Monday, January 08, 2007

make your life better for 8.00 a month

(with thanks to Mario Battali.)

Buy yourself some extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil and use it.
No, honestly, I mean it.
When I am not slamming great works of art, cursing ducks as they tear up my lawn or watching the Holy Infant of Prague zoom past catching mosquitoes in the gloaming I cook.
When I cook, I use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. It only has one drawback...You cannot hard fry or deep fry with it; so in other words, you wouldn't fry a steak in it, or deep fry potato chips. It starts to smoke and burn and catch on fire and smell bad before the food you're cooking it in even begins to brown. Bummer. Still, how many times did you make your own potato chips last year? And fried food is baaaaaad for you. So quit crying. You can saute with it all day long.

Here is why you should immediately drop everything you are doing and run out and get a quart of olive oil and then come home and dump all your other cooking oil out in the neibors driveway under where he parks his car and then hide and watch his shit freak out when he sees it:

It tastes heavenly; earthy and gracious and smiling.

It smells heavenly.

Your bad cholesterol will go down. Your good cholesterol will skyrocket. Then the good cholesterol will actually begin to shovel the bad cholesterol out of your arteries. True fact.

You can use it alone for a dressing, a dip, or a spread

It is fantastic for your skin. I learned this from black women I worked with...They had ketchup squirtbottles full of it that they used as skin conditioner after they took a shower. It WORKS.
And it washes out of clothes.

There are different flavors too. Apparently this has to do with the variety of olive they use and the soil on which it's grown; just like wine grapes. I admit this is kinda on the icky-picky side. But if you don't smoke it is noticeable...And if you get a bad bottle, like with 'pomace' pressings mixed in with it, you will really notice it. If you see the word 'pomace' on the label, keep on walking.

Now, you can spend big bucks on boutique olive oils. I am an 'act locally' type of person so when I splurge I buy Santa Barbara extra extra virgin first cold pressing. Round? Full? Complicated? Baby. You have to shake it before you use it. That is the type of stuff you use to dip fresh bread into and savor. Or worship. 23.00 a bottle the last time I looked, sigh.
Of the supermarket brands, Carapelli is sweet and buttery, Napoleon is strong and a little woody, Hain is probably the definition of the basic evoo flavor, and Pompeiian is my personal favorite. Safeways' 'Verdi' house label is actually pretty damn good; exactly like Hain.

Regular olive oil, plain extra virgin, virgin and light are made using steam extracting equipment, and they are filtered to take out all the different weights of fats and just leave the one type of clear oil. These are good oils and I understand you can even do a little hard frying with the 'light' variety. It still tastes good and you still get the benefit of the good cholesterol, too. But the cold pressed evoo? Is bliss. Pure bliss. HUGE difference in flavor.


ingredients, all of them at room temperature and yes it is necessary:
Lemon juice...About a tablespoonful
1 egg
1 cup EVOO
(optional: the remains of any other mayonnaise you may have lying around...Like down to where its hard to get out of the jar)
-a stand mixer, bamix, hand blender...Anyway, one of these things:

...ok? that thing.
-a container that is big enough to accept the mixing head or is at least on the tall deep side and not a broad shallow bowl so you're not chasing the ingredients all over the place. You can even use the tail-end mayonnaise jar... check first to make sure that the mixer and the additional ingredients will fit first! Save some washing up!

Now making regular mayonnaise by hand can be a little bit tricky because the ingredients have to be added slowly and in a certain order while simultaneously being whipped madly. You can use a regular blender, but then you have to dig it out of the damn thing. Either way, it can still fail anyway and nobody knows why. But using the bamix gives you instant emulsification because of the sheer speed at which it operates, which gets you halfway to the result you want. So then:

break egg into container and mess it up a little bit with some of the shell.
add lemonjuice
put bamix into mix
begin adding the oil slooooowly. Just the thinnest stream you can manage. Or at least don't just dump it all in at once.
turn on the bamix

give the bamix a wiggle or two to get things mixed all the way through. What will happen is, at first the mix will be watery and yellow... Then it will quickly turn creamy white and begin to thicken. That is mayonnaise.
Use all the oil.
Take the bamix top to bottom through the mixture a couple of times.
You are done.
You have spent a grand total of three minutes making a product that tastes infinitely superior to the commercial stuff.

Here are the tricks: 1. It's the acidity of the juice and not the fact that it is 'lemon' or not that 'marries' the egg and oil together into the white, creamy thick sauce and keeps it from separating. 2. If any of it is cold, it will fail miserably. On that you can rely. Why is a mystery.

