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Catch Me If You Can
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The Orchid Thief
The Sweet Potato Cookbook
Made from dried red peppers called pimiento, pimenton is a smoky-tasting, aromatic paprika made in Spain. The peppers are slowly dried over smoldering pedunculate or holm oak logs for 10 to 15 days before they are ready to be processed into pimenton.
Cultivation of the pimiento in Spain began in the 16th century with monks from the Yuste Monastery in Caceres. Their secrets of drying and processing the peppers spread to local farmers, who call it el pimenton. Today, it is the region's main source of income.
There are three varieties of pimenton -- sweet, hot, and bittersweet.
Although similar to paprika, which is made from ground and dried sweet peppers, pimenton has a smokier andand spicier flavor. In Spain, it is used primarily to flavor sausages -- chorizo -- and other processed meats, but it can also complement egg, meat, seafood, and poultry dishes.
may be found in markets
selling Iberian and Latino foods.
A staple food source in the Caribbean, the plantain (platanos) is a type of banana that is treated like a vegetable. It is rarely eaten raw; instead, it is fried, boiled, mashed, stuffed, used for stuffing, baked, picked, and even grilled.
"The plantain while green is considered a starch, when ripe a fruit," according to El Boricua. "Plantains must be cooked. For those recipes requiring green plantains, choose the greenest without a hint of yellow. The best yellow plantains (called amarillos) are very yellow almost orange, often with black speckles. The favorite Puerto Rican plantain recipe is tostones."
When peeling plantains, moisten hands and rub with salt to prevent the juices from sticking to your hands. Cut off the ends. Using a sharp knife make two lengthwise slits at opposite ends of the skin. While holding the plantain steady with your left hand, use your right hand to slide the tip of the knife under the skin and begin to pull it away, going from top to bottom. Soak the peeled plantains or bananas in salted water. Drain on a paper towel to use in your recipe.
Plantain and banana trees can be purchased in plant nurseries. Keep indoors as houseplants. They like moisture and heat. Mist the leaves often.
Grown in California, Chile and New Zealand, kiwifruit is a sweet-tasting, Vitamin C enriched 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.
This fruit can be eaten raw. Split in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon or peel and slice. Thin slices of kiwi can be layered on desserts or used as a garnish.
Kiwifruit is a sweet
and juicy fruit. It is extremely high in vitamin C. My family will sit
and scoop the juice out quite happily.
"What is Port?," asks Ray Isle in Gastronomica. "A sweet, red (usually), fortified wine, Port comes from the Douro river valley in northern Portugal, at least the honest-to-God, absolute, real stuff does, though there are Port-style wines available from the U.S., South Africa, and Australia as well. It is pleasant with dessert, even better by itself, after a meal, and perhaps at its best with a good, strong cheese — Stilton is the classic choice — or a handful of walnuts."
Seaweed is among the strangest of vegetables and one, in the West, that we are not entirely comfortable about eating. Seaweed's association with the euphemistic "fresh sea air" of the seaside tends to linger. Yet seaweed can be extremely delicious and it is also extremely nutritious, being rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Seaweeds have been a popular part of Eastern cuisine for centuries, and in Japan particularly, many species are so important that they are cultivated commercially.
This tropical plant has leaves that are eaten like spinach, or made into tea with either fresh leaves or dried. The plant also has a fruit that's edible.
Native to Hawaii, popolo is now extinct on Oahu, but can still be found growing in isolated areas of Kauai. The plant grows to about 5 feet, and will fruit and flower in two years. A small shrub, it grows to no more than 3 feet with small white flowers that grow in clusters.
Popolo plants have been propogated at the Kauai Wildlife Reserve. For information on obtaining seeds, contact: Halawa Xeriscape Garden, 99-1258 Iwaena Street, Aiea HI 96701.
What do you know?
Enoki are fragile, flower-like mushrooms with long, slender stems and tiny caps, according to The Mushroom Council. They grow in small clusters and have a mild, light flavor with a slight crunch.
