Click here to upload a photo (or not, you can just use one of the cards they’ve designed if you’d rather) and send virtual toasts to every mom you know (you can send several at a time). For each toast sent, Clos du Bois will donate $1 to WomenHeart.
Wednesday, April 30
Saturday, April 26
Courtesy of guest contributor (and fruit aficionado) Allison from Nimoy! Creations.
Kiwifruit is amazingly yummy! & packed with nutrients. It is packed with Vitamin C & has a little less than the potassium of a banana. Not to mention the Vitamin E & Vitamin A! According to one study, it is the most nutrient dense fruit out there, followed by papaya & a third-place tie between mango & orange.
Kiwi also has a lot of actinidin, which is often used commerically as a meat tenderizer. But, it can be an allergen - people who have allergies to latex, pineapples, or papayas are often allergic to kiwi as well. This enzyme also breaks down dairy products & that’s why when it’s combined, it’s recommended to enjoy it right away.
Often my preferred method of eating a kiwi fruit is just to slice in half (as seen above) & dig in with a spoon. But if you’re slicing or are looking for something with a bit of class, check out this instructional video that shows how to painlessly remove the peel without harming the juicy insides.
So, next time you’re produce shopping, don’t be afraid of this slightly fuzzy little brown fruit. Eat as a snack, mix with other fruits, or use it as an interesting alternative in a salad!
I've been doing a little spring cleaning with my layout. Since I'm moving to San Francisco in (eep!) eleven days to start a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I've weeded through my Philly links and removed a few of the restaurants. I did, however, add The Great Cheese Quest, which is a wonderful cheese blog by a Philly-based cheese aficionado, as well as McDuff's Food and Wine Trail, a highly informative site created by David McDuff of Moore Brothers wine importers. I had the opportunity to work a natural wines class with David, and the synopsis is still lingering as an unfinished draft, to be published someday relatively soon! I also added Phoodie Info since it's one of the top online foodie communities in Philadelphia.
I've bumped Philly down a spot, and added categories for Toronto and Down Under, since I seem to have affinities for bloggers in both parts of the world, and both geographical locations hold a special place in my heart. My best friend from high school is an Orange County native who just immigrated to Toronto, and I added a link to her craft blog, Nimoy! Creations. She does her fair share of awesome food posts, so one of these days I'm hoping to wrangle her into being a guest contributor for By Product. I lived in New Zealand for six months while I was studying massage therapy, and it's so exciting for me to find wonderful food blogs from down under, including Lucy's beautiful chronicle, Nourish Me.
I also added a category for "Eating Responsibly", which for me both entails sites that emphasize ethical eating as well as sites that discourage disordered eating. These include The Story of Stuff, which focuses on a 20 minute video that each and every one of you ought to go watch right this instant, and The F-Word, which is one of the best sites on disordered eating and cultural dysfunction that I have ever read (longer post on this coming up).
Moving down, I added Tom Cizauskas's awesome vegetarian-beer-blog, Yours for Good Fermentables, and the artisan cheese wonderland, Cheese by Hand. I also added the ever-popular Delicious Days and the dormant yet fabulous Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (what a great idea!).
Finally, on the vegan front, I added Boston-based VeganYumYum, whose blog is always beautiful and whose recipes are always tasty, as well as Southern wonder Vegangelical, whose recipe for vegan pulled pork was nothing short of life-altering (another future post I've only begun to draft).
So there you have it! My next post will probably outline our itinerary (driving cross-country) and culinary aspirations for the trip and move. Have a great weekend everyone.
Friday, April 25
Served with apricot mustard
They say: "Cherry Grove is a 400-acre certified organic farm in central New Jersey (Lawrenceville is just north of Trenton). Harvest Toma is made with raw Jersey cow's milk. It is aged for two months, during which time the paste is brushed with olive oil. Their products are available at Reading Terminal Market."
Cmoore says: Luxuriously smooth, with a mild flavor cascading to a nutty, salty finish. Slightly bitter at the rind, but overall highly snackable.
Serving suggestions: Fruity light-bodied reds, like Pinot Noir or Gamay, will complement this cheese without overpowering it. It could tolerate a little bitterness, but no strong tannins or heavy hop; a Belgian IPA like De Raanke might work well.
