I’m Prepared To Spend More on Healthy Coconut Oil

I’ve talked before about the health benefits of using the right oil in your cooking. And also talked about the fact that now I’m using coconut oil.

(I must admit that I’m not using coconut oil for every meal, it’s extremely expensive. For instance I’m still using rice bran oil for my roast potatoes, it just takes too much oil to cook roast potatoes).coconut oil

I’ve been reading a little more about coconut oil and found some good advice about which coconut oil to buy.

The way the oil is extracted, and of course this applies to any oil, not just coconut oil, is extremely important. I’ve read all sorts of nasty things about how they extract oil. For instance I’ve read, though I don’t know if it’s true, that dry-cleaning fluid can be used to extract oil from olives. It might be an old wives tale though.

However there is no doubt that the way the oil is extracted is important, because the method of extraction changes the quality of the oil. I know a lot of oil, including olive oil, is extracted using heat, and I know that the heat will change the quality of the oil.

The best oil, and this applies to all oils, not just coconut oil, is coldpressed. In other words the olive, or the coconut or whatever it is that will produce the oil is simply pressed between two surfaces and the oil extracted under pressure. No heat is used and therefore no heat can affect the quality of the oil. No chemicals or anything else are used.

In fact I’ve been reading lately that olive oil, when exposed to heat, can go off, or in other words can go rancid.

So remember when you’re buying your coconut oil look for coldpressed coconut oil. Organic is even better, though it’s expensive.

I’ve also been reading more about the health benefits of coconut oil. I’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and I’ve read recently that coconut oil has no bad effect on cholesterol, in other words it won’t raise my cholesterol, and it also has medium-chain fatty acids which are said to lower cholesterol and reduced the risk of heart disease.

As well as that coconut oil is supposed to help you reduce your weight, and whilst I’m not obese it wouldn’t hurt if I lost a little weight.

So whilst I started using coconut oil a while ago I’ve continued doing so. I have to bite the bullet every time I buy some because it’s so expensive, but I figure it’s worth it. After all your health is important and if I have to spend a little more from time to time buying the right oil so be it.

You Must Have A Sharp Kitchen Knife

My favourite kitchen tool is my knife

I have a beautiful kitchen knife, and I think a kitchen knife is one of the most important tools for any cook. I spent quite some time selecting my knife, I ended up with a Wusthof knife.

It certainly wasn’t cheap but then you’ll be using that knife for years or decades and if you split the cost overall those years then really it’s not expensive.

Just about anything you choose to cook will require preparation. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the first thing you’ll need to prepare is an onion.

I just can’t believe how many dishes start with an onion. Next comes garlic. I don’t know what it is about onions and garlic but it seems they are indispensable in just about any meal.

An onion is one of the most difficult things to chop fast. One of the most crucial aspects of chopping an onion is to make sure your kitchen knife is super sharp, and if you don’t have one yet then you need the best knife sharpener, or a good knife sharpener at the very least. My personal preference is the best knife sharpener you can afford. Don’t skimp. Because cutting an onion with a blunt knife is not fun.

I know that the professionals advise you to chop an onion by keeping the root end of the onion on the onion, cutting off the stalk end, and then cutting it in half. However I’ve never found that doing it like that is any better than doing it the way I do.

I chop off both ends, remove the skin and then cut it in half. I then just cut in both directions. Just vary how far apart you make your cuts according to how fine you want your onion chopped.

You can use angled cuts if you want. I use angled cuts in one direction only, 4 per half, for Chinese cooking, because traditionally in Chinese cooking onions are cut up into very large pieces, not small pieces.

It’s well worth spending some time practising cutting up onions, because you be cutting up more onions in your kitchen and just about anything else you ever chop.

And remember my advice about the best knife sharpener you can afford. A Shun knife sharpener (http://knifesharpenersguide.com/shun-knife-sharpeners/) is a good one.

