Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cajun Swiss Chard Yukon Gold Hash

This is a wondrously fantastic side dish or an accompainment to some nice pasture raised eggs you fried in organic butter. Nice breakfast, yeah. So stuck at home instead of out and about on a Wednesday evening when I could be at a bar listening to a friend's band and drinking beer. But, sadly, health concerns. So,
playing with some stuff. Made a few things this afternoon. This one was just ever so fantastic. I love Cajun spiced foods. It's just that combination of cayenne, garlic and thyme with lots of freshly ground good black pepper and the Holy Trinity of Cajun, onions, peppers and celery. Well, this dish doesn't have celery, but the chard just makes it pretty spectacular. First off, take 4 Yulon Gold potatoes and cut into large dice. In a big skillet preheated to high medium add some olive oil and then toss in the potatoes. Stir a bit to coat and cook about ten to twelve minutes, turning over every three to four minutes.
When good and browned, add the chopped stems of the Swiss Chard and a diced red onion and diced red pepper.Toss a few times and continue to cook until the onions are beginning to soften. Now comes the fun part. Add a quarter cup or so of Cajun seasoning. Toss well. Add a half cup of good red wine. Toss well. Bring the wine to bubbly, turn down the heat and then add all the chopped chard leaves. Cover the skillet and let the leaves steam for about ten minutes. Remove the lid and stir the mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and then serve with those fried eggs. Well, that's how I ate them. You know, comfort food for when you don't feel so hot. This will heat you up a bit, well, depending on the Cajun spice mix you use, it might just heat you up a lot.

My Cajun spice blend - Mix together 2 oz. Cayenne pepper, 2 oz. sweet basil, 2 oz. ground thyme, 2 oz. garlic powder, 2 oz. onion powder, 1 oz. ground chili, 1 tsp. ground mustard, 1/8 tsp ground clove.  When using this mix, always add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Comfort food for when you not feeling so hot

Was not feeling so hot today, sort of leftover problems from my lithotripsy a couple weeks ago. Sharp edged gravel making new excursions in pain for me. So I made this. It's pretty cool, and really pretty easy. Ten minutes prep, then cook about 45 minutes and it can be pretty impressive. Mine didn't make the turn, but hey, was feeling crappy. Try it out anyway, a couple fried real pasture raised eggs and whole wheat toast and it's great comfort food.

Slice thinly six Yukon Gold potatoes. Slice some bell
peppers and a half a big onion. Heat some olive oil, about a quarter cup, in a big saute pan. As it heats, place half the potato slices in a spiral into the bottom of the pan. Season with pepper, salt if you desire and then spread out the sliced onions and peppers. Season again
with pepper and now would be a nice time to add some fresh rosemary leaves. I didn't, I felt crappy remember. Then just use the rest of the potatoes to make another spiral to cover the onions and peppers. Cover and lower to medium low. Cook about 25 minutes and
then just check the bottom of the potatoes and if well browned, then remove from heat and place large plate over the pan. Quickly turn it over and the potato mix should plop down onto the plate. Gently slide the potato mix back into the pan and cover, cook about ten
minutes on medium low, then remove the cover and raise the heat to medium. To make the top really crispy, you can put the saute pan under a broiler and crisp it up. Serve it with anything really. Had I felt better I
would have made some salmon cakes, but the eggs were nice. And the pictures show how uneven mine came out, but you get the idea, it can be a pretty impressive dish.


Recipes here on my blog

When I began this blog I had no idea it would continue for so many years. A lot to say about our world, and quite a few interesting recipes in there as well. Here I have listed them, click on the title to go to the recipe.

Ribs, potatoes, asparagus -  Done in a very cool way

Vegetarian Tacos -  Actually pretty cool, any one can eat these and get that spicy fix

Mushroom Avocado Curry - Spicy, flavorful, what else can you want out of life. Vegan too

Potato Swiss Chard Hash - I find that I now make this about every other week it's so good in the morning

Comfort Food - Sort of a pinwheel potato pan fried vegan wonderkind dish of epic flavor

Smoked Salmon    Basics on how to prepare salmon

Stuffed Rolls  Meat and cheese stuffed whole wheat rolls

Heartiest Soup Ever    Vegan soup with Rye, Lentils, and Brown Rice

Pigs in a Blanket  My version of football food

Cajun Delights  Cajun inspired potato cakes and a nice Cajun gravy

Baking Little Bits of Delight part 2  My health cookies

Baking Little Bits of Delight  Whole wheat rolls stuffed with sausage and eggs, a breakfast miracle

