AIM for Healthy Choices

I am so honored to have been asked to speak to a group of middle and high school students at the AIM for Healthy Choices Conference this weekend. The conference, presented by the Greater North Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill, is an opportunity to mentor young people and in return I hope to gain new enthusiasm for my work.  Below  is the outline I plan to go over during our lunch discussion, some recommendations  and links that I hope they find useful in the coming years.  If you know anyone considering a culinary arts career please feel free to  pass this along.  The list  is not all encompassing, I’m sure there are some things I’ve missed so feel free to mention them in the comments, thanks.

A.I.M.

Luncheon topics

I       Culinary career options

  1. Chef ( restaurant, hotels, markets, catering, pastry, corporate,  chocolatier,  baker, personal, private, craft services)
  2. Food writer/blogger, recipe tester
  3. Restaurant management
  4. Food science
  5. Nutrition and diet
  6. Sales, marketing and PR

II       How to get there

  1. Cook and document your work (Cook often and start a blog with pictures and descriptions of your projects)
  2. Cook for every one you know (church, school, friends, friends parents and family)
  3. Read
    1. BOOKS: Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food, with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals-Rick Smilow, What Einstein Told His Cook-Robert L Wolke, On Food And Cooking-Harold McGee, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking – Michael Ruhlman, CookWise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking, The Secrets of Cooking Revealed-Shirley O. Corriher, The Professional Chef-The Culinary Institute of America, Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work-Aki Kamozawa), H. Alexander Talbot)
    2. Magazines: Food Arts, Cooks Illustrated,
    3. Web sites and blogs: http://www.foodarts.com/  http://blog.ideasinfood.com/  http://www.foodrepublic.com/  http://eater.com/  http://clatl.com/atlanta/food-and-drink/Section?oid=1222716 (Creative Loafing Food Section) http://food52.com/  http://www.chow.com/

III       Schools

  1. Atlanta: Art Institute of Atlanta (Art Institutes are nationwide) http://www.artinstitutes.edu/atlanta/ Le Cordon Bleu-Atlanta (also nationwide) http://www.lecordonbleu-atlanta.com/Home
  2. New York : Institute of Culinary Education http://www.iceculinary.com/  French Culinary Institute http://www.frenchculinary.com/ Culinary Institute of America (several campuses nationwide) http://www.ciachef.edu/
  3. North Carolina: Johnson and Wales ( also other locations nationwide) http://www.jwu.edu/college.aspx?id=30676

Mexico: Culinary Arts School (you probably should learn Spanish) http://culinaryartschool.com.mx/

 Reputation is everything

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JAM! ooooooh JAM!

Jams and jellies (wait, did anyone get my obscure “80’s musical reference in the title of this blog post?)  where was I…OH YES!! Jams and jellies are pantry staples in my kitchen. They are great in desserts like thumbprint cookies or between layers of cake but I also like to use them in savory dishes.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to get a bushel of ripe peaches and I made peach/rosemary jam for my first canning project. It was a beautiful thing. One night I needed an hors d’oeuvre  for a casual party and the peach/rosemary jam was the perfect answer. I roasted chicken wing sections with a little salt and pepper and at the end of cooking I coated the wings with the jam and broiled them for a few minutes just to get a bit of char on  them. They were a huge hit; guests were licking the sweet sticky jam from their fingers ( I guess I should have given them napkins…oh well, hindsight is 20/20).

I needed a quick solution for dinner  the other night and I needed to cook some chicken drumsticks I had in the fridge.   I remembered that delicious party dish, but unfortunately I was out of the homemade peach/rosemary jam.  I did , however, have some store bought apricot jam that I bought at a half price sale a few weeks before. I roasted the chicken drumsticks just as I did the chicken wings, but I sprinkled a bit of dried rosemary on them along with the salt and pepper. Delicious, easy and pretty darn quick.

fresh summer peach and rosemary jam with brie

Peach, guava and apricot jams go really well with turkey, pork and cheese;  for beef dishes blueberry and blackberry jams would make great sauces with red wine reduction and pan juices.

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Disconnected

It was one of those days. Everyone was doing their own thing. The kids were in the same room watching some foolishness on TV, The Man was working on our new budget and I was “Pinning” and watching “Bizarre Foods, America” and then….STATIC.  Cable is out, internet is down,  WiFi disconnected. So now what?  This was a good excuse to get outside and get a little dirty.

I had some raspberry and blackberry plants that needed to get into the ground so the kids and I went outside and dug some holes. I think it was my son who got the idea to start a fire in the fire pit…and where there’s fire there are  hot dogs. One trip to the grocery store later we were impaling the hot dogs on skewers and roasting them ( and our knuckles ) and talking and laughing and sipping sweet tea and having a really great time. The Man was even inspired to make some chili for the hot dogs. It was a good day

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Brisket! It’s what’s for dinner….again

I knew it was going to be a ridiculously busy week.  Three extra kids staying over and lots of activities to participate in. So how do you feed all of those hungry people night after night without wearing yourself out?? BRISKET! that’s how.  With a little advanced planning you can slow cook a 5 pound flat cut beef brisket (seasoned with salt and pepper) at 300 degrees on a bed of sliced onions, and a half cup of water in a roasting pan tightly covered with foil for  about 4 hours and feed your family a variety of different meals for days.

The first night was taco night. We just heated some sliced brisket  and served it with chunky salsa, shredded cheese, fresh leafy salad greens and a choice of flour or corn tortillas….not to shabby.

The second night we had ramen noodles (yes, the cheap stuff) but instead of using the awful seasoning packet we served the noodles in a pool of the brisket broth with sliced brisket, green onions and a boiled egg, not authentic but it was deeeelicious!

We skipped one night and had chicken instead, but the next night we sliced the brisket and glazed it with tangy, sweet barbecue sauce. That was the family favorite hands down.  You can take a peek at that in the picture over there served with some buttered egg noodles with broccoli and garlic.  We still have a big hunk of brisket and some broth left.  Not bad for about $4.50 a pound.  The flat cut of brisket is usually sold with a layer of fat about 1/4 inch thick on one side, cook it with the fat on and trim it before you eat if you like.

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Keep it light

Cooking can be like music, sometimes you just need to freestyle, ad lib. If you keep fresh fruits and vegetables on hand and staples like  fragrant jasmine rice or quick cooking noodles you can ad lib your way to a delicious meal, no recipes needed. Steamed fish and shrimp on crisp romaine with jasmine rice is a delicious dish, a little sweet chili sauce will make it a family favorite
Shrimp and fish, keep it light!
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Just getting started

I’ve got pictures and notes and thoughts…now I just need a minute to get it all sorted out.  I’m going to play around with templates and fonts and all that cool stuff, then I’ll post some  pics and articles.

In the meantime, have some beignets for Fat Tuesday

Have a DELICIOUS day

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