Monday, January 28, 2008

So many booths, so little time

The hardest part of attending the trade show every year is the time constraint. I did do my pre-show work by looking at every website listed on the Fancy Food Show exhibitor's list. Yeah, talk about making you not want to look at the web for a while. Thank goodness you have a few days to spend at the show!

So after looking over the web, I made a list of companies I had to talk with and those I'd have to ignore this time around. The ignore group had to be the usual suspects this year. Who are they, you ask? Well, the giants of industry of course. The Guittard's, Ghirardelli's, the Sunkist's and all of the foreign olive oil dealers.

On this year's list were new names, and a few old favorites. I did have to stop by Hammond's Candies as they are my all time favorite company. Along the way were Yam Good Pies, J.K. Adams Co., Sheer Bliss, Coco-Luxe, The Truffle Kit, Sister's Gourmet, EMSL Analytics, Umpqua Indian Foods, cmb sweets, Cooks Kitchen, Chronicle Books, Seasoned Skewers, TSP Spices, Dr. Stuarts, Clearbrook Farms, Amano Chocolate, Linda's Gourmet Latkes, HINT, Mrs. Meyers, Dry Soda, Bissinger's, Brandt Beef, The Savannah Bee Company, Crummy Brothers, Hint Mint, and Carlsbad Gourmet.

I'll be writing up a bit on each of these companies and a few more that caught my eye at the show. My favorite time spent? It had to be talking with Cooper Bates and Harley Cross of HintMint. They are two of my favorite guys. Cooper and I spent way too much time talking together that I should have spent elsewhere , but gee, he's really a nice guy and I needed the rest stop.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the fancy food show tomorrow, first this!

A very interesting story was published today. I found it fascinating and thought some of you might enjoy it too. First off let me tell you about synthetic forms of antioxidants BHA and BHT. They are artificial ingredients used by the food industry to slow down the deterioration of food. You see it listed on just about everything.

BHT is actually Butylated hydroxytoluene is produced by alkylation reaction of p-cresol with isobutylene. The species acts as a synthetic analogue of vitamin E, primarily a terminating agent that suppresses autoxidation, a process whereby unsaturated organic compounds are attacked by atmospheric oxygen.

BHA is actually Butylated hydroxyanisole is a mixture of two isomeric organic compounds, 2-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole and 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole. It is prepared from 4-methoxyphenol and isobutylene. It is a waxy substance that inhibits spoilage.

Wow, I bet you never thought about those compounds like this before. So why am I talking about them? Because you need to begin to read those labels and understand what all those terms mean and why they work. And for this good news: A report out of Pakistan (of all places! why not here!) today talks of a new natural version of BHA and BHT. It is derived from the skin of Pomegranates. Yes, those seedy little scrumptious fruits. Synthetic anti-oxidants have run their course and the world is demanding natural alternatives. Herbs, primarily rosemary and vitamins E and C are replacing BHA and BHT. Now scientists in Pakistan have discovered the peel from Pomegranates have similar capabilities.

The report states that the peel of the Pomegranate is virtually a waste product in most cases and the discovery of its antioxidant properties is a boon to the food industry. To quote from the report: "This natural antioxidant range could potentially include pomegranate peel, "underestimated as an agricultural waste," according to Iqbal and co-workers, whose promising new results showed the potential of peel extracts on the thermal and storage stability of sunflower oil.

The researchers used methanol to extract antioxidants from the peels, and report a 29.2 per cent yield with an antioxidant activity of 92.7 per cent.

"Pomegranate peel extract at concentration of 800-850 ppm has stabilization efficiency comparable to conventional synthetic antioxidants, i.e. BHT at its legal limit," wrote the researchers.

"It improves resistance of sunflower oil against thermal deteriorative changes. Besides this, polyunsaturated fatty acid content is saved appreciably by creating resistance in oil against oxidative rancidity,"
they concluded.

This is great news combined with the other known beneficial properties of the fruit.

Sources sited for the report are:Food Research International (Elsevier)
Published on-line ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2007.11.005
"Efficiency of pomegranate peel extracts in stabilization of sunflower oil under accelerated conditions"
Authors: Shahid Iqbal, S. Haleem, M. Akhtar, M. Zia-ul-Haq, J. Akbar

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The great Quinoa experiment

Quinoa and dates, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

I told you I was going to do a bit of experimenting with this grain. Here is the first. I boiled it up, 2 cups of water to one cup Quinoa (just like long grain rice) bring it to a boil, cover, and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. It's ready to eat. Very simple.

I then added walnuts and dates. We still have a few walnut stuffed dates left over from Christmas and I decided to throw a few in.

