Las Vegas just finished up it’s hottest July ever. That’s not because of record high temperatures but because of the high average temperature. The average temp for July was 35.6 (96.2f) with only two days hitting 45 (113f). The records are kept from the measuring station down at the airport; temperatures can vary around the valley. We also had the longest hot stretch: five days straight with the nighttime temps not going below 32 (90f), we haven’t been under 27 (80f) since July 8. Usually we have a 16c (30f) change between daytime highs and nighttime lows, so that we get a chance to cool off just a little, but with the hot nights that hasn’t been happening. And no thunderstorms ran through the airport, so no recorded rainfall for the month either. Ah well, we knew it was a desert when we moved here. (numbers taken from a Review Journal article)
On to a brief cooking segment: the importance of good ingredients.
We signed up for cable TV service down in Temecula when we found a rooftop antenna would not pick up signals from stations on the other side of the mountains that surrounded us. Since then there has been a proliferation of cable only channels, resulting in the current dilemma of having 300 channels available buy yet there is nothing on you want to watch. Don’t say it has never happened to you: at some point everyone sits with the remote control just pushing the next channel button until eventually you realize that you’ve been around the entire selection list three times and there is still nothing you want to stop at. But I usually end up at one of the home improvement channels (we get three) watching somebody destroy their kitchen, or one of the cooking channels (three again) that are usually showing some type of competition. But I sometimes catch one of the cooks that makes things that I can make. No, not the Iron Chef, that is a little beyond me. The two I go print the recipes for are Alton Brown and Sandra Lee who always adds a cocktail at the end (and seems a bit tipsy from sampling them at times).
One of the things that Alton recommended was purchasing spices from a place that supplies good stuff rather than settling for those jars at the supermarket that might have been on that shelf for a few years. I took his advice and started ordering things from the Spice House on line and have been very pleased. I like to use a lot of cinnamon and vanilla in things, and they have several varieties of each, all very good. In one order I got three types of cinnamon and some ground cloves, and when the box showed up and was opened it seemed like heaven. The scents from that sealed box were magical, and made the whole place smell marvelous for quite a while. So go to their web site and get some good cinnamon and vanilla and whatever else you cook with; it’s all good. Here is a sampling of things I’ve gotten from them:
Let’s see, that’s one bag of cinnamon, two jars of vanilla, dried orange peel, a marvelous ‘French’ blend (great in omelets and soups), cloves and some smoked paprika. You have the option of getting these nice jars with shaker lids or bags of refill spices. I use so much cinnamon that I get the big bags (this is a smaller one of one kind). Their cocoa is also really good, nice cakes and all.
So there is my cooking tip for today – buy good spices.