Recently in Food Category

Science rules! - pizza

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Interesting paper - from the Abstract:

The Physics of baking good Pizza
Physical principles are involved in almost any aspect of cooking. Here we analyze the specific process of baking pizzas, deriving in simple terms the baking times for two different situations: For a brick oven in a pizzeria and a modern metallic oven at home. Our study is based on basic thermodynamic principles relevant to the cooking process and is accessible to undergraduate students. We start with a historical overview of the development and art of pizza baking, illustrate the underlying physics by some simple common examples, and then apply them in detail to the example of baking pizza.

Pretty solid paper - they look at the dynamics of heat transfer and the effects of water in the dough and toppings (vegetables carry a lot of water).

PDF download here: The Physics of baking good Pizza

Nice article on Iceberg Lettuce at The New Yorker - includes an interesting recipe for pickled hearts which I will have to try:

It’s Time to Admit That Iceberg Is a Superior Lettuce
There are many categories of salad snob—the ingredient minimalists, the chop evangelists, the dressing-goes-in-the-bowl-first brigade—but perhaps the most vocal, and the most misguided, are those dedicated to the denigration of iceberg lettuce. To its detractors, iceberg is the avatar of commodity gastronomy—“the polyester of lettuces” is a popular gibe. The influential Times food editor Craig Claiborne famously loathed it. “It is omnipresent,” Alice Waters, goddess of the farmer’s market, sniffed in a 2001 interview. “It doesn’t have a season,” she said. “It doesn’t have a sense of place.” The only thing iceberg really has going for it is durability, this line of thinking goes—it’s a lettuce for growers, shippers, warehousers, and sellers, not a lettuce for eaters. But, like its glacial namesake, iceberg lettuce has a lot more going on beneath the surface. For starters, it’s far from flavorless: focus your palate as you take a bite and notice a clean sweetness blooming beneath the watery crunch, deepening, in the pale ruffle of the inner leaves and stems, to a toasty bitterness, with whispers of caraway and coriander seeds.

Some fun writing.

My kind of day

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Always start (and sometimes end) the day with a little piece of this.

Happy World Chocolate Day (although do not forget its cousin, International Chocolate Day on September 13th - the birthdate of Milton Snavely Hershey)

Thinking twice - Ramen

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Quick and tasty but... From The Washington Post:

All those instant noodles you eat may put you at risk for heart problems
It’s convenient, cheap and best served hot, but how healthful is it?

The instant noodles commonly known as ramen — a staple food for college kids and other young adults, as well as for people in certain cultures — may increase people’s risk of metabolic changes linked to heart disease and stroke, new research finds.

In the study, women in South Korea who consumed more of the precooked blocks of dried noodles than others were more likely to have the condition known as metabolic syndrome, regardless of what else they ate or how much they exercised, the researchers found. People with metabolic syndrome may have high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels, and they face an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food’s] high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” said Hyun Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health and a co-author of the study.

They looked at over 10,000 people ages 19 through 64 - a good statistical sample size. Everything in moderation...

Big drinker of Diet Coke. This from The Wall Street Journal:

Cheers! Coca-Cola Launches Its First Alcoholic Drink
A fizzy lemon-flavored alcoholic drink that went on sale in Japan on Monday marked Coca-Cola Co.’s first fling at selling alcohol in its 132-year history.

At a sampling event in Fukuoka on Saturday, hundreds of people lined up for a taste, including some who didn’t expect to find the U.S. company experimenting with Japanese-style booze.

A bit more - about the product:

Canned drinks known as chuhai have long been popular in Japan. They are often made with a distilled grain-based alcohol called shochu and carbonated water flavored with fruit juice or other flavorings.

Coca-Cola, a big competitor in nonalcoholic drinks in Japan, is entering the fray with a lemon-flavored version of chuhai called Lemon-Do. It will be available with 3%, 5% and 7% alcohol, including a salty-lemon version and another that is flavored with honey and lemon. The drink doesn’t include any Coke.

I like the three different alcohol contents - they are basically selling booze for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner :)

A great resource for recipies

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T turned me on to a great collection of online recipies. The Puget Consumers Co-op - a Seattle staple for healthy eating. Lots of recipies with an excellent web interface. Check it out!

I turned her on to my favorites - J. Kenji López-Alt's The Food Lab and another website he edits Serious Eats.

Both excellent sites that give details on what is actually happening to the food as you cook it - what to do and why. 

Warnings for Romaine Lettuce

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The E. Coli outbreak is getting worse - from Food Safety News:

All get expanded romaine warnings because of Alaska findings
The federal government today expanded its romaine lettuce warning to include all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, growing region, including whole heads and hearts of romaine in addition to chopped, because of an ongoing E. coli outbreak. No specific brands, growers or processors have been named.

On April 13, the warning against romaine from the Yuma, AZ, only included pre-chopped romaine and salads containing pre-cut romaine. At that time 35 people from 11 states had been confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the sick people, 22 had required hospitalization.

The CDC’s expanded warning today did not go as far as Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization, did in recent days, urging people to avoid eating any form of romaine lettuce from any region because of the “potentially fatal consequences” until the government declares it “definitely safe.”

The CDC has these recomendations

    • Do not buy or eat romaine lettuce in any form from a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, AZ, growing region.
    • Unless the source of the lettuce is known, consumers anywhere in the United States who have any store-bought romaine lettuce at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. Food contaminated with E. coli usually does not look or smell bad.
    • Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, throw out any romaine lettuce if you’re uncertain about where it was grown. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, pre-packaged salads, and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
    • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce in any form from the Yuma, AZ, growing region.
    • The expanded warning is based on information from the illnesses in Alaska . Ill people in Alaska reported eating lettuce from whole heads of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

Actually once - to meet for a Craigslist deal (camera lens) - did not buy anything. One reason why from Instapundit:

Starbucks’ CEO (now executive chairman) Howard Schultz, a self-proclaimed “life-long Democrat,” floated the idea of having his baristas lecture customers on racial tolerance, trashed Trump, openly endorsed Hillary and afterwards, vowed “to hire thousands of refugees after President Donald Trump’s first executive order that temporarily banned travel from seven mostly-Muslim nations.”

The other reason? Their coffee is a really mediocre product. There are wonderful roasters in Bellingham, in Seattle, and on Camano Island who make an excellent product. No need to resort to the lowest common denominator.

About those fresh herbs

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A bit of news from the Food and Drug Administration:

FDA Sampling Fresh Herbs, Guacamole and Processed Avocado
In its continued efforts to protect consumers and ensure food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun testing fresh cilantro, parsley and basil, as well as processed avocado and guacamole, for certain microbial contaminants. These two large-scale sampling assignments will help the FDA assess the rates of bacterial contamination in these commodities, as well as help to identify possible common factors among the positive samples.

The FDA plans to collect 1,600 samples for each assignment. As of January 1, 2018, the agency had collected 35 domestic samples (4.6 percent) and 104 import samples (12.4 percent) of the total for fresh herbs. None of the domestic samples tested positive. Of the 104 import samples tested, 4 tested positive for Salmonella, 3 tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and none tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7.

As of January 1, 2018, the agency had collected 58 domestic samples (7.3 percent) and 49 import samples (6.1 percent) of the totals for processed avocado/guacamole. Of the 58 domestic samples tested, 3 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Of the 49 imported samples, 1 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. It is important to note that no conclusions about overall contamination rates can be made until all of the data are collected, validated and analyzed.

Yikes - I eat a lot of guacamole. Costco has some nice stuff in a three-pack. Pretty cheap, tasty and freezes well.

