CHEEEEEESE.

Cheese starts with Cow or goat milk mostly. Although other animals get into the act, too. (read on to find out what animals) But it’s just fun and nutritious to eat cheese. Spread it, cut bites, throw a couple of slices on a sandwich. The uses are many. And it’s all enjoyable. People are so passionate about cheese that an industry of clothing, costumes and jewelry has grown around the stuff. Me? I’ll eat it any way I can get it. See that picture near the bottom? That’s my head. I had the x-ray just before lunch last week and if you look really carefully, you’ll see what I was thinking. The picture at the bottom is what I had for lunch that day.  :))))

 

Cheese.  And my love of food.  A partnership of devotion and enjoyment.  Last weekend, while grilling one of my perfect hamburgers, (see prior KHT Blog) I ran into the house to grab some cheese to put on top of my seared beauties.  I paused with the refrigerator door open, trying to satisfy my tastebuds – let’s see, what to choose… American, cheddar, swiss, smokey, pepperjack, blue, mozzarella, Kraft Singles (how do they get those little babies into the plastic wrapper anyway?) or one of my childhood wonders of the world – Velveeta – yikes. (what’s really inside that silver foil block of gold anyway – and who doesn’t remember using Mom’s wire cheese cutter and slicing off a big hunk of gooey love).  Talk about a PIA (pain in the @%$) Job!  I picked sharp cheddar and must admit it was perfecto!  Of course, there are countless types of cheese, all of which with their own distinct textures and flavors. I’m learning that most good cheeses start out with the same star ingredient: milk.  Variations include cow, sheep, goat, buffalo (and yep – camel, yak, and even horse).  So, I decided to write a bit about cheese.  Today’s blog is the detail on how it’s made – future blogs will explore flavors and techniques from around the world – along with some yummy recipes.  Thanks to sclyderweaver.com for the step-by-step details, and YouTube and Cricketer Farm for the fun production videos (I’m still amazed how much handwork goes into some cheese production).  Enjoy, and be sure to make a “toasted” (or grilled) cheese sandwich this weekend. If you have a personal recipe, please share: skowalski@khtheat.com.

Fun Production Video
Great Cheese Guide

Cheese Joke: What’s a basketball player’s favorite cheese?  (Swish).

While all cheeses have milk in common, the type of milk can differ from cheese to cheese. Some common types of milk used in cheese making include:

  • Cow’s milk: Most cheeses are made with cow’s milk. This is due in part to the wide availability of cow’s milk and the fact that it offers optimal amounts of fat and protein. Some examples of cow’s milk cheeses include cheddar, swiss and gouda, among many others.
  • Sheep’s milk: Sheep’s milk isn’t commonly enjoyed as a beverage since it’s so high in lactose, but it makes an excellent base for cheese. Some popular types of sheep’s milk cheeses are feta, Roquefort, manchego and petit basque.
  • Goat’s milk: Goat’s milk is also used to make some delicious cheeses, with a distinctive tangy flavor. Goat’s milk cheese is known in French as chèvre. In addition to fresh chèvre, other examples of goat’s milk cheeses include Le Chevrot and French Bucheron.
  • Buffalo milk: Water buffalo milk is not a common cheese ingredient, but it has made a name for itself in the world of cheese making as the traditional choice for mozzarella. (most mass-produced mozzarella today is made with cow’s milk).
  • Bit Obscure:  Camel milk is common to make South Africa caracane cheese. Horse and yak.

– Milk doesn’t turn into delicious cheese on its own. Another important ingredient in cheese is a coagulant, which helps the milk turn into curds. The coagulant may be a type of acid or, more commonly, rennet. Rennet is an enzyme complex that is genetically engineered through microbial bioprocessing. Traditional rennet cheeses are actually made with rennin, the enzyme rennet is meant to replicate. Rennin, also known as chymosin, is an enzyme that is naturally produced in the stomachs of calves and other mammals to help them digest milk.

– Milk and coagulant are the main components of cheese, but cheese can also include sources of flavoring, such as salt, brine, herbs, spices and even wine. Some cheeses may be made with identical ingredients, but the end product will differ based on different aging processes.

– It’s a natural process that requires some help from artisans, known as fromagers or, simply, cheesemakers. Another term you may hear is a cheesemonger, but this technically refers to someone who sells cheese.

– The cheese-making process comes down to 10 essential steps:

STEP 1: PREPARING THE MILK
Since milk is the star of the show, to make cheese just right, you need your milk to be just right. “Just right” will differ from cheese to cheese, so many cheesemakers start by processing their milk however they need to in order to standardize it. This may involve manipulating the protein-to-fat ratio.  It also often involves pasteurization or a more mild heat treatment (we like this step!!) Heating the milk kills organisms that could cause the cheese to spoil and can also prime the milk for the starter cultures to grow more effectively. Once the milk has been heat treated or pasteurized, it is cooled to 90°F so it is ready for the starter cultures. If a cheese calls for raw milk, it will need to be heated to 90°F before adding the starter cultures.  See how all things require us heat treaters!!

STEP 2: ACIDIFYING THE MILK
The next step in the cheese-making process is adding starter cultures to acidify the milk. If you’ve ever tasted sour milk, then you know that left long enough, milk will acidify on its own. However, there is any number of bacteria that can grow and sour milk. Instead of letting milk sour on its own, the modern cheese-making process typically standardizes this step. Cheesemakers add starter and non-starter cultures to the milk that acidify it. The milk should already be 90°F at this point, and it must stay at this temperature for approximately 30 minutes while the milk ripens. During this ripening process, the milk’s pH level drops, and the flavor of the cheese begins to develop.

STEP 3: CURDLING THE MILK
The milk is still liquid milk at this point, so cheesemakers need to start manipulating the texture. The process of curdling the milk can also happen naturally. In fact, some nursing animals, such as calves, piglets or kittens, produce the rennin enzyme in their stomachs to help them digest their mother’s milk. Cheesemakers cause the same process to take place in a controlled way. In the past, natural rennin was typically the enzyme of choice for curdling the milk, but cheesemakers today usually use rennet, the lab-created equivalent. This reaction allows the milk to form coagulated lumps, known as curds. As the solid curd forms, a liquid byproduct remains, known as whey.

STEP 4: CUTTING THE CURD
The curds and whey mixture is allowed to separate and ferment until the pH reaches 6.4. At this point, the curd should form a large coagulated mass in the cheese-making vat. Then, cheesemakers use long curd knives that can reach the bottom of the vat to cut through the curds. Cutting the curd creates more surface area on the curd, which allows the curds and why to separate even more. Cheesemakers usually make crisscrossing cuts vertically, horizontally and diagonally to break up the curd. The size of the curds after cutting can influence the cheese’s level of moisture – larger chunks of curd retain more moisture, leading to a moisture cheese, and smaller pieces of curd can lead to a drier cheese.

STEP 5: PROCESSING THE CURD
After being cut, the curd continues to be processed. This might involve cooking the curds, stirring the curds or both. All of this processing is still aimed at the same goal of separating the curds and whey. In other words, the curds continue to acidify and release moisture as they are processed. The more the curds are cooked and stirred, the drier the cheese will be. Another way curd can be processed at this stage is through washing. Washing the curd means replacing whey with water. This affects the flavor and texture of the cheese. Washed curd cheeses tend to be more elastic and have a nice, mild flavor. Some examples of washed curd cheeses are gouda, havarti and Swedish fontina.

STEP 6:  DRAINING THE WHEY
At this point, the curds and whey should be sufficiently separated, so it’s time to remove the whey completely. This means draining the whey from the vat, leaving only the solid chunks of curd. These chunks could be big or small, depending on how finely the curd has been cut. With all the whey drained, the curd should now look like a big mat.  There are different means of draining whey. In some cases, cheesemakers allow it to drain off naturally. However, especially when it comes to harder cheeses that require a lower moisture content, cheesemakers are likely to get help from a mold or press. Putting pressure on the curd compacts and forces more whey out.

STEP 7: CHEDDARING THE CHEESE
With the whey drained, the curd should form a large slab. For some cheeses, another step remains to remove even more moisture from the curd. This step is known as cheddaring. After cutting the mat of curd into sections, the cheesemaker will stack the individual slabs of curd. Stacking the slabs puts pressure on them, forcing out more moisture. Periodically, the cheesemaker will repeat the process, cutting up the slabs of curd again and restacking them. The longer this process goes on, the more whey is removed from the curd, resulting in a denser, more crumbly finished cheese texture. Fermentation also continues during the cheddaring process. Eventually, the curd should reach a pH of 5.1 to 5.5. When it’s ready, the cheesemaker will mill the curd slabs, producing smaller pieces.

STEP 8: SALTING THE CHEESE
The curd is now beginning to look more like cheese in its final form. To add flavor, cheese makers can salt or brine the cheese at this point. This can either involve sprinkling on dry salt or submerging the cheese into brine. An example of a cheese that gets soaked in brine is mozzarella. Drier cheeses will be dry salted.  Some cheeses have flavor added in other forms as well. Some examples of spices that find their way into some types of cheese are black pepper, horseradish, garlic, paprika, habanero and cloves. Cheese can also contain herbs, such as dill, basil, chives or rosemary. The options for flavoring cheeses are endless. For many cheeses, though, the focus is simply on developing the natural flavors of the cheese and adding salt to intensify those flavors.

STEP 9: SHAPING THE CHEESE
There are no more ingredients to add to the cheese at this point, so it’s ready to be shaped. This is where the final product really begins to reveal itself. Even with so much moisture removed from the curd, it is still malleable and soft. Therefore, cheesemakers are able to press the curd into molds to create standardized shapes. Molds can take the form of baskets or hoops. Baskets are molds that are only open on one end, and hoops are bottomless molds, meaning they only wrap around the sides of the curd. In either case, the milled curd mixture is pressed into the mold and left there for a certain amount of time to solidify into the right shape. These molds are usually round or rectangular.

