Saturday, May 20, 2006

Let's hear it for 'M'mmmmmm!

S'mee has given me a challenge, with a twist however. The target is to describe 10 of your favorite things all beginning with the assigned letter. My letter assignment was 'M', and then she added, use it on your food blog and blog about food! If you want a letter to do on your blog, leave a comment and I'll give you a letter!

Interesting. 10 of my favorite food related things all beginning with the letter 'M'. Here goes!

1. Mustard. The glorius concoction of oil added to crushed seeds. My favorite is Zatarain's. A good vinegary tartness, with all the right flavor enhacement for a good old polish dog. A little bit about my favorite condiment on a hotdog:

Mustard Seed comes from two large shrubs, Brassica juncea (brown mustard) and Brassica hirta (white mustard), native to Asia. Both plants produce bright yellow flowers that contain small round seeds; brown mustard is more pungent than white.

Mustard was used in ancient Greece and Rome as a medicine and a flavoring. By 800 AD, the French were using Mustard as an enhancement for drab meals and salted meats. It was one of the spices taken on Spanish explorations during the 1400s. Mustard powder was invented by Mrs. Clements of Durham, England, who made a fortune selling the dry, paleyellow mustard flour.

Before using, mix Mustard Powder with water to form a paste. It takes about 10 minutes for the mustard flavor to develop. Use in foods needing flavor highlights. Unlike other pungent spices, Mustard's flavor does not build or persist. Mustard helps emulsify liquids use in salad dressing recipes to help blend oil and vinegar and add a spicy zip. (all info from

2. Melons. My father in law had a truck farm before he died. He grew the best melons. Watermelon, Casava, Crenshaw, and one called an Escondido Gold. A combination of a Casava and a cantaloupe. Melons are wonderful alone, in a salad, or pureed as a sauce or a summer evening punch.

A great punch we served at my third daughter's wedding was a watermelon punch. Just cut all the pink flesh from the melon. Seed it (or purchase seedless) and puree it in a blender. Pour in the bowl or a pitcher and voila! you have a refreshing summer drink.

Who can resist the phrase "Wow! take a look at those melons!"

3. Measuring. In the kitchen there is a science. People comment to me a lot about working in the bakery. I hear the statement "I just can't bake. Give me the same ingredients as you, I'll follow the directions, and still not be able to recreate a recipe to turn out like yours." Well, Shirley Corrihor and Harold McGee are excellent sources for people who suffer with recipe angst. In their books Cookwise and On food and cooking, respectfully, they explain the science of cooking.

My favorite part of Shirley's book is the discussion on flour and proteins. It explains the reason that some breads come out like a door stop while other are light and flaky.

Mr. McGee's book is my bible. There are so many tidbits of info about everything foo. 46 pages alone regarding eggs. It is utterly amazing. It will help you understand the reason measuring is so important, and why some people can get away without doing it at all! Go to Amazon, buy yourself a good couple of books!

4. M&Ms. Who could forget these photos?
Upclose comparison

I have a whole section of my flickr photos dedicated to the love of these wonderful little gems. I also posted about what children do for toys when no toys are to be found entitled Child's Play:

As a child growing up toys were something we didn't have. Occasionally we would recieve something homemade from my grandpa to play with, but if that happened, he would do it in duplicates of four, so we would all have our own. I remember a donkey pulling a cart as one toy received. The wheels turned and everything!

Most often though we were left to our own devices as how to entertain ourselves. I still remember dirt clod fights and war with my brother in the "trenches" along the railroad tracks. It was the best of fun!

Still, when we visited grandparents, we did not have toys or a chance to go out and play. If we did go out to play we were usually locked out for the day, which lent its own challenges. But that's not what this post is about. It's about the ways my brother and I played war inside the confines of an apartment rented by my grandparents. My grandmother being the pickiest of housekeepers and none to thrilled with the prospect of entertaining us for two weeks, we had to be careful how "play" was managed. One day she introduced treat, it became a new "toy". She thought it was an indulgence, not often enjoyed by kids of our station. m&ms!

So how do m&ms become a toy? Very simple. Put two kids together with a package of m&ms, no other toys to play with and just see what happens. First we would divide the colors up, count them out and of course eat those that didn't fit in as they were the odd count! We then developed the game of war! We were used to being in the trenches and gathered our army and began. You began using your smallest count of colors vs the largest. Brown always seemed to be the largest army so it was usually brown against any other color. One "man" volunteered to do battle against the brown army. It begins:

Begin the war

Using your fingers you took each and pressed the two together as hard as you could with seven year old fingers and see who prevailed:Begin the war

Orange loses!

As you can see, the brown army wills out here. And so the game would go. You of course ate the loser! Soon the brown army would turn on each other and then there would be the last brown army member standing. You couldn't leave him to fend on his own so... mmmmmm!Orange prevails

Now they have included the GIANT m&ms to the mix. As you take a regular m&m vs a Giant you can see who prevails:

Big vs little
Big vs little

Giant prevails
Giant prevails

Fun times were had by all!

5. Mushrooms! All kinds, all sizes. Nothing beats a good sauteed mushroom. A little garlic, a little butter, some heat and you have the best treat! Add little heavy cream and it makes the best sauce for sauteed chicken strips! Grill me up a Portabello musroom and serve it up like a hamburger! Mmmm, mmmm!

6. Macaroni and Cheese. Homemade macaroni and cheese that is! Good creamy macaroni, buried in three cheeses, melted together with the noodles. It is a comfort food enjoyed by just about everyone. Not the box stuff, or the quick stuff, I don't like that stuff at all.

7. Meat. I'm a carnivore. There is nothing better than a well cooked steak. Medium rare, Rib Eye or Porterhouse. No steak sauce, onions, mushrooms, none of that stuff. Just a good grilled steak and a bit of garlic and salt. Serve it up with a few mixed greens with a vinegrette dressing and I'm in heaven.

8. Many friends. While I enjoy eating alone on occasion there is nothing better than a large gathering of friends sharing a supper together.

9. Mediterranean foods. Wow, for such a small place, Greece has added to my table in great ways. Olive oil. I could write three or four posts all about olive oil. Then add a few Kalamata olives, some feta cheese, red onions and a bit of vinegar. Oh man, such delicious food!

10. Meringue. I have learned to make incredible things with meringue. Frostings, cookie, pies, pie crusts, marshmallows all begin with th esame ingredients. A bit of sugar, a little heat, some water and plenty of air. It never ceases to amaze me what can be done with this amazing stuff! Or should I say fluff?

So there you have it. A few of my favorite Mmmmmm things. I've left out a myriad of others such as, mole, microwaves, melted butter, mousse, muscovado sugar and muffins! Oh well, there's always tomorrow.