Served with strawberry pesto
They say: "A relatively new creation, Tomme Crayeuse was created by Max Schmidhauser (one of France's top affineurs) to resemble Tomme de Savoie, but with more personality. It is covered in gray, white, and yellow molds. The yellow mold is cellulose mold -- a type of mold generally found in the Savoie region and nowhere else; the while mold is a small amount of P. Candidum, and the gray mold is a result of the two molds growing together. This is one rind you may not want to taste, but the paste inside is buttery, mushroomy, and unique. 'Crayeuse' is chalky in French, and refers to the texture of the very center of the cheese."
Cmoore says: "Tomme" refers to the format of the cheese, which is a 3.5 lb. wheel. This is a smooth, soft cheese with a sweetly fruity profile grounded by a pungent, earthy rind.
Serving suggestions: Light-bodied reds with a little spice: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Beaujolais. I would even try it with a flavorful rose. On the beer side, something fruity, even as fruity as a fruited lambic.
Served with mushroom pate
They say: "Gres des Vosges hails from Alsace, the land of Munster, where the rich soil is perfect for growing cherry trees. Many of those cherries are used locally to make Kirsch, a crucial ingredient in the production of Gres des Vosges. The cheese is matured in three steps. For the first three weeks, it is bathed in a light brine. Then, for three more weeks, it is washed with diluted Kirsch. Then, for another week, it is brushed with undiluted Kirsch, enhancing its fruity finish. The rind is pinkish-orange from the repeated washings, with a slight granular texture from the salt crystals, and the paste is soft and oozy, with a strong aroma. The cheeses is always decorated with a small fern sprig (it adds nothing to the flavor)."
Cmoore says: Smoothly pungent with a strong aroma and notes of onion. Spreadable paste with a crunch from the rind. Pretty.
Serving suggestions: Sweeter whites pair nicely with stinky cheeses; try a Gewurztraminer for some sweet spice, or a Riesling for notes of honey. Kirsch seems like another no-brainer option. If you want to go beer, maybe a Flemish red ale if you're feeling adventurous, or any other vibrant ale with enough punch to stand up to the assertive cheese.
Wednesday, April 23
Served with brown butter apricots
They say: "Washed simply in brine, Red Cloud exhibits the red fruity qualities of a cheese typically washed in spirits. It is unpasteurized goat's milk, scrubbed and washed daily giving it a marbled red/orange color. The high acidity of the goat's milk i san interesting contrast with the usual pungency of a washed rind cheese, as is the bright white hue of the paste inside. Niwot, Colorado is just outside of Boulder, and Haystack Mountain is a pile of rubble near the dairy."
Cmoore says: Surprisingly mild for a washed-rind cheese, my hunch is that this firm little round will soften and intensify as it ripens. The high acid of the goat's milk comes through nicely, finishing with a sharp bite bordering on ammonia-esque, similar to the pine-y-ness of Vacherin Mont D'Or or Chaput Grand Foin. Haystack Mountain does great things with goat's milk -- this washed rind wonder is definitely worth a try.
Serving suggestions: Something sweet and smooth, like a Riesling, Sauterne, or Tripel. Try with pears?
Served with porcini honeycomb
They say: "La Tur is about the size of a cupcake and wrapped in a ruffled paper doily, so instantly there is an indication that the cheeses will be a real treat. An usual blend of cow's, goat's AND sheep's milk, not one component dominates the others. The rind is lightly dusted with P. Candidum, giving it a wrinkly, membrane-like texture. It is luscious and creamy next to the rind, and slightly firmer, although still spreadable, toward the center. Aged for less than a month, La Tur has a remarkable depth of personality, ranging from delicately salty cream to earthy and mushroomy, with the animal undertones of sheep and goat."
Cmoore says: Awesome creamline, with a light but luscious whipped texture. Salty paste that promises to ooze as it ripens. Flavor profile is barnyardy and mushroomy, with notes of hay. Who doesn't like salt and cream?
Serving suggestions: Sparkling! Particularly sparkling rose or grower's champagne. I think a Belgian tripel would be nice, too, or the true champagne of beer, Deus.
