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Treehugger, the cold butter and flour mixed together is called beurre manie, and it can be used to thinken sauces. You have to use a lot of it, though, and bring the sauce to a boil between each addition to find your perfect consistency.

I prefer using roux to cornstarch. Cornstarch is very easy, but I find the consistency to be kind of....sorry about this...snotty. You can make roux with oil instead of butter, too. And it takes less roux to thicken than it does beurre manie or cornstarch. If you whisk in a glob of roux and bring the liquid to a boil right away, it shouldn't get lumpy.

I also think roux tastes better and lasts longer (thickening-power-wise). Just make sure you boil the heck out of your liquid for a minute or two to fully cook the starch. Same with cornstarch and beurre manie.

Arrowroot is also a good thickener - more powerful than the other three - and also good if you want to avoid using wheat flour in your recipe. It is expensive, but might be worth it since you would use a lot less.
:delurking to give fellow foodie dork PK a zesty smack on the bum: Naughty girl! You beat me to it! tongue.gif

Glad it's not just me feeling the duck & sweet potato tacos/jibaritos/flautas love... Turbo, you'd best come down to our neck of the woods for dinner & try again, 'cause hot damn, are they worth it.

So little cooking going on at our house... Tartman made cookies the other night, I roasted off some baby potatoes for dinner, and beyond that, it's been triple-decker PB&Js, cereal & takeout. Ah, the glamorous life of the 30-something parent...
Me foodie dork. You foodie dork IN CHARGE!

I got a new job at a fancy-pants fine dining restaurant where I'm working as a line cook in charge of desserts. Since I'm working next to the Hot Appetizers (Hot Apps, as we call them) guy, I'm expected to learn his stuff and he mine so we can help each other out if we get slammed.

Although I'm still getting the hang of desserts, the hot apps guy tried to teach me a few things yesterday. I learned how to make up some braised short ribs and crab cakes with citrus-horeradish sauce. I posted about the braised short ribs in "What I Ate", so check it out if you want to drool all over your keyboard.

Anyway, I am learning a lot, and soon I will be able to offer a whole slew of new tips! And if anyone wants to know how to make the short ribs, I know how! Woo Hoo! I would say, though, that one would have to make modifications to the recipe to cook at home, since the restaurant has so many ingredients, and the cooks so much time to make the stuff.

Oh - BTW - was it in here, or in the Okay thread, where I heard so much talk of making chili this week? I thought it was funny, because I'm making chili today. MY chili is really simple:

Pinto Beans
Tomato Sauce (no chunkie - don't like 'em)
Ground Beef (I have grown to prefer TVP, but Banana wants real meat in his chili this time)
Dried Minced Onions
Chili Powder (just regular old chili powder)
One Tablespoon (or less) of Chipotle Chili Powder - makes a huge difference in flavor. It tastes so rich and smoky with the addition of chipotle. I really don't like chipotle in anything else, but in chili, it's AMAZING!

I went to Native Seeds/SEARCH and found a little bag of Hatch Hot Red Chile powder that I think I'll try in a small amount. BTW - we have this store called Native Seeds/SEARCH that has an incredible inventory of seeds, beans, spices, etc. They have a website and do mail order if you are looking for that special southwestern heirloom ingredient.

OK - chili time!
Tart, seriously, I need me somma those duck tacos!! Are you certain that they are on the regular menu? If so...I'ma gonna be gettin' me some of those real soon!

That, and some duck legs to cook in my saurkraut! wink.gif

Tonight on the menu is chipotle/garlic/cilantro marinated chicken - broiled, with some of my homeade charro beans, and some pan roasted broccoli. YUM! I loooove chipotle marinade - I'll slap it on anything - 1 can chipotles in adobo, handful of cilantro, 5 cloves of garlic - whizz it up in the mini-food processor, and there ya go! I portion it out in ice cube trays and then wrap 'em up so I can have it on hand anytime I need it.

PK - your new job sounds awesome!!! So glad its good so far, and that you're learning lots of new things!
chacha, thank you SO muito much!!!

that DOES help. also, it appears that i should be taking the shelves that slide in and out of the oven OUT unless i am using them. and i was opening the oven, and the hotter thing is most likely what made my banana bread (although still yummy) not quite done on the bottom but perfect on top, and my tollhouse cookies burn on the bottom. le blerg.

i'm trying the banana bread again this weekend, everyone LOVED it so much. (the cakes here are weird, and everyone called the banana bread a cake -- which i suppose that it is.)