Interesting news from the culinary world

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From The New York Times:

Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking
Among the biologists, geneticists and historians who use food as a lens to study the African diaspora, rice is a particularly deep rabbit hole. So much remains unknown about how millions of enslaved Africans used it in their kitchens and how it got to those kitchens to begin with.

That’s what made the hill rice in Trinidad such a find.

The fat, nutty grain, with its West African lineage and tender red hull, was a favored staple for Southern home cooks during much of the 19th century. Unlike Carolina Gold, the versatile rice that until the Civil War was America’s primary rice crop, the hill rice hadn’t made Lowcountry plantation owners rich off the backs of slaves.

It didn’t need to be planted in watery fields surrounded by dikes, which meant that those who grew it weren’t dogged by malaria. You could grow it in a garden patch, as did many of the slaves who had been taken from the rice-growing regions of West Africa. This was the rice of their ancestors, sustaining slaves and, later, generations of Southern cooks both black and white.

A good article - just a bit more:

It is hard to overstate how shocked the people who study rice were to learn that the long-lost American hill rice was alive and growing in the Caribbean. Horticulturists at the Smithsonian Institution want to grow it, rice geneticists at New York University are testing it and the United States Department of Agriculture is reviewing it. If all goes well, it may become a commercial crop in America, and a menu staple as diners develop a deeper appreciation for African-American food.

Looking forward to trying it myself in a year or so. Fascinating story - well worth the time to read.

Yet another bubble - Coffee

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Too Much Caffeine? Coffee Shops Face a Shakeout
America’s coffee market is getting too crowded.

Consumers’ hankering for caffeine and quality coffee has fueled a big build out of cafes in the last five years, especially in dense urban areas such as New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. There are now nearly 33,000 coffee shops in the U.S., including those run by big chains such as Starbucks up 16% from five years ago, according to market research firm Mintel.

The boom in coffee shops is starting to hurt business owners. Consumers are visiting traditional coffee shops less often when there are a plethora of cheaper options. Everyone from McDonald’s Corp. to gas stations is hawking specialty coffee. Even grocery stores are expanding the space devoted to bottled and canned coffee drinks, which Mintel says poses a threat to coffee shops. Traffic growth to large coffee chains such as Starbucks is slowing, while traffic to small coffee chains and independent shops is declining, according to NPD Group Inc.

Not crowded, comoditized. Coffee used to be a specialty item - a luxury - where few people had the taste to discern what they wanted and who was serving it. Now, everything has shifted to some banal middle ground. There are a few old-school places still in existence - here and here - but the majority of places are nothing to write home about.

News you can use - whiskey

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From Phys Org:

Can you make a 10-year malt whisky in weeks? The chemistry says yes
Over the past few years the whisky-drinking world has been introduced to several new products that claim to produce high-quality liquor in just a fraction of the time usually required to age single malt spirits. Instead of maturing the whisky for a decade or more in oak barrels, some distillers say they can replicate the quality and taste in a matter of weeks.

As global whisky consumption continues to rise, could these new ageing techniques be the answer to protecting supply? Or are the claims too good to be true? And even if the taste measures up, does that still necessarily make it the same as a fine aged malt?

Recent innovators in this field include Lost Spirits, whose prizewinning rums and single malts use a patented combination of light and heat to speed up the ageing process. Cleveland Whiskey creates whiskies and bourbons in high-pressure stainless steel tanks that mix the spirit with new wood combinations, creating unique flavours in days.

Highspire Whiskey uses wine barrels and adds oak wood chips to get a product aged in just four months. Tuthilltown Spirits, a distillery based in New York, blasts music through stereo speakers to get their barrels vibrating!

Australia's homegrown example is Deviant Distillery based in Tasmania, which claims to have created a single malt spirit that has the "chemical composition and flavour identical to a 10-year-old whisky". Before we test the validity of such a claim, we should review how brown liquors are made.

