BICARBONATE OF SODA
December 30th is ‘National Bicrbonate of Soda Day’. I suppose it may be a good time for such a day in that many of us have or will probably overeat while celebrating the Holidays and may experience some indigestion. Even though Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda is usually used more for baking than anything else, it does have its uses as an antacid.
The most common and frequent use of Baking Soda is as a leavening agent for baking, therefore its name which it is more commonly referred to as is ‘Baking Soda’. It is composed of Nitrogen, Hydrogen and Carbonate (CO3) which is one molecule of Carbon and 3 molecules of Hydrogen. Baking Soda is used as the leavening agent in baked products which contain an acid as Baking Soda requires an acid to activate it. Once the Baking Soda is activated it releases CO2 which as we know is a gas and rises as it is released. The rising takes place in the form of small bubbles. which cause the other ingredients to expand, thereby making the baked product rise.
Baked products which do not contain an acid generally use Baking Powder as the leavening agent. Baking Powder can be purchased in the Baking Section of the Market, but if you are in the process of making something that requires Baking Powder and you find that you have run out, you do not have to run to the market to buy some. The reason for this is that Baking Powder is actually Baking Soda which has been mixed with Cream of Tartar (an acid) and starch as a filler. Of course, you do have to have Baking Soda on hand.
The next time you run out of Baking Powder and do have some Baking Soda on hand, use the equivalent shown below.
1 tsp. of Baking Powder = ¼ tsp. Baking Soda plus ½ tsp. Cream of Tartar.
If you don’t have Cream of Tartar you can use an equivalent amount of Lemon Juice or other acid product, however Lemon Juice or Vinegar will alter the flavor of your product. Actually Lemon Juice usually gives a nice flavor to baked goods so that would be not be detrimental, however if using vinegar, you definitely want to take into mind that vinegar can change a baked product adversely and that is, not good.
Cleaning Agent – Baking Soda is often used as a cleaning agent. A small amount dissolved in warm water can be used to wash out your refrigerator. Not only will it clean the shelves but it will also help to eliminate undesirable food odors. In fact, you can buy a clever stick on device which contains Baking Soda to put in your refrigerator. It even has an indicator that tells you when the Baking Soda is no longer effective. Or you can leave an opened box of Baking Soda in your refrigerator. The box of baking soda in your refrigerator should be changed about once a month.
You can also use a mixture of Baking Soda and Warm Water to clean your windows if you have nothing else on hand.
Toothpaste – if you run out of Toothpaste, you can use a paste made from Baking Soda and Water to brush your teeth. The taste may not be too good, but it does get the job done. Some brands of Toothpaste even have some varieties which have Baking Soda in them.
Antacid – Bicarbonate of Soda when mixed with water and drunk works well as an antacid. The proportion for this task is ½ tsp. of Baking Soda mixed with half a glass of water (approximately 4 oz.) It is best to drink it down as quickly as you can as it does not taste very pleasant. (Baking Soda has a somewhat salty taste)
1/2 tsp. of Baking Soda in 1/2 glass of water acts as an atacid for the relief of indigestion
Burn Relief – to relieve the itching and pain of too much sun, add some baking soda to lukewarm bath water and soak in it. For minor burns make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the burned area for soothing relief.
Baking Soda is one of those products however miniscule that really make a difference, especially when it comes to baking. Be sure and keep at least one box on hand in your kitchen at all times.
December 3rd is ‘National Apple Pie Day’. Everyone know that there is nothing more American than Apple Pie, but where did the origin of Apple Pie come from? There is more than one school of thought in that direction, but the American Apple Pie probably has its origins in England, where pie making is an old art. The original settlers from England probably brought their recipes with them and used them here. Germany and Austria are also known for using apples in baked goods and could be that the origin goes back to Germany which was in existance before England.
Wherever and from whoever that Apple Pie originated from it really doens’t matter. Apple is ours now. The best Apple Pies are made from Green Apples, preferably Granny Smith, although Golden delicious are preferred some. I like the crispness and tartness of Granny’s, however the Pippin is also a good apple to make pies from. In addition a home grown variety specially developed for the Southern California are is the ‘Beverly Hills Apple’. In mid-summer the Apples are green and tart and are very good for baking. As the summer lengthens, if the apples are left on the tree they gain a lot of red color and become much sweeter, somewhat like a fuji apple. Amazingly, they are still good for eating at this stage. Our one tree produces at least 200 lbs. of apples every year and our freezer is continually stocked with Apple Pie,
When you bake an Apple Pie, the filling should be heaped into the crust, making it look like a mountain. The reason for this is that the apples shrink when baked and if you don’t have a lot of apple in your pie, it will look flat and sad when it is done. Some people like to cook their apples before putting them into a pie, but I prefer my apples to have some texture and crispness to them. I do not like mush apples and I am sure that most people don’t either.
