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  • Archive | July, 2007

    Aquafina is Tap Water

    Kudos for Pepsi (the owners of Aquafina) for finally leveling with their consumers, but I wonder if anyone is really all that suprised at their announcement that Aquifina comes from municipal water sources.

    Ethanol Update

    I don’t wish to turn this into an “alterna-energy” blog, so you’ll probably not hear much more beyond this post. But some folks have asked why I’m suspicious of ethanol, and I think it is worth addressing.

    The short answer is that I don’t trust any of the major players who’ll end up benefiting from the largesse that supporting ethanol to bring. Or to put it another way – any time Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill are happy, I get instantly suspicious.

    Yes, yes, this is hardly a good, sound scientific reason. This is why I don’t write about energy.

    However, it seems like the good folk over at Law for Food was able to dig up at least one good reason to be against ethanol -

    Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units Of Energy To Produce Just One.

    Cream of Scallop Soup

    Due to a little accident in a swimming pool involving a flip, a misplaced hand, and a particularly vicious wall, I am current without use of one of my fingers on my right hand. If there are more than the average amount of misspellings for the next few days, let’s feel free to blame the injured finger.

    Since I’m going to be exploring Ireland and Scotland both via books, and in person, I thought it would be interesting if I could produce a few of the recipes from the region that happened to strike my fancy. I’ve touched upon Irish food before, albeit briefly, so I may get a little more in depth.

    The first recipe captured my attention for two reasons – First, it’s fairly simple to make and I didn’t wish to tax myself too much yesterday afternoon. Secondly, it contains scallops, also known as “nature’s perfect shellfish”.

    I really enjoyed this dish. Yes, it’s a little simple for those of us who prefer chowders, but from my point of view, scallops are best when simplified. As an added bonus, this soup is very cheap to make, with all of the ingredients adding up to only a little over 12 dollars (we got the scallops for 7 dollars a pound).

    I found this recipe in The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook, and altered it just a tad.

    • 1/2 white onion, sliced
    • 3 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
    • 3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
    • 6 cups light cream or whole milk, or any combination of the two
    • 1 Tablespoon Anchovy Paste
    • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
    • White pepper, to taste
    • 1 lb bay scallops, washed, drained and patted dry
    • 3 Tablespoons fresh Dill, chopped

    In a medium sized sauce pan that has been placed over medium high heat, add the onions and butter. Allow the butter to melt and cook the onions until they just start to turn translucent, about five minutes. Add the flour and whisk together and allow to turn a light brown.

    Slowly pour in the cream, just as if you were making a bechamel sauce. Cook between 8 – 10 minutes, ensuring that the soup is smooth. Stir in the Anchovy paste and lemon juice and add pepper to taste.

    Add the Scallops to the soup and then immediately lower the heat to medium/medium low. Cook for another four minutes and remove from the heat completely. Add two tablespoons of the dill and mix in well, and save the remaining dill for garnishing the tops of individual servings.

    Serve immediately.

    Serves 6

    sloppy seconds guaranteed

    comfort food heaven

    I’ve always steered clear of canned meats in the supermarket, SPAM being the most auspicious of them all. Sloppy joes – whatever those cans contained – were a close second, making me wonder how exactly one could voluntarily consume what is inside the metal can. Needless to say, I have never purchased them, nor read the label. They’ve scared me that much.

    Home-made sloppy joes, on the other hand, is one of those meals you can make on the spur of the moment, provided, of course, that you have ground meat. Most people keep various condiments in their house, so unless you’re a condiment hater, you will probably have to go out and buy all new ingredients for this. KS, my boyfriend, has a bit more time on his hands nowadays, so he’s been cooking up a storm, treating me to delectable tabbouleh, home-made Italian meatballs (and homemade sauce), and now, these really good sloppy joes. Adam Sandler would be so excited were he to read this.

    on a grilled brioche bun

    This recipe came from Saveur magazine, a food nerd’s pantheon of beautifully written articles, and seductive photography. I’ve been a subscriber for many years and I have to say, for the small number of pages this magazine packs – it sure delivers a gourmet punch. When it goes on ethnic recipe spreads – it goes all out. Their section on Vladivostok in the most current issue is quite impressive, and the Russian food, is for the most part, dead on.

