mustard and miscellany

A story of love and hate

Schu’s Soda Sampler: Zevia Ginger Root Beer September 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:48 am
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Schu’s latest soda experiment…

Every now and then the health movement thing works. Mind you, it’s brief, but it works. And then I’m harshly reminded why I have no real interest in the health movement. Because the health movement has no regard for the health of my taste buds.

There’s a fairly new designer diet soda brand in some supermarkets. It’s called Zevia, and it’s “all natural,” whatever the crap that means. Because Zevia is an “all-natural” diet soda which proclaims ZERO calories and NO sugar in, yes, all CAPS on its cans, that means it can charge about two bucks more for a six pack than regular diet sodas with aspartame. Because you see, aspartame is bad, and therefore an all-natural diet soda is good.

Well, Zevia does have 20 mg of sodium, which admittedly is way better than the 35mg from a can of Diet Pepsi that is perhaps not-so-gradually deteriorating the pathways to my heart, but it also has 7g of something called erythritol. It’s this new cutting edge sweetener fad that some propagandists hope sweeps the world, just as it’s apparently swept China.

Zevia also has a Stevia extract in addition to citric acid, natural flavors (perhaps my favorite ingredient non-descript), wintergreen oil, anise oil, lemon oil, orange oil and ginger extract. I should note at this point those are the ingredients for Zevia’s ginger root beer. The company has other trendy health-nut flavors as well.

What’s perhaps the most remarkable given the company’s push toward trying to create a healthy, natural alternative to processed diet sodas, is that Zevia’s ginger root beer (and its black cherry drink, which I’ve also tried) tastes nothing like ginger, or root beer (or black cherry, for that matter), but it certainly tastes a lot like Clorox. Or, I guess, what I imagine Clorox tastes like, since if I actually tasted Clorox I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, although it would be really cool and after-lifey if I did.

Zevia and the great stone monster Damaijin hanging out together

So to review: if one combines erythritol with the herbal sweetener stevia (proof that herbs might be okay for your bong, if you’re into that sort of thing, but a really bad idea for your soda—and no, I have no plans to try hemp in carbonated form any time soon—even if it’s to support some struggling up-and-coming pop manufacturer from Amsterdam), the mixture tastes like bleach.

Maybe Zevia will help freshen my clothes. It certainly did nothing to refresh my taste buds.

Aspartame, I’m coming home.

Schu

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Recipe: Colman’s Mustard Rice September 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 10:41 am
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New recipe today…a side dish! This recipe was posted by the nice folks at Colman’s Mustard on their Twitter account a week or so ago. You should follow them on Twitter if you don’t, they post lots of cool recipes and are very interactive if you say hi to them there. I’ve been a fan of Colman’s mustard for years, especially their dry mustard. You can add a pinch of it to pretty much anything savory – salad dressings, marinades, sauces, soups – for a nice hint of flavor.

Photo credit: Ninecooks.typepad.com

When they posted this mustard rice recipe recently, I was intrigued…never would have come up with this idea myself. We paired it with some simple kielbasa and veggie grilled skewers and it was really good! The rice is a little spicy from the mustard powder. I would definitely make this again.

It’s a drier rice because you sort of stir-fry it into the onions and spices at the end, which I really liked. My mom commented that it kind of looked like fried rice, and she’s right – but it’s not oily at all. Very nice and light. It should be obvious from the recipe but do keep in mind that this only makes 2 cups of rice, which isn’t a ton depending how many people you are feeding…adjust accordingly. This recipe calls for one onion and while I love onion, we only used half of a large one here and it was plenty. I’d say one whole onion only if it’s a pretty small onion. Also, we used white rice so that the color would show up and it tasted great, but I think this would be really good with brown rice, barley, quinoa, or whatever grain you like.

Printable recipe

Colman’s Mustard Rice

Feeds 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Colman’s dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

  • Mix mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and set aside
  • Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add chopped garlic until slightly brown
  • Add the onions to the pan and saute until they turn translucent
  • Add the cooked rice and mustard mix to the pan and toss everything until the rice is well mixed with the spices

If you try this, let me know how it turns out for you! I’d love your feedback.

Cheers,

Stephanie

 

Schu’s Soda Sampler: Sarsi September 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:49 am
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Today Schu is back with more soda miscellany…and accompanying stellar photography

I like the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao is from the Philippines, and he seems all nice and stuff, and the country considers him a national hero, so if the Philippines can like a world-class boxer who seems nice enough, then I can like the Philippines.

Furthermore, the Philippines makes some really crazy movies, and I like really crazy movies. Like the movies with Weng Weng, the Philippino midget who starred in two spy flicks that have been cult classics for years. Manny Pacquiao is a fairly small guy. Weng Weng was certainly small in stature. The Philippines is a relatively small country. With those things in mind, it makes sense that Sarsi soft drink would be small as well: 8.46 fluid ounces with the not-so-small price tag of 1.29.

Yes, that’s a stuffed Rally Squirrel, a stuffed otter, and only part of a Godzilla collection in the background.