What the heck is wrong with you Chef Roy  New healthy versions of British classics

How I eat my steak  Yes, the vegetarian ate steak. And a wonder it was

Weird, but ever so delicious   My version of healthy and Cajun chicken and waffles

Italian Sushi - Fusion Cooking the Chef Roy Way    Sounds weird, it isn't

Meat Cake   Yeah, this one is a wonder, meatloaf that looks like a layer cake

Fusion Cooking    Corned beef stuffed chilies, hey, I said it was fusion

Cooking like a Pro   Some recipes from a catering job I did, bacon wrapped meatloafs, lasagna rollups

How to ferment your bread  More basic bread

Healthier Healthy Food part 5  A series on how to get the most our of food
Healthier Healthy Food part 4
Healthier Healthy Food part 3  
Healthier Healthy Food part 2
Healthier Healthy Food

 Chocolate Lasagna Recipe   Sounds odd, but it is ever so delicious

Food, Good, Bad, Scary. A few recipes, meatballs, savory cheesecake, salads, arroz con pollo

Breakfast should never be dull or boring   Some pretty cool things

Tapas Time   Some of my favorite little bites

Ravioli Recipes   Ravioli are easy to make, Lobster, Chocolate and Scallop ones

It's all about sex  Not really, it's about vegetable selection

Brown Rice, Kale, Mushrooms and Cod   Yeah, I love brown rice

Vegan Bacon Greens  Yes, greens so good you will believe they really are made with bacon

Ribs  Yep, it's about ribs

Lasagna Rollups   actually very elegant

A recipe for every gourmand   Eggs poached in salsa

Stuffed Rattlesnake  Just a fun thing to make, no rattlers, chicken. They taste the same right?

Tuna Pie  Not what you might be thinking  Prickly Pear

Desert Foraging    Some fun stuff to make and eat that literally grows in our backyards

Healthy and Delicious  they are called 'behoon' and are the Dutch version of Egg Foo Yung

Healthy Bread   Info, recipe and interesting concepts

Ever have a HOT Date?  Yeah, I know what you were thinking

Fermented Food   how to make your own sourkraut kimchee type of goodies

Chocolate Ravioli   By itself here, elsewhere with other ravioli recipes

That little old tamale maker, me   Some picts and instructions with ideas on flavors

A trash bag   the basis of pretty much all great cooking

Piloncillo Chipotle   A very unique concept of mine

Olive Stuffed Whole Wheat  sort of a theme with me

Ketchup   make your own that is free of poisons and sugars

Cajun Fusion   garbanzo waffles and seafood ettouffee

Real Mayonnaise   The secret to making the good stuff with no poison added

Whole Wheat Rolls   Basic bread dough info

Carbonara Lasgna   a big big fav with my son and the guys at the cigar shop

Healthy Cookies   love love love them

Basics on Shopping and getting the most for your money at the store

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making Smoked Salmon, step one for the ultimate feast

I picked up some salmon from Kenny the FishHugger on Sunday. Matt's home from the hospital and so I plan on a very nice meal for him. Today was the first step in making the stuff. Of course this being the preliminary step it is a nice way thing to have the knowledge of how to make because you can make all kinds of cool things once you learn to make your own smoked salmon, and really anything else as well. It's easy, and smoked salmon makes fantastic salad for incredible sandwiches, or put into omelletes, or stuff into jalapenos that you cored and then stand them in a pan and roast them. Or, like what I will do tomorrow when the salmon is cooled and I feel better, Smoked salmon and red onions stuffed into red pepper ravioli in a smoked mushroom and creamy Riesling sauce.

Anyway, check out Kenny and his family at the Roadrunner market on Saturdays and at Ahwatukee on Sundays. Or look

at his website at KENNY    Once you have the salmon, thaw it and rinse well. Then the hard part comes, remove the pin bones. If you rub a finger along the flesh from the head end to the tail end, you will feel little bones sticking up. Take your hemostat left over from holding roaches back in the sixties, or well, last week depending on the individual. Or tweezers work as well. Anyway, latch on, and pull it up and toward the head end. Repeat until they are all out. Then place the fish into a pan and if you need to cut into smaller pieces now is the time, after you removed the pin bones. Now is when you can get creative, sprinkle the fish with herbs or spices of your choice. I know, dill is traditional, but I am not a fan of dill, it's kind of nasty. But lots of black pepper for a simple one, or add a bunch of taco seasoning, Italian stuff, or just think about it and do something that exemplifies your personality. Me, some weird crap man, but usually pretty tasty.

