Sunday, April 29, 2007 

Melamine "Spiking" Widespread in China

This story only gets worse. It's time we demand that we know exactly what is in our food.

From
Goldy's....the person who blew the lid on Michael "You're doing a heck of a job Brownie" Brown's job qualifications for FEMA by being involved in Arabian Horse Shows.
Through the salvaging practice, melamine-tainted pet food has likely contaminated America’s livestock for as long as it has been killing and sickening America’s pets — as far back as August of 2006, or even earlier. And while it may seem alarmist to suggest without absolute proof that Americans have been eating melamine-tainted pork, chicken and farm-raised fish for the better part of a year, the FDA and USDA seem to be preparing to brace Americans for the worst. In an unusual, Saturday afternoon joint press release, the regulators tasked with protecting the safety of our nation’s food supply go to convoluted lengths to reassure the public that eating melamine-tainted pork is perfectly safe.

And it gets worse. Tomorrow the New York Times will report from China, detailing how nitrogen-rich melamine scrap, produced from coal, is routinely ground into powder and mixed into low-grade wheat, corn, soybean or other proteins to inflate the protein analysis of animal feed:

The melamine powder has been dubbed “fake protein” and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

“It just saves money,” says a manager at an animal feed factory here. “Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level.”

The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

Time to contact elected officials. Try asking your Congresscritters what two companies, other than Menu Foods, had contaminated wheat gluten. About 3 weeks ago, the FDA said that they knew of an additional two companies that they knew had contaminated gluten. However, the FDA wouldn't name the companies saying that they hoped the companies would "come forward on their own."

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Sometimes Deliciousness

comes in "human form"



Ahhh....Fox Mulder. What a "dish". So hot I'll need pot holders.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007 

Don't Eat the Fish

Citing concerns over the domoic acid poisoning that has already sickened hundreds of birds, state health regulators on Friday urged people not to eat certain types of seafood — including shellfish and sardines — caught by recreational fishermen off most of the Southern California coast. The warning also covers the organs of commercially sold lobster and crabs as well as those caught by recreational anglers.

...Tom Raftican, president of United Anglers of Southern California, was not surprised to learn of the quarantine. But he was concerned for the health of anyone consuming seafood containing the toxin.


"We see sea lions washed up on the beach from the domoic acid poisoning," he said. "It's hard to escape the consequences when you see large mammals like that in a state of such illness.

"We're also concerned for the health of our ocean," he added. "These are forage fish. They are key to the health of the whole ecosystem. If you take out an important piece of the food chain, it will affect the other parts." Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that can cause humans to get sick. Dogs, cats, birds and other household pets also are susceptible to such poisoning and should not eat the seafood either, officials warned.- Latte Times

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There are Revolutions and Revolutionaries

And neither need be violent or bloody. Sometimes, they are simply delicious and life affirming.

Take for instance,
Alice Waters, a woman who revolutionized "California Cuisine", Organic and American's relationship with food. NPR had a story on her yesterday on Morning Edition.
With her famed Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Alice Waters helped give rise to a new cuisine based on locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Waters and her biographer discuss what has made the Chez Panisse such an offbeat and memorable place to eat for more than three decades.

Looking back, Waters would say it all began for her with a bowl of cafe au lait. As a student on a sojourn to Paris during the 1960s, Waters had never sipped anything so good. Soon, trips to the French countryside introduced her to the power and pleasure of local foods: mussels just off the boat, freshly pressed virgin olive oil.

Waters came back to Berkeley transformed. She hatched a plan to convert a run-down old house into an elegant bistro.

And thus, Chez Panisse was born.
This little restaurant in an old house on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California, was the dream of Alice's life, and tonight, August 28, 1971, was its opening night. She had named the restaurant in honor of Honoré Panisse, the most generous and life-loving character in Marcel Pagnol's film trilogy Marius, Fanny, and César. Alice wanted Chez Panisse to be an easygoing, unaffected gathering place, like César's Bar de la Marine on the Old Port of Marseille, where friends could laugh, argue, flirt, and drink wine for hours on end. At Chez Panisse, they could also have something simple and delicious to eat. - Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution.
Take a listen. And, of course, she is dear to our hearts, not only for being a fiesty woman, but because she was a Santa Barbarian for awhile, having attended the University of California, Santa Barbara before she transferred to Berkeley.
Alice Waters didn't yet know Goines at this point, but he was precisely the kind of non–Ken doll she'd hoped to meet when, in January of 1964, she transferred— indeed, fled—up north from the University of California's Santa Barbara campus with three of her fellow disgruntled sisters at the Alpha Phi sorority. "The women we'd met in Santa Barbara were all lined up to get married when they were 22," says Eleanor Bertino, who roomed with Waters on both campuses and also had been her classmate for one year at Van Nuys High School, in Southern California. (Waters grew up in Chatham, New Jersey, but moved west with her family in 1961, her last year before college.) "We pledged the same sorority at Santa Barbara because it was the only way you could have a social life," says Bertino. "Very shortly, there were four of us who were like, Oh, my God—this is not for us. There had to be something more exciting and interesting than living in a sorority. Halfway through our sophomore year, we all transferred to Berkeley. None of us were politically involved, but we just liked the fact that there was activity going on up there. I mean, we were nice girls, not radical at all. I remember going to see an English teacher of mine before I left Santa Barbara, and she said, 'I'll send you brownies in jail.' I had no idea what she was talking about." - Vanity Fair

