Friday, December 30, 2011

Debo's Southwestern Green Chicken Chili With Chipotle Rice

Great northern beans are the largest and most popular of the white beans. These beans often resemble and are often substituted for white kidney beans due to their kidney–like shape. 

New Year's

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Debo's Mondo Nacho Grande

Chile con queso (Spanish for "chile with cheese"), usually known simply as queso, is an appetizer or side dish of melted cheese and chile pepper typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants. 

New Year's Menu 2012

Have you made plans for New Year's Eve? Are you having a get together at your home? Have you thought about your menu for New Year's Day? I have put together some of my recipes to help you put together a menu. Pick one or two of these recipes for your menu. So head to the dinner table and dig in! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Little C's Salsa

Hi, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. I had a fantastic Christmas. I gave some folks homemade salsa for Christmas gifts this year, so I'm late posting this because I didn't want to spoil the surprise. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cayenne Deviled Eggs

The cayenne pepper is a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables, which are more commonly known as chili peppers. It is known botanically as Capsicum annuum. The common name "cayenne" was actually given to this pepper because of its cultivation in a town that bears the same name in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roast And Veggies

The Sunday roast is a traditional British main meal served on Sundays (usually in the early afternoon for lunch), consisting of roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spam Potato Salad

As of 2003, Spam is sold in 41 countries worldwide, sold on six continents and trademarked in over 100 different countries. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Taco Soup

Over fifty years ago, a Nebraska-born entrepreneur settled in Santa Barbara, CA. This young Nebraskan cowboy dreamed of striking it rich. So like so many young men before him, he headed west with his high school sweetheart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Onion Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Food historians tell us prehistoric peoples most likely consumed fungi and mushrooms. These foods were easy to forage and incorporate into meals. The Ancient Romans appreciated the taste and grew mushrooms. Modern cultivation commenced around the 16th century. Truffles, from the Perigord region in France are considered some of the most delicate and expensive specimens of this particular type of food. Portobello and Cremini are relative newcomers. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red Rice Dinner

Hot sauce, chili sauce or pepper sauce refers to any spicy sauce made from chili peppers and other ingredients. There are thousands of varieties of hot sauce.


Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Turkey Sausage And Two Peppers

The first patent for a non-stick cooking spray was issued in 1957. Arthur Meyerhoff, Sr. and Leon Rubin, who started PAM® Products, Inc., founded Gibralter Industries to market the new PAM All Natural Cooking Spray. PAM actually stands for a Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Debo's Sausage Stuffing

Food historians tell us the practice of stuffing (aka dressing, cramming) the cavities of fowl and other animals with mixtures of breads, spices and other chopped items is ancient. The Romans and the Arabs both employed such techniques. "Dressing" and "stuffing," as we Americans know them today, descend from Medieval European (English "forcemeat" and French "farce") culinary traditions. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

This a very interesting food to research. Bananas have been around since the beginning of time. Sweet nut breads and cakes were eaten by the ancient Roman and Greeks. Who decided to combine these two foods? According to the food historians, banana bread is a relatively is a recent phenomenon. In the early 20th century bananas were very popular and were used in many recipes. Nut breads (also sometimes known as tea cakes, muffins) were likewise popular. The earliest banana-nut combinations recipes we find are for salads! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Beans And Rice With Smoked Sausage

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pates in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Salmon Burgers

Bare cast-iron vessels have been used for cooking for hundreds of years. Cast iron cauldrons and cooking pots were treasured as kitchen items for their durability and their ability to retain heat, thus improving the quality of cooking meals. Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the hearth or fireplace, and cooking pots and pans were designed for use in the hearth. This meant that all cooking vessels had to be designed to be suspended on, or in, a fireplace. Cast iron pots were made with handles to allow them to be hung over a fire, or with legs so that they could stand up in the fireplace. In addition to dutch ovens, which were developed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Turkey Kielbasa Reuben

Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers and kimchi are made. Fully cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at or below 15 °C (60 °F). Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments prolong storage life. 

