Thursday, March 29, 2007 

Not Looking Good

California provides a good portion of food to the rest of the States, let alone the World. Growing that produce requires water. Water that might not be there.

The snow pack, an essential part of California's water supply, is far below normal, ranging from 55 percent of the average in the north to 40 percent in the south.

Authorities say there is enough water in California's reservoirs to assure normal deliveries to cities and farms this summer. But the scant expected runoff also means that reservoirs will be abnormally low in the fall, and another dry winter could spell dire water shortages throughout the state.

"If things are about the same next year, we could be looking at tight times," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the state Department of Water Resources' Snow Survey.

The lack of water could also mean an early start to fire season this year. - SFGate

We as a society MUST come to accept that just because there is a tap to turn, does not mean there is water available to come out of it. Just because you want a lawn in a desert area doesn't mean that you should be able to have one if it ultimately endangers the community or society as a whole.

Santa Barbara has experienced some serious drought years. I remember when there were pebbles coming out of the faucet along with the yellowish water. Folks were getting arrested for watering their lawns and stealing their neighbors water. Spray paint was used to "touch up the green" of the lawns.

We've also had our shares of fires that generally take out 200-400 houses in a single session.

This news does not bode well.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007 

Santa Barbara's "Manatee Merlot"

I heard this "through the grapevine"

Oreana Wine Company, based in Santa Barbara, California, and Save the Manatee Club have joined forces in a new effort to raise awareness about manatees, a federally endangered species, with the wine “Manatee Merlot.” Although more than a few miles separate these two states, and you won’t find a single wild manatee in California, the connection here is about caring for a species in need.

The winery is offering “Manatee Merlot” as a limited-edition collectible, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle donated to Save the Manatee Club, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. Down the road, the winery plans to also offer “Manatee Chardonnay.” Manatee Merlot is presently debuting in Costco stores in Florida, with the potential of expanding future distribution to other states. The merlot is now available at select retail stores and restaurants. - Save the Manatee Club
Get your bottle here.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007 

The power of "The Blogs"

An interesting article I saw the other day in the San Francisco Chronicle, and also forwarded to me by "Sara" at Blogabarbara.

If you think restaurant critics from mainstream newspapers, television and magazines are tough on the food industry, you haven't spent much time in cyberspace. Online message boards, gossip columns, city restaurant guides and food blogs are proliferating and having a profound influence on where consumers spend their eating dollars. The once-genteel discipline of restaurant reviewing has turned into a free-for-all, celebrated by some as a new-world democracy but seen by others as populist tyranny.

Many restaurateurs say these amateur critics don't even give them time to press the wrinkles out of their table linens before posting negative write-ups. They long for the days when they had to contend only with mainstream critics, who generally wait at least 30 days before reviewing a restaurant so chefs and staff could work out the glitches.

But, bloggers believe they are doing a public service. Eating out is costly, they say, so why shouldn't buyers be forewarned before plunking down good money?

..."There's a depth of obsessiveness in these blogs that's making them fun to read, and they can have instant impact on a restaurant," said David Kamp, author of "United States of Arugula," a book about the evolution of the American food culture.

To change with the times, restaurateurs are doing what any smart businessperson does -- listening to their critics. They're also wining and dining powerful Internet food writers. - SFGate

I don't walk into a place and say "I'm a blogger. Cater to me" as I have seen some folks do. I'll leave that to them, although I will post some personal experiences that might not sit well with the owner of a place. I'm not a "completely fanatic foodie"...I enjoy that basics without the "airs." But, I'm more interested in the news behind the food industry...and sharing some recipes that I stumble upon. Hopefully that makes for good ingredients of a "tasty" blog experience.

Forget the "foaming at the mouth" reviews...I want "foamy in the cup" delish.

Velvety Foamy Chocolate in a Cup

Serves 4

Nancy Coupal of the Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto, Beverly Hills and Caracas, Venezuela says you can use nonfat milk in place of whole milk.


