Soft Foods

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Joined Aug 21, 2009
 Be well KYH and please keep us posted as to how you are doing. 

I have another recipe for you.. it is my mother in law's soup.  I have no idea of the name of the recipe, it is just darned good. (and easy on the mouth too)

Oma's Soup Recipe (for lack of a better name)

For the meatballs

one pound lean ground beef

1 package onion soup mix

For the Broth

1 cup "soup greens" (mix of grated carrot, celery leaves and finely sliced leeks)

water

4 maggi blocks (or two knorr bullion cubes)

liquid maggi seasoning to taste

For the soup

1 pkg fine  egg noodles

Start the broth to boil.  I sweat the veggies first but she just dumps them all in the water and lets them boil.  Do it however you wish.  I just fill my Dutch oven with water when I make this so use a good sized pot.

Mix the onion soup stuff with the meatballs.  Pinch off very tiny bits from the meat mixture, form them into meatballs and drop them into the broth.  You are looking for meatballs that are the size of those in Italian Wedding soup if that helps. 

Once all of the meat is in, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for at least two hours.

After two hours add the noodles.. how much you add is up to you.. I like my soups to be on the hearty side so I tend to add alot of noodles but to each their own.

Simmer for another hour.

Serve with liquid maggi on the side for seasoning.

The only thing I can say is that the maggi sauce makes this soup and you only need to add a little for it to go a long way.  I don't add it in the soup pot unless I am making this to give away (or sell at work) otherwise I let people use the maggi to taste. 

Sorry for the lack of accurate directions... she taught me to make this stoveside and I just "know" the right amounts of stuff.  If you have any questions please ask and I will do my best to help.
 
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Ky, that sounds pretty awful, but i do know a person who had no teeth for many years, and ate practically everything.  She would even eat apples, albeit cutting and peeling them (yes, i know, not as tasty without the peel). she would cut up her meat with a mezzaluna. 

Anyway, after all the ice cream, yoghurt and milk shakes become way too annoying and you're craving savory, here are some quick thoughts:

fish cakes

pulp of charred eggplants - can make it like baba ganoosh, or mix with lemon and oil or in various ways. 

all those pumpkins you grew can be done in many ways - even fried, or in gnocchi (mix the pulp with flour and egg - almost same volume of flour as pumplin) and serve with butter and parmigiano

meatballs of various types can be mushed between the tongue and palate, esp those cooked in soup (i think someone mentioned these) - try escarole soup - simple as can be, just put roughly cut up escarole, a carrot, a celery, an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a lot of black pepper, some salt, and if you have it the rind of a piece of parmigiano, washed.  Add water, and cook till soft.  You can add meatballs into this (beef, or beef and pork, lots of parmigiano, salt, pepper, an egg) and simmer them in the soup.  I add rice, which you might be able to just swallow,. 

Soups, of course, are all good, though at first you need to eat cold stuff not to encourage bleeding.  But later, try fennel and potato soup (sweat sliced fennel and onion in butter, add potatoes and boil till soft and puree. 

spinach and ricotta "gnocchi" (pasta-less ravioli) - mix cooked, chopped and squeezed-dry spinach with ricotta, lots of parmigiano and an egg, salt and pepper.  Make egg-sized and shaped dumplings and cook in a deep frying pan in simmering water till they float - drain and add butter and more parmigiano

you can do the same and make a sort of gratin

i'll think of more probably.  I'm thinking most of these are not "savory" enough to satisfy in the long run. 

Hope the surgery is painless and the recovery also. 
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
Us French like to cook vegetables until they're melt-in-your-mouth tender, what most Americans would consider waaaaay overcooked. Maybe it's time for you to give it a try, personally I like both, but I really feel like cooking vegetables the French way develops flavors that are missing in the "al dente" vegetables served today in American restaurants. If you haven't blanched a "haricot vert" for 15 mn, you don't know the "real" (to me) taste of a haricot vert.
I won't say i know french cooking directly, but from julia child, who is our bible of french cooking, albeit not french herself, i got the idea that french vegetables are cooked only till slightly al dente (not, admittedly, like american restaurants seem to do them, so the broccoli seems completely raw - but they only began to cook them like that after julia child revolutionized vegetabgles in the states).  But maybe home cooking is different? 
 
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Joined Aug 29, 2000
I don't know if I missed it, but MATZO BALLS IN CHICKEN SOUP!! Yum........ soft-simmered veggies, melt-in-your-mouth dumplings, rich broth- you can't miss!