i'm also going to make some beer braised beef and onions in the stove. nutso, because it is so frelling hot outside (36 C today), but i want it. it is sort of a variation on carbonnade, with more mediterranean/middle eastern spices (cinnamon, cloves, that sort of thing)

mostly though, i've been eating salads with herbed feta for lunch, and mangoes mangoes mangoes for dinner. gods, i love mangoes. i think i could exist on mangoes. (okay, not much protein, i'd have to add in cashew nuts)

jenn, that chipotle marinade sounds sooooooooooooooo yum. guess i will have to ask someone to bring me a can of chipotles adobados. the things i ask people to bring me from the states are weird. coffee. chocolate chips. pecans. light brown sugar. mexican/texmex spices. books. oh, and larium (malaria prophylaxis pills)

pk, SO glad you are liking your job!!!! wooooooooooohoooooooo!!!!!

re the beurre manie, or any addition to make gravy thicker: i always add a little bit of the hot liquid to the whatever it is i am using, stir it until it makes a paste, then add a bit more, stir again, until the thickener is more of a liquid that could be poured. then add it to the pot, and stir stir stir stir. don't stop stirring or you WILL get lumps. alternatively, you could make a slurry out of the flour or cornstarch by adding COLD water, and then adding that to the pot and STIR STIR STIR STIR. the stirring is really important.

My pleasure, tesao! And I am dreaming about 36C weather. You could, almost literally, add a minus sign in front of that number and you'd get our temperature here last night (-30C with wind chill factor). So if you're making beer braised beef and onions, and your temps don't seem to justify it, use mine as your excuse.

Made dinner for friends on Sunday night. We had: mushroom tortellini that I mixed with a bag of broccoli florets, parmesan, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. We also had: fresh bread with homemade garlic butter. For dessert: apple pie a la mode. YUM!!
FYI for Chicago area Busties - I went on a recon mission to That Little Mexican Cafe in Evanston over the weekend and I am happy to report that the duck/sweet potato dish is on the menu under flautas (could explain why I thought they were a lot like flautas smile.gif ) They have a few duck items available, so perhaps they were once offered as tacos.

Also had a black bean and goat cheese empanada appetizer with papaya salad - it was so good, I may try to recreate it at home.
I am going to try to make a polenta "lasagna" tonight. I'm going to layer polenta roll slices with a mushroom/onion mix and then with a ricotta/parmesan mix. Wish me luck. It's modified from a recipe book, and it should be fabulous.
Thanks for the recon, PG - d'oh! Sorry to steer everyone off-course, thinking they were tacos... That empanada sounds incredible. Must. Get. Cooking. PK! Congrats on your new job! Plating dessert is such a thrill for me... I'm finding I'm really, really missing my restaurant job all of a sudden. Not the crap pay/hours/stress, but the creative outlet & ability to completely focus on food for a whole shift. I found my folder of plated dessert recipes the other day - 2.5 years' worth of original recipes, moldering away in a cupboard... dry.gif

ETA: OMFG, Kel, that sounds good. Boof. Add some garlicky white sauce, and I am so there.
PG - thanks for the help...and you just answered where turbomann and I are going to go to lunch for his birfday today! Yipeee! Duck flautas, here I come!

Oh, and I put a corned beef in the oven covered in water with 2Tb pickling spice, 4 bay leaves, 3 cinnamon sticks, and a tsp allspice last night at 8pm at 250 degrees...turning it off at 2pm, sits in the cold oven for 3 hours...and then, my friends...we shall feast on the most trender, juicy, magnificent corned beef possible. Served with mashers, and 'kraut, of course. I do make a particularly fabulous 'kraut too...

Tart, I'm with you on missing restaurant work...but not the stress, shitty hours and pay. smile.gif Sometimes, though, I just really miss the adrenaline rush of that kind of work. I don't think my body would handle it nearly as well these days though.

Oh, and tomorrow I am making 2 flourless chocolate cakes - one is my usual fudgey dense delicious cake (served with raspberry coulis), and the other I'm going to try one of Gale Gand's recipes - a kahlua flourless chocolate cake, looks much less dense than mine, with double the egg whites and half the amount of chocolate (though double the butter too - eep!)...I'm making the cakes for turbomann's birfday bash on friday night.
last night i was making mashed yams, a pretty common thing for me to do, and on a crazy hunch i decided to throw in some curry powder. DAAAAAAAYUM, was that a good idea!!!!!!! somehow the flavors work together so freaking well. i was astonished!

and i have leftovers for lunch!
Flourless cakes are sent from heaven.
Did someone say flourless cakes?? Here's my recipe, as requested by treehugger:

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 8 or 9 inch spring form pan, and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.
-- 1lb bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate (I use 60% cocoa Ghiradelli bittersweet chips)
-- 10 Tb unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 1/4 sticks)

In a large heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter over a large pan of barely simmering water. Stir often until chocolate and butter are warm and smooth. remove from heat, and whisk in:
-- 5 Large egg yolks

In another large bowl, beat on medium speed until soft peaks form:
-- 5 large egg whites
-- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Gradually add, beating on high speed once soft peaks have formed:
-- 1 Tb sugar

Boil a kettle of water

Beat until soft peaks are stiff, not dry. Use rubber spatula to fold 1/4 of egg whites into chocolate mixture, then slowly fold in remaining whites. Do not overmix - a few white swirls are fine. Scrape batter into spring form pan & spread evenly. Wrap bottom of spring form in foil so that it reaches about halfway up the pan. Set the spring form into a large shallow baking dish. Set baking dish in oven and pour enough boiling water in the baking dish so that the water reaches halfway up the spring form pan.

