Saturday, January 25, 2003
coffee in the deep south
as my regional coffee interest develops, i am slowly finding out more about this new fad in the south for "candy" coffee. these drinks are apparently made with espresso, milk, flavored syrups, and sometimes topped with a dusting of the candy bar for which they are named.
for example, the verona almond joy. i wouldn't drink one, but i think this is a regional treat that may have legs. betcha it shows up on the coasts soon.
after the cookies came out the oven today, i tackled the new pasta rollers. making anna del conte's pasta dough recipe: 1-1/3 cups flour, 2 eggs. piled the flour up on a baking sheet, made the well, broke the eggs into the center, so far so good.
i expected that this new roller set would have some metal packing dust. which it did. but it was much, much less than the previous set. i think the second batch of pasta i make could actually be edible. . .
Friday, January 24, 2003
newbie yoga tales
as i remarked recently, my yoga classes are filling up with new year's resolvers. the more the merrier i say. but some first-timers' tales are dearer to my heart than others.
for example, i think this new yogini would fit right in here: "unfortunately, all i heard it say was, 'give me more coffee.' " you're making alabama hip, girl!
then there are the more objective types: "i fell asleep. twice." obviously, he's stressed out and really tired. he needs to check out yoga nidra, i think. . .
finally, there are those who are still shocked to find that yoga is hard work. these lunks still think it's for sissies, not "real guys," and feel deeply hurt when they realize that their macho pick-up basketball selves are getting their butts kicked. oh yes, yoga can teach humility, if you let it. . .
but seriously, after the initial ego-wound heals, i think he's one of us as well. i do sympathize with anyone who can't get a decent cappucino, you know.
also, this book's getting a lot of press. but many of the reviews seem to agree that the author is so sour, he might want to bother with the yoga after all (log your bad self in). . .
finally, those kitchen aid people are good! exactly as promised, my replacement pasta roller attachment arrived today u.p.s. tomorrow i make cookies, and if there's time left over, we'll see if i can finally get pata without any nasty metal dust.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
maybe part of joining the e.u., nato, and western europe -- leaving your mitteleuropa roots behind forever -- is to say ciao turkish coffee and hello cappucino?
an australian entreprenuer is taking the bet that the czechs are going to go for italian-style coffee once they get a taste of it. i've talked about regional coffee cultures here before, and this looks like a situation fraught with interest. . .
and then there are those who think that old nasty-tasting hippie concoction, yerba mate, is going to take off big.
believe me, you can't put enough chocolate, caramel, and sugar in that stuff to make it palatable. . .what does yerba mate taste like for those readers fortunate enough not have this unpleasant experience? i would frankly describe it as having a sour, grassy, weedy taste -- like soggy alfalfa sprouts -- overlaid with a mouth-puckering bitterness.
just thinking about makes me shudder. where this false perception that a couple of cups of coffee a day is bad for you comes from, i have no idea. heaven knows, i encounter it on a daily basis. . .and long-time readers know i have the links to a pile of actual peer-reviewed research that shows many health benefits come from drinking moderate amounts of coffee daily.
but if you're so worried about the caffeine in a cup of coffee, wait 'til you read the skinny on yerba. it contains caffeine, just as coffee does, only more of it! while the average arabica coffee bean contains about 1.5% caffeine, yerba has 2%, and guarana as much as 5%!
so despite what the so-called "health food" websites say about yerba mate and other herbs like guarana, you're not getting anything different or better for you: caffeine is caffeine. only a well-prepared cappucino from specialty arabica beans tastes far better than yerba mate, in my book!
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
better than vitamins c & e
i don't have to make these great quotes up, you know. "the higher quality the antioxidants, the more work they can do," [professor] vinson said. "we've found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are higher quality than even vitamins c and e."
new research by joe a. vinson, professor of chemistry at the university of scranton in pennsylvania, shows that dark chocolate can "raise good cholesterol 10 percent, therefore lowering the risk of heart complications by 20 percent."
compare this with the effects of the expensive prescription drugs, like zocor, which is said to raise your good cholesterol (hdl) by only 8 percent! and the last time i looked, dark chocolate had none of zocor's nasty side effects. . .
we just love these articles on the overwhelming health benefits of chocolate, don't we? we especially love scientists like dr. vinson, who appears to have spent a large part of his recent career researching the beneficial effects of flavonoids and anti-oxidants in coffee and chocolate!
you go, dr. joe!