    However, if we really must give the recipe its credit, then the first version of this was published in My Best Meat Recipes (National Live Stock and Meat Board, 1945) under the title “Barbecued Ground Beef”. The Saveur staff, after scanning the ingredients list – recognized the recipe as sloppy joes. And here it is for your viewing and hopefully cooking pleasure. I loved every bite of it and will undoubtedly beg KS to make more. My one piece of advice is this (actually make that two): if you can, get your butcher to grind the meat for you, for obvious reasons being hygiene, quality and freshness. And secondly, if you can get your hands on good buns (hamburger that is) try to do that. Good bread significantly improves the dish, but I’m sure you already knew that! And I guarantee you, you’ll want to go back for those sloppy seconds!

    2 tbsp butter
    1 yellow onion chopped
    1 green pepper, cored and chopped
    1 lb ground beef
    1 cup ketchup
    2 tbsp mustard
    1 tbsp. white vinegar
    1 tbsp. sugar
    1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves

    Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 small finely chopped yellow onion and 1 small cored, seeded, and finely chopped green bell pepper and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Add 1 lb. ground beef and cook until browned, 6–8 minutes. Add 1 cup ketchup, 2 tbsp. mustard, 1 tbsp. white vinegar, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and dark, 25–30 minutes. (Degrease, if desired.) Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve on buttered, toasted hamburger buns. Makes 6 servings.

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    Last Meals – Lunch

    Okay, we’ve done our last breakfasts…what would you have for your last lunch?

    I’m torn for this one, as there are several options I’d want to take, none of them in the same city.

    So assuming I have enough money, this is how I’d work it out -

    • a Capicola and Cheese Sandwich from Primanti Bros. Served at their original location in Pittsburghs Strip District.
    • Homemade Pirogies, with extra butter and onions.
    • a Tall glass of Pyramid’s Hefe Weisen, my latest beer of choice.
    • And if I had room, a slice of Neopolitan Style Pizza

    Short, sweet and to the point.

    Another Effect of the Ethanol Boom

    We’ve talked about this before, about how a raise in the corn prices have a ripple effect that affects products that rely on corn later on downstream. Now comes another of these stories, this time the “victim” of the higher corn prices is the meat industry.

    Higher corn prices mean higher feed costs for cattle, hog and chicken producers. Some ranchers are having a harder time securing grazing land, or are paying higher rents, as farmers convert acres to corn.

    The result: one of the bigger shoot-’em-ups between growers and ranchers since the 1800s, when farmers fenced in the open range. Rather than firearms, the weapons of choice this time are lobbyists and dueling economic studies.

    “Where is our feed going to come from, what is going to happen to our competitive position internationally?” asks Jesse Sevcik of the American Meat Institute, noting that the livestock sector is losing its position to ethanol as the main consumer of U.S. corn.

    I’m not a fan of ethanol, but I’m hardly in a position to speak with any authority on energy issues.

    That being said, I’m still in shock that no one in a position authority thought about what would happen to the food industry while the government was planning on getting behind the corn industry. Sometimes I’m too naive for my own good.

    The Faux History of Bushmills

    Anyone who reads a bottle of Bushmills will likely be drawn to the year “1608″ on the top of the label. In fact, next year, they are going to celebrate the “400th anniversary of the 1608 license to distill”.

    What’s that you say? Is the phrase “400th anniversary of the 1608 license to distill” is a little clumsy off the tongue? Why don’t they just say “Bushmill’s 400th Anninversary”?

    The answer is that 399 years ago, Bushmills did not exist. Heck, Bushmills distillery wasn’t officially registered until 1784, 176 years after the year listed on their bottle. Bushmill’s is playing a little loose with the history of Irish Whiskey and their own legacy.

    The 1608 year has to deal with the license granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester. This license granted its bearer the “right” to determine who could or could not distill in the area of Rowte in county Antrim. Of course, if one wanted to distill, they would have to hand over a nominal fee to the holder of this license.

    So what Bushmill’s is celebrating is not the age of the company that distills Bushmills whiskey, but rather the age of the license that permitted distilling in the area in which Bushmills exists – which, as luck would have it, is also called Bushmills.