Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cà phê Sữa đá, The Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe

Franco-Vietnamese cuisine is fusion food at its finest and perhaps its purest.

I first had the drink at a Pho Cafe in Oklahoma City’s Asian District and was completely blown away.

Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home and impress your friends:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dark-roast ground coffee (preferably Trung Nguyen Premium Blend or Café Du Monde Coffee with Chicory)
2 tablespoons (scant) sweetened condensed milk

Special Equipment:
A single-cup Vietnamese metal coffee filter set

Café Du Monde Coffee with Chicory can be found at cafedumonde.com. The metal filter (phin) and Trung Nguyen coffee can be found at trung-ngyugen-online.com.

Preparation

There are two ways to make Vietnamese coffee. The simplest method is to steep coffee grounds in a heatproof container with 2/3 cup boiling water for 4 minutes. Pour through a coffee filter into a heatproof glass.
Or use a metal filter, which we recommend. Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove top screen from filter, add coffee, then screw on top screen. Place filter over a heatproof 12-oz. glass or measuring cup.
Pour a splash of the hot water into filter; this will allow the coffee grounds to bloom. When coffee begins to drip through, add enough water to reach top of filter. Place lid on filter and let coffee drip for 4 minutes. If coffee stops dripping sooner, gently loosen screw to relieve pressure

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Stir in condensed milk until blended. Add ice, stir, and serve.

Enjoy!

source: Bon Appetite’s Website

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Korean Wave heads to microwave as U.S. pizzas, burgers, drinks adopt local flavors

Just read a really well-written article on international food trends.  It should be of great interest to anyone!

Check it out:

 

Korean Wave heads to microwave as U.S. pizzas, burgers, drinks adopt local flavors.

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Onions Revered Throughout History

The history of food is becoming more and more popular as (naturally) time goes on.  In a world where fusion cuisine reigns King, multiculturalism and globalization are at the tips of tongues, it makes sense that we would attempt to understand the origins of our respective cuisines.

It’s well-known that onions aren’t typically enjoyed by themselves.  While their flavor is a staple of most kitchens, the vegetable (or fruit?  or bulb?)  is merely an additive to a more-than-likely complex meal in most cases and thus, not given the credit that it is undoubtedly due.  Perhaps some of the best examples of onions soaring to the heavens of potential are a nice onion soup, or even a “blooming onion” from an over-priced and not-so appetizing Australian chain.

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The history of food tells a very different story of the onion, however.  Thankfully, this vegetable that ultimately “makes us cry every time”, gets a current opportunity to shine in our memories of yesteryear.

The word itself comes to us from it’s Latin root “unio”.  When compared to the Spanish word “uno”, it becomes clear that the meaning of onion is simply “one”.  But, “why ‘one’?”, one might wonder (yes that was on purpose).  Think unity, union, one.

The onion has long been a symbol of unity, because it is composed of many layers (and lines, of course), but is still confined to one single vegetable.  One union-ous bulb, if you will.

It stands that great civilizations have come to revere the onion as a magnificent symbol in this way.  After all, what society doesn’t wish to be unified in harmony?

The Egyptians, perhaps the inhabitants of the most revered and studied ancient civilization of all time, were so fond of this symbol of unification, they actually took oaths and pledges while one hand was placed upon an onion.  For those of us today who take vows and words of sincerest meaning with hands over sacred books, we need no analogy to understand the importance of the onion in Egyptian society.

Later, the Byzantine Empire made unique architectural history with their onion-shaped domes.  It seems as if the Egyptians weren’t the only tremendously successful civilization with an affinity for a particular vegetable.  These domes eventually made their way into architecture all over the Middle East, Russia, Asia and everywhere in between.  These buildings are truly pieces of art that are highly revered around the world for there iconic design.

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In Medieval Times, otherwise known as the Middle Ages, onions were so valuable that they were often used as bartering tools to pay rent, acquire other foods and goods and were even given as wedding presents.  In a developing culinary world, the vegetable was truly a symbol of sustenance.  During this time of widespread health concerns and turbulent ways of life, the onion came to mean much more than mere societal unification.  It ultimately began to embody a source of nourishment in the age that experienced Roman-Persian Wars, the Hundred-Years War, and let’s not forget, Black Death.

In the American Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman‘s troops were in a bad way.  The top of the list of goods they demanded from the Government’s rations cabinet?  Onions.  Turns out that not only did they serve the troops in the form of a culinary staple, easily formed into an array of field foods, but the onions also doubled useful as an antiseptic for wounds.  In this way, onions can be credited in part with salvaging the continental United States in the dead center of sectionalism and its associated tribulations. 

In short, the history of the onion is a long and interesting one that encompasses far reaches of the globe.  At first glance, everyday objects that seem to have little to offer in terms of historical significance are often the ones with the richest of origins and timelines. 

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Rosewater Lemonade

I’ve steadily been getting deeper and deeper into Mediterranean, Middle and Near Eastern cuisine since moving to the big city.

Orlando is peppered with Greek, Lebanese and Indian restaurants and it is a gross understatement to say that their respective owners are almost always present and quite eager to see their patrons leave full and happy.

