Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rethinking Food

As my book deals with food in the future in some small part, I found this piece from the BBC to be interesting: Food needs 'fundamental rethink'

Professor Lang is a member of the UK government's newly formed Food Council.

"Essentially, what we are dealing with at the moment is a food system that was laid down in the 1940s," he told BBC News.

"It followed on from the dust bowl in the US, the collapse of food production in Europe and starvation in Asia.

"At the time, there was clear evidence showing that there was a mismatch between producers and the need of consumers."

Professor Lang, from City University, London, added that during the post-war period, food scientists and policymakers also thought increasing production would reduce the cost of food, while improving people's diets and public health.

I think there is a need to spend more time on saving food, and not wasting it in the future. We should be more diligent about what we have in our refrigerators and learn to appreciate and understand just how easy it can be to make the most of any kitchen pantries.

  • Oil and energy: "We have an entirely oil-based food economy, and yet oil is running out. The impact of that on agriculture is one of the drivers of the volatility in the world food commodity markets."

  • Water scarcity: "One of the key things that I have been pushing is to get the UK government to start auditing food by water," Professor Lang said, adding that 50% of the UK's vegetables are imported, many from water-stressed nations.

  • Biodiversity: "Biodiversity must not just be protected, it must be replaced and enhanced; but that is going to require a very different way growing food and using the land."

  • Urbanisation: "Probably the most important thing within the social sphere. More people now live in towns than in the countryside. In which case, where do they get their food?"

Monday, December 15, 2008

DVD Review: Meals on DVD: Shop, Watch, Cook!

Food network

While most average cooks are content to follow a recipe and create a limitless array of healthy, fresh meals; the process is not without its problems. Some recipes can be hard to follow, missing key ingredients or lack important detail altogether.

For those of you content to heat boxes of heavily processed foods in the microwave or emptying cans into pots, the process of preparing fresh meals can seem rather daunting. With life in the fast lane; fresh, hot prepared meals are becoming a thing of the past.

Now thanks to Food TV and Sony Pidctures Home Entertainment, you can get the best of both worlds. They are releasing 12 wonderful DVD’s full of delectable recipes and demonstrations selectively edited from your favorite Food TV shows ready to buy at your local grocery store. The ingredients are conveniently listed on the back so you’ll be fully prepared to start the culinary masterpiece listed by host or theme.

It’s a feast for your eyes as well as your soul. Featuring popular Food TV chefs such as Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentis, Michael Chiarello, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and Ina Garten among many others; the DVD’s provide easy to follow directions with text screen recaps and ingredient lists. No TV in your kitchen? Fear not. There are even printable versions on the dvd’s for such an eventuality but at least you’ll remember how the bubbles should look like on the red wine reduction in the Blue cheese vinaigrette and how exactly to layer the ingredients for the lasagna rolls. The direction and camera work is so perfect and detailed that you can almost smell the cinnamon on the doughnut rolls.

Most of the recipes are simple, quick to prepare and very well chosen. They vary from the healthy to “heart attack on a plate”. Southern chef Paula Deen lays on the fat and calories on pretty thick. While cooking her Swiss steak she mentions she’s going to add the butter “just ‘cause I saw the butter sitting back here. Can’t resist it.” Okay so she doesn’t spare the fat and calories nor does she spare the butter in her Peach Cobbler or cans of soup in her creamy Macaroni and Cheese slow cooker recipes but she is entertaining and like all the chefs take you step by step through the recipes to a perfect finish line. There are also helpful tips for seasoned chefs such as freezing blue cheese in order to make it easier to grate on salads.

All the discs have a theme. There’s the Slow Cookin’, the Elegant Entertaining with full course meal of “Loin of Pork with Fennel”, “Salad with Blue Cheese Port Wine vinaigrette”, “Banana Chocolate Hazelnut Crepes”, “Pea Whipped Potatoes” and “Chive Biscuits.”. Pastas From Giada present simple pastas anyone can prepare such as “Lasagna rolls” and delectable “Italian Doughnuts” which can be made with prepared pizza dough.

Regardless of how well you cook, the Meals on DVD: Shop, Watch, Cook! DVDs will have you cooking like a pro in no time. Do you want to make more friends? Be sure to check out these wonderful titles and impress your friends with your new found culinary skills.

The discs come with full ingredient list and retail for a suggested list price of $7.99 each. They are be available in grocery stores now.

Buy Now!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm sick of Pomegranate

It's time to vent about an ingredient.

Make no mistake about it, a pomegranate is a really healthy food. Curried by a level of mainstream media reporting on the health benefits of an ingredient on the order short of Oat Bran, studies of the antioxidant levels of the pomegranate have been pouring out like nutrition industry bought a condo in crazy town. It practically comes in pill form, except that you have to suck medicine off of it.

A safely assessment study even showed there's limited adverse effects from over dosing too. Oh good, because I've been having these nightmares about dying from fruit.

It inhibits prostate cancer growth and has anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular disease prevention, teeth strengthening super fighting power and not to mention prevention of erectile dysfunction for good measure. Bacterial infections and anti-biotic resistance are also the default health line for these kinds of healthy foods.

It's called cellular antioxidant activity or (CAA) and it's a quantifiable level of activity in a cell. Pomegranate and berries (blueberries, blackberries etc.) have the highest, whereas bananas and melons have the lowest.

Since this upsurge in science, recipes that have capitalized on the ingredient requiring pomegranate juice. You wouldn't seriously ask for someone to squeeze all the seeds from that thing would you? Then there's the juice/sludge you can buy from a pretentious bottle in which you can read an entire (early) Harry Potter book before the stuff makes it all the way down your throat.

Healthy and nearly perfect; except for the part where it's kind of tart, doesn't taste that good and there's only a slightly tangy so bad it's good quality to the flavour, I'd say it was a pretty good ingredient.

So full confession: I hate those things! I'm sick of seeing pomegranates stocked up on some pre-fabricated display of desperation that I buy them or risk sudden death from malnutrition. I value the exercise gained and calories burned as I maneuver around them in the grocery store.

Hot tip: How to remove the seeds Cut off the top of the fruit. Score the skin in quarters from top to bottom. When removing the seeds from the fruit, submerge it in a bowl under cold water in the sink and soak for a minute or two. Break the sections apart with your fingers and thumbs. This will keep yourself and your kitchen cleaner as the juice will stain just about anything. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl in the process, the rest will float away. Dry the seeds and enjoy.

Or not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pumpkin Gratin with Crispy Romano Garlic topping

This is a bit late and more of a fall dish for obvious reasons but it's fun to make. You can even use your leftover Halloween pumpkin.


1 Small pie pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 oz cheese curd (substitute mozzarella cheese)
2 tbsp flour
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of Japanese Panko Bread crumbs
1/4 cup of romano cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp butter, melted


Preheat the oven 375. Butter a round 3L baking dish (or use several small souffle dishes).

Line the bottom of the dish with the pumpkin pieces. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Add the milk, eggs, basil and flour and mix until the eggs are frothy. Add the cheese curd to the cooked pumpkin and mix so it is spread evenly. Mix the flour, milk, eggs and basil until frothy. Pour the mixture over the pumpkin-cheese combination.

Cover and bake for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and sauce is bubbly.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, romano cheese, thyme and butter and spoon over the pumpkin. Place under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.