Bake for EXACTLY 30 minutes. Top of the cake will have a thin crust, and the interior will still be gooey.

Set the cake on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, refrigerate until chilled or overnight. Unmold, invert cake, and peel off paper liner, reinvert onto serving platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve with a spoonful of raspberry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Raspberry Sauce: 3 cups raspberries
Create a simple syrup with 3Tb sugar and 2-3Tb water, over low heat until sugar dissolves
Puree raspberries and syrup until smooth, strain the seeds out, and chill.

I have to share this blog because it consistently cracks me up:

Diary Of The Food Whore

Good shit, Yuefie - thanks for the link!

Turbo, your cake sounds divine! Interesting note: if you whip your yolks separately, til thick & doubled in volume, then fold them into your chocolate, you'll get a lighter, but still delectable texture... And I did a version of your peanut sauce last night that brought the house down:

2/3 c creamy PB
2-3 T dark sesame oil
Splash each of soy sauce, rice vinegar & lime juice
2-3 t Panang curry paste
About 1/2 a can of coconut milk

Blend together with a spatula, adding coconut milk to get your desired texture & adjusting curry & acids to taste. I tossed it with tofu cubes (dusted w/Penzey's Sate spice mix & panfried), steamed broccoli & fresh rice noodles. Teh yum. If we'd had some fresh cilantro, it would have been even better...
Thanks for the tip, tart - I'll defintiely do that next time...although, I do like the very truffley dense texture too...more chocolate per mouthful. biggrin.gif

MMMmmmm....peanut sauce - thanks for the reminder on that one, I am gonna have to whip some of that up sometime very soon here...haven't made that in quite some time!
Ya'll....I just made a delicious dinner, on the serious cheap...thanks to Rick Bayless!

Mexican Beans with Chorizo & Greens
12oz fresh mexican chorizo - remove casing and brown. Add 2 cans drained, rinsed black beans and a cup of water, add a diced chipotle. Simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile chop up one bunch of swiss chard, and steam in the microwave in a large bowl covered with saran wrap for 2 minutes with a couple holes in the wrap, so it doesn't burst. Toss the chard in with the beans and chorizo, heat through, and serve with scallions and queso fresco.

Seriously yummy...and enough for plenty of leftovers!
Soooooo... do any of you have a tried and true recipe for a lemon poppyseed quick bread or muffins? I'm thinking of something that has lemon zest in the batter, plus maybe a simple sugar syrup made with lemon juice to be poured over the top of the cakes/muffins to make it extra lemony. Drooooooolllllll...
Turbo, that sounds good, quick and cheap. Perfect. I'm so wiped out right now I can't even imagine slicing chorizo--but tomorrow looks like a better day, especially if I can get some sleep.

Got some seriously good, all organic, raw milk 4 year old cheddar cheese from a nice, neighbour farmer husband and's the closest I'll get to queso fresco for a while (even though I know it's not close at all--but it will do, I think).
chacha, its even easier than don't even slice mexican chorizo, just take it out of the plastic casing, and saute it up. Mexican chorizo is soft, its the spanish chorizo that's more like a salami (which would also probably be good). Supremo is a national brand of mexican chorizo that you might be able to find in a local supermarket...
That sounds awesome, turbo.

I made a red jamabalaya last night, and it was perfect for the snowy crappy weather. Tonight's going to be a yummy cheese and ale soup.
Mmm, cheese and ale soup would go splendidly with the batch of cheddar cheese bread (roseviolets recipe) that I made last night! Though I didn't have enough of the extra sharp cheddar cheese on hand, so I added some of the Trader Joe's English Coastal Cheddar w/ carmelized onions. Oh my goodness, it is SO delicious!

Rose, my love, I cannot thank you enough for sharing that recipe with us! Everyone around here loves it. They demolished the first batch and have been sqauwking for more. The recipe is simple and yummy! It's surely a keeper.

Yuefie, the idea of adding the onions to the cheddar bread sounds sooooooo amazingly good! I wish I'd read that earlier or I may have added it to the loaf I currently have baking in the oven. Next time! And thanks for sharing that blog with us. I loooove food blogs.
My boyfriend and I make a cheddar and carmelized onion filled bread that nearly makes me weep with its goodness. We also fill loaves with brocoli and cheese, spinach and feta, and pepperoni with an Italian cheese blend. The pepperoni bread, I think, made me fall in love with him.