STEP 10: AGING THE CHEESE
For some cheeses, the process is already finished, but for many cheeses, what’s known as aging remains. Aging should occur in a controlled, cool environment. As the cheese ages, molecular changes take place that cause the cheese to harden and the flavor to intensify. The aging process can take anywhere from a few days to many years. In some cases, mold develops, which adds unique color and flavor to the cheese. Once the cheese has finished aging, it is finally ready to be enjoyed by consumers. Cheeses can be sold in whole weels or blocks or by the wedge. When you know how much time, effort and care went into making your favorite cheese, it’s likely to taste even more delicious.

WHAT ABOUT “FRESH” CHEESE?
Fresh cheeses tend to be smooth, creamy and mild in flavor. There is one main difference that separates fresh cheese like feta, ricotta or fresh mozzarella, from other cheeses — they are not aged. Fresh cheeses must still go through the bulk of the steps we outlined above to varying degrees. If all you did was drain some of the whey off after initially forming curds and whey, you would have cottage cheese. For other fresh cheeses, you must continue to strain the curds to remove more moisture and pack the cheese into a shape. Making fresh cheese is a simpler process, so some home cooks attempt this type of cheese making in their own kitchens.

HOW IS CHEESE AGED?
Aging cheese doesn’t just mean leaving it lying around for a while. It is a carefully controlled and timed process, and even subtle changes can affect the texture and taste of the finished cheese. In general, cheeses are aged in cool environments with relatively high humidity levels. Another term for aging when it comes to cheese is ripening. There are two basic types of ripening that can take place:

  • Interior-ripened cheeses are coated with an artificial rind of wax or some other material to protect the surface. This causes the aging process to occur from the inside out. Two common examples of interior-ripened cheese are cheddar and swiss.
  • Surface-ripened cheeses are not sealed off on the outside, so a natural rind develops with the help of bacteria being introduced. This process causes the cheese to age from the outside in. Brie and Muenster are two examples of surface-ripened cheese.

Beyond these basic distinctions, it’s helpful to understand the process that goes into aging specific categories of aged cheese, including red mold (also known as washed rind) cheese, white mold (or bloomy rind) cheese and blue cheese.

RED MOLD CHEESE
As the name suggests, red mold cheeses are covered in a reddish rind. Some popular types of red mold cheeses include French Morbier, Reblochon and Taleggio. Red mold cheeses are also often called washed rind cheeses, which hints at how they are aged. These cheeses are stored in a very humid environment and are washed frequently in some type of liquid, such as wine or a salty brine, for example. The thinner the cheese, the more the liquid will permeate and soften the cheese.

WHITE MOLD CHEESE
Cheesemakers spray or rub a white penicillin mold onto aging cheeses to create white mold cheeses, also known as bloomy rind cheeses. When these cheeses are done aging, they are covered in a fuzzy white mold. This process results in a soft cheese that is creamy and pasty in texture. The most popular type of white mold cheese is brie, which is loved for its silky smoothness and mild flavor. Some other examples include French Normandy Camembert, Le Chevrot and St. Marcellin.

BLUE CHEESE
Some aged cheese doesn’t just have mold on the rind but throughout the inside of the cheese, as well. Blue cheeses, like the ever-popular French Roquefort, creamy gorgonzola or English blue stilton contain streaks of blue or green mold and have a characteristically sharp flavor. First, mold spores are added to the cheese at some point during the cheese-making process. Then, during the aging process, cheesemakers encourage the mold to grow and spread throughout the cheese by poking air tunnels into it.

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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Barbecue

I’m soooo hungry from working on this. There’s nothing like a good barbecue. Unless it’s a good grilling out. Yes, there is a difference. Read on to find what that difference is. And don’t forget: plenty of napkins and carry your Tide Stick!  :)))

 

This past weekend, after the rain, wind and “felt like it was coming” snowstorm, I had a chance to relax a bit after helping the kids with some DIY projects at their homes.  Like most of us, I stood in the backyard, with my chicken grilling, and beverage of choice in hand, enjoying the wonderful aroma of barbequed chicken.  My results were delicious, although most of my grilling expertise comes from trial and error, not really knowing the inner secrets of great grilled barbeque chicken – marinades, high/low heat, cooking times, temperatures, resting time, etc.  So, I got on the internet and went hunting for some great chicken grilling tips and recipes – and of course, no surprise, there’s a ton of them.  I learned there’s a difference between “grilling” and “barbeque” and I found a fun site, girlsatthegrill.com filled with wonderful info, and also some great recipes, like picnic chicken, South American Chimichurri sauce, alfredo with grilled apples, and more (visit tasteofhome.com)  (man, just thinking about these is getting me hungry!!). Now, one of the best parts will be to see how many of these recipes can be used with other meats especially since one of my good buds doesn’t like chicken! Enjoy, and be sure to email me your favorite tips at skowalski@khtheat.com – and I’ll share with our readers.  Thanks to girlsatthegrill.com, tasteofhome.com, toriavey.com and YouTube for the info.  ENJOY!

The history of grilling begins shortly after the domestication of fire, some 500,000 years ago. The backyard ritual of grilling as we know it, though, is much more recent. Until well into the 1940s, grilling mostly happened at campsites and picnics. After World War II, as the middle class began to move to the suburbs, backyard grilling caught on, becoming all the rage by the 1950s.

A common misconception: grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing. While the terms are often used interchangeably, grilling and barbecuing are two very different cooking methods. Grilling is the most basic form of cooking—it is, quite simply, the method of cooking a food directly over an open flame or high heat source. Barbecue, on the other hand, is a low and slow method of cooking over indirect heat. Because of the long, slow cooking process, barbecued meat soaks up the smoky flavors and spice rubs, rendering the finished product moist and tender. Barbecue is more suited to bigger, tougher cuts of meat that do well with slow, even cooking (think brisket, tri-tip, ribs, and pulled pork). Grilling is reserved for foods that can cook more quickly—hamburgers, steaks, chicken, hot dogs, seafood and vegetables.

It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly where these cooking methods were first used. Anthropologists have never come to a consensus on when our earliest ancestors first learned to “cook” and prepare food. Current estimates place the advent of cooking anywhere between 2 million and 300,000 years ago—a pretty wide range.

Our American appreciation of barbecue has roots in the Caribbean. The word barbecue likely originated with the Caribbean Taino Indians, who would smoke or dry meat over a frame made of green sticks.

From its earliest Caribbean roots, barbecue settled in the state of Virginia, then moved south through North and South Carolina, Georgia, the Appalachians and into Tennessee and Kentucky. From there, barbecue moved westward as Americans began to settle the West. By the early 19th century, barbecue hit Texas (where it obviously made a big impression), then moved all through the Southwest before finally reaching the Pacific coastline. Today, barbecue is popular nationwide, but remains most culturally significant to the states of the South and West.

Barbecue also has strong ties to African American culture. Black communities in the South embraced barbecue as an affordable way to cook and enjoy meat, leading it to become one of several core soul food dishes. When migrating North in the early 1900’s, they brought barbecue with them. By the mid-century, barbecue restaurants run by black cooks and their families had cropped up in cities across the United States.

The direct descendant of that original American barbecue is Eastern Carolina-style pit barbecue, which traditionally starts with the whole hog and, after as many as fourteen hours over coals, culminates in a glorious mess of pulled pork doused with vinegar sauce and eaten on a hamburger bun, with coleslaw on the side.

Early colonial barbecues were often large group events – loud, unruly, and populated with heavy drinkers. (Glad to see we haven’t lost too much of the old-time traditions!)

It wasn’t until the 1890’s that barbecued foods became commercially available. As the popularity of barbecue grew, men who considered themselves to be barbecue experts recognized a market and began charging for their services during holidays and public ceremonies. At first, they cooked the food in temporary tents that could be moved from place to place. These barbecue tents eventually turned into permanent indoor structures, which became the earliest barbecue restaurants. While barbecue was fast becoming a commercial enterprise, backyard barbecues, often referred to as “cookouts,” saw a rise in popularity.

Over the years, regional variations developed, leaving us today with four distinct styles of barbecue.

  • Carolina-style has split into Eastern, Western and South Carolina-style, with variations largely in the sauce: South Carolina uses a mustard sauce; Western Carolina uses a sweeter vinegar-and-tomato sauce.
  • Memphis barbecue is probably what most of us think of when we think of BBQ — pork ribs with a sticky sweet-and-sour tomato-based mopping sauce.
  • Texas, being cattle country, has always opted for beef cooked “cowboy style” usually brisket, dry-rubbed and smoked over mesquite with a tomato-based sauce served on the side, almost as an afterthought.
  • Kansas City lies at the crossroads of BBQ nation. Fittingly, you’ll find a little bit of everything there — beef and pork, ribs and shoulder, etc. What brings it all together is the sauce: sweet-hot, tomato-based KC barbecue sauce is a classic in its own right, and the model for most supermarket BBQ sauces.

In suburban Chicago, George Stephen, a metalworker by trade and a tinkerer by habit, had grown frustrated with the flat, open brazier-style grills common at the time. Once he inherited controlling interest in the Weber Bros. Metal Spinning Co, a company best-known as a maker of harbor buoys, he decided the buoy needed some modification. He cut it along its equator, added a grate, used the top as a lid and cut vents for controlling temperature. The Weber grill was born, and backyard cooking has never been the same.

For those who like to “grill”, (no sauces) this comes from girlsatthegrill website – The Grilling Trilogy – The story of the holy trilogy of grilling (or Grilling Trilogy™ for short) is a simple one. Years ago, they developed this technique to use in grill trainings for chefs and food writers, teaching the techniques of grilling without the flourishes (of other flavors). Just oil, salt and pepper.

