Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yes, I'd watch a Five-Year Old's Cooking Show!

Julian Kreusser age 5 has his own public access cooking show. The culinary prodigy was featured in the December 19th issue of The Oregonian.

Since then, many have given their opinions of him and homeschooling in general.

My take?

1. He's exceptional for a five year old. He hasn't developed the dexterity and language skills yet of an adult, but he is more advanced than many kids his age.

2. If you don't think a child of that age should be allowed near a hot stove, then you need to think about how you've refused your own children learning experiences. Rather than shooing them from the kitchen, try teaching them to behave safely. Everything a person does can be dangerous, from taking a bath to sky diving.

3. I support homeschooling and "unschooling" in particular. I also support the Montessori method of teaching. These methods use children's natural curiosity to allow them to learn, often at an accelerated rate. Children are naturally curious, and their interests can change. That's why the methods work. They study what they are interested in this week. If they want to learn about bugs, then they might go and catch bugs, take the bugs inside and look them up in a field guide. That interest could be used to teach the difference between insects and arachnids, or butterflies and moths(classifications of animals/taxonomy), as an introduction to habitats (ecology), to spin off an art lesson like "draw a bug", to write about what they've learned or a story about a bug(english), to discuss exoskeletons (biology), or to talk about flight(physics). Most fields of study are interconnected.

Personally, my mother and grandmother cooked and baked with me before I began attending school and I already knew how to measure, add, and subtract before kindergarten. They also read to me, and I could read in pre-school. By 5th grade I had also learned quite a bit of science from my father(an engineer), and was well ahead of other students. I had some trouble with math, and my father would sit down with me and teach me another way of working the problems. Because of that I never fell behind. He could have just said it wasn't his responsibility, or that he was too busy, or that she's supposed to learn the way the textbook teaches.

4. He isn't a Chef. A chef is a title that is earned, much like "President" or "General." It can only be earned in one way. A Chef is the head of a professional kitchen. You can earn a degree in culinary arts and never be a chef, but you can start as a dishwasher in a kitchen as soon as you are old enough to work and become a chef before you're 26.

5. So many say that they wouldn't watch the show because its "boring." I think I detect a hint of jealousy. Is it because Julian can do something useful, but their children are too busy playing video games; or because he can invent recipes, but their personal culinary skills are limited to memorizing delivery numbers? Either way the show is great for several reasons.

a. It is an excellent way to learn to teach other children to cook. Watch closely for the adaptive devices used like chairs for reaching the stove or choppers to keep fingers that are still developing dexterity away from knives.

b. It is a reminder that children can do a lot more when we take the time to teach them.

c. The recipes are clear and work. That's potentially the most important component of ANY cooking program.

d. For those with an interest, it's an excellent opportunity to observe child development.

If it bores you, then don't watch it, but don't show your ignorance by making comments about Julian, his parents, or homeschooling until you have researched the topics. They've spent time and money on their child to show him that his dreams can be achieved. What are you teaching your children to accomplish?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gluten Free Dining In Cripple Creek Colorado

After my recent excursion to the Casinos in Cripple Creek, Colorado I am happy to say that there are two establishments that I can enthusiastically recommend.

For a great bargain, the Home Cafe located inside Bronco Billy's features a good, quick, inexpensive meal. The cooks are well versed in gluten free preparation methods. They offer 49 cent breakfast specials daily, as well as a full lunch and dinner menu.

We enjoyed an incredible dinner at Maggie's, located beneath the Colorado Grande Casino. The food was fresh, the service was excellent, and both the kitchen staff and our server were incredibly knowledgeable about gluten allergies and the products they use. The dinner menu at Maggie's features aged Angus beef, and my porterhouse was incredible. Maggie's serves all three meals daily, and remains open until midnight on Friday and Saturday with a limited late night menu.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PF Chang's Pairs a Fine GF Menu with Great Service

P.F.Chang’s China Bistro is perhaps one of the most accommodating chain restaurants for people with allergies. They have a complete gluten-free menu, and deserve their mention in Triumph’s Gluten-Free Dining Guide. I dined at the Aurora, Colorado location tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of choices available, even with my less common yeast allergy. They carry a wheat free soy sauce (available by request) for topping the bottomless rice served with each entrée.

