Tag Archive | food

Repost: Czech Kolaches Recipe

kolaches dorothy kusakI grew up with Czech Kolaches.  Very popular across the midwest United States they are probably the best reason to travel to Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and other midwestern states.

Of course I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else.  So I was thrilled to find this recipe on facebook courtesy Dorothy Husak.

Czech Kolaches.
Recipe makes 56
Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup butter, cut up
3/4 cup shortening, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast envelopes
Desired filling (see below)
Powdered Sugar Icing (see below)

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat and stir milk, butter, shortening, sugar and salt just until warm (120 degreesF to 130 degrees F) and butter and shortening almost melt. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in eggs.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour and the yeast. Add milk mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, switching to a wooden spoon if necessary to stir in last amount of flour. (Dough will be very soft.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Shape chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover; let rise in a warm place 30 minutes. Use your thumb or the back of a round measuring teaspoon to make a deep indentation in center of a few balls at a time. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into each indentation. Repeat with remaining balls and filling.
Bake one or two pans of kolaches at a time at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottoms. Immediately remove to racks; cool slightly. If you like, drizzle with icing before serving.

 

Poppy Seed Filling: In a coffee grinder or small food processor blend 3/4 cup (4 ounces) poppy seeds until fine. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon honey and a dash of salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 egg yolks. Gradually stir about half of the warm milk mixture into beaten yolks. Return the yolk mixture to milk mixture in saucepan and stir to combine. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in poppy seeds and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Raspberry Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups frozen raspberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Apricot Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots and 1 1/2 cups apricot nectar. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cool slightly. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. (Mixture should be thicker than applesauce.) Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for several hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cup.
Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches drizzling consistency. Makes 2/3 cup.
storage

Store unglazed kolaches in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

UK Holiday: UK rules for personal foodstuffs less strict than USA rules

The count down is on for my flight and the excitement is building.  I am making my food shopping list, checking it twice, and going to find out who is naughty and nice! (Couldn’t help the pun).

jerky

You can’t bring the beef jerky into the UK nor bring UK origin beef jerky into the USA. The trail mix is fine going into the UK, but must be declared at customs returning to the USA.

Time to really look at government websites and see what is and is not allowed.  Fortunately my post from yesterday seems to be spot-on with regards to what you can bring into the United Kingdom from outside of Europe.  As specified on gov.uk, the main restrictions relate to meat and dairy.  If you go through the page, HM government is very detailed and very explicit on the matter — which is good because no one wants problems at customs.  You can consume meat and dairy to your heart’s content on your flight from USA to UK — at long as you throw away the leftovers before you land.

The USA is apparently much more strict about food coming home from another country.  Looking at the US Customs and Border Protection site and their FAQ for travelers you cannot bring ANY fresh food of any type into the United States.  Anything you do bring with you (aka you didn’t throw away before you disembark from your plane into the USA) must be declared OR YOU FACE a $10,000 FINE.

$10,000 for not saying “I have some crackers in my bag.”

apricots

These apricots are allowed into the UK without any issues. But if I don’t eat them while on holiday and try to bring them back into the USA, I must declare them at customs — or face a $10,000 fine!

Absolutely NO fresh food is allowed into the USA at all.  According to the FAQ, most dried fruits and nuts ARE allowed — as long as you declare them.  Likewise, as long as you tell them, it’s not an issue if you save your pretzels from your flight to eat while you are waiting to change planes.

But it is a bit telling.  I really never expected the flight back to the USA to be more risky than the flight to the United Kingdom.

Well, maybe this is just the universe’s way of telling me something I already know about myself — and where I am happiest!

Purim Celebrations for Gentiles

Originally posted February 28th, 2012

 

Hamantaschen are delicious cookies traditionally eaten at Purim.

The Jewish Holiday of Purim is a festive, often raucous holiday filled with gaiety, great food, and parties. Yet for the gentile, this holiday is often a bit of a conundrum, even though many gentiles know the essential story behind Purim from the Biblical book of Esther.

Purim is a spring holiday, typically celebrated in March, celebrating Jewish survival in the face of genocide. The word Purim means “lots” and is a reference to the lots drawn by Persian courtier Haman to decide the date of Jewish annihilation. The story itself is told in full in the Biblical book of Esther, the name of a very brave Jewish young woman who, according to the story, was chosen as the new queen of King Ahasuerus (assumed to be Xerxes I of Persia) after his previous queen refused to come to a banquet thrown by Xerxes for several nobles. Queen Vashti’s refusal was probably understandable; the summons came while Xerxes was drunk. Regardless the historical details, if any, Esther’s ascent puts her in a rare position, able to influence the king in a time of crisis. After Haman tricks Xerxes into genocidal slaughter of all the Jews in his realm, Esther skillfully uses Xerxes interest in her to amend the new law-allowing Jews to defend themselves. It is her courage and intelligence (and the ultimate victory by the Jews made in self defense) that is celebrated at Purim-one woman who stopped genocide.

