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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beer Chili

1909... Recently immigrated Germans and Czechs who have settled in the new town of Shiner bring many of their traditions and tastes with them to the New World. Still yearning for their classic Bavarian brews, they form the Shiner Brewing Association. In a makeshift brewery, the beginning of Shiner Beer makes its debut as Shiner Premium.

1913... A seasonal beer, Shiner Bock is first introduced by the “little brewery.”

1914... The local brewing association recruits Kosmos Spoetzl as the first brewmaster to bring his Old World recipes and experience to the brewery.

1915... Kosmos Spoetzl upgrades the equipment and brewing process to begin crafting his original recipe beer. He then exercises his option with the association and buys the “Little Brewery.”

1916... Kosmos begins using glass, returnable bottles to package his brew.

1929... Prohibition takes effect on Jan. 16, 1929 in the form of the 18th Amendment. Known as the “Great Experiment,” the measure makes the manufacture, distribution and sale of all alcoholic beverages illegal throughout the United States.

1930... Despite the restrictions of Prohibition, the “Little Brewery” keeps working making ice and birch beer – sometimes known as “near beer.” This keeps Shiner in business along with the “rumors” that Kosmos continued to produce Shiner Premium for local farmers.

1933... The end of Prohibition sees the Shiner brewery as one of only five Texas breweries to survive the “Great Experiment.”

1939... As Kosmos Spoetzl continues his dual roles of brewmaster and head salesman, he ships his Shiner Premium to dock workers in Houston for the first time.

1947... Giving the brewery a facelift, Kosmos resurfaces the exterior in white brick and purchases adjacent land to raise cattle and sheep along with a real menagerie of peacocks, deer and other animals. Aluminum kegs are also introduced during this year of innovation.

1950... Kosmos Spoetzl dies, and his daughter, “Miss Celie," takes over, renaming the facility
K. Spoetzl Brewery.

1958... The brewery begins using non-returnable, disposable beer bottles for the first time.

1964... Expanding the packaging, the brewery introduces party kegs during the same year that “Miss Celie’s” daughter, Rose, joins the firm.

1966... Miss Celie, the daughter of Kosmos Spoetzl, hires John Hybner, who goes on to be the brewery's longest serving Brewmaster.

1970... Cans are added as an option for Shiner beers.

1971... The brewery is honored with a state historical marker on the site.

1973... Shiner Bock becomes available as a year-round brew.

1989... Shiner establishes a true distribution network, beginning with a Shiner of Austin wholesaler in the Texas capital. Sales double by the end of the year.

1992... fter being distributed exclusively in the Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas, Shiner finally reaches into North Texas “officially.” But this is not locals' first taste of the brew, as it has been “bootlegged” northward for generations.

1993... Shiner celebrates its sale of one million cases with a “Thanks a Million Concert” held on the grounds of the not-so-“Little Brewery.”

1994... Shiner Honey Wheat beer is introduced. The successful “Thanks a Million Concert” of the previous year evolves into the first ever Bocktoberfest concert.

1995... Shiner's state-of-the-art brewhouse expansion opens.

1997... In October, the first seasonal product is introduced, Shiner Winter Ale.

1998... The second seasonal brew, Shiner Summer Stock, makes its debut in March and is available in 14 states. Shiner's limited edition, Kosmos Reserve, is retired in December.

1999... The brewery stages its biggest Bocktoberfest in the history of the event, with over 17,000 in attendance! The annual G.A.S.P. (Great Austin to Shiner Pedal) bike rally grows into the Shiner B.A.S.H. The Bike Austin San Antonio Houston becomes the ultimate South Texas pilgrimage to the Spoetzl Brewery.

2001... Shiner's popular Honey Wheat becomes Hefeweizen, and the new brewery Hospitality Room opens. With the closure of the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, the Spoetzl Brewery becomes the last of the independent Texas breweries.

2002... The Shiner Blonde label gets a facelift.

2003... Shiner Light, the first light beer worthy of the Shiner name, hits the market. And, for those wanting to carry a piece of the “Little Brewery” with them after the tour, the Gift Shop opens in the Hospitality Room.

2005... John Hybner, the longest-serving Brewmaster, retires, and Jimmy Mauric takes over the tradition established by Kosmos Spoetzl 90 years earlier.

