Recently in Food Category

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'S RECIPES COULD GIVE YOU FOOD POISONING, STUDY FINDS
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.

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.

More:

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:

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Vampires sure have it bad

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

Salt

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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.

Cookbooks

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Amazing resource. Been looking for recipies for the food trailer and found this online resource - from Michigan State University

Cookbooks and Food History: Cookbooks at MSU
MSU's Cookery & Food Collection includes more than 25,000 cookbooks and food-related works from all over the world. The collection spans more than five centuries, from as early as the 16th century up to the present.

Our collection is especially strong in:

    • Contemporary cooking of the Americas, including the United States
    • African American cooking
    • Jewish American cooking
    • Caribbean, Latin American and South American cooking
    • The influence of West African food and diet on the Americas
    • The Michigan Cookbook Project: an effort to collect all cookbooks published in our state.

We also have significant holdings on diet, health, and nutrition -- from long-standing traditions to the latest diet fad.

Just wow...

Mmmmmm - beef stew

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Came out pretty tasty. Salted a top round steak and let it sit for a couple hours - drained off the water that accumulated, rinsed it and patted it bone dry. Let 'er rip under a full broiler for five minutes/side to get a nice Maillard reaction going, let it rest as the pressure cooker was heating up. Cubed it (Grace got her obligatory couple pieces) and cooked it for fifteen minutes. Opened the cooker, added the vegetables (onion, parsnip, carrot and celery core with leaves) and cooked for another five.

Got leftovers for a couple more meals so I am a happy camper...

Brilliant - a kids menu

While planning the menu for the food trailer, I want to have a kids menu as well. Kids can be notoriously picky when it comes to ordering food so The Deli at Mansion Park in Pennsylvania came up with this:

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Fussy eaters

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Nails it:

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Now this looks absolutely wonderful

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Not low carb but still... Washington State University has a large agricultural extension program South of here in the Skagit valley. I have taken multiple hard cider and brewing classes there - some great people. They are now doing bread in a big way.

Check out The Bread Lab - from their About page:

The Bread Lab is an integral part of the Washington State University Plant Breeding Program in Mount Vernon, Washington. The lab works with thousands of types of wheat, barley, buckwheat and other small grains to identify lines that perform well in the field for farmers, and that are most suitable for craft baking, cooking, malting, brewing, and distilling. Selecting for flavor, nutrition, and distinctive characteristics such as color, the most promising varieties are analyzed and tested to determine the best end uses.

During the fall of 2016, the Bread Lab will transition from its original 600-square foot room at the WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center to a 12,000 square foot building at the Port of Skagit. In addition to the expanded Bread Lab, the new quarters will house a rheological lab, the King Arthur Flour Baking School at the Bread Lab, and a milling lab. Future plans include a professional kitchen overseen by James Beard Best Chef Northwest Blaine Wetzel, and a malting, brewing and distilling micro-lab led by Matt Hofmann, CEO and master distiller of Westland Distillery, and Will Kemper, co-owner of Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen.

And as mentioned in the second paragraph, The Bread Lab also hosts the second branch of the King Arthur Flour Baking School - first one is at their home site in Vermont. I could see taking a couple classes here...

Utterly clueless - the Good Food Institute

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But a good strong sense of entitlement - from The Orange County Register:

Petition chides In-N-Out for not offering a meatless meal
Irvine-based In-N-Out Burger is the target of a petition that demands the fast-food burger institution add a meat-free meal to its menu.

Launched last week on change.org, the petition by Washington D.C.-based Good Food Institute said the burger chain has been “letting its fans down by failing to serve anything that would satisfy a burger-loving customer who wants a healthy, humane, and sustainable option.”

Good Food Institute is a fledgling nonprofit that supports the use of healthier and sustainable food supplies. It specifically supports a food supply that shifts away from animal agriculture.

Though the group faults In-N-Out for not offering a vegetarian option, most In-N-Out fans know that anyone can custom order a meat-free burger with cheese, essentially a grilled cheese sandwich.

A spokeswoman for Good Food said a “cheese slathered bun” is not a healthy solution for vegan eaters.

