Tag Archives: Salt

The power of salt

No, I’m not talking about the movie, although part of it was filmed in good old Albany and a big contributing factor to why I want to see it.  Anyway, I’m talking about salt the ingredient.  Not only does it make everything taste better, but it has also had a starring role in our household this past week.  I’m suffering from some hardcore allergies and my poor husband and daughter are both getting over colds, and salt is helping us getting over our maladies.

I’m a fervent believer in the neti pot, which basically looks like a little tea pot with an extra long snout., which you then use to put up your nose (sexy huh?).  The idea is to have the water flow through each nostril and rinse the sinuses using a salt and sodium bicarbonate mixture (baking soda).  I buy the premixed packages but you can Google neti rinse recipes.  It’s not the most attractive thing to be doing, but GODDAMN, do my sinuses feel clear after a good neti rinse. J was really, really against the neti pot for a long time, but he finally came around and is also a true believer.

So salt helps clear my sinuses, but gargling with a salt water mixture also helps ease the effects of cold symptoms (according to this NY TIMES Article).  J has been doing just that this past week, and it’s definitely helping.  So salt is pretty freaking amazing, isn’t it?

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Recipe: Duck Congee

Duck Congee was on a regular food rotation in our house growing up.  I have always loved it. My mother would make it whenever we had left over Peking Duck and I would always end up eating the majority of it, much to my little brother and sister’s dismay.  As you can see, I’ve always had a big appetite.  This past weekend we were in Long Island and my mom hooked me up with some left over roast duck.  This is serious comfort food, it’s warm, filling, and so tasty since the duck flavor infuses the rice stew.


Short grain rice

Canola oil

Roast duck – we used about half a duck (just pick some prepared roast duck at a Chinese restaurant)

Bok Choy



White pepper

2 garlic cloves


Use a cup and a half of rice.  Rinse thoroughly.

Use a large sauce pot, put in rice and 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Add a lot of water, we filled the pot halfway up with water.  Start with medium high heat, when water boils reduce heat to low.  Cook the rice for about 20 – 25 minutes.

Add duck.  Cook for another 25 minutes.

In the meantime, clean and wash bok choy.  Chop finely, should have about 2 cups of chopped bok choy.  Mince two garlic cloves.  Use a saute pan, add some oil, add the garlic.  After two minutes, make sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the bok choy, saute for 5 minutes.  Add in to duck congee and mix.

At this point, you will want to add salt and white pepper to taste.  Serve with chopped scallions.  Enjoy!

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Recipe: Tomato Sauce

J grew up next to a woman straight from Italy.  She is so wonderful, warm, generous, funny, and a fabulous cook as well. She is the genius behind an amazing Tomato sauce.  So J decided to take advantage of the bountiful amounts of fresh plum tomatoes at the Syracuse farmers market and decided to make her fresh tomato sauce.  I have to admit, I was a little iffy about it at first because I have a lot of expectations for sauce.  It needs to be well-rounded, and the flavors need to be balanced. It needs to taste fully but tangy.  I like a little texture to it as well.

I know he’s my husband but DANG the sauce he made met all of my criteria and surpassed them.  He served it to me over some al dente spaghetti and I was licking the bowl after I ate all the pasta.  His neighbor gave him this recipe and I wanted to share it with you!


8 quarts Roma Tomatoes

1 large Vidalia onion or 2 small – medium onions

4 garlic cloves

1/2 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cans of Hunt’s tomato paste

1 Italian pepper

1 handful of fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste


Wash tomatoes and then crosshatch the bottom of each tomato (not too deep, just enough to score the skin.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Drop in tomatoes (in small batches) in water for about a minute. Use a slotted spoon to pull them out. Set them aside. Repeat until all tomatoes have been boiled.  This loosens up the skin so you can easily peel off the skin off all the tomatoes.  Once all tomatoes are peeled, set them aside.

Chop the onion and garlic.  In a big soup pot, bring oil up to temperature (using medium high heat).  Add chopped onions.  Cook until soft and golden, approximately 12 minutes.  Midway through, add chopped garlic.  Be careful not to burn onions or garlic.  After the 12 minutes, add all the tomato paste and stir frequently for 3 – 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes (either rough chop before) or give each tomato a big squeeze before adding into pot.  Turn heat down to medium.  Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 1 and 1/2 hours.

Seed and cut pepper in half (lengthwise).  Add to pot.  Rough cut basil and add to pot.  Add a bit of salt and pepper, but don’t overdo it because sauce will continue to reduce.  Continue to cook for another 1 – 2 hours, until you see oil appear at the top layer.  Once that happens, the sauce is done.

This makes A LOT of sauce, so jar it up and enjoy!

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Friday Addiction: Stovetop Popcorn

I never knew popcorn could be so sinfully delicious until my husband made me some popcorn on the stove.  His popcorn now makes me scoff at microwave popcorn (which by the way, can cause cancer).  This stovetop popcorn has a buttery taste without actually using any butter.  Do I have your attention now? Good, now get moving and make some popcorn!


1/3 cup Canola oil

3/4 – 1 cup popcorn kernels (we use white, organic popcorn because we’re stinkin’ snobs)



Place the canola oil in a big metal bowl or big soup pot.  Heat the oil on medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, almost smoking, add the kernels in.  Shake the bowl around to coat all the kernels.

Put a cover on the bowl.  Move the pan over the heat source back and forth to distribute the heat. It is essential that you lift the cover a little every now and then to let steam out. But be careful, when popping starts in earnest, make sure that kernels aren’t flying all over your kitchen.

As popping slows down considerably, pull the bowl off the heat.  Put the popcorn into a bowl, toss with salt (to taste).  Toss from bowl to bowl, adding salt until salty enough.

Note: to make it even more delicious, get some Cabot shakable cheddar cheese and shake that shit all over the popcorn.  Get ready to get into a fist fight with your family over that popcorn; it’s that good.

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Friday Addiction: Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels can be very good or very bad (aka soggy, no flavor). When they are good, they are crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, with a small amount of salt.  These pretzels exist at the Philly Pretzel Factory
in Clifton Park.

The pretzels are extremely affordable, you can buy a whole bag of the pretzels, eat all of them or save some for later.  We usually do that and stash them in the freezer.  They heat up wonderfully in the toaster oven.

I just ate one, here it is prior to entering my belly:


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