Archive for the 'Food and Drink' Category

The cookie crumbles

October 21, 2008

Rats!

If you like your Archway cookies, better get them fast — that is, if it’s not too late.

A sign in the cookie aisle at the North Anthony Scott’s Foods on Monday said, “Effective immediately, Archway and Mother’s cookies has closed and stopped operations.”

 [. . .]

A message left at the company’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., wasn’t returned, and a woman who answered the phone at the Ashland, Ohio, plant today said it had closed. A news release issued by the company, Archway & Mother’s Cookie Co., said it has filed bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and has discontinued U.S. manufacturing operations. The company also sold products under the Mother’s Cake & Cookie Co. subsidiary. The company’s Canadian plant was not affected by the bankruptcy.

While other folks were snapping up fancy cookies, I stuck with the soft and chewy Archways. Nothing better than raspberry-filled cookies and a cold glass of milk. Stories I’ve seen elsewhere said the company was done in by rising fuel and ingredient prices. Another victim of the failed Bush policies!

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Spuds

October 15, 2008

This is just sad:

THE art of cooking a humble jacket potato is lost on almost half of the under-30s, a survey has found.

A similar number have no idea how to prepare roast potatoes to accompany a Sunday joint or simple dishes such as shepherd’s pie, fishcakes, and leek and potato soup.

The potato is a nearly perfect food because it can be fixed so many different ways to accompany so many different kinds of food. These kids today, I tell ya.

And there’ll never be an end to new ways to cook them. Recently discovered: Prepare them as big, fat steak fries, sprinkle liberally with Old Bay seasoning and serve with a cucumber sauce. We found this at a local restaurant that called them Scoobies, and it’s a pretty easy recipe to duplicate.

Fat watch

October 7, 2008

It’s been quite a while since we had a “research dollars hard at work” entry, so here’s a dandy:

When dining at Chinese buffets, overweight individuals serve themselves and eat differently than people of normal weight, according to researchers at Cornell University.

 

Brian Wanink said that obese people sit closer to the food, generally face it and even chew less. He is the lead author of the study and wrote the book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”

 

For the research, 213 diners were observed at 11 all-you-can-eat restaurants around the country.

That’s quite a plum assignment, just hanging out at all-you-can-eat restaurants to watch people eat. If Cornell wants to expand its research, for a small stipend, I would be willing to observe fat people at bars and movies and concert halls and strip clubs. I’m sure they behave differently in lots of places.

Can’t believe it wasn’t butter

September 17, 2008

Today’s bachelor-cooking quiz: If you’ve already put the ear of corn in the boiling water before you discover that you’re out of butter, how do you save the meal?

Answer: Butter-flavored Pam cooking spray — just a hint. It gave the corn a light, buttery taste and gave the salt something to cling to.

I mean, it would have given the corn that taste and the salt something to cling to, had I actually been stupid enough to get myself in that predicament.

Spud nixed

September 12, 2008

I never thought of potatoes as being especially “unhealthy,” although eating them too often would be one part of a poor diet. I love potatoes. There are dozens of ways to fix them, and I can’t think of a single one I dislike. But a school in Britain found one it says the government doesn’t approve of:

Baked potatoes have been banned as an alternative lunchtime option in a secondary school canteen because they have been deemed not healthy enough.

Pupils have been told they cannot choose a jacket potato and filling because it falls foul of new government legislation and nutritional guidelines.

[. . .]

Instead, youngsters at the Lampard Community School in Barnstaple, Devon, will have to go with the main meal.

Whenever I didn’t like the “main meal” in the high school cafeteria, I usually went with the sloppy joes. Now, that was unhealthy.

Skyline is the limit

August 26, 2008

In my untiring efforts to present the very best to all my discerning readers, today I offer my nominee for the best canned food on the market. (Not your grandmother’s pickles or green beans, OK? This has to be from the supermarket.)  Canned food should not be anyone’s first choice for a good dining experience, but even the best cooks know we have to occasionally supplement our fresh ingredients with something quick and convenient.