2006... For Shiner's 97th birthday, the brewery premieres Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager, which like its special edition predecessor, is only brewed from September through mid-December.

2007... Released in May, Shiner 98 Bavarian-Style Amber continues the countdown to the 100th Anniversary of the brewery.

2008... The next anniversary brew in our countdown to the brewery's 100th birthday is introduced. Shiner 99 Munich-Style Helles Lager is unveiled in March. The final limited edition brew, Shiner 100, will culminate these special beers in 2009. Also in celebration of its 99th year, Shiner introduces Spezial Leicht, its first beer with only 99 calories.

The city of Shiner, Texas... Deep in the heart of Texas, on a little spot hardly bigger than a postage stamp, sits Shiner, Texas. In fact, you’d miss it if you blinked while zipping by on either US Highway 90A or State Highway 95, where the town sits at the crossroads, off the beaten path between Houston and San Antonio. But, the 2.4 square miles of Shiner, Texas sure packs a wallop!
Begun with a 250 acre donation by Henry Shiner as a railroad right of way, the “Cleanest Little City in Texas” now boasts over 2,000 residents and and serves as home to several renowned commercial enterprises, not the least of which is the K. Spoetzl Brewery home of Shiner Beer. But, while Shiner both the beer and the town may be the most recognized name around these parts, we have a number of claims to fame, so if you are in the area, stroll around town, talk to a few locals and don’t forget to have yourself a cold Shiner beer. After all, it’s just not a visit to Shiner without enjoying a Shiner!

I'm not a beer drinker, but I do love to cook with beer.

If you have any questions or just want to say something that's on your mind, please feel free to send me an email, at If you leave a comment and ask a question please come back for your answer. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skillet Hamburger Divan

1914, Rome, Alfredo di Lelio had all reason on the world for being happy. Yet, he felt troublesome. His wife was pregnant, but lost her appetite and nothing could make her eat. After several tries with various dishes Alfredo almost started losing faith. It had been several days Alfredo’s wife had stop eating and her pregnant body was in a bad need of a rich meal.

He first thought of Fettuccine al burro, yet he doubled the amount of butter before adding the Pasta to the bowl. For Fettuccine al burro a second amount of Butter would be added afterwards. Thus, the original name of the dish was Fettuccine al triplo burro. The change was just a simple one, but Alfredo’s wife started eating again and he started to serve the »new« dish in his Restaurant ,Alfredo all’Augusteo, located in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, just in the very center of Rome. He even served it with golden forks.

American tourists soon started loving the dish and brought it to the US. Further changes were made and additional ingredients were added. Just like the Spanish Paella it seems more popular with foreigners than with actual locals. The most popular additions are shrimp and chicken, but also, turkey, salmon or even lime are known today.
The story might be cheesy in the truest sense of the word, moreover, it is exaggerated, but at least, it carries some basic truth in it and it’s a tasty one

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Are you ready for Halloween? I would love to see your Halloween costumes. I have to say homemade Halloween costumes are my favorite. My mom made all our Halloween costumes. Have a good one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Celery is believed to be originally from the Mediterranean basin. Ancient literature documents that celery, or a similar plant form, was cultivated for medicinal purposes before 850 B.C. It’s claimed medicinal purposes were probably attributable to it’s volatile oils, contained in all portions, but mostly the seed. During ancient times Ayurvedic physicians used celery seed to treat the following conditions: colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, various types of arthritis, and liver and spleen ailments. Woven garlands of wild celery are reported to have been found in early Egyptian tombs.

Celery was considered a holy plant in the classical period of Greece and was worn by the winners of the Nemean Games, similar to the use of bay leaves at the Olympic Games. The Nemean Games were conducted every second year, starting in 573, in the small city of Nemea in southern Greece in the Poloponnes peninsula.
The Romans valued celery more for cooking than for religion although much superstition was connected with it. The celery plant was thought to bring bad fortune under certain circumstances.

Although celery is thought to be from the Mediterranean, indigenous "wild" relatives of celery are found in southern Sweden, the British Isles, Egypt, Algeria, India, China, New Zealand, California and southernmost portions of South America. However it is doubtful that it’s center of origin was that extensive.

