Wordless Soda Wednesday

Brought to you by Jarritos…and no I have not lost my mind, just having fun with the props.

Lucha Libre anyone?

Really sexy shot of me

Spruce and Ginger Beer from Scratch to Toast a HUGE Giveaway from Mortimer Snodgrass

Yes…Mortimer Snodgrass! I can’t help but giggle every time I read the name. I also cannot help snicker at every other item I pick up in this unique gift store in beautiful Old Montreal; their inventory is so cool, funky, unusual and yet practical. Mortimer Snodgrass, the store, is 10 years old this year and the owners decided to celebrate with a BIG BANG on Cheap Ethnic Eatz. You do not want to miss out on this giveaway, it is so awesome!

I’ll tell you more about this store, the contest and where the name came from in a bit at the bottom of this post. But first I want to share my latest cooky kitchen experiments: Homemade Spruce and Jamaican Ginger Beers. These 2 unique beverages are perfect for toasting a quirky store’s 10th birthday.

Don’t let the word beer throw you off, these are non-alcoholic but fizzy soft drinks. The idea for the Spruce beer was a light bulb moment after my Mastic Ice Cream post when I compared Mastic’s flavor to Spruce Beer…which apparently not a lot of people were familiar with. Yep I found an online recipe on the Daring Kitchens forum by Audax Artifex.

And yes I made my own extract. I went to my park and identified a Spruce. See I took a pic from my balcony to show you the conifer in question! How do you know you have a Spruce conifer? If the twig carries its needles singly and the actual needle has four sides and, thus, rolls easily between your fingers, it’s a Spruce. Pine needles cluster and Firs have 2 sided flat needles. This beer is not as overpowering as the fake flavored one you by in stores.

Ξ Spruce Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 40 grams of outer twigs of spruce fir
  • 1 tablespoon of hops
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Make you extract by bringing to a boil your spruce fir twigs and hops in 500ml of water and simmer to reduce until you have 1 tablespoon of extract remaining, if it is very sticky even better.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in beer extract and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

 

Normal Ginger Ale makes me nauseous. I hate the stuff. Not sure if it is the taste or an associated memory of my mom giving me flat ginger ale when I was in bed for a week with a major flu. But one day I bought a can of Jamaican Ginger Beer, there was a rooster on the can. The very spicy and intense ginger taste totally caught me off guard, I was hooked. I found this recipe on The personal blog of Giles Paterson. It is fabulous, strain the ginger out if you like before serving but I like having a little bit in there to chew.

Ξ Jamaican Ginger Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Extract the juice from one lemon. Mix the grated ginger and lemon juice together in a cup.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in ginger/lemon mixture and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

A few important notes for both recipes: a) if the pressure builds too much your bottle could explode. Place the bottle in the fridge overnight as this halts the yeast and stops the bottle exploding; b) you will notice that the basic procedures for making the sodas are identical so go ahead and experiment with flavors; c) no the ginger beer is neither radioactive nor does it glow in the dark as the pictures lead to believe; d) yes is will be carbonated almost like a soft drink…the natural way; e) until you really get the hang of opening it without making a huge mess….open your bottles outside. Trust me on this one !!!!!

Welcome to Mortimer Snodgrass! Located at 56 Notre-Dame W you will find a gem of a store when you need to buy a gift for a friend or a party….and you will leave getting a couple of extra items for yourself. They have a bit of everything: accessories, pets , balloons, spa beauty products, kids, decor, toys, office and an impressive kitchen area. The outside is adorable with Old Montreal charm, the entrance great you with a larger then life mosaic store logo..I believe made out of Jelly Beans. And the name, where did they come up with Mortimer Snodgrass?

Mortimer is the owner’s 11 year old rescued mutt. There is yellow lab in there and the rest is for anyone to guess! He is the store mascot and when he was younger he came to work every day greeting customers. Explaining Snodgrass is a whole other ball game, literally. One of the owners is a huge baseball fan and he knew of a little known baseball player named Chappy Snodgrass who played for Baltimore Orioles in 1901. Mortimer Snodgrass, it works!

