Archive for the ‘Cooking & Food Prep’ Category.

Hunter-Gatherer Economics

In January 1488, Bartolomeu Dias, a Portuguese explorer, rounded Africa’s southern cape and put to shore to take on food and water. There he found a group, smaller and lighter-skinned than the other Africans he had encountered, who, mystified by the odd men appearing out of the infinity of the sea, chased them back to their boat under a hail of arrows.

The exchange, notes James Suzman in his new book “Affluence Without Abundance”, was a meeting of two distant branches of the human family tree: Europeans descended from ancient tribes that migrated out of Africa, and people commonly known as the San, who had called southern Africa home for at least 150,000 years. Just as important, the meeting represented the collision of humanity’s most ancient and durable form of economic organisation with its most powerful. The latter, wielded by Europeans, has dominated the half millennium since that scrape on the beach. But modern capitalist societies may have something to learn from the ways of their ancient forebears.

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Life spent hunting and gathering, while occasionally trying, was not a tale of constant toil and privation. Food could run short during droughts or annual lean periods, but reliance on a broad range of food sources typically afforded such tribes a reliable, well-balanced diet. Even around the arid Kalahari food is plentiful (at least when the tribes are not forced to share the land with farmers and ranchers)—so much so that the typical adult need work less than 20 hours per week.

Living off the land: Hunter-gatherer economics

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen,” by James Suzman

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Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.

A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.

“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered. He died, in 1995, a disappointed, largely forgotten man.

Perhaps the Australian scientist intended a friendly warning. Lustig was certainly putting his academic reputation at risk when he embarked on a high-profile campaign against sugar. But, unlike Yudkin, Lustig is backed by a prevailing wind. We read almost every week of new research into the deleterious effects of sugar on our bodies.

The sugar conspiracy

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines: A Scientific Fraud

For an alternative, see the Perfect Health Diet

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Vegetarian Tiger!

A Chicken Ain’t Nothing But a Bird, Cab Calloway

“Chickens are the furthest thing from vegetarians,” Harris said. “That advertising is ridiculous. It’s like people going to the zoo and saying they only want to see the vegetarian tiger.”

People love chickens that are “vegetarian fed.” But chickens are not vegetarians. By Peter Whoriskey

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NYC Chocolate – Mast Brothers


Arguably, these two boundary-breaking bearded brothers now make the best chocolate in America.

Innovation through Simplicity: Rick and Michael of Mast Brothers Chocolate

Mast Brothers Chocolate, 111 North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249, 718-388-2625, open daily 12 noon – 7 pm. [Yelp | NY Mag]

Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook – Google Books

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How Not To Respond to Criticism

“To truly see the diversity of the human race is sometimes frightening….”
Tyler Cowen

We now present a masterclass in how a business owner should not respond to criticism.

The Folks at Amy’s Baking Company In Scottsdale Have Gone Insane

Part 2

It appears that the owners of Amy’s Baking Company in Arizona expected an appearance on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” program to vindicate them. They believed that they serve quality food, that they have been unfairly slandered by the entire Internet. Maybe they had never seen the reality program, which features last-ditch efforts to save failing restaurants run by people who are delusional or incompetent…and frequently both.

How Not To React To Internet Criticism: The Epic Facebook Meltdown Of Amy’s Baking Company

Part 1

Perhaps that it’s beyond a bad idea to accuse an unhappy customer of working for the competition, and then call him/her “ugly,” a “loser,” and a “moron.”

Ouch! Today’s Hard Lesson on Yelp

Yelpers went nuts over the weekend — and guess who was the topic? Amy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, who apparently cooked up a storm on Saturday.

In fact, I reached out to one diner who was at Saturday night’s taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy’s. He got a very real dose of reality television — more than he bargained for, actually.

Screaming, Expletives, and, Eventually, Police: All in the First Night of Kitchen Nightmares Taping at Amy’s Baking Company

Wow. Just wow.

Amy’s Baking Company [Yelp]

Get popcorn:


Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

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Progress! Egg on a stick!


“Next time, grab a pickle with your beer”

Pairing pickles and beers makes sense, says Roberts.

“They’re both fermented foods,” says Yi Wah Roberts. “They seem to have an affinity for each other. Alcohol likes big flavors and sometimes it likes the sort of acid that the pickles bring to the party.”

Caitlin Roberts says pickles are an alternative to typical bar food.

“It’s healthy. It’s crunchy. It’s not greasy,” say the Roberts.

“I’m a girl, I think about what I’m eating. So I like knowing I’m eating something that’s good for me when I’m enjoying some beer,” she said.

Her brother said choosing the correct beer depends on the style of the pickle.

For milder Cori half-sours, the Roberts say a crisp lager works well.

Next time, grab a pickle with your beer

Caitlin [Roberts of Number 1 Sons] isn’t the only person to come to the College [of William and Mary] with a love for pickles. Thomas Jefferson was also an avid pickle fan, although the fermentation process dates back much farther than Jefferson’s time.

