Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha Sauce

There are very few things The Man won’t put Sriracha sauce on. I am not kidding here. I’ve known ketchup addicts, and now I’m beginning to find a sub-cult of Sriracha addicts. There are times I think I may have to carry a bottle of Sriracha in my purse in case we find a restaurant that doesn’t have it when it’s critical to the meal.

Most people think of Sriracha as a way to disguise mediocre Asian food, but talk to a few addicts and they’ll get a little teary-eyed about their passion for this spicy sauce. It’s easily recognizable as the big bottle with the green top and the cock on the front. Although the recipe was perfected by a smaller company in Thailand, Huy Fong Foods in California created an American variation and helped popularize it from coast to coast. You can find it in most mainstream Asian food places, and increasingly in other restaurants (you might have to ask for it).

The chili paste and garlic is combined with vinegar, salt, and pepper, similar to ketchup. But this sauce has a kick that appeals to spice-lovers. If you don’t like spicy food, use this sparingly until you can gauge your tolerance level vs. the flavor enhancement.

Not only is this a great sauce to put on burgers, Chinese take-out, sandwiches, and fries, it’s fun to add a little to a stir-fry, soup, and pasta while you’re cooking because the flavor profile and spice adds some attitude. We’re not against some attitude in food around here.

Even if you think you know Sriracha, if you’ve only ever had it in a Chinese restaurant over your Chow Mein or Pad Thai, you don’t know Sriracha. I promise. Try it on a veggie burger or kabobs at your next barbecue, put a few dabs on your pizza, or include some in your next 10-bean soup for a tasty twist on the legume overload.

Huy Fong Foods home
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Calphalon Katana Knives

Calphalon Katana knivesWhen The Man and I first started dating, I had no proper knives to speak of. I had a collection of sharp-ish objects collected from yard sales and bargain bins. They were sort of knife-shaped. They would often cut butter and bread. My actual veggie chopping knife had also been used as a home improvement tool over the years.

Suffice it to say, The Man was shocked down to his cotton socks when he first opened my utensil drawer and surveyed my stock of handy dandy cooking tools. I had the complete set of OXO Good Grips kitchen utensils. And I do mean the FULL set. I don’t even know what some of these do. I suspect one is for subduing unruly Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But nary a sharp cutting utensil to be found. He was still reeling from this shock when he discovered I had no cutting boards either. I nearly had to pick him up off my tile floor and offer him a stiff drink. This was one of our first ‘issues’ that was quickly fixed by an impromptu trip to a big box store for emergency knives and cutting boards. I asked him to marry me that night in the Kitchen Goods department. This is not a joke.

After quite a few months of domestic bliss, he confessed he was just not satisfied anymore and he had to speak up. He’d been having fantasies about a real knife set. With a knife block and everything. The old knives just weren’t doing it for him anymore.

He found this new set in one of those name-brand clearance stores for only $200 and agonized over the decision for a few days before breaking down and buying them. He did research online. He paced and ran his fingers through his hair in the small hours of the night. It was not a pretty sight.

The Calphalon Katana series won his heart. This set has five knives, utility scissors, a roomy block, and one of those blade straightener things (I’ve never figured them out, but that’s okay since apparently that’s the man’s job). These are real steel blades–33 layers of steel, so they say. You can see the way the metal is folded and worked in the blade faces. The resin handles have a nice shape and balance the blade. And the block has room for our older knives, too, which is comforting to my sentimental heart.

Sharp knives make all the difference in the world, especially at the end of the day when you’re trying to prepare dinner quickly and you’re tired. It’s recommended that you gently wash and carefully dry these knives right after you use them to avoid pits and stains. This is my greatest failing in the kitchen, and a source of great anxiety to The Man. I am one of those cooks that constantly washes and cleans as they are cooking, but the knives always remain in the dish drainer, wet. The Man always sighs hugely when he sees them left like that. My favorite blade has sadly developed a pit or two.

So take it from me–awesome knives–take care of them!

When this series was new, this 8-piece set retailed for upward of $600, but now you can find them online from $200 to $700 for 8-piece to 18-piece sets. (Read the reviews when shopping because any moron with a keyboard thinks they know what they’re talking about and end up showing their ignorance after their three page wah-session about the sponge catching on the inside angle of the blade when they clean them. This is not a joke either.)

I gave you this whole story so you could see that I am no knife expert, but I clock a lot of real-life hours in the kitchen, and if something greatly improves my efficiency and proficiency in a daily task, I can only give it the credit it deserves. Shop around. Handle the knives. Read reviews. And find a good set of sharp knives.
Katana, 8-piece Set


Sweetwater Coffee

Sweetwater Organic Coffee

I confess, I love coffee more than almost anything else. If I had to give up food and drink only coffee for a year, I wouldn’t hesitate. Well, maybe cheese would be hard to give up.

It’s not just coffee. I mean, I love chocolate covered espresso beans too, but it’s not the same thing. Coffee is also about the morning ritual of easing into the day. Filling up the kettle and starting the water on the stove. Pulling out the grinder and the beans, and pouring just the right amount into the hopper. The buzz of the burr grinder converting the oily dark ovals into rough grounds. Scooping the grounds into the French press and eventually topping it up with steaming water. The foam of coffee bean oils on top. The long-anticipated moment when you press the plunger and the coffee is ready. All leading towards that first sip and the day is carefully launched off the dock and into the current of life.

Don’t waste a lot of time in the coffee aisle and specialty boutiques trying to find the best coffee out there. Coffee is like wine. Drink what you like. Have fun exploring and experiencing different brands, different roasts, different sources. You might find similarities in the different coffees you enjoy. You might notice you like a specific roast, or a blend of origins.

We try coffees now and again when we stumble across something new. But we always have one thing in stock in the house. You absolutely have to check out the Sweetwater Organic Coffee company. We adore the single source Ethiopians, either Sidamo or Yirgacheffe. But they have some lovely blends and other single source options, as well as espressos, half-cafs, and decafs.

On top of the deliciousness of the coffee, it’s also fair trade, organic, and roasted right here in Gainesville. You can find it at a lot of locally owned businesses that stock fair trade, or organic, or local products; and others shops that just like the coffee. We usually find ours at Ward’s, Alternatives, or Book Gallery West. And note to you brunchers out there, a few local restaurants offer it on their menus, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sweetwater Organic Coffee
Ph: 352-372-8342