“I don’t think that satisfies people’s desire for a full entree,” Emily Byrd, a spokeswoman for Good Food Institute, said Monday in a phone interview.

Where to start... There is a good reason why the Good Food Institute (Institute?) is a "fledgling" organization. They pick very stupid battles.

So I am going to turn around and petition some of the Bellingham vegetarian restaurants to serve animal protein. I do not know if there are any halal restaurants in Bellingham but there are lots in Vancouver, BC and Seattle and I will petition them to carry non-halal animal protein in their dishes? (And honestly, looking at the process of halal slaughtering, I would never ever wish that on any critter anywhere - it is barbarian and painful.)

This is just a perfect example of childish virtue signaling. Something I would expect from a normal six year old but not from someone running an Institute. Institutes are supposed to be about advanced education, enlightenment and learning. These spoiled prats are just whiny attention-seekers - look how politically correct I am.

Carbohydrates

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The New York Times has an excellent post on Carbohydrates and why they are actually pretty bad for you if you eat too much:

Before You Spend $26,000 on Weight-Loss Surgery, Do This
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new weight-loss procedure in which a thin tube, implanted in the stomach, ejects food from the body before all the calories can be absorbed.

Some have called it “medically sanctioned bulimia,” and it is the latest in a desperate search for new ways to stem the rising tides of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Roughly one-third of adult Americans are now obese; two-thirds are overweight; and diabetes afflicts some 29 million. Another 86 million Americans have a condition called pre-diabetes. None of the proposed solutions have made a dent in these epidemics.

The solution?

It is nonsensical that we’re expected to prescribe these techniques to our patients while the medical guidelines don’t include another better, safer and far cheaper method: a diet low in carbohydrates.

Once a fad diet, the safety and efficacy of the low-carb diet have now been verified in more than 40 clinical trials on thousands of subjects. Given that the government projects that one in three Americans (and one in two of those of Hispanic origin) will be given a diagnosis of diabetes by 2050, it’s time to give this diet a closer look.

But this is just the newest fad idea to come around? No.

A low-carbohydrate diet was in fact standard treatment for diabetes throughout most of the 20th century, when the condition was recognized as one in which “the normal utilization of carbohydrate is impaired,” according to a 1923 medical text. When pharmaceutical insulin became available in 1922, the advice changed, allowing moderate amounts of carbohydrates in the diet.

Low carb is all good - not only if you are diabetic or need to lose weight. Unless you are a marathon runner or extreme athlete, you do not need that many carbs in your diet. Also, if you are using protein supplements, your gut can only digest about ten grams of protein at a sitting - any more goes out in your poop and pee and can cause stomach and gut discomfort.

You do not have to go cold turkey - like I said, Lulu and I are seeing great results with a 60 gram cap on our daily intake. I still backslide and have the occasional Mountain Dew Throwback made with the original formula and real cane sugar (and 44 grams of carbs) or a ham sandwich with butter (both fine) on a rustic french baguette (Noooooo!!!) but I have lost over ten pounds in the last three months without any other changes to my lifestyle. I want to lose another ten.

Things never said by a head Chef

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Australian comic Troy Kinne:

I get it - a dark single-malt is not for everyone. If you do not like it, drink something else - do not demand that the dark single-malt be re-blended for your own insipid tastes.

From Bloomberg:

Whiskey's Next Wave Is Lighter, Mellower, Made for Millennials
On a warm evening in June, the thirsty crowd milling about a Brooklyn event space might have gladly sipped glasses of white wine, or crisp gin & tonics. Instead, all held drams of golden whisky in their hand.

The event was to celebrate the introduction of Toki, a new offering from Japanese whisky maker Suntory, with gentle almond and grapefruit accents and no age statement. It’s just one of a growing number of what we're dubbing “whisper whiskies”—pale-hued, refreshing spirits with a deliberately light, mellow flavor profile, offering an antidote to bold bourbons and brooding, smoky Scotches.

