Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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iLOL’d: Twilight with Cheeseburgers

May 2, 2009

Ever wondered what Bella looks like from Edward’s perspective?  Now we know.  (Warning: Graphic imagery involving a cheeseburger.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daTTOyu-E1w

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iApprove: Strawberry-Pineapple Cobbler.

March 5, 2009

Yet another cooking experiment gone horribly AWESOME.

While cleaning out the freezer the other day, I found a container of pineapple.  It looked tasty, so I left it on the counter to thaw, not really sure what I would do with it.  It sat in the fridge for a couple of days, and tonight I decided I’d better figure out what to do with it before it could start fermenting.

I did a search online for “pineapple desserts”.  Very little of the options looked appealing, but there was one that did stand out: pineapple cobbler.  It sounded like a good idea, but I was running against a couple of problems: firstly, pineapple doesn’t taste that great on its own, and secondly, there wasn’t enough of it to do a whole cobbler.

Then I remembered that we had some strawberries in the freezer.  BINGO!

So I took the pineapple (about a cup and a half) and the strawberries (also about a cup and a half, maybe a bit less) and mixed them together.  In a seperate bowl, I softened a cup of coconut flakes with milk and water, then ate some of the coconut, added a quarter-cup of butter and a couple of teaspoons of honey, and added about three quarters of a cup of oatmeal flakes.  I mixed it well and let it sit for awhile.

While dinner was cooking, I took the coconut-oatmeal mix and lined the bottom of a Corningware casserole dish (small size).  Into that I poured the fruit mixture, and I sprinkled some more crust mix on the top.  (I still had way more than I needed.  I would guess that I’d only need a half-cup each of coconut and oatmeal.)  I baked it at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes, and we ate it after dinner.

It was darned good.  The strawberry and pineapple complement each other well, and the pineapple was sweet enough that no sweetener was needed in the fruit.  The coconut and oatmeal were, as always, wonderful (though a bit gritty, as coconut tends to be).  My only complaint would be that it made a rather small cobbler; it provided adequate portions for five people, but not enough to really indulge.  But maybe that’s a good thing.

All in all, it was a rather fantastic piece of food.

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iApprove: Turkey Casserole.

March 1, 2009

So, we were out pretty late today.  Went to church, spent a while chatting after church (rather, the parents did), forty-five-minute commute home… at the end, we were home at about 3:30.

Well, nobody wanted to cook anything, but we needed food, so I threw together a turkey casserole.

I love these things.  I also love tuna casseroles, but overall I prefer turkey for two reasons: (1) less mercury and (2) it does not taste like fish.  The reason I am fond of casseroles is because they are easy to make and usually contain a wide variety of nutrients in a single dish.

So here’s how I made it:

  1. Grab the cooked turkey out of the fridge.  (We’d baked one the other day, which is where the meat came from.  Casserole requires pre-cooked meat.)
  2. Put some water on the stove for noodles.
  3. Peel off large chunks of turkey breast, dice them, and put into a bowl.
  4. Put noodles into water.
  5. Thaw out some cauliflower and cut it into small chunks.
  6. Grate some cheese onto turkey.
  7. Add cooked noodles to cauliflower, drain well, and add to turkey & cheese.  Mix well.
  8. Add large amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise, as well as some salt and half an onion.

And that was pretty much it.  Were I feeling more ambitious, I would have added garlic (of which I heartily approve), but this was kind of a rush-job, whatever’s-in-the-kitchen casserole.  Basic but tasty.

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iApprove: Nuts.

December 29, 2008

You know the ones: almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, and pecans.  They’re a popular snack among basically every dietary school — low-fat eaters like them because they’re filling, low-carb eaters like them because most of their contained carbohydrates are fiber, and vegetarians like them because they’re rich in nutrients that are found in few areas outside of meat.

No matter what your preferred food, nuts are an extremely useful snack, as they do provide all of the above qualities.  They’re rich in fat and fiber, which makes them filling, and they’re absolutely loaded with important minerals.  They’re also quick and convenient; you can easily get de-shelled nuts in your local supermarket, and just grab a handful for your snacking pleasure.

The only problem I can find with nuts is that, unfortunately, some people are allergic.

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Green Meat (or, Eco-Friendly Non-Vegetarianism.)

December 16, 2008

Last night, I dreamt that I was talking to a budding PETA advocate.  She was very passionate about her arguments, endeavoring to convince me that it was wrong to eat meat – not only wrong, but unhealthy.  She threw all the standard PETA claims at me, most of which I refuted in standard meat-eater style.