The Italians domesticated celery as a vegetable in the 17th century resulting in selections with solid stems. Early stalk celery had a tendency to produce hollow stalks. After years of domestication, selection eliminated this characteristic as well as bitterness and strong flavors. Early growers found that the naturally strong flavors could be diminished if grown in cooler conditions and also if blanched. Blanching is the practice of pushing dirt up around the base of the stalks to prevent sunlight from turning the stalks green.

There are two types of stalk celery varieties, self-blanching or yellow, and green or Pascal celery. In North America green stalk celery is preferred and mainly eaten raw although it is also eaten cooked. In Europe and the rest of the world self-blanching varieties are preferred. Celeriac is very popular in Europe where it is eaten cooked or raw. Smallage is grown in Eastern Europe and Asia for it’s seed as well as to use the aromatic leaves to flavor cooked food and to garnish plates. In some areas celery and celery seed is consumed to treat high blood pressure. Celeriac is becoming popular as a part of trendy American gourmet eating.

Currently California harvests about 23,500 acres per year, Florida 3,500 acres per year, Texas 1,200 acres per year, Michigan 3,000 acres per year, and Ohio less than 50 acres per year. California harvests year-round, Florida harvest from December to May, Texas from December to April, Michigan and Ohio from July thru September. Per capita consumption of celery is about 9 to 10 pounds per person annually.

What is your favorite sandwich? Leave me a comment.

Search on this site will take a little time to re-index due to the site URL name change.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taco Casserole

According to Mayan legend, tortillas were invented by a peasant for his hungry king in ancient times. The first tortillas discovered, which date back to approximately 10,000 BC, were made of native maize with dried kernel. The Aztecs used a lot of maize, both eaten straight from the cob and in recipes. They ground the maize, and used the cornmeal to make a dough called masa.

Excavations in the "Valle de Tehuacan" in the state of Puebla, Mexico have revealed the use around 3000 BC of the basic cereal, a small, wild cob, eaten by native people. According to Agustín Gaytan, chef and Mexican Cuisine historian, in a Greeley Tribune newspaper article.

Sometime about 3000 BC, people of the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico hybridized wild grasses to produce large, nutritious kernels we know as corn. Mexican anthropologist and maize historian Arturo Warman credits the development of corn with the rise of Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Mayans and the Aztecs, which were advanced in art, architecture, math and astronomy. The significance of corn was not lost on indigenous cultures that viewed it as a foundation of humanity. It is revered as the seed of life. According to legend, human beings were made of corn by the Gods. By the time Spaniards reached the shores of what is now Mexico in the 1400s, indigenous Mesoamericans had a sophisticated and flavorful cuisine based on native fruits, game, cultivated beans and corn and domesticated turkeys.

On April, 22 1519, Spaniards led by Hernan Cortes, also known as Hernando Cortez, arrived in what is now Mexico. They found that the inhabitants (Aztecs and other native Mexican peoples) made flat maize bread. The native Nahuatl name for this was tlaxcalli.

In Cortes' 1520 second letter to King Charles V of Spain, he described the public markets.

This city has many public squares, in which are situated the markets and other places for buying and selling. . . where are daily assembled more than sixty thousand souls, engaged in buying and selling, and where are found all kinds of merchandise that the world affords, embracing the necessaries of life, as for instance articles of food. . . maize or Indian corn, in the grain and in the form of bread, preferred in the grain for its flavor to that of the other islands and terra-firma.

This bread made from maize was later given the name tortilla (little cake) by the Spanish. In parts of southern Spain, the origin of many of the Spaniards conquering America, a tortilla or tortillita is a crisp, thin, circular, fried cake made of chickpea meal. These tortillas, which apparently have their roots in southern Spain's Arabic heritage, look strikingly similar to the fried maize tortilla (or tostada).

In 1529, Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun was sent to New Spain (Mexico) to compile a compendium of all things relating to native history and customs that might be useful for Christianizing the Aztecs, named "Indians" by the Spain conquerors. This took some seven years, in collaboration with the best native authorities, and was expanded into a history and description of the Aztec people and civilization in twelve manuscript books, together with grammar (Arte) and a dictionary of the language.

