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New discussion

From: Sally
Sent on: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 3:19 PM
(As the email chain has gotten so long, I start a new one here.)

Dear Ms. Nasha, Nicole, Naia, Elizabeth, Art, Mugdha, and frank;

Thank you so very much for your insights and suggestions, and my apology again to especially frank..

I've been thinking about how to start this type of discussion which seems to draw many people's attention. Here's what I've been thinking now.

But before starting I need to notify you again that some members are really annoyed by the amount of emails, and yes, I'm responsible for that, and I again apologize for that. As I mentioned long time ago, I have created a gmail account just for this group, so please send your ideas, suggestions and concerns to:

[address removed]

That way, only interested people can talk freely. And I would like to call for our first meeting of instructor team soon, so if you would like to teach or included,

Please send me email to the address above and I will share discussion with interested members.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding,



On top of French cooking classes I mentioned first in this email chain, I would like to start a series of "What to Cook Tonight."

(1) Cook for yourself:

As Art indicated, there are many single member in the group who don't usually cook, but love to eat. For them going out to eat, or buying deli food could be very costly, and learning a simple technique of cooking or recipes of food that could be stored in the fridge or freezer, it would save a lot of time and money as well. This goes true for actually other people too.

I think learning a basic cooking and keep adding a few simple recipes to your repertoire would help, basic and simple recipe so that you can add more ingredients as your skill improves.

And in my case, having a homemade sauce that's all mighty and could be used in most of cuisine, you can upgrade even instant ramen noodle, too.

Having a good pantry and inventory in your fridge is a must, too. What kind of vegetables you should always have, and how long do they last, and for example, if you buy a whole cabbage, how you use it up before it goes bad..So you need a menu planning, too, and I have a good source for it that I want to introduce.

(2) Cook for your family

As Ms. Nasha and Elizabeth pointed out, cooking for your family is a never-ending task, and it is quite challenging if you have small children. These people need something works for picky eater kids and husband..some fool-proof recipe that satisfies most of the people. And it needs a good system, so even if your two years old scream for food, you don't need to end up giving him/her junk food of unnecessary sweets...

To cook for a family is a great responsibility, it requires nutritional knowledge too, and I've talked one of the members who could tell us many things about nutrition and healthy diet.

Also, I used to cook five dishes every dinner, and it was only made possible to have a good system and menu planning so that you can utilize your leftover. People usually don't want to eat the same dinner next day, so you need to be creative to change into different dish. Or when you cut your vegetable, start thinking about the next day dinner, and maybe cut them extra and put in container to store in fridge for later use.

The feeling of not knowing what to cook tonight is such a terrible thing, as you have less and less time and lots of pressure and guilt, and in the end you end up preparing the same old food or take out or pizza delivery and feel really bad again. We want to avoid that, so I'll create a group for giving ideas to each other about what to cook tonight!

If you have already-cut vegetables, you can put them in a pot with chicken broth and start making a good soup or stew. So the key is "think ahead."

Another thing is that I organized recipes according to ingredients. So if you have certain vegetables and beef or chicken or pork or salmon or shrimp, etc, you can start cooking. I'll introduce them later, especially using spring vegetables like asparagus...I'm so happy they are getting cheaper.

Stay in the budget is important thing too especially for homemakers. Occasionally you want to indulge and buy expensive wine or groumet steaks, but everyday meal doesn't need to be expensive. Make most of ingredients you already have, and create a table of nice food with a little extra ideas.

Even if you cook the same food, if you present it nicely, you might be able to have your picky eater try the vegetable or whatever they don't normally eat.

Even if you only have leftover, if you put all of them on a nice big plate and garnish with a sprig of parcely or thinly sliced green onion or slices of orange, it looks nice and if you want to be more different, you can arrange so that it looks like what is called "Obento" a lunch box full of small food. Be creative is your key.

Or if you get your small ones involved in the kitchen and give them whatever small tasks in food preparation, they usually feel better and want to try the food they eat. If they don't like carrots, I would ask them to help bake carrot cake, which is much easier than you think, or make carrot soup using instant bouillon or broth, or ask them to grate and let them have fun.
Be creative is the key.

Or use of appliances like slow cooker, food processor, pressure cooker, microwave, etc. They could be a great time saver. Or use your oven as a tool to prepare food. If you have all kinds of leftover vegetables, put them on the pan, rub in olive oil, salt and pepper of your choice, and the aroma of grilled vegetable will sure bring kids into the kitchen and make them hungry. Good thing about oven is you can almost forget about the food cooking inside, so you can do multiple tasking like doing laundry, playing with kids, calling to make appointments, etc.

One day in a week, you want to make a nice dinner, say beef or chicken, and again it could be cooked in the oven. Then other days you use leftover meat to make soup, or use it in a Chinese dish. If you have meat, you want to have seafood next day, or meatless menu using eggs or tofu or just pastas which requires less meat. Or if you have fried food today, you might want to stay away from that next day, and you can have some steamed dumpling or seafood or vegetable.
Variety is not only the spice of life, but indispensable part of cooking everyday food.

(3) Cook for friends

You also might want to invite your friends to your place sometime and entertain, or simply just get together. Or your in-laws are coming to visit you, or you need to bring something for potluck, or cook for special occasion.

Entertaining at your house is not too scary, once you know what to do and what and how to prepare, and as you have more experience, it should become a joy.

Recipes of appetizers and a few different main dish and some side dishes, and one or two ways to prepare simple dessert or drink would help you a lot, and I'm planning to have a baking contest someday, too.

...These are just the outline of things I want to include, and to achieve this goal, I may create a new group, but thank you, Mugdha and frank, for offering help, and I'd love to have you show us how to cook. I have about four different chef members who would like to do that for us. Please join on the instructor team and start discussing who can do what, where and when.

Thank you for reading,

If you have any questions, you can contact me to [address removed], too.

BTW, what do you cook tonight?

Since I got a new fridge, I bought beef chuck, and it's been cooking on my stove for more than 30 minutes. I added vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots..I forgot to buy celery, but in a few more minutes, I would add condiments or sauce mix, so it would be either beef stew or beef curry, or maybe I divide it in half and make both!! I would cook rice, but I have to buy more, and if I can't buy it today, then I would cook pasta or try to make some kind of bread, and I also have asparagus and mushroom so maybe I make salad or if I really want to go to the market, I would make cobb salad or Salad nicoise...

Have a wonderful day!


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