These whiskies span fresh, grassy bottlings from Ireland (Kinahan’s, Tullamore D.E.W.) to heathered Scotches without peat (Compass Box Enlightenment) to Japanese (Toki, Kikori) and American whiskies made with a lighter hand on the oak. All are ideal for drinking during the warm-weather months and into the crisper days of autumn.

They interview a New York City owner of two whiskey bars - Flavien Desoulin:

“They’re kids, and kids like candies. It’s got to be sweet, super-fruity, and light in the body. They don’t want to think about it too much—that’s their attention span. It’s got to seduce them quick, they’re not looking for depth.”

Looks like he knows his market. I wish the kids would take the time to develop the appreciation for the deeper stuff - there are some amazing flavor profiles to be enjoyed in a decent single-malt. Still - all the more for the rest of us...

Serious levels of yum

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The tri-tip came out perfectly - this is now my standard way to prepare it.

  • Salt heavily and let it rest on paper towels for at least four hours in the fridge - this causes it to lose a lot of water and makes the flavor that much more intense.
  • One hour before plating, rinse off and pat dry - sprinkle a bit of salt and sugar - about 30/70. Let it rest at room temp for 20 minutes or so to let the salt and sugar dissolve.
  • Broil under high heat for about four minutes each side. This will vary depending on your oven and the broiler element will cycle on and off so I am talking four minutes of active glowing red, fires of Hell, hot. You want to develop a nice browning on the meat with little bits of char. The sugar will caramelize and help this process a lot.
  • Measure internal temperature - mine is usually around 90-100°F or so. Put into a slow smoker for about 20 minutes until internal temp is where you want it (130°F for me).
  • Rest for ten minutes and cut 1/4" slices against the grain.

Not a good article at Tacoma, WA's The News Tribune:

Unlicensed Pierce County caterer exposes dozens to salmonella, officials say
Rick Stevenson told health inspectors he used the kitchen in a buddy’s rental house in Snohomish County to cook chicken, along with other fixings, for an event nearby in early July.

But officials say Stevenson, who runs the unlicensed Mr. Rick’s Catering out of a Tacoma home, failed to cook the chicken through and sickened several people with salmonella.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department had contacted Stevenson multiple times since 2012 telling him to shut down his business. After the Snohomish County incident, the department fined him $710 for continuing to operate without a permit.

A bit more:

Stevenson has a foodhandler’s permit but doesn’t have a caterer’s license that requires approved kitchen facilities. He did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Sherman said the county Health Department gets three or four cases a year of caterers operating without a permit. Jeffers says it’s “fairly unusual” for fines to be issued. Offenders are first given a written warning, allowing the department to work with people to get them to follow safe foodhandling procedures.

Christ on a Corn Dog. It is not difficult to find a place to use as a commissary. Public clubs, a restaurant during off-hours, churches, etc... Our local community center has a huge gorgeous kitchen that rents for $10/hour. I am surprised that the Pierce County Health Department is as easy-going as they are - we are talking about public health here and people did get sick from the guy's cooking.

If I looking for a caterer, I would certainly check the businesses license - same thing with building contractors and such. Licensed. Bonded. Insured. Those are my three magic words...

One of my go-to websites for cooking is Serious Eats - love the place. I have never had a bad recipe from them.

I was thinking about fall cooking and bringing out the slow cooker and browsed around for some things to try. Two years ago, they did a review of some Campbell's Soup products. These are sauces in a pouch that you pour over your protein in the slow cooker and a couple hours later, dinner. They rated two of them very highly and all the others were an unenthusiastic MEH...

I spent a chunk of time today trying to run down the top-rated product (Mexican Red Chile Taco) at three stores. Zip Zilch Nada. Come home to check Amazon. Nope. Visit the Campbell's website and the top two rated sauces in the review have been discontinued!

From the review:

THE BEST!
These sauces produced results that were not just passably good, but downright tasty.

The two discontinued items of course. And then:

PASSABLY GOOD
Some folks found these tasty, others took a bite and left the table. With some doctoring and great sides, they can make for a decent meal.

The Sweet Korean BBQ looks interesting - I may try that. They also list an Apple Bourbon BBQ pulled pork.

