Later On

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Archive for the ‘Recipes & Cooking’ Category

Springtime Shanghai Bok Choy

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After taking out a serving, so this is left for future meals.

I bought 5 medium heads of Shaghai bok choy and cooked them in the 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan:

• about 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 spring shallot, chopped with the leaves (the last one on hand)
• 1 1/2 bunches scallions, chopped (with leaves)
• pinch of salt
• about 1 rounded teaspoon black pepper
• 1 head of red Russian garlic (head was on the small size), cloves peeled and chopped small
• 5 heads Shanghai bok choy, chopped
• 1 can Ro•Tel Original with green chiles
• dash of Red Boat fish sauce
• splash of Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar

First I chopped the bok choy and put that in a bowl to rest for 45 minutes. I also peeled and chopped the garlic and set it aside so that it could rest.

After allowing time for the sulforaphane to form in the bok choy, I chopped the spring shallot and the scallions and proceeded to cooking, my prep complete.

Oil into pan along with shallot and scallions. Turned the burner to medium (3) and cooked the shallots and scallions, stirring from time to time, and adding salt and pepper along the way.

When they seemed cooked, I added the garlic and cooked it for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spatula. Then I added the bok choy, cooked that for another few minutes, stirring often, and added the remaining ingredients. I turned the burner temperature setting to 225ºF and set the burner’s timer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, I still had a fair amount of liquid — I was checking to see that it did not boil off all the liquid — so I replaced the cover and gave it 10 minutes more.

i just had a bowl with some lentils I cooked earlier this morning and some kodo millet and, topped with a teaspoon of Bragg’s nutritional yeast, a little chopped red onion, and a dash of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Very tasty indeed, with a glass of iced hibiscus tea to accompany it.


Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2021 at 3:19 pm

Dick Gregory — great comedian and civil rights icon — wrote a great cookbook

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Shea Peters has an interesting article in Atlas Obscura on the origin an impact of Dick Gregory’s cookbook (available in a Kindle edition for US$1.79):

Adrian Miller, the author of Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, remembers how for his family, holidays like Juneteenth always meant celebrating with food. “We went to the public celebrations in the Five Points neighborhood, Denver’s historic Black neighborhood. At those events, the celebrated foods were barbecue, usually pork spareribs, giant smoked turkey legs, watermelon, and red-colored drinks.”

To many Black Americans, barbecue and soul food mean victory. Cooking techniques passed down for generations speak to the fortitude and perseverance of Black culture and cuisine. But along with celebration comes the consideration of the health effects of meat, sugar, and fat. Running parallel to the narrative of soul food lies another story, one that ties nutrition with liberation, and one that features an unlikely hero: a prominent Black comedian whose 1974 book filled with plant-based recipes continues to influence Black American diets today.

I grew up with Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature in my home in Memphis. I even took it along with me for my first semester at Tennessee State University. The campus was surrounded with fast-food and soul food restaurants, and I often referred back to Gregory’s book for nutritional advice. I also made recipes from its pages, such as the “Nutcracker Sweet,” a fruit smoothie made with a mixture that would now be known as almond milk. Today, many years later and living in Brooklyn, I still consult the book. The same copy I first saw on my mother’s bookcase—with its cover depicting Gregory’s head wearing a giant chef’s hat topped with fruit and vegetables—now sits on my own.

Now considered one of history’s greatest stand-up comedians, Dick Gregory skyrocketed to fame after an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar in 1961, a segment that almost didn’t happen. Gregory initially turned down the opportunity because the show allowed Black entertainers to perform, but not to sit on Parr’s couch for interviews. After his refusal, Parr personally called Gregory to invite him to an interview on the Tonight Show’s couch. His appearance was groundbreaking: “It was the first time white America got to hear a Black person not as a performer, but as a human being,” Gregory later said in an interview.

Gregory was particularly adept at using humor to showcase the Black experience at a time of heightened tension and division in the United States. During a performance early in his career, he quipped, “Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”

“He had the ability to make us laugh when we probably needed to cry,” U.S. representative and civil rights icon John Lewis said in an interview after Gregory’s death in 2017. “He had the ability to make the whole question of race, segregation, and racial discrimination simple, where people could come together and deal with it and not try to hide it under the American rug.”

But Gregory didn’t just tackle racial inequality at comedy clubs. He also used his voice to advocate for civil rights at protests and rallies. After emceeing a rally with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in June 1961, Gregory developed a relationship with King. (Gregory’s close ties to leaders like King and Mississippi activist Medgar Evers would eventually lead to his becoming a target of FBI surveillance.) He aided in the search for the missing civil rights workers that were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi during the intense “Freedom Summer” of 1964 and performed at a rally on the last night of 1965’s Selma to Montgomery march.

For Gregory, who became a vegetarian in 1965, food and diet became inextricably linked to civil rights. “The philosophy of nonviolence, which I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during my involvement in the civil rights movement, was first responsible for my change in diet,” he writes in his book. “I felt the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other—war, lynching, assassination, murder, and the like—but in their practice of killing animals for food or sport.”

Throughout Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet, he ties the liberation of Black people to health, nutrition, and basic human rights. Gregory was all too familiar with the socioeconomic obstacles to a healthy diet: Growing up poor in St. Louis, he had limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In his book, he notes that readers may not always have the best resources, but they can have the best information. Each chapter serves as both a rallying cry and a manual, offering everything from primers on the human body to lists of foods that are good sources of particular vitamins and minerals.

Thanks to Gregory’s longstanding collaboration with nutritionist Dr. Alvenia Fulton, the book offers healthy recipes as well as natural remedies for common ailments. The chapter  . . .

Continue reading. The article includes two recipes.

And see also this earlier post about a food that came from a radical movement: Bean Pie.

