Tag Archive - Aging

Aged Balsamic: The Non-Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar is one of my favorite ingredients, and probably one of yours too. Chances are if you like to cook, there is a bottle near your stove,  but did you know that it isn’t a Vinegar in the traditional sense? Balsamic Vinegar is not made from wine, but from the Trebbiano or Lambrusco grape that has been harvested and boiled down to a dense and tantalizing syrup.

The syrup, called Mosto Cotto, is aged in casks made from a variety of wood for at least 12 years. The Balsamic Vinegar is aged in seven wooden casks,  each successively smaller in size, and imparting an essence of its own: Chestnut, Oak, Acacia, Cherry and Ash. A small portion of true Balsamic Vinegar is poured from the last cask, and new Mosto Cotto is added to the first, and the process continues even up to 25 years or more. 

Here are a few interesting facts about Balsamic Vinegar:

  • True Artisan Balsamic Vinegar has to be aged for at least 12 years, and is the only Balsamic Vinegar that can legally bear the name Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (Comes from Modena, Italy)
  • Less than 3000 gallons of True Balsamic Vinegar are released each year
  • True Balsamic Vinegar can reach prices from $150 – $400 per bottle
  • Most of us have Balsamic Vinegar bearing the name Aceto Balsmico di Modena (not True Balsamic Vinegar. This just means that it hasn’t aged for the required 12 years, and/or it has caramel coloring and other additives, but still has tremendous flavor)

So what’s with all the aging? In a culture where we want to be forever young, and the slightest wrinkle sends us on a mission for the Fountain of Youth in a jar (which I wrote about here), what can we learn from Balsamic Vinegar’s aging process?

Italians have come up with definitions based on the age of Balsamic Vinegar, and I think it will help us make a correlation:

  • Young Balsamic Vinegar is called da insalata, and is used in Salad Dressings, Dipping Sauces and Marinades. A flavorful accompaniment.
  • Middle-aged Balsamic Vinegar is called medio-corpo, and is medium-bodied and is used to add finesse. Refinement and Delicacy.
  • Very Old Balsamic Vinegar is called extra-vecchio or il patriarca, embodies a complexity of flavor that only long aging can develop. It is best served independant of other ingredients…to combine with anything else is considered a waste.

As it turns out, Balsamic Vinegar teaches us that aging is a good thing. It should be highly respected, valued, and appreciated for its complexity. So whether you are young, middle-aged or very old, remember that each age contributes something to life’s table. Enjoy!

Cycles of Life

Today my husband’s grandmother was, how should I put this, gently nudged out of the retirement home she’s been living in for close to a year. It seems this little octogenarian was too hard to handle…at least she’s still got spunk.

She wandered off to the local grocery store, and it wasn’t that she was disoriented and couldn’t find her way back, she flat-out was not going back to that place! This is not a good situation from a safety standpoint, so she is now in a facility better equipped to handle her unique brand of huff-and-puffery…for the time being. We realize that she just wants a loved one around, and circumstances are changing to make this a reality for her.

It got me thinking about some earlier posts on sowing seeds and tending to our kiddos with love and attention…but the elderly are just as fragile. Over the past few years this southern Georgia peach has gone through some funny, interesting and sad changes.

The cycle of life is precious, fragile, frustrating and tender. Just when we retire from working for forty-five years, a mother needs our constant care; after raising kids for eighteen, they decide never to leave; when a mother sends her last one to school full-time, she discovers she doesn’t know what to do with her life now. The unknowns of life are exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time.

So tonight I’ll be thankful that although my mind is frazzled and forgetful much of the time, at least I’m aware of it and know where I am. Who knows that in fifty years, I may be escaping to Fred Meyer in hopes of finding someone who loves me and someone to love.

A Relaxing Getaway?

A common thread in life these days is the desire to enjoy our time. Our schedules are busy and we nearly melt into bed at night after each day’s activities. I love days where I’m not on a time constraint, having to be somewhere at a certain time. I call these Halcyon days. So last year when the stress mounted, my husband arranged for me to go to Salish Lodge in Sammamish, Wa. overnight.

Usually, when I get to do something like this it is spur-of-the-moment. I hardly have enough time to pack, arrange for a spa treatment and dinner reservations (I have to eat). It’s not as if he’s kicking me out the door (I don’t think), it’s just that he may recognize that I might blow like Mt. Vesuvius. That wouldn’t be pretty…so he sends me out for a break.

It was a beautiful day that day, and I just loved the drive out with all the Evergreen trees standing tall and yellow-washed from the sun’s rays. I quickly checked in, changed and went to eat before my facial at 7pm. On my way to the restaurant there was a wedding reception going on, and I immediately missed my husband and kiddos, and this is why I go…I always come back filled up with love for them. Well, it’s one reason anyway…onward to dinner.