Walnut stuffed dates

I added a bit of butter, which I did because of oatmeal, which I won't add again. I didn't notice it at all, so why add it? Stirred it up and I really like it. It was a very good breakfast. In a 1/2 cup cooked Quinoa, there are 10 1/2 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. As opposed to oatmeal at 27 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein I think we have a new hot breakfast choice.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Spoils of the Fancy Food Show

There was so much more! But this is just a peek at all the different businesses I spoke with while perusing the show. It was a good show all in all.

My biggest impression was that for all of us living in the burbs is not good. Most every vendor I spoke to answered the question "where can I find your products?" Answered with the same answers: "Whole Foods (2 hours away), Bristol (75 minutes away), or Ralph's (35 minutes away). Ugh. We in the burbs just don't count. It bugs the heck out of me. I think we are actually an un-mined demographic that if, or when the majors discover us, they'll wish they'd been here all along.

Kevin Davis of Bristol fame once wrote me that there couldn't possibly be a Bristol Farms in Temecula (not my town but 30 minutes away sort of) could not be a reality as it "was not supply chain friendly" meaning it was not part of their natural distribution channel so we would not be enjoying their presence any time soon. Bristol, for a long time was only local to the greater Los Angeles area and Kevin's response made sense. That was until i learned they were opening a store in Palm Springs. Palm Springs is so far off the distribution channel it was surprising to say the least. But then again, that store is now my local albeit 75 minutes away, local Bristol Farms.

All in all the Fancy Food Show was well done, huge and surprisingly well attended. I though moving it to San Diego would possibly lower attendance a bit as it was not San Francisco, but the crowds were there. There was a plethora of chocolate companies, olive oil companies and tea companies. Wowzer, who knew tea had grown so large??!!!

I had some favorites, met some new people and saw some old friends. There were a few surprises and a new favorite. In the next few weeks I will be focusing on some of the companies I met at the show and hopefully you'll be interested in doing business with them after I introduce them!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zetia, Beef, Milk, Pork, Poultry

What do these things have in common? The FDA. I have talked and talked and talked about how the FDA is failing us as a citizens of this country. It is disheartening to realize that the FDA has no real interest in protecting the health of US citizens. A quote from an FDA spokesperson regarding the approval allowing cloned meat (and milk) into the US food supply: "The meat we eat from cloned food is as safe as they food we eat today."

That pretty much sums it up. Zetia was given the stamp of approval by the FDA. Now meat and milk join their ranks. Is it worth the risk? Do you go to a major food purveyor and just grab something "off the rack" and consume it knowing you'll be safe and healthy? Well, if you take Zetia, maybe you will. Maybe you won't.

I realize I am talking in what some would say are exaggerated terms by associating the Zetia factor together with the food cloning issue. However, it is the same governing body allowing both products to be sold to consumers as safe. One, the drug you are prescribed are to assist your body in sloughing off cholesterol, has now been shown to have no effect in keeping you healthy. The other cloned meat and milk in the food supply are deemed safe for human consumption with no ill effects on the human body. Do you see the connection? Both times the FDA has approved for sale items that say they are safe for human consumption.

And what makes it worse is the fact that the FDA is not requiring cloned food companies to tell you about the origin of their food. Yes, that's right, they will not require cloned food to be labeled as cloned. So you won't be able to tell if it is cloned or naturally grown meat.

Time to get to know a farmer. Really well.

This was my favorite statement from a news story on the cloning: "government officals were seeking a voluntary moratorium on the release of cloned foods in order to buy time for the products to gain acceptance here in the US and abroad." Hah! They don't want to stop it, they just want to give us time to get over it and realize we will be eating something that may not be good for us. We'll find out in twenty years why it wasn't such a good idea to consume it, but then it will be too late.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chocolate pudding

Chocolate pudding, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

From scratch! I cannot get over how good this was. Not as rich as I hoped but still a good treat easily whipped up in 20 minutes time!

I started with the recipe:


Then into the pot I added the sugars, cornstarch and salt.
Sugar, chocolate and cornstarch
Stirred them up well and added 1 cup of the milk and the chopped chocolate. Turned the heat to medium and began stirring.
Beginning to stir
Once the chocolate chunks melted, I added the additional milk and continued to stir. You can see it getting darker in color and beginning to thicken.
Just about there

It quickly came to high heat and thickened up well. It got darker and richer looking by the minute!

I pured it into bowls so it could cool down enough to eat. The recipe recommended eating it warm, cooled slightly or cold. We waited until it was chilled and served it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Chocolatey creamy goodness

With the remaining pudding I decided to get creative and took some glamour shots! I put the pudding in some demi-tasee cups I have and took a few pics. With the small tasting spoons, it looked normal size so I decided to get one of my regular teacups and a teaspoon out to show how small they really were.

