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  • Archive | September, 2006

    From the Department of Bad Ideas

    Redux Beverages, based out of Las Vegas, makes an energy drink called “Cocaine“.

    Technorati Tags: Energy Drinks

    ARRRRGGGHHHHH!!! Foie Gras 2: The Return

    If this rumor about foie gras is true then I have the following question:

    Is Michael Panter…

    a) an idiot?
    b) clueless?
    c) looking to score ‘easy’ political points?

    According to Anthony Bourdain, freshmand New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Panter (who happens to be a vegetarian) will introduce a bill making production and sale of foie gras in that state a crime. Mr. Bourdain explains that “D’Artagnan, the premier supplier of foie gras and foie-gras related products for New York tri state area restaurants and retail would be forced to go out of business or move elsewhere”.

    Look, I’ve mentioned this before. This isn’t so much an issue about foie gras as it as about having a government dictate choices based on morality…a morality, by the way, that not everyone shares. Imagine if an assemblyman wanted to ban veal or horsemeat. Oh wait, too late for that one.

    I would like to point out that many New Jersey farms were dealt a serious financial blow with the latest Spinach/E. Coli outbreak. They paid a financial penalty for a problem in which they were not the cause. I would love to hear how much attention Assemblyman Panter is giving that issue, and whether that issue is more or less important than the foie gras one. I, for one, would be thrilled to know how Panter would like to prevent tainted spinach from other parts of the country reach his constituents’ tables, and how much effort and work he is putting in to reach those ends.

    Technorati Tags: Food Politics, Foie Gras

    Stuffed Tomatoes

    Sometimes, I just gotta stuff something.

    I know, I know, it sounds a little dirty, but I find stuffed foods to be a little more extravagent than your “steamed broccoli” or “sauteed spinach”. Everyone deserves a little extravagence in their lives.

    After making this, both Tara and I determined that this would make a great side dish, probably served with a nice piece of prime rib.

    • 5 oz. dried wild mushrooms
    • 3 oz. rum
    • 6 oz. water
    • 4 tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 red skin potato, peeled and diced
    • 1 red onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 4fl oz double cream
    • 3/4 cup of bread crumbs
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
    • drizzle of olive oil
    • drizzle of balsamic vinegar
    • fresh oregano (garnish)

    Place the mushrooms in a small bowl. Add the rum and water, allowing the mushrooms to reconstitute, approximately 1 hour.

    After the one hour, rre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Remove the top of the tomatoes. Spoon out the pulp inside and discard, leaving a shell.

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet pan. Add the the potatoes and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, allowing them to to become slightly brown. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent.

    Dice the mushrooms, and add them to the potato/onion melange. Stir in the vinegar, cream and a splash of water and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes to reduce. Add the breadcrumbs and cheese, and mix well. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes and remove from heat.

    Remove the stuffing from the heat and spoon the mixture into the tomatoes. Place in a glass baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil.

    Bake in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle a little balsamic over each tomato. Garnish with oregano and serve.

    Serves 4

    Technorati Tags: Recipe, Tomato, Stuffed Tomato

    Another Spinach Recall

    From komo-news:

    Pacific Coast Fruit Company is recalling salad and pizza that may have been made with spinach supplied by Natural Selections Foods, and that was distributed in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

    The salad bears a “use-by” date of Sept. 20, and the pizza products have a “use-by” date of Sept. 23, according to the USDA

    Odd that Natural Selections Foods name keeps popping up. Okay, maybe not that odd.

    Technorati Tags: Spinach, E.Coli

    The Food Network and its True Purpose

    Meeting new people is a chore for me. It’s not that I don’t wish to create new friendships and develop social networks; it’s that I’m so bad at it.

    I make this admission, not only to provide you a bit of insight into my own psyche, but to explain why I don’t talk about the Food Network all that much on this site.

    At the times when I do find myself at social events, I’ve found myself introduced as a “food blogger”, which is only interesting to about 1 tenth of one percent of the people to whom I’ve been introduced . In discussing food blogging, most people gravitate to the word “food” and inevitably ask the following question:

    “So, do you watch the Food Network?”

    I answer honestly – I don’t.

    Cue awkward silence, as the only knot that tied together our conversation has been slowly unraveled. I then imagine my talking partner thinking “what kind of food expert doesn’t watch the Food Network” whilst at the same time my thought go something along the lines of  ”Doesn’t this person know that the Food Network is more about promoting an unattainable lifestyle than it is about promoting food?”

