Thursday, December 29, 2005
First, I was suprised that I had to answer almost every question with a guess. There were only a couple of them that I knew off the top of my head. Heck, I had never even heard of most of these items.
Second, I was surprised at how well I was able to guess the correct answers. I still got more wrong than I got right, but it was interesting to see how the words themselves provided clues to the meanings. I guess my fifth grade Latin instructor would be feeling vindicated right about now.
Take the quiz and let me know how you did. Maybe you'll be more familiar with these items than I was!
Note: There might be more than one correct answer. (But, really that's is only true for one of these.)
1. We had a great recipe using Kurobuta. What is Kurobuta?
A. A Japanese vegetable that looks like a long green gourd, but has a plum-like aroma.
B. A pink sea salt from Hawaii that has been linked to spot weight loss.
C. An heirloom pig described as having heightened "porkiness."
2. A caller wanted to know about verdulagas. She said she enjoyed the taste when she was a child. What is it and where can she buy some?
A. It's hard green candy, shaped like leaves and flavored with mint extract. It is available at stores that specialize in imported confections.
B. Also called purslane, these lemony greens are often lightly sauteed and scrambled with eggs. Generally, it's not availabe commercially.
C. The name means "little worms" in Italian. It's pasta that can be found in Italian markets or ordered online.
3. What is muscovado, and can I put it on toast?
A. Muscovado is the delicious fat that is slowly rendered from Muscovy duck legs. It is incredible when used to fry potatoes, or it can be thinly spread on toasted baguette slices.
B. Muscovado is a raw sugar. It's very dark brown with a strong molasses flavor. It would be lovely sprinkled on buttered bread toast along with a little ground cinnamon.
C. It is a warm mixture of melted chocolate, soymilk and sugar. It is scrumptious on toast.
4. Reposada: Should I chew it, drink it, or grind it?
A. Reposada is tequila that is aged up to one year. Drink it.
B. Reposada is a coffee that is grown in central Mexico. Grind it, brew it and drink it.
C. Reposada is a Hispanic cheese with a creamy texture and delicate flavor. It is best eaten before it becomes overripe and stinky.
5. What is kufta?
A. A combination of lamb and beef formed into hot-dog shapes, then grilled. Often served with pita bread and hummus.
B. A Moroccan stew made of lamb, potatoes and sweet peppers that is made in a special ceramic casserole.
C. Kufta is the toast made at Norwegian weddings and baptisms. Also, it's slang for "I'm bored, and I've had enough of this."
6. What is a sidecar?
A. Chef's slang for a thin rod used for sharpening knives.
B. A special warming dish often used to keep cooked foods warm.
C. A cocktail most often made with brandy, orange liqueur and lemon juice.
7. What is ong choy and is it good with rice?
A. Ong choy is a Mandarin dish that combines rice noodles with sauteed chicken and water chestnuts. Because it is a noodle-based dish, it isn't served with rice.
B. Ong choy (rau muong in Vietnamese), also called water spinach is a green vegetable with long pointed leaves. It can be quickly sauteed with a little oil and minced garlic, and is often served with rice.
C. Served with or without rice, this is just another name for Napa cabbage.
8. What is cold duck?
A. A pink sparkling wine, usually a mixture of Champagne, sparkling Burgundy and sugar.
B. Refrigerated roast duck.
C. Someone who won't kiss on the first date.
9. What is Carmenere? (There should be a little dash over the second E.)
A. A casserole that features white beans, sausage and herbs, and is often topped with toasted bread crumbs.
B. Often called Bordeaux's sixth grape, this red varietal combines well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
C. A French cheese shaped like a Renault sedan.
10. What is muhammara (moo-HALM-mer-ah)?
A. It's a spread made with roasted red bell pepper, walnuts, pomegranate and molasses.
B. It's a pungent, wine-based punch that is usually garnished with sliced fresh fruit.
C. A specialty of New Orleans, this hero-style sandwich originated in 1906 at the Central Grocery.
11. Dr. Jim Duke, a medical botanist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 30 years and author of "The Herbal Pharmacy" (St. Martins Press, $7.99, paperback), contends that cinnamon can:
