Would kinda like to try this:
especially with some of these variations:
I read a little bit of it today and it's... um... saucy. :) The recipes looked fine, but I didn't look closely.
The link above is to Random House, but the book itself has its own WWW site:
"Fowler"? Really? :) Also, how come this has been out for 10 months and I'm just now finding out?
I realize this article has a hysterical edge to it, but still:
"Food Fraud: Labels on What We Eat Often Mislead" at National Geographic
Rat meat and mountain zebra? I guess that's fine if you want it; if you think you're getting goat or beef, it's not.
When I was a kid, I had a problem with being easily sucked into magazine polls: the type article where you answer 17 questions, then find out that you'll turn into a serial killer, have tooth cancer, Socialist tendencies, a liking for cheap frozen pizza or maybe just cheap beer....
That tropism crops back up occasionally, and I think this Deadspin ranking triggered it:
It's not a poll, per se — actually I don't know how they came up with it — but it caught my eye because regular Coors is ranked 3rd out of 36 "cheap American" beers. I've never had #1 or 2, or really a lot of them. But I've had a lot of cheap Coors in cans, especially when I could get 18 or 24 cans for, say, $12. Michael Jackson — no, not that dead one, this dead one — kind of agreed with me, giving the lowly beer two stars in one of his beer books, which was better than most any other widely available American "premium" lager I could find listed in there.
But almost everyone I know hates Coors, even when they prefer, say, PBR or Bud or whatever. I don't get that, but it's ok. De gustibus non est disputandum. If you like something, good. If you like it and it's cheap, or good for you, or easy to make, great. If all of the previous are true, you should find a way to live off whatever that substance is. ;)
Hope you all had a great 4th of July, and had plenty of cheap beer. :-D
There seems to be an epidemic of celiac disease going on. I keep running into more and more people with the disease, and more and more products are proclaiming themselves gluten-free, as if gluten were some kind of plutonium. It's not: it's a complex of proteins found in wheat, and possibly in other foods based on wheat-like grains. But to some celiac sufferers, it might as well be plutonium, because that's how strongly they need to stay away from it. Others not as much: it might be worth it to them to eat an occasional slice of pizza or a doughnut. But the disease does seem to be on the rise.
It turns out to be complicated. There's a genetic marker, but most people with the genetic marker don't have the disease. The current, easier test is to look for certain related auto-antibodies. (Grabbing a villi sample out of someone's gut and seeing if the villi are impaired, along with other characteristic gut problems, will also tell you if there's a problem.) But there seems to be an environmental factor.
Lately, some people have been avoiding gluten due to a non-specific feeling that eating too much gluten might be a problem. This disregards the fact that folks have been eating wheat and related grains for thousands of years. But who knows: some folks have similar sounding problems with lactose and milk, except that's a totally separate type problem (some folks lose the ability to generate lactase, some don't, but it's also partially dependent on how much lactose you have to deal with).
Now, guess what? Someone says that withdrawing gluten, especially to children, might be exactly the wrong thing to do:
"Who Has the Guts for Gluten?" at the NYT (semi-paywall: sorry)
The upshot is that, well, it's complicated. :) But it may have to do with gut bacteria, breastfeeding, and not withdrawing gluten from kids' diets. The good stuff in the article is down toward the bottom, where they start talking about a veritable epidemic of celiac in Sweden in the 70s, and what probably caused it: a decrease in breastfeeding coupled with a decrease in gluten fed to infants immediately post-nursing. So less gluten caused more gluten intolerance.
The jury is still out, but getting rid of gluten willy-nilly doesn't seem like a good idea anymore. That's not much help for current sufferers, but more knowledge about disease is always a good thing.
... aaand my first post of the year. I've also never shared a video before: its about the first thing I ever learned to cook, and something my girlfriend taught me how to do 53 years ago. I'll never forget it. It's particularly easy, and you probably have the stuff around to make it with, in case you're stranded at home during the current spate of bad weather:
Hope you enjoyed that, and enjoy your weekend. Don't stay out too late tonight. ;)
Probably not Happy Thanksgiving fare, whether you eat their soon-to-be vanished products or not:
Innovation long in mix for Hostess Brands at the San Francisco Chronicle
Apparently folks are running out to clean stores out of Ho-Hos, Wonder Bread, and other Hostess products. Or perhaps the unfortunately-named Bimbo Bakeries will buy Hostess trademarks and other IP, and continue to make, um, stuff. :) Happens all the time, fortunately or unfortunately.
Since I'll likely be occupied tomorrow, let me take this time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and tell you that I seriously do miss you. I hope you don't have to work tomorrow, but whether you do or not, I hope you enjoy yourselves.
