I Miss Uruguay, but Not the Food

Bodega Alto de la Ballena 2

Earlier this year, my husband and I traveled to Uruguay.  We spent a week touring the quiet South American country that is nestled in between Argentina and Brazil.  Uruguay is amazing, but the food takes some adjustment.  Prior to visiting, the few people that actually were familiar with Uruguay told us to expect the best beef in the world at the cheapest price.

Uruguay is known for its Angus cattle.  There are approximately three cattle for each person in Uruguay.   It’s a whole lot of farmland (and vineyards that produce Tannat varietals).   Uruguay exports some of the finest beef, diary, wine, fruits and vegetables.  Food quality and availability are not the issue.

I think the problem lies in the preparation.  Uruguayans are zealous in their use of “parillas”.  Parillas are outdoor grills for barbecue.   I’m pretty passionate about grilling myself, and was impressed with the Uruguayan fervor.  When shopping for real estate, a suitable house must have a parilla and a bidet. (Uruguay has a heavy European influence, thus the bidet action.)  I wanted to try meat cooked using a parilla, so I tried a chivito.  A chivito is a popular Uruguayan sandwich made with sliced steak, eggs, and ham.  Despite the meat being cooked on a parilla, something was missing.  It needed seasoning.

The Uruguayans aren’t big fans of spices, especially anything hot.   You won’t find Asian food or any of the Spanish dishes typically served in Mexico.  Everything tasted bland to me – even the pizza.  You will find a pizzeria on every corner thanks to the Italian influence.  But don’t expect the pizza to look like what you would expect in Italy or the United States.  In Uruguay, the pizza has very little sauce, and the toppings are covered by huge slices of cheese.

Although I was disappointed with the lack of seasoning, there were a few things I really enjoyed.  One day of our trip, we decided to take a wine tour.  We visited a vineyard where we sampled wine, and later ate lunch at a magnificent estate overlooking the ocean.  The food was fantastic!  We had an appetizer of figs with Camembert cheese, followed by fresh seafood and paired with awesome wine.  Overall, our trip to was wonderful.  Uruguay is a very peaceful place with European charm and nice people.


Scenes from Uruguay

The Truth About Turducken

TurduckenDoes anyone really enjoy turducken?  It’s a conversation piece on the dinner table, but  is it worth it?  The hype surrounding turducken has more to do with the recipe, than the actual taste of the dish.  It’s a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey.  Thus, the portmanteau “turducken”.  Individually all items are delicious on their own merit, but combined, it’s a colossal time consuming process that doesn’t garner any more flavor.

Not a novel concept, some believe turducken is actually a toned down American version of an Arabic dish, whole stuffed camel.  The Guinness Book of World Records lists the recipe as the largest item on any menu in the world.  Supposedly, whole stuffed camel is prepared occasionally for Bedouin wedding feasts of sheiks.  According to legend, the recipe steps are:  Cook eggs.  Stuff eggs into fish.  Cook the fish.  Stuff the fish into cooked chickens.  Stuff the cooked chickens into roasted sheep.  Stuff the roasted sheep carcass into a whole camel . . . now cook to taste.  In the United Kingdom, turducken variations include five-bird roast, three-bird roast, royal roast, and Pandora’s cushion all of which  have some variety of fowl such as turkey, duck, chicken, goose, pheasant, pigeon, partridge, or quail.  The concept of stuffing meat inside of meat in this fashion dates back to the ancient Roman era.  I suppose you could expect turducken to make an appearance in an episode of Games of Thrones or at Renaissance fair, but other than that who has time for turducken today ?

You can thank football commentator, John Madden, for trying to popularize turducken in the United States.  He carved one on television during a sports broadcast.  Later, he awarded a turducken to each player on the winning team of the Thanksgiving Bowl.  Despite his efforts, even John Madden gave up on turducken and returned to a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving.  Guess he realized, “Aint nobody got time for that!”

For those who read this with hopes of finding a recipe for turducken, I’m including this link to a recipe on Serious Eats.  I haven’t tried it – nor will I.  I usually opt for a fried turkey.  You can check out a technique for frying a turkey here.


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How Changing My Diet Changed My Sex Life

Chile Pepper

Figuratively speaking, some people just can’t get enough, whereas others can go without “dessert”.   Everything is tied to nutrition – especially sex.  Sometime ago, there was a three month period of noticeable decrease in my sexual appetite.  (I’ve never been one to skip dessert.)  I thought, I’m too young to be going through “the change”.  After doing some research, I discovered that my bedroom problem originated in the kitchen.  I had started eating cereal and soy milk on a daily basis.  Little known fact:  In ancient Asia, Tibetan monks used to drink soy milk to suppress their sex drive.

