Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Jimi Hendrix-Inspired Drink Line? What Was Someone Thinking?
So who was anticipating this outside of the companies involved? And what is the concept here? Drink one and you see a Purple Haze? Drink a second and you start playing a guitar backwards? ("Doctor, will I be able to play the guitar?" "I don't see why not." "That's funny, I wasn't able to before.") A few too many and you OD?
Here's a statement from the guy who came up with the name The Liquid Experience:
And to find a way to cash in on his name? Oh, how could I be so cynical?
"After 40 years, Jimi's music still breaks down barriers and brings people together. Our goal for The Liquid Experience line is to acknowledge and honor his legacy by creating an authentic look and feel that accurately reflects his artistry and generous spirit."
Review: Trader Joe's Artichoke Tortellini
The tortellini were packed with filling, and so far as we could tell, it was chopped artichoke without filler. In fact, a couple broke open and ended up turning the water that army green color you get when cooking whole artichokes. The 1 pound package served the four of us with a supplement of thawed shrimp, a few ounces each of butter and olive oil, two cloves of garlic, and the juice of half a lemon. In fact, here's a recipe that you can toss off in about half an hour including prep time:
1 lb. (1 package) Trader Joe's artichoke tortellini
1/2 lb. shelled medium shrimp (thawed if frozen)
2 TB. butter
1 TB. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Juice the lemon. Peel the garlic cloves and crush with the flat of a chef's knife.
Add 1 tsp. salt to water and then add tortellini. Bring back to boil; they should cook in about 7 minutes. When you put them in the water, take a large fry pan and put it on a high heat. Add the olive oil, let it get hot, then add the garlic. When the cloves turn golden brown, remove them and add the butter, melting it. Let the butter and oil mixture slightly color, add the lemon juice, and remove from heat.
By this time the tortellini should be done. Drain and add them and the shrimp to the pan. Toss, season with salt and plenty of pepper, and serve. 4 servings.
I went prowling through the freezer chest to find the other package I remembered seeing there; unfortunately there was no price sticker. I halfway remember it being under $2 for the bag, but no way to tell at the moment whether that's right.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
A NY Chef and the Search for Almond Carrots
Monday, February 26, 2007
More on Manhattan's Kobe Club Klash
Some things become clearer through the blog - one being the content of the ad that Chodorow ran. Another is the self-pity emanating from the single blog post I could find there. Yes, the restaurant business is tough. So are many others in their own way. However, customers just ... don't ... care. Clients of my writing business don't care about my difficulties if I screw up. I know that I didn't care for any explanation when a plumber came in last year and bungled a repair job by taking a short cut, leaving us to mop up and repair the repair a month later. And no one wants a story of how difficult the restaurant business can be when they pay money for a meal. A reviewer certainly won't care, and after 20 years in the business, you'd think that Mr. Chodorow would know that and learn to cut his losses. Just like all those restaurant patrons who have a disappointment experience and know that the money - an often significant expense at Manhattan establishments - is gone and not coming back.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Review: SCV1600-SS Programmable Crock-Pot Versaware Slow Cooker
The experience wasn't everything the comapny promised, but on the whole I found the product solid - in more ways than one - and a good approach to slow cooking. First we'll put the downside up against the testing wall. Sorry, but there is no way this unit sautés. Yes, you can put it on top of the range, but it's not supposed to be over a high heat, and if you use electric the insert must sit on top of a diffuser. No high heat means no saute – by definition of the cooking technique. Granted, I had the unit on top of the wood stove and there were no instructions for that, so I used the diffuser just to be safe. And even with the less than blazing heat transfer from the wood stove, the meat browned much faster in the pan I had used for cooking bacon, which sat next to the crock insert. If someone has to be that careful with the application of heat, then, please, don’t make claims. Another problem is that you can’t use metal utensils inside. By the time I had the insert and pot roast back in the slow cooker for six or seven hours, I felt that I had been walking on egg shells. My wife did the dishes and said that the weight of the insert and cover made washing more difficult.
