Friday, September 20, 2013

Artichoke Cream and Hot Chinese Mustard

I believe I have probably lost much audience (whatever that was), but things have been chaotic for me and my lovely condiment domain, but I and my sauces and spices and hot sauces prevail and fight on in the fight to ensure all foodthings (and associated items) are appropriately accessorized. 

I think it was today when I brought some leftover beef and roasted vegetables to work for lunch and also packed some crème de artichoke I purchased in Europe last year and a bottle of Chinese hot sauce to mix in as the artichoke has a lovely flavor, but I like more of a punch in my sauces.  I mixed them together and thought, "The world must know." 

The best part of this was when I realized that while I had specialty artichoke cream and hot Chinese mustard at my desk, I had no salt.  No freaking salt.  Without salt, you would die in a day in a post-Apocalyptic world.  When the Aliens come surfing in on a meteor tsunami comprised of vampire zombies, I will hoard all the salt and I will LIVE AND BE WORSHIPPED AS A GODDESS.

However, the Artichoke cream and the Hot Chinese mustard might end up being a condiment used on me to make me more palatable to the Alien Zombies. 

So, the moral is, yes enjoy your specialty condiments, your fig chipotle compote or Rainier cherry kiwi chutney, but for heaven's sake, keep salt (and pepper) as well. 

You never know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Vegemite got me down...

I've been away for a while - very busy, but honestly if I had to trace to one moment when I had to take a break, it was when I tasted vegemite.

I had only heard of it in that Men at Work song, but a "friend" brought me back a jar from Australia. "You have to try this" he said. "Why?" Said I, innocent naive, not knowing what was next. "You just have to."

Those of you who have tasted vegemite will know what happens next. Will even in your minds hurl yourselves forward to stop the spoon from reaching my mouth. I can see you, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

But yes. I tried it. Oh Jesus, Mary, and Oprah - the HORROR! THE HORROR! VEGEMITE IS PEOPLE IT'S PEOPLE!

Not really, but it is mealy, bitter paste. It's like someone scraped the floor of a biker bar after a particuliarly rowdy Octoberfest ended with a big fight, lots of vomiting, and people's underwear all over the floor. Extremely nasty.

Why? I asked myself, Why?

I went to the source, Wikipedia

"Vegemite is made from used brewers' yeast extract, a by-product of beer manufacturing, various vegetables, wheat and spice additives."

That's your friggin' condiment? Seriously? Okay, all props to the Aussies man because that shit is hardcore!

And check out WHY it was created:

"Vegemite was invented in 1922[3] by food technologist Cyril P. Callister when, following the disruption of British Marmite imports after World War I, his employer, the Australian company Fred Walker & Co., gave him the task of developing a spread from the used yeast being dumped by breweries."

"Hey you, Cyril, can you find a way for us to sell our garbage! That would be awesome! We'll have shrimp on the barbie and by you a bee-ahr and all that. Mate."

Apologies to my Australian friends for my attempt at Australian.

And this part ESPECIALLY cracked me up:

"Vegemite first appeared on the market in 1923 with advertising emphasising the value of Vegemite to children's health but failed to sell very well"


Any parent with a child who will only eat healthy things wrapped in a sugar coated pancake or on top of pizza will find that especially amusing. I can only imagine well meaning parents, "Here honey have a spoonful of this yummy remains of the brewery process. Yum yum yum!"

Okay, all frivolity aside, does anyone actually have a good recipe using vegemite? Because I will try it. I really really will. But I will have a jar of Norman Bishop Dill Garlic mustard on hand to cleanse my palate afterwards, because, seriously.

Peace, love, and condiments

Condiment Grrl


Friday, March 25, 2011

Back in the Game!

Hi all,

I am back in the game after a long hiatus. I had a crazy Fall and Winter, and then someone gave me Satan's condiment, Vegemite, and it put me off everything in the world!

More to come!