2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/4 cup bottled water

3 tablespoons fine cocoa powder (Valrhona or Scharffen Berger)

3 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Guittard, Lindt)


Instructions: Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan and heat slowly. Blend the cornstarch into the water and then whisk into the milk. Continue whisking. When the mixture is hot, add the cocoa powder and chocolate. Whisk until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and blend for 1 to 2 minutes with an immersion blender. Tilt the saucepan and keep blending until liquid really foams up and thickens.

If you do not have an immersion blender, use a regular blender but lift lid about 1/4 inch in a corner and cover with a towel.

Using a large serving spoon, spoon the chocolate into cups carefully so you do not lose the foam. The flavor improves if you make the chocolate the day before serving.

Store in refrigerator and heat before serving and re-froth. Serve with churros, cinnamon toast, or buttered sourdough toasted so it is dark around the edges.

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Monday, March 26, 2007 

Classic AND Kosher

I, myself, prefer soda sweetened with real sugar to the corn syrup. Guess I'm going to have to hunt down a bottle or two. I had no idea that Coca Cola has been doing doing this for more than 20 years.
Fans of a throwback Coca-Cola recipe can thank Jewish dietary laws for the drink’s reappearance on supermarket shelves.

Kosher Coca-Cola - which is sweetened with sugar rather than corn syrup - is selling briskly at local grocery chains as Passover approaches.

The Atlanta-based soft drink company replaced sugar with corn syrup in 1985, and some fans say Coke hasn’t tasted the same since.

‘‘One can only imagine the nostalgia of having the product in its original formula,’’ said Harriet Tolve, spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Elmsford, N.Y. ‘‘Sugar is the most classic taste.’’

The bottler manufactures about 200,000 cases of Kosher Coke each March, including 20,000 cases that are shipped to grocers in Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Tolve said.

..Under Jewish dietary laws, consumption of corn syrup is forbidden during Passover, which begins on April 2 this year and ends on April 10.

Dietary laws prohibit consumption of food containing wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt grains if they come in contact with moisture for more than 18 minutes. The prohibition has since expanded to grain-like products including corn, said Rabbi Loel Weiss at Temple Beth Am in Randolph. - Patriot Ledger

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Friday, March 23, 2007 

They found Rat Poison in Pet Food

What they might find in food for human consumption, we may never know.
The government has new rules for preventing food poisoning in fresh-cut produce, but companies don’t have to follow them. - AGWeekly Online
Five years ago, farmers warned against transferring Agriculture Department employees into the vast new department. Congress went ahead anyway. Now plans to shift about 1,800 unarmed but pest-wise inspectors back into the Agriculture Department are blooming like mad. - FresnoBee

Federal health officials used a flawed analysis when they gave preliminary approval to food from cloned animals, a consumer group charged Wednesday.

In its report, the Center for Food Safety said the conclusions the Food and Drug Administration drew late last year were based on "scant data from few peer-reviewed studies" and failed to consider possible side effects of cloning. - Time

Next time you buy produce that is out of season where you live, but in season in South or Central America, please keep in mind that many pesticides that are banned in the U.S. for cancer causing or toxicity are routinely used in other countries. The Government is trying to ban labels letting people know where the food they buy comes from. I think it is important now, more than ever.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007 

He's not one to blog...but...

George is going to be a TV star!

Dinner Impossible. Catch it on the Food Network tonight!
A Hollywood Ambush: Premier Impossible
Robert thinks he is being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on his radio show, but he's really getting ambushed with his next challenge. Robert learns he'll have just eight hours to prepare food at a premier party for 350 guests at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Will he receive rave reviews or will this be Dinner Impossible?

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Saturday, March 17, 2007 

Mark March 22 on your Calendar

It's World Water Day.

In 1992, the UN General Assembly designated March 22 as "World Water Day" to draw international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide. Read More

As World Water Day 2007 approaches, many cities across the United States have passed resolutions acknowledging March 22 as World Water Day. Read More

Despite the apparent abundance of clean water in the US and most of the developed world, more than 1 billion people around the world lack clean, safe drinking water and more than 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation services. Read More


Thursday, March 15, 2007 

Trends...Not Just for Fashion Anymore

It's hit the food industry. And, what are the trendy foods this year, you ask?

