Friday, December 5, 2008

Clean Fish Catches On

The Texas redfish arrived alongside Mexican shrimp, in a cooler full of dry ice. Pale pink, 3/4 inches thick, and glossy, it set my mouth watering. After a brief stint under the broiler the fish was moist and flaky, without a hint of 'fishy-ness.'

This fish is part of a rather unusual story. It came from a company called CleanFish Alliance, a group of artisan fish and shellfish producers from across the globe, who focus on farming and/or catching their product using environmentally sound methods, as well as offering a better-tasting products. The big goals? Improve the health of our oceans and regenerate ecosystems while creating a sustainable source of fresh seafood.
Food & Wine Magazine has given the company an Eco-Ocean Award for its efforts to make seafood sustainable, alongside the Ocean Conservancy, Oceana and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund. A leading group of socially responsible entrepreneurs, investors and nonprofit leaders also gave the organization its 2008 Social Venture Network Award.
And to think their products taste good too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Orange Walnut Pumpkin Pie

When you have a goal of creating a new recipe on a certain day, each week, sometimes the task is easier than others. Such was the case this week, but several days of pondering resulted in a great twist on an old classic. Give it a try and see if you agree.

Orange Walnut Pumpkin Pie
Makes 8-10 servings

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
10 ounces evaporated milk
juice of one orange, about 2 ounces
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger

juice of one orange
1/2 - 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 cup ground walnuts

single pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, orange juice, eggs, 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger thoroughly and pour in pie crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 more minutes.

After reducing oven temperature, stir together orange juice, zest, and 1/2 cup brown sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in walnuts and set aside.

Remove pie from oven at end of 40 minutes and spread topping across entire pie. Broil until topping bubbles, about 3-5 minutes. Cool thoroughly before serving.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Traveling Chapungu Sculptures

The closeness between mother and daughter was evident from the moment we happened upon this sculpture at Powell Gardens, Kingsville, Mo., in May 2008. We had also seen these mesmerizing, quietly inspirational and stunning works by artists from Zimbabwe, at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Created by members of the Shona tribe, the name, Chapungu (cha-POONG-goo), pays homage to the Bateleur eagle, a powerful bird that flies up to 300 miles a day, at 30 to 50 mph, and represents a good omen. The international exhibit represents 35 artists and creates a sensation wherever it appears. With its focus on trees, plants, animals, insects, reptiles, birds and as inter-personal relationships, Chapungu sculptures provide a quiet beauty and counterpoint to the colorful natural environments in which they are displayed.

Ranging in height from three to 11 feet and weighing between 500 and 5,000 pounds, each individual sculpture is the product of chisels, hammers, tile cutters, and metal combs, refined with sand paper and enhanced with clear wax that brings out the natural textures and colors of the stone. From natural stone, these artists create a new kind of beauty that endures in memory long after you see it.

Cheese Curds at Wilson's

It's been more than 100 years since Wilson's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor began serving the ultimate diner food to hungry residents, and droves of tourists who descend on Ephraim, Wisconsin, each year. Whether customers order thick chocolate shakes, juicy burgers, or the famous Wilson's homemade rootbeer, this is a place to indulge - and worry about calories some other time.

But, ask any Wisconsin native and they'll likely tell you a quintessential Wisconsin item on the menu is fried cheese curds. $4.95 buys a huge basket of freshly prepared Cheese Curds on a Bed of Fries, that ooze mellow cheesy goodness beneath a light, crispy batter. In fact, Martin Hintz and Pam Percy, authors of Wisconsin Cheese, A Cookbook and Guide to the Cheeses of Wisconsin, declare that cheese curds 'are as Wisconsin as...milk.'

Order the fried cheese curds because they represent the state, or because you'll swoon over their decadent goodness - but just be sure you don't leave without trying this signature item.