cook + dine

Let’s Put the ‘Men’ Back in Menu

image via Blushing Rose Too

 

Meatball subs. T-bone steaks. Chili.
Eggs should be runny; meats served rare. If there must be salad, blue cheese should be crumbled on top.
We all know what manly food looks like.

And for the ladies, it’s all about tuna melts, angel hair pasta, and cottage cheese.
Pinot grigio is sipped and chocolate is consumed in dainty portions with mascaraed eyes falling closed in feminine pleasure.

A recent study from Northwestern University shows that real men truly don’t eat quiche. At least not if they stop to think about it.

It seems that men, more than women, are sensitive to gender-driven food messaging, both from early socialization and of the sort promoted by the evil geniuses of Madison Avenue. When a quick, 10 second decision is made, taste and appetite prevail; men will freely choose yogurt, rice pilaf, white wine, and poached fish. Given time to consider the choice, they’ll almost always shun the girlie food for beer and pretzels, hamburgers and meatloaf. Women don’t waver, overwhelmingly choosing feminine options and sticking with them.

Of course the cultural meanings of food did not materialize out of the ether. Physiology and heredity first defined gendered eating—men as hunters, women as gatherers; the greater protein needs of men; the frequency of supertasters among women—but now, it’s almost all cultural. We all had the same caveman roots, but you don’t find women shunning red meat outside of the U.S.

It makes a certain sense that the male research subjects were more inclined to yield to the tyranny of gender stereotypes. Men are more likely to be penalized for gender transgressions. It’s learned early on when little girls play freely with dolls and toy trucks, but a Barbie-loving boy arouses parental concerns.
We see the same double standard in food choices.

Women can munch away on buffalo wings, but a pastel-frosted cupcake or anything labeled as ‘diet’ is seen as an affront to manly eating. Bro-worthy treats are labeled as mancakes or whipped up as confections like the Driller (maple cake with bacon) and the Jackhammer (chocolate and hazelnut) at places like New York City’s Butch Bakery, and Diet Coke has been made over as the man-friendly Coke Zero (known familiarly as ‘bloke coke’).

The Northwestern University study suggests that for men, hard-wiring has little to do with food preferences. The initial, impulsive choice made in the first 10 seconds is seen as a true reflection of a man’s intrinsic tastes. At that moment, there’s nothing masculine or feminine about it; it’s simply food. The gendered syntax of girlie foods and manly foods is just part of the cultural tale we tell when we sit down to dinner.

The Northwestern University study: Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche: Regulation of Gender-Expressive Choices by Men appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. You can download the complete study here.

What is America’s manliest restaurant?
Men’s Health magazine surveyed its readers to identify their favorites (think meat, meat, and more meat). See the nine regional finalists at the Guy Gourmet blog.

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Kudos and Criticism for Chipotle’s Farm Ad


It’s been 2 weeks and the buzz still hasn’t died down.
Fast food marketer Chipotle Mexican Grill ran a doozy of a commercial during the Grammy Awards. The company went all out for its first national ad buy, a 2 minute spot during which it screened a short film celebrating sustainable agriculture.

Back to the Start uses stop-motion animation to tell the tale of a small-time farmer who transforms his family farm into an industrialized animal feeding operation, then sees the error of his way and returns to his former small-scale methods. It starts out as a sweet little Fisher-Price playset of a farm, green and lush with a single red barn and open pastures where a handful of spotted cows and plump pink piggies roam freely. Then it scales up to a gray landscape of bloated animals, crowded warehouses, and mechanized feeding lines with sludgy feed and a rainbow of chemical supplements. The soundtrack comes from Willie Nelson singing a mournful rendition of the Coldplay tune The Scientist: “Science and progress/Don’t speak as loud as my heart/Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be so hard/I’m going back to the start.”

The film succeeds on many levels.
It’s playful but unsettling. It confronts the horrors and pitfalls of concentrated, mechanized agriculture, but does so without the stridency and gory shock tactics of most animal rights messaging. It’s simple but not dumbed down.

The critics began chiming in while the final frame was still flickering on TV screens.
Proponents of Big Agriculture blasted the message as a ‘prescription for worldwide hunger,’ claiming that they make the tough calls regarding animal husbandry on our behalf. In a New York Times opinion piece, Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst warned that our political correctness actually backfires because it drives small farmers out of business because only “big multistate operations will also be able to afford to make the changes, or will at least have the political sway to resist them.” He also questions Chipotle’s assumption that a pig would prefer a pasture to a warehouse. Have there been “porcine focus groups,” he wonders, with “response meters designed for the cloven of hoof?” “… for all we know, pigs are ‘happier’ in warm, dry buildings than they are outside. And either way, the end result is a plate.” [If Mr. Hurst’s name is ringing a bell, perhaps it’s because he first made a name in the food world as the author The Omnivore’s Delusion, the anti-foodie screed he penned in response to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma]

Chipotle also drew criticism from members of the food reform community. Chipotle, whose motto is “Food with integrity,” has demonstrated a deep commitment to the humane treatment of animals, but has come under fire numerous times for ignoring the unethical and abusive labor practices of some of its vendors. Some also have a cynical view of a corporation that has co-opted a movement and turned it into a marketing tool.

It’s true that we can’t presume to truly know what’s inside a pig’s mind. It’s also true that Chipotle mixes self-interest with the environmental message. But ultimately, it’s the message that matters. Back to the Start addresses deep and important issues about the food supply, and Chipotle succeeded in bringing them to the attention of a broad national audience.

 

Posted in entertainment, fast food, sustainability | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Girly Beer

image via Philly.TheDrinkNation

Pink is for girls, y’know.
That’s why the beer industry is using it to sell beer to women. After years of disenfranching and objectifying women, it’s time for a little condescension.
Ladies, cue the squeals of delight and air kisses because this one’s for you.

Molson Coors Animée: the bloat-resistant beer

Mhttp://www.beer-pages.com/stories/news/images/animee.jpgolson Coors is pre-tty pleased with themselves for this one. Bloat resistance is just one of its charms. According to the company’s press office, Animée is “lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste [and an] unexpectedly sophisticated appearance.” That translates from PR flack-speak as fruity flavors and pastel hues. Instead of 6-packs, Animée is sold in lighter, daintier 4-packs. Animée was launched in the U.K. in late 2011 with a big bucks promotion, and we can hardly wait for its appearance on our shores cause, you know, we hate to bloat too.

Heineken’s Jillz: “Fresh and exciting. Just like you.” Uh huh.

http://groepje5.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/jillz.jpg

Heineken’s entry, also thoughtfully sold in 4-packs, is Jillz (with a Z; the original name of Charli with an I was withdrawn when the company realized that is a nickname for cocaine) a sweet beer and apple cider hybrid that would never be confused with either of the two beverages. Type your name into the online Jillz Datemaker and a buff and shirtless bartender will personally invite you to ‘Come bite my apple.’

 

Is that really beer? I mistook it for a hip stylish purse.

 

http://nola.eater.com/uploads/chick-beer-ladies.jpg
Finally a beer that matches your slingback sandals. The Chick Beer website explains: “The bottle is designed to reflect the beautiful shape of a woman in a little black dress. The six-pack looks like you are carrying your beer in a hip stylish purse. Chick’s unique reflective bottle blings you up! It’s fun, fabulous, and female!”

 

 

…and the lady in the bold Pucci print will have a Carlsberg.

 

http://cached.imagescaler.hbpl.co.uk/resize/scaleToFit/427/285/?sURL=http://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/news/OKM/2DAA6980-05EB-5A98-17A4236C1FDEF1C8.JPG
http://i.huffpost.com/gen/280219/thumbs/s-CARLSBERG-COPENHAGEN-BEER-large300.jpgIn the beginning, there was Eve.
Introduced in 2006, Eve’s Press Kit asks that its girly flavors (litchee, passionfruit) be served in girly glasses (flutes) at suitably girly occasions (“where women meet and socialize in company with their best friends.”) But what about those situations when you want a real beer in a real bottle and darn it, none of them look good with your outfit? It happens to women all the time, according to  Carlsberg’s International Innovation Director: “There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style. In this case, they may well reject a beer if the design does not appeal to them.” Thank goodness Carlsberg’s new Copen♥hagen (the heart is silent) is on the scene to rescue us with its tasteful, go-with-everything bottle.

 

Is anyone surprised by the missteps?
Beer marketing has a long and shameful testosterone-drench history. The industry has always flogged its products with sexist, dude-centric imagery like sports figures, cowboys, rappers, farm animals, physical labor, and above all frat-boy humor. These clumsy, condescending, pink and fizzy attempts to appeal to women are about what we expected.

Half the market is still waiting for their beer.

 

 

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The Coolest Kitchen from the International Consumer Electronics Show

Jetsons via Hanna-Barbera

The toasters really did tweet at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
The ovens downloaded recipes, the refrigerators were on Facebook, and the dishwashers chatted with the washing machines about the hot water.
The kitchen of the future is here, and can be summed up in one word: connected.
You talk to your appliances, they communicate with each other and the outside world.

The LG ThinQ refrigerator has a smart food monitor that texts you updates when you run out of groceries. It recognizes each family member through voice-recognition software and suggests dishes appropriate to each diet. The refrigerator can cue the ThinQ oven to the appropriate cooking time and temperature, and the oven will text you when it’s preheated and completed the cooking cycle.

The app-enabled Samsung refrigerator tracks the expiration dates of groceries and will soon be upgraded with an e-commerce app that will allow you to shop for food straight from a screen on the front of the fridge. For now, the LCD monitor can be used to stream TV and Facebook or download recipes.

You can ring up the internet-connected Jura-Capresso coffeemaker from your smartphone to start brewing before you even get out of bed. It stores individual preferences for coffee strength, water amount, temperature, and milk-frothing steam.

There are features to appeal to the tech-geek inside us, but the real smartness of the appliances fits into the broader conversation around the connected home and overall home management. Connected appliances can minimize down-time and waste by running their own performance diagnostics, and they can connect to the manufacturer for repairs and upgrades. They can tap into signals from power companies and use the data to adapt their cycles to optimize energy usage and shift their energy consumption to off-peak times.

Smarten up your old appliances.
There are devices out there that let you create your own connected home without replacing your old appliances.

The Wifi-connected Twine is loaded with temperature, pressure, moisture, current, RFID, and motion sensors. It knows when the refrigerator door is opened and closed, when the ice maker is jammed, and when your oven thermostat needs recalibration; and it can report on status via emails and tweets.

Remember the Clapper? Belkin’s WeMo is the 21st century version of ‘clap on, clap off.’ You plug in any appliance that has an on-off switch and control or schedule its operations via smartphone or tablet computer.

The connected home is not exactly the futuristic utopia of The Jetsons, where a hungry Jane pushes a few buttons on the food-a-rac-a-cycle and there’s dinner for four. But we’re getting closer.

 

 

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Jell-O Returns

Did you feel that?
It’s the Jell-O groundswell, and I’ll bet you’re sensing it too.

Jell-O is primed for a comeback. It’s a most modest indulgence, inexpensive and fat-free. It has a nostalgic earnestness, evoking memories of tonsillectomies and Mom’s bridge club, but it can also play the irony card as an amusingly kitschy party dish, all retro-cool atop a Mid Century Modern chrome and glass table. Plus, it wiggles.

Jell-O comes with its own mythology.
Prototypically American, for years Jell-O was the official welcoming dish served to immigrants as they passed through Ellis Island. It’s been found to have numerous medical applications, as a testing medium for pancreatitis, mimicking brain waves for an EEG, and as an experimental cancer therapy; and by day 3 of the stomach flu, it’s just about the only food you can handle.

Jell-O has even been touched by scandal. In the 1951 espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the case hinged on a meeting between two communist spies. One spy had stolen atomic secrets from the military compound at Los Alamos, and the other was to deliver the secrets into the hands of the Russians. The prosecution alleged that Julius Rosenberg had arranged for a meeting between the pair of spies by tearing a Jell-O box in two and giving a piece separately to each. The theory went that when the spies met up to pass along the stolen secrets, they would  be able to confirm the other’s identity by fitting the Jell-O box together. The torn Jell-O box shown in court was seen as a damning piece of physical evidence that led to the Rosenbergs’ controversial convictions and executions. That Jell-O box is now held in the Public Vaults of the National Archives.

