There were two interesting articles in the Los Angeles Times this morning. The first was about how preventive medicine will play a bigger role in the future of health care. DUH! We tried the other way and it seems expensive and fatal. Nuff said.
The second was about McDonalds “voluntarily” redesigning the menus at all 14,000 “restaurants” to include the calorie count for each item. Several states, including California, and the federal government as part of Obamacare have made calorie listing law. The implementation and enforcement is slow to come, but it is going to happen. McDonalds is trying to take the inevitable and spin it “their way”.
None of this was news or important in any way, something we have come to expect from our once venerable paper. What I thought WAS interesting was that the report said that more people are now eating out. I find this extremely hard to believe, but if it is true that you and I are eating out more than we used to, I have a couple of suggestions.
Go to places that you know the owner or the people that work there. Budgets are tight for everyone, so if you are going out, go somewhere that you want to stay in business. I could care less that any McDonalds stays in business. I would love to see a national program of demolishing them and planting urban gardens in their place. But, I digress. When we go out (which is NOT more than we used to) we go to our friends’ restaurants. We actually only go to 4 places. We used to go to 5 but our friend finally got fed up and sold his restaurant.
The other advice I would like to give you about eating out is spend less: split a main course, have appetizers, skip dessert, have the special, go to happy hour, bring your own wine or have water. We love sushi, but our sushi guy is really expensive. Our approach now is to discuss what we will order beforehand and stick to it. The first time we tried this we reduced our bill by about 30%. Restaurants want your business. They would love for you to have a second bottle of wine or a dessert, but they are happy that you are there. Enjoy the experience and keep these few things in mind so when the bill comes you can continue to enjoy the experience.
My friend Stephen was driving home from San Francisco the other day and stopped by Gilroy and bought a handful of garlic. If you didn’t know, Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world. If you have ever driven through you would not contest this dubious distinction. But, it does drive home the reason why fresh, local food is so important. The difference between fresh picked garlic and the stuff that is trucked, stored and piled up in your grocery is remarkable. When you crush a big head of really fresh garlic the garlic bursts open and the juices ooze out. Try that with your store bought garlic.
I don’t normally steal my friends recipes but I had dinner with him last night and he improvised a simple pasta that I thought was worth sharing for two reasons. The fresh garlic drove home a point and the other ingredients were simple, easy to prepare and very satisfying and delicious. What more do you want from a quick and inexpensive meal?
- 1 lb Dried Penne or Fusilli (or mix the two like we did)
- 3-4 Medium Ripe Tomatoes, rough chopped
- 4 Fresh Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Sage
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Tarragon
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated (Plus extra)
- Salt and Pepper
- Large Pot
- Sauté Pan
- Chef’s Knife
- Put a pot of water on to boil.
- When boiling, salt liberally. Add pasta. Stir every few minutes until al dente. (see package)
- Warm the olive oil in the pan over a medium flame. Add the garlic for a few minutes. Do not burn.
- Add the tomatoes, sage, tarragon and thyme. Stir occasionally.
- Salt and pepper.
- The sauce is done when the pasta is done. Turn the heat off and toss in the cheese and stir.
- Toss the pasta and the sauce together, adding the torn basil.
- Serve in two big bowls with extra parmesan.