Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Short Memories

Or is it that I'm just old and already know crap people are just rediscovering now? Prolly.

It started with the "pink slime" uproar. There's this "food product" that is basically taking the less palatable parts of the animal we've already butchered for the good parts, and process them with ammonium hydroxide to make it edible. Essentially, the "meat" used is connective tissue like ligaments and cartilage and such.

Apparently this is all of the sudden unacceptable, even though it's basically hot dog meat, or some other kind of processed sausage. I guess that once it's made into a nugget or burger patty, that's somehow deceptive and evil.

Then there's the ubiquitous 'bugs in my food' freakout every time some freshman journalist discovers that there are government standards for how much bug we allow in our processed food. A story as old as me. Or older, since I probably "re-discovered" these truths in the same way people are now.

Today I read an article from CBS News about how awful it is that Starbucks has crushed beetles in it. The same beetles that people were in a uproar over in the 90s when they found out that Snapple Watermelon has crushed cochineal beetles in it.

Credit: Frank Vincentz 

These bugs have been used for color since before this country was founded. The color was first recorded used by Mayans in the 15th century. Our first stamps used ink made with these bugs. Carmine rose, carmine and carmine lake, all from the carminic acid found in the beetle.
In fact, this is one of the tools forensic art historians use to determine if a painting is authentic or not. There aren't many paints still made with this color, as the process to get the color is slow and expensive. Alizarin Crimson came along and supplanted it. Forgeries often fail to take this into account and use modern pigments.
Wikipedia: "Cochineal is one of the few water-soluble colorants that resist degradation with time. It is one of the most light- and heat-stable and oxidation-resistant of all the natural organic colorants and is even more stable than many synthetic food colours. The water-soluble form is used in alcoholic drinks with calcium carmine; the insoluble form is used in a wide variety of products. Together with ammonium carmine, they can be found in meat, sausages, processed poultry products (meat products cannot be coloured in the United States unless they are labeled as such), surimi, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products and toppings, cookies, desserts, icings, pie fillings, jams, preserves, gelatin desserts, juice beverages, varieties of cheddar cheese and other dairy products, sauces, and sweets."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Banksy's Origamifitti

Banksy left another little morsel behind somewhere in the UK (I think).

Yet to be verified, but I thought it was pretty cool, either way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breakfast Muffins

Super easy, you can change it up to make lots of different muffins.
Full disclosure: I didn't come up with this, but I also don't remember where I saw it. I'm sure I altered it a bit as well. Oh well.

Blanch, or half-fry some bacon. One slice per egg you plan to make. Fry an extra slice or two all the way done if you plan on adding bacon bits to the eggs as I did.

I had mushrooms in the fridge so I sliced two up and fried the slices in the bacon grease while the last two slices were cooking. About 15-20 each side.

Using a couple of forks, drop the bacon in a cup of a muffin pan, pressing the bacon so it lines the cup as best you can. It helps in removal if the pan is non-stick, but the bacon grease dripping in the cup helps.

Crack an egg into each bacon lined cup.

Place one of the fried mushroom slices on top of the egg-cup.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, basil and crumbled bacon bits to the top of each egg-cup.

Cover each egg-cup with cheese. I had only American slices, which were fine, but a nice cheddar would have been great.

Sprinkle Parmesian cheese on each egg-cup.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350. The yellow should be just starting to cook at this point. Adjust times up or down depending on how you like your eggs.

If the eggs are cooked enough, they should come out of the muffin pan cups with a little coaxing. I slid a butter knife around the edges of each one and used a fork (or spoon) to finish the job. They then slid easily onto the plate, looking like little egg muffins.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fast Food

Not Mickey D's, just faster than normal.

Everytime I'm shopping I pass the frozen birds. I've always wanted to try a goose. There must be a reason people used to eat them on special occasions. I'm thinking they probably taste like turkey. The other day I passed the freezer case and they were having a sale on Cornish game hens. I think it was two for $5 or something like that.

I was thinking I could make a nice stew of them, like a hunter's stew or something. I keep getting flashes of the stew Sam was making in The Lord of the Rings, which always looked so tasty, and then it gets abandoned and no one gets to try it! So, I was planning to make something simple and basic along those lines. I bought the Cajun trinity; celery, onions and green peppers (well, I cheated, I get red peppers), and a leek, which I'd never cooked before either.

When it came down to it, I couldn't find any recipes for this sort of stew based on game bird. I was 'winging it' but I didn't want to fly blind. It was getting late, so I chose a basic roasting recipe that sounded decent and modified it.

I used 2 hens, but this can be adapted for more. It can also be used for regular chicken or even better, duck. I also used Lipton Soup mix to save time. You can use fresh onions and spices in its place. The one thing about this quick recipe that didn't come out as I'd hoped is the onions didn't rehydrate very well while roasting. I would like to try making the sauce early so the onions have a chance to reconstitute more.

Preheat oven to 425

2-4 game hens
Jar of seedless raspberry jam or preserves
1 Packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 tbsp Teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp Mirin or rice vinegar

Rinse and place the hens in a casserole
Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl
Spoon sauce over birds, making sure to coat them equally well

Place the dish in the oven and immediately turn it down to 350
Cook for 30-40 minutes, basting the hens in the sauce two or three times, especially near the end

I made them with mashed potatoes as the sauce makes excellent gravy.

According to The Joy of Cooking, Cornish Game Hens are actually just small chickens and the fear of gaminess or all dark meat is unfounded. It really was pretty much like a small chicken.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm Confused

I have previously reported (term used loosely) that Damien Hirst had died. With links to news stories that are still live, yet there are a number of articles out there right now reporting on upcoming events and shows Damien Hirst is either attending or the object of. The latter I can understand, but the former?



Friday, March 02, 2012

Three Ways To Tell When You've Been Bought By a Corporation

One: You repackage your product with hip colors and smiling, generic faces.
Two: You send out mailers with "personal stories" of people's "experiences" with your product.
Three: Rename your product "My-Something"

You old hacks know that Myspace has been officially dead for at least 5 years right?! You're the same hepcat cool kids still running the music industry, the same losers who pine for the return of the Rat Pack, who booked Tony Bennett to play the Grammies! The award show giving awards to music which is in almost every way the complete tonal and philosophical opposite to Bennett's music. The same people who think Madonna is still relevant and Lady Gaga is a brilliant artist.

Yeah, I know this is just radio, but I am certain if I looked further than I care to, ever, I'd find that they are now owned by one of the same companies that owns Lady Gaga or Madonna.