Curried Vegetables

Curries are tongue-tantalizers. Here is a simple recipe for a vegetable curry, along with information about the background of commercial curry powders. This is the third post in my Indian series; it accompanies Tandoori Chicken and the cooling condiment Dahi Raita. My next post for egg rice will complete this series.

In her book, Eight Flavors, The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman lists curry powder as one of America’s eight leading flavors that distinguish American cuisine. Before looking at this, let us first define this spice blend.

The Make-up of Currry Powder

Curry has a yellow hue due to its main ingredient turmeric, which makes up 25-50% of these blends by weight (for properties of turmeric see African Bobotie). Coriander and cumin are its other primary ingredients.1

You will also typically find red or black pepper, mustard, ginger, clove, cardamom, bay leaf and fenugreek in its makeup of spices and herbs; there can be up to twenty ingredients. No two curry blends are ever the same; thus, when you find a label you really like, it is best to stay with it. 2

Curry Powder Not Found in Indian Cooking

Important to note: the word curry in Indian cooking refers to the dish itself: meat, vegetables, and a sauce, but not the spice blend-what we westerners know as “curry”. Rather in Indian cuisine, we find such popular spice blends as garam masala from north India and Sambar podi from south India. There the resultant dishes that incorporate these and other spice blends are are referred to as curry, rather than the spice blends themselves. 3

Garam Masala and Sambar Podi

Garam means “warming” and masala means “a blend of aromatic spices”, and this is the basis for our “mild” or “sweet” curry found in the West. It, however, differs from our western curry powder, with curry tending to be even milder in flavor than garam masala. This is due to curry’s abundance of turmeric, which adds color, but very little favor, and that which is there is flowery. Our curry powder is also rich in cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, all of which lend to the mildness of its flavor. 4

The Indian spice blend garam masala, which varies from region to region, is more pungent and sweeter due to its ingredients: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and mace. As with curry powder, garam masala also has some cumin and coriander in its blend, but these other “sweet” spices make it different from our curry blend. 5

Another spice mix from south India, Sambar podi, is the source of our hot or “madras” curry powders, and it differs from garam masala in that it has a good quantity of chili peppers amongst its other spices, such as turmeric. 6

The blended powder, curry, we find on the western market is not a staple in Indian cooking, as is believed in the West. Rather curry powder was created in the UK, as a shortcut for evoking the essence of Indian cuisine. True Indian cooking requires endless chopping and grinding. The brands of curry that we buy here in the U.S. are often marked “mild” or “hot” (madras). This varies with the type of pepper used-cayenne, or red pepper, rather than black, allows for the heat. 7

The Assumed Etymology of Curry Powder

In her book Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni explains the term curry powder is not as old as the spice blends it describes; some of which are the southern Asian dishes below, which utilize the curry plant and curry leaf. Sahni projects that the word curry probably came from the Sanskrit word kari. Sahni states that kari refers to this curry leaf found in Indian cooking. She explains that in India the sauces made from kari leaves and other spices were called kari podi; Her hypothesis is that this term made a linguistic jump in English to “curry powder”. 8 (For more common foods using Sanskrit names, see Laban bil bayd and West African Bobotie.)

The Curry Plant and Curry Leaf

The curry plant and curry leaf are not found in western curry powders, but they are used in Indian curry dishes. The curry plant is a Mediterranean member of the lettuce family, Helichrysum italicum, which has a flavor reminiscent of curry. A number of its terpenes give it a vaguely spicy, pleasant aroma. It is used in Indian egg dishes, teas, and sweets. 9 (For more on the flavor family of terpenes, see Sage Turkey Delight.)

There is a curry leaf used in cooking in this part of the world as well; it is the leaf of a small tree Murraya koenigii, which is in the citrus family and is a native of southern Asia. Households in south India and Malaysia grow this tree and add its leaf to many dishes, but its flavor-in spite of its name-does not resemble what we consider as curry. Rather, it is mild and subtle, with woody fresh notes. The curry leaf is found in stews and simmered dishes, and it also is used to flavor cooking oil. 10

Curry Powder-How It Became a Leading Flavor in American Cuisine

In Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman traced the advent of curry powder as a major part of American cuisine, as coming through our Anglo roots.

England had been trading with India since the 1600’s, and the British made India an official colony in 1858. Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India, in 1877. England’s love for Indian food came through the British soldiers, merchants, and government officials, who wrote home about its grandeur. When these sojourners returned to England, in some cases they brought back their Indian cooks; in other cases they hired English cooks, who were trained in India. In England, Indian cuisine had become so popular that it was found in English coffeehouses by the mid-eighteenth century, making it available to everyone. The nation became very familiar with Indian cuisine, and simply loved all things Indian! 11

Loman states that because of the English, curry powder have been used in America for over two hundred years-long before the first Indian immigrants arrived. The love for curry first came to our American shores with the English colonists; they had brought with them the popular English cookbook: The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, 1747, by Hannah Glasse. It contained a basic recipe for the simple, Anglo-Indian curry; its instructions simply stated to stew a chicken with finely ground turmeric, black pepper, and ginger, blended in a cream sauce. 12

Curry Recipes Became Common in 19th Century American Cook Books

In the century following this, numerous American cookbooks boasted of curry recipes, indicating its wide spread popularity here. I will mention but a few. Mary Randolph wrote The Virginia Housewife, 1824, which was the first American cook book with curry recipes. Her book boasted of six curry receipts (indicating the widespread use of curry here), and one of these was for curry powder itself. Her version of this spice blend was flavorful and hot, probably stemming from the south Indian Sambar podi, though Randolph was most likely not conscious of this. 13

Mrs. Child published the receipt “To Curry Fowl” in The American Frugal Housewife, which had 33 editions, beginning in 1829. My facsimile is of the twelfth edition dated 1833; here her unique curry calls for a spoonful of lemon juice and an optional spoonful of tomato catsup. 14

Published in 1885, in Portland, Oregon, The Webfoot Cook Book has two curry recipes. One calls for: a half a pound of butter, two onions, a gill of rich gravy, and a heaping tablespoon of curry powder, to which meat of any kind is added. Sounds pretty rich, but we must recall that 19th century Oregonians were far more physically active, than we are now. 15

Celebrity Chef Ranji Smile-the Reason America Fell in Love with Indian Food

Loman points out that the trend for an authentic Indian experience in the area of food was minimal in the U.S., until America’s first celebrity-chef Ranji Smile arrived in 1899. He had already made a name for himself in London, where “all things Indian” was extremely popular. At the turn of the century, America’s first Indian chef, Smile and his food from India immediately became the craze in New York. This “following after the English” came through Smile’s creative, exotic dishes, at America’s well-known Sherry’s. 16

Louis Sherry had opened the New York restaurant, named after himself, in 1890. Its elegance made it a rival of the popular Delmmonico’s. 17 Nine years later while eating at Cecil’s in London, Sherry encountered Smile’s exciting curries, and hired him on the spot. Smile’s beautiful Indian cuisine was transported to America, where it became the rage!

Perhaps it, however, is best to say that there was a mixed success in Smile’s attempt at having Indian food take over our nation, in the manner it had in England. Nevertheless, there was a growing number of Indian restaurants, as well as Indian recipes in American cook books, in the early 20th century. As the number of Indian restaurants in New York grew, Fannie Farmer’s 1921 cookbook came forth with twenty recipes, which used curry powder! 19

Curry, A Leading Flavor in America Today

Now in the 21st century, there are around two million Indian immigrants in the U.S.A., with nearly three hundred million Americans claiming Asian Indian ethnicity. According to Loman, this is the third largest immigrant group next to Mexico and China. As noted, the English colonists introduced curry in America-long before these immigrants started arriving. Then 100 years later, Smile made it trendy at the turn of the 20th century. 20 And now, as Loman declares, it is indeed one of eight flavors that make up American cuisine, though it is not well known as such.

My First Taste of Curry in Blackpool, England

My first experience with a curry dinner was in Blackpool, England in 1974, while I was a student in London. During this time, friends of friend of my family invited me to their home in Blackpool, where we celebrated with a fancy, British, curry dinner-a first for me.

I remember it being dense in flavors, which exploded in my mouth. After scooping out a heap of curried meat and vegetables on my plate, I was instructed to top this with a wide array of condiments-from shredded coconut to raisins, from grounded peanuts to chopped tomatoes…and oh so much more. Needless to say, I was thrilled by this experience of my first encounter with curry, which left a lasting impression!

Lesson Applied

When looking back, we see how our “firsts” in life leave indelible impressions. Therefore it is important that we respond appropriately to new foods and experiences in life.

It is said that we must guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of them come the issues of life. 21 Doing so requires being alert, sober, and vigilant, protecting our hearts; this indeed dictates much about the quality of our lives.

Several years ago I had a most daring challenge, with regards to my walking this out with new foods. I had been asked to be a judge at the re-enactment of a Mountain Men’s Rendezvous, at the historic site of Fort Vancouver, in the state of Washington.

I and the other judges made our way through the “living-history” camp, tasting the delicacies these mountain men had made; we were to choose the dish that was the most authentically prepared., while being the most unique.

With vivid imagination, I recall eating rattlesnake and pemmican. After the initial shock, I found the rattle snack tasting rather pleasantly like chicken; the pemmican on the other hand was pure animal fat, with a little bit of meat and dried berries ground into it-aaugh!

There was laughter and joy amongst this stepping out in faith, to experience the unknown; we bonded together as brave souls.

May you enjoy the simplicity and wonderful flavor, of the recipe below for curried vegetables.

References

  1. https://www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-and-indian-food-1957468
  2. https://www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-1328534#curry-powders-ingredients
  3. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp.89, 90.
  4. https://www.the spruceeats.com/curry-powder-and-indian-food-1957468
  5. Ibid.
  6. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p.90.
  7. https//www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-1328534#curry-powders-ingredients
  8. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p.90.
  9. Harold McGee, On Food and History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 409.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p. 94.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Facsimile of Mrs. Childs, The American Frugal Housewife (Boston: Carter, Hendee, and Co., 1832), pp. 84, 85.
  15. Facsimile of First Presbyterian Church, The Webfoot Cook Book (Portland, Oregon, 1885), p. 173.
  16. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 94-98.
  17. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Owl Books, 1995), p. 335.
  18. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 94-111.
  19. Ibid., pp. 111, 112.
  20. Ibid., p. 88.
  21. The Holy Bible, KJV, Proverbs 4:23.

Curried Vegetables Recipe

Yields: 8 servings.  Active prep time: 35-45 min.  Note: this makes a medium-hot curry; may add more spices as desired. This may be done ahead of time and reheated.

6 1/2 tsp oil  (Either avocado or coconut oil is best here for health benefits; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 med yellow onion

1 lb carrots  (The one-pound bag of organic, peeled, mini carrots, from Trader Joe’s are easiest, as they require no prep time.)

1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut in two-inch pieces  (May use a 24 oz bag of frozen French green beans, from Trader Joe’s.)

1 lb zucchini, cut in two-inch strips

1 bell pepper, cut in two-inch strips  (Organic is important, as bell peppers readily absorb pesticides.)

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp dried, ground ginger  (Trader Joe’s carries a great ground ginger, which is so reasonably priced at $1.99.)

1/2 tsp ground cumin  (Trader’s has the best price on this-$1.99 a jar, the same as with most of their other spices.)

1/2 tsp turmeric  (This too is available at Trader’s for their great price.)

Scant 1/4 tsp red, cayenne pepper  (Trader’s carries this inexpensively as well.)