That 8.46 ounces made me reconsider my happy thoughts about the Philippines, because me thinks the Philippines may not be straight up when it comes to marketing. Take as exhibit A, the Sarsi bottle and its Sarsi logo. Look at all similar to a certain much more well-known cola brand?

With a llama. Why, you ask? I ask instead, why not?

And in large letters, as one can clearly see, it says SARSI SOFTDRINK. I think it has softdrink as one word, but nevertheless, the print is larger, and it’s where the eye gravitates. Not to the ingredients just below, which would have tipped things off a bit. Sarsi’s idea of softdrink marketed to look like a cola is a bit different than the westernized definition of a soft drink that is a cola. Because Sarsi ain’t a cola. Sarsi is basically root beer.

Had I bothered reading the ingredients more carefully, the inclusion of sarsaparilla flavor probably would have tipped me off that the Sarsi definition of softdrink (one word) is not quite the same as mine. Now I don’t have any problem with root beer, or I guess more technically, sarsaparilla. Indeed, it’s one of the few parts of a plant that isn’t a fruit that can pass acceptably in soda form.

Unfortunately, when it comes to good sarsaparilla, I wouldn’t put Sarsi at the front of the line. It’s rather flat and generic. On the other hand, as a sarsaparilla drink that models itself as a soft drink with cola connotations, Sarsi is pretty tough to beat. Just like Pacquiao and Weng Weng.

Schu

 

Fun with mustard September 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 1:39 pm
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Quick post – just some pics from The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival of 2012 held on Sunday in Regina. Looks like so much fun! All of these pictures are from the GSK Mustard Festival Facebook page and these are only a few, so head over there for a better look at the festivities.

I will definitely make it up there for this event some year! Have you been to this festival? I’d love to hear your thoughts, see your pictures, anything!

Cheers,

Stephanie

 

The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival of 2012! September 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 11:59 pm
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As mentioned in a previous post there are a few mustard festivals that I would like to attend. One of them is happening this Sunday, September 16th 2012…

Photo credit: GSK Mustard Festival Facebook Page

That’s right, it’s finally time for The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival in Regina. As I learned recently, the province of Saskatchewan is kind of a big deal for mustard…in fact, it is the number one supplier of mustard to the world! Damn good reason to have a festival.

One of the organizers who I have been lucky enough to correspond with on Twitter, Chef Malcolm Craig (click on his name there to find him on Twitter and follow him!) says they have 20 participants not including the sponsors this year. Admission is free, food tickets are only $10, and there will be music, games for kids, and other entertainment. Local chefs will be judged as they compete with the culinary creations they whip up using mustard. Some of the sponsors include mustard from French’s, hot dogs from Nathan’s Famous, and beer from Great Western Brewing – my mouth is watering just typing this!

I’ve never seen these varieties of French’s mustard in the United States! Those lucky Canadians.

Photo credit: GSK Mustard Festival Facebook Page

Plus it’s held on Wascana Lake – I’ve never been there but I bet it has water and is pretty. Really, how can you go wrong hanging out eating mustard, drinking beer, and listening to music with the kids on a lake? I am nowhere near there but if you are within a reasonable distance, you should GO! And email or tweet me pictures of how much fun you have there so I can turn green with envy! Hope it’s a great event for all involved.

Cheers,

Stephanie

 

Recipe: Baked Salmon Fillets Dijon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 12:20 pm
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New recipe today – fish! This is super simple and healthy and came out great! It’s so easy that it hardly even should be called a “recipe” but just something that can be thrown together. The recipe called for salmon and that’s what we used, but I think you could use any fish for this. Try it with salmon, though – the strong flavor of the Dijon mustard goes really nicely with the strong flavor of the salmon. I’m not much of a salmon lover normally but I devoured this happily.

I found this recipe here at Allrecipes.com. Hardly modified it at all. We baked it for about 20 minutes instead of 15 because the salmon fillets we used were bigger than those called for in the recipe, about 7 oz. each. Came out perfectly cooked through but not overcooked, juicy and flaky. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to turn the broiler on for the last five minutes of cooking to crisp up the breadcrumb topping a little. But it was great as is!

We used a Dijon everyone will recognize for this recipe…Grey Poupon!

Photo credit: Amazon

We made dinner at my parents’ house and I forgot to bring a bottle of my own mustard, so this was the Dijon my mom had…it was really good. Weirdly, I was telling my mom as we cooked that I don’t think I’ve ever owned a bottle of Grey Poupon in my life! Generally in the past I’ve bought the grocery store brand of Dijon mustard. I’m sure I’ve had Grey Poupon at restaurants before, though, it’s pretty ubiquitous in the United States. But interestingly, I guess the folks over at Kraft don’t think so, as just yesterday (the same day I was cooking with Grey Poupon…coincidence? I think not) they launched a new campaign to get Grey Poupon into the hearts and minds of the young folk out there. According to this New York Times article, a lot of younger people don’t remember these ads from the 80s…

Funny enough, my mom and I were talking about this ad while we were cooking last night. So I guess we’re old. Or sophisticated. We’ll go with the latter. Anyway, you can go to Grey Poupon’s fancy new facebook page – which reeks of old money and sophistication as only facebook can – and apply there for membership to their exclusive society.

