Monday, February 27, 2006

Mardi Gras "King Cake"

The King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras treat, baked and covered with a poured sugar topping in Mardi Gras colors; Purple, representing Justice, Green representing Faith and Gold representing Power. Traditionally, the person who finds the hidden "baby" in his or her slice of cake must provide the cake the next year.

King Cake

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar

Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes, then mix thoroughly. Set bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes until yeast bubbles up.

1/2 cup sugar
4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon frshly ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1 stick butter melted but cooled

Combine 3 cups of flour, 1/2 sugar, nutmeg, salt,lemon zest and egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Pour in yeast mixture, butter and milk. With dough hook on mixer, combine ingredients. Slowly add last 1 cup of flour until dough is shiny, smooth, no longer sticky and forms ball.

Coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a heavier kitchen towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in volume.

After the first rising, place the dough on a floured surface and punch it down with a heavy blow. Roll into a long cylinder.

I added about a quarter cup of Nutella along the middle of the cylinder and folded the dough over to form a tube. Then form a ring with the completed cylinder and pinch the ends together. Place a small round bowl in the middle of cylinder to preserve its shape during the second rise.

After the second rising (45 minutes),remove the center bowl and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack and hide the plastic baby in the cake.


3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine ingredients until smooth, adding more water if it's too thick. Spoon icing over top of cake.


Immediately sprinkle on colored sugars, alternating between the three colors.

Inside of baked cake showing Nutella Chocolate Center

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Poolside In February

The weather in Los Angeles has been a bit fickle lately. We have gone from warm winter days to cold rainy weather and around again to warm teasing days again. Now rain is predicted for the next week.

Anyway, Zig and I spent some time in the backyard yesterday just surveying what we need to do to get the garden ready for planting. It's that time again. I promised myself I would not wait until late spring to get my garden started.

Ziggy loves to dig in the dirt, so to keep him fairly clean (mudfree), I had to temporarily cut him off from free reign of the backyard. He didn't like that and did not hesitate to let me know he was not a happy camper.

Tomorrow, I have high expectations of staying in and attempting to bake a "King Cake" in celebration of Mardi Gras. If all goes well, I'll have a nice cake to take to work Monday. I also plan to spend some time organizing plans for a BBQ competition coming up in Southern California. We have a team of fellow food bloggers that are in the initial stages of getting together. This is going to be fun with more info on it posted on the previous post.

Sweetnicks is hosting Weekend Dog Blogging #23

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

WhiteTrashBBQ: The Smoking Car #4 - BigMista - The Survival Gourmet

WhiteTrashBBQ: The Smoking Car #4 - BigMista - The Survival Gourmet

You gotta check out the interview with BigMista of Survival Gourmet on White Trash BBQ. Insight into how he got started in the world of BBQ and where he is taking it. Yes, competition is the next step.

And as a continuation, you have to read Big Lu's post at BBQ Junkie. Go Team!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Another Gadget

I needed this like I needed a hole in my head. An overpriced German food grater ensemble which attracted me solely because it was different and I didn't have one. I had a gift certificate to spend but noted that there was nothing else in that store that screamed at me to buy it. I love browsing Williams-Sonoma but we all got to admit, their prices are way over what you can pay at some other local L.A. kitchen supply stores.

It is unique, compact and has an assortment of special blades. It can be used like a mandolin and one day I may find a need that my other graters do not fulfil.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Buried Treasure

A few days ago G was looking for a specific picture in our old photo alblums. Some of these photo alblums are 25 to 30 years old covering undergraduate days, graduations, single life, marriage and finally the children. Pictures taken with old Kodak cameras, Polaroids and yes prior to the digital era. I don't know how many of you remember the photo albums with the sticky backing covered with a plastic sheet. Well in case you haven't checked, these pages don't age very well. Either the gummy, sticky material adhesives itself to the photo back or all the sticky material seems to vanish resulting in the pictures doing a free fall as you turn page to page.