One of my favorite staples of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine is rosewater lemonade.

Never drink another “Western” drink with Middle Eastern food you worked so hard to prepare!

It’s easy to think, “what’s wrong with normal lemonade?” Well, nothing, really, but compared to rosewater lemonade, it is merely a sad imitation.

Here’s the recipe:

Rosewater Lemonade

Ingredients:

1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 7-8 lemons)
1 cup of water
3/4 cup of white sugar or turbinado sugar
4 cups of water
2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons rosewater
Ice
Lemon wedges
Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat together lemon juice, one cup of water, and sugar, stirring periodically until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and chill. Pour into a pitcher and add remaining 4 cups of water and rosewater. Serve over ice and lemon wedges.

image and recipe courtesy of quincesandthepea.com

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Fireworks are Bad for America and Our Economy

Fireworks have long been the celebratory medium of choice for Americans on the Fourth of July.

In recent years past, I can remember my wife and I buying tremendous packages of neatly aligned rockets and scuttlebutts, just begging to be ignited and ultimately, “ewwwed and awwwed” at.

However, this year is different.

I’m another year older and if I do say so myself, another year wiser.  And with wisdom comes dissatisfaction in fellow men.  I’m sure it wasn’t Joe Pantalanio’s character from 1999’s “The Matrix” that said it first, but perhaps it’s true that “ignorance is bliss”.

I say this, because I’ve recently become aware of the importance of ‘peace and quiet’.  As a new parent, I’ve come to require both for myself, to balance the hours consumed with baby-associated sounds, and for the baby himself, during the times in which he needs his sleep.

The ignorant ‘crackers of fire’, so to speak, are of course much unaware of even the littlest complexities, let alone the challenges of nighttime parenting and the associated pitfalls.

My whole family tossed and turned until 3:30am on the morning of the Fourth of July.  Whoo-hoo!  Celebrate good times!  This wasn’t even the evening of the 4th, which is typically when fireworks are set off.  Tonight (the fourth) will surely be a hellish one.  My son has already been woken up during his afternoon nap because of loud, percussive fireworks.

I set forth on my bicycle to locate the house that was setting off the fireworks in question.  Living in a labyrinth of sorts, it took me about an hour to finally find it.  Along the way, I spoke with about 6 or 7 individuals out and about who also complained of lack of sleep because of the fireworks last night.  I asked them to call the authorities, as I would be doing shortly.

Finally, I found the house in question.  At 4:45pm, 7/4/2012, there were at least 10 automobiles parked outside of the residence and it was no secret that their residence was responsible for continuous fireworks throughout much of the night before.  In the short amount of time it took me to ride by on my bicycle, I witnessed an individual from the residence stumble into a neighboring yard with a plastic red cup that ferociously sloshed beer, all while talking louder than necessary on a cell phone.  I also heard what sounded like 20-30 people in the back yard cheering, talking and carrying on in a celebratory fashion.

I’m patriotic.  My wife is an Army veteran and I am an active duty military spouse and stay-at-home dad.  I’ve been involved in local and state politics since I was old enough to vote, serving multiple times as an elections official and judge in my respective communities as well as working for candidate’s individual campaigns here and there.

To me, there is nothing American about cracking fireworks.

To begin with, they’re dangerous and “few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.”1  Secondly, they’re cheap thrills.  No person of intellect I’ve ever met entertains with fireworks to the extent that most offenders do.  It seems like a bit of a layperson’s infatuation.  Third, about 99% of fireworks come directly to the US from China.  This frivolous spending on fleeting satisfaction therefore is even worse for the American economy than at first meets the eye.  In fact, “consumers will spend over $600 million on fireworks”2 this Fourth of July.  That $600 million dollars is considerably more than Obama’s projected 2010 numbers for welfare recipients3, yet I hear little opposition to effectively sending this money directly to China, our largest debtor and perhaps our smallest source of empathy and/or common ideals.  Fourth, and perhaps most important, and definitely most relevant to my own scenario, fireworks are quite disruptive.  In my journey to find the house with the perpetual firecracker-ing, I talked with a number of people on jogs, walks, or in their front yards and asked them if they, too, were disturbed.  Every person I questioned responded yes, that they too were kept up at night by the percussive annoyances.

So, in summary, I ask you, fellow Americans, what is it that makes us participate so blindly in something like fireworks?  It is my opinion that firecrackers do NOT make one patriotic, but rather that it is a common misconception that being patriotic leads to setting of firecrackers.  I think it would be the most beneficial to all Americans, regardless of class or economic interests to put this tradition to bed once and for all.

 

Sources:

 

1.National Fire Protection Association, http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=297&cookie_test=1

2.Forbes Online, “Fourth of July By The Numbers,” http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/29/fourth-of-july-independence-lifestyle-travel-spending.html

3. CNSNews.com, “Obama Will Spend More on Welfare in the Next Year Than Bush Spent on Entire Iraq War, Study Reveals,” http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-will-spend-more-welfare-next-year-bush-spent-entire-iraq-war-study-reveals

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