Monday, December 9, 2013

Condiments for Christmas

Did you realize there were once outspoken activists against condiments? Dietary reformer Sylvester Graham accused them of being “highly exciting and exhausting” while physician and temperance leader Dio Lewis encouraged followers to shun mustard, ketchup and other flavor enhancers railing “Everything which inflames one appetite is likely to arouse the other also.” I had to stop reading Jessica Harlan’s new book, Homemade Condiments, for a minute after that, out of reverence to freedom of choice we now have in America. But Harlan is set to make our mouths water and make us aware we can make fresh choices and avoid chemicals found in mass-produced products. Ready?
For fig-infused vinegar? That’s the whole ingredient list. How about lemon-infused oil for dips, salad dressing, pound cake or grilled salmon?
I want to make lime-cumin dressing, but not before Cilantro-Almond pesto. This book is all about keeping it fresh.

Cookie confessions:
The press release for Hannah Max Cookie Chips is a confession, as in Dear Santa, I cheat with these cookies because people think I made them. My daughter texted me a confession she had opened and tasted the chocolate chip and salted peanut butter versions of these crispy cookies from a bag and deemed them the best things ever. When I finally got my share, I tasted the hoopla. No hype. They’re as crispy and good as promised. But I pick dark chocolate chip as my fave in this all-natural line that “Tastes like a cookie, Eats like a chip.”  Don’t judge, Santa.

Seafood season
 "Matlaw's All-Natural Fish Sticks" celebrated October as National Seafood Month (did you know there was such a thing?) by spreading the world in their Stuffed Clams, new , All-Natural Crunchy Fish Sticks and Crunchy Fish Squares, Breaded Shrimp, Wild Salmon and more. Whole Foods is one of the nationwide suppliers. I  tried the clams, which look glamorous in their own shells, dressed for the holiday season. The Texas and Louisiana coast is famous for oysters on our shells, so the clams were a visual treat. The fish sticks and squares came out crunchy in a jiffy, just like the directions promised. A microwaved quick meal also delivered results. Next, I want to play with chopping up a square and making it really crisp as a topping for some sort of Tex-Mex taco. Think of the colors involved.  These are handy deals for your freezer stock.

Pumpkin update
I found green tea pumpkin seeds at an Asian store. They were not crispy. So I put Cajun seasoning on them, toasted them and put them in Chex mix. Still not so good.

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