Archive for November, 2010
Fresh vegetables are available all year round, even in the cold winter months! A variety of crisp and tasty treats that you can find at your local farmer’s market or supermarket during the period between September and March. A lot of the veggies available are root vegetables, like spicy horseradish, carrots, sweet beets and rutabaga, and some of them are big leafy veggies like kale, cabbage and endive. A lot of them may be unfamiliar to your kids, or even to you Moms out there, but its a great opportunity to introduce a wide variety of new veggies, and some of them aren’t green, which might help make it easier!There are hundreds of festive recipes that call for anyone of these veggies, sometimes two or three of them, and they can be a nutritious, healthy and yummy addition to your meals over the holiday season.
Beets are a bright red, naturally sweet vegetable that are great cooked in many different ways, baked, broiled, boiled, roasted, and even grilled. They have a very dense, smooth texture, and go well with a lot of different main course, especially red meats. Beets have a lot of natural sucrose, or sugar, in them, that only gets sweeter as they are heated, and some types of beets that are grown in temperate climates are even used to make table sugar. You can use beets in a lot of different recipes, and even use just the greens from the tops of the beets too!
The rutabaga is a cross between the cabbage and the turnip that originated in Sweden and Russia and can be used in almost any recipe that calls for a root vegetable, much like a potato. They are even carved like pumpkins in Britain and Ireland around Halloween. They have a nutty flavor and smooth texture that can be used as a thickening agent for soups and stews as well.
Winter squash is actually several different types of squash; acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and turban squash. Most of them are fully matured in the very late summer and throughout the fall seasons, but are killed by frost. They are usually found on a number of Thanksgiving tables as a centerpiece, but are found in a lot of Thanksgiving and holiday dishes as well.
Parsnips are very similar to carrots in both taste and texture, but can sometimes have a very hard or “woody” center that needs to be cut out before they can be prepared.
Leeks are very similar to green onions but have a much more mild flavor. They are used alot of times in conjunction with potatos for soups, and rarely featured in recipes on their own. They are largely a complimentary veggie.
Kale is a member of the broccoli family of veggies, and some of the varieties have distinctive curly leaves and some have big broad flat leaves. It can be cooked by itself or as an addition to other ingredients in recipes, and cooked a lot like collard greens. It is used often with beans in soups and stews, and has a nice flavor that compliments both red meat and poultry.
Endive is a member of the DAISY family, with a couple of differences in the types available in the markets. The broad leafed or Belgian endive (pictured) has a smoother more buttery flavor and large wide light green almost yellow leaves. It can be cooked alot like cabbage. The other type of endive has long thin stems and small curly leaves, with a sharp almost bitter flavor. It is often used as a garnish or flavor addition.
Horseradish is a root veggie, with a very sharp flavor that is used most often as a flavor additive, minced and added to soups. It’s usually available in jars, but sometimes can be found in root form to be sliced or grated. Be careful about how much of the root you use in your recipes, a little goes a long way, and can add a lot of heat to your meal. Click here to learn how to make horseradish from a raw root.
Cauliflower is a sister to broccoli, and can be swapped for the green veggie in a lot of recipes. It can also be steamed or boiled and mashed much like potatoes for a lower carb variation to mashed potatoes. Its smooth flavor and creamy texture make it a great choice for a vegetable.
Carrots have been a classic staple of the American meal for centuries, distinguished by their sweet taste and rich vibrant orange color. They are a root vegetable, and can be eaten raw or baked, broiled, steamed, or even as the main ingredient in a number of dessert breads, like the traditional carrot cake.
Cabbage is a naturally spicy leafy plant closely related to the wild mustard plant. Only the inner light green leaves are usually eaten, and are at times coated with a waxy powder substance called bloom. It can be cooked in a number of ways, although when boiled it releases the sugars stored in the cabbage and gives your kitchen an slightly unpleasant aroma.
Brussel sprouts grow wild in a lot of areas in North America, and grow on a very tall stalk like little lollipops sticking out. They are at their best when harvested after a short frost, like citrus fruit they get sweeter when exposed to short periods of intense cold. Overcooking Brussel Sprouts is never a good idea, because sulfur-like compounds are released, and this affects the smell and taste of the sprouts, a reason many people claim to dislike the veggie. They should be cooked until just tender.