Now I know better.  I decided to look for food that would have the opposite effect – something to spice up the libido.  The result was a trove of satisfying foods.  By changing my diet, I was able to transform my sex life.   You don’t have to go nympho and alter your entire diet.  Simply knowing which foods to eat more of and which ones to avoid will have a huge impact.  Here are some ingredients that will have you craving more in the bedroom:

 

FRUITS , VEGETABLES & GRAINS

Arugula – Arugula has been heralded as an arousal aid since the first century. Today, research reveals that the trace minerals and antioxidants packed into dark, leafy greens are essential for our sexual health because they help block absorption of some of the environmental contaminants thought to negatively impact our libido.

Asparagus – Asparagus is high in the B vitamin folate that helps increase your production of histamine. Histamine is important for increasing the sex drive in men and women.  The high vitamin E content of asparagus helps increase male libido by stimulating production of testosterone.

Avocado – Loaded with potassium, avocados boost libido for both sexes. And they’re rich in folic acid that provides energy and stamina – both of which are important once your libido is restored.  Some of the best foods for increasing the male libido are fruits.  Avocado contains high levels of vitamin B6, folic acid and potassium. These vitamins and minerals assist in the production of male hormones.

Bananas – Bananas contain the enzyme bromelain. The enzyme is used by many to reverse male  impotence as well as increase male and female libido.  In addition, bananas are  an excellent source of riboflavin, B vitamins and bursting with potassium.  Potassium aids in regulating the female thyroid gland, this helps enhance female libido levels.  All these vitamins have proven to increase sexual energy levels.

Brown Rice – This is a good sources of zinc.  Testosterone production is dependent on zinc, and testosterone levels control both male and female libido and sex drive.

Celery  – Celery is another good vegetable for improving sex drive because of its androsterone content.  Celery is great for sexual stimulation because it contains androsterone and adrostenol, which serve as a sexual attractant when ingested.  These odorless hormones are released through male perspiration and can turn women on.

Citrus – Any member of this tropical fruit family is super-rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and folic acid—all of which are essential for men’s reproductive health.

Coconut Water – The water from coconuts contains the same level of electrolytes as your blood. It is also a metabolism booster that increases blood flow, and thus, may serve as an aphrodisiac. Along with minerals, coconut water is high in vitamin C.

Figs – Figs are another fruit that might boost male libido.  These funny-shaped fruits have a long history of being a fertility booster, and they make an excellent aphrodisiac because they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is important for heart health.  Figs are high in amino acids, which researchers believe can increase libido. It has also been found that Figs can also increase your sexual stamina.

Greens – They’re filled with energy enhancing nutrients proven to stimulate sex drive.  In addition, they include many vitamins, such as vitamin C,  soluble fiber.  According to a University of California study, Diindolylmethane, a compound found in collard greens, stimulates your inane immune system.  The added benefit of eating collard greens is they’re low in cholesterol and saturated fat.  They’re an excellent source of protein, Vitamin A, C, E,  Potassium, Vitamin B6, K, Calcium and Manganese.

Strawberries – This fruit has high levels of zinc in its seeds which unlike most fruits are eaten rather than removed.  Zinc is the nutrient most associated with sex, because it governs testosterone which is needed for sperm production.  Also, a woman’s body apparently prepares itself for sex more quickly if zinc levels are high.

Watermelon – Rich in citrulline, watermelon increases nitric oxide, opening blood vessels and speeding up circulation, which may increase arousal.

Wild Yam – Wild yam is a hearty perennial found all over the country. The plant contains disogenin, an element that converts to progesterone and can help boost libido.  Use caution, because wild yam has also been known to increase fertility.

 

NUTS

Almonds – Nuts and seeds work to increase male libido by supplying the body with a number of essential fatty acids and minerals.  Almonds are an excellent source of fatty acids necessary for hormone production.

Pine Nuts – Pine are rich in zinc.  Zinc is necessary to maintain male potency,and thus stimulate the libido.   Pine nuts have been used for centuries to make up love potions. The Arabian medical scholar, Galen, recommended eating one hundred pine nuts before going to bed.

 

MEATS & DAIRY

Cheese – This is a good sources of zinc.  Testosterone production is dependent on zinc, and testosterone levels control both male and female libido and sex drive.

Eggs – The abundance of B vitamins in eggs helps balance hormone levels, increase libido, and improve stamina. Vitamins B5 and B6 can also help the body cope with stress, which can improve the libido even more.

