Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The Food Network has canceled Emeril Live. Is because he lacks cleavage? Discuss.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nomenclature II

So, my wife thought she found a good bargain on what was labeled a pork loin roast at our local Tops Market.. She knew we wouldn't get a chance to to eat it right away, so we popped it in the freezer. I pulled it out and put it in the fridge to thaw without really looking at it. I figured I'd whack the chine bone, so I could carve it, and have some good eats. But, when I pulled it out of the fridge, I got a surprise. While one side of the roast showed the characteristics of a loin cut - the "T" of the back (chine) bone, an eye of both the loin and tenderloin muscle. The other side clearly showed the hip bone. It was a sirloin roast and after I made stock to turn the leftovers into pot pies, it was clear I was right.

Now it was tasty, but a consumer who didn't know the bone structure of meat would be disappointed. There has to be a way to get this right.

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Staying Alive and Changes

Saturday Night Fever is the only movie I have ever walked out of, so It is easy for me to choose Bowie over the Bee Gees. But, this is not a music blog.

Staying Alive refers to the fact that the dried sausage turned out OK, and nobody had any ill effects from eating it. When we took it off the hook, some ten days earlier than it was supposed to be ready there was no sign of mold or external discoloration. The texture felt like any dry sausage I'd buy at local stores. I cut into the link, and, as you can see, the color was uniform throughout. So I tasted it. It was good. Trish tasted it. It was good. Ellie tasted it. It was good, and she asked for more. Next time, when I try something more complex, I will take Bob delGrosso's suggestion to use a humidifier in the curing room.

Changes refers to the new meat grinder attachment that my wife gave me as an anniversary present, to replace the one that broke last month. For the most part the grinder looked the same, but there were three noticeable changes. The large cutting plate was larger than the old one, giving me effectively a small, medium and large plate now (you didn't think I got rid of the parts from the old one, did you?) The old wooden pusher is gone, it is now part of that plastic wrench thing that I have never used. Bad choice. It is not solid, more of an x-shape of plastic, and ingredients end up in the open stem. What really surprised me is the knife. It is no longer of the same composition as the plates - it appears to be stamped stainless steel. It has gone from 15 grams to 8 grams in weight. I was a bit worried, but it worked well.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Foie Gras: A reality check

Bob delGrosso has a new post up at his site about a weekend visit to Hudson Valley Foie Gras, including a great set of photos of the operation. It looks like a nice clean, well-run facility, far more "humane" that the factory farms where most of our food comes from.

Look, if you are not a vegetarian, you have to accept that animals are killed for our nutrition and our pleasure. I myself have never killed anything more evolved than a crustacean, and I don't know that I could, but I have easily accepted this basic fact. The big problem for most who agree with foie gras bans is the visceral image of gavage. The bigger problem is that the vegoterrorists don't doesn't want to stop there - they want to prevent us from eating meat.

If the idea of the poor duckies is too much for you, don't go there, but I am glad I did.

And I can think of a lot of ways to use those Magret breasts !

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Food Comic For Today

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Strike Two

For the second time in under a month, Cargill is recalling ground beef possibly tainted with E. coli O157:H7. Locally, the potentially tainted meat is distributed by Wegmans. I recently posted that "Our local markets appear keenly aware of food safety, but that won't help if the meat they grind is contaminated and sits in the case until you buy it." It looks like it is worse - some (or all?) of that ground meat in the meat cases is not ground on site, but shipped from a meat packer. I stand by my original assertion: grind your own!

ETA 11/5 I received an e-mail from Wegmans today with details of the recall. It seems they still grind in store under the Food You Feel Good About label.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

The Great Sausage Experiment

I have wanted to try dry-cured sausages for a long time, and with the guidance provided by Ruhlman and Polcyn, and the inspiration of Bob delGrosso, I was pretty sure I could succeed. My biggest concern was finding the place with the best environment. The most temperature stable place in the house is the cupboard in the basement, where we store extra cooking equipment and our wine rack. But, it's also where the sump pump is, and I figured that was a prime source of bad mold.

But, I got an email from Chef delGrosso which contained sound advice, and I have his permission to reprint it here: "Listen you can probably cure in you kitchen now. Don't overthink it. Do it, and if it doesn't work, then worry about it. My basement is actually a bit too dry (rel humidity is about 40%) but I'm not freaking out -yet." Mine too, despite the sump.

So I started it last week. I didn't bother taking pictures of the grinding and mixing process, as I just did the Italian Sausage one a few weeks ago. But, what you have below is kind of a time-lapse of the last 11 days. No sign of mold at all, but the drying process seems to going too fast. I have been concerned with case-hardening, and have taken to misting twice daily.

Today, I weighed the sausages, and after only 11 days they have lost more than the 30% they are supposed to lose in 18 -20 days from 719/694 grams to 387/371 grams. So, I guess I will cut into one tomorrow.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -