Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meditations on a Coffee "Can"

Recycling is a good thing to do. It makes people feel good to do it - Barry Commoner

Just a short rant for today.  We recycle.  Better yet, we reuse when we can.  Jars for spices and spice blends as gifts, bottles for herbed vinegars and hot sauces. There is one brand of otherwise unremarkable wine vinegar I buy for the bottle as it has a little sprinker gizmo over the mouth - perfect for BBQ "mop" (I gussy up the contents and re-bottle for gifts).

But packaging is changing. Take the yogurt container.  They're not recyclable here so we reuse them for storage (yeah, they'd be better if they were square, but they work). Suddenly the lids are gone - replaced by tear-off foil or plastic. Can't recycle, can't reuse.

Then there is a coffee can.  The very word "can" implies metal. Tin coffee cans have been the storage device most used by (mostly) men to store assorted screws, nuts, bolts and other hardware that will never be used but are too good to discard.  The plastic ones can be used for geocaches. The cardboard ones still will contain oddments, but they are not as sturdy.  Neither provides that satisfying "klink" of days gone by.

Oh well, in a world where a pound of coffee is 11.5 oz, what do you expect.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Honorable Folk

Beneath these green mountains where spring rules the year, the irbarbutus and loquat in season appear, And feasting on lychee - 300 a day, I shouldn't mind staying eternally here - Su Shih.
In my experience there are two types of human activity that are worthy of note and comment. The first are honorable acts. The second what Trish and I refer to as "bad form.  This is a case of the former.

I wrote, briefly, in August about my wonderful visit to the Lotte International Supermarket (read mostly Asian) in Chantilly, VA.  I loved the place, but it pointed out the limits of my familiarity with certain Asian ingredients, namely Asian produce.  I have books that discuss them, but we don't have the extraordinary variety at local our local Asian markets that the have at Lotte.

That evening I decided to check the iTunes store in search of app to fill in the blanks.  I found a pretty good one, from Specialty Produce in San Diego, and liked it enough that I paid $1.99 for the full version. It's not perfect.  I hope they keep adding to the database.  The first iten I looked up (durian) isn't there.  My biggest gripe is that the photos are web based.  With an iPod that means wi-fi, something not usual at small ethnic markets.  I'd give up drive space for device resident images.

But, none of that is the reason for this post.  A few weeks ago, via iGor my iPod (it's pronounced  eye-gore), I was notified that SP was unveiling a Pro version and letting the Full version fade away.  Because of the vagaries of the iTunes store they couldn't just swap me out, but if purchased Pro for the same $1.99 and provided them with proof of purchase they'd refund the original.

I went ahead, even though I wasn't sure I'd ever hear back. So it goes.

It put a smile on my face when I saw it in the mailbox.  The sent me the check and took the hit for the postage. This is an honorable act.  Now if they'd only open a branch in Buffalo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

See, I am not the only one.

Me and Dagwood Bumstead. Food Porn Rules.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shattered Glassware

"....octagonal plates and silver domes....conceal the minute portions of food in snooty restaurants run by egomaniac chefs." - John Mortimer
The BuffNews reported this week that Pitt Petri - a purveyor of expensive gifts and tableware was closing after 87 years.  Several reasons were cited, including the lack of foot traffic these days at the original location and the financial hit the Williamsville store took when Tiffany's ceased working with local merchants.

It's kind of ironic as a day or two before we were discussing with the girls what locally owned Department Stores were like.

I have to be honest, when I stopped in there it was just to browse - the stuff was primarily overpriced tchotchkes. I once had a gift certificate (it may have been a store credit for a gift I returned) and I couldn't find anything.  I ended up buying a couple of cigar accoutrements, and spent the balance on a couple of tubes of Wenol metal polish.