Anyway, I decided it was time to get new albums and go through these pictures in an organized fashion. No, I'm not into scrapbooking, nor making dainty little laced edge frames with cute words. I simply needed to move pictures from one album to another. I found some nice albums which should last another 30 years and spent the day going through all those memories. I was surprised at the "keepsakes" I had stored in these album pages. This includes annoucements, napkins from special events, dead flowers, cards, obituaries, invitations, handwritten personal letters (from the days before email), newspaper clippings and whatever else I couldn't bare to throw away.

Out of all this (I filled 4 album binders each holding 300 pictures each from about 6 old albums), I came across three flowery stationary pages with 7 handwritten recipes. They were nicely folded but no envelope. The handwritting looked like my mother-in-law's immaculate 4th grade teacher style cursive.

I don't remember ever seeing the recipes before nor are they treats that I can remember her making or that are even her "style". I'm sure I didn't ask for them. The recipes were for "Ice Box Cookies", "Pumpkin Bread", "Divinity", "Spirited Raisin Cookies", "Brownie Mounds", "Candied Nuts" and "Potato Candy". Where they originally came from and how long they have been in that album is a question I'll probably never get answered or at least not anytime soon.

So what will I do with this buried treasure? Even though they are holiday type recipes, I can't wait to try a couple of them now. (The directions are not clear/complete and appear to be written as if it's understood what your steps are.)

Ice Box Cookies

2 1/2 sticks oleo (I'll use butter)
1 1/12 cups confectioners sugar
3 cups flour
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts

Cream butter and sugar, add 1 cup flour and 1 egg (mix). Add remaining flour, salt, vanilla and nuts (mix). Wrap or roll up in wax paper and refrigerate overnight. Cut 1/8 inch slices and bake at 375 deggrees for 10-15 minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weekend Dog Blogging #22- Let's Go!

Ziggy wants to go outside and play. He's letting me know that he is tired of me plucking away on the computer.

Wishing Sweetnicks a speedy recovery. Thanks to Alicat at Something So Clever for hosting this weekends dog blogging event while Sweetnicks is a little under the weather.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Great Southern Cook- Edna Lewis

From an article in the February 14, 2006 L.A. Times written by Mary Rourke, Times Staff Writer

Edna Lewis, 89; Chef Drew on Family's History in Reviving Southern Cuisine

Edna Lewis, who helped launch a revival of Southern regional cooking with her four books, particularly "The Taste of Country Cooking," died Monday. She was 89.

Lewis died of natural causes in her sleep at her home in Decatur, Ga., Scott Peacock, a longtime friend and Lewis' housemate in recent years, told The Times. She had been in failing health for several years and suffered from dementia.

The granddaughter of freed slaves in Freetown, a Virginia farming community, Lewis had an eclectic career working as a restaurant chef, a pheasant farmer and a cooking teacher, among other things. But her cookbooks brought her national recognition. Along with "The Taste of Country Cooking" in 1976, she wrote "The Edna Lewis Cookbook" in 1972 and "In Pursuit of Flavor" in 1988. She and Peacock wrote "The Gift of Southern Cooking" in 2003.

"Edna was a very important voice for her knowledge of Virginia-style Southern food and cooking," Judith Jones, Lewis' editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishers, told The Times in 2003. "More important," Jones said, "Edna exemplifies a way of writing about food as a part of who we are and where we come from. It is food writing as memoir."

Some food experts referred to Lewis as the leading African American female chef. Others placed her as the dean of all Southern cooking.

Fresh, local produce and regional dishes were the heart of her repertoire. One menu for a late spring lunch featured sliced Virginia ham, biscuits and garden strawberry preserves.