And here’s Gordon Ramsay on chopping an onion. I don’t like him but he knows what he%

I’m Learning How To Keep Healthy

I’m cooking and eating healthier

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about exactly what I cook and how I cook. Because I’ve developed more of an interest in cooking healthy lately, as a friend of mine, who I thought should be reasonably healthy, isn’t as it turns out. In fact he’s been diagnosed by his doctor with quite a nasty disease.

It got me to thinking, and I’ve changed quite a few things about the way I eat, cook and live my life.

For instance I started researching about omega 3. It seems from what I can see that omega 3 is very important in our diets and most of us don’t get enough. I know it comes from fish, and that if I eat lots of fish I get plenty of good omega 3, but I just find that fish is so expensive. I looked at Salmon in the supermarket yesterday and it was $30 a kilo.salmon

So I’ve done some research on omega 3 supplements and now I’m taking the best fish oil supplement that I can find. And during my research I’ve been very surprised to find out exactly why more omega 3 is good for me. But enough of that now, I’m here to talk about cooking.

The first thing that I’ve done is to change my cooking oil. For years I cooked with canola oil, then I heard that vegetable oil such as canola oil isn’t all that good for you. So then I started cooking with olive oil until I found out that olive oil has a very low smoke point, and if you cook with it and it starts to smoke then it’s creating free radicals which can be bad for you and which can cause cancer.

So along came rice bran oil, and I’ve been cooking with that for the last twelve months. It makes wonderful roasts, I love the flavour of rice bran oil in roast potatoes.

But since I’ve been researching about omega 3 I’ve also found out that omega 6 exists, and that omega 6 isn’t all that good for you, unlike omega 3. And unfortunately vegetable oils like canola oil and rice bran oil are packed full of omega 6. So that’s the end of the rice bran oil.

So now I’m on to coconut oil. It’s massively expensive, the oil that I got came from eBay, where it was slightly cheaper than on some of the other online sites, but it’s still $20 a litre. So I can’t be doing much deep frying with that.

So I use it very sparingly, and I have to confess that I still use the rice bran oil for roasts, I can’t afford to use the coconut oil.

And I use real ingredients

I heard the saying that anything that isn’t vegetable, animal or mineral shouldn’t go in your mouth. And most things in packets or cans at the supermarket aren’t animal, vegetable or mineral. So now I’ve given up completely on anything pre-prepared and buy all original ingredients.

Of course it’s good for my cooking but it takes longer. For instance I used to use bottled curry paste, but now use original ingredients to make my own curry. It takes much longer and it’s more work but hopefully it’s better for my health.

That’s just the start of what I’m doing to try and stay healthier, but it’s time to cook dinner now so I’ll say goodbye, and get back onto this in another post when I get the opportunity.

Do You Like Gordon Ramsay? I Don’t, But I Love Steak

And Gordon Ramsay’s method of cooking steak rare works for me

Do you like Gordon Ramsay? I have to say I don’t. There is no doubt at all that he is a great chef, in fact I think he is one of the best.

But I don’t like his cooking shows. Personally I think the man is an ……………. I don’t like how he treats people, I don’t like his language and I don’t like anything else about him.

In fact I’m staggered at how cooking shows have taken off on TV. Of course I love them, particularly Iron Chef, so I suppose there must be so many other people out there like me and that’s why they’ve got so popular.

But everywhere I look on the TV Guide now there just seems to be a new cooking show.

But despite the fact that I can’t stand Gordon Ramsay I have to say that I tried his method of cooking steak last night and it was very good. Like him I like my steak rare, and it was rare. I love the addition of garlic to the recipe too, I could taste the garlic.

So whilst I don’t like Gordon Ramsay I do like the way he cook steak. If you’re a steak fan then give it a go.

I don’t think I’ll buy his book though!

How To Use A Kitchen Knife

I have a fascination with kitchen knives

I don’t know what it is about kitchen knives. I used to have a simple ordinary (and cheap) kitchen knife and used it all the time.

But then I lashed out and bought myself a really good quality (and not cheap) kitchen knife and – oh – the difference. It was like chalk and cheese. The quality knife was so much easier to  use. I love it.

