Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lucas Mussers Muffuletta

Lucas Mussers' Muffuletta

This recipe was given to me by my friend Lucas Musser. Lucas is a professional chef trained at the oldest cooking school in the world, the venerable Cordon Bleu of France

Allow me to introduce to you a sandwich a strange name and a great taste, the muffuletta. I learned how to make this great tasting treat while in chef school. It is a Sicilian sandwich to which Signor Lupo Salvatore claims to have been the inventor of in 1906 New Orleans. My recipe is slightly different than the one offered online by the descendant of Signor Lupo Salvatore. So without further delay here ya go.

Muffuletta 1/2 ring

2 green olives chopped

2 black olives chopped

1 teaspoon parsley chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

1 teaspoon of capers

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 anchovy mashed

1/4 cup of oil, olive oil is good here

1 teaspoon pimento chopped

5 ounces hard salami

5 ounces of ham

5 ounces of provolone cheese

Combine everything except the salami, ham, and provolone and make it into a spread, really mix it up good. Next cut the 1/2 ring loaf in half horizontally and take out a little bit of the bread inside. Now let’s make a brush the spread you've made on one side of the loaf about 1/3 its really up to you. Then layer in salami, ham, and cheese on top of the meat. To finish just spread some more spread on top of the layers then on the other half of the loaf, close up your sandwich and cut into pieces and you’re done. Enjoy I really like the taste of this one.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bottled Water Bad for You and the Environment

Bottled Water Bad for You and the Environment
Young woman taking drink of bottled water, St....

Americans alone consume 29,000,000,000 yes that is 29 billion bottles of water a year. I am not sure why other than a well-managed marketing campaign by the major bottling companies. This number is only for the United States imagine the numbers if you include the rest of the world. I will work here with just the numbers from the US as they were easier to cross check.

A large pile of half-pint Poland Spring bottles
A large pile of half-pint Poland Spring bottles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From an environmental and economic point of view, bottled water is a catastrophic product.  The production of the bottles requires in excess of 17,000,000 barrels of oil. To put this into prospective that is enough oil for Americans to drive 1,000,000 cars for 12 months, an entire year. The production of these bottles ads to the greenhouse gases released by the US by approximately 2,000,000 tons and with only 13% being recycled the required landfill space for their disposal is astronomical. For the sake of bottled water Americans increase their dependents on foreign oil, increase both land and air pollution and spend billions of dollars for a product they have available for pennies a gallon.

The most common argument I here in favor of bottled water is the safety of drinking more highly processed or refined water. That it is cleaner and healthier than tap water. This is not the case and this belief actually places both you and your family at a higher risk from water borne pathogens and contaminants. True bottled water has to meet a different set of standards than tap water but different does not mean stricter.
Drinking Water
Drinking Water (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

Thanks to the lobbying power of the bottling industry the standards for bottled water have been steadily lowered over the last ten years. Yes, politicians will sacrifice safety for campaign funds. In test performed by the FDA in conjunction with the EPA, 22% of the bottled water on the market in the US did not meet the standards for contaminants set for tap water.

Keep these numbers in mind next time you reach for that brightly labeled bottle of water. You’re not only buying water, you’re buying increased air and land pollution; you’re buying higher health risk; you’re buying increased dependents on foreign oil and you’re paying an exorbitant price for it. ENJOY!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Cheese Making 101

English: Goat's milk cheese
English: Goat's milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cheese is a nice subject to begin the week with. I cannot imagine a world without cheese. There are so many types and flavors that you can find a taste to suit almost any one.

Cheese was really developed as a way to store excess milk and make it where people who are lactose intolerant can digest and benefit from the nutrition available in milk.

Milk (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
Lactose Intolerants is actually more common than most people realize and depends mostly on our heritage. In the majority of mammals the body naturally stops producing the enzymes necessary to break down the Lactose (sugars) in milk when it is time to stop nursing.  People are mammals by the way. As people progressed from the hunter gatherer stage into more advanced types of society we began to heard animals and plant crops. This lead to many changes in our diet and we developed the ability to keep nursing (drinking milk) beyond the time we would have normally stopped.