"Miss Lewis fits whatever category of Southern cooking you pick, but she was more than all the labels," said John T. Edge, director of Southern Foodways Alliance, based at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

In several of her books, she wrote about her early years in Freetown. Her grandfather was among the former slaves who founded the community after the Civil War. Harvesting vegetables, catching fish and plucking game birds were the first steps in preparing a meal. "We never bought anything from stores except sugar and kerosene," Lewis told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in 1996.

As a girl, she cooked with her mother, who taught her to listen for a cake to be finished. "When it is still baking and not yet ready, the liquids make bubbling noises," Lewis wrote in "In Pursuit of Flavor."

Lewis' father died when she was 9. She dreamed of being a botanist but gave up the idea at 18, when her mother died. She moved to New York City looking for work in the early 1940s.

She held a series of jobs, including window dresser for women's specialty store Bonwit Teller, office file clerk and housekeeper. She often cooked for her friends. One of them, John Nicholson, owned an antique shop. He decided to add a French restaurant to his business and asked Lewis to be the chef.

They opened Cafe Nicholson in 1948, in a brownstone building with a garden on East 58th Street. Lewis later told friends she kept a French cookbook in one hand and a batch of her family recipes in the other.

"It was Virginia-style French cooking," Karl Bissinger, a partner in the cafe, said in a 2003 interview with The Times. "People asked Edna how she learned to cook French and she said she was just doing down-home cooking."

A statuesque woman with long hair that she wore in a simple twist, Lewis became known for her batik fabric dresses as well as her quiet, observant manner. She rarely spoke of her personal life. She was proud of her heritage but showed it in subtle ways, Jones said. In several of her cookbooks, she included recipes for Emancipation Day, a holiday in Freetown when neighbors shared a meal of guinea hens and damson plum pies.

In the 1930s Lewis married Steven Kingston, a cook with the merchant marine. They were political activists who joined the Communist Party. "I was a radical," Lewis told Bon Appetit magazine in November 2001. She worked in the office of the Daily Worker, the Communist newspaper.

But she also worked vigorously for Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his second presidential campaign in 1936 and did volunteer work as a poll watcher during elections in the South. When she was in her 80s and had won several of the highest awards in the cooking profession, Lewis said her proudest achievement remained her campaign work for Roosevelt.

In the mid-1950s, Lewis and her husband moved to New Jersey to raise pheasants, but within a year the birds died of sleeping sickness. Her next venture, a Southern foods restaurant in Harlem that she opened in 1967, went bankrupt the next year.

"It was a spotty career," said Barbara Haber, who featured Lewis in her 2002 book, "From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals." "If an opportunity came, Edna went with it," Haber said. "She didn't have a career plan."

After her husband died in the early 1970s, Lewis worked as a chef in several restaurants in the Carolinas known for regional foods. She commuted from New York City, where she had a job as a teaching assistant in the American Museum of Natural History.

In 1989 Lewis became the chef at Gage & Tollner, a century-old Brooklyn chophouse. She expanded the menu to include some of her own recipes — pan-fried quail, corn pudding and country ham. James Beard, by then the unofficial father of American cooking, often visited the dining room, which helped attract customers.

"Edna was greatly admired in the loftiest food circles," said Nathalie Dupree who featured Lewis on one of her cooking programs on the Food Network. "I once took her to the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. People fell all over her. Edna was renowned."

Dupree described Lewis as shy, regal, beautiful and something of a bohemian. After decades of hard work and measurable success, she retired from Gage & Tollner in 1992 without any definite plans. She was 76.

She moved to Atlanta and taught cooking classes. Several years earlier, she had been introduced to Peacock, an up and coming restaurant chef in his early 20s. They met at a food festival in Atlanta.

Peacock had worked as the chef at the Georgia governor's mansion during two administrations and rose to celebrity chef status at the Watershed restaurant in Decatur.

From the beginning of their friendship, Peacock told The Times in 2003, "The least of what I learned from Miss Lewis was about cooking, although I've learned a lot about that from her, too. She had a clear sense of who she was; a country girl, the grandchild of former slaves, raised in a Southern farm community. She always knew that her personal experience was something special. She had great confidence in that way."