But don’t take those drawbacks to be total downchecks. Although it’s not meant for intense heat, the insert is good on top of the stove, in a microwave, or, I would presume, atop a hot plate to keep contents warm while serving at the table. The insert and top also go into the dishwasher. I fit the entire roast in without having to cut it up ahead of time, and I think you could easily get a four-pound whole chicken in the unit. I liked the choice of high or low cooking settings (the former about twice as fast as the latter) and the warm setting to keep things hot when the cooking is done. While the basic unit is $59.99, I’d say spend the extra $20 for the automatic, which switches to warm once the included timer (you set it in half-hour increments) has finished its countdown. Overall, it's an easy-to-use slow cooker with a good degree of control and convenient features.
The company also sent another model with more time control features – I’ll have a review on it in the near future. (Sometime after we finish the pot roast leftovers.)
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Some Observations on Wood Stove Cooking
I can only imagine how difficult it would be to cook in days gone by, with the home chef having to alternate between food prep and stoking the fire, constantly adjusting vents to try to keep an even heat (how an even cake ever came out boggles my mind), and this in any kind of weather, including warm.
1. The way the heat swings is incredible. By opening and closing air sources and varying the amount of wood, I saw the temperature (at least according to a gauge on the exhaust pipe) range from 300 to 500 degrees.
2. Things can take a loooong time. I was cooking bacon, and a single batch could easily take twice what the electric range could have accomplished. But then, the wood fire was already going, so why spend extra money?
3. Cooking on a wood stove is hot work - like a restaurant kitchen. I was perspiring while making a hollandaise. (Though carefully not dripping into the sauce.)
Friday, February 23, 2007
Kentucky Fried Chicken? Or Kentucky Fried Rodents?
I had what seemed to be a case of food poisoning after visiting a burger place on Sunday. This is the final straw - I'm done with fast food.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Kentucky Fried Chicken Asking for Pope's Blessing?
New York Restauranteur Runs Ad Slamming Critic
Unsurprisingly, it’s the work of the restaurateur and gimmick maestro Jeffrey Chodorow, who scored big in years past with China Grill and Asia de Cuba but hasn’t had as much local success of late.
It's not unusual for restaurant owners to get angry with critics. In fact, I wrote about an Irish newspaper losing a defamation lawsuit over a bad review. Not that many take out expensive ads in a national newspaper to present their own raspberries, but Chodorow must have felt piqued. As reported by the AP, the ad said in part:
At least the ad had to be cheaper than the Irish restaurant owner's lawyer, even considering the dollar-pound exchange rate. So what's the next step in the critic wars? Spatulas at 20 paces?
Your readers would not expect your drama critic to have no background in drama or your architecture critic to not be an architect."
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Review: SmartShopper Automated Grocery List Assistant - Updated
My entire family was excited when the product arrived. "Cool" was the word I heard most, and it was my reaction as well. Not that anyone really needs automation for writing a shopping or errand list. But the idea of speaking into a device that would recognize what you said, sort everything into categories, and then print out the items did sound slick.
What it became, though, was an unintended source of laughter for a while. All of us tried the SmartShopper, trying various items with, accordingly, various degrees of success. Some things, like strawberries, worked flawlessly. Some would bring up a few items that the device thought the word could be - fine enough, because you scroll through and pick the right one. But then there were the rougher spots. For example, light cream wasn't in the vocabulary list. I tried asking for cream maybe a dozen times and got various suggestions: cumin, meat, creamer, gravy, and radio. At the end I finally was prompted for heavy cream, which wasn't what I needed to get, but, hey, it was closer.
Eventually I learned that you can add items to the list, so I added light cream. Even then, the trick to get the two-word items to pop up is to say each word clearly and distinctly with a brief pause between them. In fact, I just tried asking for light cream again and got a list of three choices, one of which was light cream. Then when I typed this last line, the display went back to a blank because I hadn't chosen an item, so I tried saying it a few times again. Once it said no such item found and twice had lists of three items - for example, whipped cream, white wine, and white wheat bread.
