March 28, 2017

Kumquats, Persimmons, Golden Kiwis & Dragonfruit

Kumquat tree

Kumquat tree

Three cheers for the availability of new fruit varieties in your local grocery stores. I just discovered kumquats, tiny orange-like citrus fruit native to Asia, which can be eaten like grapes or sliced in half for salads and desserts. Watch out for the seeds as you munch on these snacks packed with Vitamin C.  gold-kiwi-9708645
As much as I like regular Kiwis with green fruit interiors, Golden Kiwis with sweet yellow flesh are even better. The egg-shaped fruit is originally from China, but New Zealand adopted the kiwifruit as their own and started to export it to the U. S. and the world.
Keep your eye peeled for the occasional shipment of Golden Kiwis. dragon-fruit-cut

One of the oddest-looking items in the produce department is dragon fruit, technically a cactus of indeterminate origin, but generally found in tropical climates. It goes by other names such as pitahaya or Hylocereus undatus, but the curly leaves are reminiscent of dragon scales, hence the name. Cut the fruit in half and you will find an unusual white fruit interior with black edible dots that look like poppy seeds. It does not taste like anything comparable but
the slight sweetness and pudding-like consistency is perfect for a snack or dessert. hachiyapersimmon

Persimmons have been a personal favorite of mine for a few years now, but the grocery stores seem to be stocking this fruit with more regularity in the fall. The heart-shaped version is called Hachiya and can be chalky tasting before it ripens. It is best to eat them when they resemble a water balloon. Fuyus, which look like a flat tomato, are less astringent and can be eaten before they are fully ripe. I’m still looking for an Asian type called “cinnamon or chocolate persimmon” which has sweet dark brown flesh. Perhaps a visit to Argyle Street or Chinatown is in order. Who knows what other fruit delicacies I might find in an Asian grocery?

Tilly Vintage Boutique in Andersonville

Some of you may know of my passion for fashion and of my continual quest for affordable clothing and accessories.

I recently bought a consignment dress at another establishment that came without buttons or cuff links for the French cuff sleeves. What to do?

Walking my dog this past week, I popped my head inside the door of Tilly Vintage Boutique in Andersonville and asked the salesclerk if they had cuff links. “But, of course,” she said. I returned with the dress and without my big furry dog.

The salesclerk brought out trays of cuff links in both feminine and masculine styles. There they were: the perfect match for my evening dress for just $19.

There are shelves of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, hat and purses plus dresses, jackets and clothing from different eras that hang from the ceiling and walls. Weather permitting, mannequins and a clothing rack in front of the store beckon shoppers within.

Tilly’s used to be on Lincoln Avenue where I found an authentic evening gown in excellent condition from the 1920’s. The store is smaller in its Andersonville location, but continues to stock amazing fashion finds. Who knew recycling could be such fun? Or rather upcycling, according to owner Susan Lynch!

https://www.facebook.com/Tilly-189245661159776/

Nike’s HyperAdapt 1.0 smart sneakers

Remember when tying your shoes was a rite of passage for your children, your students or you? Well, Nike will be selling sneakers in November that make that simple action obsolete.

Their self-lacing  sneakers are reminiscent of the pair worn by Marty McFly in the iconic movie, Back To the Future. The shoes electronically sense whether the laces need to be tightened or loosened providing an “Adaptive Fit.”

The sole of the HyperAdapt 1.0 shoes feature a lit sole that indicates if you are “powered up.” Does this mean that we will charge our sneakers next to our phones? Nike, can you give us some jet propulsion next?

For more information:
http://news.nike.com/news/hyperadapt-adaptive-lacing

Sausages by AmyLu

I just found delicious chicken sausages that use no nitrates, nitrites, MSG, preservatives or artificial ingredients and are pork-free,  gluten-free, low in fat, high in protein and low in carbs. I even found a flavor, Gourmet Chorizo that contains no sugar or dairy which can be challenging to find.

ATK Foods, the parent company features other sausage flavors such as Apple & Gouda Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato & Basil, Cranberry & Cognac and Chipotle Pepper. They also sell burgers, meatballs and old-world sausage products such as Polish sausage, Wieners, Bratwurst and Specialty Ethnic Sausages viagra rezeptfrei bestellen.

Did I mention that the company is based in Chicago? Joseph Slotkowski opened his Chicago sausage company in 1918 and it’s still going strong under third generation member, Amylu Kurzawski. You can shop for the products on-line or find the sausage and meat products in selected grocery stores. I found my Amylu edibles at Mariano’s in Chicago. Delicious!

http://www.atkfoods.com/our-brands/sausages-by-amylu

San Marzano Tomatoes and Terlato Pomodoro Sauce

How did it take me so long to discover what some chefs consider to be the best variety of plum tomato?
San Marzano tomatoes were originally grown near Naples, Italy in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius. Going back in history, these particular tomato seeds were purportedly a gift from the Viceroy of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples.

