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Everything posted by mizducky

  1. Lol, nope. They never have any coupons for that! What kind do you like? I have heard the Peanut Butter Company makes good stuff (and they even sell it at the Wegmans), but I don't know if they are a hippy-enough brand... lead me, oh Maven of the Peanut Butter! Where should I seek these patchouli-scented wünderbutters? ← Oh, grind-your-own peanut butter is a time-honored staple at just about every food co-op I've ever visited or belonged to, and many natural foods groceries as well. For instance, the OB (Ocean Beach) People's Co-op here in San Diego has their peanut butter grinder set up in their bulk foods section. The routine is usually just like that for grind-your-own bulk coffee--you dump the (pre-roasted) peanuts in the top, catch the freshly-ground butter in one of the supplied containers as it comes out the spout at the bottom, then you bring your container to the cash register to be weighed and priced. Because the co-op does a brisk business in this stuff, and you grind it on the spot, you know it's super-fresh, with nothing in it but peanuts--plus whatever else you might decide to mix in once you get it home, of course. At the other end of the spectrum, another purveyor of gourmet nut spreads with all sorts of interesting stuff mixed in is Spread, here in San Diego (which also runs a very avant-cuisine vegetarian restaurant in addition to its nut spread business. Re: peanut butter gone savory--the idea may take some getting used to for us Americans who think of peanut butter as sweet, but just consider savory peanut sauces from Southeast Asia, such as Indonesian gado-gado or Vietnamese nuoc leo, and then the idea will be much easier to swallow. So to speak.
  2. What? No food-coop hippy-style grind-yer-own absolutely-nuthin'-but-peanuts peanut butter??!? (Yeah, I see the Smuckers Natural. Ain't the same thing, opines this opinionated peanut-butter purist. )
  3. I love the vibe and the humor of that Austrian cafe. I have to say, I have only a very small sample size of Austrians I have known personally, but they have both been total characters, leaving me with an (admittedly anecdotal) impression that Austrians are some wild'n'crazee folks ... and that restaurant's signage is only confirming my impressions. And oh yeah, the food looked amazing too! I think I could make a whole meal out of just the sauerkraut (though I probably wouldn't stick to just that...)
  4. I too have noticed such weirdnesses when newspaper/newswire journalists attempt to summarize scientific journal articles. In fact, one of my freelance jobs boils down to collecting science news items like this, tracking down the original journal article, researching the science behind the study, and then writing a new article that actually gets the science right. You would not believe how many times I discover the newswire journalist obviously had no freakin' idea what the hell the journal article was talking about, and wound up writing a total bull-fertilizer piece to the tune of "Scientists made a groundbreaking discovery that framistat deficiency disease, which is caused by a deficiency of framistat, can be treated by the administration of bioengineered framistat, which the researchers derived from the framistat cells of certain framistat-rich framistat glands..." Anyway--so I went to check the sources of this article, only to discover that the full text of the original journal article is only available if you're a subscriber or if you shell out $$ for one-time access. But the (admittedly not-very-informative) abstract is accessible without a fee, as is this much-more-informative editorial summary. The latter, in fact, does raise a number of questions about funky data issues, such as: And it goes on ... but the gist of it, IMO, is that this study does have a bunch of problems and raises more questions than it answers.
  5. mizducky

    Dinner! 2008

    That pudding looks amazing, And you can never go wrong with coconut milk. My dinner: started yesterday afternoon with a pork shoulder blade roast going into a simple salt/brown sugar brine; continued this morning with the roast going from brine into crockpot; picked up again at around 4-ish pm when I scooped the falling-apart roast out of the crockpot, pulled it to shreds and chunks, moistened it with a little rendered fat from the crockpot, and then put it in a hot oven briefly to get some crispy bits: The pulled pork, plated, with just a little barbecue sauce, a bunch of hot sauce, and some coleslaw on the side: No, it ain't real barbecue ... but it'll do just fine in the meantime.
