Sage Turkey Delight

sage turkey delight

Learn about the term essential oils, as applied popularly to medicine and traditionally to food; in the later it is used for the flavorful material in herbs and spices.  With the approach of Thanksgiving, consider this great recipe for leftover turkey or chicken, which employs the fresh herb sage, which we will look at more closely below.  1

Essential Oil as Found in Food

Flavor is a composite quality, a combination of sensations occurring in the odor receptors in the upper reaches of our nose and the taste buds in our mouths.  Both sensations are chemical in nature: we are smelling odors and tasting tastes, when our receptors are triggered by specific chemicals in foods (in medicinal essential oils, these concentrated chemicals are either inhaled through the nostrils or applied to the skin).  2

Most of what we experience as flavor is odor, or aroma (this can be seen in the  effect odor molecules have on us, when biting into a fresh apple, and from the sensations derived from indulging in a roast, hot from the oven).  3

Herbs and spices heighten flavor by adding their characteristic aroma molecules (an exception is pungent spices and herbs, such as pepper and chilies, which stimulate and irritate nerves in the mouth, rather than provide aroma).  These aroma molecules of herbs and spices are small, light, invisible, intangible, making them volatile, especially when heated-they evaporate from their source and fly through the air, which allows them to rise with our breath to the receptors in our nostrils.  4

In herbs and spices, these were actually defensive aroma chemicals in the plants themselves, which we have adopted as potent, intense sources of flavor.  God placed these chemicals in plants to make them resistant to attack by animals or microbes.  These defensive chemical weapons are stockpiled carefully in specialized oil-storage cells, in glands on the surface of leaves, or in channels that open up between cells, as they can have disruptive effects on the plants themselves-as well as on predators-and thus are kept from the internal workings of the plants.   5

When eaten as is, most herbs and spices are acrid, irritating, numbing, and actually toxic, such as a whole oregano leaf, a clove, peppercorn, or vanilla bean.  But through the art of cooking, man dilutes these, thus bringing much pleasure.  6

In food history, the traditional term essential oil reflects an important practical fact: the aroma chemicals that make up flavor are more similar to oils and fats than to water, making them more soluble in oil than water.  For this reason, cooks add the deep flavor  of herbs and spices to foods, by the infusing of them in oil, not water (two exceptions to this are: tea, a dried leaf, and coffee, a roasted seed).  We also sometimes infuse herbs in watery vinegar and in alcohols, but the acetic acid of both are small cousins of fat molecules; thus, vinegar and alcohol help to dissolve more aromatics than plain water could.  7

When cooking with an herb, it is important to add it to our food-cooked in fats-at the last minute to preserve the fullness of its flavor.

Essential Oil as Found in Medicine

Likewise, medicinal essential oils are aromatic chemicals extracted from plants and combined with the carrier oil.  There are eight removal methods (steam distillation, water distillation, water and steam distillation, cold-press extraction, CO2 extraction, maceration, enfleurage, and solvent extraction).  Some extractions methods are best suited for the particular plant types and parts.  8

These liquefied versions of a plant have obtained the active botanical constituents from that species, thus allowing its “life force” to reach the blood stream faster than eating the plant would.  9

These essential oils, compounds extracted from plants, are indeed the plant’s captured essence, or flavor and scent, as seen with food above.  Medicinal essential oils are concentrated plant extracts, and true ones must be obtained through non-chemical processes, such as distillation (via steam and/or water), or mechanical methods like cold-pressing, such as used for obtaining oils from citrus peels.  10

Flavor Components in Sage

Sage, as called for in this holiday receipt, has the following flavor notes, lending to its general sensory qualities as brought on by their contributing chemicals.  Some of the major chemicals found in sage are cineole, providing a fresh note, and pinene, lending a pine flavor quality.  Both of these chemicals are in the terpenes family, which as a family tends to be especially volatile and reactive, meaning these chemicals are often the first molecules to reach the nose.  They thus provide the initial impression of these lighter and more ethereal notes, and for this reason, they disappear quickly in cooking.  11

Cineole and camphor add a penetrating sensory quality, while the distinctive chemical thujone-found almost exclusively in sage-contributes much of its character.  All of these flavor notes pair ideally with poultry; thus, sage is the perfect herb for my recipe below.  12

Discovering our Optimum Health

It takes concentration and purposeful effort, to achieve our optimum health.  We must study all the options; then, make an educated decision how best to meet our individual needs with food, medicine, and life, all three.

God gave us doctors; it is wise to seek counsel from them, in both medicine and food.  Be led by the Spirit: go to one you trust and then ask lots of questions.  Follow through with personal research; then, prayerfully consider your choice for ideally meeting your specific health needs-and we all have health issues, with which we find victory!

Let us be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove-primarily with ourselves-as we press in for this ideal concerning our bodies, minds, and hearts.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 389.
  2. Ibid., p. 387.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid., p. 389.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/articles/how-essential-oils-are-made.html
  9. Ibid.
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils
  11. Harold McGee, On Food and History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 392.
  12. Ibid.

finished product

Sage Turkey Delight  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 45 min.

16 oz frozen broccoli  (Trader Joe’s has organic for $2.29/ lb.)

