Wednesday, July 29, 2015
We right smack in the middle of summer and in case you have not noticed or been away at Antarctica, IT IS HOT! One of my favorite ways to cool off and have a delicious and healthy snack is to make myself a sweet and spicy slushy. What I love about this recipe is that it is highly customizable. If you don't like any aspect of it (such as the fruit used, or the spicy seasoning) you can omit or change it! Here are some of the things you will need:
FRUIT!! Pretty much any fruit you enjoy can work for this. You can mix and match as you like. For this version I used fresh peaches, blueberries and strawberries. Another popular mix I like to use is oranges, pineapple and mango. If you don't want to bother with fresh fruit or it is not in season you can always use frozen fruit.
You will also need to use some kind of liquid to help make your slushy, well, slushy. I like to use juice that compliments the fruit. In this case I used a blueberry pomegranate acia. If juice is unavailable, plain water is always an option. Just keep in mind it will not add an extra flavor.
For the seasoning I love to use just a bit of sweetener (I use Splenda to avoid added sugar) and a combination of the salty spicy condiments called chamoy and Tajin. These last two are completely optional if those flavors are not your thing. The sweetener helps bring out the flavor of the fruit.
As far as hardware goes, you will need a blender, a long spoon, and several glasses to pour your slushy into.
approx, 2 cups of fruit fresh or frozen.
1- 1 1/2 cups of liquid
1-2 tbsp sweetener
1-2 tbsp each of Tajin and chamoy
1-1 1/2 cups of ice
These ratios are not set in stone. You can play around with them to your own personal tastes. If you want a sweeter slushy, then add more sweetener. If the idea of adding the Tajin or chamoy does not suit your tastes, then you can leave it out. The point of this is to find your slushy flavor profile. These are just guidelines.
The first step to make your slushy is to put your fruit in the blender. I like to add it first because it it soft and will blend well at the bottom vs the hard frozen ice. If you are using frozen fruit, I would use less ice and perhaps a little more liquid. It is also a good idea to cut the larger fruit into smaller pieces as they will blend better.
Next add your sweetener as well as the Tajin and chamoy.
After that add the liquid as well as the ice.
Make sure to check the consistency of your slushy. The long spoon serves this purpose as well as giving you a way to taste test your concoction. If the slushy is too stiff and hard add more liquid. If it is too loose, add more ice.
The last step is my favorite. After you have gotten your slushy how you want it, serve and enjoy!
Dole frozen tropical fruit blend with orange juice as my liquid. Berry blends also work really well together. Lastly, I have found that for the more adult readers out there, this is a great way to make a delicious frozen sangria. Just use your favorite bottled sangria with maybe a little bit of orange juice and whatever fruit you would normally enjoy with said sangria. Give it a whirl in the blender and there you go!
Friday, July 3, 2015
Tomorrow people around the country will celebrating the anniversary of the USA's birth as a country. In today's culinary tradition many of these good folks will fire up their grills and cook up the grilling season's standards such as burgers or hot dogs. For the more "adventurous" types some chicken or even sausages might find their way onto the grill. I myself will be cooking up some tasty fajitas. But have you ever stopped to consider what food was consumed during the pre-colonial and post independence United States? The stuff they ate was very different than the out door feasts we have now.
Food back then was quite varied. Just like now region played a part in what you were eating. However, there were some common threads throughout the colonies and subsequent young country. To start off with meat was used to supplement meals than as a main feature. Meat was either expensive or had to be hunted. Large cuts of meat in were usually reserved for special occasions and large parties. Some of the most common meats came from wild game such as venison or other small woodland creatures. One affect of the revolutionary war was that cattle raising had begun on a small scale during the French-Indian War, but when the American Revolution came, farmers were able to increase their cattle holdings and increase the presence of beef in the American diet. Turkey was a plentiful and popular mainstay in colonial America. It was a free and easy source of food for the colonials since they roamed wild in the forests. It was so beloved by Benjamin Franklin that he wanted to make it a national symbol!
Seafood was another popular source of protein. Given the access to bodies of water, both fresh and saltwater, it is easy to see how seafood of all types was enjoyed. One of the most popular items was oysters. They were so plentiful that some streets were paved in oyster shells. Martha Washington's cookbook included multiple recipes for oysters. Trout and salmon were other mainstays of the colonial culinary palate. Fish was abundant and could be obtained from the rivers and oceans found in the country. Fishing in areas used for salt water fishing became dangerous during the war. That coupled with the fact that many of the boats used to fish were put towards the war effort caused these areas to be unused. Before the war, there was often talk about the excess of lobsters and cod off the shores of New England. However after the war most fishermen found that they had migrated away from these areas. Even with all these problems seafood stayed as a staple of the new United States' diet.
Farming in the colonies varied by region. The middle colonies were known as the breadbasket colonies since they grew mainly grains such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, and corn. They also raised crops such as pumpkins, squash, and beans. In the south they developed large plantations exporting corn, vegetables, grains, fruit, and livestock to the other colonies for food. The northern colonies produced number of vegetables were grown in the northern colonies, including turnips, onions, cabbage, carrots, and parsnips, along with pulses and legumes. These vegetables stored well through the colder months. Farming in New England for crops like wheat was impractical due to the poor soil. One of the most popular vegetables grown was green beans since it was also one of the easiest and sturdiest to grow. Thomas Jefferson mentions growing them several times in his "Garden Book". What is curious is that even with all these crops, colonial Americans did not enjoy eating raw veggies. They preferred them boiled.
Fruits were also common amongst the colonials. Especially popular were apples and cherries. Apples were plentiful and grew in most regions. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson cultivated cherry tree orchards. Fruits were grown seasonally so in order to eat these fruits out of season they were preserved as jams, sweetmeats, or just dried.
Desserts were an important part of any colonial meal. They gave an extra bit of calories in the form of sugar and fat. One popular dessert was fruit pies. Not only were pies a dessert, but they also were a manner of preserving fruits. Another common dessert was the pound cake. Nearly every cookbook in colonial America had a recipe for pound cake. It was a simple and long-lasting cake, which made it a great option for dessert.
As far as drink options went in colonial America, there were quite a few. The one thing missing was plain water as it was often times considered unsafe to drink. Instead colonial Americans enjoyed things such as coffee, tea, rum, whiskey, cider and beer. Hard apple cider was the most readily available and cheapest option. It was easier to make than anything else and was often produced locally. A farmer could even produce it for his own consumption. Beer, however, was also quite popular. Beer was such an important consumable to Americans that they would closely watch the stocks of barley held by farmers to ensure quality beer production. John Adams in letters to his wife Abigail asks about the barley crops to ensure enough for the production of beer. Even George Washington was known to brew his own beer. Hops, essential to production of beer, did not grow well in the colonies. It only grew wild in the New World, and needed to be imported from England and elsewhere. Even children drank small beer.
There you have it. A small sampling of what may have been eaten during that very first Fourth of July! Its a far cry from the backyard cuisine of today. Maybe next year I will have roasted turkey with boiled green beans, a nice pint of beer and a slice of cherry pie. On second thought, maybe not!