Brown eggs promote genetic diversity

Reader Emily writes in with some interesting information regarding brown eggs and diversity.

The argument I've heard (from the environmentalists) is that you should choose brown eggs to preserve genetic diversity. The brown chickens are in the minority. The white chickens are mass produced for meat and for eggs. The argument is that if you buy brown eggs you keep up demand for these more rare chickens, and hence the diversity.

She also included a link to The ICYouSee Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart: An Alphabetical List of More than 60 Chicken Breeds With Comparative Information. Handy is right! It makes me wish I could have my own chickens here in Manhattan, but I don't think they'd do well inside an apartment. Especially not with our cat. But if I could, I'd totally get chickens that lay blue and blue-green eggs.

You might want to do that Shawangunk Wine Trail in the near future, as Luxist has some information on Global Warming And The Future of Wine. Sounds like some wine-making regions will be threatened by changing weather and possibly unable to grow their current varietals of grapes.

Go wine tasting in the Hudson River Valley

Wine-tasting at vineyards near New York City? I didn't even know that was possible! But the Shawangunk Wine Trail, "is nestled between the famous Shawangunk Mountains and the majestic Hudson River in Ulster County, just 85 miles north of New York City." It's an organization of eight wineries and you can visit and sample their wines. There are plenty of other attractions in the area, from nature trails to farmer's markets. I guess it makes sense, but really, I had no idea this was just upstate. I'm going to go check it out for sure.

Augieland's eating Otto's Ramps Pizza, and he's got a photo and it looks yummy! I've been meaning to make some dough and get back into using my pizza stone here at home. Perhaps tonight we'll try a homemade ramps pizza. His just sounds so yummy!

Creating giant sized snacks

My new favorite web site is Pimp My Snack, where people recreate typical snacks but make them bigger and better. I'm keeping this one in mind for next Easter: Giant Creme Egg! This guy combined 22 Cadbury creme eggs into one giant egg, and I have to say it looks delicious. Then he sold the monster on eBay for &164;17.03.

I don't know what it is about changing the size of something, but I'm smitten with mini items (like baby chocolate bread puddings I made recently and have been meaning to write up) and maxi items. There's something about creating a homemade Reeses Mothership that I just adore.

McMenu: Do-It-Yourself McDonald's Restaurant Recipes. Hmmm...I'm not sure I like McDonald's enough to make it at home. Now do it yourself In-N-Out burgers? Or do it yourself Shake Shack? That would be something!

From NPR's "All Things Considered," White Eggs, Brown Eggs: What's the Difference? Anyone who grew up in Massachusetts in the eighties can tell you, without having to even listen to the audio: "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!" At least, that's what the TV was always telling me. And it sure stuck, I always buy brown eggs. I only buy white eggs if that's all they sell, and I do so begrudgingly.

Over at The Kitchen Sara Kate's got a Spotlight On: Ramps. Since the ramp season is so short in New York City, there's a flurry of activity right now while they're available. Yesterday at the Union Square Greenmarket I saw no less than five vendors with piles of them. I'm going back for more tomorrow!

Ramp country festival this weekend

According to their website, Richwood, West Virginia is the heart of ramp country. To celebrate, they're having the Richwood Ramp Fest this Saturday, April 22. Where exactly? "Located in the south central portion of West Virginia in Nicholas County, deep in the hills, accessible by two-lane paved road and Richwood is situated just at the edge of the Monongahela National Forest." Drat! I had ramps last night for the first time, and they were yummy. This festival sounds fun but I can't make it this year, perhaps next year.

With temperatures already in the 70s here in New York City today, and expected to go as high as 80°, who wouldn't want to have A Simple Yet Chic Picnic this evening? Clotilde tells you how in this NPR column from last summer. But you better get on it, because the forecast is for a return to more seasonal April showers and colder temps this weekend.

An easy way to spice up your spring salads

From Bryan Miller over at NPR, Stop the Madness: Make Your Own Salad Dressing.

Making your own salad dressing is embarrassingly easy -- and cheaper than buying it in the store. Of course, preparing vinaigrette every day could become a nuisance, especially, if, like me, you often forget to make it until the last minute when hot food is already on the table. My solution: Make big batches of the stuff and store it in wine bottles or mason jars.

I always make my own dressing, and like Bryan I often wait until nearly the last minute. Lately I've been better and whip it up while I've got a down minute during dinner prep, like right after I put something in the oven. Then it's ready to go and all I need to do is pour it over the salad when the time comes. I heartily recommend making your own dressings, it's so simple and so much tastier!

A rise in sickness due to oysters

Because nothing good can last and all my joys must be squashed forever, I read this article from The Washing Times, Oyster-related infections on rise. And just as I've been sharpening my oyster knife and readying myself to begin a little experiment to find the best oysters (not in a restaurant) in New York City! According to the article:

Oysters on the half-shell, long a treat for seafood lovers, have become an enemy of public health officials, who point to a continuing rise in human infections traced to the mollusks.

There has been a "sustained increase in incidence of [vibrio]," a bacteria primarily transmitted to humans who consume oysters that have not been thoroughly cooked, according to a report published in the current issue of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The culprit? A sneaky bacterium by the name of Vibrio vulnificus. From the CDC's Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases listing on Vibrio vulnificus, "Although oysters can be harvested legally only from waters free from fecal contamination, even legally harvested oysters can be contaminated with V. vulnificus because the bacterium is naturally present in marine environments. V. vulnificus does not alter the appearance, taste, or odor of oysters."