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Chocolate News...Not All Delicious

FDA received more than 225 comments on a petition to change the standard for chocolate products. The proposal would make it possible to call something chocolate even if it had vegetable oil instead of cacao fat, reported - Full Story

Meanwhile, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, which co-signed the petition along with several industry group,
emphasized that it "has not endorsed any particular changes to the standards of identity for chocolate products." - Full Story

The Hershey Company
and Barry Callebaut formed a strategic supply and innovation partnership,
a move both firms say will accelerate long-term growth in the global chocolate market . Under the agreement, Barry Callebaut will construct and operate a facility to provide chocolate for Hershey's new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Barry Callebaut will also lease a portion of Hershey's Robinson, IL, plant and operate chocolate-making equipment at the facility. The partnership includes a long-term global agreement under which Barry Callebaut will supply Hershey with a minimum of 80,000 metric tons per year of chocolate and chocolate products.- Full Story


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007 

Melt down

in Chocoland.
The Hershey Co., the nation's leading candymaker, said Monday that it will shut down a plant in Reading and cut 260 jobs as part of a wider move to cut labor and materials costs.

The closing is the company's second plant-closing announcement in a little over two months after Hershey said it would take dramatic steps to reduce its North American manufacturing and expand in faster-growing markets in the developing world.

It plans to build a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico, and shift more manufacturing to contractors in the United States, and has struck agreements with Indian and South Korean companies to make and distribute its products in Asia. - PennLive.com
Sounds like the Hershey Hometown folks are Bitter over their Chocolate.
When the company announced the job cuts in February, orange lawn signs popped up, saying "Save Mr. Hershey's Dream." On the road to the Giant Center arena, where the meeting was held Tuesday, Mike L. Cvetko held up signs that read: "World boycott of Hershey products" and "Is it need or is it greed?" - AP
But get right down to it, can we really trust imported foodstuffs with very minimal oversight and protection anymore? Sure the company can produce the candy bar cheaper, but does that cost cutting also include cutting safety regulations, health regulations, environmental regulations, inspections or quality control?

Guess I might be "Kissing Hershey" goodbye forever.

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Monday, April 23, 2007 

A Taste of Yellow

Kristin over at Dine and Dish alerts me to a terrific "food blogging event" put on by Winos and Foodies for a good cause. "A Taste of Yellow" to benefit LIVESTRONG.

LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16.

A Taste of Yellow has been approved by the Lance Armstrong Foundation as an official LIVESTRONG Day event . Winos and Foodies is organizing the event to raise awareness of cancer. However if you wish to make a donation you can do so by visiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation donation page.

Here's the blogging challenge: make a dish containing some type of yellow food. This can be anything you like as long it features a yellow food. Some ideas to get you started are lemon, banana, saffron, corn, eggs, cheese. On the 16th of May, to coincide with LIVESTRONG Day 2007, Winos and Foodies will post a roundup of all the entries. Please make and post your entries using any yellow colored food and send it in to them. (check for email here....)

Get out your kitchen gear...take out your extra change....let's get cooking for a cure!

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We're all just Guinea Pigs

to this Administration's FDA approach.
The same food safety net that couldn't catch poisoned pet food ingredients from China has a much bigger hole.

...When U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors at ports and border checkpoints look, they find shipments that are filthy or otherwise contaminated. they rarely bother, however, in part because ingredients aren't a priority.

Because these oils, spices, flours, gums and the like haven't been blamed for killing humans, safety checks before they reach the supermarket shelf are effectively the responsibility of U.S. buyers. As the pet deaths showed, however, that system is far from secure.

..But except in rare cases, companies don't have to prove that a shipment of ingredients is safe — no tests must show that it's pesticide-free, for example — and the FDA rarely checks whether overseas processing conditions are up to par. - AP

Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007 

Montecito Cafe Opening up in Uptown Downtown

George will be glad to know that the Montecito Cafe will be opening up a "branch" of their restaurant in the long empty space at 1311 State St, here Santa Barbara, where Gisella's used to be. Hopefully they'll keep the deliciously romantic ambiance.

I'm excited to tasting that coconut cake again, only this time closer to my neck of town.

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Happy Pale Blue Dot Day



Namaste!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007 

More Food Concerns

State health officials on Friday announced a recall in five states of frozen ground beef patties after at least three Napa County children who ate at Little League baseball snack shacks were sickened by E. coli.