Specialty Food thinks they are:

Cherries, the American Superfruit
Scientific research shows that tart cherries have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits. In fact, cherries are as equally nutritious as blueberries and cranberries.

My favorite cherries are Montmorency cherries from Door County, WI.

Reindeer Cheese
Juustoleipa, a specialty of Finland and Lapland, is commonly made from reindeer’s milk. After the curds are drained and pressed into a flat, wooden platter with a rim, the outer layer is toasted in front of a fire. Once is ripens for a few days, it comes out looking like bread, which is why it is called “cheese bread. This cheese is unusual in that it is baked during the cheesemaking process. The heat from baking caramelizes the sugars on the outside of the cheese to form a tasty crust similar to brown bread.
Chili Pepper: Color of the Year
Chili peppers aren’t just hot in the food industry—they’re also the inspiration for the Color of the Year for 2007. Pantone, Inc., the global authority on color, has selected PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper, a deep, spicy red, as the color of the year. Eye-catching, sophisticated and enticing, Chili Pepper connotes an outgoing, confident, design-savvy attitude, according to Pantone.
Pastries with a Buzz
Buzzed Bagels™ and Buzz Donuts™ were created by Dr. Robert Bohannon, a scientist from North Carolina, who developed a method to mask the normal bitterness of caffeine so that it can be used in food and pastry products. Working with flavoring experts, Bohannon figured out how to add the caffeine equivalent of one to two cups of coffee to some food items.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007 

What do PVC pipe and Hazelnuts have in common?

Chef Jean Pierre will show you...

If you're in the Fort Lauderdale area, you can go to one of his classes in person!



A True Cookie Monster

Emphasis on the MONSTER. Definately not the cute, cuddly blue one we know and love.
If you think you’ve gotten used to news about crime -- brace yourself for the latest. This time, police tell us, a guy stole Girl Scout cookies from a 7-year-old girl trying to sell them.

...“Girls are selling Girl Scout cookies outside their house on the little table and he said he wanted to buy some cookies and she gave him a box of Tagalongs, and he grabbed them and said, ‘Catch me if you can’ and took off,” said Lt. Steve Rose with the Sandy Springs Police Department. -
someone tries to make off with my girl scout cookies, I'd go to town in trying to earn my self defense badge right quick.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 

More Tasty Ingredients

for my blogroll....

Say "Hello" and join in the coversation at
Conversations are meant to be shared. Through I will share with you what I've learned during many years of writing about food, traveling to far places and exploring my own city. And I invite you to share with me your own favorite places to eat and perhaps a recipe or two.

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Monday, March 12, 2007 

Corkscrewed...The Wrath of Grapes

Yet another wine based Reality TV show filmed up in Paso Robles? No wonder Sunset highlighted Paso in this months issue as "The Next Great Wine Country." And who knew that this reality show highlighted the idle Idol producers.
American Idol executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick decide to buy a Vineyard, (with a little help from some of their famous friends, including Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest). And after a trip to Paso Robles and a tour of several properties, they find the perfect one. But when their friends/co-financiers suddenly get cold feet, they are left with one big dilemma? Do they risk millions and go it alone? Or will this be the end of their Vineyard dreams? - Fox Reality Shows
Looks like the show won't be going on to Hollywood. Apparently, to many, it's a bad vintage and a bit refirmented.
The episode trots out the American Idol judge Simon Cowell, who, of course, knew all along that the vineyard was a bad idea. "All I saw was disaster," Cowell announces with his usual assurance. So he withdrew his offer to invest $1 million.

...What Corkscrewed proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is that talent shows and true reality shows are very different animals. Lythgoe and Warwick are masters at only one of those forms. -
"The best use of bad wine is to drive away poor relations." -- French proverbs (or apparently investors and viewers....)