Interesting developments - introducing tiny bits of oxygen works. Using oak chips or staves from used wine barrels is used a lot by beer brewers and cider makers. A lot cheaper than trying to use the real oak barrels - these can run several hundred apiece and require very careful maintenance once first used. If they are allowed to dry out, the wood can become infected with wild yeasts which would change the flavor profiles completely.

More information at the site - interesting stuff!

From The Washington Post:

‘How dare they’: Nutella changes recipe, sending its fans to the edge
Not many foods inspire a fandom quite like Nutella.

McDonald’s restaurants in Italy serve it on hamburger buns. Lifestyle websites cheekily offer lists of “signs you’re addicted to Nutella.” And at least one German soccer team dropped a player who couldn’t stop eating it.

Yes, a legion of snackers live for the hazelnut spread. And they’re not happy.

Nutella confirmed on its Twitter feed Wednesday that the recipe “underwent a fine-tuning” after Germany’s Hamburg Consumer Protection Center said on Facebook that  it appeared the recipe had changed.

That set off both panic and anger on social media in a symphony of languages — English, German and Italian chief among them.

“Real cool,” wrote one user, adding, “why not draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa too?”

There are some things in life that you simply do not mess with. Anyone remember the New Coke debacle

A shift in the market - beer

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Seems to be a bit of a shakeup in the beer market these days. My favorite Auction company is James G. Murphy and they have upcoming sales for one tavern and two breweries:


To top this off, our beer distributor says that lightly hopped beers are coming back into style - people are tired of the intense mega-hopping that some breweries try to compete on. I used to drink Arrogant Bastard but now prefer Coors.

From Rob Beschizza writing at BoingBoing:

I found the worst K-Cup coffee
After an exhaustive and uninterrupted search extending over many years, I have finally determined the worst K-Cup coffee. Target's Market Pantry Premium Roast ($15.98 for 48 pods) is about as cheap as Amazon's popular 30-cent K-Cup, but is far worse. It tastes nearly as good as own-brand instant coffee from British supermarkets. It's flavorless yet vile, catching in the throat like air from a house inhabited by forty cats.

Imagine, if you will, old espresso grounds resteeped in sweat and sweetened with flakes of seborrheic dermatitis. You have imagined something no less unpleasant than Market Pantry Premium Roast.

But no snarky turn of phrase or revolting comparison can do it justice. The more you know (or think you know) about coffee—and the more you despise the entire concept of these machines—you owe it to yourself to experience just how bad the K-Cup experience can get, a place whereof one cannot speak, an invitation to the true friend that will never betray, a silence steeped in medium-roast horror.

The mind reels at the thought. My taste-buds are jettisoning themselves off my tongue in sheer panic that I might actually buy one of these to try it out.

I will have to add that to the menu here. I grilled the meat separately from the veggies so I could develop a nice crust and malliard reaction. Cooking the veggies separately meant that I could cook them perfectly (low and slow to caramelize the onions and peppers) and the combination was yummy. The original recipe only uses one frying pan so is simple to cook over a campfire - this way helps to develop the flavors a lot more.

Surf for a little bit - getting up early tomorrow as Thunderbunny (my truck) has a 10:00AM appointment at the car dealership for periodic maintenance.

About that $15/hour minimum wage

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From A. F. Branco:


From The Bellingham Herald:

The Willows Inn, luxury restaurant on Lummi Island, caught underpaying staff in labor investigation
The Willows Inn, a world-class restaurant on Lummi Island, violated federal labor laws by underpaying kitchen staff and requiring trainees to work for free in a month-long tryout for a job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The upscale inn has earned glowing reviews from food critics for its luxurious, fresh, homegrown menu since 2011, when The New York Times named it one of “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride.” To reach the Willows it takes a five-minute ferry ride across from the Lummi Peninsula, too, a journey that has become a pilgrimage for those willing to spend more than $200 per person for a 15-course meal.

