ORTS of SORTS
In honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing what I believe to be the first “Orts of Sorts” column written by my father, Merle Bird, in March 1985.
This being a food column, the occasion might arise when it would be appropriate to mince words. Or, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But by way of explaining the name, orts are bits of food. Leftovers, as it were. It’s all grist to my mill.
Microwave ovens are handy, but they need to be used with care. The dairy folks recently circulated a piece that discouraged processing of milk in a microwave.
A microwave treatment for milk has been developed by Dr. Gertrude Armbruster of Cornell University. But, the dairy folks warn, consumers who attempt to process their own milk for added shelf life will need to meet the strict standards of cleanliness and temperature control outlined at Cornell if they are to avoid potential health problems.
The National Live Stock and Meat Board has several suggestion for promoting even heating of meat products:
Shape ground meat patties and loaves like a doughnut, with a hole in the center of the formed meat.
Overlap or “shingle” meat slices from “fully-cooked” ham and pre-cooked roasts.
Arrange uniform meat shapes such as meat patties, meatballs or sausage links in a circle. When microwaving bone-in steaks and chops, place the bone and tail section toward the center, the meatier portion toward the outside of the dish.
Use sauces and seasonings on top of chops and steaks to add color and to keep the meat moist.
Pierce skinless sausage products to allow steam to escape and prevent bursting.
Shield edges of roasts, or projections that may overcook, with small pieces of foil.
Collect meat drippings in microwave-safe utensils. Use a trivet or rack for roasts or bacon, or a colander for ground beef, over a glass container.
Cover meat or enclose in cooking bags when it is necessary to use the steam for tenderizing, to prevent evaporative cooing, to keep the food moist, to shorten the cooking time or to help prevent spattering.
Rotate meat a quarter or half turn during cooking.
Sebastiani Vineyards contributed a recipe for making vinegar from wine. According to Vicki Sebastiani, wine cookery writer and wife of winemaker Sam J. Sebastiani, all that is needed is table wine, a vinegar “starter” and a clean crock or wine bottle that will hold at least half a gallon.
Starter can be purchased from beer and winemaking supply stores or can be ordered from Beer and Winemaking Supplies Inc., 154 King Street Northampton, Mass. 01060 or Wine and the People, Inc., 907 University Ave., Berkley, Calif. 94710.
The container should be two-thirds full of a mixture that is two parts wine, one part water and one part starter. The container should be covered with gauze, cheesecloth or clean nylon hosiery and held tightly in place with a rubber band or wire.
The vinegar in the making should be kept near a stove or water heater so the temperature hovers somewhere between 68 degrees and 90 degrees.
If vinegar is periodically removed and the batch replenished with wine the vinegar will continue to make.
Red wines under five years old, because of their fruitiness, make more interesting vinegars than older wines.
Vicki Sebastiani steeps such herbs as dill, tarragon, rosemary, basil, thyme, garlic and oregano in her vinegars.
Homemade vinegars are useable in cooking, but may have insufficient acidity to be used as a preservative in canning.
La Difference, a publication of Food and Wines from France, contained much of interest about mushrooms in a recent issue.
The Japanese have cultivated shiitake for at least 2,000 years, according to La Difference, but the ants have been mushroom cultivators far longer than that.
Times have changed just a bit since 1985. The microwave cooking information is very enlightening, although I do not believe I will be cooking meat in the microwave anytime soon. I did enjoy the information about making vinegar. I might have to try that myself someday. Oh, and I will leave the mushroom growing to the ants.
I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane, to read the beginnings of the original “Orts of Sorts” and to celebrate Father’s Day with me.