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TOPICS: Tea; Readers in Middle America; Fujian red wine paste

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Summer Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(2) page(s): 27

TEA is taking new turns, some better forgotten, some so-so, and others worth noting. We were just introduced to some new tea bags. They are most unusual, quite large, circular, and biodegradable; and they are made by a socially responsible company called Honest Tea. Their Jiangxi Green organic tea, though not as great as brewing this tea from whole leaves, is certainly worth toting in purse, pocket, or suitcase. Brewed in a hotel room it surely beats the Lipton’s often found there. So do their other organic tea bags. Though a mite weak, there is a wonderful solution, use two of these bags for each cup of tea. Yes, one can enjoy fine tea when use of loose leaves is neither practical nor possible.

This same company makes bottled teas. Jakarta Ginger, an organic ginger and green tea infusion is also mild but very refreshing when loaded with ice. Moroccan Mint, Assam, and Gold Rush are a few of the others in liquid form. Their First Nation, an organic peppermint tea in a bag sports a photograph of a native American group, others have pictres appropriate to their contents including a Decaf Ceylon, its tea from Sri Lanka.

If you are into organic foods, biodegradable tea bags, and returning all bottles (five cents in your pocket if you live in Maine), enjoy these teas. They are not disguised with lots of sugar or other additives, though a few do have honey. Reading the ingredients can give a giggle; many end with 'a speck of citric acid.' The giggle comes from asking others how much actually is that speck. The company reserves some proceeds for helping others as in the First Nation Tea where the Crow Nation in Montana makes some money on every bottle. Do hope that is more than a speck! For information about this socially responsible tea company’s bags or brew, check out www.honettea.com or dial toll-free: 1-800-865-4736. And if you want technical information about the benefits of green tea, see the book review in this issue titled: Green Tea: Health Benefits and Applications by Yukihiho Hara where it is reviewed.

READERS IN MIDDLE AMERICA who write asking about cookbooks only using ingredients found at a local supermarket, take heart. A new book about the foods of Mongolian heritage, titled: Imperial Mongolian Cooking by Marc Cramer is reviewed in this issue. Add that to your list for more exotic tastes. Another cookbook, this one Chinese, might also meet your needs. It is Cooking Together by Joyce and Tom Rose. Self-published in 1995 in Goshen, Indiana, that seventy-four page loose-leaf recipe cookbook can meet your needs. Some of their dishes are just wonderful including their Marinated Vegetables, Spicy Peanut Chicken, and Kung Pao Pork Lo Mein. We tried them and the Apple Wontons and had a wonderful meal.

However, we must tell the truth, we added some diced fresh apple pieces to the wontons before closing and frying to make them as we knew they would be too soft for our pleasure. We love texture in foods and felt the crust alone would not cut it for us, but it might for you. This cooking couple included a few non-Chinese recipes such as Barley and Mushroom Soup that reminded of our Polish grandmother and Tom’s Chocolate Cake made with butter, which we did not try. Though steamed, the cake was hardly Chinese; it was delicious none-the less.

This couple teaches cooking and are available for lessons and they sell some Chinese equipment if you still need some and who have not contacted other sources such as one of our advertiser/supporter called Wokshop. You can contact the Rose duo on the web at www.cookingtogether.com and by e-mail at: roseandrose@tin.net.

FUJIAN RED WINE PASTE also called 'red wine lees' is sometimes available in Chinese supermarkets. Recently, this has not been the case and several readers wrote to ask why. Unfortunately, we do not know the answer. We, too have none left and can not replace our stash. That said, we wish to offer a recipe, one we tried and find is a good substitute for the year-long urn-sealed original bottled and sold some time ago.
Fujianese Red Wine Paste
3/4 cup Chinese rice wine
6 Tablespoons Chinese brown sugar
1 Tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
6 squares fermented red tofu (without chili)
2 teaspoons minced peeled ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon rice flour
3/4 cup cooked glutinous rice, cooled to room temperature
1. Mix wine, brown sugar, and soy sauce and stir until brown sugar is dissolved.
2. Put wine mixture in a stainless steel or an enamel pot, one with no chips or cracks in it, and bring this mixture to the simmer. We suggest cooking it on a trivet and not directly on the heat because it can burn easily.
3. Mash the fermented tofu and add to the wine mixture along with the ginger and the garlic. Simmer for fifteen minutes.
4. Smash the cooked rice with the side of a cleaver until the grains are not recognized as such, then add to the wine mixture and simmer another five minutes. Cool to room temperature, then use or store covered in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Note: This mixture can be kept for two or three weeks in the refrigerator, When frozen in an ice cube tray it stays for months. Put some in an ice cube tray with its dividers, and when hard pop the cubes and store them wrapped individually in plastic wrap, sealed in a plastic freezer bag. That way one can defrost small amounts, as needed.

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