I’ll also note that the FBI’s surveillance of civil-rights leaders is yet another example of the FBI’s sleazy side, as is its support of the pedophile Larry Kassar (refusing to investigate credible allegations) and its blaming on an Oregon man for the bomb attacks in Spain because the FBI couldn’t read fingerprints — not to mention the scandal of the incompetence and bad practice at FBI forensic labs. It’s an agency that needs considerable work (and a new culture).

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2021 at 12:40 pm

Making the kale & white bean soup with ‘nduja

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I blogged my recipe considerations and now have made the stew. See post at the link for the recipe.

I decided to save the ribs from the lacinato kale for another dish: I can mince them and steam or sauté with something. So I used only the kale leaves (no stalks), which I cut into 1″ pieces. I did let the kale rest for 45 minutes after cutting. I used two of the spring shallots, and I decided to save the shallot leaves along with the kale ribs for whatever I do with that.

I used one large head of garlic instead of the two small heads of red Russian garlic, and after chopping the cloves let them rest along with the kale, so they got 45 minutes instead of the usual 15 minutes.

I totally forgot the tomatoes. Maybe next time, but maybe not: it’s so good the way it is. I also forgot the marjoram, basil, and spearmint. I do think I’ll skip those.

I made the gremolata while the kale and garlic were resting. (Since I use a single burner, I must time things.) It’s delicious. I used Panko bread crumbs, of course.

The recipe inexplicably asks you to use a wooden spoon to smash about a quarter of the beans. That seems way too much work. After I poured the (drained, rinsed) beans into the pot, they of course made a layer on the bottom. It was easy to use a potato masher to mash 1/4 of that layer, measured by eye: one-quarter of the disk of beans. Unlike a wooden spoon, the potato masher is designed for the task. Or you could put a quarter of the beans in a food processor and process them, or put them in the beaker that comes with an immersion blender and blend them — and in fact, that’s what I’ll do when I make it again.

After smashing a fourth of the beans, I added the stock (vegetable low-sodium for me), then dumped in the cooked barnyard millet since I had used only 36 oz of beans instead of the 45 oz the recipe specifies. I was thinking that the next time I would use 3 cans of beans to make the soup thicker, but in fact the beans (1/4 of them smashed) plus millet plus simmering for 15 minutes did produce a thick soup.

I suggest using a little more ‘nduja than the recipe calls for. And I definitely suggest dicing the ‘nduja before adding to the pot — breaking it up with a spoon is awkward and somewhat difficult. Dicing it before adding it to the pot would make that task easier. The potato masher might work here as well. (I wonder at the over-reliance on wooden spoons in the recipe. I used my potato masher to smash beans and I used my cherrywood spatula for everything else.)

However, I plan to skip the ‘nduja altogether — and thus skip all the animal fat — and replace it with a paste of crushed Calabrian chili peppers. That eliminates the meat from the recipe, and that is a health benefit. I will then increase the amount of olive oil from 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup to make up for the fat eliminated along with the ‘nduja. And since the taste is in the peppers, not in the meat, this substitution should work well.

I cooked the kale somewhat longer than the 30 seconds the recipe suggests — more like 4-5 minutes.

It’s extremely tasty. The gremolata adds a lot, so don’t skip that.

Photo below on left shows the beans after they have simmered 15 minutes — the soup did thicken. The photo on the right is after kale was added and had cooked down some. Change in coloring may be artifact of lighting, or the photo on the left was made with no stirring, with the orange ‘nduja fat floating on the surface.

Written by Leisureguy

24 July 2021 at 5:49 pm

Thinking about a summer stew of white beans, lacinato kale, and ‘nduja: Recipe considerations

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It seemed as though I was reading about ‘nduja everywhere, so when I saw some in a local market I immediately bought it to try. It’s a soft, spreadable salume, and as the article at the link notes,

‘nduja’s special spreadable texture comes from its meat-to-fat makeup. Dry-cured salumi, like soppressata, typically contain a ratio of roughly three parts lean muscle to one part fat. ‘Nduja inverts that ratio: Its composition is three parts fat for every one part lean muscle.

With such a high fat content, it is very rich indeed — and it also melts if used in cooking, as in a stew, for example.

I also bought some quite handsome spring shallots — they look like spring onions and can be used in much the same way — so I was thinking of how I might use them. I got the idea of making a stew: spring shallots and garlic (I had also picked up some new red Russian garlic) along with beans, greens, and grains — and tomatoes, since Italian is the theme.

The photo above shows the spring shallots and red Russian garlic I’ll be using, along with my Bulat chef’s knife, which I find myself using more and more. It came with a 17º angle, but I redid the edge to 15º and I love using it.

I thought of lacinato kale (or green kale if it looks fresher) and white beans, which with the tomatoes will give me the colors of the Italian flag. For grain I have on hand some cooked unpolished barnyard millet, so a cup of that. Say, two cans of white beans, 1 bunch of lacinato kale, a couple of the spring shallots, cloves from a head of the garlic — maybe two because the heads are small — a few Roma tomatoes, and a chunk of ‘nduja. I did a recipe search for ideas and found this recipe in Serious Eats, a site I trust. I adapted the recipe to be more what I had in mind, and I got this list of ingredients for my version:

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 spring shallots, chopped
• cloves from 1 head of red Russian garlic
• salt
• black pepper
• dried marjoram
• dried basil
• dried spearmint
• 1/2 cup ‘nduja
• 2 18-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed (that size is common here)
• 1 cup cooked intact whole grain — unpolished millet this time
• 1 quart no-salt-added vegetable broth
• 3-4 Roma tomatoes
• 1 bunch lacinato kale, stems minced (and cooked with shallots), leaves chopped
• juice of 1 lemon

So my plan is to use the Serious Eats recipe as a guide, but replace 1 can of the beans with intact whole grain, use spring shallots instead of the usual shallots, and add tomatoes. I think to the gremolata the recipe includes I’ll add some finely chopped red cabbage to make sure I get all the sulforaphane I can. Sulforaphane is one reason cruciferous vegetables have numerous health benefits.