Later, I was talking with my sister, and we decided to stage a mock argument.  She played the PETA advocate, and I played myself.  While she failed to convince me that there was sufficient evidence to convert to vegetarianism (and mind you, she is a very good arguer and almost always knows what she’s talking about), she did succeed in raising some points.

See, I disagree with PETA’s claim that meat is bad for humans.  Not because they don’t have backup evidence — they do, or at least they have a few scientific studies that support their claims.  But because there is still loads of evidence to prove – or at least suggest – otherwise.

However, one thing that they are correct on is that much of the meat we eat is raised in a non-humane manner.  And that means cramped, smelly and otherwise miserable.  No, they don’t cut the beaks off chickens and cram them into tiny cages – chickens under that level of stress wouldn’t grow no matter what you pumped into them.  But imagine my surprise when I learned that, indeed, animals ARE pumped full of antibiotics to promote unnatural growth!

(Ordinarily, antibiotics are used to treat infections, which is fine.  What is NOT fine is that farmers, noticing that antibiotics caused increased weight gain in their animals, started administering them all the time to promote faster growth.)

According to PETA (and many other organizations, for that matter) the best way to combat this is just to stop eating meat entirely (not a problem for them, since they claim we don’t need it).  And again I find myself disagreeing.  Yes, we do need to boycott the companies that abuse their animals, that pump them full of chemicals (which AREN’T good for humans, no matter who you ask), or that pour massive quantities of poop into rivers, promoting the growth of algae which choke out other life forms.  This is definitely bad.

But boycotting all meat is not the way to do it.  Why should responsible meat growers be punished for the crimes of the irresponsible?  No, what we need to be doing is refusing to eat meat grown by these people.  Instead, buy it from those who treat their animals well, feed them good food and allow them the space they need.  Show meat growers that there is a tangible reward – and as such, an incentive – to responsible care of their animals.

Unfortunately, there are very few ways to determine whether the meat you’re eating was grown responsibly or not.  Meat producers aren’t likely to come out and tell you that they’re pouring cow dung into local ponds; store employees aren’t likely to know.

Fortunately, the USDA does.

Whether organic food is or isn’t full of all the magical health benefits that some claim, one can be guaranteed that it isn’t laden with the sort of chemicals that are going to make our daughters sexually mature at age twelve or kill us of horrible diseases.  Furthermore, if a company is raising organic meat, they’ve already taken the first steps toward responsible raising of their product – and therefore are likely to take other steps to ensure the health and subsequent quality of their animals.  What about the toxic runoff?  That’s covered under the basic “USDA-certified organic” plan — growers must have a safe and sustainable way to dispose of the waste from their operations.

But, says PETA, there’s still the sheer amount of space needed to grow these beasties.  Take the farmland used to raise cows and start using it to raise humans, they argue, and you’ll get a much better return on your investment.

Maybe this would be true, if all cows were raised on farmland.  But many cows aren’t.  BLM land – land in its natural state that isn’t good for growing much more than weeds, scrubs and occasional grass – makes wonderful grazing for cattle.  Sure, eventually they’re going to exhaust it and have to move on, but this is land that could not be used to feed humans without drastically altering the environment in the area.  If PETA is half as eco-friendly as they claim to be, they will be happy to tell you that mucking with the environment is bad.  Tends to mess up climate, destroy the habitats of cute little bunny rabbits, etc.  I’m sure you can see the problem.

But, they argue, there’s still the greenhouse gas effect.  The amount of cattle it takes to feed everyone causes huge amounts of methane, which is bad for the environment.

I’m not gonna disagree here; this is a legitimate concern — especially if we try to feed everyone in the States on meat-intensive diets.  However, what I am proposing here is not a meat-intensive diet, but a diet that includes both meat and healthy quantities of vegetables.  I realize that it may seem otherwise, but only because I failed to bring up the issue of vegetables (on account of that being one of the few things that PETA and I can agree on).

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Science!: Gingerbread Cookies

December 8, 2008

Firstly, let me just remark upon how difficult it is to get time to blog when you have two siblings and a dad using the same computer.  Both my sister and my brother are somewhat computer addicts, so they eat up a lot of time.  And that’s why there was no update yesterday.

Today, though, I kicked off my little brother so I could get some posting accomplished.

Let me tell you about Saturday.  It was a fine day: I made gingerbread cookies.  Specifically, I made four seperate batches of experimental gingerbread cookies.

The thing I was trying to figure out was the sweetener.  The recipe I have calls for one cup of molasses and nothing else.  Since my family can’t handle sugar, this isn’t going to work.  So I decided to see what kind of things I could substitute.

