Juicing for your health

My Omega 8003 Nutrition Center was delivered on November 28th and I started my juice fast on December 6. Surpringly it's been a fairly doable experience. The first two days were the worse, I was hungry, but I paced myself and drank my fresh juice throughout the day. I think the toughest part of going on a juice fast for me, was not being able to cook or bake. I never realized how much I really love to cook, the whole experience is so relaxing, moving around the kitchen, chopping, stirring, I missed every aspect of the cooking experience.

I got the bright idea of juicing after watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. My 10 day juice fast ends tomorrow, Dec. 15th and I have decided to continue for another 10 days, with the addition 8-10 ounces of hot soup for lunch. I am not preparing cream soups, but soups made from broth.

So what has been the benefit of the juice fast? The loss of 12 pounds and knowing that I am doing something to improve my overall health.

Check out Joe Cross' juice recipes.


Cooking with Denay the healthy way

Pinky's Buffalo ShrimpThanksgiving was yesterday, and today I have committed to getting healthy. (Not saying I'm unhealthy, but I could stand to lose a few pounds.) So from this day forward I'm making a committment to cook and eat healthy. After making the traditional Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, my goal as I move into the new year is to cook and bake the best, tastiest, healthiest foods I can.

It's no secret, I love to cook and bake, but making food that looks good "on" me is now my passion. Sorry, but although Pink's Buffalo Shrimp Salad is to die for, it is not what my hips need.

I enjoy eating out like many folks, trying foods from various cultures and learning new cooking techniques; but my culinary path of late has been random and unhealthy.  My goal today is to cook healthy food, stylish food, food with flavor and food with purpose.

Depending on where you live  you might have lots of great resturants to choose from, I don't.  I'm not complaining, the restaurant business is a tough gig, and plenty of folks with champagne wishes and caviar dreams are eager to open a "Unique Eat." Unfortunately, the restaurants and the service here in the Queen City is a bit sad. Can you share what's happening in your neck of the woods?

...by the way, my juicer was delivered today. Time to get healthy!









Cooking with Denay is back

It's about 10:03 pm EST and Thanksgiving is over. The Thanksgiving holiday and I have a love - hate relationship. I love to cook those comforting, downhome foods, turkey, dressing, something green, candied yams, and the rest, ending with a lusious bread pudding with bourbon sauce; but I loathe the feeling I get from eating all that heavy food.

Something has to change and 2014 is the year I am going to redefine how I cook. I am going to document this journey using this blog. You see, I am an old fashion down home cook who is ready to get healthy. I also want to simplify my food pantry, eat more fresh foods, juice, something I did some years ago with startling results. I stopped, self-sabotaged, and went back to my old ways. It was horrible and I feel horrible.

I now realize that you can eat good and eat healthy, it is a conscious choice; and I choose good food, good flavor and healthy choices. Is it possible?

It's now time to start Cooking with Denay the healthy way!


Summer's End Chopped Salad

Looking for a great way to use summer vegetables? What about a delicious chopped salad? During this demonstration Denay will share creative ways to use summer veggies from the garden.


To view the live demonstration:

  • Bookmark this page
  • Add this event to your calendar
  • Come back to this page on Sunday, September 15th at 3pm
  • Enjoy the demonstration

Want to live chat with Denay during the demonstration? Follow Denay on Google+ and you'll receive a special invitation.


Time for Collards

Cornbread MuffinI just got home and I picked up some collard greens from the Fresh Market in Huntersville, North Carolina, just outside Charlotte. I am not a big fan, but every once and a while I get in the mood for a nice bunch of collards. Personally, I am more into the pot liquor which I have been known to use as a dip for my hot buttered cornbread muffins.

The pot is on the stove simmering with two smoked ham hocks. Yes, I could use smoked turCollards & Pot Likerkey if I wanted to pretend to be healthy, but in this case I am going all out. I'm serving greens with thinly sliced pork chops that has been dredged in bread crumbs; along with garlic mashed potatoes. Not quite sure how everything will come together ...


Good Grief Nadia G

It's rare that I just flat out dislike a cooking show, but am I the only personFood Network Canada who just doesn't get Bitchin' Kitchen? I have attempted several times to get through Nadia G's (Nadia Giosia) cooking show which debuted in 2010. I just can't do it. Now in season two, I am sure she has a following since she made it this far, but I just don't get her. Nadia's eclectic wardrobe and the cameraman's fixation with her shoes takes away from the real reason she is on television. We won't even start on that fake accent from where? Where?

