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So take a gander at this sequence from our friends at The Guardian. More than you ever wanted to know, maybe.
Yes, indeedy. This is what makes Amurrica great. And your faithful foodie will be dining Wednesday at The Melting Pot on a FREE fondue, because I responded to a teensy writeup in a newspaper, of all things, remember those?
More as the day(s) unfold(s.)
( Nifty looking fondue, plus recipe from Prime Cuts Blog.)
$6 a dozen? I never imagined I would willingly pay this much for eggs, much as I love them. But during my Florida sojourn, thus far, we have not found a reliable local source for eggs produced by hens scratching freely under the palms, fed on decent grain and bugs. So we began buying eggs from The Country Hen, Hubbardston, MA, ( sold by the Publix chain,) laid by happy gals fed organic top secret feed.
The eggs are delicious---amazingly so. And loaded with Omega 3's, "six times that of a normal egg." Their shells are brown and substantial. The hens are free to walk all over their barn, and sun themselves on large porches. And a bonus to all who purchase the eggs--I have never seen them other than in recyclable six packs--"Farm News" from the CH folks, a nifty, folded-up writeup about something. Once, it was about George Bass, the owner, who was recovering nicely from a stroke.
Currently the CH scribes are talking Easter eggs, or Spring eggs, if you will. They insist their brown eggs dye up nicely. And suggest you try Red Cabbage Leaves for blue, Beets for pink, and Saffron for yellow, if you flinch at the thought of food coloring. ( Apparently paprika and red onion skins did not work as well as they had hoped for orange and red...)
Here's how: (Edited version.)
Bring 1 cup water and dye ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 15 min to an hour until desired color is obtained. Strain dye from veg. Add 2 T white vinegar.
Once dyed and dried, it seems you can rub eggs with "cooking oil" to add that glossy sheen.
Celebrated by Iranians, people in Afghanistan, Kurds, and by many others with ties to Persia and to Zoroastrians, Nowruz and the coming of spring underscores rebirth, and reaffirmation of growth and abundance. Alas, this year, it also marks a violent confrontation in Libya.
Nowruz or New Day, "has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian (This was the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam in 7th century A.D.), " according to this piece from the Iran Chamber Society, a non profit that seeks to promote understanding of Iran and its history.
The seven traditional items key to the 13 day celebration are these:
"Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (vinager), Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic). Sometimes instead of Serke they put Somagh (sumak, an Iranian spice). Zoroastrians today do not have the seven "S"s but they have the ritual of growing seven seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, while their sprouting into new growth symbolized resurrection and eternal life to come."
As the new spring dawns, I am visualizing benevolent dictators, and peaceful gatherings around food everywhere.
"Corned" beef refers to beef cured in barrels with kernels of coarse salt--the word corn described small or granular bits.
Ironically, although beef cured in this manner was a big export from Cork, Ireland for generations, the average Irish person was unable to afford such a luxury item. The locals ate cured pork, with any luck.
After the famine, Irish people arriving in the US in the mid to late 1800's discovered that corned beef was inexpensive, and paired it with other cheap foods, in particular the cabbage and the glorious spud. Hence, corned beef and cabbage ( and spuds and carrots) is very much an Irish-American food.
Do visit this site for a greening up poem by Jan Yolen, with photos by John Sayles.
"...the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South, " is open, daily, at Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans. Its focus:
---The many ethnicities – African-American and Caribbean, French and German, etc. — that have combined to create unique Southern food and drink traditions;
---The farmers, fishermen, and hunters and gatherers who have produced the food;
---The processors, inventors, chefs and business people who run the restaurants and stock our stores with Southern products, and the home cooks and families who have passed down recipes and food traditions for generations.
Liz Williams, the prime mover behind SOFAB, told us that a few years ago she just decided to open the project, still not well-funded, or prepared, but they had scored a deal on the retail space, and Liz felt they should just plunge ahead. The result is a mix--some exhibits utterly professional, some frayed around the edges, all of interest to any foodish person. Liz, a lawyer with a specialty in food-related issues, is well aware of the limitations, of the gap between the vision and what is possible to achieve given limited resources and staff. But she and her colleagues and volunteers have done it--started a major food museum in the U.S. Bravo!
Another New Orleans favorite to anyone with an interest in booze has its home at SOFAB: the Museum of the American Cocktail. The New Orleans "Sazerac" identified with the city is rye whiskey based.
Current large temporary exhibit: All About Sugar. (Thank you, Domino Brands.)
