Category Archives: Rita Smith’s Cooking Videos

Nutrition for the body and the soul

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Sometimes the taste of a good beef liver pate is exactly what your soul craves.

 (The link to my video “Beef Liver Pate with Bacon and Rosemary” is here.)


Every now and then, I find the flavour of a really good beef liver pate is exactly what my soul is craving

Maybe it has something to do with the tremendous amount of iron and trace minerals that come with the liver; nutritionally, beef liver is almost unique among other foods.[1]

In fact, during one bleak period of our Hedemark Family history, money was so tight that my mother Johannah Hedemark decided to prioritize her grocery budget on two items: liver, and beets.

“I’ve researched it. Liver and beets are basically the two most nutritious foods you can purchase for the money; if we have nothing else to eat this winter, we will have liver and beets.”

True to her word, she visited an abattoir in Owen Sound and bought whole frozen beef livers, thinly sliced, for something like 29 cents per pound. She also purchased bushels of beets directly from local farmers. Smaller beets were less expensive than the larger beets, so she got great deals on those.

That winter was, officially at that time, the snowiest winter in Ontario’s history. It snowed EVERY SINGLE DAY for something like four months. School busses were cancelled on a regular basis, and once our electricity went out for four days in a row. I remember mom making “pizza buns” with English muffins over the fireplace in our family room.

“Come and sit with me and let’s make pizzas,” mom invited us cheerily. It was a fun thing. I did not realize it at the time – we had no heat in our house and no other way to cook food. She wanted us to warm by the fire and eat whatever she could manage to cook over the fire; there was nothing else.

It’s hard to find words to describe how, at the end of months of dark days, endless snow, isolation and boredom, I loathed sitting down to a dinner of liver fried in lard and boiled beets. 4 days out of 7? 5 days out of 7? Liver again – beets again? I literally gagged trying to choke down the meat: I hated the flavour, hated the texture, and HATED the fact that it was being forced upon me. I would have rather starved than look at one more piece of liver.

However, the beets-by-the-bushel purchase led to one of our best family stories: occasionally when one of us kids was sent out to the cold room to get a bowl full of beets, a stray beet fell to the floor. Given the plump body of the little beet and its long root “tail,” a wayward beet looked a lot like a mouse laying on the floor. Mom often reminded us not to be sloppy and drop beets.

One day Mom walked into the cold room and saw a beet laying floor, and lost her temper.

“How many times have I asked you NOT TO LEAVE BEETS LAYING AROUND ON THE FLOOR?” she shrieked so loudly that we could hear it 3 rooms away.

Bending over to retrieve the nutritious beet – money being wasted – she was shocked to find out she actually HAD picked a mouse up by the tail, a real furry mouse. She screamed and threw it at the wall, killing it or at least knocking it senseless.

Pete, Paul and I came running to see what all the commotion was about and to rescue Mom from whatever disaster had befallen her. It was confusing to burst into the cold room and see Mom leaning against the wall, laughing so hard she was crying.

“I was yelling at you for disobeying me…and it wasn’t a beet, it was a MOUSE!” she wept, shoulders heaving with laughter. “I was yelling at YOU – and it was ME being wrong! I really have to be more careful about the things I yell at you for.”

Now, I am 53 years old and Mom has been gone for 25 years. When I remember that cold, dark, snowy, poverty-stricken Ontario winter, I focus on only three things.

  • Liver and beets are the most nutritious foods you can buy, for the money.
  • Be careful about the things you yell at your kids for.
  • When you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.[2]

This winter, I went on a real tear of making beef liver pate. No sooner was one batch gone, it seemed, than I needed to set about making the next batch, freezing slices for future meals.

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While there are ALWAYS pickles in my fridge, some nights I only crave beets.

 

One night I got home from work about midnight and although I felt too tired to eat, I knew that if I did not consume something I would wake up around 3am too hungry to sleep. So I put some beef liver pate on a plate with rye crackers, and when I surveyed the jars of pickles in my fridge, I passed over everything to dish up only a few pickled beets.

I sat down with my plate of food; I laughed and then I cried. 40 years later, in my brand new cozy warm house with all the money in the world to buy any kind of food I want – I am still eating liver and beets.

 


[1] And, given that dietary cholesterol has now been removed from the USDA’s “substances of concern” list, probably one of the top foods you can eat to attain this nutrition.

[2] Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Principle #12

 

How much should you pay for meat? For example, pork shish kebabs

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I have always told my kids, “Shopping is the first and most important part of cooking.”

Which is totally true – great shoppers can afford to prepare and serve fantastic, wonderful meals. Shoppers who do not pay attention to items on sale, or are forced to pay top dollar for food basics, cannot possibly serve such amazing meals.

So I am a great promoter of having a chest freezer (mine cost $125; it has paid for itself many times over). Living in the province of Ontario, you can buy AMAZING meat deals, and other deals, all the year around. Who on earth would pay $26 per pound for a T-bone steak, when you could get them for $5 per pound on sale, and freeze them?

Or who would pay $17 per pound for a pre-made shish kebab, when you could pay less than $2 per pound for the same thing? Check here for my video comparison. Save money, and enjoy better food. What’s not to like? 

Here is the link to the Greek Dressing/Marinate

 

French Canadian Potage – vegetables+

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My friend Benoit Violette, who is French from New Brunswick, taught me how to make authentic Potage, the ultimate vegetable soup. There was nothing more welcome on a cold, snowy Ottawa day than to arrive home and smell Ben’s delicious, comforting Potage cooking on the stove!

Click here for the video.

(Once, when my dad was visiting Ottawa I was cooking t-bone steaks for our dinner; while I was preparing steaks, Dad ate 3 bowls of Ben’s Potage with french bread – he could not stop eating it. He ended up skipping the steak altogether as he had completely filled up on Potage!)

The only thing I have changed is that I add fresh ginger to the pan with all of the other vegetables; I like ginger with root vegetables.

One bowl of Potage can basically provide you with all the vegetables you are supposed to eat in a day.

 

 

 

Why does food stick to my cast iron pan?

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A well-seasoned cast iron frying pan is a thing of beauty, whether it is two months old or 25 years old – or even older!

However, if you are an impatient cook and can’t allow the time it takes to heat up the pan adequately before dropping in the food, items will stick, cook unevenly and leave a mess in your pan that requires clean up and damages the seasoning you want to protect.

Don’t just take my word for it – watch this! 

Are you a Food Fairy?

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The world is made up of “Food Fairies,” and “Non-Food Fairies.”

How do you find out which one you are? And, how to you get to be “The #1 Food Fairy”? (It was easier than you might think!) 

Blogsvertise suggested I create an video to introduce myself, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to actually explain what a Food Fairy is. Are you a Food Fairy?

Make great home-made broth: turkey or chicken

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While there are LOTS of methods available to make broth – often chicken broth recipes will call for the whole chicken to be boiled, or just legs and thighs – over the decades I have found nothing tastes better than broth made from a bird that has been roasted first. This is known as a “dark” broth (owing to the roasted, caramelized flavour which is the result of the roasted bones and drippings) versus a “light” broth (which comes from boiling a raw bird or raw pieces).

Sometimes, I roast a bird JUST to make broth. Other times, I take advantage of a big family roast turkey-or-chicken meal to do double duty – platters of meat being served at the table while the stock pot is already bubbling on the stove. It’s win/win, either way. I hope you find the visuals here helpful: when someone says “Clean a turkey” to a new cook, it can be somewhat overwhelming! Here is a step by step demonstration.