 
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Joined Sep 5, 2008
I'm not familiar with Julia Child's books, so I couldn't say. My understanding is that she spent a few years in France, learning to cook in a school, so what she got was a snapshot of the cooking of a specific era. Maybe she was inspired by the "Nouvelle Cuisine" wave from the second half of the last century, where indeed, cooks started to cook things for shorter amount of time, with less fat, etc... but Nouvelle Cuisine was a trend, and only part of it (albeit a big part) was to be incorporated in today's French food, but some of it didn't. Some of it made a lot of sense, and resulted in tastier food, while some of it was only based on a "healthful" kinda trend (vs anything taste related), and almost disappeared from French cuisine.

So while Americans seem to have fallen in love with that particular aspect of Nouvelle Cuisine (almost-raw vegetables), French.... not so much. If you go to a good French restaurant and order a steak that comes with a side of green beans, chances are higher the beans will be thoroughly cooked. And in any case, I've never seen anyone at home cook veggies "al dente" in France.

For example, in France one would cook asparagus until they're tender and melting. Same with green beans. To many French people, cooking a green bean "al dente" makes about as much sense as cooking a potato al dente. In fact they wouldn't call it "al dente", they would call it raw, or uncooked, or undercooked.

Having said that, I love cooking broccoli that way (barely cooked), and in general my family loves it as well. I think broccoli are the exception though. Even cauliflower would never be served like that in France.

How about Italy? How do people cook their veggies in Italy?
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
In the American South they have always cooked veggies to the mushy stage. And I've never been able to eat them that way. Veggies should be cooked to the tender-crisp stage for the best combination of taste, texture, and general appeal.

Far as I'm concerned, the best thing about Nouvelle Cuisine is that it freed French chefs from the shackles imposed on them a hundred years ago, allowing the to move in other directions than the classic methods while the food still remained French. The worst thing about it was the American misinterpretation, that thought of it as very small portions served in very large plates. You know: a quail leg and three green peas in the midlle of a serving platter.

you can't miss!

You've never had my mother-in-law's matzo balls, Mezz. Trust me, you can miss. But that aside, you're right. Should be a perfect addition to my soft-foods inventory.
 
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I think there's a big misunderstanding of the concept of "al dente".

Cooking al dente is not regional, it just popped up recently with the increasing popularity of Italian food. Before, everyone cooked vegetables plain soft, let's say overdone.

Nowadays cooking al dente is everywhere, even in France! Al dente asks for continuous tasting during the cooking time. The big mistake is that al dente means underdone and very crunchy. IMO it means "just done" in a way that cooked veggies, when you bite on them, your teeth (truly sorry, KYH!) sink in all the way through without too much resistance. Not crunchy and chewy at all, and certainly not soft. For instance, haricots verts cooked in 3 minutes are seriously underdone, crunchy but not al dente. Cook them for 8-9 minutes and they are al dente. More than 10 minutes is overdone.

Also, all green veggies are now immediately cooled in icewater after cooking to stop the cooking process and to keep them al dente.

White asparagus is another cup of tea. They are boiled in water for 5 minutes, no matter how thick they are, then they are put away from the fire and kept in the hot water untill just done; you need to taste to be sure, or to feel with the point of a knife.
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
I'm not familiar with Julia Child's books, so I couldn't say. My understanding is that she spent a few years in France, learning to cook in a school, so what she got was a snapshot of the cooking of a specific era. Maybe she was inspired by the "Nouvelle Cuisine" wave from the second half of the last century, where indeed, cooks started to cook things for shorter amount of time, with less fat, etc... but Nouvelle Cuisine was a trend, and only part of it (albeit a big part) was to be incorporated in today's French food, but some of it didn't. Some of it made a lot of sense, and resulted in tastier food, while some of it was only based on a "healthful" kinda trend (vs anything taste related), and almost disappeared from French cuisine.

So while Americans seem to have fallen in love with that particular aspect of Nouvelle Cuisine (almost-raw vegetables), French.... not so much. If you go to a good French restaurant and order a steak that comes with a side of green beans, chances are higher the beans will be thoroughly cooked. And in any case, I've never seen anyone at home cook veggies "al dente" in France.

For example, in France one would cook asparagus until they're tender and melting. Same with green beans. To many French people, cooking a green bean "al dente" makes about as much sense as cooking a potato al dente. In fact they wouldn't call it "al dente", they would call it raw, or uncooked, or undercooked.

Having said that, I love cooking broccoli that way (barely cooked), and in general my family loves it as well. I think broccoli are the exception though. Even cauliflower would never be served like that in France.

How about Italy? How do people cook their veggies in Italy?
No, Julia child was pre-nouvelle-cuisine - she was all butter and fats.  I believe she studied classic french cooking, but i'm no expert on that.  Most of what i know about french cuisine is from her. 

