1. #1
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    Mar 2002
    Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.

    Cool Pity The Poor Whatsit

    I am in the midst of writing up quarterly performance assessments, and needed a break.... (just remember: I don't write this stuff - ok )

    Pity the poor whatsit

    Pam Freir Times Colonist March 9, 2005

    Usually, these articles of mine are upbeat, happy, sometimes even funny. At least, they're meant to be. This week, though, will be different. If you're looking for the usual guffaws, the usual warm-all-over feeling when you reach the bottom of the page, look elsewhere. Because this week I am sad and I am mad, all because of what the world has done to that magnificent bird from Central America that for now I will call the whatsit.

    Wild whatsits - don't worry, I'll sort out the name business later - flourished throughout Central and North America. They were, and where they survive still are, big birds able to fly at 90 kmh and run at 50 kmh.

    The Aztecs domesticated their local breed of whatsits, and thought so highly of them that not once but twice a year they held special day-long celebrations at which the whatsits were thanked for their gifts to the Aztecs. The gifts, of course, were mainly the whatsits themselves, in the form of meat, eggs and the brightly coloured feathers used for raiment, regalia, and other high fashion stuff.

    Then Cortez and his soldiers arrived, the Aztecs imploded, and the Spaniards took several breeding pairs of whatsits to Europe along with many other innovative foods that are now mainstream. Vanilla, pineapple, chocolate, corn, tomatoes and potatoes all shared cargo space with the whatsits. Some of those foods -- potatoes and pineapples for example -- took several hundred years to become a permanent part of the diet, but the whatsits were immediately recognized for what they were -- a nice change from goose, swan and peacock. Although they tended to drop dead when caught in rainstorms, the whatsits thrived, and quickly became a fixture in the farmyards of Europe.

    OK, time to deal with the name. The English language name for the whatsit is turkey, which is ridiculous because, as I have just explained, they are from Central America. The French name is dinde, a shortening of d'Inde, meaning "from India," which is a long way from Central America. In Portuguese the name is peru -- which is closer, but it's not from there either. A number of other nations think the whatsit is from Calicut, a port in Western India much used by 16th century traders - kalkun, kalekutishe hahn, kalkoense hahn. And in Turkey-the-country, what do you think they call turkey-the-bird? They call it hindi. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

    There are many explanations of how this confusion arose, most of them incredibly far-fetched, but I won't go into those. My concern is - how would you feel if everybody assumed that you came from Toronto when actually you were born and raised in Campbell River? And never called you by your given name? The bird we know as turkey had a real name, back in Aztec country. It is huexolotlin, and don't you forget it.

    And there's worse. Over the generations, the brilliantly feathered, fast flying, fleet-footed huexolotlin has been converted, thanks to our breast meat fixation, into a top-heavy travesty of a bird that can't procreate because it's now the wrong shape, can hardly walk let alone run, and doesn't have a concrete mixer's chance of flying. Ever see a Butterball fly? It would have to be shot from a gun.

    And there's even worse, a final twist of the carving knife. How if the name you were lumbered with over the entire English-speaking world also meant loser?

    I think you have to agree with me, it's time to do something to rescue the huexolotlin from the terrible fix it's in.

    I'm suggesting at least three public holidays each year, to let it know that we care. Running lessons, to be followed by flying lessons when they get up to speed. Free breast reduction surgery. And ballroom dancing workshops to get the romance back into their lives.

    And if that doesn't work, it'll be time to go cold turkey on huexolotlin.

    <br /> <a href="mailto:pam@gulfisla...om</a><br />

    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

    Loco for cocoa: Extracted from a bean, the powder with a bittersweet taste helps create an intense flavour -- in drinks, desserts and even some entrees -- that's difficult to resist

    Eric Akis Times Colonist March 9, 2005

    Cocoa powder is a bittersweet taste experience. Quite astringent on its own, when blended with complementary ingredients, it develops a flavour your palate will warmly receive time and time again.

    It's hard to believe this dry powder was once a liquid. Cocoa beans are ground to make a sticky paste called chocolate liquor, a key ingredient in chocolate. When the liquor is pressed to extract its cocoa butter, another key chocolate ingredient, the remains do not go to waste.

    Instead, the thick paste, which still contains up to 25 per cent cocoa butter, is cooled, ground and sifted to make cocoa powder. There are two main types, both unsweetened. The style of recipe can determine the best to use.

    Natural cocoa powder, also called traditional, old-fashioned or, simply, cocoa, is made as described above and is the most common available in supermarkets. It is quite bitter tasting and can be used in any recipe calling for cocoa powder. However, its intense flavour works best to produce a deep, fudgy flavour for brownies, dark chocolate cakes and dense chocolate cookies.

    Dutch-process or alkalized cocoa powder was invented by C.J. Van Houten in 1828. The cocoa is treated with a small quantity of alkaline solution to reduce and neutralize its natural acidity and make it more soluble. It is darker and richer in colour, mellower in flavour, smoother, almost silky in texture and more easily dissolved in liquids. Because of these qualities, it's considered a premium product and that's reflected in its price and availability. Some supermarkets sell it, often in the bulk foods department (one store labelled it dark cocoa), as do some specialty food stores.

    The more delicate flavour of dutch-process cocoa powder makes it ideal for more refined pastries, chocolate cakes, ice creams and hot chocolate drinks. In these, the bitterness of natural cocoa powder -- particularly if uncooked, such as in icing, or sprinkled on baked goods -- may overpower the more delicate flavours of other ingredients.