Dad’s Bacon Wrapped Brussel Sprouts
You Will Need:
12-16 Brussel Sprouts of similar size
1 pound of bacon
1 Tbsp extra light olive oil
Heat the oil in a large skillet, along with the garlic. Remove the outer leaves from each brussel sprout, then wrap it in a slice of bacon. Saute the wrapped sprouts until just tender, adding more oil if necessary to prevent scorching. The sprout absorbs the flavor of the bacon and believe me it is GOOD. You can also grill the wrapped sprouts for a smoky flavor.
With the upcoming winter holidays drawing near a lot of families with children will be headed to any one of the multitude of theme parks and amusement parks all over the US and world wide. But what does that mean for the Moms who tend to shy away from sugary funnel cake and soda for their kids meals? Is it possible to get a truly nutritious meal at a major attraction? Or are we forced to choose from greasy burgers and limp french fries or gigantic helpings of candy coated foodstuffs?
I’m here to tell you that it is not only POSSIBLE to find a good meal at any one of the leading theme parks around the country, but it can be EASY as well. If you just follow a handful of my tips and tricks for dining between rollercoaster rides you will see just how tasty and good for you those trips can be.
Where to Look:
When dining at a major attraction, lets say Disney World for instance, you are immediately presented with hundreds of options for snackage, depending on which part of the park you are in, what time of day it is, and how much money you have… Now if you’re family is like mine, you’re not really looking for the sit down, linen napkin, country club meals offered by some of the more posh restaurants and resorts around Mikey’s home, and are forced to choose from some of the (slightly) more budget friendly options inside the park itself. Just because its not five star doesn’t mean that you can’t get a nutritious meal. Many of the restaraunts inside the parks in the Orlando area cater to a worldwide following, offering any number of options from cultures all over the world. Many of you Mom’s may have tried a large selection of some of the tasty alcoholic beverages available, but have you ever tried to “eat around the World” at Epcot? Or stopped in at the Cartoon Cafe in Islands of Adventure? They offer a giant selection of items from chinese food to pasta, and you are sure to find something that will please your nutritionally needy palates.
What to Eat?
Take a serious look at the menu provided to you, and you will see that many of the foodspots around theme parks these days are trying to cater to a slightly more health conscious audience. There may be a fresh fruit item available, a tasty and nutritious salad, or perhaps a light sandwich on whoel wheat or even pita bread. The best thing to do is consider every option on that menu, judging both taste and health, when you make your decisions. Don’t just jump at the chance for a hamburger because you think its the only thing your kids will eat. Chicken nuggets aren’t the perfect superfood, but they are much healthier than a grease laden philly cheese steak, offer a good balance of carbs and protein to help your kids get through a long day at the park, and they are often the cheapest item on the menu. Remember that you will need more energy than any high sugar item can provide if you want to make it to closing time without a mid-crowd tantrum, so skip the ice cream bars, the sugary donuts and pastries, and the soda. Water is, and always will be, perfectly fine for re-hydrating, and you can usually find a water fountain close by, instead of spending $11 dollars on a bottle with Mickey’s face on it.
Another valid point when it comes to what you eat is how you will spend your day. You won’t want to get on any ride that may make you queasy if you eat a heavy meal beforehand, and for the same reason you should make sure that you do eat SOMETHING. Feeling nauseous and miserable can wreck even the best vacation day, and when it comes to kids, that day can go from good to bad in about thirty seconds after you hear the first “Mom, I don’t feel so good.”
I am the world’s biggest fan of making sandwiches, snacks, and drinks beforehand, loading them all into a giant cooler, covering the whole thing with a very large amount of ice, and then leaving it in your car while you enjoy the parks. Then, when the chorus of “I’m hungryyyy” starts to sound, you simply get your hand stamped as you leave the gates, eat to your hearts delight in the parking lot, and then head back to the gates for the second half of your day. I, and many of my friends and family members, have utilized this tried and true method for munchies while spending the day anywhere from Busch Gardens in Tampa to the Miami Seaquarium, and believe me it works. First of all, you made the sandwiches and snacks, you know whats in them, how they were prepared, how many calories your consuming, and whether or not your kids will eat them. Second of all, it is VERY budget friendly. Instead of spending $20 per person (seriously thats how much a full meal can cost in some parks), you can spend $20 TOTAL and feed your whole family pretty well. Spend your money on that great souvenir photo of Jr. screaming and bug-eyed you drop straight down in pitch black darkness on the Tower of Terror, or get your little girl that Grinch stuffed animal she’s been begging for since you entered the gates, instead of basically wasting it on a $14 hamburger and fries. Third, the break offers parents a chance to regroup, recharge, maybe change out of wet clothes from a water ride, or put another layer if the night time air is supposed to get chilly.
