Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Eliminating pesticides from your diet

Pesticides are not on the USDA Food pyramid, so you shouldn't be ingesting them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you're bound to be exposed to some unwanted chemicals. The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group for organic food, did a study about the relative levels of pesticide

"An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by 90 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to nearly 20 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to a fraction over 2 pesticides per day. Less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Guide provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet."

Unfortunately, the study found that washing doesn't much help to eliminate the residual pesticides. While you should always wash your fruits and vegetables, it's still best to choose locally farmed, sustainable produce that has been grown organically.

The Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Contaminated (Buy These Organic, if possible)

• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

12 Least Contaminated

• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet)
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mostly Trivial: Cuisine

As you may know, in addition to loving food and cooking, I'm a real geek. I love obscure factoids and trivia, so naturally, one of my favorite podcasts is Mostly Trivial with Johnee Bee, and Johnee has featured me on his October 14th show, complete with all his usual funny production values. So head on over to Mostly Trivial and listen to his latest podcast quiz. Regular listeners of my show will have a leg up, as the trivia question has to do with a subject I've covered here.

Marzipan Babies...NOT!

Well, thanks to Ryan, an intrepid listener, I have been made aware that the marzipan babies are not marzipan at all. While I don't like being one to spread misinformation, I'm glad that I was wrong here. As I said in the podcast, there's something extremely disquieting about the notion of edible babies. He sent along a link to an urban legend busting webpage which dispels the myth:

"Fortunately, we don't have to ponder the deeper meaning of the symbolism here, because the items pictured above are not made of marzipan, nor are they edible. They're 2- to 5-inch sculptures created by artist Camille Allen (including some entries from her Shell Baby line of miniatures), and they're made from Prosculpt polymer clay and mohair. Definitely not the kind of thing most of us would find palatable."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

j'espère que t'es pas un chef!

With thanks to Paola e basta

Quatre chirurgiens discutent de leur profession dans
une salle de repos à l'hopital.

Le premier chirurgien commence :

"J'aime avoir des comptables sur ma table d'opération.
Lorsque vous les ouvrez, tout est
numéroté correctement à l'intérieur..." dit le

"Ouais, mais vous devriez voir les électriciens ! Tout
est codé en couleur à l'intérieur,
impossible de se tromper!" ajoute le deuxième.

Moi, je pense vraiment que les bibliothécaires sont
les meilleurs. Tout est classé par ordre
alphabétique à l'intérieur " réplique le troisième.

Le dernier chirurgien prend la parole:

"Les plus faciles à opérer sont les chefs. Il n'y a
pas de coeur, pas de cerveau, pas de
couilles, en plus, la tête et le trou du cul sont
interchangeables !"

Four surgeons discussing their profession in the waiting room of a hospital. The first says:

I love having accountants on the operating table. When you open them up, everything is in proper order inside," says the first.

"Yes, but you should see electricians. Everything is color coded inside. Impossible to get confused," Adds the second.

Me, I really think that librarians are the best. Everything is listed in alphabetical order inside," replies the third.

The last surgeon says:

The easiest to operate on are chefs. There's no heart, no brain, no balls, and what's more, the head and the ass are interchangeable!"

Fall It's My Park Day

The good people of Inwoof, the Inwood Dog owner's group, spent the day on Saturday making improvements to our Dog Run at the semi-annual It's My Park cleanup day. We raked, cleaned, weeded, and planted bulbs for next Spring. We also hosted a bake sale to raise money for our general fund. This is the best group of people around. Don't just take my word for it, though. The NY Press recently named Inwood the "Best Manhattan neighborhood for Dog Owners" in it's annual "Best of" issue. Here are some pictures of the crew hard at work, and Stiva using my friend Deb as a stepping stool.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Farmer's Market Saturday: Harvest colors

The rain finally stopped! Thankfully, I can stop building the Ark. Today was a beautiful day, and the farmers brought out more and more of their serious fall produce. Today was all about the colorful, harvest colors of orange, red, brown, and yellow.

This ornamental corn reminds me of New Mexico. We always had lots of lovely multi-colored corn around, and not always as a decoration, either. Think of the distinctive New Mexico blue corn. I'll be sure to share some recipes using blue corn in the winter, along with my mother's famous atole recipe (a hot thick drink made with blue corn).

These colored acorn squash make me dream of oven-roasted tenderness and the sweetness of sugary maple and butter. Soon, I will make a stuffed acorn squash with apples, nuts, and maple syrup. These make a hearty first course to a meal on a cold night.

These little guys are so ugly, they're beautiful! The knobby, bumpy, twisty gourds are the yearly proof of nature's haphazard, random expression of fertility.