To obtain the sulforaphane, I’ll first chop the kale right away and let it rest for about 45 minutes before I cook it so that (as explained in this video) the sulforaphane will have time to form. Sulforaphane is not heat sensitive and so withstands cooking, but — and here’s the tricky part — suforaphane is not available in the intact fresh vegetable/greens. What those have instead are the sulforaphane precursor glucoraphanin (also not heat sensitive) and the enzyme myrosinase. It’s the myrosinase that converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane once the vegetable is chopped (or shredded or run through a food processed or blended or crushed or chewed.

Unfortunately, myrosinase is heat sensitive, so if you chop/shred/process/etc. a cruciferous vegetable and immediately heat it (by cooking it), you destroy the myrosinase before it has a chance to convert the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane, so you get no sulforaphane and thus lose its benefits.

One solution is to chop or shred or or process or crush/massage the cruciferous vegetable or greens to start the conversion reaction that transforms glucoraphanin into suforaphane, and let the reaction run to completion before heating/cooking the vegetable. Once myrosinase has done its job and the sulforaphane’s been made, heat is not a problem because heat doesn’t hurt sulforaphane.

The video includes another way to get the sulforaphane you want without the wait, but I don’t mind waiting. I practice patience.

But if you can wait and must cook immediately, then you can add to the cooked cruciferous vegetables/greens some uncooked cruciferous food that thus still has active myrosinase to carry through the transformation: powdered mustard seeds, horseradish, chopped daikon radish, or fresh (uncooked) shredded red cabbage as a topping. It doesn’t take much (1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard is plenty), and you get the suforaphane transformed with no wait. Note that prepared mustard won’t do it: that has been cooked/heated and so has lost it myrosinase. Mustard powder, though, is simply the result of grinding mustard seeds, so the myrosinase is still active.

Using one of those myrosinase-rich toppings is particularly important if you’re use frozen broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, etc., because immediately before the vegetables are frozen, they are blanched, and that heat destroys the myrosinase in them.

Of course, you can finesse the entire issue by not cooking a cruciferous vegetable (so that it’s never exposed to heat). That’s why I eat red cabbage as a slaw or salad: no wait for the conversion reaction to run to completion. But I often cook broccoli, and when I do, I chop it and let it rest for 45 minutes before steaming it.

And, as you by now must know, I also chop garlic and let it rest, though not so long. For garlic, a 15-minute rest is ample. The reason for the rest is much the same as for cruciferous vegetables. Garlic contains the molecule alliin and the enzyme alliinase, and when garlic is chopped or crushed, the two combine to produce allicin, and it’s allicin that makes garlic able to improve cholesterol profiles, protect against high blood pressure, and improve immunity, according to studies in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis and Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

But, as before, though alliin (the precursor) and allicin (the beneficial substance we want) are both heat stable, the enzyme alliinase is not, and heating destroys it. So chop/mince your garlic and let it sit until alliinase has done its job and is no longer needed.

And, of course, I consider Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen. This recipe checks several categories: ✓beans, ✓greens, ✓cruciferous vegetable, ✓grain, ✓other vegetable, ✓herbs/spices. And I might sprinkle pepitas on a bowl of stew: ✓nuts/seeds.

That’s the sort of thing I consider when I make a recipe: balance of foods and how best to prepare them to gain the nutritional benefit. Tomatoes, for example, are a good source of lycopene, but the lycopene in tomatoes is not available unless the tomatoes are cooked. (Watermelon is an even better source of lycopene, and watermelon’s lycopene is available without cooking. Lycopene is what gives watermelon and tomatoes their red color.)

Today I’ll pick up the beans, kale, and tomatoes (and a watermelon — why not?), and tomorrow I’ll do the cooking. I’m looking forward to it.

Update: Soup has been made. Lessons learned.

Written by Leisureguy

23 July 2021 at 11:47 am

Snack: Unpolished barnyard millet & mushrooms

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Actually, a little more.

Barnyard millet: I toasted 1 cup of unpolished barnyard millet in a pan until it was fragrant, then added 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a little goat butter (not vegan, but a rare treat), turned heat to low, covered and simmered. The recipe said to simmer for 15 minutes, but all water was absorbed after 10 minutes. I took the pan off the heat and let it sit covered while I cooked the mushrooms:

Mushrooms: Some olive and about 2/3 of a large red onion chopped small, which I sweated in a nonstick skillet that had a lid. I added a good pinch of salt, and when the onion was soft and transparent, I added about 6 cloves of garlic chopped small that had been allowed to rest for 10 minutes.

I cooked that for a couple of minutes, then added 8 or 9 medium domestic white mushrooms, sliced. I covered the pan and cooked those, stirring from time to time, until they had browned and were done, having released their liquid.

Serving: I fluffed the millet with a fork. Unpolished millet is fluffy, not clumpy, and I highly recommend you avoid polished millets.  I put some of that into a bowl, topped it with some of the mushrooms and a splash of hot sauce: very tasty.

More on millets in this video (which explains, among other things, the particular benefits of barnyard millet). Like broccoli and some other foods, they are goitrogenic, so your diet should include adequate iodine (which it should in any case). Two sheets of nori a day is fine, or you can use iodized salt. (I don’t — I prefer Diamond Crystal kosher salt or Maldon salt.) Avoid kelp: too much iodine.

Written by Leisureguy

20 July 2021 at 9:33 pm

Summer squash sensation

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This was what was left after I took out my serving — enough for a couple more meals at least.

“Sensation” is hyperbole for the sake of alliteration, but it was indeed quite good.

I used my Stargazer 12″ skillet, for which I have an aftermarket glass lid that fits well (and also fits my Field Company No. 10).

Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the skillet bottom, then add:

• 1/2 very large red onion, chopped
• multiple grindings of kala namak

Cook over medium heat (5 on my induction burner), stirring frequently, until onion softens and turns transparent. Add:

• 7 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (this was some of red Russian garlic) and allowed to rest
• 1 large turmeric root, finely chopped
• about 1.5″ ginger root, finely chopped

Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then add:

• 3 patty pan squash, diced
• 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
• 6 good-sized domestic white mushrooms, sliced thick
• about 1.5 tablespoons black pepper (for the turmeric)
• about 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
• about 2 tablespoons dried basil

Cover, reduce heat (to 3 on the burner), and cook, stirring fairly frequently, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the vegetables have somewhat collapsed, about 10-20 minutes.

I put about

• 1/4 cup cooked intact whole-grain rye

in a bowl, topped it with a couple of scoops of the vegetables, and squeezed over it

•  half a lemon

and had that as a quick meal/snack.

Very tasty. I think I would have added 1/4 cup pecans with the onions, but I already ate all the pecans — as the video in the previous post shows, pecans are extremely nutritious among nuts.


Written by Leisureguy

19 July 2021 at 6:01 pm

Alcohol Use Linked To Over 740,000 Cancer Cases Last Year, New Study Says

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For some reason — God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform — my online reading this morning keeps presenting me with various health risks due to lifestyle habits (smoking, poor diet, and now alcohol consumption). Susan Brink reports at NPR:

The link between smoking and cancer is well-documented and widely known. But alcohol?

“Fewer than one in three Americans recognize alcohol as a cause of cancer,” says Harriet Rumgay, researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. “That’s similar in other high-income countries, and it’s probably even lower in other parts of the world.”

A new study shows just how much of a risk drinking can be. At least 4% of the world’s newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers in 2020, or 741,300 people, can be attributed to drinking alcohol, according to a study in the July 13 edition of Lancet Oncology. Men accounted for three-quarters of alcohol-related cancers. Of the 172,600 alcohol-related cancer cas

It’s the first time, Rumgay says, that research has quantified the risks of different levels of drinking. “Our study highlights the contribution of even relatively low levels of alcohol to the risk of new cancer cases,” says Rumgay.

What’s the connection?

There are a few biological pathways that lead from alcohol consumption to a cancer diagnosis, according to the study. Ethanol, the form of alcohol present in beer, wine and liquor, breaks down to form a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA and interferes with cells’ ability to repair the damage.

Alcohol can also increase levels of hormones, including estrogen. Hormones signal cells to grow and divide. With more cell division, there are more opportunities for cancer to develop. Alcohol also reduces the body’s ability to absorb certain cancer-protective nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E and folate.

What’s more, the combination of drinking and smoking might indirectly increase the risk of cancer, with alcohol acting as a kind of solvent for the carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco.

The more a person drinks, the greater the likelihood of biological damage.

To come up with their statistical estimate, researchers crunched three sets of data: estimated global alcohol consumption estimates, specific cancer risks from alcohol, and estimates of the global incidence of those cancers in 2020.

They found that . . .

Continue reading.

See also: Our World in Data on alcohol consumption and these NPR recipes for alcohol-free mocktails.

Written by Leisureguy

18 July 2021 at 9:26 am

Guacamole-chia pudding

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Who doesn’t like to play with food? (Rhetorical question.) I just blended:

• 1 cup water
• Juice of 2 limes ≈ 0.25 cup
• 2 Tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
• 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp chia seed
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 avocado (peeled and pitted)
• 3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped red onion
• 1 Roma tomato

It’s in the fridge now, waiting for the chia seed to puddingfy it.

I wonder whether it will be any good. I’ll find out in a few hours.

—2 hours later: It’s pretty tasty. Next time I’ll either cut water to (say) 1/2 cup, or use 1/2 cup of chia seed.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 2:18 pm

Foolproof guide to making good tempeh: An article in Medium

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I just published an article in Medium on how to make good tempeh, based on the experience I’ve gained over the past couple of years.

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2021 at 3:41 pm

Two commute-style breakfasts: Bran Muffins and Breakfast Bites

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I just got a request for these two recipes, so I thought I’d point them out for people interested.

I started making these Bran Muffins for The Wife’s commute. They are made in a 12-compartment muffin pan, and I use those fluted paper cups, so there’s no sticking.

I switched to these Breakfast Bites when we moved to a low-carb diet. I used parchment paper to line an 8″ x  8″ pan, and I later learned that if you wet the parchment paper and wring it out, it is easier to mold it into the pan.

Both recipes become quite easy with practice.

Nowadays, I follow this whole-food plant-based diet, and my breakfast now is usually three pieces of fruit and a pint of hot tea. “Plant-based” means no food from animals (i.e., no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs), but it does include fungi (which are not plants).

Update: There’s also this whole-food plant-based smoothie recipe.

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2021 at 11:48 am

Tempeh curry

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Finished curry

I used the large-diameter 6-qt stainless pot because I thought I would be making a large batch, and I was right. Put in the pot and then sauté:

• 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large leek, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (including leaves)
• 1 large carrot, diced
• 12 dried Sanaam dried peppers, cut up with scissors
• 14 oz tempeh, diced large (this was soybean & kodo millet tempeh)

After the leek seems done, add:

• 1/2 cup garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• 1/4 cup ginger root, chopped small
• 1/4 cup turmeric root, chopped small
• 2 tablespoons Penzey’s curry powder or Mahrajah curry powder 

I don’t bother to peel the ginger or turmeric. It’s good to sauté the curry powder a while so it tastes not so raw.

Photos below show the red Russian garlic I used — very fresh, very large cloves, and having a tough, flexible skin, not brittle at all but easy to peel

Continue sautéing for a few minutes, then remove that to a bowl. Then add a little more EVOO and cook:

• 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (quartered lengthwise, then cut across into chunks)
• 1 fresh bamboo shoot, peeled and diced (see this post for an example of a fresh bamboo shoot)
• 1 chayote squash, diced
• 1 cup cooked black rice – 2 cups would have been better, but 1 cup is what I had
• 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
• about 1/2 teaspoon kala namak (Amazon has it)
• about 2 tablespoons ground black pepper (for the turmeric)
• about 2 tablespoons dried mint

I had thought about seeding the tomatoes, but then considered that I might need the liquid that would be lost by seeding.

