Archive for July, 2012
So I’m in a TJ Maxx somewhere in the South shopping with a friend. We’re having a good time roaming the aisles, chuckling at all the random “doo dahs,” as my friend puts it. Sure, I need a porcelain frog, and a pink, furry miniature sofa, and…whatever that thing is with a spring on top and little rubber hook on the bottom. Doesn’t everyone need these things?
We get in line to pay for the couple of “doo dahs” that we actually do need and I’m checking out all the impulse point-of-purchase merchandise—you know, the stuff that tempts you as your standing there waiting for your turn: candy, chips, and other snack foods. But what was interesting in TJ Maxx is that the snacks are not your typical selection of Doritos, Lay’s, Snickers, and Hershey’ Kisses. It is organic artisanal tortilla chips, lime-flavored popcorn, curried salsa, and raspberry bonbons. I find selections like this fascinating and I always wonder how many sales they actually make on this stuff.
Anyway, as I’m checking out all these “alternative” comestibles, I spot some 4-packs of Dry Lavender Soda. I had never heard of lavender soda before and I had an overwhelming urge to find out what it tastes like. Well, you know me, I had to buy it.
I found out that the Dry Soda Company is based in Seattle, which makes sense. Seattle is known for having a progressive attitude about health and wellness and a natural/local approach to cuisine. DRY Soda uses only four ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, natural extracts, and phosphoric acid. They make several flavors—besides the lavender, there’s Wild Lime, Blood Orange, Rhubarb, Juniper Berry, Vanilla Bean, and Cucumber. So what did the lavender taste like? It was basically carbonated water, slightly sweetened, with a very delicate lavender flavor. It was more of a “mouth aroma”—that is, the scent that you pick up as you are swallowing something (yes, I just made that up myself; you get the idea, right?). This is a good thing because lavender can be very perfume-y and I don’t like drinking perfume (which is why I was never crazy about lavender gum).
The bottles have their calorie counts at the very top (see photo), and all of them are from 45 to 70 calories with 11 – 19 grams of sugar versus 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar in the same amount (12 oz.) of Coca Cola. That’s twice as many sugar and calories. (The lavender flavor has 70 calories and 19 grams sugar.) Of course, if you like your soda to have a deeper flavor, then you may not be pleased with Dry Lavender Soda because the flavor is subtle. I see it not so much as soda as flavored carbonated water. But I think that’s a good thing. There’s too much soda drinking going on in this country.
Here’s what I like about best about this soda—NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!! It’s become like a scavenger hunt trying to find products that do not contain high fructose corn syrup, including things that have no business having it. You know that 100% whole wheat bread that you love so much? Well, chances are that it contains high fructose corn syrup. Why? I have no clue, except that maybe the corn industry has made deals with the bread manufacturers. I always look at bread ingredients—there are a few out there without HFS (thank you, Trader Joe’s!). But I digress.
This soda makes a good mixer in place of seltzer or club soda or even other flavored soda. Mix it with rum and juice for a fizzy, lightly floral cocktail. Oh, and it’s kosher. Distribution of Dry sodas seems to be largely in the South and the eastern part of the Midwest but you can also buy it online.
(Disclaimer: I have absolutely no relationship with Dry Soda, so this is not an official endorsement. I just like finding new or unusual products on the market and reviewing them. And I only review products I like because I see no need to blog about stuff I don’t like. I don’t like dissing people.)
This salsa was inspired by a peach salsa I bought at a farmer’s market in Virginia. I set out to replicate it and made a few modifications to make it a little less sweet and a bit spicier. It’s very simple and perfect for summer picnics or barbecues. It would also make a great condiment for grilled veggies, chicken, or fish.
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
2 cups chopped peaches
1/3 cup chopped shallot or finely chopped Vidalia onion
¾ cup chopped red pepper
1 small jalapeno, minced
2 tablespoon minced mint
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon spiced rum (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary, before serving. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.
Here’s another avocado recipe.
This recipe was inspired by a dinner I worked for a class requirement at The Natural Gourmet Institute. By using your hands to squeeze the ingredients together, the cabbage softens and it creates a tender, creamy slaw. You can put your own swerve on it by adding other ingredients, such as poppy seeds, chopped pickle, or shredded carrot.
Avocado Slaw Canapes
1 large ripe Haas avocado, diced
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 (6-inch) tortillas
Olive oil for brushing
2 medium plum tomatoes, diced small
1. Combine the avocado, cabbage, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. With your hands, squeeze the ingredients together until cabbage has softened and ingredients are well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.
2. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 2 circles from each tortilla. Brush them lightly with olive oil and brown them on both sides on a grill or in a frying pan.
3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the slaw onto each tortilla round and garnish with the tomato.
This is another recipe I entered in the Food52 avocado contest. The original tartlet shells were a little too sweet to go with the avocado cream or to serve them as hors d’oeuvres, but with some minor adjustments, I thought it came out pretty tasty.
Avocado Cream Tartlets
Makes 16 small tartlets.
Vegetable oil for brushing
½ cup walnuts, ground
½ cup steel-cut oats, ground
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup coconut or canola oil
Pinch sea salt
2 ripe Haas avocados
3 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon honey
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil 16 small tartlet molds with oil.
2. Make shells: Combine all shell ingredients in a medium bowl until a moist dough forms. Press equal amounts into the bottoms and up the sides of the molds.
Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Remove from the molds.
3. Remove the skin and pits from the avocados and place in a food processor. Add the lime juice, honey, cayenne, and salt and process until smooth.
4. Spoon the avocado cream into the tartlet shells. For a more attractive appearance, place the cream in a pastry bag and pipe it into the shells.
Sprinkle the pepitas over the top. Serve chilled or at room temperature.