Friday, September 30, 2011

Roasted Whole Garlic and Roma Tomato Salad.

4 large roma tomatoes, cut in half
8 heads fresh garlic
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (plus extra)
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shavings
Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

Cut a thin slice off each head of garlic and discard. Place garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic reduction. Season with salt and black pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Cover and roast until soft and golden (about 1 hour). During the last 30 minutes of cooking, on a prepared baking sheet, toss tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil and arrange in a single layer. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and bake until soft and caramelized.

In a large serving platter, drizzle extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of the platter. Drizzle drops of balsamic reduction over the top (refer to picture). Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange roasted garlic and tomatoes on top (refer to picture). Sprinkle with fresh parmesan shavings and parsley.

Balsamic Reduction:
2 cups balsamic vinegar (any brand of your choice)
2 small garlic clove, crushed

Bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vinegar had reduced to about half. 

Serve hot with fresh bread and extra balsamic reduction on the side.

Think Outside the Box, Especially When it Comes to Cake

Cake mixes, which were first introduced in the 1930s, didn't really catch on until after World War II. And even then, despite stereotypes of the apron-clad '50s housewife juggling taking care of kiddos and cleaning the house with just enough time to whip together instant baking creations, cake mixes actually weren't popular at first.

Simply adding water to a dry mix wasn't enough to make consumers feel proud of their baking handiwork. So, those crafty manufacturers reformulated their mixes so that consumers had to add fresh eggs themselves. Sneaky.

Today, the same appeal exists. Just add a few ingredients and baking a masterpiece of a cake (that's all your own) becomes a piece of cake. Whether a mix or a homemade cake rates better on the tasty-scale, will probably be a debate that goes on, well, forever. But from a health standpoint, there's no debate. Homemade cakes are healthier, even if it is dessert.
Why? Because you're in control. You can choose what ingredients go into your cake. Using whole, fresh and organic flours, sugars and butter, will blow any conventional cake mixes' ingredients out of the oven.

Need proof? Take a look:

Ingredients in Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix:

(I'm going to pick on Duncan Hines, although other popular cake mix brands including Betty Crocker and Pillsbury have similar ingredients.)

Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- and Diesters Of Fats, Mono and Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Candied Lime Tart

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, frozen and cut into small cubes
2 eggs, yolks
1/2 cup icy cold water
2 tablespoons lime zest
1/2 cup superfine sugar
Pinch salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Roll out pastry dough. Place in a prepared 12 inch by 12 inch tart pan or similar, making sure to also cover sides. Line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes or until baked and a golden color. Remove from heat, remove pie weights and parchment paper. Set aside.

12 large eggs, yolks only
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 lime, juiced and zested
4 cups fresh cream

Bring cream to a simmer. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in warm cream slowly and continue whisking until creamy and well combined. Add lime zest and juice and stir to just combine. Pour into cooled pie crust.

Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges are set and the middle is slightly wobbly. Leave to cool completely in the pan. Arrange candied lime on top. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving.

Candied Lime:
4 large lime, thinly sliced
1 cup of superfine sugar (plus 2 tablespoons)
1 cup of water

Blanch lime quickly for about 2 minutes. Drain. Using the same pot, combine water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, add lime slices. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and spread out to cool on a wire rack. When limes are dry, coat both sides with sugar.

Did Science Build A Better Turkey?

'Tis the season for the local supermarkets to feature delicately balanced displays of gravy, stuffing mix, and cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and the centerpiece of the upcoming meal for 95% of families will be the traditional roast turkey.

Americans gobble up a lot of turkey: 267 million  turkeys are sold in the United States each year. Considering all those turkeys, it may surprise you to hear that there's one that dominates the competition at the supermarket: the broad-breasted white turkey. Most of us have never eaten anything else.

For several decades researchers have been using science to build a better Thanksgiving turkey.  Today's big turkeys owe their large size to the incorporation of a special diet, vaccinations, and selective breeding. With selective breeding, also known as artificial selection, two members of the same species are bred to exploit desirable dominant characteristics -- which they pass along to their offspring.  In the case of Thanksgiving turkeys, the characteristic of choice is: big breast muscles.