In his extensive manuscripts, General History of the Things of New Spain (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana), Sahagun described how the Aztec diet was based on maize, tortillas, tamales and a wide variety of chiles. He compiled and translated testimonies of his culinary informants from the native language of Nahuatl into Spanish. His work is the most complete record of Aztec foods and eating habits, and he is considered one of the fathers of culinary history.

Traditionally, maize tortillas were made from nixtamalized maize, kernels were soaked in a solution of lime (calcium hydroxide) and water to remove their skins, this also increases the bioavailability of then unknown niacin. The grains were then ground into maize dough (masa). A golfball sized piece of dough was patted down by hand into a thin pancake shape, placed on a hot griddle (comal), and cooked on both sides. This tortilla making process is still used today in southern Mexico.

To meet the needs of big cities and the modern lifestyle, the traditional process was mechanized to increase production of tortillas. In the 1940s and 1950s, one of the first widespread uses of small gas engines and electric motors was to power wet grain grinders for making masa. A hand press or hand patting were still used to form it into tortillas, but by the 1960s, small scale tortilla making machines could produce cooked tortillas every two seconds.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Debo's Cajun Angus Burgers

When you look into the history of hamburgers in the U.S., you'll find sources proclaiming the inventor to be Louis Lassen, "Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen, or the Menches Brothers.

The history of the hamburger is truly a story that has been run through the meat grinder. Some sources say it began with the Mongols, who stashed raw beef under their saddles as they waged their campaign to conquer the known world. After time spent sandwiched between the asses of man and beast, the beef became tender enough to eat raw certainly a boon to swift moving riders not keen to dismount.

It is said, then, that the Mongols, under Kublai Khan later brought it to Russia, which turned it into the dish we know as steak tartare.

Several years later, as global trade picked up, seafarers brought this idea back to the port city of Hamburg, Germany, where the Deutschvolk decided to mold it into a steak shape and add heat to the equation, making something that, outside of Hamburg, was referred to as "Hamburg steak."

In John T. Edge's book Hamburgers & Fries, that's wishful thinking. As Mr. Edge writes, "The history of proletarian dishes like hamburgers is rarely explained by a linear progression of events."

But enough fishing in European and Asian waters, let's cut bait here. Somehow ground beef gets to America. Somehow it's put on a bun. But by whom? Surely the historical record becomes more clear once we cross to these shores.

It doesn't. There are currently three major claims staked on the confusing and contradictory map of American hamburger history. Each has its adherents and detractors. They are:

Louis' Lunch: This New Haven, Connecticut, burger joint claims to have invented our favorite lunchtime and dinnertime meal in 1900. From its website: "One day in the year 1900 a man dashed into a small New Haven luncheonette and asked for a quick meal that he could eat on the run. Louis Lassen, the establishment's owner, hurriedly sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two slices of bread and sen the customer on his way, so the story goes, with America's first hamburger."

"Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen: It's said that he started selling meatballs at the age of 15 at the summer fair in Seymour, Wisconsin. But, says, "Charlie was a resourceful young man with an outgoing personality. After not experiencing much success selling the meatballs, he had an idea and located some bread. He realized people could take this meal with them if he simply smashed the meat together between two pieces of bread. He called it a "hamburger" and yes, in 1885 the burger was born at the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin."

Menches Brothers: The brothers' descendents, who now operate a small chain in Ohio called, not surprisingly, Menches Bros. claim that their great grandfather and his brother (Charles and Frank, respectively) invented the dish at an 1885 fair in Hamburg, New York. The brothers originally sold sausages but ran out and were forced to use ground beef, which at the time was considered declasse. John Menches, in a Businessweek story, says, "Faced with nothing to sell at all, they fried the ground beef up, but it was too bland. My grandfather decided to put coffee, brown sugar, and some other household ingredients in it and cooked up the sandwich. My great uncle Frank served the first sandwich, a gentleman tasted it and said, 'What do you call it?' Uncle Frank didn't really know what to call it, so he looked up and saw the banner for the Hamburg fair and said, 'This is the hamburger.'

So who invented the hamburger? Take your pick. Too ground down at this point.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Honey Grilled Chicken

The famous Colgin smoke house. . . built by the grandfather of Richard Colgin in the year 1869 in Mexia, Texas, and made of hand hewn logs, it became the symbol for the very finest in sweet smoked meats . . . today it remains in excellent condition just as Colgin Liquid Smoke remains one of America's favorites.