If the new world had not been discovered, there would be no tomatoes in Italian cuisine. Can you imagine? I found a bag of these small red, oblong beauties at Whole Foods.

While trying to find a tomato sauce for pasta at Mariano’s that did not contain sugar or any creepy additives, I selected Terlato Pomodoro Sauce for its excellent ingredients: vine-ripened San Marzano tomatoes, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, garlic and spices. When the check-out girl said the 24-ounce bottle was 12 dollars, I almost asked her to remove it from my purchases. Mind you, the regular grocery types were under 4 and 5 dollars. I was hungry and the thought of looking at more ingredient lists on other sauces impelled me to take the expensive product home.

Wow! When I first opened this “small batch” recipe, I couldn’t believe how fresh and flavorful it tasted. Yes, this tomato sauce is expensive, but it is definitely worth the price. It elevated my Italian meal way above the normal grocery store brand level. The Terlato Kitchen web site lists Arrabbiata and Vodka Sauces along with the Pomodoro. I just may need to purchase those as well as the Organic Dark Amber Maple Syrup. Grazie bene, John Terlato!

http://www.terlatokitchen.com

Family Hub: Samsung’s new smart refrigerator

The door panel on Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator can keep track of how old your food is, play Pandora, mirror your television, tell you the weather, check  your daily schedule, remind you when to buy certain food items and can display your favorite recipes. Inside cameras let you peruse what’s in your frig when you are away from home. Can you program the refrigerator to tell you NOT to eat that carton of Haagen Daz ice cream in your freezer?

Here is a video clip shot during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZC198NCW48

Amazing Items Made By 3D Printers

Curious about what things can be printed on a 3D printer, like food, body parts and guns? Check out this brief video.

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=3d+printing+youtube&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

 

You can even print a life-size statue of yourself!

Tutti Frutti for spring and summer

Mariano’s Grocery has been feeding my fruit tooth year-round, but the produce department is bursting with delicious varieties now that spring is here and summer fast approaches. Here are some of my current citrus favorites with apples and rhubarb thrown in for good measure.

Minneola Tangelos: The Minneola tangelo is a cross between a grapefruit and a variety of tangerine with juicy flesh and a sweet/sour flavor. The orange-colored citrus has a characteristic nipple or bell-like shape.

Meyer Lemons: This citrus variety is native to China and is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or an orange. The Meyer lemon is generally sweeter, rounder, lower acidity and thinner skinned than common lemons. The California cuisine revolution in the 1990’s and Martha Stewart have further popularized this variety of lemon.

Key Limes: This lime variety is smaller, seedier, sweeter, has a higher acidity and a rind that is thinner than the usual Persian limes found in grocery stores. If you are making a Key Lime pie, this is the variety to purchase, but I prefer Key Limes whenever they are available. This citrus fruit is green when picked and turns yellow when ripe.

Blood Oranges: A natural mutation of the orange which has a crimson interior and raspberry notes in the orange citrus flesh with a tougher skin than most oranges. The exterior may or may not have a red tinge to the orange color. The orange itself is a hybrid between pomelos and tangerines.

Pomelos: Out of curiosity, I bought a pomelo, native to South and Southeast Asia. Larger than the common grapefruit, the flesh is sweet but the tough, inedible interior membranes drove me back to my preferred Ruby Red grapefruit variety.

Grapples: A man behind me in the check-out line at Mariano’s had a plastic bag of apples. I kept smelling grapes which puzzled me since there were none in sight. He patiently explained to me that the variety of fruit he had purchased crunches like a crisp apple, but the taste and aroma are that of grapes and are named “grapples.” I promptly bought some myself. As much as I liked them, Honey Crisp apples continue to be my favorite variety. Still, you might get a kick out of trying this amusing hybrid.

http://www.grapplefruits.com/

Honeycrisp Apples: Speaking of Honeycrisp apples which have recently exploded in popularity, the University of Minnesota developed this variety which boasts sweetness, firmness and tartness. The Honeycrisp is generally more expensive than other apples and has larger cells which burst in the mouth when we bite into them. If you are eating dairy, try a wedge of gouda cheese with this beauty. Yum!

Rhubarb: While technically a low carb, high fiber vegetable, most American cuisine treats rhubarb as a fruit for pies, compotes, jams and cobblers. Those not wanting to spike their blood sugar can dice rhubarb and cook it in lemon juice with a low glycemic sweetener like xylitol or stevia. I prefer xylitol which can be ordered on-line or purchased at the Vitamin Shoppe locally. Mariano’s and Treasure Island usually carry fresh rhubarb in their produce departments. I hope to plant some in my garden this summer with the hopes that the resident rabbit will nibble elsewhere.