1 tsp crushed, dried red pepper

1 tsp salt

6-7 lg cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine  (May substitute 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s, for easy prep.)

  1. If using frozen beans, take out of freezer and open bag (or better yet, thaw in refrigerator overnight, for quicker cooking).
  2. Spray vegetables with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray (mix 97% and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle) and let stand for three minutes; rinse well.
  3. Cut onion in even 1/8” slices; heat 1/2 tsp oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat-when a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions.  Stir onions well, to distribute the oil.  Turn heat down to med/low and caramelize onions, by stirring every several minutes, until color starts to form; then, stir every minute or so, until dark brown.  Meanwhile proceed with the next steps, watching onions carefully.
  4. Heat last 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan; when a piece of carrot sizzles in it, add the rest of the carrots, and cook uncovered over medium heat.
  5. If using fresh beans, cut them in 2” pieces (see photo below).  Add to carrots-which have been cooking, for at least 3-4 minutes while you are preparing beans.  If using frozen beans, be sure to wait the 3-4 minutes, before adding the beans to the carrots.
  6. Cover the pan, if using fresh beans, but if using frozen beans keep the pan uncovered.  Stir occasionally.
  7. Chop the zucchini in 2” pieces, set aside.
  8. Cut bell pepper in 2” strips, being sure to de-seed the pepper first.  For easy chopping, cut the halved pepper-with skin side flat on counter-in narrow strips, by cutting at a diagonal, alternating sides (see photo).
  9. Add these to the pan of carrots and beans..  Cook until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  10. Meanwhile chop the garlic, set aside.
  11. Mix well the spices and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  12. When vegetables are done, add spices, distributing evenly throughout vegies; then, mix in the garlic.  Cook until the aroma of the garlic rises from pan, or until frozen garlic cubes are thawed and mixed in.  (See more about cooking with garlic at Tomato/Feta Chicken .)
  13. Adjust seasonings and serve with Tandoori Chicken and Dahi Raita, as a cooling condiment.

Dahi Raita-a Indian cooling condiment for hot curries

The history of yogurt, its health benefits, and the definition of its various kinds are given below; this is followed by a delightful Indian recipe, Dahi Raita, a yogurt-cooling-condiment for hot curries.

The Advent of Yogurt

In early history, with the domestication of animals, useful ways of preserving milk surfaced, which made it a surplus to people’s immediate requirements.  This was found in the making, by fermentation, of either fine or coarse curds.  These coarser curds, after straining, became the first soft, fresh cheese; the finer curds developed into what is today the yogurt of the Balkans, the taetta of Scandinavia, and the dahi of India-the subject of today’s entry.  1

In the West, we are familiar with fresh fermented milks-yogurt and its relatives soured cream and buttermilk.  These are native to a broad and climatically warm area of the Middle East and central and southwest Asia, of which India is a part-from which the ethnicity of this present series of receipts is derived.  (See: Tandori Chicken.) It is believed that this area in Asia and the Middle East includes the probable home of dairying, and where still today some people store milk in animal stomachs and skins.  2

The word yogurt is Turkish, meaning milk that has fermented into a tart, semisolid mass; it is derived from a root meaning “thick”.  It is known by various names and used in various ways, having been made for millennia from eastern Europe and North Africa across central Asia to India.  3

How Yogurt Grows

The thermophilic, or heat-loving species, lactobacilli and streptococci produce yogurt, when these rapidly and synergistically grow at temperatures up to 113 degrees F, or 45 degrees C, producing high levels of preservative lactic acid.  They can set milk into a tart, firm substance in just a few hours.  These two species may have come from the cattle themselves.  4

Health Benefits of Yogurt First Discovered in Early 20th Century

Yogurt remained an exotic curiosity in Europe until the early 1920s. At this time, Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Ilya Metchinikov (who had discovered that white blood cells fight bacterial infection) recognized the health benefits of yogurt.  He connected the longevity of certain isolated groups, within Bulgaria, Russia, France, and the United States, with their consumption of fermented milks.  He theorized that these would acidify the digestive tract and prevent pathogenic bacteria from growing.  In other words, he proposed that the lactic acid bacteria in fermented milks eliminate toxic microbes in our digestive system that otherwise shorten our lives.  This confirmed the ancient and widespread belief that yogurt and other fermented milks do more than just predigest lactose and create flavor, but rather they promote good health.  5

Yogurt is beneficial to health in numerous ways, though it is not for the lactose-intolerant and those allergic to milk.  Some of these proposed benefits are it is rich in important nutrients, such as: calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D.  Likewise, it is high in protein, which benefits appetite and weight control.  6 

Varieties containing probiotics, or live bacteria, may increase digestive health by reducing bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.  These yogurts, with their probiotics and minerals-especially magnesium, selenium, and zinc-may also strengthen your immune system and therefore prevent certain sicknesses, such as viral infections and gut disorders. 7 

High-Fat Yogurt is Best for Health

It is also held that yogurt may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. And finally, it may promote weight management due to its high fat and protein.  Note: full-fat dairy products are now regarded by some to reduce the incidence of obesity, contrary to previous popular beliefs concerning fat intake and weight gain.  8

MedicalNewsToday agrees with all the above health benefits of yogurt, and it also states it may help protect against type 2 diabetes.  9  It also state that high-fat dairy products are much healthier than low-fat dairy ones, as these latter may contribute to the risk of Parkinson’s disease (see https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317834#Skim,-low-fat-milk-linked-to-higher-Parkinsons-risk).

Also, there is observational evidence that does not support the hypothesis that high-fat dairy products contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk, but rather suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk.  10

Modern Refrigerators Brought Popularity of Yogurt

By the late 1920s, factory-scale production and milder yogurts with fruit were developed.  The 1960s, however, brought broader popularity with Swiss improvements in the inclusion of flavors and fruits; there was also the French development of a stable, creamy, stirred version at this time.  11

In Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson draws the parallel between diversified, modern refrigerators (featuring lots of compartments and multi-level shelving) and this advent of yogurt growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry in the West.  This began first in the United States.  She proposes that housewives were needing something attractive, like the neat little plastic yogurt pots, to put in their new fridges.  12 

Before World War II, yogurt had zero potential commercially in the West, but rather it was a traditional food of the Middle East and India, where it was made fresh as needed and kept in a cool place.  Wilson says that refrigerators were originally devices for helping us stay safe, but from the 1950s on, especially in America, they became insatiable boxes, which themselves demanded to be fed, with all their fancy features.  13.

She goes on to point out that the wide-spread dairy dessert of homemade milk puddings, such as rice pudding and tapioca, faded away at this time, to be replaced by the ever-growing popularity of these pretty, little, commercial yogurt containers.  14

Lesson Applied

Food can be medicine for us, as we see in the case of yogurt, where it is believed that the lactic acid bacteria, found in it, eliminates the toxic microbes in our digestive system, thus promoting good health.  We, however, not only eat it for its physical health benefits, but also because it pleases the palate.

 Likewise, the word of God is our medicine.  It promises this, in Proverbs 4: 20-22, KJV, where the original Hebrew word for health actually means medicine.

“My son (daughter), attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

God’s word tells us that like a medicine, the word cuts asunder between soul and spirit, destroying all corruption therein.  It changes us from the inside out, for it is our gos-pill.

All that is required of us is to attend to the word-fix our attention on it-by reading, pondering, meditating, muttering, hearing, musing it.  This fixes this powerful medicine in our hearts, which then eliminates destructive forces; these may be present perhaps due to our ignorance.  Indeed, the word is forever quieting and calming us with its perfect truths; thus, it pleases the palates of our souls. 

Enjoy this great cooling condiment for curries, dahi raita, by preparing the simple recipe below.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 27, 28, 29.
  2. Ibid., pp. 46, 47.
  3. Ibid., pp. 47,48.
  4. Ibid., pp. 45, 47.
  5. Ibid., 47, 48.
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-yogurt#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295714
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-012-0418-1
  11. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scriber, 1984, 2004), p 48.
  12. Bea Wilson, Consider the Fork (Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2012), pp. 241-244.
  13. Ibid., p. 244.
  14. Ibid.

Dahi Raita  Yields about 3 cups.  Active prep time: 25 min/  cooking time: 20-30 min/  cooling time for potato: 30 min or overnight.

This is one of my 1980’s recipes; I don’t recall its origin.  Its best to assemble this the day of serving, as the tomatoes/cucumbers make it somewhat runny if left overnight.  (You may boil the potato a day ahead.)

1 small/med Yukon or red potato, cut in halves or thirds and boiled in salted water

1 c plain yogurt  (I like Sierra Nevada, Grass-fed, Whole Milk Yogurt, which is exceptionally thick, rich, and healthy; Greek yogurt is another option.)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine-grind, Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced small

1 tomato, deseeded and diced small  (It’s not necessary to peel the tomato.)

  1. Measure yogurt in a bowl; mix in coriander, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cut the potato in halves or thirds. Place it in boiling water and cook it until soft, but firm-not so much that it will fall apart.  Discard the water and cool.  (May do this the day before.)
  3. When ready to serve, peel skin off potato and dice in 3/4” pieces. Add to yogurt, making sure small pieces are completely cool first. 
    DSCF1207
  4. Peel cucumber, cut in half, and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Dice in 3/4” pieces and add to the yogurt.  See above photo.
  5. Cut the tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, and chop in small pieces, by placing the side with peel flat on counter-this makes cutting tomatoes easier. 
  6. Add this to the yogurt, stirring all together; adjust seasonings (see photo below).
  7. This is a great cooling condiment for Indian food!

Tandoori Chicken

Indian meal

Here you will find information on tandoor clay ovens and a delightful tandoori chicken recipe, which I first made in one of my cooking classes in the early 1980’s.

Tandoor Oven Described

If made authentically in India, this chicken dish (which originated in the Punjabi region of the Indian subcontinent) is cooked in the bell-shaped tandoor clay oven; this oven is also used to make the Indian flatbread naan.  This is a cylindrical clay oven, which sets in the earth and is fired with wood or charcoal; it may also rest above the ground.  1

Where the Tandoor Oven Is Used and Its Origins

The tandoor oven is used for cooking in the following Asian regions: Southern Asia (including India), Central Asia (including some former Soviet republics), and Western Asia (thirteen of the twenty countries-fully or partly located here-are of the Arab world) and the South Caucasus.  2

In India and Pakistan, tandoori cooking became popular, when the Punjabis (from the northern part of the Indian subcontinent) embraced their traditional tandoori cooking on a regional level;  this can be seen, after the 1947 partition, when Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus resettled in such places as Delhi.   Therefore, Indians and Pakistanis traditionally associate the tandoor with the Punjabis.  3

In Azerbaijan, the tandoor oven is called a tandir, while in Armenia, it is known as a tonir, which is underground here.  4

How a Tandoor Oven Works

Burning grasses, charcoal, or wood produces the heat in the traditional tandoor oven.   Smaller electric tandoors, however, are found in some homes, especially in America; larger electrical tandoors are used commercially (see https://www.puritandoors.com/ for purchasing).

