Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 Trends

Comfort food is predicted to be the big trend for the coming year as people get back to basics and pare down their food budgets. Although the price of gas has dropped considerably and retail stores are all but giving away the goods the price of food has yet to follow suit. Experts say the price of food will most likely not drop as the commodities market dictates the price levels. Most producers, it seems, locked in their contracts factoring in the high cost of fuel. Food prices, therefore, do not react to changes in market like the price of a barrel of oil. In the meantime, people will find other ways to economize.

Slow Cookers are all the rage here.

Enter the slow cooker. Enjoying a current wave of popularity, the crock pot of the 1980s has been revived, another indication that good, old-fashioned comfort food will rule in 2009. Cheaper cuts of meat fare better and render more flavor with the slow cooking process. It's actually a classic technique for locking in juices and flavors. This, coupled with the convenience of arriving home after a long day with the evening meal already prepared and ready to be served, has added a new lustre to an old fad.

Braised chicken thighs on saffron rice.

This braised chicken is simple and really flavorful. After browning in butter we add chicken stock, cover and simmer for an hour. Or you could slow cook it all day on low. The thigh meat can be snapped up for next to nothing, is flavorful and, using this process, tender. About half way through we sprinkle in dried cranberry and apricot. We use the "craisins" you will find in the produce section. You could also use raisins. We then add brussel sprouts last so they don't overcook. We top it off with chopped green onion and serve on a bed of saffron (our little luxury) rice.

In another note it seems that budget-conscious couples are now taking what has become known as the Starbucks Test. They have actually added up what they spend on take-out meals and trendy coffee stopovers in a month, projected that out over 12 months (in typical Yuppie spreadsheet fashion) and decided to plow it, instead, back into their now depleted 401Ks. TBF is all for this buy low now (while it's still tax free) strategy. Money invested today will be hugely more valuable than ever before.

Here's a few more hearty comfort treats we made that you may enjoy.

Shepherd's Pie: hot and hearty meal for a cold day.

We make our Shepherd's Pie with ground pork and beef, a brown gravy, corn, and green onion. We then pipe the potato over it which bakes to a crispy crust not unlike french fries. We dust the top with freshly ground pink and black peppercorns.

A meat and cheese calzone, salad and fruit drink. Just one of our comfort faves.

Calzone is very easy to make. Pick up some pizza dough at the local market or pizzeria. Yes, they will actually sell it to you if you just ask. It's a great use for leftover meats and vegetables and don't skimp on the cheese. You can stuff it with spinach and cheese, meatballs, ham or chicken.

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