(Here’s a good review of knives)

I’m just learning about using my knife so I’ve been looking at Youtube videos about it. Here’s a good one.

I Made Creme Caramel Today

Creme Caramel isn’t quite as unhealthy as Creme Brulee

Years ago I used to work in France. I love working in France, but everything has to end eventually and that did.

There is some wonderful food in France, French cooking is some of my favorite cooking. For instance Creme Brulee is just to die for, but I think my doctor would kill me if I ate too much, it’s just full of cream.

So today I decided to make another French desert that I love and which I haven’t made since for ever. I had to go and search up a video on how to make it. Creme Caramel.

Not so hard, wonderful to eat and hopefully isn’t quite so bad for my arteries. Here’s the video.

What’s Your Favorite Cooking Implement?

Mine is the cheapest tool I’ve got in the kitchen

wok
There’s all sorts of things that I love to use in the kitchen. One of my favourites is knives. I don’t know what it is but I find that preparing food with a high quality beautiful sharp kitchen knife is just such a delight.

It’s wonderful to use high quality tools.

Some of them you can spend quite a lot of money on. For instance my kitchen knife was almost $100, and I know you can pay a lot more than that for a high quality kitchen knife. And of course once you’ve bought one then you’ve got it for life, provided that you treat it well, so over the years it really hasn’t cost you all that much.

(I love Shun knives myself. Very expensive though)

I’ve accumulated a lot of different implements that I use in the kitchen over the years, in fact I struggled to find room in the cupboards now for anything new.

But last night while I was lying in bed I was thinking, I don’t know why, about my kitchen implements, and which ones have been the most useful to me over the years.shun knife

And you know what I came up with? The single most useful kitchen implement that I’ve got is something that cost me almost nothing years ago. It’s simple, easy to use and I use it a number of times every single week.

It’s my Wok. I bought it thirty or more years ago, and I still remember it cost me $2 at the time. It’s plain and simple steel, when I wash it I need to dry it off by putting it on the gas for a while or it starts to get a little rusty, and I need to rub a little oil over it once I’ve done that just to help season the metal.

But I can’t believe how much use that simple $2 Wok has had over thirty years or more of use.

I must have used it thousands and thousands of times. Not just for cooking Chinese, though I do love cooking Chinese, but to cook so many other things in it that have nothing to do with Chinese. I even use it just to heat up cold food from time to time just because it’s so simple and easy to use.

If I lost all of my cooking implements the first thing that I buy is a Wok, I can’t do without it.

I’ve Gone To The Dark Side

Finally I gave in and bought pre marinated meat (and it was pretty good)meat

Today I wanted to make a little confession. I’ve finally begun buying meat that is pre marinated.

For a long time I’ve just bought meat as it is, in other words a lump of meat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Beef, lamb, pork or chicken, I just bought the meat.

Now of course as any cook will tell you a great way to make your meat taste a little better is to marinate it first. One of the best things you can do to meat that you’re going to barbecue, of course, is to marinate it for a while beforehand.

For quite a while I’ve noticed that they now offer marinated meat in the butchers shop. Of course it’s much more expensive than the regular meat, and for that reason I’ve avoided buying it for some time. And I wondered exactly what is in the marinade that they use, so I just decided to avoid the marinated meat altogether.

Well yesterday I weakened and I bought some marinated beef for a stirfry. It was pretty good, and it wasn’t really all that much more expensive than buying the meat, making a marinade and marinating it myself.

There’s no doubt that a good marinade can help make meat taste better, and it can even help tenderise the meat a little if you marinate for a while.

So it looks like I’ve gone to the dark side. Finally I’m buying pre-marinated meat after all these years of buying plain meat. I must be getting old.

My Oven Was Dirty So I Got A New One

A new self cleaning oven, wonderful

I got so tired of cleaning ovens. I’ll have to admit that the one I had was pretty old, it had to be twelve years old or more, but was it dirty.

It’s not that I didn’t clean it, I did. But I love roasts and to cook a good roast you have to have oil. There’s no way you can cook great roast potatoes without using oil.