Quantum, do you have the recipe for cheese and ale soup? I would love to make some of that!
Oh yes - beer cheese soup! Please post that recipe! There was this bar where I went to college that had the BEST beer cheese soup and I have been dying to find a good recipe since.

Since there is a cheese theme going here the other night I made old-school baked mac 'n cheese, it was pretty tasty and warmed me up in this nasty cold weather. Leftovers tonight! smile.gif

Oh and I don't know if anyone is an Anthony Bourdain fan, but here he is guest blogging and ripping into some of the idiots on Food Network Bitchn' Bourdain
Oooh, the bitchy, snarky, dead-on-evil-in-the-right-eye gorgeousness of Anthony Bourdain on that blog.
He is more delicious than any dish. On Paula Deen: "A recent Hawaii show was indistinguishable from an early John Waters film. And the food on a par with the last scene of Pink Flamingos. But I’d like to see her mad. Like her look-alike, Divine in the classic, “Female Trouble.“ Who could not love this man?

What he says about Sandra Lee and her "food" should be immortalized in stone, so we never forget it.

hi everyone! any suggestions for celiacs disease? thank you so much! This is for a 15 year-old boy, my boyfriend's brother. MUCH love to you all for your help.
Hi Opheliathemuse--

Start here for some tips and recipes, and then, explore the site for valuable information about food strategies, more recipes, causes/treatments, and building the body back up.

Thanks chachaheels! I confess I was a little panicked last night and didn't put much thought into it. Thank you so much for directing me so kindly!
You're welcome, Ophelia, and I hope you're not panicked too much by the illness. The gluten free diet often introduces people to some grains that taste a lot better than the refined stuff we're all inundated with. Many people say the food's really good (you need to be a creative food person, just like you do ordinarily anyway) and if you look around on that site, they provide all kinds of nutritional information that can actually help alleviate or eliminate the problem all together. So there's lots of hope!
I love what Bourdain said THOUGH to be honest? I must admit to liking several of Rachel Ray's recipes - delicious, quick to make, usually not too unfriendly to the budget. But, you have to be careful about portions because she's in fucking sane sometimes (usually her "serves 4" is plenty enough for the five of us WITH leftovers).

The cheese soup was pretty good, we tried a new recipe.

Three cheese and beer soup

1 C clarified butter
½ C flour (or to desired consistency)
8 C milk
2 Tbs tabasco
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
¼ C chicken stock
12 oz amber lager
1 C heavy cream
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs garlic powder
White pepper to taste
Salt to taste
½ lb cheddar cheese, shredded
½ lb Swiss cheese, shredded
½ lb pepperjack cheese, shredded


In a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet, melt butter and remove from heat. Add flour and whisk until incorporated. Consistency should be like wet sand. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot heat milk to almost boiling - DO NOT BOIL. Lower heat and add tabasco, worcestershire, chicken stock and beer. Incorporate well with whisk. Add cream and seasonings and heat to almost a boil again. Slowly incorporate small amounts of the butter/flour mixture to make a roux to thicken to desired consistency. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Gradually add cheese in small handfuls making sure to thoroughly melt and incorporate each handful before adding more.

Do not let the soup reach a temperature over 150-degrees or it will separate.

Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, serve immediately.


It makes something like 10-12 cups, and I served it with garlic croutons.

Somewhere, I've got a Guinness cheese soup recipe that involves caramelized onions and was absolutely delicious.
Heh. Bourdain always tells it like it is. I love him even though he DESPISES vegetarians. October, thanks for the link!

Confession: I've never really been crazy about the Food Network. It doesn't do anything for me. I guess it's kind of hard to top the greatest ever (that would be the late great Julia Child, RIP). Feh.

So none of you have any good lemon poppyseed bread/muffin recipes? Sniff. I mean, I know I'm being all 1980s in my love for lemon poppyseed anything, but give a girl a break. wink.gif
See, I think that's a little unfair.

Bourdain does not despise vegetarians. There's quite a lot of his writing that actually seeks to document the many non-meat dishes found in all kinds of culinary traditions, and this is always done with the highest respect for the tradition.

What he does despise is the current cynical and corrupt philosophy that promotes vegetarianism, and people who buy into it unquestioningly, as somehow nutritionally and ethically superior. And he's right: it's not a very healthy diet and much of the push behind vegetarianism and veganism isn't about ethics, it's about selling GMO soy to as many people as possible--with all the nasty, unethical politics involved in that. He has rightly pointed out that most people who choose to become vegetarians and vegans are being manipulated into not eating meat and into believing that food like he prepares and sees prepared all over the world is unhealthy. He's equally vocal about other substandard fake foods that are everywhere around us--fast food restaurants which force small entrepreneurs selling real food to compete with them; lab foods like fake soup stocks, margarine, and soy-lent invented foods calculated to replace real foods like meats, cheeses, eggs...and he wants to know why we're so eager to accept the nonsense about them, while the work he and others like him do is dismissed as "unhealthy".

