Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time

Stirring tales of eating, cooking and foraging in my never-ending quest to provide, great-tasting (local and organic whenever possible) EATS for me and my boy(s).

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Izzy Protests Asparagus: Two Bad Lunches In A Week.

Today it was Spinach Fettuccine With Ramps and Asparagus. Not my best work, I'll admit. The asparagus did not shine the way they do with a simple mustard vinaigrette, which is the way we usually eat them.

Izzy came home with the remaining asparagus tips, sitting sadly at the bottom of his container. What a shame. Especially since he has been known to fight for the last stalk with his papa.

When I queried as to why he hadn't eaten them the answer didn't surprise. "I just didn't like them. They were not as good as the asparagus that you usually make." I couldn't disagree but tried to explain that even though they were not as good, they were not inedible.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Lunch Surprises...I should follow my own advice

Moms are always wondering what to pack in their kid's lunchbox and I am always quick to offer all manner of advice. One rule is that you should always pack foods that your child has already eaten and enjoyed. This is a rule I have always adhered to and Izzy has happily eaten nearly all of his lunches.

But the other day my friend S. had prepared a lovely orzo salad with pine nuts and currants for our bbq. Izzy hadn't tried any because he was too giddy with hot dog mania but it was tasty and I was certain he would be happy to have it for lunch the next day. The next morning I packed a container full into his lunch bag and sent him off.

Well imagine my surprise when he returned home, barely having touched it. He said, "Mama. Did you make that lunch?" I said, "No." He said, "Next time don't give me lunch that you didn't make. I only want the lunches you make." If only he had tasted it the night before...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mama, I'm "Birsty"...Too Many Hotdogs

The night that Izzy ate two hot dogs, was the night he awoke three times, calling for water. Never mind that these were hot dogs of the grass-fed organic variety. It's a good thing I try to keep hot dog eating at a minimum. They are one of the rare processed foods I allow Izzy to eat on occasion but I think that one hot dog will have to suffice.

advice from a friend: slit the hot dog down the middle and boil it before grilling.. Haven't heard of that technique but will give it a try next time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

First BBQ Of The Season..

Sunday was definitely a day for it. Weenies and sliders were on the menu, along with potato salad and a few other dishes. We fired up the barbie just moments before our friends arrived, only to discover that there was only a smidgen of propane gas left in the tank. Not only that, but every local place that sells it was sold out. At least my friend S. brought along the fixings for some pineapple frozen daiquiris which helped ease my grill troubles.

In the end we had to boil the weenies and finish them on the grill. There wasn't enough heat to cook the sliders so they had to be pan-fried. Rest assured, no one starved. And you can plainly see, the grill problems didn't cramp Izzy's style. He and his friend T., had a rollicking good time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Jersey La Leche League Conference 2009: To Listen But Not To Eat...

Ina May Gaskin...recounting "Little-known facts about breastfeeding"
at the NJ area LLL conference, April 25, 2009

Attending La Leche League conferences is always a joy. It is heartwarming to be surrounded by such a large group of like-minded mothers, women devoted to nurturing their children and to helping others do the same. The conferences are also a great opportunity to hear the voices of wisdom speak and this year was a stellar one in that respect. Marian Tompson (one of the founding mothers of LLL) and Ina May Gaskin (a midwifery guru) were both on hand to share their latest ponderings with us.

This year, as in years past, Izzy has joined me at the conference, playing in the children's activity room while I "go to Mama school". I don't ordinarily choose to sleep over because I would rather not subject myself to a freezing cold impersonal hotel with less than mediocre food. I opted to stay over for one night this year because our group won the privilege of having breakfast with Ina May Gaskin and Marian Thompson. I couldn't pass up the opportunity so on Friday evening, we drove down with M. and her family. I packed a picnic dinner for us, along with loads of snacks.

We arrived at dinnertime and Izzy and were able to partake of the crudites offered at the hotel, which we supplemented with our truffled chicken sandwich. The food only deteriorated from there, as the next morning I paid around $25 for a bagel, some sliced fruit, a glass of orange juice and a cup of tea. Lunch was not much better. Izzy had spaghetti with tomato sauce (I wouldn't allow the meatballs) and I had some vegetarian dish with vegetables, pasta and cheese.