In her advancing years, Lewis was often honored for her contributions to the field.

At 83, she was named Grande Dame of Les Dames d'Escoffier International, an award for women chefs. Three years later, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation KitchenAid Cookbook Hall of Fame.

"There are a few cooks whose books are classics. They will always be there, always be read," said Nach Waxman, a committee member and owner of Kitchen Arts and Letters bookstore who helped select Lewis for the Beard award. "Edna Lewis is in that constellation."

More on Edna Lewis was posted by Barbara Fisher in Paper Palate

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Valentine's Day is just a couple of days away. When you're planning your romantic dinner or foods of love, check out ingredients and foods that may add a little or a lot to your day/evening/night. (the below list was compiled from the linked book.)

People have been using alcohol to stimulate the libido for centuries. But while a moderate amount of alcohol will reduce anxiety and release inhibitions one glass too many is more likely to put you asleep than put you in the mood.

For an aphrodisiacal treat use it as a dip for either artichokes or asparagus.

Antlers and horns are considered to be aphrodisiacs especially in Eastern Asia. Why? Because they resemble an erect penis. Antlers are ground up into a powder and sprinkled on food or into drinks.

The ancient Chinese considered this round thin skinned fruit (which originated in China) to be a symbol of a sensual nature. Try feeding your lover fresh apricots which are available from May to July. Look for fragrant fruits with a red blush that gives slightly to pressure.

The simple act of stripping an artichoke of its leaves, dipping them into butter and scrapping off the tender flesh with your teeth is a very sensual experience. Simply cut off the artichoke's thorny tips, snap off the tough leaves, slice off the stem and rub with lemon juice. Steam until tender, about 30-60 minutes. Try dipping artichokes into curried mayonnaise, lemon or herb butter or vinaigrette.

Perhaps the most erotic member of the vegetable kingdom. In nineteenth century France bridegrooms were required to eat several courses consisting of asparagus, asparagus and more asparagus because of its reputed powers to arouse. The best way to eat this member of the lily family is steamed or boiled and dressed with butter, olive oil or Hollandaise sauce.

If you need us to explain why this sweet, creamy, soft-fleshed fruit that's generally between 7 and 9 inches long is an aphrodisiac you need a lot more than our dictionary for amorous inspiration.

This flavorful herb is used in Voodoo love ceremonies in Haiti.

Meat works wonders on your libido and brain. After a high protein meal, your blood stream is flooded with the amino acid tyrosine. The chemicals made from tyrosine, dopamine and norepinephrine, trigger brain cells that enhance mental alertness and concentration.


If your libido is out to lunch you may be low on seratonin (a brain chemical that effects mood) and energy. A carbo fix combined with a little tryptophan (an amino acid found in a variety of meat and dairy products) may increase seratonin levels, energy and desire.

According to traditional Indian herbal medicine, a nightcap of powdered cardamom that has been boiled with milk and mixed with honey can help cure impotence and premature ejaculation.

This popular root vegetable, with its phallic shape and sweet flavor, was used to seduce lovers by Middle Eastern royalty.

Caviar is considered an aphrodisiac for several reasons. Eggs are a symbol of fertility. Caviar, like Aphrodite who was born from sea foam, comes from the sea. Caviar, like many aphrodisiacs, is a very precious food that is reserved for special occasions. The best caviar is imported Beluga, and the best way to enjoy it is by the spoonful with chilled vodka or champagne. Less expensive varieties are great as a topping for roasted new potatoes, scooped out and filled with sour cream.
Celery contains androsterone, a powerful male hormone that researchers believe is released through sweat and attracts females.

Bubbly is lovely and makes any time of the day or night special. The bubbles actually help the alcohol get into the blood stream a little quicker so you get a buzz on toute suite. You don't have to spend big bucks to enjoy a little bubbly.