1 lg yellow onion, cut in 1/8slices

3 1/2 tsp oil  (Avocado or coconut oil is important, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

4 lg carrots, about 2/3 lb, chopped in thin diagonal slices  (Organic at Trader’s costs $.79/ lb.)

10 oz pkg of sliced crimini mushrooms  (Trader’s has this for $2.49; though, any kind of mushrooms will do.)

sage plant from Trader Joe’s

4 tbsp ghee or butter  (If making homemade ghee, plan on 12 min to prep; see  recipe at Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)

3 c of leftover turkey, or chicken, in bite-size pieces

1 small herb plant of fresh sage, about 3/4 c whole leaves  (This organic plant is available at Trader Joe’s for $2.49; see photo.)

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

  1. clean, easy method of scraping carrots into grocery bag

    Take broccoli out of freezer, open bag, and set aside, to begin thawing for quicker cooking.

  2. To caramelize onion, slice it in half at root and then in even 1/8” slices.  Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a skillet, over medium heat, and when a small piece of onion begins to sizzle, add the rest.  Cook, stirring every several minutes, until a light color starts to form.  Then stir every minute, until onions are a dark brown and caramelized. May add a small amount more of oil toward end, if they look like they might burn.  Watch carefully, while proceeding to next step.
  3. carrots after cooking for 2 min

    Spray carrots with a vegetable spray (an inexpensive, effective spray that works well is a combination of 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide).  Rinse thoroughly and set aside.

  4. In a large sauté pan, heat butter or ghee (for  ghee recipe see Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)  Add mushrooms and cook for several minutes, or only until slightly limp; remove to a bowl, carefully leaving juices in pan.  Take pan off heat when done.
  5. chopped sage

    Be sure to watch onions.  (May set a timer and keep hitting repeat, as a reminder.)

  6. For easy, clean prep, scrape carrots with a knife in a plastic grocery bag hung over sink nozzle (see photo at direction #1).  Cut carrots in thin, diagonal slices.
  7. Add remaining tbsp of oil to mushroom juices in pan and heat, until a small piece of carrot sizzles in pan.  Add rest of carrots, distributing juices; cook for about 2 minutes (see photo above).
  8. With a paring knife, cut large broccoli florettes in half; add to pan, stirring well, so oils are mixed in evenly.  Cook until desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.
  9. Meanwhile remove stems from sage and chop leaves into small pieces, set aside.  See photo above.
  10. When vegetables are finished, stir in poultry pieces and chopped sage.  Season with salt and pepper to taste; cook until heated thoroughly; when hot, adjust seasonings.  (See photo at top of recipe.)
  11. Serve it forth!

New American Biscuit, made with almond flour

almond flour biscuits

The benefits of almonds and almond flour are given here, along with a recipe for the new American biscuit-made with almond flour-to comply with multiple popular diets, currently present in America (gluten-free, keto, paleo, etc., and plain good eating).  This 20-minute biscuit is exceptionally light and moist, a great alternative treat.

Almond, the seed of a plum-like stone fruit, or drupe, is the world’s largest tree-nut crop.  This nut is a close relative of the plum, peach, and cherry, with its stony shell.  California is now the largest producer of the cultivated almond, Prunus amygdalus, which originally came from western Asia.  There are also several dozen wild or minor species.  1

As an aside, the nutty flavor of both almonds and its flour are not at all like the strong and distinctive flavor of almond extract, which is derived from bitter almonds; strong almond flavor is found only in wild or bitter almonds.  2

Our “pure” almond extract is made with aromatic benzaldehyde-from bitter almonds.  It, however, is without the cyanide that accompanies it in these almonds themselves.  On the other hand, “natural” extract usually contains benzaldehyde produced from cassia bark, while “imitation” almond extract contains benzaldehyde synthesized from pure chemicals.  None of these three extracts resemble, in flavor, the nutty sweet taste of the domesticated almond, or its flour.  3

Almonds are a power-packed food with their high content of antioxidant vitamin E and low levels of polyunsaturated fats, giving them a relatively long shelf life.  Their great, low-carb, sweet-tasting flour has an abundance of health benefits.  4

This nut and its flour are high in protein and fiber, rich in manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus, as well as its above mentioned strength in vitamin E.  This last is a group of fat-soluble compounds that act as antioxidants in our bodies, thus preventing free radicals from doing damage, such as accelerating aging and increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Lower rates of Alzheimer’s are also linked with vitamin E intake, in several studies.  5

One ounce (28 grams) of almond flour provides 35% of required daily intake of vitamin E, while the same amount provides 19% of the RDI of magnesium.  There is some evidence that the addition of magnesium in our diets results in improved blood sugar control, reduced insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure.  6

Magnesium is known to possibly help control blood sugar and improve insulin function.  Being low in carbs, yet high in healthy fats and fiber, baked goods made with almond flour also have a low glycemic index; thus, they release sugar into your blood slowly to provide a sustained source of energy.  For these two reasons, almond-flour-treats may be an answer to people struggling with type 2 diabetes and weight conditions.  7

There is some evidence that almond flour may help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure (studies along this line are inconsistent).  In this way, almonds may lower risks of heart disease.  8

Finally, this nut may promote good sleep, because of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin present in them, as well as their high magnesium content, which also may improve sleep quality.  The magnesium purportedly reduces inflammation and the hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep.  Studies, however, are inconclusive; but some find almonds, on an empty stomach, before bed, are beneficial.  I like to eat one of these biscuits, several tablespoons of raw almond butter, and a glass of cold almond milk, before I retire.  9

It seems that most Americans are concerned about their weight and diet for one reason or another.  When I go into the market place, it seems most of the people I encounter are obese.  My heart breaks for them, as I once was caught in 226-pound body, as well.  Everything I did to lose weight-over several decades-failed.

