• Contact
  • Tag Archives: trivia

    Is there “Milk” in a “Milk Stout”?

    Ah, milk stouts. One of my favorite beers. Of course most beers are one of my favorites, but let’s not debate semantics at this point.

    So what makes a milk stout a milk stout? There must be milk in the beer, right?

    No. Nope. Nien.

    Actually, it’s milk sugar, known to you and I as lactose, that is the key ingredient in the stout. It’s there to add sweetness to the beer without being consumed by the yeast in the fermentation process.

    This sugar, along with its “milk” qualifier, made many folk believe that these sorts of stouts were more healthy and nutritious than other beers on the market. Too bad it’s not true.

    What is Free Range Chicken?

    Free-Range has two definitions in the United States of America, both of which are used by various poultry farmers.

    Its premise is that animals should not be kept in pens or cages throughout the duration of their lives, and should be allowed to…well…behave like animals. What this means is that cows should be allowed to graze in pastures and chickens should be allowed walk around unfettered by cages. So first and foremost, it’s a farming philosophy that is advocated by some.

    The second definition is a legal one, a “requirement” that must be applied to the chicken. It differs from country to country, but here in the United States it says that if meat has been labeled free range, then it means that “Livestock or poultry has been allowed access to the outside”(You’ll need to scroll down to the appropriate definition).

    However (and there’s always a “however”), some poultry producers intepret the above in different ways. Some apply the standard exactly the same way as the philosophy intends.

    But as Michael Pollans found out in “The Omnivore’s Dillema” while researching orgnaic chicken, some producers apply the legal definition of “free range” while ignoring the spirit of the law. What this means is that during the chickens life-span, they live in large buildings with doors that the poultry managers hope never are used.

    About the “free-range” moniker – no other criteria are covered by this term. The food the birds eat, the size of the range, the number of birds raised together, or the space allowed to each bird are NOT covered by the “free-range”. If a poultry company wishes to apply “free range” to their lable, the must show that their birds have access to the outdoors. That’s it.

    Even more interesting is the fact that there is no legal definition of the term “free range” when applied to eggs. What that means is that “free range eggs” may have a philosophical definition, but there is no governing body to which any requirements can be judged. Something to keep in mind when looking at eggs.

    Technorati Tags: Food, Chicken, Free Range, USDA

    Citrus Fruit Biology

    Before delving (yes, it’s a word)too far into the world of Citrus, it’s probably a good idea to get basic biology of the fruit down pat, and then turn it into food terms so that the differences in the fruits can be discerned.

    First things first however. Citrus fruits actually have their own special name – hesperidium. It means “berry with a leathery rind”. So now we have another euphamism for naughty male bits, as in “Nigel, if your going to play rugby, it’s best to protect your hesperidiums.” Let’s see if we can get the young folks to work that into their vernacular, shall we?

    Generally speaking, a citrus fruit has 6 components that comprise the fruit. They are:

    • Exocarp: aka the Flavedo. This is what we foodies consider the zest of the fruit. Other people consider it the outside part of the skin. It’s the part of the fruit that is colored and fair amount of oils that taste great.
    • Mesocarp: aka the Albedo, or the white, inner part of the skin, usually an off white color and differing thickness depending on the fruit. This section, although edible, is quite bitter and is best left alone.
    • Endocarp: The Juice ventricles found within each slice of citrus. It’s the tasty bit that has the juice. A juice that coincidentally has a fair amount of citric acid. Funny how that worked out, huh?
    • Septum: The skin that surrounds the Endocarp, that in turn creats the fruit segments.
    • Seeds: The..uh…seeds. The hard things which we spit out or de-seed.
    • Central Axis: aka “The Pith” or “That long stringy thing in the middle of the fruit that’s terribly easy to pull out of a tangerine, but darn near impossible to pull out in a lemon”.

    With this knowledge, we can move on to more specific fruits. Hooray!

    Technorati Tags: Food, Citrus Fruits, Biology

    Some Candy Statistics

    Since some of you liked the stats that I put up about Fast Food, here are some more stats surrounding Candy Bars.

    Again, there’s no judgement here. I’m simply reporting the facts (gosh, I’ve always wanted to say that).

    • Amount the average American spends on Candy – $84
    • Amount of candy consumed annually by the average American = 23.9 pounds
    • Amount of chocolate candy annually consumed by the average American – 11.6 pounds
    • Percentage of the world’s almonds that end up in chocolate – 40%
    • Percentage of candy sales that are impulse buys – 55%
    • Rank of Holidays listed by Candy Sales : 1. Halloween 2. Easter 3. Christmas 4. Valentine’s Day
    • Typical color distribution in the M&M’s : Blue 10%, Green 10%, Tan 10%, Red 20%, yellow 20%, brown 30% (+/- 2% per color)
    • Largest Per capita candy consumption in the world: Denmark
    • Largest per capita chocolate consumption in the world: Switzerland

    Technorati Tags: Food, Candy, Candy Statistics

    Fun Fast Food Facts.

    No comment here… jus’ layin the groundworks for future pieces:

    • Odds that an American eats at a Fast food restaurant on any given day: 1 in 4 (Source: U.S. News and World Report 1/22/01)
    • Odds that an American Child eats at a McDonald’s in any given month: 9 in 10 (Source: U.S. News and World Report 1/22/01)
    • Amount of money Americans Spent on Fast food in the year 2003: $119 Billion Dollars(Source: Research Alert)
    • Rank of Ronald McDonald among Most Recognizable Public Figures for American Schoolchildren: Second (Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution 8/8/03)

    For context on the 3rd figure, we Americans spend 1 billion dollars annually on gum, and 119 billion dollars is more than the amount of money spent annually on higher education, books, movies, magazines, newspapers, views and music.

