Growing up, grilled cheese sandwiches meant orange-rimmed, melted slices of Muenster cheese hugged tightly between two slices of buttered white bread. This comfort food classic is a childhood favorite and cemented Muenster as my cheese of choice.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find Muenster cheese at a local farmer’s market or though the Philadelphia Winter Harvest buying club. What I have found is celeriac, or celery root, a funky root vegetable with little physical resemblance to the familiar and graceful celery stalk. But beauty is only skin-deep, and like the creepy kohlrabi that I experimented with last winter, it’s uses are plentiful and its flavor mild, warm, comforting – perfect for cold, snowy weather, no stranger to the Philadelphia region this month.
So here we are in the gut of winter, many snowed in, perhaps going stir crazy (as I often do under such conditions). The pundits say variety is the spice of life, but sometimes the harsh winter weather limits that range of ability… unless you’re in the kitchen.
While variety may be the spice of life, I’d argue that spices enhance life, particularly the life of one’s cooking. Indian cuisine is practically built around spices (not to mention fresh vegetables), making it a nourishing and unique alternative to lunch or dinner. Food is often prepared with turmeric, a spice that offers researched health benefits that include protection against liver damage and certain types of cancers, anti-inflammatory and infection-fighting properties. Admittedly, since I’m not a fan of hot, spicy foods, my only exposure to Indian cuisine is the occasional episode of Aarti Party on The Food Network. Until now, as I realize that using spices does not necessarily make a food spicy.
I used fast-cooking whole wheat couscous as the platform in this recipe to inject a bit of Indian flavor. The earthy, vibrant turmeric mixes with the nutty, citrusy coriander (which has its own list of health benefits) to create a colorful base for this nutritious and filling side dish. I even used one of my several kitchen-related Christmas gifts– a coffee/spice grinder that quickly pulverized the coriander seeds to a fine powder (thanks, Mom!). Continue reading
Yesterday, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), a landmark bill that greatly increases the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over our nation’s food system. Under this law, to be signed by President Obama today, food facilities will be required to put food safety plans in place, and the FDA will have the ability to issue mandatory food recalls. Continue reading
Bread gets a bad rap. Unfairly so.
Fad diets proclaim the dangers of carbohydrates, banishing the bread basket to the corner to sulk. But the truth is, carbohydrates provide the body with the fuel it needs for normal organ function and physical activity. Of course, quantity and quality deserve consideration; some kinds of carbohydrates are far better than others. Grains intact from foods such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole oats, and lesser known gems such as quinoa and bulgur, contain B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber to help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Continue reading