Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Industrialized vs. Homemade


I was wondering why people care more about the way something looks than the way it tastes. Is appearance really that important in life? Even when it comes to food? I mean, of course it matters but to me at least, taste is the most important factor when choosing a restaurant or anything else, really.

I guess people just don’t care enough about their health or even worse, about what they are eating. People see food as fuel and not as pleasure. I’m not like that.

This is one of the reasons I became a pastry chef. To prove that taste does matter and that food can be much more than just energy.

When people go for ice cream or a piece of cake they don’t usually regard it as food, but as a moment of pleasure, as a reward, per se. And that fills my heart with a lot of satisfaction too. Watching people have fun while enjoying a piece of pie is what makes me wanna bake even more.

The problem, though, is all these industrial products we have out there nowadays, manufactured just simply to give you pleasure in a bite, but really empty inside, in real flavors and nutrition.

I get upset when people cannot tell the difference between something truly homemade and something manipulated to activate their palate. The world is full of things made out of artificial stuff. From the color to the taste, full of additives and conservatives and created in a lab by very smart people who want to get you addicted to their food and coming back for more. Just to cite a few places that serve this kind of food with zero quality I could mention Mac Donald’s, Subway, Wendy’s and Pizza hut. But you already know that. What you don’t realize, however, is that everything you buy in the supermarket is created by the same giant labs, like the chocolate bars and custards and icings you put on your cakes!

So yeah, it upsets me when basically 50% of what I see shared in social media consists of recipes using these industrial ingredients. Of course it’s fine to have them once in a while, they DO taste good, but to see so much of that going around being passed on as real recipes makes me sad to tell you the least.

Where did tradition go? Where are people’s standards? Can you really say your desserts (made in 10 minutes, just whipping up all these pre-made ingredients) tastes better than the ones your grandma used to make? I can assure you it doesn’t. Well at least not in my family!

My Italian grandma used to spend the whole day in the kitchen, preparing the most delicious meals with real ingredients which came mostly from her own garden. A dessert would take at least 2 hours to prepare and you wouldn’t forget it for at least 6 months. They tasted so amazing that the flavor would stay in your head and tongue for months, lingering and bringing you a smile every time you remembered that specific meal. Any hint of vanilla or lemon smell would take you back, instantly to that same moment. Meals were not only a way of feeding our bodies but also a way of feeding our minds, being united with family and sharing traditions and life experiences.

Not only everything tasted incredibly good, but they were actually very good for you. Real food made with real ingredients. What happened to all of that?

But of course nothing was cheap.

When we talk about price nowadays people are just used to paying so little for all this crap they call food, that when you actually make something that is real they think it’s too expensive.

Now I ask you, how can you charge the same cheap, industrial price for a cupcake, for example, when in fact you are using real flour, and no cruelty eggs and when you are making the recipe from scratch, without the use of any preservatives, cake mixes and the sort. How can you charge the same price of that cupcake that has been in the window of that shop for at least 2 weeks and it looks and tastes exactly the same as when it was ‘freshly’ made? Seriously?

Of course real cupcakes are not gonna be as moist, and a little hard or dry after a few days, of course they are not gonna look the same as when they were made, and people, I tell you, that’s really a good thing!

Do you prefer to have a piece of chocolate that will literally kill you for 1 dollar or a real piece of real chocolate that is not only tasty but good for you, that costs 2 dollars? Think about that the next time you shop!

Also, labor may be an issue when talking about factory made stuff. Not only do they use machines for almost everything but they pay their employees really bad. Do you really wanna be a part of that?

People say: in the old times things were not so expensive and they were better. Not really guys. What price comparison do we really have now? 0,50 cents from a factory, fake something or 1,50 for the real homemade version. The difference is that in the past the factories didn’t really take over 90% of the market, so the price comparison was much more fair. We would talk about 2 ladies with a 50 cent difference in price because of profit or the real price of ingredients, but now, we are talking about people vs machine. That is just not fair!

I’ve already talked about organic food on the blog before and it has everything to do with this.

Organic and real food means something made from fresh ingredients and real ingredients, instead of plastic, GMO fabrications that we see in the supermarkets today. In fact the word supermarket means it’s probably fake and manufactured at a factory, full of conservatives and preservatives and basically all genetically modified.

An old Korean woman once told my husband that the word convenience is the real problem we have in society today. Everything is convenient and that word to many people mean something good, easy to find and prepare, fast and easy to buy. But in fact she was absolutely right! Convenience IS in fact the biggest problem we face today in society, being that if you think of real food and real organic ingredients it takes time to plant and care for them, many products are lost due to weather conditions and pests and that makes it more expensive for us to buy and gives us limited access to certain foods and fruits that are not in season or just not grown locally, which is not at all convenient.

I believe that if you want to eat something good, then you really have to make it. There is no way around that. You might even have to hunt your own meat and gut the animal and all that. And who said that is really bad? Although I personally don’t eat red meat and pork and I prefer to have a vegetarian diet, without any meat products, I think it’s more respectful to hunt for your food than to just buy it whenever you feel like eating meat, which for most people is every day, unfortunately. You gotta respect the animal you are eating and respect the life you are taking, and hunting is a natural act of survival.

Where did all that respect for food go to?

Does time spent in the kitchen, to really make something with love, count at all nowadays?

I’m so upset with this stupid modern mentality. The convenience that doesn’t know where to stop. The taste that doesn’t exist anymore. The quality that is truly unattainable!

It sickens me when I see people actually say that Starbucks is better than the coffee they have at home.

Wake up people! Up your standards and shake off that addiction!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Homemade Veggie Burgers



I had some leftover cauliflower in my fridge and had to use it as soon as possible but didn’t know what to do with it.

Then it hit me: Why not use it for veggie burgers? And that’s exactly what I did!

It was just a matter of mixing it up with some chick peas and a few other veggies and herbs and there it was. They came out delicious and so fresh.

All I had to do was arrange them in an organic carrot bun with romaine and Jarlsberg cheese and it was simply heaven on a bite!

If you are wondering what to make for dinner tonight and have some veggies forgotten in the fridge, just mix them up and make yourself a homemade veggie burger with whatever you have in hand.

You can use broccoli and beans, of any kind. I just used chick peas because they are my favorite, but really, any beans or grains will do.

Here is the recipe I used for the patties. It makes 7 to 8 medium patties.

I hope you try them soon.



1/2 cauliflower (roasted with garlic, 1 bay leaf, olive oil, salt and pepper)

1/2 can of chick peas (washed and drained)

1 carrot (finely chopped)

1 celery stick (finely chopped)

1/2 onion (finely chopped)

1 egg

1 cup panko (or any other breadcrumb you have available)

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

a drizzle of olive oil



Roast the cauliflower for about 30 to 50 minutes in  a 350F oven.

In a food processor, chop the carrot, celery and onion together.

Add the cauliflower (cold) and the chick peas.

Add the egg and mix well.

Remove the mixture from the food processor. In a bowl add the parsley, panko and the salt and pepper to taste.

Using your hands, shape the patties.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan.

Add the patties when the oil is very hot. Fry both sides well. Cover with a lid if necessary.

You may add the cheese and cover them to help the cheese melt.

Serve hot.