Sunday, November 11, 2012

Askinosie Chocolates

Ever heard of Askinosie Chocolates? I was looking for a source of Tableya in the U.S. when I stumbled upon the company website.  Tableya refers to a "chocolate tablets" used for a chocolate drink native to the Philippines.  It is made from raw cocoa beans that are roasted, manually ground and shaped into round discs.  Normally sugar is NOT added so the chocolate drink has a bitter, rich chocolate taste that is a bit grainy.  Sometimes peanuts are finely ground and mixed before the chocolate discs are formed. I first tasted Tableya as a child.  I was so fascinated when I saw how the actual chocolate drink was prepared    First, water is boiled then 2-3 chocolate discs/ Tableya are mixed in and gently stirred.  Sugar and milk may be added.  But I liked best the next step which was to use a wooden whisk/ batirol by rubbing the tool between the palms in a circular motion to make the drink frothy until a thick, foamy consistency is reached.  The drink is topped with a bit of butter that gently melts into rich chocolate drink.   

Askinosie Chocolates is a small batch chocolate company in Springfield, MO.  They source 100% of their cacao beans directly from farmers. The founder and chocolate maker, Shawn Askinosie personally travels to Equador, Honduras, Philippines and Tanzania to work directly with farmers and source his chocolate.  So, the chocolates can be traced from source and labeled Authentic Single Origin Chocolate.  It also allows them to profit share with the farmers and build genuine relationships with their suppliers. 

The Tableya they sell are made by local PTA at Malagos Elementry School in Davao, Philippines to fund a feeding program for extremely malnourished kids in the school. They sell the Tableya to Askinosie Chocolates for $1 and Askinosie Chocolates sells it for $10 and ALL $9 profit go to Malagos for their feeding program!!! In 2012, 185,000 nutritious hot meals have been provided.  Each student is assured of a meal for a school year and a half!

A similar feeding program is being planned for malnourished children in Tenende, Tanzania where they have also built deep-water well to provide potable water to 2000 citizens of Tenende, Tanzania.  

Askinosie Chocolates is a company with a clear mission -- to serve their farmers, neighbors, their customers and each other, sharing the Askinosie Experience and leaving the world a better place than they found it.  This is from a company that has won many awards for the superb quality of their chocolates!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TeaFu -- tea infuser

We love our tea.  My family enjoys cups of herbal teas daily -- green tea, bitter melon tea, lemon grass tea, Jason Winters tea are just a few.  Green tea is rich in antioxidants and compounds that promote health, preventing heart disease and fighting cancer. It is a very popular beverage in the East. 

Bitter gourd/ bitter melon tea is made from the fruit and stems of Momordica charantia.  It is traditionally used to lower blood sugar and control diabetes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  It is used for cancer prevention and valued for it's strong antioxidant activities.  

Lemon grass tea is made from the leaves and stalks of a tropical plant that has a distinct lemony flavor and aroma.  I make my lemon grass tea fresh from our plant that grows outdoors in summer.  In Thailand and other parts of Asia, we use lemon grass regularly in cooking but lately it has become even more popular for it's anticancer potential.  This was after scientists in Israel showed lemon grass extracts could kill cancer cells.  

Jason Winters Tea is a blend of Red Clover, Indian Sage Leaf, Chaparral and Herbalene® Blend (special spice).  This blend is supposed to be so effective in treating squamous cell carcinoma and other cancers.  

I've use tea balls and tea scoops in making cups of tea but it takes time and it's hard to strain all the tea out.  I recently discovered Tea Fu - it's a tea infuser that's so pretty and convenient.  It's shape makes it easy to scoop tea, let's you brew tea fast by squeezing the silicon tea pod so water circulates through the tea leaves. 

It's made by DreamFarm, a unique company that also makes Garject, a garlic press that's so cool, it won the Australian International Design Awards this year.  It  presses unpeeled garlic then automatically scrapes itself clean, and then ejects the garlic peel into the bin in one fluid motion.  Lovely!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Amazing Basil Salt

So excited to share this post.  Yesterday, my friend Kim N. brought me something she whipped up in her kitchen.  We both love basil but I specially like Thai Basil for it's licorice notes.  She used regular basil for this seasoned salt but it was simply amazing, specially with vine-ripened tomatoes!!  