This year, as in every other year at the conference, I lamented the food served. Some years I have even opted out of lunch. I chose not to go that route this year since not having a seat with the others is less than convivial. So it was that Izzy and I sat eating the unappealing offerings, listening while other moms complained about them too. Granted we are there to listen and learn and not to eat but even so, why does the hotel food have to be so abysmal?

Friday, April 24, 2009

In The Realm Of Red Hook: Gowanus Nursery, Tiburon and Baked (yet again)

This time I was on a mission. A trip to the Gowanus Nursery to purchase the beginnings of a small, ornamental garden and a visit to Tiburon, a recently opened, handmade dress shop. And of course no outing to Red Hook would be complete without a side-trip to Baked, which completed the day.

My initial plan was to stop at the nursery first but we somehow ended up at the dress shop instead. One dress led to another and before I knew I had tried on nearly all of them. Meanwhile, my friend S.was trying to drag me out of there so we could attend to our gardening so I eventually selected one adorable dress and some bloomers and we left. The owner was kind enough to alter the dress within the hour and I picked it up on our way home.

We eventually made it to Gowanus Nursery which features an eclectic selection of plants, trees and garden accessories. My friend S., with a greater vision of gardening than I, helped me choose as I wandered aimlessly amongst the delightfully beautiful offerings. I ended up with some gorgeous plants which Izzy will help me transplant into our garden patch within the next few days.

Of course by this time we had worked up an appetite so after my garden was outfitted, we couldn't help but stop at Baked. I bought a sandwich for my upcoming trip and then I had to try their Apricot-Rosemary Shortbread bars. What an inspired combination. These are a textural delight; a crunch oat topping covers soft, sweet apricot, all atop a fragrant rosemary-kissed crust.

Baked goods in hand, our trip was complete and I am already contemplating the next one. So far my friend S. has driven me there but I have been investigating ways to get to Red Hook by public transit. Word has it there is a ferry from South Street which goes to Ikea, and from there the other shops are within walking distance. Sounds like an adventure to me!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Salt And Pepper Chocolate: Mast Brothers Williamsburg

You can definitely judge this book by its cover. The elegantly wrapping on these bars is the first inkling that this chocolate is out of the ordinary. Mast Brothers chocolate is made in small batches, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and it is plain to see that great care and thought has gone into the entire process.

My first sample of the Dark Milk Chocolate Salt and Pepper bar had me swooning. Within a glossy exterior were crunchy bits of salt, with just a hint of pepper. The 60% cacoa bar itself bears characteristics of both milk and dark, which is an unusually satisfying combination.

The factory is open to the public on the weekends. Make a day of it and visit a few of the other food destinations as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where Do Dead Cows Belong?

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine went to visit Bobolink Dairy, a farm renowned for its cheese, bread and meats. Izzy and I were supposed to join them but had to stay home because he wasn't feeling well.

Too bad since I couldn't wait to introduce Izzy to some cows. Not only that but I was also intrigued by the matzoh-making class they were holding that day and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a hunk of their Cave-aged Cheddar and Rosemary Epi bread. Alas, it wasn't meant to be for Izzy and me, but my friends went along without us.

Of course I was eager to hear how their day went and knew I could count on my friend L. to describe it all in minute detail. As she tells it, the matzoh-making went fairly well. They watched the farmers grind spelt and her daughters were able to roll out several matzos. It was so enjoyable that her daughters plan to return next year (maybe even with us).

As she recounted her tale, I could hear in her voice that not all was rosy. Then she told they saw dead cows rotting in a nearby pasture. They both found this to be quite disturbing. Her husband was disgusted and they didn't know quite what to make of it. Her husband forbade her from buying any of their beef (which is a complete shame since it is quite delectable) although they did bring home a fair bit of cheese and bread.

My immediate reaction was to assume that there was a reasonable explanation for the rotting cows, somehow relating to organic farming practices. Since I wasn't there to bear witness, I emailed the farm to find out about the cows.

I received a detailed reply from the farmer, some of which I will excerpt here:
Anyhow, the way we dispose of the remains is an old but sensible method:
we put them in the pig pasture and let nature run its course. Pigs are
forest floor scavengers, true omnivores.
Between the pigs and the insect larvae, the cows are
recycled to just bones in a few months.

It all sounded perfectly sensible to me and besides, I doubt that the sight of a few dead cows in a pasture, even remotely comes close to the horror one would find inside an industrial farming facility. Yet my friends are not convinced, continuing to the think that the meat from the supermarket is better. How can we help them see the light?

p.s. Imagine their horror when I told them that the brisket I had served them on Passover came from that very farm..