  6. Hiya, kalypso! Long time no type! I'd driven past that place a number of times, always thinking the vibe of the building was begging for further investigation. So I'm glad you checked it out so thoroughly, so that now I know I have to go there--preferably with a bunch of people so we can try all the dishes you pictured. I'd wondered about the name of that place too. I was aware that there are sizeable communities of ethnic Germans in Mexico, descendants of several different waves of immigration, but plead ignorance as to how their various heritages show up in the cultural/culinary mix. (Or in the names of people, places, and things ... )
  7. Man, that was a fun read. You just evoked a whole world for me.
  8. By karmic coincidence, I have a four-pound pork shoulder blade roast brining in the fridge at this very moment. The moon must be in Pork. Blog on!
  9. Yep. I see that herb from time to time in the local Asian groceries, under the names Ngò gai or Sawtooth leaf ... and once in awhile it shows up among the side plate of mix-in herbs and veggies accompanying soups in Vietnamese restaurants.
  10. Plus I'm thinking that those mountains in the background look a bit more like low, rolling Eastern US type mountains than higher, pointier Western US type mountains. At any rate, that chunk of pork belly definitely grabbed my attention too.
  11. I made an absolutely killer tom yum goong based on the recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery, only substituting head-on shrimp for headless, and omitting the chicken broth because I now had the heads as well as the shells to make broth with. The resulting broth had an intense flavor and color that really stood up to all the hot/sweet/spicy/sour going on, producing a soup that totally kicked the butt of all the insipid tom yum goongs I've had in Thai restaurants in this town. (Plus I developed a really bad nam prik pow obsession--never was a seasoning more ironically transliterated into English. )
  12. Sounds rather dogmatic to me. I haven't seen a halal butcher anywhere here in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia or the Florida west coast. I wonder if there is a an association that might tell us how many there really are in the country and where. ← Well, at least according to this website, there is at least one Halal market--and in a number of cases, several more than one--in each of the states/regions you mention above (North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Gulf Coast Florida). Mind you, there isn't a listing for "nearly every city"--but then, there may well be more out there than are listed on the website ... (Just trying to be helpful. )
  13. Oh dear. Apparently this is the same Bruce Sterling who made his name as a science fiction writer and one of the main dudes of the cyberpunk movement. And apparently he has set himself up as a pundit of popular culture, and publishes the occasional article in non-SFnal magazines such as Metropolis, Vogue, etc. How these qualifications alone set him up as a suitable commentator on anything culinary, I am at a loss to explain. (Not that one can't be both an author of speculative fiction and a knowledgeable food enthusiast--as witness former horror-fiction author turned culinary-themed novel author Poppy Z. Brite. Maybe Poppy should be requested to go pay a visit to Bruce and bite him in the neck, or otherwise do something to bring him to his senses. )
  14. Randi, I feel your pain. (I think I already told you my story about how Mr. E, when asked what is his favorite among the dinners I've made for him, enthusiatically nominates the "Hamburger Helper Stroganoff" made exactly according to the box directions. ) It could just be, as others have suggested, that these diners' tastebuds are just shot from plain old age. It could be that they've been brought up with narrow tastes, and at this advanced age they're just not willing or able to change. Or it could just be plain old orneriness--that urge to just complain about whatever the current setup is, just because it's there. In fact, I'm willing to bet cash money that, if you did decide you'd had enough of these folks and quit, that your successor would hear a lot of complaints along the lines of "Why don't you cook more like our last cook Randi? We really liked her stuff!" FWIW, Mr. E has gotten to be a much better sport about being noodged beyond his culinary comfort zone--but then, he and I have a 1-on-1 relationship with a lot more give-and-take. And I also make sure to put the Hamburger Helper Stroganoff on the menu freqently enough to keep his culinary world well-anchored.
  15. I was way into grilling/broiling them for a good while, and then I had a few batches in a row that were unpleasantly tough-textured and it sort of put me off that preparation fo a while. Obviously I need to give it another go. Cutting across the grain--d'oh! Why didn't I think of that?