The runnerups are: 1. Anything Glory makes, but especially the mustard greens; the delicate blend of spices makes this the only acceptable substitute for fresh greens. 2. Campbell’s Soup-at-Hand, especially the tomato; heat in the microwave and drink it down. 3. Chicken of the Sea tuna. 4. canned beef and chicken broth (numerous brands); unless you want to spend all your time boiling bones, indispensable for everything from soups to pot roast gravy. 5. Beanee Weenees. No excuses offered, but it must go back to childhood somehow. And the winner is:

Skyline chili. Despite the name, it’s really thin, so it’s more like a coney sauce, and, man, is it tasty! Here’s a recipe page right from the company, but all that stuff seems like a lot of work. I just use it for chili dogs. I use Ball Park singles, so I can make however many I like without worrying about the rest spoiling. Three usually make a good meal. I split the franks down the middle (“butterflying” seems like too precious a term to use for hot dogs) and brown them on both sides in a skillet. I heat the Skyline in a small pot on the stove and toast the buns in the toaster oven. The franks go in the bun split side up. Into the split go yellow mustard, the chili and chopped onions. The whole thing takes about five minutes . . . and suddenly, I know what I’m having for supper tonight.

Tray chic

August 25, 2008

The newest thing in education circles is the elimination of the cafeteria tray. Apparently it saves on energy (cutting down on the hot water needed for washing) and prevents so a lot of food waste. Students who juggle plates don’t let their eyes become bigger than their stomachs, I guess Well, some students:

“I’ll just keep coming back for seconds,” said Jeff Lyke, a freshman at Glenville State, which started going trayless in April to coincide with Earth Day.

At least he’s getting more exercise. I’m with Jeff. At buffets with no trays, I don’t eat less. I just get annoyed at having to make more trips. Why do I have such strong memories of the high school lunch tray, spotted with spilled milk and sloppy joe droppings? Repetition, probably.

Worth a look

August 21, 2008

Saigon, one of my favorite restaurants, gets a nice writeup by a Circle City couple whose Worth Your Attention blog is dedicated to “eating, drinking, shopping and exploring Indianapolis and beyond.”

We were amazed at the low prices. You will be completely satiated here for not a lot of money but be sure to bring cash. The sign at the register says “cash only”. What a great spot in this older neighborhood on the near south side of Ft. Wayne. It felt like the Fort Wayne UN in there with multiple languages being spoken and everyone being brought together by good food.

If you like Asian food and are getting tired of the usual Chinese stuff, you can’t beat Saigon.
The place also has the most eclectic mix of customers you’ll ever see. Indy has a Saigon restaurant, too (not the same owners, I believe). And I thought we had the only place with that name outside of Southesast Asia.

Worth Your Attention looks like a good site at which to find interesting Indianapolis restaurants. The blog also has good things to say about Zesto’s, DeBrands and Muchie’s/Mad Anthony’s, among other Fort Wayne pleasures.

Oh, no, Mr. Pickle!

August 19, 2008

Some people can do clever, and some can’t. The people who do Burger King’s TV ads are definitely in the “can’t” category. The king mascot is just creepy, even when he’s running down a football field, let alone showing up in some guy’s bed or hanging out with his wife and kid in the future. How many ways are there to fall flat while trying to be funny? We took the Whoppers off the menu — ha-ha, fooled you!

Then, I stumbled across somebody writing about this, a print ad, on a paper tray liner. It’s definitely funny, in a dark, off-kilter B. Kliban kind of way, or at least it made me laugh. But then I started thinking about those vegetables on my hamburger . . .

We are what we cook

August 15, 2008

Now we know why the county health police are cracking down so hard on outdoor cooking. It’s a plot to keep us stupid and controllable:

Humans are “strange” and smart animals, and according to a new study out in this month’s issue of Genome Biology, it may be because we’re such good cooks.

The authors compared apes and humans and found that the biggest, most important differences weren’t in brain size, but in metabolism.

We had huge heads, but were still making “the same very boring stone tools for almost 2 million years.” It wasn’t until we started throwing mastodon onto the BBQ that things really got rolling.

 And listen to this, carrot and radish munchers: Too much raw food can cause “very servere health problems.”

Save the grills

August 13, 2008

I missed the column in Sunday’s JG by Mindy Waldron, an administrator with the county health department, but I heard Pat White talking about it on WOWO on my drive home yesterday, so I hunted it up. The department has gotten a reputation for being a bunch of rule-obsessed, meddling busybodies because of its apparent attempt to kill outdoor cooking by restaurants. Her goal in the column was to convince us the department is really doing the best it can considering a lack of direction from the state and is just being reasonably concerned about everybody’s health and safety. I don’t think she succeeded:

And even though Indiana’s Food Code doesn’t specifically forbid permanent outdoor cooking, it doesn’t specifically account for it either, which puts Indiana counties in a difficult position when regulating this issue for the safety of the consumer.

So what happens when a law is silent on an issue? You rely on an interpretation of the law by the official agency in charge. Years ago, we did just that when we asked state health officials for such an interpretation and did not receive one.

