Danze Kitchen Faucets

The Danze product line offers the most durable kitchen faucets to the homeowners. Choosing to have Danze kitchen faucets in your kitchen is like choosing the best clothes for some special occasion. These modern faucets not only add elegance to all kitchen types but also serve your purpose in a superior way.

From hand-free faucets to pot filler ones, this brand offers all the latest kitchen faucet styles. Get to know more about all the latest faucet styles manufactured by this brand by going through this article.

Bar and Convenience Faucets

You can choose from twelve different types of bar and convenience faucets equipped with extra high spouts. Each and every faucet design under this category will amaze you by its functionality and durability. The faucets feature high spouts and single handle design. These types of designs are appropriate for places where only cold water is required.

Faucets with Sprayer

Faucets under this category are held to a different standard. Now a day’s faucets play a very decisive role in determining the ambience of the kitchen. Faucets with sprayer not only will make your kitchen look stylish but will also come within your budget. The faucets feature ceramic disc valve, 2 hole mount and matching brass spray.

Hands-Free Faucets

The latest of all the faucet style is the hands-free faucets. These types of faucets are manufactured applying tremendous effort and intelligence. Just place your hand in front of the sensor to start the water. Perfect for clean up when handling food or some other stuffs, these designing electronic faucets will serve your purpose to a great extent. Danze offers the best hands-free faucets compared to the other brands. These faucets feature 9 inch spout length, 3 hole mount and ceramic disc valve.

Pot filler Faucets

This one is dedicated to an aspiring chef. Faucets under this category swings out to fill big pots right on the stove. Hands free faucets offer ample of green and operational benefits. Hands free faucets manufactured by Danze reduce the impact of vandalism. These faucets are designed in such a way that makes the surrounding ambience look neat and clean. Pot filler faucets feature two ceramic disc valves, spout reaching 15 inch, and single hole wall mount.

Pull down Faucets

Change the interior of your kitchen by installing the handy and stylish pull down faucets. Rom a series of designs, you can choose the best one for your kitchen. These pull down faucets let you pour the water where it is required. The spray head can be adjusted to a powerful spray it the touch of a finger. Pull down faucets features 16 inch high spout, 2 functional spray, single hole mount, and ceramic disc valve.

Pull out Faucets

Last but not the least, pull out faucets are the great amalgamation of beauty and functionality. Faucets under this category are designed with the ceramic valve on the side. The spouts can be adjusted from a steady stream to a powerful spray. They feature stainless steel hose for reliable use. Pull out faucets feature 13 inch high spout and 2 functional spray with single hole mount.

Whatever design or style of kitchen faucets you need, Danze offers them all at great prices. Make sure that the faucet style you are choosing suit the décor and style of your kitchen.

Aroma ARC-856 6-Cup Sensor Logic Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker and Food Steamer

Aroma-ARC-856-12-Cup-Sensor-Logic-Rice-CookerIf you have a small family to cook for almost every other day, I’d strongly recommend that you get the Aroma ARC-856 6-Cup Sensor Logic Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker. This is a rice cooker that comes with modern functions and allows you to cook up to 12 cups of rice at any one time. The multiple cooking functions are pretty useful if you want to prepare rice, soup, porridge and stew. Not to mention, it can function as a slow cooker!

Aroma ARC-856 6-Cup Sensor Logic Rice Cooker

2 major plus points of this rice cooker:

(1) Plan your cooking easily with the 15-hour timer
This function is really useful on those days when I need to head out for an appointment or to run an errand. With the timer, I can set the rice cooker to start cooking right before I reach home. The flexibility gives me the freedom to plan my schedule more effectively. If you’re a busy mom and you are constantly on-the-go, this rice cooker should be in your list of indispensable kitchen equipments.

(2) Sensor Logic technology enables perfectly cooked rice
The smart technology channels away excess condensed water. This is a small but helpful function that ensures my dishes are done perfectly. Basically, the Aroma ARC-856 6-Cup Sensor Logic Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker is a smart rice cooker that reflects the sophistication and elegant taste of its users. Perfect for modern moms and savvy singles who often cook for small groups or friend gatherings.

To summarize the great value of this rice cooker,

  • the non-stick pan cleans up beautifully, no scrubbing required
  • it stores easily
  • the cord retracts
  • the steamer rack, utensils, and measuring cup fit neatly inside the rice cooker

If you’d like to buy a reasonably priced, good rice cooker, consider getting the Aroma ARC-856 6-Cup Sensor Logic Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker. You may want to check it out on Amazon!

After that, you might like to see the other Aroma rice cookers that I have reviewed, or other similar sized rice cookers like Zojirushi 6-Cup Basic Rice Cooker or Panasonic SRG10G 5-Cup Automatic Rice Cooker.

Holiday Bedding – Soft Luxury Bedding Sheets

When it comes to having the sort of childrens bedroom that you want, it is essential to have the proper type of look that is gonna give you the best feelings concerning your bed. We all want to be able to feel at home and this is why we have to make certain that we can find the best sort of bed set up that makes us feel truly comfortable. A lot of us love to change the looks of things around over time and it is a good deal easier to do this now since you can even do it for specific holiday seasons if you would love to. Having options is always fun, mainly for those folks who really do appreciate the various kinds of designs available that we are able to choose from nowadays. Choices are out there for any time of year, in a huge variety of materials and from a wide selection of various kinds of manufacturers. This kind of freedom really does make it many more fun to make your home look the way you want to in every single room all year around.

