Archive for the 'Food' category

Carnival Cruise Food, Food, Food

 | June 22, 2009 7:07 AM
Fried Shrimp Galore

On the first night, Monday night, all I ordered was the fried shrimp appetizer.  The waiter tried to get me to order more but I wasn’t feeling hungry and thought I’d end up eating a lot of the kids’ leftovers.

The waiter warned me that the appetizer only has three shrimps but I said that’s fine.  He then brought me five shrimps and said he would get me even more.  Then later he brought me ten more.  Pretty nice guy, Levente from Romania.

Ji Seon enjoyed her snapper filet.  Dylan had his favorite, baked potato with parmesan cheese since no other shredded cheese was available.  Victoria ate three hot dogs while Isaac had one.  All three kids enjoyed the french fries.

carnival cruises hot dog

Grilled Lobster Tail and Tiger Shrimp

Tuesday night everyone ordered the grilled lobster tail and tiger shrimp.  It wasn’t as good as fresh New England lobster but it’s still always nice to eat lobster.  I also enjoyed my Indian roasted pumpkin soup.

Dylan ate his baked potato, Victoria had bow tie pasta, Isaac ate mostly french fries with some sliced hot dog.

carnival cruises grilled lobster tail and tiger shrimp

More Fried Shrimp

Wednesday afternoon we went to the sushi bar before dinner.  It wasn’t bad, I never had mackerel sushi before.

Later Isaac took a late nap because, which we didn’t realize at the time, he was starting to get sick.  Since he wasn’t awake when dinner began in the formal dining room I waited for him to wake up and the rest of the family went to the buffet cafe.

At the cafe I ended up again gorging on fried shrimps.  The first night’s fried shrimps were smaller and had a batter coating.  These shrimps were bigger, somehow straightened, and had a breaded coating.

Indian Veggie and Seafood Pasta

Thursday afternoon we went to tea.  The desserts were good, especially the fruit tart, but we really did not want to eat too much.

Thursday night most of us ordered the crab cake appetizer.  Everyone enjoyed it except me, I never seem to like crab cakes but I always think I will.  I also ordered the wild mushroom soup.  Ji Seon asked me after why would I order mushroom soup and I told her this was much better than your plain mushroom soup, that it was thinner and much more tasty.

Then I ordered the Indian vegetarian plate and after a recommendation from my brother-in-law, the penne with shrimp, calamari and scallops.  I was hoping the Indian food would be good since the head chef is Indian and it was superb.  In fact I wish I could remember what exactly I ate since I have never eaten anything like it in a restaurant.  In fact the last time I ate something like that it was made by a friend.  The penne was also the best Italian seafood pasta dish I have had since the seafood linguine dish I ate at La Groceria in Cambridge, MA.  I went to that restaurant a few times after and never could find that dish again.  Maybe that’s why they closed.

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Organic Seeds vs Regular Seeds

 | May 25, 2009 10:54 AM

Today at Lowes I was looking at the different types of zucchini seeds.  I did not know which one to purchase but the ones that said hybrid seemed suspicious.  I then noticed some organic seeds that were about 50 cents more.  I was not sure if it made a difference but I bought it anyway and then did some research when I got home.  Here is what I learned.

A little seed may seem like no big deal. Who cares whether it is organic or not, the end result will be organic if you choose to grow it that way. Not so fast. A 2007 study by The Organic Center in Colorado found that sure, a seed might not be organic, but you will be able to tell by the fruit it bears later on. All seeds carry residual effects from pesticides and herbicides in the ground as well as hormones sprayed in and around the plants, bushes or trees.

Since farmers have been using pesticides, steroids and other ‘non-natural’ ways to grow produce faster and bigger for decades, we can now test between the two methods. Crops that are grown now using the modern farming method have 1/5 to 1/4 less nutritional value that their counterparts did 50 years ago. What does that mean exactly? To get the same nutritional value of an apple picked in say, 1942, today you would have to eat two or three apples. Iron counts are lower, vitamin A levels are lower as well as many other important healthy components of the apple.

Organic Seeds vs Regular Seeds: One little seed can make a big difference. | Suite101.com.

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On God and Dogs

 | May 24, 2009 9:52 PM

on-god-and-dogs

Recently I was inspired by Pastor John March and his post Animals: Another Other to Love (Or, Why I’m a Vegetarian) to read the book On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals.

