Venturesome Vegan Victuals

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

Music – “I Can Eat It All [A Music Video]” from Remotely Controlled by Mark Lowry. Released: 1996

I have always been curious about “vegans” and what they eat. The notion of being vegetarian is pretty clear, but “vegan” seems to be shrouded in mystery to me. For those who read my posts religiously, you might recall my January 14th, 2014 post “Any Locavore, Freegan, Flexitarians out There?”  In my cookbook collection, I have numerous vegetarian cookbooks, and a few vegan cookbooks including “Vegan World Fusion Cuisine“, “The Candle Cafe Cookbook“, “How it all Vegan!” and “La Dolce Vegan!”

My understanding is that a vegetarian eats no meat, fish or poultry. A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats vegetables, eggs, and dairy products but not meat.  A lacto vegetarian does not consume meat and eggs, but will eat dairy products.

"Faux eggs" (Photo Credit: www.sporkorfoon.com)

“Faux eggs” (Photo Credit: http://www.sporkorfoon.com)

 

 

A vegan, however, does not consume nor use in any fashion, any animal based products, which would include not only the flesh of animals, but products such as milk, honey, eggs, caviar (who could afford it anyhow?!), animal hides and the like.

The Vegan Society, in 1979, amended their definition of veganism as:

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

Now, I haven't seen the video, but this doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do! (Photo Credit: www.youtube.com)

Now, I haven’t seen the video, but this doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to do! (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

I find it an admirable aspiration, however, one that, although I deplore animal cruelty and contribute to several animal support groups and charitable organizations, and although I enjoy vegetables, I have never been able to make the leap from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian or vegan one. Mind you, I haven’t tried very hard either. Old habits are hard to change.

But, what is most peculiar to me is that there are so many recipes in cookbooks and on the internet, for vegan meals, yet many of them seem to want to “emulate” the very products they eschew! For example, why eat “mock chicken” or faux “steak” or “fish” if you wouldn’t consider eating a real chicken, a piece of beef or a fish?

"Fake cheeseburger" (Photo Credit: www.meettheshannons.com)

“Fake cheeseburger”  (Photo Credit: http://www.meetthe shannons.com)

"Faux sausage pizza" Does Papa John serve this? (Photo Credit: www.thatwasvegan.com)

“Faux sausage pizza” Does Papa John’s serve this? (Photo Credit: http://www.thatwas vegan.com)

"Faux steak" (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

“Faux steak” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest. com)

"Mock Chicken Salad" Why simulate something you don't want to eat anyhow? (Photo Credit: www.downtoearth.org)

“Mock Chicken Salad” Why simulate something you don’t want to eat anyhow? (Photo Credit: http://www.downto earth.org)

Why eat products that resemble eggs, or ham, yet aren’t? Why would a vegan want to partake of “sausages” or “cheeseburgers”, or “meatloaf”, made from vegetable sources, but resemble their real animal counterparts?

"Faux sausages" (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

“Faux sausages” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

"Faux fried chicken" (I'll bet you can't get this at KFC!) (Photo Credit: www.hellyeahitsvegan.com)

“Faux fried chicken” (I’ll bet you can’t get this at KFC!) (Photo Credit: http://www.hellyeah itsvegan.com)

 

 

Could it be that some vegans are really closet carnivores, but won’t admit it, or are easing themselves into veganism from their lurid carnivorous past?

"Faux chicken soup" Is it still good for colds, even if it has no chicken in it? (Photo Credit: www.thecomfortingvegan.com)

“Faux chicken soup” Is it still good for colds, even if it has no chicken in it? (Photo Credit: http://www.thecomforting vegan.com)

"Faux meatloaf" (Photo Credit: www.avirtualvegan.com)

“Faux meatloaf” (Photo Credit: http://www.avirtual vegan.com)

 

And, for the Scottish in you, fake Haggis! (Photo Credit: www.vegnews.com)

And, for the Scottish in you, fake Haggis! (Photo Credit: http://www.vegnews.com)

 

 

 

 

 

I welcome comments from readers to assist me in explaining this odd conundrum. After all, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be a duck, right? But not necessarily so, in the world of veganism!

If it walks like a turkey, gobbles like a turkey, it must be a turkey, right? Not necessarily! (Photo Credit: www.archives.quarrygirl.com)

If it looks like a turkey, walks like a turkey, and gobbles like a turkey, it must be a turkey, right? Not necessarily! (Photo Credit: http://www.archives. quarrygirl.com)

Could this lady really be a cheating vegan? (Photo Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk)

Could this lady really be a cheating vegan? (Photo Credit: http://www.dailymail.    co.uk)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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The Pivotal Parable of the Peaceable and Plucky Porcine


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Music – “This Little Pig” from Baby’s Best Playtime Songs by The Countdown Kids. Released: 2002

January 17th, 2017 has come and gone and my spouse has a brand, spanking-new mitral heart valve.  The days of sodium restrictions have not yet faded, however, thanks to a plucky porcine, he can look forward to many more heart-healthy years.

When he was recently diagnosed with atrial fibulation and congestive heart failure, the world as we knew it came crashing down.  Sodium restrictions, fluid restrictions, a virtual pharmacy of medications was all foreign territory to our otherwise placid and uneventful lives.  However, when it became apparent that surgery to replace his mitral valve was the only viable option, we did a lot of research, guided by our very competent cardio surgeon.

We learned that there were essentially two options:  a mechanical valve, or a biological valve, composed of either bovine or porcine tissue.  It appeared that porcine tissue was the best option and on January 17th, my long-suffering spouse emerged from a lengthy surgery with a fully functioning-functioning mitral valve, thanks to an anonymous pig donor.

