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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade: 1, Restaurant: 0

We made the Big Mac better. (Can I get sued for saying that?) My son challenged the idea that organic/local is really better, especially when it comes to McDonalds. So, we came up with a test to prove (disprove) his theory. I would make a Big Mac using as much local/organic ingredients as possible and we would see if it tasted better.

                                                                                                                        I started with a pound of lean, grassfed ground beef sirloin. I lightly seasoned the beef with cracked black pepper and kosher salt before mixing and pressing into six, dignified little patties.

From there, I took three sesame kaiser rolls and trisected them. I set them aside and got to work mincing (very finely) half of a yellow onion, chopping some iceburg lettuc and making my "Big-Mac" secret sauce.

From there, I simply grilled the patties, topped each with organic cheddar cheese, toasted the buns lightly, and built the burger McD's style.

The final test was to feed it to my finicky children. The tall kid, my son Jr, had believed McDonalds would win...

I think it's safe to say, he lost and organic/local food won!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Life-Affirming Big-Mac

Could it be possible to quell your vice for fast food with an organic-local-sustainable equivelant? The discussion was hot and heavy today between me and my "McDonalds is my God" son. His vice? A steamy, greasy Big Mac. My question? Can we remake the B-Mac into something even I wouldn't mind feeding him? So, our next challenge is to see if we can take a beloved icon of a sandwich and turn it on its heels by incorporating as many local/organic ingredients into it as possible. Will it taste the same? Who knows, but I'm thinking it will feel a helluva lot better going down than the other version.

Big Mac- O.G. Style

1 lb local, grass-fed ground chuck (going to try and obtain this from North Shore Cattle company)
4 whole wheat, organic buns (I dont know of any local organic bakeries, but I can substitute Rudy's® Organic bread products)
Lettuce & Onions from 'Nalo Farms (they have the best!)
Eggs (for the mayo) from Ka Lei Eggs in Kahala
Lemon (for the mayo!) - will grab @ the Farmer's Market
Organic olive oil (Mario®) - again for the mayo
Organic cheddar cheese - preferrably from grass fed cows if possible.
Ketchup - (ok, not sure what to do here. I will look for organic canned tomatoes in puree, but right now all I know about are organic canned tomatoes in juice, which wont make a good ketchup.)
Hawaiian Salt, Peppercorns

I think that about covers it. Once we round up the ingredients, (no pun intended) we will make the alternate version of the Big Mac. I think we'll call it "Organic Mac." My son tells me that to be truly fair, we must also buy a McDonald's Big Mac and compare the taste of each. I'm still debating this part of the challenge. I will post pictures and results soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Just Said No

Just a quick blurb. Was invited to coffee with a friend at, gasp, Burger King. I brought my own thermos of coffee from home! By the time we parted, my stomach was rumbling. I briefly longed for the spicy delicate flavors of Korean food, but opted instead to go home. What I ate is another blog all together. But at least it was home food!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Busy Day Dinner

It takes a little planning, a little foresight, and a little drive to make it happen, but cooking dinner at home on a busy night is possible. This morning, knowing I wouldnt have a lot of time later for cooking, I decided to defrost some chicken breasts. (Step 1) Wanting something moderately healthy and yet flavorful, I opted for orzo pasta, tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and fresh mint. The entire meal, from opening the thawed chicken to tossing the entire dish together and serving, took thirty minutes. And, it was delicious!
Greek-Style Orzo Chicken Salad

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package dried orzo
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 + 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely minced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and cracked black pepper
* 1/4 tsp. crushed dried chiles (optional)

According to package directions, boil water, add about 2 tablespoons of salt, and cook dried orzo. While orzo is cooking, clean chicken breasts, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and half the lemon zest. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Sear the breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. During last minute of cooking, pour in half the lemon juice to create a pan sauce. Remove from heat and allow the chicken to sit in the pan, covered, for 5 minutes. In the meantime, strain your cooked orzo and place in a large bowl. Immediately toss warm orzo with 1/3 cup olive oil and remaining lemon juice/zest. Let sit till room temperature. Remove chicken from pan sauce, chop into bite size bits. Add to orzo. Pour remaining pan sauce over orzo. Add crumbled feta, salt, pepper, crushed chiles and mint. Stir gently to combine. If you are in a hurry, go ahead and eat. If not, let it sit in fridge for at least one hour before serving!

(Above picture is another version with fresh parsley and sundried tomatoes. There are many ways to prepare this dish.)

Crushing Defeat - Practice Makes Perfect?

It's March 1st. March 1st in blogosphere terms means, forever, since I've been here. In fact, its been almost half a year since I romanced the keys. I owe you all an explanation.

Early September was what did us in. My family suffered a blow, with my oldest son being hospitalized for over a month. It was an emotional time, and between visits to the hospital and trying to keep my family together, fast food became our shameful saving grace. It started with McDonalds and went downhill from there. Not long after my son was released, healthy and ready to start back where he'd left off, my loving husband left for Afghanistan. He's still there today, fighting an ugly war and an uglier enemy. If I told you I've gotten back on the wagon I'd be lying. I just got home from Subway.

Does this mean my challenge is impossible? Maybe, but I don't believe it yet. I do believe, deep down in side, there is need in our country to rediscover what home cooking is all about. I believe real food, not by products and fillers, need to reestablish their reign in our stomachs and that the advent of fast food has led to a nation of slow learners.

Thanks to Ethan, Anonymous and the rest of you who have stopped by and found my journey a little interesting. It's for you, dear reader (dreader?) that I'm here tonight.

I'm still cooking, and while I may have fallen from grace, I'd still like to stumble forward. Who's with me?