ABC to XYZ in Foods: From noodles to nuts, cooking in ‘N'

A few cultures have claimed to be the first to create the noodle, including the Chinese, Arabs and Italians. Now, noodles have spread to cooking in almost every culture. Pictured here is Pho, a Vietnamese noodle dish, at Bamboo House of Noodles in Westtown Township. File photo

NOODLES (PASTA) – Can refer to moist or dried strips of a flour and water/egg combination. Noodles come in every shape and size you can think of, such as thin, square, coiled, long and short.

Chinese, Arab and Italian cooks all claimed to be the first to create the noodle. Food historians believe that the noodle was discovered in several parts of the world around the same time. The word noodle comes from the Latin meaning nodus or knot.

When I was a kid, the all combination of flour and a liquid was called a noodle. I do recall spaghetti noodles were a rare commodity at our dinner table. At that time, only the Italian ladies in town called noodles by the term pasta.

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With the popularity of everyone cooking today comes the highly acclaimed and popular usage of the term pasta. You can, of course, make your own pasta and noodles. But they can also be purchased in different forms, such as dried, refrigerated, frozen and fresh packed.

NUTS – Are simple dry fruits with one seed (rarely two). The wall of the nut, known as the shell, becomes hard at maturity.

A most common allergy is to the peanut. Actually, the peanut is a member of the pea family and grows in the ground. It is unrelated to nuts. Those allergic to peanuts may not be sensitive to other nuts. To distinguish peanuts from nuts grown on trees, the latter are called “tree nuts.”

Nuts are grown all over the world. In the United States, most tree nuts are grown in Georgia, California, Texas and Alabama. Nut trees are cultivated in Pennsylvania, but due to the shorter growing season they are smaller in size with a stronger flavor.

At one time peanuts were only grown for use as hog feed. The tree nuts grown in the United States are almonds, black walnuts, English walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans. Nut farmers know that the right soil and drainage is most important when it comes to the trees. Also important is the spacing of trees in rows to cross-pollinate each other.

Nuts are highly endowed with protein. They are also high in calories, fat and fiber, but have no cholesterol. Raw and roasted nuts are low in sodium, but nuts processed with salt are high in sodium.

If nuts are in shells, keep them that way until ready to use. Open nuts in shells with your fingers or a nutcracker and not your teeth. Nuts are a great source of energy. Stored in an airtight container, nuts will weather the winter and summer.

Iced Nuts

1 ½ cups blanched nut halves

½ cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. butter

½ tsp. vanilla

butter for pan

Line baking sheet with foil. Butter the foil and set aside. In heavy skillet, combine nuts, sugar and 2 Tbsp. butter. Over medium heat, carefully stir constantly until sugar melts and turns a rich brown. Remove from heat – immediately stir in vanilla. Spread mixture over prepared baking sheet. Cool completely. Break into small clusters. Store tightly covered. Makes 2 ½ cups.

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