Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gratuitous Food Photo

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I am buried seeking a patent application. Until then, help me out. Tell me something edible, you can make with these simple ingredients.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hello Seth Roberts visitors!

I have been covering Seth Robert's Shangri-La Diet for months. I have not added anything new for a while because I have been off the diet since I got back from vacation. Prior to my vacation I was following the diet completely, even working at the vacation. While on the SLD I lost about 20 pounds in 6 weeks, gained a ton of energy and loved being acutely aware of my eating habits. I did the sugar water version of the diet. My husband is an oil devotee. If you read closely, you'll find that I manage a bakery. A cakery to be exact. It is near impossible to work around sweets 10 hours a day and not consume them. Forgive my indulgence.

One thing you need to know about the Shangri-La diet(SLD). The smell of food can work against you. I get up in the a.m. around 5:30 - 6:00, drink my sugar water and then head off to work. When I get there I am confronted with the smell of cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven. It is downhill from there. I may be leaving my employ soon. I will then return to the SLD.

My husband, on the other hand, has lost 25 pounds in three weeks while carefully attending to SLD. He has found this to be the easiest method for losing wieght and maintaining adequate nutrition to work full time and manage outside activities.

I recommend the SLD. Everyone who has battled with the ups and downs of dieting should purchase the book, read it, and then apply the principles found therein. You'll find a new approach to eating, food and taking the emotion out of it all. Seth Roberts has not paid me to make this endorsement. In fact, I wouldn't know him if I met him on the street. I am just glad he's shared his success with others.

Yes, I am a foodist. I love food. I love the ability that the SLD gives me to make wise food choices and really choose my consumption without the emotion driven eating I have chosen to do in the past. Give it a try, what have you got to lose?

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lunch, dinner and more

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
In the same lot as the bakery is a great little Italian bistro. They make THE best garlic 'bread'. It comes on pizza dough, drenched in roasted garlic, a little butter, and three cheeses. It is all toasted together in the pizza oven and is served with marinara sauce for dipping. We just set aside the sauce and enjoy the roasted garlic.

Now, on to lunch, dinner and more. Last Friday I called the bistro and ordered a to go dinner. Anti Pasto salad and garlice bread. The salad is mixed grean, with salami, provolone, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, grated cheese, etc, etc, etc. It is so refreshing to eat on a hot summers eve. We enjoyed the dinner very much.
Tuesday rolled around and a friend came to help out at the bakery. She was wondering about what to serve for dinner that night. I mentioned our meal for dinner Friday and she made a note and thought maybe she would do that.

Wednesday she stopped by to say hi. I asked her if she had ordered dinner from the bistro. She replied to the affirmative, but was very disappointed. Surprised at her response I inquired further. The salad had spinach on it. Ugh.

Well, last night s'mee and her daughter in law me me at the bakery. We decided after a long day working we would grabb a bite at the bistro. Of course, I ordered the salad. I even made a point of inquiring about the spinach in the salad. The reply came that they didn't have spinach in the salad at all. Certainly they wouldn't be making that error. Too much at stake and all.

My salad came, it was wonderful. I did notice some greens I could not identify, yet looked quite a bit like spinach. A lot like spinach. I placed some on a napkin and took a pic. That pic is above.

Then I came home and googled salad greens. I knew it could not be spinach. No restaurant in their right mind would still be serving spinach. So what was this mystery green?

Simply looking at the green closely will tell you it's not spinach.The stem in spinach is green, not white(see pic in earlier post). Hmmmm. What has a white stem? Well, Bok Choi, Pak Choi, and all those asian greens. Which one was it? Tat-soi. Little ol,d Tat-soi. It can grow into a large green and be used like Bok Choi, or can be harvested early and used as a salad green. Voila!

Next time you turn down a perfectly good salad because it contains spinach, look closer. It could just be that pesky tat-soi!

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Fun Cake Day

Skeletons on a cake
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
A mom came in yesterday needing a birthday cake for Saturday. Usually it is too late in the week to order a cake, however, it has been dead this week. So I decided to go ahead and take the order and bake yesterday fternoon so I could get the cake chilled and ready for decorating.

Today I decorated the cake. Her sons birthday is in October, but for some reason they are celebrating it Saturday. Could he have it with skeletons on it? Sure I said. I love that kind of stuff.

So this is Alec's skeleton cake:

Happy Boo! thday!