We owe a lot to these little guys! (Photo Credit: www.quatr.us)

We owe a lot to these little guys! (Photo Credit: http://www.quatr.us)

Well, it got me to thinking about that little pig, to whom we pay homage for giving up his little heart valve tissue. There are so many idioms associated with pigs:  “pig in a poke”, which is essentially a warning of buying a pig unseen (poke being a sac or a bag). Then, there is “in a pig’s eye”, etc. which supposedly denotes that, when compared to a human eye, a pig eye is relatively small.  Of course, there is the story of “The 3 little pigs“ and the infamous “Bay of Pigs”, the location of the 1961 US/Cuban volatile situation with John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro being significant players.  “Sweating like a pig” refers to the moisture which “sweats” out of a pig being cooked on a spit.  After coming across so many porcine-related idioms, most of which maligned this very intelligent animal, I researched how significant the little guy has been in human history.

Just a few things the pig gives up his life for humankind (Photo Credit: www.animalsmart.org)

Just a few things the pig gives up his life for humankind (Photo Credit: http://www.animalsmart.org)

In addition to heart valve tissue, I found the following contributions the pigs provide for pioneering research, industry, food and the entire gamut.  The list is by no means inclusive:  of course, there is food:  bacon, ham, pork chops, sausage, ribs, headcheese, chitlins, lard, ice cream, bread, beer, wine, yogurt,  cream cheese, whipped cream, energy bars.  But did you know that pig parts are also harvested and used in the production of insulin, collagen injections, Heparin, multivitamins, toothpaste, medicine tablets, shaving cream, makeup, shampoo, body lotions, soap and moisturizers?  Not to mention antifreeze, water filters, insulation, rubber, floor wax, chalk, fertilizers, corks, adhesives, footballs, fabric softener, crayons, tambourines, suede for clothing, bullets, cigarette filters, paints, paper, photographic film, train brakes, shoes, dog treats and other pet foods…the list is endless.  In addition, pigs have played an important role in forensic science:  the mass, tissue features, etc. of pigs mimic human anatomy in many ways and are used in studies of bullet trajectories, soft tissue decomposition and more.

pig-valve-cartoon

Thus, our homage to the pig is immeasurable.  I recall that, years ago, when I attended the annual Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, I passed by a small enclosure with about a dozen baby piglets, all pink, cute and fuzzy, nuzzling up to their mother.  After a few “oh, they’re SO cute”, my gaze fell upon a sign immediately above their enclosure:  “Put pork on your fork” and I squealed in disgust.  However, I have not eschewed pork since that time, but I have a whole new respect for those plucky porcines, who have given their all (literally!) for humankind.


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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Post Election Blues: So You Want to Move to Canada, Eh?

Music – “Eh Canada” from Rick Around the Rock by Rick Scott. Released: 2010.

The 2016 election is a done deal (well, it depends on whom you ask).  The GOP is in, the Dems have been quashed and “The Donald” will soon be inaugurated and will be leading this country (hopefully, not into temptation).  The die is cast, like it or not.  Count me in the latter group.  Although this post diverges from my usual posts about cookbooks, being Canadian, I had to address all of the recent kerfuffle.

Months prior to the election, there was much abuzz from individuals seeking asylum in the Great White North, that civilized and much-maligned country just north of the 49th parallel, otherwise known as “Canada” (my home and native land).  It was said that on election night, the official Canadian government website crashed due to an overload of inquiries about moving to the true north strong and free.

Canada, the true north strong and free (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

Canada, the true north strong and free (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

A lot of Americans were unhappy with the outcome of the election and wanted to forsake their homeland and travel to still waters (yea, thy Tim Horton coffee and thy ice hockey they comfort me).  “The Donald” has spurred many to lie down in greener pastures, north of the border.  They fear that he will not lead them in the paths of righteousness, for the sake of his name.  If they choose to move to Canada, they should not fear any evil:  they will be walking through the valley of socialized medicine and many other advantages of living in the Great White North.   If they follow the proper path to living in Canada, they may dwell there forever.

There is even a service, which is catering to the rich and famous:  any celebrity who is anti-Trump will get a free flight to Canada!

Free flights to Canada for anti-Trump celebrities! (Photo Credit: www.infowars.com)

Free flights to Canada for anti-Trump celebrities! (Photo Credit: http://www.infowars.com)

This map might represent the number of Canadians flocking to the US (because of the weather) and the number of Americans flocking to Canada (because of the politicians) (Photo Credit: www.dreamstime.com)

This map might represent the number of Canadians flocking to the US (because of the weather) and the number of Americans flocking to Canada (because of the politicians) (Photo Credit: http://www.panamerican world.com

 

 

 

Get used to seeing maps like this: the USA is a barren wasteland (Photo Credit: www.dreamstime.com)

Get used to seeing maps like this: the USA is a barren wasteland (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime. com)

Now, if you are bent on migrating to the Great White North, you’ll have to start studying.  There’s a lot to know.  For example, contrary to popular belief, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are seldom seen clopping around downtown Toronto.

You probably won't see these in downtown Toronto (Photo Credit: www.temmplates.mrdonn.org)

You probably won’t see these in downtown Toronto (Photo Credit: http://www.templates. mrdonn.org)

 

In addition, you’ll have to get used to Canadian bacon and you’d better learn how to make butter tarts.  There are plenty of Canadian cookbooks around.