After you slather the spices on, pour on some sea salt and give a nice coating of salt. Stick in the fridge for a couple
hours. Or, here's an idea, leave in the fridge for a day and a half. Then rinse and serve as Gravlax, one of my favorite ways to serve salmon. Sort of semi-preserved and the texture is fantastic. Anyway, after sitting for a couple hours, rinse the salt, dry and stick into the smoker. If you have one. I have one, and use it all the time. And I'm a vegetarian so if you're a meat eater, you should get one. I also have a stove top smoker that is pretty cool and works well for small things. And they are reasonable in price. Any way, smoke them. A short time and you will have nice full juicy flesh. A long time and you will have the dry some what leathery hard version. Either way, the stuff is great for making a wide variety of very cool dishes, and stayed tuned for the ravioli recipe coming up.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The FDA regulatory functionality

What's a drug? I'm not being facetious, most people don't have any idea what the legal definition of a drug actually is. Nor do they understand the processes (or costs) involved with creating, testing and receiving approval for new drugs. Well, the feds define a "drug" in the 21st US Code of Federal Regulations 802 section 321 G subsections A, B, C, and D. You can read them at the bottom. Of particular interest is subsection B that states drugs are articles for use in prevention of diseases. Things like Vitamin C that prevents scurvy, or the B vitamins that prevent blindness, rickets or a number of bone problems. These are proven cures and preventative measures any person can use to prevent specific diseases. However, the FDA has added in there the famous subsection D to the Code and that part disallows any manufacturer that produces any vitamin or supplement or dietary product from adding information to the label that would in any way make a claim as to whether or not the vitamin or supplement would be beneficial for any disease. That's sort of counterintuitive though, as we know, there is absolute proof that certain substances will indeed prevent or even CURE a large number of diseases. However the CFR was amended to prevent any manufacturer from making such a claim.

The purpose for that of course is to never again have snake oil sales in this country. Snake oil. Sort of a generic term used to categorize the huge numbers of unscrupulous charlatans that concocted home brewed elixirs that contained widely varied ingredients from wood alcohol to cocaine to mercury to powdered skunk glands to just about anything. The movie version is of old by traveling side shows complete with fast talking gentlemen, testimonials and often free drinks and food. Hmmm, sounds like detail men doesn't it? If you don't know or never heard the expression, detail men or women, they are sales staff from the big drug companies that go into doctor's offices and dispense promises of wondrous health benefits of their employer's new drugs along with prizes, money, food and free samples. ((just for fun watch the movie 'Love and other Drugs' and watch the Jake Gylenhaal character when his company invents the boner pill))  Actually when you get right down to it, Coke, Dr. Pepper and a surprising number of now large drug manufacturers got their start in business by hawking the snake oil products of the day. 

The way to prevent Snake Oil in America is pretty simple. The FDA has decreed that anyone making and marketing any drug cannot put any claims of health benefits unless that drug manufacturer puts the stuff through a somewhat rigorous (and expensive) process that will definitively show that the substance is not harmful and indeed does exactly what the maker claims. No more Snake Oil. Well, sort of. The FDA does sort of tip the scales towards the really big drug companies and allows them to bring drugs out into the world that do seem to not have been all that rigorously tested after all. A lot of recalls and black box warnings. Which realistically the end consumer never gets to see. However, the FDA allows the big guys to market those drugs to doctors and hospitals and of course now days, to patients everywhere via the wondrous concept of mass media. TV, magazines, coupons in newspapers, wherever advertising space is available, drugs will be hawked to the world. 

Now the problem for me is that I have for some time now realized that human health depends almost entirely with how your body is fed and cared for. Feed it crap, you get a crappy body. And of course the more crap, ie. chemicals, additives, toxic pesticide residues etc going into the body, then the more the body has to work to eliminate the crap and has little left over to create healthy new cells and cure any problems that might be showing up. Probably from too much crap, but that's the way it works. So the problem is a simple one. The FDA means well, but the restrictive rulings about the claims vitamin and supplement manufacturers want to make about their products prevents people from understanding that simple supplements can help the body get past the crap; especially when all you put into the body is crap. There are others that the FDA has stopped, like the cherry juice processor that labeled their juice with the statement that it helps gout. They got shut down pretty quick, even though virtually every doctor in the world knows that information. The little company never spent the 5 to 8 HUNDRED million dollars for the report that would verify the claim. 