Anyway, before her, americans cooked all their vegetables to death, losing its bright green color, all a drab olive green, from broccoli to stringbeans to peas.  Unfortunately, as often happens, people took her advice to the opposite extreme and now when i go to the states, i find what is fundamentally raw broccoli that's spent a couple of seconds in boiling water, stems not peeled (she insisted you had to peel the stem or it would take too long to cook them and the tops would turn olive and mushy - or,.in this case, remain hard). 
 

I find italians also boil their vegetables to death, but then again, it may just be people who don;t know how to cook.  Some dishes clearly are intended for soft-cooked veggies (look up my pasta with cauliflower somewhere on the site - the cauliflower is cooked very slowly in oil with garlic till it "melts" and then mixed with pasta.  But that's fundamentally a sauce not a side dish.  Most vegetables that are boiled, are then drained and then "ripassate" - sauteed - in olive oil and garlic for a couple of minutes to flavor them.  It works well for leafy stuff, like broccoletti (broccoli rabe or rape, whatever they call it there) and spinach, swiss chard and chicory.  Otherwise they serve them "all'agro" - with oil and lemon.
 
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No, Julia child was pre-nouvelle-cuisine - she was all butter and fats.  I believe she studied classic french cooking, but i'm no expert on that.  Most of what i know about french cuisine is from her. 
Oh ok - like I said, not a big expert on Julia Child. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gifI was born after she published all her major work.
look up my pasta with cauliflower somewhere on the site - the cauliflower is cooked very slowly in oil with garlic till it "melts" and then mixed with pasta.
Yes! I made those, I remember very well. It was absolutely delicious: http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/62705/tonight-i-m-making-siduri-s-cauliflower-pasta
 
 
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Cook them for 8-9 minutes and they are al dente. More than 10 minutes is overdone.
Aaaaaand you just proved my point. At least in the SoCal restaurants I go to, no one would ever cook green beans for 8 or 9 minutes. Most people around here would consider them way over cooked. More like 1-3 minutes. Sometimes I doubt they even blanch them at all, I mean I've had green beans that tasted just plain raw - probably just sauteed in a little butter.
 
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To me, 1-3 minutes would be blanching, not cooking. It's what I do to beans when prepping them for the freezer. But 8-9 minutes is a bit too much; certainly for fresh, home-grown beans.

Just guessing, cuz I don't cook by the clock, but I'd say at 5-6 minutes you reach true al dente, which is the same as tender-crisp. Your teeth will sink through the veggie, but there's still be a bit of texture. What we used to call "tooth."

I have no doubts that once the swelling goes down I'll have no problems eating properly cooked vegetables, without haveing to go to that mush point.
 
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Oh ok - like I said, not a big expert on Julia Child. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gifI was born after she published all her major work.
Young'un!

you should take a look - she is one of the best recipe writers ever - even the most complicated dishes can be made at home, following her explanations and her illustrations (which are excellent) - and there is enough chattiness without being at all overpowering but enough to get an idea of the dish, what it will taste like, how it should appear, and why to make it.

Not to brag, but did i mention that i have a letter from Julia Child herself?  I only ever had a problem with one dish - the orange filling of an orange cake, which wouldn't firm up - so i said what the heck, let me write to her and ask - I wrote to her via the publisher and a couple of months later received a wonderful chatty letter where, after saying how WONderful to be in rome with those WONDerful tiny artichokes etc, she explained what might have gone wrong. 
 
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Are there any convenience foods that aren't made of salt?

I'm figuring I won't want to be doing any kitchen work, especially the first few days. So when we went shopping I grabbed some Campbell's chunky soups; then kind that come in the microwavable cups. Certainly, I figured, they'd be soft enough for me to eat. Unfortunately, I forgot to read the labels (forgivable, I guess, as I normally don't buy such products).

These soups contain two servings of about a cup each. I prepared one of them, and almost spit it out, it was so salty. Turns out, the three flavors I bought have sodium levels ranging from 790 to 870 mg per serving. OMG!  According to their own nutritional statement, this works out as 33-36% of the adult daily requirement. In short, one third of a healthy person's salt requirements all in one shot.

I've always known that a chronic complaint against convenience products is their salt content. But surely this isn't typical? Or is it?

Meanwhile, if anybody wants a convenient form of chicken-corn chowder or chicken-noodle soup, you're welcome to rummage through my trash for them.
 
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Smoked NC chopped BBQ Sandwich with a fine cut cole slaw,

Crab Cakes cooked anyway you like,

Chicken Salad on soft white bread,

Roast Beef sliced paper thin and gravy or au jus with mashed potatoes.

