Posts tagged ‘Food and Drink’
I have always enjoyed visiting my grandparents, something I probably didn’t and still don’t do often enough.
I have a lot of great memories from those times and spending time in my grandmother’s vegetable garden is one of my favorites. She had a huge backyard, almost half of it was a garden.
I didn’t actually like vegetables back then, but she had a secret raspberry patch. It was tucked away in the back of the garden, behind the shed. I’m not sure if she was trying to hide it, or just keep it separate from the main garden — raspberry plants are locally invasive, they can take over your entire garden if not pruned.
Some days, I did.
It was nature’s 7-11, a store full of squishy red candy, at the right height and the right price for a child.
I wouldn’t dare say they were “free” since there was a price to pay — raspberry bushes are very prickly. There are thornless cultivars available now, but it worked out OK. The thorns slow you down enough to swallow one raspberry before you pick the next. I’m sure that’s why nature put the pricks there. (more…)
Back in 5th grade, my school had cupcake sales. There were thousands of cupcakes. I don’t remember what we were raising money for, but I ate a lot of cupcakes and that was memorable.
Baking all of these cupcakes was a lot of painstaking work, but my mom was a really hard worker. She always made chocolate cheesecake cupcakes, which the parents and teachers ate up, literally.
They weren’t covered in icing sugar, they didn’t have multicolored sprinkles or glitter and that’s exactly what the kids looked for: sugar. If you’re punny, you might say the kids had more refined palettes.
Some of my favorite cupcakes were the ones decorated with those tiny silver balls. It turns out the FDA now considers them inedible, due to the small amount of metal in them. Now, they’re sold “for decoration only,” except in California where they’ve been banned since 2003.
They were considered edible back then, but that still doesn’t mean they were food. I ate LEGO a couple times back then too. Again, not food.
Real food isn’t made in a laboratory, although laboratories do produce some really tasty stuff. In an earlier post, I talked about the differences between natural sugar and synthetic sugar made from corn (high fructose corn syrup).
Experts believe that your body can’t control its absorption into your bloodstream, in an attempt to control your blood sugar, your body quickly converts it into fat, which happens much slower with natural sugar. This could be extremely dangerous, and its addition to thousands of foods over the past 35 years could be partially responsible for the obesity epidemic.
Last month, a research paper was published, focusing on one genetically modified type of corn. This study shows that pesticide residue was still evident on this type of corn and it causes organ failure in rats. Genetically modified food has a bad reputation and it isn’t always bad, there are many success stories and it occurs in nature too (not just laboratories). But, this study shows a clear example of genetically modified food at its worst.
Because of these dangers, there are a lot of people who try to eat natural foods whenever possible. Food labeled “organic” is one way to identify real food. Many food products contain a lot of synthetic ingredients, growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. On the other hand, Organic foods generally do not contain any of these.
At least, that’s what I thought. I don’t buy a lot of organic food, but when I do buy a product stamped with the “USDA Organic” logo, I assume that it’s entirely organic. The truth is, the USDA actually has a list (PDF) of non-organic ingredients that are allowed in products that carry the “organic” label.
Here is a very small sample of some non-organic ingredients and some uses for them:
- Fish Oils (dairy, egg, sauces, jam, jelly, snack foods)
- Gelatin (yogurt, production of tea and wine, thickening agent)
- Orange Shellac (glazing or polishing organic fruits and vegetables)
- Enriched Inulin (baking, nutritional bars, yogurt, cereal)
- Whey Protein Concentrate (yogurt, protein supplements, baby food)
- Carnauba Wax and Wood resin (chewing gum, candy coatings, juice, cosmetics)
The USDA has approved these ingredients (and many others) because the organic food producers that rely on them have filed petitions asking for approval. The petitions usually cite a non-existent or inadequate supply of that ingredient in organic form. In other words, organic food contains 100% organic ingredients when those ingredients are available as organic products.
Written By: Chad Upton
[Available on Kindle]
Ice made from cold water looks cloudy because air that is trapped in the water become suspended in the ice. If you boil water before pouring it in the ice cube trays, you release most or all of the air that would otherwise be trapped in the water — making the ice cubes crystal clear.
Crystal clear ice cubes look great when used with designer ice cube trays. For any holiday or event, designer ice cubes are a cool thing to entertain guests and spark conversation.
Ikea has a few designer ice cube trays that you can pickup or Amazon has hundreds available for delivery, including: Christmas Trees and Snowmen, Penguins, Ice Invaders, Peace Signs, Hearts, Homer Simpson, Stewie (Family Guy), Stars, Skull and Crossbones, Butterflies, Dinosaurs …etc. They even have molds to make Shot Glasses and Stir Sticks out of ice.
Another secret: the ice cube trays can also be used as Jello molds!
Remember, you’ll have to boil water to make it hot because you can’t use hot water from the tap – explained here.
Sources: Illinois Dept Physics
If you’re a wine drinker, a day will come when you go camping, tailgating or romantic picnicking and forget to bring a corkscrew. Open your wine without any special tools by combining these two tricks:
1. Remove the foil using the slide technique. It briefly appears at the beginning of the following video, although I suggest also watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s video here for a specific demo of this secret.
2. Remove the cork using the ram technique. Watch the video below.
Warning: Be very careful when bashing a glass wine bottle against a tree. As you can see in the video, you don’t have to do it very hard.
Coffee shops use this little secret to pour your coffee quickly. If everyone did this, fewer trees would become stir-sticks. Watch the 15 second video for a demo.
For those who can’t watch videos, add your cream and/or sugar first, then add the coffee to mix the contents without a stir-stick.
Here’s a good secret for Thanksgiving dinner or the next meal you cook. I learned this during a cooking class from the experts:
Never serve hot food on a cold plate!
Have you ever sat on a bench when it’s cold outside? Your butt gets cold almost instantly! The same thing happens to your really hot food when you put it on a (comparatively) cold plate.
When you’re at a restaurant, what does the server say whenever they bring your food? “Watch this plate, it’s extremely hot.” They’re not trying to burn you, they just want your food to stay hot while you eat it.
Even buffets respect the warm plate. You know the hole at the end of the buffet that the plates magically rise from (see photo)? That’s not there for ergonomics, that’s a plate warmer.
So, if you’re not doing it already, here is a list of ways to get your plates warm.
- Buy a plate warmer ($35 and up).
- Many ovens have a warming drawer underneath. No, that isn’t a cookie-sheet graveyard.
- Set your cook-top on low heat and lay the plates on top.
- Rinse the plates in really hot water, then dry them.
- Some dishwashers have a plate warmer function, otherwise run the rinse cycle on high heat with a heated dry cycle.
- Put them in the microwave for a short time.
I should also say that the opposite is true, don’t serve cold food on hot plates. For example, when you go to a buffet and they have hot bowls for your “hard” ice cream.
Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!
Disclaimer: some dishes may not be suitable for some of these methods. Check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Photo Credit: LexnGer (flickr/creative commons/attribution)