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is This "The One?" : The Quintessential Chocolate Cake From Alice Waters

Over a lifetime of chocolate cake eating and baking, I have encountered far too many disappointments. From dry to not chocolaty enough and every permutation in between, no chocolate cake (except for one at a restaurant) has met with my expectations.

Nearly two years ago, in honor of my grandfather's 98th birthday, I searched extensively and found a recipe for a cake that bloggers proclaimed to be the very best. It received so many accolades I felt it had to be the one. But it too let me down. It had a fair amount of oil in it when I prefer butter and it was so moist that it had horrible sticking issues. Despite its shortcomings, it did pack quite a chocolaty punch and I wouldn't turn it down but it still wasn't the one.

And so when Izzy requested chocolate cake for his birthday, my quest continued. It ended in Alice Water's newest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food. Her chocolate cake recipe contained two crucial ingredients, butter and actual chocolate, instead of oil and only cocoa. When I googled the recipe I found it on another blog called One Hot Stove and it was made with the perfect addition, a raspberry filling. Exactly what Izzy had requested.

Now mind you, Izzy was not content with a standard layer cake. He wanted a "meteorite" so I baked the entire recipe in a metal bowl. It came out somewhat dome-shaped and I was able to slice it and fill it, before frosting it with chocolate ganache. I decorated it with a simple silver spaceship, not as frou-frou as I had hoped but still special.

I served it surrounded by miniature vanilla cupcakes topped with the same chocolate ganache frosting. As I sliced it up after the birthday song, I was ever hopeful for just the right flavor and texture. And guess what?? This cake had it. It was smooth, chocolaty goodness with luscious raspberry inside. Thanks to Alice, I now have my go to chocolate cake, just right for birthdays and other occasions.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Out Of This World: Izzy's Sixth Birthday Party

And so it was, that six years ago today, my little Izzy "hatched", or so I told him this morning. To which he replied. "I am not a bird." Indeed he isn't but the fact remains that hatching does seem gentler than what actually happened, now doesn't it?

However he got here, Izzy's birthday is always cause for great celebration and this year we celebrated according to Izzy's wishes and he finally had the space party of his dreams.

I tried to keep it small but even so, it took hours of preparation for our two and a half hours of fun. I had a great time doing it, thanks to some creative help from the internet.

First, since Izzy wanted to dress-up for the party, I found Maggie Blue Designs at Etsy , who made us matching alien costumes in the wink of an eye. With our outfits ready, I was on to more important matters, such as the activities to occupy our bouncy guests.

The first activity would be a "moon rock" hunt in the backyard. Our "moon rocks" were actually rock-shaped soy crayons that I found at Stubby Pencil Studio, an incredible on-line studio with all manner of eco-friendly art supplies and adorable toys. (Kate has a wealth of party ideas and can make up wonderful goody bags if need be.)

When the kids arrived, they each received a small cotton muslin bag in which to collect their rocks, which I had foil-wrapped and hidden around the backyard. When they all had found five rocks, they gathered to trade so they all received a mix of colors.

Next it was on to alien design. After a bit of free play, the children gathered to draw aliens with glitter pens and water color pencils.

Then time for a space-food tasting. Astronaut strawberries and astronaut apples versus the real thing. Surprising that some kids preferred the dehydrated stuff and others simply refused to taste it at all.

The next activity was my hands down favorite... Martian-mallow decorating. I made homemade marshmallows and placed them on long lollipop sticks. The children had pretzel sticks, cocoa nibs and some organic gummy stars to use for decorations. They invented all manner of creatures.

It is plain to see they were quite absorbed in the process...

This was followed by some real food..alien eyeball sandwiches, chips and salsa etc. More playtime, then cake.

The cake.

I was instructed to make it chocolate with a raspberry filling. Which cake to make? That was the question which I pondered for a long while. It was supposed to be a meteorite with all manner of designs; stars, spaceships etc. In the end, I kept it simple (aside from the fact that I baked it in a bowl) and I decorated it with one silver spaceship. I surrounded it with some mini-vanilla cupcakes. I think it was just right, details will come. This is cake you should become acquainted with.

Cake eaten, there was time for our last activity, "Pass the Asteroid", in which I played "space" music and the kids passed a foil-wrapped packaged around. When the music stopped, the one holding the package got to unwrap a layer and find a space book. The package got passed around until all the guests had received a book. This is definitely a keeper, taken from my friend H. and her British birthday traditions.