Perspective 2


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Anyone else going?

Sunday the Winter Fancy Food Show begins in San Diego! San Diego!!!!!! Yes! I have traveled to San Francisco to the show for years... Not that there is anything wrong with San Francisco at all. It's just great to not have to get a hotel room this time around.

Will you be there?

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh my! What took me so long?

Quinoa and peppers, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

I have to admit I have never before eaten Quinoa. I have heard of it for about 6-7 years but never ever cooked with it or tasted it. Until now.

What the heck is it? Boy are we behind the curve here in suburbia. The Incas called it "the mother of all grains." The tribal leader would take golden implements, reserved especially for this ceremony, and would sew the first seeds each year at the beginning of the season. Spanish colonists scorned it and called it food for indians. It was 2nd only to the potato to the Andeans.

It contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. It takes less Quinoa to make a complete protein than wheat and is gluten free and easily digestible. In its natural state it had a bitter outer coating "saponins" not enjoyed by humans, or birds. The birds do not eat it while it is being cultivated and Qunioa can be rinsed to remove the bitter coating. (a lot of this info came from wikipedia)

I got a recipe for it, and decided to give it a try as I am now seeing it for sale at Henry's. Wow. Am I glad I tried it. It is delicious, and can be used in many dishes I now use rice in. That way I get rid of usless carbs I am trying to avoid and add beneficial proteins to my diet. It does contain carbs though don't misunderstand me there, just the amount of proteins are much better.

It was very light in flavor and gave me the impression that it would work well with sweets as well as savories. I am going to do some more experimenting with this one. Go buy a copy of Everyday Food and make the Qunioa stuffed peppers. You won't be disappointed. The only person that I think may not like it is #3 son-in-law as it does have a slight, very slight resemblance to couscous. However, the Quinoa does get soft like rice instead of holding up and staying granular.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Beef, it's what's for dinner

Beef, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Start with a too thick piece of rib eye steak. It's the way butchers are making more on their margins now days. Put a steak on sale and then, cut them thicker than you've ever seen them sold before! (Pet peeve)

Well, throw it in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil and garlic. Sear it on both sides, while heating the oven to 450 degrees F.


Now put a lid on the pan and then place it in the oven for 15 minutes. When it looks like this, take it out and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Seared and out of the oven

Oh, look at the steam on this! Mmmmm.

Now slice it in to quarter inch thick slices. If youcan't resist it, go ahead take a bite, you're cooking tonight!


Then because you know someone who doesn't like medium rare meat, take a portion and put it back in the pan, covered for an additional 10 minutes to cook it through for them.

SLiced and ready to eat

Once it's done, put the slices on a bed of mixed green and other vegetables and the rest of the romaine you have on hand from your other salad, and you've got dinner! It is served best with a blue cheese dressing.

Steak Salad

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mediterranean Salad with Chicken

This was the most delicious salad this evening! I am on a more cooking resolution this year so you will begin to see a lot more of my own cooking sessions.

This one was inspired from the current issue of Everyday Food. I got a subscription from one of the girls and am beginning to enjoy it very much. This was a simple recipe to make as there was not a lot of cooking involved. I changed it quite a bit though. Here is the way I chose to make the recipe:

First I grilled a couple of boneless chicken breasts. The chicken is not in the recipe, but I thought I'd be able to pull this off as a one dish meal if I added the chicken for the husband. He was quite satisfied with it as a stand alone meal.

While the chicken was grilling with a bit of olive oil and garlic, I opened a can of canellini beans and drained them. I then rinsed them in cold water. Into the salad bowl they went, along with a can of artichoke hearts I had drained as well. On the stove I boiled some water and added cup of whole wheat penne. The recipe called for just regular penne, but we use whole wheat pastas and so that's what went into the salad.

After the pasta was just about cooked I added a quarter cup of sun dried tomatoes to the boil. The recipe called for tomatoes that were not in oil, but again that was all I had so I drained them a bit and added them in. They boiled for an additional minute and then the pasta was drained and placed in a bowl to chill in the fridge.

While the pasta chilled I made the dressing. In a bowl I mixed together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. The recipe called for red wine vinegar, but I had none. Use what you have! It also asked me to add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard. I am not a fan of dijon mustard. So I added the Zatarains Creole mustard I had on hand. Mmmmm. Stirred it up well and let it rest waiting to put the whole thing together.

Next was shredding or tearing up a head of romaine lettuce. That went in the bowl with the bean and artichokes. I sliced up the chicken into quarter inch thick slices and then cut them to about a 2 inch medallion. Added those in. Added a good half cup of Feta cheese, the dressing and tossed it all together. What is pictured is the result.

