Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals.  My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine.  They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife.  We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home.  I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations!  And, you what!  It worked.

According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen

Only 60 percent can confidently identify a butter knife
Millennials Don't Know How to Cook

They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.

According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)

And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.

The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.

 

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

15 Rules for Great Wine & Food Pairings

15 Rules for Great Wine & Food Pairings

Choose the Right Wine:

Ray Isle

Overwhelmed. Baffled. Bewildered. That’s how most people feel when shopping for wine. Our executive wine editor went undercover as a wine salesman and uncorked seven solutions.

Suppose you walk into a grocery store looking for chicken soup. But instead of a few well-known brands, you find an entire wall of chicken soup—hundreds and hundreds of brands. Plus, the chicken soup ranges all over the place in price, from 50 cents to 50 bucks a can. And in case that isn’t enough, every year, every single chicken soup is slightly different. Some years are better (sun is shining; chickens are happy; great taste); some years are worse (chickens get hailed on and feel like hell; taste like it, too). So if you buy the wrong brand of chicken soup from the wrong year, you’re going to have a way less pleasurable soup experience than if you’d bought a different can. Anyone sane, walking up to a wall like that, would have to think to themselves, “Man, what is with all this ding-damn soup?”

Now, instead of chicken soup, think Chardonnay.

Recently I spent a few weeks working in wine stores around the country. I wanted to get an on-the-ground read on wine in America today. Way back when, in the antediluvian 1990s, I worked for a wine importer and spent a lot of time hanging out in stores. These days, the number of wines on the market is vastly larger, but at the same time, there’s far more information about wine available to anyone with an internet connection. I wondered: Were people more baffled by all those choices? Less? Did consumers stick to the tried and true, or had we become a nation of wine adventurers, lighting out for the territories with nary a look backward? I figured the best way to find out was to don an apron and start selling wine.

If you drive down Cotner between Pico and Olympic in Los Angeles and take a left just before the 405 on-ramps, you’ll find The Wine House. Big and warehouse-y, crammed full of wine (over 7,000 selections), it’s a destination for bargain hunters and Burgundy collectors alike. Jim and Glen Knight, whose family owns the place, thought it totally reasonable to let an itinerant wine writer parachute into their store and pretend to be a salesperson. (Possibly this was lunacy on their part, but who was I to argue?)

Ray Isle

But back to Chardonnay. The Wine House sells about 600 different Chardonnays. At Western Market in Birmingham, Alabama, where I also worked a stint, there are more than 300. Super Buy-Rite, outside the Holland Tunnel that separates New York City from New Jersey, sells 400, from nine different countries. And as Dwight Shaw, the manager of Total Wine & More in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, told me, “People come in and say, ‘Where’s your Chardonnay?’ and I tell them, ‘It’s this entire aisle.’ And they just freeze.” That’s because the Chardonnay aisle at that particular Total Wine is about 50 feet long.

When I asked customers to describe what they found the experience of buying wine to be like (once I ditched my disguise and revealed what I was actually up to), they used words like “daunting,” “overwhelming,” “confusing,” and “total crapshoot.” Even with all the easy-to-access wine knowledge out there on the internet and in magazines at their fingertips, people still feel like they’re drowning in an ocean of wine. (In case it’s any comfort to everyday wine shoppers, people in the wine business often feel that way, too.)

But here’s the other thing I learned from my time selling wine at these stores: There are some simple ways to get your bearings and become a more empowered wine buyer—starting right now. Wine shoppers of America, take heart! Here’s what to do.

How to Buy Wine at Any Store

1. Buy your wines from a store with employees who actually can help you. Skip the usual unstaffed supermarket aisles, and avoid places like a store I stopped into recently, which had all the soul-draining fluorescent charm of a methadone clinic and seemed to be staffed by the undead. And if anyone ever makes you feel dumb, walk right out and find another store.

The truth is, the best wine stores are the ones that are staffed by people who love wine. One reason I could sell some guy I’d never met before an entire case of German Riesling when I was in L.A. is because I really love Riesling, and he was getting into Riesling, and we got to talking—and when it comes to wine­, passion is infectious.

2. Ask for help. It is the first, best thing you can do. During a stint on the sales floor, I was surprised and amused by how gender roles shaped how people did their wine shopping. Men, when I asked whether they could use help, typically said no. Then they’d go off and look at random wine bottles, in case their lack-of-needing-help hadn’t been made fully clear, and then five minutes later circle back and say something like, “Actually, I was looking for…” Women, more often, simply said thank you and told me what they were trying to find, a far more effective strategy that I’d say everyone should learn from.