It goes without saying, for fans of the spooky time of year, it’s a whole lot of fun to be able to choose some great bedcovers that will make your room look amazing. You certainly will be happy with today’s camo bedding sets and blankets choices simply because you have a lot of different types of choices out there that will let you have exactly what you wanted. Due to its popularity, you’re going to find that with a lot of more followers of the holiday, Halloween lovers have a lot more choices. Whether you want to have the traditional colors of orange and black or a variety of various motifs that are linked with All Hallowed Saint’s Eve, you will find out that a world of choices awaits you nowadays. you’ll see that you will find all the things you need to make a perfectly comfortable bed available right at your finger tips. you’ll find that if you look on the net things get much easier.

Buy your black ninja costumes, pirate costumes and classic french maid costumes, disco costume. Certainly don’t ignore the family holiday costumes you’ll be able to put on for the little ones: bunny costumes and santa claus suits. Now that we have the net it’s so much easier to find high quality bedcovers to suit your tastes. Today you can locate plenty of great looking Halloween items that are always fantastic. you’ll be able to get some of the best prices you will ever find. The shops around now have huge selections you have never before seen.

Safe Diet Pills For Women That Work Fast

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If you think a diet pill works by itself without any healthy and balanced eating and physical activity then you’re wrong. For it to be effective in a effective and safe method, you need to also include at least some physical exercise as well as healthy eating into your everyday routine. Unless you, even the most beneficial as well as safe diet pill that work fast is not going to show you any results. Therefore make an effort to add a healthy lifestyle as much as possible to achieve the best results.
It is always significantly better to be safe instead of sorry so make sure you seek advice from a medical expert prior to undertaking any slimming pill as you might have a health problem which even you aren’t aware of but could be the reason behind gaining weight. So have a examination to find out if you’re healthy enough to continue with diet pills.
This is where the safe diet pills comes to the save as it boosts the rate of your fat reduction significantly and assists you get inspired to begin reducing your weight. When individuals start seeing weight reduction outcomes more quickly, it becomes an unexpected motivation to just carry on since they are more motivated by the quick weight loss and start believing much more in themselves.
The most effective diet pills for women usually tell it like it is, with facts as well as detailed information and not just guaranteeing a fast weight loss within hours like various other companies. Let them make it sound as incredible as possible just be sure you do not fall under their trap. So now you must be asking yourself, how do i select safe diet pills for women that work? The exact place to buy safe diet pills for women over the counter.? Continue reading to know more about it.

Avocado Baked Eggs with Salsa

Im a huge avocado fan. Add eggs and you have a tasty breakfast. Avocados have been cultivated in Central and South America for over 10,000 years and are currently grown in worldwide in tropical and subtropical countries. On top of their impressive anti-inflammatory benefits, avocados support cardiovascular health, regulate blood sugar, and studies have shown they have cancer preventing properties. Eggs have also been a staple in world cuisines forever. They are one of the best sources of highest-quality protein, all of the B-vitamins as well as iodine and selenium.Mexican-Baked-Avocado-Eggs-GI-365

Avocado Baked Eggs with Salsa

Author: Phyrra

Recipe type: Breakfast2 large ripe avocados1 tbsp lime juice1 small garlic clove, crushed4 medium eggs tsp paprika tsp Cayenne pepper

Black pepper to taste(optional) 4 tbsp cooked turkey bacon, crumbled(optional) Salsa1 large tomato, diced4 tbsp avocado, diced2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped1 tbsp jalapeno pepper, finely chopped2 tbsp cilantro, chopped tsp lime juice

Black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F and line 4 ramekins with aluminum foil.

Cut avocados in half; carefully remove the pits and place cut side up in the prepared ramekins. Scoop out about a tablespoon from each avocado and transfer to a bowl. Dice the carved avocado, drizzle with 1 teaspoon lime juice and set aside.

Drizzle the remaining lime juice over the avocado halves and sprinkle with the crushed garlic. Season to taste.

Crack an egg in a small cup and carefully place it in the carved avocado. Repeat with remaining eggs. Season with paprika, Cayenne and black pepper.

Bake between 20-30 minutes, until the egg is cooked to the desired consistency.(optional) For the salsa, add all ingredients to the diced avocado and season to taste.

When the eggs are ready, remove from the oven and transfer the baked avocados to plates,(optional) Top with salsa or crumbled bacon, or both!

Calories:177
Fat:13.4g
Saturated fat:2.4g
Unsaturated fat:1
Carbohydrates:7.79
Sugar:.5g
Sodium:160.6mg
Fiber:3.5g
Protein:9.3g
Cholesterol:173.7mg

Nutritional information is calculated including salsa and turkey bacon.

Wild Rabbit with Lemon and Black Olives

Wild game, lemons and olives all speak the flavours of the hills, particularly when you add woody herbs like thyme or marjoram; just the kind of cooking that feels right this time of year. So whilst wild rabbit is thoroughly local, and available all year round these days, in summer a Mediterranean stew is the obvious way to prepare it.

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Im slightly ashamed to admit it, but it pleases a townie like myself to buy my food from the man who shot it, after all its the closest I get to hunting (gathering I sometimes manage, even London is surprisingly abundant in wild food). So last week I picked up some young wild rabbit from the farmer who had shot it himself a few days earlier. My six-year-old son was very impressed, though not as impressed as if he had seen the gun and kill; rabbit neatly cleaned and jointed might be easier for the cook but is far less impressive to a small boy obsessed (as all small boys are, and always have been) with blood and guts of any sort.