Canadian bacon, eh? (Photo Credit: www.ign.com)

Canadian bacon, eh? (Photo Credit: http://www.ign.com)

 

 

 

 

You’ll have to remember that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is the bigger and better side.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls makes the American side look puny (Photo Credit: www.pixabay.com)

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls makes the American side look puny (Photo Credit: http://www.pixabay.com)

You will have to be aware of some life-changing Canadian inventions, most of which Americans have in their homes, including the following:

Canada Dry (guess where its' from?) (Photo Credit: www.mediatrainingtoronto.com)

Canada Dry (guess where its’ from?) (Photo Credit: http://www.media  training        toronto.com)

 

A Canadian invented instant mashed potatoes (Photo Credit: www.westmanpreacher.blogspot.com)

A Canadian invented instant mashed potatoes (Photo Credit: http://www.westman    preacher. blogspot.   com)

 

Yes, the zipper! (Photo Credit: www.westmanpreacher.blogspot.com)

Yes, the zipper! (Photo Credit: http://www.westman preacher.blogspot.    com)

Canadian hockey player Jacques Plante invented the plastic goalie mask (Photo Credit: www.theweathernetwork.com)

Canadian hockey player Jacques Plante invented the plastic goalie mask (Photo Credit: http://www.theweather network.com)

Of course, everyone knows that Insulin was invented by a pair of Canadians (Photo Credit: www.thegearpage.net)

Of course, everyone knows that Insulin was invented by a pair of Canadians (Photo Credit: http://www.thegear      page.net)

 

 

 

 

 

If you come to Canada, you’ll definitely need to know the language…and don’t forget that there are two official languages…English and French…

…and contrary to popular belief, we don’t say “ooot” and abooot”

Part of the Canadian language (Photo Credit: www.canada.pppst.com)

Part of the Canadian language (Photo Credit: http://www.canada.pppst.com)

Got it? (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

Got it? (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Check your spelling before you cross the border (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

Check your spelling before you cross the border (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

…and you’d better make sure you know who the Prime Minister is…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (much better looking than Trump) (Photo Credit: www.businessinsider.com)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (much better looking than Trump) (Photo Credit: http://www.business insider.com)

Also, be sure you are familiar with Canadian currency.  Your American dollars will buy more Loonies and Toonies!

"So, are those the loonies? "You mean the immigrants from the US?" (Photo Credit: www.inhabitat.com)

“So, are those the loonies? “You mean the immigrants from the US?” (Photo Credit: http://www.inhabitat.com)

If you’re not already polite, be prepared to be extra polite when in Canada.  Among other qualities, Canadians are known for their politeness and generosity:

An example of Canadian politeness

An example of Canadian politeness (Photo Credit:  http://www.dumpaday.com)

 

Politeness and generosity: definitions of a Canadian (Photo Credit: www.konichiwakatano.wordpress.com)

Politeness and generosity: definitions of a Canadian (Photo Credit: http://www.konichiwa katano.wordpress.     com)

Also, learn the national anthem, “O Canada“:

The national anthem of Canada, "Oh, Canada" (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

The national anthem of Canada, “Oh, Canada” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Finally, if you are quizzed at the border, here’s what you need to know about Canadian inventions, innovations, creations, exports, etc.  The following list is by no means inclusive, so do your research:  Winnie-the Pooh, the walkie-talkie, the atomic clock, pagers, 56K modem, hydrofoil, snowmobile, electric wheelchair, rotary snowplow, gas mask, ice hockey, basketball, sonar, instant replay, Trivial Pursuit, electron microscope, plexiglas, Easy-Off Oven Cleaner, instant mashed potatoes, cardiac pacemaker, caulking gun, egg carton, garbage bags, paint roller, IMAX movie system, Superman (the artist was Canadian), AM radio, prosthetic hand, the Wonderbra, Jolly Jumper, peanut butter, Canadarm, electric oven….also, Alexander Graham Bell, although he was from Scotland and later emigrated to the US, he was working in Canada at the time of inventing the telephone.  In addition, in 1874, a Canadian actually invented the first light bulb.  Although crude, he sold his patent to Thomas Edison, who improved on it and made it available to the public.

Also, be aware of these well-known CanadiansDonald Sutherland, John McCrae, Robert Service, Margot Kidder, Gorden Pinsent, Genevieve Bujold, Glenn Gould, Maureen Forrester, Norman McClaren, Deanna Durbin, Arthur Hill, Art Linkletter, Rich Little, Guy Lombardo, Gisele MacKenzie, Joni Mitchell, Raymond Massey, Anne Murray, Christopher Plummer, Michael Sarrazin, William Shatner, Norma Shearer, Richard Dreyfuss, John Candy, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Glenn Ford, Lorne Greene, Leslie Nielson, Fay Wray, Mary Pickford, Walter Pidgeon, Monty Hall, Dan Akroyd, Paul Anka, Hume Cronym, Yvonne DeCarlo, Colleen Dewhurst….whew….too many to list!  Now get memorizing!

In the meantime, enjoy this humerous YouTube video!

(there really is a website! http://www.brickingitforcanada.com/)

(Note: no offense intended to the 23rd Psalm)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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The “BREXIT” Effect and Cookbooks

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

Music – “The Brexit Song (Brexit Blues)” from The Brexit Song (Brexit Blues) by Isaac Adni. Released: 2016

On June 23rd, 2016,  British citizens voted on the question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union (EU) or leave the European Union?”.  52% of votes were cast in favour of leaving the EU.  The process of this “exit”, some say, may take more than two years to complete.  The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is widely known as “Brexit” (British Exit)   The referendum caused a ricochet effect in global markets.

Due to a rather coincidental series of events, at around the same time as “Brexit” became a done deal, I was dealing with a curious problem of my own and wondering how it could be resolved.  You see, I had reached the limits of shelf space I had previously assigned to cookbooks from the UK, not imagining that I would eventually have 116 from that part of the world.  Pressed into two small shelves in the European section of The Great Hall of Cookbooks, lodged among their cohorts from France, Germany, Spain, etc.  they were clearly in need of breathing room.

