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Sunday, April 5, 2009
These are a few of my favorite things...
Salish Smoked Salt - This coarse grained alder wood smoked sea salt is fabulous. I keep it in a pepper mill on a fairly coarse setting. The aroma always brings me to a great place and it adds a wonderful finish to so many things. I love using it on my freshly steamed vegetables the best. It gives such a nice subtle je ne sais quoi to my favorite, asparagus. While I always get my smoked salt from Marketspice in Seattle's Pike Place market, a similar salt is available on Amazon and may be in your specialty market.
Freezer Jam - There are certain fruits that were just never meant to be cooked. Strawberries and raspberries are two I can think of right away. Their flavor changes so much when they are cooked! If you've never had freezer jam, you are really missing out. I no longer make traditional strawberry and raspberry jam except to sell or give away (it can be hard to transport frozen jam). Not only is it soooooo much better, but it is a lot easier to make even. The only draw back is that it takes up freezer space to store it and you have to let it thaw before you eat it.
Whipped Cream Chargers - Being a whipped cream fanatic, I think the best gift I ever got was a whipped cream charger. No more getting the mixer out just to make fresh whipped cream to dollop on a pie or cake or ice cream or... you get the idea. I love that I can flavor it however I want and it lasts a long time in the fridge. Homemade whipped cream at the push of a button!
Powdered Whole Eggs - I know, this one seems weird. But I really like to make my own batter mixes to keep in the pantry. I have a pancake mix that is divine. As far as I'm concerned though, for a mix to be easier than making it from scratch each time, it has to involve the addition of two or less ingredients when making it. Powdered eggs allow this to happen. I get mine through Barry Foods (see my links).
Madeira - A fortified cooking wine that I use all the time. I love the smell, I love the flavor. It's great for soups, sauted vegetables, cream sauces, and chicken or beef. It's available in some grocery stores and should be in all liquor stores.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven - This may be one of my favorite cooking vessels. You haven't had a pot roast until you roast one in a Dutch oven. There is something about the heavy cast iron that makes a perfect roast every time. I also use it to make soups and stews and bake no-knead bread.
My Nose - I'm not sure if I could cook without my nose. Unlike most cooks, I rarely taste my food when cooking. I'll test to see if the salt level is OK, but for the most part, I trust my nose. In my experience, if it smells yummy, it's going to taste yummy.