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Tuesday, 26 May 2015 11:55

quick & easy chicken

Quick Easy Chicken cover Picmonkey

By Linda Gassenheimer

 

2015 American Diabetes Association

ISBN: 978-1-58040-563-8

Soft Cover, 140 pages  $9.95

 

Quick & easy chicken is subtitled “Diabetes-Friendly Recipes Everyone Will Love.”  This reviewer has little familiarity with the nutritional needs of diabetics, but will assume that a book endorsed—and actually published by—the American Diabetes Association will contain recipes appropriate for people dealing with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions.

We do see quite a lot of cookbooks, however, and can judge quick & easy chicken by the same standards we’d apply to any of them. This is not a beautiful, coffee table book with gorgeous photography of the dishes. In fact, other than the cover shot, it contains no photos at all. To succeed it must rely on the recipes and their presentation. In that regard it’s a hit.

If most supermarket chickens are not as flavorful as those that went on American tables a generation or two ago, these days they are reliable and a great source of inexpensive protein. And there’s nothing to stop the shopper from moving up to pricier and possibly tastier versions of this ubiquitous bird. Author Linda Gassenheimer has presented a myriad of ways to treat this most versatile of main course meats. She also has included some lighter soup, salad and sandwich options. No matter how eloquent the prose introducing the recipes or how famous the chef whose name is on the cover, a cookbook is more trouble than it’s worth if it’s not easy to use. Fortunately, this is not a problem with quick & easy chicken.

After a few pages of introduction, Gassenheimer takes the reader to chapters segmented mostly by style of food. If not all the 21 recipes in All American Classics  are the ones your mother might have served you, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy. Some, like Devil’s Chicken with Sautéed Garlic Potatoes, seemed a bit exotic, but we were intrigued by Oven-Fried Chicken with Creamed Corn and Lima Beans. Now that sounds like a solid and satisfying meal of the sort that Mom—or Grandma—used to put on the table. From the Asian/India  recipes, Curry-Kissed Chicken with Rice and Carrots also appealed. On page 72 we saw the Gorgonzola Chicken with Fresh Linguine and Sweet Pimentos—one of the Mediterranean  suggestions. The recipe does not include instructions on how to make fresh linguine, which admittedly is a lot of work. It’s a stretch to think most home cooks have easy access to a store selling fresh pasta, but different boiling times are included for both fresh and dried pasta. Following the directions faithfuly should yield good results. This recipe and all the others are presented with the typical instructions for cooking method following the ingredient list.

What’s unusual, though, are the ancillary instructions. Preparation and timing are critical for any cooking endeavor and highlights listed in the Countdown  give simple, yet invaluable sequencing help. Two other additions are Shopping List  and Staples, detailing what you’re likely to already have on hand (flour, olive oil, etc.) and ingredients specific to the preparation of each recipe. Helpful Hints  follow each recipe. These look like they would be useful for the novice and might even include a few tips that would benefit the experienced cook.

Nearly all the recipes call for using boneless and skinless chicken. Some might wonder if such instructions might mean stinting on flavor, but after all, the title does say “quick & easy.” And avoiding all the fat in the skin probably speaks to the “Diabetes-Friendly” theme. That these recipes are helpful for those with diabetes and pre-diabetes conditions—a significant part of the population—is laudable, but they all look healthful for a general audience, as well. Most of these dishes really sound tasty and likely will inspire the reader to conclude, “I can make that.”

  --reviewed by Dan Clarke

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 20:22

Sacramento Named America's Farm-to-Fork Capital

In an effort to foster community pride, celebrate regional farming, and to create further demand for the region as a culinary tourism destination, the Sacramento Region is laying claim to being "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital" and made the announcement at a press conference on October 31, 2012.

Sacramento is positioned to claim this identity because no major city in America is more centrally located amid such a diverse range of high-quality farms, ranches and vineyards.Sacto Farm to Fork Announcement PicmonkeyMayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento area chefs announce Farm-to-Fork program.

"This recognition as America's Farm-to-Fork Capital isn't something that this region needs to grow into because we've been walking this walk for decades," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "It is part of who we are and this is our opportunity to embrace that identity, celebrate it locally, and champion it to the rest of the world."

Sacramento is the capital city of the largest producing state of agriculture in the nation and, locally, 70 percent of the region's land is agricultural, forest or other open space. Additionally, the region contains 7,000 to 8,000 acres of boutique farms and provides numerous public sales platforms at more than 50 regional farmers markets, many of which are year-round fixtures.

In fact, Sacramento is home to the largest "Certified Farmers' Market" in California and offers the most ethnically diversified market in both produce offerings and customer demographics.

Local restaurants utilize the abundance of regionally-grown products to create a Farm-to-Fork freshness that's unparalleled in this country. While many local farms ship their products across the country — a process that can take days — regional restaurants can pick up fresh product in the morning and serve it to patrons for lunch and dinner.

"We buy blueberries from Stockton, lamb from Dixon, lavender from Placerville, fresh fish from Sloughhouse and broccoli and cauliflower from Sacramento," said Randall Selland, owner of The Kitchen, Ella and Selland's Market. "There is no other place in the United States that grows and distributes more food for consumers than the Sacramento region does."

Aside from local restaurants, regional farmers provide products to establishments across the United States. Superior Farms in Dixon provides product to restaurants in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Snake River Farms beef, which is raised at VanVleck Ranch in eastern Sacramento County, is distributed locally at Corti Bros. Market and nationally in San Francisco, New York, Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Silva Family Farms, located in Yuba City, ships walnuts to New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, Philadelphia, Dubai, Turkey, China, Korea and Spain.

On the heels of this proclamation is an announcement from Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) President & CEO Steve Hammond that Sacramento will host a culinary week in the fall of 2013.The week-long celebration will include events at local farms, at restaurants across the region, and will be anchored by a major festival on Capitol Mall. High-end dinners, wine tastings, other culinary-focused events—and even a cattle drive in downtown Sacramento—will be scheduled throughout the week.

"In 1992, Austin, Texas, became known as the Live Music Capital of the world because the city had more live music venues per capita than any other city. Since then, Austin has embraced this identity and used it to positively brand the city and draw in visitors," said Hammond. "Similarly, Sacramento is being named the America's Farm-to-Fork Capital because we have thousands of acres of boutique farms and year-round local sustainability. This region literally provides tons of food to the rest of the country and it will be the job of the SCVB to market that identity to the rest of the world."

The SCVB is currently in the planning stages for the 2013 event and is collaborating with the regional restaurant and farming community, The California Farm Bureau, The Certified Farmers' Markets, and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, among others. The branding campaign will be on-going, and the culinary promotions will be an annual celebration.

 

TravMedia.com sources contributed to this article.

 

Planning a visit to the Sacramento area? In Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you'll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options. Also in the directory arelinks to many "beer-centric" pubs and restaurants, as well as links to nearby wineries.

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