Health and wellness
Recipe Rescue: October 2015
By Patrick Mathieu
My wife and I celebrated our recent wedding with a two-week honeymoon adventure in Thailand. One of the main reasons we chose this beautiful country (which we would highly recommend to anyone!) and travelled halfway around the world was, of course, the food!
By Patrick Mathieu
Thai cuisine is very much ingrained in the country’s identity and we got to experience that by taking cooking classes in three different regions. All of our wonderful Thai chefs and instructors taught us to cook the way their grandmothers or parents taught them; everything was made simply, from scratch, using fresh ingredients from root to stalk.
My wife and I were taught, among other things, to make curry pastes, milk from grated coconuts and shrimp stocks for soups. There were no cans, jars or pre-made/pre-packaged anything and you could taste the difference!
All our instructors also mentioned a dilemma in their food culture – that today’s young Thais just don’t cook anymore. Young people in Thailand would rather eat out, have meals prepared from the assortment of shop houses and street vendors or use pre-made alternatives, than take the time to prepare things themselves.
We went to a local market with one of our Thai chefs and she showed us the difference between the ingredients used by a good home cook and those used by a shop house or street vendor. While fresh herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables and meats were all available, there were also a lot of packaged food options. All of the packaged items were full of sodium, MSG, artificial colours and many ingredients that, even to a Thai, were unexplainable. I find it intriguing that a culture that is world famous for its food and that has such incredible fresh ingredients available almost year round suffers from packaged-food. I guess it doesn’t matter whether you are from Thailand or North America, today’s hectic lifestyles, laziness in the kitchen and ease of take-out have taken the joy and pride out of making meals from scratch.
I believe most firefighters fall into the too-busy-to-cook category. Between working long shifts and juggling home life, sometimes it’s hard to imagine where dinner fits in. Well I am here to help! In my cooking classes that I teach in Waterloo, Ont., my main goal is to get families back in the kitchen cooking together. We cook with simple, fresh ingredients and I provide recipes that are easy to replicate. Families that cook together stay together, and no matter how busy you think life may be, there is a recipe for you.
During our Bangkok cooking lesson we bought ingredients at a market, cooked them from scratch and enjoyed seven homemade courses all in three hours. This inspired me. Maybe families would be inspired to get back into the kitchen if they saw just how easy it is to prepare a home-cooked meal. I’ve super simplified the recipes below so that they can be made with five to eight ingredients. These recipes are meant to inspire you and are beneficial in many ways. You will:
- Save time during those busy weeknights with recipes that are easily prepared.
- Create much healthier meals using fresh, whole ingredients instead of packaged, pre-made or take-out food. You will know exactly what you are putting in your body!
- Save money at the grocery store with a short ingredient list and also avoid the cost of eating out.
- Spend more quality family time preparing and sharing a meal together.
The benefits of preparing meals from scratch are obvious and I believe the only obstacles for families are simply finding the time to get in the kitchen, and knowing what to use when they get there. My honeymoon in Thailand gave me a lifetime of incredible memories and inspiration. I have a drive and passion to get families back in the kitchen cooking together. Hopefully these recipes will help get you there!
You will soon find that options and combinations are endless, and the fun is in building.
Blue cheese encrusted steak sandwich with whiskey glazed onions
Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured on Food Network’s Chopped Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org @StationHouseCCo