If you're a nutritionist who bases your conclusions on realilties like unbiased scientific research; on the realities of human history in the development of knowledge about food, nutrition, and survival; and a hefty awareness of the real politics involved in the production of food--Bourdain's your man. He and chefs (and it is usually chefs, sadly) who keep making the same points are the real health proponents. He's doing exactly what Julia Child did when she was alive...and you can argue that she had much sharper teeth in the job, too.

And sure, Rachel Ray's recipes can be quick and cheap, but let's face it: she is NOT a chef, and she obviously hates cooking. I think Bourdain's hatred of Ray comes from the fact that she's lumped in with people who do give a damn about technique and ingredient quality, as if she were somehow comparable to them. And she's not. No harm done in giving her a show that gets people to prepare their meals quickly--but there is a harm being done if she's being promoted as someone with the same skill as people like Batali, or even Giada de Laurentiis. People who really love to cook should be able to watch a real chef at work, not the latest of Oprah's publishing/media investments, promoted so that she can earn back some of the money she supposedly lost promoting James Frey's "biography".

Here's a lemon poppyseed recipe I found that uses yogurt to add richness and flavour.
Raisin, I love lemon poppyseed muffins, too! But I haven't made them in years, so I don't have a recipe for you. Sorry!

I don't know that much about Anthony Bourdain, but I remember him saying that the only vegetarian food he really loves is Indian. I think a lot of people would agree with him.

As for Rachel Ray, I think there's room in the world for her. She is honest that she isn't a chef ... just a person trying to make quick, easy meals. The world we live in now needs recipes like that, so I see nothing wrong with it. Her voice can be really grating, though, so I never watch her show!

I do like Alton Brown (Good Eats) because his show is fun and very educational. I also loooooove Nigella Lawson. I've had good luck with some of Giada's recipes, too (Everyday Italian). And I watch Paula Deen & Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) because they each remind me of home in their own unique ways.They're just comforting to me.

Sandra Lee frightens me. Part of it is her cooking, but mainly it's the tablescapes and the way she decorates her kitchen to match the theme of every episode. The woman will actually swap out her drapes and the dishes on her shelves so that they match her clothes on every episode!!!! Creepy.
Oh god...Sandra's 'tablescapes!' What is the deal with those?

I agree with you about RR, rose. Fact of the matter is, many people don't have an interest in proper cooking or technique. What they want are easy recipes that they can feed their to family. And she provides that. I agree with you, chacha. She shouldn't be considered in the same class as chefs.

I love Barefoot Contessa. I got one of her cookbooks for Christmas. Haven't made anything yet, b/c lots of it uses summer vegetables & fruits. The rest of it all starts w/ two sticks of butter. I am planning on making some of the fattening stuff, but it's going to have to be only occasionally.
Yeah, RR recipes are reserved for "no energy for real cooking and crap there aren't any leftovers OR pasta" days. I couldn't believe that she beat Giada at American Iron Chef - wtf were they thinking? Oy! I hate her hatred of cooking and technique and her voice almost as much as I hate Emeril's "Bam"...

And, Alton and Bourdain are the reasons I started watching the Food Network to begin with. I think Bourdain's hot and hilariously funny and his travelling chef show made me want to go ... everywhere. AB, of course, was is the yummy science geek and I have never had one of his recipes fail or even come close. I also adore Nigella.

In cooking news, today was so warm (68) we broke out the grill in celebration - beer brats and deviled eggs and grilled asparagus. Tomorrow is going to be way, way better - I found a huge (well, 3#) pork loin in the freezer, and it will be absolutely delicious after it's smoked in applewood. I'm thinking of grilling whole potatoes and steaming some broccoli and making a spicy applesauce ... though I do so love latkes...
I don't think RR considers herself a chef. I would find her terribly annoying if she masqueraded around saying she was one. I (and pretty much everyone on the planet) find her voice incredibly nails-on-chalkboard, but I agree with RV: there's room in the world for her. I don't think she has a hatred of cooking simply because she does things quickly. I think of watching my mom in the kitchen, or my gramma. They worked fast yet lovingly, made good food, and everyone had time sit down and converse and eat and enjoy. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. No, it's not haute cuisine. But then again, RR never claimed it to be. Neither did Mom or Gramma, and their food is kickass. Sandra Lee is by far the worst thing the Food Network has ever unleashed upon cable television viewership. Bourdain was spot on in his diatribe against her.
I think the thing Bourdain hates about RR is the fact that she actually is being tauted as a chef (that's what that Iron Chef thing was all about--unfortunately for Giada, there's never a fair fight when a media conglomerate's heavily invested in one "chef/personality" in such a "contest"). But RR has never been a chef--she's never even cooked professionally--not as a caterer, not as a cook, not as a chef in a restaurant, like Bourdain, Brown, Batali, Lidia Bastionovich, Nigella, Ina Garten, and even the dreaded, bamming, Emeril. And she consistently promotes the use of inferior, "fake" food ingredients that many chefs would love to see people stop using--if only for the sheer pleasure of experiencing the improved nutrition and sensual pleasure of better tasting food. Fake food is no substitute for learning how to cook through technique, which doesn't even really take that much longer. Ray is out to shill product (triscuit, anyone?), and she is a product herself--she' not there to educate people about how to determine for themselves what and how to eat, and how to become self-sufficient about preparing food for themselves at the same time.

