Musings on Making Pasta, No. 4

I made another batch of pasta this weekend to test my new mafaldine cutter, but it proved problematic . The dough jammed in it against the blades, so I had to switch to my lasagne ricce cutter, which worked perfectly. Because it got so deeply stuck, I had to remove the blade piece on the new cutter and spend some time fishing tiny bits of dough … (more–>)

Musings on Making Pasta, No.3

How thick should any particular type of pasta be? Seems like a simple question that could be answered by a basic chart or spreadsheet. But if it has been, I’ll be damned if I can find one online. In my numerous books on pasta, only a few actually give recommended thicknesses for making your own. Anything that deals with dried, store-bought pasta simply deals with the … (more–>)

Musing on Making Pasta No. 2

In its most basic form, pasta can be made from only two ingredients: flour and water. But while true, it’s deceptively simple, and far from the tastiest or most expressive pasta you can make.  (see part 1 of this essay if you missed it) Flour is delightfully complicated; there is some interesting chemistry at work within flour and it’s fun to experiment. Wheat is classified into … (more–>)

Musings on Making Pasta No. 1

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”16″ exclusions=”302,303,304,305,306,298,297,296,294,290,289,288,287″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″ number_of_columns=”5″ order_by=”imagedate”]  Long-time readers here may recall that I used to post about making my own pasta and bread quite frequently some years back. Last spring when I was diagnosed with cancer and then went through surgery and then radiation, I stopped doing both. This week, I finally got back to my pasta-making— not quite as adroitly as I had … (more–>)

The Imperialist Economics of Blueberries

There was a cooler right at the front of the fruit and vegetable section of the local Walmart store packed with clear plastic containers of blueberries. Plump, dark, fresh-looking berries. And value-priced at $2.87 a container. I love blueberries on my morning cereal; these looked inviting, and so inexpensive! Who can resist such a bargain? I put a container in my shopping cart. Only when I … (more–>)

More loafing about

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”14″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”] I am always trying to create the perfect loaf; that one loaf that captures every element of bread in perfect harmony with the others: taste, crumb, crust and appearance. An impossible quest, I appreciate, given my lowly talents, but great bread is the Holy Grail of cooking and I cannot stop searching. It’s the journey that matters. Every step leads me towards … (more–>)

The arts of politics and baking

In his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert Prisig wrote about how dealing with the small things of daily life  – like fixing his wayward motorcycle – could teach us about the world at large. A sort of microcosm-becomes-macrocosm perspective, with the vagarities of motorcycle repair to colour the learning. What we learn in one we can apply to the other. * Baking bread, … (more–>)

Pollan’s Food fallacies

“Don’t overlook the oily little fishes,” is rule 32 in Michael Pollan’s small book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” (Penguin Books, 2009). I recently acquired a copy. I’ve read Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and have his In Defence of Food on my shelves for summer reading and have two other titles by him on my wish list. I’ve enjoyed his work so far. Maybe not … (more–>)

A Cup of Mao Jian

The tea bag is an example of remarkable serendipity; an unexpected, simple invention that changed the world. But it was entirely unintended. Tea, from the camelia sinenis tree, is the most popular beverage in the world after water, and the most popular hot beverage period. Before the tea bag appeared, barely over a century ago, all tea was sold loose. Today more than 90% is sold … (more–>)

Dinner at the Bent Taco

We had dinner at the Bent Taco on Pine Street last night. Collingwood’s nuevo-Mexican restaurant is not exactly Mexican but influenced by it, and in a good way. Food was excellent. If you haven’t been there, you should go. Very popular place and I wondered why it took so long for us to get there. Don’t go expecting traditional Mexican fare (hint: go to Mexico and … (more–>)

Spiralizing out of control

I bought myself a spiral veggie cutter recently – a spiralizer, they’re called – after hearing a friend rave on about how wonderful his was. And since I both like to cook and I’m a gadget freak, I thought I ought to get myself one, too. And as an added bonus, I eat a lot of veggies and stir fry dishes. Sounded like a perfect match. … (more–>)

Teas or Tisanes?

I suppose it’s crotchety of me, but whenever I hear the term “herbal tea” used to refer to an infusion of leaves or fruits that contains no actual tea, I get shirty. They’re actually not tea at all, they’re tisanes, a pleasant French word that means’herbal infusion.’ They should be called such and labelled appropriately in stores. Tea is, properly a plant originally from China: Camellia … (more–>)

The Antis at Sunset Point

There are always those who don’t want change. Any change upsets them. Anything that’s new, different, exciting, challenging or just unusual bothers them and want it stopped. They want a steady state, where nothing happens, nothing changes, nothing is new. Stop growth, stop development, stop change. Some of them are the ‘last in’ crowd – the recent arrivals who don’t want any more newcomers because newcomers … (more–>)

The Geometry and Topology of Pasta

I’ve always had a geeky appreciation – and awe – of mathematics. I have spent countless hours tinkering with programs that create math-based designs like fractals and Spirograph-style curves. As a young teenager I spent hours playing with an oscilloscope making sound waves dance on the tiny screen. But I never really thought much about the math behind pasta until I stumbled on two books: The … (more–>)

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