Category Archives: Essays

GREAT FOOD DEBATE – MAYONNAISE VS. MIRCLE WHIP

As you may know, we have a pretty dynamic household and opinions can be furry and feisty based on each person’s likes are dislikes or, dare I say, pickiness.  My husband will eat most anything that I put in front of him but there is one food item that he is most adamant about and I think it’s because of where he was raised.  It’s that god awful stuff called Miracle Whip.  He puts it on everything.  Gross!!  It is too sweet for me.  I prefer Mayonnaise.  What gets me is that he calls Miracle Whip, “mayonnaise.”  There’s got to be a copyright infringement in there somewhere.  Anyway this is a great debate in our house hold and I mean it’s the house hold against him.  I guess it’s best to let him tell this story so for this Blog I turn it over to him to present his argument and let us know what you think.  Are Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

Chef Shay

Live well and Eat Well.

Hi All, it’s me Chef Shay’s husband! I hope you will give me a fair hearing!

This is to me is an amazing hot bed of frenzied argument because people have their druthers for either one and they are passionate about it.  You either love mayonnaise or hate it.  You either love Miracle Whip or hate it.  I have met very few people who like or use both interchangeably.  I’ve discovered that your like or dislike of either one is based on where you grew up.  It appears that if you come from the ole’ South (the Red States) you were raised on Miracle Whip.  Everywhere else – Mayonnaise. Now I was raised in a small ranching community called Camp Wood deep in the Hill County of Texas, (pop. 868) Miracle Whip was our Mayonnaise.  As a matter of fact it was not until I moved to San Antonio (5th Grade) that I discovered that they were two different things.  Growing up, I always called Miracle Whip, Mayonnaise.  Back in Camp Wood (pop.868) our main meal was lunch (called Dinner) and for Dinner (called Supper) we would have something light like sandwiches and / or soup. My Grandmother would give me a bologna sandwich made with Miracle Whip and a bowl of pinto beans.  She then would give me $0.25 and I would head off to the movies.  It cost me $0.10 for the price of the ticket and that would leave me 15 cents for a coke and a piece of candy.  Those were the grand old days.  Well, I’ve digressed, so back to the subject at hand…  I didn’t know that there was “Mayonnaise.”  Like I said, I though Miracle Whip was Mayonnaise and called it as such.  Our family, and all those I knew used Miracle Whip – Yes, even in Potato Salad!  The first time I tried real mayonnaise, thinking that it was “my mayonnaise” (Miracle Whip) I nearly threw up.  To me, by itself, it taste terrible.  It was not sweet.  And there it is! You either like sweet or you don’t.  I like sweet – I was raised on sweet.  I am usually chastised for my love of Miracle Whip – being called the Hick!

So what is Mayonnaise?  DSCN0453

Mayonnaise is an emulsion – a mixture of two liquids that can’t be combined (like oil and water).  How are emulsions used:

  • by pharmacists, as a vehicle for medication
  • in photography, to coat plates, film and paper
  • in explosives, paints, coatings, make-up and detergents

Mayonnaise is made by combining lemon juice or vinegar with egg yolks and oil.  Eggs contain the emulsifier, lecithin.  Whip the liquid and egg yolks together.  To combine the lemon juice, vinegar, egg yolk with the oil. Slowly add the oil, drop by drop, while whisking rapidly.  The whisking allows the two liquids to combine.  As the sauce begins to thicken the oil can be added more rapidly.  After the oil has been mixed in you can add your seasonings.  You have your homemade mayonnaise.

Since homemade mayonnaise is uncooked, be sure to use the freshest eggs and make sure you know the source to make sure that they are salmonella free.  I once went to a wedding reception in which mayonnaise was served and my salmonella lasted longer than the marriage.  No Joke!

FOODISTORY

Mayonnaise was invented in 1756 by the French chef of the Duc de Richelieu.  After the Duc beat the British at Port Mahon his chef created a victory feast that was to include a sauce made of cream and eggs.  He suddenly realized, out there on the battle field, that he didn’t have any cream.  So not to suffer the fate of the victory less he substituted olive oil for the cream and created a new sauce and lo and behold he called it “Mahonnaise” in honor to the Duc’s victory.

DSCN0452   I’m a Miracle Whip lover!  So, arguably, I’ve saved the best for last.

