Monday, February 27, 2012

Army Wife, Dietitian Urges Healthy Food for Kids

- Associated Press

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Kim Milano is the wife of the general who runs the Army's largest training post, but she's also known on Fort Jackson as the woman who teaches second-graders how to cook "roasted monster brains."

"The kids just loved it," Milano said with a laugh, describing her cooking demonstration for roasting cauliflower.
The 53-year-old pediatric dietitian has spent two years at this military installation in South Carolina helping military families learn to cook and eat healthy food.

"I tell people that if they eat better, they will feel better, and they will be able to handle stress better," she said.
Milano has taken her passion around the globe while raising two boys and managing 17 moves during her husband's 33-year military career. Repeat moves, last-minute, no-notice deployments and life on military bases often far from large cities means many military spouses find it difficult to maintain any kind of full- or part-time job, let alone a career.

Milano said she has been able to work or volunteer at various military schools and local hospitals during their many moves, so she has kept abreast of research and trends in her field and maintained her accreditation.

"Parents are much more willing to change for their children than for themselves, so I've focused on kids as much as I could," she said.

Her message of proper nutrition and eating is timely, given the military's health issues and budget concerns.
The Department of Defense reports that nearly a quarter of entry-level candidates for military service are too overweight to serve or make it through their first enlistment. And medical care related to excess weight and obesity is costing the Defense Department $1.1 billion a year.

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama joined Pentagon officials at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas to introduce a program to serve more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dishes in military dining halls. It is the military's first major attempt in 20 years to help its men and women, their families and retirees make better nutrition choices, said Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

Fort Jackson, located outside Columbia in central South Carolina, is the largest of the Army's basic training bases, with more than 60,000 soldiers annually attending its schools and courses. More than half the Army's female soldiers are trained there.

On the post, Milano holds cooking classes for spouses and helped develop the school course that introduces new fruits or vegetables to students over several months.

The children took a survey to find out which foods they didn't like or knew little about, so unfamiliar foods like cauliflower, beets, spinach, apricots and blueberries were chosen.

Milano said she talks about how each food is grown, why it has the name it does, and shows them how to cook or prepare various dishes. Recipes including the ingredient go home to parents, the commissary puts the ingredient on sale when it's being studied and it's served in the school cafeteria.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wounded Vets Regain Bit of Camaraderie in Kitchen

HYDE PARK, N.Y.—Julio Gerena is in a wheelchair, his long career in the U.S. Navy and Army forever behind him. But the 52-year-old recaptured some of the old military camaraderie while peeling potatoes and chopping cilantro in a crowded kitchen.
Gerena was among the first 16 wounded veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to take part in a healthy cooking "boot camp" sponsored by the advocacy group Wounded Warrior Project. Former service members once consumed with patrols and sentry posts learned how to poach and saute at the Culinary Institute of America, the renowned cooking school on the Hudson River.
The veterans learned some kitchen tips, but seemed to enjoy even more the chance to spend four intense days with people who have faced similar hurdles.
"There are some things you can't really get into words, but the Wounded Warrior program is to me what being in uniform was before: the camaraderie, the trust," Gerena said after a long morning in the kitchen. "I met some of these people just a few days ago, but I share what they went through."
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization runs a range of programs for wounded veterans at locations ranging from college campuses to ski slopes. The group brought its first batch of veterans into the kitchen last week in partnership with the culinary institute. Most of the students served in the Army, but the Navy and the Marines were also represented. Their service-related wounds ranged from spinal cord injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Over four days, they were lectured on the finer points of knife work or braising before heading to a classroom kitchen to turn the lesson into something edible for lunch or dinner.

On a recent morning, the veterans scrambled to pan-sear salmon and saute chicken breasts under the guidance of Chef John DeShetler. As they clattered pans and joked about a return to kitchen patrol duty, DeShetler shouted out tips on carrot dicing and meat slicing.

"Now this is a flank steak! There's only two per animal, that's why they're so damn expensive...! They used to give this away!" DeShetler bellowed.

As DeShetler walked the kitchen, 24-year-old Steve Bohn carefully sauteed mushrooms for a ragout in a pan.

The Peabody, Mass., resident had cooked for a Whole Foods Market before the death of close friend in Iraq inspired him to join the Army in 2007. Bohn was severely injured the next year in Afghanistan when a dump truck packed with explosives collapsed the building he was in. He suffered severe spinal injuries and required reconstructive bladder surgery.

Bohn no longer needs a leg brace but he still had a hitch to his step as he moved through the kitchen. He knows that he cannot resume his old kitchen career because he can't stand for long or lift heavy boxes. But he liked the feeling of pushing his limits and being behind a burner again.

Read the complete story here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Culinary Journey Propelled By Presidents' Tastebuds

Presidents. Have you ever wondered about the tastebuds of these powerful gentlemen who ran our country?  You might be surprised.  In honor of Presidents’ Day TravelsinTaste created a virtual culinary roadmap throughout Las Vegas, a city where people and presidents alike can find a modern adaptation of their favorite bites.