    The conversation then dies a lonely death and each of us goes our separate way.

    I blame the Food Network for all of this.

    It’s not that I dislike the network. Truth be told, I rarely put forth any time even thinking about the channel. I like Alton Brown well enough, and I had a healthy respect for Sara Moulton, David Rosengarten and even Mario Batali. It wasn’t that they were necessarily entertaining (although most were). Rather, it was because after watching them, I felt as if I learned something. Whether it was learning the molecular composition of honey, or that it’s okay to serve beer with an alarming amount of “gourmet” dishes, I often felt enriched at the end of each respective program..

    Once that feeling started going away, the less interested I became in the Food Network. If you followed the history of the network, you can probably figure out when that happened. Bill Buford knows about the Food Network, and spells it out quite plainly in his most recent New Yorker article about the Food Network:

    (Judy) Girard became president in 2001. When I met her, the following year, she was fifty-six, with blond hair, a slight build, an easy manner, and nothing to hide; frank but not theatrical, calm to the point of seeming tranquillized, no flash or fast-talking speech about “a vision thing,” which I now suspect was because her job had been so simply defined: make the bottom line work. She wasn’t interested in James Beard Awards or good reviews; the only press that mattered was in the financial pages, because her allegiance was unwaveringly to “her community” -the investors.

    It was roughly that time that I started to notice changes in the shows I saw. I was no longer being talked to, I was being talked at. Soft lighting started showing up, as well bagged vegetables and pre-made sauces. The food became sanitized, and the Martha Stewart lifestyle became the focus. The network was no longer about making good food and understanding it, it became about using food to impress other people. Whether it was getting a meal out in 30 minutes, or making the perfect thanksgiving feast, the shows seemed to sell the idea of “having” food knowledge, without actually having any.

    Even Buford noted the sanitization:

    I found myself taking stock not of what I’d seen during the preceding seventy-two hours but of what I hadn’t. I couldn’t recall very many potatoes with dirt on them, or beets with ragged greens, or carrots with soil in their creases, or pieces of meat remotely reminiscent of the animals they were butchered from – hardly anything, it seemed, from the planet Earth. There were hamburgers and bacon, but scarcely any other red animal tissue except skirt steak, probably, it occurs to me now, because of its two unique qualities: its texture and its name.

    Food is not sanitized. Food can be dirty and bloody.

    And more to the point, unsanitized, dirty and bloody food does not make for good television.

    Let’s get straight to the issue here – the majority of American television networks are not designed with entertaining, education, or providing news reports. They are designed to make money. If the Food Network couldn’t make money through providing “food education” they had to find another way to do so. There’s nothing wrong with that. My own preference was for the former and when they moved away from it, I moved away from them.

    I do give the Food Network kudos for at least keeping food in the national discourse. But just as one cannot understand the intricacies and nuances television or movies by reading Entertainment Weekly, one cannot understand the intricacies and nuances of food by watching the Food Network.

    Technorati Tags: Bill Buford, Food Network

    FDA in perspective follow up

    Here are the answers to this post.

    1. The Transportation Security Administration – 6.223 billion dollar budget
    2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – 3.681 billion dollar budget
    3. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute – 2.901 billion dollar budget
    4. Emergency Spending for AIDS relief – 2.894 billion dollar budget
    5. Military Spending for Israel – 2.34 billion dollar budget
    6. The cost of one Virginia Class Submarine – 1.775 billion dollar budget
    7. Food and Drug Administration – 1.545 billion dollar budget
    8. Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance – 1.540 billion dollar budget

    That’s right. We live in a world where one submarine costs more than the entire budget of the agency that provides oversight to the food and pharmaceutical industries.

    Technorati Tags: Food Politics

    Latest Spinach Update

    Another bag of spinach found contaminated with E. Coli, this time in Utah. It too was a bag of Dole Baby Spinach, which also had been processed at a Natural Selection plant. It had a use-by date of Aug. 30.

    Meanwhile, the FDA has changed the stance on their ban, rewording it to state:

    Consumers are advised not to purchase or consume fresh spinach if they cannot verify that it was grown in areas other than the three California counties (Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara) implicated in the outbreak. Other produce grown in these counties is not implicated in this outbreak. Processed spinach (e.g., frozen and canned spinach) is also not implicated in this outbreak

    And if you can determine the counties in which your spinach was grown, you’re doing better than a great majority of American consumers.

    Technorati Tags: Spinach, E.Coli