Thursday’s Thingamajig: Wild Hibiscus Flowers

Want to make a cocktail that will guaranty Ohs and Ahs?
I had such a cocktail last Friday while on a small 45 min cruise in Old Montreal port.

The Hibiscus Martini

Yes that is a real hibiscus flower in my glass. And it is edible!

How cool is that?The barmaid was thrilled to prepare the cocktail, my companion and I both wowed at the stunning presentation and as I sipped my cocktail on the top deck of the ship our neighboring table had to interrupt and ask what I was drinking. My companion alwso ordered a drink that night with the flower: the Hibiscus Mojito.

This martini is pretty much the classic Cosmopolitan Recipe but made with white cranberry juice. At the bottom of the glass is placed one wild hibiscus flower. How does it taste? kind of like a marashino cherry but with a petal texture. I liked it a lot.

White Cosmopolitan Cocktail

– 1 1/2 oz vodka
– 1 oz white cranberry juice
– 1/4 oz Cointreau
– splash of fresh lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

These flowers can be purchased in syrup. The small jar contains 11 flowers. Check out the Wild Hibiscus website to learn more, order and find recipes.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Bread is Pain, or is it?

So what where those 2 mystery pictures?

First was, as many guessed, risen bread dough. My container was too small and the dough mushroomed out, pretty funny. So when I tossed half out I got that stringy air filled dough.

Second pic is a close up of the VIP dinner table at DNA – review to follow soon –  which is made out mostly of tiger’s eye stone.

I WON, yes thanks to Duo Dishes I won a cookbook of my choice from a certain listing. Thank you so much for this amazing book Chrystal and Amir. OK so what was the book? And better yet why is it Thursday’s Thingamajig worthy?

This is the book I received: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking and after reading most of it, it truly is REVOLUTIONARY when it comes to making bread.

Fresh baked bread just out of the oven is one of the best things one can  smell, taste, admire. Making bread is a royal PAIN in the butt (side note Pain in French is Bread, also a friend’s blog is called breadispain.com lol). The normal testing of the yeast, kneading, raising, kneading, raising is so time consuming most of us cannot be bothered.

This book will teach you how to prepare a bunch of bread good for the next 2 weeks with very little effort.  And it WORKS. I swear 10 min of active work day one preparing the dough…raising time and storage not counted. It can be raised and stored for up to 2 weeks. When you want to bake a bread just take the amount of dough you need, make a ball, let it raise 40 min and cook 20 min. The actual working time for this bread is really 5 min worth of your active time.

It really works! This book will teach you the basic master recipe and then how to make variations such as fun shapes, savory recipes and sweet ones. I won’t give you thr recipe because you really should get the book. If you bake GET THE BOOK lol. You won’t regret it. But I will do a show and tell of my first attempts.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl just till well mixed. NO KNEADING. In large container let rise 2 hours. Store in a non airtight container. Basic recipe if 4 bread and you have up to 14 days to bake them.

Cut a 1/4 of dough and dust a bit. Shape as indicated.

Let rise on a sheet sprinkled with cornmeal 40 min. Preheat oven after 20 min.

Bread baking try no 1

Bread baking try no 2

Tastings: Best damn breads I have ever made from scratch in my life. So worth it. I totally recommend the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking Book.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Dinner in a Can

There is a weird fad going on. Canning foods that do not belong in a can. This started off when a friend sent me an article on canned sandwiches – Candwich

So I had to go online and find other items that do not belong, in my mind, in a can….enjoy or be grossed out! This is not a post about weird foods in a can, just weird canned normal food.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Spice Auto Measure Carousel

Kitchen Art Select A Spice Auto Measure Carousel Spice Dispenser

Here’s a spice rack that stores, measures and dispenses your spices from a convenient turntable that spins like a carousel! Each spice container (12 in all) features a dial at the bottom that dispenses 1/4 teaspoon with each click – just place your measuring spoon underneath the dial before you begin clicking. At the top of each container are snap-open tops – a wide one for pouring and a small one for shaking.

Each spice container is labeled with the spice’s name and even features see-through windows so you can easily identify which one you need and see when your spice is about to run out. Place on your countertop or mount underneath your cabinet. Includes mounting adapter for mounting under the cabinet ,or, for doublestacking two carousels putting 24 spices at your fingertips! Contains 55 commonly used spice labels. Spices not included.

  • Includes 12 spice dispensers
  • Patented Auto-Measure dial
  • Shakes and pours
  • Mounting base
  • Safe to use in the dishwasher

Thursday’s Thingamajig: the FURminator

OK today we will take a bit of a food break. On Thursday’s I always bring you great gadgets for the kitchen. Well I have an AWESOME gadget for you this time but it is not for cooking. So if you have little furry friends at home keep reading.

Have you met my 2 babies yet? There playing contortionist on the left is my massive long haired Mickey, and on the right the petite princess Sati. Are they not too cute? I present you my masters.