Kim took basil and mixed it with Kosher salt and blended it in the food processor. Then, she spread  out the mix in the oven and baked it at low temperature till the salt dried. After baking, she ran it through the food processor a second time.  That's it. What a brilliant idea to make your own basil salt!  

Thanks, Kim.  I always learn so much from you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Foodie Pen Pal

My foodie pen pal is Cheryl from Texas and she is wonderful! Fun-loving and very energetic, she's a real foodie who loves to tinker in the kitchen and enjoys gardening, working, exploring the farmers market and even has time to take care of six dogs! Did I tell you she's also so kind and thoughtful? Earlier she emailed me to ask if I had any dietary restrictions so she could send me things I could enjoy.  Because I'm recovering from metastatic adenocarcinoma or the dreaded "C", she went out of her way to get me healthy goodies from a local farmers market.  She packed organic unsweetened cinnamon apple, vanilla almond granola, gluten-free grain mix, crunchy chili-honey roasted nuts and amazing pickle chips from the Great State of Texas!  It was a real treat to finally have delicious gluten-free muffins made from organic grains and snack on all these yummy treats.  Both my son and hubby love spicy/hot foods so the pickle chips and chili nuts were gone in no time! Thank you Cheryl and specially to Lindsay for hosting this fun event!

Today is Reveal day for my Foodie Pen Pal

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Peach Ice Cream Sandwich

Yesterday, school started so my sister is back at her Univeristy apartment.  While she stayed with us during the summer, we experimented in the kitchen.  One day we made our own ice cream sandwich using the waffle cone maker I got from 22BHealthy.  We thought blending the pulp of a ripe peach to vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream would make a healthy treat.  I'm enjoying the versatility of my waffle cone maker as it lets me make various snacks, my own waffle cone and waffle sundae dishes.  I've made wraps and crackers with mine. Do you have a waffle cone maker?   Have you found other uses your waffle cone maker? Please share your ideas/ experiences.

Peach Ice Cream Sandwich
Waffle Cookies
   2 eggs
   6 Tbsp turbinado sugar
   1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
   1 Tbsp vanilla extract
   1/2 cup flour
   1/2 tsp baking powder

   1 ripe peach pulp blended into
   2 c vanilla yogurt

To make the waffle cookies:
Beat eggs, adding sugar gradually.  Beat until smooth.  Add melted butter and vanilla.
Sift flour and baking powder and blend into egg mixture until smooth.  The dough will be sticky.
Drop 1 heaping tablespoon on the nonstick surface of the waffle cone maker.  Close the lid and
hold down lid firmly for 20 seconds.  After 20-30 seconds lift up lid to check color.  If it is too light, close the lid and bake for another 10 seconds.  Follow directions for your waffle cone maker.  Usually, waffle cookies are done when steam stops escaping from the waffle cone maker (total of 30-40 seconds when you first close the lid).  Don't lift lid while waffle cookies are steaming as this might cause them to stick or split.

To make the ice cream sandwiches:
Make waffle cookies. Place 1-2 inches of the filling on top of one cookie and place second cookie on top, pressing gently.  You may add sprinkles on the exposed surfaces of the filling. Freeze the ice cream sandwich. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zucchini Bread

We harvested a lot of monster zucchini from our garden this summer.  There were only two plants but they had so many fruits we could not keep up.  We tried cooking zucchini many ways--baked, boiled, grilled, dried, stir-fried and even pickled.  My sister came up with a zucchini bread recipe that was a hit at home. It was very moist but a little on the sweet side so you can reduce the sugar if you wish.