First I made four experimental quantities of dough.  That is, I did a half-batch of the recipe dough, sans sweetener, and sorted it into four equal parts.  This gave me one batch for the “control group” – following the recipe exactly – and three batches of lovely, spicy and unsweetened dough to experiment with.

The first experimental batch addressed the issue of caramelization: whether Splenda could, with the addition of some water to the dough, be made to achieve approximately the same consistency as molasses.  It was sweetened only with Splenda.

The second batch addressed the issue of substitution: whether or not the dough would taste all right with only a fraction the amount of molasses.  It was sweetened with one part molasses to three parts Splenda.

The third batch addressed another substitution issue: whether or not I could use SugarTwin in the cookies and have them taste decent.  To make sure that no other factors were included, I used the same proportions as the second experimental batch: one part molasses to three parts SugarTwin.

The next phase in this experiment was to taste the dough.  Of course, it would turn out differently once baked, but these initial impressions were still useful.  I tasted (and ate, since I wasn’t being too professional about it) a small amount of each dough, rinsing my mouth between each sample to ensure that no flavors carried over.

It was obvious from the start that the control batch was made of fail.  I have no idea what they were thinking when they said to only use molasses in the cookies, but it was disgusting.  The Straight-Splenda batch was better, but a trifle bland, which indicates to me that molasses helps to enhance the flavor of the cookie seasonings.  The Molasses/Splenda was optimal, and the Molasses/SugarTwin came a close second (though it did, unfortunately, have a nasty ST flavor).

Next I baked them.  I did one batch in the microwave for a preliminary taste test, then one in the oven to see what the texture would be like.  There were a few differences from the dough, but overall the results were the same: the original dough, which actually tasted worse when baked, was a complete failure; not only was it disgusting but it hardened and became nearly impossible to chew.  The all-Splenda dough was still bland, and a bit too dry; I had to remove it sooner than the others.  The Molasses/Splenda was lovely.  The Molasses/SugarTwin was better once baked, but still had a slight bad flavor.

But since this experiment wasn’t just about me, I moved on to the next battery: feeding the dough to my family.

Surprisingly, both my mother and sister said that they preferred the Molasses/SugarTwin dough.  They said that the SugarTwin helped to bring out the spice flavor, and that they couldn’t pick up the bad aftertaste.

The men, on the other hand – dad and little brother – preferred the all-Splenda batch.  I suspect that this is because they are culinary lightweights who prefer sweetness over flavor.

Finally, I took all the remaining dough, mixed it together and baked it like that.  This also produced a good-tasting cookie, and my sister later said that it was her favorite.

So it seems to me that – despite claims otherwise from certain lightweights – none of these doughs were satisfactory as a finished product, except perhaps the combined formula.  I will conduct more tests in the future and see if I can perfect it.

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Science!: Hot Pepper Juice

November 29, 2008

Tonight, I got hot pepper juice on my fingers.  Yep, the stuff you get from using your fingernails to clean out the seeds; the same sort of stuff you may put on objects that you don’t want your dog to be chewing.  At the moment, I still have hot pepper juice on my fingers, and it is quite excrutiating.

In the interest of being a good sport, though, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to conduct a few scientific experiments on hot pepper juice, and some substances that one may think of when considering relief or remedy.  With that in mind, I will compile a list of all the remedies I’ve tried – some traditional, some on-the-spot and born out of desparation – and their effectiveness.

Firstly, the classics.

  1. Cool water.  While this does provide temporary relief, as soon as my fingers cease to be immersed in it they’re right back to hurting.
  2. Dairy products (in this case, sour cream).  The coldness does temporarily ease the pain, but again it wears off; the burning oils do not seem to adhere to the cream, although this may be because they’ve worked their way under my fingernails.
  3. Ketchup.  Again, coldness.  Again, wears off.

And now, the other ones I attempted:

  1. Grease-cutting dish soap (both Dawn and Palmolive).  No effect.
  2. Hand sanitizer.  No effect.
  3. Talcum powder.  No effect.
  4. Baking soda.  No effect.
  5. Orange spray cleaner.  No effect.
  6. Trimming my fingernails.  No effect.
  7. Goo Gone.  No effect.
  8. Sunblock.  No effect.
  9. Soap, both glycerin and other.  No effect.
  10. Rigorous cleaning.  No effect.
  11. Hydrogen peroxide.  Intensified symptoms.
  12. Shower.  Intensified symptoms.

All of these (except the shower) caused temporary relief from the change in temperature and/or use of water, but none of them provided the cleansing effect I was looking for.  The shower both caused miserable pain while I was taking it and an intensification of pain afterward.  From this, I conclude that it is basically impossible to get hot pepper juice out of your fingers once it’s there, and your only solution is to use a knife when dealing with hot peppers.