Chocolate contains over 400 different chemicals including caffeine (see java) and phenylethylamine (PEA), a brain chemical that some scientists believe arouses the same feelings that we experience when we are in love. The Aztecs were the first chocoholics. They ground cocoa beans added spices and drank the bitter brew without sugar. Legend has it that Montezuma drank 50 cups of cocoa before entering his harem of several hundred women. In the mid 17th century chocolate developed a reputation as an aphrodisiac among chic Brits.

This dried bud of an evergreen tree is one of the world's oldest, dearest and most expensive spices. Cloves were probably first used by the Chinese around 200 B.C. The word clove comes from the Roman word for tack, clovis. They were believed to have medicinal powers and still have a reputation as a powerful love food. Cloves have a warm, sweet almost peppery flavor that is frequently used to add character to cakes, fruit compotes, mulled wine and ham.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize why these cool vegetables are considered to be an aphrodisiac.

If you can't get one maybe you need to eat more dates. In Iran dates are used to help people who's sex life is withering.

According to the Chicago Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, the smell of donuts combined with black licorice significantly increases penile blood flow.

All kinds of eggs, from chicken to fish eggs (caviar), have been thought of as fertility symbols and by extension aphrodisiacs.

The Greeks and Hindus considered fennel to be a potent sexual stimulant. A Hindu formula for sexual vigor includes: fennel juice, honey, ghee (clarified butter), sugar and licorice. In the Mediterranean fennel soup is thought to increase sexual desire.

One of the sexiest fruits on the planet. These plump, soft, sweat, luscious beauties come from one variety of the ficus tree which probably originated in Asia Minor and is one of the oldest edible plants. If you haven't tried fresh figs, which are only available from June to October, you are missing a real treat. Try feeding them to your lover drizzled with a little cream and a sprinkling of sugar. Or, serve figs with sliced melon or pears and prosciutto as an appetizer.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love was born from sea foam, so in general any type of seafood is considered to be an aphrodisiac. The high phosphorus and iodine content of seafood may actually have a beneficial effect on sexual potency.

Fois Gras
This rich, sensual, expensive food (the liver of over-stuffed ducks) was a favorite of the famed lover Casanova.

Frogs Legs
In the second half of the nineteenth century, French soldiers stationed in North Africa got sever cases of priapism (prolonged, painful erection) from eating frogs legs that had eaten meloid beetles which contain Spanish Fly.

A perfectly ripe piece of fruit shared with your lover is a true romantic moment.

This pungent member of the lily family has been used to treat a wide variety of illnesses from the common cold to heart disease. Garlic has been used as an aphrodisiac by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Japanese.

This pungent root has been used for centuries, both internally and externally, throughout Asia and India as a powerful aphrodisiac. To combat impotence Indian herbalists recommend eating a mixture of ginger juice, honey and half-boiled eggs. In Europe, young maidens baked and ate ginger bread men believing the ritual would bring them a husband.

Ginkgo has been known to increase blood flow throughout the body, especially in the brain. It may also increase penile blood flow resulting in better erections.

The party animal of the vegetable kingdom, grapes have been eaten by mankind since Neolithic times and have probably been cultivated almost as long. Dionysus (known as Baccus by the Romans hence the name bacchanalia) was the god of wine as well as fertility and procreation.

One of the ultimate love foods, honey is sweet and spreadable and perfect for dipping or spreading. The word honeymoon derives from the ancient custom that for the first lunar month after marriage a newly married couple would drink mead (honey wine). Some cultures spread a little honey on the palms of the bride and groom and have them lick it off each other to ensure a sweet life together. The Egyptians offered honey to the God of fertility, Min.

Ice cream
Cherries Jubilee. Warm 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 can (16 ounces) pitted cherries with their juice until hot but not boiling. Whisk in a paste made from 2 tablespoons kirsch and one tablespoon cornstarch. Heat until hot, not boiling. Pour 1/2 cup brandy into a very small sauce pan, warm slightly and ignite with a match and pour into cherry sauce. Spoon sauce over vanilla ice cream and enjoy.