 Zucchini bread
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F
In a bowl combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and set aside. Beat eggs and sugar till light and fluffy, add vanilla and oil and mix till well blended. Add the flour mixture, then the zucchini and nuts. Make sure everything is blended thoroughly. Place batter in a loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour or until done. To test for doneness, insert a wooden skewer at the center of the loaf then take it out.  If it comes out clean, then it's fully cooked.  If partly cooked batter clings to the skewer then it needs to bake a little longer. Cool zucchini bread in the loaf pan for 30 minutes or so then cut and serve.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Watermelon Pops

After church this weekend, the temperature outside was 113 F---so HOT!  On my way out, Barbara commented, "Sure need one of those watermelon pops you made last time".  So I'm posting this one-ingredient, super easy, watermelon popsicles that kids and grown-ups will enjoy.  All you need is to cut the watermelon (seedless is best) into wedges (make sure the rind is on),  insert a popsicle stick into each and freeze. That's it! No mess.   Here's your anytime frozen fruit pop--easy peasy!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

OXO Digital FOOD Scale Winner is:


Congratulations, Koko. I've sent an email to you.  Thanks so much to all who participated.  We'll be announcing another giveaway, please drop by soon!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sauerkraut: Immune booster and OXO Digital Scale Giveaway

I heard about the benefits of sauerkraut and other fermented foods from a German doctor who was interviewed on German T.V.  In a 2002 article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found white cabbage fermented to sauerkraut is rich in isothiocyanates and other compounds that fight cancer. Isothiocyanates makes precancerous cells to self-destruct, preventing cancer growth in the colon, breast, lung and liver.

Another study by the American Center for Cancer Research documented that sauerkraut prevents and heals breast cancer. The bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum, in the sauerkraut maintains the balance of beneficial bacteria and boosts immunity by enhancing the antibodies that fight infections. 
We made this sauerkraut after a visit to Vangie's organic farm. She had eggs from cage-free chickens and a herd of sheep and goats to supply milk and all their meat. I loved her lush vegetable garden with huge broccoli, peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, squshes and asparagus. But it was my first time to see monster cabbage and Brussels sprouts! They grow so BIG because uses sheep manure as organic fertilizer. She gave us a 12 pound cabbage!! 

Sauerkraut requires only two ingredients--- shredded cabbage and salt! Problem is, exactly how much salt to add. The right amount makes the cabbage crunchy - too much and it's over salty, too little makes it slimy as it encourages other bacteria (not Lactobacillus plantarum) to grow. The recipe I found says use 3 Tbsp for 5 lbs of shredded white cabbage. 

I used my OXO Digital Food Scale to weigh out the cabbage. And since it is an anaerobic fermentation process, I also used my kimchi maker to ensure no oxygen gets in. I mixed 1-1/4 Tbsp salt for 3 lbs of shredded cabbage and let it sit at room temperature overnight. Then in the fridge it stayed for 5 days to slow down the fermentation process and let the flavors develop. My son really wanted kimchi not sauerkraut so I added some shredded carrots and jalapeños to it. This gave so much depth and contrast to the cabbage.

If you need a weighing scale, do enter the OXO digital food scale giveaway for a chance to win one. 

Here's how to enter the OXO Blogger Digital Food Scale Giveaway 
Required entry:    Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
Additional entries
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This Giveaway ends on July 30, 2012. Please leave a way to get in touch with you. Let me know if you friended momgateway on Facebook, shared this post on Facebook or followed momgateway on Twitter. Winners will be selected on July 31 and contacted by email.  Thank you so much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gorgeous Peaches! Peaches! Peaches!

What a fun day!  A couple of my friends and I went to OSU peach farm to pick peaches.  The unripe ones were firm, crunchy and refreshing. Just perfect!   The semi-ripe ones were so sweet BUT the ripe peaches were juicy and  very sweet --- even sweeter than honey!!!  Just amazing!  
We had juice dripping all over us as we could not resist sampling the fruits. Ha! ha! 
Half a bushel was just $25---we have so many peaches to divide among the three of us.  I chose the firm, crunchy peaches for eating.  My friends are looking for recipes for all these gorgeous peaches!  Care to share your favorite peach recipes?  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gourmet Olives from California

I bought an olive tree cutting last fall. It has sprouted new shoots but they say it takes 5 years before olive trees begin bearing fruits. Right now it's still in a pot and this is how it looks so it will be a LONG... wait before we start harvesting olives and curing them at home.

As I was searching for a source of fresh olives to pickle, I read about the family-owned business of Maurice and Cindy Penna.  Their company has a 100 acres farm located in California's Northern Sacramento Valley where olives are grown, processed and packed.  By September they expect to have fresh olives for sale at Penna Olives.  In their website, they have a  lye process for curing fresh olives and a Mediterranean process for curing fresh olives to convert extremely bitter fresh olives to gourmet olives in about one to two weeks.

