Tuesday, March 30, 2010

JUST SAY NO TO GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms)

 The first thing that brought the insanity of this issue has been the way foods i have been tasting that come from corporate faceless grocery stores have been tasting...
Over the last few years of working in restaurants, i have noticed a bitterness
in a range of vegtables delivered in bulk.
A few dayz ago i tried some mint and it had a chemical/rubber taste to it...weird,
then today i tasted some tyme starters to plant outdoors and I noticed a very similar taste to it...it was also very bitter....
Prior to this an article i read about genetically crossing pork with salmon to give you the
Omega-3 fatty acids in your pork...this disturbs me.

Anti-Trust Case Against Monsanto & Gene Giants Moves Forward

From Agribusiness Examiner #289 9/15/03
By Al Krebs
DAVID BARBOZA, NEW YORKTIMES: A federal judge on [September 19] let proceed an antitrust case that accused the Monsanto Company and other big agricultural seed giants of conspiring to control the world's market in genetically modified crops.
In a 13-page decision, Rodney W. Sippel, a federal district judge in St. Louis, dismissed part of a class-action lawsuit that was filed in 1999 by a group of farmers who said they had suffered huge losses because of global opposition to genetically modified crops.
But Judge Sippel allowed the antitrust portion of the case to proceed, possibly setting the stage for a court battle over whether the world's biggest producers of agricultural seeds got together in the late 1990's to fix prices and control the market for those valuable biotechnology seeds, which are now planted on more than 100 million acres worldwide.

from      monsantosucks.com       Monsanto Watch www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.html

In India the financial figures for the 2002 cotton growing season have
finally been crunched. Although Monsanto convinced many of India's
farmers that buying the more expensive GE cotton seeds would result in
higher yields and better cotton, the reverse is actually true. Crop
yields for GE cotton were 5 TIMES LESS than traditional Indian cotton
and the income from GE cotton was 7 TIMES LESS than conventional cotton
due to Monsanto's cotton having lower quality short fibers. As a result
of the insurmountable deluge of debt accrued from paying more for the GE
seeds and having a cruddy crop, more than 70 Indian farmers have
committed suicide in the last three months.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/bt_cotton.cfm TOO MUCH OF A BAD THING
Scientists are trying to raise public attention about the fact that
global overuse of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is leading to weed
resistance. "Farmers are planting too many Roundup Ready crops," said
Stephen Powles, an expert on weed resistance at the University of
Western Australia. Mark VanGessel, a weed scientist at the University of
Delaware spoke of the Roundup (glyphosate) pesticides saying, "My gut
reaction is that we do need to limit the use of glyphosate-resistant
crops." In response to the issue that farmers are purchasing and
applying a toxic chemical that is no longer working, Monsanto
spokesperson Greg Elmore said people are overreacting. In other Roundup

news, Denmark officially banned the pesticide this month, saying the
toxic chemical is not breaking down in the soil and, as a result, is
polluting their water at a level that is 5 times what is considered safe
for the environment and human health.

GMOs) are life forms whose genetic makeup is altered by splicing the DNA of two different species. Scientists are using this new technology to make corn, wheat and tomatoes more disease and insect resistant by combining crops with the genes of fish, mice and even humans. The downside is that these processes have yet to be tested, even though GMOs are present in many everyday foods like baby food, cereal and soft drinks. Super weeds are sprouting up and becoming resistant to existing pesticides, requiring stronger formulas. New alergens and toxins are being introduced to the food supply. Nutritionally, genetically engineered foods alter the way our bodies process food. What's alarming is how these modified crops are contaminating other non-modified crops, through natural pollination. Until further rigorous testing can be completed, we need to SAY NO TO GMOs

sorry to be preachy, but when it comes to food, my taste buds are important,
and if i wanna do drugs, id prefer it if they were NOT IN MY FOOD!!!!!
Surely you have tasted the difference between a fruit or vegetable fresh picked from a garden or tree
and one bought in your local megamart??????????????/

Hummus the original bean dip...........

ahhhhh. Hummus. This wonderful mid-eastern bean dip has been one of my first culinary epiphanies as a result of following the Grateful Dead, having lots of vegetarian friends and dating hippy chicks. So i have been making this for 20 yrs now and can throw together a 1/2 gallon of hummus together in 20 minutes... its really quite easy and just takes some practice in getting the spice combination's just right.