A. Fight colds, coughs and fevers, as well as relieve gas and indigestion, stimulate circulation and ease allergies.
B. Fight formation of plaque on teeth and prevent insomnia.
C. Be lovely sprinkled on grapefruit wedges.
12. What is Aleppo?
A. It's a sun-dried pepper from Syria that is coarsely ground. It has a mild heat.
B. It's a culinary device used for finely grating ingredients.
C. It's a thick molasses made from pomegranate juice. It is wonderful used to marinate lamb.
13. Jeroboam, my jeroboam. Are you different from a nebuchadnezzar?
A. There are biblical terms and have no place in a quiz about wine and food.
B. These handcrafted cheeses are sold online. One is like a dry ricotta, the other is a white cheddar-style cheese.
C. A jeroboam is a large wine bottle; in Champagne it's three liters (four standard bottles), in Bordeaux it's 4.5 liters (six standard bottles). A nebuchadnezzar is a big, big boy. It's a wine bottle that holds 15 liters, or 20 standard bottles.
That's it! Answer are below...
Answers to the quiz:
8. A and B
Hope you had fun...and if you know a foodie who needs to be stumped, send them my way!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Well, at least until the next holiday arrives.
I hope that everyone out there got something fun that they wanted, and I will be making the rounds as time permits today to see what's new with everyone.
I feel pretty lucky. Among my gifts from family and friends, I received:
2 stock pots (I'm keeping both and throwing out my two old blah pots), 1 is a 10 quart and the other is a 12 quart. The 10 quart also has a pasta insert and a glass lid while the other has a stainless lid and is a little wider.
1 Henckels paring knife
1 "condiment container" which is the stainless steel and glass little container that Alton Brown uses on his cooking show
1 set of cheese knives (the kind that are all different shapes for cutting different types of cheeses)
A poster of Cheeses of the World (that coworker knows me well, I'd say)
The complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics in a nice 3 book set.
I hope that you've all been having good holidays. Until the new year officially starts, I will probably only be on my blog sporatically, but I should be back full time after that.
See you in 2006!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Now, that sounds like a reasonable and commendable course of action, but looking back on this year, I have changed my mind.
I feel like 2005 has been a difficult and trying year. I have had to deal with the fact that I am losing my job, that I will be moving next year (to a state that I've only visited for less than a week) and worst of all, that I have not been taking care of myself.
I have long ago forgotten the exercise routine that I hoped to maintain. I have ignored my body's various issues, including some nasty heartburn and other upper digestive problems. I forgot about taking baths to relax. I didn't take any classes to broaden my knowledge or abilities.
So, this January, which is right around the corner, I will make some resolutions. I will start my year on a truly positive note and work my hardest to stay there.
If you have been feeling depressed, worried, tired, or just down in general, I suggest you do the same. I am already looking forward to having new feelings of optimism and joy...and they await me, just 11 little days from now!
Oh, who am I kidding, the feelings are already here!
My 2006 Resolutions
1. Take classes or otherwise find ways to learn those things that I have been wanting to. I have already signed up for a beginner's machine sewing class and a hatha yoga class.
2. Find ways to make time for exercise, keeping in mind that it makes me feel better on the whole when I keep up with it.
3. Try to improve my communication with my husband and try to see things from his point of view. (Must remember, he is not a mindreader...ask him for help when I want it.)
4. Try to get my son ready for bed a little earlier so that we can read words from his lists or find places on his map of the world.
5. Find new ways to eat more vegetables.
6. Start shopping for Christmas earlier, so there is less stress later.
7. Use my sewing machine.
8. Buy a house.
9. Find a new (part-time, yay!) job that is FUN!
10. Pay off all of my debts.
11. Catch up on my scrapbooking.
12. Try different recipes that I would normally skip.
Let's see what you have on your list! Maybe they'll be similar, maybe they'll be totally different.
Monday, December 19, 2005
A father is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Feel free to jump in any time and I'll keep updating all weekend.
This week my theme was SIMPLE. Why? Because I'm tired, stressed out and sick! Boy, don't you love the holidays?
So, I dug up this recipe for Jam Thumbprints. I've never made them before, but I had all of the ingredients on hand and they sounded good. It turns out, they are good! And they were simple enough for my six-year-old (six since Monday!) to do tons of helping. These cookies are buttery, crumbly like shortbread, and simple enough to make with one big bowl, measuring tools, a wooden spoon, a pastry blender and cookie sheets.