Liver – This is a good source of glutamine and may increase low or slowed libido.

Seafood – Seafood is nutrient-rich, and foods such as salmon and oysters contain a variety of vitamins and minerals necessary for testosterone production and reproductive health.  Raw oysters are especially high in zinc, which is necessary for adequate testosterone levels and sperm production.  Fish is a good source of essential B vitamins B5, B6, B12, all of which are important in keeping good reproductive health – especially deep sea and cold water fish, such as salmon, halibut, and sardines.

Turkey – This is a good sources of zinc.  Testosterone production is dependent on zinc, and testosterone levels control both male and female libido and sex drive.

 

HERBS & SPICES

Anise – The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that you could increase desire by sucking on anise seeds. Anise does include estrogenic compounds (female hormones), which have been reported to induce similar effects to testosterone.

Bishop’s Hat/Horny Goat Weed – This is a hearty plant that has high dopamine levels, which in turn result in higher levels of testosterone.

Basil (Sweet) – This is said to stimulate the sex drive and boost female fertility by promoting circulation.

Cardamom –  It is believed to increase energy and relieve fatigue.  It is also high in cineole, which can increase blood flow in areas where it is applied.

Chiles – If you like hot and spicy, you’re in luck! Chilies contain capsaicin, a chemical which also increases blood flow and triggers the release of mood-enhancing endorphins that naturally pump up your libido.

Cinnamon – Eating cinnamon heats up your body and, in turn, your sex drive. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help normalize blood sugar.

Cloves –  They heat up the body and boost energy levels. They also have one of the best aromatherapy scents that help improve your sexual behavior.

Fennel – It contains an estrogen-like substance (estirol) that turns out libido.

Fenugreek  – Saponins which can be found in fenugreek seeds play a role in increasing the production of testosterone, the male hormones, which, in turn, causes the raise in male libido.

Garlic – Long ago, Tibetan monks were not allowed to enter the monastery if they had been eating garlic because of its reputation for stirring up passions. Garlic increases circulation.

Ginger – It increases sex drive and stimulates sexual performance.

Ginkgo Biloba– Ginkgo biloba was reported to have a positive effect on all four phases of the sexual response cycle: desire, excitement (lubrication), orgasm, and resolution (afterglow).

Ginseng – It helps improve male erectile dysfunction by influencing the hypothalamus to modulate hormone release.

Honey – In medieval times, people drank mead, a fermented drink made from honey, to promote sexual desire.  In ancient Persia, couples drank mead every day for a month (known as the “honey month” — a.k.a. “honeymoon”) after they married in order to get in the right frame of mind for a successful marriage.  Honey is rich in B vitamins, which are needed for testosterone production, as well as boron, which helps the body metabolize and use estrogen.  Some studies have suggested that it may also enhance blood levels of testosterone.

Maca Root – This plant from Peru contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate which has aphrodisiac properties.  It’s also packed with minerals, fatty acids and amino acids. Not bad for a root.  Use caution, because it is also used by the Peruvians to increase fertility.

Motherwort –  traditionally used for relaxation; today, it’s used as one of many home cures to treat a variety of female reproductive disorders, including a low libido. Motherwort should not be taken during pregnancy as it is said to induce labor.

Nutmeg – In ancient China, women prized nutmeg an aphrodisiac, and researchers have found it to increase mating behaviors in mice.   In large quantities, nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic effect.

Saffron – It contains antioxidants including crocin, crocetin and safranal.   These are believed to be responsible for increasing sexual desire and arousal, by increasing blood flow to sexual organs.

Turmeric – Turmeric has long been known to have anti-inflammatory components.  It is also believed to have an effect on genital tissue.

Vanilla – This sweet pod is a mild nerve stimulant, which can enhance sexual sensation.

Chocolate – Chocolate is also known to generate increased levels of serotonin, a chemical naturally produced by the brain, which is known to reduce anxiety.  The rush of endorphins produced by eating chocolates, particularly dark chocolates, is most similar to the bliss associated with a healthy sexual relationship.  Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine which is known to  stimulate the release of dopamine into the pleasure centers commonly associated  with an orgasm.

 


quod me nutrit me destruit 

“What nourishes me, destroys me”

 

Foods to Avoid

Soy – Eaten in excessive quantity, soy can lower testosterone levels.