Here’s to the bounty of warmer weather at your own favorite produce vendor!

Harissa, a Tunisian condiment for the adventuresome palate

 

If you want to add an exotic taste to your poultry or fish, vegetables or sandwiches, check out harissa, a sauce or paste containing roasted red peppers, hot chili peppers, and spices that may include garlic, coriander seed or caraway mixed into an olive oil base. Other versions may contain lemon juice or cumin.  In Tunisia, harissa is used as a flavoring for couscous or in a chickpea soup served for breakfast.

When I want a variation on huevos rancheros, I use harissa instead of salsa to flavor my eggs. Harissa can also save chicken from being bland. Another recipe suggested mixing a dollop of harissa into butter before you mix it into steamed veggies and couscous.

Mina is the brand that I can recommend, labeled Moroccan Red Pepper Sauce Mild, produced by Casablanca Foods. Mina makes green pepper and spicy versions as well. I found my jar at Whole Foods.

www.casablancafoods.com

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Kayaks on the Chicago Riverwalk

Some of you have been reading my Culture Beat blurbs since my tenure at the Fairmont Hotel and Convito Italiano many moons ago.

Here are some recent Culture Beat blog posts and their links:

The cell phone headset that has improved my connectivity:

LG Tone Pro Wireless Stereo Headset

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2016/03/lg-tone-pro-wireless-stereo-headset/

The little speaker that makes my phone or iPad a portable stereo:

Jambox speaker by Jawbone

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/08/jambox-speaker-by-jawbone/

My favorite site for foreign tv streaming:

MHZ Choice launches on Oct. 20 (updated blog post forthcoming)

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/10/mhz-choice-launches-on-oct-20/

The show you may want to watch to see women in political power (in Sweden):

Those In Power: a Swedish political tv drama on MHZ

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2016/02/those-in-power-a-swedish-political-tv-drama/

If you want to delve into charming French literature, check out:

The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (in English)

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/12/the-presidents-hat-and-the-red-notebook/

A book I’m recommending if you like science and business:

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2016/03/elon-musk-tesla-spacex-and-the-quest-for-a-fantastic-future-by-ashlee-vance/

Need some food items to add a little zing to your healthy diet?

My current favorite taste sensations (triple cherry blend, rice tortillas, dill relish, sauerkraut)

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/09/my-current-favorite-taste-sensations/

If you are trying to cut down coffee jitters and acidity, try this ayurvedic tea:

Raja’s Cup: the anti-oxidant coffee substitute

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/09/rajas-cup-the-anti-oxidant-coffee-substitute/

When your sweet tooth hits, candy from a home-grown company:

Terry’s Toffee and Wackerpop

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2014/10/terrys-toffee-and-wackerpop/

Stores that both amateur and professional chefs adore:

The Spice House: Seasoning the World

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/04/the-spice-house-seasoning-the-world/

Balsa Mela and Italian Herbed Salt at The City Olive

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/05/balsa-mela-and-italian-herbed-salt/

My favorite chain restaurant:

Lyfe Kitchen

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/03/lyfe-kitchen/

The delightful Chicago attraction that not everyone has visited:

Chicago Riverwalk from LaSalle to Lake Michigan (updated photos soon as construction continues further west)

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/category/outdoor-fun-in-chicago/

Chicago’s classy classical record label:

Cedille Records Celebrates 25 Years as Chicago’s classical record company

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/04/cedille-records-celebrates-25-years-as-chicagos-classical-record-company/

One of the best apps for listening to customized radio:

AccuRadio: Hand-crafted by music lovers-not by a computer

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/05/accuradio-hand-crafted-by-music-lovers-not-by-a-computer/

My favorite app for news on your iPad or tablet:

Flipboard, a new way to get your news fix

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2014/02/flipboard-a-new-way-to-get-your-news-fix/

The best app for checking out other opinions on movies and tv:

Metacritic, when you want to know what the critics think

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/07/metacritic-when-you-want-to-know-what-the-critics-think/

Some of my favorite apps for finding sheet music, paid or free:

Printed Music in the Digital Age

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2014/04/printed-music-in-the-digital-age/

Best app for electronic music storage:

Sheet Music at Your Fingertips: ForScore

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2014/07/sheet-music-at-your-fingertips-forscore/

The best fake book for song standards on your tablet or desktop:

iRealPro app for your portable device or desktop

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2015/08/irealpro-app-for-your-portable-device-or-desktop/

More apps for the musically inclined:

Music App Happy

http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/2014/04/music-app-happy/