3. Be sign-savvy. Those little signs that hang on wine shelves (“shelf talkers”) typically are placed there by the wholesale rep who sells that wine. Their basic purpose is to convince you to buy this wine rather than that wine. (And handwritten ones work better—i.e. move more wine—than preprinted ones, something wholesale reps know.) But that doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful. Shelf talkers that say something like “staff selection” with a particular person’s name are most often there because some actual human being on the store’s staff really likes that wine.

4. Take a picture. If you ever have a new wine you like at a restaurant, or anywhere really, take a picture of it with your phone. Otherwise, you’ll forget what it was, and even die-hard wine geeks like me have a hard time narrowing down requests like, “I’m looking for this wine … I think the label maybe has elephants on it?” (Though I actually did know that one: Michael David Winery’s Petite Petit. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it in stock.) Consider using a free app like Vivino or Delectable to help keep track of the wines you try.

5. Be as specific as you can. If you say, “I’m looking for a medium-priced Chardonnay,” which I heard more than once, that’s hard to parse. Most good stores will have wines ranging from $5 a bottle to $500 or more, and your idea of “medium-priced” is probably not the same as a billionaire’s (unless, of course, you are a billionaire). By “medium,” one customer I spoke to meant $15; the next person who used exactly the same word meant $50.

But being specific doesn’t have to mean talking like a master sommelier. You don’t have to whip out your Burgundian terroir skills and say, “Ah yes, do you happen to have any Corton-Charlemagne’s from the Aloxe side of the hill, perhaps from the 2013 vintage?” Instead, try describing what you plan to cook that evening, and ask for a wine to go with it, or mention a specific bottle you had recently that you loved, and ask for something like it; or even mention a bottle you had that you didn’t like, and ask for something different. Think of the clerk you’re speaking to as a walking, talking Google search (though maybe don’t tell them that). The more specific your query is, the more useful the output will be. Katherine’s letter “C” wine is a good case in point. The price range she mentioned and the fact that the wine had been a gift were enough for me to suss out that she was probably talking about Caymus Special Selection Cabernet.

6. Be a wine buyer, not a beverage buyer. A lot of people shop for wine the way they do any other drink, they want a six-pack of beer, or a carton of orange juice, or a bottle of Merlot, and their hand moves to whatever brand name is most familiar. That’s beverage buying, not wine buying (at least that’s how I think of it). Being a wine buyer simply means being curious: about something new, about something different, about why the clerk talking to you thinks a certain wine is good or why it’s a great value, about what “Valpolicella” or “Assyrtiko” or “premier cru” means. Wine rewards as much interest as you put into it.

For instance, here are some of the subjects that wine professionals I know  are obsessing about right now: Corsican wines; offbeat Loire Valley subregions like Anjou and Saumur; “natural” wines; grower Champagnes; lesser-known and more affordable Bordeaux appellations; Ribeira Sacra and Gredos in Spain; cru Beaujolais; volcanic soils (and any wine on earth that comes from them); Chenin Blanc; Portuguese wines; winemakers exploring alternative California varietals—the list goes on. But aside from that orange wine request I got in L.A., the number of times anyone asked me about any of those things was exactly zero. Now, admittedly, that’s partly because people in the wine business are obsessed with esoterica. It’s because customers don’t know what to ask for, so they default to the usual suspects: California Cabernet and Chardonnay; New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; Argentine Malbec; Pinot Noir, particularly $20 or under; Champagne (by which most people mean “any wine with bubbles”); and rosé, which is now a year-round phenomenon. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you like, but truly there is so much more to discover.

7. My final takeaway is for people who sell wine. After talking to a few hundred customers in several different states, I was blown away by how into wine people are these days. Sure, left on his or her own in an ocean of 7,000 bottles, someone may grab for the nearest name-brand Cabernet. It’s like reaching for a life preserver. But most of the time if I simply asked, “What kind of wine do you like?” that might lead us anywhere—to a small-production Valpolicella Ripasso from Italy like Tommaso Bussola’s Ca’ del Laito, or a Riesling from Germany’s great Helmut Dönnhoff, or a quirky Oregon Gamay from an up-and-coming young winemaker. Share your passion for wine with your customers—ask them what they’re making for dinner, or share your favorite varieties or regions (though maybe go light on wine-biz buzzwords like “soil character” and “minerality,” as most humans won’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about). As Jim Knight of The Wine House said to me, “What I see this year more than ever is people being more willing to take advice, to be open to new things.”

Which gets me to the other word I heard customers use all the time: excited. We really are living in a golden age of wine in the U.S. today, with more great wines from more different varieties and places than ever before.

Let’s all go buy a bottle and drink to that, together.

Choose the Right Wine:

Cook the Best Fish Ever

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Here are some great tips from the archives of Food & Wine Magazine for cooking fish.

Be gentle. “Basically, I’d suggest using the gentlest heat that you can possibly apply,” says chef Michael Cimarusti. “So if you’re grilling, grill over a gentle fire, not a raging fire. If you’re steaming or poaching, do it at a bare simmer.”

