Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My awesome Valentine's present...

It did arrive a bit late, but my wife knows me all too well.

Yup, you see it right.  She got me some dried black truffles, which when hydrated can make 1 and 1/2 cups of black truffles.  Then that white truffle honey, is the most rich and bold flavorful thing I have ever tasted.  It tastes like the best and most fragrant wild flower honey with white truffle.  It is amazing.  Now, the real question: what do I do with these?  White truffle honey ice cream, perhaps?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is someone getting paid under the table?

I know its an old phrase, but it still fits even today when things that are very harmful to our health can be found to be safe by certain government entities and yet things which are okay for us are deemed as illegal.  My wife saw an article from not too long ago that states that a new study shows that sugary foods can be as harmful to your health as alcohol and the researcher's idea is to tax sugary foods.


Now, while there may be some case or truth to this idea, it is very much a complete *cough, cough* bullshit, news worthy article.  Let's see this from my side or point of view:

So, a group of scientists have discovered that regular sugar foods is harmful to you.  Furthermore, the real culprit, High Fructose Corn Syrup, isn't even mentioned as a suspect in obesity, heart disease and everything else.  "Because of the way sugar is metabolized in the liver, the liver will turn sugar into fat causing insulin resistance all of the diseases of metabolic syndrome," 

What science is now showing is that the above quote actually describes High Fructose Corn Syrup and NOT sugar.  If this was really the case with sugar, then we would have known this for thousands of years.  High Fructose Corn Syrup is the newest thing which means that if a family had been eating very sugary foods for hundreds of years without and issue and all of sudden in the past 50 years or less they start getting health issues, I would point at the new factor, not the old one.  These scientists even consider putting an age limit on soda and other snacks.  Which is sad because I have yet to find a single soda that uses sugar, they all use high fructose corn syrup.

So, is taxing something sweet the answer to stopping people from eating it or reducing it?  I don't think so.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

um...I just don't know about this....

I understand that celebrities or rappers may want to help advertise something after they have already made it big.  But, when no one has heard of you and you are on a bag of chips, then...

Needless to say, they taste like Cheetos or other cheese puffed products.  They are called Rap Snacks and that is Yung Joc on the cover.  Now, what is interesting, and I am no way an expert in Hip Hop, Rap or anything "Gangsta", but how can you relate or be a man of the people, when you are upper class?  From what I have found online, this man's father was the owner of a hair-care products company and landed him the opportunity to write a jungle for Revlon.  He then went off and recorded his own music under his own label.

On the back of this package it gives a different story of how Yung Joc grew up and was sparked into rap by such artists as Run DMC, Ice-T, Slick Rick and LL Cool J.  What I find interesting is that those artists all started from nothing and matured and grew up with the streets and their humble beginnings in mind.  I'd be willing to bet, a large case of Honey Dew flavored Rap Snacks, that Yung Joc's humble beginnings are like the time he had to help his dad pump gas in their $30K plus automobile. Or the time that he had to take a deposit of the weeks worth of hair-care product sales to the bank.

Anyway, the cheese things are okay.  They don't score higher than a 2 out of 5 for me, they have over 50 ingredients and MSG.  They are a little sweet, like you taste the honey part of it, but they don't rank up there with some of my more favorite snacks or flavors.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wine in easy to use portion sizes

A few weeks ago while in the store my wife and I spotted something cool: portion sized wines.  For us, we normally buy a bottle of wine, open it and then have it open for a few weeks or we take low glasses and slowly whittle it down.  Then, by the time we finish it, it has been in the refrigerator for a week or two and doesn't taste as good as it should have or as it did when we started.  Someone has come up with a solution!

You are seeing it correctly.  These are little plastic containers with a lid.  Each one of these is a correct portion size, a glass of wine.  It can be easily put into a fridge because of its short size and never has to worry about coming into contact with the cork.  It is air tight sealed and works.  We tried the Zin and it was very tasty, even though we normally don't drink that kind.  This brand had other flavors as well, everything from a Cab to a Reisling.  The flavor was nice, not too bold and not too dry and just a taint of fruitiness to help ease the dinner down.

My suggestion is to find these and buy them.  This is a mere half glass as these smaller sizes allow my wife and I to split a "bottle" of wine and have a new "bottle" each night or every other night.  That way, we don't open a large bottle and are stuck with that one until we finish it.  Very smart idea here and more people should follow suit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our house

Our house is the name of a coffee shop and cafe in Columbia, Illinois.  I'm trying to think about it, but best I can come up with is that it is the ONLY coffee shop and cafe that is open, every day, in Columbia.  I know that there is another one, but it has erratic hours.  This one, is great as when we stopped in around 8am, they were kind, courteous, and friendly.  As well as good food and good prices.
 This is the outside of the cafe and while the main door, on the left, doesn't look like much or looks like it would lead you into a nice spot for a bite, then you are wrong.