Once the above has begun to simmer, cook it for about 10 minutes, then add the cooked leek, carrot, etc. that were set aside, and also add:

• 1 small can coconut milk – given the volume, a regular can would be better
• 300g frozen chopped spinach (1 block of frozen spinach)
• splash of sherry or Shaoxing wine
• about 1 tablespoon of Red Boat fish sauce
• [next time: juice of 2-3 limes]
• [next time: 3/4 cup cashews]
• 1/2 cup sultanas
• 1/2 cut-up dried apricots – I used scissors: cut in half lengthwise, cut each half in three

Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then break up the (now-thawed) block of spinach and simmer 15 minutes more. On my Max Burton 18XL induction burner, I set the burner at 225ºF and used the timer: very convenient. Once it’s done,  add:

• 1 tablespoon garam masala

A little more garam masala might be good, but I used just a tablespoon this time.

It tastes very good — a little spicy, but not intensely hot. It strikes me that cashews would have been good to include. The dried fruit was very good — might just go with a cup of (cut-up) dried apricots and skip the sultanas, but first I must use them up.

Written by Leisureguy

11 July 2021 at 2:13 pm

New use for shaving brush

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Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2021 at 2:18 pm

Tempeh bacon? Nah, just marinated tempeh.

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You could use firm tofu, but I prefer tempeh because it is a whole food. The marinade for the Game Changer recipe has these ingredients:

• 2 – 8oz packages of tempeh
• 3 tablespoons low sodium tamari
• 1 tablespoon white miso
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

But I suddenly realized that: a) I don’t have to think of it as “bacon,” which means I can use any marinade ingredients I want; b) I don’t have to cook it in the oven — I can just fry it in a non-stick pan; and c) I can have a bunch of slices marinating in the fridge and just take some out to cook for a meal, either as whole strips or after cooking cut them into squares, and toss them into a salad. [Full disclosure: I got the idea from one of these videos, although he uses tofu and I prefer tempeh because it’s a whole food.]

So the marinade tonight:

• Louisiana hot sauce
• tamari
• Wright’s liquid smoke
• brown-rice vinegar
• maple syrup
• garlic powder

I put in 8 thin strips sliced off the chickpea-peanut tempeh (I’m on the last little block of that). I’ll fry up 4 of them tomorrow morning and let you know how they came out. Obviously, you can vary the marinade as you want. I’m thinking of pomegranate molasses for the next batch, and perhaps then I’ll include some miso (though that makes the marinade a little grainy — I think liquids probably work best). Hmm. I wonder how just a little instant coffee would work — or instead of maple syrup, blackstrap molasses.


Above left, tempeh strips resting in marinade (overnight); above right, four of the strips after frying. I fried in just a little olive oil, otherwise the strips would have no oil at all.

Very tasty, though not particularly bacon-like: chewy rather than crisp, not nearly so much grease so different mouthfeel. The hot sauce added a spicy kick that bacon lacks. The maple syrup requires you to keep an eye on the strips, otherwise the sugar will burn; I did, so they didn’t.

It was fairly salty — hot sauce and tamari, I reckon — but not bad at all. Obviously, you have considerable flexibility in your choice of ingredients for the marinade.

Written by Leisureguy

5 July 2021 at 7:44 pm

Plant-based-diet food tips

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Unless you eat only meat, eggs, dairy, and fish, you will find yourself eating vegetables and other plant-based foods, and this guy actually has some useful, interesting tips, plus he does show how a the foods on a plant-based diet can be tasty and intriguing.

However, he is a vegan, so he happily eats a certain amount of processed food (the pasta he likes, for example). Since I eat whole foods, I am not so inclined as he is to accept highly processed foods — for example, I prefer tempeh to tofu. And I am not so inclined to drink a smoothie — I’d rather eat the whole foods. (Chewing, for me, is not a problem.)

He does seem a little too excitable — I wish he’d turn down the enthusiasm and energy a few notches — but I understand that some believe that a high-pitch of excitement is required in videos (cf. fast-food commercials in which people are close to manic excitement over their hamburger). Still, I would like to say to him, “Cool your jets, man. Take a deep breath and calm down.”

Nonetheless, take a look at these three videos and see if you don’t find some tips you can use.

Written by Leisureguy

5 July 2021 at 6:39 pm

Two great beef recipes

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The Niece made a barbecued brisket for the celebration of The Grand-Nephew’s first birthday, and I was reminded of a favorite recipe using brisket: Boeuf à la Flamande, from Myra Waldo’s fine book Beer and Good Food.

And that in turn reminded me of the best Beef Stroganoff recipe I’ve ever found.

Both of these are more autumn and winter dishes, but these recipes are so good you might want to put a reminder in your calendar for when the days grow shorter and colder. This, of course, applies only to those who still eat beef, something I now very seldom do. (I did yesterday, and my fasting blood glucose this morning shows the effects.)

Written by Leisureguy

5 July 2021 at 10:36 am

What spice jars should be (and what I now have)

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I bought quite a few of my herbs and spices from Penzeys. The herbs and spices are excellent, the jars are crap. For one thing, the lids are made of a thin and brittle plastic, so if you knock over or drop a jar, the lid will probably split. It will still sit on the jar, but not securely.