It's not about good tasting food and food that takes a long time to prepare--it's about trying to figure out exactly what the Food Network is supposed to "be" to people now. There are fewer and fewer actual chefs on the network now, and far more crazy people like Sandra Lee are dominating the landscape (what the fuck is a tablescape? That word should never have been made up!) there. Like we need more and more advertisements in the guise of cooking shows, to sell plastic cheese, cornchips, and pop.
Bourdain rules. That's all I have to say on that! Like chacha said, he's pissed off about the people who are unquestioningly vegetarian/vegan, and how they expect the world to revolve around them.

Chacha, maybe you'd know this. I have high blood pressure (I'm on medication that keeps it pretty regular, though) and I try to be careful about my salt intake. It seems like I'm getting more and more sensitive to salt though- if what I eat is even slightly salty, I'm gulping down water like there's no tomorrow. This could just mean I need to drink more water to begin with (don't they say if you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated?)

The food-related part of my question is that I've heard the FDA's new campaign is going to be targeting salt in food (like how they went after so-called "low-fat" foods and the trans fats) which I'm thrilled about and there's been a few foods I've seen recently that have come out with low salt versions, such as Progresso and Campbell's soup (yes, I know they're the same company!)....the Campbell's on I saw specifically said they use less salt and what salt they do use is sea salt. I asked my mom about this and she said sea salt has less sodium in it, but we were confused about how that works- is sodium what gives salt its salty taste? If so, if it has less sodium, wouldn't you have to use more to make up for that? What's the deal?
The salt issue.

Personally, if the FDA intends to get involved in making an issue out of the salt content in foods the same way they supposedly made an issue of trans fats--then I'd make myself aware of what actually goes into foods, and steer clear away from what the FDA advocates.

Their entire trans fat campaign has turned out to be a way to help corporations disguise the trans fat content in their foods while changing absolutely none of the ingredients. Food processors and labs now get to label trans fat using "legally acceptable alternate names" without changing the fat content to favour real and healthy fats whatsoever. It's basically a huge, cynical lie. If you read the (basically completely unchanged) labels, the foods are still full of trans fats, polymerized fats, and rancid fats not fit for human consumption--but the packaging will be covered with "Trans Fat Free!" logos. Margarines, for example, are the most cynical of these products--the entire product, 100% of it, is hydrogenated fat; therefore it is 100% trans fat. Yet it will scream "trans fat free!" on the label. Buyer Beware.

That being said:

simple, lab compounded sodium chloride--the cube shaped table salt that's in all processed food--only has those two minerals--sodium and chlorine. Real sea salt, which comes in a wide variety of colours, textures, and nutrient contents, contains many more trace minerals than just sodium and chlorine. The very best kinds of salt (and also the most expensive, naturally) is the kind of salt that is harvested through natural water evaporation. Celtic or Britanny sea salt from France is one of these types--it's usually grey in colour, coarse (you can use it in a salt grinder at the table) and it's a little bit moist: it's loaded with all kinds of trace minerals that are absolutely necessary for full health, stuff that's missing from the lab product. Even better than the celtic salt is the Fleur de sel, which is like the best of the celtic stuff. It's white in colour and more finely grained--but the flavour and nutrient content is also superior as it's more concentrated. There are all kinds of other sea salts on the market--pink russian sea salt, sea salt from volcanic coasts, etc. etc. EAch is packed with nutrients you need (which addresses the blood pressure issue far better than just saying--No Salt Allowed!!). A little of these salts goes a long, long way--they are always far more flavourful than the lab stuff.

If you're wondering about what nutrients there are in the sea salt, think about the kinds of things you find in seaweeds, such as Dulce; the salt in the plant is what gives most of the plant its nutrients.

Dehydration: if you truly do want to figure out how much water to drink daily, there is a formula--it's the number of your weight, divided by two. Take that figure and put "oz" after it--that will give you an idea of how many ounces of water you should be drinking. Eight to ten 8 oz glasses of water do it for most people, especially if exercising is involved.