The result is the big-breasted "super turkey". While this is the desired result for consumers, the turkeys themselves face problems due to their bulked-up bodies.  Industry-bred birds have such unusually large breasts, so disproportionate with the rest of their bodies that they often have trouble standing, walking and mating.  Therefore these turkeys rely on artificial insemination for reproduction. In addition, the mother turkey is never in contact with her young. This means that the young chicks don't get a chance to pick up on survival skills or behavioral clues from the mother as they would in the wild. These specially bred, domesticated turkeys are totally dependent on breeders for survival.  Their limited family tree has bred them to be dim-witted and disease-prone; so they're given antibiotics to prevent a variety of ailments. Industry turkeys are also abnormally fast-growing, reaching an average of 32 pounds in a mere 18 weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warm Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

2 cups orzo pasta
2 cups butternut, remove skin and seeds, chop into bite size 
6 baby purple potatoes, skin on, chop in half
1 cup feta cheese crumble
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (optional)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (extra for garnish)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Toss butternut and purple potatoes in extra virgin olive oil to coat. Season with salt and black pepper and roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until they're cooked. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt. Add orzo to cook until al dente (don't over cook!), about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. In a deep sided pan, drizzle about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add orzo, garlic, and cooked vegetables when oil is hot. Toss quickly to heat all the ingredients. Season with salt and black pepper. Add salad to a large serving platter. Stir in feta crumbles, toasted pine nuts (optional) and green onions. Drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette and serve warm.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
Gently whisk olive oil, fresh lemon juice, honey, mustard, and fresh garlic to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.


I spent the past month speaking to random people everywhere that I went. I asked all of them the same question, "Do you know what GMO stands for and what it is?" While some people either knew what it was or at least had heard of it, I was surprised by the number of people who had never heard of GMO. This article is dedicated to those of you who looked at me with wonder, and then shook your head "no."

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Since this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as "transgenic" organisms.

The genetic engineering technology was developed in the 1970s. In the early 1990s, the tomato was one of the first to be victim of this technology. The anti-freeze genes from an Arctic fish were forced into tomato DNA, allowing the plants to survive frost. Fortunately, this type of tomato was not introduced into the marketplace. Actually, it never left the lab.(1)

In 1976, a major biotechnology company manufactured an herbicide called Roundup. When the farmers sprayed this herbicide on their crops, not only would it kill the weeds, but it would also kill the crops. This biotech company developed genetically modified crops after finding bacteria in a chemical waste dump near its factory that were not dying in the presence of the herbicide. The bacterial gene that produced the protein that allowed it to survive in the presence of herbicide was inserted into soy, corn, cotton and canola.(2)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken Stew With Parsley Dumplings

Chicken Stew:
8 large pieces, boneless, skinless chicken (prefer dark meat)
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, remove skin and chop
2 large tomatoes
1 cup brussels sprouts (or vegetable of choice)
3 celery sticks, chopped
6 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus two tablespoon for the Dutch Oven)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, olive oil, mustard, parsley, rosemary, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper. Rub chicken generously, making sure to use up all the mixture. Cover and set aside to marinade for up to 2 hours or more. 

In a large Dutch Oven (or similar), drizzle about one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Arrange chicken in a single layer and add the vegetables and broth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and bake for about two hours or until chicken is tender. Remove lid and add dumplings.

Parsley Dumplings:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine dry ingredients. Fold in milk. Scoop and drop tablespoonfuls of dumpling mixture on top of Chicken Stew leaving space in between. Cover and bake a further 5 to 10 minutes (No peeking!) or until the they have risen and are fluffy.

Remove from oven. Enjoy!

Does The U.S. Government Subsidize Junk Food?

The U.S. government is perpetuating the childhood obesity epidemic by subsidizing the commodity crops that make junk food junk, according to Mike Russo of the U.S Public Research Group (PIRGs) Education Fund. Russo’s new report, Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food, says between 1995 and 2010 , out of the $260 billion in agricultural subsidies, $77.1 billion went to corn production.  About $7.5 billion went directly to corn-based sweeteners and starch, the report says.  