Oil is truly essential, and you don’t need to use very much. Coat all the outside surfaces with a thin layer of olive or vegetable oil. They prefer olive oil for everything, but you can use any kind of oil except butter because it burns easily. And remember, grilling is intrinsically low-fat and healthy because you aren’t frying or sautéing in oil or butter. If you don’t oil the food, it will dry out and become tasteless.

Likewise, salt is very important. It is a natural mineral, and used in moderation, and is the most important ingredient (besides the food itself) for great taste. There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking with salt. Season food with salt just before it goes on the grill, otherwise it will draw the juices to the surface of the meat. We want the juices to stay inside the meat so it is tender and juicy when we serve it. Start with a little and add to taste, as there is a fine line between just right and too much—it’s much easier to add than take away.

Notes on Salt: Use Kosher or sea salt for the grilling trilogy and everyday cooking. Splurge and buy Fleur de Sel (flower of salt—hand-raked once a year in France) for your table. The natural shape of the Fleur de sel salt crystals add a mild distinctive flavor and texture to salads, meat and vegetable dishes. But don’t stop there, try the Pink salt from Hawaii, Black salt from India, Grey salt from Brittany and any other salt you can find.

And last, but not least, pepper. Pepper is best freshly ground from a pepper mill or spice grinder every time you use it. The flavor that we get from pepper is propelled by the oils in the peppercorns, these oils dry up very quickly which is why already ground pepper has much less taste than freshly ground pepper.

Pepper Tip: Before putting the peppercorns in your pepper mill, put them in a dry sauté pan, stir occasionally and heat gently just until a wisp of smoke is present and you can smell the pepper. Remove and let cool before grinding. This is how you roast a spice to bring out the maximum flavor in the spice. You can do this with all whole spices before grinding them and they will all taste fresher and deeper in flavor. This is the same basic idea behind coffee roasting, and it’s up to you to decide how dark you like your spices—or coffee for that matter.

Have fun, experiment, and when you find something delicious, be sure to send it to us at KHT.

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


 

Hop Hop Hoppin’ Great Day

Easter is a wonderful time for family, faith and food. And plenty of all three. DOWNLOAD the coloring art above for your kids to color. Send me a picture of the results at skowalski@khtheat.com. Don’t have kids? Color it yourself.  :))

Easter – another great holiday in the Kowalski homestead, and another chance to enjoy some family traditions and amazing festive food!  It’s back-to-back eating bonanza – a big Easter brunch followed by a big dinner (with some snacking in between of course – now you know why I go on 4-5mile runs!). For us the whole day is a celebration of faith, family and food.  For most of Holy Week, various siblings are hard at work preparing incredible dishes for Easter, Jackie and I and the girls spend Tuesday or Wednesday preparing, seasoning, stuffing and cooking “Kowalski” Kielbasa!  This is a family tradition going back over 50 years.  Dad got the original recipe from his Mother, and passed it onto me when he and Mom moved to Florida. This tradition will carry down to the next generation as well.  I have to say, we did make a serious scheduling error one year by making Kielbasa on Good Friday – we had to wait until midnight to sample!   Sometimes we go to one of my brother’s or sister’s houses (have 17 to choose from – and with many of the kids grown, we have their homes to visit too!) but with COVID still around, we will be enjoying a smaller at home gathering this year!  We will be having a drive-by swapping of the wonderful traditional dishes on Saturday!    Below are a few traditional Easter dishes we enjoy that have an interesting history and symbolism behind them, along with a few dishes enjoyed with my “ski” relations.  As you plan your meals, (I published early so you could) think about incorporating some of these traditional foods. Then, when you gather around your table, share the stories about the history and symbolism of the food on your table.  And Happy Passover/Easter from your buds at KHT.  Thanks to culture.pl, huffingtonpost.ca, alchemy.com for the history, YouTube for video and womansday.com for the egg decorating ideas.

Click for some fun music to enjoy the tradition while reading.

Hot N Yummy – This currant or raisin filled yeast bun, best known as hot cross buns, is traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent, which involves 40 days of fasting.  A 12th-century monk introduced the cross to the bun in honor of Good Friday. But near the end of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I thought these wee buns needed to be reserved only for these special occasions: Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. The English believed the buns carried medicinal or magical properties, and Elizabeth didn’t want those powers abused. To circumvent the law, more people began baking these “powerful” buns at home, increasing their popularity and making the law difficult to enforce, so it was eventually rescinded.  When the British colonized Jamaica in the 1650s, they brought their traditions with them. Today the popular Jamaican Easter bun (which is really more of a loaf) is a variation of the hot-crossed bun, which is often enjoyed with cheese.

Eggsplainin’ the significance – Eggs are a must, and of course decorating them is fun.  Mine don’t come out so good, but they all taste the same. Eggs symbolize fertility and birth. Christians perceive the egg as a resurrection of Jesus, in which the egg itself symbolizes Jesus, who rose from the tomb.  Mesopotamian Christians first adopted them as an Easter food, dying them red to represent Christ’s blood. Eastern Europeans were among the first to elaborately decorate eggs, creating delicate wax relief designs on the shells to give to loved ones. Check out some amazing designs HERE. (I like the ice cream cones, gumball machine and vegetables plate eggs).

Start Crackin’ – Eggs that were laid during the week of Lent were saved as Holy Week eggs, which were decorated and also presented to children as gifts.  Egg-shaped toys emerged in the 17 and 18 centuries, which were given to children, along with satin covered eggs and chocolates. Easter chocolate eggs were first made in the early 19th century in France and Germany. The emergence of hollow eggs like the ones we have today came as techniques for chocolate-making improved.

 Lambmenting the past – or should I say “Going out on a lamb.” – Eating lamb is not only part of many people’s Easter Sunday meals, but it is also part of those who celebrate Passover, which occurs about a week before Easter. The roots of why lamb is often served in Christian households at Easter stems from Judaism and early Passover observances before the birth of Christianity. During the biblical Exodus story, Egyptians endured a series of terrible plagues, including the death of all firstborn sons. Jewish Egyptians painted their doorposts with sacrificed lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their homes while carrying out the punishment. Jews who then converted to Christianity carried on the tradition of eating lamb at Easter.

– In Christian theology, lamb also symbolizes Jesus’ self-sacrifice as the “Lamb of God.” And historically, lamb also symbolizes the onset of spring when lambs would also have been the first fresh meat available after winter to slaughter.

These put me in a pretzel – Originally created by monks with leftover scraps of dough and given to students as rewards, pretzels became a popular part of Lent celebration during the Middle Ages. Pretzels do not contain eggs, milk, butter or lard; ingredients which were avoided during lent. Thus, the pretzel became associated with lent and leading up to Easter.  Pretzels are also said to represent praying arms, while the three holes represent the Holy Trinity. In some countries, pretzels used to be hidden along with the Easter eggs. (I like to hide them covered with chip dip or mustard!)

It’s Greek to me – sweet Greek Easter bread, tsoureki, is traditionally served as part of the Greek Orthodox Easter feast. Tsoureki was also traditionally given as an Easter gift from children to their godparents. Different versions many include a citrus flavored bread topped with nuts. Traditionally it’s shaped into a braid, with a red egg cooked and tucked into the braids of dough. The bread is said to represent the light given to us by Christ’s resurrection and the red egg represents Christ’s blood. Another version of Greek Easter bread is cooked as a circle with red eggs forming a cross across the top of the bread.

Hamming it up! – The tradition of eating Easter ham can be traced back to at least the sixth century in Germany.  Back in the day, pigs were one of the few meats available to eat in early spring in Europe. In early years, before refrigeration, fresh pork slaughtered in the fall that hadn’t been consumed before Lent had to be cured for preservation. Curing was a slow process, and the first hams were generally ready around Easter time, making it a common choice for Easter feasting. Today, many families still serve ham as part of their Easter celebrations.  When Christianity spread northward, it merged with the pagan spring celebration of Eostre, the goddess of the rising dawn, with ham served during the feast. Early American settlers brought pigs from Northern Europe to America.

This can’t be Beet – White borscht, a traditional Polish soup with eggs, sausages and potatoes, is enjoyed on Easter Sunday morning.  The soup is traditionally made with items in a basket of food that Polish families used take to church to have blessed on Holy Saturday in the early 15th century. These Easter baskets were filled with things that symbolized every part of life, and their blessing was considered a sign of blessing for a bountiful year ahead – learn more at HERE.

Soup’d up. Mayiritsa Easter soup (μαγειρίτσα in Greek, pronounced mah-yee-REET-sah), is also known as Easter Sunday soup, and is traditionally eaten by the Greek Orthodox, to break the fast from Lent.  As we know, lamb is often eaten at Easter, and making Mayiritsa soup helped ensure that all the parts of the lamb were used. Visit HERE 

Kowalski Polish “ious” Favorites – check out these traditional Polish favorites.  Some of my top picks are:

Babka. Some call it the gift to the world of Polish baking. The name derives from the word ‘grandmother’, which might refer to its shape: like a grandmother’s wide, pleated skirt. The tall, airy Easter no-knead yeast cake is baked in a Bundt pan. I like it laced with rum syrup and drizzled with icing (custom dictates that it has no filling).

Makowiec.  Another Polish treat you’ll find on our Easter table is makowiec (‘mah-KO-viets’), a poppy seed roll spun like a strudel. With poppy seeds as the main ingredient, it uses the same type of dough as the babka, above. The texture is crunchy and nutty, and covered with sugar icing.

Horseradish and Kielbasa. Easter is a feast of smoked meats and ham, where KOWALSKI kiełbasa (KEEW-basa’) takes center stage. This special sausage is homemade of finely ground pork butt, with the addition of special seasonings, then covered in  thin  pork casings. Whether it’s in the żurek soup or amongst the food samples carried in the Easter basket, white sausage is mostly served boiled – sometimes with horseradish (my favorite – the fresher the better), mustard, or ćwikła (horseradish-beetroot relish).