If your ancestors came from one of these herding cultures you have a good chance of being lactose tolerant, if they didn’t, well you’re out of luck. Lactose intolerance can range from sever stomach upset to mild flagellants (gas) depending on the extent of your intolerants. Many people are lactose intolerant and never even relies it the symptoms are so mild.

If you are one of the unlucky ones among us and your body will not tolerate lactose, have no fear cheese is the answer. I was explaining this to friend and he tried to call me on it. He said I have tried cheeses and all I got was a stomach ache. I asked him what kind of cheeses he tried and of course his answer was whatever my wife bought at ______. I asked was it wrapped in plastic or foil and he answered of course. I knew the answers to my questions before I asked them. I have had these conversations before. He was shocked and most people are shocked when I tell them “you still haven’t tried cheese then.
Honey ice cream
The making of cheese is much simpler than most people realize. The basics are you introduce enzymes into milk; they break down the lactose and leave you with an easily digestible product that is both delicious and nutritious.  I will walk you through the process here for making a simple cream cheese. I use this recipe and then add seasonings to the finished product just to create different taste. If you don’t like spicy foods, don’t worry, just spread this simple cheese on toast and enjoy.

For this project you’re going to need:

1 gallon of  whole milk

 (Not the super pasteurized but any other will do)

A colander

A large cloth

(Cheese cloth is best but any cotton will do, I use pillow cases)

A thermometer

A large stainless steel pot

Enzyme culture

(Available on line or at many gourmet shops, different cultures make different cheeses)

Pinch of salt

Pour your milk into your stainless steel pan and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t heat too quickly or you will scald the milk. Using your thermometer bring the milk to 85 deg. Fahrenheit (29 deg. Celsius); stir in your enzymes; remove from heat and cover. Walk away and leave sitting on your counter.
Pectic Enzyme
Pectic Enzyme (Photo credit: John Holzer)

I recommend doing this in the late afternoon. Eat supper, read, watch television and have a good night’s sleep, the enzymes are doing the work not you.

Arise about 15 minutes early in the morning; go to the kitchen and remove the lid from your pot. What you are going to find is a thick skim on top, this is your curd. Line your colander with your cloth and spoon this curd into it. Let the curd drain for a few minutes; remove it to bowl and mix in a little salt. You have fresh Cream Cheese for your morning toast. Enjoy

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Common Sense Diet

Common Sense Diet

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...
First let me say I am not a Doctor; I am not a Dietician and I am not a Nutritionist but I’m not an idiot either. People worldwide spend millions of dollars annually trying to lose weight. Some are successful; at least in the short term but most that do lose weight will gain back more than they lost. This is known as the Yoyo effect and is mystifying to most people. To me this common sense, the body is doing what it is designed to do. If you starve the body either by too low a fuel intake or too low a nutrient intake you trigger the body into survival mood. Once triggered this natural defense mechanism will cause the body to store emergency rations as fat, preparing for a time it may be starved again, God and nature designed us this way. Makes a lot of sense if you look back to when we ate what we raised or foraged for or went hungry.

Another reason people have such a hard time losing and maintaining weight loss is most diets take away from us rather than giving to us. Humans are obstinate by nature and if you tell us you can’t have it just makes us want it more. In todays get it now world this is a major psychological issue that can’t be ignored. To be successful at weight maintenance the entire person must be addressed not just the spare tire in the middle.

Free range chickens seek shade in their simple...
The biggest issue for maintaining weight isn’t the amount of food we eat but the types of food we eat. Processed, sweetened, flavor enhanced food ready at our finger tips or local drive thru. Studies have found that even though we are eating more our nutrition levels are way down. To a great extent this is due to the modern corporate farm method of farming that depletes the soul of nutrients and depends on crops genetically modified to produce more, faster with little regard for taste or nutrition and excellent marketing by the food industry. Empty calories may taste good but will never really satisfy your hunger. The body needs what it needs and will beg until it gets it. All this being said, hope is not lost, weight loss is obtainable and maintainable if we use a little common sense and think what is my body really asking for?

