Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy Egg Day!

June 3rd is National Egg Day! Eggs are one of the most versatile foods in the world. They are involved in almost every culture's cooking, and best of all, they are super tasty! However, like any food, there are pros and cons depending on your diet:

The Pros: Eggs are a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein and Selenium.
The Cons: Eggs are high in Saturated Fat, and very high in Cholesterol.

The good news is, by eating egg whites (removing the yolk) you can keep the health benefits, and get rid of a major amount of the bad stuff. But unless you are eating a dozen eggs a week, or are on a very strict diet for your health, I don't find it to be much of a problem.

So now, in honor of National Egg Day, I am going to share with you my top 5 favorite ways to prepare eggs!

5. Hard Boiled
Hard boiled eggs have been one of my favorite food for as far back as I can remember. I was that weird kid who collected the hard boiled eggs in the Easter egg hunt so i could eat those. I still picked up chocolate, but I had a lot more real eggs in my basket then plastic ones. Anyways, here is my fool proof way for cooking a hard boiled egg. Take your desired amount of eggs, and put them in the bottom of a sauce pan. Cover the eggs with water until there is at least an inch of water on top of the eggs. Place the pan on the stove, uncovered, and bring to a boil. When the eggs are at a boil, remove from heat, and immediately cover. Let the eggs sit in the water for about 12 minutes. Make sure you rinse the eggs in cold water before you crack them, to avoid burning your fingers. I found that this is the best method because sometimes when I am letting things sit, I forget that they are there. If you use a method of leaving the eggs on a low burner, you're more likely to overcook them, whereas I have left the eggs in a pan for up to 20 minutes before, and they were still not overcooked.

4. Deviled Eggs
I know this is a style of hard boiled eggs, but really, they have their own flavor, and many many ways of mixing them, so I decided they deserved their own category. You are going to start by preparing some hard boiled eggs. Remember that how ever many eggs you prepare, there will be twice as many deviled eggs in the end. Once all your eggs have been peeled, you want to cut your eggs in half the long way (like a hot dog, not a hamburger!) and remove the yolk. Put all the yolks in a mixing bowl and place all the egg whites on the plate you will use for serving. Be careful not to tear your egg whites as we will be adding the filling into them later. In your bowl of egg yolks, you are going to add about a tablespoon of mayo for each egg you boiled. I find that this is a good start for my mayo, especially if I am going to add something like pickles to my mixture, as I do not want it to get too runny. Season your mixture with salt and pepper, and at this point you can add or not add whatever you would like to the mixture. I like to chop up a dill pickle (or two, depending on the day) and mix that in. I also mix in some chopped dill at this point. Once your filling is to your taste, you want to put it into a disposable pastry bag. If you don't have one, you can always use a freezer bag. Cut the tip off of your pastry bag, and gently squeeze the filling into the empty eggs. You can serve as is, or you can do what I do, and sprinkle them with a little paprika.

3. Fried Eggs
Fried eggs are one of the easiest things in the world to cook, and make a great meal. I have found over the years that there are 2 key elements to making the perfect fried egg. The first is your pan. I have a pan that is non stick, and I use nothing but soft utensils in it to make sure the surface is completely smooth. The second thing you need is good lubrication for your pan. I find olive oil or unsalted butter are the absolute best for this. So now that you have your tools, preheat your pan on a medium heat, and add your lubrication to the pan. Crack your egg directly into the pan, and cook until the whites are white. If you are concerned with bacteria, you can cook your yolk till it's solid, but I enjoy a little more runny yolks, so I never keep my egg in the pan long. When your yolk starts to get a darker orange, that's when it's cooking through. Serve alone, with corned beef hash, with toast, or on a toasted waffle. There are so many ways to eat a hard boiled egg! You can't go wrong!

2. Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled eggs are usually the first thing we learn how to cook on the stove. Kids love them because you can cover them with cheese, and adults love them because they are quick, easy, and taste really good. Here's my favorite way to prepare scrambled eggs. In a small bowl, crack two eggs and mix with a fork. add about a tablespoon of cream or milk, and mix well with the fork. preheat your pan, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a super thin layer. Pour in your egg mixture, and immediately add any kind of flavorings/cheeses you would like. I find it's best to add the salt now, because adding salt to the raw eggs too early will change the consistency of the eggs. with a spatchula, continuously scrape the cooked eggs from the bottom of the pan, and mix it with the uncooked eggs. When eggs are fully cooked, serve on a plate, and enjoy! You want to eat the eggs ASAP as scrambled eggs are best when warm.

1. Omelets
Omelets are wonderful because there is an endless amount of things you can add into them. I love having leftovers from holidays because I always get up before the family the next morning and making omelets from the leftovers. It's become a tradition at the family holidays. I start off by mixing my eggs the same way I did with the scrambled eggs, and heating the pan in the same way. I pour the egg mix into the pan and tilt the pan so that the entire bottom of the pan is evenly coated in egg. Let the egg cook enough that you can gently slide your spatchula under the eggs, and the layer doesn't tear. take your filling, and line it down the middle of the eggs. Then, carefully, flip the edges of the eggs over the filling to wrap your omelet. This can take some practice, but one you get it, it's super easy! Serve warm and enjoy!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wegmans: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As you may have seen in my earlier post, I made a lovely venture with my mother and brother to Wegmans this morning. Now that things are unpacked, I have a tummy full of sushi, and my socks are finally dry (it's pouring rain here!) I figures I would let you all know how the trip went.

The Good:

  • I got individual packs of gluten free Annie's mac and cheese. It's kinda like easy mac, but better!
  • FRESH SUSHI! OMG it was so tasty. One of the best rolls I have had in forever!
  • Mom got spicy chicken curry salad. She's loving it!
  • It wasn't as crowded as it normally was!
  • There were "Gluten Free" labels EVERYWHERE!
  • They have a huge selection of fresh berries right now. Got some raspberries!

The Bad:

  • Our savings this time were not nearly as good as last time. 
  • I got cut off buy a number of small children, and nearly ran into a few who were lying/sitting on the floor. (where were their parents?!?!)
  • After insisting that she got every single cold item into the freezer bags, the cashier packed some clearly cold items in with some warm and chemical items. Awesome....
  • No gluten free burger or hotdog buns :(

The Ugly:

  • Our cashier packed as many cold items into our freezer bag as she could and a number of items were horribly mangled and/or destroyed when we got home. Poor Gluten-Free pie never got to be tasty pie...
  • An employee yelled at my mom for pulling towards the curb to grab the groceries.
  • My European candy bars got crushed on the ride home :(
  • I am not sure what it is, but there is something slimy on the outside of my pasta sauce wasn't like that when it went in the bag...
  • The cans of cat food all got dented really bad, and some of them can't stack. Thankfully, none of the seals are broken on them.

An Early Morning Adventure

So it's a little after 7am here, and I am about to head out the door to go food shopping. Now I know what you are thinking: Why in the world would you get up early ON A SATURDAY just to go food shopping?? I can sum it up in one word:

Wegmans is the bomb-diggity (that's right, I said it!). On a whim last night, mom and I decided to save our grocery shopping for today and go to Wegmans because 1) The prices are AMAZING 2) The food is AMAZING 3) They offer a rather large selection of Gluten Free food. (Oh! And they are AMAZING!).

Now again, I bet you are wondering "But still, why so early?" Well this my friends, is because like any kind of good products that go on sale, like Black Friday for example, there will be crowds full of soccer moms with no mercy shopping in the isles, and well, I would like to park closer than a mile to the store. So off we go! I'll report on my trip when I get back!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shopping Gluten Free and Buying Local

Ok, so I know buying local isn't something that is strict to eating gluten-free, but you might find that it makes your experience in finding gluten free food a little easier. Not to mention, when you buy certain products locally like eggs, milk, meat, and other animal products, you are taking a stand against animal cruelty in factory farms.

