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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Lunchbox Inspiration

I just noticed that Hugh Acheson's new place in the ATL, Empire State South, seems to have opened, and the menus are up online. It all looks intriguing, but I'm especially delighted by the tiffin box lunches: you pay a deposit for the tiffin, take your lunch to work or wherever, and then return the tiffin. The meals themselves sound great, and I'm definitely going to steal many of those down-home ideas for T.'s lunches. (I also love the little half-cup canning jar of what looks like a yogurt of some sort in the second picture.)

I'm glad this came along, because today's box lunch for T. would appear to be the work of an insane person: a couple pieces of leftover sushi from her supper last night (I was getting some sliced turkey in the deli at Kroger; she spied the premade sushi and insisted on that for her meal), a turkey sandwich, and about a pound of grapes.

As a side note, I'm wondering where the restaurant got its supply of tiffins. I'd love one (or two), but retail is pricey! Anybody know of a good source for those?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Questions and Errata

There's something missing in the Cardamom Plum Jam on page 116.

Indeed, a line got dropped. The plums should be pitted and diced.

In the Tomato and Basil Jam with Sherry Vinegar on page 176, what do you do with the apple–lemon–tomato juice mixture?

Yikes, a whole paragraph is missing. After you cook the apples and lemon in the tomato juice for about 15 minutes, it should read: "Dump the tomato solids into the bowl and place a sieve over the bowl. Pour the apple and lemon mixture into the sieve and press as much of the juice and apple pulp through the sieve as you can. Discard the solids in the sieve."

Where do you add the lemon juice in the Nectarine Jam on page 107?

Add the lemon juice with the nectarines and sugar—you just put everything in at once and cook it till it looks like jam, which is kind of the beauty of this particular preserve.

Can you substitute one kind of vinegar for another in the pickle or salsa recipes?

No, please don't, unless you're using a vinegar of a higher percentage acidity than the one called for in the recipe. Otherwise you could compromise the safety of the pickle or salsa by lowering the acidity (that is, raising the pH), which could make it unsafe to can in a boiling-water bath.

Is that how you spell Seebee?

Well, that's embarrassing. It's Seabee. As in "sea," where the navy is.

Where else can you find citric acid?

I just noticed that the local health/gourmet food store here, Earth Fare, has citric acid in the bulk spices section for $9.99/pound, which is a little bit more expensive than yogurt-covered pretzels. So if you have a Whole Foods or some such near you, try the bulk section.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Imagined Asked Questions

It's fig, glorious fig season here in Georgia, and while looking at the two fig preserve recipes in my book I realized I hadn't made something clear. Some figs, as many of you probably know, are—like some tomatoes—not quite acidic enough to can in a boiling-water bath unless acid is added; here I use lemon and lemon juice, in quantities that should be—and have been, in my experience—sufficient. (The USDA/NCHFP, e.g., suggests 2 tablespoons lemon juice per quart of preserved figs in a light syrup; my recipes each make 4 half-pint jars and call for 1 lemon and 3 tablespoons, respectively.) What I didn't make clear is that the lemon or lemon juice in those two recipes (slow-roasted fig preserves with lemon, and honeyed fig jam with sesame seeds) is necessary for preservation purposes and should not be viewed as optional. These preserves, like most in the book, are low in sugar, so you need the added acid to make sure the pH is in the safe range. If you don't have lemon juice or aren't comfortable making a not-sugar-saturated fig preserve, these recipes make such small quantities that you could certainly just skip the canning and keep them in the fridge, from which they'll quickly disappear.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Padron Peppers

This was a really special treat for me: fresh Padron peppers from Mill Gap Farm, via Athens Locally Grown. Olive oil in a hot pan, plus plenty of coarse salt. (The National here in Athens sometimes serves them like this as a tapas.) You eat everything but the stem. The flesh and seeds are tender, pleasantly bitter. Some are hot, some mild, but they're never sweet. They just taste like little explosions of chile and salt. I don't often get all rhapsodic about foods, but these, last Thursday night, with a glass of cold white wine, were transporting. We need more of these in our lives, all of us. I get the impression they're not easy to grow, but can we please try?