Orthodox Jews celebrate Purim with readings of the entire book of Esther in temple. During the readings, it is customary to shout or make noise whenever the name of Haman is read. Children dress up in costumes (making some describe it as a sort of Jewish Halloween). Adults drink-the much debated standard is “until they can no longer distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordecai,'” (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml).

These are the parts of Purim that are more or less the real domain of Judaism. Yet it is the other half of Purim that I believe gentiles can robustly embrace and which I keep every spring as a gentile:

  • Charitable giving: giving to those who have less than you do. This part of Purim reminds us that no matter how hard life is or how much we may lack, there is ALWAYS someone who has even greater life challenges-economically and otherwise. Purim reminds us to “count our blessings.”
  • Giving food gifts: certain Jewish foods like hamentaschen cookies are traditional, but any food gift will work. This is related in part with charitable giving; there is always someone we know struggling to have enough to eat.
  • Feasting/enjoying a special Purim meal: this is a merry holiday–of course we celebrate with food.

Purim is more than simply a celebration honoring the courage of a Jewish heroine. The holiday has evolved into a time for charity, food, and humble thankfulness for the blessings each of us receive and too often take for granted. No matter your religious or cultural heritage, each of us can celebrate this very Jewish holiday and its spirit of helping others.

For more about Purim, please see http://www.meirpanim.org/page_e.php?name=Purim andhttp://purim.123holiday.net/purim_customes.html and http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Foods.shtml.

 

 

A nice recipe for hamantaschen is at http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/1366/jewish/Traditional-Hamantashen.htm

In this bitter cold, a missive to Congress and Parliament

Dear Congress of the United States of America and Parliaments of the western industrialized world:

 

Forest River. winter sunsetThis week we the residents of the United States and Canada are experiencing the sort of dangerous cold weather that kills in a matter of minutes.  This is the sort of weather where if you have no safe home to go to you really run the risk of going to sleep and never waking up again. This storm will kill thousands of people whose names are lost because we think they do not matter anymore. But each of us may easily find ourselves wandering the streets, alone, exposed to this bitter cold, never knowing when we go to sleep if we will ever wake up again.

Count your blessings for your home — then do anything and everything you can to help those without food, shelter, and warmth.

Yes, I know this is difficult for you.  You cannot relate to the rest of us.  You have more money than any single person can ever spend.  You do not look like most of us nor do you have the same life experiences as most of us.  So I can see why you have a hard time understanding how much we are suffering.  You have probably not shivered in your home because it cost too much to properly heat your home or insulate it from the cold. You have probably never had to find ways to make three days worth of food last for a week.  You have probably also never had to eat food not suitable for eating because it was the only food available to you.

We have.

Instead of bickering among yourselves in your comfort and ease, please please walk a mile in our shoes.

 

Eighty years ago everyone suffered together in the Great Depression and our countries were all stronger for it.  Stronger because instead of looking down at those of us without proper shelter, clothing, and food, those elected to your same offices you hold together experienced these things with us and therefore became resolved to create jobs, to build roads and bridges and repair those things that needed to be fixed.  They put in place measured designed to give everyone somewhere safe and warm to live and spend the winter.  And they were determined that no one in countries as great as ours would go hungry — especially our children.

I ask you to please care about us again!

No one is “surplus population.”

 

Please stop treating us as if we are!

 

Sincerely,

 

Laurel A. Rockefeller

 

Reblog: History of Halloween

Merry Samhain everyone!  In honor of Samhain and Halloween, I am re-posting a lovely article I found this morning  by Benjamin Radford of Live Science about the history of Halloween.  Enjoy!

 

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Halloween is the season for little ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for candy and scaring one another silly. Spooky stories are told around fires, scary movies appear in theaters and pumpkins are expertly (and not-so-expertly) carved into jack-o’-lanterns.

Amid all the commercialism, haunted houses and bogus warnings about razors in apples, the origins of Halloween are often overlooked. Yet Halloween is much more than just costumes and candy; in fact, the holiday has a rich and interesting history.
Samhain

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around Nov. 1 called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, according to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries. [Related: 13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained]

Because ancient records are sparse and fragmentary, the exact nature of Samhain is not fully understood, but it was an annual communal meeting at the end of the harvest year, a time to gather resources for the winter months and bring animals back from the pastures. Samhain is also thought to have been a time of communing with the dead, according to folklorist John Santino.

“There was a belief that it was a day when spirits of the dead would cross over into the other world,” Santino told Live Science. Such moments of transition in the year have always been thought to be special and supernatural, he added.

Halloween provides a safe way to play with the concept of death, Santino said. People dress up as the living dead, and fake gravestones adorn front lawns — activities that wouldn’t be tolerated at other times of the year, he said.

But according to Nicholas Rogers, a history professor at York University in Toronto and author of “Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night” (Oxford University Press, 2003), “there is no hard evidence that Samhain was specifically devoted to the dead or to ancestor worship.

“According to the ancient sagas, Samhain was the time when tribal peoples paid tribute to their conquerors and when the sidh [ancient mounds] might reveal the magnificent palaces of the gods of the underworld,” Rogers wrote. Samhain was less about death or evil than about the changing of seasons and preparing for the dormancy (and rebirth) of nature as summer turned to winter, he said.

Though a direct connection between Halloween and Samhain has never been proven, many scholars believe that because All Saints’ Day (or All Hallows’ Mass, celebrated Nov. 1) and Samhain, are so close together on the calendar, they influenced each other and later combined into the celebration now called Halloween.
Costumes and trick-or-treating

The tradition of dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating may go back to the practice of “mumming” and “guising,” in which people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door, asking for food, Santino said. Early costumes were usually disguises, often woven out of straw, he said, and sometimes people wore costumes to perform in plays or skits.

The practice may also be related to the medieval custom of “souling” in Britain and Ireland, when poor people would knock on doors on Hallowmas (Nov. 1), asking for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.

Trick-or-treating didn’t start in the United States until World War II, but American kids were known to go out on Thanksgiving and ask for food — a practice known as Thanksgiving begging, Santino said.

“Mass solicitation rituals are pretty common, and are usually associated with winter holidays,” Santino said. While one tradition didn’t necessarily cause the others, they were “similar and parallel,” he said.
Tricks and games

These days, the “trick” part of the phrase “trick or treat” is mostly an empty threat, but pranks have long been a part of the holiday.

By the late 1800s, the tradition of playing tricks on Halloween was well established. In the United States and Canada, the pranks included tipping over outhouses, opening farmers’ gates and egging houses. But by the 1920s and ’30s, the celebrations more closely resembled an unruly block party, and the acts of vandalism got more serious.

Some people believe that because pranking was starting to get dangerous and out of hand, parents and town leaders began to encourage dressing up and trick-or-treating as a safe alternative to doing pranks, Santino said.

However, Halloween was as much a time for festivities and games as it was for playing tricks or asking for treats. Apples are associated with Halloween, both as a treat and in the game of bobbing for apples, a game that since the colonial era in America was used for fortune-telling. Legend has it that the first person to pluck an apple from the water-filled bucket without using his or her hands would be the first to marry, according to the book “Halloween and Commemorations of the Dead” (Chelsea House, 2009) by Roseanne Montillo.

Apples were also part of another form of marriage prophecy. According to legend, on Halloween (sometimes at the stroke of midnight), young women would peel an apple into one continuous strip and throw it over her shoulder. The apple skin would supposedly land in the shape of the first letter of her future husband’s name.

Another Halloween ritual involved looking in a mirror at midnight by candlelight, for a future husband’s face was said to appear. (A scary variation of this later became the “Bloody Mary” ritual familiar to many schoolgirls.) Like many such childhood games, it was likely done in fun, though at least some people took it seriously.
Christian/Irish influence

Some evangelical Christians have expressed concern that Halloween is somehow satanic because of its roots in pagan ritual. However, ancient Celts did not worship anything resembling the Christian devil and had no concept of it. In fact, the Samhain festival had long since vanished by the time the Catholic Church began persecuting witches in its search for satanic cabals. And, of course, black cats do not need to have any association with witchcraft to be considered evil — simply crossing their path is considered bad luck any time of year.

As for modern Halloween, Santino, writing in “American Folklore: An Encyclopedia” (Garland, 1996), noted that “Halloween beliefs and customs were brought to North America with the earliest Irish immigrants, then by the great waves of Irish immigrants fleeing the famines of the first half of the nineteenth century. Known in the North American continent since colonial days, by the middle of the twentieth century Halloween had become largely a children’s holiday.” Since that time, the holiday’s popularity increased dramatically as adults, communities and institutions (such as schools, campuses and commercial haunted houses) have embraced the event.

Through the ages, various supernatural entities — including fairies and witches — came to be associated with Halloween, and more than a century ago in Ireland, the event was said to be a time when spirits of the dead could return to their old haunting grounds. Dressing up as ghosts or witches became fashionable, though as the holiday became more widespread and more commercialized (and with the arrival of mass-manufactured costumes), the selection of disguises for kids and adults greatly expanded beyond monsters to include everything from superheroes to princesses to politicians.

Staff writer Tanya Lewis contributed to this article.

 

Olive Garden’s Principato Wines Among the Best of the House Wines

May 11th, 2012

 

The Olive Garden is one of the best known chain restaurants for Italian food. Certainly the television advertisements make the food look spectacular. Indeed, I have always found the food at Olive Garden quite good.

One of the best items on the Olive Garden menu is not a food item at all-but their house wines, Principato. Offered as bianco (white), rosato (blush), and rosso (red), Principato wines are perhaps the best reason to dine at Olive Garden. Principato are offered at the reasonable prices of $5.75 for a 6 oz glass, $8.25 for a 9 oz quartino (served in a sake carafe), and $28.00 for an entire bottle .

By the ounce, a $28 bottle costs $1.10407 per ounce. By the 6 oz glass, you pay $0.958333 per ounce. But the best value is the quartino which costs just $0.91666 per ounce.

But saving money is not the best reason for you to order Principato when you dine at the Olive Garden. These are genuinely very high quality wines-which the servers allow you to sample before you commit to ordering. That service is above and beyond anything I have seen at any other restaurant. Principato wines are also milder than a lot of their counterparts, making them palatable to people who generally do not drink wine. The red lacks the overwhelming tannins I find with most cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines; it’s lighter and a little sweeter without going all the way to a semi-sweet. The white is also milder than your typical sauvignon blanc or chardonnay which I find can be a little overbearing at times, making the bianco very palatable. But it is the rosato, the blush that is the best of all of these. Light, fruity, and a little sweeter than your typical white wine, it is a wine for both those who are connoisseurs and those who typically do not like to drink wine. It is the perfect complement to pasta and seafood in particular, bringing out the delicate sauces and cheese better than any other wine I’ve consumed with either pasta or seafood.

Principato is not only a good value-it’s a truly great wine, worth dining at the Olive Garden for.

Frugal Parrot Food: How to Buy Bird Seed for Less

Originally posted January 25, 2012

I love my bird. Like most dedicated aviculturists and pet owners, I care a great deal about helping my birds live long, healthy, and happy lives. A well-balanced diet for most companion birds consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and commercially available pellets. Most people feed pre-mixed diets from pet stores. But as with many cat and dog foods, these pre-mixed diets tend to be filled with low-nutrition fillers that add to the price, but not the health of your bird.

So what is the answer and how can you save money on bird food? Make your own healthy, well-balanced food mix. In this article, I will cover my best tips/tricks for buying the seed and nut portion of your bird’s diet.

1) Whole, natural format seeds and grains cost less and work better than their more expensive, bagged, counter-parts.

Find these at your local feed mill for a savings of 50-90%. Often what you want will not be marked as for birds, so instead look for these seeds/nuts fed to companion birds at your area feed mill:

Seeds:
oats
safflower seeds
wheat
white millet
spray millet (aka finger and/or foxtail millet)
cracked corn (select species)
sunflower seeds (bagged and sunflower heads)

Nuts (buy whole for larger species; chopped, sliced, and/or slivered for smaller species:
almonds
walnuts
pecans
brazil nuts (larger species)
peanuts

2) Shop the baking section of your area grocery store/fruit-nut store for nuts

Nuts are easily found at your local grocery store. Look for chopped and slivered choices for small to medium birds and whole versions for larger species. Large cockatoos and macaws should be fed nuts in the shell.
3) Utilize the “wild bird” sections of stores.

Foods fed to wild birds are often the same as those fed to companion birds. The wild bird section of discount department stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target often sell bagged single seeds at the same or lower prices than pet stores. This does not mean you will automatically save money at these stores–but it helps to include discount department store wild bird sections when comparison shopping!
4) Buy from farms whenever possible.

Farms charge less than any other retailer for their products. As a rule, the more steps between the farm and you, the higher the price. Farmers markets, road-side stands, feed mills, and local markets help you buy direct. Farms offer everything from sunflower heads (my birds prefer sunflower heads over loose sunflower seeds) to nutritious spray millet and beyond. Many farmers have their own websites and eBay stores, so it pays to search these sources.

By using these four tips, you will save somewhere between 50% and 90% every time you buy seeds and nuts. That leaves you more money for pellets, fruits, and vegetables for a healthier bird and heavier wallet.

Bon appétit!

Eating Kosher: Why You Don’t Need to Be Jewish to Eat a (Largely) Kosher Diet

This April 10th, 2012 article explains exactly what kosher means for those of us not raised eating it.