Some of these lobsters must look like Frank Gorshin did in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" on Star Trek:
Via our local Special Agent For Gluten-Intolerance Intolerance, code-named "Hor-Hay":
[Edit] ... aaaand the first commenter at the article is complaining that because of her gluten intolerance, she can't eat there, and it's not local food because folks don't grow a lot of wheat here, so please open someplace that doesn't use flour instead. I wrote the first sentence above before I saw her comment, but now I'm glad I wrote it.
In other words: please, get off it. No one makes salt around here, or grows black pepper (or a lot of other spices). The ocean is over two hours away by car. There damn sure isn't any commercial coffee, tea, citrus, a lot of other fruit, or really a large number of other foods grown locally. Had a banana lately? How about an almond or some vanilla? An out-of-season tomato, perhaps? We're actually lucky we live in a pretty agriculturally diverse state. But we don't make everything. Nor can we grow everything year-round. Nor can everyone afford to eat local products even for the stuff that is local (or even afford, say, organic, non-GMO, or non-irradiated spices). Take a waltz through Whole Foods, or better yet, Lowe's Foods, and throw out everything made or grown more than, say 100 miles away. Is there much left?
Tell me, do you buy jeans made of local cotton? I know of one US company making jeans from US cotton, and their jeans cost around 90 bucks a pop, and they're mail order — oops, not even being sold locally. Are you going to bitch because someone else opens a clothing store with more foreign polyester? Of course not. This state used to have a huge textile base that is pretty much shot to hell now. Don't you feel guilty? Somehow, I doubt it.
I'm sorry you're gluten-intolerant, just like I'm sorry a lot of other folks are dairy-intolerant, allergic to peanuts, seafood, or cigarette smoke, made sick to their stomach by the very idea of eating beef, or can't or won't drink alcohol for fear of losing their minds. I know how hard it is to avoid allergens: I used to cook occasionally for a friend who was actually allergic to casein, not just lactose-intolerant — try avoiding any dairy in anything. Kashrut symbols help, but it's still a pain in the ass. I've also baked for folks who are gluten-intolerant. Making everything without flour is arguably as bad.
I'd love to see more restaurants catering to individual needs. For example, Durham needs, and might could support, an actual vegetarian restaurant. And a lot of restaurateurs bust their asses to both serve local food and cater to individual needs (to name just one, Charlie Deal at Dos Perros springs to mind). But being a dog in a manger isn't ok just because the manger has wheat, salami, shrimp, peanuts, bananas, or black pepper in it. And while bitching because yet another restaurant is opening where they use flour you can't eat is probably just dumb and useless, tarring them all with a "not local enough" brush is simply elitist and self-serving. Even worse, your "OMG we're all going to die of celiac disease" whining does a dis-service to those with a serious auto-immune condition. Gliadin isn't poison, any more than casein or fava beans are. And, no, you're not raising consciousness about celiac disease. You just look like an idiot. The diseases are serious; it's at best hard to take you that way.
I think I know what you're really mad about: a restaurant opening that wouldn't even exist in your world. I can't wish away celiac disease any more than I can wish away racism, televisions in bars, or my own medical problems. I wish you didn't have celiac disease. I wish no one ever got sick from eating. I wish everyone could afford to eat out, and know how to cook well at home. But I would also like to go to Tom's new place if it opens. I'd like to eat a biscuit or doughnut there, and I'd like it to be good. Don't begrudge me or anyone else that, please. Gluten isn't poison to me, as far as I know, nor is it poison to (by your numbers) well over 99% of the population. Again, I'm sorry you can't eat wheat and its ilk. But I like it. I wish we all could eat it healthfully and well. You can't, and neither you, Tom Ferguson, nor I can fix it. We would if we could.
Nice article from Slate about the evolution of buttermilk from a by-product of home churning to a fairly different commercial product:
While the author picked up on several good points, she missed a couple. In particular:
What you're left with after churning cream is butter and buttermilk. They go together like twins. :) And, as the author of the above article noticed pretty quickly, the amount of fermentation and acidity level are (for a given batch of milk, which itself can vary widely) the biggest variables one willl usually encounter with respect to flavor.
The home producer of butter doesn't have the tools a huge commercial dairy does to manipulate their butter and its flavor, but they do have a few. The biggest variable to manipulate is the fermentation: how much and when. And the potential biggest effect there is to manipulate the acidity of the final products. That's such an important handle that some folks (including this author) will, when the larder is bare of buttermilk, instill a bit of vinegar to fresh milk to sour it, then use it as an emergency replacement for buttermilk. But fermenting the cream is a natural way to do it.
