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tomdarch

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  1. Why all this hysteria about fructose and glucose (don't forget about galactose! my favorite monosaccharide name) when there's the growing crisis of (dum dum DUUUUM!) DIHYDROGENOXIDE! Recent studies have found amazingly high levels of dihydrogenoxide in our diets - even in both bottled AND tap water around the world. Even the most remote mountain streams and deep glaciers show detectible levels today! While an estimated 90 ml/kg will kill you outright, where scientists have bothered to look for it (what are they trying to cover up by not doing more research!?!) 100% of cancer deaths had links with dihydrogenoxide!!! The CIA won't confirm it publicly, but there are indicators that point to al Qaeda stockpiling dihydrogenoxide in their secret camps and safehouses around the world! (Then again, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney appear to have ordered the use dihydrogenoxide in attempts to extract information from captured members of al Queda.) And druggies appear to be experimenting with it, even though it is known to be fatal. Street names include "liquid crystal" and "W": http://www.psychoactive.com/h2o.html Oy vey... For anyone interested in this overall problem of faux-science and bad policy, the English writer Ben Goldacre does a lot of great work in uncovering this stuff and explaining the foolishness. Along the lines of this discussion of "toxic sugar", he addresses some other nutrition malarkey. He examines a lot of the nutrition pseudo-science that's common in popular media, and purveyors like Gillian McKeith "PhD" whom you may have seen on TV divining medical information through a visual examination of someone's poop. (Her "PhD" is from an unaccredited "correspondence school".) An example of the malarkey she spouts is her promotion of chlorophyll-rich nutritional supplements with the implication that it will increase oxygen in the body. The problem, of course, is that chlorophyll needs light to work, and it's pretty dark in our intensities... (Guess what? You can conveniently buy those supplements on her website!) Usually, it's just these "lifestyle" issues like us rich first-worlders worrying about eating too much sugar or throwing money away on "remedies" of wildly diluted bottles of nothing but water. But sometimes this bad science kills lots of people. He gives a talk where he delves into how "vitamins are the answer to everything" mumbojumbo gets marketed to politicians in Africa, where HIV/AIDS is killing many, many people. In several cases, government policies have been swayed to ineffective approaches that resulted in many unnecessary deaths. His website http://www.badscience.net/ contains lots of his newspaper columns. Here's a great video of a talk he gives that touches on a lot of these issues:
  2. I haven't re-read the Cooking Issues guide to LN2 in a while, but I think I remember comments about selecting protective gear in part on "what happens if LN2 pours into the cuff." The downside to silicone mitts is that if some quantity gets into the glove, it will be trapped against your skin. This might be even more of an issue with welders' gloves, which have an even wider, shorter "cuff" or "gauntlet." The same issue stands for selecting shoes... That said, I suspect that using a small quantity of LN2 at home for "novelty" purposes is a lot different than using it day in and day out at a restaurant. At home, you're approaching it with wide-eyed caution and a bit of "beginners mind," where at work, you may get lax. Another use I've for LN2 is "herb dust" - freezing fresh herbs, then crushing them into a fine powder, which thaws back into a dust of fresh herb flavor. I also recall seeing Cantu and the MOTO guys making "juice balls" working with LN2 bare handed. They put a few tablespoons of juice (beet, in this case) into a normal balloon, filled it with a bit more air, and tied it shut. They then rolled the juice/air filled balloon around on the surface of the LN2. The juice froze on the inside surface of the balloon, freezing into a hollow sphere. They cut the balloon away, leaving the sphere to be plated.
  3. Has anyone checked out Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar? http://community-bar.com/?page_id=256 Looks like they should have an interesting/well "curated" stock.
  4. Why, only 2.7 million Chicagoans, and a few million suburbanites, that's who. It's OK, we're too busy keeping the world running to worry much about the weather I really enjoyed the description and the photos. Candy and chocolate showpieces always seemed pretty insane to me. They still do, but it's great to see and read the step-by-step of how a "basic" one goes together! I'm signed up for a non-professional 4 hr. class there in a few weeks, so it's interesting to see inside the facility.
  5. I was going to suggest a DIY solution similar to the above, but given that this product is reasonably priced, it probably beats multiple trips to Home Depot and evenings in the basement cobbling something together. (Unless, of course, you're one of us wierdos who enjoys that sort of thing!) I'm surprised they don't offer a chalk board version, though. As for rare earth magnets, like neodymium magnets, they probably aren't a good idea in households with small kids. While they can be hard to get apart, the real problem comes when part of your body is between two of them when they attract - it's a serious pinch even with very small ones. The really "worst case scenario" comes if someone (like a small child) swallows more than one of them. In the digestive tract, they could "find each other" while the stomach wall or intestine is between the two, causing serious internal injuries. (Sorry to be a Debbie Downer - I just thought it would be a good idea to mention it.)
  6. It should scare you - with it's camo label, it could sneak up on you in the woods and go all Rambo on you! But, yes, UHT (ultra-pasteurized, shelf stable) milk does taste odd - it has been cooked, after all. But, when I can find it in small "drink box" size, I'll grab a pack. It's great to have on the shelf if we run out of milk some morning.
  7. My wife and I have been hunting around locally for a couple of weeks for batteries ("coin type") for our Salter scale - either stores don't have that particular one, or it's sold out. I'd say that using standard AA, AAA or similar batteries is a "must have" feature for a kitchen scale. I'm seriously tempted to spend US$40 to get that My Weigh scale (which uses AA batteries) rather than US$10 for the replacement coin batteries with shipping...