 

Eating Kosher: Why You Don’t Need to Be Jewish to Eat a (Largely) Kosher Diet

You have been eating kosher all your life. You probably never realized it when your mom served you cookies, pickles, or even apple juice, but whether you are a Jew or a gentile, kosher has been part of your meals from the beginning. It’s everywhere in the supermarket, even if you were not paying attention to those little symbols like the capital “U” in a circle that is the trademark of the “Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations” certifying that a given food is kosher (see more on rabbinical kosher foods and the marks used to certify foods as such see,http://everything2.com/title/kosher+symbols). But if you really look for these symbols you will notice just how prolific kosher foods are at ordinary supermarkets throughout the U.S.

Then there are the Jewish grocery stores and specialty stores found in major cities featuring specific kosher brands many gentiles have never seen in stores before, much less tried. Whether it’s a Jewish bakery featuring every day breads and desserts, Jewish butchers, or even restaurants, you’ll find a dazzling array of kosher foods in major cities.

But, major supermarket brands aside, aren’t kosher foods just for Jews? Originally, perhaps-before pink slime, by-product laden convenience foods, and heavily processed boxed dinners full of ingredients even chemists have a hard time pronouncing! But as we strive to eat healthier and better control what we eat, I’ve discovered the kosher foods I ate by default in Midwood, Brooklyn have qualities that fit very well with my goals for a healthier, less processed diet:

Kosher foods are not made of by-products and garbage meats. By definition, skin, tendons, bones, and other garbage meats are not ground up and put in beef and chicken foods (even hotdogs) certified kosher. While these by-products often make their way into commercial pet foods, humans are specifically not allowed to eat these scrap, “pink-slime” components under rabbinical law.

To be certified kosher EVERY ingredient must comply with rabbinical rules. This limits the number of trace ingredients that are included as part of the processing and what sort of trace ingredients can be included. Kosher is therefore important for those with food allergies as it requires stricter labeling than currently required by the FDA, limiting allergen exposure risks.

Most fresh, whole fruits and vegetables are kosher. There is a reason you don’t buy apples or cranberries with a sticker on it certifying them as kosher. That is because fresh, whole fruits and vegetables are typically kosher. In fact, eating whole fruits and vegetables prepared at home in recipes is one of the easiest ways to keep kosher-but watch any non-fruit or vegetable ingredients like milk, butter, oils, or meats that you might add. Salad dressings can affect whether or not your otherwise veggies remain kosher. While absolute compliance is a non-issue for gentiles (and in fact many veggies a gentile expects to be kosher are not) and less of an issue for many reform Jews, it is helpful for everyone to think about what and how much we add to our fruits and vegetables as it is very easy to destroy many of the health benefits of eating whole fruits/vegetables.

Kosher foods taste good unto themselves. Most non-Jews have not considered eating hamatachen, charoset, challah, kosher sushi, or other distinctly kosher/Jewish foods, but like any other style of cuisine, there are delicious goodies to be found among kosher/Jewish cuisine. Walk into any Jewish bakery in Brooklyn and you will find breads, pastries, and desserts that no one can refuse. Don’t feel you need to be Jewish to indulge; most people who eat Mexican or Italian foods are neither Mexican nor Italian in heritage! Expand your palate!

Consider kosher foods for your pets. This may sound odd, but yes, there is such a thing as kosher pet food. As with human kosher foods, these foods avoid the by-products and junk foods we seen in many traditional brands. The need for strictly kosher pet foods is highly debated across rabbinical literature, but the consensus seems to be kosher pet food is mostly a non-issue except for observant Jews during Passover. At Passover, kosher food for pets is preferred.

Eating kosher is only mandatory for Jews, but with an open mind and a taste for enjoying a broad range of foods, gentiles can discover the healthy benefits and tasty delights of eating Kosher-Jewish cuisine–for you and your pet.

For more information, please see http://everything2.com/title/kosher+symbolshttp://star-k.org/kashrus/kk-issues-pets.htmhttp://www.evangersdogfood.com/kosher.php,http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-petfood.htm,http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/passover/charosetrecipes,http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/,http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Hamantaschen-13706,http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=challah&x=24&y=13.

Mulling Over Wine: Three Favorite Recipes for Your Happy Holidays

Written December 12, 2012, this set of recipes for mulled wines is especially great for warming a cold winter’s day and for bringing holiday cheer.  But why wait until November to enjoy a delicious cup of wine?

 

Mulling Over Wine: Three Favorite Recipes for Your Happy Holidays

Classic Medieval Beverage Stands the Test of Time

 The holidays are here…along with the darkness of winter, biting cold winter storms, and frozen toes. It’s also a time of year when we look back on the year that was as we welcome a new year. In December, we celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, and Kwanza, typically in that order. It’s a festive time focused on spending time with family and friends; the gifts we might exchange are secondary, contrary to what a plethora of TV advertisements may tell us.For centuries, a critical part of spreading that holiday cheer has been a cup of warmed, spiced wine. Typically red, it can also be white, depending on personal preferences, and infused with any number of fragrant herbs and spices.