"The Great Hall of Cookbooks" (read: European Union)

The Great Hall of Cookbooks” (read as: European Union)

 

 

 

 

 

As a result, the only option was to remove them from The Great Hall and sequester them in the “annex”, a room across from The Great Hall, where they could enjoy two bookcases dedicated to their newly found isolation.

"The Annex" (Read: no longer in the European Union)

The Annex” (Read as: no longer in the European Union)

In the process of relocating them, I was suddenly struck by the peculiar timing of the move, coinciding as it was, with “Brexit“.  Alas, they were forced to leave the “union“, by popular vote, so to speak, and are now more or less isolated from their previous compatriots.  Mrs. Beeton, Jamie, Nigella, the Two Fat Ladies and others have bid “adieu”.  There is no looking back.


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The Fruitcake, Revisited Yet Again


CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY

MUSIC – “Fruitcake” from Joy to the World It’s Christmas by Brian Kinder. Released: 2006.

Note: This post is a repeat of one I first published on December 10th, 2013, which was written by my spouse Stan Rhine, who loves fruitcake.  I made him a 6.5 pounder this year and he has already delved in!  Happy Holidays!

fruitcake 4

Potato chips and French fries are both held in high esteem by the American eating public – which is the majority of Americans. Nutritionists, however, decry their empty calories, their fat-saturated preparation and salt-laden surfaces. Why is that anything so obviously bad for us is so desirable, so delectable, so irresistible? For the same reason that foods known to be of high nutritional value are shunned like the plague? Healthy foods like broccoli, kale and kumquats are more likely to be tossed down the garbage disposal than someone’s gullet.

However, the very nadir of the desirable food ladder (the Ralph Nader of foods) is the fruitcake. Even the name has taken on a derogatory hue. The statement “Octavius Beauregard Smith is a fruitcake” is not one calculated to bring delight to either Mr. Smith or his partisans. Especially if true.

fruitcake 3

This is quite illogical, as the fruitcake has a very strong association with the holidays, that most-anticipated season of peace and goodwill, a time when we bestow cards, greetings and gifts upon relatives, acquaintances and associates, as well as on people we like. Among the colorful, heavy, beribboned boxes beneath the tree is sure to be a fruitcake, the true symbol of the season.

Yet, the innocent fruitcake has become the butt of jokes (the Twinkie of holiday foods). There are fruitcakes alleged to have been in the family for generations, being cycled through the members anew each time the tree is put up. Fruitcakes have also been pressed into a wide variety of roles differing greatly from their customary one of comestible. For instance, used as a doorstop, a weapon of self-defense, building blocks for a biodegradable house, and most inglorious of all, ammunition for a trebuchet competition in Colorado.

Composed of the most innocent but nutritious elements, flour (even some exotic flours), butter, eggs, minor miscellaneous spices, raisins, nuts and great gobs of fruit*, and sometimes anointed with rum, fruitcakes are unquestionably not only nourishing for the body, but for the psyche as well. A visual treat whether whole, sliced and artistically arranged on a plate, or viewed at extremely close range on the way into your mouth.

           *Footnote: In order for the fruitcake to achieve its legendary longevity, it is necessary that the fruit undergo some minor processing before incorporation into the delectable dessert. This processing amplifies the fruits’ natural color, adding just a touch of sweetness to their taste. This creates a loaf that is not only solid to the touch, but solidly satisfying, a visually appealing fusion of brilliant reds, yellows and greens in hues unknown in nature, vying for attention and top billing, “I like the cherries the best!”

Yet, for all of its undeniable eye-appeal, the incorporation of the fruitcake into the holiday season has come to be viewed with negativity. It was as if people actually did not like fruitcakes, that they did not hold back, biding their time, waiting to strike the moment the after-Christmas sales are posted at Wal-Mart, stocking up on a supply of fruitcakes sufficient to bridge the interminable famine season until next year.

Pity the poor, maligned fruitcake, nutritious, delicious harbinger of the twilight of the year.

fruitcake 1

Note: This piece was written by my husband, Stan, who is anxiously awaiting his little block of fruitcake on Christmas morning

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The Saga of Salt Suppression: Part II


CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY AUDIO

Music: “Salt” from I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate by The Vagabonds. Released: 1999.

Salt of the earth“,  “he’s not worth his salt“, “old salt“, “take it with a grain of salt“.  Salt is ubiquitous and ever-present.  We can’t live without it, but frequently, we cannot live with it either, if we consume too much.  How much is too much?  Well, over the years, the medical community has continually revised estimates about what represents a “healthy” daily dose.  It appears that for the average adult, about 500 mg is needed daily for the body to maintain some sort of saline equilibrium.  More than that is often unnecessary and often harmful.

Salt piles in Bolivia (Photo Credit: gethdimage.com.blogspot)

Salt piles in Bolivia (Photo Credit: gethdimage.com. blogspot)

The American Heart Association’s current recommendations are 1,500 mg daily, but some studies show that the average American adult consumes as much as 3,400 mg daily! 2,500 mg daily used to be the recommendation, but that seems to fluctuate depending on which source you consult for statistics.  According to Time Magazine, a study conducted in 2011 – 2012 suggested that the average daily sodium intake among US adults was an incredible 3,592 mg per day!, most of which comes from pre-packaged meals and processed foods.