There is a saying eat a rabbit, save the land because rabbits are viewed by many as vermin who damage crops, gardens and the countryside. So, thats another reason to eat a wild rabbit. But, these days most rabbit you see on restaurant menus (and in butchers shops) are likely to be the farmed variety. This plumper, more succulent, juicier rabbit cooks more reliably and is unlikely to be tough or bitter from the miscellany the rabbit has eaten.

That said, if you can get hold of a young wild rabbit it is unlikely to be stringy and fibrous, although there is still less meat on a creature that has been running wild. I like the thought of wild food of all kinds, and it is usually better for you too. Wild creatures survive on a wide range of wild plants, meaning their meat is lean, the fat less saturated and full of the vitamins and minerals that wild green plants are rich in.

It is possible to quickly pan-fry a young and tender rabbit but I like to pot-roast rabbit with some aromatic herbs, a light stock and some wine. Maggie Beer in her excellent cookbook Maggies Harvest pot-roasts wild rabbit with garlic, preserved lemon and bay; I have done something similar here with lemons, black olives and marjoram.

I love the way that this simple, inexpensive game meat can be pot-roasted with different aromatics to suit the seasons. Maggie Beer also offers the suggestion of braising in verjuice, reduced with chicken stock and cream and this is not dissimilar to the way I cook rabbit in winter, pot-roasted with cider (or wine or verjuice) then reduce the sauce and add thick cream and a spoon of Dijon mustard.(The beautiful olives shown in the picture above (and used in this dish) are from the groves of Castel Madama and producersOliodivino).

Pot-roasted Wild Rabbit with Lemon and Black Olives (Serves 3-4)1 x 1.5 kg wild or farmed rabbit, jointed.

A bunch of baby onions/shallots, peeled but left whole.

2 cloves of garlic, crushed with a little salt.

2 tbsp black olives

The skin and juice of 1 un-waxed lemon/preserved lemon slices

A handful of marjoram sprigs

Olive oil

White wine/verjuice

750ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper

Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper and brown in a little olive oil.

Stir in the crushed garlic and before it browns add a generous splash of white wine or verjuice and deglaze the pan.

Tuck the peeled baby onions around the meat and add the stock.

Slice the lemon peel, avoiding any pith, into thin strips (julienne) and add to the stock with the sprigs of marjoram. If you prefer use preserved lemon slices.

Add 2 tbsps of lemon juice and bring to the boil.

Cook for 1 -2 hours in a moderate oven (or on a low flame on the hob) until the meat is coming away from the bone.

Adjust the seasoning and reduce the stock if it is too weak.

Serve the pieces of rabbit on the bone with the lemon stock, a few black olives, some baby onions, some more marjoram leaves and spinach.

Good with baby potatoes roasted whole in their skins in olive oil and sea salt.

Why Eat Grass-Fed Meat?

As I am always talking about eating grass-fed or pastured meat I thought I better put something up explaining exactly WHY I feel so strongly about this. Strongly enough that I wont, knowingly, eat meat that comes from large industrial feedlots. And as I am the worlds biggest fusspot when it comes to asking questions about the provenance of what is on my plate (apologies, friends and family, you know its my thing!) I dont eat it unknowingly either.

Aside: To be honest the grain/grass issue is a bigger problem in the US than in the UK. If you buy local meat from a small producer or Farmers Market in the UK you are almost certainly going to be eating grass-fed meat whether you are fussing about it or not! I buy fromLondon Farmers Markets for both taste and reassurance.

Nevertheless, I am still going to explain the several reasons for my exacting standards; some may be more important to you than others. They are all important to me. So, in no particular order, consider the following points.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, EATS TOO

I first read this phrase, that takes a moment or two to fully comprehend, in Michael Pollans book:

In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating: An Eaters Manifesto

Once the message sinks in it is blindingly obvious that the nutritional profile of an animal is going to be affected by what it eats and in the case of cattle, nature intended this to be grass, not grain. Cows have four parts to their stomach; they are ruminants designed to graze and convert grasses, something we cannot do, into a food we can digest: namely meat.

Even a child at schools learns about a cow and his many stomachs (well, strictly speaking four parts of one stomach) but not one of these parts is designed to digest the highly acid-forming grains industrial beef is fed.

This unnaturally acidic gut environment causes the animal pain and discomfort and weakens his immune system (often necessitating the animal equivalent of antacid tablets and long-term antibiotic use) and can lead to the shocking syndrome known as feedlot bloat. This happens, usually once a cow is taken off grass and put onto corn feed, because on pasture the rumen naturally produces a lot of gas which the animals expels by belching. When the diet contains too much starch, rumination slows down or stops and the gas is trapped beneath a slimy, foamy layer. The rumen then inflates like a balloon and pushes against the cows lungs leaving the animal in real danger of suffocating.

More worryingly still this unnaturally acid gut environment has gradually allowed a super-strain of the food bug e-coli to flourish, one that would not be killed off (as is normally the case) by the acid environment of our own stomachs. So feedlot beef can carry a risk for e-coli that grass-fed beef does not. This unnatural diet understandably has an effect on the nutritional profile of the meat from that animal; and it is not a healthy one.