Can you guess what purpose in the  kitchen my whale has? No hints we’ll see in a bit. The inside has a loft industrial feel a bit, but not in a modern exaggerated way. It’s really the shell of the store. The store’s colors are a nice pale blue with a calm orange. This is the store where you will find that unusual item you cannot find anywhere else: the ice mold to make those ice vodka shot glasses, a guitar shape silicone spatula, a blood red bath gel in a drip bag like you would see in the hospital, a cool pet treat for your pouch, fun and educational toys for kids no one else will have, neoprene designer lunch bags. And on and on and on!

I got to take a few items home to to play, oops cook, with. The first is the whale can opener. Yep the irony of opening a can of tuna with a whale that will be served to my cats…too funny. Amazing can opener by the way, made by Kuhm Rikon from Switzerland. I also got a very fashionable extra-long protective oven mitt made by Built, you know the kind that won’t still burn you threw like a cheap mitt. And finally the coolest dish brush dude ever. Dirty dishes watch out cause I will rock on while scrubbing you. Fun, quirky and all practical!I bet you would love to get you hands on some of these cool things.

Well you can! Because I am hosting with Mortimer Snodgrass the coolest giveaway ever. OK maybe not ever but close. We will be giving away not 1 but 2 gift baskets full of fun kitchen items. I was actually asked to come into the store and pick the prize packages myself for you guys. That was so fun! Each package has a retail value of $50 and there is more: each package comes with a $25 gift certificate which can be used online if you are not in Montreal. Each prize is worth $75 and the contest is open to EVERYONE worldwide! Let me show you what I picked:

Gift basket #1 includes a home sprouting kit made up of an Ancient Eastern Blend with fenugreek, lentils, kamut and adzuki beans sprouts. Next is a yellow lady citrus reamer. Lastly a set of chili shaped plastic ice cube – just pop them from the freezer to your glass, wash after and freeze again. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

Gift basket #2 includes a grown your own edible flowers kit (marigolds) . Next is Sud Green the coolest dish brush dude around, just like the one I got too . Also we have a nifty “pull tab lid” that will keep your warm drinks warm and you cool one refreshing. Lastly this prize includes a ‘saw’ perfect for cutting up limes and lemons to add to your drink or food, and the handle also doubles as a bottle opener. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

So do you want to win one of these baskets? Are they not awesome? Here is what you have to do to enter the contest:

– Leave a comment about my ‘ramblings’ in the post, just to make sure you read it and  did not just look at the pictures!

Many ways to get extra entries…

– Tweet Two 75$ Gift BasketsGiveaway with @mortsnodgrass & @cethniceatz http://t.co/PYit9iXj
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Download the Cheap Ethnic Eatz Mobile App, come back and tell me you did

You have till October 15th 2011, 23h59 EST to enter.

And of course the 2 winners will be picked randomly. What I will do is I’ll give the owners the total number of entries and ask them to give me 2 random numbers. Let’s get everyone involved. GOOD LUCK!

Coca-Cola goes Brazillian & Colombian

What to do with Leftover Coca-Cola? Amazingly there are a few South American recipes that make this soft drink a main ingredient.

Yep! Coca-Cola recipes. Actually another great title for this post would have been What to do with Leftover Coca-Cola. I needed a 2 liter bottle…future post! But I thought I would be “environmental” and “recycle” the Coke ???!!!???

Colombian Coca-Cola Rice Brazilian Dishes iced chocolate drink

I have never been a big fan of sodas but I felt bad at the thought of pouring 2 liters of Coke down the drain. I was too curious and went hunting for recipes that had Coca-Cola as an ingredient. There was not a whole lot out there but imagine my surprise when I came across two South American recipes! Not only do I get to use up the Coke….I am doing Ethnic Eatz with it!

colombian coca-cola rice

The first recipe I made was an apparently very popular Colombian coastal dish. If you are Colombian and are reading my blog please hit me and let me know what is up with that? It is not the prettiest dish but it was good. I took it to a potluck BBQ and it had some success. I did a half portion of this recipe from Colombian born Food Network starlet Ingrid Hoffmann.

