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  • Archive | May, 2006


    Citrus fruits have been domesticated by humans since at least 4000 BC.

    As opening lines go, the above isn’t really a catchy one, but it is the truth. As I’ve company visiting me this week, catchy will have to take a back seat for a while.

    “Citrus” is a common term, covering a vast array for plants in the family Rutaceae. The weird thing is, the citrus you and I know today, probably didn’t exist back in the day. For example – The Navel orange was a bud sport from an orange in Bahia, Brazil, which was introduced into southern California in 1871. In 1913, the pink grapefruit cultivar was discovered. The Blood Orange has come onto the scene only within the past 100 years. The citrus fruits that most of us take for granted are simply decendants of a very few select fruits.

    The best information we have indicates that the following were most likely the first citrus fruits that humans had domesticated:

    • Citrus maxima, aka the pummelo (Malaysia)
    • Citrus medica, aka the citron (India)
    • Citrus reticulata, aka the mandarin (China)

    I’ll over more of these details soon enough. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering and researching the citrus fruits. Recipes and tips and hints and other such stuff will be (ahem) on the menu.

    Technorati Tags: Food, Citrus

    Raisin – Nutmeg Scones

    Scones are one of those pastries that are far easier to make than most people realize. Dry ingredients in one dish, wet in another, mix together, and you’re 90% done. I’d like to write more on this dish, but they’re scones for goodness sake. What’s not to like?

    • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced
    • 3/4 cup raisins
    • 2 Tablespoons orange zest
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
    • 1 egg white
    • sugar, for topping

    Pre heat oven to 425 degrees F.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, Baking Powder, nutmeg and salt. Mix well with a fork. Add the butter, cutting it into the flour with the fork, mixing until the dough has a sand-like look to it. Add the raisins and combine well.

    In a seperate bowl, mix together the egg and cream. Pour into the flour and stir in with a fork until the soft dough forms.

    Place dough onto a flour surface, and give minimal kneadings (8-10 times). Form into a circle, and roll until somewhere between 1/2-3/4 inches tall. Cut into 8 – 12 wedges and placed on an ungreased cookie sheet.

    Brush with egg whites and top with granulated sugar.

    Place in the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove from Oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

    Serves 8 – 12

    Technorati Tags: Raisins, Recipes, Scones

    Whole Foods responds to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

    It’s an interesting read if you’re into that kind of stuff.

    Chicken Cayenne Stew

    This is a very simple meal, complicated only by the amount of time it takes to create. From start to finish, it can take in excess of 90 minutes. If I were to make this again, it would most likely be a Saturday dish, when I have more free to accessable to me.

    Aside from that, it’s quite a tasty dish, with the broth inhabiting both spiciness and graviness (which isn’t really a word, but should be). With rice and bread on the side to sop up said “gravy”, it brings one of those little joys that all dinners should be known for.

    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 5 lb. chicken, cut into appropriate pieces (thighs, wings, etc)
    • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 green pepper, chopped
    • 1 celery stalk, chopped
    • 3 cups of water
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 cup green onions, chopped

    Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large stock over medium high heat. Pat the chicken dry and the salt liberally. Add to the hot oil to brown, approximately five minutes per side. Cook the chicken in batches in order to prevent overcrowding of the pot, ensuring that the chicken can brown well.

    Once done, place the chicken in a bowl and set aside.

    Add the remaining oil to the stock pot and allow to come to temperature. Stir in the flour, creating a roux. Lower the heat to medium low. Mix well and allow to cook for 10-15, creating a velvety tannish mixture. Stir often, scraping off any of the chicken fronds from the bottom of the pot allowing them to become part of the roux.

    Add the onions, peppers and celery, and cook until the onions become soft, between 8-10 minutes. Add the water, raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, where the water will intergrate with the roux, making a thickened broth/gravy amalgamation.

    Place the chicken back into the broth, along with any additional chicken juices within the bowl. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F), cover and cook for 30 minutes.

    After the 30 minutes, stir in the cayenne pepper and green onions. Salt to taste at this point.

    Serves 6

    Technorati Tags: Recipes, chicken, cayenne+pepper

    Starbucks and rBGH milk

    One of the few foods that I actually boycott is milk from cows who have been given Bovine somatotropin, otherwise known as rBGH. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t, simply that it’s a purchasing decision of my own.

    rBGH is a hormone that comes with a fair amount of controversy. At the least it’s an unnatural way to stimulate milk production in cows, at the most, it’s cruel to the animal and may lead to greater antibiotic and chemical contamination of milk and dangerous resistance to antibiotics in the human population. rBGH is a topic that has deserves its own set of posts.

