Weekend Reading

A few of my little seedlings popped up through the earth in their trays by the window this week, and the last patch of snow is nearly melted from the snowbanks along our front walkway. Signs of spring are everywhere and are an encouragement to both the body and soul. We moved to our new property on a blustery day last December, and are looking forward to observing how Spring comes to our new home!

There was a wealth of interesting information around the web this week. Don’t you feel blessed to have so much inspiration at your fingertips? I am just in awe at the quality content that keeps popping up in my Google Reader.

Here are a few of my favorites: [Read more…]

10 Tasty Uses for a 4-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Batch cooking starts with basic tomato sauce, I think we can all agree on that one. Having a few quarts of it in the freezer – or jarred up in the pantry – is reassurance of a quick hot meal in the future.

Tomato sauce is:

  • good for you – see ‘fun facts’ below;
  • versatile – I’ve listed ten quick uses, but there are many more;
  • seasonal year round – if you use canned tomatoes, as I do;
  • popular! Most children gobble up anything doused in it. This guarantee alone is worth a multi-quart stash.

The basic tomato sauce recipe I’ve included is ideal because of its down-and-out simplicity. I mean, four ingredients, folks! Canned tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and salt, that’s IT. [Read more…]

A New Way to Menu Plan

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a menu plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. Let’s face it, we’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on bringing the family around the table for good, wholesome food.

We’ve covered the basics of successful menu planing here on Simple Bites already, but I often get asked exactly HOW I decide what to make. It’s a very valid question.

Sure menu planning starts off easily enough with a sheet of paper labeled ‘M-F’, but it is after that we often tend to get stuck; chewing on the end of a pencil, waiting for inspiration to hit, while we flipping mindlessly through cookbooks or surf cooking sites.

It’s too easy to waste time trying to deciding what to make.

Today I’m excited to share with you a quick way to plan out the weekly meals by implementing a menu plan that takes into account YOUR unique schedule and helps outline an appropriate meal for each unique day. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

My cheeks still feel wind-kissed from spending the day on my uncle’s sugar bush. Yesterday was our annual family sugaring-off outing to their 25-acre maple farm. There, over 300 trees are tapped for their precious sap and reduced over an open fire to pure maple syrup.

This traditional method of harvesting and reducing sap is becoming more and more rare; indeed just visiting my uncle’s property feels like I’m stepping back in time. In case you are interested in reading more about making maple syrup, I am including two posts I wrote following our outing last year for your weekend reading.

The pot of maple baked beans pictured above simmered on the massive cast iron stove all afternoon; we drank tea made with the boiling sap and licked maple taffy off of wooden paddles.

It was a delightful way to spend a spring day.

Here are a few more favorites that caught my eye this week around the web… [Read more…]

Cooking School: Know Your Knives

Now that we’ve covered safety in the kitchen, let’s get straight to the next important topic in our cooking school series: Tools, and more specifically, knives.

Simple Bites reader Alissa writes:

One question I have is about choosing the right tools during prep work.  I know my default is to select the smallest item (knife, bowl, etc) that will do the job, but it seems the chefs on television are always using huge bowls for tiny tasks, and 8-inch chef knives when I’m pulling out the paring knife.
I’d love to know what they teach about that in cooking school.

Great question, Alissa! Most people don’t realize is that using the correct knife can actually improve your cooking by:

• giving your food the appropriate texture
• accomplishing tasks more efficiently
• respectfully treating the food product
• helping you work in a safer manner

Without question, the knife is the most important tool in the kitchen and choosing the right knife for the job is an important step toward simplifying your cooking. [Read more…]