Yikes! One hope, at least for those of us up north: it likes warm seawater, so until it gets warm up here (and I don't know how warm is "warm" for V. vulnificus) we should be safe. I mean, as safe as one ever is eating raw seafood. [via]

Apparently no one gets fat in Europe

We already know that French Women Don't Get Fat, and now look who's rubbing it in as well? Italians! I spotted this article, Why Italian Women Don't Get Fat in May's Food & Wine. It was a little promotion for a new book Mediterranean Women Stay Slim, Too. "Sure, it all sounds great," you're saying to yourself, "But I'm American! What can I do?"

No worries, as a fellow American, I'm here to help you! Buoyed by the success of these "BLAH BLAH Women Don't Get Fat" books, I'm going to launch my own. But you don't have to wait to order a book from Amazon, because I'm going to do it right now here on the blog! Presenting, "Why Megnut Doesn't Get Fat Either."

First of all, I try to eat pretty healthily, and I eat very little processed food. I eat small portions, and I try to get some greens every day and some fruits and vegetables. But some days french fries have to count as vegetables. I try to just follow an "everything in moderation" approach. For me though, the bigger secret is exercise. I go to the gym or get some kind of physical activity (like a jog, hike, bike ride) nearly every day, which leads to my "Don't get fat" secret formula: don't consume more calories than you burn.

In all seriousness, weight is not a joking matter and I know it's a big struggle for a lot of people. But these books are killing me -- everyone gains weight if they consume more than they burn, even if they're French or Italian! Related, see Slate's Junk-Food Jihad: Should we regulate French fries like cigarettes? which talks about all the soda and fast food sold in public schools, among other things. While I think kids should be getting healthy foods in school, and shouldn't get soda, there's only so far I'd be willing to let health food regulations go. You can have my french fries when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers!

Using Google Base for Google cooking

I haven't really played around much with Google Base yet, but after hearing about that it's got a recipe search, I checked it out. The Google Base recipe search seems pretty cool. I haven't tried a full-on compare to regular Google cooking yet, so I don't know which is better. But the Base search is certainly more targeted. For example on Google Base I can enter "scallops" and get back all recipes, whereas Google cooking (entering "scallops" on the main Google page) yields lots of info about scallops, not just recipes. Anyway, good to know and perhaps I'll try using it more often. [via Lifehacker]

Driving in Mexico

Everyone tells you (by which I mean "everyone" who is writing guidebooks and "telling" me by my reading of their guidebooks) how hairy it is to drive in Mexico. But in general the Yucatán isn't as bad as some other areas I've driven around in the country. Everywhere you drive you need to be on the lookout for a tope (pronounced "tow-pay"), or speed bump. In general you find them on the outskirts of towns and on the main drags through them. They come in various shapes and sizes, some consisting of little round metal dots, others raised platforms of concrete. Some times they're quite wide if they're doubling as a sort of pedestrian walk-way. But my favorite were some homemade-looking ones we spotted, especially along the Boca Paila Road south of Tulum. They were just several thick pieces of rope laying across the road in a clump. Whenever we spotted one, I could not resist referring to them as ropes ("row-pay") because, see, they were topes made of rope. Ha ha, get it? Good times like these were numerous on our honeymoon.

Investigating the Bush presidency

Carl Bernstein (who forever is linked to Dustin Hoffman in my mind) has an essay on the Vanity Fair site calling for, Senate Hearings on Bush, Now.

After Nixon's resignation, it was often said that the system had worked. Confronted by an aberrant president, the checks and balances on the executive by the legislative and judicial branches of government, and by a free press, had functioned as the founders had envisioned.

The system has thus far failed during the presidency of George W. Bush—at incalculable cost in human lives, to the American political system, to undertaking an intelligent and effective war against terror, and to the standing of the United States in parts of the world where it previously had been held in the highest regard.

There was understandable reluctance in the Congress to begin a serious investigation of the Nixon presidency. Then there came a time when it was unavoidable. That time in the Bush presidency has arrived.

He makes a pretty compelling case, and I hope Congress wakes up one of these days and decides to take some action.

Some photos from Mexico

Self-portrait in new sombreroUnlike other trips (e.g. Ireland and Asia) I have stopped obsessing over my photos and decided to just go ahead and throw some up on Flickr so that others can actually see them! Honeymoon photo set on Flickr is now available for your viewing pleasure. I don't feel like the photos turned out as well as I'd hoped, and I also didn't take as many as I wanted to. One thing that's missing is some sense of the small town of Tulum, near where we stayed. But every time we were there it was either a) night or b) too hot to walk around and take pictures. So the collection is lacking a lot of what our daily experience was, and a sense of that general Mexican town. Perhaps with another trip, I'll be able to capture more of that.

Surely by now you've seen it, but if you haven't read Maciej's report, Argentina On Two Steaks A Day, do so immediately. Anything that warns about an, "awkward third bridge steak" is delicious-sounding by me.

Back to reality

Ghosts in Mexico

We're back from our honeymoon in Mexico and it was totally excellent. Though this photo is a bit weird, I kind of like it so it's the first one I've posted from the trip. I took a bunch of long exposure night shots, just for fun. This is a portrait I took of us on the deck of our cabaña. Those specks of white are stars. More details about the picture at Flickr, just click on it to see. Now that I'm back, there's lots to do. Mostly though I just feel like looking through my photos and remembering the great time we had.

A coconut french toast to make

Ok, one final recipe to share before I return and regale you with tales from Mexico. I spotted this Crunchy Coconut French Toast and thought it sounded super yummy! A nice change from the usual french toast and looks pretty easy to make too. So this weekend, why not treat your taste buds to a taste of the tropics?

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