When you press the Print button, the items do come out in categories, so shopping might be easier because you know what items are clustered together by type. Some strange screen activity when I was trying to add the now ubiquitous light cream makes me wonder whether the unit I have might not be defective, so I'll check with the manufacturer and see if I can try another one. If so, I'll be back again with more.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Try Some Italian Flour - You'll Like It
Tipo 00 differs from American flour in a number of ways. The Italian version is more finely ground and seems generally lower in gluten (the protein in flour that adds the elasticity to dough). I've tried two types that I've been able to find: Antico Molina Caputo and Belaria. A 1 kilogram (roughly 2.2 pounds) is only a few dollars. If you find yourself wanting some home made pasta (or even pizza) and don't have any handy, try mixing 11 parts cake flour to 1 part bread flour (for example, 2 3/4 cups cake to 1/4 cup bread). You get the soft feel and the bread flour adds a little extra gluten, because you will want to stretch that dough.
Monday, February 19, 2007
What's Less Pleasant than Recovering From Food Poisoning?
Hope to be back at this in a day or two, but somehow writing about food doesn't have its usual appeal for me...
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Red Velvet Cake - Where Does It Come From?
I did some poking around on the Net (and will check my own reference books). Apparently some think that it's the same think as devil's food, which is odd because it's supposed to be dyed red. Maybe someone was thinking about the reddish color you can get with dutched cocoa, though this site suggests that it was a reaction of cocoa with acid (buttermilk and/or vinegar) that caused the color. Eventually people switched to food coloring.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Malaysia Considers Forbidding Fast Food Ads
Friday, February 16, 2007
Royal Spring "Structured Water" Sounds Like Molecular PR
Huh? Smaller water clusters? From what I remember of chemistry, water comes in molecules of two hydrogen atoms to one of oxygen. If people are dehydrated, then the thing to do is not buy "structured" water, but to drink more. Here's a less positive view of the entire topic by a retired chemistry professor. I think I'm with the academic on this one.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Review: VacuWare Fresh Food System
Vacuum food sealers can be a great way of keeping food for longer periods of time and I just had the chance to try the VacuWare system. There were some strong points, but also a pretty large weakness.
We've used a FoodSaver unit for a number of years (one that I reviewed for a newspaper column I used to write). But there were two problems I saw. One is that the FoodSaver equipment is large and you can't conveniently leave it out on a counter. The other is switching from bags to containers. Vacuum systems generally have to accommodate bags of some sort to store large items like meat and large whole vegetables. But the devices also need to support containers for cooked foods or bulk such as flour or coffee. With the FoodSaver you had to run plastic tubing from the vacuum unit to the special container or jar lid.
So I was at first delighted when VacuWare sent a review unit. The design seemed smart: an upright unit that would fit easily on a counter, taking up relatively little space. A wand rests over a seal on any of the containers, jar lids, or bags and pulls out the air. If you're traveling, there is also a hand pump that cuts the tether to an electrical outlet. And things worked well - with the containers. But bags are crucial and these were abysmal. Now, it's not as though FoodSaver bags are always the easiest things to use, particularly if you have one of the rolls of bag material that you cut to length, sealing one end, adding the food, then using the FoodSaver to suck out the air and close off the other end. Getting that first seal can be tricky, particularly with some of the lower-end models that don't give a lot of room for error when placing that first open end of the bag.
Unfortunately, the VacuWare bags made me think I had been in food storage heaven in the past. We tried packing up some pork chops. I carefully followed the directions, leaving empty space between the spot you place the wand and the top of the bag. I pulled away the strip covering the adhesive spot, folded it over as instructed, pressed it down properly, and used the wand. At first it didn't seem to work, which I wrote off to getting used to the new system. So I tried again and, yes, the air was sucked out and the bag pulled in around the food. That lasted until I detached the wand, at which point air started flooding back in and the bag expanded again. I tried this a couple more times but with no improvement. Also, unlike FoodSaver bags, these didn't look as though they'd last a microwave oven or in boiling water as another way to reheat leftovers.
