Cooking for Mom-to-be: a nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

This Dad-to-be likes to cook. So, I’m already looking forward to making wonderful meals for baby when the time for eating from a spoon has come. One of the pleasures of that, is that I’m looking around for a good food processor. I need a new one anyway, and this is a good moment to invest a bit in a great kitchen tool. If there’s someone who has some advice, that would be welcome.

In the mean time, Mom-to-be is the one I’m preparing extra healthy and tasty dishes for. And that took a bit getting used to. What are safe foods during pregnancy, which are also giving the best nutrients for baby and are tasty, too? Fortunately, there’s a lot of great information out there on the web. Such as which fatty fish are good. You can not just serve Mom-to-be any sort of fish. You have to be careful with those that are high up there in the food chain. Such as my favorite fish: tuna. Too much mercury in that one, so a no go for Mom-to-be.

Anyway, one fish I found on the list was trout. I only made a dish with that once (not a big success), and I thought it would be nice to give the fish a second chance. From a wonderful looking recipe I found online, I created this super healthy good nutrient bomb of a dish. Almost every element in it, maybe apart from the regular potatoes, contains nutrients that are good for Mom-to-be and for baby in this sauteed trout on a mash of potatoes and sweet potatoes, assorted beans with a bit of carrot, topped off with roasted almond shavings and crispy coppa.

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Three sites to help you avoid eating horsemeat unintentionally

Real meat at restaurant Vincents in Riga

Real meat at restaurant Vincents in Riga

Let me start by saying that selling food means that you have to be clear on what it contains. If you claim your lasagna or burgers or whatever are made of beef, they should contain beef. And not pork or horsemeat. In light of the scandal recently uncovered in Europe, I think the sellers of ready-made meals are responsible for making sure that what’s in the product, is declared on the packaging. I also think that relabeling one type of (cheaper) meat to another (more expensive one), to make an extra profit, is fraudulent and criminal.

But in this horsemeat story, it’s not just the complex food supply chain, or the actors in it that carry all the blame. Nor are, as one former UK official tried to make us believe, the EU regulations culpable. I think we also have to aks ourselves the question: why do we allow ourselves to know so little of such an important factor in our lives? Now that we’ve climbed Maslow’s pyramid, we seem to pay less attention to the bottom of it. Our basic needs have become less important to too many of us. We think they should be fulfilled by convenient and cheap means, and that opens up opportunities for things like the horsemeat scandal to happen. Another question we could ask ourselves is ‘how did we let it get this far?’

There’s actually an even more important question that should feature in our minds prominently now: how can we take control of what we eat again? Sure, not all of us are top chefs, or even able to cook more than an egg and some water for tea or instant soup. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take charge of what we put into our mouths to fulfill that basic need of nutrition. We can care more, and know more, about the food we put on our plates. To help with that, I would like to point out three wonderful places on the internet.

First of all, I’d like you to take a look at the OpenIDEO local food challenge. In 2011, this open innovation platform focused on connecting food consumers to food producers. As is the norm on this platform, many wonderful ideas were generated, that are available for anybody to implement. Now, there are stories available of how people are doing exactly that, and working on enabling food consumers to be more connected to their food. Go check it out and see if you can be inspired.
The OpenIDEO local food challenge: www.openideo.com/open/localfood/

The second thing you should visit is the home of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. The celebrity chef is a wonderful champion of using real food. In schools, but also at home. From food knowledge to easy recipes, this place provides you with all you need to start taking control of the food you eat.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: www.jamiesfoodrevolution.com

The last one I’d like to share is nothing more than a collection of 30-minute recipes from a great variety of sources. Preparing food doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. And it’s certainly worth investing your time in. And if you use real ingredients, at least you know that you’re not eating something you don’t want to eat.
30-minute recipes on Yummly: www.yummly.com/recipes?q=30+minutes

An evolution of sophistication

Pasta: from Italian dish to home made dish

Pasta: from Italian dish to home made dish

Recently, I watched the movie Wall Street again. Apart from it being a great and interesting movie (interesting enough to spend a university session on watching it during my Business Studies), it’s also one of those movies that’s a nice documentation of the zeitgeist in the period it was shot. Watching it this time, I couldn’t help but notice a remark the main character Bud Fox makes to his father. At one point they’re sitting down in a bar, and father Fox complains about his wife’s spaghetti. Bud Fox tells him that it’s called pasta these days.

Probably, at that time in the mid 1980s, this was indeed the going term for it. Using the word pasta meant you were evolving beyond the sophistication of the generation before you. Pasta, and probably many other words, were like a badge of honour. Using them meant you’ve stepped up in the world, were climbing the social ladder. Of course, now we all understand all too well that pasta is the umbrella-term for the staple including spaghetti, fettucini, macaroni, penne, ravioli and the likes. Now most, if not all, of us are able to distinguish between them. Or simply say we like to eat pasta, because we like all or most of the types it includes.

These days we might look down or ridicule the arrogance of Bud Fox a bit, when he tells his father to use pasta. Because now we know better. But without the arrogance of his generation, we might not have come to the collective level of sophistication in which we are able to distinguish correctly between the different types of pasta. It’s all part of going through the motions in a globalising world; of understanding a cultural artifact that’s going viral.

Sunday Spotlight foodie edition: Mindful foodie, Maarten kookt and Foodie International

This edition of Sunday Spotlight is dedicated to foodies. There are three I like to mention especially: Mindful Foodie Lesh Karan, old school friend Maarten Lenoble and Elyse Pasquale AKA Foodieinternational.

The Mindful Foodie blog from Lesh Karan is certainly one of my favorites. She likes real food, knows about and maybe even more important: knows how to make delicious meals with it. And that’s exactly what she shares on the blog. Knowledge and recipes. Her blog is certainly worth following, especially if you like recipes with Asian influences.

Maybe a bit more difficult to follow is Maarten’s blog. Not because it’s hard to find, but because he writes in Dutch. He shares his love for good food and cooking by writing about his latest purchases of not only cook books, but also some really cool toys. Eh, utensils. But what really sets him apart from the rest, are his recipes for cooking with children. His own kids are Junior Master Chefs to be, and the recipes are honest, fun and great to make with children. Worth using Google Translate or a dictionary for this one.

Elyse Pasquale is on an exceptional adventure: she travels around the globe and writes about food. I might be just a tiny little bit jealous of her. Obviously she has a blog, on which she shares her adventures, but what I really like is her Instagram account. Amazing pictures of her travels and glorious, glorious food. If you’re not on Instagram, it’s worth doing so just to see what she shares.

What’s Sunday Spotlight?
Sunday Spotlight is my way of saying thanks to those members my online communities who have made an impact, or who I simply love to follow because they share awesome things. It is also a nod to Ana Isabel Canhoto, and the way she interprets the popular #FollowFriday meme on Twitter. I even had the honor of featuring in a FollowFriday post on her blog. How awesome is that?
In every Sunday Spotlight post I will introduce you to one or more very special people. These people have stood out in my social networks, and that’s why I think they are worth following. They might impact your life as well.

A lost doughnut

There it lies, on the street,
in the snow and mush.
Only a few bites taken,
and then control lost,
a fresh doughnut, dropped.

The frosting still looks great,
bright-coloured, sprinkled, shiny.
But the dough is soaking up
the snow melting from
salt and chemicals.

Forever lost,
a new one bought,
and enjoyed with
better care.

From the water: dishes shared on #ShareDish Wednesday 2

ShareDish is about passion for food, and sharing the things you like. Maybe even with a recipe. The second ShareDish Wednesday took place last week. Here’s an look back on the wonderful dishes shared. Be sure to join us for ShareDish Wednesday 3, on 7 March. Theme to be revealed on Twitter and of course the ShareDish Facebook page.

Food lovers and home chefs: Share your dishes in 2012 with #ShareDish

As 2011 is drawing to a close, Françoise Lin and I are working on a great new project for 2012: #ShareDish. Being passionate home chefs, foodies and travelers, we thought it a great idea to create a monthly forum, on which people can share their dishes.

Every first Wednesday of the month will be #ShareDish Wednesday. We will set a theme, and ask you, our fellow food lovers, home chefs and travelers, to make a dish that fits the theme, take a photo of it, and share that photo (plus the recipe, of course) through Twitter or Facebook. Obviously, you can use earlier work, especially if you have blogged about your creations before, and don’t hold back: you can share as many dishes as you like.

For those that feel less comfortable in the kitchen: you’re welcome to join in with dishes you have enjoyed, but which are made by others.

Oh, and before I forget: make sure the photos and recipes you share are your own, or give credit to the source.

The first #ShareDish Wednesday will be on 4 January 2012, with the theme ‘New Year’. We thought it fits nicely with the time of year, and a new project. Any types of dish photos are welcome, whether it is a traditionally French Galette des Rois, or a dish you made for the first time. Feel free to interpret the theme as it inspires you! Françoise and I will be hosting the first #ShareDish Wednesday, but if you want to join us next time, let us know. We can use your help.

To follow #ShareDish Wednesday, search for it on Twitter and like our Facebook Page.

A Blue Cow in Old Town offering good food and special sides

Goat's cheese and spinach creme brulee

Goat's cheese and spinach creme brulee

The Blue Cow restaurant, or in Latvian: Zila Govs, has a special place in our lives. It was in this restaurant that we decided we would move to Riga. If we could have food like they serve here, this city was certainly a place that we could live in.

As many of the Latvian cuisine restaurants in Riga, meat has an important role on the menu in the Blue Cow. The quality of the meat is great, and they sure know how to prepare it. Some cuts, however, are surprises on the plate. The entrecote is nothing like the entrecote you get in France, for example. Still, it tastes good.

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Another year, another (and improved) way of making coffee

When iconical Dutch brands Douwe Egberts (DE) and Philips joined hands and came up with the single serving coffee maker Senseo in 2001, they revolutionized the consumer coffee market. In no time, shelf-space in Dutch supermarket was reassigned to the special pads needed for this machine, and this extended to multiple other countries. By proving that consumers were more than eager to switch to the more expensive single serving coffee, DE and Philips paved the way for many other companies that followed suit. Tassimo (Bosch and Kraft foods) and Mio (Seaco and Lavazza) are some examples. For a couple of years, I have to admit, I was rather happy with our Senseo. It worked perfectly for what was asked from it: an easy way to brew the functional morning coffee. My taste for coffee had been severely damaged by years of getting coffee from office coffee machines, so standards were on the low side of the spectrum. But with the availability of pads from different coffee brands, we were able to find our favorite coffees, even some great ones. Later, our Senseo was joined by a Mio, but I never felt much love for that apparatus. And I never liked the idea of getting a Nespresso maker. For several reasons – wear and tear on the Senseo was one of them, more about the other reasons in a later post – we decided however to retire our machines and get ourselves an espresso maker that works with just coffee beans. We chose, in the end, the fully automatic Jura ENA 7. We also brought back some specialty coffee from the Netherlands, and after three weeks of making our coffee this way, the only regret is that we haven’t made this decision earlier. Now, the quest for the best coffee beans is on. And for the best places to buy them in Riga.

Baltic Postcards – Galerija Istaba

Live Music in Galerija Istaba

Dear All,

The weather in Riga has been great the last week, even though it is raining now. And next to that, we had two visits of friends. It is nice to show our guests around the Riga we know it, and to share what have become great candidates for favorite places – the beach in Jurmala, the view from the Skyline bar, Kronvalda Parks etcetera.

And of course, having people over is a good opportunity to drive/walk around and discover new places of interest. That is how we got to have dinner at Galerija Istaba a few weeks back. This weekend, we visited it again and we like it even more. It’s a restaurant with only a few tables, above a shop where you can buy cool things. The shop closes at the end of the day, but the restaurant part still gives you a good view of it. As a starter you get a ultra fresh salad, with bread and some spreads. For mains, you can choose between different types of meat or fish. I ordered the lamb, while the rest of our party of three had the gambas. There is no menu, and you have no say about how your food is prepared. But when you get it, you know it is only for the better. It all is excellent. Plus, we were extra lucky this visit. In the shop area below, there seemed to be a party of sorts going on, with great live music – jazzy with a parisian tone. It was a great evening and Istaba is really hard on it’s way of becoming our favourite restaurant in town.

Cheers from Riga,
A