It’s not impossible to get good nutritious food at a theme park, but it does take a little bit of searching, and sometimes there is a much easier option. Make the most of your trip, and you’ll have great memories for years to come. Oh, and if you do go to one of the orlando based parks, try a Turkey Leg. They’re awesome, usually a good deal, and so good dipped in mustard.
There are kids out there who would rather not be blessed with a giant meal of turkey, gravy, stuffing, all the trimmings of that great Pilgrim meal known as Thanksgiving. Believe it or not some kids are just too picky to enjoy that multitude of tasty treats, and need a little help when it comes to their sensitive palates. But what mom is going to want to make TWO Thanksgiving dinners? I mean you spend at least eight hours cooking that first one, from roasting the turkey to mashing the taters, you barely have time to eat yourself, before rushing to clean up dishes and leftovers for twenty people.
The other option, it seems, is to throw a handful of turkey TV dinners in the microwave and let the kids sit at the kiddie table with their cousins and siblings and enjoy some lukewarm turkey flavored meat chunks and less than appetizing frozen mashed potato like substance. Its amazing how easily that kids will eat a TV dinner but refuse to eat something truly delicious like corn pudding or cranberry sauce. Here are a few ideas to make your Thanksgiving kid friendly.
As tasty as a turkey is, some kids just don’t like it. Whether its the texture or the flavor, the likelihood of a child in tears saying “EWWWWWW” could be pretty strong at your family table this Thursday. So what’s a mom to do? Try cutting your kids turkey into very small chunks and mixing it in with stuff that you know they like, hiding it in the mashed potatoes, or dousing it in the almighty equalizer known as ketchup. I’ve known a family that convinced their kids that the turkey was not in fact turkey, but chicken, and wouldn’t you know it those kids ate every last piece. Or try giving each kid a chunk of Turkey leg, sometimes the interest of having the leg to hold onto can be a great factor in deciding whether or not your young ones will eat it.
I have never met a kid that didn’t LOVE mashed potatoes, but just in case, there are a few things you can do to make your meal a little easier on the ears. Stop that chorus of “I’m not eating that” by offering a simple substitution of sweet potatoes instead. That bright orange color and sweet nutty flavor can make any kid happy, and expecially when you mix it with some of the stalpe ingredients known to accompany sweet potatoes, like brown sugar, spicy cinnamon and yummy marshmallows. Or try mashing some freshly steamed cauliflower, with a pat of butter on top it looks just like the real thing, and you can even add gravy to it with no problems. If its the trimmings that your kids don’t like, try making just a plain batch of potatoes for them, minus the chives, bacon bits, or other additions that your family might enjoy this holiday.
No one hates green vegetables more than kids. Well maybe the McDonalds corporation, but thats another topic for another post. Veggies are tough to get your kids to enjoy on any day, and the hectic scheduling of your Turkey Day meal may leave you just exhausted enough to give up on the green beans and hand over the dessert. But little do you know that kids can have fun with their veggies and eat every last bite before you portion that pumpkin pie. Try offering green bean casserole with yummy french fried onions on it, or a corn pudding instead of the usual corn on the cob. Make a colorful and tasty rainbow plate of veggies with yellow squash, yellow red and green pepper slices, yummy dark green snow peas, white cauliflower chunks, orange carrots, and red apple, even add some fruits like fresh blue berries to even it out!
The main parts of your Thanksgiving meal do not have to inspire a battle of wills. You and your loved ones can sit down to a wonderful meal and you can know that your kids will enjoy every last bite, so that you won’t feel bad about dishing out that apple pie a la mode at the end of the night. Now if only having them help you clean the kitchen was this easy!