GRASS-FED MEAT IS HEALTHIER

So, taking to its natural conclusion the point about you being what you eat, eats, there is no doubt that grass-fed meat is healthier, therefore by eating it you will be healthier. In grass-fed meat you will find higher omega-3 levels, higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and stearic acid (both associated with reduced risk of cancer), higher levels of vitamins A, D and E. The fatty profile is healthier, and indeed there is a lower overall amount of fat in a grass-fed steak. So go ahead and choose the tastiest, most marbled one you can find and enjoy it fat and all. Particularly enjoy the fat, where many of the vitamins in meat are found in their highest concentration. Last, but certainly not least, is remembering what you are NOT getting in your grass-fed meat, namely growth-hormones, antibiotics or GM grain.

For a long and detailed discussion on the changing health benefits as we have moved from grass-fed beef to confinement farming and grain-fed cattle see this piece from theWeston A Price Foundation.

If meat, lamb and pork as well as beef, is so much healthier when it is grass-fed, why doesnt everyone do it, well, economics of course, and the economy of the food you choose to buy doesnt stop at the producer it is relevant to the consumer too. Cattle kept indoors and fed a diet of grain will fatten fast, come up to slaughter weight in half the time of a grass-reared animal and make a tidy profit for their industrial farmer. Or so it seems.

INDUSTRIAL MEAT IS A FALSE ECONOMY

There is a strong argument to be made that industrial meat is a false economy for the farmer. The investment in equipment, labour, drugs, growth-hormones, animal feed, fertilizers, pesticides and vets bills, can outweigh the return a beef farmer gets from getting his meat to market fast; and he can charge less for his meat than a grass farmer can. It may not seem this way to those trapped in the industrial meat chain but a grass farmer like the indomitable Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm has proved that he likes doing it the easy way, and the way that nature intended and he can make a profit from it.

Salatin modestly explains he merely grows the grass, the animals do the rest: they take themselves to grass to feed, trim back the early, nutritious growth then move on to fresh pastures. The animals dont get ill, so dont need expensive medicines, and though they take longer to come to market weight, their meat commands a higher price in the right market and demand is increasing. Dairy farmers are even better off grazing their animals on grass.

It is worth examining the complex set up of Salatins farm for a greater appreciation of how a pasture-based mixed animal farm can work as a poetic whole, with almost no waste and a wonderful, gentle harnessing of how nature herself likes to work. The single reason it is not more popular is that it so goes against the industrially-driven model of todays food production chain; And maybe perhaps because the innate knowledge required for this kind of farming has been lost as farms have relied on machinery and spreadsheets; watching Salatin talk about his farm and the way it runs you can see he relies on the instinct and knowledge passed down to him through his familys farming generations not a manual.

For more on this read Joel Salatins Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front or look at the movie Food Inc.

Just as industrial meat can turn out to be a false economy for the farmer it is a false economy for the consumer too. It may cost more but it is far less healthy; you will get better nutrition and fewer chemicals, hormones and GM ingredients from a small portion of (admittedly significantly more expensive) pastured meat than you will from a 16oz steak on special offer at the supermarket.

The thing many consumers dont want to hear is that they will have to eat less of it, for every reason. Michael Pollan makes a strong case in his book In Defence of Food for using the meat part of the meal as a condiment to the vegetable portion and if you do this you can afford good meat. He seems unsure as to whether you actually need meat at all, finally deciding there is no good reason to exclude meat from the diet, but doesnt make much of a case for actively including it. I have come to believe that meat, ethically raised and using all parts of the animal as we would traditionally have done, is a tremendously important part of the diet, just in small quantities, particularly for small, growing children. Nutrient-wise you really get your moneys worth from meat.

Aside: Since writing this piece I came across a sentence in a recent NY Times piece by Michael Pollan, that sums my position up nicely:Asmaller-scale, more humane animal agriculture is a goal worth fighting for, and surely more attainable than the abolition of meat eating.

GRASS-FED MEAT IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

The above paragraphs should have convinced you by now that grass-fed meat is better for the environment but to spell it out please realise that the feed demand for industrial cattle is vast and grown using fertilizers and pesticides. Growing the chemical fertiliser takes oil. As Pollan puts it: we have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.

Grazed pastures are healthier too. The constant cutting and re-growing stimulates plant growth, improves soil fertility and as the cows walk and spread their manure evenly, nitrogen run-off is reduced.

There is of course the environmentalists point that meat production is very inefficient in terms of feeding large quantities of people (this is certainly true, why do you think population exploded when we hit the Neanderthal period and the Agricultural Revolution? Interestingly although we could feed more people during this time we were overall less healthy, as demonstrated by an evolutionary drop in stature during this period).

The argument goes that much grain that is used to feed animals could be feeding people. This is true, but there is much logic in a counter-argument I have read (though I am certainly no expert in world geography) that there are plenty of rocky outposts in the world, suited to nimble mountain goats and other hardy cattle that would never support a food-providing plant of any consequence.

In fact, I have just come across a Soil Association piece that points out just this fruits, vegetables and grains require high quality cropland, while meat can be produced on lower quality, more widely available pastureland. Grazing livestock in this way, instead of turning it over to crop production, also ensures that carbon locked in the soil stays there. Summed up by the conclusion that a low-meat diet, as opposed to a strict vegetarian diet, is actually the most land-efficient, and therefore the most climate-friendly.

It seems to me that what we really need to address is the expectation, endemic in the West and fast spreading in countries like China and India, that one should be able to eat unlimited quantities of meat. Meat, sadly still equals affluence, yet it is logically impossible for us all to be affluent in this way. By going back to pasture-reared beef there could not even be the illusion of being able to provide unlimited quantities of meat to meet the demand of traditionally low consumers of meat becoming increasingly carnivorous. Education is the key: teach people to eat better quality, less quantity a true demonstration of affluence is buying better, surely?