You could use balsamic vinegar in place of the lemon. Any vinegar, actually. Probably any highly acidic juice.
The recipes are out there on the internet to prove this - You can use any type of egg. Even turtle. (Probably not human.)
You can make Mexican mayonnaise (like the 'Gamesa' brand) by using lime juice instead of lemon.
Heave in 1 clove of pressed garlic with the egg at the beginning and you get wonderful garlic mayo.
Heave in a whole head of baked, pressed garlic, some lemon zest and a crumbled-up slice of stale white bread and you have a fantastic sauce-dip called Aioli.

Ingredients at room temp:
1 lb. bucket of whatever crap-ass margarine is on sale. Greggs is good.
1/2 cup of olive oil

Put it in a tallish bowl (so you aren't chasing it around with the bamix) and whip it together. Refrigerate immediately and store refrigerated It can separate if the room is too warm or it's summer, but you can use it right out of the fridge and it spreads wonderfully.

This you do not want to eat with jam or jelly, but on toast with eggs, because it is definitely on the savory side. Tastes better than margarine and a cheap way to cut your bad fats down a little bit. You know I whip in some sundried tomato, basil and garlic with mine.

If you want to see me get back to the art-bashing lunacy of yore you better send me some suggestions. (I tried David and Bathsheba, Arabella, but I like David too much to squash him.)


  1. I actually have some extra virg olive oil. Now I know what to do with it!

  2. I have family in Morocco. They have the best olive oil. I ask them to send it by the case. They all use it on their skin and in their hair. At first, I was a little skeptical...

  3. Anonymous7:50 PM

    Having just read your previous post, I can't help but wonder if the extra virgin first cold pressed could help with the hot flashes? Could it hurt I ask?

  4. Say olive oil and have me mesmerized! 'Tis the only oil we use ever and the only thing I shall miss is the olive oil here as well, the south is known for its amazing olive oil and is one of the leading olive oil producers, at one point "the one" if that status is still not held, in the world... You can buy it in HUMONGOUS bottles for dirt cheap... faboo stuff FO SHO! Just like you amiga mia! Here's hoping that you have a beautiful 2007 my frien!

  5. Ooh, we all use olive oil here in Europe.

    (Not the fat chavs though, they all eat chips deep-fried in hippo-fat or something.)

    I don't put it on my face though, I've already got the complexion of a spotty teenager.

  6. Sing it sister. My mom's distant cousin's have an olive grove in Sicily and there oil, ohmygoodgod. If only they would ship.

  7. billy: do the mayonnaise! make a nice salad with it. you will not believe how good it is!
    mist1: JEALOUS!!!!! my fil used to bring us the 40weight good stuff from greece...alas, no more.
    g: for all i know maybe it is. maybe id be doing a full-blown 'Firestarter' dealio if i was using canola. l'chaim, y'all!
    mizB: chickie!! you exist! i habbent been able to reach your blog or comment or anything!!!!! and i wanted to hang out at your new reality place too because it was beeyootiful. did you move??? are you in transit? what? who? yikes! smooches!
    spinny: over here most people still treat it like it's chicken eyeballs in a jar or something. PEASANTS! (you have no bumps. you are glorious.)

  8. Anonymous3:27 PM

    Lovely, but remember as FN said it must be COLD PRESSED - otherwise you lose many of the health benefits, you might as well use corn oil.

    We have little starters of breads & pitas which you can dip in a little ying yang symbol made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Chez chic!

  9. Anonymous3:41 PM

    9.30am and I'm drooling! Also try evoo with lime flavour;the best with anything fishy or Thai/Vietnamese-y. It's no good -I'll have to go out and buy some fresh-baked Italian pane for lunch!
    Sod the art critique, we want more kitchen hints, Martha!

  10. Anonymous6:59 PM

    Oh! I love trying new stuff...especially good tasting gourmet stuff. My husband, he doesn't get the whole EVOO and balsamic vinegar and the portebello mushrooms...he'd rather have his nasty pigtails and chitlins! Yuck!

  11. I'm going to try the lime thing. Sounds fab.

    I'm a bit confused by this, though: "break egg into container and mess it up a little bit with some of the shell." Does this enhance the calcium content? Or are you following the example of British cooks in WW2, when eggs were rationed? (They saved the shells from their one-egg-per-person-per-week ration, and added bits to dried-egg omelettes, to fool people that this was the real deal.)