So heres what you need....
1st and foremost, you need a Food Processor.
2  15oz cans of drained (and rinsed) chick peas
and 2 bulbs of crushed garlic and one large onion choped up in the processor...... then sweat (cook under low heat till translucent) toss in the cans of chick peas with the onions after4 min. of simmering, add
3 lemons (juiced)
4 Tbls of toasted cumin
and 2 Tbl of salt and 1Tbl of black pepper
(feel free to add hot pepper if you like it spicy!)
then into the food processor, add 1 cup of water and  8oz of
Sesame Tahinni. and drizzle in a 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive oil.   After about 3 min. in the blender, it should be a loose (but not runny) mixture, remember it will become more solid when you put it in the fridge.
pita is traditionally served with this, but I use flour tortilla's when i don't happen to have fresh pita around.  variations of this are endless...my favorites being roasted red pepper and cucumber dill. Often i use hummus mixed with mayonnaise when i wanna make a extra flavorful chicken salad. use fresh crudite' (cut up vegtables) for dipping...NAMASTE! -me2

Friday, March 26, 2010

IT aint easy being CHEESY...........

Parmigiano-Reggiano, The King of Cheeses - Parmesan Cheese

1.  What is the name of the town and the country where Parmigiano Reggiano is made?
answer: Parma, Italy
2. How many gallons of milk does it take to make one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano?
answer: about 160 
3. Approximately how much does one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano weigh?
answer: about 80 pounds   
so you want one do you? no problem. they sell for about  $2071.00 and you can buy one HERE    it is aged for at least one year but 18-24 months is better.
make no mistake, real Parmesan from Parma Italy is far superior than the shady, american commercial garbage that you buy ground into saw dust, and sold in plastic bottles and packages!
Even if you happen to get some good stuff DONT BUY IT GROUND!! its so easy to grate as needed..if you dont own a fancy cheese grater, then use a potato peeler..or shave it with a knife.

My personal favorite is PECORINO ROMANO  or sheeps milk chz from (originally) Rome... but later and now mostly produced on the island of Sardinia. This like Parm, can be expensive...about 13-18$$ a pound... but well worth it... you will be less inclined to grab handfuls to dump on your pizza or spaghetti if you grate it yourself and taste the sweet, salty and nutty slice of heaven that is Pecorino..... it should be aged for at least 8 months but 1 yr. will be inevitably better.

Grana Padano is similar to Parm but less known here in the states. 
Asiago is also probably more known here and found in commercial supermarkets.

All of these are HARD cheeses.. the cheeses listed above and below are my favorite....if you need a crash course in cheese 101, i suggest reading up on it..a good start is HERE

Next up.........semi hard cheeses.....these are the cheeses most americans are familiar and comfortable with. Bacteria-Ripened: Brick, Fontina, Gouda, Feta, Havarti, Provolone, Monterey Jack,  Cheddar etc.etc 

There are many quality semi-hard cheeses made here in the U.S.A. The best regions and states that I have travelled and know of is the PACIFIC NORTH WEST 
New England ...MAINE and VERMONT  (Cabot makes some kick ass xtra sharp cheddar)
and last, but certainly not least, the cheesiest state of them all WISCONSIN !!    

THEN theres the semi soft.... through the action of mold (actually a penicillin mold) or by the action of bacteria. Mold-Ripened: Bleu, Gorgonzola,  Roquefort, Stilton..........mmmmmmm...mold.
and other more known (non blue) like Brie, Chevre (my personal favorite goats cheese), Boursin, Danish Fontina, Motzerella, Havarti.....there are hundreds you've never heard of.. so once a month why not get together a few friends and put in some money for some good wine and cheeses of different caliber.
( $100-$150 between 4-6 friends should get you 6 bottles of good wine and 6 good cheeses) and have a shindig/party (parTAY)

------------------------>(picture of Chevre)

then there are the soft of the soft....cream cheese, mascerpone,
cottage cheese, and fresh mozzarella are a few. Queso Fresco is
a Mexican version of mozzarella..melts nicely when heated.
non are aged or very complicated...but i can dig it..........

you will notice a few of the same style cheese can be put into different categories due to age and moisture content.........now get funky and get tasting! so much cheese, so little time.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brews, tonics, teas, and blends of ales that cure what ails you.......

   I guess for people who know me, know that i am no stranger but rather very well versed in the field of beer, wines and distilled liquors and have always fancied myself a bit of a connoisseur and mixologist.
   Living like a rockstar never felt so good!! Having a discernible palate but often settling for less than sub par beverages due to lack of funds and sometimes even entertaining guests hospitality to me, this 'gift' of mine made me come to the realization that i have 'champagne tastes on a beer budget'. Also, im an alcoholic!!
  The need to repair my liver from the years of pummeling and various beatings i gave it naturally led me the study brewing concoctions that are healing and repairing and rejuvenating while actually tasting good!
The concoction recipes that Ive made and brewed below all have some combination of health benefits and serve the purpose more than just tasting good and re-hydrating the body. ( body upkeep and its need for hydration is very underestimated, i assure you.)

