Archive for August 2006

I had some kettle corn for the first time a few weeks ago in Wisconsin. Mmm, mmm, it was good. Ever since, I've been looking for a recipe to make some at home. I found this Kettle Corn Recipe but haven't tried it yet. Seems like it's missing salt, as the stuff I tried was both sweet and salty. And that seemed to be the magic of it.

Far from being the perfect food, modern soy products contain antinutrients and toxins and they interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. An article examines the claims of 1999's Third International Soy Symposium.

Did the previous link get you wondering why you'd even want dry aged beef? Dry-Aged Beef: Try a Little Tenderness explains the fuss behind dry aged beef. [via delicious merlin]

On vacation

I'm off later today to Linz, Austria for the 2006 Ars Electronica Festival. My husband will be speaking at the conference, and I (for once) will not be. Yay! This means more time for me to explore the home of the Linzertorte and perhaps locate the very best one in town. Afterwards, we'll be doing some traveling in the region, where I hope to eat all sorts of delicious local delights that I can report about when I return.

Until I do, there will be no updates on the site. I'm not even bringing my computer. So enjoy your last days of summer, and I'll see you back here on September 10th, full of sausage stories and Linzertorte tales.

US Congress takes head out of ass, puts 'French' back on menu. The days of "Freedom Toast" are behind us. Let us never speak of them again.

Gadget: Peppergun

Foil CutterI can't live without freshly ground salt and pepper in my kitchen, so I have two of these Nantucket Pepperguns: one in white for salt, one in black for pepper. The simple design lets you grind with one hand, so that you can use your other hand for stirring if you want. Another ingenious aspect of its design is the way you fill it. You twist the tube to reveal a hole, and in doing so, rotate the "ears" towards he back. Then you can lay the peppergun on the counter, supported by the ears at the back, with the hole pointed toward you, and easily fill with sea salt or whole peppercorns. I've used lots of different pepper grinders in my day, but this is far and away my favorite. Easy to use. Easy to refill. Easy to clean. I love it.

Previous gadget: Foil Cutter

If you're looking for a new t-shirt (and really, who isn't?), this Hooray Cholesterol! tee from Threadless could be just the thing. All those fats attacking the heart?! Brilliant.

While I was away, Eater scored a picture of Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni. Funny, it's not how I imagined him looking at all. He looks like some 70s TV star, like maybe a buddy of the Six Million Dollar Man.

Update: Via email a reader points out that the photo of Bruni isn't much of a scoop. You can see it here on the HarperCollins website.

There's not a lot to report from my visit to America's heartland except this astounding fact: heirloom tomatoes are cheaper than regular tomatoes! The first night we were in Wisconsin, we went to the local farmer's market. One stand was selling both heirloom and regular tomatoes. The regulars were $2/lb and the heirlooms were $1/lb. $1 a pound! Can you believe it? At Union Square, they're between $4-5/lb, depending on the vendor. I guess they're cheaper than regulars because they're less popular out there. We took advantage of the price and bought a bunch for dinner the next night, and they were mighty tasty.

I'm on something of a banana-eating roll lately. I'm trying to eat very healthful food these days, so I've added more fruit to my diet. Now I'm eating a banana a day and wondering why I didn't before. They're so easy to eat and yummy, full of carbs (which I do not eschew), vitamins A, B, and C, and they contain high levels of potassium. Also they have fiber, and most people don't get enough fiber. They're almost like the perfect food. So when I spotted this recipe for Chocolate-Covered Bananas, I thought, "Hmm...maybe I can add more bananas to my diet!" I know chocolate goes against the healthful claim above, but bittersweet chocolate is supposed to be good for you. So in some ways, by making a chocolate-covered banana, you're making an extra-healthy banana!

What makes a tomato an heirloom tomato? Barbara at Tigers & Strawberries has a nice post all about heirlooms.

Mayonnaise turns 250 years old this summer and NPR has some information about its history. Also useful is the sidebar with information about whether mayo in the potato salad at the picnic will make everyone sick if it sits out for a while.

While I was in Minneapolis, I visited the Mill City museum (details about this great place over at my husband's site). In the gift shop, I spotted this retro apron from Bella Pamella. Even though I always use a plain white apron and have several of them, I wanted this. There's something so homey and cozy about it. I can just imagine wearing it as I take my roast goose out of the oven for Christmas dinner.