I constantly resolved anew, to exercise for twenty minutes a day, three times a week; walking, however, brought so much pain to my heavy body that I couldn’t stick with my regime.  Today, my challenges have been reversed.  Now, I choose to lay down my beloved aerobic walking, in order to first prioritize my responsibilities, in any given day.  I walk as time allows, which takes great discipline for me, with my passion for this exercise.  Wow!  How things have changed.

Likewise, my 226-pound-body effortlessly and naturally melted away to a perfect 130-pound-frame, wearing a size four and six.  For me, this all came about when I finally let go and let God-as the saying goes.

It all started on October 2, 2002, when I suddenly had to stop a medication; its replacement came with the promise of a side effect of decreased appetite.  With great anticipation, I started what I thought was to be my miracle drug; three months later, however, during a doctor’s appointment, I discovered that I was six pounds heavier.

At that moment, I admitted total defeat, for there was no hope for me in the natural realm.  Crying out to God for help, I truly let go; I was inspired to tell the nurse that in the future I was going to close my eyes when she weighed me, and for her not to tell me what the numbers were.  We did this for several years, and my clothes-size slowly, but surely diminished.  Indeed it wasn’t me, but our Father who performed this miracle.

Today, the scales of life have changed.  Now with my active, vibrant life, I need to count my calories to insure I am eating enough to maintain my weight.  How pleasant is this problem.

We know that life can bring change, sometimes big, when we surrender our will; thus, we need to always be on our toes, expecting the best, which actually opens the door for the Omnipotent One to manifest good in our lives.

This biscuit promotes both health and pleasure; it is indeed good.  Enjoy its simple preparation, as given below.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984. 2004), pp. 505.
  2. Ibid., 506.
  3. Ibid., 506.
  4. Ibid., 505.
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/almond-flour#section3
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-to-help-you-sleep#section1

biscuits baked to a golden brown

Almond Flour Biscuits  Yields: 8 biscuits.  Total prep time: 20 min/  active prep time: 7 min/  baking time: 13 min.

1/4 c heavy whipping cream, soured with 8 drops of lemon juice from squeeze ball  (Organic cream is important for health; Trader Joe’s carries this for $3.29/pt.  Regular sour cream will also work, though not as healthy.)

1 lg egg, lightly beaten

1 c almond flour  (Costco has the best price on this-$12.99 for 3 lbs.  It is also available in bulk at our local New Season’s.)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1 tsp konjac root powder, or similar ingredient  (Konjac root powder is available on-line; it promotes softness in baked goods.)

  1. curdled heavy whipping cream

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Place cream in a medium (cereal) bowl and squirt about 8 short squirts of lemon juice from lemon ball over surface.  Let sit for 4-5 minutes; you will be able to see the curdled cream when you tip the bowl to the side (see above photo).
  3. In a med/lg bowl, beat egg lightly.
  4. wet dough

    Shake all the dry ingredients in a quart-size, sealed storage bag; may also stir with a fork in a bowl.  Add dry ingredients and soured cream to egg.  Stir until flour is incorporated; mixture will be quite wet.  See photo.

  5. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Spoon dough for 8 biscuits on paper.  Bake for 13-14 minutes, or until light golden brown (see photo at top of recipe).  Remove from oven and cool on pan.  These will store well in the refrigerator for a number of days.

 

 

Great Keto Citrus Cookies

keto citrus cookies

These keto citrus cookies-my sister Maureen’s creation-are a treat, as is the following information on Swerve confectioner’s sugar, which is used in the frosting.  Here I compare it to Lakanto Monfruit sweetener.

Personally I prefer the taste of Lakanto Monkfruit sweetner, with erythritol and monkfruit, to Swerve, a blend of erythritol and prebiotic oligosacchariedes; I notice that Swerve leaves a slight aftertaste, when consumed with coffee, a flavor-enhancer.

Both are natural sweeteners, containing nothing artificial including no preservatives; they are non-GMO, gluten-free, non-glycemic, and diabetic friendly.  They taste and measure like sugar.

These two sweeteners are part erythritol.  Lakanto Monkfruit has monkfruit added, which is derived from the fruit called monkfruit (for details see Date/Apricot Bars, 2019/06/12).  On the other hand, Swerve states its ingredients come from select fruits and starchy root vegetables.  In this case, they add oligosaccharides to  the erythritol.

