Merry Christmas from us here at Eat At Joe's! We hope you all have a good time and eat well. Ho ho ho! ;)
So a few days ago while doing some Christmas shopping, a friend and I were at one of Durham's, er, lesser-frequented shopping malls. We needed a nosh; fortunately, the area is home to one of the higher-ranking establishments in the now-agèd Cheesesteaks File. I can almost always go for a decent cheesesteak, and my companion was in the mood for an "Italian sub" or the like, so we were set.
The problem came on ordering.
I wanted a glass of water, and I was told they didn't have one.
I could have a bottle of water for a buck, an infinitely-refillable fountain soda for $1.60, a bottle of Bud for maybe $2.60, and a few other choices. I felt like Jack Nicholson: I wanted to say "You have glasses, and water of some kind?"
What's next? Charging for napkins and taking the paper napkin dispenser off the table? Perhaps a pay toilet?
I often ask for a glass of water with my meal, whether I order another beverage or not, because I drink a lot. And I could understand if we were in dire straits as we've been in the past. But that's not the case. And they certainly did have water and glasses. Perhaps they should charge more for their crazy-cheap beer, or get rid of the publicly-located fountain head and its infinitely-refillable sodas? No, this was just simple blackmail: raising the price of every non-take-out meal by at least a buck. Except it isn't blackmail, as I'm not required to go there.
So I won't. Good-bye. You used to be decent and inexpensive, but now you're just jerks. I even went out of my way to ask for directions to one of your locations. I won't have that problem any longer.
I like to think I provide answers and information (and perhaps a little amusement) here, rather than use the blog to extract information from others. However, the latter process seems to work pretty well on occasion. So....
If I remove an "ice" plug from a jar containing a weak acetic acid brine, will the concentration of acetic acid in the remaining solution go up or down? Acetic acid freezes at a higher temperature than water does, but so what? So does sodium chloride. :) Acetic acid and water seem to dissolve in each other really well, too. Assume other contaminants, especially organic ones. I assume the NaCl concentration goes up, of course, but I want the CH3COOH concentration to go up too, or at least stay level.
If you'd like more background: the situation involves a poorly-regulated refrigerator and a very large opened jar of pickles. ;) I'd like to remove the ice plug, for some reason, but don't want to reduce the concentration of salt and vinegar in the brine. I also don't want the jar to break, of course. The real long-term solution involves removing the the other organic contaminants, i.e., the preserved Cucumis sativus fruits. Obviously supply exceeds demand at the moment. Such is life. Would that my problems were always this bad. :) I guess it's possible I could have another problem by over-concentrating the vinegar, but I think that's unlikely to proceed to a problematic level. Perhaps I'm wrong.
Any ideas, O Gentle Readers?
"Just Don’t Call It Moonshine" at the NYT
What would it take to make this movement start happening in North Carolina? Lord knows we have the brainpower, the agriculture, and the heritage. Who would be the first person to open a distillery in Durham?
Wish I'd known about this before it happened, because I would have publicized it:
... our supermarkets managed to destabilize Britain's food infrastructure. The supermarkets have left behind farmers, milk producers and fishermen. They all have knowledge they should be passing down, but there is no new blood wanting to pick up the rake, the fishing net or the gate latch at 4 a.m....
According to the article, the average age of a farmer in Britain is 64.
"Joe, what's that you're having to drink?"
"Well folks, I'm having a Guttsta Källa julmust."
"Research, gang, research."
Apparently, must, whether sold as julmust, påskmust, or just must, is a Swedish soda or soft drink flavored with hops and malt extract... yes, that's exactly what you think it's supposed to be: a beer-flavored soda. Er... Sean, can you guys get to work on this? Or maybe Seth can crank one out at BCB&B in a few months. ;)
One might expect must to taste like a non-alcoholic beer, but it doesn't taste much like that to me. I guess it just tastes like must. ;) Some folks describe it as being like root beer. I'd say this one tastes more like birch beer, only a lot less sweet, or perhaps something with a slight cherry flavor....
Anyway, the big season for must is apparently Jul, i.e. Yule, or Christmas. It outpaces Coke as a soda in Sweden around Christmas, according to Kristall, who also make a julmust. But it sells all year; during non-holidays, it's just must.
"But Joe, why?"
Merry Christmas, folks. You've got a week to get ready, if you're the gettin'-ready type.
It's possible for small businesses in this area to rent kitchen space, but the arrangement above is part of a business incubator, and sound like a lot more sophisticated arrangement than just renting space from someone.