Happy Thanks giving!
Jello has been around for more 165 years, since it was patented in 1845. The original formula was patented by Peter Cooper, the inventor of the first steam engine, and is at its most basic form powdered proteins from animal fat and connective tissue. Gelatin was not flavored until the patent was sold to Pearle and May Wait in 1897, who added raspberry, lemon, orange and strawberry flavor to it and made the dessert basically what it is today, referring to it as Jello. The Wait’s were not able to successfully market the dessert unfortunately, and it wasnt until 1904 when the one of the founding companies of the General Foods brand, which would eventually be Kraft Foods, sent out salesman to promote the substance and give it more popularity with a family recipe book.
New flavors included before the end of the 1930′s were chocolate, cherry and peach, and the Jello salad craze that swept the nation in the first half of the 1900′s would lead to even savory flavors like celery, tomato and Italian Jello. In the mid 1930′s Jello pudding was created, in a chocolate flavor. Pudding was a hit and several other flavors would follow, most of which are still in circulation today.
By the 1960′s more than 15 flavors were available for purchase, and the Jello Company created their line of No-Bake desserts in 1966. The dessert cups, or snack packs, were avaiable in 1971, and General Foods became Kraft in 1989. Flavors like margarita and pina colada became popular, and Jello was named the official state “snack” of Utah in 2001.
Approximately 300 million boxes of Jello are sold every year.
Fruit and Jello salads have been popular since the beginning of the 1900s and a wide variety of fruit can be used when setting Jello, except for fresh pineapple, papaya, kiwi and ginger. Jello shots, or Jello prepared partially with alcoholic spirits, became popular with the rise of the 1990′s cocktail culture.
The world’s only Jello museum is based in LeRoy NY. Collections of Jello molds dating back to the 1800s are prized by many people around the world and can be worth millions of dollars.
Cook, Bake and Much More with Jello
Jello offers Moms a great base, addition or even the entire substance of a turly tasty dessert, and its simple makeup and wide variety of uses make it a great addition to any pantry.
Probably one of the easiest meals ever made, meat and veggies on a stick roasted over an open flame have been a part of man-kinds meals since the beginning of time. The cavemen roasted their kills over a large fire spinning them over and over on a spit until they were evenly cooked. The shish kebab is merely a miniaturized version of that technology, perfected by Middle Eastern cultures and used prominently in Greek and Meditteranean lands as well.
The basic construction of a shish kebab is simple. All you need is a bamboo skewer, chunks of meat cut to the same size, and a handful of yummy vegetables. Arrange the meat and veggies on the stick, try to center the stick when you push it through the items, and then lay it over a grill or open fire, and turn them every once in a while as they cook. The meat and veggie flavors combine and blend and the ease of cooking makes it a great meal idea. The best part is that most men refuse to let moms near the grill, so you can always hand this meal over to your significant other to give him a chance to wear his “King of the Grill” apron.
Here’s a great collection of kebab recipes featuring chicken, beef, lamb and even fish.
Kids and caffeine really don’t mix, so when they are dragging, and can’t quite function at optimum levels, Mom’s have to provide them with something a little more substantial and longer lasting than coffee. Foods high in B-vitamins, fiber and good fats are great for getting and staying active.
This high fiber and high energy snack is great for breakfast, or any time of the day really. It’s energy has been used for centuries, and its a favorite for people like hikers and travelers that need to stay active and energetic for long periods of time. the carbohydrates that oatmeal has are very slowly released into your system, instead of amassed all at once, so that the energy from them lasts a lot longer.
It might take a long time to cook, but brown rice is another high fiber low carbohydrate food that will give your kids lots of energy. Try to add it to lunch tortillas or rice and lentils for a double energy treat.
This tiny bean is a flavorful and high energy food that tastes great in soups, cooked and served cold in salads, or just on their own with a little bit of cheddar cheese melted on top. Not only do they have loads of great energy complexes, they are also a great source of protein, to help your energy last longer and build lean muscle in your kids.