Ham and Spaetzle.  The perfect one/two combo for Easter (spaetzle or spatzle made by one of my sisters from an old family recipe) is both a German and Polish that compliments the meat, handmade with eggs, flour, water and salt.  Of course, a little gravy on top – oh, bring it on!

Kolochy. Kolaches are Czech (and Polish) pastries made of a yeast dough and usually filled with fruit, but sometimes cheese. The ultra-traditional flavors — such as poppy seed, apricot, prune and a sweet-but-simple farmer’s cheese — can be traced back to the pastry’s Eastern European origin. I think there is some secret ingredient inside, as I can never eat just one! Another of my sisters bring these to all of us!

How about you? Do you have a busy Easter day topped off by a big meal?  What do you serve for Easter/Passover meals with your family? Be sure to share your favorite traditions and recipes.  Email me at skowalski@khtheat.com.


 

I’m Surely Going Nuts Today

At a ballgame, between hot dogs, beers and ice cream, I can go through three bags of peanuts. L-O-V-E them!!! I love my peanut butter, too. If YOU love peanuts and peanut butter, there’s apparel and costumes available online to prove it…by the way, I want those socks!!! Whatever, peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of the protein a body needs. Add jelly and, BOOM!! Oh, yeah!!!! Now you’re talking‘!!

Being a foodie, my mind most days is focused on food.  What to have for breakfast? How long before lunch?  Wonder what Jackie and I will whip up for dinner – (ok, what Jackie has in mind…).  For quick satisfaction, sometimes I drift back to my childhood and seek out one of my “go-to” favorites – a simple peanut and butter sandwich (or two).  Being one of 18, Mom used to make a number of different stops on her grocery run, one the dairy and one being the bakery.  I can still remember the smell of fresh bread and filling our carts with multiple loaves.  I knew it wasn’t long before I’d be back home, spreading yummy crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jam in between two lovely slices.  A side of fritos (yea, I’d put them inside sometimes too), and I was set. These days the occasional PBJ for a snack does me wonders. I like mine toasted so that the peanut butter starts to melt before the first bite!  This month writer Kate Wheeling wrote a little history on peanut butter for Smithsonian magazine that sparked my memories and taste buds and directed me to do a bit more digging for this blog.  Special thanks to Smithsonian, Wikipedia, huffpost.com, chem.libretexts.com, the Georgia Peanut commission and The Marathons and YouTube.  Enjoy this fun “how it’s made” video and song and help me with my reader’s poll – send me an email – what’s your preference: grape or strawberry.

  • Peanuts are actually not nuts but legumes grown underground.  It’s rich in heart-healthy fats and is a good source of protein, which can be helpful for vegetarians looking to include more protein in their diets. A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains up to 8 grams of protein and 2 to 3 grams of fiber.
  • The U.S. is the third largest producer of peanuts (Georgia and Texas are the two major peanut-producing states). More than half of the American peanut crop goes into making peanut butter. China and India are the first and second largest producers, respectively.
  • The earliest reference to peanut butter can be traced back to the Ancient Incas and the Aztecs who ground roasted peanuts into a paste. However, modern peanut butter, its process of production and the equipment used to make it, can be credited to at least three inventors.
  • In 1884 Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Canada patented peanut paste, the finished product from milling roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces. In 1895 Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the creator of Kellogg’s cereal) patented a process for creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. He marketed it as a nutritious protein substitute for people who could hardly chew on solid food. In 1903, Dr. Ambrose Straub of St. Louis, Missouri, patented a peanut-butter-making machine.
  • Kellogg’s “food compound” involved boiling nuts and grinding them into an easily digestible paste for patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a spa for all kinds of ailments. The original patent didn’t specify what type of nut to use, and Kellogg experimented with almonds as well as peanuts, which had the virtue of being cheaper. While modern peanut butter enthusiasts would likely find Kellogg’s compound bland, Kellogg called it “the most delicious nut butter you ever tasted in your life.”
  • A Seventh-Day Adventist, Kellogg endorsed a plant-based diet and promoted peanut butter as a healthy alternative to meat, which he saw as a digestive irritant and, worse, a sinful sexual stimulant. His efforts and his elite clientele, which included Amelia Earhart, Sojourner Truth and Henry Ford, helped establish peanut butter as a delicacy. As early as 1896, Good Housekeeping encouraged women to make their own with a meat grinder and suggested pairing the spread with bread. “The active brains of American inventors have found new economic uses for the peanut,” the Chicago Tribune rhapsodized in July 1897.
  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • Before the end of the century, Joseph Lambert, an employee at Kellogg’s sanitarium who may have been the first person to make the doctor’s peanut butter, had invented machinery to roast and grind peanuts on a larger scale. He launched the Lambert Food Company, selling nut butter and the mills to make it, seeding countless other peanut butter businesses. As manufacturing scaled up, prices came down. A 1908 ad for the Delaware-based Loeber’s peanut butter, claimed that just 10 cents’ worth of peanuts contained six times the energy of a porterhouse steak.
  • Americans eat around 700 million pounds of peanut butter per year (about 3 pounds per person).
  • By World War I, U.S. consumers—whether convinced by Kellogg’s nutty nutrition advice or not—turned to peanuts as a result of meat rationing. Government pamphlets promoted “meatless Mondays,” with peanuts high on the menu. Americans “soon may be eating peanut bread, spread with peanut butter, and using peanut oil for our salad,” the Daily Missourian reported in 1917, citing “the exigencies of war.”
  • Manufacturers sold tubs of peanut butter to local grocers and advised them to stir frequently with a wooden paddle as oil would separate out and spoil. Then, in 1921, a Californian named Joseph Rosefield filed a patent for applying a chemical process called partial hydrogenation to peanut butter, which is liquid at room temperature and converted into an oil that’s solid or semisolid at room temperature and thus remains blended; the practice had been used to make substitutes for butter and lard, like Crisco.  Rosefield was the first to apply it to peanut butter allowing the more stable spread could be shipped across the country, stocked in warehouses and left on shelves, clearing the way for the national brands we all know today.  Rosefield went on to found Skippy, which debuted crunchy peanut butter and wide-mouth jars in the 1930s.
  • The only invention that did more than hydrogenation to cement peanut butter in the hearts (and mouths) of America’s youth was sliced bread—introduced by a St. Louis baker Otto Rohwedder   in the late 1920s—which made it easy for kids to construct their own PB&Js. An average American child eats 1,500 PB&J sandwiches before graduating from high school.
  • In World War II, tins of Skippy were shipped with service members overseas, while the return of meat rationing at home again led civilians to peanut butter. Even today, when American expats are looking for a peanut butter fix, they often seek out military bases as they’re guaranteed to stock it.
  • Americans still eat far more of the spread than the people in any other country: It’s a gooey taste of nostalgia, for childhood and for American history. By 2020, when Skippy and Jif released their latest peanut butter innovation—squeezable tubes—nearly 90 percent of American households reported consuming peanut butter.
  • No American is more closely associated with peanuts than George Washington Carver.  Contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter.  He was one of the greatest inventors in American history, discovering over 300 hundred uses for peanuts including chili sauce, shampoo, shaving cream and glue. He was a pioneer in the agricultural world, and many refer to him as father of the peanut industry. His innovations also increased the legume’s popularity and made peanuts a staple in the American diet.
  • Born enslaved in Missouri around 1864 and trained in Iowa as a botanist, Carver took over the agriculture department at the Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama, in 1896. He found that cotton had stripped the region’s soil of its nutrients.So Carver began experimenting with plants like peanuts and sweet potatoes, which could replenish the nitrogen that cotton leached. In classes and at conferences and county fairs, Carver showed often packed crowds how to raise these crops.
  • Since his death in 1943, many of the practices Carver advocated—organic fertilizer, reusing food waste, crop rotation—have become crucial to the sustainable agriculture movement. Mark Hersey, a historian at Mississippi State University, says Carver’s most prescient innovation was a truly holistic approach to farming.
  • Whether you’re a fan of creamy or chunky, peanut butter has always had a place in our culture. Perhaps the bigger question – grape jelly or strawberry jam?  I already know my favorite!

CHECK OUT THESE PEA-NUTY YOUTUBE VIDEOS
How Peanut Butter is Actually Made 
People Try American Peanut Butter For The First Time
Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich in Space
How to Grow Your Own Peanuts at Home

 


 

Nostalgia or the Future

I admit, I’ll eat anything. And these babies are no exception. Never met a frozen dinner I didn’t like.

Growing up my Mom was simply amazing.  18 kids (yep that’s right) all needed to be fed, bathed, clothed, schooled, nurtured and loved. Never complaining – just a constant outpouring of “Mom love.”  I was reading an article the other day, and it sent me back to one of my favorite Mom treats as a kid …TV dinners.  Those amazing inventions of meat, gravy, veggies and dessert, all organized into a foil plate.  Every once in a while, as a treat, we got to use our folding TV tables, (remember those great inventions) and watch our favorite shows while eating dinner!  I can remember later on having those thin rectangular boxes stacked up in the freezer with the name displayed (having to turn my head sideways to read which one of them I wanted next!) And I have to admit it – to this day, I still love the taste of them – the standard pre-packed Swanson specials, like turkey and stuffing, along with the multitude of frozen goodies we can find at the grocery store.  With the advances in freezers, packaging and processing, there are so many things we can find in the frozen food aisle – including international foods.  Special thanks to Smithsonian and Wikipedia for the info and YouTube for the video.  Enjoy the trip down memory lane for those of you who can relate – and shoot me a message as to your personal favorite.  YUM!!