These fires within the traditional, cylindrical ovens produce a combination of live fire cooking, radiant heat cooking and hot-air, convection cooking, as well as smoking-caused by the fat dripping on the charcoal or wood.  The temperatures soar to 900 degrees F (480 degrees C); these temperatures are maintained, by the fires left burning for long periods of time.  5

The tandoor design makes the transition between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven.  Earth ovens were communal long ago, being pits dug in the ground with smoldering wood, cooking all the family’s meals within the community.  These earth ovens were eventually lifted out of the ground, and with time, they became masonry-brick or stone-ovens.  Initially in Asia, they, however, transitioned into the tandoor ovens, which being made smaller were used by individual families.  In this way, the tandoor was created, using grasses and wood to generate the heat to cook meat and vegetables within, while flatbreads were slapped directly on the hot clay walls.  6

The heat within a tandoor is generated, by a convection current created inside, as cold air is taken in through a hole at the bottom of the tandoor. As the cold air hits the fire, it warms up, and becomes less dense, circulating up inside the cylinder.  The air previously at the top has cooled down some, and it falls back to the fire.  This convection heat is energy transferred through currents, or in this case air currents.  In turn, a process known as radiation takes place, with the clay of the oven slowly beginning to absorb and emit some of this ambient, circulating, insulated heat.  7

Etymology of the Word Tandoor

According to Wikipedia, the English tandoor comes from Hindi/Urdu tandur, which in turn comes from Persian tanur; all these names mean (clay) oven.  The Dehkhoda Persian Dictionary states that this Persian word was derived from the Akkadian word tinuru, and that this word tinuru consists of the parts tin, or mud, and nuro/nura, meaning fire.  8

Making Your Own Tandoori Oven

There are numerous versions for making your own tandoor oven found on YouTube.  Primitive Life Reborn has a great video on how to make a primitive, mud tandoor-see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSCNQ0bGolY  A less traditional, but easier design, is given at https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Tandoor-(Clay)-Oven

Background of My Recipe

My original 1980’s receipt included red food coloring, as the spicy hot tandoori chicken in Southern, Central, and Western Asia was reddish in color, due to the abundant spices in it (cayenne pepper, red chili powder, etc.).  Along with the optional food coloring, my milder recipe from the early eighties, included instructions for the barbecuing, broiling, or baking of the poultry, as tandoors were not in abundance in the U.S. back then, as they are today.

In America, “Indian summer” meals are highlighted with barbecues; you may, however, have this prized electric appliance in your home, or even a home-made tandoori oven, thus providing the option of making this receipt the traditional way.  If not, try barbequing, broiling, or in a pinch, baking it-all these instructions are below.

Applied Lesson

A few of the restrictions brought on by Covid-19 may seem to have settled some.  Back in the spring, life appeared to be drastically changed, but now things may no longer appear to be ‘hot as an oven’-and tandoori ovens get up to 900 degrees F (480 degrees C).

A semblance of order seems to have been restored, since the early March outbreak of this virus and all its complications.  Nevertheless, we take nothing for granted, but remain alert.  The word of God instructs us:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”    1 Peter 5: 8, 9.  (King James Bible)

To be sober is to be clear-headed, or alert, while vigilance requires circumspection, or being cautious about what we say or do.

We know that our thoughts form the basis of our spoken words and actions; thus, it is imperative that we tend to our thought life carefully.  If we do not, we can unknowingly give Satan access to come into our lives with his destructive ways; this can take place as we let our thoughts play out in words and actions that inadvertently lead to damage.

Through his mercy and grace, our Redeemer Jesus aids us in this, when we ask him to; therefore, we do not mistakenly commit sins of ignorance, or worse yet those of commission, which have consequences of destruction in the natural.

In this way, hell’s heat cannot touch us!

Enjoy my hot-from-the-oven tandoori chicken recipe below.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandoor and https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/tandoori_chicken/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandoor
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. http://www.renegadekitchen.com/blog/diy-tandoor-oven
  7. Ibid.
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandoor

­

tandoori chicken

Tandoori Chicken  Yields: 6 servings.  Active prep time: 1 hr/  Cooking time: 30 min/  Inactive prep time for marinating: 9 1/2 hr.

6 thigh/leg parts  (Our local Fred Meyer sells seasoned thigh/leg pieces at the meat counter, but you will want to ask for unseasoned ones, for $1.29/lb.  They also carry a pre-packaged Heritage Brand, with 4-5 pieces in a package for $1.09/lb.)

2 tbsp lemon juice, divided

1 1/2 tsp salt, divided

8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp ground cardamom, or 1 1/2 tsp seeds

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/3 tsp ground cumin, or 1/2 tsp seeds

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp red food coloring, optional

2 c plain, whole milk yogurt  (I prefer Sierra Nevada Grass-fed, Whole Milk Yogurt, as it is thick, rich, and most healthy; another option is plain Greek yogurt.)

  1. cutting five to six gashes in chicken

    If frozen, thaw chicken two days ahead in the refrigerator.

  2. Nine and a half hours before serving, or better yet a day ahead, remove skin from chicken and cut five to six deep gashes in each piece, cutting all the way through the meat (see photo above).
  3. In a small bowl, mix 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp salt.  Rub each piece with this mixture and place in a pan, covering loosely with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for one and a half hours.
  4. cover thigh/legs with sauce

    With a mortar and pestle, food processor or blender, pulverize: garlic, ginger, cardamom, garam masala, cumin, cayenne pepper, and remaining 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt.

  5. Mix yogurt, spices, and optional food coloring.  Spoon sauce over the front and back sides of each piece of chicken, covering well; lay in a pan and spoon more sauce on top of these thigh/legs.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for eight hours-or overnight.  See above photo.
  6. finished product

    Cook over charcoal, in tandoori oven or BBQ.  May also cook under a broiler for 25-35 minutes, or until done.  A final option is to bake this in 400-degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until there are no red juices present, when a knife is inserted in center.  See photo.

  7. Enjoy!

Riso Pilaff (Italian Braised Rice)

Below are many rich details concerning the history of rice, along with the final recipe in my Italian dinner Riso Pilaff.

Rice Domestication Dated as Early as 5000 BC

Though the date of rice domestication remains doubtful, it is thought that wet-field cultivation began in the river valleys of south China-an independent country at the time-about 5000 BC, but most dates concerning this, in China, as in India and southeast Asia, are closer to 3000 BC.  1

Rice Not a Basic Grain in Early North China

In 3000 BC, the basic grain in north China was not rice, but millet, a dry land crop.  It, however, is common today to think that rice was a main food in all of China, almost to the exclusion of anything else.  This is partly due to a Victorian misapprehension.  2

China kept itself at arms-length from the rest of the world, until the mid-nineteenth century; one result of its exclusivity was that foreigner traders, confined to the southern port of Canton (now Guangzhou), falsely believed that Cantonese food, which was based on the wet-farmed rice of the early south China, was representative of China as a whole.  This Victorian misconception was later reinforced by Cantonese emigrants taking their rice dishes to Britain and America; this resulted in Chinese and Cantonese cooking to be thought of as virtually synonymous, during the early days of our understanding of Chinese food in the West.  3

In The Rituals of Dinner, Margret Visser states that the staple grain in China was originally millet, which was eaten with a spoon.  Chopsticks seemed to evolve in the East specifically for the use of rice, with Chinese rice being moist, not loose and dry like that of Indians, Arabs, and Africans, who prefer eating it with their hands.  4

The Origins of Rice

Likewise, there is also uncertainty about its exact origins. The wild plant is found over a huge area of land, from the Gangetic plain of India across Upper Burma, then stretching to north Thailand and Laos, and to North Vietnam and into southern China.  5

It is believed that it could have been domesticated almost anywhere, especially since it lends itself to different methods of cultivation.  Records show that early users were ingeniously growing it in superficially unlikely conditions.  We can assume that rice was a late-starter, due to the known dates, in relation to the domestication of other grains; this indicates that it could have been domesticated independently in several places.  6

Song Times in China (960-1279 AD)

By Song times, most of the Chinese population were relying on bowls of rice and bean curd soup, which had replaced soy beans and water.  These rice bowls and bean curd soup were simple foundations, on which the common extras were added, as availability decreed.  These extras were spring onions, bamboo shoots and beans, with soy sauce, sweet-sour plums or fermented black beans, which added savor; pork, chicken, and fish were occasional luxuries.  7

Marco Pollo saw China before the glory of the Song had time to fade; its capital Hangzhou appeared to him to be like a Chinese Venice.  Ships brought spices from the Indies and took away silks for the Levant, while Arabs, Persians, and Christians haggled over the deals being made with paper money, which was unknown to Marco.  Admits all this, specially selected varieties of rice were being imported daily and sold to the rich.  Pink rice, white rice, yellow rice, mature rice and winter rice were among these varieties-each with unique characteristics and some with an almost flower-like fragrance.  8

The Presence of Rice in India

From about 2000 BC forward, rice was being cultivated in India, beginning in the Ganges Delta, in the northeastern Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent.  On plains with natural or artificial irrigation, it was a staple, in place of millet in other locations without irrigation.  9

During the first millennium AD, rice, vegetables and fish came to form the bases of south Indian cooking; these were cooked with an abundance of spices.  On the Malabar and Coromandel-southwestern and southeastern-coasts, Indian food was subjected to many outside influences, through trading with both the Arab world and China-there was much trade in spices, both through exports and imports.  10.

Nevertheless, the effects of foreign contact were more profound in the north-west of the country.  Over a period of 2000 years, there had been a succession of infiltrations and invasions, through  the passes of the Hindu Kush, bringing Aryian, Persian, Greek, and Central Asian ideas, attitudes and techniques.  All this became woven into the culture of the area of the former Indus Valley civilization.  Along with these foreign influences-either nomadic or highly civilized-there also was fertile land; these two features caused meat to be consumed here more than anywhere else in India.  11

What took place in north-west India varied greatly from its heartland. where the very poor probably ate stale, boiled rice with half-cooked gourds or other vegetables.  There may have been a grain porridge mixed with mustard stalk, and perhaps they drank rice-boiling water left to ferment-this unidentified alkaline liquid reputedly tasted like water from a salt mine.  12

In the heartland, the less-poor began meals with one or two pieces of ginger and salt; then, there would be boiled rice and bean soup, this with a hot butter sauce.  Small cakes with fruit and more butter followed; next they chewed on a piece of sugarcane, finishing everything off by chewing spices, for digestive purposes and to sweeten the breath.  Their drinks varied from water to whey or buttermilk or gruel.  13

The rich here followed this same basic pattern in their meals, but with additions and finer quality, such as shining white rice and rich, golden broths.  In the southern heartland, curds and spicy meat sauces were used instead of ghi, and drinking water was perfumed with camphor from Borneo; they had mango syrup and lime juice for drinks as well.  In their highly varied diet, these Indians made use of dairy, which the Chinese generally ignored, and of fruit, which the Europeans were intractably suspicious.  14

As a rule, it, however, isn’t really possible to talk of ‘Indian food’ as a whole, for there is so great a diversity in its regional foods.

As an aside: Roman traders brought back rice from India to ancient Rome, at the time of Christ, before the fall of the Western Roman Empire-which happened at the hand of Germanic leader Odoacer, in 476 AD.  Romans, however, used rice in their cooking only as a starch, for thickening sauces and such.  15

The Arabs Introduced Rice to Europe

Under the banner of Islam, the Arabs rose up out of the desert and conquered the Persian Empire, during the Tang period in China (618-907 AD) and while the Rashtrakuta dynasty was ruling in India (between the 6th and 10th centuries).  16

During the medieval period, rice became fairly common in Europe, as the Arabs had brought it from Asia to Europe via Persia, where they had learned to grow and cook it.  Rice was first grown in large quantities, by the Moors, in 8th century Spain; somewhat later they brought it to Sicily.  Still later in the 15th century, northern Italians first produced rice in the Po River valley and the Lombardy plain-the home of risotto.  17

Europeans Brought Rice to the Americas

In the 1500’s and 1600’s, the Spanish and Portuguese introduced rice throughout the Americas, with South Carolina being the home of the first commercial American planting, in 1685.  Here the rice-growing expertise of the native African-Americans was most valuable.  (Presently, most of America’s rice comes from the lower Mississippi region, Arkansas, Texas, and California.)  18

Indeed, Europeans introduced numerous things to the Americas, though that which was imported by them was less than what was exported.  As mentioned, rice was among the treasures they brought.  Some other important commodities were vegetable seeds, wheat, chickpeas, sugarcane, bananas, citrus fruits, yams, cowpeas, coconuts, breadfruit, and coffee.  In addition, dairy products and beef  arrived, when Columbia’s second governor introduced the first cows there.  19

Starting in the 15th century, the Americas, however, provided Europe with far more, adding up to a formidable list with such things as: the potato, tomato, maize, avocados, pineapples, haricot, kidney, and butter beans, Lima beans, scarlet runners, ‘French’ beans, chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, red peppers and green peppers, tapioca, chewing gum, and quinine-not to mention gold, silver, tobacco and rubber.  20

Lesson Applied

For a long time, rice has been a world-wide commodity.  It is a principal food for about half of the world; while in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, it provides nearly three-quarters of the daily energy intake.  21

As we can see, rice is an essential world staple.  Likewise, the Word of God is our necessary food; the Bible proclaims that it is more necessary than food itself!  (See Job 23:12.)  It often refers to the Word as the bread of life, for it feeds our bodies, minds, and souls, in ways beyond our knowledge.

The word is Jesus himself; the apostle John writes:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”  John 1:1, 14, King James Version.

The Word, which is Jesus, provides us with solutions; it is a most practical tool.  As it is written, when trouble comes, the Holy Spirit will recall to our remembrance what Jesus has said; in this way, we can resolve situations in our lives and nations.

The living Word nourishes us, just like rice does, only better.  A steady diet of the Word brings abundant life and more abundant life, when we apply his blood to our sins as needed (see John 10:10 and Romans 5:9).

Please enjoy this memorable, Italian rice pilaf recipe, given below.

References:

  1. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 40.
  2. Ibid., pp. 39, 40.
  3. Ibid., p. 40.
  4. Margret Visser, The Rituals of Dinner (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), p. 179.
  5. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York, Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 40.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., p. 135.
  8. Ibid., p. 137.
  9. Ibid., p. 113.
  10. Ibid., p. 114.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid., p. 141.
  15. Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, A Taste of Ancient Rome (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 12.
  16. Reay Tannahil, Food in History (New York, Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 141.
  17. Harold McGee, On Food in History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 472.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Reay Tannahill, (New York: Three River Press, 1973, 1988), 114, 115.
  20. Ibid., p.220.
  21. Harold McGee, On Food in History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 472.

Riso Pilaf  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Active prep time: 20 min/ Braising time: 25-40 min.  (Inspired by a recipe in a cook book put out by the Denver Art Museum in the 1980’s.)

1 qt chicken broth  (Organic, free range broth is available reasonably at Trader Joe’s.)

1 small bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled

Scant 1/8 tsp loose saffron threads, crumbled  (Trader’s carries an inexpensive Spanish saffron.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is important for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 med yellow onion, chopped small

6 tbsp butter

1 1/3 c rice

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

  1. sweating onions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the broth with the bay leave, whole garlic clove, crumbled saffron, salt, and pepper.
  3. Over medium heat, sweat-cook until translucent-the chopped onion in 3 tbsp of butter, in a casserole (a 3-quart, stove top/ovenproof pan with a lid). See photo.
  4. cooking rice grains until opaque

    Stir in rice, coating grains well with the fat; continue to cook until rice turns opaque, stirring constantly; see photo.

  5. Stir hot broth into opaque rice. Bring to a boil and cook this mixture for 5 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Fit heavy foil over pan; then, cover tightly with lid.  See photo below.
  6. pan covered with heavy foil

    Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until moisture is absorbed.

  7. When finished, fluff rice with a fork, stirring in Parmesan cheese and remaining 3 tbsp of butter; see photo of finished product at top of entry.
  8. Note: this may be made ahead of time, by braising it for about 35-40 minutes, or until there is about an inch of liquid left in the bottom of the pan.  Remove from oven and set aside; then, 45 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 250 degrees and place the casserole in oven, until rice is warmed.  It is even possible that the rice may be completely cooked-except the final addition of butter and cheese-the day before and stored in another saucepan, if casserole is needed for another recipe.  Be sure to remove rice from refrigerator in the morning; then, heat this room temperature rice over medium heat on stove top, adding about an inch of water to the bottom of saucepan.  When hot, stir in last 3 tbsp of butter and cheese and serve.

Verdure al Forno (Baked Vegetables)

Verdure al Forno

Here is detailed information on onions, including their health benefits; this is accompanied by an Italian baked vegetable dish, to go along with my last entry-Italian Braised Pork Chops w/ Tomato and Garlic Sauce-in which we explored much about garlic.

Etymology of Onion

Onions, garlic, and leeks make up what is known as the onion family, which is in the genus Allium, a group of plants in the lily family, with its near 500 species-only about 20 of these are important human foods; onions are the species Allium cepa.  The name onion is derived from the Latin for “one”, “oneness”, “unity”.  Roman farmers gave this name to a variety of onion (cepa), which  grew singly, rather than forming multiple bulbs, as seen in garlic and shallots.  1

On the other hand, the word for green onions, scallion, is derived from Latin Ascalonia (caepa), or English “Ascalonian (onion)”, which is taken from Ascalo-Ascalon; this is the Hebrew name for a city in classical times in southwest Palestine, which is a port to this day in the Southern District of Israel.  Scallion refers to a young onion before the enlargement, or in some instances, to any of several similar onion plants, such as shallots or leeks.  2

Two Major Categories of Market Onions in U.S.

Having originated in central Asia, the biennial plant onion has spread across the globe in hundreds of different varieties.  In the United States, there are two major categories of market onions, for here they are defined by season and harvesting practices, rather than by varieties.  Spring or short-day onions are planted as seedlings in the late fall, being harvested before full maturity in the spring and early summer.  These onions are relatively mild, moist, and perishable; thus, it is best to keep them in the refrigerator.  (This explains why it can be hard to buy onions right now that are firm, for often at this time of year they have soft, moist, and wrinkled skins; this requires throwing away several layers of the onion, when peeling them.)  3

The “sweet” onion is a special category of spring onion.  This is usually a standard yellow spring onion, which is grown in sulfur-poor soils, and therefore it has picked up half or less of the usual sulfur-containing defensive chemicals; the lack of these chemicals is what allows for a sweet or mild-rather than a strong-flavor.  For more on defensive chemicals in Alliums, see Italian Braised Pork Chops w/ Tomato and Garlic Sauce.  4

The storage onion is the second major category of onions on the market in America, which is grown in the summer and harvested when mature in the fall.  It is rich in sulfur compounds and drier; it can be easily stored in cool conditions for several months.  During fall and early winter seasons, onions on the market have a firm flesh, under tight skins.  5

Common Varieties Found in U.S. Grocery Stores

White, yellow, red, and green onions are available in any store.  White onion varieties are somewhat moister; thus, they do not keep quite as well as yellow onions-phenolic flavonoid compounds give the color to yellow onions.  On the other hand, red onions receive their color from water-soluble anthocyanins, but these only on the surface layers of each leaf scale; cooking dilutes and dulls this color.  6  It is believed that these anthocyanins in red onions may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  7

Finally, scallions-green onions-can be either bulb-forming varieties that are harvested quite young, or special varieties that never form bulbs.  8  Boiler and Hawaiian onions (a sweet onion grown in Hawaii) are among other common varieties on the market.

Cipollini onions are a variety of flat, mild, sweet, pale onions, which are the size of a golf ball.  9  These are sometimes available, at high prices, in the organic section at our local Fred Meyers.

Onions Present from Ancient Times

Here are a few highlights of the presence of onions throughout world history: scribes in the early Sumerian civilization-the first people in history to have a coherent system of writing-recorded that they were growing onions in 2400 B.C.  Peasants in ancient Egypt had onions as part of their standard fare, which probably also included ale and a common flatbread, ta, which was purchased from a stall in the village streets.  10

Onions were a common root crop, during the dark ages of the first millennium A.D., while a typical pre-medieval curry in India might have consisted of brinjal (aubergine) and a couple of onions or a handful of dal (lentils).  11

More glimpses of the use of onions in global history are the following: by Song times in early China, spring onions were a common extra to their bean curd soup and bowls of rice, throughout this country.  While during Classical times, the Scythians of Central Asia supplemented the products of their herds with onions, garlic, beans, and fish (tuna and sturgeon).  Also, Scandinavians were drying onions for use during their extreme winters, from the early medieval period throughout most of the second millennium.  12

Finally, an 18th century English governess commented on the ailments of Russian serfs: “…they need not lay by much to provide for Food; for they can make an hearty Meal on a Piece of black sour Bread, some Salt, an Onion, or Garlick.”  13

Health Benefits of Onions

Onions have long been a fundamental staple throughout the world; all this time they have been contributing to the health of the consumer.  healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits states that onions have been used to treat headaches, heart disease, and mouth sores since ancient times.  This low-calorie vegetable is rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C, which among other things acts as an antioxidant.  These antioxidants and compounds found in onions may reduce cholesterol levels, decrease triglycerides and fight inflammation; all of which may benefit our hearts.  (Their rich supply of antioxidants may also benefit those with diabetes and cancer.)  14

Onions are also rich in B vitamins, including folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6)-important for regulating metabolism, producing red blood cells, and helping nerve function.  Also, among other things, onions boast of being a good source of much needed potassium; thus, they may aid in cellular function, fluid balance, nerve transmission, kidney function, and muscle-contraction.  15

The sulfur compounds and flavonoid antioxidants in onions are thought to provide cancer-fighting properties.  Multiple animal studies show that specific compounds found in onions, such as quercetin and sulfur compounds, may help to control diabetes.  There is some evidence that consumption of onions may boost bone density and digestive health, and they may have many antibacterial properties as well.  16

Applied Lesson

When facing a problem, we may feel a need to peel away its layers, like that of an onion-as the old proverb goes.  At initial contact, such situations can appear overwhelming, beyond our ability to resolve-too many layers!

Of ourselves, it is hard to make our wills and actions be of one accord, in dealing with troubles, while under pressure.  Thus, we may react rather than respond, and this only makes matters worse.

Jesus promises, however, to succor us from falling prey to temptations-to do things in our own strength-thus creating havoc.  His word tells us that he was 100% God, who became 100% man as well, and this was in order, to save men:

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor (help, aid) them that are tempted.”  17

It is beneficial to approach this process of resolving problems and overcoming temptations, with a sense of confidence in Jesus, by not allowing our disrupting ‘feelings’ to settle in our minds.  When we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope, Christ sees us through every time.

Enjoy below this simple recipe for Italian baked vegetables, replete with onions!

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 310, 311.
  2. The American Heritage Dictionary
  3. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 312.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits
  8. Harold McGee, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), p. 312.
  9. https://www.drgourmet.com/ingredients/cipolini.shtml
  10. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), pp. 46, 54.
  11. Ibid., pp. 93, 117.
  12. Ibid., pp. 118, 119, 135, 247.
  13. Ibid., p. 251.
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. The Holy Bible, KJV, Hebrews 2: 17,18.

