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Everything posted by technophile50

  1. Given that "Thirty-two unique susceptibility profiles were identified among the S. aureus isolates", it's extremely unlikely that they got a bunch of duplicate samples from one contaminated batch. The Pew Charitable Trust is concerned that "Foodborne pathogens cause tens of millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths in the United States every year, according to estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 2% to 3% of all acute cases develop complications and long-term illnesses. Furthermore, the overall health-related cost of foodborne illness across the nation has been estimated to be $152 billion annually." Which is why they funded this study. The The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a non-profit 501©(3) organization, has considerable expertise in genetic analyses necessary to isolate and identify the drug resistant S. Aureus strains they found. The members of the Board of Directors of TGen (who are likely large benefactors) are mostly people who made a bunch of money in Real estate, investing and venture capitalism, and other non food related enterprises. I can't see any indication that this is some nefarious attack on the meat industry by some entity with "...a larger game afoot." It's more likely someone(s) with some clout at Pew asked "how big a problem is antibiotic resistance from their promiscuous use in our food animals?" and decided to do a preliminary study like this to see if it's worth a larger scale study(which it is, IMHO)
  2. I once had a bunch of seeds and membranes that I had removed from hot peppers I was preparing for freezing. I fried them in some oil(not olive, maybe peanut or safflower), strained it, and used the oil to make mayonnaise. It did have a slight tan hue - wasn't white like miracle whip, a little darker than Hellman's. A little bit went a loooooong way, but it had a toasty hot taste that was different from other hot sauces I've had.
  3. "Power cook" mode sets the power output to the level on the dial; equal settings would cause smaller pots to heat faster and higher(assuming boiling wasn't keeping the temperature constant). "Hold temp" applies full power until the temperature of the bottom of the pan, measured by a sensor in the cooktop, reaches the set temp, then regulates the power to hold it at that temperature. The newer models like tho one on Amazon have a digital display that indicates the temperature sensed. There will be some difference between the sensed temperature and the actual temperature of the food in the pot, so if you need precise regulation, you should use a probe thermometer to measure the offset. I notice that the minimum temperature gets down into Sou Vide range - you should put a big stock pot of water on it, and measure how accurately it maintains temperature.
  4. http://hillsboroughcheese.wordpress.com/buy/ The only one I've had was the Carolina Bleu - I like strong cheeses. I got it at Weaver Street market; they also carry produce from local farms in season.
  5. When I was in high school, a consistent group of us would go to a local Mom & Pop pizza place. We always got a "works" pizza, except some of the guys didn't like anchovies - one once said "they taste like guano". Pop, who worked the counter, would ask us if we wanted "your regular", and call out to his wife, "Two large works, hold the guano on one", laugh, and then we'd watch the room to see reactions from other customers. The only place I'm a regular now is Dual Supply hardware store - Wes will make special orders for me, and before I retired would stay late if I called, so I could pick up stuff on my way home from work.
  6. Which one is better depends on the details of where you live. Food waste going to the landfill generates methane by anaerobic decomposition: methane is more potent than CO2 (~25 times, depending on how its measured) as a greenhouse gas. It breaks down in the atmosphere to CO2 in a couple of decades, and the C source is vegetation, not fossil fuels, so over the long haul, its carbon neutral. If your local landfill captures the methane and uses it to replace fossil fuel (natural gas, diesel for generators), that's a win. Most landfills don't, but that's changing. If it goes to a waste water treatment plant that uses anaerobic digestion and methane capture for energy generation, that's also a win. If the WWTP uses settling tanks followed by activated sludge, some of it settles out in the tanks, and some goes into the aerated activated sludge process, increasing the Biological Oxygen Demand and requiring more air to be pumped into the process; the electricity used to aerate("activate") the sewage is a major cost for WWTPs, and usually generated by fossil fuels. They may truck the primary and excess activated sludge* to the landfill, where it generates methane, and uses fossil fuel to transport it (bad, especially if the methane isn't captured at the landfill). They may compost it and sell it as soil amendment (Milorganite; good), or use it directly as a (regulated; class A, B, etc) soil amendment on farms, where it decomposes aerobically in the soil(good - Hillsborough, NC, where I live, does this. Raleigh NC is experimenting using sludge on land to grow sunflowers for seed which is converted to biodiesel. I have ~1.5 acres, and a compost pile). * Activated sludge systems recycle most of the sludge from the aeration basins back to the beginning, to seed the influent with beneficial bacteria, which capture the nutrients from the waste stream, and oxidize most - ammonia to N2, carbohydrates to CO2 - like using a sourdough starter.
