Monday/ caramelized shallots

My house smell of shallot onions and garlic.
It’s from a caramelized paste that I had cooked earlier.
The stuff is potent, and enough for 5 or 6 days to scoop onto fried eggs, or use as is, on toast.
The shallot onions and garlic are sliced thin and cooked down in olive oil.
After a while, l add in a small tin of anchovy fillets, tomato paste and salt & pepper.
When the tomato paste has turned a deeper red – it’s done!

Wednesday/ squaring off over squares

There is a case before the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) in Karlsruhe in Germany, over the right to exclusively use a 4×4 square design for chocolate slabs. German chocolatier Ritter Sport introduced it way back in 1932. In 2010 Swiss company Milka started using it as well.

Now Ritter Sport alleges that Milka violates its patent that had been registered in 1993.

Update Thu 7/23: A ruling in favor of Ritter Sport came down from the Bundesgerichtshof. Milka will no longer be allowed to copy the square design of the Ritter chocolate slabs.

The square form of Ritter Sport was designed in 1932. Since then, chocolate maker Milka has also used it. Is that OK? I buy Ritter Sport now and then and I like the square design. It’s impossible to eat only one of the little blocks at a time, of course.

Monday/ the ‘wabbits’ are under quarantine

I ran out to the grocery store again on Saturday.
Hopefully, the time will come again in the foreseeable future, when I would not have to dodge the other shoppers, nor be in a rush, so as to minimize my time in the ‘dangerous’ public space of the store.

My two Easter bunnies from Lindt still have a day or so to go before they are done with their 72 hour quarantine .. but I will probably wash the foil wrappers with soap anyway, before I tear it open.

Saturday/ don’t be a hoarding hamster

I made a late-night grocery run on Saturday (the Safeway store on 23rd Ave).
There was enough of every kind of food. I do try to make sure that I always have two or three weeks’ supplies of all my staples.

Some shoppers go completely overboard,  or post pictures of empty shelves on social media. (Don’t do that. It just stirs up anxiety. Yes, the store may have run out of some items, but they are usually quick to restock the shelf).

World War II poster from Germany, from around 1939. ‘Hamster (purchaser), shame on you’. The word hamsterkäufe means to purchase excessively, with the intent of hoarding food (‘hamster’ because hamsters stuff their cheeks with food when they chew it).

Tuesday/ ‘little strings’ for dinner

I made pasta tonight – out of a box, but I made the sauce from scratch. (The sauce is usually out of a bottle, but I always use authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese).

The sauce recipe called for shallot onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Almost done here .. the sauce is cooked separate from the spaghetti. Then the spaghetti, with some of its water, is added into the sauce and cooked until the sauce has thickened.

It’s Friday/ beer from New Zealand

Here’s a new-ish New Zealand beer (first brewed 2017) that caught my eye in the store yesterday.
The claims made on the packaging, are definitely tongue-in-cheek.
– With the beast’s razor sharp tusks at his throat, Great Uncle Kenny drew his BBQ mate and slew the rare but ferocious guinea pig, thereby saving his Tinder date (Peru 1936). (No internet, no Tinder in 1936).
– The ‘#1 five-star award’ was by the ‘Miniature Horse Monthly Magazine’ at the ‘Australasian Beer Awards in 1648’. (No Australia in 1648).

Thursday/ cosmic & crisp

Let me buy a pair of these Cosmic Crisp apples, I thought, to see what the hullabaloo is about. These apples are a new variety, 20 years in the making, by the University of Washington. The first harvest hit the shelves in grocery stores just recently.

Well, the apples are heavy: they feel like little bowling balls in one’s hand.  The flesh is very firm and at the same time, quite juicy. The taste is crisp, a little tart, and a little sweet.

My first impression was that they are not as sweet as the popular Honeycrisp from Minnesota (1960), and not nearly as sweet as Washington State’s Red Delicious (originally recognized in Iowa in 1880).  The verdict: I am still deciding which one I like most, between the Honeycrisp and the Cosmic Crisp.

The skin of the Cosmic Crisp has little starburst-like lenticels (hence the ‘Cosmic’), and one of its parents is Honeycrisp, which is where the ‘Crisp’ comes from.
The flesh of the apple is a light color, very firm in texture, and at the same time very juicy.
One more picture to show the texture. The Cosmic Crisps at my local Safeway store went for $3.50/ lb, which is $0.50 more than for the Honeycrisp. It worked out to about $2.60 per apple.

