August 30, 2013

Celebrating 75+ In-Home Cooking Classes !

It all starts with an inquiry, a Groupon purchase and most often a friend referral
to schedule an In-Home Cooking Class.

This year, we started with a heavy load of Valentine's gift classes along with
birthdays, birthdays and more birthdays!
We've also done showers, new home gift parties, classes won through
silent auctions, and of course.... just because for fun for no specific
reason than to learn a new food to add to the daily grind of food.

Nutritionists often say we eat the same 30 or so foods and simply
rotate them every 2 weeks.  We all get in a food rut.
Why not have a little fun and learn a brand new food or a food
that you frequently order at a restaurant but don't know how to make?!

This year- my sous chef and I started by trekking through the snow
and traveling to people's homes often in the city.
We were and still are always greeted by the greatest people.
Our new clients are so hospitable, eager to learn, eat and drink!

It often starts with...

The questions can be endless.
But with everything in life, once you do something
a few times, you get it down and you gain life experiences
which is the best part of life. The memories and experiences
you gain and if you meet some cool people along the way...
life is good!

It's really and truly awesome to travel to people's homes and be in their kitchens.
Every single kitchen is different of course - from the set-up to the equipment
to the kitchen accessories...  some people have had wine parings with their
menus, others have had some chips and dip to snack on as we arrive,
some people will play some jazz, salsa or Pandora.
Pandora stations and music through a Comcast channel are almost always
on which is nice simply because... who doesn't like some back ground music right!?

We most often start with how to properly dice an onion...
along with many tips and tricks to use in your kitchen.
Along the many tips... the favorited one is the- grow your own scallions.
We haven't come across anyone yet who hasn't been intrigued by being able
to grow and cultivate your own scallions along with some other veggies as well
but the easiest is the scallion!

We have currently reached way over 75 In-Home Cooking Classes.
phew, I need a new car!  hahaha  just kidding but not kidding!
Let's see we've been to... Center City, south Philly, north Philly, northeast Philly,
northwest Philly, Norristown, Plymouth Mtg, Jersey, Chinatown, Jenkintown, Bristol,
Paoli, Wayne, Bala Cynwyd, Radnor, Holland, Drexel Hill, Lansdowne, Media,
Roxborough, Manayunk, Newtown Square, Broomall, West Chester, Lansdale,
Northern Liberties, Doylestown, Ambler, Phoenixville, Bensalem, King of Prussia,
Conshohocken and back.

Check out the video if you haven't already through email or Facebook.

In-Home Cooking Classes VIDEO!    <----- click to view (best when viewed with the sound)

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

August 26, 2013

Grab the freshest BREAD!

If you're like me...
when it's food shopping time---
it usually goes something like this,
make & have your list, go through the aisles as quickly as possible
and if you have a basket, go to the express lane
and if you have a cart, it's hunting down the quickest line possible.

It's seldom that I go down every aisle to check out what might be new.

Well, with bread- I spend an extra minute-
to find the freshest bread possible according to when it was baked.

Now, I might be organized and have a good eye with certain things
but no, I do not look through all the loaves of bread and check each individual date.

Here is a quick tip I'd like to share with you!

Ok, so you see the bread all lined up nicely?
From the left....

 From the right...

Can you tell which one was baked when and which loaf is the freshest?
Are they all the same?


Now, check out their twisty ties. You see some blue ones, green, red, yellow and white.
The date is printed on the bread but you can easily tell when it was baked by the
twisty tie color. Now, are you expected to memorize colors and their respective days?

So, assuming our brains aren't too fried from technology just yet...
You can tell what day of the week the bread was made in alphabetical order by color.
Color order meaning, B for blue, G for green, R, W & Y.
Blue-------- Monday

And guess what!?!?  Yes, it is universal with all bread bakers!  Ta-da!
Who said you can't learn something new everyday.

August 6, 2013

Mamma Mia, Pasta Pia....

Actually I mean.... pasta PIE!
but Mamma Mia, Pasta Pia just rhymes better.

Yes, I will stick to cooking and DIY-ing rather than trying to be a poet. haha.
Pasta pie.  I love pie. Bluberry, apple, pumpkin... you name it.

Since I can't get enough of cultivating food...
and taking everyday food and changing it up-
I shall continue to cultivate dishes and make it my own.

Pasta in the shape of a pie.  Who wouldn't like this right?

This dish is very easy to make as long as you have a smaller size cake pan.
Unless you are making it for a larger group-- then just use a regular size cake pan!

Boil an entire box of rigatoni in salted water. Once it is 90% cooked in hot boiling water--
pour the pasta noodles into a strainer/collander. Do NOT rinse the cooked rigatoni.
(you want to keep the starchy part of the pasta-- this simply helps the tomato sauce
adhere to the pasta.)  (Also boil/cook the pasta to 90% because you're going to finish
it off in the oven and you don't want over-cooked pasta!)

Carefully lay the rigatoni into the cake pan. I like to use the 'spring form' ones---
the cake pans where the side comes undone... but you can also make and just
serve it from the cake pan as well. Don't feel that you have to go out and buy
this type of cake pan.   

Sprinkle a little cheese (Parmesan cheese recommended--
about 1/2 cup) on top of the rigatoni.
Lastly, pour your favorite red sauce (with or without meat) and add a handful....
nah, add 2 handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese on top. (2 cups)
Bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.... 
basically until the cheese melts.

Take your pasta pie out and let it sit for 10-15 minutes so that all the cheese and sauce
gets a chance to settle and get their yum-iness on!

Mamma Mia.....  Pasta Pia-Pie is delicious!   

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

August 5, 2013

Produce CODES

When you buy your produce.....
do you ever look at the sticker?
More importantly - do you know what the sticker means?

I always say- knowing is half the battle.

Take a look at the image I created below to better
explain what the PLU codes really mean-----
you know, so you can be aware and get the produce that you want.

As you can easily see in the image above - 
conventionally (regularly) grown produce always start with a 3 or 4 plu code.

Organically grown produce items start with the number 9 in their code.

The ones that start with 8........... are not good at all for you.
They are genetically modified so that they are in completely controlled settings-
one might say that they look the most appealing at times... simply because
they are not grown naturally.  Please stay away from the genetically modified ones.

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food
In Home Cooking Class Philadelphia        Birthday gift present activity cooking class

August 4, 2013

Gifting a Cooking Class !

This summer has been 'GIFT'  an In-Home Cooking Class
with a gift certificate  galore!

I do agree that it's a great gift whether it's for  a
birthday or wedding! ..... or simply any occasion.

It's a great way to spend the afternoon or evening with
family or friends or simply with your significant other--
learning, cooking and then eating of course the menu
that you have  chosen!

To GIFT an In-Home Cooking Class...

it takes a few simple steps.

1.  Click on the ----->  'To SCHEDULE'  and fill it out accordingly.
     (the box that says...  I want to GIFT a Cooking Class.)

Please type in the address of where you want the appropriately
wrapped  gift card to be mailed to.

The personalized gift certificate can be mailed directly
to the recipient or the person/group giving the gift.
(basically whichever address is given on the form)

Please  fill out the name/s of the recipient on the form as well---
for the gift certificates are personalized with names.

2.  Once the form is filled out---
      I will contact you by email to double check all the info.
3.  The last step is payment.
     Payment is is through 'credit card'
     The link for credit card submission is on the website
      or you can click this link --->   CC link 

If you have any questions at any given time...
please never hesitate to email me to
the email address --->
or call me  at 610-329-0199

August 1, 2013

to REFRIGERATE or not to refrigerate...

Often, people will ask me...
is it better to refrigerate this or........................... leave it out?

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food