With a shelf life of up to 14 days when refrigerated in paper bags, they can be used raw in salads and sandwiches, or as a garnish for soups and salads.
Commonly referred to as "corn smut" by U.S. farmers, a fungus called huitlacoche has become an increasingly popular dish on Mexican and Southwestern menus.
Prized by Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Aztec and Maya, huitlacoche is often sautéed with oil and garlic, cooked with scrambled eggs or stuffed into tacos. It has a distinctive flavor and odor, and is not very appetizing in appearance.
Rarely available fresh outside of Mexico, it is exported in cans with the name "Cuitlacoche" on the label. Farmers who grow it receive as much as $10-15 a pound for the exotic fungus.
Rabbits have significant potential to improve food security, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO). They are highly productive, thanks to short gestation and great prolificacy (up to 40 offspring a year, compared to 0.8 and 1.4 for cattle or sheep) and constitute a cheap source of protein. A female rabbit can produce up to 80 kg of meat per year, i.e. 2900 to 3000 per cent of its own weight in meat, according to experts.
Rabbits produce highly nutritious, low-fat, low-cholesterol meat rich in proteins and certain vitamins and minerals. Being herbivores, rabbits do not compete with humans for their food and are easily adaptable to different environments. They are easy to transport and market for food, fur and raw skin for garments and gloves.
Backyard rabbit raising can supplement the income of small farmers and upgrades the diet of poor rural and urban households, according to FAO. Investment and labour costs are low and rabbits can be cared for by the most vulnerable family members. "Rabbits fit well in household production and can be looked after by women farmers," says FAO expert René Branckaert.
Rabbit meat consumption is a secular custom in the Mediterranean. It goes back to1000 BC when Phoenicians are said to have discovered wild rabbits in North Africa and Spain and the Romans spread them throughout their empire. In France, consumption of rabbit meat became the sole right of the lord of the manor during the Middle Ages.
In Europe, rabbit breeding began in the 16th century and the small prolific animal was introduced to Australia and New Zealand through colonial expansion. Today, rabbit meat is a delicacy in most Mediterranean countries, from the famous French "Lapin à la provençale," to Italy's "Coniglio alla cacciatora". Malta holds the highest per capita consumption with 8.89 kilos a year, followed by Italy (5.71 kg/year), Cyprus (4.37 kg/year) and France (2.76 kg/year). The town of Naples, in the South of Italy, is said to be the world's biggest consumer of rabbit meat at 15 kg/year per inhabitant.
Global rabbit production is currently estimated at 957,000 tons. Biggest producer is China (some 300,000 tons a year), followed by Italy (210,000 tons) and Spain (110,000 tons).
In developing countries, rabbits may emerge as one low-cost answer to the problem of hunger, undernourishment and rural poverty. "Backyard rabbitries are the perfect answer to today's demand for sustainable development projects", says René Branckaert, FAO livestock production specialist.
Constraints to widespread rabbitry include lack of training in rabbit breeding and animal epidemics that could have devastating effects.
There are two common versions of snakeplant, the green-leafed form has
cross-bands. The fleshy, sword-like leaves grow up to three to four feet long.
They arise from an iris-like rhizome. Its variegated counterpart, Laurentii, has a
yellow band to the leaves. The dwarf form, birdsnest snakeplant, grows in a
rosette only six inches high.
Snakeplant is a member of the century plant family, and like other
this family, hails from desert regions, in this case southern Africa. Old plants
occasionally flower, usually in late winter or early spring, on three-foot long stems
bearing small, tubular fragrant, greenish-white flowers that are more interesting
Sansevieria is a good introductory plant for children because its
confidence, its slow growth teaches patience and all sorts of interesting things can
be done with it.