(Above right: the Katrina Deli exhibit, with Heckuva Job Brownies down front. Levee Leak Soup is also on the menu... )
Let's just cut to the chase here. This weekend is when you go out and buy the best champagne you can afford for your Valentine, ok? End of story. Forget the jammies, the chocs, the heart-festooned balloons-- OMG $1 at the Dollar Store--diamonds, and other dreck. Got that? FYI We favor a modestly priced, superlative product born in the aridity of New Mexico, any of the Methode Champenoise offerings from Gruet, a company established and run by actual French people.
"In 1984, Gilbert Gruet, whose Champagne house, Gruet et Fils had produced fine Champagne in Bethon, France, since 1952, made the decision to plant an experimental vineyard, exclusively planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. His children, winemaker Laurent and daughter Nathalie, and family friend Farid Himeur then relocated to the great state of New Mexico to begin their American wine making adventure.
At 4300 ft. the vineyards are some of the highest in the United States, so regardless of how hot the days might be, the temperature at night can drop as much as thirty degrees, cooling the fruit and slowing down the maturation process on an otherwise short growing season. Sandy and loamy soil, and a lack of humidity that might contribute to rot, give us a consistency of fruit year in and year out, and allow us to produce our award winning wines without the use of pesticides."
In other news, yesterday was George Washington's actual birthday. Today is Abe Lincoln's birthday. Today also is the birthday of the illustrious founder of The Potato Museum, and co-founder of The FOOD Museum On Line. The day began with an offbeat combo of buckwheat pancakes, blueberries, and a pregnant squirrel hanging upside down from the bird feeder--oh, and with giddiness still emanating from Tahrir Square.
On with the celebrations! (Strict non-imbibers, maybe try some chocolates, but not the rum-laden ones my beloved teetotaling Grandfather adored...)
Beginning in the 8th c in Mecca, many of the faithful have celebrated the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, by sharing food with the poor. But Islamic scholars do not seem to agree on A--whether to celebrate the Prophet's birthday at all; B--whether to feast or fast.
Centuries of learned discussion still have not pinned down the appropriateness of any birthday party, if you will. The Prophet is said NOT to have celebrated anyone's birthday. ( Jesus of Nazareth likely had little hoopla around his own birthday, right? At the time...)
So, the day, this year February 15, is a not entirely approved Islamic celebratory entity. Apparently Sunnis adopted what was a Shi'ite festival as their own, in the 12th century, and that may have opened a continuing messy theological can of chickpeas...
What to do? Fasting has its place, but is not the least bit celebratory. Parades, typical of the celebrations in many Muslim countries, make one hungry. The solution likely is to share bits of sweets, possibly nibbling one or two, and lie low.
Curiously, the biggest celebrations--festivals, feasting-- of the Prophet's birthday are among the Hindus of northern India.
A good cookie, however, knows no religious boundaries. I found the following recipe for Asbusa ( Egyptian Cookies,) at a website called Cooking with The Bible, a choice that seems utterly correct for this post.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bring all ingredients to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and cream of wheat. Add butter; mix by hand, rubbing the butter, sugar, and cream of wheat between your palms for 10 minutes or more until the mixture is very well blended.
Fold the yogurt into the dough and knead by hand until the dough feels smooth. (If it feels dry, add water 1 Tbsp. at a time so when you hold it in your hands it feels like pie dough.)
Butter a 13″ x 9″ pan and pat the dough into the pan with your hand. With a sharp knife slice the dough in 2″ squares or into diamond shapes. Press one almond half onto the surface of each piece. Bake for 30–40 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 12–16 servings
As the protesters and thugs roil in Egypt, we take comfort in the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Rabbit--the bunny!--a vegetarian, soft, agreeable, hopping creature---we lived for years happily with a Dutch version, named Rabbit Penn Warren--- is marked by a US stamp featuring the kumquat, a small citrus that combines sweet with tart, an appropriate reflection of life itself.
Until I spent extended time in Florida, I never knew a kumquat would become a favorite. They were the dried up extras tossed in the crate of fruit sent our family back in the day by a grandparent from, in fact, St Petersburg. But once I had my own small tree, in a pot, I marveled at each one, rationing myself. First the sweet rind, then the squirt of tart juice from within. (Save your Southern Belle jokes for later....)
Florida throws a festival in the kumquat's honor the end of January in Dade City---while the website touts kumquattery tastings, and we have not attended, our experience with many such festivals relentlessly pursued, is that they are a community's reasons to gather---high on corndogs, rides, junk to buy--- and way low on anything substantive re the food being honored.