A distinguished past and a bright future.
Our infatuation with all things DIY helped kickstart the Jell-O comeback.
The unique properties of Jell-O make it a magnet for tinkerers. Play with the ratios and it can be a liquid, a solid, or something in between. You can use it as finger paint or hair dye; as a powder it will deodorize the cat’s litter box, and as a paste it’s a household cleanser.

In its gelled form, Jell-O is edible entertainment. Its color and opacity are endlessly variable. It molds into any shape and suspended objects can be layered in, making it a favorite of both holiday hostesses and office pranksters who are endlessly amused by gelatin-encased staplers.

Jell-O is an enduring symbol of American ingenuity. It’s also a remnant of the unpretentious traditions of American cookery. It reminds us that there was a time in the not-so-distant past when a wiggly, jiggly, gaudy mass was the height of sophisticated dining.

Liz Hickock is an internationally exhibited sculptor and photographer who is currently working in the medium of Jell-O. Best known for her gelatin renderings of urban landscapes, she has transformed the San Francisco skyline, the Arizona desert, and the city of Wilmington into fragile, shimmering mosaics.

In upstate Le Roy, New York, birthplace of Jell-O, the Jell-O Brick Road leads to the Jell-O Gallery. General Foods moved the factory out of state years ago, but the museum still hauls in busloads of tourists drawn to artifacts and exhibits like the evolution of Jell-O packaging and a Jell-O-themed Barbie doll; and a gift shop that carries boxer shorts bearing the Jell-O tagline: Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle.

The motto of My Jello Americans is ‘in order to form a more perfect union of gelatin and alcohol.’ In other words, they blog about jello shots. But that simplification belies the artistry of their creations: intricate, elegant sculptural objets wrought in boozy Jell-O.

 

Posted in dessert, diversions, food trends | Tagged | 1 Comment

2011 Food App Award Winners

image via National Post

Talk about understatement.
Do you cook? There are apps to plan a menu, find a recipe, convert to metric, shop ethically, analyze nutritional content, pair a wine, and donate your leftovers to a soup kitchen. Maybe you feel  like eating out. You can get cuisine- and location-based restaurant suggestions, read reviews, book a table, preview the daily specials, map your route, figure the tip, and calculate the excercycle mileage that will burn off the meal.
There are food apps for travelers, for fans of street food, and apps that will let you know when to take a cake out of the oven. They stop short of washing the dishes for you, but there is a house cleaning hypnosis app that promises dishwashing enjoyment through the power of suggestion.

The food app category has grown so large that it has its own, dedicated awards. Toque, the online magazine of food journalism, has just announced the first annual Food App Award winners. Entries came from multinational media giants, independent web designers, and everything in between. They were judged on creativity, technical excellence, and the ability to solve a problem (that we often didn’t even know we had until the app came along).

Here are this year’s winners:

 

 

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American is the New Ethnic

photo via Meat America

There’s a culinary frontier right in our own backyard.

We spent the past few decades mastering the fine points of regional cooking from all around the globe— we know our Szechaun from our Cantonese, our Burgandy from our Provençal, and can spot a Neapolitan pizza at fifty paces. It’s time to come home.

America’s regional cuisines are getting their due. Finally.
For years, American food was ridiculed abroad and ignored at home. American food was what we ate in diners and fast food joints; fine dining was synonymous with French cuisine and Continental restaurants.

Not anymore. Seriously credentialed and pedigreed chefs are exploring the foods of every region and sub-region from every corner of the U.S. They’re treating our regional dishes with the respect previously reserved for the imports, elevating both the cuisine’s stature and our pleasure.

Chefs are combining contemporary aesthetics and local ingredients into modern incarnations of regional cuisines. They’re exploring indigenous flavors and products from the well-known regional cuisines of  New England, New Orleans, and the Southwest; fast-rising regions like the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Northwest; and newly emerging sub-regions like Hawaii and Florida’s Panhandle.

Of course we’re still a big, old melting pot. We have a vast and complex culinary heritage that continues to be renewed and enriched as new ethnic groups and generations add to the mix.

Regional American food is constantly evolving and will never truly reach its fullest enunciation. Some are troubled by the notion of a cuisine that defies a tidy definition, wondering if there is a true American cuisine. But that’s just culinary semantics. American food is in a constant cycle of rediscovery and renewal, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

Open Table has just released its 2011 Diners’ Choice Awards. They culled over 10 million individual reviews to name the top 100 restaurants serving American cusine.

The all-American food marketplace Foodzie offers carefully curated tasting boxes that let you choose representative regional products from small-batch producers.

 

 

Posted in cook + dine, local foods | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

New Uses for Microwaves

Happy microwave via Chazzyllama

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but I’d cast my vote for convenience.

Take the microwave oven.
It’s entirely redundant in our kitchens. It does nothing more than duplicate cooking processes that are nearly always better-performed by other appliances. Yet every one of us has one. Why? Because it’s convenient. It’s quicker, easier, and usually requires less cleanup than other cooking methods.

Most of us use our microwaves to defrost, reheat, and boil water. But why stop there? With a little know-how, we can do so much more with our microwaves.

Make skinny potato chips: Lay thin potato slices in a single layer on a plate. Season (salt, pepper, vinegar- whatever you like). Microwave for about 5 minutes until they reach the desired point of brown and crispy done-ness.

Soften brown sugar: Microwave the package of brown sugar on high for 15-30 seconds. Voila!

Dry fresh herbs or grated citrus peels: Spread herbs or peels on a paper towel. Microwave for 1-2 minutes or until dried, stirring every 30 seconds. Cook another 1-2 minutes for thicker peels and herbs.

Freshen soggy peanuts: Spread in a baking dish and microwave, uncovered, on high for 3 minutes per cup. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

Make scratch chocolate pudding: Mix 1/3 c. cornstarch, 1/4 c. cocoa powder, 1/2 c. sugar, pinch of salt, and 2 1/4 c. milk. Cook for 2 minutes and stir. 2 more minutes and stir. 2 more minutes and stir in 1 t. vanilla and 2 T. butter. Let stand for about 5 minutes until it’s pudding-thick.

Get twice as much juice from a lemon: Give it 30 seconds in the microwave and then roll it around a few times on the counter. Double juice.

Roast a whole head of garlic: Put a whole, unpeeled bulb of garlic on a paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 minute, turn it upside down and give it another minute. The soft, roasted cloves will squeeze right out.