OK so if you have a 4 or more fury legged creature at home you know as well what a pain in the butt hair can be. I admit I am not a regular brusher but one of the reasons is my cats are ‘special’ when it comes to it. Sati does not like it…yet I can hold her down by force without a peep from her for as long as I want. Not fun for either one of us. And god she ALWAYS has loose hair. On the on the end Mickey LOVES to be brushed…well at least head/face/neck area. The rest he does not care for and forget touching his tail. Also he needs to walk into the brush, he won’t stay still. Holding him down is a hellish prospect I did only once and I fear. I will need help with another pair of fearless hands.

And how much hair does a regular brush get out? Some, quite a bit at times, but not that effective. So while in Washington DC my friend showed me her FURminator. She uses it on her 2 cats and swears it is a gift from heaven. Well I had to get it. Regular pet stores and online stores sell it for ridiculously high prices (saw between $35 and $55) but I got mine on Ebay from Asia for $7 shipping free…and yes it is the real thing.

The picture above is apparently the result of a brushing (of a cooperative pet) The FURminator is a deshedding tool that comes in different sizes. I got the small one for pets (1.75″ wide). No there are no blades so it does not cut the hair. And if used with normal pressure no it does not hurt them at all. Pet has to be dry, clean enough and no hair matting present. The FURminator promises to:

  • Removes undercoat/loose hair
  • Reduce 90% of shedding
  • Reduce air born allergens
  • Help eliminate hairballs

Sounds good to me! So how effective is it really? Well last night I tried it on easy-to-hold-down Sati and I gave her a good FURminator treatment for as long as she could stand it. I could have combed much longer and gotten more out. She did like the feeling but she hates being brushed. She did not miaow once out of pain or discomfort. So this is the pile below I got out of her.

Keep in mind the tool is about 6″ long and I pushed the fur into a pile which was about 2″-3″ high. All I have to say is WOW! I never saw such a big pile of cat hair. I really recommend this tool _ but get it on Ebay for cheap. So, any ways to recycle all this fur into a project?

Thursday’s Thingamajig: CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener

Just last week I was talking with a foodie friend and I was saying that if I had 2000$ lying around I would so love a complete set of top notch knives. That would be such a wonderful dream. But I don’t and I make do with what I have which is the basic kit I bought when I moved out 12 years ago. It has always served me right. Over the years 3 knives have been added: 2 Global knives, a serrated utility and a paring one, and a ceramic knife. My Global knives were and improvement but still they are not top line. My ceramic one is very new.

My knives are in need of some serious sharpening. I have tried the sharpening stones on a cheap pocket knife and destroyed the blade…that is an art form. I have tried an “As Seen on TV” hand held sharpener….plastic broke on first try and it did not do a good job. I don’t have a budget that justifies a professional service. So when Cookware.com approached me about doing a contest/review I decided to treat my knives to a face lift, or blade lift, by trying out the Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. I received one to try out AND they offered a second as a prize for one of my readers! Contest time! But first the review:

A good knife sharpener will restores the 20 degree angle of kitchen knives. This model accomplishes that with 100% diamond abrasive wheels that are conically angled. Both sides of the knife are sharpened at the same time with a precise 20 degree angle. No guessing of the angle like with stones. The pronto has a 2 stage sharpening mechanism. The slot 1 creates and hones a sharp edge using fine diamond abrasives. The slot 2 uses micron size diamonds to ultra hone the edge of your knife. It provides the final sharpness.

I used the paper test to check my knife’s sharpness, before and after. A sharp blade should cut right through a piece of paper, where as a dull will tear IF it cuts the paper at all. My knives all failed this test. To sharpen hold down the handle with your left hand. The handle has a soft touch for a better grip and there are 4 rubber disks under the unit so it won’t slip of your table/counter. Always use the sharpener with the numbers 1 and 2 facing you, holding with your left hand. With the right hand you draw the knife in an ‘in and out’ motion according to the manual.

Each type of knife has specific instructions: smooth blade, serrated, or even Santoku knives. Santoku knives have a 15 degree angle so although you can use this sharpener there is one made specifically for them. I completed instructions for slot 1 and then slot 2 and took out the piece of paper again. This time the knife sliced nicely through the paper. I was really impressed at how fast and well it worked.

utility knife left - paring knife right

I now have a drawer full of refreshed knives and I can touch them up at any time. The compact size of the sharpener makes it easy to store as well in a drawer. This is totally worth the investments. A refreshment sharpening only needs to go through slot 2. To keep clean just wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth (no oiling required). Keep in mind this sharpener is not recommended for scissors, ceramic or single sided knives like Kataba knives.

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WHO WANTS TO WIN A KNIFE SHARPENER ???????????

I will draw a name randomly from the eligible entries and that person will win a Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. You have till August 14 2010, 9 PM EST to enter. US and Canadian Residents only. The winner will be announced August 15th on my twitter.

How To enter:

**Leave a comment in this post telling me why you want this knife sharpener.**

Extra ways to enter…
– Tweet about the giveaway, copy paste…1 entry per day
@cheapethniceatz CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener http://cultureatz.com/thursdays-thingamajig-contest-win-a-knife-sharpener/
– Write the knife sharpener’s SKU # in a the comment, click the knife sharpener’s link above to find it…1 entry

Good luck everyone !

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.