Welcome to issue no. 12 of Foodstuff

June 4, 1998

In this issue:

Did you know...

*English settlers introduced the honeybee to North America in the 17th Century
*Honeybees have been producing honey the same way for 150 million years
*Cave paintings in Spain from 7,000 BC are the earliest records of (bee keeping) BEEKEEPING
*Many Egyptian tombs have drawings and paintings of bees
*There were migratory beekeepers in Egypt in 500 BC
*Man has collected honey for at least 9,000 years
*The Romans used honey instead of gold to pay their taxes
*Ancient Chinese completely covered small pox suffers with honey to speed healing and prevent scarring

The mild taste of honey and its rich texture give savory dishes a flavor boost without making them overly sweet. Try adding it to meat and poultry marinades, to soups and salad dressings. Of course, it's a natural for desserts.

Store honey at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. If honey crystallizes (a natural process), simply place container in a warm water bath. Stir until the crystals dissolve. Or place honey in microwave-safe container and microwave on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the crystals dissolve.

Honey is available in a wide range of flavors. In general, light- colored honeys, such as clover and sage, are milder in taste. Dark honeys, like buckwheat and wildflower, are typically more bold and distinctive.

HONEY RECIPES

Indonesian-Style Dipping Sauce

For a special dipping sauce for chicken, combine 1/2 cup honey with 1/4 cup peanut butter; add soy sauce, minced garlic, and crushed red peppers to taste. Add a bit of chopped fresh coriander for a more adventuresome flavor.

Honey Roasted Nuts

Honey blends the flavor of roasted nuts and seasonings to produce a treat from the microwave oven. Microwave 3 cups nuts, 1/2 cup honey, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and grated orange peel in microwave-safe bowl at high (100%) 4 to 7 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Spread nuts on foil to cool.

Honey-Glazed Ham

To make a shiny glaze for a festive ham dinner, combine honey with a dash of Dijon mustard and ground cloves. Brush on ham during last 10 minutes of baking.

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well. Let this stand for a while to absorb the flavors. Its delicious tossed with either fruit or green salads.

Kiwi with Honey Dressing

4 kiwis, quartered
1/2 cup large curd cottage cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Place kiwi quarters on a platter. Place the remaining ingredients in an electric blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon over kiwi.

A note about kiwis. Grown in California, Chile and New Zealand, kiwifruit is a sweet-tasting, vitamin c-rich fruit that's now available year-round in many areas. The egg-size fruit has a fuzzy brown exterior and brilliant green flesh. Kiwis are ripe when the firm exterior begins to soften. They will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for nearly a month.


Support Your Local Farmer's Market
by Jill Freedman Gorelick

Shopping at farmer's markets will bring you fresher vegetables and herbs and sweeter fruits. It is comparable to going to your own backyard and picking items when they are ripe. When they are selling at a farmer's market, farmers can wait until the last minute to pick the fruit, which allows for maximum flavor. Much can be learned by talking to your local farmers. You can find out what is in season and when the different kinds of fruit should be picked. And you can learn about the different varieties, and which farms produce you're looking for. Go equipped with a pad and pen, ask the farmers questions, and take notes so when next season comes along, you will already know the names of your favorite peaches, plums, cherries, etc., along with where and when to find them.

On Wednesdays, I visit the Santa Monica (Southern California) Farmer's Market located on 3rd Street and Arizona. It's one of the largest markets in the country. A smaller version of this same market is held on Saturdays. Recently I learned about plums and cherries. I love the plums that have juicy red meat but have trouble finding them. I didn't know the names. Now I know to look for Santa Rosa, Elephant Heart, Wickson, and Satsuma varieties. They should be appearing in the market soon, depending on the weather.

It's still a bit early for the very sweet, very well-known bing cherries. Some can be found now, but It's too early for them to have developed their full flavor. One type of cherry currently available from Rosendahl Farms is the Brookes cherry. It is quite sweet, with amazingly wonderful crisp skins. I recently tasted the Larien cherry, but it was too soft and mushy. The Ranier, a yellow cherry, was very sour. The Brookes cherry won hands down in my taste tests.

Why eat a fruit or vegetable that is just okay when you can eat one that is most delectable? You may pay slightly more for things at a farmers market, but consistently getting high quality, delicious merchandise is well worth it. Support your local farmers and visit the farmer's markets - they work very hard to bring us all the delicious pleasures we ask for.

Strawberries are almost at the end of their peak season. This is a great time to buy them.

