Favorite Things vol. 2

2010/04/11

Anyone who has shared a meal with my father, sister, and me (and paid attention) will be somewhat surprised that I would consider salt to be one of my favorite things (see the first post in this series here). While it is true that I do not pile it on everything I eat, salt can make or break a dish. But what I love most about salt (and why it makes this list) is my salt collection.

Yes, I have a salt collection.

It started innocently enough, with lovely little jar of sea salt my friend Amy brought me when she came back from a trip to Maine.

I liked it a lot, because it was a very thoughtful gift, and I put it on my table to replace the faux Sea Salt Grinder I had gotten tired of. (**note: The actual Sea Salt grinder I bought from Trader Joes had broken, so I poured the salt into an unused pepper grinder. It worked, but only so-so.) This sea salt is not too fine and not too coarse. You can tell it is there, but it doesn’t add a crunch.

Then around Christmas last year, Ian’s parents gave us a sampler of six French Sea Salts. They were all in bags, but they also gave us little jars to put them in.

From left to right, the salts are: Fleur de Sel de Guérande, Fumee de Sel (smoked Fleur de Sel), Tamise de Guérande, Velvet de Guérande, Sel Gris Fine, and Sel Gris Course. All of these salts are from Guérande in France, which is considered by many to be the best place for sea salt in the world. My favorite is the Tamise de Guérande, which has an interesting flavor and slightly coarse texture. Ian’s favorite is the Velvet de Guérande, which is a super fine grey sea salt. The smoky Fumee de Sel is also quite nice in certain dishes. I particularly like it with root vegetables.

I also just got a new salt in the Easter Basket Ian’s parents gave us.

I haven’t tried this one yet, and I still need to find it a jar, but I am looking forward to it.

Unless I am going for something in particular, however, I just use these salts for finishing at the table. For cooking, I usually use Kosher Salt.

Because the box is so big, and the mouth is wide, I keep a small amount in a plastic container and refill it as necessary.

Just so you don’t think I am salt snob, I do have a regular container of Morton’s salt.

I often use this in baking, because the crystals are regularly sized (for even distribution) and it is easy to measure.

There are still a few salts I would like to own.

Salt Wish List

Anyone else know of any interesting salts I need to try?

If you are interested in learning more about salt, read this book:

Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky. It actually extremely interesting and a great read.


Trader Joe’s Tamales

2010/04/07

Last Saturday I stocked up on frozen and prepared foods at Trader Joe’s. Seriously, I have not had this many meals ready to eat in the house in a long time. Tonight we decided to try Trader “Jose’s” handcrafted frozen tamales.

I had the Cheese & Green Chile Tamales. The package came with two, but I only ate one (the other is in my lunch for tomorrow). The tamale was pretty good; the flavor was mild, but good. I wish it had a little more presence, because if I hadn’t done anything to dress it up, it probably would have been a little dry and bland.

Instead I topped the tamale with cheese and avocado, and served it with a side of salsa and sour cream. That made it even better.

Ian had these Beef Tamales, which he said had shredded beef in a sauce inside. He said they were pretty good.

Ian’s were also topped with avocado and cheese and served with a side of salsa. At least the toppings gave it some semblance of being fresh. I can’t wait to eat real food again.


My Newest Purchase

2010/02/21

Look what came in the mail yesterday!

These are my awesome new mesh shopping bags. Over a year ago, I switched to cloth shopping bags for my trips to the farmers’ market and grocery store, and I really like them. The bags I own are part of a set I bought on Amazon. They are large green cloth bags and they fit a lot of things in them. One is even insulated.

However, what I still didn’t like was needing to use bags for produce. At the market, I usually dont need bags except for with greens and beans and the like. At the grocery store, though, using bags is standard and often necessary. I was really happy when I found these bags, also on Amazon (can you tell where I do my shopping?)

Here are the bags again, with one of the last of the year’s pears (the farmers’ cold storage supplies are running dry) for reference. This is only half of them; there are 4 small green bags, 4 medium yellow bags, and 2 large pink bags. They also fold down nice into one of the green bags.

See?

Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive in time for shopping this week, so I will be waiting until next week to try them out. I can’t wait!