Monday, July 6, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Simple Syrup and Lemonade

Homer, in the Iliad, describes the approach of Achilles toward Troy in these words:

Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The dog days of summer began on July 3.
They’ll be with us until August 11.
The sun is in the same region of the sky as Sirius, the Dog Star. 
People used to believe that this caused the hot weather.
It’s hot, and will just get hotter.
Time to drink some lemonade.

Lemonade is actually good for you.
Along with keeping you hydrated, which is very important, drinking four ounces of lemon juice, mixed with 8 Cups of water per day, can reduce your risk of getting kidney stones. 
Lemons contain a high concentration of citric acid - higher than any other fruit has - and this weak acid inhibits stone formation.


If you want to use fresh lemon juice, you’ll need 4 to 6 lemons to get one cup of juice.

For a little fizz, instead of using 3 to 4 Cups of tap water, use sparkling water.

While making simple syrup add a few slices of ginger to make a ginger lemonade.

To make pink lemonade add 1/2 Cup of raspberries or strawberries before chilling for 30 to 40 minutes.
You can also add cranberries, grape, and/or blackberries.

You can make limeade or a mixture of lemon and lime juice. 
Cherries add a nice touch to limeade. 

Any of these drinks, without the sliced lemons, can be frozen into a slushy or popsicle-like dessert.
The kiddies really enjoy that!!

                        Simple Syrup

Place in a small saucepan
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup water
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Allow the syrup to cool.


Place in a large pitcher
1 Cup lemon juice
the cooled simple syrup
3 to 4 Cups water
Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve with ice and sliced lemons.

If you’ve made one of the variations, it’s up to you if you want to add more fruit.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Jambalaya, Maltese Style

About four years ago i posted the recipe for Ma’s Ross il-Forn.
That’s baked rice, Maltese style.
Maltese comfort food.

Over the years Ma served us many platters of Ross il-Forn.
And we loved eating it.
But Ma was also open to new recipes.
Especially after she started watching the cooking shows.

Because of Emeril Ma really got curious about New Orleans and its food.
When a southern style recipe was in the newspaper, she’d clip it.

If the recipe called for things she normally had, she would follow it.
If the recipe had ingredients she didn’t have, she would improvise.
Well, to be honest, sometime she made changes just for the heck of it.

Somehow it always tasted good.

One recipe which Ma adapted and enjoyed was Jambalaya.
It seems to be a distant relative of Maltese Ross il-Forn.
Rice cooked with some really good stuff.
What could be better?

There’s a bit of confusion over how Jambalaya got its name.
One tale says that a traveller told an innkeeper: Jean, balayez!
Loosely translated: "Jean, sweep something together!"
Not very appetizing.

Another says that the Atakapa tribe originally called it Sham, pal ha! Ya!
"Be full, not skinny!  Eat Up!" 
Can’t you just picture a Mom saying that as her family sat down to dinner?
Much, much better!


The original recipe called for 6 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced.
Ma couldn’t find Andouille sausage at the A&P in College Point.
So she crossed that out and used 4 ounces of bacon (not maple flavoured) instead.
She also made it with Italian sausages, when she had a couple to spare.
Sometimes she would scoop them out of Sunday’s tomato sauce.
A bit of extra tomato sauce and spices never hurt.

Ma didn’t have hot pepper sauce in her kitchen.
And she sure wasn’t about to buy a bottle for the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe.
Instead she used 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

The recipe called for medium shrimp, peeled and deveined.
Ma used what she had.
Sometimes she’d use half cooked chicken breast and half shrimp.


In a dutch oven heat  over medium-high heat
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Cup onion, chopped  
1 Cup red or green bell pepper, chopped (or a mix of both)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 ounces of bacon, chopped
Fry 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

1 Cup long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano, dried 
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

1 bay leaf
2 Cups chicken broth
3/4 Cup water
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. 

1/2 pound shrimp
4 Tablespoons parsley, dried
Cover and cook 5 minutes. 
Turn off heat.
Let stand 5 minutes. 
Discard bay leaf. 
Check for seasoning and that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Serve hot, with a salad or cooked vegetable.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Celebrate!! by Margaret Ullrich - Sangria Recipe

Happy July first!
Happy Fourth of July!
Whichever you’re celebrating, enjoy!!

Yesterday we had a really wet day in Manitoba.
There were tornado warnings and sightings.
There was even a bit of hail.
But the forecasters are saying we'll have perfect weather for July first.

Time to invite friends over for a barbecue before sitting back to enjoy the fireworks.

A bit of bubbly is always nice to have on hand when the gang’s over.
But, remember, it’s summer.
Everyone’s knocking back drinks faster than you can say ‘hydrate’.
It might be a good idea to water the drinks, more or less.

Sangria is perfect for this time of year.
It has something alcoholic, (usually wine - either red or white), and chopped fruit. 
Think of it as a summer version of mulled wine.

You can use whatever fruit you have on hand, such as apples, peaches, melon, berries, pineapple, grapes, kiwifruit or mangoes. 
You can sweeten it with honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice. 
Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up can be used to top up the pitcher. 

You can control the amount of alcohol so that the kids can enjoy the sangria, too.
Or you can make a totally alcohol-free pitcher for them.


You can use either red or white wine, but I think white Sangria looks more summery and allows everyone to see the fruit better.

Allow the sangria to mellow in the refrigerator for several hours, or a full day.
Add the soda (if you’re using it) just before serving.
Have on hand plenty of ice to refill the bucket. 
This way your friends can add as much ice as they want, and the flavour won’t get watered down.

For the kiddies you could make sangria from ginger ale, lemon juice, and sugar.
And lots of fruit!


Yield:12 to 15 servings

Cut into thin slices 
2 navel oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
Place the fruit in a large serving bowl.
1/4 Cup sugar
2 - 3 (750-ml) bottles white wine
1 Cup brandy (optional)
Cover and allow the sangria to mellow in the refrigerator.

Before serving add
Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up (optional)
Have on hand plenty of ice for people to serve themselves.

About the moon this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On July 1 there will be a Full Moon, and appears full for three days.
July’s full Moon is called the Full Buck Moon. July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. 
It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, because thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. 
Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

About the rain we had yesterday, June 27… 

If it rains on June 27, it will rain for seven weeks.

If it rains on St. Peter’s Day (June 29), the bakers will have to carry double flour and single water; if dry, they will carry single flour and double water.
Rain on Peter and Paul (June 29) will rot the roots of the rye.