If agriculture subsidies went back to the people, Americans would receive 19 free Twinkies per person per year, Russo says. However, with the $262 million that go towards the production of apples, we would be rationed about a quarter of a red delicious apple per person per year. One in five children ages six to 11 are obese. In January, the USDA published a report announcing that they were embarking on a campaign to educate children about healthier eating. Russo further discusses the reality of the American agriculture business and how the American people can help change the industry.

Neon Tommy: Could you comment on how the agricultural subsidies are affecting this country?

Mike Russo: If you look at where the agricultural subsidies are going, billions of subsidies are spent on crops and a big piece of that is junk food. All the trends are really scary in terms of what it means for our health, for our health care system, and how much we’re looking to pay or to deal with those issues. So for the purpose of this campaign we’re really focusing on just saying that taxpayer’s dollars shouldn’t be going to these services, that we should get rid of this wasteful spending on these counterproductive subsidies. 

There is certainly a lot of other stuff that needs to be done in order to really reverse the obesity epidemic, and these whole lot of other causes that are into why there is all of that cheap junk food available including what consumers like to buy, to what the food processing industry looks like, to the way that marketing and packaging have gone through, and you know those are all pieces of the puzzle when you are talking about how to address the broader issue of obesity.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lemon, Basil, and White Chocolate Cookies

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white chocolate, chips
1 cup superfine sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, chocolate chips and basil.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, and lemon juice and beat until combined.  With the mixer on low, beat in flour mixture to combine.

Drop teaspoonfuls (about 1" apart) onto two cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked and a golden color. Remove from the oven to cool.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Whisk fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Frost cookies and sprinkle with fresh lemon zest.

Hydrolysed Vegetable Proteins – Food Safety & Quality - 23rd September, 2011
The consumption of various food additives has been growing steadily around the world since the mid-20th century. They have been always using to increase the visual, nutritional or functional properties of foodstuffs. Seasonings containing hydrolysed vegetable proteins (HVP) hold a very important place among widely used food additives. In the food processing industry they are primarily used to enhance the taste and aroma of snack mixes, noodles & pasta mixes, soups, sauces, salads, meat and vegetable meals and finished meals.

Almost all kinds of foodstuffs and materials for food processing used for human consumption contain substances that cause a certain health risk. Likewise, all food processing operations can result in the production of substances unacceptable from a health point of view. The task of the food processing industry is to develop technology that will minimise such health risks.

Flavouring agent

Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein-HVP (sometimes referred to as Hydrolysed Plant Protein) is widely used in the food industry as a savoury flavouring agent to bring out the natural flavours in food. A chemical process called acid hydrolysis breaks down protein into amino acids from various food sources. Food scientists discovered that the protein in certain vegetables could be broken down and re-arranged to simulate the taste of meats. HVP is used in poultry, pork, vegetable products, broths, sauces, gravies, meats, and stews. Many foods contain HVP, including processed foods such as bouillon, soup, sauce mixes, gravy, crackers, chips, instant soups, processed meat and frankfurters. HVP is also produced via enzymatic hydrolysis.

The acid hydrolysis technology can result in the production of the so-called toxic glycerol chlorohydrins (MCPD and DCP).

Formation of 3-MCPD

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nicoise Salad

2 cups boiled potatoes cut into bite size chunks or baby red potatoes
12 asparagus spear or green beans, cooked
4 eggs, boiled, cut into quarters
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2 small can tuna in oil 
2 baby cos lettuce
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in  half
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/4 cup capers (optional)
Sea salt and black peppers

Whisk together dijon mustard, sugar, and red wine vinegar to combine. Set aside.

Drain tuna. 

Arrange salad on a serving platter. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

The Grass Is Greener

I've seen more grain-fed beef appearing on menus in restaurants. Is this better or worse for us than normal beef? What's the difference? What does it mean?

A. You're right, grain-fed beef is an interesting departure from what we're used to in New Zealand, where the vast majority of our meat is grass-fed; in other words the cows eat grass as their main food all their lives. We would seldom eat any other type of beef in New Zealand. You are most likely to find grain-fed beef on the menus of high-end restaurants or on gourmet meat websites.