Let it rest. “You can actually cook a salmon to the point where it flakes beautifully in a 118- or 119-degree oven, provided you let it rest,” says Cimarusti. “Rest the fish for a good 10 to 15 minutes, for a good long period of time, in a fairly warm, ambient spot, and the fish will reveal textures you never knew it had.”

Get hands on. “There’s no exact timing,” chef Tom Valenti says about cooking fish. “Even with four or five fillets of swordfish, every piece of fish is different. With every fillet, I always have to poke it and squeeze it to figure out what’s going on.”

Buy an extra fillet. “When I talk to home cooks at the restaurant, they often tell me they don’t even bother to cook fish at home because they don’t know how to do it,” Valenti says. “The first thing I suggest is if you’re going to cook four fillets of halibut or salmon or swordfish or whatever you want to try, buy a fifth fillet to crack open to see if it’s done.”

Steam it. “Steaming is a powerful way to create pristine flavors,” says chef Mourad Lahlou. “When you take a piece of fish and steam it over water, or water with aromatics like spices or citrus peel, you actually taste the ingredients. Unlike, say, a curry, which is so heavily spiced you can’t taste the individual ingredients. There’s nothing wrong with a curry, but when you want to appreciate the clean flavors of a single piece of fish, you need to treat it with respect, and steaming is one of the most respectful ways to cook something.”

Start skin side down. “To ensure crispness, start the fish skin side down, pressing the fillet with a spatula,” says chef Rocco DiSpirito. “The skin will stick at first; when it releases, flip the fish over.”

Cook the Best Fish Ever

Quick Fish Sauces

Fish could be my main meal of choice seven days a week.  Add a little chicken now and again for variety and my meal planning would be complete.  My husband a “meat” guy likes more red on the table to go with his red wine.  So I don’t eat it every night.  It is pretty funny when we go out, as he will inevitably order steak and I will almost always have whatever fish they are featuring.

I found this article with links to recipes from Food & Wine Magazine and thought all the sauces sound good.  Another good source for sauces is the new America’s Test Kitchen Sauce Book.

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Here, 10 great sauces that will take any fish dish over the top.

1. Parsley Sauce
This easy, lemony sauce is fantastic with crisp, butter-fried sea bass or snapper.

2. Smoked-Almond Romesco Sauce
Smoked almonds and a touch of pimentón de la Vera gives this sauce a terrific smokiness.

3. Fresh Herb Sauce
All you need for this sauce are parsley, arugula, marjoram, oregano, vinegar, and garlic.

4. Rich Ketchup Sauce
Ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and Tabasco come together in this complexly flavored sauce.

5. Mint Sauce
Fresh mint blends with garlic, vinegar, and sugar for a sweet-and-sour sauce that’s perfect for a full-flavored fish like tuna.

6. Lemon Cream Sauce
It doesn’t get much simpler than lemon zest, cream, salt, lemon juice and parsley.

7. Salmoriglio Sauce
This tangy, buttery sauce is a Sicilian classic.

8. Red Wine Sauce
The success of this simple sauce lies in the quality of the wine. Choose a full-bodied red for a richly colored, flavorful sauce.

9. Tomato Ginger Sauce
Though you can put this simple tomato sauce together in a matter of minutes, it has surprising complexity.

10. Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
This healthy version of classic Chinese-takeout sweet-and-sour sauce is light and spicy.

Quick Fish Sauces

The Mediterranean Diet Could Prevent Osteoporosis

And wine is involved, so it’s definitely do-able. This is a wonderful article for my older friends that like to eat and drink red wine.

Greek Power Bowls Horizontal

JONATHAN BOULTON

The Mediterranean diet has already received plenty of positive attention for allowing things like olive oil and red wine to stay in your diet, and now, it’s touting some pretty impressive health benefits for postmenopausal women.

A study presented at ENDO 2018, the annual congress of the American Society of Endocrinology, showed that following a Mediterranean diet can help protect postmenopausal women from osteoporosis. The disease causes bones to become weak and brittle and is often caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D.

Mediterranean diets, which emphasize foods like fruits, veggies, fish, avocado, and whole grains while limiting saturated fat, red meat, and dairy, are rich in vitamins, fiber, and Omega healthy fatty acids. This kind of diet makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight and protect against cardiovascular disease and helps maintain muscle mass loss and bone density.

This is especially important for postmenopausal women, as the decline of estrogen speeds up women’s loss of bone mass. Among the 103 women studied, the women who followed a Mediterranean diet had higher bone mineral density at the spine and greater muscle mass. According to Thais Rasia Silva, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator, based on the results, “We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women.”