And so it was. When all was over, Izzy kept thanking me for all of the various components of the party. We then sat down to open gifts and muse over the goings-on of the day.

All tuckered out, there was no proper birthday dinner for Izzy, just some pierogi and bed, where he is probably conjuring up next year's birthday plan.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Outrageous: Of Cats and Cupcakes

Who does MimiMama think she is anyway? Our resident feral is now so brazen that she thinks nothing of jumping on our kitchen table, even while I am eating. At least she didn't jump up while we were eating these cupcakes.

Here we see a trio of the phenomenal cupcakes that emerge from the ovens of Baked in Red Hook. Today we sampled two as yet untasted varieties, their "Hostess" version and the "Oreo", with the cream and crumbled cookie on top. Sheer cupcake heaven. As is their salted caramel version, which we return to, time and again. I urge you to make the trek out to Red Hook for a stellar cupcake experience. Definitely worth the trip, as there are many other local treasures to be had there.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Preoccupied With Party Planning: Izzy's 6th

Including Izzy in his own party planning has long been the policy around here and each year his input increases, making it more difficult for me to have my way in terms of guest lists and activities. Which makes sense, for at this age, whose party is it anyway?

At the early birthday parties, ages 1-2, the party was more about my friends more than his, but each year the balance tips in his direction. Izzy's ideas of who should be invited left us with an enormous guest list this year, which needed to be gently down-sized. I simply do not have room for all of the kids and parents that both of us wanted. I had no choice but to whittle it down so that it there was mainly room for Izzy's schoolmates. This left me feeling somewhat wistful about regulars who would not be included this year but alas, the party must go on.

And so I have been preparing for a simple, home-grown space-themed bash. Not as much my cup of tea as last year's gardening party but I am warming up to the idea as I go along. I still have not come up with a definitive cake and with little time left I'd better stop blogging and start searching as I am not sure how I can compete with last year's outlandish creation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Snack Mom Stint Underway...

Behold today's offering...organic cheddar cheese, organic grape tomatoes, matzoh and a bowl of bocconcini.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Taste Of Passover In Izzy's Classroom

Back in suburban Englewood Cliffs in the 70's, I was surrounded by many friends and classmates who celebrated the Jewish holidays. Here in Jersey City, things are not quite the same. Izzy is only one of a handful of kids in his school who do celebrate the Jewish holidays. Most of his friends and classmates don't know much at all about them. And so I set out to open their eyes and mouths to the joys of Passover.

Along with D., a classmate's mom, we coordinated a morning of Passover fun. D. was in charge of an art project (matzoh rubbings..cute!) and I handled story telling and a matzoh tasting. After a brief explanation of the holiday (many of the children are 3 after all), I read a fun Passover story called The Mouse in the Matzah Factory, which follows a mouse as he oversees the wheat from field to bakery and so on. I followed up the story with a a matzoh/bread comparison.

I brought in a loaf of bread and a box of matzoh. We examined each..sniffing, touching, tasting. It was so satisfying to see Izzy's classmates happily crunch on the matzoh with whipped cream cheese. We also snacked on homemade chocolate-chip macaroons and then I sent each child home with a small waxed paper bag of chocolate-caramel covered matzoh. After all, what better way is there to remember this special holiday?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Winding Our Way Through Williamsburg In Search Of Treasure

With friends S. and T., we spent a day hopping in and out of their car, on a mission to check out many of the destinations highlighted in a recent NY Times article on Brooklyn's local culinary treasures.

We began with lattes at El Beit, a local coffee bar. Way too strong for me but according to my latte aficionado they were perfect. Izzy appreciated the heart-shaped design on top. Too much attitude but if you are a coffee-lover, worth a visit.

So fortified, we were off. We poked into a clothing shop or two and then we did make it to Mast Brothers Chocolates, only to find a sign stating their weekend hours. Noting people inside, I left the others in the car to go inside to investigate. Although they were not officially open for business I was allowed to purchase some of their intriguing chocolate bars, each one of which comes beautifully wrapped. I chose the salt and pepper version. I haven't tried it yet but will keep you posted.

All shopping and no play makes for unpleasant offspring so we had to stop at this tiny urban garden, conveniently located across from Urban Rustic, one of the stops on our list. While there I was able to pick up some much needed local organic eggs, since I didn't make it to Union Square this week.