Kitchen Chew ~ Flour 101


All Purpose Flour:
Most national brands typically have an 11% to 12% protein content which make them perfect for baking quick breads, cookies, biscuits, and cakes.  Flour can vary in protein content by brand and also regionally. All purpose flour that bleaches naturally as it ages is labeled “unbleached”, flour treated with chemical whiteners is labeled “bleached” and contains less protein. 

Self Rising Flour:
For all brands, this is a uniform blend of all purpose flour and leavening agents. A lot of bakers find self rising flour an ideal blend for biscuits.

Cake Flour:
Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose, from 6% to 8%.  It is chlorinated to break down the strength of the gluten and is very finely ground, yielding tender cakes with a fine, delicate texture. It measures differently than all purpose flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour is the equivalent of 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mexican Beef And Bean Casserole

Kidney beans and other beans such as pinto beans, navy beans and black beans are known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are referred to as "common beans" probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Breast

Turkeys are native to the United States and Mexico and are a food that was part of the traditional culture of the native Americans. Christopher Columbus brought turkeys back with him to Europe upon his return from the New World and by the 16th century, turkeys were being domestically raised in Italy, France and England. At first, they were reserved for the banquet tables of royalty, but their enjoyment soon became more widespread throughout societies.

Turkey has long been associated with American history. Think turkey and images of Pilgrims and Thanksgiving dinners are evoked. Benjamin Franklin must have felt that the turkey was all-American because he wanted it to be our national bird and was upset when the eagle was chosen instead. But the turkey as an icon of America and freedom doesn't stop there—Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate roasted turkey (well, space-food roasted turkey) as part of their first meal on the moon.

Today, the countries that consume the most turkey per person include Israel, the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

I have not been able to log into Foodbuzz since Thursday, 11/24. Yesterday, I was able to log in long enough to accept a friend request, but that was all I was able to do. I sent Foodbuzz an email about the problem. I hope they fix the problem soon. I really want to log into Foodbuzz.

I received versatile award from Ramona at Curry and Comfort. I am VERY excited and honored to be awarded. I am so happy to think that you thought my blog was worth enough to award me. Thank you so much! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. is America's favorite candy company, manufacturing and selling some of the world's most popular confectionary brands. Beginning in a modest New York candy store with the Tootsie Roll's introduction in 1896, the Chicago-based company has grown to become one of the country's largest candy companies, with operations throughout North America and with distribution channels in more than 75 countries.

Together, the Tootsie brands resonate strongly among every age group, culture, and demographic; for every occasion and event; and during every economic climate, qualifying them as truly enduring, iconic American confections.

As the number one after-dinner mint, Andes Crème de Menthe delivers a smooth blend of mint and chocolate flavors–the perfect post-meal treat.

The iconic, rectangular three-layered candy‚ green mint sandwiched between two thin cocoa-based layers‚ became instantly popular after its 1950 launch, and it has remained an American favorite ever since. The individually foil-wrapped, bite-sized pieces enhance any social gathering or event, yet remain equally popular as self-indulgent treats.

Andes Candies was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1921 by Andrew Kanelos. Originally called Andy's Candies, the business produced a variety of boxed chocolates which it sold from a small Chicago storefront. The business grew to include 150 stores. With the expansion of the business, a factory was built to supply the stores, and the name was changed to Andes Candies.

In 1950, the Andes store product line was increased to include the Crème de Menthe candy piece. This three-layer mint has remained the cornerstone of the brand. Today, this delicious and refreshing candy is the number one selling after-dinner mint.

Over the years, Andes has expanded to include a variety of flavors and packages, including the popular Cherry Jubilee, Mint Parfait, Toffee Crunch Thins, and seasonal Peppermint Crunch.