Tuesday, April 22
Served with Tuscan pepper honey
They say: "Aged for about 3 weeks. This is a goat cheese with the legendary blue mold, Penicillium Roqueforti. Unlike many artisinal cheeses, this aged goat cheese encrusted by blue mold is a unique, American creation. The Stetsons of Westfield Farm begin with their traditional, high quality chevre, but then cover the outside with the famed mold. After 20 days in a warm curing room with high humidity, the exterior forms a grayish-blue crust. The fluffy interior remains bright white and goaty to the core. It ripens from the outside in, but no blue veins enter the paste. (Note: blue veins are possible only when the cheese maker pierces the paste with copper needles, allowing oxygen and Penicillium Roqueforti to creep in.) The exterior mold gives the cheese a gentle piquancy near the rind, but it is tempered with the lemony tang of a fresh goat cheese."
Cmoore says: "Blue Log" doesn't exactly evoke the paragon of deliciousness, so I usually opt for "Classic Blue Log", which somehow ups the ante. The blue mold is thick, more like a a soft shell than a thin skin. It provides a smooth coating that packs a spicy punch, nicely contrasting the salty, light, creamy-yet-fluffy interior. This might not be the best choice for a crowd-pleaser, but definitely a fun cheese.
Serving suggestions: Blue mold is from Mars, and goats are from Venus, so how do you find a beverage that suits both? Look for something with sweetness to complement the blue, and acidity to temper the goat: perhaps a Chenin Blanc or Viognier, or on the barley-based end, a Belgian tripel would do nicely.
Served with red beet jam
They say: "Shaped like a pyramid and covered in blue-gray mold, Valencay has a very distinctive appearance. Legend has it that it was originally a complete pyramid, with a point at the top. This was lopped off by an angry Napoleon when he stopped by the castle of Valencay. He had just been defeated by the Egyptians, and the stately pyramids aroused his rage. The mold is caused by a generous coating of salted charcoal ash, an excellent preservative for goat cheeses. Valencay is the first region in France to achieve AOC status for both wine and cheese."
Cmoore says: All the classic qualities of a Loire goat's milk cheese -- lactic, grassy, slightly lemony -- with a creamy, mouth-coating consistency and pleasantly peppery finish. Between the fresh, young scent and subtly biting arugula-reminiscent finish, this is an ideal spring cheese. I bet it would be great with a plate of lightly dressed greens and a very fresh baguette.
Suggested pairings: The Loire is known for their Sauvignon Blanc as well as their goat cheeses, and not coincidentally the two make a lovely union. Other zippy, slightly minerally whites like a Bordeux Blanc or an Austrian Gruner Veltliner would also accentuate this cheese in all the right ways. If you want to go beer try something light but hoppy, like a pilsner, a gentle IPA, or a saison.
Served with brown butter apricots
They say: "Vermont Butter and Cheese Company is a cooperative supporting over 20 family farms. They pay each dairy for quality milk, providing incentives for each farmer to raise his standard of purity. The co-op has a strict standard of testing each milk, and the higher the score of an individual's milk, the more money she will receive. They have a line of fresh cheeses and butters, but are mostly known for their aged artisanal goat cheeses, modeled after the famous Loire Valley chevres. Bijou is their take on the classic French Crottin de Chavignol, and Coupole is made with the same recipe as Bijou. It is then drained into a larger mold, that of a miniature dome. They sprinkle it with a small amount of vegetable ash. Coupole is fully mature at 45 days."
Cmoore says: Dense, lactic, and chalky, with an overall mild, slightly sweet flavor profile and pleasant mouth-coating texture. Goat cheese seem more appealing and apropos in the summer, perhaps because the dense chalkiness pairs so nicely with the crisp, cold beverages I crave in the summer heat. I love that VBC is a co-op, and I love that this cheese is vegetarian: I think it would be particularly delicious with some honey and green apples.
Suggested pairings: Crisply acidic whites, like Sauvignon Blanc or Vernaccia; Light, effervescent beers like Belgian wit beer, a mildly hoppy Saison/Farmhouse ale, or even a nice Hefeweizen.