Fatigue can really squash romance. A quick jolt of java can perk you up and put you in the mood for amour. Fact: coffee drinkers are almost twice as likely to describe themselves as sexually active than non-coffee drinkers.

This unusual and sensual citrus fruit is eaten skin and all and is an excellent food to pitch into your lover's mouth. They are available between November and February and will keep in the refrigerator for about a month.

Rack of lamb for two is one of life's most romantic foods.

Several liqueurs have developed a reputation as aphrodisiacs including Chartreuse (especially the green variety) and Benedictine (both developed by monks) and Creme de Damiana (a Mexican liqueur).

This is a very sexy food to eat. You rip the flesh apart with your hands and dip in butter.

Low Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels are one of the leading causes of penile erectile dysfunction. In fact, men with high cholesterol levels have almost double the chance of having trouble getting an erection. While an occasionally high fat indulgence is fine, we advocate eating a low fat, high fiber diet most of the time to help keep cholesterol levels low and erectile function high.

M & M
(see chocolate)

This exotic, sensual fruit has a moist flesh resembling peach, papaya and apricot. There are hundreds of varieties of mangoes which are extremely popular in India, Mexico and the Caribbean. Fresh mangoes are available from May to September. Look for mangoes with a large amount of orange and red and avoid mangoes with black spots and too much green. Ripe mangoes are messy, juicy and luscious.

This fragrant spice has been prized by Arabs, Greeks, Hindus and Romans as an aphrodisiac. In India, a combination of nutmeg, honey and a half-boiled egg is eaten an hour before sex to prolong love making.

Whether you prefer walnuts, almonds or macadamias, nuts have had a reputation as aphrodisiacs for centuries. During harvest festivals in Rome, maidens passed out bowls of nuts as symbols of fertility.

Onions, a common ingredient in almost all cuisines, have been used for thousands of years as an aphrodisiac. Onions are recommended in both ancient Hindu and Arabic texts on the art of making love. In France, newlyweds were served onion soup the day after their wedding to restore sexual vigor, and Egyptian priests abstained from onions because of their lusty reputation.

One of the world's classic love foods. Legend has it that Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning in the bath tub using a beautiful woman's breasts as a plate. Oysters are very high in zinc. Research has found that a low sperm count is connected to low zinc levels.

Native to China, peaches have long been associated with ripe sexuality by the Chinese. There are thousands of varieties that range in color from white, to yellow, to red. Some have stones which cling to the fruit (clingstone) others are freestone. Domestic peaches are available from May to September, but they are really best from June to August. The best peaches have a wonderful aroma and give in to slight pressure. Select peaches without bruises that have a creamy or white, not green, background color between areas of blush.

According to The Perfumed Garden (an ancient Arabic love manual), ground pepper mixed with cardamom or lavender, galanga, musk, honey and ginger is a potent topical aphrodisiac for men. In India pepper corns are crushed with almonds, mixed with milk and consumed as an aphrodisiac.

Pine Nuts
These nuts (actually seeds of the pine tree) have been used as an aphrodisiac throughout the Mediterranean and the East. The Roman poet, Ovid, included pine nuts in his list of aphrodisiacs. The Perfumed Garden, (an ancient Arabic love manual), contains many references to pine nuts including this prescription to restore a man's sexual vigor: "A glass of thick honey, plus 20 almonds and 100 pine nuts repeated for three nights."

This deep red fruit is recommended in the Karma Sutra (an Indian love making manual) as an erotic aid.

Due to its color, fragrance and many seeds, the quince was dedicated to Aphrodite (the Greek Goddess of love) and Venus (the Roman Goddess of love). Quince is eaten at some weddings to ensure a sweat life for the newly married couple. Some say quince was the fruit that tempted Eve.