Check the showtimes or buy the season if you're brave enough.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007 

Colony Collapse Disorder...BeeFuddling

"If we don't figure this out real quick, it's going to wipe out our food supply." - BBC

The honeybee is important nationally, performing 90 percent of the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and seed crops. Honeybees also are responsible nationwide for the production of some 20 million pounds of honey.

Did you know...the Honeybee is Georgia's "official State Insect."

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More Tasty Ingredients

to add to the blogroll

Say hello to The Porcini Chronicles!

Actually, you would probably have to say "Buon Giorno!" as Susan blogs from Milan, Italy!

Come stai oggi?



PBS Wine Reality Show filmed "locally"

OK...just up the 101 a wee bit in Paso Robles....but it's still considered "local." Look for The Wine Makers coming to a PBS station near you!

The six-part series..(which began preproduction in December)....will feature five contestants, all with a strong interest in wine, competing for a chance to launch their own wine label, Whelan said. Contestants will test their mettle in every aspect of the wine industry, from viticulture to enology to sales and marketing.

Or, as the press release puts it, "In each half-hour episode, the five candidates must endure backbreaking work, long hours and the joys and heartaches of making the world's most storied beverage."

The series will likely include scenes shot in the Central Coast's most popular wine regions: Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, which was made famous by the success of the 2004 film Sideways. - Wine Spectator

And from the same production folks.....TED ALLEN is back....and UNCORKED!

Continuing his efforts to educate the American people about all things food and wine, Ted Allen (food and wine specialist on the Emmy Award-winning NBC/Bravo hit "Queer Eye,") hosts UNCORKED: Wine Made Simple, airing on PBS stations across the nation starting April 2007. UNCORKED takes viewers into the heart of the vineyard and the mind of the winemaker. The 6-part series blends useful information, humor, inviting personalities, and exquisite photography as it travels around the world to explore the most storied beverage on earth.
I'll toast to these shows! Salud!

Stop by and pull up a glass at some of the Paso Robles wine blogs, too.

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Subliminal ads on the Food Network?

I'm not "lovin' it"

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 

Chocolat comes to Santa Barbara

Remember that cute little chocolate shop in the movie Chocolat? Well...seems it inspired a new shop here in Santa Barbara....Chocolate Maya...chocolate of the world.

But, unlike the shop in the movie, this one didn't have that warm, welcoming feeling. It lacked the magic of warmth amongst humans of all walks of life. Yeah, the interior colors were chocolatey enough...and there were chocolate this and thats...and the obligatory French posters on the wall...but I was not made to feel welcome by the woman behind the counter. I couldn't even ask the price of the interesting looking truffles behind the glass. When someone looks up and down at you like you were "scum" and ignores you, in such a small shop, you tend to want to take your business elsewhere.

A shame.

And no Johnny Depp sightings, to boot.


Thursday, March 08, 2007 

Happy Birthday, John Henry

32 and still grumpy after all these years (oh, and that's 96 in human years)

"John Henry is the American story," said Howard McClurkin of Weatherford, Texas. "Nobody wanted him. He was an ugly little horse. He didn't come from racing royalty. He didn't come from a heritage barn. The mention of his name didn't open of opportunity for success and privilege, but he went up to those doors and knocked them down." - ap
Voted 7 eclipse awards
Voted Horse of the Year 1981 and 1984
Only horse to win horse of the year more than once but not in consecutive years
Voted Champion Older Horse 1981
Oldest horse to win Horse of the Year - at age 9
Oldest horse to win a Grade 1 race - at age 9
Voted Champion Turf Horse - 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984
Won 30 stakes races
Only horse to win the Arlington Million(G1) twice - 1981 & 1984
Only horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap(G1) twice - 1981 & 1982
Won more grade stakes than any other thoroughbred - 25
Voted Racehorse of the Decade for the 1980's
Retired as the world's richest thoroughbred - July 28, 1985
Inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame in 1990
(Hall of Champions)

I remember taking pictures of him when he was racing at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. The crowds loved him. He loved the crowds. He was such a ham when he knew the cameras were looking. He would see you with a camera, stop right in front of you, show his big ol' buck teeth as if in a smile and wouldn't budge until he heard that lens click. Then he would be off looking for another "fan."