Premiering at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, Miracle Whip helped to make fruits, vegetables and salads better tasting, more appealing and less expensive.  Basically, Miracle Whip is a mayonnaise mixed with salad dressings, thus creating the sweet taste.  This combination of ingredients (20 spices in all) was made possible by the inventor, Charles Chapman.  He invented a machine that would combine and ensure the pre-measured ingredients by continuously making sure that they were properly blended and whipped.   The machine was formally call “Miracle Whip” …and the rest is history.

So what else is Miracle Whip Good for:

  • Condition you hair.  Apply one-half cup Miracle Whip to dry hair once a week as a conditioner.  Leave on for thirty minutes.  Then rinse a few times before shampooing.
  • Remove a ring struck on a finger.  Smear on some Miracle Whip and slide it off.
  • Give yourself a facial and tighten pores.  Miracle Whip helps moisten dry skin when applied as a face mask.  Wait twenty minutes, then wash it off with warm water followed by cold water.
  • Remove white rings and spots from wood furniture.  Wipe on Miracle Whip, let stand for an hour, wipe off and polish the furniture.
  • Remove tar.  Spread a teaspoon of Miracle whip on tar, rub and wipe off.
  • Soothe sunburn and windburn pain.  Use Miracle Whip as a skin cream.
  • Remove dead skin.  Rub a dab of Miracle Whip into your skin and let it dry for a few minutes. While the skin is moist massage with your fingertips.  Dead skin will rub off your feet, knees, elbows or face.
  • Remove chewing gum from hair.  Rub a dollop of Miracle Whip into the chewing gum.

So all you Mayonnaise aficionados give Miracle Whip a try.  Life is sweet and Miracle Whip just makes it sweeter.

Let us know which you prefer!

 

SUPER BOWL EATS – Simple and Plentiful

We thought we would be doing a blog build-up through the past week on preparing for our Super Bowl party. Through the course of the week plans changed and members of our regular crew were not able to make it. Our party shifted from our age group to my oldest daughters group. Being 28 years old and having a boyfriend we hosted their friends. Usually we prepare ribs, tri-tip (those of you in Texas and the east coast may not know that cut of meat, strictly California cut). So we had a change of menu from the higher cuts of meat (at my daughters request) to hot dogs and hamburgers, from daiquiris, tequila, and Fireball to beer. The millennials just don’t appreciate the finer things in life.

However, we had an excellent bill of faire. Remember that what one may term as simple and basic it does not mean it is boring. It’s all in your presentation.

The Defensive Line Up
The Defensive Line Up
The Offensive Line-Up
The Offensive Line-Up

Here is a list of what we prepared:

  • Tortilla chips with an assortment of dips.
  • Hamburgers and Bacon
The Back Field
The Back Field
  • Hot dogs

    MVP
    MVP
  • Grilled Onions
  • Bratwurst (our favorites come from CostCo)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sauté red and yellow peppers
  • Lettuce, white onion, and two types of cheese (Sharp cheddar, Havarti and Smoked Gouda). Remember cheeses should be served in threes.

    The Playing Field
    The Playing Field
  • An assortment of condiments to please any crowd.

 

 

 

 

While we watch the Denver Bronco scoring the big win of the 50th Super Bowl, we are scoring on the eats.

Coach Well. Play Well. Eat Well

 

THE PANTRY – Saver of Time and Money

It’s 2016 and I’m looking forward to the year and blogging recipes and essays on my favorite subject and passion. We had a rough start. After spending a week in beautiful Palm Springs (hope you saw my blogs) we all came home with a Stomach flu. Fortunately everyone is healthy again and things are in full swing. The chicken soup is all gone and we are out of saltines. I am ready to cook again!!! The best way to start the New Year is to be prepared. In the culinary work there I an old saying “mise en place” – . “Everything in its place.” Preparation is key to being a chef or even just preparing the family meal. In staring a meal, the chef has the recipe and collects all the ingredients, measures things out and arranges them in order of preparation.   Where does one think all those ingredients come from? We’ll your right’ of course, the store; but you can’t keep going to the store every day unless you live in France. So where do you go to get that cup of flour or the special spice that you need to kick that meal up another notch. Well, your Pantry, of course. A pantry is essential to any household and a well-stocked pantry not only saves you time but money as well. This is my first blog for this year and we will be starting a new cooking adventure. With any adventure, being a good girl scout or boy scout (no prejudice here) you must be prepared and a chef that is prepared has a well-stocked pantry. So, what makes a well-stocked pantry, you ask? Continue on for my take on a well-stocked Pantry. Remember you don’t have to run out and buy everything at once – you “build” you pantry.