Rice is a symbol of fertility and a staple food in Asia. In some cultures if a man and woman eat out of the same rice bowl it is a declaration of their engagement. Rice is thrown at wedding ceremonies for good luck and many children.

Roses are by far the most popular flower given to lovers. Roses have been used for centuries in love potions and the petals are edible. (Just make sure those you eat are grown without chemicals.) Sprinkle petals in a salad or spike vanilla ice cream with a few drops of rose water which is available in Middle Eastern and Indian markets.

This expensive spice has been reputed to work like a sex hormone and make erogenous zones even more sensitive. Saffron is made from the dried stigmas of a type of crocus. About 225,000 stigmas are needed to make one pound of saffron. (Each crocus has about 3 stigmas which must be picked by hand.) Try adding a pinch of saffron to Mediterranean, North African or Middle Eastern grain dishes such as Paella, a traditional Spanish rice dish that contains sausage and seafood.

Japanese rice wine or sake is frequently drunk as part of Japanese wedding ceremonies. In the orient rice is a symbol of fertility.

A ripe strawberry is another perfect love food, both innocent and sexy. Try dipping them in chocolate, sour cream and brown sugar or whipped cream. Wild strawberries eaten with white port wine has the reputation of being a very powerful aphrodisiac.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are reputed to expand your ability to give and receive love. In late 16th century Europe sweet potato tarts were recommended to increase sexual desire.

This spirit made from cactus has been used for centuries to promote sexual desire.

Known as love-apples by the French, the humble tomato may have been the real culprit that got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden. Fresh, ripe tomatoes, locally grown and eaten in season are a very seductive food. Try them with a little fresh mozzarella cheese and some basil. Tomatoes are rich in the phytochemical lycopene which can help prevent prostate cancer.

The fragrant musty smell of this precious, rare fungus contains chemicals that are similar to the sex hormones in the male pig. (Ok everyone, make your male pig jokes here.) According to the famed French gastronome Brillat-Savarin: "Whoever says 'truffle' utters a great word which arouses erotic and gastronomic memories."

Iranians use this vegetable to rekindle a dwindling sex life.

Unagi, or raw sea eel, is a popular Japanese aphrodisiac. In America, it's a popular item on sushi menus. Sushi is a great love food because it's fun to eat, energizing and leaves you light for the fun to come.

The word vanilla comes from the Spanish word vanilla which is similar to the Spanish vaina which means vagina. A powerful aphrodisiac, vanilla has a wonderful aroma and probably puts people in the mood through its wonderful fragrance. Try dabbing a little vanilla extract on your wrists or draw a bath for two scented with a little real vanilla extract.

In Rome, walnuts were thrown at newlyweds instead of rice and they were used in ancient fertility ceremonies. Walnuts have also been used in Italy and France to intensify desire.

This flower of the vanilla orchid was named for the youngest daughter of a South American fertility goddess who transformed herself into a plant that would bring pleasure and happiness. (see vanilla)

Yahimbe Bark
Also known as Mate, Paraguay tea and South American holly, this hormone-like stimulant is used to increase libido, testosterone levels and blood flow to the penis. Don't look for it on grocery store shelves. It is sold as a dietary supplement.

Zinc is linked to both fertility, sexual desire and potency. Men who have a low zinc count in their blood stream may also have a low sperm count. Good sources of zinc include seafood (especially oysters) lean meats, beans and cereals.

The phallic shape says it all

From Food As Foreplay Recipes for Romance, Love and Lust

Weekend Dog Blogging #21

Last weekend was Superbowl Sunday.

The theme for this year's event at M and D's party was Hawaiian. Ziggy was dressed to impress sporting a tropical motif shirt. He pranced around royally, playing with the kids and stealing the attention of all the guests.

Sweetnicks hosts this event. Check in on Sunday for a roundup of all the lovable doggies.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Valentine's Day Cookies

Finished Cookie
Cut and Ready To Bake

First Royal Icing Coat

These cookies were prepared using the No-Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe from Kitchen Gifts.