  12. Heh. I use extra virgin when my Ma isn't looking. (She doesn't like to use it in ordinary everyday cooking. Go figure.)
    I think another Bibbly story is the way to go.

  13. OK stand by your beds I am going to try to make the mayo!
    I'm catching up on posts and I have to say that reading the last one I'm so relieved to know that I'm not dying of something incurable but am just at that age. I wouldn't have believed it possible to age 10 years in as many weeks, and this is normal?? Shoot me now . . .

  14. What lieu of clogging my hardened arteries any further I have been using 'Oil of Olive' for the past month or so and my body is running like a clock!
    Last night I watched some NOVA show on all of these people who are around 100 and they are desperately trying to isolate the longetivity gene..most of these old timers eat whatever they feel like and some smoked for 50 years but this gene is allowing their good cholesterol to operate on overdrive pushing out the bad cholesterol...

    the geneticists studying aging found that worms and mice live almost twice as long if you cut back on their caloric intake by 30%...apparently if your body switches to 'oh sh*t mode' you live longer but none of the scientists could live on 30% less so they are lookin' for the gene instead.

    I guess it isn't surprising since we bipeds spent 90% of our time on Earth half starved while foraging for food.

    *digression halt button!
    I am absolutely 100% behind you on the Olive Oil..those Mediterraneans live forever and they soak in this stuff...
    Olive Oil is Oil of Ol'Age.

  15. YES YES YES!
    O YES

    Only thing is you need 3 hands - one for the blender, one to pour slooooooooowly, and one to hold the pot otherwise the first lot goes to the dog.

  16. Anonymous11:04 AM

    FN you are the renaissance woman of the blogosphere, gourmet recipes, fabric care, embroidery and flange care, brilliant.

  17. Anonymous11:13 AM

    I love extra virgin olive is also very good for taking out splinters , just soak the affected part in olive oil and it will swell and pop out.
    Its delicious spread on fresh crusty bread with a little chopped garlic and fresh herbs of your choice....yummers

  18. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Goose fat is just as healthy as olive oil and makes better roast spuds.

    The more honkers that are melted down for their fat the better if you ask me.

  19. Actually, I have very simple recipe (because I am a useless cook) for an olive oil dressing (not mayo).

    quarter cup of olive oil (for an average size salad), about half that of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of mustard, juice of one lemon, spoonful of honey. To make sure you blend the mustard, use a whisk lightly.

    And it must be extra virgin first cold pressing, not just cold pressed.

  20. frobi: save some for the bronzed yooooths, my darling.
    dinahmow:i can find a way to mix art crit and kitchen hints...(thinking...)
    awaiting: maybe jack has a pernt, tho-people are paying bank money to eat like that in new york and london lately; don't laugh. it's tres chic nowadays.
    tim: I've had that. it's an oldschool 'health food' omlette. and people paid for it. and ate it.
    the barely edible equivalent of a cork up the ringpiece if you ask me.
    noshit: i will make it so.
    ziggi: fingers crossed!
    homoE: even though i take metformin I'm doomed by heritage to go down on a sinking ship composed of saturated fats and calcified artery scale. but i'll go down having eaten extremely well.
    ziggi: HAPPY DANCE! ROCK ON! WAY TO GO! that is excellent! you did it! very cool! imagine what it was like back in the days of the hand whisk and no refrigeration. I am proud of you! (and SO glad i didnt' ruin any more of your pans..)
    realdoc: i write whatever comes to mind here at the ME show. whaddya gonna do? tell ya what, it feels good to let it rip after all those years of putting it aside, having responsibilities to attend. YEE HAW!
    beast: babe, you are killing me with your fun-sized references to one of my favorite party nibbles. *still suffering the after-effects of your fun-sized post*
    garfer: i will be looking in to that and if you're just toying with me i will be vexed. and miffed. i hope you're right; something as obnoxious as geese are better have at least one redeeming trait.

  21. Anonymous11:11 AM

    The foodistas are also wetting themselves over virgin coconut oil , which is sooooooo good it can almost make you have an orgasm by opening the jar (ok I made that bit up).
    It cures all manner of things including athletes foot (if rubbed into the deseased apendage).

  22. Anonymous2:06 AM

    i am in awe of your coolness.

    *bown down*

  23. I live on cold pressed extra virgin oil - it's the best and I put it on my skin in winter too to stop it drying out.