For me, three recipes really stand out among all the many mulled wine recipes you can find. The first recipe is medieval. It’s an example from 1660 with doubtless origins stretching back several centuries before it was written down. Unlike most recipes you’ll find on the web, this medieval recipe adds cream to the mix, something I don’t see very often, but really adds to the flavor of the wine. Second, it’s written for a large gathering — an entire GALLON of (red) wine. This makes it perfect for serving at historical re-enactments where typically at least 40 people are sitting at feast at any given time. Not hosting a yuletide event? No problem…just serve it at whatever festive gatherings you choose to host. I can tell you from experience that few things make you feel warmer or happier coming in from a brutal storm than a nice cup of hot or warm mulled wine. For parties, I suggest using a crock pot to prepare and serve the medieval recipe. Your guests will thank you for serving the wine at just the right temperature to drink right away!

The second recipe is a favorite of mine because of all the extra information I found along with it. But it’s also just a really nice, flavorful mulled wine choice. This version calls for three full liters of red wine; I usually make 1/4th of a recipe (one regular 750 ml bottle). It features cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for a very classic taste that is palatable to almost anyone who enjoys red wine. Choose your favorite budget priced vintage for this one; the cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg add so much flavor that you don’t really need anything more pricy than $18 per bottle!

The final recipe, for mulled riesling, is my all time favorite. Like many people, I prefer lighter flavors; the tannins in reds just don’t agree with me as well as the lighter blushes and white wines do. For many people, white wines are also better tolerated, especially if a person takes prescription medications on a regular basis. But more than that, I love the combination of rosemary, honey, and lemon with riesling. Riesling is a very flavorful, light wine to begin with. Those flavors really come alive when you add rosemary, honey, and lemon to them. For someone with a refined palate especially, the combination is just spectacular! I love the nuances you get with this third and final recipe.
Medieval Recipe:

“1 gallon wine
3oz cinnamon
2oz ginger, sliced
1/4oz cloves
1oz mace
20 peppercorns
1oz nutmeg
3lb sugar
2qt cream

“Take a gallon of wine, three ounces of cinamon, two ounces of slic’t ginger, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, an ounce of mace, twenty corns of pepper, an ounce of nutmegs, three pound of sugar, and two quarts of cream.”

In essence, mix all ingredients and heat slowly in a large pot. Serve warm. You can also let it ‘settle’ for a few days and serve it cool, depending on which way tastes better to you!”

Anything Wine’s Recipe:
3 Liters red wine (we use Merlot) but you can use something like a hearty burgundy also

· 8 sticks of cinnamon

· 32 cloves

· 3 cups sugar

· 1 cup lemon juice

· 1Tbs nutmeg

· 3 cups water

“Combine all of the above in a pot and bring to a low boil with the cover on. I put the nutmeg and cloves in a small bag for easy removal and strain out the cinnamon sticks with a spoon. Boil for ten minutes.”

Let stand overnight and then take out the spices. Serve warm!

 

Riesling Rosemary Mulled Wine1/2c water
1/2c sugar
2 Tbsp rosemary
1/4 cup honey
2 lemons
2 bottles riesling white wine

Simmer (but not boil) the water, sugar, rosemary, and honey for 10 minutes. Add in the wine . Peel the lemons and add in the peels. Let sit for a length of time to seep in the flavors, without boiling. Strain out the larger bits and serve warm.
No matter what your mulled wine indulgence is, these three recipes are absolutely certain to please. Whether your interest is in making a historically accurate beverage, a family favorite traditional mulled red wine, or in the delicate flavors of the mulled riesling, there is something for everyone with these mulled wine choices.As the weather grows colder yet and the snow falls once more, try a cup of warmed mulled wine at your next holiday party or celebration. Long before egg nog (an American invention), the holidays were filled with generous cups of hot/warm mulled wine. Discover the tradition and you’ll know why it’s been the beverage of holiday cheer for over one thousand years!

Chocolate and Vanilla Egg Crèmes: Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret

One of the most enduring parts of my experience living in Brooklyn, New York for over four years is in food.  In that time, I was introduced to one of the most delicious beverages ever:  the egg cream.

 

Chocolate and Vanilla Egg Crèmes: Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret

July, 2012

Go into a diner in Brooklyn and they are hard to miss! They are a Brooklyn tradition since the turn of the 20th century. They were a staple in drug store soda shops. What are they? Brooklyn’s best kept secret: egg crèmes!

What pray tell is an egg crème? A delicious, non-alcoholic soda you can make cheaply and easily in your own home. Dining out and they are not on the menu? Ask for one anyway. Most restaurants with a bar tender have the ingredients right there – they just may need the recipe from you. The Altoona, Pennsylvania Olive Garden recently made them for my dining party after I asked. The rest of my group was skeptical about this Brooklyn invention…that is, until it arrived and we each drank one!