Oh, and pay now attention to the chocolate dipped macaroons in the background! :-)

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This spinach debacle

What a mess! Spinach. My beloved spinach! Wasn't it just a month ago I was sitting at a table, with both of my sisters, and a couple of their children, enjoy a lovely spinach salad with blue cheese crumble and apples? We all loved it. It was refreshing and good. Now, if I wanted to duplicate that salad I couldn't. Not only have the Salinas growers plowed under their fields but truckers, reatilers and packagers will simply lose millions of dollars over the next few months due this little germ E-coli.

Today the news stories in major papers totalled eleven. Even the Wall Street Journal has done a story. They've spoken with Don Schaffner, a food science professor at Rutgers on how food scientists track the outbreak of a food borne illness.

Grocers, such as, Whole foods and Wild Oats are giving their customers alternatives and introducing them to other greens to replace spinach.

I guess what I'm trying to say is there are way more people affected by this than a few spinach lovers. Consumption of fresh spinach is averaged at 200 pounds per person per year in the U.S. Wow. When you consider that fresh spinach is a $220 million dollar a year crop, there are many folks who will suffer from the trickle down of this catastrophe. And it is exactly that. A $220 million catastrophe. Jobs will be lost. Insurance rates will rise. Comapnies will be driven out of the business. Farmers. Living the good life, to feed all of us.

Think about it. It's not something to joke about. It's not a popeye cartoon. It's the lives of all the farmers out there trying to put food on your table.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Another part of the kitchen

We all read and publish food blogs because we like cooking or at least to aspire to like cooking, or just baking. It's not always the chopping, slicing, dicing. Or even the baking, sauteing, or braising. Those things are fun, and there are some very talented people from which to learn these things. What I'm talking about today is the other part of being interested in food, the gadgets and the tools and the pretty stuff that makes the table look nice.

Part of the fun of familiarizing yourself with the kitchen is the STUFF! Everyone has their favorite thing to use and can't live without it. Mine is my cuisinart. Ever since Flo Braker, whom I'll praise with my last breath, introduced me to the art of perfect pastry crust using a Cuisinart, I can't live without my essential cooking tool.

But you know what? Every now and then, you just have to buy something to brighten up your space. It doesn't have to be new, per se, but something new for you. Where has this come from? Well, in the past three days, I've received just a few catalogs in the mail. It must be buying season.

What I've found that I like are some of these. I don't drink but the glasses look so nice! Or possibly these, aren't they divine! I have a huge cloche that these would be perfect with. These aren't something for decor, but It would be so nice to have these with the holidays coming soon! It makes baking so much easier!
I picked up one of these on vacation and I can't believe I lived this long without one! I paid full price! Go and buy one on sale! Can you imagine the stockings you could stuff with these! Everyone will thank you.

So what fun new stuff are you looking to add to your kitchen?

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Dying in Vain

Waiter Rant has a new post that says all I've ever wanted to say about wasting food. Please go there and read it.

It makes me crazy to throw away food. It's one of the reasons I don't shop weekly or bi weekly. I shop almost every three days. I don't know what I'll want to eat from day to day and it makes me crazy to see food just rot away in the fridge. But even more than vegetables, I do not like wasting meat. Meat was once an animal. An animal that was placed here for our benefit. It is like wasting them and spoiling our stewardship over them when you let meat rot and just throw it away. We should all be more mindful of this kind of waste.

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Cake fun this week

rock n roll, hoochie koo
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This week I had an unusual request. I had a couple come in looking for a cupcake cake. I had seen them on the web but had never done one. It is frosted like a cake, then your guests just pull the picture apart as the cupcakes are consumed.

Problem being, they wanted 100 cupcakes utilized in the cakes. Wow. It was a party planned for two people turning 50. Of course the theme was "fifties" for the main cake. Then for the guy a Laker cake and for the girl they asked for palm trees.

I got about half of the cupcakes on the 1/2 sheet board and then put the rest on a couple of 18" boards. It was fun to do and I think they'll like the result. If requested, I wouldn't mind doing a few more. The only thing I didn't like about them was the cake to frosting ratio. It was more like a cake.

Here's a view of the other two "cakes":

Palm trees

Laker jersey

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Interesting finds on the net about food

Did you know there is a place on the net with the history of food? Neither did I. The Food Timeline boasts to be the a food history reference and research center. It is a great resource for finding out random bits of history about your favorite food, or getting tidbits for party small talk.

