Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

October 20, 2014

Pine Mouth vs Local Pecans


For many years now, I have gotten a large bag of local pecans from a family just over the border in Georgia.  This family has a bunch of pecan trees, and grandma spends time hand cracking open the pecans, puts these beautiful pecans in ziplock baggies, and I go and get them to use through the year.  I use these pecan when ever pinenuts, walnuts, or almonds are called for in recipes.  I have been making a sort of pecan pesto of late with my Georgian pecans, Barefoot Farmer flat leaf parsley and garlic, and The Olive Press Arbequina olive oil.  I take the base ingredients and whirl them  up in a food processor, and use it on salads, meat marinades, or simply stirred in with pasta and rice.  This stuff is so good!

I have not bought pinenuts for years because the last time I did, these little gems were way more expensive than other  nuts, and my local Georgian pecans, so I just substituted my local pecans for the pinenuts.  I am sure it has been at least 10 years since I have purchased pine nuts.  10+ years ago, pinenuts were $20/lb more or less.  The pinenuts were of either USA or Europe varieties, and the price back then reflected the rareness of the resource, the time and process it takes to harvest pine nuts.  Back in the 1980s and 90s, pesto with pinenuts became all the rage for dining experiences, but because pinenuts were so expensive, pesto made with pinenuts was a real treat, something special.


Fast forward 20 years to 2010, with the demand for pesto and pesto made with pinenuts at an all time high with pesto being the sandwich spread of choice over mayo, and a bad year for harvest of pinenuts in the USA and Europe,  Chinese pinenuts arrive to the USA through big box price-club stores and mainstream grocery stores at a cheap price.  Inexpensive Chinese pinenuts made pesto as common as mayo and ketchup.

BUT, there is one big difference between Chinese pinenuts and USA and European pinenuts, and it is simply that the Chinese variety of pine trees are a different variety than those of the USA and European varieties, and USA and European varieties are also different from each other. 

In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration put out a general warning about Chinese pinenuts.  It says that usually 1 to 2 days after eating Chinese pinenuts, peoples perception of food eaten tastes bitter or metallic.  This perception may last for a day up to about 2 weeks.  The condition will resolve itself without intervention, and does not seem to cause any permanent damage to taste buds.  Not everyone is effected, and symptoms vary and duration of symptoms vary as well.    It is also noted that the pinenuts tasted good, were fresh, and not rancid when people reported to the FDA about their pine mouth experience.   It is hypothesized that the Chinese pinenuts cause pine mouth because of the variety of pine tree, or it is caused by potential haul stripping chemicals during processing in China.  The last part is conjecture which I have read in opinion pieces, but it is possible.

There are 4 of who conducted the experiment of eating a couple handfuls of known imported cheap big-box store pinenuts (photo above).  One of us had noticeable bitter tasting food, especially sweets.  The sweeter the pastry or candy was, the more bitter the taste became. The bitter taste effects started 2 days after dosing, and the bitter taste lasted for about 3 days.  Water was neutral, and did not have a bitter taste.  Another one of us thought lettuce tasted bitter, but the lettuce came from a the same head of lettuce that was thought to be fresh, green and almost a little sweet days before.  Effects started 2 days after dosing, and only lasted for about 4 hours for the 2nd person.  For this second person, sweet drinks on day 3 seemed to be as sweet as they ever were, indicating that bitter tasting effects were short lived.  The last two claimed no change in taste perception.

If you run this experiment, please leave a comment or email  me at LannaeFood at Gmail dot com and  tell me about your experience with pinenuts.

For me, I am going to continue to substitute pecans and walnuts myself, and let the pinenuts be.

October 12, 2014

Sofi


Taqueria Sofi
5915 Morrow Rd
Nashville, TN 37209


Sofi is an adorable toddler with an equally cute older brother, with parents and grandparents who decided to open a family owned taco shop up in the Nations.  Sofi just opened last week, and is a grassroots family taqueria.