My wife got on the phone to call customer service. The system told her to hold, and she waited. And waited. Seven minutes later, still not having heard a human voice and nor being given an idea of how long things might take, she hung up. Maybe the customer service people were busy trying to help others figure out how to make the damned bags work. It could be that we were doing something wrong, but, hello, I'm a consumer. If it's this tough to use the device correctly, either the company needs to include far better instructions or it needs to make the product more intuitive to use. Or maybe it just needs to make things work better.
The upshot is that we'll probably keep this around to use on the VacuWare containers and on jars with the special lid, because it is more convenient for such things than the FoodSaver. But if you ever need bags to store items in a freezer, you can't count on this being the only system you get. And with the kits running from about $160 to $200, that isn't something you want to hear.
UPDATE: I received a response from the company about the weaknesses I found with the product. Here is the blog post.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Japanese Find Unusual Uses for Chocolate, Milk
But the fascination with all things food never stops in Japan as this week brings news of two different ways to use existing foods. Someone in the country's dairy region has found a way to make beer out of milk because the Japanese have been drinking less of the liquid and something had to be done with the surplus. (This might explain an outbreak of smiling infants there.)
The other story is of a Japanese spa that lets couples literally bathe in chocolate. I thought this must be a first, but I should have known better. A bit of research showed that the chocolate-themed town of Hershey, PA has a spa with chocolate wraps and baths, the ESTHEVA Spa in Singapore has chocolate bathing and massage, and a Toronto hotel also lets you make a chocolate splash. And if you can't get away from it all, there's even a chocolate bath liquid for home use.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Fish Counterfeiting - a Growing Problem?
Grouper and red snapper are two types that are often counterfeited, but there are others. I've even heard of rounds being punched out of skate and passed off as scallops. Some claim that they are being duped, but let me be sceptical for a moment. I can tell th difference between, say, cod and catfish, and I'm a casual fish buyer. Are restaurants claiming that their chefs can't tell what they're buying? If you're in charge of a restaurant kitchen, I suspect you have enough experience to differentiate between common fish types, whether presented whole or even in fillet.
Many Indian Athletes Pass on Games Village Food
Monday, February 12, 2007
Review: Soda Club Edition 1 Soda Maker System
My family knocks back seltzer as though it were water – which it is. But to get more effervescent joy in ordinary tap water you have to add the bubbles. That’s what the Soda Club Edition 1 soda maker does, and quite well from my experience with the review unit the company sent.
As you can see from the picture, the unit is close to twice the height of a liter drink bottle. A large CO2 cartridge screws into a connector in the back. You fill one of the supplied bottles with cold water (keeping it in the fridge works as does well water from a tap in rural western Massachusetts). Screw the bottle into the connector on the front, press a button on the top, and you have carbonated water in about 20 seconds. Although the instructions suggest pressing the button thrice, each time until you hear a buzzing noise, I found that to be excessive. One to two rounds is enough, depending on the amount of carbonation you want.
The soda part comes from adding a syrup after carbonation is done. We tried a few – the root beer, cola, and grapefruit (too strange for our household), but overall found the quality to be high. And adding syrup to gassy water is exactly how soda machines at eating establishments work, albeit automatically. Instead of following recommendations to pour a fixed measure of syrup into a bottle, we added a teaspoon or two to a glass. That worked just fine and you end up using a lot less syrup than you would get in a store-supplied batch. You also get far more flexibility in soda flavors, so you don’t end up with partially opened bottles all going flat at the same time. If you prefer diet, the sweetening agent is Splenda instead of Aspartame, which my wife says is smart, and I find it smart not to disagree as she tends to be right.
Now let’s talk economics, and hang on because it will get complicated for a moment. The unit we tried lists for about $80 and $20 in shipping and handling, so $100. Each canister of gas is about $19 and $8 in shipping and handling, or $27, unless you happen to live near one of the retail outlets that offer the products.