  • In 1925, the Brooklyn-born entrepreneur Clarence Birdseye invented a machine for freezing packaged fish that would revolutionize the storage and preparation of food. Maxson Food Systems of Long Island used Birdseye’s technology, the double-belt freezer, to sell the first complete frozen dinners to airlines in 1945.
  • Plans to offer those meals in supermarkets were canceled after the death of the company’s founder, William L. Maxson. Ultimately, it was the Swanson company that transformed how Americans ate dinner – and it all came about, the story goes, because of Thanksgiving turkey.
  • According to the most widely accepted account, a Swanson salesman named Gerry Thomas conceived the company’s frozen dinners in late 1953 when he saw that the company had 260 tons of frozen turkey left over after Thanksgiving, sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars. (The train’s refrigeration worked only when the cars were moving, so Swanson had the trains travel back and forth between its Nebraska headquarters and the East Coast “until panicked executives could figure out what to do”). Thomas had the idea to add other holiday staples such as cornbread stuffing and sweet potatoes, and to serve them alongside the bird in frozen, partitioned aluminum trays designed to be heated in the oven.
  • Betty Cronin, Swanson’s bacteriologist, helped the meals succeed with her research into how to heat the meat and vegetables at the same time while killing any food-borne germs.  Her history is a bit different – saying that Gilbert and Clarke Swanson, sons of company founder Carl Swanson, came up with the idea for the frozen-meal-on-a-tray. Whoever provided the spark, this new American convenience was a commercial triumph.
  • In 1954, the first full year of production, Swanson sold ten million trays. Banquet Foods and Morton Frozen Foods soon brought out their own offerings, winning over more and more middle-class households across the country.  Initially called “Strato-Plates,” America was introduced to its “TV dinner” at a time when the concept was guaranteed to be lucrative: As millions of women entered the workforce in the early 1950s, Mom was no longer always at home to cook elaborate meals—but now the question of what to eat for dinner had a prepared answer.
  • Frustrated, some men wrote angry letters to the Swanson company complaining about the loss of home-cooked meals. But for most, TV dinners were just the ticket. Pop them in the oven, and 25 minutes later, you could have a full supper while enjoying the new national pastime: television.  The top shows in ’55 were The $64,000 Question, I Love Lucy and The Ed Sullivan Show… (can you remember the name of the mouse puppet on the show?)
  • In 1950, only 9 percent of U.S. households had television sets—but by 1955, the number had risen to more than 64 percent, and by 1960, to more than 87 percent. Swanson took full advantage of this trend, with TV advertisements that depicted elegant, modern women serving these novel meals to their families, or enjoying one themselves. “The best fried chicken I know comes with a TV dinner,” Barbra Streisand told the New Yorker in 1962.
  • By the 1970s, competition among the frozen food giants spurred some menu innovation, including such questionable options as Swanson’s take on a “Polynesian Style Dinner,” which doesn’t resemble any meal you will see in Polynesia. Tastemakers, of course, sniffed, like the New York Times food critic who observed that TV dinner consumers had no taste, but later found another niche audience in dieters, who were glad for the built-in portion control.
  • With the help of Pittsburg Steelers “Mean Joe Green”, Hungry Man dinners were introduced – for those with larger appetites – (made me smile J)
  • The next big breakthrough came in 1986, with the Campbell Soup Company’s invention of microwave-safe trays, which cut meal preparation to mere minutes. Convenience food was now too convenient for some diners, as one columnist lamented: “Progress is wonderful, but I will still miss those steaming, crinkly aluminum TV trays.”
  • The production process of TV dinners is highly automated and undergoes three major steps – food preparation, tray loading, and freezing. During food preparation, vegetables and fruits are usually placed on a movable belt and washed, then are placed into a container to be steamed or boiled for 1–3 minutes. This process is referred to as blanching and is used as a method to destroy enzymes in the food that can cause chemical changes negatively affecting overall flavor and color of the fruit and vegetables. As for meats, prior to cooking, they are trimmed of fat and cut into proper sizes. Fish is usually cleaned and cut into fillets, and poultry is usually washed thoroughly and dressed.
  • Meats are then seasoned, placed on trays, and are cooked in an oven for a predetermined amount of time. After all the food is ready to be packaged, it is sent to the filling lines. The food is placed in its compartments as the trays pass under numerous filling machines; to ensure that every packaged dinner gets an equal amount of food, the filling devices are strictly regulated.
  • The food undergoes a process of cryogenic freezing with liquid nitrogen. After the food is placed on the conveyor belt, it is sprayed with liquid nitrogen that boils on contact with the freezing food. This method of flash-freezing fresh foods is used to retain natural quality of the food. When the food is chilled through cryogenic freezing, small ice crystals are formed throughout the food that, in theory, can preserve the food indefinitely if stored safely.
  • Cryogenic freezing is widely used as it is a method for rapid freezing, requires almost no dehydration, excludes oxygen thus decreasing oxidative spoilage, and causes less damage to individual freezing pieces. Due to the fact that the cost of operating cryogenic freezing is high, it is commonly used for high-value food products such as TV dinners, which is a $4.5 billion industry a year that is continuing to grow with the constant introduction of new technology.
  • Following this, the dinners are either covered with aluminum foil or paper, and the product is tightly packed with a partial vacuum created to ensure no evaporation takes place that can cause the food to dry out. Then the packaged dinners are placed in a refrigerated storage facility, transported by refrigerated truck, and stored in the grocer’s freezer. TV dinners prepared with the aforementioned steps—that is, frozen and packaged properly—can remain in near-perfect condition for a long time, so long as they are stored at -18 °C during shipping and storage.
  • This past year, approximately 130 million Americans consumed a TV dinner.
  • With restaurants closed during Covid-19, Americans are again snapping up frozen meals, spending nearly 50 percent more on them in April 2020 over April 2019, says the American Frozen Food Institute. Specialty stores like Williams Sonoma now stock gourmet TV dinners. Ipsa Provisions, a high-end frozen-food company launched this past February in New York, specializes in “artisanal frozen dishes for a civilized meal any night of the week”—a slogan right out of the 1950s. Restaurants from Detroit to Colorado Springs to Los Angeles are offering frozen versions of their dishes for carryout, a practice that some experts predict will continue beyond the pandemic.

VIDEO: Make your own TV dinner! 
Swanson 1958 commercial. Wow!

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))  
Have fun!!

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Oh Granny

I love apple pie. So, I always get way more apples than needed for a pie. You know why? Because I also love to eat apples. Apples in the morning. Apples at lunch. Apples for an afternoon snack. An apple after my evening run. So, I ALWAYS get way more apples than needed for a pie.  :)))

It’s that time of year again.  I’m not sure if it’s the cool nights, early sunsets, changing cloud patterns or just my gastronomical clock changing, but there’s something about October and my need to eat lots of apple pie. It’s an odd thing, that lasts through the holidays too.  Maybe it’s the piles of apples at the market or the smell of pumpkin spice at the grocery store (can’t believe how many products offer a pumpkin spice version (saw pumpkin spice Spam – what a waste of some good SPAM!), but I have the craving.  My first subtle (no comments about me not being subtle!) effort to convince Jackie it’s time to bake is when I bring home a rather large array of different apples from the farmer’s market – green, golden, red, macs, Honeycrisp.  Then I try pulling the pie dish out and leaving it on the counter with the cinnamon.  Or maybe it’s the “backup” half-gallon of vanilla ice cream and bonus sized Cool Whip container.  Jackie, amazing as always, pulls out one of her favorite recipes for Dutch Apple Pie and goes to work.  I love it when the house fills with that amazing aroma of sweet apples and hot pastry dough – it settles the mind and gets me ready for the transition from summer to fall.  There is nothing quite like a slice of amazing pie ala mode! Below are some great recipes, and a little history on the delicacy and the all-important crust.  Enjoy, and thanks Smithsonian and the recipes from All Recipes, Inspired Taste, Taste of Home and Tasty.co.