I had never heard of a few items on their list so, of course, I clicked the link and learned somethings. Emmer. Never heard of it, but it seems it was one of the first foods discovered on the globe. This is what The Food Timeline has to say about Emmer:

The sites of origin of emmer are considered to be similar to einkorn, within the regions of the Near East (Nevo 1988). Wild emmer T. dicoccoides, like wild einkorn is distinguished by the brittleness of the rachis, which disarticulate when mature. The rachis of cultivated emmer T. dicoccum is less fragile and tends to remain intact until threshed. The genomic constituents of emmer are described in Table 1. The genomic constitution AA of emmer is thought to be derived from T. monococcum. Various sources of the BB genome have been suggested, T. speltoides, T. searsii, and T. tripsacoides (Morris and Sears 1967; Kimber and Sears 1987). Emmers are predominantly awned with spikelets consisting of two well developed kernels. Emmer glumes are long and narrow with sharp beaks.

Well that's not all, but all I wanted to read about Emmer. As time goes by, in history that is, the food becomes more and more interesting. So, The Food Timeline could be a valuable resource for trivia, if nothing else.

Next on the list was DMOZ. DMOZ is an open source document that lists topics by categories. The food section of DMOZ is pretty interesting. It has sub-headings and links. I clicked on the chef's link to see who is listed. There are all the usual suspects. I clicked on Gordon Ramsey's link because he is infamous. I wanted to see what else I could learn about him. Well his weebsite is very well put together. I did have to chuckle at the title of the page giving you a rundown of 'who he is'. It's titled "The Man". Not the Chef, Chef Ramsey, or Mr. Ramsey, just The Man. It made me think of when I was young and my brother and his friends would refer to themselves as the man whenever they thought they were way cool. So I guess, Chef Ramsey is way cool.

Dmoz has some very nice links, it worth a look around.

Next up: Wikipedia. Yes! Wikipedia on Food has a very nice page layout. It is clean, with great pictures. The outline is well made and the information is easily accessible. It is a superb resource for someone trying to decide which segment of the industry to study and possibly persue as a career. It also helps to define the different aspects of the food industry and where you can look ofr expertise.

This is thier definition of food: Food is any substance, usually comprised primarily of carbohydrates, fats, and/or proteins, that can be consumed by animals (including humans) for nutrition and/or pleasure. Almost all foods are of plant or animal origin. Many cultures have a recognizable cuisine, a specific set of cooking traditions, preferences, and practices. The study of food is called food science. In English, the term food is often used metaphorically or figuratively, as in food for thought.

Wikipedia is a great resource and you can edit the page if you feel you have something positive to add. Anyone can edit a wiki page. If you have something to add, and it meets the page criteria, add away!

Those are three of the millions of food related sites out there. I think each one does a good job and is worthy of your time.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sad news

Last year this time I read a story similiar to the one I'll talk about. It concerns me quite a lot.

Pear growers may have to leave part of their crop unpicked because of the lack of harvest help in Lake and Mendocino counties of California. Farmers report they have only been able to hire about half the workers they need and the problem has worsened because recent weather caused pears to ripen faster, reported California Farm Bureau Federation.

This is the kind of struggle California farmers are having with their farms. It is the kind of struggle that makes them sell their land and allow homes to built on farmland. After years and years of trying to grow a decent crop, make a little money, and do it all over again next year, this is how they end up. Fighting to put food on their own table, much less ours.

I am not sure why the farms are having difficulty hiring but I can think of a couple:
One. the cost of living in Mendocino county is high. The average home is $425,000 as of Sept 2006. I am not sure how many migrant workers can own a home in that area. That would mean workers would have to commute to pick fruit. That's why they call them migrant workers, so I get that. However, gasoline costs have skyrocketed in California, currently it's $2.93 a gallon for regular gas. If you have to comute an hour a day, that's a lot of gas cost diminishing a simple paycheck. To have people harvest crops it must be worth the cost to them also.
Two. The immigration issue facing Californians and the southwest. The immigration probelm has put pressure on the migrant that comes from Mexico to work the harvest season and go home. There must be a system in place to allow this to happen. These people aren't looking for citizenship, they're looking to make a decent paycheck and go home. There must be a solutionto this problem.
Three. The construction industry is taking many of the men out of the harvest. It pays much better than a field hand can make. Then the restaurant industry takes it's portion also. It pays about the same as a field worker makes, there is less travel and a different kind of hard work involved.

I can't imagine how disappointing it must be to bring a crop to harvest and then have to watch it fall to the ground spoiled because you couldn't find people willing to work to get it to market. I am not sure I'd do it two years in a row.

All of these reasons contribute to the lack of workers to harvest crops. It will have an impact on comsumers. Cost, will be where it plays out. Then worst case scenario is lack of product. It becomes much more expensive and then in short supply. Can we find a solution? I hope so. So much for the cost of pears!

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