Need some melted chocolate for a recipe? Snip the corner off of a bag of chips. Microwave for 20 seconds and knead the bag to mix. Keep repeating in 20 second increments (you’ll need a potholder as it heats up) until fully melted. Squeeze the chocolate out of the cut corner for a completely bowl-less, spoon-less experience.

Cook corn on the cob right in its husk: Put unshucked ears of corn on damp paper towel. You can microwave 4 or so at a time, adding a little under 2 minutes cooking time for each ear. Let the corn stand for 5 minutes before serving. The husks and silk will slip off easily.

Ripen an avocado: Microwave an avocado on medium for 2 minutes. Turn over, and microwave for 1 minute more.

Make a little cake in a mug: Coat the mug with nonstick spray. Add to the mug 4 T.  flour, 9 T. hot chocolate mix, and a pinch of salt. Give a stir and add an egg, 3 T. water, and 3 T. oil.  Mix it up well and microwave for 3 minutes. It will rise to alarming heights and then settle back into the mug. It’s not the best chocolate cake you ever tasted, but not-the-best is better than no chocolate cake.

Read Gigabiting’s Kitchen Hacks for many more kitchen shortcuts and helpful tips.

 

 


 

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The World Waits for the Next Cupcake

image via Sparkliatti

Cupcakes have had a good run.
It seems like only yesterday that cupcakes were a humble homey dessert, just one of the pack, interchangeable with cookies and brownies. Then, in a perfect storm of ease, economics, and Sex and the City, cupcakes caught fire. Today, cupcake bakeries dot the landscape of gentrified urban neighborhoods and suburban strip malls. You can get a cupcake in a deli or a burger joint, waiting for a plane at the airport, in a hospital cafeteria, or a Michelin-starred restaurant.

High time for the next ‘it’ treat.
Eye-rollingly common, greedy little treats for our sugar-riddled souls, trend watchers in the media have dedicated countless column inches to predictions of when these precious nubbins of fake happiness will ride off into the sunset. There have been a few lone voices in the wilderness calling out for dark horse candidates like bread pudding and bundt cakes, but most arguments have coalesced around a few credible contenders.

http://www.foodbeam.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/rose-macaron.pngLooking like tiny, colorful hamburgers, macarons are a French confection of meringue and ganache. The beauty of the macaron is its pastel-shaded beauty; its insubstantial nature and particular challenge to the home baker limits the appeal.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KVsiO9m9kjg/TkV8EQ9iZ_I/AAAAAAAADiE/HSSpbNjc0Zo/s1600/donut-donut.jpgAnother treat best left to the professionals, donuts will need to overcome the stigma of deep frying if they are ever to fully realize their potential, though it breaks my heart to say so.

http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/62/cappuccinopop_155.jpgFancy ice pops came on strong this summer. They’re easy to make at home, take well to unusual flavor combinations like mango mint and basil watermelon, and traditional versions in lemon and cherry are perennial crowd pleasers. But outside of a few tropical zones, these are strictly a seasonal treat.

http://www.delish.com/cm/delish/images/2e/strawberry-apricot-hand-pies-recipe-opr0811-lg.jpgHand pies have been getting plenty of recent buzz, which no doubt pleases the pie contingent, after they’ve been so sorely and repeatedly disappointed by the failure of their favorite pastry to break through. Move inland from the two coasts and you find that it’s nothing new; pie has always been a big deal.

http://bohochicbride.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/cakepopspink.jpgCake pops? You’ve got to be kidding.

 

http://newyork.seriouseats.com/images/20091005OneGirlCookiesPumpkinWhoopiePie.jpg Whoopie pies are essentially inside-out cupcakes. The frosting in the middle gives them an edge on portability, but otherwise, why bother?

Each of these pastries might, in turn, have its pop culture moment, and we’re even hearing rumblings of support from the rugelach, cream puff, and funnel cake camps, but we don’t see cupcakes stepping aside any time soon. Their longevity defies trend forecasting, their rationale—comfort and luxury for just a few dollars—transcends the vagaries of our economy. Cupcakes continue to multiply like fruit flies.

We’re still waiting for the next cupcake, and it could be a while.

 

 

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Women are from Venus; Men Drink Bourbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1949, Esquire Magazine published a little something called Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts, with a pair of cocktail menus, “Something for the Girls” and “Something for the Boys.” This month sees the publication of Daniel Boulud Cocktails & Amuse-Bouches, For Her & For Him in two separate, gender-based volumes.

It would seem that women have always adored fluffy concoctions of egg white froth, tropical fruits, and crème de whatever, and that in 60 years, men have only occasionally looked past the bottles of bourbon and rye to add a dash of bitters.

Enduring gender lines are as resolutely retrograde as a vodka gimlet.
The cocktail lounge remains a bastion of stale but inescapable stereotypes where a man’s character is distilled in a highball glass. His drink should look and taste like alcohol. It should come in a proper glass, preferably one without a stem, and if there must be garnish, it should be restrained. Woe to the man who orders an Appletini— according to Modern Drunkard Magazine’s 86 Rules of Boozing, “Drink one girly drink in public and you will forever be known as the guy who drinks girly drinks.”

A women is not judged as harshly. She can sip a sweet pink Cosmopolitan or knock back a Scotch, neat, without reproach. She can order a Fuzzy Slipper or Naughty School Girl with a straight face and no risk of social stigma. But it can raise eyebrows when she tries to break free of the lingering pink-drink tyranny of the Sex and the City era to indulge in a little Mad Men-style boozing.

Are rye and malt whiskey inherently male? Are vodka and champagne just for the ladies? What about gin and tequila—bisexual? The last time I checked, liquor was made without gender. We are all looking for exceptional flavor, balance, and diversity whether it comes in a sugar-rimmed flute or straight up with a twist.

Check out Food and Beverage Magazine’s Top 5 Girly Cocktails of All Time and Ask Men’s top 10 list of Drinks Real Men Don’t Order.

A consumer survey conducted by the beverage industry magazine Cheers reveals the Margarita is America’s favorite cocktail, regardless of gender. The survey also show that women are more inclined than men to consult a cocktail menu, are more willing to try new concoctions, and are far more likely to be influenced by descriptions and photographs of drinks. You can find more survey results in the Cheers blog On the House.

 

 

 

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Is Access to Healthy Food a Basic Human Right?