In fact, why is she on television? Her hard core, rough around the edge mannerisms just don't scream "let's cook" and at this point after clicking the remote pass her time and time again, I'm starting to wonder how she is managing to stay on the air.

Who makes up her demographic? What's up with her loud, coarse voice, creating words that are unintelligible; Nadia sings to her own tune; a far cry from those other cooking icons, you know, Alton Brown, Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson. Yes, she takes edgy to a whole new level, but lacks the surly sophistication of Anthony Bourdain boldly using profanity like no one else on the tube.

The cast of characters on her show are comical, and I don't mean that in a good way. I recently checked out a video about how Bitchin' Kitchen came about and learned that she started on Food Network Canada, the idea originated from "comedy skits she did on the web." Really? Nadia, did you do YouTube videos? She also suggested that this was done "a long, long time ago", look Nadia you're only 31 according to your birth date (May 12, 1980) so it wasn't that long ago.

If anyone can shed some light on something I'm missing about "Bitchin-in-the-Kitchen" please share. By the way, do you know any parents who would describe the meals they prepare for their family as "Bitchin?"



Hate Working as a Wait Staff, Quit

What the heck is going on with customer service in restaurants? For instance let's just take a look at the wait staff. There are:

  • The wrong people in the right job.
  • The right people in the wrong job.
  • People who really do not want a job.
  • People who do not like the job.
  • People who do not like working.
  • People who think they should be working a better job.
  • People who think they should be making more money at their job.
  • People who do not like working with the public, period.

The issue is this, if you do not like working with people, being a waiter or waitress is the wrong job for you. Don't make the world suffer through your sad pathetic day, experiencing your sour attitude.

I recently went to Mimi's Cafe in Charlotte, North Carolina where the waiter was rude and unattentive, on purpose. First let me add, it was not a busy morning, he just did not want to be there and it showed. I tried to think of a reason why this young man was so unattentive and unwilling to do his job.

  • Perhaps he was not motivated to serve customers that day.
  • Perhaps he got out on the wrong side of the bed and his equilibrium was off.
  • Perhaps he had a fight with his girl friend or boy friend.
  • Perhaps he was constipated.
  • Perhaps he realized that he might be a waiter the rest of his life. (It's an honorable profession)
  • Perhaps, as my dad would have said, "He has a wild hair!"

I really don't know what the reason, but I have noticed that the customer service received in restaurants is going to the dogs. No, really, we can get better treatment from our pets. Seriously, I think it has a lot to do with the times in which we live. There are so many people who are working in jobs, they neither want, nor ever thought they would be forced to do. This puts a major wrinkle in customer service.

Look, when I go out to eat I really don't want to feel your pain. I want to enjoy my meal, purchase my food and get on with my day; and if you really, really hate working in restaurants and serving the public, well... quit.


Walking Fish Cooperative : Community Supported Fishery (CSF)

Each time I receive an email showcasing how consumers can connect with local food processors, I am going to share it. This is just amazing and I wish they were here in the Charlotte, NC area. "The Walking Fish Cooperative, a community supported fishery (CSF) that links fishermen on the coast to consumers in the Triangle, is very pleased to announce the Winter 2012 season. Please help them spread the word!

For folks that are interested in having access to fresh, local seafood, consider signing up today! Potential species for the winter season are triggerfish, flounder, clams, oysters, blue crabs, bluefish and snapper.

Durham deliveries will begin on Thursday, January 19th and run through Thursday, April 12th, 2012 with 7 bi-weekly deliveries.

What is a CSF?

batter fried fish nuggets

Based on the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model, a community supported fishery (CSF) is a program that connects local fishermen to a local market. CSF members pre-pay for a “season” of fresh, locally caught seafood, and in turn fishermen provide a weekly share of premium fish or shellfish. CSFs seek to reconnect communities with their food system, encourage low-impact fishing practices, and build relationships between fishermen and community members.

Who we are?

