Welcome to my Blog... and thanks for reading...

First... welcome! And thanks for visiting my website!

I get lots of questions when people discover that I am a cookbook author, but the most common by far is, "How did you get into the business?" I think most people wonder solely because it sounds like a fun job. And, it can be. But, with two books under my belt (Houston Classic Desserts, Pelican 2010 and Houston Classic Mexican, Pelican 2011) I have to tell you - the 'how' is not so important as the 'why'. I got into the cookbook business because I have a sincere love for food, a great support system of friends, family and fellow 'foodies', a husband that's really good with a camera and... a bit of luck.

I hope this blog will serve as inspiration to those of you with a passion for beautiful and tasty food, cooking, dining out, kitchen gadgetry, kitchen goofs and the musings of a girl that's discovering new things about herself and her passions... one delicious recipe at a time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ice Ice, Baby...

I have always contended that good lighting and good ice can make a difference in an evening. I think it's common knowledge that everyone looks better in soft, golden, flickering candlelight, but what is it about certain types of ice that can make or break a cocktail or a glass of lemonade? A little investigation into the history and production of this tinkling 'wonder' revealed some surprising answers.

It turns out, we humans have been fans of the ice cube for quite awhile. By 400BC, those crafty Persians had developed the Yachchal, a conical structure in which they stored blocks of ice harvested from nearby mountains in Winter. The 
blocks were stored in a subterranean basin, insulated with straw and surrounded by walls of mud, ash and goat hair (uh... gross). Condensation would collect at the top of the structure and spiral down the cone-shaped ceiling, creating a passive cooling system that kept the ice frozen throughout the arrid, desert Summer.

Clever as the Persian system was, American Physician John Gorrie is credited with the actual invention of the ice cube - but, he wasn't trying to cool drinks when he devised the first commercial machine to make ice in 1844. He used the ice to cool the ambient room temperature in hospitals because he believed that warm, humid air encouraged the transmission of disease. But the real hero in the history of ice is a gentleman named Guy L. Tinkham. In 1933, the prolific inventor fabricated and patented the very first flexible, stainless steel, ice cube tray - affording the world the convenience of making ice at home. Surely the invention of 'happy hour' quickly followed suit.

There are many theories on what shape of ice cube is best suited for cooling drinks.

Most competitive Mixologists (surprisingly, it's the Japanese that take the most top honors at such contests) favor seamless, spherical ice cubes for cocktails served on the rocks, because the surface area to volume ratio is highest on a perfectly round object. That translates to less water melting into your drink. Unfortunately, making a seamless, spherical ice cube is harder than it sounds and molds designed to make them can cost well over $1,000. The truth is, if you are trying to chill a drink with the least amount of melting, your best bet is to use the largest SINGLE piece of ice that your vessel will hold. Crushed and pellet ice, though rightly preferred by some for making frozen drinks (and chewing), will leave less room for the beverage (which is why it is used so predominantly in the fast food industry) and create the most 'melt'.


• If you want crystal-clear cubes, without the traditional cloudy center, fill your trays with super-hot, filtered or distilled water. The ice will form more slowly and evenly allowing the tiny air bubbles to be released.

• When filming Summer scenes in Winter, actors suck on ice cubes just before the camera rolls - it cools their mouths so their breath doesn't condense in the cold air and appear 'foggy'.

• Author Ernest Hemingway favored sterilized, frozen, steel ball-bearings, instead of ice, to chill his liquor.

• Salted ice melts more slowly because it lowers the freezing point of the water. Many restaurants and caterers add rock salt to iced displays to diminish melting.

• In the play "The Tea Leaf" by Edgar Jepson & Robert Eustace (1925) the murderer uses an icicle as a murder weapon. It melts, leaving no evidentiary weapon or finger prints.

• 'Ice cream headache' or 'brain freeze' is the direct result of the rapid cooling and rewarming of the capillaries in the sinuses. To relieve pain, some doctors suggest pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth to warm the area.

No comments:

Post a Comment