Condiment Grrl


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raisins - The Power of Good and Evil

Oh, raisins. Dried grapes. Little bundles of sweet fruit energy. I should love you unconditionally, enjoy you scattered into a bowl of flax flakes with Vitamin D almond milk poured on top. Your health benefits are touted all over, even in the medical advice column in the Seattle Times, which recommends soaking raisins in gin to relieve arthritis pain.

But let me put my stake in the ground right here and proclaim that raisins DO NOT BELONG IN SWEETS! It's a crime against nature and Dionysus. They're chewy and have a slight musky bitterness that just ruins sweets. I still remember as a child my Aunt yelling at me for refusing to eat oatmeal with raisins in it. Just make me clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, it would be an easier punishment.

I can't stand raisins in any kind of desert or breakfast cereal - they make me gag! Stay away from my scone, eschew my eclair, clear out of my cookies, and protest my pie! I don't believe in raisins in my sweet things!

I don't mind a handful of raisins by themselves, but add them to something else and it's like the scene in "Gremlins" when the evil creatures jump out of the fluffy cute one.

And don't get me started on Oatmeal Raisin cookies. According to a website I'm making up in my mind right now, they were first created as a torture device during the Spanish Inquisition. And as soon as I create the webpage, you can tell everyone that you read about it on the Interweb.

Raisins in a cookie from a distance can look like chocolate chips. Don't let them fool you! I think that's part of my hatred - I've been fooled once too often into thinking I was about to enjoy a nice chocolate chip cookie, only to discover a treacherous Oatmeal Raisin cookie polluting my mouth.

You're Cute, but stay the hell away from my desserts and breakfast food

However, SAVORY is a horse of a different color. J'adore stewed raisins in a pork roast. One of my favorite dishes is a chicken dish they serve at Salvadore in Seattle - Involtini di Pollo. I used to say it was my own "Invitation to Chicken," until I married an Italian and learned Involtini means stuffed chicken breast. The chicken was flattened, breaded, sauteed, and rolled into parmesan, white wine, cream, garlic, and raisins. It is delicious and part of the joy is the unexpected sweetness of the raisin.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I only like something when it's unexpected, when it complements the darker elements. I'm sure a psychological profile could be written of me based on that alone. Until then, remember the Cardinal Rules of Raisins:

- Stay out of my sweets!

- You're okay alone!

- Stew in my savory!

Remember these and all will be right with the world.

Condiment Grrl

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Condiment Threat to our Homeland Security

Well, people, I have been bad about blogging, it hasn't been for a dearth of condiments, but more for a dearth of new cravings. I have been in a condiment rut - only desiring the proven toppings for familiar dishes - Robert Rothschild caper, lemon, mustard sauce to go with my sausages. Soy sauce and vinegar on my rice. Lots and lots and lots of black truffle salt on my salads.

How I love black truffle salt. It makes every salad taste like an exotic found meal - a deep hint at what more there could be.

I've been working hard, hence my condiment rut. It's hard to open yourself to new experiences, when you have a short time to wind down and you often want to take the path of least resistance to the condiment that will relax me and allow my meal to achieve its maximum desirability.

However, now that summer's here, I am starting to open to new things, new flavors. My birthday was last weekend and some lovely foodie friends gifted me with a lucious looking jar of Artichoke and Seville Orange Chutney. evocative, so promising.

As I was at my mother's to visit Baby Balsamic who is spending two weeks with Big Mama Salsa (aka my mother), I packed the jar in my bag to return to the frozen Northwest. This condiment just might lift me from my accessorizing doldrums.

I didn't count on Homeland Security. (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

I was taking my bags through the x-ray machine, when an earnest young officer asked to go through my bag. Well, what am I going to say? He starts flinging my underwear and pink pajama bottoms all over the table, but then finds the offending jar - my NEW CHUTNEY!

"It's sealed. See, I never opened it." I don't know why I thought that would make a difference.

He looked sheepish and almost handed it back to me, then stopped. "I'm sorry. It's over the amount. We'll have to take it."