And this is the reward we get for enduring the rain this past week! The intrepid mycologist must have been chomping at the bit all week thinking of the gorgeous beauties he would find at the end of the rainstorm. This large maitake is an especially good example of what can grow in secret, dark places in the woods.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Ruminations on Roots

My latest article for Gastronomic Meditations is a Rumination on Roots. This month's featured Main Ingredient is the humble root in all it's forms, and in this piece I explore the varied uses of roots and rhizomes in other cultures throughout the world. In some cultures, roots are so highly prized, they form the basis of the economy. You can take that to the bank...

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Podcast #16:

Episode #16:

Food News, listener e-mails, marzipan babies, a Yuzu recipe and "The Great Chile Relleno Casserole Recipe Mystery"

Featured Website: www.CookingDiva.net

Quick Tip: Keeping a box grater clean

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sulivan. www.andysullivan.com
Mambo MiamMiam", Katy Stephan. www.katystephan.com

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Food Safety Corner: Quiz Yourself

What do you know about the common kitchen practices you use? Can you make yourself sick without even knowing it? This article from the Seattle Times may help you to find out how safe you're being.

"Old habits die hard. That may be particularly true for kitchen routines. But could your typical food-handling habits be making you sick?

Each year 76 million Americans suffer from foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though most cases are mild — a day or two of stomach upset — it can be serious for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Take our quiz to test your food safety IQ. Find out if you're following the most up-to-date advice to prevent foodborne illness or if you're making some risky food-safety mistakes."

However, I have a problem with one of the items in the article:

"4. You made a big batch of chili for the weekend. Do you let it cool down and then put the stockpot directly in the refrigerator?

Answer: No. Cooked foods don't need to cool down first. Refrigerate promptly and be sure they chill quickly. That means using shallow containers about 2 inches deep (which rules out your stockpot). Food left at room temperature longer than two hours may not be safe to eat."

While the article is correct that you should use shallow containers, and that food shouldn't stay in the danger zone for more than 2 hours, it is definitely NOT a good idea to put hot food in the fridge, since doing so can raise the temperature of ALL the food in the fridge into the danger zone. Cool food quickly in an ice bath, reduce the volume into several containers, and stir often. This will bring the temparature down quickly so that you can then refrigerate it.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eat some fish, Brainiac

A new study published in the Archives of Neurology finds that eating fish at least once a week can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Study participants who consumed fish at least once per week had 60 percent less risk of Alzheimer's compared with participants who rarely or never ate fish.

The researchers collected information about the participants' diets, including intake of n-3 fatty acids. One of these, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is an important component of fat molecules in brain cell membranes. The body also uses two other n-3 fatty acids to produce DHA: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid."

Another article notes, however:

"But all the news about fish isn't good. Some toxins found in fish appear to increase the risk of Alzheimer's and other diseases, warns an accompanying editorial by Robert P. Friedland, MD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland."

This is because much of the fish we eat may be contaminated with dangerously high levels of mercury. So don't gorge on fish, and make sure you get your fish from a reputable fishmonger who knows that the fish comes from safe waters. As always, any "health" food should be eaten in moderation.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Weekend Dog Blogging (WDB) #4 Round-up

Here's the round-up for SweetNick's Weekend Dog Blogging Project, wherein food bloggers post clever photos of their dogs. Stiva's in there, along with a bunch of other patient pooches.

Sweetnicks: Weekend Dog Blogging (WDB) #4

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Another Cauliflower recipe

After yesterday's post about the beautiful broccoliflower and orange-hued cauliflower I bought at the farmer's market, I got to thinking about other recipes for cauliflower, and remembered a recipe that was in heavy rotation the past couple of years, South Beach style Surprise Mashed "Potatoes". Since the South Beach diet was one of the main diets for the low-carb craze (RIP Dr. Atkins), many of the recipes were developed to replace carboydrates with vegetables.

In this simple preparation, you simply steam the cauliflower for 4 minutes until tender, or cook it in the microwave. Puree the cauliflower, adding a little butter and cream as you go, until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes, finishing with salt and pepper to taste.

The original South Beach recipe calls for trans-fat free butter flavored spray. This stuff is vile, so I would never recommend using it in a recipe. Use butter, and go easy with it if you're concerned about fat content.

You could use both the broccoliflower for a Dr. Seuss inspired Green Mash and Ham, and the orange colored cauliflower for a Harvest Mash.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Weekend Dog Blogging #4

Well, I heard about this blogging event where food bloggers post pictures of their dogs, so I figured I'd join in. Not sure of the rules, but here are several pictures of my cutie-pie Stiva on a sleepy, rainy day. He sure loves to yawn!