Corn Flakes –  The breakfast cereal was intended as part of a bland diet that would lower people’s sex drives.  Before he created his breakfast cereal empire, John Harvey Kellogg was a Seventh-Day Adventist, a doctor at a sanatorium, and an advocate of sexual abstinence. He created corn flakes to dampen carnal urges.

Quinine  – Quinine, used as a flavoring agent in tonic water and some other beverages, is naturally derived from the bark of the cinchona tree and has been used for centuries for its anti-malarial properties. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to sexual dysfunction.

Licorice – The licorice plant contains phytoestrogens and has been shown to affect the endocrine system. Consumption of licorice has been linked to lower levels of testosterone.

Mint – It benefits the digestive system and has antiseptic, tonic and stimulating properties,  but it can also lower testosterone, which has negative repercussions for the libido.


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A Fairy Tale Feat

bistroWhen I decided to create a food blog, I didn’t have any goals in mind.  It was simply a hobby.  I like cooking, and thought it would be a creative way to share recipes with friends.  It would also challenge me to think beyond what’s in the fridge when planning meals.  So I cooked and created, then wrote about it.  And then something unimaginable happened.  I got an email from Foodista saying that Once Upon A Tine was going to be featured as the Food Blog of the Day today!   Surprise…Excitement…Panic!  People are actually reading my blog.  I need to make it interesting when people visit my site.  I need a strategy.  Things just got serious.  This hobby is work.

Recently, I came across an article by Adam Roberts, “10 Food Blog Posts That’ll Get You Traffic”, which listed ideas for creating compelling content.   Eureka!  I was inspired by #5 on the list – eat your way/cook your way through something challenge. (A la “Julie & Julia”, that Meryl Streep movie about a woman who took on a challenge to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s first cookbook) I will attempt to accomplish a fairy tale feat by creating a fairy tale feast50 fairy tale inspired dishes.  Not necessarily Iron Chef material, but it’s something.  It ties in nicely to the theme of the site, and it’s fascinating subject matter.  In fact, you may recall my earlier post, “Food and Fairy Tales”.   I’ve searched for fairy tale recipes in the past, and most of recipes that I have found are made for toddler taste buds.  I want create whimsical dishes that can be enjoyed by adults.  Mind you, I’m not into carving cutesy food animals out of vegetables.  The point is not for the dish to look like the fairy tale.  I want the tale to be reflected in the recipe itself.  My focus will be on any food mentioned in the story, the characters’ personalities, setting, and cultural cuisine.

That’s the story behind the fairy tale feasts that I will periodically post.  It’s also the beginning of my food blog love affair with The Amateur Gourmet a.k.a. Adam Roberts.  I absolutely adore his food blog and highly recommend it.  It’s my second favorite food blog – the first, of course, being my own.  But enough about that, go read my blog, and check out some of the fairy tale feasts below.

 

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Pralines: The Pride of the South

Pralines

The best thing about living in the South is the food.  There’s nothing quite like Southern cooking.  It’s rich in flavor and unpretentious in presentation – like pralines.   Every time I visit Savannah, GA, I stop by one of the many candy kitchens that sell pralines.  They’re really simple to make.  Although to some, the finished product looks like a cooking experiment gone wrong.  Taste one and you’ll know that pralines are nothing less than perfect yumminess.

This was not always the case, when I was working on the “perfect praline” recipe.  OMG!  For a while, it was disaster after disaster.  My attempt to make a creamier praline, often resulted in a way too soft praline.  After three strikes, I felt like throwing in the dish towel.  It seemed like a trip Savannah candy kitchen would prove easier.  I refused to be conquered by a confection.  Seriously, there aren’t that many ingredients to screw up.

There’s a theory that pralines were originally created by accident using left over sugar.  The origin of pralines is unclear.  Some say the recipe originated in France and came to America by French diplomats.  Others believe the recipe was developed by a chef in Louisiana.  Either way, pralines are here to stay and can be found in a variety of recipes.  Enjoy them as a confection, a dessert, or even a topping.

 

Pralines
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: [url href=”http://onceuponatine.com”]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
Nothing says yummy indulgence and Southern hospitality quite like pralines.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix together sugar and baking soda in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in cream and place over medium to medium-high heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer (about 20 minutes). Foaming and bubbling will occur, which is why a large saucepan is needed.
  3. When the temperature reaches 235°F, add the butter and stir until the butter is fully melted (about 1 minute).
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to 150°F, then stir in the vanilla and pecans using a wooden spoon until well coated. Continue stirring to cool slightly for 2 minutes. Quickly drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Let cool completely.
Notes
A candy thermometer is highly recommended for use with this recipe.[br][br]Store in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.