Food from around the Puget Sound. It is about good sources, great eating and unusual foods.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nothing like new toys

Two different mills and a dish of  Hawaiian Red Alaea 
I have been enjoying two books one is a re-read of The Pat Conroy Cookbook, Recipes of my life and the other is Mark Bitterman's Salted. Having my friends Chris and Marc just come back from a visit to Portland, Oregon they report having a wonderful visit to The Meadow which is owned by Jennifer and Mark Bitterman.  Both have been informative as well as fun reads, Pat's has peaked my interest in low country food and I am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes. As for Mark's book, it is a lot of information to take in but I have found clarification in the types of salts I have been collecting and using over the years.
Getting ready to load up a mill

But this is about "Toys", I know that many of you have salts and spices that you have acquired through shear curiosity. Sometimes you don't always have the best means to get it to the right consistency to use it properly. With all the different products and the hype that surrounds the techniques that go with each one, one never knows or can shift through so many choices. I have the usual things that one acquires over the years, motar and pestles, coffee grinders, different types of pepper mills or for that matter a rolling pin/meat mallet have brought mixed results over the years. Having been through many trial and errors I started to collect pepper mills to place my coarser salts and types of spices in, wanting to have immediate access to season on whim. One of the most irritating things was the lack of truly controlled and consistant size of the grind. And most of the mills always leave a mess on the counter after you use it.
Hawaiian Pa'akai, Red Alaea and Himalayan 

In doing a search for a coffee grinder to grind my beans, ruling out a blade type for all the reasons they say you don't want use one. I decided to look into finding a burr type of grinder and found that there is a faction of coffee fanatics (you know who you are) that insist that hand burr grinding your beans is the only why to go. The more I looked the more I found that what was really missing from my pepper mills was adjustable ceramic burrs. So why not find the same technology for my salts and spices?
Mill from World Imports, top is the Himalayan and the bottom is black pepper

So it was off to research what was available and I have great news, there are a lot of choice out there and many of them function very well. I also found that there are some very affordable units out there that gave me a chance to place a large selection of my salts and spices in their own mill making it much easier to use it when I want. Having the ability to adjust the coarseness of the grind has also given me one more facet to play with my food. Nothing like a really fine grind when you need one.
The burrs are ceramic very durable and infinitely adjustable, Ikea

Hope you find this helpful and you enjoy your cooking that much more.