Between lattes, lunch and a few clothing shops thrown in, we didn't quite make it everywhere we had intended. All tuckered out, we piled back into the car for the trip back to JC, which took us far longer than it should have, given that it was Good Friday. Still and all, a fine time was had by all.

Ketchup A Condiment For Some...To Others Much More

One President tried to classify it as a vegetable. Our friend here insisted that it was her lunch (with a few fries thrown in for good measure). If left to her own devices she would have likely devoured the entire jar!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover Notes: Next Year Add Salt or (How To Ruin A Perfect Matzoh Ball)

Days of toiling and boasting about "My Perfect Matzoh Ball" and what do I get? These words from Izzy (who had left his matzoh ball barely untouched and had gone on to gorge on chocolate-caramel covered matzoh).

"Mama? Do you know why I didn't eat my matzoh ball? It wasn't because I was sick. It was because it didn't taste like the ones you made last year." I was crushed.

The sad thing was. He was right. I blame it on the following ambiguous phrase: "Salt to taste". Each time I encounter those words in a recipe I am flummoxed. To whose taste? What if some prefer saltier than others? Why leave salt up to chance when formulas do exist? The only way to salt to taste is to cook up a sample matzoh ball in advance and who has the time for that? Certainly not me when preparing for a holiday feast.

If only I had sought out the guidelines for the salt to matzoh meal ratio in advance, but instead I threw in a small amount and kept my fingers crossed. I should have known better, as this wasn't my first under-salting infraction. Truth be told, I am infamous for forgetting just how all-important salt can be and have to make a concerted effort to include enough when an amount is not specified (which is why I am a better baker than cook). In the interests of allowing you all to make a better matzoh ball, I have researched the magic amount, which is 1 teaspoon per cup of matzoh meal. With that knowledge in mind, you can under or over-salt as you wish.

Oh, and as for the rest of the meal...

The matzoh balls were not the only dish to suffer from lack of salt. This affliction seemed to pervade our meal, except for my chopped liver, gefilte fish, horseradish and desserts.

At the seder, they say, "Next year Israel." I say, "Next year, add salt!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Perfect Matzoh Ball

When it comes to matzoh balls I'll take mine neither fluffy nor firm. What I am looking for lies somewhere in between. For too fluffy and they will fall apart, too firm and they will sink. I want lightness with something to bite into...

I also want flavor...

My Perfect Matzoh Ball

6 large eggs
6 tablespoons chicken fat or a combination of chicken fat and olive oil
3/4 cup seltzer
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon, matzoh meal
4-5 tablespoons finely minced parsley
few grinds of nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper

1. Beat eggs until fluffy.
2. Add chicken fat and seltzer and beat again.
3. Stir in matzoh meal and parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper.
4. Allow batter to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. It will firm up and be easier to form.
5. Put a large pot of water to boil.
6. With water- moistened hands, form batter into ping-pong size balls.. Gently lower balls into simmering water and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Makes 18-20 matzoh balls. These can be made up to 3 days in advance.

p.s If you have any fresh truffles or truffle essence hanging around, I hear that it makes a great addition to the matzoh ball batter. Trouble is, not sure if truffles are kosher...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Matzoh-Making At Bobolink Dairy: Wish We Were There

We had been dreaming of this excursion for weeks and I couldn't think of a better way to experience Passover, than through actually making matzoh. Not only would there be matzoh-making but we would have a chance to visit one of our favorite Union Square market farms, Bobolink Dairy, during the calving season. Baby animals, cheeses, fresh bread and more. Could there be a more splendid way to spend this sunny day?

The farm is over an hour away so we had plans to leave here early this morning, taking the train to meet L. and her family who would then drive us the rest of the way. I was careful to have everything organized and ready to go last night, but just as I was getting to bed I heard Izzy groaning and tossing. Was it simply a bad dream or an impending illness? I hoped for the former and went to sleep, tossing and turning, especially after having read this account of fevers gone awry. Definitely not the right sort of bedtime reading for worried mothers.

When Izzy hopped in my bed early this morning, I noted his runny nose and warm forehead. I hesitated to take his temperature, because it would confirm my fears but knew I had to do it. Indeed he had a 100.5ish fever which meant our trip was off. I called my friend L. to let her know we wouldn't be joining them. She and her family are making the trip without us (and having dim sum too boohoo). Izzy was mildly disappointed but cheered at having a day in pajamas. I am lamenting at our rotten luck and trying to console myself with thoughts of going either next week or next year.