What this taqueria has to offer is 1. The best of what you can get at a taco truck, but with dine-in ability at a few tables and chairs, 2. Mexican cokes and soda make with sugar (not corn syrup) to go with your meal, 3. Home made sauces (as seen above) which are fun to mix and match on various tacos, 4. A menu with tacos, flautas, burritos, and enchiladas, 5. reasonable prices that will not break the bank, 6.  Earnest women who in the open kitchen who want to make a nice meal for you, and 7.  It is within walking or 1-2 minute drive from most homes in the Nations, so it is so dang convenient.


Because Taqueria Sofi just opened, they do not have a menu board, or paper menus.  The gig is, you go to the register, and one of Sofi's relatives will be there to tell you want they have to serve for the day.  On the days I went to Sofi's, they have spicy pork, beef, tongue, tripe, lamb, and chicken to make tacos.  The times I have been there, they had chicken flautas and vegetarian enchiladas.   I really liked the chicken flautas with the crispy shell on the outside and shredded chicken on the inside.  The plate came with four chicken flautas, rice,  and salad.  The flautas were the perfect crispy taco roll with the homemade sauces.  I also got the enchiladas, and on this day , they were vegetarian.  The enchiladas had crumbled cheese and sauteed red peppers in side a rolled corn tortilla.  The outside of the rolled tortilla had a thin coating of red mole.  The mole was sweet, earthy and savory at the same time.  The enchiladas were light, and not weighed down with excessive amounts of mole or cheese.  The tacos are made with the type of meat you want, and the lovely ladies toss the tortillas on the griddle to crisp up the tortilla, which adds a nice texture to the taco.


I want to close this blog post by writing about the sauces on the come on the side.  When I visited, there was salsa verde, salsa rojo, and crema rojo.  I normallly do not use the side sauces because they are usually made with too much chili heat, that I can't taste my food anymore.  These sauces were made at a Scoville level that I can tolerate, and a level which I consider a flavor, not just capsaicin.  I really like the salsa verde with a bit of jalapeno heat, and a nice garlic and green tomatillo flavor.  The salsa rojo was much more pungent in chile pepper heat.  It was almost like the verde was the salt component, and the rojo was the pepper component of for the table.  Lastly, the crema rojo tasted like crema and salsa rojo together, so there was a cooling effect from the crema, and mile punch from the chile peppers.

The next time you are in the Nations, gather up your spare change, and stop on in for a tasty taco.

October 8, 2014

I Can! You Can!

  I Can!  You Can!  We all can Can!



 I took a canning class from Lyn back in September, and it was the best class in canning I have ever had!  It costs $75, Lyn came all the way from Atlanta to teach this hands on class, and I came away knowing how to can!  You too can Can this coming weekend on Sunday October 12 at the Nashville Farmer's Market at the Grow Local Kitchen.  Click here to see PreservingNow.com website and Click here to see the Grow Local Kitchen website to learn more about this up coming class.


When I signed up for this 4 hour class, the description said that I will know how to can a pickle, a tomato and a fruit.  I was a little skeptical because I took 4 other canning classes, and I did not learn how to can.  So, coming face to face with Lyn, I looked her up and down, and said, "I want to know how to put tomatoes in a jar, and can the tomatoes to put on the shelf.   I have taken 4 canning classes before, and left knowing nothing more than I just lost some cash out of my pocket to pay for those classes."  Lyn, who is delightful, has heard this before, she promised to teach me how to shove tomatoes in a jar, and indeed I learned how to CAN TOMATOES to keep them safely on my shelf!  Thanks Lyn!  Just learning this one thing make the class worth it for me!  We also learned how to make and can pickles and apple butter.  I now believe I can CAN apples, pears, and pickles too!


 I have been wanting to can for a good while, ever since we moved into our little house.  We have 3 rooms, no pantry closet, and a small 1980s style fridge/freezer.  We have no where to keep sundries, cans, or frozen foods.  If I could can, I could put cans under the bed, under couch and under the sideboard.  I started out on this odyssey trying to learn how to can safely, and learn the steps to do it.  I am an engineer,  and I like a good set of instructions that will get me from point A to point B.  All the other canning classes were led by artist types, who are more about "exceptions" and and no concrete rules to getting something done. 