Sunday, April 20
Wednesday, April 16
Preparing for my upcoming (22 days!) pilgrimage to the west/best coast, I've been putting some thought (with the two spare brain cells that aren't planning the logistics of getting myself and all my worldly belongings across the country) to what goods I'll need to stock my future pantry. My cooking style is such that I like to have a lot of staples on hand, so when hunger strikes (or guests arrive) I can let my creative forces fly. For one whole lovely month in Santa Barbara I made a variety of dishes with only spinach, broccoli eggs, peanut butter, rice, soy sauce, orange juice, bread, onions, garlic, and mushrooms on hand. (It's really not that much when you think about it). And I suspect similar adventures await me as I settle into my new surroundings over the next few months. I like to be prepared.
Bear in mind that I fully recognize the frivolity and ultimate fruitlessness of this query, but when I'm anxious I like to make lists, and this is one of my favorite lists to make (this is round three or four on this particular topic). As a nice follow-up to the kitchen tools and utensils one might keep handy, here is my list of the edible goods one might need/want to cook in/with/on one's pretty culinary paraphernalia:
In The Pantry (Shelves)
Olive oil (I use extra virgin for everything -- yes, I know you aren't supposed to. But I do.)
Vinegars (brown rice, apple cider, red wine, balsamic)
Rice (brown, Basmati, jasmine), couscous, and/or quinoa
Pasta (fresh is better, but nice to have some dried on hand -- Asian and Italian varieties)
Tea (black, spiced, green, white, herbal; bagged and loose leaf)
Canned beans (black, cannelini, kidney, garbonzo)
Nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, almonds)
Canned tomatoes (so useful)
Chipotles in adobo (so tasty)
Other oil (canola, sesame, walnut)
Dried fruit (cranberries, candied ginger, mango)
In the Pantry (Baking)
Flour (unbleached, whole wheat)
Sugar (brown, confectioner's, maybe white)\
Extracts (vanilla, almond, maple, rum)
Cocoa powder and/or baking chocolate
In the Pantry (Dried seasonings)
Cayenne or Chili powder
Cream of Tartar
In the Pantry (Drawer)
Onions (yellow, red, maybe shallots too)
Potatoes (sweet, baking, red, fingerling -- whatever looks good at the market)
In the Refrigerator (Door)
Hot sauce (sriracha, Frank's, Tabasco, Cholula)
Shortening or margarine
In the Refrigerator (Shelves)
Filtered water / water pitcher
Beer (wheat, stout, lager, IPA, maybe lambic, saison)
In the Refrigerator (Drawers)
Leafy greens (kale, spinach)
Tempeh, maybe vegan sausage
Cheese (cheddar, gouda, goat, parmesan)
In the Freezer
Leftovers (like soup, preferably in individual containers)
Fruit for smoothies (lots of bananas, berries)
Veggie chicken nuggets
Coffee (beans or ground)
Not-overly-ripe seasonal fruit
What else do you have stocked?
Monday, April 7
For Travis, and his new Berlin digs, in which I shall someday cook.
Ikea is crap. I hate their mass-produced, characterless, cheap-because-it's-going-to-break-in-a-week products, and I *especially* hate their kitchen lines. I reached the pinnacle of my disdain when I stayed in an apartment in Prague outfitted with the standard Ikea fare. What happened to individuality? And local companies? Local flavor? Quality?? Here's my list of kitchen tools worth the investment:
+ GARLIC PRESS. Because chopping just isn't the same (and don't tell me you've ever even thought about using canned).
+ Really great kitchen knife. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but you need something that's going to get the job done efficiently and effectively, and also prevent you from harming yourself. I worked for Cutco for one miserable summer, but came out on top with a nice set of knives and, more importantly, knowledge about how to pick a good knife. You want a full tang, meaning the blade goes all the way to the end of the handle (rather than inserting into the handle, which raises the chance of unfortunate knife-snapping-incidences). Speaking of handles, avoid wood -- they rot quickly and retain bacteria. You also want high-quality, preferably copper or steel divets, holding the knife into the handle (poor quality divets will rust faster). The handle should be comfortable in your hand so that you don't have to strain your wrist or overgrip with your fingers as you're chopping. And, obviously, the blade should be sharp -- most kitchen accidents occur from using knives that are too dull!