Over the past two years, however, the restaurant has broken federal labor laws by underpaying staff, or having interns work menial jobs such as painting the buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

“The restaurant required entry-level kitchen staff known in the industry as ‘stages’ to work one month as a free try-out period before they were considered for paid employment,” according to a news release from the federal agency. “Once on the payroll, the kitchen workers were paid daily rates from $50 per day for up to 14 hours per day with no consideration of weekly overtime premium.”

At The Willows Inn, stages – pronounced staahj, from the French word stagiaire – would clean dishes, polish silverware, collect herbs, prepare vegetables, assemble dishes, clean the facilities, and paint the exterior of the buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s common practice at high-end restaurants, though it’s illegal under U.S. labor laws, said Jeannette Aranda, director of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division office in Seattle.

The key problem is that normally, stages are working closely with the chef and are there to learn from them - this way, the chef can see if the applicant will fit in with the culture of the restaurant. Stages at The Willows Inn were expected to do drudge-work - washing dishes, painting the buildings, etc...

News you can use - Garlic

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Just one person's opinion but still - from Western Living Magazine:

Garlic: “One of the most dangerous ingredients in your kitchen”
Forget sharp knives and open flames—garlic is one of the most dangerous things in your kitchen.

In a private demonstration at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Chef and instructor Julian Bond took Western Living staff on a harrowing journey through food safety and the many unassuming dangers in the kitchen—the first stop? Garlic.

Watch Out for Sprouts
When a garlic clove sprouts even the smallest green shoot in its centre, it’s now unsafe for eating. “It’s a perfect garlic if you want to grow garlic,” says Bond. “But this sprout, if moisture gets in here in any shape or form, it’s actually a mild form of salmonella will grow in there and give you an upset belly.” The chef explained that often when diners get an upset stomach after a meal, it’s the garlic—not suspect meat—that’s to blame.

Interesting - I use a lot of garlic in my cooking and I do avoid the sprouts but for more of a taste issue than a disease one. They taste bitter.

From Only In Your State comes this entry for a restaurant:

There’s A Bacon-Themed Restaurant In Oklahoma And It’s Everything You’ve Ever Dreamed Of
If there’s one meat item we all can’t live without, I think we could agree it’s our beloved bacon. And while you can find it in most Oklahoma restaurants, we found a restaurant that’s overflowing with bacon. From the moment you walk into Bacon in Oklahoma City, the smell alone makes your mouth start watering. Bacon lovers you will want to visit this bacon-themed restaurant…it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of (and more).

They even do a Bacon/Caramel ice cream for desert - sounds delicious.

Tip of the hat to Firehand at Irons in the Fire for the link.

RIP - Sam Panopoulos

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Sam Panopoulos? From the BBC:

Hawaiian pizza inventor Sam Panopoulos dies aged 83
Sam Panopoulos, who has died aged 83, leaves a legacy that has delighted, confused and appalled diners worldwide. Often at the same time.

Panopoulos is the Canadian man who invented Hawaiian pizza, a dish so divisive it led to a presidential outburst this year.

He passed away in hospital suddenly on Thursday.

Panopoulos emigrated to Canada from Greece in 1954 when he was 20, eventually going on to own and operate several successful restaurants with his two brothers.

It was in one of those restaurants in 1962 that Panopoulos was inspired to add canned pineapple to pizza.

It was invented by Sam Panopoulos, who moved to Canada from Greece aged 20

In February, Panopoulos recounted to the BBC how he and his brothers came up with the idea for the pizza, topped with pineapple and ham.

Anthony Bourdain on food trends

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Lettuce in the news

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That deluge in California three months ago? It is showing up at the grocery stores right now - from the Sacramento, CA CBS affiliate:

Lettuce Prices On The Rise As California’s Wet Winter Prevents Planting
Eating healthy is about to take a bigger bite out of your budget, thanks to California’s wet winter.

You might have noticed your local grocery store lacking in lettuce, and the drought-busting winter is to blame.

If you’re a big fan of salads, BLTs or anything avocado, you’re not going to be a fan of the latest news on produce prices.

