a super cool artist in VT who I am trusting his verification that he utilizes no toxins in his products.  China, to me, is the most toxin riddled country and has no shame in producing edible products and dishware loaded with every petro-chemical, BPA, lead and the list goes on, that they can get their hands on.  They have no regard for their own inhabitants and they sure don’t care about us!

So, where does the wasabi pea come in already?  I absolutely adored those little edible gems and would purchase and eat as often as I could.  The crunch and spice factor had me always at the first one and never let up till the package hit the garbage can, until sadly I discovered that 99.999999999999999% were made in freaky China!  I was so sad to have to give them up and cold turkey no less!  I literally had withdrawal symptoms.  Imagine how excited I was to find that TraderJoSan’s (Trader Joe’s Oriental Division) was now making their own right here in the beautiful U.S. of A.!  I bought a package on my way into my class at the Natural Gourmet Institute and felt compelled to share them with my classmates.

I ate those scrumptious little treats the entire train ride home until about the 2nd to last one in the package when I felt this incredible pain shoot up from my # 5 tooth that travelled like lightning straight up to my brain! OWWWWWWWWWWWW!  There is no pain like tooth pain.  I would gladly deliver 3 more babies; yes I said that, than have to endure that kind of pain. I knew in my heart that # 5 was going down!  How did I know?  Unfortunately because I recently lost Hey #19 to an almond!  I told my husband to ride a few more ships because Momma needs another implant!  Oh and by the way, in case you are looking for the hole in my smile, you know you will be looking; I immediately had a flipper made for a temporary fit while I have to wait the 6 months for an implant.

O.K. so what I really feel the need to share is not the above true story but a quickie little overview education that I now have regarding Calcium and its obvious benefits or should I say detriments when one is not consuming enough through their diet or through supplements.   I recently found out that the Calcium supplement I was taking for God knows how many years and through nourishing all 3 of my pups for at least the first year of this life for them, was Calcium carbonate. Unfortunately this type of calcium does not absorb well in our bodies.  I was told it is like chalk and the forms of Calcium supplements like that of Calcium Citrate are much better for human absorption.  Well why then do they still sell the form that’s not so great?  Because they can I think is the answer.  Obviously it is up to the consumer to educate ourselves.

Here’s the rub.  The ultimate best way to give our bodies the proper amount of Calcium it needs for healthy bones and teeth is through eating Nature’s bounty.  I am hoping that you will print the following chart and amounts of calcium derived and start to incorporate more calcium into your and your families’ daily diet intake.  If you feel you can’t cut the mustard then please do supplement but not with Carbonate.  I just read my almond milk carton and realized that the Calcium even in my milk is Carbonate!  For the love of Teeth, can’t I catch a good break? Calcium Citrate with D3 for absorption is your friend but spinach, broccoli and pumpkin seeds really love you!  Along with Calcium our bones and teeth also require magnesium and vitamin D3 & K which will also be provided should you choose to take on this mission of incorporating more foods like those listed below into your every day diet.  PLEASE NOTE THE AMOUNTS NOT TO EXCEED.

  0-6     Months
210    mg (milligrams)
1,000 mg
  7-12   Months
270    mg
1,500 mg
  1-3     Years
500    mg
2,500 mg
  4-8     Years
800    mg
2,500 mg
  9-13   Years
1,300 mg
3,000 mg
14-18   Years
1,300 mg
3,000 mg
19-50   Years
1,000 mg
2,500 mg
51 +     Years
1,200 mg
2,000 mg

Sesame Seeds
¼ cup
351   mg
1 cup boiled
245   mg
½ cup soaked and prepared
100   mg
100   mg
Blackstrap Molasses
150   mg
1 oz serving
100   mg
3 oz. serving
181   mg
1 oz. (23 nuts)
  75   mg
2 cups boiled
 124  mg
2 cups raw
   81  mg
1 medium
   52  mg
2 TBS raw
 126  mg
Collard Greens
1 cup boiled
 266  mg
Baked Beans
1 cup
 154  mg
Trail Mix(nuts,seeds,choc)
1 cup
 159  mg

DAIRY(Organic & Raw if possible)
8 oz  serving
452   mg  (Wowie!)
Nonfat Milk
1 cup
300   mg
Whole Milk
1 cup
236   mg
Romano Cheese
1.5 oz
452   mg
Cheddar,Swiss,Part-Skim Ricotta & Mozz., Provalone
1.5 oz
300   mg
Feta,Blue,Whole-milk Ricotta
1.5 oz
200   mg
Eggs with Cheddar Cheese
2 eggs with 1.5 oz cheese
344   mg

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friday Night Dinner Survival!