    The reason I bring rBGH up is that Food and Water Watch is reporting that the majority of milk that Starbucks uses is laced with the Cow Hormone. For a company that “champions… business practices that produce social, environmental and economic benefits for Starbucks communities globally”, it seems a tad hypocritical. Especially when they’ve mentioned that they were going to address the issue.

    Starbucks went on to say in 2001 that 25 percent of its milk supply is rBST-free and that it is “already discussing with existing suppliers what we can do to ensure the remainder of our supply is rBST-free.ˮ

    But there’s no evidence that they’ve followed up on this.

    I don’t care that they sell milk with rBGH. It’s their choice to do so, and it’s my choice to not visit their stores. The issue is that their mouth says that they are “champions of the environment” when their actions show otherwise. A company cannot have it both ways. Either you’re socially responsible or you’re not. Either you’re for the environment or you’re not.

    Starbucks wants us to believe they are doing the right thing, when once again they’ve shown that lip service is the best service they provide.

    (Thanks to Jack for the heads up)

    Technorati Tags: Starbucks, Coffee, rBGH,

    Ode to Breakfast

    I’m gonna take a step back from all of the “Sky is falling” posts of late, and return to a basic concept – the joy of food. I’m goin’ old school, food blog style.

    Specifically, I want to talk about what we Americans consider breakfast foods: Eggs, cured pork products, and some sort of fried potatoes.

    For all my talk and exploration of different foods, it is breakfast that makes my heart sing. Add some fresh bread or pastry, and you’ll find me beaming.

    How it’s presented matters little to me. Eggs over easy, poached, scrambled, in a hobo, on a pile, in an omelette, or in a fritatta, topped with cheese, tobasco, or seasoned with the basic salt and pepper, these little poultry presents are the best way to start the day. The sizzle and pop of the eggs on the hot surface is one of those sounds that makes me believe that everything is okaay, and that there’s no need to panic.

    Then there’s the pork – bacon or ham, sausage in links or patty, the sweetness of the pig meat combined with whatever curing technique the producer deemed appropriate partners nicely with the butter that the eggs were cooked in. Cholesterol? Feh. I’ll worry about that after 2 pm.

    To wash it all down is an easy choice – a hot cup of coffee with a titch of cream. Sure the taste is important, but the real reason for the java is for the aroma it brings to the table, intermingling with the smell of fried butter and the spiciness of the pork.

    Oh, and a key point here – my preference is to have it at a diner. I don’t mind making breakfasts, but is there anything better than taking a book or newspaper to the local greasy spoon, being sat at a booth and then having the food brought to me? I know not to stay too long, but it seems that food tastes that much better when there’s a book to compliment the meal.

    So let me speak the praises of breakfast, the best meal one can have with a good book.

    Technorati Tags: Food, breakfast

    FDA Benzene Report out…kind of

    The FDA has been very hush hush about their soda/Benzene testing. First they assured us that there was no problem, and then a little later they said that “Well, there’s sort of a problem, but kinda not really. We’ll wait until the test results are complete before we make any conclusions.”

    The report is now out and the FDA concludes…

    Because of the limited survey data to date, we cannot yet understand the sources of variation in measured benzene levels, such as variability between different product lots and the effects of storage and handling.

    Translated into english, they’re saying “We don’t know what the heck is going on. There’s too much data to look at to give a full conclusion, and don’t you worry your pretty little heads that this is an issue you need to worry about, or that there would be major ramifications to the Soda Industry if we actually committed to a conclusion of any sort”

    Okay, so I embellished the last bit there.

    It appears as if there’s still more testing to do, and the FDA has not commited to any future updates on this issue of yet.

    Meanwhile, it’s probably a good idea to get rid of your stockpiles of Safeway Select Diet Orange, AquaCal Strawberry Flavored Water Beverage, Crystal Light Sunrise Classic Orange or Giant Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail, all of which were shown to have an excess of benzene after the completion of some of the tests, anywhere between 23 to 79 parts per billion (remember, anything over 5 parts per billion should make you sit up and take notice).

    Thanks to Parke over at U.S. Food Policy

    Technorati Tags: Soda, Benzene, FDA,