A Gold-en notion
There's a shoe for every sport, why not a beer? Let's start with Lax Lager, the creation of local lacrosse aficionado Joe Gold. Mr. Gold, who was raised in Brooklyn Park and helped UMBC win its lacrosse division championship in 1980, developed a taste for English-style beers while working for the British government to promote lacrosse and, later, for Young & Co. brewers of London.
Back in the United States and involved once again with lacrosse, Mr. Gold thought it would be fun to develop a beer lacrosse players -- and others -- could love. After interviewing several breweries in the region, he selected Old Dominion of Ashburn, Va., to produce Lax Lager.
"It's a lager," he says, "which means it's bottom-fermented, deep golden in color, with no preservatives or additives -- only water, barley hops and yeast." The brew is more European-style than British-style, he says, resembling a pilsner. "It's a step up from the mainstream American beer," he says, that allows people "to put their toes in the water of exotic beer."
So far the beer is available only in bottles at a number of area taverns and liquor stores. Locations include the Mount Washington Tavern, Bertha's, Poor Richard's, P.J.'s Pub, Duda's and the Inner Harbor Wharf Rat, along with Wells and Kenilworth Liquors.
Mr. Gold, who was a fine arts major at UMBC, designed the label for the bottles. "My three passions in life," he says: "Art, lacrosse and beer."
Salt shows up in a lot of common phrases: salt of the earth, old salt, salt-and-pepper tweed. And salt, the seasoning, shows up all too often in American diets. The American Heart Association says that while the human body needs just half a gram of sodium a day, the average American eats 6 to 18 grams a day. While that's not a problem for many people, for some it contributes to high blood pressure, a major risk factor in heart attacks or strokes.
In an effort to help people break the over-salting habit, the heart association is sponsoring a Great Salt-Out day Wednesday. Local restaurants will contribute by replacing salt shakers on their tables with an herb blend seasoning. Some will offer low-salt or no-salt entrees.
Most dietary salt comes from prepared foods; the heart association suggests reading labels and rejecting items that are high in sodium. Removing the salt shaker from the table and home and learning to season with herb and spice blends can also help.
Here's a recipe for a seasoning blend, from "The American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook." The book suggests the blend is good on fish, poultry and salads.
Makes about 1 cup.
4 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
3 3/4 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons whole celery seed
1 1/4 tablespoon powdered basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss together with spoon until well-blended. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 6 months. (Stir each time before serving.)
For a copy of a free brochure on reducing your sodium intake, call the American Heart Association -- Maryland Affiliate office at (800) AHA-USA1.
Most cookbooks are feasts for the eye as well as the palate. But every now and then one comes along that's simply a work of art. A new entry in that category is "A Basket of Berries: Recipes and Paintings From a Fruit Garden," by British artist and cook Val Archer (Harmony Books, $16).
Recipes such as strawberry tartlets, raspberry and rose-petal pancakes and smoked chicken salad with blueberries are accompanied by beautiful watercolors of fruits, flowers and dishes. The book's small format -- just 7 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches -- and striking layouts offer a big visual charge in a small packet.
Here is one of Ms. Archer's recipes:
1/4 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided use)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces blackberries
1 cup milk
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a pastry brush, lightly oil 12 2 1/2 -inch muffin cups.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork, then stir in the blackberries, the milk and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Pour the egg mixture into the flour and stir just until the flour has become moistened. Don't beat the mixture: Batter should be lumpy.
Spoon the batter equally into the 12 muffin cups and wipe off any spilled batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins have risen well and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins to a wire rack and serve warm with butter.
On Thursday, Marlene Sorosky, cookbook author, free-lance food writer and cooking teacher, will be demonstrating cooking techniques at the Baltimore International Culinary College. Ms. Sorosky, who is based in the Baltimore area, will offer ideas for a theme party for summer entertaining with recipes from her new cookbook, "Entertaining on the Run: Lighter Menus for Faster Lives," to be published next year. The demonstration, part of BICC's regular demonstration cooking program, will last from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the college's cooking demonstration theater, 206 Water St. Each mini-course is $10. For tickets or more information, call (410) 752-4983.
Calling all quick cooks
We're still looking for busy cooks with recipes or techniques they use to to put a meal together in a hurry. If you've got a dish or tip, send it to Busy Cooks, c/o Karol V. Menzie, Features Department, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.
Tidbits welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- neproducts, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail-order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops.
Send press releases to Tidbits, Attn.: Karol V. Menzie, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.