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
coffee, nature's gift to women?
a new 10-year study from japan shows that women who drink a cup of coffee a day have a reduced chance of colon cancer. how much can 1 cup do?
try 50%! that's right -- apparently you can cut your colon cancer risk in half with that morning cup. other studies have shown us that coffee's positive effects are sometimes sex-selective, and this is no different.
the protective effect appeared only in women, the researchers from gifu university, led by cancer specialist professor hiroyuki shimizu, discovered.
Monday, January 20, 2003
i heart kitchen aid
i don't know at what time yesterday i looked at the floor, the counters, the stovetop, the microwave, the cup warmer of the espresso machine, the window sill, the tray over the sink and realized my entire house was covered with pasta.
pasta filled with stainless steel flakes. i was prepared for a couple of batches with dust from the new kitchen aid pasta roller attachment, but i had suddenly reached my limit. even the cat had flour in his whiskers.
so i went to yoga. this morning i took advantage of the holiday and called kitchen aid. a mere 15 minutes on hold (which is nothing nowadays -- if only my internet service provider was as quick!) a real live friendly person said to me "you shouldn't have any more dust. let me send you a replacement with a plastic gear to solve your problem."
this is why we love kitchen aid. this is why their products are worth the premium. you can call them toll-free on a holiday morning and have a sweet lady tell you she's going to send you a free replacement right away.
on the other hand, i'm worried that a plastic gear might not be as sturdy. but at least i'll be able to eat the pasta.
so alas dear readers, as bored as i'm sure you all are with my adventures in fettucine land, the saga continues. . .when the new pasta roller arrives.
in the mean time, i settled back to enjoy the holiday. by making pizza, naturally.
and doing more yoga. today's holiday, martin luther king jr. day, is to my mind actually a day more patriotic than the fourth of july -- because only when the universal human values of dr. king were recognized did the u.s.a. finally grow into its promise of freedom for all.
this is one of the great things about yoga, that it explicitly teaches the unity, equality and worth inherent in all people. that to believe in the false principles of separation and difference is an obstacle to our freedom, to our innate joyful nature.
or to paraphrase yoga teacher erich schiffmann, we are the universe delighting in itself as us. frankly, at teary-eyed moments like this of course i prefer to delight in the universe as a chocolate truffle. but i digress. . .
this yogic perspective is perhaps why i was a tad cheesed this morning to read the lead editiorial in the new york times' print edition, which referred to dr. king and "his people."
". . .some white americans still cling to a version of history that denies even the fundamental premise of king's greatest hopes for his people."
while i naturally join the general sentiment, could the times be any more condescending? as a "european-american la-la-li-brul" i want to know what planet the times lives on. "his people." not even al gore could come up with a line so patronizing.
my letter to the times goes like this:
"dear howell raines,
we have met 'his people' and they is us.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
and today's the second batch of pasta test dough. just wanted to work on the technique a little and ensure all the dust is gone from the rollers.
note the recipe i'm using is purely for test purposes. you wouldn't eat this recipe; it's not nice. a better recipe would have italian 00 flour, more eggs, olive oil.
or we could trust the queen of italian cooking, anna del conte, who offers this simple recipe from emiliana-romagna. "this is the pasta italians like to make because it is the best pasta," she says: 1-1/2 c. italian 00 unbleached flour and 2 eggs. that's it. nothing more.
she advises you to roll the dough out to setting 7 for all types of pasta. she validates my experience: for tagliatelle, etc. the pasta sheets must be allows to dry until "beginning to become leathery" before you cut so those nests you'll make make for storage don't turn to goo-balls. still, there's an art to making those attractive little nests that's eluding me. . .
readers, do you or your nonna have any hints?
finally, on the drying situation -- pasta left flat to dry curls most amusingly. and weirdly, the pasta thickens as it dries. but it's a bummer to store like this. maybe the purchase of a good drying stand would be in order after all.
gravity keeps that fettucine straight. until the cat knocks the whole thing over on the floor. . .
another alternative: buy cornmeal and waxed paper. put down a sheet of waxed paper, put the cut pasta you want to dry overnight on it, sprinkle it with cornmeal. on top of that, place more waxed paper, another layer of pasta, etc.
thus the weight of the pasta itself will help keep it straight.
ok, here's goes the second test batch! will apprise you one last time of what i learn; then next time, i make real pasta for eating. . .
if you are considering the purchase of the pasta roller attachment for your kitchen aid, so far i have to say that while a tad expensive, i'm thinking it's worth it. the only drawback is the darned dust.
but do prepare yourself for the learning curve, and set aside time to practice, unless you're already a pasta pro. . .