Re: the FDA and the trans-fats thing- oh, absolutely. It's not like I really trust the FDA, I just appreciate the fact that it will encourage processed food makers to decrease the sodium in their products (unless you think companies will just call sodium something else...then I'm screwed.) I try to avoid processed food, but there's some times when it is a necessity.

Usually I use regular iodized salt. I have some kosher salt and Greek sea salt....maybe I'll refill my salt shaker with the sea salt. When I'm cooking something, I usually salt to taste, not what the recipe says, but when I bake something, I go by the recipe. If I switch to sea salt, do I have to make any adjustments?

Thanks for all that great salt/transfat info, chacha!!

I've recently become obsessed with all the boutique salts, and just dropped a good chunk of $$ on fluer de sel, himalyan pink salt, hawaiin volcanic salt and grey salt....and I LOVE them!!! The flavors really are unique, but you really do use a lot less sea salt when cooking...pretty amazing! Polly - The Spice House in Evanston has a wonderful selection of salts -- check it out next time you're down our way (like Sunday!).
Hey Turbo, thanks yourself! Those salt varieties were exactly what I was thinking of, but I couldn't seem to find a good link showing photos of the variety and I really wanted to. If there's anyone who would know exactly what food I was refering to, it would be you!

Re the FDA, Polly: I do, in fact, think the FDA is going to do exactly what they did with the trans fats. They'll pay public lipservice to the idea but in the end they won't stop food processors from doing exactly what they want and they will allow them to call the toxic ingredients something else. Look at the vast variety of "descriptor" names we have for MSG--"spices", "natural flavour", "essences" (always, mysteriously, unspecified). It's all the same stuff. It's also full of sodium, so it will be listed as an ingredient no matter what quantity or name is used and it will never be identified as a salt.

Cynical as hell. So: best strategy is always education. Find out what's in those chemical additives used to create the flavour, scent, texture, colour, and "mouthfeel" of all the processed foods that come into your kitchen (and I mean all--if it's a finished food product when it comes into your home, it's processed) and then look for alternatives that are just as aware and informed as you are.

The best part about all of this is that the alternatives, like the variety of different sea salts Turbo's described, are all just so much better, and give so much more than just the plain stuff. That's a great payoff!
For anyone similarly obsessed by salt, here's the website for the Spice House Spice House Salts...they have a couple more in the shop than they have online at the moment, but I adore all their spices.
Thanks for posting the beer cheese soup - I'll have to try it soon. Carmelized onions and Guiness - yes please!

I'm a bit late about the whole RR debate, but I have to agree with those who have said she gets lumped in with people who have truly paid their culinary dues. She started out shilling product a Dean&DeLuca - so it isn't really surprising that she does it at national level. It bugs me that she has repeatedly stated she "doesn't bake" - wtf? Then how exactly is one a chef? She won't even bake simple things like cookies - she said so on her show - I was appalled. How hard is it to bake cookies? Really.

Anyway - I really do love Bourdain, Alton Brown completely rocks (try his mac and cheese recipie) Ina Garten, Batali and dare I say I don't completely mind Emeril - can't stand to watch his show, but I have used some of his recipies and they were really good. I think it's because he has paid his dues and really appreciates food and the craft of food, even though he's over exposed and annoying.

I'll have to check the Penzy's near me for some unique salts....haven't used table salt in ages much prefer sea salt and kosher salt

Don't mean to be thread hogging but here is a really good piece the pork industry Pig Out
I eat meat, but I don't agree with the cruel treatment of animals and the big nasty factory farms.
Re: salt. We've been using kosher and sea salt exclusively for about a year or so now, as prophecy guy also has high blood pressure, and his BP has gone down in recent years (though he's on meds, too). The taste is different (better, I think), but it's still "salty." As for baking, as long as you get a fine ground salt, it can be used interchangeably with table salt. It is fun to try out the fancy salts and it is amazing how different they all taste. If you're looking for something to replace what's in your salt shaker for everyday use, you can find some reasonably priced fine grain sea salts in the regular grocery store.

I too *love* Bourdain, even if I don’t always agree with him. I’m totally on the same page about vegetarians/vegans, but his flippant (and sometimes hostile) stance on organic/sustainable food production and GMOs is problematic to me. I do get where he’s coming from; he is, after all, a hedonist and hedonists don’t let ethical issues get in the way of pleasure. I guess I feel like there are ways to be an ethical hedonist wink.gif I admire him most for his philosophy on travel and ideas of cultural relativism, which is why he sometimes surprises me with his comments about food politics in general. I first became interested in Slow Food when I visited Italy 2 years ago (it’s not just a movement there, it truly is a way of life), so it surprises me that as much as Bourdain travels, he stills says things like “I don’t care if my lettuce has DDT on it, as long as it’s crisp.” On the other hand, I love Alice Waters’ principles, but she’s just so pretentious – can we get a happy medium here?