Is access to healthy food a basic human right?
That’s the question being asked by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Not just food, but healthy food.
Food access is a right. That one has been with us since 1948, the result of the experience of the Second World War. At the end of that war, vowing that the world would never again see such suffering, the international community created the United Nations and drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among the various protections, guarantees, and liberties is the individual’s right to food.

Back in 1948, nobody thought to specify the type of food. When those words were written, the Big Mac was just a gleam in Roy Kroc’s eye, and the Colonel had yet to fry his first chicken. Who could have imagined a time when nutrition would be so divorced from food that malnutrition could go hand-in-hand with obesity?
This is the paradox of modern-day poverty.

It’s like the line in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink
.
Millions of Americans are adrift in a sea of junk food. They are surrounded by cheap and abundant processed foods, with little access to healthy foods. This landscape has been dubbed ‘food deserts,’ to describe low-income communities with plenty of processed foods at convenience stores and fast food outlets, but little or no fresh food, and the nearest supermarket is one mile away if it’s an urban community, and 10 miles away if it’s rural.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that this is a reality for more than 20 million Americans, and 1.7 million of them are living in California. The bill on Governor Brown’s desk would create the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative. It enables the state to collaborate with public, private, and philanthropic entities to bring loan and grant financing to the under-served neighborhoods. The goal is to encourage existing businesses to expand their healthier offerings, and to attract grocery stores, food cooperatives, farmers’ markets, and other fresh food retailers.

Is access to high quality food a basic human right?
The State Assembly and the Senate in California think so; in fact they have thought so twice. The previous governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was inclined to believe that healthy food is a privilege earned by the state’s wealthier residents who own cars or live within striking distance of farmers markets; last year he vetoed a similar bill after it passed both houses of the legislature. Once again, it sits on the governor’s desk where it is a signature away from becoming law.

Find out where they are: the Economic Research Service of the USDA created a Food Desert Locator based on census tract-level data.

The Food Environment Atlas lets you go deeper into a community’s statistics, looking at factors like restaurant expenditures and meals cooked at home.

 

 

Posted in community, fast food, health + diet | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What’s Hot in Cold Beverages

What we’ve been drinking:

Infographic via Beverage Marketing Corporation

We worry about an obesity epidemic, but in 2010, we were still chug-a-lugging soda, which remains the most consumed beverage at an average of 45 gallons in a year. And our professed concern for the environment? Last year we drank more bottled water than ever before.

As 2011 winds down, the prognosticators are turning toward 2012. The Food Channel combined the results of its reader survey with intelligence gathered from the market analysts at Mintel, Culture Waves, and the International Food Futurists to identify the top 10 beverage trends that will shape our drinking habits in the coming year.

What we will be drinking:

1. Do-it-Yourself Flavor
 Beverage companies have been experimenting with a profusion of flavors looking for the new blockbuster. Refrigerated cases overflow with lychee water, ginger-peach iced tea, and rhubarb-lemongrass soda. We’ll be taking matters into our own hands with powdered and liquid flavor enhancers that are added to water or seltzer; coffee and tea creamers in new flavors like honey-vanilla crème and white chocolate caramel latte; and Coca Cola’s new Freestyle machine with a touch-screen that turns you into an instant mixologist with more than 100 flavor variations.

2. The Buzz Around Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is all over the map. While school districts are questioning its place in their cafeterias, new studies seem to indicate that it’s a better choice than sports drinks for athletes looking to develop more muscle and less fat, and improve oxygen uptake during workouts. New products include straws imbedded with chocolate beads that flavor each sip, and a boozy chocolate milk for grown-ups with the tagline: “Retaste your youth at 40 proof.”

3. Cold Coffee is Hot
The iced coffee market has grown by 20 percent in the last five years. Dunkin’ Donuts, the nation’s largest retailer of coffee—hot and iced—reports that more than a fourth of the yearly, billion cups of coffee it serves are now iced. Iced, frozen, and slushie coffee drinks are available everywhere. Home brewing systems are growing in popularity and you can always grab a pre-bottled iced coffee or ready-to-mix concentrate. Iced coffee is not just for summer anymore.

4. Drink to Your Health
The category of functional beverages is exploding. Bottled waters are enhanced with vitamins and fortified with minerals that claim to battle diabetes, improve digestion, and promote improved bone and cardiovascular health. Sugars are being reshuffled as we steer away from high-fructose corn syrup and back to cane sugar; and away from artificial sweeteners toward natural, zero-calorie plant-based sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar. You can fire up with an energy shot, mellow out with a stress busting anti-energy drink, or sharpen cognition with one of the ‘think drinks.’

5. Simple, Seasonal Sips
The local foods ethos is coming to your highball glass. Beers are going seasonal, artisan distillers are cooking up local spirits, and bartenders are embracing a style that’s been dubbed ‘Market Fresh Mixology,’ whipping up cocktails with natural mixers made in-house and freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. Even the hotel minibar is now stocked with local brews and regional wines.

6. Fizz-free Combo Meals
Fast food and quick-serve restaurants are looking beyond fountain drinks. McDonald’s is urging its customers in ads to ‘drinkcessorize’ with its new smoothies and frozen lemonade, and Sonic Drive-In is promoting milk shake happy hours. Popeye’s is experimenting with soda-lemonade blends, Burger King has toyed with a breakfast cocktail of orange juice cut with Sprite, and they’re all testing the waters for alcoholic beverages.

7. Craft Beer is Booming
Sales of craft brews are seeing double-digit increases, even while overall beer sales are flat. In the midst of a mature industry, craft brewers are acting like frisky teenagers as they tinker with ingredients and techniques to brew experimental batches with ingredients like fruit, tea leaves, lavender, chiles, and Nutella. There are so many small, independent artisan brewers popping up around the country that most Americans now live within 10 miles of at least one specialty producer.

8. Bourbon’s Rebirth
It’s the biggest bourbon boom since Prohibition. Just a few years ago, distillers were ready to consign the bourbon category to that great liquor store in the sky; today, inspired at least in part by the popular period TV series Mad Men, classic cocktails are making a comeback as the twenty- and thirty-something crowd bellies up to the bar for whiskey—specifically bourbon whiskey. Small batch premium and super premium bourbons are now commanding the same respect and high prices that had been the domain of single-malt scotch. 