I can't wait to try this! Have you cured your own olives at home? Hope you stay tuned when I post about my olive curing experiments.

This sponsorship is brought to you by Penna Gourmet Foods who we have partnered with for this promotion.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What do you put on your watermelon? And Winner of Real Salt Giveaway

For me nothing is as iconic of summers than watermelons!

In the tropics, summers are almost unbearably hot and humid.  The stifling heat just bears down on you leaving your skin feeling sticky even when sitting under the shade. 

In Texas and Oklahoma, summers bring triple-digit temperatures that just DRY you out!  

Nothing is as refreshing on these dog days of summer like ice-cold watermelon just out of the fridge! Most of my friends eat watermelon with nothing on it. Others squirt lime juice on it. But I season mine with salt.

What do you put on your watermelon?

Real Salt Giveaway Winner is : Jennifer
Please get in touch with us by email so we can send your Real Salt Goodie Pack.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bag of Salad Greens: Yes, Grow Salads In a Bag Of Soil!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Margarita's Avocado Tacos

I'm an avocado fan!  Would you believe I eat avocados every day? Avocados are rich in the good kind of fats- raw, plant-based and nutrient dense monounsaturated fats with  omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid)s. It also contains fat soluble vitamins - C, E and K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium and lutein.  Most days, it costs less than a dollar each at Sunflower Market -- so cheap but so nutritious!

With my anticancer diet, one thing I really avoid is sugar because it feeds cancer cells.  Sometimes I need an evening snack. Instead of eating a slice of cheese, bread, pie, cake or sweet snack, I’d slice an avocado, scoop up the flesh and eat half of it!  It’s so filling and comforting to my tummy.  So much better than eating carbs that’s converted to sugar in the blood resulting in a sugar spike.

Did you know Avocados from Mexico’s website has a fan section: "Recipes from Avocado Lovers" ?   Would you like to try recipes from avocado fans?  If so, check it out.  You might even want to share your own favorites here ==>  submit a recipe to the Recipes From Avocado Lovers website from Avocados From Mexico  You can upload recipes, download wallpapers, ringtones and other fun items too.  I enjoy trying out new avocado recipes. Here's a taco recipe from one of my amigas. The real star of this taco is avocado.

Margarita’s Avocado Tacos

4 flour tortilla (small)
2 Tbsp butter from grass-fed cows
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 avocado, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
fresh lime juice
½  cup shredded Sharp or Monterey cheese
cilantro/parsley sprigs

In a skillet, warm the flour tortillas to make them pliable.
Mix butter and garlic powder and spread thinly over warmed tortilla.
Spread a little butter and sprinkle garlic powder over the warmed tortilla.
Add sliced avocados, onions, tomatoes and cilantro/parsley. Squeeze lime over taco and top with cheese.
Fold tortilla and enjoy!

Disclaimer: “This sponsorship is brought to you by Avocados From Mexico who we have partnered with for this promotion.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte and OXO Blogger Giveaway

It's going to be Memorial Day weekend and we have Pentecost and my son's birthday so I am sharing with you one of the best chocolate torte recipe I've found.  Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte --- it's the only chocolate cake that my son likes.  It's moist, buttery, creamy like cheescake, delivers a punch of chocolate---and you need only three ingredients!  The first time I made it, we had guests at home and one of our friends,Wiley, said it's like eating a super creamy chocolate bar!

I chose this recipe for the OXO Blogger Digital Scale Giveaway because baking cakes is really tricky.  I've found that one of the best ways to ensure consistently good quality cakes is to weigh the ingredients.  The OXO Digital Food Scale can weigh in grams or ounces and the great feature I like best about it is that it has a display that pulls away from the base so you could still read the display even when using a large bowl or plate when weighing.  It also has easy-to-read large display numbers, a platform that can be removed for cleaning and a thin profile for easy storage.  I use it not only for baking but making homemade pasta, desserts and other dishes.  To enter this giveaway, instructions are given at the end of the post.

