Non-Stick Pans Linked to Thyroid Disease: Whom Can I Sue and Will the Charges Stick?

The last of my formerly complete set of Circulon pans, a wedding present 11 years ago, was solemnly  sent off to the Cooking Pan Graveyard recently. As I researched the best replacement for the much-used, much loved matrimonial gift, I found that Amazon offered a fabulous deal on a new range of Circulon pans, which came with a free casserole dish worth $100. It would have been foolish to have let it slip. The purchase took place without a hitch – shopping online, time and money saved, prompt doorstep delivery, feet and nails intact.

The new pans, heatable to 400F (as high as I generally need the oven to go), are practically self-clean. Before I’ve picked up the sponge and doused it with washing-up liquid, the caked-up food has fallen off and the pan is, well, like new again. I hypnotically go through the motions still, of washing, as a matter of habit, as the pans themselves are bright and brimming with confidence.

So, I should be really, really happy.

But no, a dark cloud, reeking of burnt plastic, looms on the horizon. (more…)

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January 27, 2010. Tags: . Health, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings, Stories. 14 comments.

Cara Cara Orange and Blueberry Salad with Crystallized Ginger

I am in luck, with Cara Cara oranges being available freely at Costco (8 pound bag for under $6, is that a bargain or what?). They are going in everything these days, side salads, fruit salads, smoothies, muesli, cakes, muffins, and next week, I’m scooping the flesh out of halves of Cara Cara and setting jelly in them (aka Jell-O) for my younger son’s birthday.

We have fruit salads for dessert on week nights and it’s often challenging coming up with something new and interesting. For this one, which serves two, combine slices of banana, two large handfuls of blueberries, one Cara Cara orange and small chunks of crystallized ginger. Here’s another salad I made a few weeks ago with these lovely oranges, which are less acidic than regular oranges, and have a reddish flesh.

Have you been buyings lots of oranges this winter? Where are they ending up? Do tell!

January 27, 2010. Tags: . Desserts, Fruit, Nutrition, Salads, Superfood. 4 comments.

Chia Asian Bistro: Good Dumplings, Fab Decor

(A version of this review was published on Baristanet on Jan. 18)

It was with great interest that I watched as Chia Asian Bistro on Bloomfield Ave took shape and eventually opened late last year, as I had yet to find a satisfactory local Chinese restaurant that hit all the right spots for me. Chia was bang on target with location, being within a few minutes’ walk of bustling Church St and its fine selection of wine, clothing, coffee and candy stores, and the accompanying foot traffic.

The restaurant, with an airy dining room and a separate banquet room for party bookings, is tastefully decorated, with dark cherry wainscotting and generous windows welcoming in large swathes of natural light. Wallpaper in a deep jade, on which a Mandarin poem gracefully repeated itself in silver lettering, was mesmerizing and soothing. In the banquet room, the wallpaper was calligraphed equally fetchingly, this time with repeated motifs of oriental-style kettles. Wide, polished wood planks adorned the floor in a dark stain, tables and sturdy cushioned chairs of walnut wood kept up the earthy theme, and a single, exotic flower in a vase stylishly accented each table.

That the place was attractive and light was key. For me, it makes the difference between a restaurant with tasty Asian food that I will visit when I get the hankering once in many months, and one that instantly pops to mind when someone asks, “Where shall we eat?” (more…)

January 25, 2010. Tags: , . Asian, Chinese, Restaurants, Reviews. Leave a comment.

Blackened Chicken by Justin Gaines, Winner of TV’s Chopped (Food Network)

Classically-trained chef Justin Gaines, born and bred in Montclair, whom I mentioned in my MLK Day post earlier this week, won the Jan. 19 episode of the Food Network’s Chopped series!

The show pits the skills of four ostensibly skilled chefs against the clock, each other, and baskets of mystery ingredients.

“There was a lot of drama in that episode,” Gaines said, describing the pre-recorded show which, contractually, he couldn’t discuss until after it had aired. “I had the attitude of going in to win it, but now, I’m humbled by everyone’s response to it.”

His mom Cathy said, “I am elated and so proud! This is the fruit of my labor as a single parent, and of what I’ve worked for, for the last 29 years – to see my kids become successful.”

Gaines, 28, who was “cooking every day after school, then doing homework,” and who started out as a student who washed the dishes at Enzo’s pizzeria, performed consistently throughout the courses, demonstrating his classical training at the Culinary Institute of America, from which he graduated in 2003.

Currently executive head chef of the SaZa Italian restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama, Gaines said his immediate plans comprise setting up five to ten more restaurants under the SaZa umbrella this year, while continuing with food consulting and private catering in the tri-state area. He has, since his win, been overwhelmed with calls from TV and radio stations.

Said Ellen Rothman, a friend of the family, who joined other friends and Cathy Gaines at a local restaurant, The Office, to watch the nail-biting episode, “We were jumping up and down, we were so excited. His mom and I were remembering Justin as the skinny little boy he used to be. It’s just amazing how he has turned out; we are so proud and happy for him.”

(more…)

January 23, 2010. Tags: , . American, Dinners, Guest Chef, Mains, Southern, Stories. Leave a comment.

Best Thing … Since Bread was Last Sliced

Are you (like me) a klutz? Have you been avoiding sharpening your knives for fear of adding unwitting bits of meat to that chopped salad? Are you fed up of slicing stubborn heads of cabbage with spoons in knives’ clothing?

In the old days (2008 to be precise) in Canada, despite a fear of sharp objects, I would happily wait for the eerie music of our neighborhood Knife Sharpening Guy, whose tunes were only a touch less sinister than those of the Ice Cream Man and of Psycho’s shower scene (coincidence that a sharp shiny object is involved in the latter??) Thereupon I would grab my 20 once-super-sharp German kitchen knives and a stash of spare Ikea knives  – NOT by the blade end – and rush down the two flights of steep stairs to the street, across it and up to KSG’s van, sighing with relief that I had made it without tripping and falling upon all 30 knives, (more…)

January 20, 2010. Tags: . Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings. 2 comments.

MLK Day, With Celebratory Recipe from a Guest Chef

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My kids’ teachers have been doing a great job these past few weeks, edifying their charges on who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and how he changed the North America we live in right now. I can’t listen to King’s I Have a Dream speech without being deeply moved. As we ponder on how much King accomplished in terms of civil rights even though his life was cruelly cut short, and how much there is to go, I often think of how he fought on without giving up, always peacefully, overcoming or ignoring obstacles that would have turned a lesser person back. Repeated arrests. His home was firebombed. He was stabbed. In a typical year, he traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, making well over 200 speeches – because he had a cause, a dream. This was at a time when schools were segregated, when colored people and whites had to drink from separate water fountains and sit on separate parts of a bus or theater, when fire hoses and police dogs were turned on peaceful marchers, when scores of nonviolent rioters were killed. When blacks, as well as Hispanics and Asians, were denied economic opportunities and jobs, were instead, exploited, denied voting rights and faced racist violence. King, too, made references that showed he knew his life was in peril. Yet he fought on.

I came across a young man recently, born and raised in Montclair, NJ, who went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America (more…)

January 18, 2010. Tags: , , . American, Southern. 1 comment.

Sushi (Always) On Our Minds

Japan celebrated their New Year’s Day, or gantan, along with the rest of the world who follow the Gregorian calendar, on January 1st. But they’re already one up on everyone else with holidays – on the 11th, Japan observed Coming of Age Day,  seijin no hi – in honor of the youngsters turning 20 this year.

The Japanese have several new year customs and traditions, including eating osechi – comprising boiled seaweed, fish cakes, sweet potato with chestnut and sweet black soybeans – along with sushi and sashimi and non-Japanese food, which were added in the modern era. Practices include sending new year postcards, giving money to children, making sticky-rice cakes, and paying heed the first time something is done that year, such as watching the first sunrise, visiting the temple the first time, the first tea ceremony, the first sale at the shops, and so on.