The knife category requires subsections:
a) A chef's knife, which you can use with a rocking chopping motion. Usually a 5-6" blade, 1-2" wide.
b) A serrated knife for cutting tomatoes, bread, some fish, etc. (If you want to splurge on a bread knife, AWESOME, I use mine all the time...but a serrated blade will do).
c) A paring knife, for coring produce, some peeling, and cutting directly in to a pot or saucepan.
d) A medium-sized knife, for other fish, some vegetables, fine cuts, and decorative cuts.
e) Insert meat-appropriate knife here. A cleaver? A hacksaw? You tell me.
+ Pots. Another category worthy of subsections, but first some general guidelines on investing in cookware. Remember you are investing--really great cookware will last you for decades, and bring you a lot of joy in the kitchen! You can buy a mid-range 8- or 10- piece set for $80-$200, and then start to buy high-quality pieces one at a time to build a good set. All pots should have lids (I like glass so that I can peek in), and all pans should have heatproof handles (this is just my personal preference). Check the care instructions before you buy: can you throw them in the dishwasher? Do you have to be careful what utensils you use? Can you use steel wool if something burns? Decide if you want non-stick pans (I don't -- I'm suspicious of the chemicals they use to create the non-stick surface, and I don't like how easily you can scratch the bottom), and go from there. Here's my list of must-have pots:
a) Large stockpot, for soups, stews, risottos, puddings, and other high-volume dishes that need to be boiled.
b) Medium saucepan or braiser. Good for poaching, steaming, heating soups, and small-scale liquid-based exploits.
c) Large flat skillet. For frying, can double as a griddle. Nice if it's ovenproof for baking frittatas or keeping sauteed dishes warm.
d) Medium saute pan. This differs from a skillet in that it has raised sides and a lid. So freaking many uses.
e) Wok. Get a wok. So good for vegetables, stir-fried meats or meat-substitutes, greens, braising, etc.
f) Small skillet, for frying eggs or onions, cooking for one. Nice if it doubles as a crepe or omelet pan.
a) 13 x 9" glass pyrex. Great for roasting vegetables, baking pasta or chicken dishes, broiling peppers, housing ramekins in a water bath, etc.
b) Flat baking dish and/or cookie sheet. Baked goods, toasting nuts, catching drips, so much more.
c) I feel there ought to be a (c), but I don't really know what else you need. I suppose an 8x8" dish might come in handy, or a bigger roasting dish for meats. If you're an avid baker, loaf pans, springform pans, bundt pans, a pie pan, and muffin tins are also contenders.
+ Wine glasses, because if someone serves me wine in a plastic Eagles cup one more time I swear I will find a way to smash it (preferably after throwing wine in their smirking face). I would love me some Riedel, but at $15 per glass I'm going to wait until after I move across the country to invest. Don't worry about matching the shape of your wine glass to the specific wine you're drinking, but do believe me that Riedel wine glasses literally improve the taste of wine. If you don't want to splurge on Riedel, at least buy stemware with an oversized bowl for swirling. A good rule of thumb is to buy glasses at a pricepoint where you won't be devastated if one breaks, but you're excited to drink out of them.
+ Blender. I love my little Magic Bullet (it does everything!), but I'm aware that other chefs prefer something with a slightly larger format. When buying a blender the first thing I think about it clean-up: are there a lot of little buttons that will make me pull out the Q-Tips everytime I clean the kitchen? If/when I spill liquids everywhere, how much time will I spend figuring out how to wipe out the nooks and crannies of the base? Find something easy to clean, and make sure it has a pulse setting. I'm also a fan of ice-crushing potential, but you get what you pay for when it comes to motor power. If you, like me, are content without a standard blender, consider the Magic Bullet or a stick blender, which can be used to puree salad dressings, dips, soups, etc. (NB: the latter not so good for smoothies).
+ Cutting board. Although they're pretty, wooden cutting boards are said to hold germs. True? Maybe not -- I hear (see comments, below) you can use salt to clean them out every few weeks. Plastic may seem to be a better option, and many people get excited about the super-thin plastic boards that can bend to transport chopped foods from the counter to the pan, but I like something with a little more heft. Glass boards annoy me. The quest continues.
+ Mixing bowls. I prefer the stacking glass variety, but aluminum will do as well. Having several sizes around comes in handy.
Those are the basics as far as "big stuff". There are also a lot of smaller utensils you might want to have handy:
+ Ramekins. Holding chopped ingredients, cooking individual souffles or custards, serving appetizers or spreads, looking professional in your home kitchen. Get six, you'll use them.
+ Zester, perhaps even a microplane. Fresh zest makes such a difference in both cooking and baking. I have a medium-sized zester-meets-grater which I use for citrus fruits as well as hard cheeses. Multitasking tools are ok.
+ Vegetable peeler. You might think this one goes without saying. However, I grew up in a household without a vegetable peeler. I spent way too many hours of my childhood scraping carrots and potatoes with a paring knife. Definitely worth the ($10) investment.
+ Can opener . Again, you may think this is obvious, but there are a lot of really awful can openers on the market. We have four in our drawer right now, and surprisingly only my super-cheap, dinky little dollar store opener gets the job done. I wish you could test-drive the can openers in-store (can you?).
+ Strainer. I thought I could make do using the top half of a two-piece steaming set, but I often find that I need a fine mesh sieve for various kitchen tasks (sifting flour, straining sauces, draining tofu, etc). There's really no replacement, so it's worth the cabinet space.
Obviously your kitchen tools will depend on your kitchen habits. Here are other gadgets that might prove useful:
+ A rice cooker, if you cook rice a lot. Non-rice-cooker-cooked rice just can't compete.
+ An electric kettle. My devotion to the electric kettle began when I was living in New Zealand, where there is literally an electric kettle in every house. Remnants of British culture I suppose. I loved that everywhere I went people offered me "a cuppa", and with the flick of a switch we'd have steaming cups of tea in minutes. I use mine all the time -- not just for hot beverages, but to boil water for pasta or soup faster, to make boullion, to soak sun-dried tomatoes, etc. I also love the ritual aspect of putting on the kettle in the morning, or when guests are over. Stove kettles obviously serve this function as well, but they aren't as fast (or, in my opinion, as pretty), and they take up valuable burner space.
+ Cuisinart. I, myself, still don't quite understand the fixation with Cuisinarts, but I'm beginning to get the feeling that's because I've never really had a chance to play with one. Apparently you can use them to chop, to make dough, to puree dips, to write novels, to cure colds, to find happiness -- and there's rumor that Cuisinart useage may lower your risk of heart disease and breast cancer. I'm still not sold, but read about Food Blogga's affair with her new Cuisinart here and see what you think. NB: I do find myself using my roommate's mini-Cuisinart whenever I make guacamole or hummus. And I like how compact it is. Just a thought.
+ Coffee grinder for spices and seeds, and, of course, coffee. Freshly-ground any-of-the-above are dramatically more flavorful. NB: The Magic Bullet is awesome for grinding seeds and spices!
+ A crockpot, particularly if you want to be able to slow-cook meats or soups while you're out of the house. Also good for party foods and making large batches for freezing.
+ Siphon bottle. To make seltzer! Gosh, I want one.
+ On that note, a water jug, to hold cold (filtered?) water in the refrigerator can be a nice addition.
+ Counter containers for flour, sugar, salts, etc. You don't have to keep them in the counter, but I prefer them so much to messy bags.
+ Pizza stone (and board, because Susan says so, even though I don't exactly know what that is). Definitely makes a difference in your 'pie.
+ Pot rack. Where are you going to store all those pots and pans? I prefer hanging racks (with room above to store larger pots) to cupboards or cabinets.
There are a few things that you can buy at Ikea or a dollar store, knowing you'll probably cycle through them pretty quickly. For instance:
+ Silverware. I can't tell you how many forks I've bent in the poor garbage disposal, or how many spoons have bowed under the pressure of my Ben and Jerry's cravings.
+ Wooden spoons. I recently chucked one because I used it to dye a sweater, and pink spoons can be rather disconcerting if you're making anything but borsht.
+ Kitchen towels . I may occasionally burn holes in mine when I leave them too close to the burners. You can never have too many kitchen towels.
+ Tupperware. You'll lose pieces here and there, so get a good variety of shapes and sizes, and try to store them with the lids securely fastened.
+ Measuring cups and spoons. Self-explanatory. Go for something that will store compactly and clean easily.
Did I miss anything?