STRAWBERRY CREPES

for crepes:

1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon liqueur or pure vanilla extract, optional
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large pinch of salt

for filling:
1 cup sliced fresh cold strawberries, divided sugar to taste (only if strawberries are not sweet enough)

for whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar plus extra for garnish

1. Prepare the crepes. The batter will make 8 - 10 crepes 5 - 6 inches across, or 4 - 5 crepes 8 inches across. Mix together the batter ingredients, whisking until smooth. Heat a small crepe pan or non-stick frying pan over moderate heat until hot. Using a paper towel, wipe the pan with vegetable oil to prevent sticking before the batter for each crepe is poured into the pan. Pour some batter into the pan, pouring the excess back into the mixing bowl. Place on the heat for 1 - 2 minutes until the edges are golden. Turn the crepe over onto a clean kitchen towel to cool and continue this procedure until the batter is used up.

2. Measure out 1/2 cup strawberries, place them into a blender along with sugar to taste (if the strawberries are not sweet enough) and puree. Mix 1/8 cup of puree with the remaining 1/2 cup sliced strawberries. Reserving the remaining puree for the whipped cream.

3. Before making the whipped cream, place the beaters and the empty mixing bowl into the freezer for at least 10 minutes to get them very cold. This will help the cream whip to firm peaks.

4. Using a hand mixer on high speed, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the reserved strawberry puree. If the cream collapses a bit, don't worry. Place it into the refrigerator to firm up.

5. Lay one crepe on a plate. Place a mound of sliced strawberries onto the side nearest you and roll the crepe over the strawberries. Place seam side down on the plate. Place a mound of strawberry cream on top and sprinkle some confectioner's sugar over the crepe. Serve cold.

Jill Freedman Gorelick is the host of The Amateur Gourmet cooking show and author of the soon-to-be-published book, Foods Around the World. If you have any questions about this recipe, or any questions in general for Jill, you can reach her at tastebud@earthlink.net.

SUMMER FRUIT NEWS

June is the best month for fresh cherries, with volume coming from both California and Washington state. California-grown strawberries and raspberries are plentiful and among this weeks best fruit values. Lemons are at their best now. Keep plenty on hand as our weather heats up (if it ever heats up!) for a refreshing pitcher of lemonade. The prices of Valencia oranges, California peaches, nectarines, grapes, avocados, bananas, kiwi, and mangos (from Mexico) are gradually decreasing as summer approaches. Prices are still high for melons, but should be decreasing as volume increases and the weather warms up. Those wonderful crisp Braeburn apples from New Zealand are a very good deal right now.


BOOK REVIEW

Many of the subscribers to Foodstuff have written me wondering how they can put together a collection of their recipes. Whether you're doing it for fun or profit, this book will help. It's called THE RECIPE WRITER'S HANDBOOK by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker Available through Outrider Books/Amazon.com.

A one-stop source for recipe writing and editing, THE RECIPE WRITER'S HANDBOOK is a valuable manual for food writers or aspiring food writers. Authored by veteran food journalist Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, this book offers detailed guidelines on how to write recipes clearly and concisely along with tips on troubleshooting recipes. Supplementing the recipe writing philosophy are sections on recipe testing, copyright, plagiarism, and the ethics of recipe writing, metrics, writing recipes for radio and television, and nutrition analysis of recipes.

The manual's many useful features include:

* Glossary of cooking terms
* Preferred spelling list
* Generic term list
* Purchasing information
* List of food promotion organizations, government agencies and professional associations

The handbook is conveniently organized by alphabetical listings to make it quick and easy to use, whether at a computer or in the kitchen.

ALTERNATIVE TO ZAGAT

WHERE THE LOCALS EAT is a guide to the best restaurants in America compiled by the editors of Magellan Press. They've gathered names of restaurants recommended as the best in local newspaper and magazine readers' polls, by local restaurant critics and editors, and by local business and professional people and field reviewers. For more information, see their website at www.magellanpress.com.

BE A GREAT HOST

Recently my family and I were houseguests in the lovely Sun Valley Idaho area. I was very impressed with how our hosts made sure that we, as their guests, felt very relaxed and comfortable. Are you expecting houseguests in the near future? If so, these tips are sure to make them feel right at home. For relaxing and unwinding, have videos and books for them to choose from. Make sure there is good lighting for reading and a comfortable chair. If you can, set bird feeders outside the windows to provide natural enjoyment. In the kitchen have a basket with a choice of teas, ciders, cocoa mixes and coffee. The guest bathroom should have a basket with soaps, lotions, bubble bath and candles. An added luxury would be a fluffy bathrobe and lots of soft fluffy towels.


HAPPY 20TH BEN AND JERRY

Can you believe that Ben & Jerry began their innovative ice cream company 20 years ago? Check out their fun website at web.benjerry.com.

Next time in Foodstuff: What to do with all those sweet, wonderful tomatoes taking over your garden.


1998, 2003 Debbie Puente
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