There's no requirement sour milk or cream be used in making butter. Indeed, it might be easier not to. One can take perfectly fresh milk, chill it, skim the cream off, then churn the fresh cream to get butter. The result is "sweet butter," and should be what commercial dairies mean when their product is labeled thus. Some people mistakenly refer to unsalted butter as "sweet." This author prefers to call butter salted or unsalted, reserving the term sweet for butter that hasn't been soured by fermentation. Almost all mass-market butter is sweet. The author above seems to have bypassed any fermentation, leading to fairly basic and straightforward results.
Washing is another handle one could use to manipulate the butter's flavor: The majority of the butter is, of course, fat. The fat is comparatively rather stable flavor-wise at room temperature. However, there are milk solids left in the butter, most of which are dissolved in any leftover fluid. Most of those solids stayed behind in the buttermilk, along with most of the milk's water. But some remain in the butter. They contribute some flavor, but they also can go bad faster than the butter by itself. One can stabilize the butter's flavor and make it a bit more straight-forward by removing more of the milk solids. After the butter mass is removed from the buttermilk (usually to a large bowl), you add water to the butter mass, and work the butter and water together with, say, a large spoon. More milk solids come out of the butter, and are poured off with the water. This changes the flavor of the butter, and its flavor willl be more stable afterward. Some people prefer a more flavorful butter, and are going to refrigerate or freeze it anyway to hold it, so this step can be omitted. Whether you're washing your butter or not, it's best at this time to use your bowl and spoon (or whatever you're using) to remove as much liquid as you can — you want butter left, not liquid.
While acid and fermentation is one big handle for adjusting butter's flavor, there are others. The aforementioned salt is another. Salt, among other things, is a preservative. Salt added to butter helped retard other changes to it, and some people prefer its flavor in the butter. If one wants to salt homemade butter, it's best done after the butter is removed from the buttermilk, and after any washing. Fold finely ground salt into your butter mass. While this is a matter of taste, I believe the typical supermarket quarter-pound stick of butter has the equivalent of about a quarter-teaspoon of salt — not so much as you'd think.
After any salting, the still somewhat soft butter is usually packed into a mold and allowed to chill. The mold my family used to use was carved out of wood, probably by my grandfather, and was a somewhat flat cup that turned out to hold about a half-pound. The closed side of the mold had what was basically a piston in it, with a very simple flower design incised in the face of the piston. The shaft of the piston went through a hole in the bottom of the cup. The mold, with its piston inserted, is filled with butter from your butter bowl (again, leaving behind any fluid). The butter is packed in as solidly as possible. Then one inverts the cup over a plate or waxed paper ot the like, and uses the piston to push out a cake of butter, which now carries the design that was carved into the piston. The butter needs to be cool enough at this stage to be pushed out as a mass, or it'll be messy, but it'll still be delicious butter. :)
So, after all that, you still have the fluid you removed your butter from. Remember that? That's your buttermilk. :) It probably has little flecks of butter floating around in it. It's also not milk, although the milk was its mother, so to speak. It's not commercial buttermilk either, which is cultured ("clabbered"), thickened, low-fat milk. And it is a lot like milk, with a lot of water and milk solids in it. Again, its flavor, for a given batch of milk, is affeccted strongly by how much it has fermented or soured by now. And, as the author of the article referenced above noticed, if it's made from totally unfermented milk products, it's not very acid, so not so good for reacting with baking soda or adding flavor. But having read both articles now, you now know what to do with your butter and butttermilk, and hopefully how to make something more to your liking.
Asshole. Someome's trying to live off that.
Oops; fake. See comments. Thanks, Eric.
Perhaps you've heard of syllabub? I guess if you want to be all authentic and stuff, you're supposed to make it while milking a cow. I mean, I can undestand a recipe using a cow, or a cow's products, but not actively involving a live cow in the production of the actual dish. Have I made it clear now that they're actually milking a cow directly into the dessert? :) I hope so, because that's what's going on:
So I bought some Pilgrim's Hickory Smoked Chicken Bacon the other day because it was on sale somewhere, and I figured I could afford it as an experiment. I brought it home and cooked it a few days later. Since it's supposed to be a low-fat product, I read the directions carefully for cooking it. These days I usually bake (or roast, I guess you could say) my bacon on a rack; Pilgrim's recommends either pan-frying or baking their product, in both cases in a lightly oiled pan. I chose the latter.