Saturday/ I want my marmalade

I was out of marmalade (for my peanut butter-and-marmalade toast), and I found a can of the good stuff at the British Pantry store in Redmond. (Redmond is across Lake Washington from Seattle, and is where the sprawling Microsoft campus is).

Marmalade has a centuries-old culinary history.  The word first appeared in the English language in 1480, borrowed from the French marmelade which, in turn, came from the Galician-Portuguese word marmelada.

The preferred citrus fruit for marmalade production nowadays, is the Spanish Seville or bitter orange, prized for its high pectin content, which sets readily to the thick consistency expected of marmalade. The bitter taste comes from the peel [all this information from Wikipedia].

All Gold means the marmalade is from South Africa. (Yes, I know I should be a locavore -not buy food that was flown or shipped from the other side of the planet! But it was sitting right there on the shelf, so what was I to do?). All Gold also makes a killer ketchup, or ‘tomato sauce’, as it is called in SA.

Thursday/ koeksister

A koeksister is a traditional Cape Malay confectionery made of fried dough infused in syrup or honey.

I no longer put sugar in my coffee .. but hey, nothing wrong to have a sweet koeksister with it when in South Africa. Koeksisters have a golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup centre, are very sticky and sweet, and taste like honey.

Wednesday/ (we want) the most beer for our buck

We gathered at one of our regular watering holes for beers and something to eat tonight: The Chieftain Irish pub on 12th Avenue.
Should we have a pitcher of beer, or a beer for everyone? we asked the waitress.
She was new and did not know right away, but came back and said five beers (pints) at $4 each was probably the better choice – which is what we did.
A pitcher was $16, but five glasses of beer from it would be much less than a pint each.

The Chieftain Irish pub logo is on the beer glass. The beer inside is a Northwest American-Style IPA from 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Bend, Oregon.

Wednesday/ beer night

Only two of the five amigos could make it to the Elysian for beer night tonight.
Our beer of choice was an Elysian Space Dust, a hoppy Imperial Pale Ale with a whopping 8.2% alcohol by volume.

A sticker display on one of the doors inside the Elysian Brewing Company’s Capitol Hill pub. Look for Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch) from the Pacific Northwest, sneaking by the Church of Saint Andrew in Aying, Germany. Aying is near Munich in the southeast corner of Germany, and is famous for its Ayinger Brewery.

Tuesday/ the beer is here

Here’s a Rainier beer truck on 15th Ave, delivering supplies to the local restaurants and watering holes, no doubt.

Rainier-branded beer was launched 1878, 11 years before Washington became the 42nd state in the Union (on November 11, 1889). The ‘pale mountain ale’ shown on the truck was introduced in 2016, brewed with Yakima valley hops. I see on the website it was a limited-time offering, though – so it might not be available anymore.

Thursday/ Marmite peanut butter

I eat Marmite on toast almost every day – the yeasty, vegetable extract concoction that has been around since 1902, similar to Vegemite in Australia.

Now I see  Marmite peanut butter has hit the supermarket shelves in the UK. Some call this move by Marmite ‘more divisive than Brexit’.

So, the equation to verify with a taste test is,
if ❤ Marmite
+ ❤ Peanut Butter
=  ❤❤ Marmite Peanut Butter !

I will have to get my grubby hands on a jar, ‘spread the love’ on my toast (as it says on the cap), and find out!

Monday/ stroopwafels!

The last of my stash of Daelmans stroopwafels (‘syrup waffles’) that I had brought back from the Netherlands. They come in caramel (shown), honey and chocolate. I can buy them online or even in the Cost Plus World Market store here in Seattle, but I will hold off as long as I can before I do that. Lots of sugar in them, and it is almost impossible to eat just one.

It is International Waffle Day.
Money cannot buy happiness, they say .. but money can buy stroopwafels, and is that not the same as happiness?

Friday/ shepherd’s pie with green lentils

I read everywhere that we all need to eat more lentils and beans.
So when I saw this recipe (New York Times account needed for link) for a vegetarian shepherd’s pie made with French green lentils, I went for it.
It was a bit of work, but my efforts paid off nicely in the end!