Raleigh and LA aren't the only places having problems working food trucks into the life of their cities. The Windy City also seems to be having a problem:
You'd think Chicago, as one of the best food cities in the US, wouldn't have problems, but you'd be wrong.
Despite my occasional flatulent complaint, I still enjoy writing this damn thing. I hope you, my Gentle Readers, still enjoy reading it on occasion. As always, thank you for your support. This is not intended to be a diary; occasionally it may turn into one, but after almost seven years and around 741 posts, it's the ones like these that keep me going. Again, thanks for your readership. Enjoy your holiday season, and cook a little if you can. It's good for you. :)
For quite some time, I've used Halloween as an excuse to sit on my front porch or moral equivalent, make hot cocoa, provide spiking for it if desired, invite friends — especially friends with kids — and quietly celebrate Halloween. I'm not into scaring folks, getting drunk and partying, or generating pre-Election-Day propaganda. But I tried to have fun. I might get a small buzz on, but not so much that anyone would be scared to bring their kids to my house or the like. Halloween to me is about letting kids go to strange houses and get candy for free for no reason. It rocks. Halloween Haters be Damned. :) I've missed a couple Halloweens because of brain injuries, penury, or the like. But I usually try, and I usually shovel the candy out: maybe 15 or 20 bags or more. And I don't buy crap: I buy stuff I like or that seems Halloween-ish.
Didn't do it this year. Not much traffic at the new house anyway. And apparently there are a few Halloween Haters in the new 'Hood. Didn't even make any cocoa. :( And have you priced a box of Droste cocoa lately? (You might want Google Translate for that last link.) Between the US$ going in the toilet, food price increases, the price of oil, and — well, $deity knows why, but it was on sale for $13, IIRC. Oh, and the penury.
But snow. Started where I was between 1:30 and 2 this afternoon. What an excellent reason. Winter in general is a good reason, so why not snow? It's not winter, unless you practice that the cross-quarter days are the beginnings of the seasons instead of their midpoints. (Ever wondered why A Midsummer Night's Dream takes place on May Day? There's your answer.) So some people would say it's winter now. And it's snowing. And it's awfully close to the date of latest sunrise, which can seem pretty wintry.
So — hot chocolate. Go. Use whatever you have. Throw in some marshmallows if you like. Spike it. (I used hazelnut liqueur this time, which was unexpectedly delicious. I usually use Vandermint, which is not easily obtainable at the NCABC stores.) Drink it. Fall asleep looking at the snow. The Xmas rush isn't full bore yet. You deserve it. :)
You know, I've really grown to dislike all the stoopid crap I do to remain semi-anomymous. Mostly it's the separate web browsers, sets of cookies, and e-mail accounts I dislike. I screw up all the time too, and it's not like half of Durham doesn't know who I am anyway. Then there's the people I want to out myself to because I like them or whatever, but that causes its own set of problems. I even set up a Linkedin profile after someone sent me a request. I still think it's a good idea for reviewers to be anonymous, but it's not like I do a hell of a lot of reviewing. I should just give up.
I have been looking all over for a quality durum wheat flour receipt. I have an intolerance to the common bread wheat flour and also spelt wheat flour, so I have to rely on the likes rye, barley, corn, durum and so on. I have been able to make a bread using all of the above except for durum. All of the breads come out with a of crumbly, brick like, flat and moist characteristics combinations although good in taste. What I would like to do now is to try using durum flour to create bread and the likes of hamburger or hot dog buns.
Thanks for writing. I don't have a particular recipe/receipt. I
usually just substitute some or all of the bread or regular flour in a
recipe with durum flour. It's not exactly the same, but it's close.
One thing I've noticed is that at first, the durum flour gives the
impression that it's going to absorb more water. I think it does, but
after the dough sits a few minutes, it seems to loosen up a little
bit. So you may need more water or other fluid, but maybe not so much
as you might think.
If you don't like the texture you get with 100% durum flour, I'd
suggest substituting some of a flour you can use for some of the durum
flour. Maybe that will get you more of the texture you want.
Do you mean that you can eat durum flour ok, but not other wheat
flours? If that's the case, I'm really surprised, because durum flour
is pretty close to wheat flour. I would assume durum wheat is closer
to regular wheat than spelt, but I guess it depends on exactly what
you're allergic to. I guess it could also depend on what type of
durum flour you're using. Do you know what kind or brand it is?