Salmon Cakes or salmon or any fish
 
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Not to brag, but did i mention that i have a letter from Julia Child herself?  I only ever had a problem with one dish - the orange filling of an orange cake, which wouldn't firm up - so i said what the heck, let me write to her and ask - I wrote to her via the publisher and a couple of months later received a wonderful chatty letter where, after saying how WONderful to be in rome with those WONDerful tiny artichokes etc, she explained what might have gone wrong. 
Wow that's pretty cool, that she would write back to you! And that you now have her letter! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 
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Not to brag, but did i mention that i have a letter from Julia Child herself?  I only ever had a problem with one dish - the orange filling of an orange cake, which wouldn't firm up - so i said what the heck, let me write to her and ask - I wrote to her via the publisher and a couple of months later received a wonderful chatty letter where, after saying how WONderful to be in rome with those WONDerful tiny artichokes etc, she explained what might have gone wrong. 
Wow that's pretty cool, that she would write back to you! And that you now have her letter! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
Agreed.  How cool is that!!!  I hope you have it framed and showing it off on your kitchen wall!
 
 
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Are there any convenience foods that aren't made of salt?

I'm figuring I won't want to be doing any kitchen work, especially the first few days. So when we went shopping I grabbed some Campbell's chunky soups; then kind that come in the microwavable cups. Certainly, I figured, they'd be soft enough for me to eat. Unfortunately, I forgot to read the labels (forgivable, I guess, as I normally don't buy such products).

These soups contain two servings of about a cup each. I prepared one of them, and almost spit it out, it was so salty. Turns out, the three flavors I bought have sodium levels ranging from 790 to 870 mg per serving. OMG!  According to their own nutritional statement, this works out as 33-36% of the adult daily requirement. In short, one third of a healthy person's salt requirements all in one shot.

I've always known that a chronic complaint against convenience products is their salt content. But surely this isn't typical? Or is it?

Meanwhile, if anybody wants a convenient form of chicken-corn chowder or chicken-noodle soup, you're welcome to rummage through my trash for them.
ky,

your health food store should carry some low sodium soups...both amy's and kashi brands make good products...some of the thai kitchen microwavable soups are good as well, but like everything, you need to check the label...an easy solution is ramen noodles...just add some La Yu.....miso would be dynamite for you, but you either like it or not...take care, friend

joey

milkshakes or smoothies(veggie, sweet, mega green) also
 
3,599
46
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Are there any convenience foods that aren't made of salt?

I'm figuring I won't want to be doing any kitchen work, especially the first few days. So when we went shopping I grabbed some Campbell's chunky soups; then kind that come in the microwavable cups. Certainly, I figured, they'd be soft enough for me to eat. Unfortunately, I forgot to read the labels (forgivable, I guess, as I normally don't buy such products).

These soups contain two servings of about a cup each. I prepared one of them, and almost spit it out, it was so salty. Turns out, the three flavors I bought have sodium levels ranging from 790 to 870 mg per serving. OMG!  According to their own nutritional statement, this works out as 33-36% of the adult daily requirement. In short, one third of a healthy person's salt requirements all in one shot.

I've always known that a chronic complaint against convenience products is their salt content. But surely this isn't typical? Or is it?

Meanwhile, if anybody wants a convenient form of chicken-corn chowder or chicken-noodle soup, you're welcome to rummage through my trash for them.
I think the thing i most resent about the quantity of salt in these things is that it has created a backlash movement and now every recipe i come across is practically salt free.  True, i'm a goat when it comes to salt (and fortunately have the predisposition for low blood pressure no matter what i eat- I know, lucky)  - so my desire for salt is higher than most, but the recipes in my 1950 cookbooks have much more salt (pancakes, muffins, etc), without being in this exaggerated class of convenience foods.  Just recently my son brought back a few packs of thomas english muffins from the states.  I LOVE those.  One of the things i miss the most.  But there was something wrong with them, they weren't as good as i remembered.  Then i thought it might be the salt - i sprinkled them with salt and they were just as i remembered them.  These were not overly salted before, but because the crap food is so oversalted, now the good food has to be tasteless!  What a shame. 
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Thanks Joey, I'll check out those brands. And, lesson learned: always read the label. Actually, I grabbed them thinking they'd be a change from ramen, of which I've stocked up several kinds.

Funny thing is we do read labels, normally, because of Friend Wife's diabeties. But it's the carbs we mostly look at.

What surprises me is how anything that inedible stays on the market. I can't see how anybody would buy them a second time, convenient or not. I mean, my God! They talk about the high sodium levels in boxed stock. But that's a whole quart, not a single serving.
 

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