Category Archives: Reviews

King Arthur’s sword!

Today I, distant (possible) relative of the famed king of England, removed the Excalibur from it’s box! Box??

image

 

Ah, um yes. In this case what I have is not so much a sword, but a Food Dehydrator! I think an army is supposed to run on it’s stomach anyway, right?

I am totally stoked to get this thing working, and I’m lining up some projects right now.

-sn


Salt of the Earth

Artist's concept of Aquarius

At 7:20 AM (west-coast time), NASA finally merged two objects of my affection: astronomy and sea salt. With the launch of the Aquarius satellite, NASA will study sea salt around the Earth.

I, of course, like to eat sea salt.

Now NASA is not, unfortunately, going to study the health benefits of sea salt outlined in Nourishing Traditions. Salt is mentioned in the subject index 21 times, but a good discussion of it’s health advantages starts around page 48. The unrefined variety of sea salt, such as Celtic type farmed in the salt marshes of Brittany, frequently contain traces of marine life that carry minerals in a bio-available form. It is the trace minerals that give sea salt one of it’s primary benefits, but the sodium chloride (largest component of sea salt by percent) is also important to the health of our brain, nervous system, and vital to digestion. Of note is the necessity of chlorine (the chloride part) to the making of hydrochloric acid, a favored tool of the stomach.

Alas, the science geeks (like me) are in fact searching for variations in the concentration of salt in the water of our oceans. Salinity traces the currents of water in the oceans, giving researchers a tool to understand how the water moves, or does not move, around the globe.

Even if NASA is not yet blasting rockets into space to investigate traditional cooking methods, at least they’ve taken one small step in that direction. So here’s to the salt of the Earth!

(Now go put some on your food)

*Image of salt taken from Celtic Sea Salt® brand website, as it is the source of salt I currently use. Artist concept of Aquarius spacecraft property of NASA, all rights reserved.


I’ve been chopped!

If you like food, and you like hearing what others have to say about food, you’ve probably grazed on the offering of the Food Network.

As two self proclaimed foodies, my wife and I enjoy following a couple of shows. One of our favorites is the extremely entertaining show Chopped.

In case you are not familiar with the show, here’s a quick overview:

Four chefs walk into a kitchen… oh wait, that’s a different joke. No, here:

4 chefs cook in a timed competition to make the best food. They have 20 minutes to make an appetizer, 30 minutes to make an entree, and 30 minutes to make a dessert. There is a basket of mystery ingredients, which usually has about 3-4 items each chef must use in the final dish. Plus there is a stocked kitchen so they can grab additional things like spices.

In my own fun version, I was hungry. I had about 20 minutes to eat before we needed to go someplace, and I had the following items in my “basket”:

Tortilla Chips,

Raisins,

And Sardines.

Since I considered this to be an appetizer round, I naturally decided to make a quick salsa of Raisins and Sardines, with a bed of crushed tortilla chips. Finding some fresh Cilantro in the fridge with some Mustard, I raced against the clock to bring the elements together– carefully dicing the cilantro, and arranging it all together to form a very tasty appetizer!

Now for the judges…

How did I do?

Food critic one: “I thought the presentation was quite nice, a small colorful bowl, and the cilantro and raisins really coordinate well.”

Food expert two: “I agree, but what I really like the flavor this dish brought out, the salty sardines, and the sweet raisins with the freshness of the herbs, a very good start to a meal.”

Grumpy food person: “But for someone with a background in slow food methods, can we really give him a pass with only 20 minutes of preparation?”

Food expert two: “Good point, I think that using Mustard out of a jar was just a cop out.”

Food critic one: “I disagree Two, I feel the use of fresh herbs like Cilantro is perfectly in line with slow food principles, and it’s not really possible to cook slow food fast.”

And whose dish is on the chopping block?

Judges?

Grumpy food person: “Well, we thought that your flavor combination and presentation were spot on, but that using a prepackaged Mustard instead of making your own was not adequate for you to move on in this competition, and so for those reasons, you’ve been chopped.”

Exit interview:

Me: “Though this is a crushing blow to my own ego, I must say that just being here and making this amazing salsa has been it’s own reward.”