When I dine alone, a book is my companion. I believe I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m sure I had salmon for my main dish, but what I remember most was the Heirloom Tomato Salad. My grandfather grew tomatoes in pots on his porch in California, and you’ve never tasted a tomato until you’ve had one fresh from the vine. I used to get acid sores in my mouth from eating so many in my youth. So when the chance to have a tomato salad, heirloom no-less, I could not pass. Satiated from dinner, it was time for the spa.

I was told I could use the hot tub and steam room before or after my treatment, so I packed a bathingsuit. I planned on putting it under my dress, not wanting to be transported back to changing in a high-school locker room environment. But as I was shoving items in my overnight bag, I accidentally packed a bikini, it being black and the same texture as my one-piece. And it gets worse, somehow I acquired bottoms that must’ve belonged to an unknown friend I’ve travelled with in the last 12 years. I’ve travelled a lot with many friends and black is a common bathing suit color, and well, sometimes you acquire things that aren’t yours. Even worse, I wore them.

The lady who did my facial, was no-nonsense and had a European accent…the accent, I thought, is why they hired her. I believe I whinced when she turned the bright light on to examine my face. She said my skin was dehydrated, sagging and in need of some extraction. I don’t quite remember the wonderful aromas or the rich creamy slathering of product, I’m sure they were there, but I do remember the pain from extraction and a gentle slapping at the end. Well if I must endure the rigors of the spa, I shall.

So after my facial, I timidly ventured into the hot tub area to see if the coast was clear enough for my ensemble. I cased the place and noticed that in one hot tub (there were two), were two women who were very cozy, and a loud man and women, who I assumed had already been to a lengthy dinner. I didn’t want to bother them…so off to the other one I went. Thankfully, it was empty so I quickly dipped myself in the large tub, but forgot about how clothing floats upwards when you get into water. My too-big bottoms gave a pull toward the sky, and I was so thankful nobody else was around! But soon more people entered the area, so I got out of there fast.

Next, It was finally time to relax in my room. I love to study, so I sleep on one side of the bed and the books sleep on the other. I called my husband to tell him about my experience so far, and how glad I was to be in my room. We laughed about the bathing suit, and I told him that I might start a fire in the fireplace. He said, “Be careful.”

There is a reason for this. When we were first married, I was barbequeing and caught my shorts on fire. They were the kind of shorts with fringe on the bottom, I’ve always liked jeans with holes and tears, and these were the ones I donned for the evening. The fire was going pretty good, but as I was putting the lid back on, a giant flame shot out the side and caught my fringe on fire. I started screaming and calling for my husband, and by the time he got there I was working my way inside the house from the deck patting myself as I struggled to get my shorts off. The poor neighbors. So, the caution to be careful was warranted. I threw on a robe just in case I had to call the front desk for help…but all went well.

The rest of the stay went on without incident. I returned home thankful for family and a little laughter. My travel tips: make sure you have the right bathingsuit, plan ahead and store up funny little moments for those days when things aren’t that funny. Oh, and try not to schedule the last facial of the day…it might be painful.

Cracks, Sags & Dimwits

The title to this blog is actually a book title I found on my husband’s shelf. Being the mid-thirties woman that I am, my thoughts immediately acquired an anti-aging slant, and so I took it off his shelf thinking it had been one of my misplaced books. I quickly realized it was a book for builders and contractors, my husband the handy-man has all sorts of these. But it got me thinking about cracks and sags…

Recently, I discovered a pesky forehead crack that seems to keep getting deeper with days gone by. It is no wonder since my face is either contorted with furrowed brows toward daily conundrums, or into an attentive pose with eyebrows raised (as if I can hear better this way.) Lately, I’ve tried mentally telling myself to relax my forehead, but it’s still there and I fear it will turn into a mocking smile.

And last year my kind husband, recognizing that I needed a break from reality, sent me to a spa. That trip is a blog all its own, but one incident fits here. My “technician” was a very-thorough and tell-it-like-it-is woman with a European accent, and I was her last facial of the day. Among other things, she noticed that my face had taken to sagging and began to slap me under my chin. I tried not to laugh at the oxymoron of my “relaxing” getaway…being slapped was not what I had in mind, but if it helps…

It is hard to know if anything peddled out there for anti-aging really works. I ran into an advertisement for Caracoal Cream, which has “snail extract” and apparently many of the top-rated spas use products with this extract in them. I don’t know about you, but anything I’ve ever seen come out of a snail is not something I would put on my face. And what a disgusting job someone has to deliver this “special” product to us. Eeeeu (sp?).

If you know of something that really works, let me know. And if you see me without a facial expression, just know I’m not angry, I’m just trying to relax my forehead. Hopefully it won’t get to a point where I start slapping myself. If you see this please stop me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...