  8. I think you inadvertently summed up the problem. I don't particularly care much one way or the other about the term "foodie". But I think there are "foodies" who are as qualified to comment on good food as Paris Hilton is to comment on couture beyond mere trendiness. About the article in question - I haven't read it, and I don't know that I'll devote any time to it. I would, though, like to congratulate the author and the editors at Atlantic Monthly on their ability to attract page views and get people to link to and promote their article. Good for them.
  9. Good call - With the words "poisons", "toxins", and "carcinogens" I was attempting to use those words in a broad, colloquial way, rather than in a particularly clinical or technical sense. Although in re-reading my original sentence, this intent makes sense to me with the word "poison", but I guess there's not much distinction between the colloquial as opposed to the clinical meanings of "carcinogen." (But I'll stick with the scare quotes around "homeopathy" because it's a word whose construction is clearly is intended to convey the false impression that it has something to do with science or medicine.)
  10. The thought has crossed my mind of candying peel, then grating (microplane-ing) it and incorporating that. Having just made some chocolate-dipped candied citrus peel - the meyer lemon dipped in dark chocolate definitely did something off, where grapefruit was pretty good.
  11. (I haven't seen anything specific about Ms. Waters, so I don't mean this to refer specifically to her, but...) I think a lot of people would prefer to NOT understand how cooking works. They would prefer it be a "mystery" and an "art". Actually seeing the man behind the curtain takes away from their awe looking on the visage of the great and powerful Oz. They're afraid of loosing the "emotionality" or "poetry" in cooking. (Which strikes me as hugely ironic - a massive part of what Achatz and Blumenthal do is rooted in powerfully evoking emotions and nostalgia, where a "classic" meal is typically wonderful, but doesn't attempt to evoke much more than "mmmmm... delicious" from the diner.) For others, I suspect they actually like their culinary myths and traditions. How many chef-myths are there about mayonnaise, for instance? McGee and others blew them up, but I suspect that there are a few folks out there who are resentful. "I do it the way it has always been done!" and to hell with anyone who figures out how to do it differently, or better (or creates a simpler, more reliable or less labor intensive technique which puts the end result within reach for less skilled cooks, or those who are not properly initiated into their secret order.)
  12. It's pretty funny that in the original post, "Dakki" points out that you need to be very skeptical of "anything published about places that are perceived as unfriendly" and then there's a link to a News Corp. publication... I'm endlessly amazed and intrigued by Iran - often at both ends of the "respect/appalled" spectrum almost simultaneously. (I suspect that's how folks around the world feel about us in the US...) Also funny: while I was reading the original post there was an ad for a new "Larry the Cable Guy" show called something like "Only in America!" (Again... speaking of how the rest of the world perceives the US...) I guess if you're going to focus on only one cuisine, focusing on Persian cuisine would not be the worst choice. But these sorts of things are almost always "indirect" - I guess we can all assume that this prohibition on "foreign" cuisine would be targeted at Western cuisine, but I wonder if there might be something else? If the "Green Revolution" supporters are generally "middle class", "educated" and "Western oriented" then that might explain this seemingly silly ban. It would be a way for the inwardly-oriented, nationalistic (jingoistic?) conservatives to "stick it" to the outward-looking progressives.
  13. Alton Brown has done a few mixes on his show. Pancakes and hot cocoa for sure. I've got a food storage tub on my shelf labeled "pancake mix" for his recipe, but it's empty - too convenient to use, but I've been slacking on re-filling it. (Arrrrrghhhhh! Oh the suffering of taking 3 minutes to measure out the ingredients into the bin, and shake to mix! Soooooo hard!) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/instant-pancake-mix-recipe/index.html I've got some of the buttermilk powder, and it works great. If I'm remembering correctly, Cook's Illustrated strongly recommends it for baked recipes - I'd include pancakes in that category. Read the directions on the can - along with storing opened containers in the fridge, it may work better to add the powder to the dry ingredients in some recipes, rather than mixing the powder with liquid, which can be counterintuitive.
  14. Don't leave the dose issue aside! We all have tiny amounts of all sorts of "poisons", "toxins" and "carcinogens" in our bodies all the time, but below certain dosage thresholds, they are "harmless." (OK, they have such a small impact, if any, that it is statistically undetectable.) Botulism toxin is the most deadly toxin known by weight. But doctors around the world inject it into millions of people every year - Botox. The dose is so tiny that it "kills" local nerve activity temporarily, but doesn't have any other negative health effect, except in very rare cases. Clearly, dose matters. The same holds true for things that would be beneficial above a certain dosage level. Something might be great for you, but unless there's enough of it in your system it doesn't have any detectable effect. (Yes, I am saying that so-called "homeopathy" is Woo - aka "gobledygook") Highly dilute solutions and/or tiny does of some chemical or other do no good, or harm, for that matter. The one potential positive effect from tiny, culinary amounts of herbs and such would be the placebo effect. If you're receiving (real) treatment for cancer, and you take the action of adding such-and-such to your diet because you believe it will help you, it just might. You may be so uncomfortable from chemo that you can't eat much, but you're eating a few blueberries because you hope that the anti-oxidants will help you heal. The actual dose of anti-oxidant chemicals might be "meaningless", but your choice and action to assist your healing can have some influence to stimulate your body's ability to heal itself. It may be "Dumbo's feather", but if you get better faster (or survive at all, for that matter), then great! As long as you don't eat anything that is actually harmful (which some "natural remedies" are, as are some foods with certain health conditions), and you aren't wasting money on some "homeopathic preparation" or "super-vitamin" or similar woo-junk, then if it helps to induce the placebo effect, then all the better!
  15. Nathan's team have been demoing their all nut ice cream - is that in the book, and if so, is it doable in a "modernist" home kitchen? When they were on Martha Stewart, their description gave me the impression that the process required some sort of extra-exotic equipment (but I can't remember which step now). Might there be a work-around?
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