The recall was issued for about 100,000 pounds of frozen patties produced by Merced-based Richwood Meat Co. Inc. from April to May 2006 and distributed in California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The children all fell ill after eating hamburgers at the St. Helena and Calistoga Little League fields, and have since recovered, said Karen Smith, Napa County's public health officer. Those cases were reported on April 3-4, she said. - SFGate

The Food and Drug Administration has opened a criminal investigation in the widening pet food contamination scandal, officials said yesterday, as it was confirmed that tainted pork might have made its way onto human dinner plates in California. - WaPo

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George says....

That The Hungry Cat (Santa Barbara) is opening up on Tuesday. Me..OW! About TIME! The suspense was "killing" me!

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Friday, April 20, 2007 

Get your hats and juleps ready

It's almost post time again at Churchill Downs...



Early Times Mint Julep

* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups water
* Sprigs of fresh mint
* Crushed ice
* Early Times Kentucky Whisky
* Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007 

What are YOU eating this Earth Day?

Get some ideas from "Earth Dinner Cards"...Embrace Earth Day with a Meaningful Meal

The EARTH DINNER cards are designed to spark stories and memories of the foods and people we love, and perhaps to inspire new thinking about the foods we choose everyday.

Each card is designed so that everyone in the group can participate. Incorporate the cards into the whole evening. Above all, try to make sure each person has an opportunity to both share and listen to each other's stories. If you don't get through all of the cards, save them for your next celebration, or use them weekly at your dinner table! There are no wrong answers. Everyone wins this game!

Click to download a sample of EARTH DINNER™ cards

Roz Cummons over at Grist experienced an evening with Earth Dinner Cards...and the third question they drew must have been a fun one to work with!
A third card quizzed us on the correct price for Kopi Luwak, the world's most expensive coffee. I aced this one. (One of the occupational hazards of being a food writer is that one's gray matter is completely used up by useless food knowledge.) I was surprised that the card didn't explain why the coffee is so expensive, but then I remembered the process behind this rare commodity. Let's just say it's not a topic for the dinner table.
Sounds like a recipe for a wonderful, human evening.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

Paper or Plastic?

Try neither. Bring your own. It's an idea whose time has come.
S.F. FIRST CITY TO BAN PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS

Paper or plastic? Not anymore in San Francisco.

The city's Board of Supervisors approved groundbreaking legislation Tuesday to outlaw plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets in about six months and large chain pharmacies in about a year. - SFGate

Last year, 1 Bag at a Time, an online eco-tote company in California, sold 100,000 reusable bags. Sales leaped to 250,000 totes in the first three months of this year -- a change its owner attributes in part to Al Gore's global-warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

...Change already has swept Australia, where public concern over the pileup of plastic bags -- and talk of a bag tax -- gave rise in 2003 to a reusable, polypropylene tote called the Green Bag. Though made with petroleum products, it's considered eco-friendly because each one eliminates dozens of throwaway bags.

Two years after the campaign took off, the Sydney Morning Herald said at least 10 million to 15 million of the bags were in circulation. They even had become a fashion icon, the paper reported -- though "they come, mostly, in the sort of bright, unnatural green that looks good on no one."

Australia's success has brought Green Bag look-alikes to the U.S. and inspired hope that consumer habits can change.

"I was in Australia last year," said Jackson, the Snohomish planner, "and I have to tell you it was just unbelievable being in Melbourne. Everyone has got their Green Bag. It's a citywide phenomenon. You don't see anyone using paper or plastic -- either one."

...Flimsy plastic shopping bags have been banned outright in some countries, including South Africa, Rwanda, Bangladesh and parts of India, where plastic-bag litter was blamed for drain blockages that contributed to fatal floods and landslides during monsoons.- Seattle PI

1 Bag at a Time
Bagit System
Reusable Bags (member of 1% for the Planet)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007 

My Visual DNA

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You gotta rate it "CUTE"

in fact...too much so to eat.

Pancake Art (Flickr Group)

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Share Our Strength...Sharing the Knowledge

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many businesses closed in the Gulf Coast, including those that provide food critical to those in need. The New Orleans Food and Farm Network recognized that in order for people to return to the city, they needed access to food, but finding food was an enormous challenge.

With a $15,000 grant from Share Our Strength, the New Orleans Food and Farm Network created the Neighborhood Food Access Map, a project that identifies where to find food from grocery stores, farmers’ markets, restaurants and emergency kitchens. The maps, posted in New Orleans neighborhoods and distributed to community organizations where residents can easily find them, have been such a huge success that an online mapping tool has been added to make it even easier for people to access the information.

Learn more about Share Our Strength’s ongoing efforts to support relief in the Gulf Coast.

An NPR story on the lack of SuperMarkets in the Big Easy.

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Monday, April 16, 2007 

Virtual Vines

Make your own wines...keep your day job.
David Dain Smith lives in Missouri, but his California winery is just a click away, waiting to spring to life in the dim glow of his computer screen.

Smith is making wine through Crushpad, a winery where the grapes are real but the experience is as virtual as members want it to be with e-mail updates, live chat and Web cams.