Verdure al Forno

Verdure al Forno  (Baked Assorted Vegetables)  Yields: 8-10 servings.  Active prep time: 30 min/ baking time: 30 min.  This receipt-adapted from the Denver Art Museum Cook Book-originally came to me in the early 1980’s.  Note: this may be made ahead and reheated, or it may be served cool.

1 lg yellow pepper  (Organic is important with bell peppers, as they readily absorb pesticides.)

1 lg red pepper

3 med zucchini (about 1 lb)

1 med eggplant

3 med yellow onions

2/3 c plus 2 tbsp oil  (Avocado oil is preferable, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures, though the latter is more authentic.)

Salt and pepper, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt are important for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for five lbs.)

  1. washing vegies

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Spray the vegetables with vegetable spray (for an inexpensive, effective spray, may mix 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide). Let sit for 3 minutes and rinse well; see photo above.
  3. slicing bell peppers

    Distribute 2 tbsp of oil in the bottom of a 9 1/2” x 13” baking dish.

  4. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices crosswise, after first deseeding them; see above photo. Separate them by color and place them in pan; see photo below at #7.
  5. slicing eggplant thinly

    Cut the zucchini into thin circles; place them in a row next to the peppers in the pan.

  6. Chop the onion in even 1/8” slices. Arrange these next to the zucchini.
  7. prepping vegetables for baking

    Thinly slice the eggplant and cut these thin circles into quarters; see photo above.

  8. Place in baking dish.  Carefully pour rest of oil evenly over all the vegetables, salting and peppering them well; see photo above.
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until desired tenderness; see photo of finished product below.
  10. finished product

    Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof serving platter, arranging them in the same order they were baked; see photo at top of recipe. (If preparing ahead of time, may complete this step and set aside, until dinnertime; then, 3/4 hour before serving, place ovenproof platter of vegetables in preheated oven at 250 degrees.) Note: may serve cool also, for a summer meal.

Italian Braised Pork Chops w Tomato & Garlic Sauce

Costoletta di Maiale alla Pizzaiola

Here is detailed information on the origins, makeup, and health benefits of garlic, plus a great recipe for braising pork chops, using tomatoes and garlic, which is inspired by a receipt from the 1960’s Time-Life Books Foods of this World.  1

Among its multi-themed books, The Cooking of Italy, provides these great braised pork chops with tomato and garlic sauce. I have adapted this by braising the chops in the oven, rather than on the stove top, as the original instructions require.  The method of braising in the oven brings out the best of flavors in food; my recent entries on Cote de Porc Sauce Nenette and Braised Cabbage exemplify this.

Background of Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum L. family Liliaceae) is a species in the genus Allium, a group of plants in the lily family, in which there are more than 500 species; these are native to the northern temperate regions.  About twenty of these 500 species are important human foods that have been prized for thousands of years.  2

Their antiquity can be seen in reference to the incident in Exodus in 1230 B.C., when the Israelites lamented in the wilderness: “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick…”  3

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a member of the onion (Amaryllidaceae) family.  It is believed that garlic originated from Allium longiscuspis, as it does not appear in the wild as a species of its own; the mutation that resulted in garlic probably took place in central Asia.  4

How Garlic Grows

The name garlic is an Anglo-Saxon word that meant “spear-leek”, or rather a leek with a slim, pointed leaf blade instead of a broad, open one.  5

The bulbs of both onions and garlic are made up of a central stem bud and surrounding leaf bases.  Each leaf base swells with stored nutrients during one growing season, which then supplies them to the bud during the next season.  Onions, garlic, and most of their relatives are primarily grown for their underground bulbs-swollen leaf bases-that store energy for the beginning of the next growing season.  6

Note: an onion is a multi-layered bulb, or swollen leaf base; a garlic  bulb or “clove” consists, however, of a single, swollen storage leaf, of which there are a dozen or more of these cloves tightly fit together in a head of garlic. 7

Sweetness of Cooked Garlic Is Due to Fructose Sugars

Garlic and its relatives, in the onion family, accumulate energy stores in chains of fructose sugars, rather than in starches; thus, long, slow cooking breaks these sugars down to produce a marked sweetness, a delicious, savory quality.  This cooking process transforms the strong, pungent, sulfury flavor of garlic; this strong, offensive raw flavor of garlic was originally meant to be a chemical defense in the plant, to deter animals from eating it.  (See Sage Turkey and Braised Cabbage, for more on defensive chemicals in plants.)  8

The Unique Makeup of Garlic Produces Health

Garlic (A. sativum L. family Liliaceae) is used not only as a spice in foods, but also in traditional folk medicines.  There is much evidence of a wide spectrum of pharmacological effects of A. sativum and its active compounds with low toxicity; the sulfur compound Allicin-only occurring when garlic is crushed or injured-is the most important alkaloid being responsible for these beneficial effects.  Though allicin is thought to be primarily responsible for the antimicrobial effect of garlic, other sulfur compounds have some roles in the effects of the plant as well: diallyl disulphide (DDS) and siallyl trisulfide (DTS) are active against yeasts, while S-allylcysteine (SAC) is the most abundant organosulfur compound present in aged garlic extract .  9

Health benefits of garlic may include a lowering of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Eating raw garlic may also prevent heart disease and boost the immune system.  It is, however, most important to consult with one’s doctor, before starting any treatment regime.  10

Flavors and Sting of Raw Garlic

Members of the onion family, of which garlic is one, have distinctive flavors coming from their individual defensive use of the element sulfur.  When onions, leeks, garlic grow they take up sulfur from the soil and incorporate this into four different kinds of chemical ammunition.  These four ammunitions float in the cell fluids, while their “enzyme trigger” is held separately in a storage vacuole.  Damaging the cell, by chopping or chewing, releases this enzyme, which breaks the ammunition molecules in half, thus producing irritating, strong-smelling sulfurous molecules; some of these can be very reactive and unstable, therefore they continue to evolve into other compounds.  11

Various Preparation Methods Produce Unique Flavors

The raw flavor of various alliums is created by the mixture of these produced molecules.  The resultant flavor from this mixture depends on the initial ammunition, how thoroughly the food was chewed or chopped, the amount of oxygen that gets into the reactions, and finally how long the reactions last.  It follows that the preparation methods, such as chopping, pounding in a mortar, or pureeing in a food processor, will all result in distinctive flavors, even with the same allium.   Note that the end flavor from this mixture of molecules produced is especially potent in garlic, for it produces a hundred-fold higher concentration of  initial reaction products than do either onions or leeks.  12

Flavors Derived from Cooked Garlic

Heat causes the various sulfur compounds in garlic to react with each other and other substances; this produces the range of characteristic flavor molecules, which we experience in cooked garlic.   We find that the taste of garlic varies with different dishes; this is because the cooking method, temperature, and medium strongly influence flavor balance.  Trisulfides tend to result, when garlic is baked, dried, or microwaved, and these give off characteristic notes of overcooked cabbage.  If looking for a strong garlic flavor, high temperatures and the medium of fat are required; together these produce more volatiles and a stronger flavor than do other methods and mediums.  Interestingly, the type of fat used also changes flavor: relatively mild garlic compounds persist in butter, but rubbery, pungent notes come to the forefront in more reactive, unsaturated vegetable oils.  (I always recommend using avocado or coconut oil in cooking, as olive oil is carcinogenic at high temperatures; for more on healthy oils, see Nutty Coconut Pie.)  13

Unique Flavors Brought on by Blanching and Cooking Garlic Whole

My last entry, on Lentils for an Emergency, employed whole garlic cloves added to the lentils boiled in water; this method and medium produced unique garlic flavors in this dish.  Both the cooking of whole garlic and blanching inactivate the flavor-generating enzyme stored in the vacuole.  As noted, this enzyme starts the whole reaction process, when released by chopping or chewing raw garlic; thus, sulfurous molecules are produced that continue to evolve into other compounds, and various flavors result as seen above.  Boiling, or blanching, the whole garlic in with the lentils limited this enzymatic action, bringing to the dish only slightly pungent, sweet nutty notes.  These same relatively mild flavors are also found in garlic blanched whole in a vinegar-base, such as found in pickling.  14

Availability of Garlic Today

The University of Missouri’s Integrated Pest Control claims that China produces most of the world’s garlic and that 90% of all garlic grown in the U.S comes from California.  15

A recent conversation with Trader Joe’s provided the information that most of America’s garlic comes from the Gilroy area in California, which is known-at least in the U.S.-as the garlic capital of the world.

Recently I could not get garlic at our local Fred Meyer’s, when testing this last lentil receipt.  They informed me that presently China is not providing garlic on the world market; therefore, many nations are getting it from California, resulting in the shortage with Fred’s supplier.  Since this time, this chain store has had it off and on.

Trader Joe’s, however, has carried it throughout this pandemic; they said that theirs comes from various ranches and farms in the Gilroy area.  Traders also informed me that for years they haven’t sold any products produced in China, due to the heavy metals and arsenic present there; they guarantee that not a single ingredient, of their private label items, is sourced from China-this is 90% of their stock.  They added that they cannot be this definite with the other 10% of their products, which are under their own individual labels.

Lesson Applied

As referred to at the beginning of this entry, the Israelites were wanting to go back to Egypt, for their appetites were crying out for the luxury of melons, cucumbers, leeks, onions, and garlic.  In Egypt they had known these in abundance, but this amidst the cruelest of forced labor, which they forgot in their weakness experienced in the wilderness.

My spirit initially wanted to grieve what had been an appearance of the loss of garlic, a month ago.  I had a choice to make, as we all do: will we trust this process we find ourselves in with Covid-19, or hold onto what may have seemed better in the past?

The word of God instructs us:

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”  16

We can choose life and not repeat what the Israelites did, by complaining that this journey is too hard.  Instead of looking backwards, we can stand on the promise that the name and blood of Jesus redeem everything, which we place in our Father’s hands. Only God can bring blessing out of this Covid-19 chaos, produced by Satan, and this only, if we ask believing.

Below is my adaptation of Time-Life’s great recipe for Costoletta di Maiale alla Pizzaiola, with its healthy garlic.  Enjoy its simplicity.

References:

  1. Waverly Root and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books Foods of this World, The Cooking of Italy (New York: Time Inc., 1968), p. 178.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 310.
  3. The Holy Bible, KJV, Numbers 11:5.
  4. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2015/9/Garlic-A-Brief-History/
  5. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 311.
  6. , p. 310.
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874089/
  8. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2015/9/Garlic-A-Brief-History/
  9. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 310, 311.
  10. , p. 311.
  11. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2015/9/Garlic-A-Brief-History/
  12. The Holy Bible, KJV, Deuteronomy 30: 19,20.

finished product

Costoletta di Maiale alla Pizzaiola (Braised Pork Chops w/ Tomato and Garlic Sauce)  Adapted from a recipe in Time-Life Books Foods of This World: The Cooking of Italy, 1968.  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total prep time: 45 min/  active prep time: 25 min/  Braising time: 20 min.

2 tbsp oil  (Avocado is best here, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

5-6 center-cut loin pork chops, cut 1”-1 1/2” thick  (Trader Joe’s carries boneless, French cut, center cut pork loin chops for $6.49/lb.-the best price around for this high-quality pork.)

1 tsp finely chopped garlic  (For easy prep, may use 1 cube of frozen garlic, available at Trader’s.)

1/3 c chopped, fresh, oregano leaves, or a combination of 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled  (Trader’s generally has a 4” pot of fresh oregano, just enough for this receipt-the original recipe in Time-Life calls for the 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/4 tsp dried thyme.)

1/2 bay leaf

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 1/8 c drained canned tomatoes, pureed (May puree these in a food processor, blender, or Vitamix.)