This recipe is from Rose Beranbaum's Cake Bible (101 cookbooks.com).  She prefers Lindt Courante or Tobler extra bittersweet but I could not find either so I used 60% Ghirardelli chocolate.  This Truffle Torte is baked at a high temperature in a water bath for a very short time----just 15 minutes.  You must let it cool and but serve it at room temperature. What I like most about this torte is you don't need a double boiler to temper the chocolate.  You can just place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and leave it in an unheated oven at the top shelf close to the pilot light that is turned on. If you leave it there overnight, it will be at the right temperature first thing in the morning.  No need to temper the chocolate--all you have to do is blend the chocolate and butter and fold in the whipped eggs. It is best to bake it in an 8-inch springform pan with a water bath when baking to give it a distinct cheesecake texture.

Rose Beranbaum's Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte (From The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum) 

454 grams/ 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (she uses Lindt Courante or Tobler extra bittersweet)
227 grams/ 1/2 pound unsalted butter
300 grams (weighed without shell)/ 6 large eggs - room temperature

Prepare pan: One 8-inch springform pan at least 2 1/2 inches high, buttered and bottom lined with buttered parchment or wax paper; outside of pan wrapped with a double layer of heavy-duly foil to prevent seepage. One 10-inch cake pan or roasting pan to serve as a water bath.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In large metal bowl set over a pan of hot, not simmering, water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) combine the chocolate and butter and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. (The mixture can be melted in the microwave on high power, stirring every 15 seconds. Remove when there are still a few lumps of chocolate and stir until fully melted.)

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the eggs, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, until just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat, using the whisk beater, until triple in volume and soft peaks form when the beater is raised, about 5 minutes. (To insure maximum volume if using a hand mixer, beat the eggs over simmering water until they are hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat until cool.)

Using a large wire whisk or rubber spatula, fold 1/2 the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost incorporated. Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended and no streaks remain. 
Finish by using a rubber spatula to ensure that the heavier mixture at the bottom is incorporated. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth with the spatula. Set the pan in the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch very hot water. Bake 5 minutes. Cover loosely with a piece of buttered foil and bake 10 minutes. (The cake will look soft, but this is as it should be.)Let the cake cool on a rack 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours.

To unmold: Have ready a serving plate and a flat plate at least 8 inches in diameter, covered with plastic wrap. Wipe the sides of the pan with a hot, damp towel.

Run a thin metal spatula around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Place the plastic-wrapped plate on top and invert. Wipe the bottom of the pan with a hot, damp towel. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment. Reinvert onto the serving plate.

Tip: If you have an oven with a pilot light, it can save you a lot of time. The night before baking, place the chocolate and butter in the oven along with the eggs still in their shells in another mixing bowl. (Eggs should weigh about 12 ounces/340 grams.) The next morning, the chocolate and butter will be fully melted and the eggs the perfect temper- ature. Stir the chocolate and butter until smooth and be sure to remove it and the eggs from the oven before preheating oven!

Store: 2 weeks refrigerated. Do not freeze because freezing changes the texture.

Serve: Room temperature. Cut into narrow wedges with a thin sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water.

Pointers for success: For a moist airy texture, be sure to add beaten eggs to chocolate mixture and not the chocolate to the eggs. Wrapping the pan with foil keeps it watertight. Chill thoroughly before unmolding. Use the plastic-wrapped plate when unmolding to protect the surface of cake if you're not planning to use a topping.

Another note from Beranbaum: To unmold, run a thin spatula around the sides, place the pan on a heated burner for 10 to 20 seconds, moving it back and forth, and then invert. If the cake does not release, return it to the hot burner for a few more seconds.

Understanding: Just as for cheesecake, baking the Oblivion in a water bath keeps the texture creamy throughout. When this cake is served at room temperature, you get a rush of chocolate from the moment it enters your mouth. The full flavor of chocolate can best be appreciated only in a softened state.

Here's how to enter the OXO Blogger Digital Food Scale Giveaway 
Required entry:    Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
Additional entries:  
    Friend momgateway on Facebook (1 entry) or
       share this post on Facebook (1 entry)
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This Giveaway ends on July 30, 2012. Please leave a way to get in touch with you. Let me know if you friended momgateway on Facebook, shared this post on Facebook or followed momgateway on Twitter. Winners will be selected on July 31 and contacted by email.  Thank you so much.