This class, Lyn presented a concise way to canning, a specific method to can, and I can follow these instructions easily.  This class is how I learn best.  Lyn give me a set of instructions, and let me give it a try with my own 2 hands.  This class is the best canning class ever!  I like the instructions for canning the tomatoes because I know it will keep me safe, there is science behind the the method so botulism will not grow in the can, and I am confident I can replicate the method.


 Here is how to can tomatoes:
1.  blanch to peel tomatoes
2.  dip clean pint jars into boiling water
3.  chunk tomatoes and shove them into pint jars
4.  add 2 tablespoons jarred lemon juice from the grocery store
5.  add boiling water to top the tomatoes leaving 1 inch head space at the top
6.  stick a knife down into the edge of tomatoes and wiggle out air bubbles
7.  put a new lid on the jar, and finger tight the threading ring
8.  water bath in boiling water for 40 minutes
9.  leave the jar on the counter for a day to see how it does.  if the lid is not on tight, toss it.

That is it.  I can do this.

Helpful Hints: 
1.  The lemon juice in the jar from the grocery store is pH acidic to meet a certain level which guarantees to fend off botulism.  Lemons may not have the same acidic pH level, so it may  not add the right amount of acidity to fend off botulism.
2.  Our canning ancestors may not have used acid in preserving tomatoes before, but tomatoes were different back in the day, when tomatoes had a high level of acid.  Now, with selective farming, hybridizing and GMO, acid levels in tomatoes may vary and have less acid.  Having less acid in some modern tomatoes will not guard against botulism in canning, so adding lemon juice give the insurance policy to canning tomatoes.
3.   After the 1st 24 hours on the counter after the water bath, take the threaded ring off the jar to store.  If things go awry in the jar, you will know it by the lid coming loose.  It is harder to tell when the threaded ring is on the jar.

October 6, 2014

The Best Food Lids


 These are the best food lids ever!  Charles Viancin, a Canadian company has created silicone lids that fit on any smooth edged pot, pan, bowl, dish, and cup.  These lids provide an airtight seal, but will allow for internal gasses to escape while keeping outside air out.  These lids eliminate the need for cling wrap and foil.

The pros as I see it:
1.  BPA free
2.  Microwave safe
3.  Fridge safe
4.  Can withstand high temps to about 480F
5.  Reusable
6.  Eliminates the need for cling wrap
7.  Easy to wash
8.  Does not promote microbial growth
9.  Seals keeping air out
10. Easy to remove and replace the lid
11. Adorable to look at

These lids are now on sale all around the USA, including at least 25 stores in and around the Nashville Metro area.


A few years ago, I was in a Canadian border town, and I was walking through a local gift shop with lots of interesting cool regional gifts, including Charles Viancin food lids.  They had a display with a bowl and cup to try out the lids.  I put the lid on the bowl and the lid made an airtight suction lock on the bowl, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I did not buy these lids during that trip, and I just assumed I would be able to find these lids at home in Nashville.  I got home, and I went on the Charles Viancin website, and to my surprise, they were only sold in Canada.  I was so sad.  I kept on thinking about these lids, and all the whilst I was buying cling wrap, throwing away my money and throwing away used cling wrap in the landfill.


A few weeks ago, I went back to my favorite Canada border town, I left space in my carry-on luggage to get these lids, and I went to the little gift shop and loaded up an Charles Viancin silicone lids.  I got big bowl lids, cup/can lids, and soda bottle stoppers.  I was so thrilled.  Then I came home, and went back on the Charles Viancin website to discover these lids are no being sold in the USA, including Nashville!  Yes, there are about 25 retailers in the Nashville Metro area which sell these gems.  On my next day off, I am going to get more lids, and try to eliminate cling wrap in my house.

I just adore my new silicone lids.  They are so easy to use, and they are reducing the amount of trash generated in my house.  And, I think they are cute.

September 1, 2014

Hot Tamales

Dancing Tamales from the Delta Hot Tamale Festival Website


I am Southern.  The place I have lived the longest is the South USA.  I definitely feel Southern in the way I think about food, what food/ingredients I source locally (within 100 miles from my house) and what I eat.  I have worked my little plot of organic land, and I feel the dirt under my nails.  I listen to oral histories of food in the South at the Southern Foodways Alliance.  I read one quite interesting history, the Southern Hot Tamale in the Mississippi Delta.  I like that Mexican, Italian and African cultures came together to make these treats.  In the Delta, you can get red hot tamales all around the MS Delta, and there is the Hot Tamale trail, which I would like to travel one day.  But, for this year, there is the 2nd Annual Delta Hot Tamale based in Greenville, MS in October.  It is a three day affair, with the biggest part of the festival going on Saturday October 18.