Bananas are a great source of potassium, which regulates your nerve and muscle systems, and gives you great energy. The tiny bit of soluble fiber and good amounts of carbs aren’t released as slowly as a whole grain, but the quick energy boost can be great as your kids head off to the bus stop for the day.They also have virtually no fat, and hover just around 50-80 cents a pound, making them a cheap and easy snack for any time, day or night.
Most nuts, particularly almonds, are a great source of omega 3s and omega 6 fatty acids, which support your mental awareness and are so good for optimum brain function. They are really high in fats though, so only a handful is necessary to get the best benefits without significant weight gain.
Alongside nuts, avocado are one of the highest sources of omega fatty acids, and their smooth nutty flavor and texture make great dips and sauces for a variety of veggies and chips. Remember, only in moderation though, high fat content.
Try to add more of these foods into your kids diet, and there won’t be a need for sugary sodas or caffeinated energy drinks to get them through the day.
Flipping through the pages of the web, and always looking for a great and informative website for Moms to go to and I stumbled upon Meals Matter at www.mealsmatter.org . This site is fully funded by the Dairy Council of California, the same people that sponsor those hilarious California Dairy cow commercials, and it is chock full of important and useful info, tips and advice to keep your meals nutritious, tasty and most important of all, kid friendly.
Home Page and Sign In
With their quick and easy registration you can sign up to use their entire site and all of its info. A simple user-name and your email address gets you access to recipes, meal planning information and online tools that will make your weekly meal menu much smoother, healthy and fun for everyone!
Make healthier meal choices and learn great tips about foods that are good for you with a series of interactive tools such as the nutrition planner, a calcium quiz, a fitness planner, and even fun activities for your kids to do! You can also find out what kind of food personality you are, from Gourmet Diva to last Minute Mommy…
Their Meal Planning section offers you info about creating the perfect meal for any day of the week, giving you things like shopping lists, recipes, a pantry guide and even acess to hundreds of articles related to planning a great meal for you and your family.
Healthy living is simple and easy in this section of the site. They give you great lists of healthy foods, lots of ideas for the healthiest food possible, and answers to all sorts of questions related to living healthy, optimum weight levels, and even holiday tips and tricks.
If you need a recipe suggestion, a meal idea or an idea for a quick meal, this section can help you find just what you are looking for.
Sometimes when your kids ask “Mommy, what is that?” you don’t always have the right answers. Here’s a list of some truly strange foods and a description of each, so the next time you encounter them in your culinary creations you will be prepared.
Bird Nest Soup
Yes, it is REALLY made from bird nests, and if you aren’t easily able to get over that fact, stop reading now because it only gets worse. The nests are not made of twigs and twine, they are actually made from the saliva of a type of bird known as the swift. The male swift bird spends approximately 35 days making a large nest attached to a roosting point, found in and around the islands surrounding Asia, and the nests are collected, sanitized, and dissolved in a soup. The bird saliva gives the soup texture and flavor and it is said to be a cure for a host of ailments and issues. It is high in a large number of nutrients, such as protein as well. Different varieties of these nests can sell for up to $10,000 a kilogram.
Snails. Yum. They might not be fast, they might not look tasty, but escargot is considered on of the finest delicacies the world of French cuisine can offer. There has been evidence in archaeological digs that snails may have been eaten by our oldest ancestors. Not all types of snail are edible, but the ones that are are very high in protein, and very low in fat, depending on how they are cooked. Normally the snails are removed from their shells, or shucked, then cooked in butter and salt and other flavorings, then stuffed back into the shells and served with a small fork.
As the name says it, pork rind is literally the skin of a pig, cured and then puffed like a cheese doodle. It is flavored with garlic, or spicy seasonings, and then eaten as a snack, much like cheese doodles. Pork rinds are also known as cracklings, they are not air puffed, just the layer of skin and fat is seasoned and deep fried for a crispy treat that is eaten all over the world. It is very high in fat, but very low in carbs, which makes it an interesting snack alternative for those on diets like the Atkins diet.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
A touchy subject for young kids, but you may find them asking this question. When a young bull is castrated the resulting leftover “meat” is tenderized, usually breaded and then fried or baked. I first heard them called this name in Australia believe it or not, at a cattle ranch, where the farmer actually ate them RAW, but in the US they are cooked and served as a delicacy in the western cattle ranching states. They are also called prairie oysters, especially in Canada.