Here’s what you need to make your own egg crème:

12 oz glass

Whole milk (or really indulge with a splash of half and half with your milk)

Seltzer soda water (club soda is more salty, but will work if you cannot find seltzer)

Fox’s U-Bet chocolate or vanilla syrup (Hershey’s can be substituted, but be aware that the Fox’s product is more of a semi-sweet chocolate and Hershey’s is more a milk chocolate that tastes sweeter and less bitter)

  1. Begin by pouring from 1/4th to 2/3rds of your glass with milk and/or milk and half and half.
  2. Add about one to three tablespoons of chocolate or vanilla syrup. The more syrup, the richer and sweeter the taste.
  3. Stir vigorously.
  4. Add seltzer to the top of the glass, tilting the glass to maximize the carbonated head. A thick head of about 2 inches is considered ideal.
  5. Stir vigorously.
  6. Drink immediately.

Some purists I know from Brooklyn say to stir only once and to make the dryer version with only 1/4th of the glass in milk. I personally love the richer, sweeter version created by using at least half a glass of milk and more syrup. You add more calories this way, but it’s a tastier soda.

Egg crèmes can make a great party drink. Simply mix the milk and syrup into a pitcher with a heavily chilled 1 liter or 2 liter bottle on ice on the table. Then ask guests to simply pour their milk/syrup in first and top with the seltzer. Those swizzle stick stirrers are great if you are serving egg crèmes this way. For a fancy touch, chocolate shavings make the perfect garnish. Simply set out a small dessert bowl of the shavings for your guests next to the egg crème ingredients.

Egg crèmes are the perfect balance between chocolate milk and regular sodas, giving you the best of both worlds. They are a delicious treat for your meal, your party, or just the end of a hard day.

So try the Brooklyn egg crème and discover what most Brooklynites have known for decades!

Shaming Poverty: One Person’s Stereotypes Leads to Personal Humiliation While Buying Food

This was another one of my Yahoo Voices articles where the trolls lingered.

 

Shaming Poverty: One Person’s Stereotypes Leads to Personal Humiliation While Buying Food

Myths Concerning Unemployed, Poor Persist Despite Prolonged Great Recession

November 3rd, 2013

Saturday October 26th. After working all week at my holiday temp job, I go to my neighborhood Dollar General to buy some milk and a couple frozen dinners for work. Earlier this month I stocked up on groceries, knowing my work schedule offered little time for cooking, reducing my food stamp total to less than $15 for the rest of the month.

At checkout, my total exceeds my remaining balance by about three dollars — nothing major — until the clerk asked me a question no one asked me since I was six years old buying a soda from my allowance. “Do you have money to pay for that?” she snarled unapologetically.

What? I thought to myself, keenly aware she was talking about just three dollars and change.

Caught off guard, I replied yes simply, showing her my debit card while she scowled over the split payment transaction. Leaving the store, the humiliation set in. Despite my professional dress and demeanor, this woman assumed (incorrectly) that I had no way to pay the three dollar balance owed, something no one ever communicated to me since I was a child buying small items from my allowance. Across dozens of mixed food and non food purchases at the same store, my capacity to pay for the non food items never came into question — until this purchase.

So why assume I could not pay — especially in face of my clean, well-cared for clothes and professional conduct?

The answer has to be rooted in persisting stereotypes about the poor, working poor, andunemployed. Despite the length of this Great Recession and high unemployment numbers, especially here in Johnstown where the unemployment rate in August was 8.7% (1.4% higher than the national average, and 1% above the Pennsylvania average), our culture still equates poverty with laziness, criminal activity, mental illness, and drug addiction — none of which apply to me, something self evident in my prolific work for Yahoo Voices and the seventeen editions of my twonovels, all self-published within a span of just eleven months.

On the flip side, my white cane leads to the assumption by those with little experience with the differently abled that my sight loss is sufficient for me to be dependent on federal disability payments. Few people realize that the federal definition of “legally blind” is 20/200 vision — compared with Pennsylvania’s 20/70 threshold which my 20/80 vision meets.

That is to say, I’m too blind to drive and too blind to work in industrial settings (where most of the few local jobs are) — but not blind enough to receive cash assistance from the federal government, Instead, the assistance I’ve received comes through Pennsylvania’s vocational rehabilitation program offering me some adaptive technologies (such as my white cane, large ruled paper, and a special desk lamp) designed to help me re-enter the work place.

No matter how you cut it, the words cut sharply at my pride. For I understand that while abuse of unemployment assistance, food stamps, and other programs designed to support the poor happens, the number of people who actually fit the stereotypes are very small — despite what politicians may claim. Most people receiving food stamps do so because the alternative is starving, not because they do not want to buy their own food.