These oligosaccharides are derived from adding enzymes to starchy root vegetables, thus breaking down the starch and producing this carbohydrate, whose molecules are made up of a relatively small number of monosaccharide units.  1

Common oligosaccharides include the simple, single sugars-monosaccharides-glucose, fructose, and galactose.  1,4 glycosidic bonds bind these together to create disaccharides, such as sucrose, lactose, and maltose.  All sugars-known as oligaosaccharides-are formed when two or more monosaccharides are joined together by O-glycosidic bonds.  2

Another term for sugar is saccharide, while the word oligosaccharide, though a broad term, is most commonly used to refer to a carbohydrate polymer whose molecules are composed of a relatively small number of these monosaccharide units-typically between 3-9 units.  3

Swerve does not reveal what type of simple sugar, or monosaccharide, is used to make up its carbohydrate polymers, which are specifically referred to as oligosacchrides here.  They also state that they have introduced a small amount of natural citrus flavor, though we don’t know exactly what is meant by “natural flavor”, or more specifically how it is derived in this case.  4

Its oligosaccharides are prebiotic fibers, or types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, which cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract; thus, they are considered calorie-free, passing intact through our digestive systems into our colons, where they support the growth of healthy bacteria.  Being calories that our bodies cannot assimilate, these oligosaccharides are considered to be calorie-free, not raising blood sugar or insulin levels; they, however, may cause digestive upsets, leading to gas, bloating, and diarrhea, which is especially true when used in high amounts.  5

In its favor, Swerve boasts that it browns and caramelizes just like sugar.  I, however, am not as sold on its flavor as much as that of Lakanto Monkfruit, but large amounts of this latter may cause dryness in baked goods.  Nevertheless, I love Monkfruit-over Swerve-added to my hot oats and chia seed parfaits, as well as in baking, when used moderately, with the addition of konjac root powder, or a similar product.  Swerve, however, makes confectioners sugar, a must for frostings, as found in the recipe below.

My health condition recently called for a decrease in the amount of carbohydrates I was taking in.  Thus, I became interested in Dr. Colbert’s keto diet.  This greatly reduces carbs, while calling for a concentration of high-quality fats, to achieve keto-zone for effective weight loss (see https://drcolbert.com/).

My personal need, however, is to be sure I eat enough calories in a day, so as not to lose weight, while not consuming high amounts of carbs for those needed calories.  Henceforth, I follow the keto diet loosely, not needing to maintain keto-zone that his patients require for losing weight effectively.  I have only skimmed the surface of all Colbert’s teachings, receiving his recommendations for 70% of your daily caloric intake, to be derived from healthy fats (see Date/Apricot Bars, 2019/06/12).

I have learned to love my homemade ghee-recipe at Vichy Carrots, 2019/07/11-in my hot cereal, and I lavish grass-fed Kerry butter on keto bisquits made with almond flour-my next entry.  Likewise, I fill a tablespoon-size impression in my homemade, sprouted three-bean dip, with organic olive oil, the king of all oils-a quick and easy way to consume my needed fat.  (See recipe for Sprouted Three Bean Dip at 2019/05/13.)  This last I eat with just eleven organic bean chips, as recommended for a serving, counting all my carbohydrates carefully.

I can have a moderate amount of carbs, just not the quantity I was previously eating to maintain calories for my weight.  I have learned it is all about balance!

We notice that there is always a tension of some sort in watching our diets, as well as in maintaining other life experiences.  This characteristic in our existence demands that we be alert, so as not to be caught off-guard in matters of physical and mental health.

Our inward wisdom will naturally resolve these apparent problems, when we quiet ourselves and subject our instinct-to react with feelings-rather, to settle in calm!  We always ask God for help to access our inner voice.

In this way, we don’t eat compulsively, tasting nothing, or of equal importance, don’t eat at all, because of emotions.

In regard to living with this inward stability, we must avoid high-frenzied reactions to the inevitable fiery darts, which cause hypertension.  Neither, do we give an opening for inertia, brought on by over-stimulation,, producing the need to stop the world and get off.

All this can be done, when in rest-believing-we seek composure in both eating and living.  We always achieve this symmetry, when we ask God for his needed help.

 

References:

  1. https://swervesweet.com/about
  2. https://teaching.ncl.ac.uk/bms/wiki/index.php/Oligosaccharide
  3. Ibid.
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/swerve-sweetener
  5. Ibid.

finished product

Keto Citrus Cookies  Yields: about 18 cookies.  Total prep time: 1 1/5 hr /  active prep time: 48 min/  inactive prep time: 10 min/  baking time: 12 min .  Note: frosting is enough for three cookie recipes; may triple cookie recipe, or better yet freeze leftover frosting in separate containers, for future single batches.  Cookies also freeze really well!

 

 

1 orange & 1 lemon  (Organic is important here for flavor and quality, as skin of citrus fruits readily absorb pesticides.)

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c Lankanto Monkfruit sweetener  (This is available most reasonably at Costco.)

1 lg egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

2 c almond flour  (Costco’s almond flour is much cheaper than any other available-$12.99 for a 3-lb bag.)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp konjac root powder, or a similar product of your choice

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

Frosting  (This is enough for three recipes, which stores well in refrigerator for several weeks, or in the freezer for a longer period.  Subsequent batches of these cookies are quick and easy; be sure to divide into three equal parts, storing two parts in individual containers.)

1 stick of butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 pkg of Swerve confectioner’s sugar

1/3 c blended juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

  1. grating fruit

    Be sure butter and cream cheese are softened, before starting recipe.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Zest 2 lemons and 2 oranges, if making frosting at the same time as baking cookies; if using leftover frosting, therefore baking cookies separately, just zest one of each fruit.  Set aside zest, see photo above.
  4. dough

    If making frosting, juice all fruit together in a bowl; set aside.