I was denied membership. What? Yes. Could it be because I have never owned a jar of Grey Poupon before? I’ll never know, as it gave me no reason for the denial.

And yet, I am going to show enough class and dignity to continue sharing this excellent recipe using the most excellent Grey Poupon. And probably bombard their facebook page with reasons I just be allowed into this eminent club. Because that, my friends, is classy.

Printable recipe

Baked Salmon Fillets Dijon (Feeds 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets (the ones I used were about 7 oz. each)
  • 3 Tbsp. prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • .25 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • .25 cup butter, melted

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil
  • Spread salmon skin-side down on foil. Season with salt and pepper and then spread with a thin layer of mustard (I didn’t measure the mustard, just spread it on top, and it may have been more than a thin layer). Top with bread crumbs, then drizzle with melted butter
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. If desired, broil for last 5 minutes of cooking to crisp up the breadcrumb topping

That’s it! Simple and delicious. Try it and tell me what you think. And if you go to the Grey Poupon facebook page, let me know if you are admitted to the oh-so-exclusive club!

Cheers,

Stephanie

 

Schu’s Soda Sampler: Chin Chin Basil Seed Drink With Honey September 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 11:13 pm
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Schu’s back…drinking more soda…

There’s something oddly admirable about truth in advertising, even if one doesn’t necessarily expect the extent an advertiser carries out their claim. Case in point: Chin Chin Brand Basil Seed Drink with Honey, canned by the good Chin Chin folks in Taipei, Taiwan.

Godzilla not included with soda purchase

It’s an imaginative sort, aware of cutting edge hipster trends in cooking, that recognizes the potential benefit of basil in soda form. For most hipster dabblers—you know who you are, you lovers of basil in everything since that one day the hipster news feed sent out its smart phone app alert that you’re supposed to like basil, before all the rubes catch on—a carbonated beverage with a splash of honey might be a sweet sensation for the taste buds.

But this is Chin Chin from Taipei, Taiwan. Chin Chin isn’t some namby-pamby soft drink with little splashes of something. When one experiences the Chin Chin sensation, it’s like a right cross and a left uppercut delivered with precision accuracy. On the chin. And the chin. This is liquid sustenance that brings a whole heap of pain. The heap is important here. That’s what turns us to the truth in advertising part.

There are sodas on the market that might try to impress the buyer with bits or slight flakes or shavings of an advertised flavor mixed into the drink. It’s often a nice addition, and the consumer almost feels as if he or she is receiving a special prize. It’s a moment of magical anticipation in a bottle.

But this is Chin Chin, damn it, and Chin Chin ain’t about some nancy girl food shavings. Consider the name of the featured drink. Basil seed. This is important, but we’ll get to just how important later. Upon popping the can and taking in that first aroma, it’s clear pretty early on this is going to be a really sweet drink. Many Asian sodas are, and we’ll cover that trend in later miscellany posts.

In the early stages, the sweet flavors are the most noticeable, but that hint of basil seems to want to battle for taste bud dominance, so there’s some back and forth going on. The drink also tends to have this unique, transcendent element to it, sort of like a dmz (that’s a 48th parallel, not a rapper reference) for flavor control where the basil and honey can meet to hammer out their differences.

I later learned the transcendent element is banana flavor, included right there, in a truth in advertising way, on the list of ingredients. Had I bothered to read the list of ingredients, there’s a pretty decent chance this soda never would have been reviewed. Because before the banana flavor, even before the mention of honey, there was an important note I might have considered with greater urgency.

That ingredient would be basil seed. In case you’re wondering, basil seed is a small, roundish seed covered in a gelatinous substance. I know this because Chin Chin Basil Seed Soda with honey consists of 41 percent basil seeds. 41 percent. That’s no shaving.

Just how much is 41 percent of an 11 ounce drink? Well, beyond the obvious calculations, it’s quite a bit, especially when the first third of the drink had very little basil seed surprise. That was for the last seven or so ounces, when the drink became more a pathway for globby seed traffic in basil-land rush hour. About halfway through, there really was no drink anymore. There was just enough liquid to allow for the constant flow of gelatinous basil seeds. The honey had pretty much left the confines. Banana flavored dmz had given up the fight. This was victory for basil seeds in a can.

Someday I’ll have to use a real camera and not my iPod to take pictures…but you get an idea of the basil-seediness

I hope you can see how the last swigs of the Chin Chin concoction look once poured into a generic water bottle. Remarkably similar to the picture on the can. I just wasn’t accustomed to seeing the precise representation of the contents on the can. Usually one doesn’t get that kind of detail in a soda. I assume this is because the soda is usually almost entirely liquid. But then, one doesn’t usually get to experience Chin Chin in all its splendor.

Thank you Chin Chin for restoring my faith in advertising. What am I going to get from your grass jelly drink with pandam leaf flavour?

Schu