My In-Kitchen Pantry
My In-Kitchen Pantry

THE WELL STOCKED PANTRY

CUPBOARD

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salads
  • Olive Oil for cooking
  • Garlic Olive Oil
  • Vegetable Oil – your choice
  • Grapeseed Oil (frying high temps)
  • Coconut Oil – relatively new addition to the Pantry
  • Assorted Vinegars
  1. Balsamic
  2. White Wine
  3. Apple Cider
  4. Red Wine
  5. Rice Wine
  6. Sherry Vinegar
  7. White Wine
  8. Champagne Vinegar

BOTTLED ITEMS

  • Marinate Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Italian style picked vegetables (olive salad or tapenades, pepperoncini)
  • Pitted brine cured olives (i.e. Kalamata)
  • Stuffed Olives (Spanish)
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Capers
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Whole Grain Mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly or preserves
  • Ketchup

CANNED OR SHELF STABLE GOODS

  • Assorted canned beans
  1. Kidney Beans
  2. White or Cannellini Beans
  3. Garbanzo Beans
  4. Black Beans
  • Canned Tomatoes
  1. Whole
  2. Diced
  • Canned or Boxed Broths
  1. Chicken
  2. Vegetable
  3. Beef
  4. Seafood
  • Tuna
  1. Oil packed for better flavor
  2. Water (calorie wise)
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce
  • Chopped Green Chilies
  • Tahini

ASIAN INGREDIENTS

  • Soy Sauce (lite if necessary)
  • Hoisin
  • Fish Sauce
  • Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Cream
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Rice Wine
  • Star Anise
  • Dried Wasabi Powder
  • Soba Noodles
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Sirach Sauce

GRAINS, PASTAS AND DRIED GOODS

  • Assorted pasta
  1. Spaghetti
  2. Macaroni
  3. Linguini
  4. Orzo
  5. Others of your choice
  • Egg Noodles
  • Rice
  1. Long Grain or Cal rose
  2. Brown (if you prefer)
  3. Quick cook rice
  4. Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur
  • Cornmeal
  • Rolled Oats
  • Assorted       Lentils
  • Dried Mushrooms
  1. Shitake
  2. Assorted Wild Mushrooms
  3. Porcini
  • Assorted Crackers
  • Assorted Dry Beans
  • Dried Bread Crumbs _ Regular and Panko

BAKING INGREDIENTS (GLASS OR PLASTIC CONTAINERS, LABLED)

  • Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • Instant Flour (Wondra)
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  1. Granulated
  2. Brown
  • Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup (the real thing)
  • Baking Powder and Soda
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Quick Rising Yeast
  • Assorted Chocolate (good quality)
  1. Unsweetened
  2. Bittersweet
  3. Semisweet
  4. Chips (your choice)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa
  • Powdered Egg Whites (Just Whites)

SPICES

Sweet

  • Ground Allspice
  • Whole and Ground Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg (whole)Ground cloves
  • Ground ginger
  • Crystallized Ginger

Savory

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Bay Leafs
  • Oregano
  • Cumin (whole and ground)
  • Coriander (whole and ground)
  • Curry power
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Star Anise

Salty Spicy

  • Paprika
  • Sweet – Hot- Smoked
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Lawry’s Season Salt
  • Lawry’s Salt

ALCOHOL 

  • Dry Red Wine Dry
  • White Wine
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Dry Marsala and Sweet Marsala
  • Dry Sherry and Sweet Sherry
  • Brandy
  • Madeira and/or Port

VEGETABLE /FRUIT BASKET

  • Onions: Red, White, Sweet
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Russet (Burbank) Potatoes
  • Boiling Potatoes (Red or White)
  • Lemons, Limes. Oranges

 

REFRIGERATOR

  • Lemons, limes, Oranges
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour Cream
  • Plain Yogurt (Greek is Great!)
  • Milk
  • Large Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Carrots
  • Chiles (jalapeno)
  • Miso Paste
  • Lettuce (pre-package and/or whole)
  • Parmigiano – Reggiano or similar cheeses
  • Cheddar Cheese – Shredded / Sliced / Block
  • Feta cheese
  • Blue Cheese
  • Unsalted and Salted Butter
  • Fresh Ginger

FREEZER

  • Puff Pastry
  • Shrimp
  • Frozen Rice(s) and Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit

Remember! It’s your Pantry …. HAVE FUN!!!          