It may seem odd to us but it's the reverse in other countries like the USA, where the tag grass-fed is not common but is fast gaining gourmet, health and environmental cachet. In America, as anyone who's read the book Fast Food Nation or the work of Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) will know, beef is fed on grain or corn while housed in vast, man-made feedlots. This throws up issues around its sustainability, ethics and health. It takes more energy and resources to feed these cows than it does to have cows graze in fields, and the system is designed to fatten up the cows as quickly as possible. It's worth noting, however, that the few feedlots here are quite different from American ones, in that they're small "five-star" operations aimed at producing premium beef for export, mainly to Japan, rather than being mass-production facilities.

Grain-fed and grass-fed beef are quite different in texture and taste. Grain-fed beef has more fat throughout the meat, known as marbling. Beef connoisseurs say this gives it greater flavour and tenderness. This makes sense, since fat gives food what's known as "mouth feel". Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is leaner and the fat tends to be easy to see and remove. In terms of health this means grass- fed beef contains less fat overall, and fewer kilojoules. Half the fat in beef is saturated, and it's easier to avoid this in grass-fed meat, because we can simply cut the fat off. It's impossible to do this with marbled meat.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple Crumble Tart

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
10 Granny Smith Apples, core, remove skin, and sliced thin
1 cup butter, chopped into small pieces
2 cups raw brown sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin spice
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium size mixing bowl, add one cup of sugar, apples, pumpkin spice, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Add flour, butter, one cup of sugar, one tablespoon of pumpkin spice, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until it resembles crumbs.

Pour half the crumbs into a 9" prepared springform cake pan, spreading evenly to coat the bottom. Press crumbs down. Add apples and spread evenly. Add the rest of the crumbs on top making sure to cover all the apples (refer to picture).

Bake for 1.5 hours or until the apples are soft and the cake is a golden brown in color.

Food Fight: ‘All Natural’ Designation Sparks Litigation

We live in an era when people pay obsessive attention to the provenance of what they eat: Where and how was the food made? And equally important, what ingredients are in it?
In that context, the phrase “all natural” takes on huge significance when it is affixed to grocery items.
But some recent consumer lawsuits claim that food companies are playing fast-and-loose with the “all natural” designation, effectively committing fraud against the shopping public, WSJ’s Ashby Jones reports.
The litigation begs the question: What properly qualifies as “all natural”?
It’s hard to say, because the FDA largely has declined to define “natural,” according to WSJ.
“The word hasn’t been defined well enough at all, so for years companies have been able to get away with basically defining it themselves,” said Michele Simon, an author and food-policy expert.
More than 20 years ago, the FDA issued an “informal policy” defining natural to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic” has been included in or added to a product, but the distinction between “artificial” or “synthetic” and “natural” isn’t so clear, according to WSJ.
“With the few precious dollars the FDA has, we largely choose to focus on topics that affect public safety,” an FDA spokeswoman told WSJ. “The ‘natural’ issue doesn’t. That’s not to say it’s not important, but we frankly have more pressing things to deal with.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roasted Pepper, Eggplant, and Feta Dip

1 large eggplant, chopped into bite size
2 cups mini sweet peppers, remove seeds 
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves 
1 white onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra for garnish
1 cup feta crumbles
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F

Place vegetables on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and leave to cool in the oven.

Blend all the vegetables in a blender. Pour into a serving bowl and mix in feta crumbles. Refrigerate until it's time to serve. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the dip when ready to serve.