GRASS-FED MEAT TASTES GOOD!

Having expressed my opinion as eloquently as I know how in the above polemic and yes, I know I am inevitably talking to a minority when it comes to change of this sort here is my last, brief and decidedly un-political reason to eat grass-fed meat.

IT TASTES BETTER than a flavourless, fatty, dubiously-coloured, poorly fibred piece of anonymous creature that has led a sad and sorry life. At least, if you are a carnivore, choose an animal that has had a bit of dignity in his life then celebrate his legacy with an excellent dish of Steak Tartare , Brisket of Beef orBolognese Sauce.

Who I am and What I do

Hello, my name is Karen Homer and I am an ex-fashion writer who has given up the frocks for my true love food. So, instead of saving up my pennies for dresses and shoes I now spend every last one on artisan cheese (particularly cheese) . . . and fish and pasture-reared meat and fresh market vegetables and improbably expensive Spanish ham and dark, bitter single-origin chocolate and olive oil and rich, yellow butter and heritage grains and obscure herbs and spices that more often than not live out a sorry life forgotten at the back of the cupboard. Oh, and books on food: food history, food politics and cookbooks . . . I spend far too much on cookbooks.

So, in honour of all the forgotten spices and the boxed up cookbooks I have decided to dust them off and share them, via this blog that I hope will become the kind of cooks library of recipes and lessons that I have, over the years and through my favourite cookbooks, illuminating books on how and what to eat, and musings and jottings in my kitchen notebooks, built for myself and my family.

Talking of family, I have a husband and two small (but fast-growing) children and since their arrival I have become PASSIONATE about eating local, seasonal sustainable food, the slow food way and teaching them to do the same. I dream of not being badgered for the chocolate spread sandwiches and sugar-laden yoghurts my sons schoolfriends have in their lunchboxes and school dinners that are truly nutritious and children are encouraged to take time to eat.

My style of cooking is simple and I like to think reasonably economical. I particularly like the kind of cooking that starts with one thing, a top quality roast chicken or piece of good meat, and develops into an early-evening kids meal, a later, richer more adult version, a next-day risotto or bolognese and a stock (I am OBSESSED by stock, but more of that later) to form the base of delicious soups and more stews.

Aside get your children interested in soup young and you will never be lost for something nutritious and cheap to give them.

This way of cooking appeals to my hatred of waste even if I am a little deluded about being very economical in my food shopping actually I think we all need to accept that good food does mean paying a little more but the rewards for health and pleasure far outweigh the cost.

So by not wasting a single morsel I can allow myself to buy the kind of well-reared meat, dairy products, fish, eggs and vegetables that are the foundation of good health. Most of all these foods demand respectful cooking and teach us all a lesson in how sitting at the table with family and friends, eating delicious, seasonal food is the ultimate pleasure.

Michael Pollan, writing about Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement sums up my own philosophy eloquently:

Petrini puts pleasure at the centre of his politics. . . for why shouldnt pleasure figure in the politics of the food movement? Good food is potentially one of the most democratic pleasures a society can offer, and is one of those subjects, like sports, that people can talk about across lines of class, ethnicity, andrace.

My food politics echo Petrinis (and Pollans). I believe in shopping beyond the barcode as much as possible. I hate supermarkets, always have done and even more so now I often have a 2-year-old in tow, grasping at the nearest processed rubbish designed (and placed) specifically to appeal to the young and gullible. I also believe supermarkets beat producers down on price so unfairly that it threatens the very core of the farming industry in this country. If you do nothing else, buy direct at the farmers markets. Aside from a basics dry goods run I shop at London farmers markets, have a weekly organic box delivery, seek out independent butchers, cheese and fish-mongers wherever I can. I buy quality over quantity (and sometimes quality and quantity!)

I do attempt to grow a little of my own shamefully, only herbs this year, although the 2-year-old and even the 6-year-old are keen, too much mud gets thrown, too little planted. One day I dream of my own kitchen garden. In the meantime I buy as local as I can and always aware of the seasons, although this gives me the occasional ridiculous dilemma of whether to buy strawberries for my toddler in January when they are clearly shipped half way across the globe but they are a FRUIT and she is ASKING for them . . .

Anyway, I am being far more long-winded than I meant to be . . . a few other things, the recipes are as and when I cook them, apologies for rough and ready photography. And please note thatmy recipes and style of cooking are very much tailored to personal preference. TASTE as you go along and soon you will learn what works and what doesnt. I always offer variations on a theme which is useful for home cooks whereoften cooking a daily meal is born of what is in the bottom of the fridge, how much stock needs using up, whether there is rice or barley or farro in the cupboard etc.

But dont worry, anything like cake-baking that is a science as much as an art is specific and plenty of what I cook is slow and happy in the oven for as long as takes to wrest the children from the playground on an unexpectedly sunny day. . .

Whats in Your Childs Lunchbox?

I have a dilemma of the worst sort. One that makes me feel like an unkind mother. You all know how I feel about processed food, junk food, the importance of feeding children fresh, local produce and shopping outside of the supermarket as much as you can, (if you have missed my periodic rants on these subjects read my posts on Shopping Beyond the Barcode and How to Get Kids to Eat Well) well, its not always easy to practice what I preach. And one of the hardest times is when it comes to packing my six-year-old son Ollies lunchbox, particularly in the face of pleading for the processed delicacies (not) his friends bring out every day.

