Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Some Saturday mornings during college, I would walk downtown (I went to college in a small town) and get a fresh glazed doughnut (not donut!) at the bakery.  It was so delicious and with my metabolism, I never had to worry about the calories.

However, during high school, my first job was waiting tables at a cafe and doughnut shop.  I would come home from work exhausted and reeking of the smell of the grease in which the doughnuts were fried.  Later, after college, I worked for a time in a health food store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (yes, they made and sold doughnuts there, ironically,)  I’d arrive in the morning to see the doughnuts draining and although the smell wasn’t as intense as at the cafe, it was enough to put me off eating doughnuts for quite some time, just as in high school.

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In 1976, M*A*S*H’s Corporal Klinger says, “If you are ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo’s got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs”, putting Tony Packo’s on the world map.   But the Toledo, Ohio icon actually had its beginnings back in 1932, when Tony and his wife Rose opened their sandwich and ice cream shop at the beginning of the Great Depression with a $100 family loan.

© janet m. webb 2017

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Do you want real Parmesan cheese? Don’t buy it in a can.  Cheese isn’t the only thing in that can.  There can even be cellulose (not cellulite, mind you), a safe additive that’s allowed to avoid clumping, in it, as this 2016 article from Bloomberg reports.  I grew up knowing nothing but the cheese (or “cheese”) in those cans.  The real thing is as far from the canned variety as my Nebraska home was from Italy.  And the real thing is called Parmigiano Reggiano.

Every aspect of “The King of Cheese” is strictly monitored.  As the Bloomberg article states:

Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan. That two-pound difference means millions of dollars to manufacturers, according to Sommer.

Each of those cheeses has to be turned daily and wiped to get moisture off, a dangerous job now done by machine.  Real Parmigiano Reggiano must have a variety of markings on the outside including these obvious and distinctive ones:

Stenciling band, placed entirely around the wheel, which has:

  • pre-punched dots bearing the inscription PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO acronym DOP and the inscription CONSORZIO TUTELA
  • identification number of dairy
  • production month and year

Here’s what a real big cheese looks like. (I especially like this one as it has my birthday on it!)  Grate it yourself for an incomparable taste.  If you find it on sale, freeze a chunk and grate as needed.  And toss the can!

© janet m. webb 2017

We were all kneading our pasta dough.  One after another, people began getting ready to make whatever type of pasta we were making.  I was frustrated.  My dough still wasn’t ready.  Loretta Paganini, of the eponymous cooking school in Chesterland, Ohio, saw my frustration.  She said she was told she should be a pastry chef, as her hands were always cold.  Cold is good for pastry, not as good for pasta.

Although it takes a bit of time, pasta isn’t difficult to make.  Filled shapes take more time than those just cut, such as linguine.  Although little Italian grandmothers may roll the dough out with a rolling pin, it’s much easier to use a pasta machine.  And by the way, noodles are a type of pasta, not pasta itself.  Here’s the recipe I’ve been using since I learned to make ravioli, along with some photos from my ravioli-making day and the link to Loretta’s Italian grandmother’s walnut sauce.

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Nancy’s challenging us to show something edible this week and although I love her choice of berries (a favorite of mine as well), I also love bread.  In a world filled with no-carb diets, I crave them.  Pasta is another of my choices. I saw these beautiful loaves at a French farmer’s market. They beg for a bit of cheese or some Normandy butter and a lovely glass of red.

© janet m. webb 2014

 

 

When a holiday or other special event comes around, it’s always good to have a recipe or two that tastes great and takes little time and effort to prepare.  Here are two I’ve been making for years. My dark chocolate of choice is Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus Bar, which will make two batches of bark or one of peanut-raisin clusters.

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© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016