So in the absence of any written guidance, we created an option locally for restaurants to grill outside on a semi-permanent basis for up to 10 days a month. We did it as a compromise and with the knowledge that it was not a perfect solution.

Last year, we again asked the Indiana State Health Department for their interpretation on this issue and this time we were told which sections of the food rule should apply to these types of cooking operations. Those sections are very detailed and go far beyond what our current 10-day permit requires. Clearly, we are deviating from what the state health department recommends, and so we needed to come into compliance with their interpretation.

Forgive me for being thick if there’s something here I’m missing, but doesn’t the first sentence pretty much negate everything that follows? State law doesn’t forbid outdoor cooking but doesn’t “account for it, either.” So isn’t the “guidance” or “interpretation” from the state just advisory? If the state law is silent on the issue, how can you possibly seek an interpretation of the law? How is this not a local issue on which the local authority is trying to duck responsibility for the actions it has taken?

“And finally,” she writes, ” it’s been suggested that the health department is making this way too complicated and we should just find a way to work it out.” Well. yeah. If you’re seen as being silly and controlling on this issue, you will be seen that on other ones far more serious, and people won’t pay as much attention to you as they should. Find a way to work it out. It’s not that complicated, really. Most jurisdictions in the country — and in this state — seem to have figured it out.

D for effort

August 12, 2008

Don’t go out in the sun — you’ll get cancer! OK, fine, I’ll stay indoors more. Oops:

Inadequate vitamin D could increase your risk of death by 26 percent, a new study concludes.

Yet many people are not getting enough vitamin D, which the skin makes naturally when exposed to sunlight. A nationwide survey found that 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women in the United States were not getting enough of this vital nutrient.

The importance of vitamin D may be underappreciated,” said lead author Dr. Michal Melamed, a clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins University. “There are studies that link low vitamin D levels to the development of heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, hypertension and different cancers,” she said.

Guess we need to get our Vitamin D from supplements. No, wait:

Many recent studies have found that the amount of vitamins in most vitamin pills is way too much and may actually increase rates of cancer and heart disease.

That’s what Dr. Dean Edell says, and we all know the radio never lies to us. I forget — are coffee and red wine good for me this week or bad?

A right good cup of coffee

August 12, 2008

I haven’t been in a lot of coffeehouses, so I’ll have to take Dave Beckham’s word for it that they’re hotbets of liberal radicalism. Even if it is true, it’s certainly because of the kind of people who go to coffeehouses, not because a bunch of sneaky progressives came up with brilliant business plans. So I don’t think Beckham’s solution is going to fulfill any great unmet need in Crown Point:

It’s called the Conservative Cafe. Outside, red-white-and-blue bunting frames the brick building. As described by the Chicago Tribune: Ann Coulter books near the fireplace, a Ronald Reagan portrait on the wall, Fox News on televisions and T-shirts for sale, bearing such messages as: “Zip It, Hippie,” “Peace through Superior Firepower” or “Silly liberal. … Paychecks are for Workers.” (See a video on Fox’s Good Morning Chicago.)

Personally, I think it would be more fun to hang out at the liberal coffeehouse, quietly listening in on their secrets when they’re all caffeined up and jabbering.

Face time

August 8, 2008

A panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the requirement that Hoosiers who want to buy wine by phone or over the Internet have to first make face-to-face contact with the winery, and isn’t it wonderful we’re saving the childfren?

“That’s a great win for Hoosier families concerned about underage kids getting alcohol. We’re very pleased the court did this,” said Jim Purucker, executive director of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers, a defendant in the case.

Of course those wholesalers are in this case because they care so much about the children, not because they have territories carved out and lose a lot of money whent the vinter just sends wine directly to consumers. I believe that. Really, I do.

I don’t know what Indiana’s share of the market is, but three years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court said preventing out-of-state wineries from selling in a state interferred with interstate commerce, wine was already a $22-billion-a-year business in this country. This ruling may not “restrict” out-of-staters from selling wine here, but it is a tad harder to get to California for that face-to-face.

A commenter on the article I linked to has the best take on the whole thing: “I know when I was in high school I just could not wait for my shipment of estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon to arrive on the front porch from the UPS man.”

Fat of the land

August 4, 2008

Mystery solved

In 1970, the average American ate about 16.4 pounds of food a week, or 2.3 pounds daily. By 2006, the average intake grew by an additional 1.8 pounds a week.

