Friday/ Italian tomato sauce

I ran into a super-simple recipe for pasta sauce in the New York Times. Canned peeled tomatoes, butter, onion, a pinch or two of salt. That’s it.

The recipe mentioned San Marzano tomatoes. Would these be available on Amazon? I wondered.
Yes .. the original product from Italy! and so I ordered some.
Below is what I did to cook the sauce tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a little basil with the tomato in the can.
I used Kerrygold Irish butter and white onion.
The onion is taken out afterwards.
I tossed the sauce with the pasta, and that was it.
No parmesan, so that I could savor the sunny, earthy tomato flavor better.

Monday/ homemade soup: the best

The onion and carrots that I had bought for making red lentil soup with, were not going to last forever. So I finally got going today, and got it all in the pot. Voila! It’s a welcome change from the same old grocery store soup I have had for many weeks now.

Getting all the prep work done is the hardest! A big onion, chopped up, and two cloves of chopped garlic go into the pot first, with olive oil, until caramelized & golden. Add red lentils, carrot, salt, pepper, cumin and tomato paste, and go 2 more minutes. Add water & vegetable broth, and let simmer for 30 mins.
Here’s the end result with parsley for the garnish, and a little lemon juice added. I put half of the pot of soup through the food blender, and added it back into the pot, to make the overall consistency a little thicker and smoother.

Saturday/ bittersweet, the way life is

I like my confections bittersweet (marmalade, dark chocolate).
My kitchen cupboard had been out of marmalade for a while, and it was time to order some online.

The marmalade has landed. This is the good stuff: Seville oranges and cane sugar (not high-fructose corn syrup). I love it plain with butter on toast, or with peanut butter, or with a hard cheese, such as cheddar.
Crosse & Blackwell is a British brand, but this jar was made under license in Wisconsin, USA.

Saturday/ it’s Marmite – or nothing

I again picked up my groceries that I had ordered online, yesterday.
I forgot to review the substitutes that that the in-store picker had made, beforehand. (They pick a ‘similar’ item if they had ran out of the exact one that you had ordered).

Well: the Marmite that I had ordered was replaced with dry yeast.
Yikes. No! Cannot do that. They are absolutely not equivalent! I told the store this on the feedback form afterwards (without yelling at them).

Yes, they both have ‘yeast’ on the label, but Marmite is a spread used on toast, bread and crackers, and is NEVER used for baking the way that the dry yeast is. The problem is that most grocery stores here in the United States put the Marmite on the baking goods shelf, next to the yeasts, instead of on the condiments shelf next to other spreads that you put on bread and toast.

Tuesday/ Luby’s may be going out of business

I dined at Luby’s a few times while I lived in Houston in 1999.
The restaurant chain is now headed for liquidation.

Writes Jill Smits in Texas Highways Magazine:
‘If you grew up in Texas, you’ve probably eaten at Luby’s. And if you’ve eaten at Luby’s, your feelings about the restaurant may run surprisingly deep. While it’s been decades since I stepped inside one, my nostalgia for square fish, church clothes, and green Jell-O has been in overdrive since hearing the 73-year-old Houston-based cafeteria chain is closing multiple locations and heading toward liquidation’.

Luby’s circa 1955. Check out the cool cars. [Picture from Texas Highway Magazine; photograph by Dewey G. Mears; courtesy the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library].

Sunday/ pasta & parmesan

The region in Italy in which Parmigiano-Reggiano can be produced: the regions named Parma, Reggio Emilio and Modena. [From Wikipedia].
I like to make pasta on weekends — it’s quick and easy. The spaghetti & sauce that I use are cheap, but I don’t skimp on the cheese. I try to always have some Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand.

Parmesan was known as early as 1348. In the writings of Boccaccio (in the Decameron), he invents a ‘mountain, all of grated Parmesan cheese’, on which ‘dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli, and boil them in capon’s broth, and then throw them down to be scrambled for; and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that ever was drunk, and never a drop of water therein.’

During the Great Fire of London of 1666, Samuel Pepys buried his ‘Parmazan cheese, as well as his wine and some other things’ to preserve them. [Source: Wikipedia].

PARMIGIANO, says the lettering on the rind of my little block of parmesan cheese.

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?