Archive for the ‘other thoughts’ Category

Remember when I wrote how my Kitchen-Aid Mixer is my favorite appliance?  It still is, and what home baker doesn’t love them?  They are sleek, timeless and super efficient.  Granted some will say that the new models don’t hold up to the test of time and move on to more powerful Cuisinart mixers.  That’s fine.  But allow me to tell you about the most under-appreciated tool that you may not have, but NEED.

The bench scraper, AKA the bench knife.  It is a tool of two names and many personalities.

I know it doesn’t look like anything special.  It’s not really.  Despite that, it is the most versatile tool in my kitchen whether at home or school.  Here are the myriad ways I use my bench scraper:

1) To scrape up the crumbs and other messes i make on my bench/counter.  I could of course use a rag, but it icks me out.

2) To divide a pile of ingredients on the bench.

3) To cut things: caramel, dough, cookies, bread…anything really.  I prefer it over a knife for such tasks that do not necessarily require a sharp instrument.

4) You can carry things on it!  Scrape it, then carry it!

It does not appear that I created a long list of ways that I use my bench scraper, but it is truly the most used instrument in my kitchen.  So much so that I have at least two: one to clean my work space with and the other for food contact.

I love my mixer, and it has been good to me.  But I may be having a platonic affair with my bench scraper(s).


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I’ve been curious as to when this documentary would come to town since reading about it on Marion Nestle’s blog where she gave it a good review.  Thankfully my desires have been answered by the Minneapolis International Film Fest.

Like Fast Food Nation, and The Jungle before it, I’m sure this film will change the way viewers think about the food they eat.

Screening at the St. Anthony Main Theater:

4/24 Fri. 7:30 PM

4/26 Sun. 9:20 PM

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I thought many of you may find this helpful.  You can also listen to it!

(Dorie sounds much different than I imagined.)

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Allow me to start out by saying that I do not particularly enjoy drinking milk.  It is not merely the taste, but the ramifications and the shear thought of drinking it (for the reasons mentioned below, yet to come).  If I do purchase milk I buy the least amount I need to whether it be for a recipe or cereal eating so as not to waste any since I cannot often get through a half gallon of milk before the expiration date.  At the same time I will not switch to soy or rice milk because when I have used either in the past for a recipe, it tastes disgusting since neither of these options have enough fat in them to perfect the recipe.  However this is not to say I do not enjoy other dairy products such as cheese in it’s many forms, ice cream and rarely yogurt.  With these previous admissions, I encourage you to read on.

This is already old news, but relevant none the less and something I find important to share with the few readers that come to read the tripe I write.  What makes it relevant is the recent request by PETA to Ben and Jerry’s to start using human breast milk in their myriad ice cream concoctions, rather than cows milk.

Though we have two examples of varying degrees of use of breast milk in two vastly differing markets.  The Swiss chef using it in his small kitchen and PETA requesting a that a national brand use human breast milk – clearly two drastically different markets.  This dichotomy brings myriad issues, and I want to explain merely a few of them.

1)  Let’s be practical and honest: It’s WEIRD that humans drink another animals milk.  No other animal does this in the animal kingdom.  Moreover (please prove me wrong) humans are the only creatures on the planet who continue to consume milk after weaning which is somewhat counterintuitive to do since since so many adults get bloated, crampy or other discomfort from continued dairy intake.

“It is estimated that 75% of adults show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood    worldwide. The frequency of decreased lactase activity ranges from nearly 5% in northern Europe to more than 90% in some Asian and African countries.”

It doesn’t seem then that we are not meant to consume so much lactose as we get older. It’s primary use is for babies who are not physically capable of consuming hard foods. Moreover, you can get your necessary calcium intake from a variety of other sources.

I know.  Those “Got Milk” ads are real catchy and all but let’s be honest, milk mustaches are disgusting and only cute on little kids.

2)  Subjectively, adults who drink copious amounts of milk gross me out.

3)  Cows are treated with all sorts of wackadoodle hormone growth drugs.  I’m sure you’re saying, “But I only buy rBST/rBGH Free milk.”  Kudos, many countries (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and parts of the EU) ban rBST useHere’s a tasty thought,

…the hormone causes udder inflammation in cows, which can lead to the contamination of the milk from secreted pus common in udder inflammation.

4)  Let’s think about the industrial farms on which dairy cattle live: packed, little place for movement, animals living/walking in their own and other animals feces, all with being hopped up on rBGH which lessens the animal’s immune system and the potentiality of disease runs high.  To combat disease and the effects of rBST/rBGH cows are given large quantities of antibiotics.