Andes joined the Tootsie family in 2000, expanding its line in 2003 to include Crème de Menthe baking chips. Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips were added in 2005.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reese's Sandwich

Nutella is the brand name of a chocolate spread. Nutella, manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero, was introduced on the market in 1963. The recipe was developed from an earlier Ferrero spread released in 1944. Nutella is now sold in over 75 countries.

An older recipe, Gianduja, was a mixture containing approximately 20% almond and or hazelnut paste and 80% chocolate. It was developed in Piedmont, Italy, after taxes on cocoa beans hindered the manufactured and distribution of conventional chocolate.

Pietro Ferrero, who owned a patisserie in Alba (province of Cuneo), in the Langhe district of Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms (660 lb) of "Pasta Gianduja" in 1946. This was originally a solid block, but in 1949, Ferrero started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as "Supercrema".

In 1963, Pietro's son Michele revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it across Europe. Its composition was modified and it was re-named "Nutella". The first jar of Nutella left the Ferrero factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success and remains widely popular.

I almost didn't post this recipe, it's to easy, but taste so good.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving History

Free photo by

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Coconut Banana Muffins

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet an savoury foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia and it origin was mysterious in Europe until the sixteenth century.

Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots.

The branches harvested this way are processed by scraping off the outer bark, then beating the branch evenly with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. The inner bark is then prised out in long rolls. Only the thin inner bark is used; the outer, woody portion is discarded, leaving metre long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls “quills” on drying. Once dry, the bark is cut into 2.0 – 3.9 inch lengths for sale.

According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2006 Sri Lanka produced 90% of the worlds cinnamon, followed by China, India and Vietnam.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Breakfast Sandwich

Researching the history of bread-related products is difficult because bread is the universal food. Ancient peoples of all places discovered the combination of *cooked* (baked, fried, steamed, boiled, sun-dried) ground grain and water created simple, inexpensive, nourishing food. Muffins, cakes, crackers, biscuits, cookies, sticky buns & twinkies are not inventions. They are evolutions. All of these are variations on the theme of what happens when flour & water mix with human ingenuity, technological advancement, local ingredients, immediate need and cultural expectations.

What the food historians have to say about the origin of muffins... "Muffin...a term connected with moufflet, an old French word applied to bread, meaning soft....The word muffin first appeared in print in the early 18th century, and recipes began to be published in the middle of the 18th century. There has always been some confusion between muffins, crumpets, and pikelets, both in recipes and in name. Muffin' usually meant a breadlike product (sometimes simply made from whatever bread dough was available), as opposed to the more pancake-like crumpets...Muffins were most popular during the 19th century, when muffin men traversed the town streets at teatime, ringing their bells. In the 1840s the muffin-man's bell was prohibited by Act of Parliament because many people objected to it, but the prohibition was ineffective..."
Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999(p. 517)

"Muffin...In Great Britain, a muffin is a traditional light-textured roll, round and flat, which is made with yeast dough. Muffins are usually enjoyed in the winter - split, toasted, buttered, and served hot for tea, and sometimes with jam. In the Victorian era muffins were bought in the street from sellers who carried trays of them on their heads, ringing a handbell to call their wares. In North America muffins are entirely different. The raising (leavening) agent is baking powder and the muffins are cooked in deep patty (muffin) tins. Cornmeal and bran are sometimes substituted for some of the flour."
Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang editor [Crown:New York] 1988 (p. 703)

"Muffin...a small yeast cake usually sweetened with a bit of sugar. In England muffins were once called "tea cakes," while in America muffins are served primarily for breakfast or as an accompaniment to dinner...The origins of the word are obscure, but possible it is from Low German muffe [meaning] cake. The term was first printed in English in 1703, and Hannah Glasse in her 1747 cookbook fives a recipe for making muffins. Mush muffins (called slipperdowns in New England) were a Colonial muffin made with hominy on a hanging griddle."
Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Freidman Books:New York] 1999 (p. 211)

