Today is national Cold Cut Day. One might ask why? I mean cold cuts are bomb but aren’t they full of nitrates, salt and other preservatives that have been proven hideously unhealthy? Not to be a buzz kill but hey, it is what it is.
Now that I have written my disclaimer I will admit that I LOVE COLD CUTS! They are what make a deli a real deli, whether Jewish or Italian. One can judge the personality of strangers by what they order at a deli. The daring order tongue. Passive people order smoked turkey. To me, corned beef is the key to living. Deli sandwiches have a history and it starts with the invention of the Sandwich.
Deli meats were created in Europe in the 1700s thanks to the Earl of Sandwich, who populared the “sandwich” concept. I wonder if they had peanut butter and jelly back then?
But I digress: as defined by the web site Mobile Cuisine, “cold cuts are precooked or cured meat, often sausages or meat loaves, that are sliced and served cold or hot on sandwiches or on party trays.” Here are few facts listed on the MobileCuisine.Com web site:
• March 3rd (TODAY) is National Cold Cuts Day.
• Americans annually eat about $2 billion worth of cold cuts per year.
• Most pre-sliced cold cuts are higher in fat, nitrates, and sodium than those that are sliced to order.
• One of the most well known cold cuts in the United States is bologna. Named for the Italian city of the same name, bologna is similar to an Italian sausage called Mortadella.
• Every year, the Butterball plant processes about 12-15 million turkeys, into cold cuts.
• Head cheese, which really isn’t cheese at all, is made from head meat including tongue and snout.
• Synonyms for Cold Cuts: lunch meats, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, and cold meats.
• The customers of Carnegie Deli in NYC eat up to 10,000 pounds of pastrami a week.
So SPLURGE – make a sandwich to celebrate the Earl Of Sandwich!
National Pancake Day was this last week and I can’t believe I missed it! No worries because I just made “breakfast for dinner” including a batch of plain with maraschino cherries and chocolate chip pancakes (see photos of pancakes served on our Acaciaware plates). There’s something about pancakes that is basic, visceral and sugar high euphoria. However there is an ongoing debate about which version is better: plain pancakes with syrup or chocolate chip pancakes? I choose both syrup and chocolate chips (heavy on the chips) to satisfy both urges. Others don’t want to upset the natural balance of pancakes and maple syrup so they don’t like chocolate chips. Forget the fruit flavored syrups – only maple for me!
Another reason I wrote about pancakes is because I am pissed off with my local deli that..yes…sells pancakes. This otherwise good deli refuses to make pancakes with chocolate chips. Can you believe that!?? I finally asked the owner why and he said it made the grill too dirty. OMG WHAT A WEAK EXCUSE! What about blueberries on the menu – those aren’t dirty on the grill? I was so disappointed.
However I digress – for those of you who like banana pancakes, good for you. There is something unsatisfying to me using banana. However blueberry pancakes rank right up there with chocolate chip in my book. Some people use strawberries and I get that. I tend to be a sugar fanatic so I will use strawberry preserves, served along side apricot preserves. I admit syrup is not needed here because it gets in the way of the fruit flavored sugar high.
I don’t care if I am diabetic. There is nothing that is going to get in between me and my chocolate chip pancakes, period.
What do you know—it’s National Tortilla Chip Day! We think the tortilla chip is important enough to have it’s own day, don’t you? Considering how universally liked and pervasive these chips are in society, they are definitely taken for granted. It’s also a competitive market—we counted at least ten brands at the grocery store!
Generally available in white, yellow, blue and red corn, tortilla chips offer a plethora of calories. The best tortilla chips are homemade from fresh tortillas and generally only available for purchase from Mexican restaurants.
Let’s take a moment to give an honorable mention to Fritos because they are also heavy hitters. Fritos are similar to tortilla chips but I just wanted to honor Fritos as they are my favorites along with Ruffles BBQ chips (do you remember “rrrrrrruffles have rrrrrrrdiges”?)
In honor of the tortilla chip, here’s a borrowed recipe to make your own! Feel free to change the seasoning to your taste and the goal is to keep them light, crispy, a little spicy and not oily:
• 1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cut each tortilla into 8 chip sized wedges and arrange the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
In a mister, combine the oil and lime juice. Mix well and spray each tortilla wedge until slightly moist.
Combine the cumin, chili powder and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle on the chips.
Bake for about 7 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 8 minutes or until the chips are crisp, but not too brown.
Serve with salsa, guacamole, bean or cheese dip. Oula!
February 20th is Love Your Pet Day. That’s not to say we don’t love our pets every day. It’s more like a “Pamper” your pet day. For example, why don’t you grill a steak for your dog? Our photo shows our mascot Murphy the golden retriever as he flashes appreciative eyes and tongue for his tri-tip, grilling on the BBQ. I made a bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich shown on our Acaciaware acacia wood tray but decided it is for ME!
How about a fillet of sole for kitty? There are more than just dog and cat pets so you need to figure out what your pet would love. Like Pistacios for the Parrot? I think a spa treatment using blueberry shampoo for Murphy my golden also sounds intriguing. Then we both get pampered because there is no better aroma than a puppy just after bathing. And of course clean dogs receive more kisses.
But I digress: pamper your pet and you will receive love back many times over. Aren’t they (and you) worth it?
Want to try out the Acaciaware™ line of sustainable wood serveware? Want an extra bowl to complement your Acaciaware™ collection? Look no further: we’re giving you one 4″ round dipping & nut bowl for FREE!