August 30, 2011
Blogging Naturally, entry # 7
Friday Night Dinner Survival

This was the first of what will be several mandatory Friday Night Dinners for the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts.  We must arrive by 4:30 p.m. on Thursday where we are to meet the Chef and listen for instruction on what and how we will assist them with in preparation for the dinner that will be served the next evening to approximately 100 guests.  Friday we must arrive by 1:30 p.m. and remain until after dinner is served.

The moment that the Chef handed out the menu and recipes and charged me with the preparation of 200 “red-lentil burgers” the adrenaline kicked in.  Cindy in charge?  Is she out of her mind?  Did I mention this was my first Friday Night Dinner?  What do I do, where do I start, OMG I felt like a deer in headlights!

O.K.  I thought, perhaps Chef will assign a veteran to work with me.  Just then I am assigned Melissa, she looks so seasoned and relaxed and not a care in the world.  What did she just say to the Chef, it’s her first time too?  Nothing we can do but get started.

The organized chaos that ensued for the next two days was intense. However it was so exciting and invigorating.  I can’t remember the last time that I felt so strangely out of my realm but so incredibly ignited by the undertaking.  There were a few veterans who generously lent their now seasoned expertise to so many facets of what I needed to pull off to get the job done.  I truly felt like everything and anything that I once knew regarding my way around a kitchen was lost forever!  How do I recalibrate this damn scale? Do I weigh the lentils before or after rinsing?  Do I reduce the mango sauce, what is the proper cut for a red pepper for an Asian salad, do I rinse the mushrooms?  So many questions for the adorable Chef with the springs on her sneakers, I’m not kidding, she actually had springs that allowed her to bounce from kitchen to kitchen like she was floating on air.  We laughed and bounced off one another like charged electrons.  The amazing feet was when it became time to breakdown from two kitchens and shove 13 semi-chefs along with our Master Chef into one itty bitty little kitchen where we then had to finish all cooking and then plate dishes for three courses and dessert for almost 100 guests!

This Chef made my first Friday Night Dinner such a pleasure that I never minded not sitting down for a moment until 9:30 Friday evening.  I was relieved when the last plate went out of the kitchen and had such an incredible feeling of satisfaction to receive applauds from the diners for our assistance in the beautifully orchestrated menu of delight served that evening.  I can’t wait for the next Friday Night Dinner, however I am currently searching for those spring-sneakers!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Classroom Antics Reminiscent of Lucille Ball!

Blogging Naturally, Entry #6, July 22, 2011

Classroom Antics Reminiscent of Lucille Ball!

While on the road to discovery of ultimate health through Nature’s beautiful bounty I can’t help but make myself laugh at how my own shortcomings in the practical arts of food preparation are at this point in time!  I truly hope I am able to look back on this by this time next year and marvel at how naïve I was and how far I will have come.  (Does anyone fail the Chef’s Training Program?  Hmmmm a thought I will let go just as fast as it came in.  I know how the Secret works!)

A class of 12 mostly new students at the CTP 202M program began our first full Sunday in our part time program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts.  This means that we arrived by approximately 8:30 a.m. and eagerly awaited the start of our morning class which would consist of a lecture, followed by yet another lecture, followed by, you guessed it another lecture.  Although the Chef was so inspiring and chock full of interesting information, I think I can speak for all that attended; it was darn hard to keep the peepers from shutting out the light and closing down the show!  So, when the Chef announced to take a break and it was knife skills time the classroom ignited like the 4th of July!  Yahoo we finally get to play with our knives!!!!!