  16. The fresh ones I've cooked with (sold under the name of king oyster mushrooms or eryngii mushrooms) have been a bit more tough-textured than other shrooms I've worked with. That might be a function of size--the ones I buy, from the local Asian markets, are huge--stems at least the length of my hand and an inch or more in diameter. So while I've enjoyed them various ways, I've had my best results with these guys by cutting them into cubes and simmering them, alone or added to a stewed/braised dish. They hold up to such treatment really well. If the shrooms you've got are smaller, they may well be more tender than mine.
  17. I'm dorkily pleased with myself for more-or-less correctly identifying the content of both your teaser photos, even though the vineyards did throw me off of my original guess of destination. Though I did remember learning somewhere along the line that China does do grape-based as well as rice-based wines. Looking forward to learning more about that--plus some more great Chinese food-porn!
  18. I hesitate to offer my dorky little recipe after that magestic black cake procedure, but your Peep feast here made me think of this silly thing I like to make with Peeps. Thanks for a most entertaining blog!
  19. They're definitely hard-boiled eggs--could be tea eggs, could be braised in soy. The meat could be red-cooked or otherwise braised and glazed ... so are we headed to China? Hong Kong? That first picture, though ... I am so not an agricultural person, but aren't those vineyards?
  20. Since the title on the front page of the website is "The Tissue Culture and Art Project," I'm thinking this is more about performance art than gourmandry. In fact, as I click around the site, I get the impression that these folks are in fact artists with heavy scientific backgrounds, rather than food scientists developing meaningful products. I am reminded of various science-fiction premises. For instance, in one of the far-future societies portrayed in Samuel Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, all meat is vat-grown from animal-muscle cell cultures, including the gourmet stuff. In fact, at one point one of the protagonists recalls a dinner he had on another world where meat still came from live animals--a fact he didn't realize until he ran into a bit of bone in his steak, at which point he was so nauseated that he had to leave the table post-haste. Which is a strkingly similar reaction to one I've noted in some present-day real-life people, who happily eat meat but can't deal with its origins. They just buy the nice slabs of unidentifiable animal protein in the clingwrap and styrofoam and refrain from thinking about how it got there. For all they know (or care to admit to themselves), that meat might as well have been grown in a tank as opposed to the flank of some animal. And then there are the processed meat items. I'd say a pack of "all meat" hotdogs from my local supermarket, with their soy protein and meat-byproduct additives and collagen casings, are not all that terribly far removed from these tissue-culture frog steaks the art project folks were attempting to "feast" on. I don't know if these art project folks were necessarily going for these particular allusions .... but hey, that's the thing about art, it often winds up invoking more symbolism than originally intended, y'know?
  21. Well, I'll reiterate some of my personal pet theories of why it can be so hard to change food habits--with all the warnings that I'm not a doctor, just an opinionated (if fairly science-savvy) layperson, and YYMV and all that: 1. It's more than just a mere "learned habit." Food behaviors, being survival behaviors, are some of the most deeply ingrained programming in the psyches of all living creatures, not just humans. There's a ton of evolutionarily-developed instinctual drives hard-wired in there, plus behaviors programmed in from birth. Especially in homo sapiens, the brain does a lot of its completion of development from birth through the first couple of years, so a lot of familial/primary-caregiver food behavior gets wired in there in those first couple of years--along with a huge amount of emotional coloration of said programming due to instinctual bonds with one's caregivers. 2. The problem is exacerbated in homo sapiens by the fact that food behavior is strongly driven by one of the evolutionarily oldest and most primitive portions of the brain, the so-called lizard brain or reptilian complex. Yeah, those of you who have read my previous rants on this, I'm on about that again--it's just that this model just makes so much sense to me. This part of the brain we share with reptiles is not rational, is all about survival-drives like feeding, fighting, and, erm, fornication, and is not under the conscious control of the neocortex, the seat of rational thought. This has implications for attempts at changing eating patterns: That's not to say that it's impossible to reprogram eating behaviors--it's just that, for many people at least, it's a helluva lot harder than one might expect. Sure, things go fine when you're showering conscious attention on your behavior. But let yourself get distracted by emotions, fatigue, or the million other little things that can draw your rational attention away, and it's amazing sometimes how fast you can find the Lizard Brain taking over and going "RAWR! FOOOOOD!" And then the neocortex attempts to paper over the lapse with a host of rationalizations, and the emotional centers kick in with a bunch of guilt and self-recrimination, and there ya go into a whole what-the-hell screw-the-diet binge. So far, my answer is just to up the self-consciousness and the behavioral reinforcement to the max--which, I realize, often makes my posts on eGullet sound a bit broken-record-ish ("oh my god, is she perseverating about her damn weight management trip again?!?" ) But if that's what it takes for me to stay on the beam, I'll do it--and hopefully my obsessions will be as forgiven as those of everyone else on this board (as long as we stay on-topic, of course! ) Exactly. I read about all my fellow eGulleteers eating the lovely super-rich foods that they do, so that I don't have to! Except when I really want to, and in portions that don't blow my routine out of the water.
