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Archive for February, 2008

NEWS: Help The Truly Thirsty Get Bottled Water With The Tap Project

Faucet
What comes out of your tap is terrific. Contribute $1 to help those who aren’t so lucky. Photo courtesy of BudgetStockPhoto.com.
  You’ve no doubt read about the bottled water controversy. Not only are Americans spending more than $15 million a year on bottled water—most of it filtered municipal water like Aquafina and Dasani. Fossil fuels are expended to make the bottles and ship the water from Point A to Point B; the empties are a huge recycling and litter cost. Environmentalists are up in arms, but humanitarians are equally upset. Because while anyone in America can get perfectly good, healthy water from his or her nearest faucet, in 90 countries on this planet, a billion people don’t have potable water.
– One in five of these people are children.
– Eighty percent of all illness and infant mortality is due to waterborne disease.
– Lack of clean water is the second largest killer of children under five. March 16-22 is World Water Week 2008, and the Tap Project will launch a campaign in 14 U.S. cities to help UNICEF provide clean water to children around the world. Patrons at participating restaurants will be asked to donate $1 (or more if they wish), for the tap water they normally get for free.
In each of the marketplaces, a major advertising agency has created a special ad campaign pro bono. So expect to see the Tap Project on everything from t-shirts and taxi tops to billboards and major landmarks.What can you do? If you buy bottled water, consider putting aside $1.00 for every bottle you drink between now and World Water Week, to donate to this worthy cause. And no matter what, give $1.00 when you’re asked—and be grateful that your loved ones have all the fresh, clean water they need. Every dollar you give to UNICEF can provide 40 liters of safe drinking water—enough to give one child safe drinking water for 40 days (or 40 children safe drinking water for one day). For more information visit TapProject.org.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Sticky Bun Day

Sticky Buns

Be precise: Sticky buns have a sticky top, iced cinnamon rolls aren’t sticky buns. Photo courtesy Wolferman’s.

 

Some people would like to celebrate National Sticky Bun Day every day. Sticky buns, a breakfast pastry for the sweet-toothed, are also known as a honey buns, and are closely related to cinnamon buns, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon swirls.

Many people use the terms interchangeably, but a sticky bun needs to have the sticky topping (caramel, honey, maple syrup, sugar syrup) and not all cinnamon rolls do.

The buns are baked together in a pan and then cut apart.

  • In the original recipes, the honey and pecan topping is baked like an upside-down cake, with the sticky topping on the bottom of the pan and the dough placed on top of it.
  • Some recipes add raisins to the dough.
  • The pan is inverted after baking and the sticky bottom becomes the top. Today, many sticky buns are baked with the topping on top of the dough.
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    Sticky buns seem to be of Germanic origin, and came to the U.S. with German immigrants in the 1800s. You can find sticky buns called “schnecken” (especially in Pennsylvania Dutch country).
     
    However, in German-Jewish cooking, schnecken are crescent-rolled rugalach-type pastries. “Schnecken” means “snail” in German, and the crescent shapes are certainly snail-like.

    You can read about it, and agree to disagree, here.

    We’re not getting into any arguments today—we’re just heading over to our favorite local bakery to pick some up some freshly-baked sticky buns.

    Those who do not live near an artisan bakery can head to the nearest Cinnabon for an iced cinnamon roll.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Addictively good cherry chocolate chip cookies. We thank George Washington for the inspiration.

     

    Our tip of the day today is a tasty tip indeed: Make a cherry version of your favorite chocolate chip cookies to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. The Father of our Country was born February 22, 1732.

    Look for cherry baking chips in baking supply stores or online. Then, make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, dividing the chip quantity between chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips) and cherry chips.

    Another variation on the theme is to add an extra half cup of dried cherries to your recipe (with or without the cherry chips).

    You also can sprinkle the cherry chips on cupcakes, use them to decorate cakes and puddings, garnish ice cream and add them to muffin and pancake batter.

