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Everything posted by egale

  1. egale

    Nutmeg and mace

    Thanks for the ideas. And thanks for the rub recipe. I'm going to try that. I think I have so much that giving some away is the best option. The nutmeg and mace I have is very fresh indeed. It was harvested and dried this season. However, I also have nutmeg from 2009 that I got in Southern India and it is still terrific, so maybe these spices don't fade as they age, or maybe it takes many many years. I too have seen nutmeg and mace develop a whitish fungus. Those in the know (i.e., an Indian) told me that happens because the nutmeg or mace wasn't fully dry when it was stored. I experimented with this and found it to be true. Take the nutmeg or mace out of the airtight container and let it dry in sunshine and fresh air. The Indian guy also told me that nutmeg isn't dry until you can hear it rattle when you shake it.
  2. egale

    Nutmeg and mace

    I have returned from a trip to the spice islands of Indonesia (Sulawesi and the Moluccas) with a kilo of mace and a kilo of nutmegs. (Yes, that's right, a kilo of each.) How I ended up with so much is an amusing story, but what I'm wondering now is what do I do with so much? I plan on making several dishes from Cradles of Flavor, but still.... Any ideas?
  3. egale

    Pantry moths

    They might have been something different, being as they originated in south India. The weird thing is that they were not visible when I purchased the coriander, even though it was very hot and humid. They appeared (hatched?) in the dry warmth of my house. And then died in the cold garage. Go figure. We did have normal American pantry moths one time. I threw out all stored food and wiped everything down with bleach. I stored all new food in glass jars. No more moths. I think I am extremely lucky!!
  4. egale

    Pantry moths

    It's funny you mention that. I did look for the little corpses in the coriander jars but I've never been able to see any. What could have happened to them do you think? I think a "vacation in a very cold" place is a good idea for new arrivals. Or, at least store in a glass jar with screw top and see what develops....
  5. egale