This little girl is getting her salt ration! (Photo Credit: www.redditpics.com

This little girl is getting her salt ration! (Photo Credit: http://www.redditpics.com

If you think that is bad, “The Low Salt Diet and Recipe Book” (1982) indicates that the recommended adult diet should average 5,000 to 6,000 mg of sodium daily, which amounts to 8 teaspoons, from all sources.  This, coming from book entitled “The Low Salt Diet?”

"Monte Kali" in Hesse, Germany: 188 tons of salt! (Photo Credit: www.redditpics.com)

“Monte Kali” in Hesse, Germany: 188 tons of salt! (Photo Credit: http://www.redditpics.com)

So, why is there salt, in most cases a lot,  in just about every processed food we consume?    Michael Moss, author of “Salt, Sugar Fat:  How the Food Giants Hooked Us” suggests that sugar and fat in foods are indicators of high fat content, which our ancestors probably needed for survival, but since salt or sodium is necessary only in small amounts, he wonders why we love it so much.  It may be because it tastes good.  As a result, knowing our human foibles, food manufacturers have taken advantage of our affinity for salt and keep on adding it to processed foods at an alarming rate.  It wasn’t until 1991 that the food labeling we see today came into being.  Before that, you just took your chances and ingested sodium blindly.

Where most of our salt comes from (Photo Credit: www.medlineplus.com)

Where most of our salt comes from (Photo Credit: http://www.medlineplus.com)

Salt was used as a preservative historically, but that is scarcely the reason why today, a pressurized, sterilized can of green beans needs to have sodium injected into the mix.  In fact, most salt/sodium in canned foods is supposedly used to enhance texture and flavor, but not to act as a preservative.  Lower sodium and even no-sodium processed foods do exist, but as I have found out recently, they are not easy to find and it requires a fair amount of time and travel and a magnifying glass to do so! Take a look at some of these food labels from items in my pantry:

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As I indicated in “The Saga of Salt Suppression“, Part I, due to my spouse’s recent  issues, a low sodium diet was imperative (1,500 mg or even less if possible), along with fluid restrictions of 1,500 cc’s daily.  My 75 or so salts from around the world are currently gathering dust in a cupboard, reluctantly relinquished for the benefit of the health of my significant other. It is alarming to realize that in a mere teaspoon of  salt there lurks 2,325 mg of sodium, much more than the recommended 1,500 mg  and right up there with the total sodium ration for those who prefer to maximize their salt intake at 2,500 mg daily, FROM ALL SOURCES!

When we started on the sodium restricted diet, I looked through the comestibles in my pantry and in the fridge.  I was stunned to find out that a lowly 7 inch flour tortilla (a staple in the Southwest, and one that my husband frequently enjoys), has 460 mg of sodium!  Three tortillas for him and that would be his entire sodium limit for the day.  One of his favourite (ex-favourite) Saturday lunches was a can of pork and beans with added ketchup, and a hot dog wrapped up in a flour tortilla.  Read:  1,610 mg of sodium (and that was just for lunch!)

460 mg. of sodium in a lousy flour tortilla!

460 mg. of sodium in a lousy flour tortilla!

My husband and I rarely eat “out”, but as our 23rd Anniversary is coming up on Christmas Eve, I wanted to find a restaurant that offered low sodium options.  Well, good luck with that!  Restaurant chains, which have 20 outlets or more must now list nutritional values, on their menus.  Other restaurants can voluntarily offer this information, but few seem to do so.  While writing this post, I discovered some amazing information about what’s in that fast food hamburger or your favourite Red Lobster dish.  Below is just a small sample I picked:

Red Lobster 

  • Seaside Shrimp Trio (3,860 mg) (hefty, hefty, hefty!)
  • Walt’s Favorite Shrimp (2,730 mg)
  • Popcorn Shrimp (1,980 mg)
Red Lobster's "Seaside Shrimp Trio", with 3,860 mg of sodium! (Photo Credit: www.redlobster.com)

Red Lobster’s “Seaside Shrimp Trio”, with 3,860 mg of sodium! (Photo Credit: http://www.redlobster.com)

Outback Steakhouse

    • Slow Roast Prime Rib (12 oz) (1,420 mg)
    • New York Strip Steak (14 oz) (230 mg)
    • Chicken Tender Platter (1,620 mg)
    • Aussie Fries (410 mg)
Chicken Tenders from Outback Steakhouse: 1,620 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: www.outbacksteakhouse.com)

Chicken Tenders from Outback Steakhouse: 1,620 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.outback steakhouse.com)

Red Robin

  • Royal Red Robin Burger (2,150 mg)
  • Guacamole Bacon Burger (1,450 mg) (I’m guilty on this one!)
  • Reds Big Tavern Burger (1,640 mg)
  • Keep it Simple Burger (1,010 mg)
Red Robin's "Royal Red Robin Burger", with 2,150 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: www.redrobin.com)

Red Robin’s “Royal Red Robin Burger”, with 2,150 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.redrobin.com)

McDonald’s

  • Big Mac (1,010 mg)
  • McNuggets (4) (450 mg)
  • Egg McMuffin (850 mg)

    McDonald's Big Mac: 1,010 mg. of sodium (Photo Credit: www.hcbb.com)

    McDonald’s Big Mac: 1,010 mg. of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.hcbb.com)

Kentucky Fried Chicken

McDonald's Egg McMuffin is a mere 850 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: www.mcdonalds.com)

McDonald’s Egg McMuffin is a mere 850 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.mcdonalds.com)

  • Extra Crispy Chicken Breast (1) (1,230 mg)

Taco Bell

    • Bean Burrito (1,020 mg)
Taco Bell's "Bean Burrito: 1,220 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: www.tacobell.com)

Taco Bell’s “Bean Burrito: 1,220 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.tacobell.com)

Burger King

    • Whopper (1,020 mg)
Burger King's Whopper: 1,020 mg. of sodium (Photo Credit: www.burgerking.com)

Burger King’s Whopper: 1,020 mg. of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.burger    king.com)

Hormel, the makers of the infamous “Spam” have come out with numerous variations on a theme.  The original “Spam” contains 790 mg of sodium in a 2 ounce piece.