So, what to do. Should you take vitamins, or not. And if you think the above statements about crap in makes for a crappy person and want to at least try something different; well, you will find that the labels do not in any way give you any information. 

I think that's wrong. I believe basic science has justified many many many of the benefits of modern supplements and that the continued ban is just one more example of the FDA harassment of small businesses. 


(A) articles recognized in the official United States Pharmacopoeia, official Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, or official National Formulary, or any supplement to any of them; and
(B) articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals; and

(C) articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals; and

(D) articles intended for use as a component of any article specified in clause (A), (B), or (C). A food or dietary supplement for which a claim, subject to sections 343 (r)(1)(B) and 343 (r)(3) of this title or sections 343 (r)(1)(B) and 343 (r)(5)(D) of this title, is made in accordance with the requirements of section 343 (r) of this title is not a drug solely because the label or the labeling contains such a claim. A food, dietary ingredient, or dietary supplement for which a truthful and not misleading statement is made in accordance with section 343 (r)(6) of this title is not a drug under clause (C) solely because the label or the labeling contains such a statement.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The cost of doing business.

Business is, well, in business to make money. It's not rocket science, you buy or make something to sell, you sell it, and at a profit. Most people know that some products allow for larger profits than others, and those are the ones produced by the giant mega corporations. They know what they're doing, they've done it for some time and know that consumers everywhere will pay the prices and allow the giants to make mass quantities of money. The big ones are bottled water, at up to 4000% profit. Tobacco products are not as high, designer clothes are just about there, carbonated beverages, jewelry, eyeglasses and designer frames, non-unlimited plan text messages, coffee from retailers and of course, movie theater popcorn and drinks. All have just huge markups. 

And then there are prescription drugs. In America, the profit margins are in the 6000% range. At least that's based on production costs. Granted, there are costs associated with development of the actual drug itself being marketed; but also money that has to go into research on new drugs for the future. There is also marketing. In today's world, most of the big pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing their products than they actually spend on research. (Washington Post)  So that eats into their profit margins. One of the weird things that ALL the big drug companies do though that also cuts into profits is pay the FDA huge fines for doing things that are illegal. (Wikipedia list) If you add all the fines up, it's very nearly 20 billion dollars. 

Think about that for a minute, TWENTY BILLION DOLLARS.

Now granted, most of that money was in civil penalties. A large part of it was for criminal fines. 

Not one single person, no CEO's, no Directors, no Managers, no one, went to jail.

For them, it's a cost of doing business.

The most profitable industry in the world believes that they need to do things to make even more money and so they willingly and continuously engender and promote activities that are illegal and if caught they are aware of that they will pay substantial monetary penalties. 

Don't you wish you made that kind of money and could just write off billions as a cost of doing business.

Time on why GlaxoSmithKline got stuck with a 3 billion dollar fine. (Time Mag Report)

There's something wrong with our world.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why be normal? Rolls the Chef Roy Way

So my son asked me to make some stuff for him. Lunch meat sandwiches that are in reality, well, rolls. Easy to do, so I went to Winco for groceries. (I love Winco, employee owned, fair pricing and huge selection, and not supporting the mega corporations funding of personal excesses) I purchases some dry salami and turkey breasts. And some jalapeno jack cheese. I cut thick slabs of the cheese and rolled it up in alternating layers of the cold cuts.

Then I made basic whole wheat bread dough, let rise an hour and then took golf ball sized bits and pressed out into rectangle on counter. Placed the rolled cheese and luncheon meats onto the bread dough and just pulled the sides up and pinched them all together to form little loaf. Make sure they are sealed well because if they aren't, then the cheese will melt and leak out all over the sheet pans. Let rise in warm place. Right now since it's raining and I have the windows open (YAY summer is over) it's pretty cool and so I let oven warm up a bit and then just let the rolls rise in the warm oven. Let double in size. Then take out and preheat the oven to 425. Throw a few ice cubes in and that steam helps let the rolls rise in those first couple minutes in the oven.  Let bake until golden brown, rotating the pan about 10 minutes into the baking. Total baking time was about 22 minutes. Cool on rack and bag them, suck the air out and throw in the freezer. A couple minutes in the microwave and a nice hot sandwich for on the go or nice snack at work