How The Farm-to-Table Movement Is Helping Grow The Economy - September 21st, 2011

As the summer sun glints off a pyramid of scarlet-and-yellow Rainier cherries, at least one customer can't contain himself. "I know I can't buy yet, but can I sample?" he asks. It's Wednesday afternoon in July in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood, and the weekly farmers market--one of 40 in King County alone, up from nine a decade ago--is set to begin. Customers mass around the two blocks of stands, ogling bok choy and baby turnips, positioning themselves to get the ripest tomatoes. At 3 p.m., a bell rings to open the proceedings. Almost immediately, money flies across tables in flashes of green.
Think farm-to-table dining, and you may envision tree-hugging elitists rolling up to urban markets in expensive cars to fill cloth bags with expensive lettuce and free-range chicken. But look closer. The Columbia City customers are a disparate lot. Many are immigrants, going stall to stall to buy produce as they did at home. Others live in downtrodden neighborhoods nearby, one reason that this market has recently started accepting food stamps.
"A lot of people here don't fit the stereotype," says Lauren Keeler of Columbia City Bakery, which sells breads and cakes made just down the street. "It's not just some kind of yuppie thing. We get Asian immigrants, African immigrants, middle class, lower-middle class. It's amazingly diverse."
Locally sourced food is a big deal in Seattle, and the economic tendrils of the movement reach deeper than anyone might imagine. Throughout the city, in one ZIP code after the next, you'll find restaurants that have made local ingredients both a guiding principle and a marketing tool--from Local 360 in Belltown to emmer&rye ("seasonally inspired, locally derived") in Queen Anne to Wallingford's Tilth, which is named after the Oregon organization that certifies organic farms.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Potato Ginger Apple Soup

6 large potatoes, peel, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 quart (32 fluid ounces) vegetable broth
1 cup apple sauce
1 cup aged cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon curry
Salt and black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a soup pot except for the grated cheese. Season well with salt and black pepper, cover, bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour. Blend to desired consistency. Stir in cheese to melt. 

Serve hot.

U.S. Senator Calls For Clear Juice Concentrate Standards

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Food and Drug Administrationto put in place clear standards for imported fruit and vegetable juice concentrates and step up inspection of concentrates from countries that use toxic, inorganic arsenic in their pesticides, or with high levels of environmental contaminants. 

Schumer pointed out that, although serious questions exist over the methodology used by a daytime talk show last week that covered the subject of arsenic in apple juice, there currently are no FDA standards for toxic, inorganic arsenic in juice concentrates. 

Many juice concentrates are now imported from China, a country infamous for lax standards and the rampant use of toxic additives and chemicals, including inorganic arsenic, in their food supply. 

Schumer noted that while clear standards for the level of inorganic arsenic allowed in bottled water have been established by the FDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency restricts the use of toxic, inorganic arsenic in pesticides used in the United States, the FDA has no standards for inorganic arsenic in juice and vegetable concentrates. 

Given China’s history and the FDA’s previous work detaining pear juice from China with elevated levels of inorganic arsenic, Schumer noted the FDA needs to implement clearer standards for fruit and vegetable juice. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lamb Vegetable Stew

2 pounds lamb (stew meat)
1 cup fresh tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
1 large purple eggplant, cut into bite chunks
3 large carrots, cut into bite size chunks
2 cups baby red potatoes (or potatoes of choice)
1 large white onion
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons good quality paprika
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cumin, paprika, and garlic. Toss lamb pieces to fully coat. Season well with salt and black pepper. Add to a large casserole dish and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover. Bake for 1 hour. 

Reduce heat to 300 F. Continue to cook a further 2 hours. Turn heat off and leave Goulash in the oven to rest until it's time to serve.  Season well with salt and black pepper and garnish with lots of fresh parsley. Serve hot.

