My trip, this past week to Devine was great. The traffic coming home on Tuesday afternoon was not bad and for a change, I didn’t have to wait in line for any “follow me” cars, and this is really unusual as it has been a part of my trip on various routes for three or four years. Sometimes, this was much worse than others, but now, there is construction only out of Pleasanton that I can’t avoid. It is always pleasant and fun to get to visit with old friends and play bunco with a bunch of ladies that I’ve known for years! As for visiting family, they are all always a joy to be around, and getting to interact with that great-granddaughter of mine is priceless. She can be such a little clown and is so much fun to be with.
This week, I’ve found a new item to tell you about. The tamarind has been on produce aisle shelves for years, but I’ve never paid particular attention to it. Unfortunately, no recipes were on the site I used for my information and the only way that I can think of for you to find some, if there are any out there, is to check with a recipe finding search. For more information, and lots of pictures, just type “tamarind” in Google or whatever search engine you use and you will find lots of interesting things about this unusual ‘bean’!
How many of you have seen tamarinds in the produce section and wondered what the heck those beige colored beans with brownish seeds really were?
This pod-like, edible fruit is used in cooking in many areas of the world. A couple of other uses are traditional medicine, and, believe it or not, as a metal polish. The wood has many uses, including wood carving. The seeds produce tamarind seed oil, and the tamarind is cultivated around the world in tropical and sub-tropical zones.
The name “tamarind” derives from the Arabian language and when Romanized, translates to “Indian date”. It has also, over time been written in various ways, including Latin as “tamarindus”.
In several countries, it is called “tamarindo” and is often used to make a drink of the same name. (It seems to me, in the back of my memory, that at one time, in the stores where candy from Mexico was sold, that there was a candy called tamarindo, but I am not sure.)
It is mostly indigenous to tropical Africa, but has been cultivated for such a long space of time on the Indian subcontinent, that it is often reported to be indigenous there.
Tamarind grows wild in Africa in locales as diverse as the Sudan and Tanzania, as well as other locations.
In Arabia, one of the places where it grows wild is on the sea-facing slopes of the mountains in Dhfar. It reached Mexico in the 16th century and to a lesser degree South America, being brought in by Spanish and Portuguese colonists and became a staple of their diet. In our world today, India is the largest producer of tamarind. It is used to flavor chutneys, curries and many other dishes.
According to the article in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that this information is from: “Tamarind sweet chutney is popular in India and Pakistan, as a dressing for many snacks”. It goes on to say: “Tamarind pulp is a key ingredient in flavoring curries and rice in South Indian cuisine, in the Chigali lollipop, and in certain varieties of Masala chai tea”.
It is also used in savory dishes, most notably meat based stews, and is frequently combined with dried fruit, which achieves a sweet-sour tang. (Something like this is what I remember of the candy I spoke of earlier, it seems that it was plums or another dried fruit and was a very tangy sour.)
Coconut Poke Cake
1 box white or yellow Duncan Hines® cake mix
1 small box Jell-o® instant coconut cream pudding mix
1 teaspoon coconut extract
Eggs, oil and water as called for on box of cake mix
Empty cake mix into mixer bowl, stir in box of pudding mix, add remaining ingredients and mix according to package directions. Bake at 350º until cake tests done with a toothpick in center. Remove from oven, and using a fork, poke holes over the top of the cake, pour the Coco Lopez over the cake and allow the cake to cool thoroughly.
For the frosting:
1 container (8-ounce), thawed whipped topping*
1 small can (8-ounce) crushed pineapple, drained
1 box instant coconut cream pudding mix
Mix the pudding mix into the whipped topping and then stir in the crushed pineapple and spread over the cooled cake. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 12 to 15 servings. *When I served this recently, I used almost all of a 12-ounce container of the topping.
Tortilla Bites
1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup sour cream (8-ounce carton)
½ cup sliced or chopped ripe olives
1 small can (4-ounce) diced green chilies, well drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped onion OR 3 or 4 thinly sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese
6 or 8 Fresh flour tortillas at room temperature
Beat cream cheese until smooth, then, beat in sour cream. Stir remaining ingredients in by hand or with mixer as you desire. Spread this mixture onto the flour tortillas in an even layer, leaving about ¼ of the tortilla without mixture at the bottom. Roll the tortillas up and place in fridge until chilled. When ready to use, slice into ½ inch slices to serve.
I like to take a package of vegetable soup mix, place it in the blender, grind it to powder and mix it into the cream cheese mixture. If you do this, be sure to use one of the individual packages that you can buy as they are smaller than the Lipton® packages in the box. The package out of the box makes the mixture a little too salty.