Monday, October 5, 2015

Just about the heartiest soup ever made

Yikes, bold statement, but make it once, and you will agree with me. The soup is pretty easy, and unbelievably nutritious as well as tasty as all get out. To start, take a half cup of lentils, a half cup of wild rice, and a half cup of rye berries. Rye is very hearty and bold, so I thought it would go well in this mix. Feel free to use whole oats, wheat or barley. In a pinch, brown rice would work as well. Rinse, put in pressure cooker and cover with a quart of water, bring to boil and pressure for 20 minutes. Let cool until pressure drops, open cooker and pour all the stuff into a bowl. Put the cooker back on the stove and heat back to medium high and film with 3 tablespoons olive oil and then add two sliced leeks, 4 ribs celery sliced, a red pepper diced and 3 jalapenos seeded and diced. I also added a cup and a half of chopped smoked mushrooms. Not something everyone has around the house, I have them because I smoke a lot of stuff in my smoker (mostly my goat cheese that I sell) and so I often just slice up mushrooms and put out there. You can omit or just add regular mushrooms. They add just a nice faint smokiness that I find pleasant. Cook over medium high about 8 to 10 minutes, a little color on the veggies is fine and adds to the flavor. When getting a bit softened, dump the grains back into the pot. Now, here I added 2 packages of my Tuscan Sun Dip Mix for a fantastic seasoning combination. You know, not necessary to use that specific product, but if you want to try it, come see me at the farmers market or order online (upper right corner) or just add a bunch of your favorite Italian seasoning blend. And I mean a lot, at least two ounces or so. Then I added a bunch of fresh ground black pepper, brought the thing to a boil, then added four finely chopped Kale leaves. Add the lid to the pressure cooker and cook under pressure for about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from stove and cool to remove lid. Serve as is or with chopped parsley and a whole wheat roll on the side. 

You know, this was sooooo easy and it tasted fantastic. Even my son got up from his office (work from home day) and went out to the kitchen when he smelled the stuff. He had told me he wanted a burrito but ended up eating this. 

It makes a huge pot, and I imagine that tomorrow it will taste even better than today.  

Tomorrow I am going to take this thick soup, really a stew, and mix in a skillet with some cooked brown rice. Let the rice absorb all the liquid, let it cool and mix in some shredded cheese and stuff into green bells that I cored. I'll put them into another pressure cooker and cook under pressure about 8 minutes or so to cook the peppers through. More cheese on top to serve and I think the entire neighborhood will be knocking on the door cuz it will smell that good.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FOOD NEWS Most people don't have access to this stuff, so I'm filling you all in on the top poop

Yeah, there is a lot of stuff that goes on in the world of food manufacturing and corporate intrigue and mystery. Never important enough for the standard media to report on, why would they, the Kardasian's are making news all the time and they and all their fellow leaders in the world of fluff and whinery (a made up word, the art of whining) take precedence over anything important in your lives. 

Anheuser Busch has made it known they intend to take over Miller in a move that will make the company worth about 275 BILLION dollars and will then control over a third of ALL beer production in the WORLD.

Yesterday, the 29th, the FBI announced that companies that use the new "Internet of Things" should be aware that they need to be diligent about security matters as using the IoT makes them vulnerable to cyber attacks which could be damaging to business practices and safety. No really, they did.

Mondalez International, just about the largest biscuit and cookie maker in the world announced on Monday the 28th plans to introduce Oreo cookies to all of Russia.

J M Smuckers announced that in the next twelve months they intend to introduce over a hundred new products. They are in response to consumer demand for healthier products with a focus on simple ingredients and convenience. Me, I think Smuckers is and has been a leader in the deception of consumers for decades. We'll see how it works out. 

Yeah, one of the weirdest things to be announced last week was from Korea. It seems that the hottest thing at the market there is something called "Honey Butter Chips" and they are just potato chips with honey and butter on them. The company that makes them has increased production by 40% and they still sell out at stores within minutes of them being put on shelves. Now, get this, they are only available in Korea but they have been sold on Ebay for prices up to $103.00 a bag. They sell for a buck and a half at stores in Korea. This one's kind of wacko.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Global Warming, Drought and Desertification, NOT what you might think

You know how all of the big trendy conservation groups and ecological heavy hitting activists and the magazines and really anyone spouting off about how to save the world from the coming disaster caused by global warming are ALL telling us that our problems center around the extensive use of fossil fuels to power our planet?