Good nutrition is easier to get than most relies. Almost every city and town now has a farmers market where you can not only find farm fresh traditionally raised produce but true free range meats and eggs from free range chickens. These are different from what you see at your big box store in one very important respect, they are good for you. Just like us, an animal is what it eats. Free range animals eat more natural foods themselves and pass on the nutrients to us. A cow or lamb or chicken that is raised on natural grasses will also have a much finer taste than one raised in a feed lot force feed what is little more than industrial waste with hormones and antibiotics. Remember you are what you eat and they are what they eat so when you eat them guess what.

Another bonus from shopping at your local farmers market is you keep your money in your community rather than sending it to a corporation.

What this means from a weight maintenance point is that you can be more satisfied and healthier with less food. Common sense says this is a good thing and that less weight will be gained if you don’t start to loss.


You can find your local farmers market or True organic food supplier by visiting the links below:

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Instant Sour Cream

Instant Sour Cream

English: Recipe: toast, sour cream, and differ...
English: Recipe: toast, sour cream, and different kinds of pepper. (black, white, red and green pepper) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sour Cream is a staple in many kitchens and most restaurants but let’s face it most that you buy in a store or get through commercial venders’ leaves a little to be desired. There is no reason why you should have to serve inferior products when you can make superior ones quick and easy.

Here is a recipe for instant Sour Cream, it only takes about 5 minutes to make and doesn’t have all the chemicals found in commercial products. You will need:

A Bowel

A Spoon

2 cups Heavy Cream

2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Pour your Heavy Cream into a large mixing bowl; slowly stir in the Lemon Juice adding it slowly until your desired consistence is reached. If you would like it thinner, use less lemon for a thicker firmer cream add a little more. Stir in a pinch of salt you’re done.

You have just made instant Sour Cream suitable for dips, dressings or any other way you would use sour Cream. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shopping on My Street

Wild Bananas
Calamansi Bush
One of the things I love about the Philippines is the availability of fresh produce without having to travel to Supermarkets and eat processed foods. Our neighbor down the block has a very nice Indian Mango tree. They are an elderly couple and asked if we could help gather some of the fruit before it got over ripe. Being neighbors I would never have thought of saying no. Besides I love Indian Mango, raw with a little salt. Dang (my wife), I and Kata (one of my nieces) went down and picked mangoes for maybe an hour. No big deal and we brought home a nice sack of fruit for ourselves.
Malunggay Tree
Japanese Corn Patch
Ube (Purple Yam)
While we were at the end of the block we decided to check on the neighborhood garden just to see how everything was progressing. Of course everything in the garden is growing green as ever, this is the Philippines after all. The prize of the garden wasn’t something that we planted though; it was nice bunch of Wild Bananas ripening on the tree.
Green Beans starting to run
White Birds Eye Pepper
Wild Lemon Grass
Ate Beth one of our resident Gardner's
As we left the garden another neighbor wanted us to look at their Papaya Tree. The fruits are almost ready to pick and looked delish. Walking back we stopped to look at the Guyabano tree across the street, no fruit today, it was already picked clean but we did gather a nice bunch of wild Lemon Grass for our chicken dinner last night. Wild Lemon Grass is so much more flavorful than farmed. The plant knows the best place for it grow.
Guyabano Tree
Papaya in our neighbors yard
Cassava bush growing wild
I feel truly blessed to have so much abundance so close to my door. Look at the pictures here they were all taken within 100 yards of our front door.
You can add to what you see here, Ginger, Green Onion, Garlic and so much more but for them I might have to walk 150 yards.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Marinara Sauce Basic but Wow Week 3

Basic but Wow Week 3

This morning I picked all our ripe tomatoes an...For the third week of my “Basic but Wow Sunday” series, I will be talking about Marinara Sauce.

