Hi, all. This past month has been a constant sampling of new and differennt foods and beverages (well, they’re new to me). Just this past week alone, I tried two jars of salsa that I picked up in Virginia. They were locally made and there was nothing in them but fresh produce and some cane sugar. One of them was a vidalia onion-peach salsa that was absolutely fantastic. The other was a summer garden salsa, with all sorts of minced veggies in it. It was such a treat to eat something that wasn’t filled with preservatives and all kinds of things that I can’t pronounce, and I was glad to support a small business.
This week, I also tried a brand of Russian soda. Now, the problem with trying imported products is that the labels sometimes are written only in the language of the countries in which they were made. Often, you will find the ingredients written in English somewhere or the words ”Product of Fabulouscountry,” but not always. The only thing you have to go by in these instances is the pictures on the labels. This was the case with the Russian soda. The picture had some citrus-y looking fruit on it and, based on the shape of the bottle, I assumed it was citrus-flavored sparkling water. It turned out to be cream soda. Or, at least it tasted like cream soda. I don’t know. It certainly didn’t taste like citrus sparkling water. So, there went my whole theory about using pictures to guide my purchasing descisions. (The soda was tasty, by the way, if not a tad too sweet. I’ll bet it goes great with vodka. Gonna have to try it. )
My brother gave me a jar of his homemade sun-dried tomatoes this past week. They’re spicy and really good chopped up in a vegetable pasta sauce. I sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil, then added eggplant and summer squash slices, along with tomatoes, fresh basil, and the chopped up sun-dried tomatoes. I also threw in a little of the oil from the jar for good measure. That stuff is incredibly flavorful and makes any dish just jump out. This “sauce” went on top of brown rice pasta. Yum! Which brings me to…
I’ve also been experimenting with non-wheat products. While I’ve cooked with many different grains and have had “other-grained” breads and pastas, I’ve never baked with grains such as buckwheat, spelt, amaranth flour, etc. I started experimenting and I’ve gotten some great results.
I started doing this because a very important person in my life has a wheat sensitivity (not full-blown Celiac Disease) and she’s constantly having to seek out gluten-free products. Not that it’s that difficult these days, as Whole
Foods carries a wide array of such products, as do health food stores. Even neighborhood supermarkets are recognizing the growing demand for gluten-free products and are carrying them. There are a variety of brands available, including Tinkyáda, DeBoles, Lundberg, Ancient Harvest, as well as others.
You can get all kinds of gluten-free products, including sweets, like cookies and cakes. But, like anything else, homemade or handmade is always best. So, I’ve been baking delicious gluten-free products at home and sending them off to my friends to enjoy. My Buckwheat-Raspberry Cake and Muffins have gotten rave reviews, even from people who say “ick” to non-traditional foods.
Between intense testing of recipes for my next cookbook and drinks for a drink book that I am working on with Andi Marquette, I’ve put on a few pounds. So, next week, it’s back to the gym. Gotta lose weight in time to don that winter coat.
Until next time, peace, everyone.