Foodistory (my compliments to Wikipedia)

A pantry is a room where food, beverages, household cleaning chemicals, provisions, dishes, or linens are stored and served in an ancillary capacity to the kitchen. The derivation of the word is from the same source as the Old French term paneterie; that is from pain, the French form of the Latin panis  for bread.  pantry (4)

In a late medieval hall, there were separate rooms for the various service functions and food storage.  A pantry was where bread was kept and food preparation associated with it done. The head of the office responsible for this room was referred to as a pantler. There were similar rooms for storage of bacon and other meats (larder).  alcoholic beverages (buttery) known for the “butts” of barrels stored there, and cooking (kitchen).

By the Victorian era, large houses and estates in Britain maintained the use of separate rooms, each one dedicated to a distinct stage of food preparation and cleanup. The kitchen was for cooking, while food storage was done in a storeroom. Food preparation before cooking was done in a larder, and dishwashing was done in a scullery or pantry, “depending on the type of dish and level of dirt”. Since the scullery was the room with running water, it had a sink, and it was where the messiest food preparation took place, such as cleaning fish and cutting raw meat. The pantry was where tableware was stored, such as china, glassware and silverware. If the pantry had a sink for washing tableware, it was a wooden sink lined with lead, to prevent chipping the china and glassware while they were washed. In some middle-class houses, the larder, pantry and storeroom might simply be large wooden cupboards, each with its exclusive purpose.[2]

In America, pantries evolved from early Colonial American “butteries”, built in a cold north corner of a Colonial home (more commonly referred to and spelled as “butt’ry”, into a variety of pantries in self-sufficient farmsteads. Butler’s pantries, or china pantries, were built between the dining room and kitchen of a middle class English or American home, especially in the latter part of the 19th into the early 20th centuries. Great estates, such as Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina or Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio had large warrens of pantries and other domestic “offices”, echoing their British “Great House” counterparts.

As you can see I included at photo of my Kitchen’s pantry. I also have a “great” pantry in my garage.

My Garage Pantry
My Garage Pantry

Send me a picture of yours and I’ll post it as well. It would be interesting to see all the different arrangement that a Pantry can take on; after all, they are an expression of ourselves!

Enjoy Life and Eat Well!

Chef Shay

 

 

Fruitcake – Re-gifted or Doorstop

The Holiday season on upon us and that means all sort of cakes, cookies and candies will make their way into our diet.  As we all know those holiday calories don’t really count because our New Years’ resolution will make that all go away. There is one Christmas food that seems to have survived the ages, haunts us really, though no one seems to know why.  The proverbial FRUITCAKE!  Everyone seems to have one though, no one seems knows where it came from.  If you try to eat it your teeth are hermetically sealed to and the only way to freedom is by a blow torch.  We have one, fruitcake, not the blow torch.  I think it is in a closet, again not the blow torch.  We’re afraid to go near it.

Let’s pay homage to the Fruitcake – that rock hard, hockey puck of a disc that if you got a whiff it would probably knock you off your feet.  I ran across this article several years ago while I was teaching a class on Christmas delicacies.  Not that I consider the Fruitcake a delicacy,  but some how it seems to be a Christmas tradition.  I don’t know who wrote this article but it is brilliant.  My thanks to this author and I share with you.

DID someone send you one of those hard as a rock cakes again this year? Are you convinced that whoever did couldn’t possibly like you and yours very much? Well, if so, please read on for an interesting look at the history of fruitcake and what they want from all of us.

A fruitcake is a geological homemade cake.    Charles Dickens

I never met a fruitcake I liked.   The Dorfman Archives

Is there any food product anywhere that is more ridiculed and parodied during the holiday season than the poor old fruitcake? I once heard it said that there is really only one floating around the entire world. It is hard and stale because over the years it has been passed from person to person every holiday season since time immemorial. No one can eat it or use it for anything other than a gift for someone not liked, an alternate doorstop, brick or paperweight. HOW did this happen? Is it because the word fruitcake has become a synonym for a person whose elevator doesn’t ride to the top floor? Or is it just because it’s rather unappetizing? Who knows the truth? The fruitcake bogeyman, that’s who! Fruitcake usually contains candied fruit, citron (made from the thick peel of the citrus fruit of the same name), dried fruit, fruit rind, nuts, spices and some sort of liquor or brandy. The ratio of fruit and nuts to batter is fairly high, with just enough cake batter to hold it all together. This results in a very dense, heavy cake.

