The Secret of Spices and Herbs

I guess this topic will be better in my hubby’s hand, but for some reason I want to write about it. Spices and herbs have been around all my life, I come from a family where every single woman likes cooking, great grand ma, grand ma, mum and aunties, actually even the ones that we borrowed from other families that we also call aunties! they know how to cook too. Cooking is one of the greatest way to share our family culture and with this spices and herbs come into place.

I am always trying to understand what combines the best with certain food, and lately I have realised that spices and herbs are a good help to give a boost to the taste of our dishes in a very easy way, it is like if I already know it but it is now when the knowledge is awakening inside me. Sometimes, we have to know that some herbs are put right in the end but some others from the beginning of the preparation.

So here I would like to recommend you a free encyclopedia that describes herbs and spices as well as gives some tips on how to use them, Spices & Herbs/ Culinary Cafe, and also I would like to give you the name of a book that gives some suggestions on how to combine flavors ( great gift from my hubby, he is reading my mind lately), The flavour Thesaurus, very practical and easy to use.

One great thing about herbs is that you can have them fresh or dry, so even if you do not have a garden you can plant some of them in a pot indoors and they grow beautifully, thus you have them at the reach of your hand whenever you wish to use them.

Just to finish, after having all those lovely ladies surrounding me with great food I ended up marrying a great chef. I always say Life is grand 😉

Thank you and Love

Marialegs

 

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Resolutions

Half of the year is gone and it is incredibly quick the way is going, so I think it would be very helpful to review all those resolutions that you set at the beginning of this year when you were eating the grapes and start ticking the list.

For those resolutions that you can see are impossible or not quite ready for this year, feel free to put them off and reinforce those ones that are more realistic, put all your enthusiasm on them, even if the picture have changed, be flexible and change with it, set new resolutions according to what you are living and go with the flow.

Avoidance takes us to repeat the same situation again and again, so it is better to do what life is asking us to do than just avoid doing those special things in our path and miss something on the way because sometimes doing the ones not so special will lead us to the great ones.

Just a thought.

Thank you and love

Marialegs

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Willmer Colmenares

Kitchen Aid Blender

HI All

KitchenAid Blender

Well, it has been a while since I posted something on this page and I wanted to keep giving you my recommendations on what I consider are the great kitchen equipments for the house.

I have my kitchenAid Blender probably since 2006, and until today it has not given me any problems. I use the blender on daily basis for different preparations as I love to have proper consistency when I cook.

The Kitchen Aid Blender has 5 speeds that can be used for different cooking and procedures from crushing ice (great for those summer days when you want to have a nice mojito or ice frappe ) to really smooth soups, purees, baby food products or emulsions.

As you might understand this is a really strong blender and because of that it can bring some consequences if you do not know how to use the product properly. You can not have really smooth purees or emulsions unless you have the right temperature for it, but is the products are too hot you might be having problems when blending them as some of it might just fell out of the jar because of the heat, but this is something that could happened with almost any blender. On the other hand is really easy to clean and is  strong enough to do most of the general cooking jobs.

A really positive point is that even when it is a really strong piece of equipment it does not make much noise, my old blender that was half of this one was making double of the noise with half of the job.

Another thing that you should know about this blender is that the driving mechanism consists of a rubber toothed piece that transfer the engine strength to the jar blade and this part might waste or brake.  This is  is designed to protect the engine in case the blade is stuck while blending, but even so the blender comes with three year manufacturer guarantee and the only thing that you need to do is contact them and they will organise a replacement of the part, even so I can said is a solid product.

By Willchef

 

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Rice pudding/ Arroz con leche

Hi all

I wanted to start this section with a traditional dessert but I was not sure what was good enough for this page until today.

My little girl have been with a flu for a couple of days and I wanted to do something nice  to try to cheer her up, then I remember that when I was little my grandma use to make me puddings when I was not feeling well and this recipe came to my mind in a flash. I hope that you enjoy it.

Arroz con leche/rice pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rice puddings and its varieties can be found on almost every country of the world and  because of the simplicity of the ingredients and the easy cooking methods used, it has made it an excellent and well known dessert around the whole world.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gr of white short grain rice (Valencia rice or similar) you could use a most rich variety as Arborio rice ( medium grain rice) or similar for a more whole cook look on the rice pudding.
  • 1lt of milk
  • 100 gr of Sugar
  • 4 aromatic cloves
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • Cinnamon powder
  • 40gr of Butter

Arborio RiceDemerara SugarAromatic ClovesLime and Lemons

 

 

 

Cinnamon and ClovesDiced Butter

 

 

 

Products:

