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While I’m not usually a big fan of grapes, I’m a huge fan of trying new things, so I couldn’t resist getting some of these “witch fingers.” They are very sweet but otherwise taste pretty similar to other red grapes. They also seem to have a few seeds, although not every grape has a seed, so you never know when you’ll hit one. The shape is mostly a fun visual, but there is something novel about eating an oblong grape.

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CocoaLavender

After much agonizing  and many mildly disappointing desserts, we just bought ourselves an ice cream machine. More than excited, we were forced to wait the 24 hours it takes for the cylinder on our home machine to fully freeze, but this morning it was finally cold and we were ready to start plans for icy goodness. During a quick thumb through the included recipes, a dark chocolate sorbet caught my eye, both for sounding delicious and because we had all the ingredients at hand. We had to start the process early in the day, as it needs to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

The first step in a sorbet is making a simple syrup with 3 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a cup and 2/3 of sugar (we used coconut sugar). After all the sugar is dissolved, we added the 1 and 2/3 cups of cocoa powder, or at least we would have if we had not discovered that we only had a half cup of cocoa left. Since we needed more flavor in the recipe, we decided to spice up the sorbet with a few shakes of powdered chili pepper and, remembering some chocolate lavender brownies we made last week, we added about a tablespoon and a half of crushed lavender. We let the concoction sit in the fridge all day, then strained the mix into the ice cream maker. Twenty minutes later we had a thick and tasty sorbet. Now to wait another 2 hours for it to firm up in the fridge.

For those who just want a recipe:

Chocolate Lavender Sorbet

3 cups water

1 2/3 cups sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cocoa powder

about 1 1/2 tablespoons lavender

crushed chili pepper to taste

Boil water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Slowly stir in cocoa powder until all of it is mixed in, crush lavender and add, shake on crushed chili pepper. Cover and set in fridge to cool, at least 2 hours. Strain the mix and add to ice cream maker. After the sorbet has thickened, move to a freezer safe container and put in the freezer until it is as firm as you like.

Robert and I attended one day of the recent Just Food conference on March 29th and 30th and we had a great time! While we would have loved to go to the whole thing, we were only able to make it on Saturday, but we still got a lot out of it.

My favorite session of the day was “Curd Nerds: Basics Of Milk Chemisty And Cheesemaking” taught by Sascha Anderson from Murray’s Cheese. I learned so much about how cheese is made and got to taste some great samples, including cheddar curds and one of my old favorites, Parmigiano Reggiano. Interestingly, I found out that cheesemaking requires milk from cows, goats, sheep, caribou or other ruminants, not just from any old mammal!

I also enjoyed “Getting Creative With Cuts: Learning About Whole Animals” by Adam Tiberio of Tiberio Custom Meats, another very informative session, where I learned about how cows are raised and turned into delicious cuts of meat.

Another highlight of the conference was the Good Food Jobs Get Together, hosted by the people behind the Good Food Jobs website, which I definitely recommend for anyone looking to work in the world of food. The event was setup as a speed-networking session, we were asked to find someone new to talk to every five minutes, and given a prompt to discuss to start the conversation. I, unfortunately, am not much of a networker, and tend to end up disappointed with myself for not meeting more people at networking events, but this one was different and I ended up getting contact information from some really interesting people. I also want to add that I emailed Good Food Jobs from their website to let them know how much I enjoyed their event and got an almost immediate response from Taylor Cocalis, one of the founders.

We also enjoyed the keynote address given by Byron Hurt. He discussed and showed clips from his film Soul Food Junkies which I am eager to see in its entirety. It looks like a very interesting examination of soul food, both for its cultural importance, and its impact on health.

Overall, Just Food put on a great event that brought together people from many different parts of the food world, as well as those interested in learning more about food and the important issues surrounding it. I hope we can return for the full conference next year!