Kitchen Accomplice By John Kirkendall

Water, water everywhere

Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 a piece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward. George Carlin

I was at a neighbor’s house the other night.  We had a very pleasant evening.  During the course of things, I was informed that the water served had been double filtered – both through the kitchen water supply and then through a filter mechanism in a pitcher.  It was explained to me that this was more economical than serving bottled water.  (I don’t serve bottled water and had not worried too much about filtering the water I was drinking and serving.) 
Astonishment was my first reaction. 
 When I was growing up our water came from a drilled well on our property.  Treated?  No. Bottled?  No.  Worrisome? No.   My dad was a grocer.  If someone had asked for bottled water in his store in our little town, it would have been a topic of conversation at gatherings for weeks.  And the person making the inquiry would have received countless askew glances for the foreseeable future.
Now, almost suddenly it seems, water has become an almost universal concern.  Many “in the know” are suggesting our next international worry will not be about oil, but instead about water.  And certainly those of us on the Great Lakes are conscious of the covetous behavior of those in states with other natural attributes – but not water – and who seem to have designs on our natural water supply.  
And various labels of water have been gathering their constituents, not to mention advocates.  Sniffy waiters request one to identify which water should be served.  I have traditionally said “tap water please,” a seemingly most unsatisfactory response from the look I receive.
Occasionally, when we travel to our lake property, we hear an announcement on the boat taking us to our island destination — it is the “boiled water advisory.”  This is a warning that some bacteria has seeped into the ground water making it essential to boil water before using it for consumption.
Water — this very real and wonderful natural resource – is, in fact, in need of reverential treatment.
What should our reaction be as a professional community?  Not an easy question to grapple with, since it has not only environmental and health implications but also geographical and political ramifications as well.
For a cook, the answer is much simpler.
Test your water.
Be sure to boil and season the water you prepare foods in.
Don’t forget to have the water in the ice cube trays “sterilized.”
In looking over some very old recipes involving water, I ran across this one.  It is noteworthy principally for historic value.  The still for me was a stumbling block.
Infuse 8 or 10 lbs. of the cuttings of green myrtle in nearly 20 galls. of rain or river water, and add thereto a pint of fresh yeast, after it has stood for 24 hours. At the end of another day and night, put the whole into a still, with 1 lb. of bay-salt. Draw off the whole of the water, and next day infuse more myrtle leaves as before, and distill again. Repeat the same a third time.
This next is purportedly a famous spa recipe.  Have at it.
Orange and Green Apple Water
Slice one orange.
Spread some lemon juice on 2-3 slices of green apple
Put the apple, the orange, and half a lemon juice in a large pitcher.
Fill the half of the pitcher with ice cubes.
Fill with water.
Let it rest 24 hours in the fridge before serving.
Enjoy the refreshing taste!
Judge Kirkendall is a retired Probate Judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. I am (thankfully) past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at