  • Rice: almost any varieties of white rice can be used for this dish depending of what are you looking for and what do you have available. I do like a really creamy rice pudding and for this recipe I like to use a variety of rice that have a lot of starch, Today I have used a risotto rice variety: Arborio rice
  • Milk: the quantity of fat on this dish will tell you the consistency and creaminess of the dish but if you want to avoid the fat, is not a problem if you use a low fat milk and add some egg yolk to add consistency. Even so I will still recommend full fat or semi skimmed.
  • Sugar: you can use any kind of sweetener for this dish: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, Demerara sugar, sugar cane or any other that you will prefer, in my country we normally use Panela or Papelon. As I am really far from my country we have substitute this for Demerara sugar
  • Lime and lemon: on this occasion we will only need the skin of the lemon and the lime. you can use a knife and remove the skin without using the white part of the skin or use a Zester
  • the rest of the ingredients can be eliminated or substituted depending of what you prefer on some areas of the world they add raisins, dates, liquors, coconut milk, almond milk and similar

preparation:

  1. Place the milk, the rice, the sugar, the Cinnamon stick, and half of the lime and lemon zest on a sauce pan and put into the fire at medium heat, mix time to time to make sure that it does not stick on the button of the pan.
  2. Cook slowly to make sure that the rice absorb the milk and the spices and it cooks to the right consistency with out overcooking, if you use to much heat you will finish with a dry rice, probably not cook, and you will need to add more milk to rectify the heat what will make the rice soft outside and still hard inside .
  3. When the milk has reduced to almost nothing and the rice is cook, start adding the pieces of butter slowly and mixing constantly to make sure that you get a creamy consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat and from the pan when you have reached the desired consistency.
  5. Finish with a bit of cinnamon powder and a bit of the lime and lemon zest.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding the cooking: there are really little techniques involved on this dish but there are a few things that you should be aware of.

  1. There are some recipes where they recommend to wash the rice. The only reason for doing this will be that you are not interested to have a creamy rice as you are eliminating part of the starch by washing the grain, if you are not looking for a creamy consistency try using a thinner rice, eliminate the fat from the recipe or as I mentioned wash the rice before cooking it.
  2. I have found some recipes where they pre-cook the rice on boiling water before cooking it on milk, the reason for this is to do this dish faster by precooking the rice the only thing that is achieved is reduce the cooking time. I still prefer the long process as you will have a really milky taste on the rice.
  3. In some cultures they like the rice pudding really liquid or really thick, to achieve this you need to understand a couple of things. To get the rice thick you will need a starchy rice grain, some fat on the recipe and you could use some egg yolk (at the end of the cooking) to get a more compact rice. To make it more runny but at the same time creamy the easiest way is to add more liquid on the recipe.
  4. On certain areas of Latin America we add raising to the rice pudding but previously we marinated them with rum or any sweet wine, add them last minute or you will have a darker rice because of the raisins.

 

 

 

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Love, Trust and Support

I was just thinking a couple of days ago how my kids are growing, how everyday I can see a sign of something new coming up, and how they are doing the next step by loving, trusting and supporting them.

One great example of the trusting part is the potty training, we tried to potty train my daughter about 8 months ago, and what we achieve was to put her off since she was not ready and the nursery was using a technique that was putting too much pressure on her, they sat her on the toilet every 20min, not very friendly approach I would say, but I did not realise this until now. About 2 months ago, my husband and I started talking to her about going to the potty or the toilet when she feels it is needed, so all the time we changed her nappy we reminded her.

Also when we went out with friends with kids I pointed out for her how the kids were going to the toilet and not wearing nappies, so little by little she was getting more interested in knowing what was happening until a week ago she took the nappy off by herself and used the potty, and she actually did both things that night and then went to bed with a knicker on without wetting herself through the whole night, amazing!!!

I keep on with the training because she is more aware when she is at home but outside she does not understand yet where she is going to do it as well as she gets more distracted, however I am not pushing her or going crazy about it, I remind her sometimes if she wants to go to the toilet but I do not get frustrated if she has a little accident.

Related more to the love part, I have been reading a book called  the secret of happy childrens, it talks about the two type of love we have to give to children, these two loves are named soft and firm by the writer, a wonderful way to describe how we should raise our children.

Children need our unconditional love to grow healthy, happy, confident and make a good contribution to the earth, this is were firm love takes part, we have to set clear rules for them and be consistent otherwise they will feel they can play around. This book also gives some great advises on how to handle the discipline by using a dealing technique, explain to children why something is wrong and let them think about it. It is a worth reading piece for all of those parents and carers around.

Last one but not least, support, only by being with them, they feel more confident to try and do new things, they take the risk. I could give many examples of this, but one good one is that my little boy once I sit down with him, he starts moving more about and explore more the things that surround him.

In addition to all I mentioned above, there is something very important, trusting yourself and the way you believe you should raise your children, always remembering that they need tones of those two type of love.

Thank you and love

Marialegs

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