• Quick Bites

    Grains of Paradise ??

    I learned something new today! I was watching the Food Network (my addiction) this morning, and a guest chef on Bobby Flay’s show brought some Grains of paradise spice for his jerk marinade. I had never heard if it before, and here is what I found out. Grains of paradise is a small reddish-brown, round seed, found on the west coast of Africa. It is a member of the ginger and cardamom family, sometimes called Melegueta pepper, Guinea pepper, or alligator pepper. It packs some heat but also tastes of ginger, cardamom, coriander, citrus and nutmeg. This spice was popular in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries, but faded…

  • Smörgåsbord

    An interview with my 8-year-old friend Aubrey

    I am always interested in what other people think or like about food. So, I asked my good friend, Aubrey, one of the coolest dudes I know, a few questions.   Here are his answers. What’s your favorite food?  Pizza What’s your favorite special treat?  Brownies I know you are a martial artist, so what do you eat to make you strong?  Steak Have you ever grown any of your own food?  If yes, what?   Squash, tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, corn, and lemons. What’s your favorite desert?  Ice cream Do you cook? If yes, what? If no, why not?   I make quesadillas, nachos, pizza, cookies, scones, and cake. What’s your favorite restaurant?  What…

  • Quick Bites

    Al Dente…cooking pasta “just right”

    Al dente is an Italian term which describes the consistency of pasta cooked to a tender firmness. It literally means “to the tooth.” Pasta al dente is considered to be pasta cooked “just right,” when it is slightly resistant as you bite into it, but not soft or overdone. Hence, “just right.”

  • The Pantry

    Pre Dinner Party Preparation

    To give yourself more time with your dinner guests during the hors d’oeuvres time, or even time with your family before your evening meal, try searing your seasoned (at least salt and pepper) protein in a very, very hot skillet, for up to 2 minutes on each side to get a nice crust on it which will keep all those great flavors inside. Then set them aside, covered, at room temperature, to finish cooking them at a later time. Then follow these directions for desired doneness. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bring meat to room temperature. On wire rack over baking sheet, cook…

  • How to,  Quick Bites

    Make Your Own Spice Mix

    For those spice mixes that you know you will only use once in a great while, try making your own with spices you probably already have in your pantry. For example: Chinese Style Five Spice Mix equal parts (powdered): fennel, anise, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Now you have incorporated the five basic flavors of Chinese cooking; sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. Look at you now! You’re a chemist. Put it on you resume.

  • The Pantry

    Garlic…for cooking…for your health!

    Garlic, sometimes called the stinking rose, is one of the most popular ingredients in the world not only for its flavor, but because it has been considered medicinal as far back to the Egyptian slaves who built the pyramids. They were fed garlic because it was believed to provide prolonged, physical strength. The Greeks and Romans fed it to their sailors, soldiers, and peasants to ward off the harmful effects of the sun’s heat. Today’s health benefits are believed to include; prevention of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, intestinal worms (one of my big worries!), and the common cold, among others. When choosing garlic, pick large, firm, round bulbs with…

  • The Pantry

    What to Stock in Your Pantry

    Have a look at these items that I suggest you keep in your pantry at all times.  It will make your life easier for your daily cooking, and for those spur of the moment meals.  If you see something you never use, then leave it out, and be sure to add your favorite things.  SPICE RACK cayenne pepper  bay leaves  ground cinnamon  sweet paprika  dried rosemary  crushed red pepper flakes  dried thyme  dried oregano  kosher salt  black peppercorns  fine sea salt  FRIDGE  soy sauce  salsa  Tabasco sauce  ketchup  Worcestershire sauce  pure maple syrup  mayonnaise  Dijon mustard  milk  unsalted butter  sour cream  yogurt  large eggs  cheddar cheese  bacon  olives  white wine  CUPBOARDS  garlic …

  • The Pantry

    The Peaceful Olive

    Since the 17th century B.C., the olive tree has been thought to be sacred, and the olive branch is considered a symbol of peace.    The olive is native to the Mediterranean area and grown as a small fruit and for its oil.  In the United States they are grown mostly in Arizona, California and New Mexico.  There are many varieties of olives which vary in size and flavor.  As a fresh fruit they are always bitter but the final flavor depends on at what stage it was picked and its processing.  Under-ripe olives are always green, but ripe olives could be green or black.      Some varieties:  Dry cured (or oil cured or…

  • Smörgåsbord

    Quick Bites

    Did you know that peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts?  So it is of the plant species, therefore not junk food but good for you!  But they are high in fat, so not so good by the handfuls.  ‘Tis the season for Schnapps!  The word “Schnapps” is of German origin, meaning “mouthful”.  My interpretation of that is “SHOOTERS”!  And since it is made from grains or potatoes, it must be good for you.  (Please note: I am not o doctor or a nutritionist, just a drinker looking for excuses).  My favorite herb is Sage, and since many of us use it around the winter holidays I though you would like to know that this Mediterranean herb…

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