5 Foods to Stop Eating Today

We can talk all day about "eating in moderation," but if what we're eating in moderation consists of various foods that are nothing more than processed, bleached, preserved and sugared ingredients, we might as well just call it what it is: Gradual toxic food poisoning. If your diet consists of little more than fast food, fried chicken, candy and boxed snacks, you could be on the path to become the one in three Americans obese today, or the one in five suffering from heart disease. Based on recurring scientific studies showing their toxicity to our health, here are five foods you should stop consuming today.
There can't be enough to say about soda. It's a recipe for disease disguised in a delicious, bubbly brew. We'll just breeze on down the line with the ingredients found in a traditional, mainstream soda. Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in soft drinks, and it's been linked to the phantom triad of allergies, asthma and eczema. Phosphoric acid, the chemical that gives soda its wonderfully sharp, brassy flavor, has been shown to cause osteoporosis and tooth decay (causing more damage to the bones than battery acid, some experts claim). This acid -- yes, acid -- depletes calcium and other minerals from the body as it's excreted in urine, taking with it the very stuff our bones and teeth are made of. Because of the high amount of minerals it takes with it out of the body, phosphoric acid also does a number on the kidneys, and it's linked to kidney and renal problems in drinkers. Most mainstream sodas are still sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that's come under much scrutiny in recent years, with links to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. For soda manufacturers going back to "natural cane sugar," consumers should note that the sugars are still in such high quantities in sodas that they still lead to cavities, tooth decay and obesity. In fact, it's estimated that regular soda drinkers are a whopping 80% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers. Pass the water, please.
Fried Foods
There's been a great deal of hard research (and backlashing controversy from the food industry) over the health effects of fried foods. Various studies around the world have found correlations between fried foods -- particularly meats -- and the prevalence of cancers developing in the body. While many studies have been deemed "inconclusive," a very interesting and recent study in 2010 concluded that well-done meats, especially fried meats, doubled a person's risks for developing bladder cancer compared to those eating meat rare or underdone. The lead author of the study, Professor Xifeng Wu, was reported to state, "These results strongly support what we suspected -- people who eat a lot of red meat, particularly well-done red meat, such as fried or barbecued, seem to have a higher likelihood of bladder cancer." Interestingly enough, fried foods have also been shown in scientific studies to increase the prevalence of asthma in patients.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Strawberry Cake

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons strawberry preserve, room temperature
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating to combine. Add milk and whisk to combine. Sift the dry ingredients. Add orange zest and fold in to the wet mixture to combine (don't over mix!).

In a prepared 12 inch by 12 inch tart pan (or similar), Press some of the batter to cover the bottom of tart pan. Arrange sliced strawberries on top. Brush with strawberry preserve. With floured hands, randomly dot the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

The Cheap Disease

U.S. food consumers are somehow programmed to buy food cheaply. Our national motivation to pay less seems to be in our social DNA. We suffer what I call The Cheap Disease.
This national sport has created a cancer that's been growing out of control inside our food system and our society. Consumers' consumption represents about 2/3 of the GDP in our country, therefore, whatever we buy is big business--and keep in mind that we all eat every single day.
As consumers, we are very vulnerable to marketing messages. When companies spend big money on advertisement and social media, we simply obey. We have been bombarded for years with messages prompting us to pay as little as possible for food. The idea is simple: The less we pay, the smarter we're supposed to be.
Even today, most food advertisement on TV focuses on promoting cheaper prices. The "to-be-smart" message to pay less for food is always present. In other words, we have simply been brainwashed for years because, in fact, cheap food means lack of good nutrients, with huge amounts of artificial and chemical contents, leading inexorably to bad health and, of course, an obscene amount of environmental damage. While chasing the cheapest possible food, we have opened the door for the key decision makers in our food system to transform it into the oil/chemical monster that it is today, and at the same time, our collective health has deteriorated to a point beyond belief.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Green Onion Aged Cheddar Loaf

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold
1 1/2 cups aged cheddar cheese (grated), plus half a cup to sprinkle on top
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut cold butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly. Add cheese and green onions. Lightly mix to combine. Set aside.
Mix milk and eggs in a separate bowl. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients (Do not over mix!).

Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle half a cup of cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a stick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Serve hot with butter.

Egg Farm Regulations Still Skimpy - August 29th, 2011

One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa's egg farms.

None of the violations has resulted in penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa's egg producers still aren't required to tell state officials when they find salmonella.
Records obtained by The Des Moines Register under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that some of Iowa's major egg producers aren't meeting minimum federal standards intended to protect consumers from salmonella enteritidis — a potentially fatal bacterial infection that triggered a nationwide egg recall last August.
Critical elements in the Food and Drug Administration's reports — such as the size of rodent infestations, the brand names under which the eggs are sold and even the names of diseases documented at the egg farms — are blacked out and withheld from the public.
Iowa has been the No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation for the past 10 years.

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