Finally, the whole country is going green.
Organic, natural, beautiful, and tasty green.
What better way to go green than to grow green?
Greens that is. Collards, kale, turnips greens, mustard greens, you name it. Swiss Chard, spinach, all yummy. These vegetables not only represent a wealth of health, but are also very easy to grow and prepare for meals.
Back in the eighties, INXS was a pretty cool band, right in the middle of the MTV explosion; they were right on target, maybe too much so: “Don’t change for you, don’t change a thing for me…” This band’s moniker, looking back, seems to identify the theme of the present also. Maybe the timing of their success can be looked at as a turning point, or maybe a tipping point in the success of the conscious-less profits of over portioning.
Fall is here in New England. For a sports fan, a chef and a father (stepfather and grandfather), it’s the best time of the year. We’re still picking tomatoes, broccoli, onions, brussels sprouts, chile peppers and more from the greenhouse, and we’ve begun pruning, planting spring bulbs and introducing some new perennials to the family. We’ve also decided on an addition to the deck for container gardening and are already plotting out square footage for next year’s gardens. But… fall is for New England sports. We don’t talk about the Red Sox anymore in our house this year, but the Patriots are up and running. Sunday afternoon, are you ready for some… Labne?..some Souvlaki,? How about some Otsu?
It was earlier this spring when I realized that eating all the vegetables that my extended family and I enjoy (or needs to be exposed to) was getting far more expensive than I was accustomed to. Terrible winter weather in Florida and Mexico and outrageous transportation costs from the west coast were all supporting an increase in cost. I found myself doing what I implore others not to do: complaining! What would I tell someone that was griping about produce prices like I was? The answer was obvious. Do something about it.
The idea is simple. While many food service companies regularly purchase just about everything to avoid paying for skilled labor, we try to make as much as possible from scratch. (How skilled we are is certainly up for discussion!)
Just like kids, adults just need to eat well, whether they like it or not. To get them to do that we employ a term called “stealth health”. Without revealing all my secrets, I can say that there is a fluidity in the recipes we use. 2 tablespoons of salt become 1, three cups of sugar becomes 1 cup plus some organic honey. Milk chocolate becomes dark chocolate, 4 oz. chicken thighs become trimmed breast, and ground beef becomes ground white meat turkey. Whole eggs becomes half egg /half egg white. There is always an opportunity to improvise and make food more nutritious. If we can’t stop you from mac and cheese, we can use whole-wheat pasta, skim milk, and fresh vegetables. We want to sneak in some nutrition to foods that are basically empty calories because we know they will be purchased, then so be it, we do.
As a chef, food is my life and the best thing about life, food. Sadly, it seems everyone is just too busy these days and as a result, food, tragically gets shortchanged.
From my perspective many children today don’t know the pleasure of real food. Every bite they take needs to be coated in sugar, or be crazy salty. Everything seems to be a vehicle to eat ketchup or ranch dressing. Easy meals for busy people. It’s easy to feed people badly. Cheap and easy. Every bite of over the top fat laden pizza seems to be one bite closer to a half a box of Nutty bars for dessert. Boxes of “stuff” that now replace home baking are, unfortunately, the norm. The thought becomes: What kind of villain puts artichokes on my plate? Vegetables, no thank you. I could go on…