Cooking with Tea

28 07 2010

Cooking with Tea is a new and unusual (and fun!) way of looking at preparing standard dishes. Here is a classic example of how a relatively simple recipe can be vibrantly enhanced by the addition of one ingredient: Tea. For more recipes, ideas, and to order great teas, check out http://www.adventureswithtea.com.

Wild Maine Blueberry Risotto
1.5 cups Risotto Rice
8 cups Vegetable Broth
2 ounces Wild Maine Blueberry Tea
1 cup Pine Nuts
5 Tbls. unsalted butter

The day before:
Bring vegetable broth to a boil, add loose blueberry tea and remove from heat. Allow to sit overnight.

Toast 1 cup pine nuts until golden brown. Saute Risotto in unsalted butter approximately 5 minutes stirring constantly. The main problem with Risotto is you are stirring constantly – prepare to be drained of energy (have a glass of wine, take a nap, whatever works when you are finished). Slowly add broth/tea mixture to the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed (this should take about 30 minutes). I do not strain the broth before adding to the Risotto, I like the herbal quality it adds to the texture, but I am sure if you want it a little smoother that you could do so. Add toasted pine nuts and let sit for approximately 5 minutes. Recipe should be thick, creamy, and full of blueberry flavor. Prepare for compliments and don’t forget the nap later.

My thanks to Alan and Marlys Arnold at Adventures with Tea for sending me down this particular road of experimenting with tea products. Check their website – they have a lot of great ideas, and better yet, great products!

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Kansas City Loves To Explode!

17 07 2010

KCRiverFest once again proves itself as The Summer Festival in Kansas City.

Three Stages this year: The Americana Pavilion with the best of Ragtime performed continually by Ragtime Revelry (the beginning of an annual tradition for the Festival); The Show Me Stage presented by Radio Disney (continuing an annual tradition for the Festival); and of course, The Friends of the River Stage, with many of our main performers including the headliner band “Head East”!

Railroad displays, a giant kids area, pony rides, US Army simulators, Radio Disney’s “Arcade” trailer, kite demonstrations, buskers, facepainters and tattoo artists, palm readers and fortune tellers, etc. only added to the great unusual food choices ranging from Deep Fried Pickles to Chocolate Covered Cheesecake on a Stick (do not miss one of these next year!), great BBQ and Gyros, Pizza, and of course, some of the finest Corndogs in the land!

Approximately an hour before the Fireworks were scheduled to go off, the Festival was hit by a pretty heavy downpour. How did most Kansas Citians react? Pretty much the way they always do – some sought shelter under the tents where they found great entertainment, others waited it out (especially if they had secured prime seats near the levy for the Fireworks). Most importantly, more people kept arriving than departing despite the inclement weather. As other Festivals around the Kansas City area began cancelling their Fireworks shows and sending people home, Friends of the River-KC stayed in constant communication with the National Weather Service to assure everything remained safe for our attendees. Not only did the Fireworks go off on time without a hitch (kudos to Zambelli Fireworks), the show was one of the most fantastic ever witnessed.

Thanks to everyone from our incredible sponsors (visit our page at http://kcriverfest.com to see reasons to join our Sponsorship Team for 2011), all of our vendors and volunteers who continued to assure everything was perfect from beginning to end, and especially to the citizens of the Kansas City area for staying with us – you rock!





ADD-A POSITIVE ATTRIBUTE

11 07 2010

Mary Pepitone: “Short says the key to a grand gathering is to be organized and flexible when things don’t go exactly as planned”
Me: My mind goes in a million directions at the same time so nothing is ever really going as planned. ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) means you are always flexible because you always wondering “what if?” so I am usually ready to respond quickly because in my miswired head the incident has already occurred.

Mary Pepitone: “Because you have to be highly organized in your profession, is time in the kitchen an opportunity to cut loose your culinary creativity?”
Me: At EventPros (my company) I am surrounded by people who keep me on track – especially my Business Partner Bill Svoboda. ADD can be a definite skill set for my particular job, but without my strong support staff, there would be very little organization at EventPros. My kitchen at home is a different matter – I am always asked “what in the world is this?”, when I cook.

Mary Pepitone: “Are you fearless when it comes to food and organizing the events at which it is served?”
Me: Again, my staff helps pull in the reins when I get a little scattered. I am usually under control – it serves me very well because there are never problems, only opportunities; never a cloud, only a silver lining. Gotta go – look, there’s something shiny over there!

Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who writes a nationally syndicated home column. She is graceful, charming, and delightful to work with, and recently published an article on me in the Kansas City Star. She can be reached at pepi@kc.rr.com.

The subject of ADD came up infrequently in our interview (unfortunately it was not included, most likely due to space constraints). This blog is strictly dedicated to Mary, and a slightly different response to questions she posted in her column. Many thanks to Mary and the Kansas City Star for giving me this forum!





Trash Talkin’ Second Edition

10 07 2010

Waste water versus plastic? Catering crews used to love having all services using disposable serviceware, and it is usually much cheaper for the client because there is no equipment rental necessary (in most cases), and there is a lot of labor involved in washing dishes, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths, etc. I have never heard a third solution, but would love to hear one here. The argument was that dirtying water is as bad as throwing away catering serviceware.

I am going to be a little blunt here – BULLSHIT!

The water used to wash dishes goes through the same wastewater process as our drinking water, bath water, and groundwater systems. Where is the additional waste in that? The process of filling our landfills with mostly non-biodegradable products does not offset the excessive use of water to clean up an event. The food service staff have to work harder (and the staff number probably must be increased) to clean up after an event trying to be ecologically responsible. Obviously someone, either the client or the caterer, needs to cover that additional expense. Our events today should not have to be paid by our children, their children, or their children’s children. Yahoo has the most information pro and con I have found on the subject – just type in greener paper versus washing plates – there are many links to this subject.

I believe we can all make a difference by insisting our food vendors use non-disposable serviceware unless it is totally impractical. We do have a little control over how we affect our world – if possible, let’s utilize our buying power to help make things better. Sounds like baby steps, but if the majority of us changed to this mindset, we just might create giant strides!