(By the way, slightly off topic on what I wanted to say today, but this is how you make great roasts.

Once you’ve cut up your potatos you boil them. Boil until they are 100 percent cooked, you might even see little gaps opening up in the potatos because they’re starting to fall apart.

Then drain the water and allow the potatoes to dry, because you can’t put potatos in hot oil or you’ve got a terrible mess.

Make sure your oil is right up to temperature. It’s no good if you put your potatos in cold oil, you need to have the oil in the oven up to oven temperature. The potatos should sizzle when you put them in.

Cook for one half hours and you’ll get beautiful, golden, crunchy roast potatos) Continue reading “My Oven Was Dirty So I Got A New One” »

Today I Made Sushi, (Pretty Proud Of Myself)

In fact making Sushi wasn’t as hard as I suspected it would be

I love sushi, and lately I’ve decided to that it’s time to learn how to make sushi.

It’s been quite a process. Fortunately just about everything that I need is available in the supermarket, so I’m not stuck trying to find ingredients that I can’t get.

There is one thing that I can’t find in the supermarket, but I found a very good substitute. Tuna. A lot of sushi is made with raw Tuna and they just don’t stock it unfortunately. It’s probably going to Japan and selling there at enormous prices.

But that’s not an issue because I found that smoked Salmon is a wonderful substitute for Tuna and in fact probably even taste a little better, I like the smoky flavour.

But it’s perfectly possible to get a seaweed sheets. I was a little worried that I might not be able to find a seaweed sheets but you can actually buy them both in a starter pack as well as their own backs so that one from out of the ones the start of them can just buy them on their own.

In fact quite a lot of fun, you get this mat, made of bamboo, put your seaweed sheet that, place your rice on top of this seaweed, put your ingredients in a strip from one side of the rice to the other and roll it all up.

The first time was a little sketchy, but after that I got the hang of it and I’ve made some fantastic sushi. Of course you don’t just eat the sushi on its own, you need some good sushi soy sauce and you need some Wasabi as well.

But you’ve got to be pretty careful about the Wasabi, get too much of it and you will suffer.

Here’s what I needed

  • Sushi sheets
  • Sushi mat
  • Sushi rice
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Cooked Beef
  • Cooked Prawns
  • Cucumber
  • Bean shoots
  • Coriander

Here’s one of the videos that I used to learn how to do it.

I’m Trying To Stay Out Of The Kitchen. Here’s Why

kitchen potsNo kitchen for me today

I’ve just started a new diet. It is not a diet in the traditional sense, in other words try to cut back on how much I eat every day, it’s slightly different to that.

I watched a documentary the other day by a British doctor called Michael Mosley. It was a brilliant documentary and one in a series that he’s done. It was all about how to use your diet to increase your chances of being healthy as you get older and how to reduce your risks of some of the diseases which seemed to get attracted to older people like Alzheimer’s disease, cancers and, in the case of men, prostate problems.

And as I have a prostate problem I thought it was well worth following up on.

He talks about the value of calorie restriction, not just on weight but on a whole host of other health issues. In it he interviewed a number of experts on diet and calorie restriction and ageing and came to the conclusion that restricting your calorie intake is very good for you for a whole host of reasons.

The data comes from experiments done with mice but there is also a large group of people who have been doing this for a long time. There was a very dramatic comparison between himself and someone of his own age who had been on a calorie restricted diet for around ten years. The man who had been restricting his calories had dramatically better results in a whole range of tests to determine his susceptibility to various health problems.

He also examined new research about calorie restriction called alternate-day fasting, in other words fasting every other day, but not restricting your calorie intake on the subsequent day.

And it would seem from the evidence that there is significant benefit to alternate-day fasting as well. In fact he boiled down to what he calls his 5-2 diet, in other words fasting two days in the week and eating normally for the other five.

The fasting doesn’t require you to do a total fast, in other words eat nothing, but for men it allows you to eat some 500 to 600 calories for the day. It’s not much though. Continue reading “I’m Trying To Stay Out Of The Kitchen. Here’s Why” »