Easier Printing

Mon, Mar 16 • 0

I’ve tinkered a bit with the site design, making it so that a lot of the stuff for navigation on the sidebar, and some of the page formatting gets hidden when you want to print a particular post or the front page of this site. Still trying to decide if I should include comments on the print out, or just leave the main entry. For now, they stay in, mostly because I haven’t been able to make them hide.

Lobel’s : Who are your customers?

Wed, Mar 11 • 0

I took advantage of a promotional $50 gift certificate from Lobel’s, an upscale New York meat market that also does mail-order, at least 7 or 8 years ago, and I’ve been on their mailing list ever since. I have to admit that their products do look appealing, and am occasionally tempted to make a purchase, until I think about how much I’d be spending for what I’d be getting.

bacon_smoked_bgFor example,while I was looking around their site, I noticed that they sell Double Hickory Smoked Slab Bacon, unsliced, in 2½ pound slabs, for $29.98 — pricey, but considering how difficult it is to find uncut slab bacon, it might be worth it for a splurge — that is, until you roll in their shipping fees : another $26.95 on top of that. This means the bacon ends up being $22.78 a pound, or a total order price $56.93.

It really makes me wonder who they think will order from them, especially in this economy. Still, they’ve been in business for 5 generations, so there’s got to be people willing to part with their money.

Pocket Guide to Pesticides

Wed, Mar 11 • 0

The Environmental Working Group has just released their updated Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Based on 87,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2007 by the US FDA and USDA, they list the 12 worst and 15 best foods to consider in an effort to  limit your exposure to pesticides, which, despite rinsing and peeling, can only be avoided if they are grown using organic methods.

“Those who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2…”

The “dirty dozen” foods are peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears. They recommend you buy these items as organics if you can, or not at all.

The “clean 15” foods are onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwis, cabbages, eggplants, papyas, watermelons, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. The methods in producing these foods, even if they’re done using “conventional,” modern farming practices, are thought to be safe.

High Pressure Chili

Wed, Mar 4 • 0

So I ended up making chili con carne tonight using my new pressure cooker, pretty much just as described by Jacques in the last post. I used a course grind of buffalo meat instead of beef, and I saved the green onions for the end instead of putting them in the pot at the beginning. I also skipped the jalepeno/habenero in favor of Muir Glen organic roasted tomatoes with chipotle and garlic, which provided enough heat for the mild kind of chili my wife will eat.

It worked out really well. The beans were completely cooked, and the chili had great flavor. The only thing I noticed is that the cooking time of 1 hour is a little deceptive. It took at least 30 minutes for the pressure cooker to get up to pressure after I clamped on the lid. Still, from dried bean to finished chili, the total time including prep and pressurizing was 1 hour, 45 minutes. I’m happy with my purchase, and I really recommend it.

1½ lbs. coarse grind buffalo (or regular ground beef, or ground turkey, or stew meat)
8 ounces dried red kidney beans (about 1½ cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes in serrano sauce
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
3 cups cold water
2 teaspoons salt

Brown the buffalo meat in batches in the pressure cooker, then put all of the other ingredients but the salt in. (Salt inhibits the cooking process, esp. with the beans.) Clamp on the lid, and set it on high pressure for 60 minutes. Add salt before serving, and garnish with greek yogurt, chopped green onion, shredded chedder, avocado … also great over baked potatoes. Makes about 8 servings.

Hook, Line and Sinker

Wed, Mar 4 • 0

Ok. So I fell for it.

I watched Jacques Pepin make chili con carne in an electric pressure cooker. I didn’t even know these things existed. I’d been contemplating purchasing a regular pressure cooker for awhile now. I added one to my Amazon shopping cart; I turned down the corner of the page in the Sur la Table catalog … but nothing pushed me over the edge until I watched this cooking show.

He just poured the dried beans into the pot right out of the bag. He added raw hamburger, and water and canned tomatoes and tomato paste and spices. He clamped on the lid, and said that he’d have chili in an hour. (I’ve snipped out just the parts where he demonstrates the chili recipe … the first video is the prep, and the second one shows him serving it. The whole episode is here.)

I looked on the internet, and saw recipes for pot roast in less than an hour. Chicken stock in 40 minutes. I read that this cooker let you brown your meat in it first without making you dirty up another pan. It also has a setting that lets you simmer the contents once the pressure is off, to keep it warm. Contrary to his demonstration, it really doesn’t seem to be designed to let you put the ingredients in, then go off to work or the store, and have it wait, and then turn itself on 45 minutes before you get home. Instead, the timer is more a way to limit the amount of time the food cooks under pressure — the device will build up the pressure, cook for the time you’ve set on the timer, and then shut off. (On re-reading the manual, it’ll cook for the allotted time, and then switch to “simmer” mode — so I guess you could set it up, let it cook, and then it’ll keep warm all day long while you were shopping or at work.)

Well, of course I had to have one. I had some credit built up on Amazon, so I ordered it.

And then I re-watched the cooking show, and only then realized that the whole damn show is sponsored by Cuisinart, the people who make the electric pressure cooker. What’s more, the unsweetened chocolate he puts in is made by yet another of his sponsors. I realized I’d been bamboozled. Oh, Jacques! How could you? If anyone would resist being a infomercial pitch-man, it’d be you.

So, the cooker showed up this afternoon, and I was tempted to make dinner using it, but then I figured I should wait and try some of the recipes from the little cookbook that came with it, instead of just winging it. I don’t have much buyer’s remorse. I’m still glad I bought it, but the proof will be in the pudding.

Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, $149

Doing Without : Refrigerator?

