Thursday, 29 December 2011

Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire...

Sorry no photo is available to add to this post.  We didn't have the open fire either.  I can say Bernie Klassen did a great job of shaking my cast iron frying pan full of chestnuts.  I had mentioned that I'd never had roasted chestnuts.  Roasted chestnuts are often available at two events in town, one the Cadboro Village Christmas event and the other the Oak Bay light up.  I've attended the Oak Bay event when I lived in the area and missed the chestnuts.  So Bernie kindly decided I needed to experience roasted chestnuts and brought over a bag for me to try.

After slicing an X into the bottom of the chestnuts, all of them went into the cast iron frying pan on medium high.  The chestnuts swell and expand, splitting open at the X.  Cooling them a lot and then peeling the shell back is the way to eat them. Or you can try to hold the hot chestnut in your hand and peel to get to the delicious insides. The taste is a slight nutty flavour, although chestnuts are not nuts but seeds.

After a search on the internet I found some sites about chestnuts.  Further cooking instructions can be found at Canadian Living

The history of the chestnut is interesting, humans have been consuming them for thousands of years. In areas where cereal grains don't grow the chestnut is used instead. Often ground into flour for bread as well.  Like potatoes, chestnuts can be used in many different recipes and being mild flavoured are a good base for spices and flavouring.

I found an article at The Cambridge World History of Food on chestnuts worth reading

Sunday, 18 December 2011

No Fat

I've recently signed up for Saanich's Backyard Newsletter to keep me in the loop of what is going on in Saanich my own neighbourhood.  I don't cook a turkey dinner for Christmas, thankfully my sister in law, Brenda, does the traditional dinner.  I'm sure I'm going to be called upon in the future and knowing this trick for fat disposal will come in handy.

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) aren’t good for our sewers or septic systems. This season, 
put FOG where it belongs. You’ll keep your drains clear and our sewers, septic, and 
watersheds clean and healthy.

Each year almost one million kilograms of fats, oils and grease (FOG) are poured down 
residential drains. These household cooking oils, salad dressings, and fat or grease 
from meat really clog up our wastewater treatment process and they also impact the 
environment.  The build-up of FOG in sewer or septic lines can cause blockages that 
force sewage back into homes or allow it to spill over into our watersheds.
Clogged or restricted sewer lines aren’t just a messy situation for cleanup crews, 
they’re also expensive to deal with: fat clogged lines can cost you in tax dollars. 
Municipalities are spending up to $10,000 per block to repair and maintain sewer 
lines due to the build-up of FOG. 

If you’re connected to an onsite septic system, FOG can also be hard on your tank and 
drain field. Oils can form a puddle on the surface of your septic tank, preventing septic 
tank bacteria from doing their digesting job. If FOG moves from the septic tank into 
the drainage field, it can cause expensive blockages and contaminate surrounding soil 
and groundwater supplies. 

Even FOG in liquid form (such as olive oil) can cause problems when you pour it down 
the drain; many oils solidify at lower temperatures and can clog further down the 
line. Those that don’t solidify often bind to other forms of fats and grease, creating 
blockages, or they move through the system too quickly, preventing treatment. 
The good news?  The solutions are simple and free! 

For small amounts of grease, sauces, and salad dressings:
Use a paper towel or citrus peels to wipe 
out the container and remove most of the 
oily residue before rinsing in the sink. 
For grease left over from cooking and 
•Cool fats, then pour or scoop into a 
sealable container.  
•Store the sealed container in the 
refrigerator or freezer until full and 
then dispose of it with your household 
garbage, curbside organics collection 
bin where applicable, or take it to the 
recycling area at Hartland Landfill, no 
charge, to be recycled into industrial 
fuel, soap, among other consumable 

For large residential amounts of deep fryer fat:
•Store in a sealed container and take to Hartland Landfill for recycling.

I finally made it to another Farmers' Market, this one being the last of 2011.  I had a informative chat with Dean at Food Roots Distributors Co-op  It is always interesting to hear about what farmers and others who share my passion on local food are doing. I'm impressed the community is really making an effort to work towards the island being a 95% local food producing community.

I also learnt about Italian desserts from Claudio at Il Forno di Claudio, the hazelnut desserts were delicious and I loved the hazelnut flour taste.  I also learnt about Italian breads.  I passed on having a treat but certainly will visit Claudio again.  Thank you Claudio for the samples and the chat.

I wandered around the market and everything looked wonderful.  I wish I'd had more money to spend as I really wanted to try every booth.  Especially El Guapo Chorizo Grill which was making sausage chipatta buns with the most delicious smelling chorizo.  The hunger pangs kicked in.  I passed on this too as I was saving my hunger for B-Red Bakery where I had a Gibassier - orange and fennel brioche which was a flavour explosion.  The question is where to find B-Red Bakery goodies, well you have to Facebook like them and then they will tell you.  For a start though, try 2% Jazz Coffee 2621 Douglas and soon to be in the Hudson or Caffe Fantastico on King

To complete my food journey today, I tried Organic Fair's dark chocolate bars for the holiday season. Would have bought a few of these for stockings stuffers but never know who enjoys dark chocolate in my family.  Not John for one.  Although he might have gone for the candy cane bar which had a very minty flavour.  Next time we are up island kayaking or day tripping we have been told to phone ahead and drop in to see the farm.

Next market day is January 7th and I will be heading downtown again, by bus with my bags to partake of 2012's first market day.  I might even drag John along for an island food adventure.