Pickled Pigs Feet
Feet. From a pig. Pickled in brine. Processed this way so that they do not require refrigeration. *shudders*
A delicacy sating back to the days of the French revolution, this is another “unique” food item that we can thank the French for. They are also served in some Asian cultures as well. The legs of a large frog, (known as the Edible Frog) are cut off and cooked. Because frog muscle tissue is normally cold blooded, it doesn’t get stiff as quickly as say chicken or beef when the frog is killed, so they are known to actually move on their own while being cooked. They are said to have a taste and texture similar to chicken.
A flavorful meat usually taken from the fatty tissue of an alligators tail. Harvested commercially in the state of Florida and imported all over the world, the American Alligator is a tasty and tender treat that can be cooked in a number of ways, from stews to chops. I’ve had it. ITS GOOD. It can be dry and chewy if not cooked right, but it takes well to marinating and braising or even a few minutes on the grill. You can even buy it commercially if you know where to look.
Fish eggs taken most often from a female sturgeon. The female fish is caught and handled extremely gently before death, because if she feels threatened, she excretes a sour tasting hormone that ruins the eggs before they can be harvested. Caviar is one of the most expensive substances known to man.
Truffles are a type of fungus, much like a mushroom that is primarily found in France and Italy, though some species are discovered here in the United States. They are found underground among the roots of trees, and are distinguished by color and flavor, known as white or black truffles. Orignally they could not be farmed by man, since no one quite understood how they were created, but discovered instead in the wild by hogs and trained dogs. They are now cultivated commercially and harvested. They can be eaten cooked or raw and have a very pungent strong aroma that is very much like a mushroom.
Also known as a Norwegian Omelet, Baked Alaska is a dessert featuring a very firm dense cake like a sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue topping that is put in a very hot oven until just browned on top. The meringue covering acts as an insulator and protects the ice cream from melting while it is under the broiler.
Blood sausage, or blood pudding or black pudding, is a type of sausage made from beef or pig blood that is cooked until thickened. The blood is then processed with other sausage friendly items like garlic, spices, and oatmeal or bread products, and then stuffed into pig intestine to make links. It is known for its very strong flavor and high levels of iron and protein.
Kid Friendly Fish Recipes!
It’s hard to introduce your kids to a new food, and when it is something as strongly flavored and differently textured as fish it can be a nightmare even, but here is a great collection of recipes, flavoring options and kid friendly tips and tricks that will make seafood a favorite part of any meal, no matter what age your kids are.
A collection of a handful of kid approved tasty recipes that include different kinds of fish, from cod to tuna and even fish sticks.
Enjoy tastes and flavors without a load of butter and fat in your fish. This collection of healthy fish recipes from Eating Well offers you a great selection of techniques and flavor options to bring out the best in your fish and make it truly great for your family.
These recipes from homemaking goddess Martha Stewart will make seafood dinners quick and easy for Mom and tasty and appetizing for kids. With an emphasis on easy and fast cooking time, you will have dinner on the table in no time at all with this collection.
These tasty meals will bring back some of the nostalgia of Mom’s kitchen with a selection of yummy favorites that have been kid tested and approved for decades.
Learn to make a great tuna fish sandwich,, great for a school lunch or a weekend snack with the kiddos.
This shellfish and fish recipes were specifically collected to be acid-reflux safe, but the gentle flavors and easy recipes are also great for kids with picky tastebuds.
SOS offers you a great selection of kid friendly and easy recipes that make cooking fish or shellfish for the first time a real treat, no matter what your experience in the kitchen may be.
These recipes from the Meals Matter website sponsored by California’s Dairy Farmer give you a good selection of meals that kids can help with or with a little practive even make themselves.
Learn directly from the fish experts with these recipes collected by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.
With this great variety of recipes you are sure to find something that interests you and pleases your kids. Fish doesn’t have to be a tantrum inducing meal.
Fish or shellfish doesn’t have to be something that your family eats once a week on Fridays just as a force of habit or because that’s what Grandma did when you were growing up.. With its massive health benefits, low fat totals, and great flavoring and texture, your kids can be cod or clam connoisseurs in no time! With a little guidance about buying your fish or shellfish, what to look for, how to store it, how to prepare it, and how much to cook, you and your local fish market owner can be good friends in a mutually supportive and appreciative relationship.