After I had about four or five jars with crippled lids, I decided that Steps Must Be Taken, and I (with some reservations) ordered a set of spice jars with metal lids. They have arrived, and I am bowled over by how excellent they are. Some things that impressed me:

  1. Packaging: They arrive in a very sturdy box and inside they are protected by closed-cell foam. The jars themselves sit in individual compartments in a closed-cell container, with a closed cell layer on top. These will not be broken in transit.
  2. The lids are metal: no more cracked lids
  3. The jars are sturdy, made of thick glass.
  4. The square shape means that, when they are packed together in a drawer or on a shelf, you have more available volume in the same amount of space than you do with round jars, which waste space when packed together.
  5. I thought the labels were purely a gimmick, but not so: 10 pages of 35 peel-off self-adhesive labels per page, in alphabetic order, with the last page having a good set of blank labels so you can write the names of herbs and spices not provided — but a great many are provided. For example, for mint there are two labels: Mint Peppermint and Mint Spearmint. (I needed only the latter.) The labels are round, and seem intended for the lid, which works well if the jars are in a drawer. (Since I have many of my jars on a shelf, I used my label-maker to label the side of the jar in addition to the label on the lid.)
  6. They come with a funnel and a bag of snap-on sprinkle tops (which in general I don’t need, since I measure the spices out of the jar, but in some cases are handy).

These are half-cup jars (4 (fl)oz capacity), which works for most of my herbs and spices, but for some I want a full cup (8 (fl)oz) since I use those in greater quantity: Mexican oregano, for example, or dried parsley. So I’m ordering a smaller quantity of 8 (fl)oz jars of the same design: thick glass, square cross-section, metal lids.

I’m very happy with these. I should have done this years ago.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 8:14 pm

Garlic powder, a reliable seasoning that deserves respect

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I use garlic powder fairly often, though most often fresh garlic since one reason I like garlic is for the dietary fiber, which in garlic (and in alliums in general, along with asparagus and some other foods) is particularly supportive of good microbes in the microbiome. Shown above is some garlic The Wife bought for me in Saanich, just up the road. This is a hardneck red Russian garlic, and it’s only partially dried so that the paper covering is not brittle but peels away like a tough leaf. The garlic itself is mild, sweet, and tasty.

I read an article by Aaron Hutcherson, a writer and recipe developer for “Voraciously” at the Washington Post, that was interesting. He points out that garlic powder is perfectly okay: it’s just dried garlic that’s been ground (and granulated garlic is dried garlic ground not quite so fine). I’m reminded of another great food enhancer that’s sounds suspicious but is perfectly fine and a great shortcut: liquid smoke. This works great in, for example, chili, collards, and other things that benefit from a slight smoke flavor. It would be good, for example, in homemade ketchup — which I highly recommend: better than store-bought and very easy.

I will modify my liquid-smoke recommendation. I recommend liquid smoke (like Wright’s) that consists of two ingredients (water, natural hickory smoke concentrate), not liquid smoke (like Colgin’s) that’s more akin to a processed food (ingredients: water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color, and salt). (The Eldest pointed out to me this difference.)

Hutcherson writes:

Garlic powder is essential in my cooking. The dried allium in some form — garlic powder, granulated garlic and garlic salt — has been part of my palate since I was a child enjoying my mother’s recipes. Behind salt and pepper, it is the most used seasoning in my pantry even today. It’s a constant when I want to prepare veggies for roasting, season the meat and flour for skillet-fried chicken or pork chops, or give pantry recipes an extra boost of flavor without needing to pull out a knife and cutting board to use fresh garlic cloves.

While garlic powder sits high on a pedestal in my kitchen — beloved, revered, irreplaceable — some view it with shame or even contempt, baffled why anyone would choose to use this processed product over the fresh alternative.

“Our prejudice has everything to do with this century’s obsession with all things ‘artisanal’ and ‘natural’ — two vaguely defined terms that are widely used to characterize a food’s worth,” cookbook author Leah Koenig wrote of the similarly maligned onion powder.

To clear up any confusion: Garlic powder is natural. The process to make it is so simple that you can even do it at home: peel fresh cloves, slice them thinly, dry them out, then grind them down to whatever consistency you want, and voilà! You’ve made garlic powder. The ingredient list for the canister in your cupboard should only contain six letters: g-a-r-l-i-c. Anything more and it’s not something you should be spending your money on if you have the choice.

But it’s exactly that choice that highlights some of the stigma surrounding the seasoning — not everyone has it, which warrants a closer look at the demographics of those who don’t. “Garlic powder got a bad reputation because it was seen as being associated with the type of cooking that fine-dining chefs didn’t have a lot of respect for,” said Ethan Frisch, co-founder of single-origin spice company Burlap & Barrel. “There were racial overtones to that kind of perception of the ingredient.”

Or more explicitly, it’s the connection to Black foodways. “We are garlic fiends in the Black community,” culinary historian Michael W. Twitty said in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times on the subject. “ … We learned how to use it because garlic powder is economical and stays around longer.” The same can be said for people with limited food access from all ethnicities who have made it a pantry staple.

While my circumstances in life have eliminated my need to rely solely on the dried allium, my want remains, because garlic powder adds complexity and umami to anything it touches, and in certain cases is better than fresh.

“Unlike the dominating flavor of fresh garlic, powder is more the glue behind the glitter, adding a subtle fullness of flavor that may be more difficult to detect than with fresh, but nonetheless makes the meal taste better,” Ari LeVaux wrote in the Austin American Statesman. I consider them two different ingredients, each with their own uses and flavor profiles, and the choice between them primarily comes down to heat, texture and timing. (But if you must substitute one for the other, between 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder has the equivalent potency of one garlic clove.)

When to use garlic powder. When heat is involved, you need to consider the likelihood of fresh garlic burning during the cooking process. So when grilling a steak or frying chicken, while you can use fresh cloves in a marinade, it’s much easier to use powder. Otherwise, you need to be meticulous about wiping the marinade off the food or else you risk an unwanted bitterness from burned garlic. (Garlic powder can still burn, but it is less likely to do so than fresh.) Raw garlic also should not be used in sous vide cooking because there’s a risk of botulism.