"Sometimes misnamed gems, muffins were baked in deeper pans and were not quite as breadlike as gems. Muffins graduated from being cooked in a utensil called muffin rings to a special baking pans. Muffin rings were hooplike accessories placed directly on a hot stove or the bottom of a skillet. Batter was then poured into them. The rings did not prove to be as popular with muffin consumers as molds of the same period. However, their demise as holders of raw muffin batter was not in vain, for they remain a valuable kitchen accessory to make popular English muffins or fried eggs. The muffin molds of the nineteenth century turned out to be an extremely deficient product. The baked their contents thoroughly and very evenly..."
The Old West Baking Book, Lon Walters (p. 34)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest ~ Lemon Filled Coconut Cupcakes

Photo by Kathy Long

No food history today, my friends. If you would like to be a guest on Christine's Pantry contact me at We would love to have you here. Today's guest is Karen Long Cox. Karen doesn't have a blog. I know you will enjoy it. Thank you very much Karen for sharing your recipe. Thank you to all for being a part of Christine's Pantry.

Christine's Pantry now has a fan page on Facebook. Click here to follow Christine on Facebook. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Baked Apple Pies

In the English colonies the apple pie had to wait for carefully planted pips, brought in barrels across the Atlantic, to become fruit-bearing apple trees, to be selected for their cooking qualities. In the meantime, the colonists were more likely to make their pies, or "pasties", from meat rather than fruit; and the main use for apples, once they were available, was in cider. But there are American apple pie recipes, both manuscript and printed, from the eighteenth century, and it has since become a very popular dessert.

Apple pie was a common food in eighteenth century Delaware. As noted by the New Sweden historian Dr. Israel Acrelius in a letter: “Apple pie is used throughout the whole year, and when fresh Apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used. It is the evening meal of children.”

A mock apple pie made from crackers was apparently invented by pioneers on the move during the nineteenth century who were bereft of apples. In the 1930s, and for many years afterwards, Ritz Crackers promoted a recipe for mock apple pie using its product, along with sugar and various spices.

Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonisation of the Americas, "as American as apple pie" is a saying in the United States, meaning "typically American". In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase "for Mom and apple pie" - supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.

Advertisers exploited the patriotic connection in the 1970s with the commercial jingle "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet". There are claims that the Apple Marketing Board of New York State used such slogans as "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "as American as apple pie!", and thus "was able to successfully 'rehabilitate' the apple as a popular comestible" in the early twentieth century when prohibition outlawed (citation needed) the production of cider.

The unincorporated community of Pie Town, New Mexico is named in honour of the apple pie.

The state of Vermont adopted apple pie as the official state pie in 1999.

I grow up in Springfield, Vermont. Beautiful state. I love the mountains. Growing up, us kids would run and play in the mountains. I loved the swimming holes. We went swimming in several beautiful places, but I remember this one swimming hole, we had to walk down this long trail, which seem like a long way. It was worth it when we arrived at the swimming hole. The water was cool and clean. It was so clean you could see the bottom. I miss those swimming holes. I don't like to swim in the lakes here in Texas.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beer Battered Fried Shrimp

Indonesians and others have farmed shrimp for centuries, using traditional low-density methods. Indonesian brackish water ponds, called tambaks, can be traced back as far as the 15th century. They used small scale ponds for monoculture or polycultured with other species, such as milkfish, or in rotation with rice, using the rice paddies for shrimp cultures during the dry season, when no rice could be grown. Such cultures often were in coastal areas or on river banks. Mangrove areas were favored because of their abundant natural shrimp. Wild juvenile shrimp were trapped in ponds and reared on naturally occurring organisms in the water until they reached the desired size for harvesting.

