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Friday, March 5, 2010

A Global Garden

Well it is almost time to start sprouting the RoofTop Garden at the Hotel. So I would like to put out a challenge to everyone!! Since the Blog is getting hits from all over the Planet...I would like the Garden to be Global.

 So I'm curious to see if anyone...anywhere on the planet wants to send some seeds for us to grow. All of the product will be used in our Restaurant...with the overflow (if any...depending on my gardening skills) will go to the local Community Soup Kitchen. We are looking for Herb/Spice and Vegetable seeds..but if you have an interesting Fruit that will grow and mature quickly that works too.

Yesterday our Chef signed the contract with our only Local provide us with fresh Local Vegetables this coming Season. The RoofTop garden is meant to provide all the things that this supplier will not be growing. The familiar and the not so familiar.

 Our climate during the summer is short...I will start sprouting everything in the next month. During the summer we recieve sunlight till 11pm at long days. Which should be excellent for plants. The Garden is going to be sustainable...built out of old buckets. I am going to build an Eco-Garden that is self watering (thru a siphoning tube system) and self fertilizing. With the odd bucket of Poo Water (rotting local foliage in water) to help with growth. It will be totally Organic...even the soil will be brought in (ours contains Oil). So I would prefer the seeds didn't come from plants that have been sprayed with pesticides or fed with chemicals. The Garden will basically be Pest Free because it's going to be built ontop of the no lil critters eating my labors of love. If your item needs more heat...I will tent the item to HotBox it. Be sure to send growing instructions on how YOU care for item during it's growth...along with any special tips your Mother or Grandmother gave you about it. A recipe that you use the item in would be quite excellent also.

 So my goal is to see what arrives in the mail and try growing experiment. Herbs and Veggies of all kinds should thrive....they soil will be a foot and a half in dont send anything that needs more room to grow. It will be very cool seeing what arrives from other countries. Enclose your favorite recipe for the seeds that you are sending. At the end of the season I will let alot of the plants go to seed...and mail back a variety of everything that was grown to anyone that sent seeds. A seed exchange of a sorts..haha. I would also be willing to pay any reasonable mailing costs if you like.

 I am looking for things that you wouldn't normally find in stores or from suppliers. Something truly local in your region of the World. The odder the better.

 As things mature I will snap pictures of my triumphs and my dismal  failures..a running post to keep everyone up to date. I will also showcase your recipe on the Blog.

 Anyone that is interested in the idea can email me at : and I will send you a mailing address.

 Way excited to get this started...Spring is starting....time for FRESH FOOD!!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Could you pass the "Salt" please...

 As a cook I fear the day that a physician tells me that I have to reduce my salt intake. Salt is everything to isn't the Flavour of the Food .. but it is the enhancer!! Salt just makes everything pop on our tongue...the simple truth is it doesn't make anything taste any better..we just love it's taste. I could not live without the stuff!! Most of the Planet would agree.

 Thru the ages it has played an important role in human civilization. It allowed us to cure meat...which allowed us to travel great distances...which allowed us to explore our planet. It has been used as payment for has started wars and it has ended wars. Most recently during the Revolutionary War the British used the Tories to intercept the Rebels salt supply and destroy their ability to preserve food. During the War of 1812 they used Salt Brine to pay the soldiers because the Government was too poor to use money. It has played a pivotal role throughout history.

Salt comes to us in one of two ways. It is either mined as Rock Salt or it is created by evaporating Sea Water to create Sea Salt. A cooks kitchen usually contains three forms of salt. Table Salt for the Pastry department, Kosher Salt for all cooking and Fleur de Sel (or Sea Salt).

Table salt has Iodine and an anti-caking agent added to it. It is usually a fairly fine grind...which allows us to shake it at the table. The Iodine is added to prevent Iodine deficiency in our bodies...which leads to Thyroid gland problems. This form of salt is mainly used for cooking and as a table condiment. It is mainly found in North America. In France 35% of all Salt contains Floride...due to the lack of it in their water. Another additive which can be added is Folic Acid...which results in a yellow tint to it. In Canada, Windsor Salt (our most common) adds Inverted Sugar to our Salt....the reason for this is unclear...but just adds to our weight problem.

 Kosher Salt is the most common in any commercial kitchen. I open a box a day at least. All salt is Kosher...even table salt. Kosher salt is compacted salt grains which form small flat platelets. These larger flat grains draw the blood from the meat better during the Koshering process. The grains are larger which allows them to remain instead of dissolving into the meat...which draws the fluids out of the meat...rendering it Kosher. I would use Sea Salt in the kitchen 24/7...but Kosher is more economical of the two. It also has a milder flavour than table salt.

 Sea Salt and Fleur de Sel are the superstars of the kitchen. Both are created via evaporation. Sea water is evaporated until Salt crystals form. The mineral content of the water affects its colour and flavour. Once the water has been evaporated it is then ground to the grain size wanted. Fleur de Sel is typically hand harvested..the workers scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks into the Salt Marsh or Pan. Brittany is where the finest Fleur de Sel originates.  It is our most expensive form of Salt in our kitchen. It is sold in airtight usually has a slightly damp look and feel to it.

 Now that you know a little bit about Salt...lets get to the real reason for the post. Finishing Salts!!

 Finishing salt is a generic term given to Salt which has a special mouth feel, flavour or colour that would be "Lost" if used during the cooking process. Finishing Salt is the last thing to hit the plate before it is handed off to the server to be brought to the guest. Which preserves their special characteristics for your guest to enjoy. With that being said ....they can be just about anything. Any flavour you can think of can be made into a Finishing Salt. They make the dish just that little bit more's the little things that all add up to an amazing meal. They are usually extremely expensive to purchase...$165.00 for 12oz of Soy Salt....gimme a break. I am a cook....and a frugal cook at we learn how to make overpriced Salt.

Sunday, February 28, 2010