The texture of garlic powder makes it ideal for spice rubs and dredges. Minced fresh garlic would make it lumpy, thanks in part to the moisture, but the dry powder is much more easily dispersed. So anytime I make a spice blend for barbecue or a batch of seasoned flour ahead of dredging and frying chicken, I grab the canister from my cupboard to add garlic flavor.

Another critical aspect to consider is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 7:56 pm

“It’s a catch-all for everything”

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Alcohol is sneaky. That is something my step-father, a recovering alcoholic, once told me, a phrase that came to mind as I read a NY Times article by Mara Altman:

In the four years since she stopped drinking alcohol, Emily Lynn Paulson has reflected a lot on how central alcohol was to her life.

Quite often, she said, she would drink while taking care of her five children or she’d wake up groggy or unable to recall conversations. But then she’d scroll through Instagram and see a friendly face holding up a mug emblazoned, “Rosé All Day.”

It was so normalized: There never seemed to be an occasion when drinking wasn’t billed as the appropriate response. “If you’re stressed, have a drink; if you’re nervous, have a drink; if you want fun, have a drink; if you’re grieving, have a drink,” Ms. Paulson said. “It’s a catch-all for everything.”

“It made me think, Gosh, this must be OK — everyone around me is doing the same thing.”

Ms. Paulson, who last year founded Sober Mom Squad, an online support network for mothers who have stopped or want to curb their drinking, pins this normalization on the alcohol industry which, for years, has targeted women with its advertising, and made people far less likely to question their intake. Less than half of the population is even aware that alcohol is a carcinogen. It can also lead to other health effects including such as liver disease and heart disease — are very real,— especially for women.

The inspiration for alcohol’s marketing approach with women came from the tobacco industry, which wooed women by tapping into their desire for equality. In 1929, a time when it was taboo for women to smoke in public, marketers hired women to smoke their “torches of freedom” while protesting inequality in an Easter Sunday parade. By the 1960s, Virginia Slims started its influential campaign, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

In ads, women were pictured, impeccably dressed and oozing self confidence, cigarette in hand. These liberated women were contrasted by images of their sepia-toned forebears who had to sneak cigarettes and risked being punished by their husbands for taking a drag.

Smoking became symbolic. It wasn’t just an accessory or a habit, “it was sold as empowerment,” said David Jernigan, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health and the former director for the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Alcohol ads have gone the same way by aligning the product with female liberation and sophistication. “We have a repeat of Virginia Slims,” Dr. Jernigan said.

Alcohol companies began expanding their range of products, Dr. Jernigan explained. The push began with wine coolers in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s when alcopops — sweet and fruity alcoholic beverages — came onto the market. The term, which was born from combining the words alcohol and soda pop, applies to drinks like Zima, Smirnoff Ice, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Though the companies never announced it outright, Dr. Jernigan said the products were positioned for entry level drinkers and people who didn’t like the taste of alcohol. “Read: young women,” he said. “We called them beer with training wheels.” A 2012 paper in the American Journal of Public Health notes the preference of alcopops over beer among high-school girls.

The industry held on to those female consumers, Dr. Jernigan said, by evolving with them as they became mothers. “And now we have MommyJuice,” he explained, referring to a wine brand, but which is also a popular term for the alcohol that moms keep in their insulated cups. “We have Mommy’s Little Helper.” (The latter term was first used to refer to the tranquilizers prescribed to women in the mid-20th century to deal with the challenges of motherhood.)

To alcohol companies, Dr. Jernigan said, women are a market.

The trend toward female-focused advertising is not surprising given the rise in women’s socioeconomic status, says Linda Tuncay Zayer, a professor of marketing at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. Advertisements linking alcohol with sophistication, elegance and sociability have become commonplace. “It’s positioned as a way to pamper, escape and relax,” Dr. Zayer said.

Recently, Dr. Zayer noticed Anheuser-Busch using themes of female empowerment by tapping Halsey for its “Be A King” campaign. There’s also Kate Hudson’s new vodka brand, King St., that Dr. Zayer said uses a mix of the feminine aesthetic, star power and female entrepreneurship to sell its brand.

During the pandemic, she said, alcohol was thrust into the limelight as the silver bullet for emotional management. As stress increased, so did the wine memes. “It’s supposed to be funny, but it can really make light of excessive drinking,” Dr. Zayer said. “The wine-guzzling mom has become an acceptable form of self-care.”

The rush to court this market has spurred a number of products and trends, says Carol Emslie, the leader of the Substance Use research group within the School of Health and Life Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. She sees “pink, fluffy and sparkly” packaging, ads promoting wellness — most notably “low-calorie items” — and products positioned for any and all occasions. “Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day,” Ms. Emslie said, “it’s piggybacking onto everything, even International Women’s Day.”

The push for female consumers can even be seen in countries where women haven’t traditionally been part of a drinking culture. For the past few years, Bailey’s has held a Mother’s Day campaign in Nigeria, urging women to share the drink with their mothers. “Here, the love of your mother gets tied up with drinking together,” Ms. Emslie said, “and this, in a place where women haven’t historically drunk.”

Part of the issue is that for many women, the reason for drinking alcohol goes deeper than having a buzz, Ms. Emslie explained. They define themselves by what they drink and how they drink it. Through extensive research, Ms. Emslie found that women in their 30s and 40s often use alcohol as a “time out,” a demarcation point between work and home life as well as a way to transport themselves to a time before career pressures and household responsibilities. “They drink to bring back that sense of carefree youth, frivolity, fun and spontaneity,” she said, “to show their identity beyond what is associated with being a woman in midlife.”

“The alcohol industry is really super aware of this,” she said, noting that it is hyper-focused on messages that speak to those desires.

Lisa Hawkins, the senior vice president of public affairs for the Distilled Spirits Council, said in an email that it was reasonable and appropriate for spirits companies to develop and market products that appealed to their consumers’ tastes, preferences and lifestyle choices. “To suggest that women should be shielded from advertisements about legal products available in the marketplace because they are incapable of seeing an ad and behaving responsibly is patronizing and antiquated,” she wrote.

