Thursday, September 25, 2008

Genetically Engineered Farm Animals and the FDA

The government said it will start considering proposals to sell genetically engineered animals as food, a move that could lead to faster growing fish, cattle that can resist mad cow disease, or perhaps heart-healthier eggs laid by a new breed of chicken.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed legal framework for how it would resolve such questions as whether the altered animals are safe for human consumption and pose no serious environmental risks. FDA officials said they are focusing on animals that will be used as food, or to produce medications that would then be consumed by people or other animals.
Ok, that's bad enough from my point of view.

But then you get this.
... the FDA does not plan to require in all cases that genetically engineered meat, poultry and fish be labeled as such for consumers.

"They are talking about pigs that are going to have mouse genes in them, and this is not going to be labeled?" said Jean Halloran, director of food policy for Consumers Union. "We are close to speechless on this."
Why no labels? Because then people would know what not to buy. Who would that hurt? The Frankensteins who are pushing genetically engineered animals on the public.

So the government is allowing them to slip one over on the public. Colluding in it, as a matter of fact. I know I'm old fashioned but whatever happened to the idea that the government is there to serve the people?

Right. I know. That's a laugh riot.

That whole issue is what we saw begin when the government refused to let milk suppliers label whether or not their product contained rBGH. I wound up going over to organic milk then.

Well, I buy some organic things already so this will just make the push complete, I suppose. But what about restaurants? What kind of eggs will they be buying? Or beef?

Now that's gonna be an interesting dilemma.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thought for Food

i like to take a few moments to watch the leaves undulate with the grace of mermaids in the darkening tea, my nose is delighted with the enticing exotic aroma of equatorial fruits and oriental teas. i clear my mind and become one with this zen experience.
Do we really become one with our tea? A nice reminder to slow down and smell the tea leaves...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Newest Obsession: Iced Coffee

About 4:00 in the afternoon, I need a caffeine fix. In the summer it tends to be iced tea but my favorite is a cup of coffee. Not being a Starbucks junky (yep, we're cheap that way) the idea of iced coffee never occurred to me. That is, until I read Smitten Kitchen's caffeine-fueled raves about the recipe she'd found in the New York Times.

It was just the sort of gimmicky thing that appealed to me. So simple. Let the grounds steep in water for 12 hours, drain, mix with an equal amount of water, and then adjust flavor to taste with sugar and/or milk ... and add ice. Could it really work?

I got caught up in an intensive discussion with a Central Market coffee lover who kept digressing to urge me to buy special "toddy" equipment at a certain website and then looked grave when I refused. You know, all I really wanted was to know what number to set the coffee grinder on to get a "coarse grind. I finally emerged, triumphant, with my #8 ground coffee and sallied homeward to begin the Great Experiment.

The result?

Heaven in a glass.

So heavenly, in fact, that I am having to severely restrict myself to one glass daily. Does it taste like Starbucks? I have no way of knowing. But it is absolutely delicious.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
Time: 5 minutes, plus 12 hours’ resting

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional).

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk. (I also like a little sugar mixed with the coffee mixture before pouring it over ice.)

Yield: Two drinks.

NOTE: To make hot coffee, dilute concentrate one-to-one with water and heat in the microwave.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Amazing Taste Seasonings Live Up to Their Name

Ignore the fact that the packaging is not "upscale."

Ignore the fact that their promotional materials say things like, "Amazing Taste packets cost only $0.99 and season 2-4 lbs. of protein." (Protein? Mmmm, now that sounds appetizing.)

Just focus on the name. Amazing Taste. It is actually accurate.

I was surprised to receive a generous sampling of seasonings after agreeing to try their products. They have a wide variety which go from specific meats like Beef to specific dishes like Chili to a trendy spice combination like Malibu.

I examined the ingredients of several packets before trying them and puzzled over the inclusion of wheat flour, rice flour, tapioca starch, and such like. Suddenly the light dawned. These were there to enhance browning or texture, just as I would do when first sprinkling seasoning and then dredging in flour before browning. I saw nothing that was "code" for MSG or hidden salt. Reassured, I proceeded.