Extensive overuse of antibiotics (20 million pounds a year to livestock alone iii) makes these drugs less able to fight the illnesses they are intended to cure because bacteria are able to build up stronger and stronger resistances. This compounds the existing problem of factory farming practices, which tend to include feeding a constant, low dose of antibiotics to help “prevent” disease and to make the animals grow faster.

Enough about cows – on to breasts!

Given all of this information, would using human breast milk solve this problem/”problem”?  I certainly think not.  The Swiss chef from the first article linked above merely wants to implement the use of human breast milk in his small restaurant.  He is willing to compensate the women who sell their breast milk to him.  It is certainly a specialty crafted recipe of utmost gastronomic proportions.  It’s more exotic than eating bugs, testicles, intestines or the like of other animals.  His diners are consuming a human product.  However, in this small setting there seem to be few people who are not benefiting.  The mothers are being compensated on this small scale and thus are not being abused while the diner gets to try something exotic which s/he is aware of and the chef gets recognized around the world for his menu.

On the other end, PETA’s request takes us down a much anticipated slippery slope not only in the realm of heath, but ethics as well when put on a mass scale.  IF Ben and Jerry’s were to implement a Breast Milk Only campaign would enough new mothers be willing to sell their milk to a for-profit company?  What if PETA’s breast replacement milk plan was carried out in other dairy products?  Would the demand become high just as it has with cows milk?  Would we see similar things that have happened to cows happen to women?  Replace any cows from the industrial farm setting in your head with women and you are imagining a far larger problem than the one we currently have with cows.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a completely crazy, hypothetical idea to think that there would be industrial milk production done with human women?  But the mere request by PETA to Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t make it seem so far off.  In fact, because of their request and the extreme possible ramification, it makes the production of cow milk quite sane.  The breast may be best, but that slippery slope looks far too steep to ski down.

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The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

Gastronomy612 Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borsch
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk – no, just goat cheese
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

And there you have it, the bold being what I have eaten and the regular what I apparently still need to try (.  The only thing I will stay away from is The Big Mac since i haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in seven years.

What about you?  What does your list look like?  Let me know in Comments.

(Thanks Very Good Taste!)

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Did you notice my new banner?  Did you see all of my new varying frosting bag tips!?  Aren’t they pretty!?!  AREN’T THEY!?!?!?

Truthfully, I’ve been longing to buy good frosting bags and nice tips for ages in the event that I would need them to decorate or frost a cake the few times a year that such an occasion actually arises.  The occasion has arisen.

I was set to go back to school and get my certificate in Accounting, become a CPA, and lead a life of number calculations through addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.  Upon returning from Quebec, and doing some serious searching, I knew that accounting was not my yellow brick road to happiness.  I dropped out of the program before it began and enrolled in the Baking Certificate Program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

I am currently taking Sanitation and Nutrition which upon completion will certify me both and blah blah blah.  Introduction to Baking starts in November and despite a hectic month  between school and working full time, I look forward to it.  I don’t know where this will bring me in the career-wise, but right now that is not the concern weighing heavily on me, because I am chose something that is making me happy.

Oh!  Back to those tips – they were part of the baking kit I had to buy for the program.  Next up, I need to purchase chef coats and pants.  Fear not, my pants will not have hot peppers on them.

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I went to the fair on Saturday, the third day of the fair.  Much to many people’s surprise, it was my first fair experience, or AKA The Great Minnesota Get Together.

Luckily we showed up relatively early at 11am, but soon after that, the Fair grounds became an absolute cluster!  It was all of the hype I have been hearing for years: the crowds, the strollers, and the zooming carts that people without disabilities rent so as to not walk and chew on any food (on a stick).

And that’s the next part: the local news, whether TV or Newspaper really over-hype the whole “Anything-on-a-stick” schtick.  Of course I saw pork chops on a stick, about a million Pronto Pups (read: corn dogs), but I did not see some of the most celebrated oddities on a stick like deep fried candy bars.  Yes I saw the stand, but the people actually eating them were few and far between.  I wanted signs!  I wanted bright lights!  I wanted everything to say: “______-on-a Stick!”  But it was none of that.  Despite my initial apprehension, I was dying to try out the chocolate covered bacon (oh salty-sweet concoction, how I love thee), but did not know where it was located.  Turns out it was in the Famous Dave’s area – who knew!?  I went for Fair Fare, not Famous Dave’s.

So what did I eat?  I hate to disappoint but here it is: 1919 Root Beer, twist cone from the dairy barn, french fries, a brat with kraut (However, I argue that it was a Polish sausage), mini doughnuts, and a bite of David’s Pronto Pup.

Overall, it was a good Fair experience: I pet a ton of animals, saw some baby lambs, ate some food, got hit in the heels by a stroller, AND I saw Marjorie Johnson talking to Fair goers and signing copies of her book, but was too nervous to approach her.  :)

Stop reading and hit up the Fair!

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