  • Apple pie is a longstanding symbol of America, but the dessert didn’t actually come from America, and neither did the apples.  Apples are actually native to Asia and have been in America about as long as Europeans have.
  • The early colonists of Jamestown brought European apple tree cuttings and seeds with them. The only native apple in North America was the crab apple, and the colonists found its tiny fruit “a poor substitute for Malus domestica.” Settlers primarily used the apples to make cider (the hard and soft kinds), which was preferred to water as a drink and easier to produce than beer, which required labor-intensive land clearing.
  • During America’s colonial history, planting trees was a good way to preserve a land claim; colonists who didn’t “improve” their land in some colonies, like Virginia, could have it taken away from them.
  • Apple trees are easy to cross-pollinate, meaning that deliberately producing new apple varieties is relatively simple. By 1800, writes Tim Hensley for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, American farmers were growing a mind-boggling 14,000 varieties of apple, many of which had been bred in the country. Around the same time, John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed, had brought the apple to American folklore fame. “Chapman’s beloved apples became ‘American’ by association.”
  • The first recorded recipe for apple pie was written in 1381 in England and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron in addition to apples (now why would you go and do that??).
  • There were other differences, too: early apple pie recipes generally didn’t include sugar, and their pastry crust was “coffin” pastry, which was intended as an inedible container, not a part of the pie. There are also recipes for Dutch apple pies as far back as 1514.
  • A 1924 advertisement appearing in the Gettysburg Times promotes “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” And by World War II, the America and pie association was cemented. American soldiers would tell journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie,” giving rise to the expression “As American as mom and apple pie.”
  • The secret to great apple pie is also in the crust.  It’s not a topic to be thrown about – as making “the best crust” has merit and prestige in a family.  Surprising, the history of “crust” goes back many ages – here’s some highlights:
  • The first pies, called “coffins” or “coffyns” (the word actually meant a basket or box) were savory meat pies with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids.  Open-crust pastry (not tops or lids) were known as “traps.”  These pies held assorted meats and sauce components and were baked more like a modern casserole with no pan (the crust itself was the pan, its pastry tough and inedible).  These crusts were often made several inches thick to withstand many hours of baking.
  • A small pie was known as a tartlet and a tart was a large, shallow open pie (this is still the definition in England).
  • Historians have recorded that the roots of pie can loosely be traced back to the ancient Egyptians during the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age beginning around 6000 BC.    These early forms of pies are known as galettes, which are essentially rustic free-form pies.  Our ancestors made these pie-like treats with oat, wheat, rye, and barley, then filled them with honey and baked the dish over hot coals.
  • Between 1304 to 1237 B.C. the bakers to the pharaohs incorporated nuts, honey, and fruits in bread dough, a primitive form of pastry.  Drawings of this can be found etched on the tomb walls of Ramses II, located in the Valley of the Kings.
  • The tradition of galettes (pastry base) was carried on by the Greeks.  Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry.  The pies during this period were made by a flour-water paste wrapped around meat; this served to cook the meat and seal in the juices.
  • A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of  meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and  serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes, has a recipe for a short paest for tarte:  “To Make Short Paest for Tarte – Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.” (where are the apples??)
  • Animated pies or pyes were the most popular banquet entertainment. The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence . . . four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,” refers to such a pie.  According to the rhyme, “When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.  Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King.”  In all likelihood, those birds not only sang, but flew briskly out at the assembled guests.  Rabbits, frogs, turtles, other small animals, and even small people (dwarfs) were also set into pies, either alone or with birds, to be released when the crust was cut.  The dwarf would emerge and walk down the length of the table, reciting poetry, sketching the guests, or doing tricks. (where are the apples??).
  • During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.
  • The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate “soteltie” or “subtilty.”  Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy’s chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie.  Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the “captive” Church in the Middle East.
  • The Pilgrims brought their favorite family pie recipes with them to America.  The colonists and their pies adapted simultaneously to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. At first, they baked pie with berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native Americans.  Colonial women used round pans literally to cut corners and stretch the ingredients (for the same reason they baked shallow pies).
  • Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a big fan of eating pies.  His life-long housekeeper and friend (she was with the family for 30 years), Katy Leary, often baked Huckleberry pie to lure her master into breaking his habit of going without lunch.  Samuel Clemens also had a recipe for English Pie: To make this excellent breakfast dish, proceed as follows: “Take a sufficiency of water and a sufficiency of flour and construct a bullet-proof dough.  Work this into the form of a disk, with the edges turned up some three-fourths of an inch.  Toughen and kiln-dry in a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature.  Construct a cover for this redoubt in the same way and of the same material.  Fill with stewed dried apples; aggravate with cloves, lemon-peel, and slabs of citron; add two portions of New Orleans sugars, then solder on the lid and set in a safe place till it petrifies.  Serve cold at breakfast and invite your enemy.”

Here are some recipes to try – and yes, please stop by the office and share a slice or two.
By Grandma Ople
Favorite Apple Pie  
Taste of Home
Made from Scratch

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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“Well done boys, well done”

The original Worcestershire sauce is the BEST! On everything!!! Burgers, steaks, sushi, kabobs, salads, p-nut butter…well, what the heck, why not?  For 185 years it’s been imitated endlessly but never bested. I know, I’ve tried them all. (I have to go get a snack.)

 

I just love experiments and discoveries.  I’m fascinated how engineers, scientists, and Heat Treaters go out on a limb, try different approaches, take chances, and then “discover” new ways to do things to create new inventions.  It happens in the lab, on the shop floor, and many times comes to people willing to “give it a try” when they don’t expect it. About 185 years ago today, a couple of chemists were experimenting with sauces for food.  They were trying to come up with a flavor that would improve the taste experience of meat dishes – (think meat in the 1800’s – eeuuuww!).  Disappointed by the flat taste, they put their dark liquid a barrel, and stuck it in the basement to be left it for another day.  Through the magic of fermentation about 18 months later, a new product was born, which now sits on refrigerator door shelves throughout the world.  Not an everyday condiment, but a special blend of spices and ingredients, the now famous chemists John and Billy nailed it, inventing … Worchester sauce, that has become a great compliment to sauces and recipes, as well as beverages.  Sometimes just a splash, other times a serious marinade, be sure to try the recipes at the bottom of the blog and be sure to send me your favorites (skowalski@khtheat.com).  With this great stretch of weather, I never lose interest in popping open the grill top and cooking up something new. (the suggested beverage below fits right into my wheelhouse). Enjoy. And thanks to writer Peggy Trowbridge, thespruceeats.com, allrecipes.com, healthline.com and Wikipedia for the info.

  1. Worcestershire sauce (pron. WOO cester shire) has a distinct flavor, yet it can be challenging to identify its complex list of ingredients simply by the taste. Enjoyed for generations, it was developed in August 1835 by two chemists from Worcester named Lea and Perrins.
  2. Chemists John Lea and William Perrins developed this sauce in Worcester, England. They were experimenting with vinegar-based seasoning sauces and had abandoned a batch that didn’t taste right. Sitting in the basement, the sauce fermented and developed complex flavors. The partners bottled more, and a taste for Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce spread throughout Europe, to America, and across the world. (to produce the sauce, they allow it to sit for two years with periodic stirrings; the mixture was then sifted of the solids and bottled.)
  3. After much success locally, the product took off.  By the end of the following decade Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce had already gained worldwide fame and was being exported to all the “outposts of the British Empire”.
  4. By the end of the century Lea & Perrins’ iconic orange label had been added to all bottles to ensure they stood out from copycat competitors (the label has hardly changed since) and in 1904 Lea & Perrins was granted the Royal Warrant which it holds to this day.  (the US version sports a tan paper label.)
  5. In 1897 the company opened a new factory in Worcester, where it remains in operation to this day, despite being commandeered by the British Army during the Second World War and suffering a factory fire in 1964.
  6. Now a mostly generic term, Worcestershire sauce is currently manufactured by many different commercial retailers, as well as under the original Lea & Perrins label. HP Sauce is another type of brown sauce, so named because the sauce was reputedly spotted in the Houses of Parliament. It’s similar but not the same as authentic Worcestershire sauce.
  7. Worcestershire sauce is a fermented condiment made from a base of vinegar and flavored with anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic, and other seasonings. The flavor is savory and sweet with a distinct tang provided by the vinegar. The most common form of Worcestershire sauce is not appropriate for a vegetarian or vegan diet and cannot be used in a kosher meal that includes meat.
  8. Vinegar leads the ingredient list and is included both for the tangy flavor and to preserve the other components of Worcestershire sauce. Anchovies add umami. The ingredient that gives Worcestershire sauce its unique flavor is tamarind, the fruit of Tamarindus indica, or Indian date in Arabic. The pods, somewhat resembling a brown pea pod, contain a thick, sticky pulp which has a consistency of dates and a spicy date-apricot flavor. (learn more HERE.) Ingredients for U.S. version of The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce include: Distilled white vinegar, Anchovies, Garlic, Molasses, Onions, Salt, Sugar, Water, Chili pepper extract, Cloves, Natural flavorings and Tamarind extract.
  9. The popularity of gluten-free diets may be one reason that the U.S. version of Worcestershire sauce is made with distilled white vinegar rather than malt vinegar, which contains gluten. To be sure your Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free, check the label.
  10. Interestingly, the version of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce sold in the U.S. differs from the U.K. recipe. It uses distilled white vinegar rather than malt vinegar. In addition, it has three times as much sugar and sodium. This makes the American version sweeter and saltier than the version sold in Britain and Canada.
  11. How would you describe the taste?  Chef’s use words like tangy, savory, sweet, and salty. The balance of those flavors makes it an excellent condiment. It is especially valued for adding the umami flavor, which comes from the anchovies. The spices included can vary by brand.
  12.  Worcestershire sauce can be used in many ways during cooking or as a condiment. It is often used as an ingredient in marinades or is brushed onto meat, fish, or poultry as it is grilled, fried, or baked. It can be used when steaming, grilling, or stir-frying vegetables. (I love to dump it into vegies when I make a stir fry or on my favorite burger).  Worcestershire sauce can be used as a condiment on sandwiches and shellfish or seasoning for salads. It is used in soups and stews for seasoning and adding savoriness.
  13. It’s relatively easy to make homemade Worcestershire sauce, but it does involve a long list of ingredients. Feel free to experiment and adjust to your taste. You can even try adding a personal secret ingredient to make the sauce your own.  You will need only a saucepan to simmer the ingredients, which include olive oil, sweet onions, tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, jalapeños, anchovies, tomato paste, cloves, black pepper, dark corn syrup, molasses, white vinegar, dark beer, orange juice, water, lemon, and lime.  Here’s A Recipe
  14. Prior to opening the bottle, Worcestershire sauce can be stored at room temperature.  Once the bottle is opened, it should be refrigerated to preserve flavor. The general shelf life of Worcestershire sauce is approximately two years, after which it may begin to lose flavor and aroma.
  15. Today, Lea & Perrins’ famous sauce is exported to over 130 countries around the world, where it has become a much-loved staple in kitchens, restaurants, hotels and bars. It remains as popular today as it ever has been, and is still lovingly made in Worcester in very much the same way as it was when first sold in the 1830’s.

You will find Worcestershire sauce included in a wide variety of recipes for everything from vegetables to meat dishes, and sauces to soups.  Here’s some fun ones to try:
Red Wine and Worcestershire Sauce Marinade for Chicken
Oysters Kilpatrick
Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Tangy Pork Chops
Tasty Bloody Mary

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


 

“They’re In, and boy-oh-boy are they good.”