As for the Food Network, the only people worth a damn are Mario, Alton, and Ina. I personally find RR to be annoying and completely overexposed, but I don’t think her influence has been entirely negative. I know quite a few people who got into food/cooking because of her show (they certainly didn’t know or care what arugula or “EVOO” was before that) and she does (for the most part) cook with real food. I don’t think someone has to be an actual chef to have credibility; Ina Garten is not classically trained (granted, she did own a catering company and food store) and her recipes are always fantastic and she doesn’t use prepared/processed foods. That being said, I think Giada is the only female “chef” on FN and she’s always got her boobs out. Hmmm. . . .
I miss Sara Moulton's Cooking Live show - her recipes were pretty standard, but she *taught cooking* on her show, something that seems totally lost in the new lineup.

Personally, Michael Chiarello is my favorite. He's my boyfriend, and when I grow up he's going to call me and ask me to come live in his amazing vineyard estate, and I'll be his housegirl. I have loved him since he was first on PBS 10 years ago, and his cooking is simple and fresh, and I've cooked more of his stuff than any other food network chef. Of course I love Alton and Mario, Nigella and Bobby (even though he can be a jackass, his food is good)...but Michael is my guy. smile.gif
QUOTE(octobersky @ Mar 14 2007, 01:53 PM) *
Don't mean to be thread hogging but here is a really good piece the pork industry Pig Out
That's not really "the pork industry" as much as it is about factory farming hogs ... one does not equate the other. There's plenty of pork out there, if you know where to look, that isn't factory farmed. (Or maybe I just know more places because hog farming is so common in my state.) It's linking to an article about the children sewing and weaving cloth in India or China and calling it an article about the working conditions for textile workers -- while child laborers are certainly part of the global picture, it's not the whole picture.

In any case, there's been a large movement in the family farms to get rid of large scale hog farming - and that article barely even touches it! First off, factory hog farms are the nastiest smelling thing - you can smell them from miles away, even when there's little to no wind. You think a landfill is gross? You haven't smelled a factory hog farm. Secondly, it's actually more expensive to factory farm than it is to more traditionally farm hogs - sure, more land is needed in the traditional method, but you have less cleanup (taking care of the hog manure is VERY expensive), less fines (too smelly and you get fined), less ill health (no need to pump them full of antibiotics and other medications because of the insanitary conditions), bigger-in-a-healthy way hogs. You also have more labor costs - your employees get sick more often, it takes more of them/more time to get the job done (picture someone having to go through, pen by pen, feeding the hogs rather than having a handful of centralized feeding locations). Overall, traditional methods are more sustainable than factory farming.
I agree--I think many people are aware of the way animals are mass raised in general. What I don't think is effective is the "vegetarian" strategy, as a means for levelling the playing field for both other human beings and animals. Ethically, I think that by now, even the multi-national corporations have read (or have paid consultants to read) many of the political nutrition and economics ethicists who proposed vegetarianism as a response to large scale agri-business practices which have created poverty and illness for people all over the world, as well as inhumane practices which destroy ecosystems as well: as a result, Francis Moore Lappe's (and other writers like her) writings have actually been used against vegetarians to turn them into an unwitting, growing market support for even more unsustainable and horrifying food growing practices like biotechnology, which underlines the entire soy business worldwide.

There are other politically effective strategies to consider which don't involve supporting harmful food practices like the large scale pig farming described in that link. The real issue is not what animal is suffering from the food that's produced from their flesh so much as how much control do we have over our food--and how did we lose the right to determine and control how this is done?

Buying locally produced food--both animal and vegetable--that's produced without frightening additives such as hormones or anti-biotic overuse, deadly chemicals which poison our soils and air (and then us, when we ingest them in our foods), or genetic manipulation done for pure profit (safety be damned) effects immediate political change too. It creates economic diversity, and stability for farmers; it limits pollution and land destruction by eliminating the need for roads to be created, so that food can be transported from places thousands of miles away when it can be created, sold, and consumed locally; it eliminates the need for large scale farming practices which are unsustainable both economically and in terms of environmental health; and it restores some of the power of determining exactly what we want in our food, bringing it back to us and to individual farmers we can know. That's quite a dramatic political and ethical change right there, even if meat eating continues to take place. Individual communities can move the influence of multi-national food conglomerates who are pretty much above the law right out of the discussion simply by opting to buy locally produced foods which are produced in sustainable, sane ways.

So clearly, vegetarianism is not the only way to effect change for the better. To bring this all back on topic--it's this kind of farmer/consumer interaction--small scale, individually determined, high quality food produced in ways which respect both our needs for health as well as the animals and plants and resources concerned--that chefs like Bourdain, Alice Waters, even the 2 Fat Ladies (remember them?) promote.

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