  5. Mix butter and Monkfruit.  Beat well egg, vanilla, and half the blended zest, in a large bowl.
  6. Blend baking soda, xanthium gum, and salt into almond flour, using a separate dish-better yet, shake well in a quart-size sealed storage bag.  Mix almond flour mixture into butter mixture; do not over-beat.  See above photo.
  7. forming balls of dough

    Using a teaspoon, form balls on an 18” x 12” parchment-lined cookie sheet, several inches apart from each other; see photo.

  8. Bake in hot oven for 11-12 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Do not over-bake, as these will cook more on pan while cooling; see bottom photo.  Meanwhile, make frosting.
  9. golden brown cookies

    Mix frosting by creaming together softened butter and room-temperature cream cheese; add confectioner’s sugar; then, beat in 1/3 c blended fruit juices.  Finally mix in remaining zest, vanilla and salt.

  10. When cookies are done, cool on pan; then, place on wax paper to frost (see photo at top of recipe).
  11. Enjoy these great, “legal” cookies!

Pasta and Spinach, with Lemon Sauce

pasta and spinach, with lemon sauce

Sauces have been used to modify and accentuate food throughout history, transcending all cultures.  Here we will examine ancient Rome, for it offers-in the strictest sense of recipes-the earliest cook book De Re Coquinaria, which is perhaps erroneously believed to have been written by the gourmet Apicius in the first century A.D.  This discrepancy is made evident by Athenaeus, who compiled the anthology The Deipnosophists, circa 230 A.D.  This latter book is regarded as one of the leading sources of information about ancient times, and its author knew all about Apicius as a gourmet, but didn’t attribute a cook book to him.  Regardless of the exact authorship of De Coquinaria, it supplies the rich basis of a worthy record of early cooking techniques.

With it come glimpses into the eating habits of the well-to-do, including sumptuous recipes, such as those for feasts.  Note that contrary to established beliefs, the everyday Roman dining was simple: breakfast (jentaculum) was bread with a few olives or raisins; lunch (prandium) mostly consisted of leftovers, cold meat, or eggs; the daily main meal (cena) also reflected less extravagance-this latter was more elaborate only in households with an excess of slaves.

Even more than the fussy dishes concocted for guests, plain foods, like grain pastes, beans, and bread, required spices and strong sauces to transform them, with their disproportionate quantities of starch.  This same rule is illustrated by the most intense of the world’s repertoire of sauces, such as the soy mixtures of China, the chili pastes of Mexico, and the curries of India-derived from the South Indian name kari meaning sauce.  Here the common man basically developed sauces as seasonings for bulky carbohydrates, which both absorb and dilute them; on the other hand, the solid masses of fish and meat scarcely incorporate liquid at all.

In Food in History, Reay Tannahill states that all the qualities that give a cuisine its identity change in a society that can afford to eat meat and fish daily, with their staying sauces.  (Such peoples utilize extensive creativity in sauce-making, the primary element of good cooking.)  Thus, Tannahill suggests that the whole essence of cuisine may have thus changed in the rural society that was transfigured into Imperial Rome.

Showy receipts were prepared for company by that ancient culture. The full dinner party in Roman times was considered to be nine people, reclining on three couches, around a U shape table.  These guests leaned on their left elbow, while eating with the fingers of their right hand.  This was a messy activity; they washed themselves from top to toe before a meal, probably needing to do so after as well.  By necessity, the dipping sauces for their flesh foods required a sturdy substance for easy eating; such thickening was achieved by adding wheat starch or crumbled pastry.

The use of liquamen (or garum) was predominant in Roman cookery.  This clear, golden, fermented fish sauce was made commercially, by leaving out a mixture of fish and salt in the sun for two to three months (eighteen months for larger fish).  Its presence in most recipes not only added strong flavor, which the Romans loved, but in turn, masked milder rancidity, so prevalent in their foodstuffs.

Imperial Rome grew to be a quarter of the size of modern Paris, unlike the other great, small urban centers of Sumer, Egypt, and Greece, which were small by comparison; this made transport of perishable foods, which were stockpiled in warehouses, very slow.  With no refrigeration, food spoilage presented a large problem; thus, the powerful, fishy/salty flavored liquamen found its way into almost everything.

The recipes of antiquity were sketchy, with little more than a list of ingredients.  Their sauces, as mentioned above, often called for wheat starch and crumbled pastry as thickeners, for there was no roux.  Interestingly enough, roux was NOT the invention of 17th-century classical French cuisine, as is generally accepted; indeed, two printed German recipes remain employing this, which date back to late medieval times, 150 years before roux began revolutionizing cooking.

This paste roux-a combination of flour and butter cooked to varying degrees for different recipes-is the binder in four out of five of the leading mother sauces: brown sauce (espagnole), white sauce (veloute), milk-based béchamel, and traditional sauce tomat (the fifth is hollandaise).  These five mother sauces were formalized in a code by Auguste Escoffier in Le Guide Culinaire (1903); they act as the basis of most sauce creations, chocolate being an exception.

