Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Well, This Gives New Meaning to "Leftover Pasta"

From the Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail:

A 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles has been discovered at an archeological site in western China, possible proof for the argument that China invented pasta before Italy.

“These are definitely the earliest noodles ever found,” said Lu Houyuan, a researcher with the Institute of Geology in Beijing who studied the ingredients of the pristinely preserved pasta.

The discovery of the delicate yellow noodles in Minhe County in China's western province of Qinghai is reported in this week's edition of Nature magazine.

“Chinese people say Marco Polo brought noodles from China back to Italy, and Italians say they had noodles before that,” Mr. Lu said. “All this has been based on documentary material, on personal accounts and menus. But we've been unable to find any actual material – until now.”

The fist-size clump of noodles was found inside an overturned bowl under three metres of sediment from a flood that researchers suspect wiped out the Qijia Culture of the Late Neolithic era.

When researchers lifted up the bowl, they discovered the 50-centimetre-long noodles sitting atop an inverted cone of clay that had sealed the bowl, it said.

The noodles were made from a dough of two local varieties of millet – broomcorn and foxtail millet – rather than the more common wheat or rice. The dough was pulled into long strands before being boiled.

I've eaten pulled noodles before -- there are a couple of places in Burnaby, B.C. that specialise in fresh noodles made this way out of wheat flour.

Mind you, I'd hate to think what an accompanying egg roll would look like ...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Senate Bean Soup

Seeing as how it's Thanksgiving Day in Canada (Columbus Day in the U.S.), I thought I'd try out a new slow cooker recipe. (Not to do with turkey; as I've mentioned earlier, this is the only turkey I can handle on Thanksgiving.)

No, what I've decided to do is adapt an official U.S. government recipe for bean soup.

I hadn't realized that the U.S. Senate had an official recipe for bean soup, but here it is -- not one, but two versions. Note that both versions are meant to feed 100 senators, so I felt justified in cutting down some of the amounts a fair bit.

Senate Bean Soup (for Crock-Pot users)

2 cups dried navy beans
1 smoked pork hock
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 small handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
2. In the morning, rinse off the ham hock and place in slow cooker. Rinse off the beans and add to cooker along with onion, garlic, celery and parsley. Stir and add enough water to cover the meat.
3. Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.
4. Remove the hock and cut the meat off the bone. Raise slow cooker setting to high, return the meat to the cooker, and add potato flakes as well as additional water if necessary. Stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.