9. Drinks and a Show
Restaurants like to dazzle us with presentation: the pampering turn of a peppermill; the deft, table side deboning of a whole fish; the oohs and aahs of a made-to-order zabaglione that’s whisked and flamed in its copper bowl. Now we’re seeing the same star treatment for cocktails. Juices are squeezed a la minute, syrups and purees are ladled right under our noses, and mixed drinks are given a deliberately theatrical, tooth-rattling ride in cocktail shakers.

10. How Low Can They Go?
Happy hour has always been a diet disaster, and drinkers, especially women, have always pushed for lower calorie choices. There’s a caloric arms race as the big players compete for the title of the lightest of the light beers on the market. Miller had just released its MGD 64, claiming it to be “as light as it gets” at 64 calories, when Bud Select 55 stole the title with a mere 55 calories in a 12 oz. bottle. Pre-mixed, low-calorie cocktails—a category that barely existed just a year ago—is giving a boost to liquor store sales, and restaurants like Morton’s Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurants, Applebee’s, and even that ode to caloric excess, the Cheesecake Factory, have developed low-calorie cocktail menus.

 

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5 Must-Try Dumplings

Is there anywhere on the planet where dumplings aren’t eaten?

Everybody loves dumplings.
Italians have ravioli and the Germans have spätzle. There’s Japanese gyoza, Polish pierogies, African fufu, and Cuban papas rellenas. Dumplings soar to new heights with the culture and traditions of Chinese dim sum, and you can’t be Jewish without yearning for a matzoh ball now and then.

At its most basic, a dumpling is the simplest of concepts: a cooked ball of dough. It can be made from potato, flour, rice, or bread. Dumplings can be sweet or savory, filled or unfilled, steamed, simmered, fried, baked, or boiled. They can appear as any course at any meal, at any time of day or night. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, there’s a dumpling option for you.

The Essential, Must-Try Dumplings
It’s not all wontons and ravioli; there’s a great big world of dumplings out there. Here are 5 to try:

http://thumbs.ifood.tv/files/images/food/vareniki-03.jpgVarenyky (Ukraine)
Savory varieties are usually topped with melted butter, sour cream, fried cubes of uncured pork fatback, and fried onions. Fruit-filled sweet ones are usually topped with melted butter, sour cream, honey, or raspberry jam. Either way, Time Magazine once called varenyky the greatest of all European foods.

File:Pelmeņi.jpg

Pelmeni (Russia)
Smaller than varenyky, with thinner dumpling skins, pelmeni are always savory and have a higher filling to dough ratio. Frozen bags of pre-made pelmeni are so ubiquitous that they are seen as student or bachelor food, kind of like our instant ramen.

 

http://www.spicemagazine.com.au/Tortellini.jpgTortellini (Italy)
You can readily buy tortellini that is dried, frozen, and  canned in soup. But don’t. You want it freshly-made and served in a rich meat broth—the classic tortellini en brodo—in a shape that pays tribute to Venus’ belly button.

 

 

Xiaolongbao/Soup Dumplings (Shanghai)
Thin, chewy dumpling skins, mild, gingery filling, all bathed in a few spoonfuls of steamy broth— the first bite of a Shanghai soup dumpling is a rich, juicy explosion that plays like a symphony in your mouth.

 

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_d76A8FQ9xm0/SNRtp0XsOAI/AAAAAAAAApE/KytPF1r9ruI/s400/DSCN7795+-+apple+dumpling+1.jpgApple Dumpling (U.S.-Amish)
It’s a whole apple sweetened with sugar and cinnamon encased in a flaky pastry, and you get to eat it for breakfast, Pennsylvania Dutch-style. Think of it as a precursor to the Pop-Tart.

 


http://gourmaverett.pbworks.com/f/aushak.jpgAushak (Afghanistan)
Aushak’s closest relative is the Italian ravioli with meat sauce; but that is merely a reference point. The dough is thinner and more delicate, the filling is a sharp puree of leeks or scallions, and it’s topped with two sauces, one of spiced, finely ground lamb, and a second sauce of yogurt that cools the kick of the other.

 

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Celebrity Beer

You know you’ve made it when food is named for you.

Consummate New Yorker Woody Allen has his own sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. Carmelo Anthony got one when he joined the Knicks this year. Jerry Garcia, Stephen Colbert, and Elton John all have Ben & Jerry’s flavors. But there’s nothing quite like your own beer.

Belgian monks, Catholic saints, and Irish folk heroes have long inspired beer names, but the first celebrity-named brew of the modern era would be Billy Beer, named for Billy Carter—the endearingly buffoonish, hard-drinking, Southern-fried gas station owner whose big brother Jimmy had just been elected president. After a brief, faddish existence, the distinctively tacky cans enjoyed a second life in the collectibles market—a kind of boozy Beanie Babies of the early ’80s.

There will never be another Billy Carter, but brewers are always on the look-out for celebrities that can gain them a bit of traction for their brands. Here are some of the celebrity beers that are vying to be future collectibles:

Kiss Me, Kate
As if marrying royalty isn’t already enough, Kate Middleton now has a beer. The head brewer says that his addition to the royal wedding souvenir bonanza is “elegant, tasteful and British to the core.”

Git-R-Done Beer
Evidently, there is a reality TV show on the History Channel called Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. Evidently, it has a beer.

Kid Rock’s Badass Beer
Er..um..tasty.
With his affinity for wife-beater undershirts and reputation for sweat-drenched, stringy-haired performances, the rocker’s image doesn’t make us all that thirsty. But he has brought brewery jobs back to his home state of Michigan.

State House Brews
Kansas has one—Sam Brownback Wheat Beer. So does Colorado—Hickenlooper’s Inaugurale. The governors of the other 48 states will have to be satisfied with Gubna.

 

No one draws the brew masters like Barack Obama.
In 2004, early in his political career, a brewery in his father’s native Kenya released The Senator. We were drinking Hop Obama Ale on Election Day 2010, and by the time the inauguration rolled around we had The Audacity of Hops, Presidential Porter, and Ommegang Brewery’s Obamagang Belgian Brown Ale. The president went on to top them all, making White House culinary history in the process, when he and First Lady Michelle Obama served the first White House home brew, White House Honey Ale, made with a pound of honey from the White House beehive.

 

 

 

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The Best Cup of Coffee You Ever Had.