So today is Friday, which means it's pay day! First thing we do with a pay day in my house? Stock up food stuffs. With a boy in the house who has the appetite of a teenager, we make sure we stock up well too, or we can easily go hungry.

Our first stop will be to ROOTS Natural Foods in Leominster, MA ( I have been going to ROOTS since I first found out I was gluten-free. The staff there are extremely helpful, and some of them are gluten free themselves, and offer their experiences and advice. Everything in the store is local, which is totally awesome, and they have lots of options for all sorts of  diet needs. My boyfriend and I often frequent there when we want to make a dinner together as I am gluten free and he's a vegetarian.
My absolute favorite part of ROOTS is in the summer, they hold a giant festival called ROOTS-Fest! They have all the local suppliers for their store have booths all over the giant lot and into the store. You get to meet the people behind the products, and try lots of new things! Some of them even bring their animals! (Totally cool for chickens and cows, not so much the bees!) They throw a giant BBQ for all those attending, and they make sure there is food for every kind of diet there! Everything is very clearly labeled for all the different diets in attendance, so you know what you are eating is gluten free, or vegan. You can be sure you'll see more info about that as ROOTS-Fest approaches this summer!
So by the end of my prowl through the isles of ROOTS, I usually have 1-2 loaves of gluten free bead, some kind of cookie, and whatever I happen to find in the clearance rack. My mother and I then hop into the car, and off we go to the next store!

Now as I continue this next section, I want to explain. I know that Shaws is not a local store, and they carry many products that are not cruelty free, but my younger brother is not someone who is really proactive about that kind of stuff, and is extremely picky about what foods he eats, so off to Shaws we go!
We start in produce, and usually get a good pile of things there, depending on what is in season, and what actually looks like decent food. (some weeks we get avocado, some weeks....not so much...)
Depending on my brother's mood, my mom will stop at the deli. Some weeks he wants sandwiches everyday, other weeks the meat goes to spoil, so we judge that each trip. We then grab a nice big tub of hummus (YUM!) and head off to, what I like to call, "the rest of the world isle". I love looking at all the flags and symbols all over the isle. For that one section, it's like I'm in a completely different store. I buy LOTS of rices, beans, and corn tortillas (make sure you check the labels!!) On nights that my mom and brother are enjoying a glutenous meal, I often enjoy eating a burrito of some sort.
I'll spare you the middle part of the trip, which involves zombie-like walking down the middle isles, looking for good snacks and sales, and we come to the reduced price items. I wanna to stop right here and point out that reduced price items don't mean they are about to spoil. Sometimes it means the bought WAY TOO MUCH of that product, and need to get rid of it. Once in a while, I get lucky and they have something like gluten-free cookies or donuts chilling there (yay!!), and other weeks, it's Easter candy from 2 months ago....
Then we swoop by dairy so mom can grab her soy creamer (my mother is lactose intolerant) and off we go to the checkout. (make sure you have your reusable grocery bags!!!)

Then we bring things home, because who wants froyo soup??? (ok so I might, but my brother might not...) And depending on the time, one of two things happens. If it's early enough, we go hit up a farmer's market and see what's for sale. I usually like to save this for Saturday mornings, but who am I to ever say no to a farmer's market?? If it's late though, we just make some dinner and try and get all work/homework done before Saturday hits.

Farmer's Markets in my area, unfortunately, are often pretty tiny. Although we live in an area where there are a number of farms, a lot of them bring their produce to the markets in the city, and we have to travel a distance to get to then. Fortunately, my mother has promised me a Haymarket trip in the next month! YAY!! For those of you who are not from the Boston area, Haymarket is a MASSIVE farmer's market where you can find ANYTHING at really great prices!! Julia Child often visited Haymarket when she lived in the Boston area. I will make sure to take lots of pictures and report back to you all on my trip there!

I'm going to be honest, I am not sure how much this post is going to help you if you do not live in my area, but maybe it will inspire you to visit a more local store, or explore a festival nearby this summer! If you do live in my area, I will be posting info about ROOTS-Fest as they announce more info, and I think it would be great if you came down and gave it a try!