For Smith, a 49-year-old microbiologist working in pharmaceutical sales, the dream of making wine seemed like it would have to wait until retirement."Do you have $3 million sitting around? Well, I don't," Smith said.

He's now making
Dain wines, to some acclaim, while keeping his day job. At $5,000 to $10,000 to make the minimum one barrel a year, Crushpad costs more than stomping grapes in a garage. But it's far from the financial plunge of setting up a winery. - AP
And normal wine reviews leave you a little dry....want a little more poetry in describing your wine tasting?

Pink Blogspot Template
The Red Wine Haiku Review
Paints Purple Hued Prose

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Saturday, April 14, 2007 

CALLING ALL CHOCOHOLICS!

It's chocolate war! Let the battle to keep quality ingredients begin!
...Put down the truffles and power up the PC. It's time to weigh in on a fundamental question: What is chocolate?

Two of California's oldest confectioners, See's Candies Inc. and Guittard Chocolate Co., are battling an attempt to loosen government rules that dictate what ingredients go into the sweet stuff.

Legally, the candy that melts hearts and comforts the brokenhearted is made with cocoa butter and, in the case of milk chocolate, whole milk. But the Grocery Manufacturers of America, a trade group, wants to let confectioners substitute cheaper ingredients — vegetable oils and milk protein concentrates.

...Guittard and See's Chief Executive Brad Kinstler want America's chocoholics to complain loudly to the Food and Drug Administration before April 25, the day the agency will stop taking public comments on the issue. -
Latte Times
We should stand by the courage of our "confections".

Go to
DONTMESSWITHOURCHOCOLATE.COM and let's help fight the good, delicious fight.

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UnCork Your Calendars

The 25th Annual Vintners' Festival will be celebrated on April 20, 21, 22 and 23.
Selections of fine wines from local wineries. Local restaurants, catering companies and specialty food purveyors offer exquisite samples of their food. Live and lively music. Combine them all together and you get the ingredients for a great weekend adventure.
I myself am heading off to the Open "House" of one of my favorites for Pinot Noir, Au Bon Climat.

Roblar Winery & Cooking School is set to open up on April 28th. Sounds yummy to me...

Roblar Winery, Culinary School and Gourmet Market, Santa Ynez Valley’s highly anticipated new winery and visitor center, will officially open its doors to the public on Saturday April 28th, 2007. Located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, Roblar Winery & Vineyards will celebrate the grand opening with gourmet food pairings, chef demonstrations, live music and special offers on select wines and gifts.
and for the first 500 who sign up on their website, you can get a free charter membership which includes:
  • FREE pair of one-day VIP passes (access to private members' lounge and patio)

  • FREE subscription to Roblar's Food and Wine eMagazine

  • Invitation to Grand Opening Reception (April 2007)

  • Invitations to Special Barrel Tastings, BBQs and other Special Winery Events

  • Priority Notification and Reservations for Cooking Classes

  • Discount Certificates (includes discounts on gourmet food items, cooking classes, wine tasting and picnic lunches)

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Friday, April 13, 2007 

I've got Meme

That dear sweet "in my neck of the cyberwoods" George, who deftly helms "I'm Not One to Blog, But...", has tagged me. Big time! Thanks, George. All I can say is "revenge is a dish best served cold." bwhaaaa haaaa haaaaa.

FOODOLOGY

Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. Ranch Dressing. It was "created" here in the Hidden Valley area of Santa Barbara!

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. Don't really do fast food. However, I have been known to go into Chipotle.

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. Local? Hmmmm.....Wine Cask (for "Free Wine Fridays" lunch) or Louie's. The City? Farallon (can you say "Emily Luchetti deserts?".

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. 15-20%

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick off of?
A. Chocolate

Q. What is your favorite type of gum?
A. Non gingivitis?

TECHNOLOGY

Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. Oh, silly. You put wallpaper on the walls. What is this...a trick question?

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. 3

BIOLOGY

Q. What’s your best feature?
A. Eyes

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. All 3 wisdom teeth at once. Had to eat jello for a week.

Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. Humour (that is one of the options, isn't it?)

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. Many moons ago.

Q. What is the heaviest item you lifted last?
A. My milk crate full of cookbooks.

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. Yeah. I fell off a horse.

BULLSHITOLOGY

Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. Ah...no. I saw that episode of X-Files.

Q. Is love for real?
A. Yes. There are several forms of love and they are "for real", most just not "forever"

Q. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
A. Francesca.

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. Blue. People say I look good in red.

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. Yes...but you don't want to know what it was.

Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. No.

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. Yes.

DAREOLOGY

Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. Depends on which street and which public.

Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. Can I pick the recipient?

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. No. But I would gladly show the person offering me the money a certain "middle" finger.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. Ah...no.

Q. Would you pose nude in a magazine for $250,000?
A. Ah...no.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000?
A. Ah...no.

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. Ah...no. Who thought up these questions?

Q. Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
A. That I could do. (YouTube clips don't count, do they?)

