May 21, 2013

Gluten-Free Whole Grains A Journey from Keyboard to Slow Cooker

Gluten-Free Whole Grains A Journey from Keyboard to Slow Cooker

With the Internet, email and social media – does anyone get real mail these days? Needless to say, Nutmeg was thrilled to find a copy of Judith Finlayson’s The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook, buried under the innumerable junk-mail fliers for duct cleaning, roof repair and debt consolidation. Judith took some time one spring afternoon to talk about this book, and how her career path (from keyboard to slow cooker) got her to where she is today – working on her 15th cookbook! Her professional life began in book publishing, in her words as a “glorified secretary.” Judith moved into editing and then to well known Canadian magazines such as MacLean’s. Her career stops included freelance work, recipe development and a long running Globe & Mail column. She was always interested in food related journalism, although her articles also covered a broad range of women’s and social issues. Even while juggling a busy career and editorial deadlines over a twenty-year period her passion for food remained constant. Judith was not classically trained in the kitchen. She spent a few years “cooking my way through Julia Child’s book” – her introduction to French kitchen methodology. Subsequently, her passion has taken her to many global regions including Mexico, India and Thailand to work with masters in these cuisines. The first book came together by hazard; her husband who is a publisher had the idea in the late 1990s to create a cookbook focused on high-end slow cooker meals. This was at a time when slow cookers were hardly the height of kitchen fashion. He approached at least seven top chefs to ask if they would be interested in working on this project. NO – was the resounding answer. Finally, he reached the end of his list and asked Judith whether she would consider the venture. (more…)

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May 13, 2013

Ancient Apricots

Ancient Apricots

Literally as old as the hills, the fruit of the apricot tree are confirmed to have been domesticated since the Bronze Age. Although, the exact origin of the tree is debated; there is evidence of consumption of the fruit in both China and India between 3-4,000 B.C. the apricot in dry format was certainly exchanged along Persian trade routes. the scientific name, is Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum), likely as a result of the ubiquitous presence in Armenia since antiquity. The fruit was eventually introduced to the Greeks and then adopted by the Romans. (more…)

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May 6, 2013

Exploring the California Desert by Jeep

Exploring the California Desert by Jeep

Flawless green lawns, vivid crayon-coloured annuals, miniature potted palms and manicured golf courses all exist on land that was once desert scrub. Nutmeg disgusted with her golf game and not a dedicated shopper decided that it would be time well spent to understand more about their natural surroundings. Good news – she found Desert Adventures. Not knowing much about the company she asked Kimberly Nilsson one of the co-owners for a bit of background. (more…)

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April 29, 2013

7 Quick Tips for Travel with a Pampered Pet

7 Quick Tips for Travel with a Pampered Pet

I almost slept with a strange lady in Las Vegas. Well not exactly, but she offered! (more…)

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April 22, 2013

What Happened To The Baguette

What Happened To The Baguette

The iconic vision of a French man or woman walking home with their baguette in hand is neither a myth nor a creation of the department in charge of French tourism. The classic baguette, long, thin, and crusty, remains an excellent carrier for fresh jam in the morning, or for soaking up tasty sauces at dinner. Although, French daily bread consumption per person has declined significantly from the early 1900s to about 120 grams, from as high as 900 grams, the mighty loaf still remains a vital part of the national diet. Despite the decline, that still is a lot of bread, over 23 million baguettes a day (8 billion a year) for 65 million people. Music to Nutmeg’s ears, by law bakeries in France, are not allowed to use preservatives in any bread. This means that boulangeries must bake several times a day, so their customers can always find a fresh loaf. The name baguette first appeared around 1890, although it seems that a long, thin loaf was made well before that time. A law established in March 1919 forbade the employment of bread and pastry workers between the hours of 10pm and 4am. The ordinary baguette is a simple mixture of all-purpose flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough once it has risen, is formed in a long length by hand, scored on the diagonal and baked in a hot (400F) deck oven. Steam injection, during baking, is the key to the crusty exterior. The size of baguette is not regulated, but mostly it falls between 65-70cm (25-27 inches) long and 6cm (2.5 inches) wide. The price of bread has not been government controlled since 1978. However, the combination of strong market competition and active consumer associations, ensures that what one pays for a regular baguette is fairly consistent. So here is the problem, the huge growth in large-scale grocery stores and multiple store bakery chains has created a highly competitive market place. The small, local boulangerie gets squeezed from all sides; “Goliath” grocery stores, rising wheat prices and fickle consumers. Today, consumers expect a wide variety of choices: sourdough, fibre, multi-grain, organic (bio), bran, rye etc.   The classic baguette remains on the bakers’ shelves as it would be suicidal for a boulangerie not to offer it among their inventory. So nothing has happened to the baguette, it still remains remarkably part of the culture in France, the quality might just not be what it used to be; however, there are lots of choices. Follow @twitter

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April 15, 2013

Touring the World with Untours Travel

Touring the World with Untours Travel

Gathered together under the green, leaf umbrella of a colossal Provençal plane tree participants were enjoying the “fruits” of their efforts; the food they had all created in Nito Carpita’s professional kitchen at Mas de Cornud. Ginger and Nutmeg were still dressed in their white chefs aprons as the table conversation scrolled through a host of topics. In the group, were two girlfriends from far-flung cities who had decided to meet in Provence. They had booked accommodation via Untours. Well, that certainly peaked Nutmeg’s curiosity, as she had never heard of Untours and they are in thirteen countries! She got in touch with General Manager, Brian Taussig-Lux at the company to ask a few questions. (more…)

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April 8, 2013

Provence the Land of Lavender

Provence the Land of Lavender

Nutmeg has been fortunate enough to visit France several times. One year Ginger and Nutmeg joined some friends on a cycling trip through Provence.  That was the beginning of their “love-affair” with the region. However, on all the previous trips the fields of lavender had already been harvested, it was too late in the season. This time Nutmeg was determined to see the flowering fields. The lavender plant is actually part of the mint family, and there are some 39 varieties.  The plants love the dry, sandy, rocky soil that is typical of the Vaucluse region of Provence.  Lavender flowers come in many colours, they can be blue (almost indigo), purple, violet, even pink or white varieties exist. It is a relatively easy plant to grow, as it requires minimal care. (more…)

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April 1, 2013

The Man behind the Vine at Grgich Hills Estate

The Man behind the Vine at Grgich Hills Estate

“Did you know that nutmeg is used in cookies in Croatia”? That was near the end of a two-hour discussion with the man who turned the wine world on its head. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich turns ninety on this day April 1, 2013. He describes his life as happy, blessed and filled with opportunity. It was that attitude that carried him through his early days in a remote Croatian village, through a period of communist threats, to West Germany and then eventually to California. (more…)

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March 25, 2013

Remarkable Gardens – Jardins Remarquable in France

Remarkable Gardens – Jardins Remarquable in France

In May 2003, the label Jardin Remarquable (Remarkable Garden) was created, to celebrate and document the magnificent gardens of France. A Jardin Remarquable, is one that meets the established criteria; integration in the site, interesting blend of vegetation, quality of the location, engaging use of plants and where applicable provides historical interest. (more…)

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March 18, 2013

How to Publish a Book

How to Publish a Book

Have you dreamed about being an actor? Meeting a president? Marrying a pilot? Living in Italy? Maybe you still have those daydreams… (more…)

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