And it is not the rain now, it was the rain that prevented planting.

“It is all because of the rain. The rain not last week, not last month, but the rain three months ago. Three months ago we should have been planting crops that we should be harvesting now. We can’t harvest those crops because they weren’t planted,” Marks said.

The bagged salad mixes are still pretty cheap probably because these are mostly grown in greenhouses. I looked today and a head of green leaf lettuce at our local wholesaler was $4.49. The stuff we were getting before was from Mexico but their lettuce season is over - too hot there now.

Oh the tragedy!

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From Michigan’s Livingston Daily Press & Argus:

Pepsi mops up 'unusual' Mountain Dew spill
Some 7,200 gallons of concentrated Mountain Dew syrup created a "huge foaming event" and generated environmental concerns after it went down the drain, literally, at the Pepsi bottling plant on Mason Road in Howell last month.

Mountain Dew is my soft drink of choice - specifically the Throwback formulation. Original formula and made with cane sugar instead of HFCS

Good news - competition for Starbucks

Howard Schultz really turned me off the brand when he virtue signaled and said that Starbucks would hire 10,000 muslim refugees. Hey Howie - how about all of our military veterans who need work? How about our citizens who need work.

Some good news from The Seattle Times:

Owner of coffee and bagel chains buys Panera, adding to food challenge for Starbucks
Starbucks has been struggling for years to pull off its ambitious plan of selling more food.

That task just got tougher. JAB Holding’s $7.2 billion acquisition of bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread on Wednesday vaults the investment firm into the exact same lunch business that Starbucks is trying to penetrate.

While Starbucks has been attempting to improve its fare for years, it has yet to establish itself as a legitimate dining spot. Panera, meanwhile, has been fueling growth with a menu of chicken-tortilla bowls, flatbread sandwiches and Fuji apple salads.

Now, with JAB’s backing, it could compete globally with Starbucks and enlist the holding company’s roster of coffee offerings, like Peet’s Coffee, and brands such as Krispy Kreme.

I have always liked Panera's food - if Bellingham didn't have a kick-ass local bakery (looking at you Avenue Bread), I would be eating there a lot more often. As it is, Panera is one of my go-to places when on the road. I really like that JAB has kept a hand's off approach to their acquisitions - the corporate culture has been preserved and that makes their stores unique and a delight to shop at.

Celebrity chefs - a cooking problem

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Food safety is crucial - it is so easy to mess up in the kitchen and it can have some serious repercussions. From England's The Independent:

Gwyneth Paltrow has shared some questionable advice in her time – in the last few months alone, she’s suggested we put stone eggs in our vaginas and burn our bras to get over our exes, as well as sharing health advice from a man who talks to ghosts.

But now academics are criticizing Paltrow for the potentially dangerous cooking advice in her recipe book, My Father’s Daughter.

According to experts, her chicken recipes could put people at risk of salmonella and campylobacter because she doesn’t give a final temperature that the dishes should reach.

Paltrow is not the only one guilty of this though.

The researchers analysed 29 cookbooks and found that less than nine per cent of them included information on the temperatures dishes should reach before being consumed.

Many of the cookbooks were by celebrities, and two of Paltrow’s were found to contain dangerous health advice.

I always use a thermometer and a timer when cooking - even if it is a recipie that I have done before. Always check.

From Starving the Monkeys - the author was attending a food trade show to help a friend launch a new product.

No Fructose Corn Syrup
At the trade show last week, no outside food or beverages were allowed. Instead, vendors inside were giving food and beverages away to promote their products to the attendees. Because our family had stopped drinking sugared beverages a long time ago, I asked the show operators if we could bring in water. The operators said no, that there would be vendors with water in the show. Sure enough, two major soft drink makers were there, and had a high percentage of their own bottled water brands. It turned out that this high percentage wasn’t high enough.