    Oh, and the most recognizable public figure for school children? That’d be Santa Claus.

    Technorati Tags: Food, Fast Food, Food Facts, Trivia

    Johnnie Walker Label Primer

    I’m posting this because, quite frankly, I can’t remember what each label represents when perusing the liquor store. Costs are approximations based due to different beverage taxes from state to state.

    Johnnie Walker Red: A blend of approximately 35 different whiskeys of varying ages, some being grain whisky and and others malt whisky. This is best considered a “mixing” whiskey. Cost? Between $20-$30.

    Johnnie Walker Black: A mixture of 40 different whiskies, each aged at least 12 years.Cost? Between $30-$40

    Johhnie Walker Green: A blend of 15 different whiskies, each aged at least 15 years, none of them being grain whiskies (which are used in the red and black labels). Cost? Between $50-$60.

    Johnnie Walker Gold: A blend of 15 different whiskies, each aged at least 18 years. It is recommended to be served frozen for at least 24 hours in a frozen glass. Costs? Between $70-$80.

    Johnnie Walker Blue: The pinnacle of the Johnnie Walker Labels. Every bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The folks at Johnnie Walker don’t state the ages of the whiskies blended inside, but many people suspect that the ages range between 40 to 100 years. $200 a bottle is not uncommon.

    Technorati Tags: Drink, Whiskey, Whisky, Johnnie Walker

    Chile Pepper Varieties

    Here’s a compiled list of different chile peppers you may come across in your own travels. The number next to the name is the pepper’s Scoville rating. The hotter the pepper equates to a higher number.

    Sweet bell pepper: 0 : Yes, this is indeed a chile, although we don’t typically believe it to be so. Ubiquitous in the states, they’re typically green and about the size of a large fist.

    Pimento: 100 – 500 : Also a chile. I actually did not know this about pimentos, thinking them only as olive stuffing. Pimiento is the Spanish word for “pepper”, which shows you how well I know the spanish language.

    Pepperoncini pepper: 100-500 : Also known as Tuscan Peppers, this pepper is found in Italy and Greece. It’s the Grecian crop that we typically find in pizzerias and Italian eateries here in the states, as they tend to be more sweet than those grown in Italy.

    Paprika: 250 – 1000 : It’s not a spice, but actually a chili pepper from which the spice is made. Think of it as a large sweet pepper, conical in shape.

    Santa Fe Grande pepper: 500 – 700 : Also known as the yellow hot chile and the guero chile, I’ve seen this pepper in the grocery store from time to time. They’re about 5″ long and ripen from greenish-yellow, to orange-yellow to red.

    Poblano pepper: 1,000 – 2,000 : Probably Mexico’s most popular variety of chile. It has a big interior which is perfect for stuffing. It’s 4″ long and its coloring is a dark blackish green maturing to red or brown. An Ancho pepper is dried form of the poblano chile.

    Jalapeño: 2,500 – 8,000: Rightly or wrongly, when an American thinks of Mexican cuisine, the jalapeño is most likely thought of. A chipotle is a jalapeño that has been smoked. It is often found in adobo sauce. They are harvested when they are green or red if allowed to ripen. You can find them between 4″-6″ long.

    Serrano pepper: 5,000 Р23,000 : Generally 1 to 2 inches long, 1/2 inch wide and similarly colored to the jalape̱o, dark green to red. This chile is often used in salsas and as a flavoring for stews, casseroles and egg dishes.

    Tabasco pepper: 30,000 – 50,000 : The chile they use to make Tabasco sauce. The fruit is tapered and small (under 2″ in length). The color is often a creamy yellow to red.

    Cayenne pepper: 30,000 – 50,000 : A very thin chile pepper, green to red in coloring, and about 2 to 3 inches in length. It is often used in a ground form as a spice, hence – Cayenne Pepper.

    Tien Tsin Pepper: 50,000 – 75,000 : Traditional for Asian cooking. Very hot, bright red, 1-2″ Chinese pods. These are the peppers found in your Kung Pao chicken. I recall many of my knowledgable friends daring anyone gullible enough to eat these dried delicacies.

    Rocoto Pepper: 50,000 – 100,000 : Also called the Manzano pepper, this chile is typically found in South America. It is among the oldest of domesticated peppers, and was grown up to as much as 5000 years ago. It is probably related to undomesticated peppers that still grow in South America.

    Thai pepper: 50,000 – 100,000 : These chiles are small, seldom growing larger than 1 to 3 inches long. They are usually less than 1/2 inch wide, but provide plenty of heat. These slightly curvy, potent peppers are typically bright red or deep green, and end in a sharp point. Finely sliced Thai peppers can be mixed with the hot oil in a stir-fry or used to heat up coconut soups and noodle dishes.

    Scotch bonnet: 100,000 – 325,000 : Probably the cultivar of chile that Columbus sampled. Serves the bastard right. They are tam-shaped and found in Caribbean. They are also called booney peppers, bonney peppers, and goat peppers on various islands. They are usually red or yellow at maturity

    Habanero chile: 100,000 – 350,000 : Sibling to the Scotch Bonnet, it’s widely recognized as the hottest chile cultivar. Grown mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, its coloring is yellow-orange, orange or bright red, depending upon when it’s harvested. Average Size 1 – 2 1/2″ long, 1 – 2″ diameter and tam-shaped.

    Red Savina Habanero: 350,000 – 580,000 : Reportedly the hottest chile pepper on record.

    Technorati Tags: Food, Chile, chile peppers