Fruitcakes have traditionally been classified as either light or dark, although it is not necessarily the color that counts. (It’s almost like those green sandwiches in The Odd Couple, which Walter Mathau refers to as “either very new cheese or very old meat.”) The lighter ones are less rich than their darker cousins and have subtler flavors and aroma. They are made with granulated sugar, light corn syrup, almonds, golden raisins, pineapple and apricots. The darker cakes are considered by some bakers to be the top of the line. They are much bolder in flavor and appearance. These get their color from molasses, brown sugar, raisins, prunes, dates, cherries, pecans and walnuts. For most people, fruitcake conjures up an image of a comestible that is hard as a rock, easier to cut with a welding torch than a knife and is almost always associated with the holiday season. There seems no sympathy for its fate; not even Spam goes through what the venerable fruitcake does. Its durability seems due at least in part to its legendary ability to remain edible for weeks or months (or even years or centuries, if my opening theory is correct).

Food scholars date fruitcake back to ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. According to some historians, Egyptian fruitcake was considered an essential food for the afterlife and there are those today who maintain that this is the only thing they are good for. In ancient Rome, raisins, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds were added to barley mash, making the fruitcake not only handy and lethal catapult ammunition, but also hearty compact foodstuff for the long campaigns waged by the conquering Roman legions. Centuries later, during the Middle Ages, preserved fruits, honey and spices were added, bumping the status of fruitcake up from granola bar to decadent dessert. “Pickled” or “aged” fruitcakes, as their devotees (and there aren’t many) like to call them, have the legendary ability to last a long time. Crusaders were said to have packed cakes into their saddlebags and backpacks, presumably because there were few bakeries along the rocky road (the road, not the ice cream) to the Holy Grail. Panforte, a thin chewy fruitcake originating in Italy more than a thousand years ago and taken on The Crusades, is still made today.

The history of fruitcake is also closely related to the European nut harvests of the 1700s. After the harvest, accumulated nuts were mixed and made into a fruitcake that was saved until the following year. At that time, the fruitcake was consumed in the hope that its symbolism would bring the blessing of another successful harvest. No one knows for sure why and how the fruitcake became associated with the holidays, but it most likely came from the English who passed out slices of cake to poor women who sang Christmas carols in the street during the late 1700s. It is known that in England by the end of the 18th century there were laws restricting the use of plum cake (plum being the generic word for dried fruit at the time) to Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings and funerals. The Victorians enjoyed their fruitcakes. Even today it remains a custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of dark fruitcake under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry. It is said that Queen Victoria once waited a year to devour a birthday fruitcake because she felt it showed restraint. (Or was it merely a case of royal dislike? Only her hairdresser knows for sure) .

The role of the fruitcake in American history is dubious and cloudy. One theory presented by a historian who couldn’t quite locate his credentials dates back to the days of the American Revolutionary War. Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, asked Benjamin Franklin to come up with an easy to use barricade material to guard against incoming British cannon fire. Benjamin Franklin thought about it, went to bed early and rose early, healthy, wealthy and wise enough to tell the waiting general about his mother-in-law’s fruitloaf. Her attempt at some kind of bread had been so hard that his uncle had broken a tooth while biting into it at the previous year’s holiday dinner! It is not known if the general followed Franklin’s advice. It’s more likely that he never asked him again. Immigrants from Germany, England, The Caribbean and other parts of the world brought their own style of fruitcakes to the United States and that’s why no one can agree on the definition of a fruitcake. The ones displayed in groceries are almost all Americanized versions of the classic. Mandatory ingredients include red and green candied cherries, pineapple, citron and raisins, with some pecans or other nuts thrown in or on top of the cake. The more expensive fruitcakes contain brandy, bourbon or rum; the less expensive can be doctored at home, should one be sinfully inclined.

This article expresses my sympathies for the forlorn fruitcake.  It’s about as serious as one can get.  Since this is rather a long blog I will share my recipe for a fruit cake next time.  I’m not going to make it this year and probably not for the next several years… the one in the closet still scares me.

Chef Shay

P.S  I broke the cardinal sin of blogging.  It’s been over a week.  My apologizes!