Yes, Real Men Cook!

Yes, Real Men Cook!

real-men-cook

Do Real Men Cook?

My dad is skilled at a great many things, but cooking is not among them. Sure, he’s fairly expert on the outdoor grill, but that’s not the same, nor is it unusual. Truth be told, this acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. With so many of my male friends seriously into cooking, it feels as though Dad and I are exceptions to the rule. With Father’s Day upon us, I figured this was the perfect time to finally answer the question: Do real men cook? Here’s what I learned. According to the Pew Research Center,

Men are nearly as likely as women to say they enjoy cooking a great deal: 32% of men compared to 35% of women.

Compared to 20 years ago, more men enjoy cooking today (up from 25%), and fewer women (down from 40%). The theory is that cooking has become more acceptable and appealing to men with the advent of such cooking shows as Iron Chef and Top Chef, and thanks to the growing popularity of such chefs as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

Ok, color me surprised. About one-third of both sexes say they really like cooking, but are there differences in their respective approaches? The faucet manufacturer, Moen, conducted research that identified four distinct types of cooks: Family Cooks (42%), Adventurous Cooks (31%), Carryout Cooks (18%) and Cautious Cooks (9%). No big surprise here:

Women are more likely to be Family Cooks, and more men Adventurous Cooks.

You go, Guys!

Next, I wondered what each sex likes to cook. Definitely no surprises here. The website AllRecipes.com reports that women like pasta and men prefer steak. In addition:

  • Men describe their perfect dish as “spicy” and “meaty,” whereas,
  • Women use the adjectives “healthy” and “savory” to describe theirs.

Further reinforcing some tired stereotypes:

  • Men prefer the grill over the oven (46% vs. 17%), whereas,
  • Women’s preferences are the reverse (16% vs. 42%).

Hence the well-deserved moniker: “the opposite sex.”

And finally, a surprise. Men report (and that might be the operative word here) being willing to spend more time preparing meals.

So where do guys go for cooking tips and ideas? Well, AllRecipes says that men account for 36% of unique visits to food-oriented, social sites. That’s what spurred the launch of ManTestedRecipes.com – a social site for male cooks (as if you couldn’t figure that out). Finally, a website where real men can share recipes with one another. But guys, before you get your hopes up, I must point out that it’s too late to submit your fav recipe and win big bucks. The deadline for submissions for their “Dude Food” contest was April 30. But there’s always next year.

Until then, remember, real men cook!

And Happy Father’s Day, dads!real-men-cook-too

Create an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Create an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

As we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day this week, I thought it appropriate to share ways to create an Eco-Friendly Kitchen.  How you design your kitchen and go about your daily kitchen tasks, can make a difference in your home and community.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Designs – Every so often we upgrade or remodel our kitchens.  Next time, consider eco-friendly options which can be stylish and affordable.

  • Recycled Materials – A variety of recycled materials are available to design and decorate with, like recycled glass used in kitchen décor and lighting fixtures.
  • Earth Friendly Products – New appliances approved by EPA Energy star program can use up to 50% less energy or water than older models.
  • Renewable Materials – Hardwood butcher block countertops from sustainably grown and harvested wood add warmth and charm to your kitchen. (Keep your butcher block healthy by following these tips from our previous blog).   Stainless steel countertops are non-porous, naturally antibacterial, and add a contemporary feel to your work space. Cork and bamboo flooring are renewable options with a “wow” appeal.
  • Eco-Inspired Decorating – Incorporate the natural beauty of fruit for added color in your kitchen. (Like lemons in my favorite teak-root bowl featured above).  Bamboo stalks in vases say environmentally friendly.  Small potted plants add style and color to empty spaces and help to purify the air.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Habits – Simple steps, when done consistently over time, can create great habits!

  • Try “green” kitchen cleaners – Look for non-toxic, biodegradable and natural cleaning products.  Or DIY and make a home-mixed cleaner.  Baking soda, vinegar, and lemons are my favorite ingredients and can clean almost anything. Baking soda cleans, deodorizes and scours. White vinegar helps to cut grease, remove odors and some stains. Lemons are acidic with antibacterial effectiveness on surfaces.
  • Use your dishes – It’s just as easy to pull a plate out of the cupboard as it is to grab a paper plate. Cutting down on paper waste will lessen landfill waste.
  • Swap out your sponge – Use a cellulose sponge or eco–cleaning cloth.  Cellulose sponges are biodegradable while many household sponges are made of synthetic materials and are slow to breakdown in landfills.
  • Commit to a reusable sports bottle – Keep one handy and feel good about your decision not to grab a bottled water.
  • Remember your reusable bags – I love that so many people have adopted this habit, but the difficult part is remembering them.  Keep them in your car, handy for  carry-out food, grocery and mall shopping.
  • Buy locally grown food – Locally grown food has not traveled across the country for weeks to get to you.  This means fresher, tastier food and less global–warming pollution.
  • Fix the drippy kitchen faucet – Easy to ignore, dripping water can waste gallons of water a day.
  • Recycle, please – It only takes a few extra seconds.  I am so passionate about recycling. Have a garbage can devoted to recyclables.  I have mine in the laundry room closet, 10 steps from my kitchen.

Make one change now and strive to add another eco-friendly habit once a month.  Keep this in mind when you make daily decisions or when remodeling your kitchen.

Please share with us the steps you have taken to make a more eco-friendly kitchen.

And check out this complete resource for Safe Food Handling.

 

Spring Brunch Ideas

Spring Brunch Ideas

Throwing a brunch has always seemed like a daunting task to me –pleasing various palates with both breakfast and lunch foods, all while making everything look a little more fancy than usual? Not exactly my idea of fun. But I’ve been thinking about brunch ideas more lately, as this beautiful spring weather beckons me outdoors and encourages casual family events. I can totally pull this off! Even if you don’t have two chef brothers (I know – I’m the luckiest gal in the world!), the good ol’ internet is full of delicious and easy recipes (there’s one below!).