Try filling them with different colored preserves and jams for a colorful presentation.
2/3 cup butter (about room temp)
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in flour.
3. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls (I did them about 1 inch). Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in finely chopped walnuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down center of each with your thumb. Be sure to make a good indentation, some of mine wanted to rise up.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, fill centers of cookies with strawberry preserves.
Take a look at some other great recipes here:
bna at Peanut Butter and Purple Onions made these holiday-perfect Ginger Cookies
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Starting tomorrow and going on all weekend, I'll be hosting the final installment of HCE #1!
If you need a little motivation, here it is: show us something simple.
Show us your no-fail, four-ingredient, everyone-thinks-they're-so-hard-to-make cookies! Show us how you turn that tube of cookie dough from the refrigerated section of your grocery store into "homemade" greatness (hey, you baked it at home, right?)!
Foodie QOD #11
An empty belly is the best cook.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
First, let me say this. I am definitely going to cheat. ;-)
How else would I be able to cover even a tiny portion of the foods that I love? As I've gotten older, I find that I like more and more things. My tastes have broadened and I'm much less likely to say (about anything in my life) that I just *love* something better than anything else.
That said, here are my top ten favorite foods:
When I was young, I used to cut a hunk of cheddar off the block and microwave it until it was all melted, oil separated and sitting on the top. I would grab a fork and eat it. Just melted cheese. It was one of my favorite things.
Now, I'm older and no I don't microwave just plain old cheese anymore. But, I still love cheese. How do I love cheese? Let me count the ways: cheddar (mild, medium and sharp), monterey jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, swiss, gouda, edam, dill havarti, gorgonzola, blue, asiago, parmesan, ricotta, cream cheese, feta, emmental, romano, gruyere, mizithra, string, colby, cotija, meunster, and cottage. I might have missed a couple, but you get the idea!Oh, and the only cheese I don't like: brie.
This is pretty simple. I like breads of all sorts. In fact, I've rarely met a bread that I didn't like. Bread for sandwiches. Bread to go with soup. Bread with butter. All good.
I like fruits of all sorts, but I am particularly partial to berries. I can remember picking blackberries from wild bushes in the woods near my house when I was a young child. Those moments were pure, simple and sweet. Positive reinforcement may very well be at work here!
4. CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
There is nothing that satisfies me more than to find a good chicken fried steak. I think it is really hard to find a good chicken fried steak, so that may be why I get so excited when I do find one!
Ok, so this is cheating. But really, how can you pick just one kind of soup? I love broth based soups, cream soups, veggie soups, meat soups, noodle soups...again, I've rarely met a soup I didn't like. (Although I haven't tried the more adventurous types, such as melon soup or other cold soups.)
6. CITRUS FRUITS
Whether it's lemon for fish or iced tea, lime for a beer or a bowl of pho ga, or a tangerine to share between friends, citrus fruits have a bigger influence on food than I would have ever thought growing up. But I know, when you need that lemon or lime, nothing else will do!
There is absolutely nothing in the world like a good piece of sushi. And if you want to eat a good piece of sushi, go to one of Nobu Matsuhisa's restaurants. You'll never want to go anywhere else again. (The above is yellowtail with jalapeno and some cilantro...to die for)
8. CHICKEN FRIAND WITH MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE
If you haven't caught onto the theme...I am big on savory foods. This was a dish made at by a little chain of restaurants called La Madeleine's. I believe that they still make these, but I no longer live near one. If you ever see one, you should try this dish. It is a puff pastry filled with a combination of chicken, mushrooms and bechamel sauce, then topped with a mushroom cream sauce. It's amazing. You should also try their french onion soup..mmmmm!
9. BLUE CORN ENCHILADAS
If you're ever in Scottsdale, AZ, you should definitely go to the Carlsbad Tavern restaurant. That is, IF you like spicy foods. If not, skip it!
Their blue corn enchiladas are filled with cheese and one has chicken and the other has gulf shrimp. They're covered with a green sauce and more cheese. Need I say more? (Ahem, could I get some more cheese here?)
By themselves or used in a dish. Black, green, kalamata. Stuffed. Spicy or mellow. Nuff said.