The inside looks like it is filled with things.  While it may look cluttered, these items are all useful so it has everything you want.  Do you want a full breakfast to go?  They have it.  Do you want some coffee and to sit around and lounge and relax and forget your cup? They have that too.  Are you trying to stave off extra calories and would like some sugar free syrups in your coffee?  Well, they have more than 10 of those.  I know that the other coffee house in Columbia didn't have any, last time we checked. (Which was a while ago because I forgot when they were last open.)

What is the food like?  Well, when we went in, there was a single woman watching the front and cooking the food.  I ordered my usual breakfast tester: biscuits and gravy.  This is what I got:
This is a to-go order as well.  I am sure it was under $5.  But this was two homemade biscuits, split in half with what seemed a gallon of rich, homemade sausage gravy on top.  It was better tasting than McDonald's and IHOP combined!  5 out of 5 stars.

My wife got the spinach quiche and this is what it looked like.
My wife thought that it tasted good and it was a 4 out of 5.

My son, who will eat almost anything with eggs in it for breakfast, ordered the egg breakfast and got this:

Yeah, that looked like 2 eggs, 2 toast, some butter, jam and some fruit.  My son ate the eggs, but not the toast.  Not that there was anything wrong with the toast, other than it was toast and he is 3 years old.

Anyway, I suggest you to stop into Our House, the next time you are in Columbia.  It is very relaxing inside and while it may not have that "new" trendy style like a St. Louis Bread Co., Starbucks, or other coffee shops may have, it definitely meets its goals.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So, they finally did it. A healthy cookie.

Wow, I don't know when it came out, but while at Global Foods, I saw something that caught my eye which I had only recently seen a commercial for: a healthy cookie.

Ok, the cookies are vanilla, in this case and are tasty.  What is interesting about them is what can be found on the back of the box:
Now, I'm not going to repeat what you can see there, but 3 cookies at 170 calories is an okay ratio.  But look at what you get, look at those percentages!  Three cookies are comparable in nutrition to half of a cup of Carnation instant breakfast!

Now, if you want cookies at home for you or your kids, I highly suggest these and if I see more anywhere I intend to try the other flavors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Coconut energy drink?

Rockstar tries to cash in on the recent fad over coconut drinks.  I'd say that within the past year people have noticed how healthy coconuts are and thus how healthy the coconut water is.  Now, while it is healthy to buy a coconut and plant a straw in it like those old Tropicana, most people don't think that a straw in a $1 coconut is the same thing as spending $3 on a bottle of "coconut water" drink.

Rockstar took the coconut milk to one step further.  They created a coconut water energy drink. (And failed miserably.) This new drink: Rockstar Coconut Water, Energy and Hydration is supposed to give you plenty of electrolytes and high amounts of caffeine and what it does instead is have me yearning for even water to be a chaser.

This is the Coconut Rockstar energy drink, it is bright blue and hard to not notice.  While they sport other colors on their other cans, this one stands out the most and that color difference is what first caught my eye.  However, most poisonous plants and animals wear bright colors like this to warn their predators and under that concept, I wish I had followed that with this can.  It has  coconut juice as its third ingredient, after purified water and sucrose, but it is overly sweet and just like coconut water disappears to quickly.  With fresh coconut water, you taste water with a very mild coconut flavor and a tad of sweetness.  This makes it cool and refreshing and willing to enjoy more of.  This has a strange taste and as I thought it was good, even though my wife turned it down after the first sip, I wanted to be very Andrew Zimmern about it and try it twice.  The second try, it seemed to grow on me. But that only lasted till half of the can when I noticed a rather strange aftertaste.

What is odd about this can is what it has is comparable to that of their sugar free energy drink but has way less or way worse flavor.  The regular Rockstar has B2 and this coconut does not.  The original Rockstar also has some ginkgo biloba extract, guarana seed extract, and L-Caritine.  While they have the same amount of caffeine, they don't have the same flavor.

The thing that threw me off with this drink is the progression of flavors.  You may taste sugar taste first, and then coconut and then there is this aftertaste that reminds me of butter.  That tart almost sour flavor that comes from butter is what is tasted after each and every sip of this drink.  Which is quite odd considering that fresh coconut water and even fresh coconut doesn't have that odd butter flavor.  It says that it only has 10% coconut juice and I'm just amazed at how quickly I wanted to stop drinking the drink.  I was okay with it half way and then when something is really bad but is technically good for you I think of it as medicine. You know the really bad medicine with which you feel you have to take and you choke it down?  I couldn't even do that with this stuff.  So, my final review is a 1 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It does get a 5 out of 5 for being a sneaky ninja and pretending to be good when it really isn't.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I have to talk about this

I'm not a big person on conspiracy theory.  But one has popped itself up on Facebook now and as a health person, I thought I would take about it.  First of all, let's get the boring part out of the way:

St. Louis is about 524 square miles large.  In feet, that would be about14,608,281,600 square feet.  That is the surface area of St. Louis County.

St. Louis City is about 66.2 square miles.  That is about 1,845,550,080 square feet of space.

Add them together to get about 16,453,832,400 square feet of space or land.