This is the old time tedious method of barbecuing, which Colgin Liquid Smoke makes unnecessary.

Have you ever seen meat smoked in the old fashioned way, in a smoke house? If so, you saw drops of dark brown liquid forming on the meat. That was smoke that had condensed into liquid form, just as moisture in the air condenses on the windshield of your car and “fogs it up.” This condensed or “liquid” smoke is the best food flavoring.

Colgin Natural Liquid Smoke is produced by burning fresh cut hickory, mesquite, apple, and pecan wood chips at extremely high temperatures and moisture levels. There’s nothing “synthetic” about it, it’s not made from chemicals. It is made by placing high grade smoking woods in sealed retorts, where intense heat makes the wood smolder (not burn), releasing the gases seen in ordinary smoke.

These gases are quickly chilled in condensers, which liquefies the smoke, it is then forced through seven refining vats, and a large filter, to remove impurities. Finally, the liquid is received into large oak barrels which will age the liquid smoke for mellowness. Click here to see how liquid smoke is made.

While the equipment is modern, computer controlled and state of the art, the process is the same as when S.E. Colgin first patented it in the early part of the 20th Century.

Colgin Natural Liquid Smoke is an all natural product with no additives or preservatives. It will enhance the flavor of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, sauces, gravies . . . anything that would taste better with a real smoke flavor and aroma.

Colgin Natural Liquid Smoke saves time and money! It is a quick, low cost, healthy alternative to using a smoker and now you may have "Smoke Flavor" the convenient way, comes in a bottle with shaker top. Good, wherever smoke flavor is desired.

Liquid smoke goes a long ways, start with 1/4 teaspoon then add more, if desired.

Honey Grilled Chicken
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon garlic, minced

Heat grill pan, over medium heat. In resealable plastic bag, add olive oil, honey, steak seasoning, liquid smoke and garlic. Place chicken in bag, making sure to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, place on hot grill, cook until chicken no longer pink in center and juices run clear. Enjoy!

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Made any Christine's Pantry recipes lately? Leave me a comment.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kitchen Chew ~ Stocking Your Pantry

Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

If you are new to the kitchen, it's time to get acquainted. Whether you are a new mom, new wife, or new to your kitchen, you can easily become a good cook at making dinner with some planning ahead.

Always read the recipe, and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before you start cooking. Learn what foods go together and what to have in your pantry. Cooking dinner will be fun. Don't you want to have fun cooking dinner for your family? I know it can be. If you have your pantry stocked with a few basics and get some tasty and easy recipes (consider me, easy and affordable recipes), dinner will be fun and easy any time of the week. Below you will find a list of what to keep in your pantry. If you keep these few things on hand, a lot of your stress will be eliminated in the kitchen. I would like for you to be happy and have fun in the kitchen and love learning about food.

Cooking oil, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, nonstick cooking spray
Canned fish, tuna, salmon
Canned tomatoes, diced, tomato sauce
Canned beans, black beans, kidney beans, etc
Tomato paste
Worcestershire sauce
Flour, white and or wheat
Bread crumbs
Chicken stock, box
Spice rack, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, bay leaves, cinnamon, salt, pepper, steak seasoning, dried parsley
Sugar and brown sugar
Baking soda
Baking powder
Vanilla extract
Nuts, pecans, walnuts, etc (it's best to store your nuts in the freezer, they will last longer)
Canned corn
Canned green beans
Liquid smoke

Take this list to your pantry and see what you have in your pantry. Then print out this page and take to the grocery store to pick up what you don't already have on hand. A well stocked pantry will save you time and money at the grocery store.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Southwestern Beef Soup

The carrot can trace its ancestry back thousands of years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, along with parts of Europe. These original carrots looked different from those that we are accustomed to today, featuring red, purple, and yellow coloring rather than the bright orange that we've become accustomed to in U.S. supermarkets. Carrots became widely cultivated in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries and were first brought over to North America during this same general time period.

