Category Archives: Resource Library

The Abundance of Summer

2011_6_2-Mystery-boxHere is a great article about cooking, preserving and enjoying local summer crops.  The onslaught of squash is heading our way now!  The Kitchn has a whole series of tips-I have to have this book titled – The City Cook, Big City, Small Kitchen, Limitless Ingredients, No Time.  Sound familiar?!2011_6_2-The-City-Cook-cover

The Anatomy of an Egg

eggcrosssection copy

SHELL Bumpy and grainy in texture, an eggshell is covered with as many as 17,000 tiny pores. Eggshell is made almost entirely of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) crystals. It is a semipermeable membrane, which means that air and moisture can pass through its pores. The shell also has a thin outermost coating called the bloom or cuticle that helps keep out bacteria and dust.
INNER AND OUTER MEMBRANES Lying between the eggshell and egg white, these two transparent protein membranes provide efficient defense against bacterial invasion. If you give these layers a tug, you’ll find they’re surprisingly strong. They’re made partly of keratin, a protein that’s also in human hair.
AIR CELL An air space forms when the contents of the egg cool and contract after the egg is laid. The air cell usually rests between the outer and inner membranes at the egg’s larger end, and it accounts for the crater you often see at the end of a hard-cooked egg. The air cell grows larger as an egg ages.
ALBUMEN The egg white is known as the albumen, which comes from albus, the Latin word for “white.” Four alternating layers of thick and thin albumen contain approximately 40 different proteins, the main components of the egg white in addition to water.
CHALAZAE Opaque ropes of egg white, the chalazae hold the yolk in the center of the egg. Like little anchors, they attach the yolk’s casing to the membrane lining the eggshell. The more prominent they are, the fresher the egg.
VITELLINE
MEMBRANE
The clear casing that encloses the yolk.
YOLK The yolk contains less water and more protein than the white, some fat, and most of the vitamins and minerals of the egg. These include iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, thiamine, and riboflavin. The yolk is also a source of lecithin, an effective emulsifier. Yolk color ranges from just a hint of yellow to a magnificent deep orange, according to the feed and breed of the hen.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/eggcomposition.html

The above graphic and definitions is from the coolest site on food and the science of cooking.  Love, love love this website!  It is from the San Francisco Exploratorium…what an amazing treasure of interesting knowledge.

True Crime Novel: Tomatoland

In the back of our minds we know the common store-bought tomato is not worth purchasing.  We know that the T in a BLT or Caprese Salad in 90% of restaurant establishments will be a disappointment.  We know this, but have been able to look past it. Not only will you want to shun the agribusiness tomato, you will want to sign a petition and attend a rally against the Florida tomato.   The new book by Barry Estabrook -Tomatoland-shines a bright and unforgiving light on the immoral human rights violations taking place in the name of corporate greed.  This is just one of many of the inexplicable over sights and bad calls made by our own USDA.  Americans must demand that our government stop propping up these industries, corporations and CEOs.  We know better, now we need to do better.

Grow your own tomatoes.  Buy at farmers markets.  Can for winter. Take a break from tomatoes when they are unavailable locally.  Share this information with people that can make a difference, like the chefs and owners of your favorite restaurants and grocery store managers.

To read reviews and hear interviews follow the links below.  The information is grim, and everyone should be aware of the true costs of consumer apathy and indifference.  We are allowing corporate greed to ruin this country at every level, right down to the condiment on your fast food burger.

New York TimesNPRDaily Kos

Borage

One of my favorite, favorite gardening books is the herb bible-
75 exceptional herbs for your garden by Jack Staub.  The illustration above is from the book and by Ellen Buchert.  The book is a blueprint for an herbalist’s eden.  Borage has been recognized for it’s medicinal benefits since 77AD…by many.

Here is a great link to a page all about herbs and uses, with recipes.  Here are two that stand out:

Borage Wine Cup
Makes about 2 litres
125ml brandy
30ml castor sugar
750ml bottle dry white wine
125ml orange juice
250ml crushed ice
750ml bottle pink champagne
250ml lemonade
250ml ginger ale
45ml chopped fresh borage leaves

  1. Blend brandy, sugar, wine, juice and ice until combined.
  2. Combine champagne, lemonade, ginger ale, borage and wine mixture in large bowl just before serving.
  3. Decorate with borage flowers.

Borage Jelly
A great spread with cream cheese and crackers.
6 cups of borage leaves and flowers parts soaked in a 4 cups of cold water overnight
drain
4 cups of borage infused water
4 ½ cups of sugar
1 tablespoon lemon
1 pack commercial pectin
a pinch of salt and red pepper

Gourmet Potatoes

Having always been drawn to books, magazines and ephemera – I have amassed a fairly good start on a resource library for plants and food.   Having a chatty advocate (my mother) is very handy when building such a collection.

Years ago a neighbor was cleaning out the garage and had decided to let go of her stash of Gourmet Magazines-40 years of gourmet wonder.  Chatty Advocate happened by at the right moment and scooped them up for me, a culinary intern.

Years ago when I was cleaning out the garage, an executive decision needed to be made-hang on to all issues from 1940’s through the 1960’s.  Throw away 70’s and 80’s.  Fast forward to last summer when book seller Sean hands me a box filled with Gourmet Magazines from the 1970’s.  I took it as a sign, and started reading them.  The Universe wanted me to have these issues and I think I discovered why.

James Beard articles and fabulous references to the specialty crops available, or should I say not available.  And of course the writing!  The research, information and attention to detail is wonderful!  Oh, and the ads and the graphics and the traveling those writers got to do!

I was drawn to this one for the cover photograph of eggs.  It is part of a story on Cornwall, England and the small farms.  Now I want to go to Cornwall, England.

The James Beard article was all about potato dishes.  He comments there are only two kinds of potatoes available, russets and new.  Oh how times have changed!  Farmers Markets have an incredible array – but even Trader Joe’s and most grocers now offer many choices from russets and red new potatoes to fingerlings, yukon gold, yellow, white, and even purple.

Makes me want to start a whole bed of potatoes!  Peaceful Valley, Seed Savers or even the farmers market are great for purchasing starts or seed potatoes.  If they are small, plant the whole potato.  If you cut them up, make sure there are two or three growth eyes and let them callus over before planting.

I am going to try a modified Scandinavian method and plant in towers with a mostly straw growing medium.  They are going in late for So Cal, but I will plant on a north facing wall and hope for the best!  Keep you posted.

Now, Pommes Anna for dinner!