There can be a long-term cost savings. The company claims that a canister gasses about 110 bottles, but I rounded that down to about 100 given the wide-eyed optimism I’ve seen from corporations in the past. That makes the first 100 liters of seltzer alone about $1 each. But after that, figuring on having the CO2 canister delivered, the seltzer is 27 cents a bottle, or about half of the cost if you get 2-liter bottles at a grocery store. Go through that second canister and you’ve broken even on the cost.
How quickly you hit that break even point depends on how quickly you consume. I worked it out to be about four months if you go through 8 liters a week, which is actually significantly less than my family does. (We’re big on plain seltzer with a slice of lemon.) so this is one of those things that really can save you money, depending on your drinking habits.
The syrups run from $2.99 to $4.99 per bottle. The company says that each container makes 12 liters of soda, which adds between 25 and 42 cents a liter, not counting shipping. There’s a half liter or 16.9 ounces per bottle. There are 5 milliliters in a teaspoon, or 10 milliliters if you use 2 teaspoons per glass as we did. That would work out to 50 glasses, and if you figure four glasses in a liter, that works out about the same as the company’s calculations. So once you hit that break-even, you’re looking at between 52 and 69 cents per liter. Not bad at all, and that’s before the bubbles start tickling your nose.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Arctic Vault for World's Food Crops
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Review: ingenuiTEA Tea Pot
When I have a yen for tea, I prefer whole leaf because the flavor is better than a bag. But I don't like metal infusers, which can leave an unpleasant tang in the water. That has meant using a tea pot, whose interior surfaces can be hard to clean, and separate strainer. So when Adagio Tea sent one of its ingenuiTEA tea pots, which has a strainer built-in, I was intrigued.
Notice that there is no spout at the top. As they said about the problem that kept popping up in the software, that's not a mistake, it's a design feature. Only in this case, it's intentional. You put the loose tea in the container, add hot water, and steep. You then lift the pot and place it atop your tea cup. The cup's edge presses up on a disk at the bottom, which opens a valve. The tea runs out into the cup and a mesh filter leaves the leaves behind.
I noticed that with a large mug the bottom of the pot didn't fit completely over. That wasn't a problem; I shifted the pot over a bit, the edge caught the disk, and the tea flowed. Even when filled with hot water the outside of the food-grade plastic was only slightly warm and is supposed to be dishwasher safe. I only hand washed it and also didn't use it in the microwave, as you can supposedly do, because I'm used to timing the tea brewing from adding the water to the tea, and I don't want to under- or over-steep. It was easy to remove the filter from the bottom, get everything clean, and put it together again.
Although user reviews are similarly positive, there are a number complaining that the plastic filter comes loose. I emailed the company, which said that the problem has been addressed. I've had no difficult with it yet. The 16-ounce model is $19, with a replacement infuser running $3. I tend to make 1 1/2 cups for my over-sized mug. There is also a 32-ounce model for $24.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Uncomplimentary Restaurant Review Costs Irish News £25,000
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Review: Bake Me A Wish! chocolate cake
Although the company's PR firm says the cakes "are elegant and sophisticated, yet taste homemade," I'd only agree with some irony. Yes, the chocolate cake looked nice, and, yes, the crumb was good and notably moist, the chocolate taste was lacking. If we're talking home-made equivalent, it would be out of a box. At first I thought it was because the cake had just come out of the FedEx-ed container, so I let it warm. No difference. My wife got home and tried it. "Really moist, nice crumb," she said. I asked about the flavor. "Uh ... but it's done by the Make-A-Wish people." Nope, I answered, that's just a temporary donation, and the 7-inch cake costs $39.99. "Forty dollars?? Oh, forget it then."
My teenage daughter came home, who had originally opened the box and put her eye on the thin heart-shaped chocolate decorative piece on the top. "Have a bite," I said. "Happy to," she answered. And what did she think of the cake? "Not a lot of flavor."