A Chinese native, according to the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco the kumquat symbolizes "renewed hope for the future."
(NB General Google informs me that in 1915 kumquats left Citrus, and joined the genus Fortunella, named after Robert Fortune, the Brit collector of plants who first introduced them to Europe. )
Pumpkin multi-grain pancakes with dried cranberries, for breaky today, with an old friend at Son of Foodie's pad. Real maple syrup. (Obviously.) And an eclectically tasty Tgiving feast on the day.
We are in DC for meetings about an upcoming food-related exhibition we are working on, as well as ongoing planning for further programs about food topics. Excitement!
Please continue to eat well, and be well!
I missed our new NM Senator Tom Udall's resolution to skip two meals, and donate the "saved" money to a local food bank; I missed the invitation by the post office to donate canned goods in my mailbox to the hungry, too. But I did buy and donate a can of pinto beans to the cause via my local market, and I gave a buck to a guy begging on Pennsylvania Avenue here in DC. Not much, but something.
In solidarity with the State Dinner for India, we are doing an all-veg Tgiving spread at a friend's house. I am committed to green chile cornbread, am pondering some kind of squash/pumpkin empanadas, a green chile casserole, some Asian green beans, possibly some deep fried garbanzo beans with a Middle eastern sauce, spuds. Hmmm..asparagus grilled with Balsamic vinegar....it sounds like a real hodge-podge, doesn't it?
Dessert will be either ginger tea, or Pepto-Bismol.
Foodie Spouse made a delicious Portuguese kale and potato soup for supper recently.
Kidney beans and soy "chorizo" sausage were involved as well. And as I of late have become enamored of Brazil's lime-centered caipirinha drink, I wandered into a traditional American supermarket, Smith's, to quickly grab some citrus, and was soon pondering Portugal's imperial role. (Thank you, Prince Henry the Navigator, for getting things started. )
In 1500 this small European country claimed control over the largest cohesive land mass in the "new" world, and stamped Brazil with its quirkily-different-sounding-from-Spanish-yet-similar language, a massive slave trade, and eventually, a mix of people indicative of much mingling among natives, slaves, and Europeans. As well as black beans to die for, selenium-packed B. nuts, and cachaca.
Anyway--There I was, the eve of the Glorious Fourth in a supermarket in America, clutching limes headed for inclusion in a Brazilian drink. No bunting, no flags, maybe 3 flag balloons for sale. Normally, as we all know, a "holiday" makes a store erupt in decorative items in tune with the theme. I do not even want to think ahead to checkers decked out as witches, fold-up Christmas trees, icky yellow candy chicks, and all that. But it struck me as odd that on our nation's holiest of holy days, there was virtually nothing.
But then--what products can one sell that speak INDEPENDENCE? Baby back ribs? Weiners? Flabby white no-food-value hotdog rolls?
Meanwhile, we still have plenty of the soup, inspired by a Cape Cod recipe based on what early visiting Portuguese fishermen from Cape Verde and the Azores were eating. ( Note: this recipe does not contain fish so the fishermen evidently were storing sausage on board, and there were no potatoes growing readily, so...) The ingredients vary---but a spicy sausage is key. As is kale.
So this year at our house, to honor America, we are celebrating the major affront to George III by going Portuguese. Bom dia!
( Tks to this site for kale soup pic--http://www.capecodtoday.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=080)
We have an unemployed, unmarried mother of 6 deciding she absolutely had to have more children; we have a whistle blower filled with info on the nefarious Bernie Madoff ignored for years by the SEC; we have our beloved and leguminous Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipping out salmonella-afflicted products, inspection reports by the state overlooked by the overworked USDA, slapped in a file cabinet; we have Republican leaders deeply involved in the financial and international debacle of the past eight years whining and wringing their hands on tv because their wisdom is being overlooked----whatever!!
Justice: PCA filed for bankruptcy. Its CEO took the Fifth before Congress days before, his emails piling up as evidence against him.
Did Bernie's wife squirrel away $15 million in chump change before his arrest? Has she Madoff with it?
Where will the nation's Lovebirds in Chief have Valentine's Day dinner? ( In Chicago.)
What would happen if you didn't A--pay your taxes; B--have a financial plan ready, accurate to the penny, as you are asking for, ooh, billions of dollars?
Does anyone really like that bizarre red velvet cake?