Q. Give up MySpace forever for $30,000?
A. Never had MySpace to begin with...so...YEAH, baby.

DUMBOLOGY

Q: What is in your left pocket?
A. My hand.

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. Ah...no.

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A. Both. AND tile! :-)

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A. Depends on who is in there with me.

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A. I do. I live in Santa Barbara...land of $1.2Mil median priced houses. LOTS of us have roomies.

Q: How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
A. 1...but I'm oogling some cool ones over at L.L. Bean.

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A. One pulled me over to tell me that my tire was underinflated.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. I don't want to grow up...I'm a Toys 'R Us kid....

LASTOLOGY

Q: Friend you talked to?
A. The bus driver who told me his jazz show moved to Friday nights at 8:00.

Q: Last person you called?
A. The front desk at work to tell them I'm leaving.

RANDOMOLOGY

Q: First place you went this morning?
A. The bathroom.

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A. Send George a Meme.

Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A. Pan's Labyrinth.

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A. Generally yeah. Why the hell does someone want to know? Let me at'm.

FINI! Geez. Who can I curse now....hmmm....speaking of CURSE....that means only one dude. CARNACKI!
and fellow Santa Barbarian, Ellen, who I adore, over at The Broad View, needs some encouragement to do some more blogging, so I'll meme her, too!

*UPDATE* Carnacki has completed his meme. And, may I add, he's not afraid to shed some blood.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007 

Bake Sales to Save The Whales

April 28th and 29th national days of action

Last year alone, well over 1000 whales died for profit. although most of the world supports the protection of whales, a few countries are trying to open the seas to widespread commercial whaling. In may of this year, the International Whaling Commission will meet on u.s. soil, to discuss the fate of the whales. No government is better placed to help bring this unsustainable and inhumane industry to an end than the U.S., but we need your help to make it happen.

What a great way to spend a weekend.....bake sales to save the whales. Sign up here at Greenpeace to organize a bake sale, and recruit friends to help.

Find a bake sale near you and go do something yummy for the world. I'm looking to set up a bake sale here in Santa Barbara...just have to find the right yard to "set up shop"

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007 

Food Section Wednesday

I love the Wednesday edition of most papers. Generally it means...FOOD SECTIONS! Whoo Hooo!

The wonderful thing about these special sections is that it highlights the things that we all share in common....the need to eat (preferably something good.) North. East. West. South. We are all looking for "Good Eats." But some of the stories have a strong sense of place and the little things that set each community apart.

From the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, there's a story on what to have in your kitchen to get ready for storms and hurricanes.

With Tropical Storm Alberto ringing in this year's hurricane season, the answer to that question shouldn't be difficult to answer. But if you're like the thousands of Coastal Bend residents who have blown off stocking their shelves for a storm, now's the time to head to the grocery store, while Gulf waters are calm.

You're thinking tuna and bottled water, right?

That's a start. Non-perishables fly off shelves when the weather gets bad, so stocking up can mean the difference between eating from a can when electricity's out or having comfort food in the middle of chaos.

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul City Pages, there's a terrific story of an unusual foodie magnate. A Minnesota Marshmallow Magnate.
How does a woman with five kids make a few hundred thousand marshmallows? Very, very well. World, meet Laura Dhuyvetter, the only woman in the history of time to have five kids under the age of ten and launch a company that is inarguably one of the world's most important gourmet s'mores creators.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is lamenting the loss of many a specialty food/candy store in the City of Brotherly Love and rejoicing in finding a new one in the midst of the ruins.
It was a glorious age, if you were a candy watcher: "He did tremendous rabbits and chicks and shell eggs," recalls local candy wholesaler Jack Lees, admiring the work of Harold Schafer, now deceased.

It is a common refrain, more a lament, really, among Philadelphia's aging band of candymen. This season (even as Hershey decamps, in part, to Mexico), Harry Young, another stalwart of Easter, is gone: His iconic shop on Girard Avenue closed after his death last year.

But a happy reversal of fortune is playing out beneath the massive rafters and overhead flywheels that spun the belts to mix the buttercream at the Schafer's plant: Michael and Julie Holahan have opened a candy store.

From the Lansing State Journal, there's a little story on something sweet that has caught Martha's eye.

Imagine a wedding dress made entirely of icing. Michele Hester did - complete with elaborate lace bustier and sleeves, flouncy skirt and a huge bow that looks like satin.

It's all made of sugar and eggs, a concoction she calls SugarVeil that's more commonly used for elaborate cakes and other edibles.

....And after years of cold calls to chief executive officers and hours on her feet at trade shows selling her inventions, a remarkable thing happened. Martha Stewart came by.

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Monday, April 09, 2007 

Curtis Stone - Honorary Chef, Dine Out LA 2007

Dine Out Los Angeles is a one-day fundraising event, where Los Angeles area restaurants donate 20% or more of their day's proceeds to Aid For AIDS to help prevent homelessness and hunger for individuals and families impoverished and disabled by HIV/AIDS.