  22. I enthusiastically recommend my buddy Kirk's blog mmm-yoso for researching a lot of your questions above. While the blog mostly covers the kinds of eateries you're interested in down in San Diego, Kirk used to live and eat in the San Gabriel Valley, and makes frequent trips back to check out places there, as well as in other neighborhoods of LA, and in OC. He's also a discriminating fan of xiao long bao, as posts like this one demonstrate. Alas, according to Kirk, the wonderful food court at Roscoe and Coldwater Canyon had to close due to neighbor complaints about the traffic and parking snarls.
  23. Oh yeah--I should amend my comments to agree that a number of people, as you have witnessed, do get into some very dire metabolic addictive syndromes with refined carbs, and thus would do well to just drop that category of food out of their lives. But see, in my mind that doesn't put the ENTIRE category of carbohydrates into the "bad" category. My understanding is that complex carbs, because they don't immediately zap into the bloodstream but take time and energy to metabolize, don't have that effect. It's the "ALL carbs are bad" mantra that I was reacting to, the kind of mindset that misapprehensions of the Adkins diet encouraged. I should add that I'm aware that the Adkins diet as done by the book does indeed include modest amounts of healthy complex carbs--alas, however, it seems that lots of people skip the book and just do what they think is Adkins, including building up this "all carbs are bad" myth. I also should add that, as someone whose addictive/compulsive/crave foods have always been animal protein and fat, I personally have been way frustrated on how little play this dynamic is given in the diet punditry books as opposed to the whole refined-carbs obsession/compulsion thing. Again, I am NOT saying the carb-addiction syndromes don't exist--far from it! But it's not the key dynamic for every person struggling with a weight issue, and as the article which started this topic hints, I don't think I'm the only person looking for advice on how to deal with meat-o-holism and not finding it out there in the existing weight-loss literature. So that's part of why I had to invent my own approach. This is important, I think. BMI is important to epidemiology because it's easy to assess without doing a lot of stress tests and the like, and across large populations a certain BMI does tend to correspond to a certain level of fitness as well. But the problem with epidemiological studies and applying the conclusions on the individual level is that individuals are... well, individual ... ← This is part of why I more-or-less ignore all those official tables giving "ideal" body weights, BMI, etc. for a given height and gender. I am convinced that those numbers are set way too low--at least I've proven to my personal satisfaction that they're way too low for my own situation. And I proved it the hard way--when I was working with that nutritionist back in my 20s, I got down to what the table said was my "goal weight"--and even the nutritionist had to admit I looked gaunt and unhealthy at that weight. So we backed it up about 10 pounds--but in hindsight even that weight was unhealthy for me; yet I doggedly maintained it for two whole years, unwittingly doing damage to myself that I've been dealing with for literally decades afterward. So right now, I'm maintaining at a plateau of 190-something, which seems to be the equilibrium point for the amount of calories in/calories out I'm doing. Sure, I could drive that weight down further by either cutting more calories or upping my activity level. But I'm loathe to cut any more out of my food plan--right now it's running around 1400 to 1600 calories daily, and is an amount of food that keeps me satisfied without feeling deprived, so why mess with it? And activity level is sort of contingent on the state of my joints, which are remarkably improved now that they don't have that 140 extra pounds bashing them to smithereens, but still aren't as up to intense exercise as one could wish. So I'm taking it slow. Oh--but that's another point I want to raise! Seems like a lot--not all by any means!