Our Founding Father George Washington may not have actually cut down a cherry tree, but his tie to cherries has lasted for centuries. For these reasons, he’d most likely enjoy libations such as the non-alcoholic house-made cherry yuzu soda at Jean Georges Steakhouse or the Cherry Limeade at Fleur by Hubert Keller.

 Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy were both major fans of fine French cuisine, who isn’t?, and often had it served in the White House. President Kennedy even hired renowned French Chef Rene Verdon to run the White House Kitchen. If they visited Vegas, we think they’d be delighted by Le Cirque at Bellagio’s new Executive Chef Gregory Pugin, formerly of Veritas in New York City, a protégé of Gault Millau’s Chef of the Century Joël Robuchon. They might even try the classic Terrine de Foie Gras Poire Belle Hélène which is lillet marinated foie gras terrine with poire williams gelee, almond and orange blossom bavaroise, and a chocolate nougatine, Better yet try the Chef of the Century’s signature  La Langoustine, a truffle langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage, at Joel Robuchon Restaurant.

 Theodore Roosevelt was a traditionalist who preferred simplicity in hearty helpings and might have truly enjoyed a meal at NOBHILL TAVERN by Michael Mina at MGM Grand. Perhaps trying either the Shelton Farms Chicken Breast with cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, golden raisins and chicken jus or a 12 ounce wood-fired ribeye. Two of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite foods were cheese and fish, so perfect restaurants for him would be Onda Ristorante & Lounge at The Mirage for its extensive cheese menu and signature seafood dishes or Julian Serrano at ARIA Resort & Casino where Chef Serrano lovingly prepares ceviches and a Spanish cheese platter celebrating his homeland.

 Lyndon B. Johnson was a big steak eater, so he’d love Jean Georges Steakhouse at ARIA, especially with its special February Beef Tasting Menu. Executive Chef Robert Moore has created an exquisite five-course tasting menu highlighting beef from Rangers Valley in Brisbane, Australia. The region’s cooler climate provides a stress-free life for the cattle under the watchful eye of certified Japanese Kobe ranchers, allowing for the production of extraordinary cuts of beef. Chef Moore’s menu features Rangers Valley Angus 300 beef prepared in four cooking styles: Hand-Cut Wagyu Steak Tartare, Charred Chili-Rubbed Angus 300 Rib Eye Skewers, Angus 300 Braised Short Rib and a 21 Day Dry Aged Grilled Angus 300 NY Strip.  The divine JG Candy Bar adds a sweet, finishing touch for dessert.

Read about other presidential culinary traditions here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Food Trucks Spread 'New' Cuisine, Shake up Restaurant Model

Movement Is Helping to Expand America's Palate While Offering a Lesson in Social-Media Marketing

By: Maureen Morrison

Ethnic food -- from Korean to Thai to El Salvadoran -- has become more familiar to the average U.S. consumer, and increasingly people are finding out about these cuisines not from mom-and-pop restaurants or specialty stores, but via food trucks. The movement is helping pave the way for the increasing popularity in ethnic street cuisine "because of how food trucks work.

They've allowed those flavors to more easily surface and spread through cities and allow more people to try them," said Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director at Sterling Rice Group, an agency that tracks restaurant and culinary trends. "They've allowed for those flavors to enter the mainstream via a different way and we're seeing those kinds of flavors make their way into more brick-and-mortar establishments."

Ms. Jankowski pointed to Chipotle's test concept, Shop House, and Spanish chain 100 Montaditos, which now has a small U.S. presence (with hopes of opening another 4,000 American units in the next five years), as larger players that are leading the way for this new style of "global street food."

"Food trucks have changed the conversation about the way international casual food has been able to become part of our regular dining experience," she said. Phil Lempert, a food-industry expert who runs Supermarket Guru, said that part of the appeal of food trucks for consumers is that often the operators are cooking their own culture's food, thereby making the fare more authentic. And food trucks and their cuisine are important to millennials, a demographic that likes to experiment with new tastes.

In the Technomic 2011 Food Trucks Innovation report, 42% of consumers surveyed ages 18 to 30 said they visit food trucks at least once a week; 38% of consumers ages 31 to 40 answered the same way. Of course, food trucks are not solely responsible for the interest in ethnic street-food, but they've helped create the supply to satisfy the demand that the popularity of food and travel programs has helped generate, said Kevin Higar, director-research and consulting at Technomic.

For now, so-called international food is largely untapped by most fast-food chains (Jack in the Box is one exception), but there are two areas of potential growth for food-truck operators looking to expand their own franchises: brick-and-mortar establishments and a move into supermarkets.

After leaving the fast-casual chain he founded, Spicy Pickle, Kevin Morrison in May 2010 started a food truck in Denver called Pinche Tacos. The truck sold what he called "Mexican street food," and was a precursor to the permanent Pinche Tacos that opened five months later. "It was a very inexpensive way of getting into the business to kind of test out the market to see what kind of feedback I got before I went brick-and-mortar."

Read the complete story here.