1 tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp butter

1/2 lb. green pepper, seeded and cut in 2”-by-1/4” stripes  (Organic is important, as peppers readily absorb pesticides.)

10 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms  (Mushrooms are least expensive and of high quality at Traders.)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Puree the drained tomatoes, using a food processor, blender, or Vitamix (set aside).
  3. In an ovenproof stockpot with lid, heat 2 tbsp of oil, over medium heat.
  4. browning chops

    Generously salt and pepper the chops, after drying them with a paper towel (drying is important for browning to take place); then, brown them in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate (see photo).

  5. With a long-handled spoon, degrease the juices, by tipping the pan to the side and skimming most of the fat off the top, leaving about 1 tbsp of fat. Add garlic, oregano, bay leaf, salt, and wine vinegar to meat juices; bring to a boil, stirring constantly; while cooking, be sure to deglaze the pan (scrape the bits of meat and herbs cooked off the bottom, using a plastic spatula).
  6. chops prepped for braising

    Stir in the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. Return the chops to the casserole, bring to a boil, and baste the chops with the sauce (see photo).

  7. Cover and place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until there is no color in center, when cut with a knife. Baste occasionally during braising period; rotate chops a time or two, only if all the chops don’t fit in a single layer in stock pot.
  8. Meanwhile spray bell pepper with a vegetable spray (for an inexpensive, effective spray, may combine 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide). Let sit for 3 minutes and rinse well.
  9. Cut peppers in 2” x 1/4” stripes.
  10. vegies cooked

    Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced peppers and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in the mushrooms, evenly coating them with the fat.  Cook until desired texture is achieved, stirring occasionally (these will cook a little more later); set aside.  See photo.

  11. When chops are finished cooking, remove them to a platter and cover them with foil; start reheating the vegetables.
  12. IF the sauce is too thin, place stockpot with sauce on top of burner and boil liquid over med/high heat, stirring constantly (sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon heavily).
  13. Blend hot vegetables into thickened sauce and spoon over pork chops, either on the platter itself, or on individual plates. (Note: it is possible to prepare this recipe ahead, and at this point put aside the casserole, with the chops sitting in the sauce and vegetables. Three-quarter-hour before serving, bring the casserole with the sauce and chops, to a boil over medium heat; then, place casserole in a preheated oven at 250 degrees, for warming.)  See photo.
  14. Serve and fully enjoy!

Lentils, for an Emergency

a dish of lentils

The staple of lentils is a blessing; here we look at the easiest way to prepare them, as well as details about their history, makeup, and health benefits.  This basic recipe, having only two ingredients, evolved due to recent inquiries for a simple means to cook lentils, for times such as now; this method of preparation brings out flavor and nutrition.

Historical Background of Lentils

Lentils, Lens culinaris, are probably the oldest cultivated legume; they are mentioned several times in the Old Testament, with the first time being in Genesis, when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a “pottage of lentiles”.  Encyclopedia Britannica surmises that the lentils Jacob prepared were probably red Egyptian lentils. 1

Lentils are native to Southwest Asia; they are now a common food throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa, with their greatest production being in India and Turkey (Canada is a distant third).  2

In North America, lentils are produced in the Pacific Northwest, eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and up into western Canada.  Since the 1930’s, they have been grown as a rotation crop with wheat, with most of the lentils being exported, though in recent times, Americans are consuming them more.  3

Their shape inspired the 17th century coinage of the word “lens”-the Latin word for lentil-which describes the lentil-shaped, double convex, piece of glass.  4

Two Groups of Lentils: Their Colors and Composition

There are two groups of lentils: the most common being the varieties with flat and large seeds-5 mm or more across. The second group consists of varieties with small, more rounded seeds that are finer-textured; included in this latter group are the prized green French lentille du Puy, the black beluga, and the green Spanish pardina.  The seed coats of these varieties may be brown, red, black, and green; most have yellow cotyledons, though some are green or red.  Both cooking and age can turn green seed coats brown.  The composition of dry lentils is 14% water, 25% protein, 60% carbohydrate, and 1% oil.  5

Health Benefits of Lentils

Some hold that lentils protect against heart disease, dementia, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.  6

They also prove to be a good source of protein, vitamin B, iron, phosphorus, and dietary fiber, but they can cause gas.  7

How Intestinal Gas is Created

What to do with the problem of flatulence, for which legumes are known?   Note: lentils seemingly cause little gas for some, while soy, navy, and lima beans are the worst offenders.  8

Our intestines produce about a quart of a mixture of gases a day, due to the growth and metabolism of our resident bacteria.  Many legumes cause a sudden increase in this bacterial activity-bringing about gas production-a few hours after they are consumed.  This is due to their containing large amounts of short-chained carbohydrates, which human digestive enzymes cannot convert into  sugars that can be absorbed; thus, these carbohydrates leave the upper small intestine unchanged.  When they reach the lower intestine, they are fermented; the resident bacteria population performs its job; gas results.  9

The ineffective metabolism of troublesome carbohydrates into digestible single sugars produces gas.  One type of carbohydrate causing this gas issue is the oligosaccharides, molecules consisting of only three, four, or five sugar molecules linked together in an unusual way (for more on oligosaccharides, see Great Keto Citrus Cookies).  Cell-wall cements, however, may be a more prominent cause for this problem of gas, as they produce just as much carbon dioxide and hydrogen as the oligosaccharides, and beans generally have about twice as much of these carbohydrates, as they do oligosaccharides.  10

Proposed Remedies for Preventing Gas

Of the two proposed remedies to help prevent gas, the long cooking of legumes is better than that of leaching off these carbohydrates with water (boiling the legumes briefly, letting them stand in this water for an hour, and then discarding the water); this latter method does get rid of most of the water-soluble oligosaccharides, but it also removes significant amounts of water-soluble vitamins, minerals, simple sugars, and seed-coat pigments (in other words, it strips the food of nutrients, flavor, color, and antioxidants).  On the other hand, simple, prolonged cooking helps to eventually break down the oligosaccharides and the cell-wall cements into digestible single sugars; this is the method used in the lentil recipe below.  11

Integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov, MD. states that if your increasing bean consumption, to obtain higher levels of dietary fiber, resultant gas levels typically return to normal once legumes are consumed regularly.  12

Garlic is used in this receipt.  It, however, is possible to replace this with onions, herbs, or other vegetables of your choice; feel free to experiment.  Finally, I like to add a splash of olive or sesame oil to my dish of hot lentils, for nutrition and flavor.

Lesson Applied

These unprecedented times are producing a shaking; those things-things made-that can be shaken will be removed, so only the unshakable and eternal will remain.  13

It appears in the natural that all is slowed down presently; underneath the surface, there, however, is a “quick cooking” of our lives going on, both publicly and personally.

This lentil legume is flat and thin, with a thin seed coat; thus, cooking water need only penetrate a millimeter or two from each side.  That makes for a quicker cooking process than with any other bean-30 to 45 minutes.

Covid-19 can produce two different results: it may be getting under our skin, frying us so to speak, or preferably it is producing a great softening of heart, which is slow and gentle.  For the latter to transpire, our “seed coat” requires a protective shield.  The word of God gives such provision, for it states:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  14

We want the unprofitable within us to be shaken off, so only the pure and stable will remain.  With everything changing so rapidly, it is advantageous more than ever, to look to the eternal.

As boiling water softens lentils in less than an hour, we too have had deep change transpiring in short order, with this boiling of our beings.  May this be a time of victorious overcoming-a time of thinking and responding competently, with godly wisdom.  Thus, we make right decisions in all that challenges.

Relationship with Jesus provides this.  Bless you, my readers!  May the extremely simple recipe below help you.

References:

  1. The Holy Bible, KJV, Genesis 25: 30, 34 and https://www.britannica.com/plant/lentil-plant
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 492.
  3. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/lentils/how-to-grow-lentils.htm
  4. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 492.
  5. , pp. 489, 492.
  6. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-musical-fruit-what-you-should-know-about-beans-and-gas/
  7. https://www.britannica.com/plant/lentil-plant
  8. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 486
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid., pp. 486, 487.
  12. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-musical-fruit-what-you-should-know-about-beans-and-gas/
  13. See Hebrews 12: 26-29 in the Holy Bible, KJV.
  14. The Holy Bible, KJV, John 3:16, 17.

finished product

Lentils for an Emergency Food  Yields: 8 servings.  Active prep time: 10 min/  Cooking time: 30-45 min.

2 c lentils

8 c water, preferably distilled

1 whole bulb of fresh garlic, cloves peeled and left whole  (May substitute 4 cubes frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s, or 3-4 tbsp garlic from a jar; instead of the garlic, may substitute an onion, herbs, or vegetables of your choice.)

Salt to taste, be sure to add only after lentils are cooked  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt are important for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

Optional: a splash of olive or sesame oil

  1. large garlic cloves cut in half

    Place lentils and water in a stockpot; cover and bring to a boil over med/high heat. If possible, use distilled water, which is highly beneficial to our bodies (for more information, see Vichy Carrots.)

  2. pot of lentils and garlic prepped for cooking

    Meanwhile peel garlic, cutting large cloves in half. Add to lentils.  (See above photo.)  DO NOT ADD SALT WHILE COOKING, as this prohibits the softening of legumes.

  3. Lower heat to medium, cook uncovered for 30-45 minutes, or until lentils are soft and quite thick; stir occasionally. (I prefer the lentils thick, so they have the substance of an entry, rather than a soup, but you may choose more of a soup texture.)
  4. Salt to taste and optionally serve with a splash of olive or sesame oil, for taste and nutrition. This keeps well in refrigerator for a week, or at room temperature for several days, if there is a power outage.

Braised Cabbage

braised cabbage

Here we examine the method of braising and details concerning the various kinds of cabbage; this is accompanied with an exceptional recipe for braised cabbage, which is inspired by the writings of Julia Child.