--but a lot of mainstream dieting-think is still IMO way over-emphasizing the fast fix. I can understand the desire to get this overwith ASAP, especially if one's just had a nasty wake-up call from some scary weight-related health crises. But excessively fast weight loss regimens (anything over two pounds loss a week, anything less than 1400 calories/day) carry their own health risks (gout, gallstones, stripping needed nutrients from the body) that need to be carefully managed by close medical supervision. Plus IMO drastic crash dieting is a major setup for reactive binges--the food deprivation triggers the body's evolutionary hard-wired anti-famine response, and boom there you are inhaling mass quantities. Besides all that, drastic dieting IMO doesn't help retrain one's eating habits into healthy routines that can be maintained over the rest of your life. Obviously, every individual has to decide what works for them--and if the plunging-in-and-getting-it-over-with approach really suits a given individual's life, by all means go for it. Me, however, I feel much better taking the low-and-slow approach. Guess I'm better suited to the marathon than the sprint.
  24. Okay, caught up now ... but I'm having trouble figuring out what needs saying that hasn't already been said, or that I haven't already spouted off about at length in my blogs ... Okay, there is this: one of the things I realized as I started working on a healthy weight management regimen I could actually live with for the duration is that, as somebody mentioned a ways back in this topic, way too many popular dieting schemes treat food as the enemy, a dangerous addictive substance we must treat like methadone. Or, perhaps more insidiously, they treat food as just a volume of undifferentiated fodder that can be substituted at will with "lite" versions of real foods with no loss of satisfaction or nutrition. Neither of these apporaches are at all helpful to any serious foodgeek type, for whom food is not enemy but beloved, and "lite" fake foods are a depressingly unsatisfying torture. So, as many of you have stated, I realized I needed to build my food plan around real, satisfying foods, in moderation, with allowances for the occasional splurge on more nutritionally dense goodies. I steadfastly refuse to label any type of food as "bad" or "naughty" or "evil" or any of those other cutesy but pernicious moral-judgement terms; foods are neither good nor bad, some just pack a bigger caloric wallop than others and thus require more "room" in the food plan. Of course, it's exactly those more high-caloric-density foods that are the ones I love the most, so another piece of my approach has been to analyze what I find so appealing about those foods, and find ways to capture those appealing qualities in foods that are friendlier to my food plan. For instance, I was--probably still am--a total meat-o-holic. Time was when I could finish off a 22-ounce slab of prime rib, fat layer and all, without batting an eye. I really don't want to be doing that to myself anymore, but cravings do still arise that won't easily be mollified by an four-ounce micro-slab of prime rib. But if I pair it with a bunch of high-umami foods with a quasi-meat-like mouthfeel--like, say, a nice plate of grilled vegetables seasoned with soy sauce--then I can take that crazy-frantic edge off my food craving, enjoy the food that's before me, and feel satisfied.
  25. Okay, so far I've read the article but am only up to this post in this topic. But I couldn't resist jumping in and pointing out that this struggle to come up with a healthy, non-extremist, food-enthusiast-friendly weight management regimen has been a major feature of my life for the past two years, during which I have succeeded in taking off over 140 pounds, and am currently contentedly plateauing at 190-something. Uh, not to shamelessly flog my blogs or anything--though I hope I'll be forgiven since four of them, after all, are here on eGullet, but a lot of that struggle is documented in them. My first eGullet foodblog reflecting my pre "party's-over" behavior, the remaining blogs reflecting the new healthy-eating dispensation. More, hopefully, later, when I come back from an evening-ful of meetings...
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