I had the Chang’s Spicy Chicken adapted from the Gluten-Menu listing to allow for my yeast intolerance. The chicken was sautéed to perfection and I was pleased to discover that dishes labeled “spicy” aren’t subdued for the American palette. We also shared a dish of Garlic Snap Peas, forgoing the flourless chocolate cake in favor of some vegetables to accompany our meat dishes and rice.

The service was among the best I’ve has since my diagnosis. Although a floor manager and kitchen manager both attended our table, our server never forgot to check on us. She kept our drinks full and none of her tables were neglected. Within a few minutes of our conversation with the chef, our meals appeared. Mine was served on a differently shaped plate to denote the special request.

Perhaps the only “bad” thing about the experience was that the music didn’t match the elegantly understated Asian décor. Perhaps, refusing to have faux atmosphere piped in is a statement of the style, service and quality one can expect from P.F. Chang’s.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coconut Pancake Recipe (GF)

Coconut Pancakes
Serves 4

2/3 Cup White or Brown Rice Flour
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Pinch Salt
1 Cup Flaked Coconut
2 Lg Eggs (beaten)
1(13.5oz) Can Coconut milk
Vegetable Oil (for pan)

1. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt)
2. Add beaten eggs and coconut milk to dry mixture. Mix until batter is smooth.
3. Preheat a 6in skillet to medium heat and add a small amount of vegetable oil to prevent batter from sticking. Add 3 tablespoons of the mixture to oiled, pre-heated pan. Tilt the pan until the mixture coats the bottom. Cook for about four minutes and flip, continue to cook for 1 minute and remove to a plate. Repeat step 3 with remaining batter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gluten Free Pizza at BeauJo's in Denver

I was in Denver yesterday with my husband, and I had heard that BeauJo's made wonderful gluten-free pizzas, so we stopped for a late lunch. I discovered that the gluten-free crusts contain yeast, which I have a sensitivity to, so our server and I began to get creative. There were tortilla chips on the gluten menu, so I asked if it would be possible to make "pizza nachos"? The kitchen caught on to the idea, and actually layered the corn chips to make a beautiful crust!
Hubby was much easier to please. He ordered a "chicken cordon bleu" mountain pie with a whole wheat crust. It looked as excellent as he said it was. They even brought local honey to the table for him to put on his crust.
The portions were quite large, and they don't skimp on toppings. I had Italian sausage and artichokes on my pie, and both toppings were on every bite. We are already talking about going back. They even cater and do gluten-free and original take and bake.
So if you are looking for a gluten-free pizza and happen to be in Denver, don't hesitate to give them a try.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

This List is the "Omnivore's Hundred" by Andrew Wheeler.

The rules are:

1) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
2) cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (unless alligator counts)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea Urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (Never had a gin martini, only vodka martinis)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

My "Foodie Bucket List"

I saw an interesting idea I just have to try on "Cooking with Anne". It is to write a bucket list (the movie was great) of foods to try.

Here's my Foodie Bucket List

1. Insects at Typhoon
2. Rocky Mountain Oysters (if I could find them with gluten-free breading)
3. The World's most Expensive Desert- just need to know if it's worth it
4. Fugu in Japan (and various fish part soup)
5. Horse in France
6. Eat another amazing pizza. The first was here and the second was when I was somewhere in Kansas looking for fuel (I couldn't find it again if I tried).
7. All-you-can-eat Lobster on the docks in Maine.
8. Cerviche in Mexico
9. Sweet Breads
10. Haggis in Scotland
11. Cat and Dog
12. Steak Tartar
13. Blood or Black pudding/sausage
14. Placenta
15. Turtle Soup
16. Fiddleheads
17. black and white Truffles (not the chocolate ones)
18. Snake
19. Tongue

As you can see, I'm the type of person who will "eat anything once." I would have included some exotic fruits, raw oysters, and some of the more exotic items from sushi menus, but I've already tried those. I've also eaten edible flowers, gumbo, 'gator, jambalaya, frogs legs, sea urchin and escargot.