Sunday, June 17, 2007

Greetings from Nicaragua

Posting during my trip has been a little more difficult than I have anticipated. However, have no fear, I have taken notes and pictures of the foods I have eaten during this adventure. I must admit I am getting a little sick of eggs and beans for breakfast, even if they do stick to my ribs. I am starting to miss my morning staple of cereal with soy milk.

The general schedule has been to eat breakfast, do an activity, than have an afternoon snack, then dinner in the evening. We have been doing ample sampling of the local brews. Some are definitely better than others. Most claim to be lagers but they are the lightest lagers I have ever tasted.

We landed late into Guatemala so there was no sampling of the foods, however, we have had some delicious meals in Honduras and Nicaragua. We have been seeking to the local cuisines when we head to dinner. Also the fresh fruits, in particular, the mangoes and bananas are delicious!

I return to the States on July 4. I will then blog about all my yummy Central American food experiences. I have also been very inspired to experiment in the kitchen as well and will share those adventures with you. Wish me safe travels!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sweet strawberries

It is strawberry season here in California and I have died and gone to heaven. I absolutely love in-season strawberries. You know, the kind that are red the whole way through. They are tender, juicy, and have barely any white flesh. They melt in your mouth. Any they definitely do not need any additional sugar. They are sweet enough on their own.

Strawberries remind me of the summers' of my youth when school had just let out and softball season was nearly over. My brother and I used to beg my mom to buy strawberries at the local farmer's market and somehow, on the car ride now, half the quart would disappear. With the rest of the berries, I would beg my mom to make strawberry shortcakes. If the weather wasn't unbearably hot, she would turn on the oven and make shortcakes for dessert. She used a simple Bisquick recipe to make the shortcakes. Somehow my mom would pull them right out of the oven just in time for dessert. Then she would send me to the kitchen to prepare the dishes.

When assembling shortcakes, I use a fork to gently split open the cakes in halves. Then I scoop vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt onto the bottom half, stack the top half on the ice cream (or yogurt) and place a generous portion of sliced strawberries on top of it all. It is best to serve this dish in a bowl. The warm shortcakes contrasted with the cold ice cream make for a wonderful taste sensation.

I leave tomorrow for my trip and when I return it will no longer be strawberry season. I figured it was my last chance for my annual strawberry shortcake indulgence. So I whipped up some dessert for our dinner this evening. It was divine! I had to scour the internet for the Bisquick recipe that my mom used. Sadly, it is not longer on their box. I then altered the recipe a bit for my liking, which is below:

Strawberry Shortcakes

2 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp of vanilla
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
Sliced strawberries
Vanilla yogurt or ice cream

1. Preheat over to 425 degrees
2. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, sugar and butter until a soft dough forms. Drop six, equal spoonfuls of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Spilt warm shortcakes; fill the center with ice cream or yogurt, replace top and generous top the shortcakes with the sliced strawberries. This time of year there is no need to sweeten the berries.

For all you East Coasters, strawberry season has just kicked in and you can enjoy strawberries with or without shortcake all month!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Latin America, here I come!

Today I am spending the day packing because I leave on Thursday for a month-long trip to Central America (by way of Ithaca, NY for my 5th year college reunion). I will be traveling to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica over the course of 3 1/2 weeks with a couple of friends. Stop worrying, Mom, I'll be fine! While I have attempted to do some research about the foods of these countries, I have not found too much so it truly will be a culinary adventure. I plan to blog about my food discoveries and experiences while abroad so please keep reading. However, I will probably have to add pictures to the posts upon my return. Until my depature I plan to eat lots of Italian food and drink wine, two things I will be without for the next month!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A food lover's bible

There is one book among my cookbooks that has no recipes, but I use as frequently as my cookbooks. This book is called "The Food Lover's Companion" and it has definitions for 6,000 food, drink, and culinary terms.
The entries are alphabetical and cross-referenced so it is easy to find what you are looking for. The descriptions are just the right length. At longest, the definitions are a page in length. The book also lists all the other names by which items are called and examples of the item. For example, under the "apple" entry, it lists: Baldwin, Braeburn, Cortland, Criterion, Fuji, Gala, etc. For the "baking soda" entry the definition mentions that it is also called, bicarbonate of soda. The entries also have pronunciations. This book has every item on the global menu and every preparation technique that you have seen on a menu but have no idea of what it is. I always come home from restaurants and head straight to this book to get a better understanding of what I just ate (or passed up!).
I bet you do not know:
- What Burgoo is?
- What Gianduja tastes like?
- Another name for paua?
I didn't either until I got this book. It is definitely a great book to have around the kitchen. It also makes a great gift.