Halfway through Chapter One I realized Pastor March is much smarter than me and that this book is far too academic for me.  However just in that short amount of reading I felt I had learned quite a bit.

Stephen Webb’s audience for this book is those that are interested in animal rights and those who study Christian theology.  These “two different audiences … ordinarily do not read the same books.”  I happen to be a Christian who is not too interested in theology but is becomingly interested in animal rights and how they affect my everyday decisions.

It is obvious that Mr. Webb’s love for animals originated with the special relationship he had with his pet dog as a boy.  The moving story of his elderly arthritic dog painfully climbing up two flights of stairs to comfort a sick boy caused me to reflect about whether we should get a family dog.  We have had three dogs and for various reasons gave them up which reflects on what poor dog owners we were.

Mr. Webb is a vegetarian which seems to be typical for people who care about animal rights.  The trend of vegetarianism seems to be growing, even within Christian circles.  This is a trend I can no longer ignore even if I do enjoy so much the taste of meat.

Mr. Webb’s book’s goal seems to be to explore the relationship between people and their pets and to expand that.  However I did not really get very far in that exploration but instead read the beginnings of understanding how God cares for not just humans but all of his creation.

The Genesis account of creation provocatively portrays a vegetarian world (“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”  Genesis 1:29) in which the humans exercise authority over the animals but do not use or kill them.  Indeed, land animals are made on the same day as humans, showing their similarity to humanity, but they are also made before humans and pronounced good independently of humans, showing that they too are created out of love…  The use of the phrase “all flesh” in Genesis joins together the human and the animal in a basic kinship of creatureliness under the shared providence of a merciful God (Genesis 6:12, 13, Genesis 9:11, 17).

Meat eating is later permitted but Mr. Webb argues it was far from the ideal.

In Deuteronomy 12:20 God seems to allow meat eating due to the uncontrollable cravings of the Israelites…  When Deuteronomy 8:7-10 describes the ideal land and diet for the Hebrews … meat is excluded (also see similar descriptions in Jeremiah 29:5; Amos 9:14; and Hosea 2:22).

I don’t think any of the above verses are particularly persuasive for arguing that vegetarianism is Biblical but no one could disagree that until after the flood God did not permit meat eating which seems to point to a vegetarian diet being at least Edenic.

Eating and animals are thus more than symbols; food becomes part of the daily struggle of obeying God.  The Book of Daniel … Daniels and his friends … ate only vegetables, and at “the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” Daniel 1:15.

Mr. Webb goes through the Bible pointing out various places where the rights of an animal and creation itself were to be considered.  The most interesting to me was Hosea 4:1-3 which pictures a time of immorality evidenced by the land mourning.  The “beast of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying.”  This sounds remarkably like current times.  Many of the other verses Mr. Webb highlights I think are not necessarily as much about animal rights as about being practical, for example including animals in the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10).

Interestingly Mr. Webb says Jesus was often described as “a lover of animals.”

… Jesus declares his Father’s love for the sparrows (Luke 12:6, Matthew 10:29), portrays God as a feeder of birds (Luke 12:24; Matthew 6:26), and compares himself to a hen gathering together her brood under her wings (Matthew 23:37) ….

However Mr. Webb would not say the same thing about Paul.

Most Christians follow Paul in showing little concern for the world of animals, although with Paul, too, the evidence is ambiguous…  Paul established the very influential idea for Christianity that vegetarianism must be a form of superstition and that Christian freedom must mean the complete secularization (and thus indifference) of food preparation and consumption (see, for examples from the Pauline tradition, 1 Timothy 4:4 and Colossians 2:16-17)…  Paul’s influence continues today, when many North Americans look at the mass production of animal flesh in factory fams as one of the chief signs of our country’s freedom, prosperity, and equality.

Mr. Webb concludes that the Bible is favorable to animal issues and compares it to how the Bible implicitly opposes slavery.

Clearly, it is possible to interpret the Bible (especially the Hebrew scriptures) favorably on the issue of animals but not without a struggle with the dominant theological tradition.  After all, animals are used, eaten, and traded in the Bible, and humans are clearly the main focus of the biblical narratives…  Gary Comstock has stated: “I have come to interpret the Bible’s views on the killing of animals in the way I interpret its views on the owning of slaves.  Even though each practice is implicitly, if not explicitly condoned, the practice is still shown to be wrong by the larger story of salvation in Jesus Christ…”  Jonah 4:11 is a most revealing scripture.  Here God reprimands the recalcitrant Jonah, saying, “Should I not be concerned about Ninevah,” a great city with thousands of people and “also many animals?”