And the big excitement last week? The possibility of being able to take a pill that will fool your body into thinking it has exercised. Now, where did I put that remote?

Nosh it

July 25, 2008

I’ve worked with some first-class prima donnas in my day, but this guy has them all beat:

One of Britain’s leading restaurant critics has been left red faced after an obscene 1,000-word email rant he sent to his editors emerged on the internet.

Their crime? Changing a single word in one of his reviews.

Giles Coren, son of the humourist Alan Coren, was angry that his phrase “where to go for a nosh” had been replaced with “where to go for nosh”, with the penultimate word removed.
[. . .]
“There is no length issue. This is someone thinking: ‘I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate c*** and I know best’,” he wrote in an email to four of his sub-editors. “Well, you f****** don’t.”

[. . .]

“I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you’ve f****** stripped it out like a p***** Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks s*** with a bear (sic) so plastering over it.

“You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, f****** christ, don’t you read the copy?”

“Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not f****** rocket science. It’s f****** pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. F***. F***, f***, f***.”

Yeah, I can’t tell you how many of my brilliant pieces have been just absolutely ruined by those f****** unstressed syllables. The funny thing is — if I understand my UK slang — “nosh” or “a nosh” either one would work in a sexual way. (WARNING: material may be offensive to some.)

Food fight

July 24, 2008

If you still haven’t decided between McCain and Obama, here’s just the thing that will probably tip it for you:

As far as we could determine, McCain is a regular-guy diner-out, happy to follow Arizona custom with a Tex-Mex combo platter but also loyal to the modestly adventurous gourmet food available near his ranch north of Phoenix. The Obamas’ favorite spot for a night out in Chicago is the alta cocina Mexican restaurant Topolobampo, said Michelle Obama spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld.

Chicagoans know Topolobampo as the quieter, slightly classier sister restaurant of Frontera Grill, both owned by award-winning chef Rick Bayless. Sun-Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno has praised its “creativity and quality.”

Sadly, no help for me, as neither candidate was revealed to be a “chili dog for breakfast” kind of guy. So they both have a weakness for Mexican food, huh? Hmmmn.

Hartley and Von

July 22, 2008

I wrote about restaurants yesterday, mostly chain steakhouses. It shouldn’t go unremarked that the patriarchs of two of Fort Wayne’s most well-known restaurants (and, as it happens, a couple of my favorites) died last week within a couple of days of each other. On Monday, Hartley McLeod died at 81. On Wednesday, Evangelos”Von” Filippou died at 87. Both stories should have been Page 1 news, but they got — well, buried in the obits.

Hartley was a Komet from 1954 to 1958, then went on to be an IHL lineman for years before opening Hartley’s Place in 1983, perhaps the city’s most highly regarded homegrown, high-end restaurant. When my mother was still alive and most of my family still lived in Fort Wayne, we went there once a month, and I never had a bad bite of food there, let alone a bad meal or experience. Hartley’s success is all the more remarkable for its location, in a too-small building with hardly any parking, in the middle of a neighborhood on South Fairfield in the wrong part of town.

Filippou came here from Greece in 1952, after the unpleasantness with the Communists,  and opened Nick’s Rib Bar (later Nick & Von’s) with his partner Nick Stamenis in 1958. What can I say about the Rib Room that I haven’t said before? I’ve spent so many Friday nights there, with my shrimp cocktail and rib basket and fries, helping Sam Filippou, son of Von, plot the secret plans of the Midwest  chapter of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

I won’t ry to convince you of the delights of the dining experiences of Hartley’s or the Rib Room if you’ve never been to either of them. We all find the places we like for whatever reasons we have. But those two places, like a handful of others, are uniquely Fort Wayne. No other city has a Hartley’s or a Rib Room. They were created by people who came here and liked the place and made it better with their visions and hard work. Praise be for the Steve Gards and the Noelle Reiths who keep hanging in there.

Meat me in the produce aisle

July 7, 2008

Call PETA — maybe they can help:

Eating high levels of some soy products – including tofu – may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.

[. . .]

Soy products are a major alternative protein source to meat for many people in the developing world.

But soy consumption is also on the increase in the west, where it is often promoted as a “superfood”.

Carnivores. Meat. Get it?

Cheese and whine

July 7, 2008

This is an abomination:

Sometimes a glass of white wine is not enough. Nor is a beer, an iced tea or a lemonade, though heaven knows few things are better than a tart lemonade in a beaded glass on a hot summer’s day. …

we want red wine. And how are we going to drink this red wine?