Where do you get it? I'm just curious. I get mine from a local
bakery, and I've seen the bags, so I know it's durum flour. But I
can't remember right now what the brand is.
Thanks for writing. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful, but I wish you
So, anyone else have any better help for Luka? I guess I could have pointed him at a couple cookbooks, but I assume he's in Croatia and might not have access to books I have.
What I've read is that the gluten in durum flour doesn't provide so much rise as with regular bread flour. Gluten is actually a bunch of proteins (gliaden & glutenin at a minimum, I think), and the protein mix in durum flour is good, but less than ideal.
So Typepad allows a automatic Tweet when I post here. I'm doing it semi-automatically; Tweeting posts that seem substantial (like the previous corn post), but not for, say, the typical one-liner or repost of an article found elsewhere. I don't want to drown my few followers in Tweets, but I would like to point out the substantial stuff. Any opinions, O Gentle Readers? (I'll Tweet this post too.)
If you look closely at a bag of grits, you may find the words "hominy grits" or "hominy" somewhere on it. If you've run into hominy before, you might remember it's made from corn (Zea mays, called maize by a lot of the rest of the world), but a lot of people don't run into hominy directly these days. While I see the words on bags of grits, I've not personally run into a bag of cornmeal that said it was made from hominy or otherwise treated corn, as far as I can remember. So I think that corn grits are usually made from hominy — "nixtamalized" corn — while cornmeal isn't. If anyone can refute that, I'd like to hear from them.
(For what it's worth, a couple other notes: Masa flours are also generally made from nixtamalized corn as far as I know. Cornstarch is just the starch separated out from the rest of the corn, and is way different from cornmeal: it's more like cake flour than anything.)
Anyway, the usual difference between corn grits and cornmeal seems to be the difference between hominy and corn: the aforementioned nixtamalization. Nixtamalization's important role is in preventing pellagra. Pellagra is a nutritional deficiency disease that can show up when folks eat a lot of non-nixtamalized corn and not much else, and therefore don't get enough niacin and/or lysine in their diet. Nowadays, deficiency diseases in most of the U.S. aren't so common as they used to be, and pellagra is rare. But it used to be all too common in the poor rural parts of the Southern United States, and other areas where folks had to eat too much untreated corn.
Basically, traditional nixtamalization is the treatment of a grain (usually corn) with a wet alkaline solution. The mineral lime is typically used; calcium carbonate (which also occurs in chalk) is the beneficial chemical here. Treating corn with lime does a bunch of things, including helping to get off the hard shell around the outside of a kernel of corn. In some ways, nixtamalization makes corn less nutritious: it actually degrades the protein content of the grain. I assume removing the hull also decreases the amount of fiber available in the corn; you can discuss among yourselves whether that increases or decreases its nutritional character. :) Nixtamalization also has other positive benefits, and its traditional use kept its users healthier.
The important part here is that when the lime solution is changing the nutritional profile of corn, it's increasing the amount of niacin available to you when you eat the corn. It's also changing the amino acid balance in the corn: less protein is available overall, but the ratio of amino acids in that protein is closer to what humans need for health. Corn still isn't a "complete protein" after nixtamalization, but it's closer, and it becomes easier to supplement with, say, beans or meat to get to what a human needs for protein. But again, pellagra is rare around here these days.
In practical use, I've certainly made acceptable gruels out of both grits and cornmeal. I've also made crappy food out of grits, cornmeal, polenta flour, and so on. Certainly the product makes a big difference in flavor, texture, and presentation. I've always assumed that was just because of crappy products. There are a handful (8 or less, I think) of North Carolina grist mills out there producing corn meals of various types: white or yellow, leavened or no, and specialty mixes like hushpuppy and cornbread mix and various breading mixes. I can usually find a brand of one of those I like. I've used the Quaker brand cornmeal in baked cornbread and thought it was horrid, but I use Quaker Brand quick grits and am happy with it. I don't think one needs to buy cornmeal packaged as "polenta flour" to make polenta: for one thing, it tends to be more expensive. The key thing in all these pure corn products seems to be getting the grind, texture, color, and flavor you want.
As always, your input is appreciated. :)
No, this isn't Halloween. But prepare to be horrified.
From our New England correspondent, code-named Agent "J": While I fully admit David Hasselhoff is not [NSFW!] a food, about half of Cracked's list of "7 Things From America That Are Insanely Popular Overseas" are indeed food-related.
FWIW, I can't believe I finally worked the horror of the Recursive David Hasselhoff Graphic into an EAJ! post. :)