Use these simple brunch ideas, and you too can pull off a great spring event that will leave everyone talking!

Variety – Make sure you have options for everyone.

Breakfast is pretty easy, but make sure you have some good lunch options available, too; a spiral ham on a carving board next to  a cheese tray, for example, can be combined with croissants and condiments to make lovely sandwiches. You’ll also want to be aware of any vegetarians/vegans who may be attending. As much as I love bacon, it’s important not to make every dish meat-centric.  A pasta salad with fresh veggies will be a crowd pleaser. As far as drinks go, though, you can keep it pretty basic – a full bar is not exactly brunch appropriate. If you do choose to serve alcohol, keep it light –  mimosas or a pre made punch. You should definitely have coffee, tea, and water; throw in some lemonade or iced tea to keep things interesting, but anything beyond that is up to your personal taste.

Style – You don’t need fancy china to pull off a gorgeous brunch!

If I had to throw a party with all matching dishes, well… that just wouldn’t happen! You know what’s fun, though? Thrift store finds! Hit up your local thrift stores for an eclectic mix of vintage plates and serving ware – you can stick to a set color scheme or go all out and have a unique plate for every guest. You’ll make everyone feel special without breaking the bank! And if you don’t want to keep them, you can just donate them back (basically just renting dishes!). If you would rather have something more permanent, beautiful wood serving boards never go out of style, and can be used for years to come. Add a few displays of pretty spring flowers and you’ll be all set! Like your drink selection, you can take your decor as far as you’d like – just don’t clutter up your buffet table too much.

Simplicity – Don’t drive yourself crazy – it’s just brunch!

Even if you don’t want to cook, you can still satisfy your guests. A nice layout of pastries from your local bakery (or, you know…Costco), is perfectly acceptable when paired with a variety of fruits, cheeses, deli meats, etc.  The point is to spend time with your guests, right? You don’t have to provide show-stopping delicacies to have a good time.

Logistics – Hammer out those details!

Make sure you have plenty of seating for all of your guests, or at least areas where they can set their plates and drinks and eat comfortably. Cafe tables are a great option if seating space is limited. Also, if you can stick with foods that are fine at room temperature, you will save yourself the hassle of hot plates and ice baths. If you are serving something that needs to stay hot or cold, make sure you have the proper equipment – you want this to be memorable, but not because of food poisoning!

Now go forth and brunch!

To get you started, here is a great recipe for a savory taco quiche:

Taco Quiche

Courtesy of Sandy McGaffic

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (9 inch) deep dish pie shell (frozen ok, just let it thaw for 10 minutes)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper

Garnish

  • shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped or sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado or guacamole, black olives.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Prepare crust and put in pan or pie dish; let stand 5 to 10 minutes before baking.
  • Bake pie shell 7 minutes; DO NOT PRICK PIE SHELL. Remove shell and reduce oven temperature to 375°.
  • In 2 quart sauce pan combine next 8 ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until ground beef is browned and onions are tender. Drain mixture. Layer shredded cheese, green chiles and ground beef mixture in pie shell.
  • In medium bowl combine eggs, half and half, salt and pepper. Beat with a fork or whisk until mixed well but not frothy. Pour egg mixture over ground beef mixture.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining ingredients. 

 

Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

The weather is getting nicer, tulips are peeking up through the ground and I am reminded that it really is springtime – even though we still hear of snow storms across the country!  This means it is time for “spring cleaning”!  I may be an odd duck, but I actually find cleaning to be a bit cathartic.  When I am stressed I end up cleaning my kitchen to feel better. Maybe it is a control-thing.  Please tell me I am not the only one who feels this way?

So I thought it an appropriate time to share some butcher block care and cleaning tips for your kitchen.  My close friend, who spends a lot of time cooking and baking, was really surprised to hear that plastic cutting boards are less sanitary than wood cutting boards.  This learning has been blogged about and shared online for many years.  But if you have never heard of it, or need to be reminded of it again, here is the scoop.

For a long time it was believed that wood butcher blocks and cutting boards were more likely to harbor dangerous levels of bacteria; given that wood is porous, it would soak up juices from raw meats, allowing bacteria to seep down into the board. And this bacteria could pose a risk of contaminating the next food item placed on the cutting board. Plastic, because it is non-porous, was believed to be resistant to this bacterial invasion.

While it may not be entirely clear, research has shown that wood boards were actually more sanitary than the plastic boards.  It is believed that bacteria can get lodged in the nicks and gouges that form on a plastic cutting board.  High quality wood butcher blocks – made from Hard Rock Maple and other premium hardwoods – are more resistant to this type of knife damage.  Additionally, the wood used to construct these butcher block countertops, kitchen islands, kitchen carts, and cutting boards appears to have natural germ-killing properties which are not present in plastic!

Enough of the technical stuff, now for a few Quick Tips for Butcher Block Care:

  • Separate your FoodThe Partnership for Food Safety Education recommends using one cutting board for fresh produce and a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood to prevent cross-contamination.  We agree!
  • Wash Immediately – After use, always wash your cutting boards or chopping block with hot soapy water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Sanitize – Especially after exposure to raw meat. It is pretty easy to use 1 Tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. If you prefer, use straight white vinegar instead of diluted bleach solution.
  • Dry – Set cutting boards on edge to air dry completely.
  • Oil  – Once a month use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil or Beeswax Board Cream

At ButcherBlockCo we like to tout the many benefits of hardwood cutting boards and butcher blocks, and being more sanitary than plastic is one of our favorites.

Have fun cleaning!