Our lemon recipe, a béchamel, is time-efficient, for I feel a need to respect the modern sense of rush, which makes many afraid of a brown sauce that in a careful kitchen can simmer for up to ten hours.  Enjoy this delightful dish prepared in less than 30 minutes!

References:

Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1964) pp. 14, 15, 18, 20.

Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), pp. 82, 83, 89, 90.

Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork (New York: Basic Books, 2012), p. 202.

Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 616-618.

https://www.thekitchn.com/do-you-know-your-french-mother-sauces-211794

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Auguste-Escoffier

weighing pasta

Swift Pasta and Spinach, with Lemon Sauce  Yields: 2 servings (as a main course),  or 4 servings (as a side dish).  Total prep time: 25 minutes.  Note: may use gluten-free pasta.

2/3 cup  shallots, chopped small

1/3 cup or 1/3 medium onion, chopped small  (If desired, may use more onions and less shallots; a total of 1 cup, of both together, is needed.)

2 med/lg garlic cloves  (For easy prep, substitute 1 cube frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s.)

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice-2 small lemons  (May add optional zest of half a lemon.)

5-6 oz of pasta

5 tsp butter

2 tsp flour  (May substitute potato or rice flour for gluten-free version.)

2 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is important for health, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream  (Must be heavy cream, or it will curdle.)

Salt and white pepper, to taste  (Real Salt, Himalayan, or pink salt, is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available very cheaply at Costco.)

Fresh spinach

  1. hand-held wooden lemon squeezer

    Boil 2 1/2 quarts of water over med/high heat in a covered saucepan-add about a teaspoon each of salt and any kind of oil.

  2. Chop small the shallots and onions; measure and set aside.  Mince garlic, if using fresh.
  3. Roll lemons on counter, pressing down hard with hand to loosen juices in meat; squeeze and measure lemon juice; set aside.  (See above photo of hand-held juicer, ideal for easy juicing.)
  4. When water is boiling, turn heat down to medium, add pasta and cook for 7 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain in a colander when done.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 2 tsp of butter in a small saucepan over med/low heat; stir in flour with a wire whisk; cook briefly for about 1 minute-traditionally, roux for a béchamel shouldn’t change in color at all.
  6. finished lemon sauce

    Heat 1 tbsp butter and oil, in a medium-size sauté pan, over medium heat.  Add shallots and onion; cook until translucent, stirring frequently.  Mix in garlic; if garlic is fresh, cook for about 30 seconds more, just until aroma arises, or saute shallot/onions just until cube is dissolved, if using frozen.

  7. Add heavy cream, lemon juice, and roux to onions/shallots/garlic; stir constantly until sauce is thickened; see photo.
  8. Toss with prepared pasta, serve on a bed of spinach, enjoy!

Wholesome Rosemary Bread

rosemary loaves

Of all the abundant gifts of produce that come my way, the most popular herb is rosemary; thus, I created my simple Rosemary Eggs on 2017/08/21.  Now, as bread-baking weather is upon us, I offer a wholesome loaf featuring this sweet, piney flavor.

In Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page describe how certain food combinations best heighten pleasure in our palates.  In their pages, they list meat as the number one compliment to rosemary.  When I think of these two substances together, I immediately go to lamb, with childhood memories from my mother’s kitchen.  According to Dornenburg and Page, this herb also magnifies the savor found in suckling pigs, pork, game, steaks, veal, chicken, salmon, and oily fish (e.g., mackerel, sardines); I also find it strengthens egg dishes.

When considering uniting rosemary with a vegetable, potatoes are paramount, though our authors also couple it with onions, peas, mushrooms, spinach, and beans, among which dried and fava beans are best; those of us that prefer a vegetarian diet can benefit from this knowledge, using it liberally in our bean dishes.

I was a vegetarian for most of my twenties; moving to Tokyo changed this proclivity, for I didn’t want to offend my Japanese hosts by refusing proffered meat dishes; in part, this herbivorous preference in my youth still rests with me today, for my daily caloric intake includes mostly meatless dishes, though I am not afraid in the least to partake of animal flesh.

Rosemary, our evergreen shrub, a native to the Mediterranean, is a member of the mint family; it is a woody perennial herb that grows quickly and without much effort in temperate climates, such as that of the Pacific N.W.  Its Latin name means “dew of the sea”.

The Greeks and Romans cultivated it for both culinary and medicinal purposes; today it is still utilized in these two ways: among a number of medicinal intents, its antioxidant effects are known to reduce inflammation (rosemary was used as a remedy for gout in the 1500’s), and presently some also apply it as a homemade insect repellent (for this recipe, see homeguides.sfgate.com/homemade-rosemary-mosquito-repellent-recipe-73124.html).

The ancients made use of this herb in weddings, funerals, and ceremonies of all sorts.  In days past, brides often entwined it into head-wreaths, as it symbolized for them: fidelity, love, abiding friendship, and remembrance of the life each woman had led prior to her marriage.  Some sources claim that men of antiquity believed it improved memory, though this can only be partially substantiated.

With its sweet, lemony, slightly piney taste, rosemary is traditionally found in Mediterranean cooking-especially with the meats mentioned above-where its potent flavor is liberally applied.  Culinary Artistry states that grains also provide a powerful union with this herb; my present recipe employs this dynamic duo.