“You find references of fermentation in almost the earliest records of human history,” Caitlin said. “Fermentation is a way to naturally preserve foods, and what we’re doing is embracing good bacteria … Fermentation has been in the news a lot recently because there are health benefits that people believe are associated with it, believing that it’s probiotic — that it’s really good for your digestive system.”

Jarring success: Siblings open barrel-fermented food business

Number 1 Sons, in the DC area

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Assorted Links 2/9/12

  • The screwed generation: Libertarian, not liberal,” by A.J. Dellinger, Salon, February 6, 2012 – “We are the generation that continues to pay into Social Security with every paycheck but suspects we may never see the benefits of it. We are the recipients of degrees that don’t mean much from educational institutions that teach less and cost more. We are the casualties of wars that have gone on for over half of the lifetime of 2012′s first-time voters. In short, we are the screwed generation.”
  • 5 things you didn’t know about divorce – “When things start to go bad, remember the five-to-one rule. There are little things you can do to improve your relationship.”
  • The Universal Benefits of Competition – “One of the most important reasons why market outcomes dominate government ones is competition: government often rules out competition by law, or subsidizes production in such a way that alternatives are not truly competing.”
  • Banks Paying as Much as $35,000 Cash to Homeowners in Short Sales; Why and How Many? – “Could it be these are the real problem loans with clouded titles, questionable practices by lenders, or huge numbers of written complaints by borrowers? Add to that a dearth of willing new borrowers and I think you have the answer.”
  • Rebalance your Couch Potato Portfolio with these free tools

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Olivia Chow's Community Art Project - Screwed Out of Our Share
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tania Liu

  • Jack In The Box Has Bacon Milkshakes
  • Never Let Law Profs Near the Oval Office – “Constitutional law professors should be kept as far away from nuclear weapons as possible.”
  • Top five regrets of the dying – “4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  • Street children: do tourist dollars help or hurt? – “Taking a cue from the ChildSafe organization in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, I learn that our money actually does more harm than good. … Next time you see a child with outstretched arms, no matter how adorable, think about the power of your dollar. Give your money instead to organizations that are trained to help break the cycle of street begging.”
  • Some legislators send millions to groups connected to their relatives,” by Scott Higham, Kimberly Kindy and David S. Fallis, Washington Post, February 7, 2012 – “Members of Congress have more leeway than executive branch officials or individuals in publicly held companies, who operate under stricter conflict-of-interest rules that generally prevent them from taking actions that might benefit businesses or institutions where their relatives work. The legislators set and enforce their own rules, giving themselves broad latitude to take steps that can end up directly benefiting their immediate family.”

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  • Now is the Time to Quit Facebook – “Real friends do more than punch the ‘like’ key on your status updates. Real friends call you directly on the phone, send cards, help you move furniture, meet you for breakfast, babysit your cats, or otherwise make three-dimensional efforts to be there for you.”
  • HELPFUL HINTS. – “Are you concerned about bacterial diseases and other impurities in the grape juice your children consume? Grape juice can be preserved in a pure and wholesome state almost indefinitely by adding a little yeast and allowing fermentation to occur.”
  • Panic On Wall Street As Anti-Insider Trading Bill Spreads Wider Net Over Information Peddling – “This bill might curtail the ability of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to obtain private information from the Finance Committees.”
  • An L.A. teacher reviews her review,” by Coleen Bondy, LA Times, January 29, 2012 – “It’s hard for those who finished high school 20 or 30 years ago, as I did, to fathom the conditions in a typical L.A. Unified high school classroom these days. Classes are huge. Students face overwhelming family and social issues. Drugs are rampant. Students are incredibly disrespectful, testing authority constantly at the beginning of the year. Teachers must be able to get a strong grip on their classes all by themselves because consequences for bad behavior in class are often nonexistent outside it. My school has two full-time police officers, a full-time probation officer and several full-time security personnel to handle about 3,800 students. Yet we still have a hard time keeping kids from smoking pot on a regular basis in our restrooms.”
  • Al rodente: Could squirrel meat come back into vogue? – “There are people around who remember the days when squirrel was a more commonly served meat on the American table than chicken. The Kentucky Long Rifle, with its long barrel and small caliber, was designed for squirrel hunting (the smaller the caliber, the more squirrel left to take home after shooting one.) The ideal shot was aimed not at the squirrel, but at the tree branch directly below it, so that the animal would be killed by the concussion of the bullet instead of the bullet itself. Historians say that this is what won the Revolutionary war; even the most highly trained British soldiers were no match for squirrel killers trained by hunger.

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Clever Ideas Clever Tools Series

Stop cut apples browning in your child’s lunch box by keeping the sliced apple together with a rubber band.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ben Husmann

From @ home with real food

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