22 9 / 2013

"Don’t give up on spices. If you use them in cooked food, make sure to add the spices as the food is being cooked so that the heat will kill the pathogens."

18 9 / 2013

Lembas Also Waybread, a bread-like cake made from a special corn that grew in Aman.  The corn was strong, needed little sunlight to sprout, and grew swiftly when planted during any season.  As a result, lembas was very nutritious, would stay fresh for many months if kept unbroken and wrapped in Mallorn leaves, and was a good choice for sustenance on long journeys.  It was considered to be more strengthening than any food created by men.  The cakes were brownish on the outside, with a cream-colored center.  Not often shared with non-Elves, lembas was offensive to evil creatures.  Traditionally, only Elven women could make lembas, and only an Elven Queen could keep and distribute it.  
photo credit: “Penwiper” at entropyhouse.com
note: just for fun, as September 18, TA 3018 was the day Gandalf escaped from Orthanc in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Lembas Also Waybread, a bread-like cake made from a special corn that grew in Aman.  The corn was strong, needed little sunlight to sprout, and grew swiftly when planted during any season.  As a result, lembas was very nutritious, would stay fresh for many months if kept unbroken and wrapped in Mallorn leaves, and was a good choice for sustenance on long journeys.  It was considered to be more strengthening than any food created by men.  The cakes were brownish on the outside, with a cream-colored center.  Not often shared with non-Elves, lembas was offensive to evil creatures.  Traditionally, only Elven women could make lembas, and only an Elven Queen could keep and distribute it. 

photo credit: “Penwiper” at entropyhouse.com

note: just for fun, as September 18, TA 3018 was the day Gandalf escaped from Orthanc in The Fellowship of the Ring.

15 9 / 2013

08 9 / 2013

07 9 / 2013

Baking Soda  (also sodium bicarbonate) A natural chemical compound used as a cleaning agent as far back as ancient Egypt, baking soda in its current form was first made commercially available in 1846.  Though it can be produced using several methods, which will affect purity, commercial quantities are created by dissolving soda ash in water and treating it with carbon dioxide.  Soda ash is found in a natural mineral mined in several parts of the US and in Africa.  
When baking soda is exposed to moisture and acids during the baking process, the carbon dioxide in the soda is released, which causes expansion of the batter of such items as cookies, pancakes, cakes, non-yeast (quick) breads, etc.  Baking soda, once acidified, will begin to release the carbon dioxide as soon as it is exposed to moisture, so it should be added to dry ingredients and properly incorporated before combining wet ingredients, and the wet batter put in the oven right away.  Acidifying agents include cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, and vinegar, among others.  
Baking soda is a major ingredient in baking powder, which contains the acidic agent as well as a drying agent, so that the carbon dioxide release is activated by the addition of moisture.  If a recipe calls for baking powder and none is available, it can be made by combining one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar (the acidifying agent).  
Baking soda that is kept open in the back of the refrigerator to ‘absorb’ unpleasant odors should not be used for baking, and expiration dates matter for this product, if it’s old it will not react properly to the acidifying agent and the baked good will not rise or will only partially rise, having an unpleasant texture and density.  
As an additional kitchen use, baking soda can be used to extinguish small electrical or grease fires, but only if the fire is quite small.  It requires a lot of baking soda to extinguish a fire, and anytime a product is tossed onto a grease fire there is a very real risk of splattering the grease fire and spreading it instead of extinguishing it.  
photo credit: grimescrubbers.com

Baking Soda  (also sodium bicarbonate) A natural chemical compound used as a cleaning agent as far back as ancient Egypt, baking soda in its current form was first made commercially available in 1846.  Though it can be produced using several methods, which will affect purity, commercial quantities are created by dissolving soda ash in water and treating it with carbon dioxide.  Soda ash is found in a natural mineral mined in several parts of the US and in Africa. 

When baking soda is exposed to moisture and acids during the baking process, the carbon dioxide in the soda is released, which causes expansion of the batter of such items as cookies, pancakes, cakes, non-yeast (quick) breads, etc.  Baking soda, once acidified, will begin to release the carbon dioxide as soon as it is exposed to moisture, so it should be added to dry ingredients and properly incorporated before combining wet ingredients, and the wet batter put in the oven right away.  Acidifying agents include cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, and vinegar, among others. 

Baking soda is a major ingredient in baking powder, which contains the acidic agent as well as a drying agent, so that the carbon dioxide release is activated by the addition of moisture.  If a recipe calls for baking powder and none is available, it can be made by combining one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar (the acidifying agent). 

Baking soda that is kept open in the back of the refrigerator to ‘absorb’ unpleasant odors should not be used for baking, and expiration dates matter for this product, if it’s old it will not react properly to the acidifying agent and the baked good will not rise or will only partially rise, having an unpleasant texture and density. 

As an additional kitchen use, baking soda can be used to extinguish small electrical or grease fires, but only if the fire is quite small.  It requires a lot of baking soda to extinguish a fire, and anytime a product is tossed onto a grease fire there is a very real risk of splattering the grease fire and spreading it instead of extinguishing it. 

photo credit: grimescrubbers.com

06 9 / 2013

Edible Flowers Basics  When using edible flowers in cooking or baking, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind for safety and best usage.  Do your research carefully before consuming a flower.  Some are only safe if the stems and leaves are avoided, others can only be ingested in small quantities, etc.  Make sure you know what part and how much of the flower can safely be eaten.  Be sure you’ve properly identified the flower.  Just as eating the wrong mushroom can cause serious health problems, so can eating the wrong flower.  Do not use flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers.  Generally commercial flowers have been treated with pesticides and/or chemicals to keep them in bloom longer, which aren’t safe to consume.  Choose flowers from an organic garden or wildflowers (in which case, not wildflowers near a roadway where they may have been exposed to vehicle toxins).  Don’t forget that flowers impart flavor just as much as color and texture to a dish.  Make sure that the flavor profiles fit the other ingredients, don’t simply throw a pansy on top because it’s pretty and can be eaten.  Keep allergies in mind, people who are allergic to pollen may react to eating the flower, and people who have food allergies may react to a flower that they can handle without problems.  Do not put a flower on a plate unless it is edible in the form it’s presented.  It’s best to never garnish with inedible items, assume that people will eat whatever is on their plate.
photo credit: eattheweeds.com