I made this rosemary bread for my church friend Charity, who was first in line this summer, supplying me with this garden treat; her strong response was that I should sell these loaves at farmer’s market.  Nevertheless, with my passion for writing, I don’t have time to regularly bake for the public, but oh how I love to cook for my friends!

References:

Andrew Dorenenburg & Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 205.

https://www.thespruce.com/history-of-rosemary-1807655

health.bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/rosemary-herb-history

www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/rosemary.html

https://www.botonical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/rosema17.html

homeguides.sfgate.com/homemade-rosemary-mosquito-repellent-recipe-73124.html

easy chopping of  rosemary in food processor

Rosemary Bread  Yields: 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 3 hr/  active prep time: 30 min/  inactive prep time: 2 hours/  baking time: 30 min.  Note: this method produces quick, easy, mess-free bread, the greatest!

4 c flour  (Blend 3 c whole wheat flour with 1 c unbleached white flour, or better yet, for premium bread, grind 2 2/3 c organic hard red spring wheat berries to make a total 4 c of flour, see photo below.)

2/3 oz, 4 stems, or 3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 3/8-1 5/8 c tepid water  (110-115 degrees in temperature.)

1 individual packet, or 3 tsp yeast  (Red Star Active Dry Yeast comes in a 2 lb package, available inexpensively at Costco; this freezes well in a sealed container for long-term use; if using yeast from freezer, may thaw ahead of time for quicker proofing.)

6 1/4 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for health; available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best; Pam is available in most grocery stores; our local Winco brand, however, is far less expensive.)

  1. grinding flour with attachment to kitchen aid mixer

    If grinding your own flour, begin to do so now (see photo).

  2. Place 1/4 c water, lukewarm to the touch (110-115 degrees), in a small bowl; stir in yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar.  Let sit in a warm place, until double in size, about 10 minutes-this timing depends on temperature of room.  (Note: frozen yeast will take longer to rise.)
  3. Remove rosemary from stems, chop, and set aside.  This may be done in food processor; see photo at top of recipe.
  4. Place ground flour, rosemary, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in processor.  Blend well with machine; stop and stir once, using hard plastic spatula that comes with processor.
  5. When yeast is doubled, add it and 1 3/8 c tepid water to flour mixture (if grinding fresh flour, use 1 1/8 c of water only).  Turn machine on and knead for 35 seconds; turn off and let dough rest for 4 minutes (see photo

    dough-made with fresh-ground flour-after initial kneading

    of dough, as it appears after this first kneading-dough made with store-bought flour isn’t as wet, however, as that of fresh-ground, because it has a finer grind, which absorbs more water).  The resting period cools dough, which is essential as processing increases heat; too much heat will kill the yeast.

  6. After pausing for 4 minutes, turn on the processor; knead dough for 35 more seconds; let rest for 4 minutes.
  7. Take out and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes, or until satiny smooth, minus the rosemary lumps (see photo below).  As wet dough readily sticks to hands, rinse them as needed, to facilitate easy kneading.

    dough before and after kneading by hand

    (Note: dough may be somewhat wet and sticky at first, but much moisture is absorbed with kneading by hand; this is especially true with fresh-ground flour.  IF your dough needs adjusting for some reason, do the following: if it remains quite wet and sticky, after kneading by hand for several minutes, slowly add more flour to your board as you knead; if it is too stiff to knead by hand easily, place back in processor; knead in 1 tbsp of water.  Repeat if needed, until severe stiffness is gone, it is flexible, and kneading by hand is facile, carefully resting dough so as not to overheat.  Ideally you want firm, supple dough, which is smooth to the touch and not sticky, when finished.)

  8. Place prepared dough in a well-oiled 13 gallon plastic bag; let rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes, or until double.  (To facilitate proofing in a cold kitchen, may warm oven for 20-30 seconds only; be careful to only warm slightly, just taking edge off cold, as too much heat will kill the yeast.)
  9. Spray a bread pan with oil, preferably coconut spray oil; punch down doubled dough, forming it into a loaf; place in pan; use a piece of plastic wrap, which has also been sprayed, to loosely cover dough-this keeps it moist.
  10. Let rise until double for 50-60 minutes, depending on room temperature.  About 30 minutes into rising process, preheat oven to 400 degrees, to insure oven is ready when it is time to bake.  (IMPORTANT: if proofing loaf in oven, be sure to remove it, before turning oven on.)
  11. When double, bake for around 30 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.  (Ovens vary slightly in temperature; my oven takes 27 minutes to bake a perfect loaf.)  Enjoy this excellent staff of life!

Ahi Tuna with Black Bean & Eggplant Dish

When I require a firm fish for creating recipes, I prefer ahi tuna over halibut, as the later tends to be drier.  I discovered in Culinary Artistry, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, that the excellence of tuna steaks is enhanced by both eggplant and black beans; lemon and garlic also compliment ahi.  It took courage for me to experiment with blending all the above together in a dish needed for a special occasion, during which I honored the Lomilos from Uganda.  1

Cooking takes risks, as life does; nothing comes automatically.  A patient, pressing-in is required to foster creative mastery.