Farmer's Market Saturday: BroccoliFlower

What a miserable rainy wet day! Not a very inviting prospect to go out to the Greenmarket. Well, I'm glad that I went out (besides, the dog needed to go do his thing), because I found these gorgeous hybrid Broccoliflower and colored Cauliflower.

The Broccoliflower is a hybrid vegetable, a cross between broccoli and caulifower. The florets have such an interesting fractal pattern. If you've ever wondered what vegetables to serve to a physicist or mathematician, this would be the one!

A simple, yet emminently satisfying way to serve broccoliflower (or regular broccoli, for that matter), is to blanch it in boiling water for a couple of minutes until crisp-tender, then rinse under cool water to set the color. Next, heat olive oil and a little garlic in a saute pan over medium-high heat, then saute the broccolifower with a little salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. You may also grate fresh cheese over the top just before serving.

This beautiful orange-hued cauliflower lends itself perfectly to a spicy South Asian treatment.

Curried Cauliflower
Cauliflower in an Indian Spiced Coconut Milk Sauce

6 Servings

2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 pinch) cloves, ground
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 15 oz. can coconut milk, unsweetened
2 1/2 pounds cauliflower florets, 1/2" pieces
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until golden brown and softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, cauliflower, and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Serve with Tandoori Chicken or Red Lentil Soup

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Apple Turnip Soup

For my October contribution to Gastronomic Meditations,

I created a soup using turnips and dried apples, accompanied by Nutmeg Cheddar Breadsticks. It's the perfect early Autumn comfort food.

Head on over to Gastronomic Meditations and get the recipes for yourself!

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Update on Internet Problems

Well, the mystery deepens. It appears that the problem is not with Libsyn, but rather that Cogent and Level 3, two major network services, are in some kind of battle, and have literally blocked each other's hard wired networks. Here's a link to an article that I quote below:

"Cogent Communications and Level 3, both Tier 1 ISPs, are apparently having some 'undisclosed' disagreements, causing an Internet partition by turning-off or deactivating their peering point. Cogent Co. has released a statement explaining their side of the problem, however they have no mention of when the problem will be fixed, or when they will sort it out."

As with strikes, it seems that the parties in dispute don't suffer, but the public. Apparently, this problem has affected many Time Warner/Roadrunner customers, myself included. So I can't log on to Libsyn, nor can I get the content delivered to me. Therefore, I can't tell whether my podcast is up and running from home. I went to an internet cafe and uploaded the podcast that was supposed to go up yesterday, and listened to a couple minutes of it, so I know it's there.

Please let me know if you're actually getting the latest podcast, Episode #15, where you are. Thanks for your patience.

Podcast #15: The Quick Tip Episode!

Episode #15: The Quick Tip Episode!

Lots of kitchen tips, plus some audio from my latest Cooking Demo, and listener e-mails.

Featured Website: www.TheFoodSection.com

Music: "Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan. www.andysullivan.com
"Mambo miammiam", by Katy Stephan. www.katystephan.com

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Podcast service outage

I was planning on uploading a new podcast this afternoon, but my host, Liberated Syndication, is down, and I haven't been able to log on all day. This also means that until it's fixed, the player in the upper right hand corner of this page won't function either. I apologize for the interruption of service. Check back again later and hopefully the situation will be resolved.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

I know this isn't a food related post, but I had to trumpet the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is underway now. It's the largest yearly festival for ballooning, and it's also the most photographed event in the world.

My friend Carol Anderson, editor of Personal Chef magazine, has been blogging about her adventures in her aptly named Diary of an Adventurous Lady blog.

Check out the pictures, and her descriptions of all the partying and festivities of this most unusual sport.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pesto Freezing from Chef Vickie

A few weeks ago, I posted about freezing pureed basil so that you could have plenty of pesto for the winter months. Well, Chef Vickie, over at The Moveable Feast Food Blog has documented how she does just this, with some great pics of how she freezes it in individual ice cube sizes. Check it out!

Roasted Garlic

This post from the Cooking Diva of panama says it all about the simple joys of Roasted Garlic

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Farmer's Market Saturday: Color!

I'm a One-Eyed, One-horned, Flying Purple Pepper Eater!

These little mini amethyst gems came from Hawthorne valley Farms. They are sweet and crunchy, and will go nicely with a salad, as a wonderful color accent, or stuffed and baked. I sampled it with some lovely fresh Goat Cheese. Yum!

To balance out the brilliant color today, I also present some amazingly green apples and some brilliant red radishes. Autumn sure is colorful!

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Vote for ReMARKable Palate at Podcast Alley

It's a new month, and with it, the counter is reset at Podcast Alley. If you like the show, please take a moment to vote for me, so that I can be in the rankings, and more people will be exposed to the show. Thanks.

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