All the rest of the Campbell's offerings fell under this next heading:

SKIP IT
These were pretty universally panned as not worth eating. We'd recommend avoiding them.

Looks like I will be cooking the old fashioned way - assembling the recipes from scratch. The joys of trying to get something good out of Corporate America.

From Priceonomics:

The Campaign to Make You Eat Kimchi
Korean food is having a moment.

Baum + Whiteman food consultancy recently chose Kimchi, Korea’s traditional fermented vegetable dish, as one of the top food trends for 2016. According to Google, Bibimbap was one of 2015’s top five ‘rising’ foods by search query volume. And T.G.I. Friday’s—the north star of mainstream Americana—has even experimented with adding Korean tacos to its menus.

So why is Korean food taking off in the U.S. now, decades after the largest waves of Korean immigration?

It is the parent governments - a very clever idea:

And it’s not alone: countries including Thailand, Taiwan, and Peru have developed official ‘gastro-diplomacy’ programs through which they invest aggressively in marketing their cuisines abroad, training chefs, easing trade restrictions, and using a variety of other tactics in the hopes of becoming the next big food trend.

As it turns out, so-called ‘gastro-diplomacy’ is gaining traction as a valuable form of international relationship building and stimulus for tourism.

It started with Thailand:

In 2002, there were about 5,500 Thai restaurants globally, with very few outside of Thailand or the United States. Not only was general awareness of Thai cuisine low, it was extremely difficult to import Thai ingredients, let alone find chefs trained to cook with them. Seeing an opportunity to improve the perception of Thai food, and more importantly, the perception of Thailand as a tourist destination, the government launched the ‘Global Thai’ program.

Through Global Thai, the government set up culinary programs in Bangkok to train chefs, gave loans to would-be restaurateurs to help them start restaurants abroad, and helped chefs move abroad. New Zealand, for example, has a separate Thai Chef’s Work Visa, which allows qualified Thai citizens to live in New Zealand for four years and promises prospective chefs that they “can enjoy New Zealand’s scenery, culture, and friendly people.”

In addition to helping chefs find work abroad, the program makes it easier for Thai companies like S&P and CP to package and export Thai ingredients. One restaurateur told us that when she started her first Thai restaurant in 1995, most curries in the U.S. were made with evaporated milk rather than traditional coconut milk. Today, thanks to government support for manufacturers and producers, a host of traditional Thai ingredients including coconut milk and green curry have become grocery store staples.

Makes a lot of sense and the fallout is wonderful for us foodies as Thai ingredients are now available through our local wholesalers - we sell a lot of Thai staples at the store.

Much more at the site - a fun read and shows how much our culture is influenced by the actions of large groups with an agenda. Fortunately for us, this agenda is tasty eating so no harm, no fowl foul...

Great news - street food just got a Michelin Star - from Reuters:

Singapore street stalls make dining history with Michelin star
Hungry diners queued up at a small, modest street food stall in Singapore on Friday to get a taste of the restaurant's local delights worthy of a coveted Michelin star.

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle made dining history on Thursday when they became the first street food stalls in the world to be awarded a star by Michelin as French critics revealed a Singapore guide of 29 establishments.

Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country and the fourth in Asia to be rated by the Michelin Guide. It has more than 100 open-air "hawker" centers and 6,000 stalls selling popular multi-ethnic meals.

And an interesting bit of demographics:

Chan hopes his stall's success will encourage more young people to enter the hawker trade, which is starting to suffer from a lack of successors for the stalls, which are primarily run by elderly cooks.

Move to Portland and Seattle and start training the next generation. Of course, demographics always shift and the next trend will be somewhere else and a different cuisine. Seems to be about a ten year window on this stuff unless you are actually doing real food for real people.

Always loved visiting Hong Kong - never been to Singapore.

About that $15 / hour minimum wage

We have machines for hamburgers, check out this robot chef for Bratwurst:

Tip of the hat to Popular Science for the link.