I'm tagging my sister Stephanie for this meme...because she really needs to start posting on her blog more! I would tag others, but it looks like I was last to do this one. If you haven't done it yet...consider this your *tag*!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Hopefully I will see you all again this Friday!
After a hectic week and an even crazier weekend, my body did something terrible: it got sick!
I threw my son's birthday party on Sunday. It was a huge relief because I was very stressed out for about a week or two prior and just about couldn't take it anymore. It ended up going over very well, with plenty of guests and good food.
I took a simple route this year by serving cold cuts with various breads and other sandwich toppings and a big pot of homemade chili. I was happy that everyone liked the chili since it was my very first time ever making it!
I had woken up at 6:00 a.m. to bake the cake, and I worked very hard until about 4pm that day. I had a celebratory drink once the party was over (thank god) and went to bed before midnight.
Monday morning: I wake up with a feeling that I have a white-hot trail burning in my sinuses. My throat is sore and swollen. I am coughing. My head hurts, my body hurts. My tummy is upset and threatening to turn on me completely.
I call in sick to work. I sleep, never leaving the upstairs of my apartment, until almost 11:30am. I eat, and then I sleep some more.
And, of course, last night was my son's Christmas program at school. So there I am, sweating in the audience, smiling, waving and making funny faces at my son, trying to get him to loosen up on stage.
I told my husband, next year, he's in charge of the birthday party. If he wants to do it at Chuck E. Cheese's, fine. As long as he's the one calling and booking the space!
The chili really was good and I will definitely be sharing the recipe and a photo soon! I'm back at work today feeling about 50% better, hoping that my normal routine will help perk me up. At the very least, the coffee helps! I hadn't had a cup since Friday morning!!
I haven't made the rounds since probably Saturday, so I hope everyone else had a much calmer weekend than I did. I'll check in with everyone in the next day or so.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Happy Friday and welcome to this week's installment of the Holiday Cookie Exchange. I will update the post throughout the weekend, so feel free to join in any time.
We have one week left in this exchange, next Friday/weekend, and I hope that you all come back to share one more time before the holidays officially take over our lives. Maybe we can all get together for a Valentine exchange...I can just see the hearts, cherubs and kiss shapes now!
I love a simple sugar cookie. Ilva at Lucullian Delights reminded me of this with her wonderful entry below. Here is one of my favorite cookies in that category.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (i.e., Crisco)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Cream together the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are set but not too firm. Remove immediately from the cookie sheets and put on cooling racks.
Once done baking, take some photos in some funky lighting (I mean, really, what is the deal with bad lighting in kitchens?):
Please check out these recipes from some fantastic foodie sites:
Melissa at the Cooking Diva, has baked her cookies, you can take a look here...she'll get the post up with the recipe soon! Update...here are the recipes!
Vickie, at The Moveable Feast joined in a little late...she had to give her home security a once over...check out her Pinwheels...
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Here are the raw collard greens:
Here is the salt pork that I used instead of bacon:
Here are the greens cookin:
And the finished product:
Kickin' Collard Greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon (I used 1/2 package of salt pork)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water (recipe originally called for all 3 c. of liquid to be broth, but it was way too salty)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and return to the pan. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt.
2. Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.
They were yummy! I had never eaten collard greens before, but I would definitely make them again. I found that it didn't quite take as long as the recipe called for to get them tender. They would be great with some fried chicken and mashed potatoes!
Don't forget to participate in tomorrow's Holiday Cookie Exchange #1, second edition. Come and get some good ideas for your own family and share a few, too!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
That is mostly because I was so smoked-out from the casinos and tired of the dirty slums that lie just beyond the strip. But those complaints certainly are not what I hope to remember in the long run.
Truth is, Vegas offers a lot of attractions that are the stuff that memories are made of.
My very favorite thing we saw was the lion display at the MGM Grand. I love animals, and these guys looked like big kittens to me! They were so youthful, playing with the balls in the enclosure. There were 4 people in the display with them, to my surprise. The two women interacted with the animals and the two men simply stayed back. I think that the male lions liked the women better.
When we walked back past the display later, we found that it was cat-nap time! This answered my question about whether or not the trainers could touch the lions.