Mr. Webb then talks about the Christian tradition and how some “equated gluttony and flesh eating.”  There were vegetarians like St. Benedict, James, the brother of Jesus (according to some traditions), John Wesley, etc.  But most of the time these Christians and their groups were considered on the fringe or even heretical.

At this point I stopped reading the book and picked up Dominion which was much easier to read.  I appreciate though what I learned from Mr. Webb within the first thirty-seven pages of his book.

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I have never been a fan of processed foods but in the wake of the peanut salmonella poisoning and the frozen pot pies salmonella poisoning and the frozen pizza e. coli outbreak I am now leery of them.

Though normally we buy organic processed foods I don’t believe that increases our protection from these pathogens.

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Meat and Global Warming

 | February 17, 2009 2:24 PM

packaged grass fed beefRecently I wrote about grass fed beef.  I ended up buying a split-quarter from Chileno Beef which is shown on the left all frozen and packaged.  The cost ended up being higher than I expected because the harvesting fee was higher and the amount of beef I ended up with was less.  The average cost per pound turned out to be $5.36 and that cost does not include driving three and a half hours in total to get the beef.  Below is the receipt from the butcher, Ibleto Meats, aka the Pasta King, whom we also bought some pesto from but were not too impressed.
grass fed beef receipt

The beef is good and it is nice to have a variety in the freezer.  But since the purchase I have read about how beef contributes to global warming, much more than pork and chicken.  And today I read that grass-fed beef is 50% worse in terms of amount of greenhouse gas emissions!

Tally the GHG emissions associated with all of those activities, Sonesson says, and you’ll find it’s the global-warming equivalent to spewing 19 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kg of beef served. Swine are more environmentally friendly. It only takes about 4.25 kg of CO2 to produce and fry each kg of pork. At the other end of the spectrum are veggies. The climate costs associated with growing, marketing, peeling and boiling up a kg of potatoes, by contrast, is just 280 grams, Sonesson reported.

Many environmentalists have argued that finishing up the fattening of beef cattle on corn is worse for the environment than cattle that are raised solely on pasture grass. Pelletier says his team’s analysis finds that at least from a climate perspective, the opposite is true. “We do see significant differences in the GHG intensities [of grass vs grain finishing]. It’s roughly on the order of 50 percent higher in grass-finished systems.”

Currently, although beef accounts for only about 30 percent of the world’s meat consumption, it contributes 78 percent of meat’s GHG emissions. Pork, at 38 percent of consumption, contributes only 14 percent of meat’s GHGs. Another 32 percent of the meat consumed worldwide comes from chicken, but getting these birds from farm to fork contributes only 8 percent of meat’s global carbon footprint.

AAAS: CLIMATE-FRIENDLY DINING … MEATS

Now what do we do?  Beef emits too many greenhouse gases so I could switch to grass fed pork or chicken but those are harder to find.  Fish isn’t an easy choice either as the follow up article shows.

The difference in the warming potential largely traces to what the finned populations have been fed, Tyedmers explains. Scottish farmers feed their salmon the highest proportion of fish meal — almost 70 percent, on average. Those fishy diets account for 85 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions associated producing Scottish salmon, his team calculated. Elsewhere, fish farming operations tend to substitute plant-based meals and oil or meat byproducts for a share of that fish meal.

Not surprisingly, the higher the proportion of plant sources in a farmed fish’s diet, the lower the climate impacts associated with its rearing.

Data from another assessment, this one in wild fish, showed that fuel use associated with harvesting gear could greatly impact GHG emissions associated with salmon.  Purse seining contributed 180 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to the carbon footprint associated with a ton of salmon, gillnetting about 380 kg, and trolling a whopping 1,700 kg. So, do you know how your fish was caught?

AAAS: CLIMATE-FRIENDLY FISH

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Make Your Own Crackers

 | February 6, 2009 5:27 PM

If I keep reading the Minimalist I am going to theoretically be making everything myself.  The Parmesan Cream Crackers in this article seem promising.