Look at it this way, I have two sets of fine crystal - one from my Mommy and one from my Mom (no it's not weird.  Mommy is my Mother, she died when I was 13.  Mom has been my Mom for almost 40 years since).  We don't use them - I just don't want even one to break (if you look close you can see we don't clean them often either). The real problem is that they are just not me (or us).  I am just as happy with the 12 for $10 glasses from Linens n Things, and dishes from there too.  Also platters from the Buffalo China "seconds" sale.

It's just an observation, with no empirical evidence. Beginning with my generation, and increasing with successive generations, interest in much of what PP sold is waning.  People have far less tendency to spend money on tableware that is only used a couple of times a year, or to invest the time to do things like polish silver.

It's not that they don't spend on luxuries, it's just that the luxuries have changed:  iPad's and flat panel TV's, Wii's or Xbox's, shoes and clothing and better foodstuffs.

This, I think is the real explanation for the end of PP.  The local Department Stores fell victim to national chains, which are now becoming victim to Superstores.  PP though fell victim to evolving tastes and desires.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Life's still too short to eat bad food

"The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat." - Albert Einstein

So, the USDA is going to start requiring Nutrition Labels on meats and poultry.  Woo-Hoo!

First it's useless.  If you are the type who examines the nutrition labels on prepared foods you are most likely intelligent enough to have pretty good idea of what you are getting. Second, this is one area where flavor is an issue.  Fat equals flavor.  You are welcome to buy 90/10 ground beef, but you'd be better off buying a hockey puck.  It has more flavor and less chance of food-borne illness. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

We want something else! We want something else! - Hawkeye Pierce

First need in the reform of hospital management? That's easy ! The death of all dietitians, and the resurrection of a French Chef - Martin H. Fischer

Perhaps not as bad as: "a river of liver and an ocean of fish!", but Hospital Food has a reputation second only to military food as being less than palatable.  I remember when I was a kid I visited my Dad at Genesee Hospital while he was eating.  It looked like what's to the right.

I '76 my big brother had knee surgery.  He was dying from the food.  I borrowed the Father Mulcahey outfit from when we were both in MASH, stuffed a black bag from the same with a Whopper, Fries and and a shake.

Now I have respect for anyone who toils in a kitchen, but when it comes to institutional cookery those who work in Hospitals and Nursing Homes occupy the bottom rung (yes, even below lunch ladies).  It's not their fault - it's the nature of the beast itself.

My first experience with Hospital food was in 1994 and consisted of blue stuff running through a tube down my nose.  When I was back on solid food, I'd circle my choices on a sheet of paper. It would get delivered - usually when I was at respiratory therapy.

My first meal was a revelation.  I was still in the ER, waiting for a room.  So they fed me. Burger, Home Fries, Peas, Peaches, Jello, Coffee and Milk.  All cold.  Shame about the coffee - it would be the last caffeinated beverage until yesterday.  Still, I give them a pass.  How the hell does one prepare for an ER patient being hungry.

There were innovations.  Instead of the check sheet, you now get a menu and can order when you are ready (in fact they call if you haven't).  I stuck to cold food for the most part - it's just too difficult to keep food warm. I stuck to cereal for Breakfast. Tuesday's dinner was a quite passable tuna sandwich, lettuce and tomato on the side as ordered.

Wednesday not so well.  Egg Salad ≠ Pot Roast. It became apparent that even though they might get it right the first time, redo's were a mess. What showed up was a miserly schmear of Egg Salad on torn bread, with no additions.

Thursday was the best meal I had.  Trish brought me Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong from Saigon Bangkok.  Friday she made me Chicken Soup With Matzoh Balls - Yummy.

The most bizarre meal was Friday's Lunch.  I ordered a Roast Beef Sandwich with L,T and O and a side of fries.  The tray arrived with only fries - cold ones at that.  I called down with the "where's the beef?" question.  What showed up was s sorry excuse for a sandwich, no L or T and the O looked like they were around for a week.

As a fitting dénoument, I ordered a banana with breakfast yesterday.  It should be ripe by next weekend.

The bottom line: they've made some improvements, but there's no place like home.

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

Life's too short to eat bad food -