As I bid my lovely Japanese friends a belated akemashite omedeto gozaimasu, I am grateful to the nation that gave the world sushi and have finally said Yes to my kids who have begged me for weeks to make it. This is something we used to do regularly together, when I realized that having an entire family of Japanese-food enthusiasts wasn’t going to do our bank balance any favors.

We introduced the boys to sushi after their first birthdays, and instantly, they were hooked. (more…)

January 15, 2010. Tags: , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Dinners, Festive, Fish, Japanese, Kids, Kids Cuisine, Melting Pot, Stories. Asian. 5 comments.

DivaIndoors Starts Project Holiday Feasts

I am setting forth on my cookin’ and bloggin’ endeavours this year with a purpose that’s singular (great for those with ADD needing a focal point), yet rich with diversity and flavors to keep things interesting (also great for ADDers). It’s early January and change is always possible. Yes, this means forget those early salads. What was I thinking?

Instead, I am embarking on a Holiday Feasts project, which will unite all the things I love. Food (of course), people (of course), new food-styling, photography and video opportunities, different cultures, histories, practices and food traditions, all centered around time-honored (some newer than others) festivities.

Call me an Ambassador of Food. And allow me to bring people together through their adoration of the yummy, edible stuff, and curiosity (it is hoped) about the yummy, edible traditions of others.

This doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily give up old favorites regular like the baked goodies and cupcakes and kids’ recipes. Somehow, I think there will be room for everything, in keeping with this theme of embracing the melting pot world we live in. If you prefer to be an ingredient out in the cold by yourself, you’re welcome to it. But I’ve gotta warn you, there are going to be some very exciting events and food projects on the DivaIndoors calendar this year.

First, a poll. What do you think I should name this project? Holiday Feasts? Melting Pot? Please suggest something too, in comments.

January 11, 2010. Tags: . Festive, Musings. 10 comments.

Beet and Rocket Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

A week into the New Year and I’m keeping to the salad theme, woo hoo! This doesn’t mean I’m only eating salads or shunning the odd square (or nine) of chocolate as I try to shed a few holiday-feasting pounds. The key components of my fitness and food regimen for 2010 are regular exercise and moderate avoidance of naughty things (hence the lack of baked goods so far). Oh, and not forgetting eating for my size, rather than for a 6-foot tall woman pregnant with triplets.

Having forced gently persuaded one of my sons to resolve to widen his repertoire of fruit and vegetables, while narrowing the one for candy and cookies, I decided it’s only fair I should conquer some food fears myself. There are very few things I don’t eat, apart from pork and shellfish (for nominal kosher reasons. It helps that I was deathly allergic to shellfish as a child).

Top of that No list is beetroot.

A bit of a surprise considering the strong beet presence in both my husband’s Jewish background (borscht) and my Indian one (it’s turned into a curry with coconut, mmm. Gotta try that, maybe it would be pink?). (more…)

January 8, 2010. Tags: . Salads, Superfood, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 3 comments.

Strawberry and Cara Cara Orange Salad with Basil

So I’ve started the year off with two healthy posts. Let’s see how long this lasts before cake begins to assert its upper hand! Cara Cara oranges, which are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley (and sold by Sunkist), are tantalisingly juicy, sweet, low acid and have a beautiful grapefruit-red flesh, which lent itself happily to the creation of this vivid and refreshing salad. I didn’t need further reason to pick this fruit but it’s nice to know it’s packed with vitamins A, C and fiber, along with foliate, potassium and antioxidant lycopene. In fact, the oranges and strawberries were so sweet, I did away with the original plan of a balsamic reduction as a dressing, instead just sprinkling the salad with a light dusting of icing sugar, purely for aesthetic reasons. The only herb at hand happened to be basil, which was just as well – it was the perfect touch. Feel free to substitute the sugar with stevia, or nothing at all.

  • cara cara oranges, 2
  • handfuls of strawberries, halved, 2
  • cherries, a few (for colour contrast)
  • basil, a few leaves, sliced into ribbons
  1. Arrange on plate and dust with icing sugar or stevia

January 3, 2010. Tags: . Fruit Salads, Nutrition, Salads. 5 comments.

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