Monday, March 29, 2010

Kitchen News - The Versatile Stock Pot

Do you want to control the fat and salt in your diet? Why not try a centuries’ old custom of keeping a stock pot? What could be better than a nutritious and flavorful base for soups, stews and sauces? It’s easy to do, full of goodness and may help reduce high blood pressure. Yes, I know it’s convenient to use a little cube or take a spoonful of paste instead of using a cup of homemade stock; I’ve done so myself many times over the years but when I look at the amount of sodium in some of these products, I actually feel guilty adding it to my recipe.

So, why not give a stock pot a try? Once you begin, you will see how easy it is. It will cost you little and the benefits of a stock pot are tremendous. I’m most pleased when my stock has a jelly-like consistency where I have to actually scoop a cup of stock because it’s too thick to pour. By the way, it’s a good idea to keep the strained water from cooked vegetables and add this to your stock pot too. Incidentally, a good stock shouldn’t be over-flavored but merely a liquid that enhances your dishes. Don’t use the water from cooking potatoes, peas or other green vegetables; these do not enhance the flavor.

Stock Pot Recipe

2 lbs of bones – preferably marrow bones. (Ask your butcher to chop them)
1 medium carrot – peeled and cut into small pieces
1 small turnip – peeled and cut into small pieces
1 medium onion – sliced and diced
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of thyme
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours over a low heat. Remove any “froth” from the top of pot with a spoon and discard. When cool, strain the liquid and place in the refrigerator overnight. When completely cool, the fat will solidify and can be removed easily from the top of the stock.

Handy Hint: Your stock can be frozen in ice cube trays to use as needed or simply put the stock in plastic containers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Stilt Performer

I came across this man on stilts walking through a park in Cozumel. Unfortunately, I did not get his name, but as you can see...he was wearing evening dress. I watched him stride across the park and literally had to run alongside him to catch up and ask for the photo. The man was very polite and accommodating, especially as he was on his way to work. He was advertising a shop called Diamonds (the logo runs down the outside of his pants) a very nice jewelry shop located on the main thoroughfare in Cozumel.

Once back in the States, I tried to find the origins of stilt walkers and found the following information - courtesy Bill “Stretch” Coleman.

Astounding Stilt Walking Events
In China, there is an old custom called "walking on stilts" that it is a performance which employs two lengths of wooden sticks over three metres long to one's feet and walking on them. It is also termed "tied-on long feet". This kind of performance can be traced back to very ancient origins. It is described in "Leizi"(a book), "There was a man named Lanzi in the state of Song (circa 7th century B.C.) who entertained the first Song emperor with his feet of walking and running with two wooden poles taller than himself attached to his lower legs. Performers are dressed as legendary characters and perform with long poles attached to their feet. It is a holiday folk performance, especially popular in some country areas.

1411 - Date of Namur (Belgium) town ordinance dealing with "Echasseur" or "jousting while wearing stilts"! Opposing teams of jousters, the Mélans and the Avresses, battle each other in a wild melee of blows using shoulders and elbows; shoving, jabbing, blocking and tripping their opponents. We observed one such enactment at the 2002 Dallas Texas State Fair.

This extraordinary sport is still practiced today.

Another troupe of stilt performers and jousters
A collection of jousting photos