The New York Times called it “majestic” and “titillating; Time Magazine named it to the list of The Top 10 Everything of 2008; and when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz happened to stumble across one at a tiny café in lower Manhattan, he declared it made “the best cup of brewed coffee I have ever tasted.”

They’re all raving about the Clover, an eyebrow-raisingly pricey coffeemaker that brings high-tech precision to gadget-loving coffee drinkers. It also brews a hell of a cup of coffee.

Schultz discovered the Clover in 2006, curious about the customers lined up to get into a small, independent coffee shop. The Clover was then a cult object, hand-built in a converted, Seattle trolley shed. Costing $11,000 and requiring the equivalent of a masters degree in barista arts to operate, there were fewer than 200 in use worldwide—you could find more Flickr photo tributes to the Clover than there were machines in existence. So wowed was Schultz that Starbucks bought the Clover’s maker, and now distributes Clovers exclusively to Starbucks.

Why all the fuss?
Your home coffeemaker is probably an automatic drip; it boils the water and pours it over the beans, dripping the coffee into a carafe. You control the beans and the grind, and the coffeemaker and gravity do the rest. Some prefer the pour over; basically a manual drip that lets you adjust the water temperature and timing of the pour for a bit more nuance.

The next step up the scale of coffee fanatacism is the French press. The grounds and sub-boiling water steep until you push down on a plunger attached to a mesh filter that uses pressure to separate the brewed coffee from the grounds. The vacuum pot, those glass-globed contraptions found in cafes frequented by coffee geeks, achieves similar results. The pressure is created by heated water vapor that’s forced into the top globe; it agitates the ground coffee until the pot is removed from its heat source and the finished brew filters down to the bottom globe. Both of these methods add elements of control to the temperature and brewing time.

None match the precision of the Clover. It brews one cup at a time using pistons and valves that alternate a pressure push with a vacuum pull. It’s outfitted with proprietary Cloverware software and an Ethernet port connected to an online database that micromanage every variable of the brewing process. In the hands of a skilled barista, the choice of bean, grind, coffee dose, brew time, water quantity, and temperature contribute to one perfect, magnificent cup of coffee that will have you reaching into a wine lover’s vocabulary to describe it: a cocoa nose to the Sumatra; hints of tobacco and walnut in the Nicaragua; a voluptuous, plummy Peaberry.

Where can I get this ambrosial brew?
Starbucks has placed Clovers in just a few hundred locations, and done so with so little fanfare that you have to wonder if the company really wanted the Clover coffeemakers or just didn’t want them in the hands of the competition. You can click Clover Brewing System in the search filter on the Starbucks Store Locator and hope there’s one nearby. And keep an eye out for Clovers in the independent coffee shops, where they are holding tightly to those they purchased before Starbucks cornered the market.

 

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I am Jonathan Stark’s Starbucks card.

Hi! I’m Jonathan Stark’s Starbucks card. You can download a picture of me to your phone and buy coffee with it. Seriously.

http://jonathanstark.com/card/

It’s true. You can use Jonathan Stark’s Starbucks card to get yourself a free coffee. The real card lives in Jonathan’s wallet, but he has posted a downloadable copy that can be scanned at any Starbucks. An iced vanilla latte, a French press pot of Guatemala Antigua— name it. There’s no cost, no catch, no strings, no restrictions.

Jonathan Stark was curious about the concept of social sharing.
About a month ago he loaded $30 onto a Starbucks card and posted the image for his friends to use. They quickly turned it into caffeine, so Stark added another $50 and invited a few more friends. This time, the card wasn’t depleted. His friends were adding money as well as spending it, starting a twitter conversation in the process. So he created a program that allows coffee drinkers to check on the card’s balance, updated every minute, and encouraged users to share it with their friends.

Jonathan Stark’s Starbucks card has become an experiment in anonymous collective sharing that turns a cup of coffee into an act of participation and social engagement. It’s kind of a high-tech version of the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny dish next to a cash register. Sure, you could order 8 pounds of French Roast and a round of venti frappuccinos for the office, but there’s a karmic toll to it; the same one that keeps you from dumping the whole take-a-penny dish into your pocket, even when you see a bunch of quarters peeking through the copper.

The card occasionally struggles to find its equilibrium between generosity and  moochers. As of this writing, a few hundred dollars is passing through the card every hour or so, with nearly half of the users also giving back.

Say ‘Hi!’ back to Jonathan’s card.

 

 

 


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The Best of YouTube Cooking

Type ‘cooking’ into the YouTube search engine and you get 27,900,000 results—way out ahead of ‘gardening’ (1,380,000), and almost as many as the results returned for ‘Obama’ (30,700,000). Granted, the number is dwarfed by the search results for ‘Justin Bieber’ (203,000,000), ‘naked’ (51,600,000), or even ‘cats’ (47,400,000), but still, it’s pretty impressive.

With those kinds of numbers, there is obviously something for everyone, from the entertaining to the solidly instructive, plus plenty of quirks, niches, and the gratuitously not-ready-for-prime-time. Sure, there are times when you just want to gawk at an enormous-breasted women slicing ginger or the 11-year boy who will eat anything on a dare. I’m not judging. But this is about cooking, for those times when you are looking for the prosaic and practical. Guidance, advice, and inspiration. YouTube never disappoints.

High quality production, an extensive library of recipes, and an easily navigable website for recipe backup, YouTube cooking channels don’t get any better than Food Wishes. It’s the first place we go for a crash course in homemade mayonnaise or duck butchery, and a reliable source of inspiration when we want to pay homage to the foods of Provence, throw a Salvadorean-themed dinner party, or use up the too-many spring greens we bought at the farmers market.

Novice cooks swear by the videos from Start Cooking. They cover the most basic of cooking basics (how to fry an egg, steam rice, or make English muffin pizzas in a toaster oven), and advance to the merely basic (roast a chicken, bake brownies). There’s plenty of detailed instruction, but it’s never preachy or tedious.

The video hosts of Delectable Planet want to see you eating lower on the food chain, and they encourage you with a chipper earnestness and not even  a hint of condescension. It doesn’t hurt that the plant-based recipes are seriously tasty.

There’s something about Dave. Dave Can Cook is not the slickest show out there. The segments are loose and unscripted, the recipes lean toward hearty, homely, countrified dishes, and Dave’s grasp of the technology is shaky at best. But he’s a natural cook and host, relaxed and affable, with genuine enthusiasm for the whole process. In other words, he’s the real deal. And if you want to know how to season your new cast iron pan, he’s your man.

