Thursday, February 28, 2013

Preserving Meyer Lemons

At the time that I was introduced to this recipe I had yet to break out of my classic culinary training and realize my own voice in the kitchen. Sharon, one of the owners of a restaurant that I eventually became the chef of, had a very natural and honest approach to food. A philosophy, which, at the time, was still relatively adolescent in the culinary scene in California.
On an early week day of menial prep and menu planning for the week, I found myself uninspired and tired of my usual tricks. At a stand-still with my creativity, Sharon suggested I take a break and help her preserve some meyer lemons while searching for inspiration. The activity of salt packing lemons in a big glass jar and stashing them away in a dark nook of kitchen waiting for their transformation was such a mysterious activity. My attention had been captured even if I did not realize it for another 6 months.
This recipe, which I still use to this day, was one of many old world recipes which opened my eyes to the wonders of traditional culinary practices. Recipes created out of necessity rather than entertaining trends. The  romance of a few quality ingredients mingling with science and time to create a unique food matched by no modern technique. With the intrigue and respect I developed for these traditions my own voice became clear as I continued my culinary profession.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Liebster Award

Little is to be found in searches on the Liebster Award. Exactly who, where, when and why, are a mystery; however, proof that this tradition has been carried out for a couple of years is apparent.

Information I have gathered in searches shows the earliest documentation in Germany 2010 ("liebster" means dearest in German). This chain letter style award has been passed from an admiring blogger to a handful of bloggers whom if are willing all pass the award on to each of their handful of nominated recipients. As vague as the history are the suggested requirements for participating. The core steps in accepting and passing this award along however have been listed consistently.
One of the many Liebster Award badges.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Rubber Egg: Science for Kids in the Kitchen

The three women who raised me all had their own special recipes for the children in their home. These were not recipes for eating but ones for playing. As I think about it now I am surprised and very grateful for the effort put into making playtime supplies instead of just going out and buying similar toys or commercialized substitutes.

Now that I am a father with four children of my own I find myself recalling the fun and imagination these recipes brought me and I want to pass the experience on to my little ones. So I have decided to revisit the recipes (or experiments) shared with me as a child while researching some new kitchen science to pass on to you. This is not in the normal scope of this blog, but it has been so much fun!

The Rubber Egg 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Making Playdough: Science for Kids in the Kitchen

Never underestimate your power of creativity as a parent; 
To create an opportunity for a child will be your greatest work. 

The aroma of homemade play dough cooking on the stove takes me back to the first time my grandmother made a batch. The smell was as curious as the idea that my grandmother could make her very own play dough. To think that my grandmother knew the secrets to one of the most fun and imaginative toys would surely mean that she possessed supernatural or divine  knowledge. I am sure my image of her changed from that day forward. An exhibition of pure wizardry.

Homemade Playdough 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ocean in a Bottle: Science for Kids in the Kitchen

I am a professional chef however as a father of four children I am frequently reminded of how much energy can be put into feeding and entertaining my young ones. While researching and drawing from my own childhood memories to present new activities for their play I thought that it might be fun and useful to share these "recipes" with you. As a professional chef I have to admit that my toughest yet most loyal patrons are my family.

In my youth my sister and I would spend lengthy visits with my father and stepmother on the east coast. My stepmother, Lisa was rather unconventional when it came to toys and activities. More than anything I can remember her playtime projects and suggestions for curing boredom always sparked my imagination. To this day her creativity has left me with fond memories far exceeding the instant gratification of store bought popular toys (of which I had plenty).

One summer while on a regular stay on Fire Island, Lisa introduced me to the Ocean in a Bottle. What now might seem like a simple science project in a glass jar was such a treasured object that it followed me back to Manhattan where I admired it till the day I had to fly home to California. I had kept it sealed all  summer but apparently the thought of a 6 year old on a plane with a jar full of oil and blue water didn't settle well with the airline.

On that note be aware that this project could end up in a terrible mess somewhere in your home should the container be opened or damaged allowing the liquids to leak out or spill. So use your discretion in supervising the creating and play of the magical object.

Ocean in a Bottle

Friday, February 1, 2013

Honey Tasting

"Bee Good, Bee Well, Bee Healthy."
Cottage Industries.
For Christmas 2012 my stepmother, Lisa, who lives back east, sent me a precious surprise; two jars of her own cultivated wild honey. One jar still holds a chunk of the comb, which has a delicious chew to it. I was thrilled when I opened the small hay packed box, and as soon a I touched the nectar to my lips I was very excited to find ways to fully enjoy this honey.

With my work in kitchens I have encountered my share of wild honey from various pollen; lavender, clover, apple, etc. My all time favorite until this experience has been an orange blossom honey which is available at The Orange Store in Fresno, Ca. No commercial or artisan orange blossom honey has come close to this honey's distinct flavor. Although Lisa's honey does not possess a specific blossom flavor, it has a complexity all it's own; light, floral and clean. It dances on my tongue as it melts.

After my initial taste straight from a spoon I realized that a tasting was in order. To pair and contrast Lisa's honey with other sweet syrups, fruit, nuts and cheese would be a fun way to enjoy and experience subtle nuances of her and her bees hard work. After all, this was her first bulk harvest, and from what I understand, processing the honey was no easy task. I was a lucky recipient of a rare substance.