Looking around the internet, I see that I was not the only one looking at ingredients. Simple Daily Recipes went a step further when trying these out.
Before I even opened them, I had my friend Kim, a licensed dietitian, take a look at them. She was very impressed with the list of healthy ingredients used in the seasonings.
After I tried out the seasoning for chicken I was both surprised and impressed. I rubbed some of the seasoning into chicken breasts and then browned them in a little olive oil. The result was an attractively browned, tasty but subtly flavored chicken breast.

A very good beginning.

I had chuckled at the Fajita seasoning packets ... I mean we are in Texas after all ... but then thought I'd give it the acid test. I rubbed it generously over more chicken breasts, Tom grilled them, and ... we pronounced them good, very good. Again, there was a subtle flavor. Nothing obvious, but just enough to enhance the flavor of the meat and make it meld harmoniously with the other ingredients we were popping into flour tortillas.

As a side note, Tom was grilling other, unflavored chicken breasts that I was going to use later in the week. He said that he was wondering why the fajita chicken was browning so beautifully while the other pieces were pallid and uncooked looking. Just a little thing called Amazing Taste, I believe.

Again we were quite impressed.

The Steak House and Pork seasonings are not quite as subtle, but they surely are savory and delicious. When you want a stronger pop of flavor, they filled the bill but without leaving any chemical aftertaste or adding too much salt.

These are winners. When they run out, I'll be picking up more, perhaps in their handy shakers.

Check out locations or buy Amazing Taste here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fine Art Friday

La Chevre et Le Chou from Paris Daily Photo

Not content to merely give us this charming photo from Paris, of all the unlikely-seeming places, he tells us a bit of background as well.
No, it's not usual to come across a goat and a cabbage in the middle of Paris ! I simply spotted this cute little scene in front of a restaurant in the 15th arrondissement (235 bis rue Saint Charles more precisely) called La chèvre et le chou (the goat and the cabbage). The funny part - well, if you're interested in improving your French - is that this name is also a pretty common expression that we use when we're in a situation where we have to please two opposite parties. I believe the translation in English would be "To have one's cake and eat it too".
Anyone who loves Paris as I do but gets there very rarely (also, sadly, as I do) will really enjoy this blogger's photos and comments.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

From Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2002. This is a Thai-ish dish that gets rave reviews even from cucumber haters. It went perfectly with the grilled salmon and the Creamy Horseradish Potato Salad on Labor Day. Even if you find yourself without peanuts as I did the last time I made it, it is sweet and spicy and ... crunchilicious!

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

1-1/2 pounds cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 4 cups
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped dry-roasted peanuts

1. Place cucumber slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt. Toss well. Drain 1 hour. Place cucumber slices on several layers of paper towels, cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and red pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove vinegar reduction from heat; cool. Stir in onion. Combine cucumbers and vinegar reduction in a medium bowl. Toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts. Yield 4 servings.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Creamy Horseradish Potato Salad

From the pages of last year's June Gourmet, which I don't buy that often but yielded this tangy, delicious, and simple potato salad. It went perfectly with the grilled salmon we had yesterday. Mmmm, I love horseradish!

I used Yukon Gold medium sized potatoes, peeled after they were cooked and sliced them thickly.

I actually bought chives to put in this but would have been just as happy with chopped green onions or red onion.

Creamy Horseradish Potato Salad

Serves 6.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons bottled white horseradish, not drained
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3 pounds cooked small (2-inch) boiling potatoes, cooled to room temperature and quartered

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Stir in chives and potatoes to coat.

8 Easy Inexpensive Meals for College Students

Four options for those without kitchens and four for those with them.

SlashFood's story is tailor-made for Hannah and Rose ... oh, and all those other college students I know! I think their options for kitchens are more practical than the others but that's just me.