If you’re looking to add more Mediterranean foods to your diet, start by putting nuts, seeds, fresh produce, fish, and whole grains on your grocery list. For heart-healthy recipes to make at home, click here.

The Mediterranean Diet Could Prevent Osteoporosis

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

One of my dear friends is turning 70 tomorrow and a lot of people are giving her a party on a Tuesday.  Since I work I had to come up with an “appetizer” to share that could sit in my car and be made with what I had in the pantry.  So Brownies are not exactly an appetizer, but I don’t think anyone will complain.  These should be yummy.  Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.49.46 PM

People think that box mixes produce the perfect combination of chewy and moist brownies. Results should be at least as good as a mix without all the processing and questionable ingredients without dirtying many dishes. For one-bowl brownies with the proper level of chewiness both butter and oil is used. Using both cocoa and unsweetened chocolate add to the intense chocolaty richness and create a platform of flavor for any add-ins. By being strategic with the addition of ingredients, saved dishes and combined the batter all in one large bowl. Baked on the lowest rack in the oven, the brownies cooked nicely on the bottom and edges without overcooking and drying out. Folding white chocolate chips into the batter and swirling in raspberry jam gave the brownies colorful character and a fruitiness to offset their deep chocolate flavor.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 ½ cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate chips

I used a combination of milk and semi-sweet as that is what I had on hand. 

cup raspberry jam
White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Drinking Wine might be good for you!

basic-glass-shapesI do love my glass of red wine with dinner in the winter and a little white in the summer.  This article just came out talking about the benefits of drinking a couple glasses of wine or beer everyday.  Since most of my friends enjoy a glass of wine (more than on occasion) I thought it might be good to share.

New research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference found that moderate drinking is linked to a longer life. Drinking about two glasses of wine or beer a day was linked to an 18% drop in a person’s risk of early death, an even stronger effect than the life-preserving practice of exercise. The results came from the 90+ Study, a research project out of the University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders that examines the habits of people who live to at least 90.

Though the study has not yet been published in a scientific journal, it triggered a spate of booze-praising headlines. But can alcohol actually help you live longer? Researchers have gone back and forth on that question for years. Here’s what the research really says about alcohol and health.

Alcohol may be linked with longevity

The new study isn’t the first to link alcohol with a long life. A 2015 study of people with mild Alzheimer’s, for example, found that moderate drinkers were less likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than teetotalers. A large 2017 study also found that light and moderate drinkers were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never sipped. Red wine, in particular, is often singled out for its anti-aging benefits, usually because of a compound called resveratrol,  though that explanation may be a little oversimplified, and more research is needed.

Many of these papers come with caveats. Most of them are observational, meaning they can detect patterns in a dataset, but not cause and effect. That means it’s hard to tell whether the beverages themselves are imparting longevity benefits, or if the health effects come from other lifestyle factors common among moderate drinkers, such as a strong social network. Plus, most research focuses specifically on moderate drinking, which is typically defined as no more than a drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. Research has generally not found health benefits for people with heavier drinking habits and, in fact, a recent report says that alcohol abuse is contributing to a decline in U.S. life expectancy.

Alcohol may or may not be good for your heart

The relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular health is perhaps the most contentious of all. Quite a few studies have linked moderate drinking with better heart health, but some researchers have questioned these findings based on something called the abstainer bias: the idea that many non-drinkers teetotal because they have other health issues, or because they’re recovering from addiction. Including these folks in studies could skew the data to make people who don’t drink look unfairly unhealthy, and to falsely equate booze with health benefits.

A large 2017 study looking at alcohol and heart health, however, was designed to eliminate the possibility of abstainer bias. It still found that moderate drinking may protect against heart attacks, strokes, chest pain and fatal heart disease.

Alcohol may be associated with cancer

The link between alcohol and cancer is strong enough that the American Society of Clinical Oncology came out with a new warning in November underscoring associations between drinking and at least seven types of cancer. The relationship between alcohol and breast cancer has been particularly well-studied, with scientists theorizing that alcohol may increase estrogen levels and therefore feed breast cancer. Other research suggests that alcohol may disrupt DNA activity, potentially leading to cancers of the breast, colon, liver, mouth and esophagus. These risks may be even more severe if you have certain other habits, such as smoking and drinking hot tea.

Alcohol may contribute to weight gain

It’s easy to forget, but alcoholic beverages are often quite high in calories. Regularly imbibing, then, can sneakily contribute to weight gain and obesity. Those can come with their own set of health problems, ranging from heart disease to type 2 diabetes.

The bottom line

There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about drinking, but the research clearly suggest that moderation is key. While it’s smart to cut back if your drinking veers into bingeing territory, there’s likely no reason to stop drinking if you do so in small amounts — just as you probably shouldn’t feel compelled to start sipping if you don’t already.

Drinking Wine might be good for you!