Original "Spam" contains 790 mg of sodium for one serving (Photo Credit: www.lawstreetmedia.com)

Original “Spam” contains 790 mg of sodium for one serving (Photo Credit: http://www.lawstreet media.com)

The “reduced sodium” version still packs in 580 mg.  Curiously enough, however, those same folks have managed to produce “Herb Ox”, which is completely sodium free chicken and beef bouillon in dry, packaged form.  Why they couldn’t do the same thing with “Spam”, I’m not sure.

"Reduced Sodium" Spam still packs in 580 mg of sodium for a 2 ounce serving

“Reduced Sodium” Spam still packs in 580 mg of sodium for a 2 ounce serving

There are millions of folks on restricted diets for one reason or another:  heart issues, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. and some manufacturers are slowly starting to take notice. There are plenty of “salt substitutes” out there, and I have purchased about 6 or 7 of them recently.  Some, like “Mrs. Dash”, are not unpalatable, but are just lacking flavour, in my opinion, even though there are numerous varieties.  Some are downright horrible with a bitter, metallic taste.  One of the best I’ve sampled is “Table Tasty” by Benson’s Gourmet Seasonings, a small family run company out of Nevada.  They have a good selection of other seasonings and I am currently awaiting my “sampler” pack.   There are other places specializing in low sodium foods, and another one, which I ordered seasonings from is http://www.healthyheartmarket.com.  They have numerous offerings, including a low sodium soy sauce, “Chinatown Soy Sauce Dark”, which is pretty tasty.  Curiously enough, its manufactured in Jamaica.  It has only 145 mg of sodium per tablespoon, compared to most other well known brands, which weigh in at 800 to 1,000 mg or more for the same amount!

This "naturally brewed" soy sauce has 980 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon!

This “naturally brewed” soy sauce has 980 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon!

 

Alas, our occasional treat of a Papa John’s “The Works” pizza is now relegated to the black list.  Just one slice packs a whopping 1,013 mg!  And who can stop at just one?

Just one slice of Papa John's "The Works" pizza packs 1,013 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: www.papajohns.com)

Just one slice of Papa John’s “The Works” pizza packs 1,013 mg of sodium (Photo Credit: http://www.papajohns.com)

So, the moral of this whole dreary story is:  pay attention to food labels!  Your heart will thank you for it.

(Photo Credit: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

(Photo Credit: http://www.medicalnews today.com)


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Coming Soon: “The Saga of Salt Supression”

The current silence from The Vintage Cookbookery stems from a cascade of events concerning my primary taster, chief bottlewasher and spouse (all rolled into one!) In a nutshell, due to a series of recent, rather melodramatic medical events, he is now on a very restricted sodium diet, which is a definite shock to the man, who has carried a bottle of garlic salt in his pocket (with a backup bottle in his car) for 40 years! Needless to say, with 5,616 cookbooks on my shelves, the sodium information for recipes is negligible, even in cookbooks published in the past few years. More of that later, though. In the meantime, I am having to put my 80 or so salts from around the world in the back of the cupboard and am delving into the wonderful world of pseudo-salt (aka “Mrs. Dash”, which I think is tasteless and pointless!). Please stay tuned.

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The Pure Pleasures of Pummeling Pomegranate Pulp!

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Music – “Pomegranate Rag” from By Request by Matthew Davis. Released: 2016.

Ah…October in New Mexico.  Hundreds of hot air balloons, the rich and heady scent of roasting green chile and…pomegranates!  Their Latin name is Punica granatum, and they are thought to have originated in Persia and have been continuously cultivated throughout the Mediterranean.  Since the “many-seeded apple” thrives in a climate of low humidity and mild temperatures, pomegranates can be found in backyards throughout the Southwest.

"Russian Pomegranate"

“Russian Pomegranate”

At our current residence, we inherited two varieties:  “Wonderful” and “Russian“.  Depending on the species some pomegranates are borne on trees, but most species in the Southwest are more “shrubby”, including the two in our yard.

 

Our small harvest of pomegranates at our current residence (squirrel got the rest!)

Our small harvest of pomegranates at our current residence (squirrel got the rest!)

At our previous residence in the Northeast Heights part of Albuquerque, we also had a pomegranate tree, which after the first year we were there, bore a substantial quantity of fruit. After doing a little research about preparation, I elected to score the tough, leathery skin of the fruits, hold them under water (wearing gloves) and eject the seeds (arils), with some difficulty.  It was a laborious, messy job, tedious and with what I thought was very little reward.  After harvesting all of the arils, I had to decide what to do with them.  I decided to refrigerate some for use in cooking and thought I would make juice out of the rest.

But, how to juice?  Because of the large size of the seeds, surrounding by that red flesh, my blender quickly clogged and produced very little in the way of juice, also grinding up the seeds in the process, which was not very appetizing and made the juice bitter.  Necessity being the mother of invention, I put on my thinking cap and found a way to recycle the empty plastic bags from my favourite boxed wine!

Any large 5 litre boxed wine will do for the bags (I happen to like this one!)

Any large 5 litre boxed wine will do for the bags (I happen to like this one!)

After cutting off one corner of the bag (which is actually two bags:  a thinner one inside of the heavier liner), I inserted about a half a dozen small pomegranates.