Fri, Feb 13 • 0

fridgeRecently, the New York Times reported a new phenomenon … in an effort to save energy, some people are choosing to live without a refrigerator. The article cites that 99.5% of all households have one, and each one uses enough energy and pollutes the environment to equal anywhere from 55 gallons to 110 gallons of fuel per year. Seems pretty hardcore. The woman they interview in their article is sort of cheating, if you ask me, with her freezer in the basement, which she uses to create bottles of ice to keep a camp cooler cold. But, on the other hand, I don’t know if I could do without my fridge. I do suspect I could get along fine with a smaller model — maybe like a dorm-sized one, like many of my friends in Europe seem to get by with. It would be the end of full-week, or multi-day shopping, though. I’d be forced to shop for the food I was going to eat that very day. And I don’t really see that as a bad thing, if only a little inconvenient. All in all, it’s an interesting proposal for reducing wasted energy. Do you think you could do it?

Foodie Jargon, Jan ’09

Sat, Jan 31 • 0

bilingual adj. Out of the types of celestial seasoning tea, the bilingual teas seem to appeal mostly to Hispanic communities. These teas are called bilingual because they mix two different flavor like banana and apple, or cinnamon and apple, or honey and lemon, and so on.

belly wadding n. In the cowboy movies we often see cow punchers and gunfighters pull out what appears to be a short strip of leather and chew away on it—somewhat of a substitute for ribs and beans when they were on the trail or when there was a lull in dodging bullets. Some of the cowboys referred to it as “belly wadding.”

sugar hat n. The key is to find a sugar cone (also known as a “sugar hat”) which is a solid piece of white sugar that you can flame.

murphy style n. I ask this question in the Christmas section because you always see gift packs with coffee beans and it’s not instant coffee. And I am always worried that the gift receipient doesn’t have a coffee maker. Yes, you can make it “murphy style” or some refer to it as cowboy or camp side style. Just use the ground bean and a pot of water, bring to a boil and let the grounds settle.

oyster n. Tuck the knife behind the ball and cut the leg free. As you cut past the socket joint, don’t forget to arc the knife around the little pocket of meat known in birds as the “oyster,” as this is the best part. The oyster is small in wild ducks, but is very large in turkeys, geese and pheasants.

ham fat musician n. He went from being a “ham fat” musician (a term for amateur players in reference to young trombonists greasing their slides with lard) to a professional.

pizza stone n. Baking stone: A stone creates a more even temperature and the crunchy-chewy crust that bakers seek. Also known as a pizza stone, this large porous tile can be left in the bottom of the oven at all times to even the heat.

white tablecloth restaurant n. An upscale or expensive restaurant, as opposed to a casual or fast-food restaurant. “I’m able to do coupons and help people who are on tight budgets who still want to go out to eat. It’s the Ruth Chris Steakhouses and the white tablecloth restaurants who will see an effect.”

yak n. Their discovery of cognac—“yak” as they affectionately call it—started a fashion among young black Americans who, in a practice considered heresy in France, mix it with fruit juices to make cocktails such as French Connection and Incredible Hulk. The rappers even wrote songs about Hennessy Cognac, referring to it as “Henny” or “Henn-dog.”

Courtesy of The Double-Tongued Dictionary.

The Deadly Bhut Jolokia

Wed, Jan 21 • 0

This video, which made the rounds on the internet a week or so ago, depicts the effects of eating a really hot pepper. the bhut jolokia, which has a Scoville rating of 1,000,000. (In comparison, the habenero has a rating of 33,000.)

Anway, you’ll see that this guy ends up all sooty at the end, 3 hours after ingesting … or maybe that should be “in jesting.”

(More videos after the jump.)
Keep reading…

Revenge of the Roasted Beast

Wed, Jan 21 • 0

This past weekend, we had a late family holiday get-away in the Pocono’s and I volunteered to make dinner for one of the nights, so I pulled out my recipe for Roast Beast, the same one I posted here last month. This time, I made four roasts instead of just one, for a crowd of about 20 people, kids and adults. Each roast was about 3 pounds each. And instead of just plain pepper, I coated each with a mixture of Penzeys’ Mignonette and minced, dried garlic. Despite all the problems with the kitchen in the lodge we’d rented (only the 2 smaller of the 4 electric burners worked, and the only pan I could find was a very, very scratched non-stick griddle pan), the dinner was a total success. The meat turned out perfectly done … though I probably should have rotated the pan in the oven during the long, slow roast, because the uneven heating made one roast more cooked than the other three. Still, even the pickiest of kids finished what was on their plate, and many people came back for seconds and thirds. My sister-in-law raved so much, I ended up giving her the print-out of the recipe I was using.

I do think one crucial necessity for the recipe is a good, accurate probe thermometer. I use a Thermapen, but the high price ($89) makes it a total luxury item for most. (I have read that there’s a cheaper alternative that is used in the air-conditioning industry that has a slightly larger probe diameter, but is otherwise identical to this one, and costs about half as much.)

Food Neologisms for December, ’08

Tue, Dec 30 • 0

“Bowl of red,” “Randall,” and “Sikparazzi.”

bowl of red n. The fact that a Texas “bowl of red,” as chili is commonly called, has no original relationship with past didn’t matter.

Randall n. Wayne decided to attach a bag of NZ Cascade hops to one of his taps- apparently this is referred to as a “Randall.” It created a crazy hoppy beer that got crazier as more beer was poured through it. After a few hours it just started smelling like a bag of hops straight out of the freezer.

sikparazzi n. Just as paparazzi follow Hollywood stars for a living, hoping to catch them slipping up on film—many so called “sikparazzi,” a combination of the Korean word for food and paparazzi, will be checking up on restaurants and food venders to detect unhygienic, inappropriate or fake ingredients, also in the hopes of a payday.

Lovingly culled from Double-Tongued Dictionary.

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