Sunday, June 25, 2006

Recently we've been trying to visit the farmer's market on a more regular basis. It does take a bit more planning - getting the kids ready, going during specified hours, and perhaps the biggest challenge - knowing what I'll be preparing for meals in the coming days so that I can purchase accordingly . . . After all, its not like you can run over to the farmers market if you realize in the middle of dinner preparation that you need a certain ingredient.
Despite the challenges, we have found that there are some definite benefits to visiting the market, especially for our kids. They get to experience all the excitement of visiting each stall, looking at the fresh offerings, and even tasting them. By shopping the farmers market we have the opportunity to taste the freshest produce available, much of which has been picked either that morning or the day before. The market provides us with the opportunity to experiment by showing the kids the wider variety of produce than we'll typically see in the supermarket.

Aside from the variety and abundance of great tasting, fresh foods, the market allows us to support our local farmers. By buying direct, they definitely get a better profit for their work. And, as an added benefit, most of the produce found at the market is organically certified (or at least grown using organic methods but not certified).
On a recent visit, Grayson was intrigued by the box of various colored beans that he could run his hands through. He played in the box for a long time, looking at all the different types of beans, observing the different colors and speckles, even asking what each was called. He even chose his favorite 'colors' and placed a couple in his pockets. He pulled them in and out of his pocket for the rest of the day. This offered me a great opportunity to introduce him to different beans for meals.

Beans are a great food for kids and adults alike, and offer lots of opportunities for use, from appetizers to salads to main dishes. They're high in complex carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber; low in fat, calories and sodium; and cholesterol free. (to learn more about beans and find recipes, visit
The wonderful thing about visiting the market is if you have a question, there is always someone on hand to answer it - unlike many of the supermarkets. So, if you are wondering how to prepare a certain vegetable, or even help with a recipe, the vendor will be glad to share information with you.
I find a lot of my bean recipes in my collection of Molly Katzen cookbooks - she even has a great kids cookbook called Pretend Soup, but I find that Vegetable Heaven, The Moosewood Cookbook and the New Enchanted Broccoli Forest give me enough options to keep my kids (and us) happy.

I am confident that the 'bean' experience is just one of the many new experiences to come from visiting the farmer's market with my children. I am hoping that they'll become intrigued with green beans or tomatoes - two vegetables that I have a very hard time getting them to eat.

Until next time, enjoy Food, Family and Friends


Monday, June 05, 2006

A few weeks ago I traveled to Las Vegas for the Gourmet Housewares Show, where some 200 companies exhibited cookware, kitchen gadgets, tabletop, cookbooks and more. While I only spent a day there, I did unearth a few notable new introductions that will surely make life in the kitchen more convenient, colorful, and/or enjoyable.

I recently asked my husband what his favorite kitchen gadgets/tools were, among those he mentioned were knives - sharp knives. To keep your knives in proper working order (and to ensure safety in the kitchen) Lamson & Goodnow presented a new porcelain BladeCone. This easy to use sharpener was designed so that you can sharpen frequently while cooking. And, its small footprint allows you to keep it on the counter, handy and ready for use whenever needed. A sculpted porcelain cone has a precisely calculated surface angle so the knife is automatically sharpened at the proper angle. It measures 7 1/2 inches tall and 6 inches in diameter and retails for around $120 - a price well worth it.

The Clean 'N Stuff waste scoop and sink stopper is a handy gadget that lets you gather sink waste to the disposal's entrance and then stuff it through the rubber splash guard safely.

The bambu Lacquerware collection has been expanded to included small Mini Me bowls. The line, which is made of bamboo, is colored on the outside in Cantaloupe, Tomato, Blueberry, Lemon Chiffon, Robin Egg Blue, Black and Naked (no color). The bowls are suitable for both hot an cold foods and are a great way to add color to the table.

Lodge Manufacturing highlighted its Signature series of cast-iron cookware that has stay-cool stainless steel handles. The line includes 10-inch and 12-inch skillets, 4.5-Quart Dutch oven and a 12-inch grill pan. In addition to this great line, the company also promoted the Lodge Color cast-iron line which brings color to the classic cookware.

Perfect for the summertime is the Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream maker. It comes with a double insulated freezer bowl and a unique three-way condiment dispenser that releases toppings as the machine is dispensing ice cream. The ice cream maker produces about 1.5 quarts of ice cream in just 20 minutes. It retails for $185.

Anyone who has tried the Vita-Mix Professional Series blender, or seen it in action, knows how indispensable it is in making anything from great bar drinks to soups. Now available is a smaller 32-ounce container that is ideal for pureeing vegetables for spreads, making baby food, salad dressing or smoothies.

One product you probably don't think you need, but once you have it, you realize how fabulous it is . . . The food mill. OXO introduced a new food mill that makes preparing fresh purees, ,sauces, soups, etc. extremely easy. The mill comes with three stainless steel grinding discs (fine, medium and coarse textures). Three nonslip legs holds the mill securely over the bowl or pot (up to 11 inches in diameter). It retails fro $49.99, and is scheduled to be available in September.

Hopefully these up and coming new products will get you back in the kitchen and cooking. Until next time, enjoy Food, Family and Friends.