That’s right, chilled! Cold, cool, brisk, whatever you want to call it, we are going to enjoy this red wine at a temperature that refreshes, restores and revitalizes even the most exhausted soul.

The only good thing to do with a “light-bodied, low-tannin wine” (the kind said to be best for chilling) is . . . well, there is no good thing to do with such a thing. Simple rule of life: white wine chilled, red wine room temperature. We ate at a Mexican restaurant Saturday night, and the only red wine they had was a burgundy (which is too heavy for this shiraz and cabernet drinker), and they served it ice cold. Ick.

And let the cheese you have with your warm, red wine come to room temperature, too. You’re welcome.

Fat with facts

June 23, 2008

Certainly Americans could stand to lose a little weight. One way to aid that cause is for governments to mandate that restaurant menus contain more information on nutrition (California and New York leading the way, natch). That’s legitimate, right? One thing government can do without screwing it up too much is to get information to consumers so they can make informed decisions. But (you knew one was coming, right?):

The belief that more facts will generate wiser decisions is appealing but, at least in the realm of food, yet to be proved. No one seems to have noticed that as nutritional labeling has expanded, so have American waistlines. The federal government first required packaged foods to carry such information in the mid-1970s, and today, we are collectively fatter than we were then.

What does that suggest? Either people don’t notice what’s in the food they buy, or they don’t let the knowledge affect what goes in their mouths.

“You can certainly say that most people certainly don’t understand the food label,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford told the 2004 World Obesity Congress. “And it’s not because they can’t understand it, it’s because they don’t care to understand it.”

If people don’t heed the information they already have, they aren’t going to waste effort digesting an additional onslaught of facts.

We don’t, in fact, suffer from a dearth of facts but a surfeit. We are unble to process the information we already have, and putting more of it on our plates will improve neither our appetites nor our digestion.

This has been your periodic libertarian screed. You may now return to suspecting I am a Bush-loving Republican apologist. 

Double shot

June 18, 2008

Life is good:

Stumped at the café? Go for a mocha.

According to new research, the tasty beverage provides a double-whammy of health benefits: chocolate may slow cancer growth, and java could help you live longer.

I discovered a Starbucks mocha ice cream bar at the market the other day. Awesome. Still waiting for that research on the health benefits of fried food to come in.

We feel your pain

June 12, 2008

Well, they’re paying attention to what happens in flyover country now, aren’t they?

Raging floodwaters that have swallowed homes, bridges and roads across the Midwest this week now threaten to stunt the region’s economy and raise already heightened food prices.

[. . .]

The Midwest corn crop is already estimated to be 10 percent smaller than last year’s, and further flood damage could cause a domino-down effect, pushing livestock feed prices higher and triggering other cost hikes all the way up the food chain.

Pat Robertson has been strangely silent, so I don’t know what God is punishing us for this time, but at least we get to share the pain. 

Here’s the beef

June 12, 2008

The Joseph Decuis restaurant in Roanoke gets a nice writeup in the Star for its American version of Kobe beef, for which the restaurant owners keep their own herd of Japanese Wagyu cattle:

What has come to be called American Wagyu is typically a cross between Japanese Wagyu and black or red Angus.

American Wagyu steaks often cost more than $50 a pound; a 6-ounce fillet from Joseph Decuis is more than $40. At the much ballyhooed Kobe Club in New York City, an 8-ounce American Wagyu fillet is $85. A Kobe sampler for two costs $395.

Yikes. Throw in a good bottle of wine, and we’re talking real money. I’ve never had Kobe beef, but I may have to try it at least once. I love a good steak, and the difference between the Choice you can get at the supermarket and the Prime that’s served in good restaurants is worth paying extra for. Here’s where to order your own if you want to have Prime at home.

A rough patch

June 11, 2008

 The overreaction continues:

McDonald’s Corp, the world’s biggest restaurant chain, has pulled raw sliced tomatoes from its sandwiches and has no immediate plans to bring them back.

There goes my Big N’ Tasty. Never mind that only a few types of tomatoes from a few areas are suspect; let’s just get rid of all of them of all types from every state in the union from all restaurants and supermarkets.

Oh, well, natural fear reaction, I suppose.

There are two great fresh-vegetable culinary experiences — corn that is thrown into a pot of boiling water immediately on being picked, and a tomato that is yanked from the vine and immediately bitten into. Thanks to my rural upbringing and my occasional attempts at backyard gardening, I’ve been able to experience both. The boiling water pretty much took care of any possible contamination of the corn. Thank God I never had any cows wandering through my tomato patches.