Archive for the ‘Slow food’ Category

Turbotière

Ok, I have a thing for copper cookware, which I can blame on an ex-girlfriend.  Copper cookware is the ultimate.  The stuff is made to last (although older copper cookware requires retinning, which is worth the money).

“Copper pots are the most satisfactory of all to cook in, as they hold and spread the heat well and their tin lining does not discolor food….. To get the full benefit of cooking in copper, the metal must be 1/8 inch thick, and the handle should be of heavy iron.”

Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1961

The turbotière is the  most exclusive and sought after item in the copper cookware aficionado’s wish list.  ‘It is a venial extravagance to acquire a turbotiere, as I did even before I owned a frying pan’. — Alan Davidson, North Atlantic Seafood.  I think some cooks own the things even if they will never use one.

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Turbotière front and centre of props at Hampton Court Kitchen.

I got the bug after watching “Duchess of Duke Street” where Louisa cooks her big meal using one. The suckers are BIG (as are turbots, who can grow up to a metre).  Turbot is the king of fish: Roman Emperors, Popes and the wealthy (makes sense since Lousia was cooking for the Prince of Wales) have all waxed lyrical on these mighty beasts.

They are expensive as heck new (around 2000 in most currencies).  But they can be found used for much less, but they aren’t cheap.  Turbot’s being a delicacy for the affluent is probably why turbotières are (1) coveted and (2) not cheap.  Although, a whole turbot isn’t that dear, around 60 in most currencies: making it less expensive than lobster.

They are also pretty big.  Someone pointed out he couldn’t get his in his oven (but one can use them on the stove).

Of course, the money needed to buy one makes sense if one owns a restaurant (or cooks a lot of seafood for wealthy people).  Again, these seem to be more status than utilitarian.

and one can dream.

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Ruining your Christmas spirit!

What is Christmas without alcohol? Forget putting Christ back in Christmas since he has never really had anything to do with the date, but drunken revelry–that’s another thing. Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis tried to sample every Christmas tipple in a BBC Christmas special last year.  And the institution of Christmas drinking is enshrined in all those Wassail songs.  Too bad actual wassail is pretty revolting.  Mulled wine is far more of my fav for the season.

The problem is that the process of making alcohol is fairly environmentally unfriendly as a recent Mother Jones article, An Inconvenient Vermouth, points out. In terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, alcoholic beverage production in the US alone results in a carbon footprint which is the annual equivalent of 1.9 million households. Not great news if you want to be green and know that EVERYBODY has to start reducing their carbon footprint.  But, don’t worry about that too much since the MoJo Article talks about which forms of alcohol are environmentally friendly.

Wine, for example, is fairly environmentally friendly with most of its carbon footprint coming from transportation.  You can also be more environmentally friendly by using wine that comes in cartons rather than bottles.  Beer is fairly environmentally friendly as well with most of the carbon footprint coming from refrigeration and glass production.  Surprisingly enough, kegs are the most efficient method of packaging beer with cans coming in second.  While aluminium production is an environmental horror, cans are recyclable and cost less to transport.

The spirits industry comes in for a serious beating with Gin, tequila, and rum being the worst for the environment.  The problem is that the distillation process requires loads of energy.  American bourbons are aged in virgin-oak barrels that are used only once, most of those barrels end up being reused by other liquor makers.  And while some of those liquor makers may produce single malts, think of the energy involved in distilling the liquor and transporting it.  In terms of distillation, vodka requires more energy and water than most spirits.

Rum is made from molasses or cane juice, and its fibrous leftovers can throw off the microorganism balance in waterways. In 2001, the EPA sued Bacardi for illegally dumping 3,000 gallons of of mostos, an industrial waste from its rum processing plant, into a river near its Puerto Rico plant. Although, that does mean that many major rum distillers now treat their water. Additionally, sugarcane is also a notoriously destructive crop, producing massive amounts of wastewater and greenhouse gases. Tequila also has a pretty bad waste problem. For every liter of tequila, you get about 11 pounds of pulp and 10 liters of vinazas, or acidic waste—which ends up befouling soil and water in Mexico’s Jalisco state, where most tequila comes from. Blue agave farmers, meanwhile, have used more and more pesticides since their crops were chewed up by insects during the 1990s.

So, it sounds as if this is a victory for the slow food crowd who prefer beer and wine that is locally produced.   Steer clear of distilled spirits since they require loads of energy to produce with Rum and Tequila being down right environmentally unfriendly!  It also sounds as if the best way to drink is to go to a local pub that serves locally manufactured beer or wine!  While you are at it, take public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint.  Also, using public transportation means you won’t get busted for drunk driving: making it an environmentally, legally, and financially wise decision to use public transportation.

There are ways to make the distillation process more environmentally friendly, but most distillers don’t practise them. MoJo does mention which distillers use environmentally friendly practises. I strongly suggest buying their products if you choose to drink spirits. It also might be a good idea to write your fav distiller and ask them what they are doing to cut their carbon footprint?

I leave you with Charles Dickens’s Smoking Bishop recipe which is mentioned at the End of “A Christmas Carol”:

5 unpeeled oranges
1 unpeeled grapefruit
36 cloves
1/4 pound of sugar
2 bottles of red wine
1 bottle of port

— Wash the fruit and oven bake until brownish. Turn once.
— Put fruit into a warmed earthenware bowl with six cloves stuck into each.
— Add the sugar and pour in the wine – not the port.
— Cover and leave in a warm place for a day.
— Squeeze the fruit into the wine and strain.
— Add the port and heat. DO NOT BOIL!

Serve “smoking” warm. Yield: 15 to 20 servings