As a natural and sustainably harvested wooden bowl, Acaciaware™ bowls are the perfect shell for a healthy, scrumptious açaí bowl.
The açaí berry is not only incredibly rich in antioxidants – it also tastes wonderful blended into a thick frozen yogurt-like smoothie. Learning to make açaí bowls at home will not only save you a few bucks, but will also be the perfect companion for a clean-eating lifestyle.
Earth Day Açaí Bowls
1 pouch of frozen açaí purée
1/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1 frozen ripe banana
5 fresh strawberries
A splash of apple juice
Hemp seed granola
A drizzle of honey
3 SIMPLE STEPS:
Place the frozen açaí purée, pineapple chunks, mango chunks, banana, and strawberries into a blender. Pulse until the frozen fruit is broken down slightly.
Slowly add in a splash or two of apple juice, just until the mixture comes together. Be careful not to add too much! Blend until smooth.
Pour the smooth and creamy blended açaí into an Acaciaware™ bowl, decorate with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!
The key to achieving the perfect açaí bowl is thickness: the blended açaí mixture should be thick enough to eat with a spoon!
Such a simple concept: light the charcoals, throw on some chicken breasts, thighs, and drumettes. It is actually quite simple but there is A SECRET!
Yes, I said it. I have a secret method to grilling chicken that I am about to impart on to the world. You know how white meat can grill and become dry? Not to mention the few seconds you look away and the breasts are afire and burned. Those days are gone after you read this! You will thank me…I love cash.
I only use a Weber grill and mesquite charcoal. There’s something alluring about pouring lighter fluid over wood and lighting it. But that’s the pyro in me coming out. The real reason for mesquite wood is because it is burns hot (and I mean HOT!), which sears the juices into the chicken.
Are you ready for the secret? Here it is: indirect cooking. Never cook your chicken breast directly over coals. Use the BBQ as an oven, not a broiler. You can cook drumettes and thighs over the coals directly because they are fattier than white meat. Make sure you turn your chicken frequently.
BUT THE REAL SECRET is to slather your favorite barbecue sauce at the end (during the last 30 seconds) so it does not burn. So many people put BBQ sauce on way too early. If you did not know this, I just made your BBQ chicken taste fabulous!
Approach the grill with confidence! You are about to make some of the best corn you have ever tasted. Mid-summer is the perfect time for farm fresh corn at your local farmers market. Here’s a quick and easy grilled corn technique using butter, garlic, salt and indirect heating.
Buy the largest corn cobs you can find. Tip: shuck the corn at the market to avoid a mess at home (whew I’m glad I looked up the spelling of shuck). Once at home, cut off both ends and lay the shucked corn on a 12″ long piece of tin foil. Then, spread about 1/4 thick layer of unsalted butter along the entire length of the cob, along with freshly crushed garlic and then lightly salt. You can mix the butter, garlic and salt together and spread the mixture onto the corn if you really want to simplify things but I am a purist.
I use my hands for spreading the butter as this makes the process easier, and I like to lick my fingers afterwards (just kidding folks). If you are lazy like me, you will use garlic salt which when used on corn has a surprisingly close flavor to fresh garlic. Wrap the corn with the tin foil butter side up.
Lay the foil wrapped corn cobs butter side up along the outer edge of the grill, not directly over the coals. Cover the grill. This is called the indirect heating method, using the BBQ more as an oven than grille. You can cook your corn alongside anything you are grilling directly in the center so don’t worry about cooking corn separately from your main protein.
Turn the corn 1/4 turn every 5-6 minutes. After four turns, use a fork and poke a cob. If the corn seems under cooked (the fork doesn’t penetrate easily), just keep turning until the kernels are tender and the fork penetrates with ease.
I used this recipe and technique over the July 4th holiday and everyone was raving how good the corn was (with garlic butter all over their faces I might add – ha!). Some say corn is cliche’. I say nay, nay!
One of my favorite red meats for grilling is the tri-tip. It has enough fat to be really tasty but it’s not too fatty and reasonably healthy. The best way to grill a tri-tip is first, to use mesquite coals (coals, not chips). Mesquite is usually available at your local store who carries BBQ briquettes. There’s something artificial tasting about those briquette coals, don’t you think? Mesquite is 100% natural wood and is not such a strong, overwhelming flavor as other woods for grilling (like maple or alder). Mesquite imparts subtle smoke overtones but does not hit you over the head screaming “I’M SMOKED”. All meats and seafood do well with hot burning mesquite, as the high burning temperature seals in juices and flavors.
I have an easy way to marinade a tri-tip prior to grilling that is easy and will knock your socks off (I tend to walk barefoot). For those of you who read this blog, you know easy and tasty are my cooking metrics.
OK then. Take a bottle of Girards champagne dressing (yes a bottled dressing) and pour over the tri-tip placed inside a pyrex baker. Then, take a head of garlic and crush the living daylights out of the cloves onto the meat. I crush as many as 10-12 cloves but I am a garlic freak. Spread the crushed garlic all over the surface of the tri-tip. Then flip over and do the same thing. Take a turkey baster and baste the meat on both sides with the dressing and garlic. Let sit for at least one hour. You don’t have to let it sit (you can grill right away) but the longer you let it marinade, the better the garlic flavor.
That’s it. I told you it was easy. For those of you who say bottled dressing is not the way, I say ney, ney! Just like my pitch for Lawry’s seasoned pepper and garlic salt in my perpetual dressing article, try the Girards champagne dressing with freshly crushed garlic. The hint of smoke from the mesquite melds with the garlic marinade and you won’t believe the wonderful flavor!