In today's commercial marketplace, China currently produces about one-third of all carrots bought and sold worldwide. Russia is the second largest carrot producer, with the U.S. following a close third. Many European countries produce substantial amounts of carrots (over 400,000 metric tons) and Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Australia and Canada are also important countries in the worldwide production of carrots. Within the U.S., about 12,000 acres of carrots for processing are planted each year, resulting in about 320,000 tons of carrots. Over 80% of all fresh market carrot production in the U.S. comes from California, with Michigan and Texas emerging as the next two largest fresh production states.

Currently,U.S. adults average about 12 pounds of carrot intake each year. Approximately 9 pounds are being consumed in fresh form, with the other 3 pounds are being consumed in frozen or canned products. This amount translates into approximately 1 cup of carrots each week in fresh, frozen, or canned form.

How to select and store: Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange-color, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or forked as well as those that are limp or rubbery. In addition, if the carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots' core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter.

Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Research has shown that the especially valuable (all-E)-beta-carotene isomer is well-retained in carrots if stored properly. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.

If you purchase carrot roots with attached green tops, the tops should be cut off before storing in the refrigerator since they will cause the carrots to wilt prematurely as they pull moisture from the roots. While the tops can be stored in the refrigerator, kept moist by being wrapped in a damp paper, they should really be used soon after purchase since they are fragile and will quickly begin to wilt.

I love soup. Soup is versatile one pot wonders. The foundation of any soup is the stock. You can cook soup in 30 minutes or less, but it will taste like you cooked the soup all day. 

Southwestern Beef Soup
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can carrots, drained
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (14 oz) can green beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large pot, add ground beef. Season ground beef with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Breaking ground beef up as it cooks, cook until no longer pink. Add beef broth and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Taste and season, if desired. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Salmon Croquettes

Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout, the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true. Salmon live along the coasts of both the North Atlantic (one migratory species Salmo salar) and Pacific Oceans (approximately a dozen species of the genus Oncorhynchus), and have also been introduced into the Great Lakes of North America. Salmon are intensively produced in aquaculture in many parts of the world.

Typically, salmon are anadromous, they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce. However, there are populations of several species that are restricted to fresh water through their life. Folklore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where they were born to spawn, tracking studies have shown this to be true, and this homing behavior has been shown to depend on olfactory memory.

The salmon has long been at the heart of the culture and livelihood of coastal dwellers. Many people of the Northern Pacific shore had a ceremony to honor the first return of the year. For many centuries, people caught salmon as they swam upriver to spawn. A famous spearfishing site on the Columbia River at Celilo Falls was inundated after great dams were built on the river. The Ainu, of northern Japan, trained dogs to catch salmon as they returned to their breeding grounds en masse. Now, salmon are caught in bays and near shore.

Salmon population levels are of concern in the Atlantic and in some parts of the Pacific. Alaska fishery stocks are still abundant, and catches have been on the rise in recent decades, after the state initiated limitations in 1972. Some of the most important Alaskan salmon sustainable wild fisheries are located near the Kenai River, Copper River, and in Bristol Bay. Fish farming of Pacific salmon is outlawed in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, however, there is a substantial network of publicly funded hatcheries, and the State of Alaska's fisheries management system is viewed as a leader in the management of wild fish stocks. In Canada, returning Skeena River wild salmon support commercial, subsistence and recreational fisheries, as well as the area's diverse wildlife on the coast and around communities hundreds of miles inland in the watershed. The status of wild salmon in Washington is mixed. Out of 435 wild stocks of salmon and steelhead, only 187 of them were classified as healthy; 113 had an unknown status, 1 was extinct, 12 were in critical condition and 122 were experiencing depressed populations. The Columbia River salmon population is now less than 3% of what it was when Lewis and Clark arrived at the river. The commercial salmon fisheries in California have been either severely curtailed or closed completely in recent years, due to critically low returns on the Klamath and or Sacramento Rivers, causing millions of dollars in losses to commercial fishermen. Both Atlantic and Pacific salmon are popular sportfish.

Salmon populations now exist in all the Great Lakes. Coho stocks were planted in the late 1960s in response to the growing population of nonnative alewife by the state of Michigan. Now Chinook (King), Atlantic, and Coho (silver) salmon are annually stocked in all Great Lakes by mosts bordering states and provinces. These populations are not self sustaining and do not provide much in the way of a commercial fishery, but have led to the development of a thriving sportfishery.