When Ollie was younger I didnt have any of the problems. At aged three and four he, as most children do, ate what was put in his lunch because it was what he ate it at home. So a summer lunch might be cold sausages and borlotti bean salad a couple of English tomatoes, an apple and a plain tub of yoghurt (usually decanted from the farmers market bottle try the exquisite buffalo milk version from Alham Wood Organics who do many markets). And if he was lucky there might be a square of dark chocolate, though I try to avoid the treat mentality of lunchbox packing.

No matter that his friends were eating processed ham on white bread, a bag of Hula Hoops and a sugary yoghurt with Thomas the Tank Engine on it. At that age he didnt notice, though some of the mothers did and I took a little gentle ribbing about my rare-breed sausages and freshly-podded beans.

By the time children start school however, peer pressure is starting to kick in and Ollies most-requested items (actually he doesnt pester much because he knows the answer is a flat no) are chocolate spread sandwiches on white bread, cheese strings (aaaaaagh!) and those Muller Corner yoghurts with the chocolate balls.

So, if you are like me and believe in avoiding processed foods, paying for branding, food engineering and food marketing, and perhaps know a little about nutrition and how important it is for school-children in particular to get quality and sustaining food, from wholegrains, protein, fruit and vegetables, to last through the day, what DO you pack in their lunchbox?

Oh, and this is the bit that makes me feel like a bad mother often his lunch comes back almost un-eaten although to be fair I think that is as much about wanting to get out to play as anything else and he often polishes it off in the playground after school. But I WORRY. Of course I do. The boy has to eat!!

Planning a lunchbox requires creativity. Each child is different, so you have to play around a bit but I have found that Ollie often leaves his bread though might eat his filling. So if I make a sandwich (maybe its the home-made sourdough thats letting me down?!) I fill it thickly with cheese and salad he is a rare child who loves lettuce. Or I pack oatmeal biscuits instead. Or even a piece of my home-made Pizza.

Leftovers from supper the night before are often successful leftover farro pasta (or any wholegrain pasta) with a protein-based sauce (this Bolognese Sauce is extremely nutritious) or cold grain salads, like barley or risotto (this Chicken and Barley Broth will cool down in the fridge into a risotto-like mass, fork it through a bit and voila!)

Today he is taking a cold version of last nights Borlotti Bean Minestrone all the broth got eaten as its everyones favourite bit so the leftover beans and vegetables with a splash of oil make a fine cold salad. (Ive just unpacked his bag and this was all eaten . . .result!)

Talking of salads, or rather of dressing I have yet to meet a child that doesnt like vinaigrette or some kind of balsamic dressing. Make a small portion of this in a pot for dipping raw carrots, tomatoes and cucumber in. Hummus or any other dip also goes down well. Cold boiled eggs are a staple in Ollies lunch, as he actually loves them and this is one of the best lunchbox additions as eggs are SO nutritious and will keep your child going all afternoon.

Once you start thinking outside the box (or rather inside it, excuse the pun) the possibilities are endless. Cold chicken with Mayonnaise, cold sausages, slices of good-quality ham or chunks of farmhouse cheese; try and get some protein in if you can.

For the treat element, which I dislike the concept of, although in practice its nice to have a pudding, fresh fruit is obviously the best choice seasonal if you can which is easy in summer with a tub of berries. Most children like apples and pears, although bananas, if squashed make the worst mess. Failing that, good quality plain yoghurt with a spoon of honey or some home-made fruit compote stirred in, some dark chocolate or if you want a true sweet at least make it yourself. This semi-sweet Oat Biscuit recipe is good as is this Polenta Cake which if you make in a rectangular tray can be cut into handy small pieces. For special treats and cooler days try a small piece of Chocolate Brownie.

We have been taking lunches to school and work for hundreds of years picture the tin pot with stew of the mine-worker, the thick slabs of bread with an equally thick slab of cheese of the field-worker and of course the traditional Cornish Pasty with its pastry case covering meat and vegetables one end, sweet fruit the other! And we managed all these without the help of the food- manufacturing industry and the marketing department of the supermarkets.

So, really its not that hard to pack a lunch that is full of real food rather than foodlike substances. All you have to do now is persuade your child to eat it, not the easiest thing I know but if you persevere and start them young they will get used to it. Its worth it they might even thank you when they are grown up and healthy, even if it does make you feel a little like a heartless mother for a moment.

Steak Tartare

Raw foodies, Paleo dieters, Francophiles and gourmets, rejoice! Here is a dish that unites you all. Yes, it is that classic of French bistros and retro dinner parties: steak tartare.steak-tartare-nigel-slate-007

I love steak tartare because it reminds me of my honeymoon in Paris that and oysters, yes, life is a clich. Coincidentally I think I first ate it at a well-known French bistro in London, at the birthday party my husband took me too on our first date. Maybe I had better stop this line of reminiscence!

Suffice it to say steak tartare, before I had even eaten it, had imprinted on my consciousness an air of sophistication and chic that would surely be imparted to me via the fork should I ever order it in a restaurant. What had passed me by completely at this point was how absolutely DELICIOUS it is.

Raw meat it may be, and I know plenty of spoilsports who wont even try it on these grounds (yes, they eat sashimi, I know, I know . . .) but it is the most melt-in-the-mouth, softly tender, yet assertively spicy with its blend of cornichons, capers, pepper and Dijon mustard, mound of deliciousness that I have ever tasted. IF it is made well, that is; here there is no disguising the quality of your ingredients. Not one for Tesco budget mince, this, believe me. By the way I always go for rump steak not fillet. The later may practically dissolve on the tongue but rump has a far superior flavour to my mind (and palate).

What has even more recently come to my attention, however, is quite how nutritious this dish is too. Raw meat, the morsel of choice for our Paleolithic ancestors, whose digestive system was the blueprint for our own (in fact internally we are pretty much exactly the same as we were two and a half million years ago, despite the fact that our diet is startlingly different) is high in vitamins A, B, C (yes, meat has vitamin C in it, albeit a small amount) and D not forgetting iron and zinc. It is a regular alphabetical roll-call of good nutrition. Eaten raw, these are even more absorbable to our oft much-in-need bodies.

And, to bump up the nutritional profile even more this dish requires raw egg yolks . . oh dear, am I sounding like a complete raw food freak now? In my defence raw meat and raw egg yolk equals steak tartare and mayonnaise, perfectly acceptable to French families, perfectly acceptable to me.

Egg yolks are unbelievably good for you though dont waste your money on a daily multi-vitamin, have a daily pastured egg or two instead. Forget the cholesterol myth, there is no proof dietary cholesterol is bad for you, in fact quite the opposite: and egg yolks (where the concentration of the goodness of the egg is found) are rich in vitamins A, D, E and K, essential fatty acids, and choline, a little-recognised but incredibly important mineral for cell health. And eating them raw means no heat-sensitive enzymes are destroyed and all the goodness from that little yellow powerhouse can be put straight to use; no wonder its such a well-touted hangover cure!

So here we have it: a dish I love the taste of, has fond memories and one that makes me feel chic and Parisian even if I am sitting at home in my pyjamas eating it, is actually GOOD for me too. Life doesnt get much better than this.

Steak Tartare (serves 2-4)

This version is adapted from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

175g rump steak, sinew, fat and connective tissue trimmed off
2 tsp finely diced shallots
2 tsp finely chopped cornichons
2 tsp finely chopped rinsed capers
1 salt packed anchovy, rinsed, filleted and smashed with some olive oil
1 tsp finely chopped parsley
tsp Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 small egg yolks
salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp
good olive oil

This is a dish to prepare and serve immediately, it doesnt like hanging around, the beef oxidises once cut and the seasonings need to be fresh.

With a very sharp knife slice the beef thinly across the grain then cut into julienne strips. Cut crosswise into fine dice. Then give a quick finishing chop until you have a textured but holding-together pile.

Combine with the other ingredients, use a little salt at first then add more to taste. Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to add flavour and give the dish a super-silky texture.

Serve with toasted Poilaine bread (or any good sourdough) for authentic Parisian bistro feel.

Spinach, Coconut and Brown Rice Soup

Monday morning and there is nothing to eat, despite a big shop at the market on Friday

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Actually this isnt STRITCLY true, there is plenty of left-over roast chicken, a whole delicious Sleightlet goats cheese from Neals Yard Dairy, pots and pots of chicken stock thanks to the generosity of the butchers at The Ginger Pig who gave me more bones than I knew what to do with and a split pigs trotter to make my stock lovely and gelatinous. But I am such a fresh-food addict that if there are no vaguely green foods in the fridge I am bereft. and today there are NO vegetables, only some wilting, yellowing spinach, soft onions and a bit of garlic. Soooooo, yet again I am making soup to use up old vegetables at least the weather is right for it today, though it is supposed to be summer.

I read this recipe or something similar in a cooking magazine ages ago and mentally bookmarked it to try at some point. I make spinach soup, thickened with potatoes and enriched with double cream all the time, but this calls for coconut milk and brown rice to add body, so I thought I would give it a go. At first I wasnt impressed but with the addition of some double cream and more salt it needs it this recipe I was quite pleased. That and the Sleightlet and at least lunch is taken care of. And look the suns come out. Im feeling better already.

Spinach, Coconut milk and Brown Rice soup

750g spinach leaves (the large-leaved Italian, stalky kind is best)
2 onionsclove of garlicknob of buttercan of coconut milk
500ml chicken stock (or water, milk or more coconut milk,)
2 tbsp double cream
75g brown rice
salt and pepper

Cook the brown rice, I know its not much but its all you need, in a separate pan of salted water until tender.

Wash the spinach thoroughly. Gently fry the onions and garlic in the butter with a little salt and pepper until soft. Add the stock and simmer until the onions are soft.

Add the spinach and push handfuls of leaves down into the hot liquid and try and turn the seemingly gloopy mass over to let the top ones get to the heat and wilt. As they are wilting, add the coconut milk. Dont let it cook too long if you want an appetizing bright green soup and not a sludgy pond colour.

Add the brown rice and cream and blend straight away to preserve the colour. Watch the amount of liquid when blending as you may not need it all.

Adjust seasoning this likes plenty of salt and pepper and serve.

Variations on a theme: If you want a more substantial dish, cook 200g brown rice and rather than blending it in with the other ingredients to give a smooth soup, blend the spinach quickly, but not too smoothly, then add the rice and give one quick blitz so it is still very textured.

Soup: Delicious, Economical, Good for you

I am a soup obsessive. They are the mainstay of my everyday cooking and what I feed my children. And good chicken stock is the backbone of these. So before you start getting excited about the soups you can make to surreptitiously slip vegetables into your children under the guise of brightly coloured, flavoursome and sweet bowls of goodness, please read my post on making stock if, of course you dont make your own already.