Now, remember, that all the food and drinks inside were free, so what happened next was as much a pure scientific experiment in choice as is possible. With all the boutique options available from both vendors, plus a large number of coffees of all types, slushies, cappuccino, refrigerated fruit mixes, you name it, from smaller vendors, the one thing that ran out first, in about three hours, was simple bottled water. One stand nearby was practically shoving out high fructose slushies at people. Most people who accepted them took a polite sip, and then tossed the rest into the trash. Many people examined the ingredients (HFCS was on the top of the lists of most vendors, I checked) and made a face. The trash cans turned into slushie and sugared coffee soup.

After the water ran out, it still didn’t make any difference. All of that HFCS crap was still considered more or less undrinkable. People would open up some boutique thing, take a few swigs, and then toss the rest. It was a blood-bath. They literally could not give that stuff away. We wound up sneaking out of the venue every so often and chugging a couple of pints of distilled water we bought at Walmart by the gallon. I budget about a gallon per day per person on trips and then we stock up when we arrive at the target location. We refill our bottles from those gallon jugs just for the convenience. We also stop at Zaxby’s  on trips and get chicken strips. We like drinking water there because the filtration on their soft drink machines is awesome, and top off our cups before leaving. There’s a pattern here, somewhere.

In the face of all of that zero-cost market data from the trade show, it would be completely astonishing if these major brands didn’t start making soft drinks with real sugar instead. Any brand that did this would probably take off like a rocket. Until they do, plain old water is going to continue to be the growing #1 beverage of choice.

There is hope yet. My favorite soft drink is Mountain Dew Throwback - the original formula and made with real cane sugar. You can definitely taste the difference.

Two good lists - prepping

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It is not IF, it is WHEN - the fecal matter is going to hit the air mover at some time in the future. In the Pacific Northwest, we are overdue for a very large off-shore earthquake. Where I live is in the foothills of an active volcano and this area is subject to earth movement. There is also a local faultline that produced a series of MAG5 earthquakes as recently as 1990.

A good two-fer from Happy Preppers:

You do not have to do this all at once. When you are shopping, pick up an extra can or two of tuna or beans or... Make sure to rotate through the food - first in, first out (FIFO). If you get dried foods - dry beans, rice, etc... be aware that you will need water to rehydrate this and fuel to cook it - sometime canned is a lot better.

School lunches - the new political battleground

These idiots are forcing our children to eat crap just so they can virtue signal. First it was EX-FLOTUS Michelle's food that nobody wanted to eat and now this from The Daily Caller:

California Schools Cut Meat, Cheese From Lunches To Fight Global Warming
Oakland schools partnered with the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) to fight global warming by making student lunches climate-friendly.

FOE gave kids a lunch menu designed to eliminate foods it says are “unsustainable for our planet.” The new menu features far less meat and more plant-based food. Any meat or cheese the school did use came from “pastured, organic dairy cows.” The student’s lunch menu went from beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza to vegan stir fry tofu and vegan tostadas. The new FOE-approved menu served meat and cheese less frequently and reduced the portion sizes.

And a bit more:

The district and FOE claimed the lunch program was healthier than before, but only on the basis that food from plants is typically healthier than meat. The study justifies its health claims by stating average poultry consumption fell. FOE did not undertake an actual study into whether or not the lunches improved student health.

A bunch of pretty bullshits all in a row - meat protein is very healthy, it is the quantity you need to watch out for. Of course the regressive activists at Friends of the Earth did not undertake an actual study - they are innumerate - unable to reason and to apply simple numerical concepts.

What a bunch of maroons...

Clever idea for long meetings, etc...

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I love it!

More here: Bella Vita

Tip of the hat to Delish for the link.

Physician heal thyself

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Oopsie - from the Santa Fe New Mexican:

70 staff members ill after Department of Health luncheon
Epidemiologists at the state Department of Health are investigating their agency’s own annual holiday luncheon after dozens of employees reported falling ill after the party last week.

