I'm not sure just where I've been all my life, but somehow I've been missing the Gouda cheese boat for thirty(something) years. I think I was afraid of it when I was a kid -- if it wasn't cheddar, mozzarella, or American, I wouldn't touch it. Now that I'm older and wiser, my cheese horizons have expanded a bit. I love, love, LOVE many varieties now -- brie (especially herbed), feta, fresh mozzarella, Jarlsberg, provolone... the list goes on. Kevin and I even have a little mantra: "cheese is good, but melted cheese is better." That doesn't exactly apply to this post, but I thought I'd share it anyway. Yes, we're weird.
The Gouda pictured at the top of the page is good old grocery store brand deli sliced cheese. Please don't be disappointed -- I thought I'd start small (and cheap) before I knew if this was really the cheese for me. It seemed like it should be... we were at the Bearbrew again a couple of weeks ago, and I opted for the Garden Burger and potato salad (a very intriguing and very good potato salda, might I add!). When asked if I wanted cheese on my burger, I panicked, looked at the choices, and blurted out "I'll try the Gouda, please!" It was a tense moment. My tension was alleviated, however, with the first bite of my burger. The Gouda, which was only slightly melted on the burger, completely melted in my mouth. It was the creamiest cheese I'd ever tasted. I'm very into food textures, you know, so this was very exciting for me. The smokiness was another pleasant surprise. It made my Garden Burger taste like it had been cooked on Smoky Joe (our little kettle grill -- you'll meet him when I post for "IMBB?").
A few days later, I had to have more. I went to the deli section of my grocery store and bought the shamefully pre-sliced, pre-packaged Gouda. It is, at least, imported! It's really quite good. For a quick snack, I love a piece of good multi-grain bread with a slice of Gouda and a bit of Raye's "Downeast Schooner" mustard. I'm sure it makes a great grilled cheese sandwich, too, but it's been warm here lately, so I've been happy with cold sandwiches.
The next time I'm at the gorcery store (which could very well be tomorrow -- we tend to shop daily, like Europeans) I will peruse the fancy cheese section and look for some higher quality Gouda... not that I'm disappointed with what I have now, mind you! I just feel like I should further expand my cheese horizons!
Much like my feelings on Moroccan Mint Tea, I believe in the healing properties of ginger. It's great for motion sickness, indigestion, and general queasiness like I'm experiencing today -- I'm not so sure the Pad Thai I had for supper last night agreed with me!
These are hard candies made by "The Ginger People." Other products made by this company include cooking sauces, ginger beer, and a great pickled ginger that is my favorite for sushi (but that's another blog entry). You can see what they're all about, and what else they make, here.
I discovered Gin-Gins at the Belfast Co-Op, my favorite health food store in this area. I love just about anything gingery (see this entry!), so these jumped right out at me. The back of the package (which is a bit hard to see in this picture) has a little airplane flying through a beautiful blue sky with the words "Gin-Gins... a soothing travel treat!" trailing behind it. I've always taken candied ginger on car/plane trips as a remedy for motion sickness. It tastes pretty good, but the texture never totally thrilled me. Gin-Gins take right good care of that problem! These "double strength ginger hard candies" have all the heat and sweetness of candied ginger, without that pesky gumminess. I like that one Gin-Gin lasts a lot longer, too. A few of these on a trip across the Atlantic and I'm a happy camper! Well, flier. But you knew where I was going.
And speaking of gingery things, Kevin is on his way home from the grocery store with a fresh supply of Reed's and ginger brandy! Time to take a couple of lime juice cubes out of the freezer!
I guess that picture could have been a bit smaller, couldn't it? I'm too tired to fix it now! =)
I saw this at a boosktore in Somesville, Maine last summer and made note of it on the wishlist I keep on my PDA. I hadn't really given it another thought since then. But today, suddenly, I was reminded of it. Sunday, July 18th is the 6th installment of "Is My Blog Burning?" The theme is grilling and barbecueing. This will be my first "IMBB." I'm so nervous! =) Last month's theme was fish, so I had to sit out of that one.
Now, I'm not much of a griller. Kevin is the charcoal king in this house. Once in a while I get the urge to make some veggie kabobs, but that's about as exciting as it gets for me. I'm taking this IMBB event as a challenge. I thought long and hard for a day or two, trying to figure out what I could possibly make that's more exciting than peppers, onions, and pineapple on wooden skewers. Then I remembered this book. It's called (obviously) "The Vegetarian Grill ," and it is written by Andrea Chesman. When I flipped through it at the bookstore today, I was sold. It covers "Equipment and Techniques," "Grilled Fruits and Desserts," and everything in between. I haven't had a chance to do any more than skim it yet, but with recipes like "Dilled & Grilled Veggie Burgers," "Tandoori Vegetable Kabobs," and "Pears Stuffed with Hazlenut Cream," I am really excited to read it more in depth.
My intention is to plan and grill a three-course meal -- appetizer, entree, and dessert. It should certainly be an adventure!