Ethnic cuisines, with their often unfamiliar ingredients, equipment, and techniques, can be especially well-served by the video format.

We like to get our Indian cooking lessons from Chef Vah of VahRehVah. The recipes vary from the somewhat dumbed-down and Americanized to wildly exotic and challenging.

The Japanese chef-host cooks and narrates while Francis the poodle provides French-accented English translations. It’s the inimitable Cooking with Dog, and you’ll have to see it for yourself, because you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that it works.

The dizzying camera work and fast cuts of Maangchi’s Cooking Show make high drama of Korean home cooking. Host Maangchi barely breaks a sweat while manhandling 10 pounds of cabbage for the kimchi segment, but you might need a nap afterward.

Italians turn to Giallo Zafferano for their pizza and pasta primers. The English-language version, Yellow Saffron, is no less authentic, but a lot easier to follow.

An 80-something Jewish bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) prepares classic Jewish foods like brisket, kugel, and borscht, as the host of the wildly endearing Feed Me Bubbe.

For classic French dishes and techniques, it doesn’t get any better than  Julia Child . Enlightening, entertaining, accessible, and undiminished by the years, her timeless PBS shows are finding a new audience and reconnecting with the old one on YouTube.

 

 

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Your 12-pack Toting Days are Numbered

[image via the Purple Sprout]

 

Why are we buying all those bottles and cans of soda?
Oceans of corn syrup, mountains of glass and plastic waste, money, fossil fuels; this is wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.

Americans consume about 50 billion liters of soda a year. That comes to 216 liters for every man, woman, and child, most of it sealed in plastic or aluminum. It’s labeled and packaged and packed into cartons. It’s shipped around the country, passes through distributors and wholesalers and retailers, before it’s toted home in 12-packs loaded into the trunk of a car.

All that for water and flavoring and some CO2 for carbonation. The stuff could come from anywhere, and we’re importing it like it’s lobsters from Maine.

You can (and should) make soda at home.
It’s economical and green and better for your health. The easiest way to go about making soda and sparkling water is with a home system. The newest versions are light years away from the old-fashioned, cumbersome seltzer siphons. All you do is fill a bottle with tap water, pop it into a soda maker, and in 3 seconds you have seltzer. You can make sparkling fruit juice, adjust the bubble size to your preference, or add extracts and syrups to make soda.

The initial investment (machine, carbonation, bottles, a few syrups) starts at around $100, but quickly pays for itself. You only have to give up a few inches of counter space, and it works without electricity.

Slate’s Get Busy with the Fizzy marvels at the home carbonation phenomenon, and details the perfect storm of economics, health concerns, environmental awareness, and nostalgia that shaped it.

You can make classics like homemade ginger ale, root beer, and cream soda, or experiment with herbs and seasonal ingredients like strawberry-rhubarb, chai tea, and orange-lemongrass. The Homemade Soda Expert has tips and links to suppliers and recipes.

 

 

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Beer Makes You a Mosquito Magnet

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to hate the little buggers.
It seems that mosquitoes like the smell of beer. Beer ranks right up there with stinky feet and limburger cheese, two of the other known mosquito attractants.

It’s always been clear that mosquitoes prefer some people over others. They like us fat and juicy, especially targeting the overweight and pregnant among us. They also like us sweaty and active, going after the movement and the carbon dioxide we’re pumping out. Basically, if you’re outside at a barbeque they’re going to bite you, whether you’re sitting in a lounge chair with a cold one or running around in a volleyball game.

It’s not clear what they like about beer drinkers.
Insects can get drunk, and they do things like fly upside down when they’re inebriated. But they can hold their liquor, staying upright even while taking in vapors as high high as 60% alcohol (If you were wondering, yes, there are tiny little bug breathalyzers called inebriometers).

You, on the other hand, are completely hammered after a half a dozen beers. Your drunken blood alcohol level of 0.10 is a fraction of the alcohol concentration that a mosquito can tolerate. They’re definitely not biting us for the buzz.

Short of moving to Antarctica there’s really not much we can do about mosquitoes biting us. So go ahead and light a citronella candle, slather on the insect repellant, and drink up. Just know that if you drink beer, the mosquitoes will drink you.

[Most of the mosquito research in this country (including the studies referenced here) takes place at the Medical Entomology Center at the University of Florida.]

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A Small Indulgence: Bite-sized desserts

photo

[image via Show and Tell]

Forget about ordering one dessert with four forks.

What’s big in desserts right now is small. We’re scooping itty bitty spoons into tiny tureens of tiramisu and downing shot glass shooters of passion fruit soufflé. Already precious cupcakes have morphed into the cake ball trend, and little pies are appearing atop lollipop sticks.

Restaurants are happy to accommodate the baby sweet tooth. They find that average checks are higher when small desserts are on the menu; customers that wouldn’t typically indulge are lured by the novelty and smaller commitment of the miniatures, and while they’re at it, they’ll order a coffee, a tea, maybe an after-dinner drink.

We are more adventurous with tiny desserts. We want a big taste in the small package and are willing to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients and preparations. The stakes are low– we’re committing to just a few bites at a lower price point than for standard desserts.

O.K., but just a sliver.

A tiny dessert can be perceived as a guilt-free indulgence. Whatever the caloric reality of a flight of wee custards or micro nut tarts, we think of the minis as a lo-cal, portion-controlled treat– kind of like those 100-calorie pre-packed snack bags of chips and crackers. Is it technically even dessert? It almost doesn’t count.

For the true fan of bitty foods, you can get an eyeful at Must Have Cute, a blog devoted entirely to the genre.

The Stir examines the bang-for-the buck of the Starbucks Petites line and Dairy Queen’s Mini Blizzards in Mini Desserts Will Make You Fat and Poor.

Get ready for dollhouse-sized cheesecakes. Industry insiders predict that cheesecake is due for its own mini makeover.

http://www.5minutesformom.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/easy-bake.jpg It’s the original mini dessert maker, and it’s still baking little cakes with just a light bulb. See where it all began:  Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven.

image courtesy of MarcWellness.com Are you portion savvy? Gigabiting explores portion trends in Mini-Size Me.

 

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