Archive for the 'Ingredients' Category


Infusing Hibiscus

Monday, July 21st, 2008

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My drink of choice at taquerias has always been a large, refreshing glass of jamaica, the brightest and probably healthiest agua fresca in the glass barrel lineup. The beautifully scarlet infusion of hibiscus flowers is rich in Vitamin C and carries a tartness that I love. The dried flowers can be found in any Latino market, or, if you prefer, organic flowers are sold in bulk at markets like Rainbow Grocery. Brewed in boiling water, sweetened with honey, spritzed with a touch of fresh lime or orange, and then served over ice, it’s a delicious and healthful way to banish soda and other bottled drinks.

Abundant in Australia, where it’s known as roselle, hibiscus has recently been exchanging its Mexican and health-food togs for an elegant spin in the world of cocktails. A Sydney-based company, Wild Hibiscus, has begun preserving the whole flowers in syrup. A single bud and a spoonful of its sweet, rosy syrup transform a glass of prosecco into one of the prettiest drinks around. It’s just as easy to dress up a seasonal bellini or brighten a vodka martini.

For now, you can order online — a small jar of 11 flowers and a serious party pack of 50 — but keep an eye out for the jars soon in local markets.


Homey Soybean Milk

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

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My Midwestern parents live at the epicenter of the soybean industry, but tracking down whole beans still requires a 45-minute drive to the nearest Asian market. We all consume soybean in some form every day, yet few know what the bean even looks like. Tofu has come a long way in the US from its commune days. Yet, it’s not that bland, white cube that is behind soy’s success. Worth ten times more than a bushel of unprocessed beans, derivatives drive the soy market: soy’s emulsifiers, proteins and oils appearing in everything from paint to paint stripper, polyester to protein shakes.

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Taste of New Orleans

Monday, June 9th, 2008

One needs many lifetimes to enjoy all that the Crescent City has to offer. Alas, I only have ten days and one stomach.

That hasn’t stopped me from trying, though. Here are just a few of the highlights from the past week….

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Thyme Shortbread

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

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Refreshing smoothies one day…hot tea the next. It’s San Francisco, after all, so sundresses and icy drinks enjoy but brief moments of glory. As much as I reveled in salads last week, I’m baking this week to keep our kitchen warm.

All that exuberant sunshine encouraged my little pot of thyme to bolt and bloom. Usually, I snip a sprig here and there, but faced with a sudden bounty, I needed to figure out how to use it all up. I found lovely photos of sugared thyme, with detailed instructions on brushing each sprig with a thin layer of egg white, sprinkling with granulated sugar, and then baking lots of cupcakes for something worthy to garnish. Tempting, yes. Realistic, no.

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Honey Bees

Monday, April 21st, 2008

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I’m not sure my neural pathways for good ice cream and the future of agriculture have ever sparked simultaneously before, but a recent posting sure caught my attention. If you happen to know someone who recently received their Ph.D. in entomology, you can point them, too, toward Haagen-Dazs’ recently established fellowship in honey bee biology at the University of California, Davis. For those who need more hands-on training, be sure to check out the advanced workshop later this month on queen bee insemination.

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