For my friends in Nashville, if you want a resemblance of a traditional way to serve Delta Hot Tamales, you can go to Varallo's and get a Hot Chile Combo.  The Hot Chile Combo is a bowl with a red hot tamale at the bottom, and chile on top of it, and served with saltines.  I used to get this meal when I worked 2 blocks away from Varallo's and it holds a special place around my tastebuds because this dish is Southern food history, which I adore.

August 25, 2014

Fried Corn

  

It is Monday, and I have the day off from work.  I have time to make lunch today, rather than gulping down something at my desk as I work.  Today's lunch  is the left over lamb sandwich I got from City House Sunday Supper, and homemade fried corn as a side.  I have never made fried corn before.  I feel like fried corn is a Southern type of side dish that goes well with almost anything!  

I got a bunch of ears of corn from my CSA Barefoot Farmer, and I wanted to try making Southern fried corn.  I also got onions and garlic in my CSA, and I have cayenne from my organic veggie garden.  As a good Southern Girl, I save bacon fat to cook with later on, and bacon fat seems to be the proper way to make Southern fried corn.

I took a quick look around the internet for fried corn, and I combined them in my mind to come up with my own method and recipe.  Here it is:

8 ears of corn, blanched and kernels cut off
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 small onion small diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons honey
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Last night I blanched for  a minute or 2 all the corn in boiling water.  When they were cool, I cut the kernels and then put the kernels in the fridge. 

This morning, I got out my big fry-pan and heated 3 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium heat.  I added the diced onion.  When the onion became translucent, I added the corn kernels and garlic and turned up the heat to medium high.  Then I sprinkled salt, pepper, and cayenne flakes (red pepper flakes) over the top, and drizzled 2 tablespoons honey over all the corn.  I gave it a good stir to incorporate the honey.  Then I let the pan sit to allow some of the kernels to brown.  I gave the corn another good stir, and then let the pan sit to allow some of the kernels to brown. 

That is it!  I put the corn on my plate with my sliced lamb sammie, and I had the perfect lunch.

Fried corn took about 10 minutes to blanch and cut the corn the night before.  It took about 10 minutes skillet fry the corn today.  Fairly quick and easy, and delicious!

For those of you who do not want to use bacon fat, a veggie or peanut oil would work, but not lend that smoky flavor bacon fat offers, so I would find some smoked salt, and even add some smoked paprika to add that smokiness back in to the dish.  For those who don't want to use honey, regular sugar or maple syrup would work, and the substitution is 1 for 1, or 2 tablespoons of sweetness.  It is possible not to use sweet stuff, if you get the super sweet corn from the grocery store.  The corn I got from my CSA isn't the super sweet variety, so I have to add a little sweetness.  I personally would not add artificial sweeteners, as most will not hold up to medium high heat  on the stove (from the little I have read, many artificial sweeteners may breakdown to bad chemicals if heated).  For those who cannot tolerate sugar, I would just leave sugar out of the dish and try to find super sweet corn instead.


ENJOY!

July 27, 2014

Shishitos


I went to Dinette in Pittsburgh a couple years ago, and fell in love with one of the appetizers, hot grilled shishito peppers topped with olive oil, salt and pepper.  So simple, so good!  I have been thinking about these gems all the while.  Then, my gardening pal gets in 4 shishito seedlings and gives me 2 of them!  I have been raising and caring for the 2 plants in my organic garden, and here is the 1st big harvest of shishitos.  I made them in a similar tradition as Dinette, and I am over the moon with joy for how tasty these are.  Here is the recipe:

1. get a fry pan hot on the stove (med-med/hi 6/10 heat)
2. put a little oil in the pan
3. drop a bunch of shishitos into the hot pan for the sizzle
4. 30 seconds turn the shishitos
5.  30 seconds drop on the plate
6.  drizzle excellent olive oil over the top
7. sprinkle excellent salt on top
8. grind some black pepper on top

The olive oil I decided to use is from The Olive Press, and I used the Mission variety.  It is a pure EV olive oil with a bit of a peppery finish.  The salt I decided to use is from Matanzas Creek Winery Lavender collection and it is Himalayan salt with lavender.   The black pepper I decided to use is from Penzey's.

July 19, 2014

Potluck

 One of my life's greatest pleasures is to break bread with friends, old and new, and have a good chat while dining on a good meal.  Third Thursday Potluck feeds my soul, and my tummy.  I am a sucker for a good potluck, and I love hearing people talk about their dish.  A few days ago, I was invited to my first Third Thursday Community Potluck, and it felt like "coming home" with my new friends who are like-minded with me when it comes to food:  fresh, local, seasonal, and most of all tasty.

Third Thursday Community Potluck
Third Thursday started many years ago.  Who ever shows up, brings a dish, maybe a beverage too, and dinner begins.  I caught wind of this potluck years ago, when a well respected leader of farm fresh foods was have a going-away party.  Marne, in my opinion, was the leading force for Nashville to get to where it is today with regards to farmers markets, regular ol' folks like me to get access to locally grown and raised foods, and to get regular ol' folks like me to support local farmers and restaurants who support the local growing economy.  Every time I walk into a farmers market in the Nashville area, I quietly thank Marne, and all those who have come after her to make it possible for me to have access to excellent fresh ingredients to make my meals and keep us fed.  I left this potluck years ago, I hugged Marne goodbye, sad to see her go, but wishing her and her family all the love and wonder in their new adventure.  As I left this potluck while saying goodbye, at the same time, I hugged and said hello to Nancy Vienneau, author, Tennessean writer, and caterer extraordinaire. 

Third Thursday Potluck Table
Recently, this year, Nancy had her new book, Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook, published by the local publisher Thomas Nelson.  I could not wait to get this book, and of course have it signed by Nancy.  All the first few book signings were on days I was either out of town, or committed to another activity.  Finally, one Saturday, Shimai Pottery and Gifts located at the Loveless Cafe, hosted a demonstration kitchen and book signing for Nancy's new book.  I hightailed it over there for a little snack, hear about the book, and gush over Nancy's accomplishment!  Nancy's book is divided up by month, of what is in season by month.  It is not divided up like other cookbooks which are usually apps, salads, soups, pasta, meat, veggies, desserts.  This cookbook celebrates the bounty of NOW, what can I get fresh from the farmer's market now!  What a great idea to divide up a cookbook this way.  I can just flip to July and August and have the main ingredients which are fresh NOW! and I can just waltz into the farmer's market and get the ingredients and make the dish. 

Cornbread Croutons Ready for a Panzanella
For all the years of Third Thursday Potluck, Nancy kept on saying there has to be a book, a cookbook, in this monthly event.  There are so many people involved in Third Thursday.  Each one has a dish they love with a passion for flavor.  As I stepped into the potluck last week, it was so fun to ask who made which dish.  K made an luscious raw tuna appetizer, it was fun to tell her how much I loved tasting her dish, and she truly was happy that everyone loved her dish.  There was a spicy cheese dip which we all talked about how fun it was that the burn sneaks up on you.  I really enjoyed a watermelon dish which had citrus and herbs on it.  Because were are in the South, home of TN smoked pulled pork BBQ, there was a really nice smoked pulled pork dish.  There were dishes with okra, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, pasta, quinoa, asparagus, and more!  One dish at the potluck I recognize from the cookbook is the Southwest quinoa salad made with avocado, tomatoes, onions, lime and other Southwest style ingredients.  I enjoyed the quinoa because the local fresh ingredients provide such a vibrant flavor and texture to the dish.  

I brought what I have been doing a lot of lately - pickles in three varieties.   I brought traditional kirby cucumber garlic dill pickles, hot banana pepper pickles, and grapes with pumpkin and savory spices pickles.   I source most of my ingredients from the most tasty sources I can.  The cucumbers and dill are from the Barefoot Farmer, the garlic is from Bugtussle Farm, the banana and cayenne peppers are originally from organic seed and grown organically in my garden, the spices I use are mostly from Penzey's because I think they have a lot of flavor, and I have recently switched to Himalayan salt, instead of regular grocery store brand salt.  The Himalayan salt is a huge mountain of salt, and is the 2nd largest store of salt in the world after the ocean.  The Himalayan salt mountain was formed years and years ago, before there was any human, industrial, medical, yucko waste being washed into the oceans.  The pickled grapes are snacks I love.  The flavor is unexpected.  They are made with a bread and butter brine of vinegar, sugar, a dash of salt and loads of spices.  I think potluck folks really enjoyed the grape pickles because many of  them have not had this type of pickle before. 

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread
I have a month before the next Third Thursday, but I am now thinking about what I can bring to the August Third Thursday Potluck.  This week I started a ginger pickle in red wine vinegar (which I  make at home), and I was thinking of something to make with that.  Or maybe, I should just look through the summer recipes in the Third Thursday Cookbook for some excellent inspiration for what is fresh and in season.  Either way, August Third Thursday is certain to nourish my body and may heart.

May 25, 2014

Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin'


I invite you to attend "THE" Annual Ice Cream Event of the Year!  It is the 
benefiting the Martha O'Bryan Center

If you like ice cream, this the the "must do" event for you!  This event takes place on the front lawn of the First Presbyterian Church located at 4815 Franklin Road, and  you will get to taste dozens and dozens of ice cream flavors.  There is also a competition, you could enter a new flavor of ice cream, and if you win the tasting contest, Purity Ice Cream will make and sell your ice cream for a year! There is plenty of parking both at the the Church and across the street. 

This 29th Annual Purity Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' and Summer Social Event is going to quite fun for me because I was chosen to be one of the ice cream tasting judges this year!  I feel like I have some special qualifications for this honorable position:  When I lived in Boston, I worked at a gourmet ice cream store, and I learned how to make and decorate designer ice cream cakes.  I also attended the Pennsylvania State University which has hosts the world famous ice cream school and creamery.  I have also taken a nation-wide tour to try the top 5 USA ice cream parlors.  Let me tell ya, trying all that ice cream over the years, makes me love ice cream even more!  Come visit me at this wonderful event, and tell me your tips on judging the best ice cream!

Here are the details, for this most Ice Cream Delicious Event!

The 29th Purity Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' and Summer Social
Sunday, June 8 3:00-5:00 pm
First Presbyterian Church Lawn
4815 Franklin Road

Tickets:
Adults $10 (online) $13 at the gate
Kids $8 (online) $10 at the gate

For more information for buying tix, or for enter your ice cream flavor: click here.


May 8, 2014

And the Generous Helpings Winner Is...




Get ready fort the tastiest Second Harvest Food Bank fundraisers in the year - it is the Generous Helpings Event on Thursday May 15th at 6:00 pm!  This event is at going to beheld at the Nashville Farmer's Market and there will be over 30 restaurants offering tastings, and plenty to drink of all kinds.  Here is the 411 for this event:




Some of the restaurants representing at Generous Helpings are: 312 Pizza Company, 55 South, Amerigo Italian Restaurant, B&C BBQ, Chago's Cantina, Commerce Street Grill/Renaissance Nashville Hotel, Cork & Cow, Etch, Fid,o Holland House, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Josephine, Kickin' Coffee & Tea, Kohana Japanese Restaurant, Kroger Chef Shoppes ,Legato Gelato, Marche Artisan Foods ,Margot Café & Bar, McConnell House, Midtown Café, Nashville State Community College, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Provence Breads & Café, {PUB}licity, Puckett's, Red Pony, Riff's Fine Street Food, Second Harvest Culinary Arts Center, Sunset Grill, The Mad Platter, The Pied Piper Eatery, The Southern Steak & Oyster, Zumi Sushi Japanese Kitchen, And more to come!

 Now to get to the Generous Helpings Winner!

The 33rd entry belongs to Collyn Wainwright!
Congratulations Collyn!
You will be hearing from me via email shortly.


It is never too late to get tickets to this charitable event.  Click on the link above, and go get your tickets!  Thank you everyone for playing along!