Put about 5 or 6 small pomegranates into the wine bag. Seal it any way you can.

Put about 5 or 6 small pomegranates into the wine bag. Seal it any way you can.

At the time, I did not have the benefit of Foodsaver appliance, which I have now, so I used a substantial amount of duct tape to seal the opening.  Then, being ever resourceful, and with the assistance of my spouse, I carefully placed the bag under the rear tire of my car and gently rolled it back.  Presto!  Pomegranate juice! Although there was a small amount of leakage, I did manage to salvage most of it.  The bag, however, was a little the worse for wear and couldn’t be reused.

This year, I again saved the wine bags from the boxed wine, but had a slightly different approach.  After cutting off the edge of the bag, just large enough to put about 5 pomegranates inside, I now could get a tight seal on the open edge, using my Foodsaver machine.

Cut off one corner of the wine bag, large enough to insert a few small pomegranates

Cut off one corner of the wine bag, large enough to insert a few small pomegranates

Using the Foodsaver (or similar) appliance, I was able to seal the bag very effectively

Using the Foodsaver (or similar) appliance, I was able to seal the bag very effectively

Almost like new.  After taking the bag outside and wrapping it in an old towel, I took my trusty heavy-duty rubber mallet and began pounding away.

 

Place the bag on an old towel to absorb the blows and prevent the bag from becoming damaged. Pound away!

Place the bag on an old towel to absorb the blows and prevent the bag from becoming damaged. Pound away!

After pummeling for a few minutes, the juicy arils had given up as much as they were going to.

The contents of the bag after a few minutes of pummeling, ready to be drained.

The contents of the bag after a few minutes of pummeling, ready to be drained.

I clamped the bag to a piece of pegboard inside the garage and opened the spout, which is very easy to use.  A good, steady flow of juice emerged.  Afterwards, it is a good idea to have a helper squeeze out any remaining juice, while another pair of hands holds the valve open.

I clamped the bag on the edge of a pegboard, positioned over a plastic container to catch the juice.

I clamped the bag on the edge of a pegboard, positioned over a plastic container to catch the juice.

 

 

Opening the valve in the wine bag to let the juice flow out.

Opening the valve in the wine bag to let the juice flow out.

I was able to rinse out the pulp from the bag and reuse it after a little more trimming.  Not counting about 10 ounces I  reckon was wasted when my foot inadvertently kicked over the plastic container I had started to fill, I had about 50 ounces of juice and there are still about half a dozen fairly large pomegranates waiting for me to drain the contents of the next wine box!

 

Strain the juice to get out any bits of seeds

Strain the juice to get out any bits of seeds

The fruits of my labour!

The fruits of my labour!

 

 

Next was to find a recipe for Pomegranate Margaritas, which I did (several, in fact).  After a long (not really), hard (barely) day of pummeling pomegranate pulp, my husband and I were rewarded with the jewel-like glimmering of fresh Pomegranate Margaritas in the late afternoon sun in our courtyard, overlooking our goldfish pond.  Life just doesn’t get any better!

What could be better than fresh Pomegranate Margaritas on a late autumn day?

What could be better than fresh Pomegranate Margaritas on a late autumn day?

There are multiple recipes out there for Pomegranate Margaritas, but here is the one I used:

4 ounces tequila, 2 ounces Triple Sec, 1/2 cup fresh Pomegranate juice, juice of 1 to 2 limes.  In a cocktail shaker, shake with ice, strain, garnish with a lime wedge and serve (for 4, or 2 very thirsty people)

(Note:  pomegranate juice freezes well in either ice cube trays for small uses, or in jars.  Any boxed wine with a reclosable spout/bag will do, but the larger 5 litre boxes such as the one I used (Franzia), proved to be the best. Don’t put more than a half a dozen small or 3 large pomegranates inside, in order to give space for movement and to avoid blowing up the bag! Also, a great cookbook, which I have in my collection is “Pomegranates“, by Ann Kleinberg, published in 2004 by Ten Speed Press)

 

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It’s Time to do “The Albuquerque Turkey”!

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Music – “The Albuquerque Turkey” from Thanksgiving Songs That Tickle Your Funny Bone by Ruth Roberts. Released: 2015

NOTE: This is a repost of October 8, 2015

Well, readers, as you probably know, while you will be carousing and carrying on next Monday on Columbus Day, I will be celebrating Thanksgiving. That would be Canadian Thanksgiving, eh? Some have asked, why do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October and not in November, like civilized people? Is it because in our perpetual goal to maintain our “Canadian-ness”, we just picked a different date to differentiate us from the Americans?

I'd hate to see the unfortunate outcome of this experiment! (Photo Credit: www.onceivegone.com)

I’d hate to see the unfortunate outcome of this experiment! (Photo Credit: http://www.onceivegone.com)

Actually, there are several thoughts on the subject, but the most common one suggests that the reason it occurs earlier than the US Thanksgiving is that because Canada is north of the United States (the Great White North, eh?), the harvest season occurs earlier. However, what most Americans don’t realize is that Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1578, when explorer Martin Frobisher, after arriving in Newfoundland (that’s in Canada, eh?) held a ceremony of gratitude after surviving the long, treacherous journey from Europe. The Mayflower and the Puritans didn’t arrive in America until 1621. Another Canadian first!

Anyone who used to watch Julia Child cook will remember her dance with the turkey! (Photo Credit: www.thecookinmama.com)

Anyone who used to watch Julia Child cook will remember her dance with the turkey! (Photo Credit: http://www.thecookinmama.com)

The official Canadian Thanksgiving day was originally held in April, when, in 1872, Canadians celebrated the recovery of King Edward VII from a serious illness. The date was moved several times from the original April, to November and back to October.