                                                              GINSENG ALE
ok, this is easy as hell to make, i use 4 10ml vials of panax ginseng and honey water and royal jelly )
honey fed to the queen bee. You can get cases of vials at most asian markets. Mix the 4 vials w 2 oz of hot water to help dissolve the honey then slowly poor in 10 oz of your favorite mineral water. (cold)
and viola! A nice, not to sweet and frothy ginseng ale. Keep a sealed glass bottle around for storing in the fridge for later...

so the good things? this is old traditional eastern medicine and has never been proven in western medicine but  has/is widely used for centuries and believed to be reputable by many Eastern civilizations...

What Ginseng Is Used For

Treatment claims for Asian ginseng are numerous and include the use of the herb to support overall health and boost the immune system. Traditional and modern uses of ginseng include:
  • Improving the health of people recovering from illness
  • Increasing a sense of well-being and stamina, and improving both mental and physical performance
  • Treating erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, and symptoms related to menopause
  • Lowering blood glucose and controlling blood pressure
  the GINSENG ALE is the base for my next tonic :

                                            Citrus Ginger Ginseng Tonic   

THE CITRUS: you need 1 or 2 large oranges and (hopefully an organic) lemon, both juiced
4 Tblspoons of  GINGER , sliced and crushed (smashed with the backof a good chefs knife) and boiled in 8 oz of water, reduced by 1/2 (or 4oz), strained and combined with the citrus juice... this should give you about 8 oz of liquid that you mix with the Ginseng Ale, producing about a pint (16oz) of a wonderful digestive tonic 
(the lemon and ginger are both excellent digestives and a nice shot of vitamin C from the O.J.  I usually keep a 16 oz ceramic top Grolsh beer bottles around for storing this baby.(and keeping in the fizz of the mineral water).....   for more of a pronounced orange and lemon flavor, zest the citrus and boil with the ginger....
      this is the ultimate hangover drink!!!! for the  nights that you cant remember what happened...

What Ginger Is Used For

  • Ginger is used in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Many digestive, antinausea, and cold and flu dietary supplements sold in the United States contain ginger extract as an ingredient.
  • Ginger is used to alleviate postsurgery nausea as well as nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, and pregnancy.
  • Ginger has been used for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint and muscle pain.

                                  Green Teas

I have never been much of a coffee drinker, though i love my iced mocha cafe latte's in the summer...
(1/2 coffee n 1/2 chocolate milk over ice) i have always preferred green tea. I have been drinking green tea since i was 13 yrs old and as a matter of fact, my first culinary beverage epiphany came to me when eating at a nice Chinese restaurant and had my first Oolong tea. (which is a partially oxidized green tea..delicate in flavor) This if the first time i realized i didn't have to add sugar to augment the subtle flavors of these wonderful green teas. I realize that it is often quite difficult to find many of the quality green teas anywhere but in the Asian mega marts in big cities, so i recommend buying them online   HERE 
                              my new favorite is   Sencha 

 It can be a tad expensive so i tried the tealeaf powder..this is not like instant tea extracts, this Sencha are cold milled into a fine powder.With only a .8 gram of a powder mixed with 16 oz of cold water, it cost me about 75 cents a pint which is really good compared to the 2 dollar 8 oz cans i get at the asian market.

Believe it or not, this powdered green tea delivers just the full bodied punch of the commercially sold stuff.....it contains only 3 mg. of caffeine compared to 85 mg. in an average cup of coffee. The antioxidants it is loaded with are said to be potent cancer fighters, (poly-phenols) lowers cholesterol and strengthens the immune system and purportedly promotes weight loss.

though it needs no sugar, if you wanted to add an extra boost of sweet and sour, i would suggest a cup of cranberry juice...... Cranberry tannins have anti-clotting properties and may reduce urinary tract infections and the amount of dental plaque-causing oral bacteria, thus being a prophylaxis for gingivitis.
                                                                 JASMINE TEA 

The Health Benefits of Jasmine Tea: Can Sipping This Fragrant Drink Have Medicinal Benefits? 

