Sunday, June 24, 2012

A refreshing new beverage

I don't usually write about new products because I think it would encourage others to send weird crap to my house. But let it be known that alcohol, chocolate and flowers are always welcome!
That said, if we never tried anything new, how would I have discovered the majesty that is the Ritz Bits? Or the haunting allure of Lindt 70% extra dark? The seasonal satisfaction of a Cadbury egg, a great new take on a favourite cereal, or a new brand of popcorn?
On that note, say hello to this summer's new thirst quencher. It's crisp, it's icy, sort of sweet, more than a little apple-y, and you know something, Alexander Keith's Original Cider pairs well with hot-weather foods, from raw oysters, tacos and grilled fish, to burgers and chicken.
Best of all, the best way to enjoy it is to grab a pint glass, load it with ice, then fill it to the rim with the cider so that it's so ice cold that you can barely hold it.
Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spar for the Spurtle

I'm still relatively new to the wonders of the spurtle, as evidenced here, but what I'm not new to is oatmeal, and action-packed culinary competitions.  
Lucky for me -- and us -- Bob’s Red Mill has just kicked off its annual Spar for the Spurtle 2 Oatmeal Recipe Contest which invites home cooks and professional chefs alike to submit videos demonstrating a unique recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill’s Steel Cut Oats. 

From the entries, three finalists will be flown to Portland, Ore. to compete in a live cook-off, and the winner of the cook-off will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Scotland, including $2,500 in cash, to help represent team Bob’s Red Mill in the 19th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship.

The submission deadline is July 20, 2012. For more info, check the press release here. Or, check out the  contest website.  
I want to enter. Anyone have any winning oatmeal ideas for me? Seriously.  

P.S. I just read the rules. Only open to U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Damn it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Is the pantry the new freezer?

There's something I've been thinking about lately, what I see as a recent seismic shift in the kitchen: Is the Pantry the New Freezer?

Remember how back in the roaring 1980s everyone was investing in big side-by-side refrigerator-freezers? It was the heyday of the new generation of frozen convenience foods, from Haagen Dazs and Tofutti to Pizza Pockets and Lean Cuisine. Seen as a step up from post-war TV dinners, the new frozen foods were seemingly of a higher quality while also being more nutritious and still as convenient as pulling back a corner of plastic film on a plastic tray and microwaving it for four minutes. (Little did we know about trans-fats, leaching plastics, and high sodium back then.)

Fast-forward to the mid 2000s. From being located up top to moving to the side, suddenly new refrigerators were being engineered with the freezers down below. (I just bought a Jenn-Air like this, myself.) Full of annoying partitions and baskets, they barely hold a damn thing. But here's my theory on why this poor industrial design is actually good news for food….

Basically, we're no longer relying on the freezer to feed us. We're going to the greengrocer, farmer's market and supermarket more often. In other words, we're cooking fresh food, and just need a few basic pantry items to round out our dishes. So long freezer, hello fresh chicken, veggies and secret seasonings!

At the same time, pantry items have improved greatly over the years. Think about it: Red lentils + canned San Marzanos + quality spices + fresh onion and garlic = quick, delicious dahl. Plus basmati = my favourite workaday meal. Split peas + organic Tetra stock + Bay leaf + marrow bones or ham hock = a penny-pinching soup for the ages.

I’ve got a million of them -- and you probably do too. So take a look at that pantry again, for the very first time.