My preteen son came home. "Eat cake," I said. "Sure!" he said. And how did he like it? "Really good!" And how about the chocolate taste? "Not much there!" Ah, the enthusiasm of youth.
All I can suspect is that they're either saving money on the chocolate or relying too heavily on cocoa for flavor. My recommendation: get a better cake near to you and make a direct donation to Make-A-Wish. That way you even get the tax deduction.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Review: Tanita KD-400 Compact Digital Kitchen Scale
Every kitchen should have a scale. Whether trying to portion out evenly-sized meatballs or using the most accurate types of baking recipes, nothing pulls its weight like being able to measure weight.
For years I've used a spring-loaded dial-type scale. But I had questions about the accuracy. So I was delighted when Tanita sent a KD-400 Compact Digital Lithium Kitchen Scale (here's a link to their kitchen scale products) for me to review. The company specializes in electronic measurment, whether bathroom scales, body fat indicators (not a category I even want to look at), or breathing and heart rate monitors. As a good factor, that means it's not just slapping its name on some product purchased from someone else, so they should know something.
And from what I could see, they apparently do. I like the layout - notice how the display folds up against the plate. That lets you set the scale on edge in some unobtrusive part of the kitchen so it's handy and yet out of the way. That's a big plus in our kitchen, where my wife frowns upon having too much clutter on the counter. I'm storing it between the espresso machine and the coffee grinder (no, she can't take that away from me, at least not if she wants her cup).
The plate is big enough to set a medium pot or a good-sized bowl while leaving the display visible. The one I'm looking at has a 5KG/11LB capacity - plenty for even an oversized home batch of bread dough. You can measure down to 1 gram or 1/8 ounce (and note that 1 gram is about 0.035 ounces, so you lose accuracy with avoirdupois). There is an on/tare button (so you can zero out on a container, like a bowl, and then measure what you add to it) and an off button. Pressing both buttons switches between metric and avoirdupois, for those of us still holding on to the old-fashioned way of doing things.
There are some negatives. One is that in kitchen recipe volumes there are amounts that will be too small to measure. For example, 1/2 teaspoon of water is about 0.085 ounces and the scale won't register below 1/8 ounce, which would be 0.125 ounces. (Here is a site with some volume/weight conversions that I certainly found handy.) So it would be easy to have some weights that simply wouldn't show up.
Another is that fractions of ounces can't be displayed in decimal format; if you have to put together a number of odd measurements, the addition can require more thought. I see two workarounds: shifting to metric and its decimal display when necessary or using the tare button to keep resetting the weight to zero and then adding the next amount. An even pickier issue is that the case is made of plastic, not metal, and so has a flimsier feel. I understand that plastic can be strong and might be a good choice for this particular use, but it left me feeling that I had to use kid gloves to some degree. Like I said, picky.
Oh, and if you get one, you apparently have to ignore the setup instructions that tell you to insert the lithium battery (and lithium should mean long life). The battery was already in place on the one I saw but there was a black tape sticking out that the manual didn't mention. As the unit wouldn't turn on, I thought that the battery might be bad and so pulled on the tape, which I thought was there to help dislodge the battery. Instead, the tape came completely free. It was only then I remembered something similar on other devices, where the tape kept the battery from discharging before the unit was purchased. Sure enough, once the tape had come away, the scale worked. It would have been nice to know that ahead of time, and I can see how that might confuse consumers.