Now, let's also look at the planes that fly in the sky over St. Louis.  Let's say that they have to fly lower than commercial airplanes so they are at about 30,000 feet. So, I took the area of St. Louis county and multiplied it by the height, which would give me an amount of cubic feet. 14,608,281,600 times 30,000 equals about 438,248,448,000,000 cubic feet of space.  The area of St. Louis city times the height would also be about 55,366,502,400,000 cubic feet of space.  If I add them together, it would mean that not counting buildings, cars, trees and so forth, there would be about 493,614,950,400,000 cubic feet of space in the St. Louis area, up to 30,000 feet which is airplane level.  Now, let's say that most if not all of this calculated space has air in it.  Seems like a good hypothesis, right?

A friend who is an ex Air Force Pilot knows that contrails do exist.  They can be seen from about 26,000 feet to about 40,000 feet.  So, let's take that as a worst case scenario and suggest that 26,000 feet is where a plane is flying at.   So that is about 427,799,642,400,000 cubic feet of air space in a column over St. Louis to the minimum level that a contrail could exist.

So, let's get on with the point right...?

A post was made on Facebook about Chem Trails.  There are those that believe that the government is sending down chemicals and poisoning the people of St. Louis using contrails or chem-trails.  One theory is that the chemicals sprayed out are there to cause illness in people and control the population.  There are also theories suggesting that these chemicals can alter the weather.  But let's stay on the illness one or the control the population one because that is what seemed to be the main comment topic on the Facebook status.

First, let's look at 4 points that are in my head as we talk about this theory:

1.  If the government is using contrails to disperse a chemical that could cause illness or disease as a means of controlling the population of St. Louis, then why would they continue to help?  If you are reading this right now and you or someone you know is receiving help or aid from the government in food stamps, welfare or something else, then why would the same government try to make you sick and kill you off while providing you with money to live?  If you think the government is really trying to kill you, then stop accepting things from them.

2.  Let's look at those numbers and the math I did up there ^.  If there was a perfect, non moving column of air over the whole St. Louis area and a plane flew at 26,000 feet to drop a chemical that could harm everyone here, that chemical would have about 427,799,642,400,000 cubic feet to fight its way down to humans, without dispersing and fading into nothingness.  That would have to either be a huge chemical container or a super concentrated chemical.  If it was super concentrated, then they wouldn't fly it that high because of the plane or anything had a leak and the plane or pilot was in danger, how would they cover that up?

3.  Air currents move.  My calculations were based on a non-moving column of air space.  Well, there is this thing called wind.  So, wind could blow and air could move and all sorts of things could happen to make and dissipate the chemicals even more.

4.  Could it really change the weather?  I remember hearing and reading a while ago but think that there is enough other factors and variables that make the weather.

In the movie, The Rock, the Vx gas, which really does exist is lethal inhaled at a dose of 30 mg.  This means, that if we were say that the gas would have to be in every cubic foot of air so it could be inhaled, with air currents, breezes, plants and other factors. This would be equal to 117,892,094.8 gallons or we can just round that last gallon up.  If a gallon of this super poison weighs half as much as water, it would be 471,568,379 pounds of added weight onto a plane.  So, this would mean it is impossible that the contrail is really chemicals.

So my final point, is that it is plausible but likely not true or really effectively possible.  Also, if you are that distrusting of the government and you are receiving help from them like in the way of food stamps or welfare, then maybe you should not accept that government help.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The last of the Silver Spoon

Well, after 2 months and 30 recipes or so later, I am finished with my run of the Silver Spoon.  The recipes are easy to follow and put together using simple ingredients and in most cases, the food turns out to be complex and delicious.  This was a great way to get some very healthy foods into our family, just in time for the start of the new year and for the new year diet.  When I normally cook food, I cook during the weekend to produce at least one meal for a dinner and one to take to work for lunch.  Both of these meals last half the week.  I then make another two meals on a Wednesday or Thursday for the rest of the week and then restart.  Some of these recipes were made into non-meat meals to help with the diet.

We have a roasted red pepper sauce, meant for pastas.  I made it so my wife could use it on her yam noodles (which have almost no calories themselves.)

This was a mushrooms and prosciutto dish.  It had about 1 and 1/2 pounds of mushrooms and 3 ounces of prosciutto along with garlic and many other yummy things.  I do have to note, that only about 1/10th of the recipes in this book, used garlic.

This was blueberry risotto and while it may look strange, it is not a sweet dish but a savory one.

This was the best dish I had made in while.   This was called Baked Savoy Cabbage.  It is a layer of cabbage, then a layer of freshly cut mozzarella and then a layer of Italian sausage with some freshly ground black sea salt and pepper.  Then the layers continue until you finish with a layer of cabbage on the top.  You then pour a 1/2 cup of cream or in my case, half and half, over it all and it turns into this perfect casserole dish.  As I was telling my son who is studying the food pyramid in kindergarten, this dish has food from the meat, vegetable and dairy food groups all in one serving.  Maybe have a side of the blueberry risotto and you have all 5 food groups at one meal.

This is the last of the Silver Spoon recipes and my time in the book, if you are interested in any of the recipes and you do not want to buy the book for yourself, please let me know.