My friend/coworker Derrick has an interesting outlook on life. He and I were recently discussing smoothies. We both agree that a good smoothie has a lot of fruit in it. But he likes yogurt in his, while I like soy milk in mine. He turned up his nose when I said that. I defended myself with my "I don't necessarily like just a glass of soy milk, but it's really good in smoothies. Really!" He said "show me a soybean with breasts, and then you can call it soy milk. Until then, it's soy juice!" Not a bad point, I guess. Definitely funny. I was forced to look up milk in the dictionary... "1. a white or yellowish liquid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals for suckling their young; especially, cow's milk. 2. any liquid like this, as the juice of various plants, trees, or fruits (e.g. coconut milk), or any of various emulsions."
Derrick stood corrected (well, actually, he was sitting at the time). We have such a childish, brother-sister relationship sometimes. I am very happy when I'm right and he's wrong. =P
While I'm on the subject, I also think soy milk makes much better steamers than cow's milk does. A steamer is steamed milk with a flavor shot added -- Torani syrup, honey, etc. The soy milk froths better, and stays frothier longer than cow's milk. And, I've said it before, it tastes richer than cow's milk while being lower in fat and calories, in most cases. And just for the record, my favorite steamer is made with Edensoy Original and hazelnut syrup, with a bit of ground cinnamon sprinkled on top.
I mentioned the other day that I'm that not so into the soy milk products that I think are trying too hard to be cow's milk, like Silk and 8th Continent. I think it bears mention, though, that Silk makes a great coffee creamer -- Kevin prefers it to half-and-half! They also make a product called "Spice Soylatte" that is fabulous when it's steamed -- and you don't even need to add anything to it! It tastes a lot like egg nog. Maybe someday I'll get brave and try their vanilla and chocolate beverages. But in the meantime...
A mug of steamed Silk Spice Soylatte with a dash of cinnamon and extra froth!
I feel so accomplished -- I actually made taco pizzas and got a bit of housework done yesterday! I didn't spend any time outside in the (rare) sunshine, but I made dough, baked pizzas, and cleaned out the fridge! And played way too much of "The Sims." I really didn't expect such motivation by the time I got home from work, but somehow mustered some anyway.
I wanted to make taco pizza similar to the one Pizza Oven in Bangor serves (UPDATE: I have just been informed that Pizza Oven has recently ceased to exist! Obviously I don't go there very often, but that was my favorite pizza place when I was growing up! The memories! Whatever will I do?), but I wanted it to be a bit more "guiltless." As I thought about this on my way home from work, I decided I needed a whole grain crust, reduced fat cheese, and lots of veggies. In the midst of these thoughts, an epiphany occurred... I have a set of four mini pie tins. I could make mini pizzas! Not only is it a great portion control mechanism, but it also totally kicks up the cuteness factor! With all this in mind, I was ready to rock.
I started by looking for a dough recipe that sounded good and was whole-wheat flour based. The first place I looked was in my "Vegetarian Times" cookbook, which is very nice and very heavy and had a 100% whole-wheat recipe that sounded decent. Then I remembered that I own "Smart Bread Machine Recipes" by Sandra L. Woodruff. It is, hands down, my favorite bread cookbook. The breads are all whole-grain based and use very few dairy products or refined sweeteners. I know, it may sound a bit too crunchy for the average bread baker, but I love it. I bake something from it for every family holiday meal, and there are rarely leftovers.
A side note -- don't hate me because I use a bread machine. I've had it since the beginning of bread machine time, and I admit I baked a lot of bread in it the first couple of years I had it. Now I only use it to mix dough. I always bake my bread in the oven now. The texture, for whatever reason, is countless times better than when it's baked in the machine. Plus, bread dough is just fun to play with. Someday, when I get my dream purple Kitchenaid stand mixer (to match my purple blender, of course!), the bread machine will be passed on to some unsuspecting person who never knew he/she needed/wanted a bread machine.
The crust recipe I found couldn't have been more fitting for my plans -- it's called "Fiesta Pizza!" Here are the ingredients:
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1/4 cup whole-grain cornmeal
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar (I use Sucanat, an unrefined sugar, for almost all of my baking)
I threw everything into the machine, set it on "dough only," and went about my business. An hour and a half later...
I had a bread machine pan full of what looked to be a very sticky dough. I was scared. I bake a lot of bread, but I still don't always have the best luck handling the dough. This one looked extra intimidating. But I got out my purple silicone spatula and scraped the dough out onto a floured kneading mat. It turned out, surprisingly, to be very easy to handle. From my one pound lump of dough, I made eight two-ounce balls. I froze four. I rolled out the other four and laid them into my mini pie tins. Into each crust went (in this order) a spoonful of salsa, a small handful of organic reduced fat cheddar cheese, a bit of diced red onion, a few pieces of chopped pickled jalapenos, some crushed baked tortilla chips (I like both Baked Tostitos and Guiltless Gourmet), and another small sprinkling of cheese (for good measure). I baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the crusts were nicely browned, and voila...
Aren't they adorable? The red onion, I think, is very pretty. Now... if only I'd remembered to put in the tomatoes I bought especially for this occasion, they'd be perfect! I am not the biggest fan of straight-up tomatoes (though I love tomato sauce, salsa, etc.), but I do really like them on pizza, and they would have made this even better than it already is. The crust is super chewy, with that added cornmeal crunch I love so much. The salsa and jalapenos add just the right amount of heat. The chips make a great topping you wouldn't expect on pizza. All in all, a very successful venture. Next time I'll try to remember the tomatoes.