On the whole, though, it's a nice scale and there are plenty of recipes in which you could measure all the ingredients. The list price is $59.99, but a quick check on Froogle.com shows prices around $40, so shop around.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Seafood Buying Savvy
La Cucina Italiana and Gourmet Disappointments
Then there was the February Gourmet. I picked it up for a cover story on mastering souffles. But when my wife and I were looking through it, we didn't see the article - didn't even catch a mention of something sounding like that in the table of contents. So I went to the recipe index and looked for souffle recipes. There was only one, part of a general recipe round-up. Then it was back to the cover to notice that the line there mentioned the same type of souffle. The editors took a single recipe and then pretended there was something more significant about it than there obviously was. I don't know how to break it to them, but calling one recipe "mastering" is stretching the truth farther than a strudel dough. Then, in general, the whole look and feel have gone, to my taste, downhill. They're trying to be "fast-paced," "relevant," and even "edgy," and heaven knows what other adjectives that editors pull out of focus groups to prove that they're worth the money they get. The result? Might as well buy Bon Appetit for all the difference there seems to be between the two these days. Not that I have anything against Bon Appetit, but it seems a shame for Gourmet, once the home of some of the most literate food writing, to become a me-too.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
No Labeling Requirement for Cloned Meat?
The latest case in this story from AG Weekly is that the FDA will not require labeling for meat that comes from cloned animals. As that's probably going to happen in the next year, this is a fairly immediate problem for those who are ready to assume that the governmental green light should mean go ahead. According to this story, scientists have found no difference in safety between eating meat from animal or their clones. But given that the technology is only ten years old, I'm betting that the tests haven't been going on that long, which would mean no extended studies.
Apparently the FDA is more concerned about the right of companies to sell cloned meat than about the right of people to not eat it, which is difficult if you you can't tell from the packaging. There's even question whether meat graded USDA organic can be from cloned animals or not. Those in the organic industry are saying no, but the biotech companies creating clones are saying that the technique is not "genetic engineering," but rather a way to help animals reproduce, and does not violate USDA standards. If carbon copies are considered a form of reproduction, how long will it be before we find photocopiers in fertilization clinics?
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Review: Revolution Tea
The company also has boxes of 16 of these flat bags for $4.99, or about 31 cents a pop. So if you do go for one of the T-Minis, get the bigger boxes and refill the tins when you run out. There are also T-Pots: bags for infusing a 23 to 26 ounce pot of tea. I have a couple here but my tea pots are closer to 2 cup size, so a bit small to try. In this case, a 15-bag box is $11.99, or about 80 cents a pot. At 24 ounces, that's 3 cups, or about 27 cents a cup. But even if you knock back a couple of cups at a sitting, this is really for sharing, as by the time you finish the first cup or two, the remaining is going to start getting cold. And if you're going to the trouble of brewing a pot, might as well use loose tea to save even more. Something I didn't like about the packaging was that these tins are really tall and didn't fit easily onto a shelf with the others, or with my loose tea.
Another complaint: don't trust the brewing instructions. From the samples I had, it looks as though they have a standard 3 to 5 minutes steeping time on all their packaging. Unfortunately, 3 minutes is going to be too long for most green teas, where you're probably looking at 30 seconds to two minutes to get the flavor without the bitterness. And 3 minutes is going to be too short for a good black tea. I'd recommend that they do as I've seen Peets do with their teas: have brewing instructions appropriate for the specific tea you have. If people know tea and like it weaker, they'll steep it for less time, but if you need, say, 4 to 5 minutes to really develop the flavor, why waffle?
Friday, February 02, 2007
Knorr Chicken Bouillon Contains Fish?
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Using Sautee Pans in Ovens
But this got me thinking about a cooking technique I've recently been using: going from stove-top to roasting. You need a pan with a metal handle that will go into the oven without hard. Start by preheating the oven. (I've found about 425°F to 450°F seems to work well.) Heat a little oil in the pan and brown the food - maybe chops, or even something like a beef or port tenderloin. I've even done a chicken this way (which is a classic type of preparation), though in any case you need to turn the food to get everything browned. That caramelizes the sugars on the surface, adding flavor. Then you put the entire pan into the oven and cook it through. Browning the outside seems to save some cooking time because you've had direct heat transfer (conduction) rather than depending on some combination of radiation and convection. If you want, add a glaze to the food right before it goes into the oven. An oven glove makes the handle an easy way to get the roast out while reducing the chance of burning an arm on a hot rack.