It's all a bunch of crap.

Sorry, but it's true. Even if tomorrow scientists were to create a magical solar receptor that was cheap, nearly a 100% efficient and within five years at minimal cost every single use of fossil fuels was abandoned; then global warming would continue at very nearly the same rate, desertification would continue unchecked and drought, deserts would grow and sea levels would rise all across the planet as temperatures rose. 

Well, that just doesn't seem right. However, it's very true. The biggest cause of Global Warming has little to do with burning fossil fuels, it's all about the production of meat. Burgers, chicken nuggets, sausages and all things meaty are the biggest factors. Well, granted, it's only one percent, but the fact is that production of meat using modern methods of farming contributes 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

Well that doesn't seem right now does it?

Unfortunately it's true. It isn't just a bunch of cows and pigs farting, that's actually a very tiny part of the total amount. It's all the associated processes involved that are generating not just carbon dioxide but a lot of methane as well. If you believe all the scientists working on this (hey, they have nothing to gain by lying, not like so many many many corporate shills on payroll ordered to give specific results about stuff as is commonplace in the world today) then they tell us that methane is up to four times worse for greenhouse effects than carbon dioxide. Well, so I know this sounds a bit incredulous, so here I will attempt to explain how it happens. First, there is the carbon sequestration effect. Also called the carbon sink. This basically is what happens in the natural wild world. Plants have to capture carbon from the atmosphere and use it to grow. Then animals eat the plants, they remove nutrients and the remaining plant is excreted back into the environment where it decomposes and some of the carbon stays in the soil and effectively traps quite a bit of that carbon so it is unable to go up and form that greenhouse effect that is destroying the planet. It's pretty simple. However what man can change, man changes. And make no mistake, man has dramatically change the carbon sink. 

What seems simple, is pretty complex. First, the production of meat no longer involves the grazing of food animals in open land where the waste could effectively be utilized to help the carbon sink. For the most part, those animal wastes are stored separately and through several means available is then disposed of in a manner that does not capture the carbon. In fact most of the time the waste is put into ponds and allowed to decompose where the carbon is returned to the atmosphere and not the land. It doesn't stop there, most of the animals are now fed soy, corn and some other crops grown specifically for feed. No manure is returned to the soil so artificial fertilizers are needed to grow the plants. Fertilizers are made using petrochemicals. More carbon put into the atmosphere. The drive to manufacture ever greater and cheaper quantities of meats has gone to tropical countries where large corporations are buying virgin rainforests, slashing the trees and planting soy to feed animals destined for dinner tables throughout America and Europe. No trees, no carbon sink, more carbon in the atmosphere. The feed has to be transported to where the animals are raised, transportation uses petrochemicals, more carbon into the atmosphere.

Yeah, the production of meat adds more greenhouse gases than anything else. 

Water. The biggest user of water in the world is not industrial or home use. Or even all the endless golf courses every where. It's the production of meat. A pound of beef takes up to 2000 gallons of water to produce. Most produce or grains take around a hundred gallons to grow a pound of the stuff. Well, broccoli is a lot less. Avocados are about 148 gallons of water to a pound of Avos. In my youth I dreamed of becoming an Avocado rancher, but I couldn't ride a horse.

Anyway, all this is just to show us how the change in the eating habits of mankind is destroying our world. A culture based on a meat diet is not good for humans, and even less so for the planet.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hey, what's that stuff there in my meat? Ah hah, it's the American Chemical Feast

Well, now that's not something you hear everyday. Well other than the jokes about the worms in the supermarket salmon. But stuff in meat, naw, no one puts stuff in meat, right? C'mon Chef Roy, no one puts stuff in meat, meat is meat. Well, maybe Taco Bell, or Wendy's and earthworms. And pink slime at the golden arches, but real meat. It's just meat.

Silly made up human voice, sorry, we live in the Chemical Feast and stuff is just rampant at the stockyards and pigpens. There are just so many different things making up stuff, I could write a book about them all. Except I don't need to, some one already did. A joint venture of the FAO and WHO and their scientists wrote a fascinating and incredibly scary book titled "Toxicological Evaluation of Certain Veterinary Drug Residues in Food"  Available at Amazon, only 42 bucks. I'm not makin' this stuff up. So, today I don't want to get too scary, I just want to go into a few things about ractopamine. Yes, it's stuff. It's fed to livestock along with their regular standard diet of corn, soy, cottonseed meal, dried and ground up chicken litter including chicken feces and dead chickens, and a variety of other agricultural waste products. And of course lots and lots of antibiotics. Remember, the cattle or pigs pretty much live their lives standing, kneeling, sleeping and over all existing on top of piles of their own piss and shit. They get sick and they get sores and burns and various ailments afflict them because of their living conditions. But cattlemen are trying to help out their livestock, (cattle, pigs and others) by force feeding them a product called ractopamine. The help is indirect, the drug forces animals to put on lean muscle mass faster and grow a bit faster. Thus they only have to live in those conditions a little less time. That's sort of being humane.

So, what is this stuff that has my ire irked. Ractopamine is a class of drugs called beta agonists. Specifically it is a Beta adrenergic agonist that was first created for use in humans as a suppressant for asthma. It was never approved for use in humans because it for the most part killed humans. It increased heart rates, for extended periods of time, and then it did what it was supposed to do, dilated airways and some other stuff. Long term use it was discovered, caused the user to gain muscle mass. This was thought to be a boon to body builders if it wasn't for that unpleasant side effect, death. Along with just the typical stuff, tachycardia, tremors, muscle spasms and high arterial pressure. So it was never approved for human use but that never stopped big pharma from making money on their creations. There was that big big side effect, increase lean muscle mass. And so it came to pass that the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, soon changed its marketing tactics and pursued the livestock meat industry as a potential customer. And with great success. The stuff has become synonymous with American pork, beef and turkey products. So much so that two of the largest importers of beef and pork have recently refused to purchase any American products because of the contamination with ractopamine. Russia and China. The Chinese really want to buy untainted pork for their population and so have gone so far as to purchase the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods with the intent to alter production methods within their own farms to eliminate the use of ractopamine for pork destined for export back to the home country. 

So we really can't talk about ractopamine without talking about the Downer's Decision. This is where we learn the true depths of disdain with which American Corporate leaders hold consumers. It all started back in 2007 when some activists made some movies about the horrific conditions at slaughterhouses. I'm not going to put a link here to the videos, you can look it up if you want, suffice it to say that I was grossed out. And I don't really care about the actual process of killing feed animals, that's not why I'm a vegetarian. But this was ghastly. And it all comes down to what are known as Downers. Animals that are either too sick, too deformed, too doped up, and too wild and uncontrollable to be forced up the chute to be killed for slaughter. In 2009 the State of California passed a law that made it illegal to slaughter for human food any animal that was deemed, Downer. This was also put into effect because of the very real danger of BSE getting into the food supply. BSE is mad cow disease. The problems also encompassed animals that were so grossly deformed with unnaturally occurring muscle tissue that they were unable to walk, or because they were crazed and either unable to respond or wildly uncontrollable. Well, all those were side effects of excessive use of ractopamine. And in some instances, those wild animal's actions mimicked BSE, or again, Mad Cow Disease. The cattlemen's association took the State of California to court, and eventually it went up to the Supreme Court which gave its unanimous decision that those that raise animals for human consumption have the right to slaughter and put into the system any animal they wanted to whether it could walk or not or was acting in any way different from normal. No matter what's wrong, we get to eat it. Well, literally as well as figuratively.

So, anyway, if we look at ractopamine uptake and half life within the system and amounts excreted in 24, 48 and 96 hour intervals and blah blah blah blah, boring stuff, buy the book listed above. We look at the actual figures resulting in why the use of ractopamine is so very popular with American animal ranchers. It makes them extra money. Now, here I get several different figures. Most of the USDA figures show that on average, a farmer can realize an extra 3 to 4 dollars per hog when using ractopamine. Cattle will bring from 7 to 11 dollars per head. Turkeys, about 20 cents per bird. Think about it, in America, profit is so revered, so needed, so required that tunnel vision occurs and the belief that making an extra one third to very nearly a WHOLE cent per pound profit on animals causes farmers and ranchers to just completely look the other way and use a known harmful substance that is banned in over 160 countries as being too dangerous to allow into their food supply.