Ξ Colombian Coca-Cola Rice Ξ

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (I had brown rice at home)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-1/2 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted (I had shredded coconut on hand)
Preparation
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook until it is opaque, about 2 minutes, stirring often.Add the salt to the cola and stir until dissolved (the salt helps to release some of the carbonation) and then add it to the rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium- low, cooking until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins and the almonds and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and serve.

 

If you are doing your liquid math, I had about 2 cups left of soda since I halved the rice recipe. Trying the Brazilian Iced Chocolate Drink was a no brainer decision. A super sweet chocolate iced drink! It was soooooooooo decadent.

Brazilian Dishes iced chocolate drink

Ξ Brazilian Iced Chocolate Ξ

Ingredients

  • 2 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup double strength hot coffee
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Coca-Cola
  • Whipped cream or ice cream

Preparation

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water. Stir in sugar. Gradually stir in hot coffee, mixing thoroughly. Add milk and continue cooking until all particles of chocolate are dissolved and mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Pour into jar, cover and chill. When ready to serve, stir in chilled Coca-Cola. Serve over ice cubes in tall glasses. For a beverage, top with whipped cream. For a dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 5 cups.

Jarritos Mexican Soda

One of the privileges of having a blog with a certain following is getting products to try out and review. In my case I try my best to stay on the ethnic theme. And in this case it could not have been a better product to review on Cheap Ethnic Eatz. We will look at an affordable ethnic soda. Yes! Sodas from Mexico called Jarritos.

I was very excited and intrigued. I am not a huge soda drinker but I have a little story about an ethnic soda that marked a trip to Peru. Peruvians are obsess with Inca Kola. It is all over the place there and I liked the taste which I would say is a cross between cream soda and bubble gum. I digress, let’s get back to the Jarritos family of flavors.

Jarritos reflects traditional Mexican flavors in 12 delicious varieties. I received Tamarind, Mandarin, Fruit Punch, Lime, Toronja, Pineapple, Strawberry, Mango and Mexican Cola. I did not get the Jamaica, Guava and Mineragua, a mineral carbonated water.

Before I get to my flavor reviews I wanted to tell you a bit more about the company. Jarritos or “Little Jars”, was started by Don Francisco “El Güero” Hill in 1950. The Jarritos brand is currently owned by Novamex, a large independent-bottling conglomerate based in Guadalajara. In 10 years, Jarritos became available in 80 percent of Mexico. In 1989, the first importation of Jarritos to retail stores in the U.S. began. And will ever make it to Canada? Hopefully one day.

How pretty are those bottles all lined up? I love the the variety of flashy colors. You can practically guess which flavor it will be by the color. Now soda has a bad rap but this line is better then most health wise. For one only 100% natural cane sugar is used, they are made with natural fruit flavors and are more carbonated then the traditional soft drinks sold in the U.S.. Finally they are sold in cool glass bottles in individual portions of 12.5 oz which give a retro look I like. Let’s look at the flavors I got to try…

Overall I found all the sodas extra sweet but apparently that is typical of Latin countries. It is not unpleasantly sweet, just quite more then you would expect. I found the level of carbonation varied greatly to from one bottle to the next.

Toronja: this flavor is grapefruit and the carbonation in it was intense. Every sip was frothing in my mouth. The flavor was delicate and sweet without the tartness of the fruit. My 2nd favorite.

Fruit Punch: the carbonation was normal and lovely. I really could taste a fruit punch flavor with a balanced sweetness.

Mexican Coke: this cola is unlike what we are familiar with but I like it better. There is a lemony flavor too with the cola.

Mandarin: this would be comparable to a fancier orange crush but better. It did stain my glass until washing???

Lime: just simply nice and refreshing.

Pineapple: I got the pineapple flavor right away but my friend only tasted it after 3 good sips. We used the balance in a sangria

Strawberry: why is it so hard to make strawberry anything. I found this one to have the most artificial flavor, sad.

Tamarind: No.1, my favorite thus far, I really get the tamarind flavor and it is very unique for me. So nice.

Mango: this one was pretty good as well, 3rd favorite, and the flavor was close to the natural real fruit.

Jarritos Mural

Jarritos has a lot of cool stuff happening on our Jarritos Facebook page! We’ve just unveiled a new “Jarritos Nation” contest app: a daily scavenger hunt where users can follow clues to win free sodas, t-shirts, gift cards and other great prizes. Check out also the Club Jarritos website which is also running a daily summer promotion where you can win cash instantly just for signing up and redeeming your cap codes. You can also earn Club Jarritos points just for playing our apps.

Just to clear things up. Now lots of people think we get paid or bribed…..trust me companies want honest reviews, they want them fair and objective. All we bloggers get is a sample. And I would like to thank RocketXL for this review opportunity.

Bittersweet Italy in a bottle & Soda Pop recipe

It seems there are more and more new soft drinks on the market all the time. But before trying those why not try a classic import? This pic has been in my ‘pile of future posts’ for quite some time, since September actually when my friend Susan visited from Toronto and we went on a foodie expedition at the Jean-Talon farmer’s market. She tried this Italian soda.

Now most of us have heard of San Pellegrino soda before but this flavor was particularly unusual to say the least. It was bitter like the rinds of a citrus fruit. Even the waiter told her if she did not like it she could exchange it! But it was OK, really interesting. Look for the San Pellegrino Cocktail…that is the name of this flavor.

Or why not try to make your own soda the old fashion way! Check out this recipe I found:

Old-Time Effervescent Soda

Mix 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar, 1/2 teaspoonful of white flour, and 1/4 teaspoonful of baking soda in a glass of ice-cold water until it’s completely dissolved. Stir in one to two teaspoonfuls of lemon, lime, or orange juice, and I drink it while it’s still frothing.

Why flour? It holds the bubbles longer.

Interesting velvety texture. I can see myself drinking this on a hot summer day. Not harsh bubbles like a soft drink and WAY less calories. Have you got a homemade soda recipe?

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Space Soda

Yes, I even managed to get a Thursday’s Thingamajig post out of my trip!

I was quite amused with the space food displays at the National Air and Space Museum, particularly with the soft drink cans. Think about: someone actually sat down and thought up of a way to drink soda safely in space. Safely? Did you not know opening your normal can in a spaceship could be a question of life or death? The science info was hard to find and I don’t claim I would a science court case with my findings, but…

– If you had a coke can outside the space ship the pressure of space and your can would not be compatible. So uncompatible your can would explode into tiny aluminum shrapnels. Imagine now these fragments flying and damaging shuttles or space suits, not a place you want a tear in your outfit!

– What about opening your can in the shuttle? I am copy pasting this one…If you sensibly open the can inside the pressurized cabin compartment then the gas escaping from the can’s ring-pull will project the can in the opposite direction. Of course, you usually hold the can firmly tight when opening it, and so the whole system of yourself and the coke can is shot through the cabin. Eventually you figure out how to point the top of the can straight up and position your feet on the ground. You can open your can and absorb the pressure with your legs. Then you then come across the problem that the ring-pull is not perfectly symmetrical. The gas escapes from one side faster than the other. The coke can may twist from your grasp, spraying liquid sugar in a Catherine Wheel of gunk. Alternatively, you may be the one to start spinning.

The picture above depicts the 1st of 3 total attempts to drink soda in space. According to Wiki in 1985, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-51-F. The companies had designed special cans (officially the Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation payload or CBDE) to test packaging and dispensing techniques for use in zero G conditions. The experiment was classified a failure by the shuttle crew, primarily due to the lack of both refrigeration and gravity. But on the lighter side of space, floating “soda balls” did provide a source of entertainment for the astronauts.

Only thing confirmed here: Coke and Pepsi will do anything to reach marketing’s new final frontier: SPACE.