  7. "So am I still in danger if I cut out my 3-liter-a-day Coke habit but still put sugar in my coffee and eat the occasional slice of cake?" Population statistics cannot be used to predict the fate of any individual. If we compared two large groups of people (say 1000 in each, matched for sex, age, body type, ethnic background, diet, exercise level, yada, yada, yada), the group drinking 3 L/day of HFCS sweetened soft drinks would be slightly less healthy. With only 1000 in each group, the difference between groups isn't likely to be statistically significant. If we looked at much larger populations (millions), we would find statistically significant numbers of things like type 2 (adult onset) diabetes; we would also see statistically significant higher rates in both groups for people with a familial history of diabetes, and if the numbers are large enough, the increase from each factor, and their interaction. A good place to start reading is http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/ One quote that struck me (and may have relevance to whether you want to decrease your sugar/HFCS Coke intake) is "In general, every percentage point drop in A1C blood test results, for example, from 8.0 to 7.0 percent, can reduce the risk of microvascular complications—eye, kidney, and nerve diseases—by 40 percent." But only about 11 percent of people in the US over 20 have type 2 diabetes, rising to about 26% for those over 65. YMMV
  8. Is a "celebrity chef" anything like my "aristocrat blender"? (visions of mixing "bloody Maries", to accompany "Paris Hilton paillard")
  9. I wonder if Jaccarding meat submerged in a marinade with ethanol and acid, e.g. bourbon and balsamic, or another combo appropriate to the taste one wants, would provide a microclimate in the cuts that would inhibit pathogens?
  10. "In a small double-blinded study of first-grade children, they had more behavior problems on the days that they were exposed to caffeinated colas than on the days that they had caffeine-free drinks. These findings may provide a simple answer to some instances of children's hyperactivity, according to principal investigator Alan R. Hirsch, MD." http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/505467 There are some excellent reasons to limit food choices of children because they have measurable adverse impact on the classroom environment and other children. A blanket ban on food from home, which coincidentally increases the profits of outside food contractors, is a boneheaded and ineffective way to improve things. Re healthcare; the US ranks about 46th in infant mortality, despite spending almost twice as much per capita on healthcare as any other industrialized nation. Other measures of "health", which aren't so cut and dried as infant mortality(deaths per 1000 live births) also generally indicate that the US is somewhere around 30th to 40th in the world. see http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php Mississippi has an infant mortality rate of ~10.7/1000; Minnesota has a rate of ~4.8/1000. Their per capita annual incomes are ~$30k and ~$42k respectively. "Researchers at Goldman Sachs Group estimate that the top four publicly traded plans will show earnings increases averaging 21% in the fourth-quarter of 2010 compared to the year-earlier period. UnitedHealth could see profit rise in the fourth quarter by 17%, according to Bernstein estimates. Aetna Inc., which reports its numbers in early February, could see a 65% jump in the quarter just ended, says Goldman analyst Matthew Borsch." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704590704576092202891817690.html "In general, Americans think pretty highly of their own health care, a new poll finds." "However, some 45% of people earning less than $50,000 rate their own care as a C, D or F, compared to 21% for those earning more than that." http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/04/12/americans-rate-their-own-health-care-highly-but-income-matters/
  11. "So then this leads to SS cookware with a thick aluminum base but if the sides of the cookware do not benefit from the better heat transfer that the base receives from the aluminum does that mean that the bottom is hotter than the sides?" Yes the bottom is hotter than the sides(sort of - see * below), but the effect that this has depends on what's being cooked, and how. If you're searing a steak, or sauteeing onions, they're only in contact with the bottom anyway. If you are simmering a sauce(liquid), the convection currents, and steam bubbles, will carry the heat to other parts of the food pretty efficiently. A really thick stew wouldn't reheat as efficiently or evenly in a pot with only a bottom Al or Cu disk, but the additional stirring required probably wouldn't be noticed. * If you took 2 identical aluminum laminated SS pots, and removed the aluminum from the bottom of one, just leaving the thin SS layer behind, the SS only pot would actually get hotter in spots, and heat very unevenly, because the aluminum slows the conduction some, but spreads the heat laterally. An equivalent all SS pot would have a thicker bottom, necessary for mechanical stability, and would conduct heat more slowly, and spread it less evenly. Bear in mind the difference in energy, and temperature; if you're boiling water in a copper pot, and a thick stainless pot, same size and same burner, the copper will be transferring energy faster, but the temperature in both will be 100 deg C. More energy transferred by the copper would reduce a sauce faster, but the temperatures would stay the same(ignoring the small effect on boiling of the increasing concentration of solutes). "Would the aluminum increase the responsiveness of changes in heat on an electric coil cook-top?" No. Aluminum is less conductive than copper, so a thicker piece is required to get the same eveness of heat spreading. Aluminum also has high heat capacity per pound, and using a thick piece will require time to heat and cool. However, by using a separate disk of aluminum, you can preheat it to the required temperature, then control the responsiveness by moving a (thin, lightweight) pot onto the disk(to heat quickly and evenly), then removing it from the source to cool quickly when finished.