  • Use this recipe to make the cookies.
  • Try the delicious Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Graeter’s. If you can’t find it locally, they’ll ship it to you.
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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Cherry Pie Day

    Do you love cherry pie…but know that you would love it even more if you could get a top-quality pie filling? Wish no more: Chukar Cherries, a purveyor of the finest cherries and cherry products made from Washington State cherries, makes the best cherry pie and cobbler fillings we’ve ever seen commercially (all natural and certified kosher). Cherry Blueberry filling is made from tart Montmorency cherries plus blueberries (think of it as the high-antioxidant pie filling). Triple Cherry filling combines Bing, Rainier and Montmorency cherries. You can these high-quality toppers on muffins, ice cream, puddings and other desserts. Since George Washington’s actual birth date is February 22nd, bake a pie or cobbler in his honor*—you’ll save so much time with these cherries that you can make a homemade crust. When you order the cherry pie filling, check out the delicious preserves, toppings and barbecue sauces—and the scrumptious dried cherries, far finer than much of what is available.- Read our review of Chukar Cherries pie fillings and other baking products.

    Read our review of Chukar’s premium dried cherries.
    Finish with a look at their cherry preserves and dessert toppings.

      Cherry Pie
    Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy? Anyone can bake one, easily, with Chukar Cherries gourmet pie and cobbler fillings.
    *Historical note: George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree in his youth and then say, “Father, I cannot tell a lie.” This story and others, like throwing the silver dollar all the way across the Delaware River, were fabricated by an earlier biographer. Learn more cherry facts.

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    FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Date Hors d’Oeuvres

    Gourmet dates from Dateland.com. From
    left to right, counterclockwise: Medjool
    dates, Khadrawy dates, Halawi dates and
    Honey dates. Photo courtesy Dateland.com.

     

    For quick hors d’ouevre that are also perfect for tea parties, after-dinner petit four plates or a little something with a cup of coffee instead of a cookie, fill dried dates with rich, creamy mascarpone cheese and dip the cheese end into chopped pistachio nuts.

    If there are any leftovers (not likely), they make great breakfast treats and midday snacks. Kids love them, too (they’ll also enjoy them stuffed with peanut butter).

    Dates are the oldest fruit cultivated crop by man. Dates are mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible. In Biblical times, the fruit was considered sacred.

    More than 30 varieties are grown today. The most famous to Americans is the Medjool date, considered to be the finest variety grown. In ancient times, they were grown exclusively for royalty. Succulent and velvety, Medjool dates are fragile in nature and must be harvested by hand. They can cost 50% more than other varieties, so most people enjoy them for eating only, not for cooking or baking.

     

    Other familiar varieties include:

  • Halawi dates, medium sized and soft golden brown, are originally from Iraq. They have a rich, creamy sweet flavor and a caramel-like texture. “Halawi” means sweet in Arabic.
  • Honey dates are a soft, creamy-textured and sweet-tasting variety that “melt in your mouth.” They are used for snacking and cooking.
  • Khadrawy dates are small and dark-mahogany-colored with a dry, flaky skin. Originally from Iraq, they have a high moisture content and less sugar, with a mild flavor.
  • Thoori dates, originally from Algeria, are dry with a hard flesh and a chewy, nutty flavor. They are used for snacking, baking and cooking.
     
    Today, we know that dates are a healthy sweet snack alternative: low in fat and sodium, high in fiber and magnesium, more potassium then bananas, rich in iron and cholesterol-free. Yes, they have sugar, but it’s natural sugar (sucrose and its natural derivatives, glucose and fructose), not refined sugar.

    Dates are grown in the U.S. The Arizona climate is similar to many areas of the Middle East where dates are cultivated; and southern California also has a welcoming climate.

    You can buy quality domestic dates from Dateland.com. Stuff them with our favorite mascarpone, from Mozzarella Fresca.

    Find more ideas in the Hors D’Oeuvre Section and Gourmet Snacks Section of THE NIBBLE.

      

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