Industrial shrimp farming can be traced to the 1930s, when Japanese agrarians spawned and cultivated Kuruma shrimp (Penaeus japonicus) for the first time. By the 1960s, a small industry had developed in Japan. Commercial shrimp farming began to grow rapidly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Technological advances led to more intensive forms of farming, and growing market demand led to worldwide proliferation of shrimp farms, concentrated in tropical and subtropical regions. Growing consumer demand in the early 1980s coincided with faltering wild catches, creating a booming industry. Taiwan was an early adopter and a major producer in the 1980s; its production collapsed beginning in 1988 due to poor management practices and disease. In Thailand, large-scale production expanded rapidly from 1985. In South America, Ecuador pioneered shrimp farming, where it expanded dramatically from 1978. Brazil had been active in shrimp farming since 1974, but trade boomed there only in the 1990s, making the country a major producer within a few years. Today, there are marine shrimp farms in over fifty countries.

Shrimp mature and breed only in a marine habitat. The females lay 50,000 to 1 million eggs, which hatch after some 24 hours into tiny nauplii. These nauplii feed on yolk reserves within their bodies, and then metamorphose into zoeae. Shrimp in this second larval stage feed in the wild on algae, and after a few days, morph again into myses. The myses look akin to tiny shrimp, and feed on algae and zooplankton. After another three to four days, they metamorphose a final time into postlarvae: young shrimp that have adult characteristics. The whole process takes about 12 days from hatching. In the wild, postlarvae then migrate into estuaries, which are rich in nutrients and low in salinity. They migrate back into open waters when they mature. Adult shrimp are benthic animals living primarily on the sea bottom.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sausage And Pasta

Did you know that salt has played a major role in human history, and its availability has frequently effected the type of governments we have? Humans need salt to live - it is a dietary necessity, so whoever has control of its production and/or availability, controls other people. This book discusses that and contains everything and anything you ever wanted to know about salt. It is a fascinating book, both for those interested in food, and history buffs.

Yes, Kurlansky is worth his salt as a writer, researcher and uncoverer of unknown facts about odd subjects. As he did with his previous non fiction books he has woven strands of information into an interesting tapestry, equal parts - enthralling history lesson and cultural voyage. The only problem is at 450 pages and 26 chapters, with numerous visits to different cultures, countries, eras and rulers in an attempt to cover as many of the 14,000 uses that salt is known for - finishing SALT: A WORLD HISTORY leaves you in a brine of facts, but also very thirsty for a unifying theme or story and a more memorable read.

Certainly my knowledge of historical trivia is now seasoned with tidbits such as: the Anglo-Saxon word for saltworks being 'wich' means that places such as Norwich, Greenwich, etc, in England were once ancient salt mines; Ghandi's independence movement in India began with his defying the British salt laws, and the French levied taxes on salt until as recently as 1946.

A common theme in Kurlansky's books is that food is seen as a topic of historical interest. Here we learn about the role salt played in preserving cod, whale, ham, herring, caviar, pastrami, salami and sausage, and as it was with COD and THE BASQUE HISTORY OF THE WORLD this book is sprinkled throughout with recipes.

Salt is certainly an interesting subject; cultural history buffs will love this book and Kurlansky still has a humorous, easy, and very readable writing style; it's just that he probably could have salted away some of the facts without us missing much and he should have developed a flowing theme rather than one that was so saltatory.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beer Battered Fish And Chips

Pepper has been used as a spice in India since prehistoric times. Pepper is native to India and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 BCE. J. Innes Miller notes that while pepper was grown in southern Thailand and in Malaysia, its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast, in what is now the state of Kerala. Peppercorns were a much prized trade good, often referred to as "black gold" and used as a form of commodity money. The term "peppercorn rent" still exists today.

The ancient history of black pepper is often interlinked with (and confused with) that of long pepper, the dried fruit of closely related Piper longum. The Romans knew of both and often referred to either as just "piper". In fact, it was not until the discovery of the New World and of chile peppers that the popularity of long pepper entirely declined. Chile peppers, some of which when dried are similar in shape and taste to long pepper, were easier to grow in a variety of locations more convenient to Europe.