So on Thursday April 19th, 2007, for breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurants from West Hollywood to Silverlake to Hollywood to Long Beach to Pasadena to West Los Angeles to Beverly Hills to the Valley and more will be donating monies from meals purchased that day. One day. One meal (or more). It is so simple and delicious!

Great food. Great cause.

And remember....dress up. You just never know who you'll run into at the market...or restaurant.

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Canned?....Goods!

So sayeth Nancy Silverton....bread making goddess!
Nancy Silverton is rebelling a little later in life than most. At 52, the Los Angeles chef, who translated her training at Lenôtre into a widely respected career as a pastry chef, cook and business owner, has really gotten into prepared foods. “I’d forgotten how good V8 juice tastes!” said Silverton, who spent a year combing the aisles of supermarkets and specialty stores in search of kitchen catalysts for her seventh cookbook, “A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals With Ingredients From Jars, Cans, Bags and Boxes” (Knopf). “I’m waiting to get the phone call from Alice ... ,” she said of her mentor, the world-renowned food purist Alice Waters. - NYTimes

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Cooking Classes in Paradise

Montecito Country Kitchen - Ecole de Cuisine, founded in 1999, is located in beautiful Santa Barbara. The classes they offer feature a two-hour demonstration of a three or four course meal, with some student participation followed by a dinner and wine tasting of the meal prepared. The menus reflect each seasons harvest drawn from the local farmer's markets. The classes focus on creating an entire meal and to share the very special experience of gathering friends and family around the dinner table.

Montecito Country Kitchen is very pleased to announce a new series of cooking classes focusing on the flavors of the Mediterranean beginning on April 30th and running through June 4th.

The series will take place at the charming 200 year old Masini Adobe in Montecito, California. The series includes a regional specialty class on the food, cheese and wine of Burgundy, taught in conjunction with Master Fromagier Tony Princiotta, from The Cheese Store in Beverly Hills. The last class in the series will celebrate the school's 200th class.

More information about the classes and the school can be found on its website at
www.montecitocountrykitchen.com

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Sunday, April 08, 2007 

The Phrase to strike fear into a Foodies Soul

"Peepified" macaroni.

John Moe, senior reporter and occasional host of American Public Media's "Weekend America," wondered if there was more to Peeps than simply devouring them out of the box. So he channeled the creative juices of chef Jason Wilson, who owns Crush restaurant in Seattle, toward concocting an Easter feast fit for Peeps.

"He took to the assignment with gusto and with a blowtorch," said Moe, whose Peeps show will air today on "Weekend America."

On the menu were Peep fondue, green "eggs" and ham, Peep-crusted foie gras, Peep macaroni and cheese, and Peep-otatoes. - Seattle PI

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Happy Hana Matsuri (Happy Buddha Day)

According to legend, Prince Gautama (known to us as the Enlightened One or Buddha) was born on April 8th around 446 BC. The story goes that when he was born the earth shook as sweet nectar and flowers fell from the heavens. Soon after his birth he is said to have pointed to the heavens with his right forefinger, to the earth with his left, and proclaimed; “I am my own lord throughout Heaven and Earth!” This day has since been celebrated as Hana Matsuri, the “Flower Festival.”

Images of the naked infant Buddha, proclaiming the essence of the Buddhist doctrine and pointing skyward, can be seen all over Japan every year on his birthday and posters of the precocious Buddha-child are always pasted-up in every neighborhood weeks earlier, calling the people to come to their local temple for celebrations on April 8th. On that day small statues of infant Buddha, some of them ornate and quite old, are placed in the center of a tray filled with sweet tea in miniature shrines, looking like small Buddhist temples covered in various flowers are called, accurately enough, hana mido or “flower temples.” These flower decked shrines are said to represent the garden of Lumbini in Nepal where the Buddha was born. In earlier times twelve flowers were specifically used to decorate them, each representing a different month of the year.

The sweet tea that surrounds the statue and which sits in a pot next to it is called amacha. This liquid, supposedly the same nectar which fell so long ago from heaven, is brewed from the leaves of the hydrangea bush which grows in the mountains. It is interesting to note that before sugar was introduced into Japan, amacha was boiled down into a thick syrup and used as a sugar substitute.

Bob May has some exquisite photos of Japan and more.

Namaste.

and now...your moment of zen.


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Saturday, April 07, 2007 

Yamashiro and Magic Castle up for sale?

Just say OH...NO.
A famous piece of Hollywood is up for sale. The owners of the Magic Castle and the Japanese mansion that houses the Yamashiro restaurant are looking for someone interested in acquiring the landmarks and the surrounding 10-acre hilltop property. - sfgate
more at CRBE and Curbed LA
For 88 years Yamashiro has watched over the history of Hollywood. It has witnessed the birth of the film industry, the glamour of Hollywood’s “Golden Age”, the difficult times of war with Japan, and the current period of intense interest in Eastern cultures. Yamashiro started as a fabulous private estate and is now open to the public as a unique restaurant and public gardens.

Landscaping at Yamashiro was a $2 million effort and resulted in California’s foremost Japanese gardens. Hillside terraces were filled with 30,000 varieties of trees and shrubs, waterfalls, hundreds of goldfish, and even a private zoo of exotic birds and monkeys. Miniature bronze houseboats floated along a maze of tiny canals through a miniature Japanese village.- Yamashiro History
Eater LA says that Yamashiro isn't going anywhere...for now. Let's hope that Yamashiro will continue to watch over Hollywood's History. I have some reservations over it's survival....but please make some of your own.

My Flickr photos of a brunch day up at Yamashiro.

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Organic Coffee...a thing of the Past?

Just could be...thanks to the USDA.

Due a recent decision over at the USDA's National Organic Program, organic coffee, in the U.S. at least, may be a thing of the past.

...The USDA decision, which affects the way small farmer cooperatives in the Third World are certified, will also dry up supplies of organic cocoa and curtail bananas. So eat your organic Dagoba bars now while they're still available. - Grist

....Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly released a ruling that alarmed organic certifiers and groups who work with third-world farmers. The decision tightens organic certification requirements to such a degree that it could sharply curtail the ability of small grower co-ops to produce organic coffee -- not to mention organic bananas, cocoa, sugar and even spices.

Kimberly Easson, director of strategic relationships for TransFair USA, the fair trade certification group, puts it bluntly: "This ruling could wipe out the organic coffee market in the U.S." - Salon.com

I agree with the Royal Coffee News blog - Please take a moment and write the SCAA, the Organic Consumers Association and your elected representatives. Whether or not you buy organic coffee, this action is potentially disastrous for coffee growing farmers and friends around the world.

Thank you to Samuel Fromartz at Chews Wise for alerting us to this issue.

I just LOVE my Caffe Appassionato Organic Coffees.
Our organic coffees meet the highest levels of the Smithsonian Institute’s standards for Shade Coffee Growers and are Certified Organic by OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association International). We hope you will join us in supporting organic and shade coffee farmers who grow without chemicals and help to protect migratory birds by keeping shade trees intact

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Thursday, April 05, 2007 

It's Easter on Sunday

Means it's Peep Season.

Peeps-tastic! (Flickr)

Peeps Haiku

Lord of the Peeps

"Where to Peeps Come From?" (Salon article)

Peeps Show!

And...did you know....
  • In 1953, it took 27 hours to create one Marshmallow Peep. Today, it takes six minutes.
  • The first Peeps were squeezed one at a time out of a pastry tube and the eyes were painted on by hand. Now, machines create 3,500 Peeps' eyes per minute.
  • Just Born's Bethlehem, Pa., factory makes more than 1 billion Peeps a year -- that's 4 million Peeps a day.
For MORE fun facts...click HERE.

And...I know it is sacreligious....but...for homemade peeps....

HOMEMADE PEEPS from Whatscookingamerica.com

Vegetable oil, for the pan
Powdered sugar
2/3 cup cold water, divided
2 envelopes (2 tablespoons ) unflavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Colored sugar for decorating
Tiny amount of melted chocolate for decorating
Chick-shaped cookie cutter

Line the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with plastic wrap; oil and then generously dust bottom and sides with some powdered sugar.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, place 1/3 cup cold water; sprinkle the gelatin over the surface.

In a heavy saucepan with a tight fitting lid, add sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup water; stir to dissolve sugar. Cover the pan and place over moderately low heat. Remove the cover after 4 to 5 minutes. The steam will have caused any sugar crystals to dissolve and the syrup will be bubbling lightly. Increase the heat to high, insert a candy thermometer, and boil the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 2240 degrees F. Immediately remove from the heat.

Fit your electric mixer with the whisk attachment. slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the gelatin while the mixer is beating constantly at medium speed. When all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and whip for approximately 10 minutes until the mixture is lukewarm very white, and the consistency of marshmallow cream. Add the vanilla extract toward the end of mixing.

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan; smooth the top and sprinkle liberally with colored sugar of your choice. Let the pan stand, uncovered, at room temperature to dry. out. NOTE: Depending on the humidity, this may happen in several hours or take up to 8 hours. Generally speaking the longer you let it set up, the easier the marshmallow sheet will be to cut.

When ready to cut, invert the pan of marshmallow onto a clean cutting surface; remove the plastic wrap and coat the top with colored sugar (it should adhere easily).

Use cookie cutters to stamp out your peeps (or bunnies) and toss them in a bowl of sugar to coat the edges. If you find your cookie cutter getting sticky, was it and lightly coat with vegetable oil. With a toothpick apply a dot of chocolate to form an eye.

Store the marshmallow peeps in an airtight container.

Makes about 80 marshmallows.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007 

Another Serious Food Matter

That the world should keep abreast of and look for solutions to. Ug99.
An infection is coming, and almost no one has heard about it. This infection isn't going to give you flu, or TB. In fact, it isn't interested in you at all. It is after the wheat plants that feed more people than any other single food source on the planet. And because of cutbacks in international research, we aren't prepared. The famines that were banished by the advent of disease-resistant crops in the Green Revolution of the 1960s could return, Borlaug told New Scientist.