I learned an important lesson in my early thirties when I moved to Portland, for then I was struggling to overcome an addiction to alcohol.  In the process of sobering up, I was taught to trust in the history of old-timers in areas that I didn’t yet have enough victory of my own.  As a result, I listened carefully to my elders’ testimonies, holding fast to their professed truths.  The pay-off was great, for I haven’t had a drink since 02/06/86.

In like manner, I have reached out to experts in the culinary field over the years; thus, amplifying my own inherent strengths.  The outcome is an acquired proficiency in successfully combining foods, as exemplified here.

I see parallels between skills gained in cooking and those procured in living.  Continuing with these teachings in my blog holds promise that ability, in both these areas, will be attained.

I can’t stress enough that patience and trust are essential elements, as we walk in the light each of us has, taking baby steps of courage to rise to our next level.

True to form, I sought help from experts in writing this recipe and its history.  For instance, I needed to know more about not overcooking tuna.  Harold McGee teaches about the meat-red-color of certain tunas in On Food and Cooking; it is caused by the oxygen-storing pigment myoglobin, which is needed for this fish’s nonstop, high-velocity life.  This deep red color is lost, if this fish is not frozen well below minus 22 degrees F, which helps explain the brownish color of some frozen tunas.  When cooked, it looses this blood red color at about the same temperature that beef does, between 140-160 degrees F.  2

It is best to under cook this food, or dryness will result.  If you like your meat rare, you will probably also like rare tuna; thus, be careful to check for color during its preparation.

Let’s humbly learn from the masters, purposing to keep all seeds of knowledge protected in fertile soil.

Eat hearty, this is a delicious fish!

  1. Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), pp. 187, 273.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 194.

finished black beans and eggplant

Ahi Tuna with Black Beans and Eggplant Dish  Yields: 4 servings.  Total active prep time: 1 1/4 hr.

6 tbsp oil  (Avocado oil is best, coconut oil will do; olive oil produces carcinogens when heated to high temperatures.)

1 med yellow onion, halved and cut in 1/8 inch slices

1 lb eggplant

1/4 c water

3 tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed  (2 small lemons needed.)

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

2 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

5 lg cloves of garlic, minced  (3 frozen cubes of garlic from Trader Joe’s makes preparation easier.)

1-15 oz can of black beans  (Organic is best; Simple Truth brand at our local Fred Meyer’s is very economical.)

2 tsp crushed dried red pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried ginger

2 tsp dried oregano  (Organic is available for $1.99 at Trader’s!)

4 ahi tuna steaks, or about 1 1/3 lb

1 tsp sesame oil

  1. fond on bottom of pan of eggplant

    For caramelizing onions, halve onion and cut into even 1/8″ slices.  Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; place a small piece of onion in oil; when it sizzles, add rest of onion and turn heat down to med/low (do not crowd your pan with too many onions, or they will steam, producing water, and it will take longer to cook them). Cook, stirring about every two minutes, until color begins to change.  At this point, stir every minute, until dark brown in color.  Onions should cook long enough to stick to the pan, in order to brown, but not be left so long that they burn; you may have to lower temperature and add a little more oil.  When cooking is complete, deglaze pan with a little water, stock, wine, or vinegar.  Meanwhile go to next step.

  2. Cut eggplant in small 1″ cubes, set aside.
  3. Roll lemons on counter, pressing down hard with your hand to loosen juices.  Juice lemon and set aside 3 tbsp.
  4. If using fresh garlic, mince now.
  5. In another large pan, heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in pan; place piece of eggplant in oil; when it sizzles, add rest of eggplant.  Cook until soft, stirring frequently; then, add 1/4 cup of water and deglaze pan (scrape bottom with a wooden or heat resistance plastic spatula to loosen cooked on fond, see photo).  Cook until water is evaporated; this vegetable will be rather mushy.
  6. Stir in onions, lemon juice, and garlic; salt and pepper to taste.  If garlic is fresh, cook only until you can smell it; see Tomato/Feta Chicken-2016/07/25-for tips on cooking with garlic.  If using the frozen cubes, cook just until melted and blended in well.
  7. Gently stir in the can of black beans, which has been drained; do not over-stir, as this breaks down beans.  Adjust seasonings.  May set aside to finish just before serving.  If serving immediately, proceed to step 8, in which case turn down heat to med/low under eggplant (see photo at top of recipe for finished product).
  8. If finishing later, began this step 15 minutes before serving time, otherwise proceed now.  Blend together 4 tsp salt, 2 tsp fresh ground pepper, dried red pepper, garlic powder, ginger, and oregano; rub seasoning into tuna steaks.  (If bean mixture is cold, begin reheating it for 8-10 minutes over medium heat before sautéing tuna, stirring occasionally.)
  9. Melt 4 tbsp oil and 1 tsp sesame oil in a large sauté pan over med/high heat (this must be a heavy-bottom pan).  When oil is sizzling hot, sear steaks 2 minutes per side for med/rare, give or take 1/2 minute for rare or medium.  The time may need adjusting as thickness of steaks varies; you can check the color of tuna, by piercing thickest part of fish with a sharp knife to check for doneness (it should be somewhat red for med/rare).  The color will also show on the sides of the steak.  Do not overcook tuna.
  10. Serve with caramelized onions and carrots (next week’s post).  Enjoy!