Given a fair chance, most people receiving government assistance would prefer not to — regardless of age. Ask anyone struggling to scrape by on social security if they would rather be living off saved money in a pension or IRA — or off social security and nearly every person would prefer the former. Ask any long term unemployed person (such as myself) if she or he would rather be working or trying to make do through the help of others and nearly every person would rather be working. As any person working for minimum wage and not able to feed her or his family despite working full time if she or he wants food stamps and you will also hear a resounding “No!”

Americans do not want entitlements. Americans want to pay their own way. We want jobs and living wages. We want to support ourselves. And we want the system to be fair — rewarding hard work, education, and good choices instead of bad choices. For it is truly ironic that a heroine addict on the street readily gets disability assistance from the federal government — something that person chose to do — but my sight loss and hearing loss only affords me scorn and shame.

We can and must do better.

Recipe: Sweet/sour Asian chicken kabobs with Rice

Hello everyone.  I normally do not blog here about food, but this recipe I created today I absolutely MUST SHARE!

 

I do not consider myself a great cook, at least not to MY taste in food. True to general hyper-sensitivity and migraine sufferers as a whole, I have a sensitive, refined sense of taste; anything too bland or too strong does not taste good to me.

 

So I am so happy that today I had great success making some Asian chicken kabobs in my grill pan.   Here’s my recipe:

 

  • Cube a chicken breast and marinate in about 2 tablespoons of bottled sweet/sour sauce, about 1 tsp of Chinese chili/pepper sauce, 1/2 tsp powdered ginger, 1/2 tsp of dill, and water to cover.
  • Refrigerate about 2 to 3 hours.
  • Skewer the chicken and put in grill pan along with all of the marinade.
  • Dust gently with more dill.
  • While the chicken and marinade cooks in the grill pan (turning occasionally), cook 1/4 to 1/2 cup of rice with about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce added instead of salt in the water.
  • Cook until chicken is well done and the sauce thickens.
  • Drain rice and spread evenly onto serving plate.
  • Spoon about half of the sauce directly onto the rice before plating the kabobs over the rice and evenly pouring the rest of the sauce over the chicken.
  • Garnish with more dill if desired.

Makes one serving.

This was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS with a subtle taste and just enough pepper to give it that distinctly ASIAN taste.

Serve with white or rose wine or a clear colored soda.

Beneath the Nara Tree: Global Warming, Food Forests, and the Beinarian Nara tree

Forest lake in summer

Forest lake in summer (Photo credit: Axel-D)

Food forests are the latest urban trend designed to combat global warming while offering free, fresh food to the food insecure.  The concept is simple:  provide an urban oasis of fruit and nut trees, fruit-bearing bushes, herbs, and other edibles which are free to harvest and eat to any and all visitors.  In 2013, Seattle became the first municipality to offer its residents food forest, starting a new trend which promises to provide quality food to those who need it most, combating obesity among the poor in the process.

Planting food forests also make sense when it comes to global warming and the extreme weather that comes with it.  Trees reduce CO2 emissions, offer habit to birds and other animals, and restore oxygen to our atmosphere.

Caring for the environment as much as I do, it only made sense then to include trees into my world building for the Peers of Beinan series and to make trees the ultimate solution to brown eye syndrome.  In brown eye syndrome (so named because the iris of suffers turns brown), two of the five photo receptors in Beinarian eyes are destroyed by exposure to high concentrations of argene. Argene (thorium 232) is highly radioactive.  But one tree on Beinan, the nara tree, reduces argene toxicity — when planted in large enough numbers.

This emulates the impact of trees on our own planet.  A single tree by itself will not stop global warming.  But dozens, hundreds, and thousands of trees altogether will.   Replanting our forests and filling up abandoned urban spaces with food forests is critical to any effort to counter-act the effects of global warming.

On Beinan, nara trees offer not just the ability to neutralize argene toxicity.  Nara trees are prolific fruiting trees that are at the core of Beinarian food forests, an aspect I added to them after researching food forests across the United States.  Wood from nara trees is especially light and strong, making it perfect for building heritage sailing vessels like the “Nenel” in Ghosts of the Past.  Its flexibility makes it ideal for heritage bows.  Beinarians plant it in large numbers because in every way, nara trees benefit their society.

We can make our world better through trees too.  Across public parks, botanical gardens, and yes, our own yards, we can plant fruit and nut bearing trees to nourish our bodies, clean the air, and make our world a nicer place to live.

As the commercial says, “a world without trees is not a world for me.”

Do your part.  Support community gardens and food forests in your area. And of course, support the Arbor Day Foundation in replanting trees destroyed by fire, flood, and logging.