One of the common names for sansevieria is bow-string hemp, taken from
fact that Africans used the fibers from the plant to produce the strings for their
bows. Pulverizing a few leaves to extract the fibers might be a fun but somewhat
messy project. Snakeplants can also be propagated from leaf cuttings with leaves
cut into three-inch long segments and these then stuck in soil ? with the bottom
end down. In about three months, the plants will root and send up a new shoot. If
the variegated form is propagated, it will produce a normal green shoot because
the plant is a chimera ? a kind of mutation.
Snakeplants became popular across the U.S. because they were one of the
plants, along with African Violets, that Woolworth stores sold in the 1920's and
30's. The Florida foliage plant industry had its start growing these plants for
distribution to that chain.
Snakeplants survive in about as low a light level as you would
home. They may not grow in these really dimly lit recesses, but they will sit there
just the same ? and with an occasional dusting ? will be as good as the day they
were placed there. They don’t need a lot of water and fertilization seems
optional, at least when the plant is inside. If you want your plant to grow, move it
to the patio in the summer and give it an occasional shot of fertilizer and an
Keep snakeplants rootbound for best effect. I like to transplant my
the expansion of the rhizomes cracks the clay pots in which they are confined.
waterfowl bonanza of the 1990s,
owing to CRP habitat and the proliferation
of potholes on the northern plains, is producing some culinary crises—as in, what
to do with buckets of mallards? It's a crisis around my house, at least, and I don't
claim to be an expert waterfowler.
a lot of ducks out there,
and they aren't very smart. I know, up and
down the plains mallards are considered wary and intelligent, but if you grew up
chasing gun-shy greenheads at the southern end of the flyway—Kansas, in my
case, not far from Cheyenne Bottoms—then these northern mallards, many
of them homegrown, seem to come in two varieties: dumb and dumber.
they are great for the
table. But given it's been about a generation
since ducks were so abundant on the plains, I'm afraid most of them are being
badly cooked. Just how should the well-dressed mallard appear for dinner?
fine, but most people
do a poor job of roasting because they've been
reading cookbooks written by people on the coasts who eat divers and never
had a good duck to work on. The assumption of most such instruction is that the
duck tastes bad and you should do something to sort of suck out the bad taste —
like putting some celery and onion inside and then throwing it away.
you want to do is stuff
the bird with good stuffing and then eat it. The
stuffing is important because wild duck flesh needs the moisture that steams out
of the stuffing. Use a moist stuffing. Sauerkraut and apples is a good stuffing
for ducks. So is regular bread stuffing, especially with chopped apples and
raisins in it.
an idea—do you have some
buffalo berries growing around your place?
You'll find that after a hard freeze they are tart and tasty, as well as colorful.
Throw a handful of those into the stuffing.
Baste the roasting duck with something fruity. We use red currant syrup.
knowing how to roast a duck
doesn't solve the whole problem because there
are so darned many of them. Here are a couple more alternatives.
noodle soup is better than
chicken noodle. Mallards, unlike chickens,
have some taste to them. Just boil the mallard for stock (put some onions and
celery or lovage in there), season the broth, add the noodles, and finally add
back the duck. Thick homemade noodles are best for this because they hold their
own in a broth that has some flavor to it.
the best for last—mallard
mole. (For folks up north, that's pronounced
MO-lay.) Start out by boiling the mallard for stock in about a quart of water;
you'll have to turn it over because it won't be covered by the water.
part is easy—to the finished
stock, add mole paste, which is available in
grocery stores that have any Mexican trade. I buy lots of jars of Pedro Lopez
mole paste whenever I'm in Topeka and have never had any trouble crossing
state lines with it. A little 6-ounce jar does the job for this recipe. Mash the paste
up in the broth and bring it to a boil. At this point I also add about a bulb's worth
of whole cloves of garlic. And then the mallard meat, cut into bites.
you've been cooking a batch
of sopa de fideo, which is the Mexican
moral equivalent of angel-hair pasta. Serve the mole on the sopa. Or on rice, but
sopa's better. Flour tortillas on the side. No lefse.
