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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tonic Water and Sage

Excellent Ingredients of the Week
Today we are going to talk about two interesting ingredients!

tonic water

First, let's chat about tonic, It’s a famous mixer, found in most well stocked bars but what’s it all about? Tonic water is a carbonated soft drink in which quinine is dissolved. Originally used to fight against malaria, tonic water usually now has a significantly lower quinine content and is consumed for its distinctively bitter taste. It is often used in mixed drinks, particularly in the gin and tonic.

It was originally intended for consumption in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, where Malaria is a problem. The mixed drink gin and tonic originated in British colonial India when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin to make it more palatable. Medicinal tonic water originally contained only carbonated water and a large amount of quinine. However, most tonic water today contains a less significant amount of quinine, and is thus used mostly for its flavor. As a consequence, it is less bitter, and is also usually sweetened, usually with corn syrup or sugar. It also contains caffeine. Tonic water with lemon or lime flavor added is known as bitter lemon or bitter lime, respectively.

Tonic water will fluoresce under ultraviolet light, owing to the presence of quinine. In fact, the sensitivity of quinine to ultraviolet light (UV) is such that it will visibly fluoresce in direct sunlight. You can make glow-in-the-dark Jell-O with it! Some people use quinine to eliminate foot and leg cramps but there are some risks associated with that. Save it for the gin and vodka. And if you are really into it, there are recipes on line to make your own but they involve ingredients I can not pronounce. So now you know it all.

Sage

Sage on the other hand is less mysterious. It’s a beautiful, easy-to-grow plant, and once it establishes itself it will keep coming back, so give it room to grow! Some wiki info:
Officially called Salvia officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans likely introduced it to Europe from Egypt as a medicinal herb. The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, it was valued for its healing properties. There are numerous herbal websites which tell of its amazing healing properties, you can decide about that for yourself — let's talk about cooking!

As a kitchen herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. It is used mostly for flavoring fatty meats as it helps in digestion. It's traditionally used in poultry or pork stuffing. Complementary flavorings include onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, and rosemary. Sage Derby cheese is a great English cheese. French cuisine never uses sage, go figure!

Some ideas for using sage:
  • Thread sage leaves in between meats and vegetables for shish kebabs.
  • Sage with white beans, sage with potatoes (as you'd make rosemary potatoes)
  • Frizzled sage garnishes
  • Sage in potato-mushroom soup
  • Sage-grilled chicken
  • Sage-rubbed pork loin
  • Sage pesto
  • At the end of the season, you can freeze sage leaves or dry then grind them up for later use