AT The recommendation of an elderly Chinese woman working at my local Chinese Restaurant, I was encouraged to try this brand of Jasmine Tea. This specific brand i found at my local mega Asian market for 2 bucks!! (online it will cost more like 8-10 bucks with shipping and handling.
Jasmine tea is either green tea or Oolong tea that has been infused with jasmine flowers right before blooming to give it a wonderful aroma.
1/2 Lb. of this tea makes 75 cups of tea!!!
The proper water temp and steeping time greatly affects the flavors of this and ANY green tea.
1 tsp.= 3 grams  i usually brew 4 c. at a time.
The water should be about 15 deg. below boiling
and should be steeped for 4 minutes. Any hotter or any longer and it will be more bitter. (which some people like)  I usually sweeten this w local honey during hay fever season and drink some everyday for a few weeks and it helps w my allergies. Consumption of local honey is an old Homeopathic remedy for hay fever.
Though I am no firm believer in Homeopathy, I can attest for this remedy as i and many have been using this to much success for years now. It is said best if the honey is raw and unfiltered and made within a 50 mile radius because the honey contains the pollen that causes the allergies in the first place........

Genmaicha is the Japanese name for a brown rice tea made with green tea. This particular version has the toasted rice with steamed MATCHA, A very expensive and harder to find green tea here in the states.... it goes from $17-40 an ounce, depending on the quality....and im a little broke this month because i have already spent $60 on tea already! So, here i am making the poor farmers version of this quality tea.
I like the taste of the toasty rice, which, becomes more prominent when you steep the grains a second time.
Since Matcha tends to be a powder, i find it best to use a French Press (aka a Coffee Press) when brewing this w water at about 185 deg.F for 3 minutes.
One glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of its nutritional value and antioxidant content.
                                                                 YERBA MATE'

I first tried Mate' when i was living in Maine with an young kid into organic and raw foods diet, and my first experience with it was not as pleasant (he brewed it WAY too strong and used boiling water which makes it Bitter! A year later when the Guayaki Herba Mate' people showed up at the Gathering of the Vibes festival  in upstate NY, they supplied the kitchen (which i always work at festivals) with an endless water cooler full of cold brewed mate'. Mate has a natural 'up' (without the jitters and shakes) to it and is wonderful for hot dayz when coffee just aint happening to cool you down. Mate has a very 'earthy' flavor and sometimes i sweeten it with whatever fruit juice i see on sale. (peach, pear, cranberry, raspberry) To cold brew, i just take 6 Tbls of mate and wrap it in a coffee filter and pour cold water over it in a 1/2 gal. pitcher and let sit overnight in the fridge.

from http://www.yerba-mate.com/health.htm
In 2005, researchers at the University of Illinois studied 25 different types of mate. They found the tea to contain "higher levels of antioxidants than green tea"... and, based on cell studies, "may help prevent oral cancer." Other studies have shown yerba mate to possess up to 90% more metabolism-boosting nutrients than green tea!

Our studies show that some of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body are induced by this herbal tea. - Elvira de Mejia, Lead Researcher at U. of Illinois

Mate also contains high concentrations of inorganic compounds. The minerals aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, potassium, and zinc are of particular interest due to their importance in human metabolism and development.Each infusion of Mate contains:
Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex
Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus
Additional Compounds: Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids.

Mate does contain caffeine. The drink can have anywhere from half to slightly lower levels of it than coffee, which can affect blood glucose and blood pressure and elevate your heart rate. Talk to your doctor before drinking it if you have diabetes or hypertension or if you are trying to get pregnant.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

mediterranean ensemble...tabbouleh, chunk chicken breast w/tahinni sauce


 for the tabbouleh - 2 cups of boiling water to soak the med.grain bulgar wheat for 30min, drained and fluffed. one can of small diced tomato's and a cucumber, 1 tbsp of minced garlic and parsley pesto i made and some xtra virgin olive oil tossed together..then fold into the bulgur wheat. refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to integrate.
for the Tahinni sauce: 2 Tbl of Tahinni paste, 2 Tbl of water, 1Tbl of apple cider vin. (or lemon juice) and 1 tsp of minced garlic 
I normally keep cans of chunk chicken breast when im feeling lazy and dont feel like using a heat source. Therefore i set a bed of baby spinach on a plate, a can of chix breast in the center, surrounded by the tabbouleh, 3 roulettes (circles) of organic goat chz and garnished w. almond stuffed olives and roasted red peppers.....use whatever favorite bread you have..pita would be nice but all i had was nice italian bread.
placing the dishes on my sunflower gave me the idea to sprinkle w sunflower seeds if i had them, which i didnt.....next time....