Some Apples contain a lot of moisture and when the pie is baked, the filling and/or crust may come out soggy. The way to prevent this from happening is to mix your sliced Apples with the Spice and flour (thickener) mixture and then let it stand for about half an hour. Then pour the Apples into a colander placed over a saucepan. Let as much moisture drain out as possible. Next bring the drained liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low and then cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Once it has thickened, return the sliced Apples and the thickened liquid to the original bowl and gently mix until all the apples are coated with the thickened liquid. This will insure that you do not have a soggy pie.
Apple Pie is great for breakfast and can be eaten as is or topped with Heavy Cream, Whipped Cream, Ice Cream or Cheddar Cheese. Whichever way you do it, you pie is going to taste good. If you eat it with Cheese, it is good to warm the pie with the Cheese on top so that it just starts to melt. Yummy!
Make yourself and or your family an Apple Pie for ‘National Apple Pie Day’ or for any day! For a variation on Apple Pie, try my Apple Tart Recipe. /baked-goods/pies-pastry/73-2/
Pate Choux or Choux Paste is the basis for many desserts and even entrees. Well-known popular items that are made with Choux Paste are Cream Puffs and Eclairs. The ChouX Paste Shells can be used as a holdEr for Creamed Dishes such as Turkey or Chicken Ala King and/or Lobster Thermidor, an old favorite from back in the forties and fifties.
Making Cream Puffs can be fun and is certainly a miraculous thing (for those who don’t know what is actually happening) to watch those globs of dough puff up into beautiful casings of rich pastry.
Cream Puffs and Eclairs are usually filled with a Vanilla Custard and then topped with a thin Chocolate Glaze. Other fillings can be Lemon or Orange Curd or even Ice Cream. Profiteroles are miniature Cream Puffs filled with Ice Cream and then frozen. They are usually served with a chocolate sauce.
THE INGREDIENTS THAT ARE NEEDED FOR A GOOD PATE CHOUX ARE:
Bread Flour – contains enough gluten to make sturdy walls
Butter or Vegetable Shortening
EQUIPMENT THAT IS NEEDED IS:
4 quart saucepan
Electric Mixer (optional)
Before starting to make the Pate Choux, your oven rack should be adjusted to the middle position and then preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pate Choux starts as boiling water and butter which is cooked with flour to make a paste. Flour is added to the boiling water/butter mixture and then vigorously stirred to form a paste. The paste should then be cooked for a minute or two to get rid of the starchy taste imparted from the flour. Once the paste is finished, you can let it cool for a minute or two.
At this point you start beating in the eggs. One egg should be beaten in at a time with a very vigorous action. While you are beating in the eggs, you are also beating in air and this is what makes your Pate Choux raise up. Without the air, you will just have flat pieces of a very eggy pastry, not much good for anything. Beating in the eggs by hand can be a very tiresome task, therefore, if you have a standing mixer or even a food processor, these tools can be used to beat the eggs in for you – still only one at a time.
The puffs need to be baked for a good forty minutes in order for the walls of the pastry to stand up. Once they are baked, they are then cooled. Some people like to remove the soft pieces of dough that remain inside once they are baked and then bake them again to dry out the insides. I for one, love the eggy taste of those pieces of dough and don’t want my puffs to be dry. This is a matter of personal taste and each baker will do what their preference is.
For uniform-looking shells, fit a large pastry bag with a large ST tip and then half fill it with the Pate Choux Dough. The shells can be formed by squeezing the Dough out of the bag. The shells can also be formed with a #30 Food Scoop or even soup spoons, depending of course on how large you want them to be.
Once the Pate Choux casings have cooled, they are then ready to fill. The featured Cream Puffs (at top of page) are filled with Chocolate Bavarian Cream http:chocolate-bavarian-cream/ and topped with a Chocolate Glaze.
To store unfilled Shells, be sure that they are completel cooled and then store in an airtight plastic bag, making sure that there is no moisture inside the bag. If the puffs are not completely cooled, then beads of moisture will appear on the sides of the bag. If this happends, open up the bag and let the puffs cool further.
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