There are still tickets available for next week's Matzoh-making at Bobolink Dairy and even if we have to take a bus, I think it may just be worth going (working on bus negotiations with Izzy now since I don't think he has ever been on a 2 hour bus ride).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Love To Eat It, Hate To Cook It: A Fowl Business, Part II

I do find great comfort in a warm, fragrant bowl of chicken soup. I crave one especially at Passover and when I am sick. Not just any chicken soup will do. What I want is what my grandma used to make and I try my best to replicate it. I only make chicken soup about three times a year because I find I really don't relish the process at all. The product is all I am after.

Chicken soup recipes are deceptive. They seem simple enough but there is more to them than meets the eye. Place chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot, cover with water and simmer gently for 2 hours. Easy enough and I do I feel a vague sense of accomplishment,at having begun. As the liquid begins to bubble, the stinky part sets in. That old skimming the foam, froth or scum part comes next. The actual removal is problematic enough but to make matters worse, the vapors cling to my hair and I find myself engulfed in chickeny aromas.

What happens next is none to pleasurable either. After two hours, the recipe says to remove the chicken from the soup, strip the meat off of the bones and return to the pot. Once again, I find myself before a steaming chicken and now my whole being has become enveloped in eau de chicken. I carefully pick the meat off of the bones, stopping periodically to pop a choice morsel into my or Izzy's mouth (one consolation prize) for my chickeny toils.

Once that is done, I return all the bones to the pot and allow it to simmer for an hour longer, after which it is time to strain out the mass of chicken and vegetables and pour the soup into a clean pot. So for the third time I find myself bathed in chicken steam.

By the time I have put the stock away and washed the various pots and strainers, I have little desire to actually eat the soup. For that reason and in the interest of being organized, I prepare it in advance so that by the time I get to eat if, the fowl process that created it is only a vague memory.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Skimming The Foam: A Fowl Business Part I

But essential to the chicken soup preparation process. Or is it?

This afternoon began Passover preparation (Yes. I am doing my best to prepare in advance). Chicken soup was the first order of business, as I can freeze the broth until next week. I assembled the chicken and vegetables in an enormous stockpot and put them over a medium flame. When they were I the cusp of simmering, I went to retrieve my skimming spoon from the drawer. I wanted to give Izzy a skimming lesson, as all recipes always recommend that one skims the grayish foam that bubbles up to the surface of the soup. I have always wondered what exactly that "foam" was, quickly dismissing the thoughts of dirt and grime so that I could later enjoy it.

When the soup began to simmer, I called Izzy over to witness the foam and I explained to him that one day, when he was old enough to make the soup for me, he would have to remember to skim it off.

His question, "Why do you have to skim the foam from the soup?" My answer? "To keep the broth clear." Was that the only reason I wondered. I kept my thoughts of dirt and grime to myself and I decided to do a brief search and unearthed this fascinating tidbit:

"Though skimming the foam is a classic habit, a must for stocks (improves clarity) and is something purists do, you are not removing 'impurities' but important nutrients and flavour. The foam that rises is a colloidal juice from the meat that you would eat if you cooked it another way. It just looks unappetizing. If you forget, it will disappear back into the soup anyway."

What does unskimmed look like? Does the final soup have bits of gray matter floating on top? What do those bits of "colloidal juice" taste like? I am curious to hear about any soup skimming (or not) experiences..

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Snack Wires Crossed: Unraveling the snack mysteries

The problem with email is it cannot convey tone or nuance, so when I received a message from T., the mom of one of Izzy's friends, I got the impression that when Izzy had a playdate at their house, chips would be on the menu.

The message said,

"Isadore can have his snack here if you like but it will definitely not be as healthy as yours."

Visions of chips, Rainbow Goldfish and other junk foods danced in my head so I replied to the message saying that Izzy would probably stop home first and have a small snack before heading on over to their house. And that is exactly what we did.

When we arrived at their lovely apartment I was more than pleasantly surprised to see the table set with slices of homemade banana bread. T. told me she had also prepared an apple crisp which was cooling on the stove. What a Mama! And she has another job too!

I told T. of how I completely misread her message. Next time we are invited back, we will most certainly go with an appetite!