Artois the Goat

Artois

If you like your sarcasm paired with a tangy, sweet cheese, might I recommend the movie Artois the goat.

A 2009 indiepix film, Artois the goat follows the journey of a food chemist underling as he struggles to find the perfect cheese, and, um, the meaning of his existence too.

Though overly dramatic at times, the word that best describes Artois the goat is CHEESY! It’s a really funny and surprisingly cute romance that highlights the contrast between commercially mass produced foods and artisan foodcraft, with particular attention to the role of RAW milk in the creation of fine quality cheese. Definitely a WAP friendly script, this movie is of the artsy variety, and a well done sample of that type.

The FDA is introduced as the supervillian of the film, and the sidekick of our hero gives them a fair tongue lashing throughout. In that vein, the dialogue writers did a fantastic job, adding verbal humour to the already amusing setting. I think all raw milk enthusiast would have fun watching this film

My wife and I found the trailer some time back, but were excited to see the film show up on Hulu. While I did enjoy the Hulu version, you may prefer the advertisement free DVD if you can find it.

I give this film a 5 out of 5 for creativity, originality and humour, and a 4.5 out of 5 for overall experience. The middle part seemed a tad drawn out, but I enjoyed the whole thing. I think this is a great date movie, particularly for any raw food enthusiast.


Review

Nourishing Traditions, Revised second edition by Sally Fallon, NewTrends publishing, Inc.

A review.

With a fashionable, new age-y cover (courtesy of Kim Waters Murray), Nourishing Traditions projects the appearance of a cookbook. Which it is. And yet, so much more. Not only does Nourishing Traditions provide a comprehensive series of recipes, the author includes advise on obtaining healthy ingredients, methods of maximising the nutrition content of food, and occasional commentary on the inner workings of the western world’s food production (‘politically correct nutrition’ -front cover)

1. Pros.

I’m an optimist; except in the morning, which officially ends at 2 pm. So I’ll start with the positive aspect of Nourishing Traditions.

Fat.   Sally Fallon makes fat cool. You can cook with it and you can eat it. It’s even required! Mind you, you need to be careful to eat the right kind, but I like fat. It’s tasty.

Salt.   Salt is good for you??! Yep, heart attacks are caused by, um, other stuff. Salt is good. Eat more of it or you will die. Oh, make sure it’s sea salt, or your wasting your time.

Tasty ‘health food’.   Food that is good for you and tastes good. Rather than giving you a dry, low fat, bran muffin, Fallon gives ‘Mexican Eggs,’ complete with 4 eggs, 4 corn tortillas, 2 tablespoons of lard, and 2 cups of salsa. Oh yeah, and you get to fry the tortillas. (Page 438).

Lamb.   29 recipes are listed under lamb. One of the best red meats available to a thickly bearded scottsman is lamb. Showing a resurgence in the meat industry, eating lamb is cool.

Red Meat.   Are you a man? Do you like red meat? You will find sufficient inclusion of recipes for the heartier palate within the covers of Nourishing Traditions.

2. Cons

Though I enjoy a great deal of the methods employed by Sally Fallon, there are a few things which irk me:

Raw meat appetizers.   There is a whole chapter on making raw meat sound good. It’s not. It may be healthy, I’m not sure, but it  is gross. Thanks, but, uh. no thanks. Sadly, this reduces the number of available red meat recipes. Oh, well.

Time.   Got time? A former math teacher of mine informed me that each of us has precisely the same number of hours in each day. (That’s about 24, or so). I always feel like I get cheated out of a few. Sally Fallon’s recipes take a great deal of planning and preparation. It is a lifestyle. Once you adopt the life, it is pretty easy, but until then it’s rough.

Biology experiments.   I love science. I even enjoy dabbling in a little biology, you know, like dissecting the pigs and such. But I cannot tell you how many jars of fermented this and that have gone terribly wrong. Some of them are still in the back of my refrigerator since I’m afraid the EPA will lock me up if I flush them down the drain. There is a lot of instruction about fermenting your own foods, but it’s way harder than it sounds.