She was laying down with the lion, spooning. After she scratched him on the neck a little, he rolled over and was facing her. His rear paws rested on her hip. All three of the lions were sleeping at the same time, which was no big surprise since the sign on the cage said they usually sleep 18-20 hours a day.
I don't normally share pictures of my family, but I thought everyone'd get a kick out of this shot of my husband and son at the M&M store.
Monday, December 05, 2005
First of all, let me say *thank you* to everyone who participated in the first week of the Holiday Cookie Exchange. I will be posting them again this Friday (& weekend), so anyone who wants to jump in, I'll see you then!
I just got back from Las Vegas. I was a little worried because I was going to be out of town on Friday when the exchange started, but I drafted my post and my great sister Stephanie baby-sat my blog until Saturday. Thank you, Steph!
We had a fun time in Vegas, but we were ready to come home after just a couple of days. I'll go into that more tomorrow and post some pics from the trip.
When I got home on Saturday, I was so pleased (ok, REALLY excited) to find a box from Vickie!
When I first opened the box, I was looking forward to the contents. But I happened to notice that the shredded paper filling the box was shredded paychecks. I was impressed. I've been given some expensive gifts before, but this takes the cake. (I know, I know - they were probably blank, but don't tell me...it'll ruin my high.)
Box from Vickie:
Here is what I found in the package:
And then inside of those:
When I was opening the box, before I could even get the flaps apart, I could smell the spices and the sweetness of lavender.
There is a basil garlic blend of spices to either make a dip, spread or sauce with. There was a pack of organic lavender from Vermont. There was a package of plantation peanut soup (hmmm, interested in trying that one out). And last, but definitely not least, were two traditional German wax ornaments that smelled like the most amazing cinnamon. Everything here is a feast for the senses!
Vickie included some recipes (which is good because I've never cooked with lavender) and I am looking forward to trying something new! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
This was so much fun, opening an unexpected gift from such a nice person! I can't wait to reciprocate!
Ok, so that covers the "vacation" and "box of goodies" parts from my title...please go check out Kristi's page, Interrupted Wanderlust for the 12 eggs part. It is an awesome adventure that we are sharing with Kristi (thanks for sharing).
Friday, December 02, 2005
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or another holiday, there is sure to be a place for cookies!
Please join in today (and I will keep updating the post through the weekend, so late joiners, feel free to jump in anytime) and for the next two Fridays as we bake, eat and share our favorite cookies.
Simply post your cookie entry on your blog and come back here and enter a comment with the permalink. I'll add listings periodically so you can check out the great recipes with a simple *click*!
Here is my first attempt ever at making gingerbread. I tried this recipe out around Halloween, but got so frustrated with the quickly softening dough's tendency to stick that I rolled up the dough and tossed it in the freezer. Here is the recipe for Gingerbread Skeletons from Baking Sheet. The original recipe is from Epicurious. They were so cute as skeletons, but somehow, it just wasn't appropriate for Christmas!
Here are a few tips I learned along the way for using gingerbread dough:
1. It freezes very well. Just move to the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it.
2. It makes a very sturdy dough - don't overcook them unless you are making gingerbread bricks. Mmmm - bricks - yum.
3. To avoid sticking dough, put down wax paper, then sprinkle it with flour, you can roll/cut your dough on it and then, simply slide the cookies off the paper (be sure to use enough flour...it won't show, it will be on the bottom). If you have to, you can flip the paper over and catch the cookie in your hand and place on a cookie sheet.
4. If you get excess flour on your lovely brown cookies, it will either absorb while baking or still be there after you've pulled them out of the oven. If you can still see flour, use a pastry brush and lightly brush it off after the cookies have cooled.
5. The dough makes wonderful sliced cookies. I sliced and then rolled slightly to get a consistent thickness.
6. Don't eat them plain. You should definitely ice these cookies because you need some sweet to balance out the complex ginger taste.
Here is where you'll find the links to everyone else's goodies! Check them out...you might find a new favorite!
So far these are looking very yummy!!!
Good job everyone...let's see what we try next week! I'll keep adding any new posts over the weekend.
PS...Vickie at The Moveable Feast sent me a package - you don't even know how excited I was to see it...I'll post pics and info after I get into it! I can't wait!