I made sure I had all the ingredients laid out first. When the action starts, the item needs to be available right away! There’s tomato paste, whole milk, French green lentils, peas, sour cream, sliced mushrooms, sliced leek, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, flour, carrot, lemon juice, butter, parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, minced garlic and russet potatoes.
A closer look at the French green lentils*. These were cheap ($2.49/ lb) and I’m sure they were grown in the USA.
*Per Wikipedia: The term ‘Le Puy green lentil’ (say ‘le pwee’) is protected throughout the European Union (EU) under that governing body’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), and in France as an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). In the EU, the term may only be used to designate lentils that come from the prefecture of Le Puy (most notably in the commune of Le Puy-en-Velay) in the Auvergne region of France. These lentils have been grown in the region for over 2,000 years and it is said that they have gastronomic qualities that come from the terroir (in this case attributed to the area’s volcanic soil). They are praised for their unique peppery flavor and the ability to retain their shape after cooking.
Here’s the filling of the ‘pie’ in its final stage. After this, it all went into a Corningware casserole dish, with a layer of the mashed potato on top, and then into the oven for 30 minutes for baking.
The finished product after two hours. Yay! The shepherd’s pie is ‘comfort food’ with a nice texture and is very tasty.

Tuesday/ I’ll have an ‘ystervark’

There is aardvark and then there is yster- vark (porcupine). Local craft brewing company Hoogeberg (‘High Mountain’) named one of its lagers Ystervark. (I still have to try it).

The Ystervark is a ‘hybrid lager’, which means it was fermented at the higher temperatures usually used for ales. The time and temperatures used in beer fermentation is not an exact science, and allows brewers to be creative.

Lucky Friday

Cape Town highs today: 29 °C/ 84 °F and partly sunny. The days are still long: 13 h 15 mins. [Graphic from ‘Die Burger’].
A peek into my refrigerator here in my AirBnB apartment. The canned fish (Saldanha Pilchards) are from the chilly waters of South Africa’s west coast | Castle lager now has a non-alcoholic version | another favorite are the Windhoek Lights (2%), brewed in the German tradition in Namibia | the Crunchie bar has a crisp honeycomb center covered with chocolate | Ceres makes the world’s best fruit juice blends (this one very romantically named ‘Whispers of Summer’) | Woolworths (‘Woolies’) is the place to go for fine foods and yogurt | The Lindt rabbit comes from Switzerland, of course. I had to get it because the dark chocolate ones are hard to come by in the United States!

The weather was much cooler today.
There were no power outages, and tonight a lucky South African may win the largest local lottery jackpot ever: R 210 million/ US $14 m*.

I have beer in my fridge, and some of my favorite South African snackies, so life is good.

*A fraction of the obscene amounts offered in United States lotteries – but drawing 5% each year of US$ 14 m comes to $700,000. Plenty to live a lavish life, anywhere in the world.

Thursday/ a red onion’s layers

Here’s a beautiful red onion that I put into a roasting pan tonight, with sweet potato wedges,  butternut squash and Brussels sprouts.
It’s a little tricky to get everything to roast evenly, without some pieces getting burnt – but I’m learning!

Sunday/ a not-so-super Superbowl

Well, the Superbowl was a bust.
The one and only touchdown of the game finally came in the 4th quarter.
The New England Patriots won over the Los Angeles Rams, as expected – congrats to them.

We did get a little snow on the ground here in Seattle, with more expected overnight. I was adventurous in the kitchen and tried my hand at a red lentil soup. It turned out really nice.

The final step in making the soup is adding in lemon juice and chopped cilantro and stirring it in. I didn’t even know before seeing the recipe, that there was such a thing as red lentils!

Wednesday/ Dick’s Drive-in turns 65

Local burger chain Dick’s Drive-in was founded in 1954.
This Tuesday, they celebrated their 65th anniversary by offering burgers at the ‘original price’ of  19 c.
The regular price today for a 1/8 pound burger, is $1.60.
That means average annual burger price inflation was about 3.4%* for the 65 year span from 1954 to 2019.

*Very close to the average of the annual Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics over the same period (3.5%).

I walked by Dick’s Drive-in on Broadway at about 5.20 pm tonight. (Temp. 49°F/ 9°C, so not bad, at all). Across the street on the left, is the Capitol Hill train station. Three new apartment buildings are under construction right next to the train station.
Billionaire Bill Gates (63) spotted at the Northeast 45th Street Dick’s in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, around 7 p.m. on a recent Sunday. “He ordered a cheeseburger, fries and Coke,” said Paul Rich that took the photo. Rich has been going to the beloved fast-food franchise every week or so for about five years. [Photo: Paul Rich]