Spawning Sockeye Salmon - photo from Wikipedia
Are you going to 2011 Foodbuzz festival? I'd like to go, but unfortunately, I will not be able to go. Leave me a comment. Love hearing from you.

Salmon Croquettes
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

2 cans salmon, flaked
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Vegetable oil, for frying

Heat oil in medium skillet, over medium heat. Combine canned salmon, egg, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Form into patties and dust each patties with additional bread crumbs. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Enjoy!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Taco Salad

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Food historians tell us Tex-Mex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. TexMex, as we Americans know it today, is a twentieth century phenomenon. Dictionaries and food history sources confirm the first print evidence of the term "Tex Mex" occured in the 1940s. Linguists remind us words are often used for several years before they appear in print. TexMex restaurants first surfaced ouside the southwest region in cities with large Mexican populations. The gourmet Tex Mex "fad" began in the 1970s. Diana Kennedy, noted Mexican culinary expert, is credited for elevating this common food to trendy fare. These foods appealed to the younger generation.

What is Tex- Mex? Tex-Mex food might be described as native foreign food, contradictory through that term may seem, It is native, for it does not exist elsewhere; it was born on this soil. But it is foreign in that its inspiration came from an alien cuisine; that it has never merged into the mainstream of American cooking and remains alive almost solely in the region where it originated.Eating in America, Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont (William Morrow:New York) 1976 (p. 281)

1940... Tex-Mex. A combination of the words "Texan" and "Mexican," first printed in 1945, that refers to an adaptation of Mexican dishes by Texas cooks. It is difficult to be precise as to what distinguishes Tex-Mex from true Mexican food, except to say that the variety of the latter is wider and more regional, whereas throughout the state and, now, throughout the entire United States.Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 325)

1950... Mexican restaurants, whos popularity coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants after 1950, have for the most part followed the from and style of what is called "Tex-Mex" food, and amalgam of Northern Mexican peasant food with Texas farm and cowboy fare. Chili, which some condsider Texas's state dish, was unknown in Mexico and derived from the ample use of beef in Texan cooking. "Refried beans" are a mistranslation of the Mexican dish frijoles refritos, which actually means well-fried beans...The combination platter of enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas became the unvarying standards of the Tex-Mex menu, while new dishes like chimichangas (supposedly invented in the the 1950s at El Charro restaurant in Tucson, Arizona) and nachos (supposedly first served at a consession at Dallas's State Fair of Texas in 1964...) were concocted to please the American palate....One Tex-Mex item that may someday rival the pizza as an extraordinarily successful ethnic dish is the fajita...introduced at Ninfa's in Houston on July 13, 1973, as tacos al carbon. No one knows when or where it acquired the name fajita, which means girdle' or'strip' in Spanish and refers to the skirt steak originally used in the preparation...Only in the last decade has refined, regional Mexican food taken a foot-hold in American cities, reflecting not only the tenets of Tex-Mex cookery by the cuisines of Mexico City, the Yucatan, and other regions with long standing culinary traditions.America Eats Out, John Mariani [William Morrow:New York] 1991 (p. 80-1)

1970... In the good old days, Texans went to "Mexican restaurants" and ate "Mexican food." Then in 1972, The Cuisines of Mexico, an influential cookbook by food authority Diana Kennedy, drew the line between authentic interior Mexican food and the "mixed plates" we ate at "so-called Mexican restaurants" in the United States. Kennedy and her friends in the food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as "Tex-Mex," a term previously used to describe anything that was half-Texan and half-Mexican. Texas-Mexican restaurant owners considered it an insult. By a strange twist of fate, the insult launched a success. For the rest of the world, "Tex-Mex" had an exciting ring. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys and the Wild West. Dozens of Tex-Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris, and the trend spread across Europe and on to Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Abu Dhabi. Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are now well-known around the world. Houston Post, 6 part series, all online.

Taco Salad
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
salt and pepper, to taste
light ranch dressing
cheddar cheese
cole slaw
tortilla chips, use as much as you like

In skillet, over medium heat, add ground beef, breaking meat up as it cooks, cook until no longer pink. Add onions, diced tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and taco seasoning mix. Stir well. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Place tortilla chips on dinner plate, then add meat mixture, cheese, cole slaw, add additional cheese and drizzle light ranch dressing. Enjoy!

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