Edible Flowers Basics  When using edible flowers in cooking or baking, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind for safety and best usage.  Do your research carefully before consuming a flower.  Some are only safe if the stems and leaves are avoided, others can only be ingested in small quantities, etc.  Make sure you know what part and how much of the flower can safely be eaten.  Be sure you’ve properly identified the flower.  Just as eating the wrong mushroom can cause serious health problems, so can eating the wrong flower.  Do not use flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers.  Generally commercial flowers have been treated with pesticides and/or chemicals to keep them in bloom longer, which aren’t safe to consume.  Choose flowers from an organic garden or wildflowers (in which case, not wildflowers near a roadway where they may have been exposed to vehicle toxins).  Don’t forget that flowers impart flavor just as much as color and texture to a dish.  Make sure that the flavor profiles fit the other ingredients, don’t simply throw a pansy on top because it’s pretty and can be eaten.  Keep allergies in mind, people who are allergic to pollen may react to eating the flower, and people who have food allergies may react to a flower that they can handle without problems.  Do not put a flower on a plate unless it is edible in the form it’s presented.  It’s best to never garnish with inedible items, assume that people will eat whatever is on their plate.

photo credit: eattheweeds.com

04 9 / 2013

Crema de Blue  Exclusive to Valley Shepherd Creamery, an independent New Jersey, USA, cheesemaker, Crema de Blue has taken awards at the American Cheese Society several years running.  Aged 65-70 days, this cheese is made with chefs in mind and if you don’t live in the NY/NJ area your sole option for purchase is from the maker’s website.  Those in the NY/NJ area will often find it in use at well-known restaurants such as Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges, as well as being sold at many area farmer’s markets and soon at a storefront in Brooklyn.  The cheese is made with different milk based on seasonality, Jersey cows part of the year and sheep’s milk the rest.  A raw milk cheese with curds stirred by hand, the cheese is made in batches of only 47 at a time.  According to writer Tenaya Darlington, “initial flavors of flint and liquorice evolve into more savory, vegetal notes and finish with a spicy kick of white pepper”.  
photo credit: Valley Shepherd Creamery

Crema de Blue  Exclusive to Valley Shepherd Creamery, an independent New Jersey, USA, cheesemaker, Crema de Blue has taken awards at the American Cheese Society several years running.  Aged 65-70 days, this cheese is made with chefs in mind and if you don’t live in the NY/NJ area your sole option for purchase is from the maker’s website.  Those in the NY/NJ area will often find it in use at well-known restaurants such as Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges, as well as being sold at many area farmer’s markets and soon at a storefront in Brooklyn.  The cheese is made with different milk based on seasonality, Jersey cows part of the year and sheep’s milk the rest.  A raw milk cheese with curds stirred by hand, the cheese is made in batches of only 47 at a time.  According to writer Tenaya Darlington, “initial flavors of flint and liquorice evolve into more savory, vegetal notes and finish with a spicy kick of white pepper”.  

photo credit: Valley Shepherd Creamery

03 9 / 2013

Dab  A flat sea fish found in shallow water on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic and off the coast of New Zealand.  Dabs do not tend to have much flavor, and the flesh has little muscle fiber, as the dab don’t chase their food.  They rarely grow more than about 14inches long and have rough brownish skin.  Because of the very mild flavor, dab are only worth eating when very fresh, with glossy skin and a fresh (not fishy) smell.  The flesh is soft, but the bone structure is very basic, which is good for those nervous about fish bones.  Dabs can be pan-fried in butter or grilled, or fillets can be cut, breaded, and fried.  They stand up well to and actually benefit from strong seasoning.
photo credit: robertsfishmongers.co.uk

Dab  A flat sea fish found in shallow water on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic and off the coast of New Zealand.  Dabs do not tend to have much flavor, and the flesh has little muscle fiber, as the dab don’t chase their food.  They rarely grow more than about 14inches long and have rough brownish skin.  Because of the very mild flavor, dab are only worth eating when very fresh, with glossy skin and a fresh (not fishy) smell.  The flesh is soft, but the bone structure is very basic, which is good for those nervous about fish bones.  Dabs can be pan-fried in butter or grilled, or fillets can be cut, breaded, and fried.  They stand up well to and actually benefit from strong seasoning.

photo credit: robertsfishmongers.co.uk

02 9 / 2013

Vine Leaves All leaves from vines that produce grapes can be eaten when young.  They make an ideal wrapping for various meats and vegetables.  They have a faintly lemon-cabbage flavor which can be detected at its best in good dolmades (stuffed dishes, often Greek but also traditional in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia).  The leaves need to be cooked briefly before using, so that they are pliable and don’t crack when being used to wrap the food.
photo credit: libaliano.com

Vine Leaves All leaves from vines that produce grapes can be eaten when young.  They make an ideal wrapping for various meats and vegetables.  They have a faintly lemon-cabbage flavor which can be detected at its best in good dolmades (stuffed dishes, often Greek but also traditional in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia).  The leaves need to be cooked briefly before using, so that they are pliable and don’t crack when being used to wrap the food.

photo credit: libaliano.com

01 9 / 2013