    Dutch-process cocoa powder is not sufficiently acidic to react with baking soda, an alkali, to start its leavening action. If you use it in a recipe with baking powder, be sure there are other acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk, to bring the baking soda to life.

    Cocoa powder is not the same as the sweetened powder used to make hot chocolate. Don't confuse the two and never use hot chocolate powder in a recipe calling for cocoa powder. It isn't going to work.

    Because cocoa powder contains fat, store it in an airtight container in a dry, cool place. If subject to heat fluctuations, moisture or air, that fat can solidify into lumps or absorb odours. If properly stored, cocoa powder can be kept up to two years,

    Cocoa powder can be used in wide variety of recipes, both savoury and sweet. Today's mix tastily reflects that.

    Eric Akis's columns appear in the Life section Wednesdays and Sundays. The author of the best-selling Everyone Can Cook and Everyone Can Cook Seafood (Whitecap Books) can be reached at ericakis@shaw.ca

    **recipes to follow
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 03-09-2005 at 02:42 PM.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  2. #2
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    Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.



    Here's a simple way to make a hot and delicious cup of cocoa, in which you control the quality of the ingredients, not a giant hot chocolate manufacturer miles away.

    Preparation time: 5 minutes

    Cooking time: 4-5 minutes

    Makes: 2 servings

    2 cups milk

    2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder

    2-3 Tbsp sugar, or to taste

    - marshmallows

    Place the milk in pot; whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot and the cocoa and sugar are well incorporated. Pour into mugs and garnish with marshmallows, if desired

    Eric's options: For a richer cocoa, substitute some of the milk with light cream or whipping cream. Or, omit the marshmallows and top the hot chocolate with whipped cream and a sprinkle of shaved chocolate.


    These are dense, chocolatey brownies lightly dusted with bitter-tasting cocoa powder to balance their sweetness.

    Preparation time: 15 minutes

    Cooking time: 18-20 minutes

    Makes: 24 brownies

    1 1/2 cups flour

    3/4 cup cocoa powder

    1/2 tsp baking powder

    1 cup pecan pieces

    1 3/4 cups sugar

    1 cup butter, melted

    2 large eggs

    2 tsp pure vanilla extract

    - cocoa powder for dusting

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Grease or spray a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. To make the brownies easier to remove, line the bottom of the pan with parchment.

    Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl. Mix in the pecans. In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter until well combined. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.

    Spoon and spread into the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the brownie pulls out clean. Cool on a baking rack. Dust the top of brownie lightly with sifted cocoa powder. Cut into squares and serve.

    Eric's options: Use chopped walnuts instead of pecan pieces. For a sweeter brownie, dust the top with icing sugar instead of cocoa.


    Try this recipe again when local strawberries are in season and you'll find it tastes even better.

    Preparation time: 30 minutes

    Cooking time: 90 minutes

    Makes: 8 servings

    4 large egg whites, at room temperature

    1/2 tsp cream of tartar

    1 cup extra fine (berry) sugar

    2 Tbsp cocoa powder

    1 Tbsp cornstarch

    1 tsp pure vanilla extract

    1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

    2-3 tsp finely grated orange peel

    1/2 oz orange liqueur (optional)

    2 Tbsp icing sugar

    1 cup whipping cream

    Preheat the oven to 250 F.

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch circle on the parchment. (I used a 9-inch plate as a guide.) Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until very soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whipping constantly, until all is incorporated. Keep whipping until mixture is thick and glossy and stiff peaks form.

    Whip in the cocoa, cornstarch and vanilla until well combined. Spoon and spread the mixture to fit the circle drawn on the baking sheet, building up the sides and making a shallow depression in the middle. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let the pavlova cool in the oven for 3 hours. (Meringue can be made several hours in advance and kept, loosely covered, in a dry place at room temperature.)

    Place the strawberries, orange peel, orange liqueur (if using), and 1 Tbsp of the icing sugar in a bowl. Gently toss to combine.

    Whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the remaining icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipping cream on top of the pavlova. Artfully arrange the strawberries on top of the whipping cream.


    A touch of cocoa richly flavours and colours the smoky glaze coating on these delicious ribs. The more chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeno peppers) you use, the spicier this dish will be.

    Preparation time: 10 minutes

    Cooking time: About 105 minutes

    Makes: 4 servings

    2 tsp ground cumin

    2 tsp chili powder

    1 tsp oregano

    1/2 tsp paprika

    1/2 tsp salt

    1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

    2 full racks pork side ribs, each cut in 2 (about 3 lbs.)

    1 1/2 cups apple juice

    1 Tbsp olive oil

    1 medium onion, finely chopped

    1 garlic, crushed

    1 1/2 cups regular barbecue sauce

    1 or 2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped

    2 tsp cocoa

    1 Tbsp brown sugar

    Preheat the oven to 325 F.

    Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle and rub on both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs, meat side up, in a single layer in roasting pan. Pour in 1 cup of the apple juice. Cover and bake 75 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in medium-sized pot. Add onion and garlic and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients including the half cup of apple juice and stir. Bring sauce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, and then remove from heat.

    After ribs have cooked 75 minutes, uncover them. Baste generously with half the sauce. Roast the ribs, uncovered, 15 minute more. Baste with remaining sauce and roast 15 minutes more, or until falling off the bone and nicely glazed.

    Note: Chipotle peppers are sold in small cans and are available in the Mexican foods aisle of most supermarkets. Leftovers will last several weeks in the fridge if kept in a tightly sealed jar.

    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

    Ok ... ok... so I found another recipe that included strawberries
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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