Help...I've lost my legs! (Photo Credit: www.eatocracy.cnn.com)

Help…I’ve lost my legs! (Photo Credit: http://www.eatocracy.cnn.com)

In 1957 the Canadian Parliament finally settled on Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the second Monday in October, where it has remained ever since. The best part about being a Canadian living in the US? I get to celebrate in October and November (perhaps I’m eating more than my quota of turkey, though)

Kids, don't try this at home! (Photo Credit: www.vgscomputing.com)

Kids, don’t try this at home! (Photo Credit: http://www.vgscomputing.com)

One of the ever-present downsides of having Canadian Thanksgiving in Albuquerque, however, is the difficulty of finding fresh cranberries (not), or even frozen ones in early October. Once or twice, our local Albertson’s did have them in stock, but that must have been a fluke due to an early harvest. This year, I couldn’t even find a whole frozen turkey…. just some piddling little “turkey breast meat” things. I finally had to order one from a local meat/butcher, which cost me substantially more than my traditional Butterball or equivalent. So, now I have my “Albuquerque Turkey”, and even found music to match!

In the spirit of the season, enjoy the gallery of photos of turkey mishaps (not mine!), which I found. It will be your turn in November, so pay attention! But, beware! According to crop experts, there is likely to be a canned pumpkin shortage this fall, caused by heavy rainfall in the Midwest. So, think “Canadian” and run, don’t walk to your local supermarket and grab those cans of pumpkin now!

CLICK ON THE FIRST PHOTO TO START THE SLIDE SHOW


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Shall we Scrap the Silly Smear?

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Music – “The Frim Fram Sauce [Clean]” from The Wartime Years – Wartime Memories [Clean] by Nat King Cole. Released: 2011

Most of us would agree that we eat with the eyes and every good cook and chef knows this. An appetizing presentation on one’s plate goes a long way to stimulating the taste buds and makes one just want to dig in. However, I have one pet peeve (well, actually, more than one, but the rest don’t belong here in a blog about cookbooks and cooking!)

In so many of the more recently published cookbooks in my collection, the food photography is outstanding. There’s nothing like a gorgeous full-page photograph of a succulent dish, glistening, redolent with colour and laid out in a pleasing design to pull your eye (and your stomach) in. But (and here comes my pet peeve), I am so tired of seeing plates of beautiful food ruined with the seemingly ever-present, and evidently ever-popular “smear” of sauce!  It seems that almost every chef on The Food Network, The Cooking Channel and the rest of the food-related cooking shows utilizes the “smear” and it’s so pervasive, it’s become downright boring.

Various "smears" (Photo Credit: www.beyondthedough.ca)

Various “smears” (Photo Credit: http://www.beyondthe  dough.ca)

 

 

 

According to Chef Daniel Wilson of the Australian restaurant, Huxtable”, the sauce ‘smear‘ is a common technique. He explains: “To do one, place a spoonful of thickish sauce or purée on one side of the plate. Then turn the spoon over and place the back of the spoon into the middle of the sauce, then drag to the other side of the plate, or curve it like a comma in a quick but controlled manner.”

You call this a sauce?! (Photo Credit: www.afrotoast.wordpress.com)

You call this a sauce?! (Photo Credit: http://www.afrotoast. wordpress.com)

Not very appetizing, if you ask me! (Photo Credit: www.youtube.com)

Not very appetizing, if you ask me! (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

An "interrupted" smear (Photo Credit: www.lennardy.com)

An “interrupted” smear (Photo Credit: http://www.lennardy.com)

The "swoosh" smear (Photo Credit: www.blog.etundra.com)

The “swoosh” smear (Photo Credit: http://www.blog. etundra.com)

Whatever this is, it looks like it skidded across the plate (Photo Credit: www.theterrytable.com)

Whatever this is, it looks like it skidded across the plate (Photo Credit: http://www.theterrytable.com)

 

 

 

I have seen photographs of foods with plating sauces in lines (parallel or intersecting), droplets (randomly or in a specific pattern), pools, pulls (supposed to look like a shooting star), brushing or painting, foams, etc. For my taste, however, if you’re going to give me a sauce, then GIVE ME A SAUCE, not a measly “smear” on the plate! I want something I can dip into, pour over or smother my food in. I do not want a trace of what might have been, a glancing brush across my plate of something that is barely there.

Skidding strawberries (Photo Credit: www.eatwell101.com)

Skidding strawberries (Photo Credit: http://www.eatwell101.com)

"The Tadpole" smear (how tasteful) (Photo Credit: www.forums.egullet.org)

“The Tadpole” smear (how tasteful) (Photo Credit: http://www.forums. egullet.org)

 

Ladle on the sauce! (Photo Credit: www.en.wikipedia.org)

Ladle on the sauce! (Photo Credit: http://www.en. wikipedia.org)

Now, THIS is sauce! (Photo Credit: www.food.com)

Now, THIS is sauce! (Photo Credit: http://www.food.com)

 

 

 

Dish it up and forget the "smear"! (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

Dish it up and forget the “smear”! (Photo Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com)

No smears on this chicken! (Photo Credit: www.plateexpectations.org)

No smears on this chicken! (Photo Credit: http://www.plate  expectations.org)

This must be the minimalist approach to flan (Photo Credit: www.exilekiss.blogspot.com)

This must be the minimalist approach to flan and “smears” (Photo Credit: http://www.exilekiss. blogspot.com)

I’m not sure when the “smear” became so popular, or who popularized it, but frankly, I think it has overstayed its welcome and has been done to death. So, please chefs, can we scrap the “smear”?

 

 


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