Monday, March 11, 2013

Pita Chips

Menus for this week:

More bok choy (to finish off the Costco-sized container), and I'm debating trying a zabaglione recipe for the first time for FHE dessert.

Oatmeal; Baked potato bar
Rice w/cinnamon and sugar, fruit, eggs; Sesame noodles
PI DAY! Quiche; Ni├žoise salad, and pies galore
Muffins; Carrot soup
Butterscotch oatmeal; split pea soup
Cereal; probably pancakes again, until kids step up and pitch in to cook something fancier on Sundays again.

So, last time I made bread, I made one loaf's worth into pitas. But we somehow didn't eat them all at once and they were sitting out, getting hard, so I thought I'd try to make them into chips like the Stacy's brand.

Oh. My.

It was sooooo easy and double-that delicious. I mean, I know, how many more things should I start "making myself" at this point? (BTW, I'm starting to make my own pancake syrup too...I know, I should just buy stuff more often. I'm crazy. But this way I'm not paying for packaging, and it's really not difficult to boil sugar and water, which is all syrup is.) 

But if I've got a batch of bread dough, it's beyond easy to roll out a giant pita instead of a loaf rising in a pan, and then to slice it up and drizzle it with some olive oil/salt and toast it into chips. They totally tasted the same, and since I can barely ever justify spending on the real deal, now I know how we can indulge much more often. And with better ingredients, too. Freshly ground whole wheat, *real* olive oil.

And with that, I'll segue into some little tidbits about olive oil...

Very little olive oil is really what its label implies (unless its label implies it's crappy and cheap), even the well-known extra-virgin brands that are imported from Italy. If you look more closely at the find print, you'll see that while they may be bottled in Italy, their sources are all across the globe. There are usually little codes that tell you where that particular bottle inherits its oil from, and there are so many mixed together that there's no knowing what you've really got. I mean really, how many of you would pay premium price for Tunisian olive oil? But that's probably what you're doing. If it's even olive oil at all, there are many reports of brands that cut it with even cheaper oils such as canola, soy, even fish or hazelnut oils. (Hmm, hazelnut doesn't sound so bad...) And, it's often already rancid, masked by chemicals to smell nice. Usually the experts can't even tell by taste anymore, because "According to this NPR interview, it’s possible that some shoppers in America have never had 100% pure, extra-virgin olive oil in their lives – even though they’ve been buying products labeled that way for decades."

"There is a massive output of low-grade olive oils, particularly in Spain and North Africa but throughout the E.U., which producers are selling as “extra virgin” olive oil, even though this low-grade oil doesn’t meet the requirements of the extra-virgin grade. (E.U. and U.S. trade standards require extra-virgin olive oil to be free of sensory defects, and these oils are deeply flawed.) New methods of chemical refinement, commonly known as “deodorization,” allow unscrupulous producers to remove sensory defects and sell their sub-par oils, illegally, as extra-virgin. (By law, extra-virgin olive oil cannot have undergone chemical manipulation.)"

This is essentially why I pay bigger bucks for olive oil that's labeled "protected geographic indication" or some such, that not only tells you where the olives were from, but what the date of their harvest was. I figure they're not pulling one over on me if they tell me that this oil was grown in Siurana, Spain, from the Arbequina variety of olive, and was harvested in December of 2011. (I got this bottle at Costco, they've also had varieties from Italy and recently one from California, though they come and go in stock; I buy an extra when I see them on the shelf.) They should be in dark glass bottles, too, none of this clear plastic, because the real stuff needs to be protected from light to keep it fresh.

I don't want to seem elitist/scary/upper-middle-class bourgeois, I just find it fascinating to dig into and share. Between honey laundering (have I posted about that yet?) and olive oil fraud, it's like we don't know where our food is coming from...hunh, maybe we should just all go live on chicken nuggets like this chick


  1. Fascinating, amazing and scary!!!! Thanks for the information! Do you mind sharing where and what brands you find to be reliable?

  2. Oh! I forgot to say, Stacy's pita chips are my favorite, and I rarely splurge on them because they are so expensive! I wondered if they would be easy to make, now you have me yearning to try! Is your recipe for the bread dough on here somewhere? (Also, we've always made our own maple syrup, it tastes far and away better than anything storebought except the real pure stuff, and having spent the better part of the year a stone's throw from maple country, we are now officially spoiled to a specific grade of 100% pure maple syrup, ask me some time if you're curious! But the children don't care, so we still give them the homemade stuff.)

  3. Also, just another note, that if my children were to eat something made with hazelnut oil, it would make them very very ill. Nut oils could put our oldest into anaphylactic shock, so I have now even more reason to look for the label you described.