A designer wonders if the dials on stoves could be better designed. The proposed redesign makes sense but doesn't seem that practical to me. My stove has a little picture next to each dial demonstrating which burner it controls. After nearly ten months of constant use, I still have to check to make sure I'm lighting the correct one.

A little Whole Foods confusion

A friend of mine headed to the Union Square Whole Foods recently for some meat. She was interested in getting grass-fed stuff, and I told her that I knew they had grass-fed lamb from New Zealand, but wasn't sure about the beef offerings. Later she reported back about her experience (after purchasing lamb steaks and some ground beef). She says the butcher kept insisting that the beef was grass-fed, saying "See, it says, 'organic,' which means 'grass-fed.'"

Note to Whole Foods butchers: Organic does not mean grass-fed. Some organic may be grass-fed, some grass-fed beef may be organic. But it's not the same thing. It's confusing enough to figure out what's going on with our food supply. You'd expect someone who's selling it to you to at least have an understanding about what the labels mean.

In France, an éclade de moules is a kind of ritualized mussel-roast. "The mussels are arranged on a plank of pine that has been soaked in seawater, then covered with pine branches or grape vines that are set alight." Sounds delicious and makes me want to hop a plane right now to the Île de Ré.

I've created an archive page of all of Michael Ruhlman's post for this site. So you can access everything he wrote during his visit on one page.

Make your own wine with custom wine and custom crush services. You can blend varietals, determine the style, pick the kind of press, and many other things related to winemaking. In the end, you have your own custom wine. It sounds cool, if you can avoid screwing up and wasting $5000 to bottle your own bitter grape juice.

Of course, Americans eat too much salt and should reduce their intake. The article talks about the large amount of salt in processed food as the enemy. Not the small amount of salt used to sprinkle on eggs or in pasta water. Phew! I hardly ever eat processed food, so I think I'm OK for now.

Thanks, Meg!

Time to say farewell, and to thank you, Meg, for your great hospitality and generosity in allowing me to post on your blog. It's been a great experience, and has allowed me to explore some ideas I'd never have pursued in traditional media while using a voice that is only appropriate to a blog. I'm very much a believer in the how-do-I-know-what-I-think-till-I-read-what-I-write effect, so the freedom of the blog has helped me to figure some things out. Such as why the foie issue is so troubling to me.

In the end it's not about the foie. Life would be diminished in a very small way without foie gras but not drastically so (they way it would be, say, if pork were outlawed). It's that it represents another way uninformed people are trying to legislate what I am or am not allowed to eat. Government is happy to subsidize corn and encourage horrific treatment of billions of cows, pigs and chickens, to encourage through big business processed food that is bad for us, and then tell me that I'm not allowed to eat a natural product from an animal that has (in my opinion, as of now, though this may change) been humanely raised. When people tell me what I can or cannot eat based on a moral contention of their own, that really pisses me off. It's happening throughout our society. The foie issue embodies this troubling trend in America.

I believe that the issues about food that are discussed on the food blogs are important because how we eat determines how we live, literally and metaphorically. How we eat, and the decisions we make, shape the world. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are a dangerous species--a wickedly smart predator that has so far managed to avoid the ecological disasters of its own predation. I hope we continue to do so, for my kids' sake, but it's going to get harder and harder. We're trashing our livestock; through genetic engineering and the creation of a monoculture, creating powerful bugs that can kill; we're fishing out our oceans, working our way down the food chain, and we're pretty much at the bottom feeders now; we're creating massive dead zones in our oceans from agricultural pollutants, bankrupting our fossil fuel supply and burning holes in the atmosphere.

So yes, dammit, that's why foie gras is important: because it's NOT important. Does that make sense? It shouldn't be important, but it has become important, and that is the shame of it.

See, there I go. I start out thanking Meg, and I tumble into another rant. But it seems to be the only way to be heard. Flannery O'Connor once explained that all her characters were in effect caricatures because it was the only way to make people see. Blogs seem to be particularly good at this as well. Food is important, arguably the most important thing there is, that and water. And blogging well and intelligently about food is important. Maybe it can change things. I hope.

So many thanks to all the excellent readers who commented on the issues, elevating and enhancing them and giving them perspective and balance. And again, many thanks for the opportunity to hang out for a short time on your excellent blog, Meg. I'll be reading.


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