    Pantry moths

    I bought the very best coriander I've ever come across in Southern India. I bought a lot and the spice merchant put it in a plastic bag. When I got home I transferred it to glass canning jars with screw-on lids. Within a few days I was horrified to see bugs crawling all around the coriander seeds. I just couldn't bear to throw it out -- the quality of the coriander was amazing -- so I put the jars in the garage to think about later. It was the middle of winter and very cold in the garage. Within a week all the bugs were gone (dead, I must presume). I transferred the jars to the refrigerator where I still keep them. I haven't seen a bug in them since. So cold certainly does kill some bugs.
  6. I got the idea from the Bob's Redmill site. DiggingDogFarm provides the link. I have always assumed that eggs were added to meatballs to cause them to bind together. Flaxseed caused the meatballs to bind together better than eggs would. By tasting great, I guess I mean that the flaxseed lent a very mild, slightly nutty flavor to the meatballs. And by the way, I did not add any breadcrumbs either. So the flaxseed substituted for both eggs and breadcrumbs.
  7. Last night I was making meatballs. The recipe called for two eggs. Instead of the eggs I mixed three TBL flaxseed meal with six TBL water and let it sit for several minutes. Then I added it to the meatball mixture. I proceeded to form the meatballs and I found that the flaxseed mixture worked BETTER than eggs. It bound the balls together firmly and tasted great.
  8. Well, I tried it. I made spiced grapeseed oil using the recipe above. The spiced oil came out great and worked really really well in two Ethopian recipes from Marcus Samuelsson's book. I chose to use grapeseed oil (instead of olive oil or walnut oil) because the grapeseed oil I have is very rich but does have an unobstrusive flavor. Since I wasn't using the authenic fat -- i.e. butter -- I didn't want to introduce a different flavor, only the spiced richness. The spiced grapeseed oil did this very well indeed. Success!
  9. I guess I wasn't clear. I was asking about making and using spice-infused grapeseed oil in Ethopian recipes instead of spiced butter. I wasn't trying to make imitation butter at all. My husband and myself both control our (previously-high) cholesterol levels through diet. I can't see any reason why spice-infused oil wouldn't work as well as spiced butter in recipes. I think I'm going to try it. I'll report back after I do.
  10. I bought the Waring Spice Grinder Twyst mentions above several years ago. I've been happy ever since. It can grind anything, even cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns, you name it. I've found it to be worth the money.
  11. Has anyone tried making spiced butter using grapeseed oil instead of butter? Spiced grapeseed oil should impart the same flavor and richness as spiced butter, but would be a lot healthier. I am tempted to try, but wondered if anyone has tried this before me. I have the following recipe from The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson: 1 lb unsalted butter 1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped 1 garlic clove, minced 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped 1 tsp fenugreek seeds 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp cardamom seeds 1 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp ground turneric 8 basil leaves The recipe calls for clarifying the butter, adding the rest of the ingredients, cooking for 15 minutes, letting stand, and then straining. Shouldn't this work if I used grapeseed oil instead of butter?
  12. I purchased an Ultra Pride grinder about seven months ago and had to wait about 6 weeks until it was back in stock and shipped to me. During this period my Dad died. The Ultra Pride sat on my counter for months, unused. Just last night I used it for the first time to grind chiles and garlic for Zhug. This machine is terrific! It does a fantastic job and is far easier to clean than my heavy mortar and pestle. Visions of curry pastes are dancing in my mind.... If you are thinking about getting one of these, do so!
  13. David, your experience is the same as mine. As soon as I detect an aroma I take the spice off the stove and out of the pan. I find that any further heat degrades quality. In my kitchen most spices reach this point very very quickly, even on a low flame.
  14. Chris, it's possible that I burned them but I don't think so. Soba mentions using a medium flame. I use a low flame and a heat disburser. I have performed non-scientific "smell tests" -- i.e., I've sniffed the spices as they warm up in the pan. I can clearly smell that the spices are more aromatic after they've warmed up, but if I continue roasting them after that point I can smell a negative change in the aroma. I think this is one area of spice use that I have yet to master. Until I do, I'll continue roasting-only-until-more-aromatic. Interesting enough, I've found that recipes sometimes say to roast spices for several minutes until "darkened", as Soba describes, and other recipes that say to roast for a minute or less until "aromatic." I've been confused about this issue for a while now. That's why I was very glad to see this topic.
  15. Chris, thanks for bringing this topic up. I have always wondered about roasting spices before grinding them. Based on experience, I wonder if it actually does anything. I pan-roast spices in a stainless steel skillet with a copper heat disburser between the skillet and the flame. I have ruined a lot of spices by following instructions to roast them for several minutes until they "darken." In my experience they are ruined at that point. So then I started roasting them only until they became "fragrant", which basically occurs as soon as they warm up. Then I started wondering if this actually made any difference. I don't think it does, really. But because I am a paranoid person I usually roast them until they are "fragrant" anyway, just in case. I will be very curious to see what other people have to say about this. SobaAddict, when you roast spices until they darken don't you find that their flavor and aroma are impaired?
  16. French Polynesia is gorgeous but not known for terrific food. It is known for extremely expensive food. We have travelled there many times. Usually the breakfast buffets in the expensive hotels are pretty good. The best food we had was on boat outings in the outer islands. The natives fished on the way out and then cooked the catch over a coconut husk fire and/or made raw fish marinated in lime and coconut. I remember one time on an outer island we travelled around the island in a jeep stopping at fruit trees. When we had a good load of fruit, limes, coconuts, and breadfruit, we got on a boat and the island guys dove in and speared fish. When we got to our (uninhabited) destination, the guys dug oysters out of the sand and cooked everything over an open fire. That's the best meal we ever had in French Polynesia. You'll have a wonderful time no matter what the food is like.
  17. We chose the extra large because of the extra grilling area. And when you're smoking three racks of ribs, you need it, believe me. We've tried the oil-soaked paper method of lighting the charcoal, and it worked sometimes, sort of, but not reliably. (Maybe the problem was my husband.) The lighting cubes are reliable. We buy the lump charcoal at Restaurant Depot for a very reasonable price. It's actually the same lump charcoal as the BGE brand in a different package. My husband did a lot of research into lump charcoal; there's an entire web site dedicated to the stuff with rating of the different brands and inside info.
  18. We took the plunge and bought an extra-large BGE over a year ago and we've never looked back. It's terrific! We can smoke ribs or pork butts for hours and hours and maintain a constant temperature of 220 degrees. We can sear steaks at high temps or bake chicken at a consistent 375. The ability to control the temperature is amazing. We still use our charcoal Weber sometimes, but not very often. The BGE is expensive, but well worth the cost in my opinion. The only problem we experienced with the BGE is difficulty lighting the lump charcoal, but those lighting cubes solved that. It takes us half an hour to light the charcoal and bring the Egg to the desired temperature.
  19. Thanks everyone for the great replies. I feel better now about leaving the skin and seeds in chopped tomatoes. Just yesterday I made a chopped salad. I chopped whole tomatoes and drained the pieces in a colander. Then into the salad all the pieces went, skin and seeds included. It was terrific and it wasn't watery at all. Jayme's grandmother was correct when she said (above) that most of the liquid in tomatoes is water. But the skin, seeds, and "jelly" contain a lot of flavor. And I have to add, although it is off-topic, that I used my Nemco chopper to chop the tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. It is a terrific labor-saving tool. It's pricy, but worth every cent.
  20. Do you freeze them whole, or do you mince them and mix them with water or oil and then freeze them in ice cube trays?
  21. With a great deal of trouble, I managed to grow a curry tree from seed here in southern California. I had to prune it lately as it had become quite leggy. As a result, I have a bag full of fresh curry leaves in the refrigerator. Without noticing, I dropped some of the pruned curry leaves on the floor when I bagged them. I picked them up in a few days and the leaves had dried. They were quite aromatic and redolent of curry, although quite dry. So my question is, should I dry the rest of the curry leaves for later use? I will be a month or two until my tree produces fresh leaves again. I read in some previous threads that "dried curry leaves are good for nothing." Is that really true?
  22. Most recipes that call for chopped tomatoes say to skin and deseed the tomatoes before chopping them. Lately I've been ignoring this. I just chop the tomatoes and then put the pieces -- including the seeds -- in a colander to drain. That's for recipes that don't call for the juice. Then I add the drained pieces to the recipe. I've found this works great and it also preserves the nutrients in the skin and seeds. Does anyone else do this? It saves labor and is more nutritous. But am I missing something?
  23. If you measured by volume this would explain it. Because of gaps left between the granules of coarsely ground salt, it will contain less weight of salt than the same sized container of finely ground salt. Less weight = less dense brine. Another very good reason for moving to weighing with scales rather than measuring with cups. I did indeed measure by volume, so your explanation is spot-on. Thanks. But now I am wondering why salt makes the brine thick at all....
  24. On a slightly different topic, I've found that the type of salt used determines how thick the brine eventually gets. I had preserved some lemons with table-grind sea salt and the brine got very thick indeed. I made another batch using coarse sea salt and the brine still got thick, but not nearly as thick as the batch made with table-grind salt. I wonder why this is?
  25. How did you start the tumeric and galanga? I've been trying tumeric for the past couple years from a piece in the ground, and it sprouts some leaves but never develops any roots. Originally (about five or six years ago) I bought some VERY small tumeric and galanga plants mailorder from a guy in Florida. The galanga was just a bit of root with a green shoot. The tumeric was just a root. I got them going in a small greenhouse I have. They now grow and thrive on my front porch with no special treatment except water and some fertilizer. At the time I didn't realize that these plants could be started from roots bought in the store. Are you really sure that your tumeric is not growing roots? It takes about a year to notice growth. Tumeric goes dormant in the winter and all the green leaves die. If you plant tumeric roots now, while they are still dormant (at least mine are still dormant) they will sprout leaves in a month or two. Fertilize them and water them and keep them in partial sun -- too much sun and the leaves burn. Then wait until the leaves die next winter. You can easily see the roots then. I bet you will notice more roots than were present when you planted them. From then on you can harvest roots whenever you want. GOOD LUCK. Fresh tumeric and fresh galanga are a delight!
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