Aside: if you are a vegetarian you can always use water; a light vegetable stock made from garlic leeks, onions, carrots, and aromatic herbs such as bay, thyme and parsley is a good standby simply simmer the vegetables for an hour or so and remove. Then reduce if the broth is too insipid until a subtle level of flavour is achieved. Everyone should make the most of vegetable waste such as pea pods or bendy celery by making delicate stock to add another dimension to soup-making. Remember vegetables dont benefit from long-cooking as meat bones do in stock making.

Soup really is miraculous and terribly unappreciated in this country. In France, where large lunches (including at schools) are the norm soup is often the centrepiece of the evening meal, particularly for children. The thought of a simple bowl of soup may not satisfy but those who dont like smooth ones can eat broths laden with vegetables, pieces of meat, pulses or grains. Take inspiration from the Italians and thicken with stale bread, then anoint with extra virgin olive oil. Or look to the east to coconut laced laksas or miso-noodle broth vibrant with fresh greens and the head-dipping mouth-to-bowl satisfaction of slurping noodles.

Soup is economical too; leftovers of every description including wilting vegetables, stale bread, scraps of meat, dripping from the roast, last nights semi-solid rice or pasta spring to life in the company of golden, flavoursome liquid and a few vegetables.

And soups are endlessly adaptable to the seasons from a warm winter potage of split peas and ham or stale-bread thickened vegetables, to a chilled and refreshing tomato gazpacho at the height of summer.

Spring soup is green and full of life (and in our house rich with thick, lush jersey cream from spring grass-fed cattle). Summer soups are tomato based, redolent of holidays in Italy, Spain and the south of France with garlic, olive oil and basil. Tomatoes, fresh shell beans, a single lamb shank to flavour and thicken, then the meat stripped off and put back in at the end and a spoon of mortar ground herbs, oil and garlic and you have the timeless Soupe au Pistou (see recipe). Once autumn arrives the abundance of squash, pumpkin, dark bitter greens and mushrooms, means warming, thick glowing golden bowls. Winter brings more roots: celeriac and parsnips are wonderful with apples and cream, a few chunks of bacon, black pudding or even more refined scallops make this a meal in itself.

The endless variations that are used to create seasonal minestrone make use of any vegetables you have in the fridge. A base of diced carrot, onion, and garlic and add fennel, celery, leeks, spring onions and courgettes; or tomato, green beans, borlotti, bacon and pasta; or pumpkin, chickpeas and threads of savoy cabbage. Be creative.

A soup can be as simple or as extravagant as you like. Carrots and onions sweated in butter, a pot of stock and finish with chives. To impress, heat stock, stir in thick cream, add some ribbons of the dark, bitter outer leaves of the savoy cabbage and shave a black truffle over the top.

Never underestimate the healthiness of soups, particularly for reluctant small vegetable eaters. Beetroot, that vibrant pink, iron-rich root makes a sweet, smooth soup combined with apple. Pumpkin is similarly sweet and a superfood if ever there was one. Even spinach is palatable in a soup with cream, stock and a little parmesan grated on top.

To boost the nutritional value and transform the flavour of any soup make and use stock; the difference between a stock-based soup and a water-based one is marked, as is the benefit. Stock is rich with calcium, potassium and other trace minerals and it is a protein sparer giving the benefits of meat without the expense (excellent too for young children who dont like meat).

Last, but certainly not least, soup is the perfect weaning food. Babies can be introduced to simple, then more complex flavours via a medium that the rest of the family can eat too. Simple smooth vegetables soups can be boosted nutritionally by making them with stock or stirring an egg yolk in at the end to thicken, flavour and add protein and much-needed fat for weaning babies. As they start to enjoy small pieces, add chopped vegetables and pieces of soft meat into stock again the rest of the family can join in.

A simple cup of reduced chicken stock is as delicious to a small child with its salty lip-sticking quality and the best medicine I know for viruses brought home from nursery and school.

Teach your children to love soup from a young age just GIVE it to them and they will never know anything different and you will never feel you are feeding them badly. My 2-year-old daughter eats all her soup cold from the fridge and thats fine. My son will have a cup when he gets home from school in winter though sadly he wont now take it in his lunchbox thanks to the pressure to bring chocolate spread sandwiches and cheese strings. I make and eat soup obsessively relishing the satisfaction that comes from using up every last scrap in the fridge and getting a meal for free.

Good soups: for children . . . and grown ups too. Beetroot simply made with a base of onions, leeks, olive oil and thyme or with apple or with carrot, or with tomato (a jar of passata will stretch the vegetables further for economy reasons). Good hot or cold in hot weather with sour cream and chives or a chopped hard-boiled egg Borscht-style.

Squash/pumpkin onion base, a few curry spices and a can of coconut milk. Or onion, celery and bacon to start, throw in the cubed squash, some stock and cook.

Parsnip/celeriac: both of these are delicious with apple and plenty of cream.

Green soup: all manner of greenery: spinach, watercress, leeks, nettles, wild garlic can be combined with onions, fennel, celery, leeks and potatoes, some rich stock and cream for a luscious soup to be eaten hot or cold. Nutmeg very good with spinach.

Minestrone: A seasonal catch-all, make with whatever vegetables you have on hand, gently softened in plenty of olive oil, a good stock and thick with herbs. Add pasta, diced potatoes, other grains such as spelt or farro or barley, leftover meats, cheese on top . .. torn old sourdough bread (not all at the same time probably best). A meal in itself.