The slices are somewhat thin, and obviously formed and extruded, then sliced across the resultant "loaf" to make, er, rashers. I guess the thin slice helps keep the per-serving calorie count down. It also helps the "bacon" crisp up a bit. There's also a pretty decent amount of sugar in there, at least by taste. I guess that helps with the browning, but my stuff only browned a little too much on the ends before it started to look too done, without ever looking that much done along the rest of the slice (I did 2 batches, checking on them both as they cooked). I wound up cooking both batches a little more than was recommended, but I suspect my oven runs a little colder than the thermostat says.
So, what does it taste like? In a couple words, don't bother.
More specifically, it tastes kind of like Spam, except Spam tastes a little better. It's slightly sweet, and there's a hint of the "hickory smoke" they brag about (which apparently came out of a bottle). But despite being cured, or at least having curing salts in it, it only seems a little like bacon. If you're looking for something healthier, I'd recommend eating a smaller amount of real bacon. :) If you just want some kind of breakfast meat, pretty much anything else will probably do the job as well or better. And if you buy a can of Spam and put it on the shelf, it can basically stay there forever, not using up refrigerator space. You can also use the Spam if the power goes out. ;)
Attention math/food geeks (T.Rev, DurhamFood, and Paul, I'm looking at you, among others):
What really sucked me in to this was the, er, map:
A link to an even larger version is on the click-through page.
The article is a bit intimidating in places, but I suggest reading through it anyway: it's not that long. Feel free to skip any math you don't get. ;) I particularly like the idea of establishing metrics for "contribution" and "authenticity" for ingredients in a cuisine. It may or may not be real, but it's neat. :)
While I personally feel fast food chains can all go choke on their "HCrappy Meal" toys, generally I think if someone wants to give something away for free, or charge for it, fine. Hell, let every kid get a free spent depleted uranium penetrator, as far as I care. They're only "mildly radioactive." The real question here is "Why would someone buy their kid one of these meals in the first place?"
I was raised by parents who tried to introduce me to a variety of foods. In that spirit, they might have fed me a Happy Meal on occasion — I don't ever remember getting one, though — but what I was generally expected to eat was what they were eating. At home, that meant what they were cooking (but I was sometimes allowed to skip a particular item: e.g., if they were making fried fish, slaw, cornbread, and potatoes, I'd be allowed to eat my fill of the cornbread, slaw, and potatoes, and skip the fish). If we went out, which wasn't a lot, I (after a certain age) ordered off the menu; I never remember seeing any sort of child's menu. If I committed some horrid sin, like ordering a tuna fish sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate for my birthday at a nice seafood restaurant (yes, this really happened), they might check, but I was allowed to hang myself under those circumstances.
So, why buy your kid this stuff? To distract them with the toy? Perhaps one could bring a toy or a book. Perhaps they're hoping not to be bothered by their kid while they're killing their Big Mac. I guess we'll see whether parents value being able to ignore their kid at a dime per kid or not. Personally, I imagine it'll fly: I can see mothers all over the Bay Area giving their kids dimes to put in some Ronald McDonald House "donation" box, the same way my mom used to give me dimes to stick in those March of Dimes collection boxes.
For my beloved City of San Francisco: Since you've already dived further into the regulatory waters of dictating meal content (as has the State of California with another ill-considered foie gras ban), why not regulate menus? Forbid the presentation of children's menus altogether. Or tax the presentation of a "child's menu," or that child meal itself. Remember, it's for the children. That phrase will get about anything passed.
When none of that works, chuck the whole mess into the water off Alcatraz. I hear about anything will drown off there.
Edit: "Wild Bears Shit in Woods," or it might as well say that. Who did The Atlantic et. al. think was paying for those burgers and buying those Happy Meals? And yes, most fast food places have a "dollar menu," but the same places are constantly testing the waters of newer, more upscale products they can still throw through a drive-through window quickly.
Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I had two Thanksgivings, which was awesome. Not sure if I have twice as much to be thankful for or what, but it certainly left me with no time to blog about either.
If any of the rest of you need food ideas for Second Thanksgiving, Xmas, Festivus, or what have you, perhaps you should try the newest edition of the Ron Paul Family Cookbook:
Wow, this is how to get out of ditch-digging? I guess I better start blogging more. ;) But n. b. : "Trying to earn money from your blog is a lost cause."
Started in 1998, an annual "secret" Parisian picnic draws thousands. Now the idea is coming to New York. We'll see how that goes.
I'm sorry I'm also late with this incredibly important announcement: Apparently, McDonald's in Hong Kong does weddings. I'm not married, so what do I know — maybe a McWedding would be better than an Elvis-themed wedding in Las Vegas. It does look cheaper then the average wedding ceremony. And with the money you save, you could go to McDonald's in Sweden and play Pong for food.
Wish I'd known about this before it happened, because I would have publicized it: