Grape Seed Oil

July 30th, 2009 / comments 4

I just discovered grape seed oil in the bulk section at the market. Initially I was attracted by its green color. What a surprise – a painter attracted by color! It is greener than any olive oil I have ever seen.

market+bag+01 Grape Seed Oil

High in antioxidants, and bio-flavonoids, a polyunsaturated oil containing the highest amount among any oil or food source of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that the human body can not produce, it is healthier than olive oil. One tablespoon provides nearly the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E.

Grape seed oil has a relatively high smoke point and can be safely used to cook at high temperature for deep frying as well as in stir-fries and sautéing. Its light, nutty taste makes it perfect for salad dressing, as a base for flavor infused oils, and in homemade mayonnaise. Although sometimes referred to as a vegetable oil it is actually fruit oil.

Grape seed oil is widely used as a base for skin care products, is used as a carrier for aromatherapy and makes great massage oil.

Surely with all of this to recommend it, you can find space in your pantry for a bottle of it.

Red Currant Jelly

July 13th, 2009 / comments 7

The small ad in the newspaper said “Pick your own Red Currants.”

red+currant+bush+01 Red Currant Jelly

Riverview Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire was the place. The sign at a bend in the Connecticut River pointed at the lane to the fields and the currants. The bushes were filled with stems of ruby spheres and picking was easy. There were no bugs, it wasn’t raining, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. In less than forty minutes we had picked three pounds of red currant.
currants+in+bowl+01 Red Currant Jelly
Paul Franklin, proprietor of Riverview Farm weighted the currants and we talked recipes for a few minutes. He told me about his breakfast biscuits with red currants folded in.

Another farmer told me that red currants had been hunted and eliminated by federal agents in the early 1900′s because of concern for the ‘white pine blister rust’ and fear that white pines would suffer the same devastation as the elms. He went on with a smile, ‘If they had tried to take Granny’s red currant bushes, she would have met them with a shot gun.’

Let’s get to the juicy part. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Chili Pepper

May 25th, 2009 / comments 3

Cayenne pepper, chili pepper flakes, fresh jalapeno, canned chili in sambal, and assorted whole dried chilies are always in my pantry.

Chili+01jpg Chili Pepper

A Pantry Basic
I use cayenne pepper in everything from creamed spinach to chocolate sauce for ice cream. The handle of a teaspoon or the tip of a butter knife are what I use to measure out the tiny quantity necessary to give a boost without a burn. Aztecs combined chili and chocolate in hot chocolate. I wonder if it was called Hot, Hot Chocolate.

I add a pinch of chili pepper flakes to olive oil, garlic and onion at the start of a marinara sauce. Poblano chili in adobo sauce combined with sour cream is a great sauce for grilled chicken.Jalapeno peppers are usually the only fresh at my market. I find the habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers too hot for my palette.

Sambal, an Indonesian condiment I first tasted when we lived in Singapore, heats up my nearly daily lunch of Asian Noodle soup with bitter greens.

I store whole dried and Serrano chilies in a tin until needed for a mole sauce. Experiment with chilies. Start cautiously, the goal is to enhance flavor not to set any fires.

Chili+03+Pepper+w+blk Chili Pepper
Capsaicin, the chemical in chili, has been shown to stimulate endorphin release. Using chili may not only zip up what you’re cooking but put a smile on your face as well.

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Salt

May 11th, 2009 / Comments 1

Fleur de sel is the most expensive of the three kinds of salt in my pantry and with beautiful thin crystals and exquisite flavor it is my all time favorite for seasoning food at the table.
fleur+de+sel+copy SaltThis salt comes from the south east coast of France near Collioure.  The salt flats were flecked with pink flamingos as my train whizzed by.

sel+de+mer SaltSel de mer, also from France, is less expensive and quite fine making it perfect for sauces and salad dressings.

I use Kosher salt, an American salt for everything else – in water for pasta, steaming vegetables, in cookies and bread, making gravalx, and with half a lemon to clean copper.  Unlike ‘table salt’ sold in those cylindrical boxes, it is simply salt with no added iodine to either fight goiters or affect the taste.

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