  12. Don't worry about bacterial contamination - there's an "app for that" &;>) If some supermarket chain or high end restaurant gets caught on undercover camera marketing meat glued trimmings as expensive "filet mignon", the effect on the industry is gonna be like alar on apples.
  13. "So, are there other types of foam, the “traditional ones?” Well, yes, but no one calls these “foams.” Technically (science geek), not gastronomically, a foam is a dispersion of gas bubbles in a liquid or solid. So, technically, cheetos are a cheesy foam. Rice cakes, popcorn, and bread are also foams.
  14. "Does organic/natural mean it's harmless?" Nope, especially if it's concentrated. If you extracted all the red coloring from 5 kilos/11 pounds of beets(betacyanin and betaxanthin), and ate it at one go, it probably wouldn't be good for your stomach, and might be toxic. But, since we have evolved consuming ~ 1 gram per day of various related flavonoids in our natural diet, there are multiple metabolic pathways by which our bodies use these chemicals. At low doses, their antioxidant properties are beneficial. On the other hand, we didn't evolve consuming low doses of coal tar derivatives.
  15. Foams get a bad rap because they're oversold. Some restaurant somewhere has a waiter going around with a bottle of mostly air/CO2/N2O asking customers "would you like some truffle foam with that?" They also get dissed by many because they're derivative - virtually everyone has long experience with whipped cream, meringue, or mousse(or prune whip & lemon fluff; or, how many of you have never had that ever popular 2 layer green & white lime jello/fruit potluck staple?) - just because you produce one which tastes like shrimp, or chili sauce, doesn't mean you've done something special; and when you have done something special because of your depth of understanding of the technology and techniques, most people who aren't egullet readers can't appreciate that.
  16. What about starting with a fixed volume of water at 100 deg C in an insulated (styrofoam?) container, to which you add an egg from the fridge, where the combined masses equilibrate to the desired yolk temperature (64C), but the gradient while it's coming to equilibrium firms up the white?
  17. To expand on what Tedwin said, the low heat input required to maintain a simmering temperature might raise the temperature so slowly that the food would stay too long in the "danger zone" of temperatures for pathogens. Full heat ramps the temperature quickly through the danger zone, boiling is a convenient indicator of the endpoint(once boiling is reached, changes in power input just change the rate of evaporation, not the temperature) where you can adjust the heat down to match the heat lost, to just maintain the temperature at/near boiling, without excess evaporation. The good thermal coupling, heat capacity of water, and an automatic control mechanism which ramps up the power automatically to compensate for heat load, achieve the same effect for lower endpoints (non-boiling) in sous vide cooking.
  18. "Have you tasted home made beer or whisky or wine that you'd rate over even the most well-regarded commercially produced stuff?" I had a friend who was a homebrewer and involved in a local club that had annual competitions. He was a judge, and got to keep extra bottles that contestants entered. I had the opportunity to sample a wide range of brews - he'd bring in a couple of bottles on Fridays and we'd compare them after work - it would take a few months to work through his reserve. About 30 percent I wouldn't finish, and another 30% I wouldn't drink a second sample. Maybe 30-35% were comparable in quality to commercial products. 5-10% were better than most commercial brews, although many were fortuitous accidents. There were a few home brewers that consistently entered quality products (out of a couple hundred participants). So my answer for beer is yes. I drink Guiness & Murphys stouts, Corona, Red Stripe, Negra Modelo, Heineken, Newcastle Brown Ale, Pilsner Urquell, Grolsch, various Sam Adams offerings, the occasional Lambic, and others as the mood/availability/price point strikes. Answering "is this homebrew IPA better than Guiness Stout" depends on what I'm in the mood for. BTW, pro brewmasters at any commercial brewery can replicate most any style of beer, and probably tweak a recipe until their e.g. Guinness, Corona, or Fat Tire Amber Ale is indistinguishable from the real thing. The styles they make are primarily market driven, the more so the larger they get. Bud drinkers will buy a ton of Budweiser, but Bud Stout is likely to be a market failure to a corporation which expects to sell 11 billion bottles in a good year, even if it would sell a million bottles(0.01% of total production; they probably lose this many in a year).