In these days of cheaters and liars and perjurers and traitors in political "horse races", it's nice to be reminded of those glorious days at the racetracks watching that honest little knockkneed, knockabout pony sized racehorse that could.

Happy Birthday, John.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007 

A Toast to a California pioneer

who has passed. Salud, Ernesto. Love him or hate have to admit, what an amazing life.
Ernest Gallo, who with his late brother Julio created a post-Prohibition wine business that became one of the most dominant in the world, has died. He was 97.

.. Gallo "put California on the wine map of the United States and then, through exporting, put California on the wine map of the world," said Nat DiBuduo, president of Fresno-based Allied Grape Growers, the state's largest wine-grape-growing cooperative.

.. Ernest, who was the power behind the company, handled the marketing and business end, while Julio, sometimes called the farmer at Gallo, oversaw wine-making.

When the Gallo brothers first started the business, the joke was that Ernest's goal was to sell more wine than Julio could make, and Julio's was to make more wine than Ernest could sell.- LATimes
Ernest Gallo -- who, it is said, once told his brother "you make the wine and I'll sell it'' -- was a ruthless businessman. He reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 1976 for using strong-arm business tactics such as forbidding his wholesalers to carry non-Gallo brands. He played hardball with the United Farm Workers union, earning himself and his company widespread enmity that has never dissipated. Gallo was the subject of a long UFW boycott in the 1970s and another in 2005. - SFGate
The stock market crash of 1929 decimated the elder Gallo's finances. In 1932, he retreated to a rundown raisin-grape ranch south of Fresno, while Ernest and Julio tried to keep his Modesto vineyard going.

On June 21, 1933, hired hands discovered the bodies of the elder Gallos at the Fresno ranch, dead from an apparent murder- suicide. The father's debts totaled almost $30,000, while his assets were scarcely a 10th of that amount.

Ernest Gallo sought a probate judge's permission to continue his father's grape-growing business. He persuaded Julio to start a winery in a leased building in Modesto with equipment bought on credit. It was Ernest who devised a profit-sharing plan to pay grape growers only after their wine was sold. Then he went to a local public library to research commercial winemaking.

The shelves were bare of helpful books, in the same way Prohibition had decimated the ranks of experienced winemakers. But in the basement, a librarian unearthed pre-Prohibition pamphlets written by a research scientist at the University of California at Davis. -

Ah...the power of libraries.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007 

A "honey" of a recipe

But this chain of pizza joints might have to make some changes to their recipe for success...

Beau Jo's pizza chain in Colorado is known for baking honey into the crust of its pies. They even provide extra honey on the table for diners to spread on leftover crusts for dessert. - NPR
First we start with your choice of crust. Then we apply our famous hand rolled edge to keep the abundant portions in place and provide you a built-in dessert created with honey. Next, we pour on your choice of sauces and pile it high with the finest ingredients, then finally smother your "Pie" with selected cheeses.
They go through 16 tons of honey per year. Holy Beeswax!

But the trouble is, bees are dying off in huge numbers...and no one knows why. It will have an huge impact on our country's economy and what foods will be available.
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation's most profitable.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. "Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food," said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation.

The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the off-season to be normal. - SFGate

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Saturday, March 03, 2007 

Bugs Bunny + Crayola =

Kaleidoscope Carrot Mix from the Cook's Garden.

Wonder how they would do in a Carrot Cake....hmmm...


1 1/2 c. corn oil
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. crushed pineapple
2 c. shredded carrots
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Combine oil, sugar, and eggs. Sift together dry ingredients and add to oil and sugar mixture. Add carrots, pineapple, nuts, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Frost with Cream Cheese Icing.


1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 box 10x confectioners sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter well. Add sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Add vanilla. Spread over cooled cake.

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