The Royal Icing Recipe is from the meringue powder label but any of the recipes listed at Kitchen Gifts is just as good.

I roll my dough out pretty thick (1/4 inch). This makes for a sturdy cookie which can be used for a number of purposes including place settings and making cookie bouquets.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Miami Grille- Poway, California

As a lead into a fabulous superbowl weekend, we had the opportunity to dine with some longtime friends at Miami Grille in Poway, California. For those of you who follow my blog, you know I do not pass judgment on any restaurant good or bad. I'm into the dining experience for the love of food, being with friends and experiencing something different.

This place was pretty crowded with a long wait for an indoor table. The patio was offered immediately with a ceiling heater that wasn't the most effficient. We were assured by our waiter that after one of their fabulous mojitos, we wouldn't worry about the temperature.

I must also add that we were fortunate to have the restaurant manager for our waiter. Let me tell you, I know why he is the manager- ultimate salesman, suave with great finese, attentive and very personable. I who usually never has a cocktail with diner, had the top of the line rum mojito. There were three choices of rum. Regular, good and ultimate. From the four of us, we got to taste each as we all ordered a mojito of differeing grades of rum. G was not impressed as sweet drinks arn't his thing.

We began with appetizers- "Miami Grille Especiales" for $14.95. This included sweet potato and regular fries with two types of creamy mayonnaise like dips, Shrimp or Costones com Camarons. (Costones were described a unripen plaintains, flattened and fried. Starchy with flavor uplifted by the sauce). Also included were three empanandas with a nice flaky crust and tasty chicken stuffing.

Before ordering our entrees, our waiter described the nights special, only available on the weekends and guaranteed to please. Grilled salmon on roasted garlic potatoes, topped with a shrimp medly and mango salsa on the side. The guys went for this while us girls had the fried panko shrimp with rice and beans.Presentation was superb for both entrees. The shrimp were large and meaty, fried to perfection. Damn, fat is good).
The guys raved about the salmon. Thick, tasty and with the mango salsa, they were in heaven. Great choice.
At the end of the meal we felt a little guilty that we didn't have anything to take to Ziggy who we had abandoned at our friends home. Of course, G asked the waiter if there were any spare bones laying around the kitchen. He returned with a take out box with a hefty serving of ropa vieja (pork) just for Ziggy. That Ziggy is so lucky.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tagged 4X8 Meme

Biscuit Girl tagged me again for this meme. I did it earlier this year but find that some of my answers have changed so what the heck, here it is again. I also had to separate regular TV from FoodTV. I believe most food bloggers have been tagged before, so I open the invitation to anyone who voluntarily wants to pass the torch.

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Pharmacist
2. Secretary
3. Record Store Clerk
4. Pharmacy Assistant (includes Professor)

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. The Professional
2. 40 Year Old Virgin
3. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (yea, and don't speculate on anything more)
4. Desperately Seeking Susan (yea, and don't speculate on anything more here also)

Four places you have lived:
1. Los Angeles, CA
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Daly City, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Survivor
2. Surface (Was that the final episode 2/6?)
3. Biggest Loser
4. Ghost Whisperer

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Vancouver, British Columbia
2. Cabo San Lucas
3. Washington DC
4. Bahamas

Four websites you visit daily:
1. My jobs homepage
2. Food-Got To Love It
3-4 All Sites listed on my index

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Cookies (all types)
2. Smoked BBQ Ribs
3. Oysters On The Halfshell
4. Pork Cracklins

Four places you would rather be right now:
1. Home in my favorite chair watching TV or reading
2. A Cooking Class
3. Where my kids are
4. Where my Husband is

Four (Food) TV shows you love to watch:
1. Sugar Rush
2. Any Food TV show with Paula Deen in it
3. Any Food TV show with Tyler Florence in it
4. Any Food TV show "Challenges"