It was a hearty salad, fit for a dinner with some crusty sourdough. I would have added a bit more feta and dressing if I were to make it again.

The ingredients were: 2 boneless chicken breasts, 1 can of cannelini beans, I can artichokes in water, 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes, 1 head of romaine lettuce, 1 cup of penne, 1/2 cup of feta cheese and the dressing of olive oil, cider vinegar and mustard.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

The FDA is failing us

The ticker across the screen this morning on ABC read, "FDA is expected to say soon that cloned animals are safe for food and milk". The Jan 3 Yahoo news is running the same story.

I hope you are paying attention. No more shopping at large retailers for milk or meat. No more Sam's Club Costco foods folks! The food you consume will affect your life for years to come, make sure you are eating the real thing. Not something that has been created in a lab by some scientist who says it's good for you.

If you have not contacted your political representatives, now is the time. HR2419 just may save us from the FDA and your representative needs to know you want them to support it! All you need to do is send a simple email, or make a phone call asking them to support the bill. It will ask for a rigorous review of cloned foods, their impact on human health and the economy.

From the True Food blog "“The passage of this bill with the Mikulski-Specter amendment is like a gift for the holidays,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. “The FDA’s flawed and cavalier approach to cloned food and its potential impacts called for a truly rigorous scientific assessment. At a time when the FDA has repeatedly failed the public, this amendment will ensure that the American consumer is considered before any special interest.”

Please don't ignore this. The food you eat in the future depends on your support.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Squealed with delight I tell ya!

Yes, that is how my Christmas went! Everyone who loves me gave me some form of chocolate! Every stop we made there was chocolate! I got all kinds of neat chocolate treats and new things to try! My favorite so far, mostly because the other person here doesn't like it, is a new flavor of a Lindt bar I haven't tasted before. It is their Holiday Spice Bar. MmmmmmMMMMMmmmmm! It is infused with cinnamon and coriander. Very interesting combination.

But then I got a present that gave me goosebumps just by holding it in my hot little hands. I have had this book on my wish list forever. Well, maybe not forever, but as long as I knew it was being published...

Fine Chocolates by Jean Pierre Wybauw. Swoon! Goosebumps! Squeals of delight! This is definitely the best present ever. I will begin sitting at the feet of Monsieur Wybauw and learning what he is willing to share. He is a master chocolatier and I am so grateful to own this book! I will share my triumphs, and save you from the trials along the way.

But that was not all! I also got a copy of Peter Grewling's newest book published in conjunction with the CIA. It is a text book being used at the CIA and will act as a second for my learning process. Woohoo! Chocolatier in the making here. This is going to be fun, and a lot of hard work.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yay! Let's hear it for 2008!

A new year, a new way of doing things. Well maybe not. But I do have big plans for the Food section around here. My travels through the west, and its subsequent eating on the road, have lent itself to a new segment here at the Chronicles. Hehehe. I am going to be photographing food as I stop at some of these establishments. Sometimes you get what is pictured and then other times it would be better for them not to picture food at all on a menu because what you get and what is shown are two entirely different things!

It was brought to mind on several stops during the Christmas road trip. Acck!

One stop we made in Idaho though was really worth it. Big Juds is in the heart of Archer, Idaho.

Big Juds

It's a small unassuming space right off the main drag. That and a blink and you've missed downtown Archer. Big Juds Country Diner comes highly recommended though. You see, Big Jud was tired of going places and getting sub-standard hamburgers and decided to give it a try. He opened his own shop in 1993 and the rest is history. They have three locations, the home base in Archer a location in Ashton and also in Boise. So if you are ever in town, stop by the food is great!

We ordered the --- and just take a l0ook at that burger! It is a huge buirger with all the right trimmings! Cooked through, and served with the best cheddar cheese around. Non of that processed cheese junk here. The buns are baked by a local grocery store bakery, Broulims, and supplied just for them.

That's a burger!

Cut once

Ready to eat

It also came with country cut fries:

Idaho Spuds

They also offer you your choice of ketchup or fry sauce. Fry sauce for us all the way!
Fry sauce or ketchup?

Other menu items are grilled cheese, chicken strips, a fish dinner and the largest variety of burgers ever! From Jalapeno to blue cheese, there is bound to be a flavor to please everyone with you. Desserts you can choose from a selection of ice cream treats. Big Juds caters for parties too! Check them out. You won't be disappointed. Unless of course, you try to go on a Sunday. Big Juds is closed on Sundays, just like the rest of Idaho!

Big Juds didn't have pictures on their menu. I don't that you'd have been disappointed with them if they did though. I heard about Big Juds from the family, and a few friends, they've never been disappointed and neither were we.

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