OOOOOHHHH NOOOOO! But what could I do? Those are the rules.

Years ago, I was traveling out of Israel after a friend's wedding. As you would expect, there were very very long security lines. A man was complaining bitterly to his wife, until a woman in front of him turned and said "Would you prefer there were a bomb on the plane?"

I'd rather they do all they need to do to keep me and all other travelers safe.

But, the memory of that lost condiment did drive me to the store to purchase a new jar of Madras Curry mustard for that exotic touch. Just the promise of it drove me out of my rut.

And as for the young security guard - he seemed quite sharp, but you have to hope that they're being sharp when real bad people try and get bad things through security.

Maybe he went home and consumed the my Artichoke and Seville Orange Chutney. Maybe it's mix of vegetables and savory flavor improved his health and the oranges sharpened his eyesight. Maybe the next day his improved senses were able to stop a bad guy at Security.

And all thanks to Condiments. Now I have to go work on a screenplay.

Condiment Grrl

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A delightful Sauce page!

Hi all,

Quick post - due to a nice comment from another foodie blogger - - I checked out the site and found a great page of easy french sauce recipes. As soon as I can get my mitts on some french dill, I will try the Dill sauce for fish. It looks delicious and I love the way the instructions are laid out.

Au Revoir!


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What came first the tartar sauce or the steak tartare?

Probably the steak tartare, according to the source of all knowledge, wikipedia. Steak tartare originated in the early 1400s because the cattle the mongolians were eating was too tough, so they had to chop it up.

Now, I have a slightly evil confession. Or maybe it's just a "devil may care" confession - I LOVE steak tartare. As a child, I used to eat raw hamburger covered in salt. Then one day, someone told me I would love steak tartare. But by the time I was an adult and could afford to take myself to restaurants that serve it, mad cow had swept the nation and people were strangely (really what's so harmful about eating raw cow raised in horrible conditions fed the diseased brains of other cows? I'm FINE!) nervous about raw beef consumption.

I did have it once, years ago, made by a friend who is a fine, fine chef. He purchased free range happy organic vegan raw foodie yoga cow meat to make his own. Such a delicious flavor - but I think the thing I like most is that there's lot of spices and things and CONDIMENTS that go into a successful tartare.

Which has nothing to do with tartar sauce, which, according to The Straight Dope is:

"Tartar sauce, or as the French refer to it, sauce tartare, consists of mayonnaise, mustard, chives, chopped gherkins, and tarragon, according to C. Owen's "Choice Cooking," circa 1889. In French, it is loosely translated as 'rough,' as the Tartars were considered rough, violent, and savage. It is commonly served with fish. Yum yum."

It's such a hodge-podge of a sauce (and the inclusion of the gherkin also qualifies it as a "vegetable" as much as ketchup). Mayo and pickles and green things and vinegar. The thing is, I don't like it that much.

Wait, scratch that.

I do like it, but it's not at the top of my ranking. When I walk into one of those delicious frites shops that dole out about a billion kinds of dipping sauce for your double deep fried potatoes (why, god, why did the Frite shop in Seattle have to close?), tartar sauce is usually included, but only as an accompaniment to ketchup. It's odd - I like mayonnaise, I like pickles, I LOVE vinegar, but tartar sauce is almost too much for me, unless I dilute it with ketchup's sweet kiss. Am I too genteel a condimentgrrl to enjoy a "rough" condiment?

Although, if you think about what the sauce turns into when you add ketchup to tartare sauce - thousand island sauce - it begins to make sense. It's a "rough" version of my childhood comfort snack - red wine vinegar, ketchup, and mayonnaise. It's a distant echo of childhood, but not *quite* the thing I want.

In regards to seafood - not crazy about it with fish. It's too heavy for fish. I much prefer malt vinegar with my fish and chips. I don't have any tartar sauce in my collection. It's just not the first thing I reach for.

If I could, however, I would reach for steak tartare, even though it is so so so wrong...

Condiment Grrl

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