Walking Fish is a mission driven cooperative that is dedicated to supporting healthy fisheries and the communities that depend on them. This initiative, founded by graduate students at Duke University, takes root in the belief that people – whether they are coastal fishermen or local consumers – play an important role in creating solutions to the social, economic, and environmental challenges we face. The goals of this business are simple: to foster economic opportunities, to cultivate healthy communities, and to encourage environmental stewardship. We recognize that conservation is intimately linked to the well-being of people and communities, and we believe that in order to work towards ecological sustainability we must also work towards local economic stability and social equity."

Thank you all for your support,
The Walking Fish Crew



Stuffing or Dressing

Corn Bread DressingWhether you call it "stuffin" or "dressin" is really a matter of where you live;  it's a regional thing.

Those who live in the south are more apt to call it dressing, while everyone else calls it "stuffin" or if you must "stuffing" and for those outside the south who call it dressing.

My grandmother "Lula" was from Louisiana and for me dressing has always been a part of my life. I can't really remember a world without it. You stuff your chicken, turkey, thick cut pork chops and chicken breast with dressing, not stuffing.

We always thought stuffing was that awful, tasteless bread filling that if allow to cook too long became a gummy mass of dough.

Dressing is always made with cornbread, hence cornbread dressing. It is well seasoned, and made with an amalgamation of things, cornbread, finely chopped vegetables (onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic), sausage, seasonings (sage, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley), along with eggs, milk and/or cream, homemade turkey or chicken stock and in some cases a chicken or turkey base to intensify flavor. Let there be no misunderstanding cornbread dressing is a serious matter and not for the faint at heart.

For large family gathering my mother made two types of cornbread dressings, one plain (with bulk sausage) and one with oysters.

One holiday season my grandmother made a "cracker dressing" with unsalted saltine crackers Roast Turkey Breastwhich was amazing. Don't ask for the recipes, this was a "scratch" cook who kept everything in her head. I have not attempted to recreate it but for Thanksgiving 2011 I just may give it a try.

When I was young I remember my mother putting the dressing inside the turkey, but as I got older my mother stopped this practice, mainly because when stuffing a bird with dressing there are a certain number of rules you must follow.

  1. The dressing should be cold
  2. The dressing should be firmer than the dressing you bake in a casserole. Why? The bird will release a certain degree of juices that will naturally moisten the dressing and if left in its original state it will run out of the bird like water and never firm up.
  3. The dressing must often cook longer than the bird since the internal temperature takes longer to reach outside than inside
  4. There is a major risk of foodborne illness any time you add food to the inside cavity of raw poultry
  5. If you are stuffing your turkey with any type of dressing, it is best to cook the dressing first, particularly if it has oysters or any other raw shellfish; again you are risking the health of your guest and family

I personally prefer the taste of dressing stuffed inside the bird, but the time it takes to do it correctly is just unmentionable which is why it is rarely done in my family. Plus any dressing left in the carcass is also more perishable. Oh yes and a word about adding bread to cornbread dressing, I don't think so.

I recently saw a video of this woman making cornbread dressing and she suggested that you can add any bread you like to the dressing, wheat, Italian, rye, stale hot dogs buns etc.

No, no, no, dam-it, no!!!  If the bread is stale check it for mold and never use any food product that has mold. Don't combine breads of various flavors with cornbread, unless the amount is so minute you could never run the risk of over powering the cornbread taste. Remember, Traditional Cornbread Dressing is made with cornbread.


Cooking with Water, Broth, & Stock

I was in the mood for some good old fashioned vegetable soup and immediately realized there was no restaurant around that served it. You know the kind mom use to make. My mother is a master vegetable soup maker. She could whip up a batch of vegetable soup on a cold Saturday afternoon, with cornbread on the side and make a dreary gray day into something spectacular, like a trip to Venice.

I searched and searched a number of recipes in my collection of ancient cookbooks, browsed the Internet and could not find a recipe that even closely resembled the one my mom used, which was more along the line of “dump cookin.” I did note that many recipes called for water or broth and I want to say for the record, neither tends to have much flavor. The primary reason food is tasteless or bland is because no flavor was added tHoly Trinity - Garlic Onions Bell Peppers Green Onionso the base of the recipe. Let’s examine the contents of water, broth and stock.

A generic liquid that exist in every food source; and some may say water has no taste but I beg to differ because if I blindfold you and give you a glass of orange juice, and then a glass of water, you will be able to tell the difference. The issue with water is that it is like a chameleon of sorts, it takes on the flavor of the dominate host it’s paired with. Unfortunately, if the dominate host is flavorless, well you know the rest.

