Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What is it?!

The queen-mum is back from her latest foray, this time to foreign southern climes of the Puerto Rican persuasion. She sent this photo, which I thought bordered on mean. But as I loved looking at it anyway, how mean could it be? So pretty. . . . and yes, we were also invited. . . .

Anyway, she came back with her usual largesse from the local markets. Knorr makes instant garlic cubes! [who knew?!] But apparently they sell them only to Spanish speaking countries. That's ok. I like my garlic in garlic paper. You know, the regular papery garlic cloves in the original, natural package. I have a whole ritual I go through, selecting and preparing them. Somehow it wouldn't be the same to take a little cube out of a box, no matter how cute the box!

Speaking of packaging, this - um - can - stopped me in my tracks. It's enormous! Probably 6 or 7 inches across, and very colourful, as you see. A tuna can on steroids.

Facundo, Pasta de Guayaba. Thankfully, the translation is right next to it: "Guava Paste."

Guava paste? Why would anyone want guava paste?!

It turns out that this is a very popular item in Puerto Rico. They eat it with cheese and for dessert. It's apparently very sweet. They use it as the filling to stick two little cookies together. Further research shows endless cake, pie, pastry and empanada variations, but also pork and chicken options!

Here's a recipe from Bon Appetit for a Guava-stuffed Chicken with caramelized mango and here a Food & Wine recipe for guava-glazed pork tenderloin with cilantro jalapeno salsa.

And how about this as a dipping sauce for Pinchos de Cerdo - Skewered Pork?

1 cup guava paste (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons dark rum
salt and other herbs to taste. . . . (combine in small saucepan and heat through, stirring)

I also came across one Anger Burger, who wrote an amusing and in-depth study of the stuff, with lovely pictures. I warn you, Anger Burger's language is. . . . "angry". For those of you squeamish about the odd expletive not deleted, do not go there. For those of you who wish to see what Anger Burger did with his [her?] guava paste resulting in what she says was the best *&^)$%@@ pastry ever, click on this link: "guava paste, you shut up!".

Peaches were involved.

But I'm thinking that dipping sauce, on a seared pork tenderloin. . . . .

Meanwhile, the can looks pretty in the kitchen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

hot and cold

One of our favorite family jokes is the one of the simpleton who, when asked to name the most amazing human invention, intoned: "The thermos."

"The thermos?!!!

"Yeah! The thermos. You put hot things in it and it keeps it hot; you put cold things in and it keeps it cold. How do it know?!"Well, here is my new amazing hot/cold pack. It's perhaps not quite as amazing as the thermos, but it's pretty amazing for all that. Microwave it for a minute and it provides beautiful heat for almost an hour to soothe sore and aching muscles. Freeze it, and it's an ice pack (minus the hard cubes and moisture of the melting ice) - to soothe sore and aching muscles!

Yes, there are two of them. Although each pack can be used for both hot and cold applications, from a practical perspective, it takes a good deal longer to freeze one of these than it does to microwave it. My current regimen is ten minutes of heat and then 20 minutes of torturous physical therapy followed by ten more minutes of icing. Frozen shoulders apparently need both heat and ice. Anyway, it didn't take me long to figure out that I'd have to have one of these hot/cold packs dedicated to the cold side of things. So I made two.

This is SO much better than a heating pad. They're stuffed with flax seeds, which conform to your body and have a bit of weight to them, so they can easily transfer either heat or cold without you having to press down on the pack to keep it in contact with your skin. But 'how do it know'? Apparently flax seeds have a high concentration of oil in them, and it is the oil that retains either heat or cold, whatever you subject it to. Plus, heating pads are stiff, electrical, and prone to mustiness. Don't even talk to me about ice or frozen pea packs. They are lumpy, wet, hard-frozen, and uncomfortable - and also prone to freezer-must. I find the light aroma of the heated flax seeds very enjoyable and I have been advised to put the cold pack in a ziplock bag, to avoid picking up that stale freezer smell! You take the the pack out of the ziplock when you're ready to use it, as it remains perfectly dry.

These heat/cold packs have really picked up my spirits! It's amazing what a little thing like this can do. Flax seeds. Who would have thought it? I'm actually kind of looking forward to my next range-of-motion torture session. Or at least to the temperature therapy aspects of it. . . .