After the Middle Ages, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was from India's Malabar region. By the 16th century, due to the Portuguese influence, pepper was also being grown in Java, Sunda, Sumatra, Madagascar, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, but these areas traded mainly with China, or used the pepper locally. Ports in the Malabar area also served as a stop off point for much of the trade in other spices from farther east in the Indian Ocean.

Black pepper, along with other spices from India and lands farther east, changed the course of world history. It was in some part the preciousness of these spices that led to the Portuguese efforts to find a sea route to India during the age of discovery and consequently to the Portuguese colonial occupation of that country, as well as the European discovery and colonization of the Americas. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest Post ~ Lithuanian Bacon Buns

No food history today. I'm excited to introduce a special guest post from one of my favorite food bloggers, and I know he is one of your favorites too. Peter from is a great cook. I have been a fan of Peter since I found his blog. Peter's blog is worth checking out. Now I hand my blog over to Peter.

I'm thrilled to be doing a guest post for Christine's Pantry! Of course, I wanted to present something special, and with the holidays coming up there are plenty of great dishes to choose from.

It's amazing to me, looking back, that what I remember most fondly about the holidays during my childhood is not the toys and presents, which at the time were at the top of the priority list, but the food and family gatherings. As the cook/chef in the house and as a father, I want my daughter to have similar fond memories, not of plastic toys, but of family fun and especially the food.

This will be my third year including these Lithuanian Bacon Buns as part of a new family holiday tradition. My dad's side is mostly Lithuanian, and my wife's mom's side also had a substantial Lithuanian heritage as well. Maybe that's why we like these so much, it's inherent.

We start off with a pound of bacon and a large onion, both chopped, in a heavy skillet and barely covered with water. At medium heat, boil off the water until you have a rich, brown filling.
We roll out the dough after 2 risings and cut out circles that will be our buns.

I still have yet to master the rolling technique. As seen in the picture of the finished bun my bacon filling always ends up off-center. I think I need to do more pinching and less rolling. We let these buns rise again for another hour before baking them for a quick 20 minutes. Then they're finally ready!

These buns are a savory treat, and everyone who has ever sampled them has absolutely loved them. I especially make sure to send a small batch over to my neighbor every time I make them. It's sort of a nice Thanksgiving gift too.

Thanks for reading everybody, and thank you Christine for inviting me over for a guest post! I hope you all enjoy and have wonderful holidays coming up.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Giveaway ~ Get Your Free Cookbook

 I received an email from Chef Jeff today. He is doing his free cookbook giveaway again e-cookbook called “DinneRevolution”. The cookbook sells for $27.00, so this is a good deal. The recipes are family friendly, healthy, less than 10 ingredients, and takes 30 minutes or less to prepare / cook. Chef Jeff was nice enough to provide me with a copy of his e-cookbook, which I dearly love. I know you will love it as much as I do. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

According to legend, Parmigiano Reggiano was created in the course of the Middle Ages in Bibbiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia. Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas. Historical documents show that in the 13th-14th century Parmigiano was already very similar to that produced today which suggests that its origins can be traced to far earlier.

It was praised as early as 1348 in the writings of Boccaccio, in the Decameron, he invents a mountain, all of grated Parmesan cheese, on which dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli, and boil them in capon's broth, and then throw them down to be scrambled for, and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that ever was drunk, and never a drop of water therein.

During the Great Fire of London of 1666, Samuel Pepys buried his Parmazan cheese, as well as his wine and some other things in order to preserve them.

In the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova, he remarked that the name "Parmesan" was a misnomer in his time (mid-18th century) as the cheese was produced in the town of Lodi, not Parma. This comment originates probably from the fact that a grana cheese very similar to the "Parmigiano", the Grana Padano, is produced in the Lodi area.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fancy Green Beans

A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes. Both fresh and dried thyme is available in your local supermarket throughout the year.