Tomatoes are the best in so many dishes: Salads and pizzas—yep! Salsa, bouillabaisse, ketchup slathered on French fries, tacos, fresh spaghetti sauce, on any sandwich, in drinks. And tossing a tomato on the grill with steaks is a great idea, but you’ve got to see the recipe for grilled tomatoes at the end of this post! It is stupendous!!!!  Oh, and you can find that cute baby soup can bunting online, google it.  :)))

 

I may have written about this in the past – but, Yep.  You’ve guessed it.  Those red, ripe, juicy, tasty, yummy, luscious locally grown tomatoes are in.  In all sizes and shapes. And I’m sure loving it. With the hot weather, the farms and shelves are busting with home-grown goodness.  I stopped the other day to pick up some fresh corn – then of course I grabbed the beans, and cucs, zucchini, couple peppers, peaches, cherries – ok, so I couldn’t help it.  When I got home, I grabbed the knife, some bread, mayo, salt and pepper and loaded up some fat slices of tomatoes and “boom” – summer flavor at its finest. Then you can have the sliced meaty ones covered in a thick blue cheese dressing!  I jumped back to my childhood when Mom would fill the table with all the summer vegies and fruits. Here’s some fun trivia, and some even better recipes.  I KNOW each of you have your own favorite recipe, so please send my way – especially the salsa and sauce ones!!  skowalski@khtheat.com Enjoy!  And thanks to tomatodirt.com (amazing site), simplyrecipes.com, feastingathome.com (love that name!) and chefsteps.com for the recipes.  Plus a bit of reading music from our friends at YouTube – HERE

  1. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year. (More than half of those munchies are ketchup and tomato sauce.) I know I do my share in pulling that number up! Remember, ketchup is heart healthy!
  2. The tomato is America’s fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions.
  3. Americans consume three-fourths of their tomatoes in processed form and have increased their tomato consumption 30% over the last 20 years (mostly in processed forms such as sauce, paste, and especially salsa).
  4.  While tomatoes are perfectly safe and healthy to eat, their leaves are actually toxic, so don’t eat them.
  5. The largest worldwide producer of tomatoes is China, followed by USA, Turkey, India and Egypt.  Here in the U.S., California produces 96% of the tomatoes that are “processed”. Florida is the number one producer of fresh market tomatoes.
  6. Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”.  The scientific term for the common tomato is lycopersicon lycopersicum, which mean “wolf peach.”
  7. When the tomato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s, The French called it “the apple of love.” The Germans called it “the apple of paradise.”
  8. In different languages: English: tomato, French: tomate, Dutch: tomaat, German: TomateDanish: tomat, Spanish: tomate, Italian: pomodoro (those silly Italians).
  9. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are 25,000 tomato varieties. Other sources cap the number of types of tomatoes at 10,000. (Either way, that’s a lot.)
  10. Tomato is a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato, and the highly toxic belladonna (a herbaceous perennial, also known as the nightshade or solanaccae, that has historically been used as both a medicine and poison).
  11. For the best tomato, check color, texture, and touch. A ripe tomato is uniformly colored, in a shade true to its variety. An unripened tomato has inconsistent color. An overripe tomato has soft spots and may ooze juice from cracks. A ripe tomato is smooth, plump, and glossy and not too soft or not too hard to the touch. It “gives” when you press it with a finger.
  12. The heaviest tomato on record weighed in at 3.51 kg (7 pounds 12 ounces). A “delicious” variety, it was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. Gordon sliced the tomato to make sandwiches for 21 family members.
  13. The largest tomato plant (a “Sungold” variety), recorded in 2000, reached 19.8 meters (65 feet) in length and was grown by Nutriculture Ltd. of Mawdesley, Lancashire, UK.
  14. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest tomato tree grows at Walt Disney World Resort’s experimental greenhouse and yields a harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes and weighs 1,151.84 pounds (522 kg). The plant was discovered in Beijing, China, by Yong Huang, Epcot’s manager of agricultural science, who took its seeds and grew them in the experimental greenhouse.
  15. Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio – (right behind Bud Light).
  16. La Tomatina (Bũnol, Valencia, Spain), held festival held annually on the last Wednesday in August, attracts tens of thousands of visitors. The highlight is the tomato fight, in which 30,000+ participants throw an estimated 150,000 overripe tomatoes (100 metric tons) at each other.
  17. TomatoFest (Carmel, CA), coined as “America’s Favorite Tomato Festival,” was launched in 1991 and features 350 heirloom tomato variety tastings.
  18. In Ohio, the big one is the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival.  Started in 1965, the festival honors Reynoldsburg’s claim to fame as the birthplace of a sweeter, edible tomato created by resident Alexander W. Livingston. In 1870, he was the first to upgrade the wild tomato plant.  (sorry, cancelled this year).
  19. The antioxidant lycopene is a red pigment found in tomatoes. Tomatoes with the most brilliant shades of red indicate the highest amounts of lycopene and its fellow antioxidant, beta-carotene.
  20. Cooking tomatoes releases lycopene to do its work. A combined analysis of 21 studies published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention showed that men who ate the highest amounts of raw tomatoes had an 11% reduction in risk for prostate cancer. Those eating the most cooked tomato products fared even better: their prostate cancer risk was reduced by 19%.
  21.  Lycopene is fat-soluble. That means you’ll get the maximum benefit of tomato nutrition when tomatoes are absorbed in your body with the help of fats. Cook tomatoes in a touch of olive oil or pair tomatoes with avocados (in small amounts) to help your body absorb lycopene more easily.  I have been trying to find the health benefits of French fries covered in ketchup!!
  22. Eating tomatoes regularly is also good for your heart – one of the leading benefits of tomato nutrition. In a study of 40,000 women conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA), those who consumed 7 to 10 servings each week of tomato-based products were found to have a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women eating less than 1.5 servings of tomato products weekly.
  23. Eat 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato (or 1 cup of tomato sauce or ½ cup of tomato paste) daily to get best tomato nutrition benefits. According to a study in Cancer Research, the tomato-broccoli combination shrank prostate tumors in lab animals by 52%.

Q: Why did the tomato go out with a prune? 
A: Because he couldn’t find a date.

Q: How do you fix a sliced tomato? 
A: Use tomato paste, of course.

Q. Why did the tomato blush? 
A. Because he saw the salad dressing.

Q. What’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom? 
A. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Q. How do you get rid of unproductive tomatoes? 
A. Can them.

Fresh Salsa – Pico de Gallo

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh Grilled Tomatoes

Steve’s Fresh Tomato Sandwiches
– big, thick slices of fresh summer tomatoes, spread mayo on soft bread, salt & pepper – (ta-da!)

 

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me
a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


 

Like Spicy Sunshine

Mustard has been around since 2,000 BC. (give or take) Who’d have thought that such a little seed could still bring so much happiness to so many faces and be popular enough to support so many brands at the store. All so I can have mustard on my hot dog!!  :-)))) 

 

Spending time on the back patio, and especially over the grill, is a relaxing treat for me.  With the weather being amazing these past few weeks, I’m finding Jackie and me visiting the local grocery store and talking about “what we’re gonna have on the grill tonight.”  With my love of food, I’m good with just about anything – chicken, chops, steaks, ribs, fish … even the simplest meals, like dogs and burgers, get me going.  And of course, I just can’t have them without tasty mustard.  Just the word mustard starts the debate – traditional yellow, brown, “stadium”, wine, grey poupon(pinkies up please) and more.  Being a Clevelander, we’re a bit partial to Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard – a brown mustard made by Bertman Foods Company, a Cleveland, Ohio, food manufacturer and distributor which has produced several varieties of mustards since 1925 – AND the tasty version sold by The Davis Food Company called Stadium Authentic Mustard.  Being Cleveland and sports related, of course a controversy as to the “best”. A little history:

Bertman’s spicy brown mustard, has been used at sports stadiums in and around Cleveland for over 90 years, including League Park, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Jacobs Field, and Progressive Field. Joe Bertman, who was known for coming up with food solutions for his commercial customers, created the mustard for League Park, one of his top accounts, in the garage of his home in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood.  Bertman’s is well known to sports fans and was declared the “signature concession item” by ESPN.com writer Jim Caple. In 1966, Cleveland had one local brown stadium mustard until David Dwoskin, one of Bertman’s sales reps, decided to step in.  In 1971, Dwoskin registered the name “The Authentic Stadium Mustard” for his new company Davis Food Company.  In 1982 he obtained exclusive rights to sell to both wholesale and retail markets as well as stadiums, arenas and other venues. In the early 1980s there was a disagreement between Bertman and Dwoskin because Dwoskin was producing his own mustard under the Stadium brand through his own company.  A spicy standoff.  Today, both mustards are sold in grocery stores, specialty food shops, and online. The trademarked “Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard” is sold at Cleveland sports venues, and as a competing brand to David’s Stadium Mustard. We’ll leave it up to you to choose your favorite.  While you are deciding, here’s a bit of trivia to make you the smart one around the grill next time you are rolling the franks and flippin’ the burgers.  Thanks to Wikipedia, and thespruceeats.com for the info and recipes.  Enjoy!

– Mustard has been one of the most widely grown and used spices in the world for many centuries. It is believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks used mustard as a medicine and a spice. The Romans emulated the Greeks using it as both food and medicine as well, ascribing it as a cure for anything from hysteria to snakebite to bubonic plague.

– Mustard is one of the earliest spices on record, appearing in Sanskrit manuscripts around 3000 BC. It is thought to be one of the first crops to be domesticated, and mustard was used throughout ancient Egypt, India, and China.

– The Romans brought mustard to Northern France where it was eventually cultivated by Monks. By the 9th century Monasteries were producing considerable amounts of income from mustard sales.

– The origin of the word mustard is believed to have come from the word Mosto or grape muss, a young unfermented wine which was mixed with ground Mustard seeds by the French Monks.

– Prepared mustard as we know it, began in Dijon, France in the 13th century encouraged by the Mustard loving Pope John XXII of Avignon who created the position of “Grand Moustardier du Pape” or the Grand Mustard-Maker to the Pope for his idle Nephew who lived near Dijon.  (I think of myself as “Grand Heatoure of de Metale”).

– In the early 19th century, the British became the world’s first mustard millers – milling the heart of the mustard seed to a fine powder and they established mustard as an industrial food ingredient. The yellow Mustard that we know today was introduced in Rochester New York in 1904 where its pairing with the American hotdog gave rise to its popularity.