We learned to identify the various parts in construction of our knives and the process behind the construction, all fine and dandy.  I felt almost like when I was handed my first child after pushing and panting for over 18 HOURS!  I was elated to have that knife in my hand and realized that this was what I was truly waiting for, an opportunity to yield that knife like a Ginsu Master!  Chop, chop, chop, dice, julienne and actually look like I belong in that kitchen!  I will earn that Pillsbury Dough Boy looking Hat!  The Chef who guided us through our first knife skills practical class was truly so lovely and encouraging.  I think he convinced our entire class that we were so fantastic in our first class that we were ready to take on an extra knife skills class that is offered by the school to all attending the Chef’s Training Program and is offered in addition to those that are given as part of the program.  He encouraged us to sign up for that class the very next day.  In addition to one full day of classes from 9:00 a.m. to about 6:30 p.m. we also must attend one evening a week from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This particular knife skills class ran from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. directly before our evening class.  No sweat, why not come in 1 ½ hours earlier to bone up on our knife skills, pun intended.  I arrived at the class ready for some serious cutting!  To start with one must steady their cutting board.  Now, the Chef the day before provided us all with a rubber mat to place underneath our board.  He did mention that if one was not handy a chef could use a wet kitchen towel and would work just as well.  When I first got to the class, early because I was nervous, I looked around for the rubber mats thinking they were provided by the school as part of the class.  When there was none to be found I thought I was being both creative and green by using the wet soiled towels from the class before that would be taken and delivered to their temporary home in the hamper in the steward’s office until they were laundered for the next eager class.  Not only did I grab one for myself, I also grabbed about 6 others for my new found friends who were also lost as to what we should use.  It turns out I did not do anyone a favor, particularly me!

Within one minute of start of class I was suddenly reminded of Chef Ramsey and instantly knew what it must feel like to be in his kitchen!  The conversation went a little like this; “Are these the school’s towels?”  Yes Chef.  “Who took them and what were you thinking?”  Chef, it was me Chef, Cindy.  Chef, I thought I was helping Chef, I am so sorry Chef, and would you like me to put them back?  “No, the damage is already done.  We never waste classroom kitchen towels by wetting them and using them underneath our boards; you should wet paper towels and use them but never, never do this again.”  Sorry Chef, I thought I was being green by using the wet towels from the previous class that were on their way to the steward hamper, so sorry Chef!  “Oh, I thought you took clean towels and wet them for use, still not a good idea and should not be done.”  Yes Chef, thank you Chef.

O.K. so now the tone was set for my first NAZI knife class!  I was now so incredibly nervous that my hand was actually shaking no matter what cut I was trying.  We had several choices of cuts and vegetables to choose from a list on the board.  Why in God’s name did I try a cut that we did not go over yet?  I think I now get why Mom always told me I was a glutton for punishment!  I decided to do the “roll cut” on a poor little carrot.  When I realized that my cuts looked nothing like my classmates I couldn’t bare the thought of the Chef staring at my mutilated cuts over my shoulder, therefore I threw my crappy scraps in the school’s stock bucket.  I tried again, and again and again.  That stock bucket was getting quite a few deposits from one particular friendly but lousy chef in training!  I felt like Lucille Ball in the episode where she and Ethel were working in the assembly line of the chocolate factory.  Lucy couldn’t keep up with the conveyor belt so she started hiding the chocolates and eventually eating way too many to try and rectify her obvious default in speed!  When the Chef eventually came over to me I think she was appalled at my obvious inept ability to neither hold my knife correctly nor produce any cuts that looked remotely like they should!  “Stand up straight, your holding the knife wrong, you must be cutting on an angle, curl your fingers in more on your bear claw.”  An already nervous Nellie that I was proceeded to open my mouth, when am I going to learn that more harm than good can come from that process!  I am sorry Chef; this is only my 2nd time ever touching my knives Chef. “I know (she said), I am your Chef for the next 4 hours in tonight’s class.”  Great Chef, can’t wait Chef, thank you for your help Chef! 

Although the experience was stressful I do believe that ultimately that particular Chef will be my most valuable teacher.  I only hope she has the patience to keep instructing me and my Lucy ways!  I can tell you that becoming a Natural Chef is most definitely not natural to me at this point in time!  But I so love the excitement in the process!

Your Hopeful Natural Chef to Be,
Cindy D.