 

Child’s Various Methods of Braising Cabbage

In her roti de porc aux choux, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child braises the cabbage in with the pork in a covered casserole, for about an hour, after first parboiling it.  In my last entry for cote de porc sauce nenette-adapted from Child’s recipeit is not possible to cook the cabbage in with the pork, as in this case the loin chops are only braised for 25 minutes.  Child also has a receipt for chou rouge a la limousine, in which the cabbage is braised in four cups of liquid in the oven, until all the moisture is incorporated (five hours).   Here I provide my own recipe, inspired by various instructions of Child’s, which takes one hour for braising by itself in a casserole.  1

Braising Defined

What exactly is involved in the process of braising?  Child defines it: “to brown foods in fat, then cook them in a covered casserole with a small amount of liquid”.  Such is seen in the braising of the pork chops in my last entry; there the meat was browned first; then, it is baked covered, or braised sitting in a small amount of butter, in the oven.  2

Child further explains that Americans use this same term for vegetables cooked in butter in a covered casserole, such as in today’s recipe.  This process is rather defined by the French verb etuver, for which we have no English equivalent.  Therefore, today’s braised cabbage is actually chou etuves au beurre-in other words: cabbage etuves in butter.  3

Varieties of Cabbage

The original wild cabbage is native to the salty, sunny Mediterranean seaboard; this habitat gives cabbage its thick, succulent, waxy leaves and stalks, which make it such a hardy plant.  Around two and a half millennium ago, this wild cabbage was domesticated, and because of its tolerance to cold climates, it became an important staple vegetable in Eastern Europe.  China probably was first to begin the practice of pickling it.  4

Brassica olerancea-a plant genus in the complicated cabbage family- is Mediterranean in origin.  It includes these species: cabbage (var. capitata), Portuguese cabbage (var. tronchuda), kale, collards (var. acephala), broccoli (var. italica), cauliflower (var. botrytis), Brussel sprouts (var. gemmifera), and kohlrabi (var. gonglylodes).  5

Brassica Rapa, another genus in the cabbage family, has Central Asian origins with the following species: turnip (var. rapifera), broccolirabe, broccoletti di rape (var. rapifera), Chinese cabbage, bok choy (var. pekinensis), tatsoi (var. narinosa), Mizuana, mibuna (var. nipposinica).  6

There are also accidental hybrids: rutabaga, canola (Brassica napus), brown mustard, mustard greens (Brassica juncea), and Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata).  Finally, broccolini (Brassica oleracea x alboglabra) is an intentional hybrid.  7

Chemical Weapons in Cabbage Generate Its Strong Flavors

The cabbage family is a group of formidable chemical warriors, producing strong flavors.  (For more on defensive chemicals, as seen in herbs, see Sage Turkey Delight.)  Cabbages stockpile two kinds of defensive chemicals in their tissues: flavor precursors-glucosinolates-and enzymes that act on the precursors to liberate the reactive flavors.  When the plant’s cells are damaged, such as in chopping, the two stockpiles are mixed, and the enzymes start a chain of reactions that bring about bitter, pungent, strong-smelling compounds.  8

Each cabbage-family-vegetable will contain a number of different precursor glucosinolates, and the combinations are characteristic; this is why cabbages, broccoli, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts have similar but distinctively different flavors.  9

Flavors Strongest at Core

The chemical defensive system is most active in young, actively growing tissues; for instance, the portions near the cabbage core are twice as active as the outer leaves, and thus have the strongest flavor.  We see this same principal in Brussels sprouts, with their strongest flavor being at their center also.  10

Cabbage Flavors Change with Seasons

Growing conditions have a great influence on the amount of flavor precursors stockpiled in the plant.  It is important to know that hot weather and drought stress increase them.  Cold, rain, and dim sunlight, however, reduce the flavor precursors; thus, cabbage grown in the autumn and winter will be much milder.  11

As mentioned above in chou rouge a la limousine, Child braises the cabbage in four cups of broth and water, until all the liquid is cooked out (five hours).  This process of soaking cabbage in liquid leaches out the strong flavor compounds that are present in it; this is helpful if it is a summer crop. Keeping this in mind, my cabbage recipe, braised rather in a small amount of butter, is made ideally during the cooler fall, winter, early spring seasons, with its milder tasting cabbage.

Various Preparation Methods Effect Flavor Balances

Different cooking and preparation methods give different flavor balances in cabbage relatives. For instance, the process of cutting cabbage increases the liberation of these flavor compounds from precursors, but not only this, it also increases the production of the precursors!  Add an acidic sauce to chopped cabbage for coleslaw, and some pungent products increase six-fold.  (Soaking chopped cabbage in water will remove most of the flavor compounds formed by chopping, as can be seen in Child’s recipe above.)  On the other hand, fermenting cabbage and its relatives, such as in making kimchi, sauerkraut, and other pickles, transforms nearly all the flavor precursors and their products into less bitter, less pungent substances.  12

Lesson Applied

Don’t discard this recipe quickly, thinking why take one and a half hours, to prepare a vegetable that can be cooked normally in 20 minutes.  Rather be alerted: braising is a slow but simple process, with knock-your-socks-off-end-results.

The tortoise/hare analogy represents important principles for us to follow in these present days.  The hare is hurried, impetuous, thoughtless, and often foolish.  On the other hand, the tortoise is slow, steady, purposeful, calm, and therefore invincible.

This latter always wins the race, while the former often gets side-tracked along the way, which may mean missing the final goal entirely; thus, we heed this lesson, so we don’t miss out on any rewards for our endeavors.

Achieving this goal requires that we pay close attention to the immediate battle at hand, but not at the expense of losing sight of the whole war.  Always we are in tune with our inner guide, going only when and where directed, in these perilous days.

Most important, we allow the needed time for the simmering process to take place, as with the cabbage.  As a wise tortoise, we are slow and steady, strong and faithful, in everything we do.

These are glorious times; we miss nothing as we move forward, especially in our ministering to those around us.  Flavors beyond our imagination will arise, if we give room to the “braising process”, in both the cabbage and our ordained works.

The result of taking the time to braise cabbage is quite dramatic!  I encourage you to try this simple method, which transforms an ordinary food.  See recipe below.

References:

  1. Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961, reprinted eighteen times, twentieth printing, May 1971), pp. 384, 385, 387, 496, 497.
  2. Ibid., p. 11.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 323.
  5. Ibid., p. 320, The American Heritage Dictionary, and Wikipedia
  6. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 320
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 321.
  9. Ibid., p. 322.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.

finished product

Braised Cabbage  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Active prep time: 20 min/  Inactive baking time: 1 hr.  May be made ahead and reheated.

1 1/4 lb green cabbage, cut into 1/2” slices  (Organic is best.)

4 tbsp butter

1 med onion, cut in even 1/8” slices

2 minced cloves of garlic  (For easy prep, may substitute 1 cube of frozen garlic; available at Trader Joe’s.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/5 lbs.)

  1. slicing attachment for food processor

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. May cut cabbage in 1/2” slices, with a sharp knife, or better yet use a food processor and its slicing attachment (see photo).  Set sliced cabbage aside.
  3. Cut onions in even 1/8” slices and mince garlic; set aside
  4. onions when finished sweating

    Melt the butter over medium heat in a casserole, or a 3-quart pan with a lid that is stove top/oven proof.

  5. Add onions and garlic and sweat-cook until translucent-stirring occasionally.  See photo.
  6. first half of cabbage in pan, with butter incorporated

    Place half the cabbage in with onions, stirring until fat is well distributed throughout vegetable; then, incorporate other half of cabbage; see photo below.

  7. Blend in salt well.  Add 1/8 cup of water to casserole, cover, and place in oven.  Bake for 1 hour, being sure to stir several times during this period (see photo of finished product at top of recipe).
  8. Serve immediately, or this may be made ahead and reheated. These flavors are incredible!

Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette

cotes de porc sauce nenette

Here is a fantastic dish inspired by Julia Child; below you will access its easy recipe and the varying qualities of different cuts of pork.  My next entry will be braised cabbage, which Child recommends as a good accompaniment to  pork.

 

 

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

This well-known recipe is from Mastering of the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1), which Child published in 1961 in collaboration with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.  Child and Beck alone printed the second volume in 1970.

Pork, a Poorer Man’s Food in the Mid-Twentieth Century

In my 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker introduce their section on pork, with the following:

“Someone has observed that a pig resembles a saint in that he is more honored after death than during his lifetime.  Speaking further of his social standing, we have noticed that when smoked, he is allowed to appear at quite fashionable functions; but that only one’s best friends will confess to anything more than a bowing acquaintance with pork and sauerkraut or pigs’ feet.”  1

Popular Loin Cuts and their Corresponding French Names

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, however, has numerous very delectable recipes for pork, one of which is my version of cotes de porc sauce nenette given here.

A list is given in this cook book, of the different popular cuts of this meat, along with their corresponding French names.  First the loin is described.  (Child’s list is for roasting and braising the whole loin, though chops are taken from these cuts.) The loin’s center cut, or milieu de filet, is lean meat and corresponds to the porterhouse or t-bone steak section of beef, with both loin and tenderloin (Trader Joe’s sells boneless, French-cut, center-cut, loin chops for $6.49/lb-expensive, but worth it!).

Other loin cuts are as follows: the rib cut-carre-is also lean meat and corresponds to the rib section of beef, with loin, but no tenderloin.  The loin end-pointe de filet-is the same as the rump of beef, a combination of fat and lean, while the shoulder or blade end-echine-is also a combination of fat and lean.  This latter is a favorite roasting cut in France; it is the shoulder-chop end of the loin.  2

Three Other Popular Pork Cuts

Mastering the Art of French Cooking lists three other cuts: the first being shoulder butt or Boston butt-palette-another combination of fat and lean Child states that in the U.S., we also have a picnic shoulder or shoulder arm, of which there is no French equivalent; this is lean meat.  Finally, there is the fresh ham-jambon frais-which is lean meat that can be bought whole, or in part, and boned, or not.  3

Various Bacons Taken from Two Primal Cuts of Pork

Canadian style bacon also comes from the loin section of the pig, for it is thinly sliced, smoked pork loin.  Regular bacon, however, comes from its flank, which is below the loin; salt pork also comes from the flank.  4

Joy of Cooking shows a total of 34 different cuts used of pork, in its chart.  Among them are these bacons, while some others include the following specific, retail cuts: loin chop, rib chop, Frenched rib chop, butterfly chop, blade loin roast, and crown roast-all of these come from the loin.  5

Primal Cuts Defined, With Their Numerous Specific Cuts

Wikipedia states that there are at least 25 Iberian pork cuts, somewhat less than those identified by Joy of Cooking.   The information online expresses that the terminology and extent of each cut-in these more than 25 cuts-varies from country to country.  It goes on to say there are between four and six primal cuts-the large parts in which the pig is first divided, which are the principal commercial cuts, of which these 25 or more specific, retail cuts are taken.  Wikipedia says these four to six primal cuts are: the shoulder (blade and picnic), the loin, the belly (spareribs and side) and the leg (also known as the ham).  6

Joy of Cooking lists twelve commercial cuts, including the above six, as well as the fat back, hock, snout, jowl, fore foot, and hind foot.  These last six commercial cuts have popular use, varying from region to region, here and throughout the world.  7

Applied Lesson

Variety is the spice of life: cultures emphasize unique qualities of the whole person, or in this case the pig, in different ways.  What is required for the kitchen in France varies-at times greatly-from that needed here in America, or elsewhere.  Thus, we must carefully cover all bases, letting nothing slip through in our communication with foreigners, concerning our instructions on nutrition.

Popular foods here (such as the picnic ham) are not known at all in some European countries.  They have no reference point for such foods.  When talking about the ailments of our own region, we must slow down and be sure all is being understood clearly.  For as the saying goes, we may be speaking “Greek” to them.

Likewise, this rule applies to our instructions outside the kitchen, given to those whose hearts are seeking.  We move meekly as we share our wisdom, which can set the captives free.  The old adage, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, must be administered mildly, quietly, in small amounts to those around us (especially those whose “dietary needs” limit what they can take in, at any given time).

In this way, we move wisely across nations and peoples, with not only our receipts, but also the heartbeat of our lives, the good news of the gospel.

Enjoy this superb dish, which is easy to make, with the recipe below.  How it wows!  (For another great pork chop receipt, see Cotes de Porc Braisses a la Moutarde, from Time-Life Foods of the World, at A 1960’s French Dinner.)

References:

  1. Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.), p. 406.
  2. Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, 2 volumes (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961, reprinted eighteen times, twentieth printing, May 1971), Vol. 1, p. 378.
  3. Ibid., pp. 378, 379.
  4. Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1931, reprinted ten times, twelfth printing, 1964), pp. 396, 397.
  5. Ibid.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_of_pork
  7. Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1931, reprinted ten times, twelfth printing, 1964), p. 397.

finished product

Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette  Yields: 2 servings.  Active prep time: 1 hr/  inactive marinating time: 3-12 hr.  Note: the following is inspired by Julia Child’s recipe in The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, pp. 376, 386, 387; it includes Child’s marinade seche, which greatly enhances the recipe.