Marinara sauce is a very basic sauce used as a basis for many Southern Italian dishes however we must first establish which Marinara we are going to be talking about. In America, the term Marinara Sauce is used indiscriminately to describe almost any type of seasoned tomato sauce destined to be used in Italian pasta dishes. To the rest of the world this actually called a Napoli or Neapolitan Sauce meaning came from Naples. A true Marinara sauce must contain seafood of some type this is where the Marin or marine part of the name comes from. How this confusion came about I have not been able to determine. There are several theories but nothing I can find conclusive on the subject. Regardless of how the confusion came about it is something to keep in mind when communicating across borders.
Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce (Photo credit: Aelle)

For our purposes’ we will begin with a basic American style and then progress to the more traditional. A basic American Marinara is made from Tomatoes, Garlic, Onions and Basil. These four ingredients will yield you a simple sauce suitable for a Pizza Sauce or simple Lasagna add a little Oregano and you have a basic Spaghetti sauce. One of the things I like about Marinara is it is so adaptable. At home, I rarely make it exactly the same way twice. There are so many variations you could make a carrier just out of this one sauce.

tomato-sauce (Photo credit: She Paused 4 Thought)
The Traditional Marinara begins with the same basic ingredients but with addition of Olive Oil and some type of Seafood. This could be almost any seafood from Abalone to Zebra Mussels but the most common and popular would be Anchovies. I know most Americans despise the idea of eating Anchovies but this is actually a very nice fish when acquired fresh.  The little slimy fellows from a can bear little to resemblance to their unprocessed brothers. If you can acquire them in your local market give them a try.

As always with these Sunday post, you will find the basic recipes in the post below and as always, I encourage you to experiment and find your own style and taste. My purpose here is not to give you recipes to simple follow. You can, do this and have very nice results but I am hoping to demonstrate the basics and empower you with enough knowledge that you will grow as a chef. My wish is for everyone who reads these posts to find the joy of developing their recipes and creating their dishes. Until next time, Enjoy!
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Basic American Marinara Sauce

Basic American Marinara Sauce

This is a basic Marinara made in the American style for more tips and information on this style of sauce please read the above article. Watch this blog for different ways of using this basic sauce to create wonderful dishes.

Ingredients for making a fermented salsa. Cloc...4 cups Tomatoes pureed

3 cups Onions finely chopped

3 cloves Garlic minced

3Tbs Basil minced

½ cup Water

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Heat Olive Oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sautee Onions until translucent (do not brown) then add Garlic and stir for 1 minute. Pour in water to deglaze the pan then stir in Tomatoes and Basil. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 45 minutes stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

HINT: As sauces thicken lower your heat slightly. This helps avoid them sticking and scorching.


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Friday, March 1, 2013

Malunggay, Miracle Tree Part 2

Malunggay, Miracle Tree

Part 2
Moringa oleifera

Last week I started telling you about the Malunggay tree. I touched on its heritage and the ways that the entire plant can be used. This week I want to pass along why the Drumstick Tree is called the Miracle Tree.

English: The elongated drumstick-like pods of ...
English: The elongated drumstick-like pods of Moringa oleifera, that gives the tree its name - the drumstick tree. Locality: Colombia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I try to give you information on eating healthy whole foods and introduce you to new food experiences. Because of this I do a lot of research and read constantly about the health and nutritional benefits of different foods and seasonings. To date, I can say that I have found nothing to compare to this one plant. Malunggay is truly a miracle of nature.

Malunggay has within its body such a mix as is found nowhere else. Here are just a few facts. Malunggay has:

·        7x the Vitamin C found in oranges

·        4x the calcium of milk

·        2x the protein of milk

·        4x the Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) of Carrots

·         3x the Potassium of Bananas

·        3x the Iron of Spinach

Add to the above these facts, Malunggay contain:

Moringa oleifera
Moringa oleifera (Photo credit: Mauricio Mercadante)
·        90 Known nutrients

·        46 Antioxidant compounds

·        18 Amino Acids, including all 8 Essential Amino Acids

·        36 Anti-inflammatory compounds

·        A healthy dose of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The health benefits of Malunggay are:

·        Reduction of Cholesterol

·        Reduction of Triglycerides

·        Balancing of the bodies sugars

·        Reduction of inflammation

·        Reduction of Cancer risk

Not a bad plant.
Moringa oleifera
Moringa oleifera (Photo credit: dinesh_valke)

I would like to apologize to my readers for this piece. I know it is not of the caliber that you have come to expect from me. Somewhere between waking up today and writing this article, the world managed to suck the life out of me. I promised you the second part today and I always keep my promises so I’ve done the best I can.
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