Sunday, April 24, 2011

Profiterolle, Cream Puff, or Choux à la Crème

Profiterolle, Cream Puff, or Choux à la Crème are choux pastries filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream. They can be shaped as balls or more imaginatively as swans. They are often garnished with powdered sugar, chocolate sauce, a caramel glaze, or fruit.

The word "cream puff" began to appear on American restaurants menu in the 1850s.

The polymer clay version below suitable for American Girls was made by the MinnieKitchen.

A real cream puff shaped as a swan that I had during tea time at L'espalier of Boston.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rebecca's Bagels

Did you know?

Bagels get their harder consistency because they are boiled first before they are baked.

Bagels originated from Poland and have existed for hundred of years in their round form with holes in the middle. A dowel or rope were threaded through the holes for more convenient portability and display.

Jewish immigrants brought bagels to New York City, but they became popular in the United States when bagel production became more automated in the first half of the 20th century.

The following bagels were created by Etsy seller Pippaloo.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potatoes and Monoculture

I actually have several miniature potato specimens to show off, but I need to gather my photos together. This stuffed potato below with butter on top was made by Pippaloo of Etsy.

Did you know?
Potatoes originated from Peru, but were brought by Spanish colonists four centuries ago to Europe, where they became a food staple. In fact, it may have aided in the population explosion of the 18th and 19th centuries because potatoes were so easy to cultivate even in poor soil.

There are a thousand different types of potatoes which makes it genetically stronger than other produce you find in the market. Organic farmers plant several varieties to hedge against crop failure--more than the four or so types of potatoes you see in the supermarket nowadays. The sad part of monoculture in modern times is that agribusinesses let only a few types dominate the market--for example, Russet potatoes are favored by McDonald's because they want long golden fries. Monoculture can be risky, because farmers have to put in more pesticides and artificial ingredients into the soil to ensure that the genetically identical crops survive plant diseases and pests. This in turns leads to run-offs of pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers into rivers and water sources. The fittest bugs also survive to procreate and their offspring are more likely to survive pesticide sprays, which in turns mean farmers eventually use more potent pesticides.

Next time you go to the supermarket note the different variety of vegetables and fruits. Note that you can get many types of apples, but sadly, your choices in bananas probably would be Cavendish or Chiquita. Our grandparents would have enjoyed the sweeter and tastier Gros Michel bananas, which were unfortunately wiped out by Panama disease by the 1950s. In fact, exporters of the Gros Michel bananas almost went bankrupt because they only grew one kind of banana on their plantations.

My boyfriend is an environmentalist. I also have a co-worker, whose husband is a biochemistry professor. Ah, yeah, I won't bore you with the details, but go organic if you can or at least shop at the local farmers''s really better for the earth and the health of your family :)