Truth in Food - an update

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Yesterday, I had posted a link to a book review reporting on the mislabeling of the food that we buy today - fish, Kobe beef, sushi, high-end Olive Oils, etc. are generally either falsely labeled or adulterated. This is not unique in the commercial food business - here is another example from The London Daily Mail:

Farm brand 'fakers': Tesco 'cynically using British-sounding names to trick its shoppers into buying foreign food'
Supermarkets have been accused of 'cynically' inventing brand names that evoke the British countryside in order to dupe shoppers into buying imported food.

Produce sold under fictional names such as 'Nightingale Farms' or 'Rosedene Farms' might sound home-grown but in fact could come from as far afield as Morocco, Senegal or Honduras.

Now the National Farmers Union is 'seriously considering' legal action against leading stores for potentially misleading customers about the origin of their meat, fruit and vegetables.

I can see doing a house-brand. Costco does an excellent job of this with their Kirkland products and these products are of excellent quality so we shoppers trust them. The wholesale invention of local-sounding farms and producers crosses the line for me. Instead of Nightingale Farms, they should build up their own brand and call it Tesco Select or something - do this for long enough and the customers will recognize that these products may come from outside the UK but they will always be of the highest quality. Don't try to fake it - it will always blow up in your face.

Truth in food

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Interesting article about what we eat - from the New York Post:

Everything we love to eat is a scam
Among the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as of this year, 74 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Yet most everything we eat is fraudulent.

In his new book, “Real Food Fake Food,” author Larry Olmsted exposes the breadth of counterfeit foods we’re unknowingly eating. After reading it, you’ll want to be fed intravenously for the rest of your life.

Think you’re getting Kobe steak when you order the $350 “Kobe steak” off the menu at Old Homestead? Nope — Japan sells its rare Kobe beef to just three restaurants in the United States, and 212 Steakhouse is the only one in New York. That Kobe is probably Wagyu, a cheaper, passable cut, Olmsted says. (Old Homestead declined The Post’s request for comment.)

Why are they doing this to us? Here is why:

In 2014, the specialty-foods sector — gourmet meats, cheeses, booze, oils — generated over $1 billion in revenue in the US alone.

Looks like an interesting book - we are both serious foodies. Ordered on Amazon.

Heat levels at a Korean restaurant

Found this over at Knuckledragging:

20160708-heat.jpg

Been at level 7 once in Hong Kong - the cook kept peering through the kitchen windows looking at the Gweilo sweating. I finished the plate.

The truth about coffee

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From  Cracked.com's honest advertising series:

Coffee is easy to give up - I have done so hundreds of times.

Brilliant idea - pepper mill

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From Alton Brown:

The worlds oldest Twinkie

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It turns 40 this year - from Oddity Central:

World’s Oldest Twinkie Turns 40, Still Refuses to Decompose
In 1976, Roger Bennatti, a chemistry teacher at George Stevens Academy, in Maine, unwrapped a fresh Twinkie and placed it atop a classroom chalkboard so he and his students could see how long it took for it to decompose. 40 years later, that question remains unanswered, because mould simply refuses to grow on the world’s oldest Twinkie.

The official shelf-life of a Twinkie – as stated by the company making them nowadays – is only 25 days, but as the famous Twinkie of George Stevens Academy clearly shows, it’s really a lot longer than that. It has been sitting in a glass case for four decades now, and even though it might not be safe to eat, it is looking fantastic for its age. Its shape hasn’t change a bit, and if mould hasn’t grown on it so far, chances are it never will.

Libby Rosemeier, George Stevens Academy’s dean of students, was a student in Roger Bennatti’s class on the day this decades old experiment began. “We were studying the chemistry of food. We went next door to the store, bought Twinkies and we gave them to Mr. Bennatti and [asked him], ‘How many chemicals do you think are in something like this?’” Rosemeier recalls. “He said, ‘Let’s find out and see how long it lasts.’ He opened the Twinkie package, ate one, and put the other one on top of the [chalkboard].” The popular treat remained in his classroom for the next 28 years, until the chemistry teacher retired. From then on, the world’s oldest Twinkie became Rosemeier’s responsibility, and she had her father make a glass case to store it in.

Heh - great story! There is a reason why I do not eat Twinkies or other snack 'food' like this.

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