  19. "The water content of food limits the exterior temperature to no more than 212 degrees F, and the conductivity of the food limits how fast the 212 degree heat can travel to the interior of the food." Except for microwaves, because they penetrate and can deposit energy faster/deeper than conduction. In fact, microwaves will penetrate deeper into frozen foods than thawed - if you stuff a frozen turkey with moist dressing and nuke it, you can overcook the dressing before the turkey thaws. "convection" ovens usually means "forced convection" - all ovens will have temperature gradients between the heating source and colder areas of the food, and create convection currents - and the point of fan forced convection is to remove the cooler air layer near the surface of the food to maximize the rate of heat transfer. 350 F air in a normal oven will transfer heat to a turkey slower than 350 F air moving at 100 fpm; adding microwave energy on top of this will heat things even faster. That said, the How It Works page on the Turbochef website is long on hype, and the Specs page is short on facts, like how much microwave and resistive power the unit has. It does say the oven requires 50 amp service at 208-240 V; 40 amps(a reasonable estimate, i.e. wild ass guess on my part, of actual current draw; could be 45, could be 30 amps, 48 amps wouldn't leave much margin against nuisance fuse/breaker trips) would be 8.8kw at 220 v. The microwave power could be anything from 900 w to ~4kw, and that would make a big range in performance, and profit for the manufacturer. I suspect that most home cooks would get more bang for the buck from a $150 Haier 1000W convection/microwave than the $7000 Turbochef.
  20. I buy about 1 in 4 cheeses I sample at Whole Foods.
  21. According to the USDA 2010 corn crop figures, 5400 million bushels went to animal feed, 5480 million bushels went to industrial, food, and seed(mostly high fructose corn syrup and cornstarch; smaller amounts to corn chips, corn bread, seed corn for next year, birdseed, etc), and 4400 million bushels(~29 percent of the crop) went to produce ethanol. The ethanol comes from saccharification of the starch and fermentation; the residue, distillers dried grains and solubles, which contains all the original protein, vitamins, minerals etc originally in the corn, is used as animal feed. Making ethanol gave 32 million metric tons(~1257 million bushels) of animal feed as a byproduct in 2010, about 23 per cent of the total corn used for feed. Making ethanol from corn doesn't take away as much feed as oil company propagandists would like you to believe. Much of the rising prices for food are the result of higher energy prices - diesel for farm equipment and transportation, natural gas for the production of nitrogen fertilizer. The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a report in March 2010 that discounted biofuels impact, stating “Available evidence suggests that biofuels had a relatively small contribution to the 2008 spike in agricultural commodity prices.” And in a July 2010 report, the World Bank stated that “the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought, but that the use of commodities by financial investors may have been partly responsible for the 2007-08 spike,” according to NCGA president Bart Schott.
  22. At 0 degrees C, the vapor pressure of water is about 4.5 mm Hg, so you need a vacuum pump that will achieve at least this level. In practice, temperatures for lyophilization are much lower - -10 to -60 degrees C, so the corresponding pressures are lower, beyond the reach of a single stage vacuum pump. Two stage pumps can easily reach 10 microns, and blanked off many go to 0.1 micron or less. A cold trap between the stuff being freeze dried and the pump intercepts most of the water vapor, and its temperature determines the actual operating pressure. Water has a low molecular weight(18) and is hard to pump, and tends to stick in the pump oil, so the pumps used in freeze drying have a gas ballast valve adjusted to leak a small quantity of air(mol. wt ~29) which sweeps the water vapor from the pump oil. A used Welch 1402 vacuum pump can be had for around $300 from e-bay, and there are a couple of cryo fridges for under $200. The Robinair pump goes to 20 microns and would do the job. BTW, the cold trap - a couple of turns of tubing in the cryofridge, a bucket with dry ice/acetone, or liquid nitrogen - will keep hydrocarbons from the pump oil from evaporating in the warm pump and condensing on your cold food.
  23. I have a cheap Sears gas stove with equal burners, probably 9-12k btu/hr, and a 100k btu/hr Polaris gas water heater (which provides domestic hot water and heat for the house). There's no fluctuation in the stove when the heater cycles on and off, so I suspect that residential gas supply limits aren't an issue for burner outputs. In fact, a burner like the one in my water heater would make a cool wok burner.
  24. Fermi National Accelerator Lab has a bar on site. The bubble chamber used in particle physics was inspired by watching the bubbles in a glass of beer.
  25. Google "edible landscaping", then go talk to the people who maintain the grounds. My wife was a Landscape Architect and convinced the local Mexican restaurant to put in this perennial herb garden instead of merely decorative plantings to fulfill their greenscaping building code requirement when they expanded. The overgrown plant on the corner is Rosemary. A good resource might be these folks.
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