Here are a few items that sparked our interests over the last month.
Magazines From Other Lands: Donna Hay
We were so glad to hear from an employee at Donna Hay Magazine, a popular food magazine based in Australia, who reached out earlier this year and asked if we would be interested in checking out their February/March summer issue.
It arrived in the mail while it was still cold here, and we nearly fainted from jealousy while looking at the beautiful popsicles they featured on their summer cover.
We had never before read an issue of the magazine, though we have seen it occasionally in bookstores. We love what we've seen so far in this first issue. The photography is bright and the food looks like it's incredibly fresh.
If you aren't familiar with Donna Hay, she's like the Australian Martha Stewart. As you can see at the bottom of this cover image, Donna hosted and directed the welcome party for Oprah when she visited Australia this past winter.
Since the issue we read was a summer issue, the recipes are focused on grilling, salads and warm-weather produce. Many of the recipes in this issue also seem to have an Asian bent, like a Peppered Lamb with Ginger and Chili Noodles. (Or maybe Australian cuisine just tilts a little more Asian, given the proximity?)
We haven't yet cooked anything from the magazine. But now that it's grilling weather, we definitely will soon. If you want to check out Donna Hay for yourself, you can generally find it at larger bookstores with the other food magazines. You can also subscribe, but be warned, it's pricey for U.S. residents.
One of the coolest museums (and maybe the least well-known) that we've seen in New York City is the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. In a former immigrant tenement house, the museum painstakingly and accurately recreates the apartments of three of the different immigrant families who lived there over the course of several decades. Focusing on just a single address -- 97 Orchard Street -- it's an amazing window on the rapidly changing face of New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
If you're in New York, definitely add the Tenement Museum to your itinerary.
In the meantime, though, you have got to read this book, called 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. It was published in June 2010, Zach's mom and stepdad gave it to us for Christmas, and Zach finally picked it up last month.
Author Jane Zeigelman uses Census records, diary notes, newspaper accounts and even some interviews with family descendents to describe the foodways of these different families -- German Protestant, Italian, Irish, and two Jewish families, one from Russia and one from Germany. It is a fascinating account of the ingredients and recipes these families relied on, where and how they shopped for food, and the role that cuisine played in their cultures.
What's even more intriguing are the ways American cuisine at large was shaped by these different waves of immigrant cuisine. You'll find out why we owe our restaurant culture to the Germans, why we can thank Jewish immigrants for our sandwich meats, and just how much Irish immigrants relied on potatoes (seriously, they ate a lot of potatoes).
It's a wonderful read!
Salsa Lizano was featured in the April Fine Cooking and we were excited to see it there. Several years ago, when our friends Regi and Kate travelled to Costa Rica, they brought us back a bottle of this "brown vegetable-based sauce" (worst description ever?). Never fear, it's sweet and spicy and smoky -- and we loved using it in our kitchen!
If you can find a bottle at your supermarket in the International aisle, it's worth picking up and trying. (We have yet to find it in our nation's capital.) You can also order it online.
How to Crack Pistachios
Clay has been having a love affair with pistachios and suddenly can't get enough of them. Eating them, it can be frustrating when there are a few in the bowl that you just can't get to crack open. Cook’s Illustrated has a great tip for cracking pistachios that works very well: Use a garlic press!
Since we haven't touched our garlic press in a long time (we've been mincing using a knife), perhaps we'll finally have a reason to start using it again. And anyway, this is certainly better than our pistachio solution, which included a meat mallet.
How to Save Salty Foods
We've likely all over salted a dish at some point in our cooking experience. Like us, you may have heard a tip in the past about saving a salty dish by dropping a potato into it. The notion is that the potato helps absorb the extra salt.
Well, the folks in the test kitchen at Everyday Food tried it out. Their verdict? False. They do, however, offer a tip for managing how much salt is added to a dish: "Add salt in half-teaspoon increments and taste frequently." That sounds like good advice to us.
Anything that caught your eye this month? Let us know in the comments.