Is that Alive?
There were days in my childhood when my parents, usually my Dad, would stop by the fish market on the way home from his job, and buy an enormous lobster or two for dinner. His friends at the market gave him a great price, so any event that was worth celebrating was usually marked by the lovely brown creatures making a visit to our home. Now I say brown, because most kids see lobster as the red cooked kind, and they are not red normally. Normal, uncooked, still very alive lobster fresh out of the tank are a brown color, ranging from a purplish brown to a greenish brown. They are beautiful to look at and fun to play with on the kitchen floor, just leave the rubber bands on their claws.
*Please Note: It never occurred to us that the lobsters may have been uncomfortable outside of the water, and should have been boiled quickly, for my home-schooled brother and I, they were just another experiment.*
I will eat just about any kind of seafood that exists, with the exception of squid, because of the texture not the taste, but the major caveat behind that is that it has to be cooked. I think that the risks outweigh the benefits of a raw clam or raw oyster or raw sushi fish being consumed, especially on a daily basis, or from a local supermarket, where it sits on a refrigerated shelf for hours at a time. I don’t intend to preach my thoughts on you and your family, but I will let you know that I will not cover any type of raw fish eating in this post. Sorry.
Oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, scallops, crabs, all types of glorious creatures that sit on the bottom of the ocean floor, and filter the oceans for their nutrients. They are not giant predators like sharks, nor do they have the creepy and boring life of a jellyfish, floating along on the current.
Shellfish all usually have a mild sweet flavor when cooked in their own juices, but some can be strong, depending on where they come from. The flavors and textures of shellfish make them easy for kids to enjoy, and any type of fish can usually endure a good amount of seasoning to make them even more kid friendly. I had a friend who has a daughter, around 8 now, but when she was five, she refused to eat any kind of fish except for the basic frozen Mrs. Pauls type fish sticks. To solve this problem, her father, my friend, coated some clams in bread crumbs and salt and pepper, and fried them until golden brown and told her that someone had broken up all of her fish sticks. They were now called clam nuggets. She ate every single one. Be creative with your fish.
How Much Shellfish to Buy:
Since your family has expressed an interest in shellfish in their next meal, the question of what and how much to buy comes to mind. Ask the markets fishmonger, he or she is often quite skilled and can give you GREAT recipe tips. For a general idea of how much to buy, especially if you are going to buy prepackaged frozen fillets out of your grocers freezer:
Shrimp: Between ¼ lb and a ½ pound depending on how they are prepared, use less if peeled.
Oysters: If in the shell, six would fill you up, if “shucked” between ½ to ¾ cup of meat
Crab: Legs: Usually a cluster of legs is a giant meal for a small child, split them
- Whole Small: 3-4
- Meat Only: ¼ to ½ lb
- Claws: 2-3
Lobster: Save a small tail for a small child, or try just a claw, unless they are a fan. My brother and I have been known to clean an entire lobster carcass for every single ounce of meat.
- Shell – 6 to 8 each person
- Shucked: ½ cup meat per person
Shrimp, lobster and crab all have a solid firm texture when cooked, while crabs and oysters are a bit softer and can be a bit stronger flavored. Colors range from pale beige to brown to bright pink when any one of these items are cooked, so make sure to ask your fishmonger what you should look out for when you buy.
Handling Live “Bugs”
Live lobsters are known as “bugs” down here in Florida and in many place all over the United States. Raw shellfish usually come still alive, and handling and storing them is not difficult. Clams and oysters should smell fresh, not fishy, and the shells should be solid, crack free and have no discolorations or marks on them. Live clams and oysters really do close when you knock against the shells, if they don’t close, toss them in the trash. Contrary to popular belief you do not have to submerge your shellfish in water for them to live for up to a week, just keep them properly refrigerated, in a slightly open container, and avoid going from hot to cold very quickly. The bottom drawer of your fridge works great for shellfish, just don’t forget about them. Its still recommended to eat your live purchases as soon as possible, within 48 hours for best flavor and safety reasons.
Tomorrow we will cover how to cook fish and shell fish.