– Mustard, the condiment, is made from the tiny round seeds of the mustard plant, a member of the Brassicaceae family. In order to release their flavor, the seeds must be broken—coarsely cracked, crushed, or finely ground—then mixed with enough liquid to make a spreadable paste, which can then be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in many culinary preparations.

– Mustard has a long shelf life of one to two years and comes in many varieties: yellow, brown, coarse, extra spicy, flavored.  The name comes from mustard in English, moutarde in French, mostarda in Italian—is thought to come from a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens meaning “burning must.” This is a reference to the spicy heat of mustard seeds and the ancient practice of mixing the ground seeds with must, the fresh, unfermented juice of wine grapes.

– Mustard was originally used as a medicinal plant rather than a culinary one. Pythagoras employed mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings, and Hippocrates made mustard plasters to treat toothaches and chest colds. While some people say mustard contains beneficial minerals such as selenium and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, most of the nutritional value of the condiment comes from the food it is served with.

– While there are about 40 species of mustard plants, only three of them are used to make mustard: black (Brassica nigra), brown (B. juncea), and white or yellow (Sinapis alba). Mustard, however, takes many different forms depending on how the seeds are ground, what liquid is used (vinegar, wine, juice, or water), and what other flavoring ingredients are added.

– White mustard, which originated in the Mediterranean, is the antecedent of the bright yellow hot dog mustard we are all familiar with. Brown mustard from the Himalayas is familiar to many as Chinese restaurant mustard, and it serves as the base for most European and American mustards as well. Black mustard originated in the Middle East and in Asia Minor, where it is still popular, primarily as a spice in seed and powder form.  Different types of mustard seeds can be—and often are—blended to combine their different characteristics and make a kind of hybrid mustard.

– Seeds can be cracked and used as a seasoning before or after cooking, as they are in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Seeds are also often used as a pickling spice.  Oil extracted from mustard seeds can be used for cooking. High-quality mustard oils can be drizzled over finished food like olive oil to add spice and flavor.

– Mustard powder, either on its own or in a blend of powdered spices, can be used as a dry rub or sprinkled on food as a seasoning agent before grilling, roasting, or sautéing. Ground mustard can also be used to make your own prepared mustard.

– Prepared mustard is used widely as a condiment and goes especially well with charcuterie, classic dishes like choucroute garnie, baked ham, and, of course, hot dogs. Other flavorings—honey or garlic, for example—can be added to prepared mustard, and it is also frequently used as a cooking ingredient.

– While we usually think of mustard as a condiment to slather on hot dogs or just about anything else, it can also be used as a key ingredient in cooking. Prepared mustard is used in sauces, dressings, and marinades, where spicy flavor and creamy viscosity is desired. And mustard seeds, powder, and oil can be used too.

– The green or red leaves of mustard plants are edible, delicious, and widely used in many cuisines, but they come from other species in the Brassicaceae family. Mustard greens, on the are high in vitamins A and C.

– While there is great variation in taste from one kind of mustard to another, there are some basic flavor characteristics that you will find in just about every type and manifestation of mustard. There is always an element of spiciness, from very mild to burning hot. Hot or not, there is also an underlying sweetness from the plant itself, and there is usually a subtle but persistent aroma of yellow mustard flowers.

Recipes:
Salmon, Whole-Grain Mustard and Dill Tartlets
Mustard-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Groninger Mustard Soup
Wet Mustard Rub  

For me, mustard goes with hot dogs and hamburgers, a splash in potato salad, corned beef and ham sandwiches (or pretty much any sandwich) and in sauces on the grill.  What are your favorites – shoot me an email, and any great recipe too.  skowalski@htheat.com

Q:  What do you call mustard you think you may have had before?
A:  Dijon Vu.  HA!  Happy Friday

 

 

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

 


 

 

 

More Please

Whether the farmer grows them or you grow them, potatoes are GREAT!! And when they’re turned into potato salad they’re greater yet!!! Just check-out some of the recipes below, I have.

 

Growing up in a big family (yes, I’m one of 18 children – world’s bravest Dad and Mom superheroes!) I always enjoy going to family cookouts.  Now that my siblings are married and my kids are grown and hosting parties along with their cousins, I can pretty much find a place for a great cookout every day!!  The food is always amazing since each of us have our own personal favorites – whether grilled brats, hot dogs,  hamburgers, chicken, chops, steak or ribs putting their own culinary twist on things!  Add some corn on the cob, watermelon and one of my favorites – potato salad.  As a kid, as I would be filling up my plate (actually plates!), I’d smother my hot dog in yellow mustard and ketchup (none of that green stuff for me), grab a couple buttery ears of sweet corn and gently balance my  plate with a juicy slab of chilled watermelon, making sure I left enough space for the creamy delight.  Often before I could reach out to grab the spoon to dig into that giant bowl, mom would give me the look that said, “Easy does it Stevie.” I had to control myself navigating that bowl of rich, mayo-drenched potato salad, as I made sure to fill the spaces leftover on my plate.  After I got married, I moved into a whole new phase of food love – my wife Jackie’s cooking.  This includes her magnificent potato salad (no Mom, not starting a battle here).  How can I describe it – expertly cut potatoes, symmetric celery, onions, fluffy hard-boiled eggs, creamy mayonnaise, dash of mustard and of course her well-guarded spice combo.  Unfortunately, I can’t be filling multiple plates with potato salad anymore, anyone who knows me understands why!  Here’s some info and tips (thanks streetdirectory.com, NPR, NYTimes and of course Jackie) to help you get rolling.

– Potato salad has been around for many cookouts. It was first introduced to Europe from the New World by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. These early potato salads were made by boiling potatoes in wine or a mixture of vinegar and spices.

– The more American version of potato salad is rooted in German cuisine and came here with European settlers.

– Main ingredients included: potatoes (many different kinds to experiment with), hard boiled eggs, celery, sweet onion and depending on where you grew up – Hellman’s mayo or Miracle Whip? (we’re a Hellman’s House).

– Potato salad is a dish, usually an appetizer, made, obviously, from potatoes. However so, it still varies throughout different countries and regions of the world. Potato salads are more classified as side dishes than salads for they generally just precede or the follow the main course. As far as I am concerned, it could be the main dish!

– Many would claim on having made the best potato salad and would offer the truest and most authentic way of making it. But no matter what is said by many, the best potato salad, or any kind of salad at that matter, is purely of personal preference. Some like their potato salads mingled and just oozing with its dressing, some would prefer theirs to be really soft and tender, and others would want their potato salad to be crispy.

– Potato salads are definitely a popular menu choice of various chefs and cooks for preparing food for a large crowd, and since they can be made in large quantities with utter ease, they can also be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until it is their time to be served.

– You must never worry about emptying your wallet when going to the grocery store to buy whatever ingredients you need for you potato salad. The ingredients needed for potato salads are inexpensive and very much affordable. Thus, you do not have to worry about making one yourself because it is, in fact, quite easy.

– You would need two pounds, or approximately six large potatoes which are peeled and quartered.  Of course, you have to cook the potatoes in boiling water for approximately fifteen minutes, or when the potatoes are already barely tender. You have to check every minute or so after the first ten minutes have gone by. Once you have confirmed of the cooked status of your potatoes, cut them into smaller pieces. After that, just leave them be so that they will cool down.

– Then, you should mix the other ingredients you have also prepared in a large bowl. Once you are confident that you mixed them finely, add your already cooled potatoes, and then mix them, altogether, well. When all these are done, chill your self-made potato salad, but just do not forget to stir it a couple of times during the chilling time you have allotted for it.

 

Jackie’s Tips for Making Great Potato Salad

– Use waxy rather than floury potatoes, such as Yukon gold, red bliss and fingerlings. They have a creamy texture yet keep their shape well when cooked. Although russet potatoes are exceptionally tender, they don’t hold their shape well when boiled and tend to get mushy.

– Cut potatoes into equal-sized pieces so they will cook evenly.  Use the freshest ingredients you can find to mix in.  Experiment with “crunchy” vegies – tiny carrots, cucumber, peppers, radishes – you pick ‘em!

– Don’t overcook potatoes. Take them off the heat while they’re still slightly firm. Drain and let cool before assembling the salad – hot potatoes will flake and get mushy.

– With or without skins? It’s a personal preference. If you leave the skins on, be sure to scrub them well before cooking. Peeled potatoes work especially well for absorbing sauces such as pesto and dressings.

– Season the potatoes while still warm to absorb the flavors more fully.

– Eat right away, or let flavors meld?  I’m all for making and letting things blend – Steve on the other hand can hardly wait, but for sure loves it more days later!

– Chilled or warm – coin flip here.  Warm potato salads taste best the day they are made; however, cold potato salads often taste better the next day. If you’re making potato salad ahead of time, hold off on adding raw onions or fresh herbs until just before serving. You’ll avoid unpleasant pungency and keep your herbs looking fresh.

 

Super Fun Recipes to Try: 

Jackie’s Homemade German Potato Salad: 
Recipe came from the Italian mother of one of Jackie’s Mom’s childhood friends! (WOW).  Serves 6-8 – unless Steve gets there first!
½ lb bacon
6 large potatoes
1 small onion diced
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp celery seed
¾ cup cool water
½ cup vinegar
Fry bacon until crisp.  Reserve 1/3 cup bacon fat.  Boil whole potatoes until fork tender.  Drain then peel and slice while a bit hot.  Mix the flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, water and vinegar in a small bowl.  Pour vinegar mixtures into reserved bacon fat and heat until it boils for 1 minute.  Pour sauce over sliced hot potatoes and diced onions.  Serve hot, topped with bacon pieces.

Other recipes to try: (just click the links)
Lemon Grass Ginger Potato Salad
Arugula Pesto Potato Salad
String Bean And Potato Salad With Prosciutto
Patriotic Potato Salad

 

Potato Music to get you Smiling for the WeekendCLICK

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email
with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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