IF you think of crackers as little bits of pie crust, or fast-cooking bread, you quickly comprehend why they’re so easy to make. Which only makes it more befuddling that no one does, since packaged crackers are universally overpriced and often contain ingredients with which you’d never cook, starting with artificial ones and continuing with dough “conditioners” and preservatives.

The Minimalist – Crackers – Crisp, Tasty and Really Easy – NYTimes.com

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Ma-Po Tofu

 | 5:18 PM

A simple ma-po tofu dish?  Probably not as good as what Alan would cook but I would like to try it.  Would ground beef work?

Simmered Tofu With Ground Pork (Ma-Po Tofu)

Yield 4 servings
Time 20 minutes
Mark Bittman

Summary

This dish cooks in about 10 minutes; the preparation time is about the same. The total time is so short that if you’re planning to serve the dish with rice, the rice should be the first thing you start cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or other oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, green part only
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 1 pound soft or silken tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Minced cilantro for garnish, optional

Method

  1. Put oil in a deep 10-inch skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minute. Add pork, and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color.
  2. Add scallions and stir; add stock. Cook for a minute or so, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon if necessary to loosen any stuck bits of meat, then add tofu. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the soy sauce; taste, and add salt and red pepper flakes as necessary. Garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve.

Recipe of the Day: Simmered Tofu With Ground Pork (Ma-Po Tofu) – Bitten Blog – NYTimes.com

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This seems about as easy a weeknight recipe as there is and the kids might eat it!

Sautéed Ripe Plantains (Plátanos Maduros)

Yield 4 servings
Time 20 minutes
Mark Bittman

Summary

Plantains are sold individually, not in bunches, and they keep well. When they’re green, they can sit on your counter for two weeks. Sometimes the most difficult part of preparing plantains is waiting for them to ripen, slowly turning from green to green-yellow to banana yellow, right through to black.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 yellow-black or black plantains, peeled
  • Neutral oil, like grapeseed, corn or canola, as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Cut plantains into 1-inch pieces. Film bottom of a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat; a minute later, add plantains.
  2. 2. Cook, turning as necessary and adjusting heat so plantains brown slowly without burning, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with salt, pepper and lime juice.

Recipe of the Day: Sautéed Ripe Plantains Plátanos Maduros – Bitten Blog – NYTimes.com

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Fried Chicken Without Lots of Oil

 | January 27, 2009 11:00 AM

I love fried chicken but rarely cook it because of the amount of oil that is needed.  But apparently this fried chicken dish “tastes so good” and only uses 1/4″ or less of oil.

The recipe says to use tahini but you can substitute peanut butter.  However I wonder if that will not taste as good, definitely sounds like it would taste heavier.  There is supposed to be an Asian equivalent, sesame paste,  but I am not sure what that would be in Korean cooking.  Here is a simple recipe for tahini.

The amount of oil needed to get a really crisp crust on the chicken is minimal. But the flavor is terrific, as a quick glance at the ingredient lineup will tell you: onion, herbs and tahini.

The Minimalist – Fried Chicken That Reaps Superlatives – NYTimes.com.

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No Knead Bread

 | January 26, 2009 4:38 PM

The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work

I almost want to do this.  Making your own bread seems so healthy and even empowering.

Mr. Lahey’s method is striking on several levels. It requires no kneading. (Repeat: none.) It uses no special ingredients, equipment or techniques. It takes very little effort.

It accomplishes all of this by combining a number of unusual though not unheard of features. Most notable is that you’ll need about 24 hours to create a loaf; time does almost all the work. Mr. Lahey’s dough uses very little yeast, a quarter teaspoon (you almost never see a recipe with less than a teaspoon), and he compensates for this tiny amount by fermenting the dough very slowly. He mixes a very wet dough, about 42 percent water, which is at the extreme high end of the range that professional bakers use to create crisp crust and large, well-structured crumb, both of which are evident in this loaf.

The dough is so sticky that you couldn’t knead it if you wanted to. It is mixed in less than a minute, then sits in a covered bowl, undisturbed, for about 18 hours. It is then turned out onto a board for 15 minutes, quickly shaped (I mean in 30 seconds), and allowed to rise again, for a couple of hours. Then it’s baked. That’s it.

The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work – New York Times

Recipes:

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