 

 

 

Needed: a covered pan suitable for both stove top and oven; for a single recipe, a 3-quart, fireproof casserole works well (if making multiple recipes, use a 10”-12” Dutch oven).

Marinade Seche  (This is enough for up to 2 lbs of meat; if you are making more than 2 lbs, increase the recipe accordingly.)

2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp ground sage or thyme

1/4 tsp ground bay leaf

Two pinches allspice

Optional: 1 clove mashed garlic

Chops

1-1 1/3 lb boneless, pork loin chops, or 2 chops, 1 1/4” thick (Note: boneless, French-cut, center-cut, pork loin chops are available at Trader Joe’s, which are rather expensive-$6.49/lb, but worth it!)

1 tbsp oil  (Avocado or coconut oil is important for health, as olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 tbsp butter

Optional: 1 clove garlic, halved

Sauce Nenette

1 c heavy whipping cream  (Note: increase the sauce recipe by one and a half for four chops; for six chops, double the sauce recipe.)

1/8 tsp salt

Pinch of pepper

2 tsp dry mustard  (Available in bulk at most grocery stores.)

4 tsp tomato paste

4 tsp chopped fresh basil  (If you have fresh basil that you are not able to use right away, you may freeze the whole leaves in water, in a small container; be sure to thaw the night before cooking.  Large, fresh, basil plants are often available at Trader’s for $3.99; see photo below.)

  1. basil plant from Trader’s

    If using frozen basil, thaw 24 hours ahead, in the refrigerator.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the first six ingredients; rub pork loins with this marinade seche. Place loins in a glass, or stainless steel, dish.  Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours-better overnight-turning at least 2-3 times during marinating period.  This brings out flavor and tenderizes the meat.  May not need to use all the marinade.  See photo below.
  3. marinade seche, for rubbing on chops

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  4. Before cooking the chops, scrape off the salt and herbs; then, dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels (drying aids in the browning process); see photo below.
  5. scraping salt marinade off chops

    Heat pan over med-med/high heat; add 1 tbsp oil for 2 chops; place pork chops in hot oil (if doubling the recipe, be sure not to crowd chops, but cook two or three at a time, or they will steam rather than brown).

  6. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until nicely browned (see photo below).
  7. Prepare basil by chopping.  If using frozen basil, drain it well, chop small, and measure 2 tsp of the wet leaves, as opposed to 4 tsp of chopped, fresh leaves, for a single recipe.
  8. browned loin chops

    Remove chops to a plate, pour out fat in pan; then, add butter and optional garlic-listed above under Chops. Return the meat and all its juices to hot pan; let cook until you hear the loin chops sizzle.

  9. Cover the pan and place in the bottom third of oven, for 20-30 minutes, or until there is no color in chops, when center is cut with a knife (time varies with thickness of cut).  Be sure to turn and baste the chops occasionally.
  10. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring cream, salt, and pepper, listed above under Sauce Nenette, to a simmer over med/low heat; then, cook for 8-10 minutes, or until it is reduced by a third, or a total of 2/3 cups. Do not cover pan.
  11. Blend the mustard and tomato paste together in a small bowl; beat hot cream into this mixture with a wire whisk; set aside.
  12. When chops are done, remove to a plate, and degrease the meat juices, by using a long-handled spoon (draw spoon over the surface, to dip up a thin layer of fat; it helps to tip pan, to more easily reach fat.)
  13. Pour cream mixture over juices in pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes, uncovered, on top of stove. Adjust seasoning (know meat will be salty from marinade), stir in chopped basil, return chops, basting them with sauce.  See photo at top of recipe.
  14. For low-carb, gluten-free needs, I like to serve this with quinoa (see recipe at Quinoa Dishes). Childs suggests braised cabbage for a vegetable; my version of this will be my next entry, or see my 1880’s Minced Cabbage, for another ideal accompaniment to this dish.

Legal Peanut Butter Pie

legal peanut butter pie

A recipe for the best of legal, peanut butter pies follows; it’s accompanied with information on the make-up of peanuts, their various uses throughout the world, and why they cause allergic reactions, in some people.

Peanuts Are Seeds

The peanut is not a nut, but rather the seed of Arachis hypogaea, a small bush that is a legume, which pushes its woody fruit capsules underground as they mature.  1

The Background of Peanuts

Around 2000 B.C., this seed was domesticated in South America; this took place probably in Brazil.  Then, the peanut became an important crop to the Peruvians, prior to the beginnings of the Inca empire, in the early 1400’s.  In the 16th century, the Portuguese took it to Africa, India, and Asia.  Quickly, it was being used as a major source of cooking oil in China, because of its high oil content (the composition of peanuts is 48% oil, 26% protein, 19% carbohydrates, and 6% water).  2

America lagged behind, however, in adopting the peanut as anything other than animal feed, until the 19th century; then, in the early 20th century it became a major crop in the South, when agricultural scientist George Washington Carver encouraged farmers to replace weevil-ravaged cotton with peanuts.  Today, the United States is the third largest peanut producer in the world-though we’re a distant third to India and China.  3

Various Ways Peanuts Are Employed in Cooking

Peanuts are consumed mostly as oil and meal in Asia, while in the U.S., they are eaten as food.  In their pureed form, they have found their way into several Asian and African traditions, lending richness, substance, and flavor to sauces and soups.  These pureed peanuts, as well as whole ones, are used in Thai and Chinese noodle dishes and sweet bun fillings.  Indonesian dipping sauces and sambal condiments employ these, and in West African nations, they are used in cakes, confections, stews and soups.  (For a great Indonesian condiment, see Serengdung Kacang-a delicious peanut/coconut-chip mixture, which can creatively be used as an hors d’ouvres or on top of salads.  4

Along with these other countries, peanut soups are popular in the American South.  Both the southern United States and Asia use peanuts boiled in saltwater, as a popular snack.  When boiled in its shell, this nut develops a potato-like aroma, with sweet vanilla highlights due to the liberation of vanillin from the shell.  5

Compounds Contributing to Peanut Flavor

Roasted peanuts have several hundred volatile compounds; the raw peanut has a green, bean-like flavor, which comes mainly from the compounds green-leaf hexanal and the pyrazine that characterizes peas.  A composite of several sulfur compounds make-up the roasted aroma; these consist of numerous “nutty” pyrazines and others (some of which have fruity, flowery, fried, and smoky characters).  When staling takes place during storage, these nutty pyrazines, however, disappear, and painty, cardboard notes increase.  (For related information on chemical compounds and their aromas, as found in herbs and spices, see Sage Turkey Delight.)

There are four varieties of peanuts grown in the United States for different purposes.  The large Virginia and small Valencia are used for nuts sold in the shell, while the Virginia and small Spanish are found in mixed nuts and candies.  Finally, the Runner is produced for use in baked goods and peanut butter.  7

Peanuts as a Food Allergy

Bbc.com wrote that the frequency of food allergies-especially in industrialized countries-has increased over the past 30 years; it reported a five-fold increase in peanut allergies between 1995 and 2016 in the UK.  It proposed that this increase in allergies is probably environmental and related to Western lifestyles.  8

A true food allergy is the body’s immune system mistaking a food component (in this case proteins in peanuts), as a sign of invasion by bacterium or virus; it then reacts by initiating a defense-the release of histamines-which causes the allergic reaction.  Such overreactions may cause mild damage, such as manifestations of discomfort, itching or rash, or severe reactions bringing life-threatening asthma or change in blood pressure or heart rhythm.  9

Peanuts are one of the most typical food allergens; these allergic reactions are the most common cause of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis, with adolescents with asthma being the highest-risk group.  Thus, it is important to check with your doctor, before eating the following recipe, or any other foods made with peanuts.  10

Applying This Peanut Lesson

When still, we are guided into that which is most beneficial for our beings.  When hurried we are prone to mistakes, such as eating, by accident, a food that causes adverse reactions in our body-makeup.

Slowing down is imperative to hearing our given needs, which are unique.  Each of us must hear for ourselves what to eat nutritionally.  Likewise, we must accept inner guidance concerning all other aspects of living, so we consume only that which is true and pure.

We need to be at peace in order to attain such promise.  The Spirit encourages us: when he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?  11

Gently and mildly-Webster’s definition for meekness-we receive God’s provision of tranquility, so we can know what to put in our mouths and souls, from moment to moment.  As we apply this precept, it amplifies itself as increased health, in both the physical and spiritual realms, for they play off of each other.

Enjoy this powerful dessert, by following the recipe below!

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.510.
  2. , pp. 502, 510.
  3. , p. 510.
  4. , p. 510.
  5. , p. 510.
  6. , p. 511.
  7. , p. 511.
  8. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46302780
  9. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.455.
  10. https://www.thermofisher.com/diagnostic-education/patient/us/en/allergy-types/food-allergies/peanut-allergy.html
  11. King James Bible, Job: 34: 29.

finished product

Legal Peanut Butter Pie  Yields: 1-10” gluten-free pie, or 10 servings.  Active prep time: 1hr/  inactive prep time for chilling: 3 hr.  Note: may freeze, to have on hand for company.

Crust

1 c almond flour

1/3 c peanut powder  (Trader Joe’s has an excellent price for this-$4.99/8 oz.)

1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener  (See Healthy Date/Apricot Bars, for information on the health benefits of Monkfruit.)

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp of butter, melted

Spray oil

Ganache

3/4 c heavy whipping cream  (An organic one can be found at Trader Joe’s for $3.49/pt.)

1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips  (Such are high quality and inexpensive at Trader’s.)

1/2 oz of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, for optional decoration

Filling

1 c plus 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener

1 c creamy peanut butter, at room temperature

  1. moist pie crust dough

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chill a med/large bowl and beaters for an electric mixer in the freezer.

  2. Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over med/low heat.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl with a fork.
  4. pie crust formed in pan

    Add melted butter; blend with a spatula, until all dry ingredients are incorporated (mixture will be moist-see photo).

  5. Spray a 10” pie plate, preferably with coconut oil spray. With the spatula, spread the dough evenly over bottom of pan; then with fingers, pat mixture firmly into place on bottom and up sides of pie plate.  See photo.
  6. baked pie crust

    Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom-edges will be darker. (See photo.)

  7. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes; then, place in refrigerator or freezer to finish cooling.
  8. Make ganache-see list of ingredients above-by bringing cream to a very low simmer over med/low heat (should be hot/steaming, but not boiling); add chocolate pieces and continue to cook, beating with a wire whisk, until mixture is glossy/shiny.  Remove from heat; add vanilla and set aside.
  9. first beating of filling

    Go to the above list of filling ingredients: whip 1 c cream, using chilled bowl and beaters. Set aside in refrigerator.

  10. In another bowl, using the same beaters, blend the softened cream cheese, 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, and vanilla. Mix in Monkfruit and peanut butter, beating for at least three minutes, until mixture is light and Monkfruit has had a chance to dissolve some-this will dissolve further, as pie sets. (See photo above.)
  11. Beat in one third of the whipped cream in this mixture.
  12. filling after final beating

    Finally fold in the remaining cream (see photo).

  13. Spread the ganache evenly on bottom of the cooled crust.
  14. Place filling on top of ganache. May use your fingertip to form decorative peaks in filling.
  15. Using a sharp knife, scrape optional, unsweetened chocolate over the top of the pie (see photo of finished product at top of recipe).
  16. Refrigerate for three hours before serving.
  17. Serve immediately, or may cut in tenths-this is rich-and freeze. When frozen, place pieces in a freezer bag, to have on hand as needed for company.
  18. This is legal and dynamite!