The disease is Ug99, a virulent strain of black stem rust fungus (Puccinia graminis), discovered in Uganda in 1999. Since the Green Revolution, farmers everywhere have grown wheat varieties that resist stem rust, but Ug99 has evolved to take advantage of those varieties, and almost no wheat crops anywhere are resistant to it.

The strain has spread slowly across east Africa, but in January this year spores blew across to Yemen, and north into Sudan. Scientists who have tracked similar airborne spores in this part of the world say it will now blow into Egypt, Turkey and the Middle East, and on to India, lands where a billion people depend on wheat. - New Scientist

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007 

Very concerning

Time to take into serious consideration our food supply and the need for regulations and inspections.

Del Monte Foods has confirmed that the melamine-tainted wheat gluten used in several of its recalled pet food products was supplied as a "food grade" additive, raising the likelihood that contaminated wheat gluten might have entered the human food supply.

"Yes, it is food grade," Del Monte spokesperson Melissa Murphy-Brown wrote in reply to an e-mail query.

...Wheat gluten is sold in both "food grade" and "feed grade" varieties. Either may be used in pet food, but only "food grade" gluten may be used in the manufacture of products meant for human consumption. Published reports have thus far focused on tainted pet food, but if the gluten in question entered the human food supply through a major food products supplier and processor, it could potentially contaminate thousands of products and hundreds of millions of units nationwide. - Huffington Post and Goldy's
More at the Daily Kos.

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Monday, April 02, 2007 

Up and Down the Pacific Coast

it's "people watching time."

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'Za can Save the World!

Pizza Fusion that is!
.....it’s not a pizza with Asian ingredients piled on top. It’s a natural and organic pizza franchise giving back to the environment with eco-friendly operations. The menu includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, desserts, beer and wine—all made with fresh, all-natural and organic ingredients. But the house specialty is organic, gourmet pizza made with high-quality toppings and a variety of crusts, such as gluten-free, or multi-grain. Vegans aren’t forgotten with the Very Vegan Pizza Pie and those with lactose intolerance can order to their hearts’ content with the Follow Your Heart Soy Mozzarella option.

Every detail of the operation is positive for the earth: Each franchise uses eco-friendly cleaners to sanitize their stores; provides eco-apparel, such as organic cotton uniforms to their employees; uses recycled products whenever possible and recycles all of the wastes; and uses company-owned hybrids as delivery vehicles. Even the company’s website is hosted by a ‘Green Web Hosting’ service provider that uses renewable energy wind power to offset the energy usage of its servers. Pizza Fusion began franchising in early January and already has a number of stores opening across Florida with plans to compete nationally in the pizza and organic markets. - SpecialtyFood.com

stop by their website....say "thanks" and maybe order up a "pie to go".

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More Tasty Ingredients

to add to my blogroll. (I'm afraid it's becoming more of a blog-drool)
I'll do some housekeeping this weekend. I've been housesitting for a friend, who, well....isn't internet friendly. (Nor kitchen ware, may I add...)

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Sunday, April 01, 2007 

Synsepalum dulcificum

It's the newest "hot" food. Really.
At a party here one recent Friday, Jacob Grier stood on a chair, pulled out a plastic bag full of small berries, and invited everyone to eat one apiece. "Make sure it coats your tongue," he said.

Mr. Grier's guests were about to go under the influence of miracle fruit, a slightly tart West African berry with a strange property: For about an hour after you eat it, everything sour tastes sweet.

Within minutes of consuming the berries, guests were devouring lime wedges as if they were candy. Straight lemon juice went down like lemonade, and goat cheese tasted as if it was "covered in powdered sugar," said one astonished partygoer. A rich stout beer seemed "like a milkshake," said another. - Truth About Trade & Technology
EatFoo(d) has more about this strange little berry dubbed "the Miracle Fruit".

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After 6 Months...

Poor little Ellen Degeneres tires of our little community. I'd have to sell alot of cookies to afford $24 million for her house. (Gee...The Santa Barbara Olive Ranch is listed at only $13.5 million.)

But...with a kitchen like this...I'm sure I could enjoy baking up a storm!
A mahogany topped island takes center stage in this dream kitchen. Even with its top-of-the-line modern amenities, this room blends seamlessly with the period of the home. On one end of the Kitchen, a large picture window provides visual access to the impressive 5,000 bottle Wine Room (32’ x 8’). On the other end is a Breakfast Nook that adds to the room’s period charm. Large windows and double French doors bring in an abundance of light and views of the kitchen terrace which provides yet another venue for informal dining.
Thanks Luxist for reminding me I'm only in the "hired help" cast here in town.

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MY INGREDIENTS

  • I'm Cookie Jill
  • From Santa Barbara, California, United States
Recipe of Me

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