She added, “We encourage all adults who consume alcohol — men and women — to drink in moderation and follow the advice of the federal dietary guidelines.”

Dr. Zayer, however, said research had shown over and over that we underestimated the influence of advertising in our lives. “Not just women — it’s everyone,” she said. “Companies wouldn’t be spending all this money on it if it didn’t work.”

These days, it’s not only big companies that bombard women with advertisements. Holly Whitaker, the author of “Quit Like a Woman,” argues in her book that women themselves are the marketers now.

“We are marketing to one another,” she said in an interview. “When we post a picture of ourselves enjoying a Friday night in a bathtub with a glass of champagne, we are selling the idea that we have to use alcohol to enjoy ourselves.”

Ms. Whitaker points to cultural touchstones like Ina Garten mixing cocktails with the nonchalance of baking muffins and “Bad Moms,” the movie that works under the premise that moms, after all they do for everyone, deserve to get hammered. It’s not even about asking women to quit, she said, and more about “stepping back and asking why we have all decided to view a glass of ethanol as a reward?”

It is important to consider, given that the health effects on women are harsher than for men. Women metabolize and absorb alcohol differently, which leads to the onset of alcohol-related problems including, but not limited to, liver damage, heart disease and brain damage sooner and from smaller amounts of booze.

Although women still drink less than men, the gap has been narrowing. From 1999 to 2017, alcohol-related deaths among women jumped by 85 percent while alcohol use disorder — the inability to control drinking despite adverse consequences — rose by nearly 84 percent between 2002 and 2013. Liver disease is also rising among young women.

Despite the serious health tolls, experts say it is difficult to communicate the dangers of drinking to women, who have had a long, fraught history of fighting for bodily autonomy. A C.D.C. campaign introduced in 2016 to discourage drinking among women of childbearing age had swift and extreme backlash. “It was absolutely hostile: ‘How dare you tell us what to do with our bodies!’” Dr. Jernigan recalled, referring to many women’s response to the recommendation at the time.

What is even more troubling, says Thomas Babor, a professor of community medicine and public health at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, is that just like Big Tobacco, the alcohol industry has been far from transparent with its consumers, often going to lengths to obfuscate the truth about its health effects. Researchers writing in The Lancet posited there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume while other researchers have found that alcohol is responsible for at least 15 percent of breast cancer cases. And yet, Dr. Babor said, alcohol companies are known for practices like “pinkwashing” where they decorate their products in pink to convince consumers that they can help fight breast cancer by buying their goods.

“They are trying to appear as if they support breast cancer research,” he said, “when in fact, they are encouraging women to drink at levels that actually contribute to breast cancer.”

The industry also continues to promote the idea that moderate drinking is good for our health, which, Dr. Babor says, it justifies by using old studies that are deeply flawed. “You don’t have to be an alcoholic,” he said — “risk for some 200 health conditions increases with each dose of alcohol you take.”

To turn the tide, Ms. Emslie, the alcohol researcher, is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 2:35 pm

Ong choy for dinner

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Ong choy, aka water spinach
Ong choy stems

We went to the Chinese-influenced supermarket yesterday, and they had many bunches of ong choy on offer, so naturally I got one. I had no idea what it is, but it clearly falls into the category of greens, and I eat greens.

The stems, shown at right, are interesting: hollow — and when I ate a bit of one raw, pretty tasty. On looking it up, I found that it’s also called “water spinach,” and that it should be cooked right away. That’s works for me.

I didn’t look up a recipe, just followed my intuition:

• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 large red onion, chopped
• pinch of salt

I cooked until onion softened then added:

• cloves from one head of garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• about 1″ ginger root, minced

I added that to the pan, cooked it for a couple of minutes, then added:

• 1 bunch ong choy, chopped
• 1 lemon, ends discarded then cut into slabs and diced
• several dashes fish sauce
• several grindings black pepper

I covered it and cooked it for 15 minutes over low heat (225ºF). It looks good.

And it tastes good, so good in fact that I had two servings:

Serving 1: ong choy, 1/4 cup black rice, 2 tablespoons pepitas, dash of hot sauce
Serving 2: the same except 1/4 cup kamut instead of black rice.

Written by Leisureguy

30 June 2021 at 5:20 pm

Tofino Rose Hibiscus Gin

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I’ve discussed before the florescence of small distilleries crafting excellent spirits in BC. The nice thing about small distilleries is that they can be experimental and try things that large commercial distilleries will not risk.

Take Tofino Distillery, for example, located halfway up the west shore of Vancouver Island. I just saw their Rose Hibiscus Gin, and of course I had to try it. (And Sheringham Distillery, also local, offers Seaside Gin (with winged kelp among the botanicals), Kazuki Gin (which includes cherry blossoms and green tea), Rhubarb Gin Liqueur, Seaside Lemon Gin Liqueur, and Coffee Liqueur.)

I haven’t scratched the surface. Two excellent spirits that are exported to the US from local distillers: Empress 1908 Gin from Victoria Distillers and Bearface Whisky. The color of Empress 1908 comes from butterfly pea blossoms included in the botanicals. Bearface Triple Oak Whisky is a single-grain whisky made from corn — well, 99.5% corn and 0.5% malted barley — and aged consecutively in barrels made respectively of American Oak, French Oak, and Hungarian Oak.

Unruly Gin by Wayward Distillery is made from honey (that is, it’s distilled from mead — their motto is “We are fundamentally against the grain”), Wallflower Gin from The Odd Society is made from 100% BC-grown barley, and another I saw today, whose name I don’t recall, is made from 100% rye.

Update: I think Rose Hibiscus Gin works best in a highball: club soda (à la Tom Collins) or tonic (à la Gin & Tonic). I tried it as a Martini, and it conflicted with the vermouth.

Update: The Eldest has an excellent suggestion: a Gin Rickey.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2021 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

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