evergreen, the jackfruit
tree produces huge fruit weighing
up to 27 kilograms (60 pounds) each. Growing from nodes on the
trunk and old branches, the fruit is covered by a tough, greenish
husk and consists of many small, yellowish fruitlets. A mature
jackfruit tree can yield 200 to 500 large fruits each year.
harvested both immature,
as "vegetables" for curries,
or mature for its sweet, waxy flesh. Seeds may be boiled, fried
and roasted; the fruit can be preserved by sun-drying and smoking.
Fruit husks and leaves can be fed to livestock. The wood of the
tree makes a top-grade timber for general carpentry, door frames
India, jackfruit was spread
northward by traders to
Nepal and China and eastward as far as Papua New Guinea. Today,
jackfruit is so valued by rural Asian households that people call its
source the "rice tree."
California Rare Fruit Growers
are now finding products
grocery stores with the words olestra or olean on the
calorie-free fat substitute
the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) recently approved. The most common
products consumers will find containing olestra are salted
snacks such as potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips and
aspect of olestra, often
marketed under the name
olean, is it cannot be absorbed by the body. Normally when
fats are eaten, the body's digestive enzymes break them
down, allowing them to be absorbed.
complex to be broken
down by these enzymes
and cannot be absorbed as is. It simply passes through the
people hear of a food
that is fat-free or low-
fat, they think they can eat more of it without any
consequences," said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State
University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist. "While
foods containing olestra offer fat-free and reduced-fat options,
moderation should still be the key."
individuals who are trying
to lower their dietary
fat intake, these foods do offer a wider variety of food
choices. However, if lower-fat foods are added to the diet
rather than serving as replacements for full-fat foods, a
reduction in total fat intake is unlikely.
pointed out some people who
consume foods containing
olestra may notice some changes in their digestive system.
Because olestra passes through the body unchanged, some
people may notice digestive changes such as softer stools.
are similar to those
experienced when eating
other foods that aren't well absorbed, like high-fiber
cereal," she said.
been supported by more
than 100 long- and short-
term studies that included more than 20,000 people before it
was approved by the FDA.
Center for Science in the Public Interest's "Facts About Olestra"
A course, upright annual legume, sesbania is a fiber crop similar to alfalfa. Better suited as a cover crop than forage, it thrives in the same climates as alfalfa, but will also tolerate extremely wet conditions.
Duane Johnson, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension alternative crops specialist, is researching methods for processing sesbania into particle board, paper and even lumber.
Anything made from wood can be made from sesbania except, of course, a log. But pressed logs can be manufactured from the crop. Fiber-crop boards are strong enough to support a building, Johnson reported. Plant fibers can be mixed with plastics and other substances to make flexible or weather-proof products.
The interior stem fibers of sesbania, called a hurd, is soft and white and makes excellent peat for landscaping. In addition, it is an excellent fiber food-filler and, because it is cellulose, sesbania can be used in the production of camera film. The bast fibers, or outer stem fibers, are used to make paper and board products. An average crop yields about 4 to 4 1/2 tons per acre.
A blend of black tea and spices like cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, cloves or nutmeg, chai is a traditional Indian drink that's become popular in many North American coffee houses. It has a sweet and spicy flavor that goes well in many drinks, desserts and marinades.
Mixed with milk, it can be served hot or steamed like a latte. Others prefer it on ice as a cold drink or with ice cream as a kind of cooler.
Chai coolers are easy to make. Combine equal parts chai concentrate, milk, vanilla ice cram and crushed ice in a blender and mix until smooth.
Chai concentrate is available at specialty markets and natural food stores in both liquid concentrate and powder. Or, you can buy the ingredients to make chai from scratch and adjust the spices to match your own taste preferences.
The following recipes for making a chai blend are available at the Chai! website.
Indian Railway Tea