Thyme leaves are curled, elliptically shaped and very small, measuring about one-eighth of an inch long and one-sixteenth of an inch wide. The upper leaf is green-grey in color on top, while the underside is a whitish color. Along with fresh sprigs of parsley and bay leaves, thyme is included in the French combination of herbs called bouquet garni used to season stock, stews and soups.

Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Only recently, however, have researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.

Thyme has been used since ancient times for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties. The ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent to preserve their deceased pharaohs.

In ancient Greece, thyme was widely used for its aromatic qualities, being burned as incense in sacred temples. Thyme was also a symbol of courage and admiration with the phrase "the smell of thyme" being a saying that reflected praise unto its subject. Thyme's association with bravery continued throughout medieval times when it was a ritual for women to give their knights a scarf that had a sprig of thyme placed over an embroidered bee. Since the 16th century, thyme oil has been used for its antiseptic properties, both as mouthwash and a topical application.

Thyme is native to areas such as Asia, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and is also cultivated in North America.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dirty Rice

Dirty rice isn't actually dirty, it's just a name. Most common in regions of Southern Louisiana and Mississippi, its use of holy trinity of New Orleans cooking.

In 1604 the French colonized Acadia, the region surrounding present day Nova Scotia.  Disputes with Great Britain over the sovereignty of the territory quickly arose.  Over the next two centuries control of Acadia shifted between the French and the British, highlighted by interminable armed conflicts, political haggling, and treaties.  Finally in 1785 the British had the upper hand and forced the Acadians from their homeland.

The Acadians then migrated to Louisiana where successive translations of their name produced the term “Cajun.”  Cajun cooking, a hearty and rustic mixture of French and southern US influences, relied heavily on pork fat and spices.  Creole, the other major New Orleans culinary force, was a fusion of French, Spanish, Caribbean and African cuisines.  It was differentiated by a greater use of butter, cream, and tomatoes, and was considered more refined.

New Orleans is known for transforming legendary dishes into newfound classics.

Today in food history:

1997... Victor Mills died.  He was a chemical engineer who worked for Proctor & Gamble.  Among his many accomplishments, he improved Duncan Hines cake mix, and Jif peanut butter.  

2009... The last issue of Gourmet magazine was published this month. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vegetable Chicken Soup

Salsa verde, green sauce. Mexican version made with tomatillos.

Tomatillos are small fruits (used as a vegetable) enclosed in a husk. The fruit resembles a small unripe tomato and is usually green or yellow. The yellow color indicates ripeness, but tomatillos are most often used when they are still green. Green tomatillos are firmer and easier to slice. The husk that holds the fruit is paper like and is light brown. The flesh is slightly acidic with a hint of lemon. Tomatillos belong to the same family as tomatoes.

The Aztecs first grew tomatillos as far back as 800 B.C. and they have been popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries for many years. In the US, they are mainly grown in Texas.

The condition of the husk is often a good indicator when selecting tomatillos. If the husk is dry or shriveled then the fruit is probably not in good condition. Select tomatillos that have an intact, tight-fitting, light brown husk. If you peel back a small part of the husk, the fruit should be firm and free of blemishes.

Canned tomatillos are available at specialty markets and are often used when making sauces. Tomatillos are available year round in supermarkets and specialty markets. Domestically grown tomatillos are available from May through November.

Fresh tomatillos with the husk still intact may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They are best stored in a paper bag. Tomatillos last a week longer in the refrigerator if the husks are removed and the fruit is placed in sealed plastic bags. Tomatillos may also be frozen after removing the husks.

The husks must be removed before preparing, but tomatillos in the husk are often used as decoration. Wash the fruit with water to remove the film left by the husk. Tomatillos may be used raw in salsas or salads or cooked for sauces. Cooking enhances the flavor and softens its skin, but the result is a soupy consistency since the fruit collapses after a few minutes.


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