Chicken broth is a combination of the meat from the chicken combined with salted water and vegetables, usually boiled. The flavor is not as rich as stock and can be down right bland. Most of the canned broths that you find in grocery stores are not rich in flavor and are heavily salted; although there are some low sodium brands now available.

Chicken and beef stock, good old fashioned stock is made from bones, marrow and cartilage. These three items contain collagen, the main ingredient in gelatin. Richly flavored homemade chicken gravy that has been refrigerated forms a gelatinous “gel” over the top of the gravy, this does not usually occur with chicken broth. Stocks are best made from scratch and I have never purchased a can stock that was deserving of my seal of approval.

Why make your stock from scratch? You will never get the taste or intense flavor from a canned product. A stock is made by sautéing the bones of the caucus (i.e. beef bones, chicken necks, backs etc) in your favorite oil with onions, celery and a clove of garlic; browning everything in the pot. The smell will make you crazy, then just when the caramel color has peaked, add your water and bring to a rolling boil; reduce the temperature, skim the foam and place it on a medium low simmer for at least 4-8 hours. This is the process, not the recipe.

Why cook the stock so long? The collagen in the bones will moisten and melt into the water, bringing out the true “essence” of flavor. You will never, ever be able to get this divine flavor in a can. I do not salt my stock I leave that process for later when I am using it in a particular dish.

There are two types of stock, simple and rich. A simple stock is used in soups, stews, and dishes that call for you to simmer food slowly. A rich stock is used when a sauce requires lots of flavor, and a small amount of liquid.

Below is my recipe for making a simple stock.


  • 2 ½ quarts cold water
  • 2 onions, quartered, plus skins
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, washed and cut into four pieces

Stock can be made with bones and any excess meat or poultry (excluding livers and gizzards), or shells or carcasses from seafood, used in the recipe you’re preparing.

You may also use the following amounts:

For Poultry Stocks:
2 pounds backs, necks, and/or bones from chicken, ducks, or geese

For Beef Stocks:
2 pounds beef shanks or other beef bones

For Pork Stock:
2 pounds pork neck bones or other pork bones (not smoked)

For Seafood Stock:
2 pounds rinsed shrimp heads if you can find them or shells and 1/2-1 pound of dried shrimp (found at most Asian Markets) or crawfish heads or crab shells. You can also use the carcasses of a fish or fish heads if you can find them.

My favorite way to make a stock is to sauté the bones, meat, vegetables in a large stock pot until brown and caramelized. Then add my cold water, enough to cover all the ingredients in the pot. I bring everything to a boil over high heat, then gently simmer at least 4 hours, preferably 6 to 8 if possible, replenishing the water as needed to maintain 1 quart of liquid in the stock pot. Remember to skim off any foam. Partially cover the pot with the lid while it simmers. When your stock is finished, strain and cool it and store in plastic containers with lids in the freezer until needed. Cooking your stock for 30-45 minutes is better than using plain water, some flavor is better than none at all.

If you want to make a richer stock, do not add any more water and allow your stock to simmer and reduce down to 1 pint (16-ounces) this stock will have an intense flavor.

You know I cannot end a blog without a recipe and here is my favorite red sauce Creole Smoked Sausage Sauce. The recipe makes about 3 cups and I use it when I am in a pinch and need to dress up a meal. Use this sauce over scrambled eggs, omelets, rice, mashed potatoes, chicken livers, fried fish, take your pick and let your imagination run wild.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup smoked pork sausage, diced (substitute beef or turkey)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup celery, chopped fine
  • ½ cup sweet bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (use fresh if in season)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon carrot, minced fine*
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • ½-1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (if you like your sauce hot add 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions, celery, bell peppers, bay leaf; then add the garlic and all the other seasonings; stir thoroughly. Sauté until the onions begin to turn brown about 7 minutes. Stir in the sausage and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add the can of diced tomatoes, hot sauce and the tablespoon of minced carrot. Stir and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

*Some tomato sauce recipes call for sugar; I use carrot that is finely minced. It works just as well if not better taking the bitter edge off any tomato based sauced.

**If you do not want to use sausage you may substitute one large peeled, diced eggplant. The sauce takes on a whole new meaning and the flavor is divine.