About 70 staff members claim to have experienced gastrointestinal issues following the catered event at the Harold Runnels Building attended by more than 200 employees, according to a spokesman.

That has to be embarrasing for the caterer...

Something new for dinner

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I love Greek and Mediterranean food and have had Avgolemono soup many times but made it myself for the first time tonight. Had some left-over plain white rice and some extra chicken meat so it sounded like a good idea for tonight's cold weather.

Came out really good - used this recipe from Serious Eats. My only change would be to use white pepper instead of cracked black - a little overbearing on the palate.

Truth in advertising - a two-fer

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Things are not always what they seem to be:

Adulteration is everywhere. Sad but true. Remember the Chinese pet-food story from 2007 (here, here, and here). Don't get me started on farmed asian fish and olive oils.

From PJ Media:

Marxist Vegan Bartertown Garden Cafe Closes After Bad Service Complaints
In November, shortly after the passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a Vegan restaurant in his image closed its doors. In fact, the restaurant even had a mural of Marxist leaders — Che Guevara and infamous mass murderer Mao Zedong — making and serving vegetarian food.


Cappelletti attacked the traditional model as contributing to the misery of workers. "Because of our economy, people are working 12- to 15-hour shifts, servers take home $200 to $300 a night in tips, the cooks are making $10 an hour and the owner takes whatever he takes," Cappelletti told MLive in 2011. "We're going to have equal pay and equal say across the board." Oh, and mandatory union membership for all workers, in Industrial Workers of the World.

Nice ideas I guess - pity they have zero basis in reality.

Back home again for a short while

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Splurging on the steaks so having baked potatoes along with. The ones I had in the pantry are a bit on the soft side so heading back to the store for a couple russets.

Got the steaks seared in a pan with some grapeseed oil - the last time, when I nuked them under the broiler, I accidentally cooked them medium well all the way through. The pan searing crisps and caramelizes the outside but leaves the inside raw. Using the Sous Vide, I will be able to nail a medium rare.

Also, by pan searing, I can get all the delicious juices and fond to make the peppercorn sauce and will also be able to reduce it properly - the first time I tried in a saucepan it was too runny.

Brilliant idea

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Saw on Facebook:


Vampires sure have it bad

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Making the spaghetti sauce - the smell of garlic is transforming the house. Yum!!!


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Great four minute video on the different kinds of salt:

J. Kenji López-Alt runs the Serious Eats website - one of my go-to places for cooking tips and recipes.

A little food issue - Soylent

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There is a company - Rosa Labs - that makes an all-in-one nutritional drink. From their website:

In 2013, Rob Rhinehart set out to develop a simple and affordable nutritional drink that possesses everything the healthy body needs. That drink is what we now recognize as Soylent, the first macronutritious food replacement beverage customized for you.

Rob lived on it for 30 days and felt better so he started making it for friends and then grew it into a business. I love cooking and eating so this is unimaginable to me except during emergency conditions but there are a lot of people out there who really like the idea.

Rosa Labs recently started making a new snack bar and are having some problems - from Ars Technica:

People get “violently ill” from Soylent bars; company stumped
Soylent’s new snack bar, packing 12.5 percent of your daily nutrients, supposedly “makes the afternoon slump a thing of the past.” But that may only be true if that “slump” doesn’t involve you over a toilet.

According to a discussion on Soylent’s website and several Reddit threads, customers say that some of the bars caused them gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. On the Soylent thread, user Raylingh has tallied 33 reports since September 7, just two months after the company started making the bars. Generally, customers say that stomach problems arise a few hours after eating a bad bar and pass within a day or two with no other symptoms. These shared illnesses easily meet the description of food poisoning, and many users have ruled out the possibility of food allergies, noting that they had eaten the bars and other Soylent products in the past with no problems.

Best wishes to Rob and his customers - this will be a curious one to track down as this kind of nutrition is very much cutting edge.

November 2018

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