Well, it's up to me to draw even more conclusions. This is something that I have tried to find out about, and have spent an inordinate amount of time looking with no results. And that is of course, just how much ractopamine gets into the environment. We know how much is excreted (up to 92% in 96 hours) after being fed the stuff, so there really is only one place for it to go. Into the huge piles of animal waste outside the places where they raise the animals. In most of the country, that waste is dumped into holding ponds and allowed to rot. Not so much here in the Southwest. Here it's too dry so they pile it up and let it dry and hope for the big storms to come blow large portions of it away. Yeah, most of the people living here in the Valley of the Sun don't know that a large portion of those huge walls of dust blowing in from the south east comes from all the huge dairy and cattle feedlots down north of Tucson. And the dust contains a huge amount of cattle manure. But that's another story. Elsewhere, the manure from feeding operations is supposed to decompose in those large holding ponds. Supposed to. What I tried to find out was how long it took for the ractopamine within the manure to decompose. So I went to the ScienceLab and tried to find the MSDS. It isn't there. I went to the EPA and they had no data on half life deterioration in the environment. I went to the PAN, no luck. I went to the ATSDR and was not helped. I went to the National Toxicology Program part of Health and Human Services, and found zilch. I went to the FDA, and they seem to believe there is no such problem, they have declared ractopamine safe. Well, except for humans. I probably could go elsewhere, but I am confident that if it isn't in these places, it won't be anywhere else. Why is it a problem, well, let's try to remember that in the past I have talked about animal poop. And this very problem. It seems that the USDA demands that anyone (and let's remember that in America, corporations are people) that owns an animal feeding facility MUST make provisions to contain the waste. The most common and accepted method is a pond to let the stuff stink up the surrounding ten or so square miles and eventually drain it and remove the leftover stuff that didn't turn to methane and further cause greenhouse gas problems. All that's okay, and if severe weather were to hit the area and most of the waste were to wash out into the public waterways, neighboring produce fields or possibly into municipal water supplies; that was perfectly fine and in accordance with the American way of life. Don't believe me? You can read the court's decision here (Circuit Court Decision)  And especially look on page two where they have determined that in areas with normally heavy rainfall occurs, ZERO Discharge is not mandated. So how big a problem is it? We probably will never know. However, if you look ractopamine up in the Wikipedia, we are informed that anyone with cardiovascular problems should avoid meat products containing ractopamine as it could causes serious problems. How much ractopamine is in meat, how much is in our water supplies because of runoff, how much do we breathe in as dust?

Is the concept of making an extra penny per pound in profit such a single minded focus for American producers that they lose sight of what these things are doing to our environment, our bodies and our future?

We indeed live within the American Chemical Feast

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CHEATS. Oh how American Business Rulers love those cheats. Better living through the Chemical Feast

Cheating, It's not just Tom Brady and a little gas, or the incredibly slow and seemingly stupid lineman back in high school biology copying answers from you so he could pass and go on to make 3 mil a year in the NFL; it's pretty much the American way of life. Cheating encompasses just about every aspect of our existence and is widely accepted by our political leaders, CEO's of every major (and even most of the minor) producers of foods and drugs, and yes, even every single individual consumer. Yeah, it's true, our government has legitimized cheating. And we as consumers, for the majority anyway, don't care. It's all right there, all you have to do is be aware of what you buy and eat, read the ingredients. You'll see it. Most of the processed foods on the shelves will tell you that they are cheats. And most of America, don't care. 

Cheats come in a number of categories. I know this sounds weird, but a lot of foods that we consume as traditional staples in our diets, contain large amounts of added salt, sugar, or fat. These are natural cheats. The addition of these into any recipe by the manufacturer are for the purpose of increasing mouthfeel and taste perception. Yikes, that's a tough one. They don't always increase taste, they increase the perception of flavor. And there is a difference there. Adding larger amounts of these (what are perceived as natural) ingredients increases that perception of flavor. And as we all know, flavor actually is about 80% sensed within our sense of smell. Food processing pretty much
removes most of the natural scents intrinsic within the foods we eat so the addition of basic sensory flavors salt and sweet have a greater perception for consumers. And of course some of the big agrigiants take that concept to the extreme. Here we see the ingredients to peanut butter Cap'n Crunch. If you look at the first line, we see that the amount of sodium is actually above the amount of 2300 mg that the USDA recommends daily. And there is a significant amount of sugar. Over 30% of the cereal by weight, is sugar. But that much sugar is needed to mask the huge amount of salt. And let's not forget that these figures are for a standard serving size of three quarters of a cup of cereal. When I was a kid, I filled a cereal bowl with stuff like this, it wasn't any three quarters of a cup. 

Well, let's get past that, and go on to other flavor cheats. Flavor enhancers. Simple ones we have known about for a long time now are MSG and it's family of derivatives. There is a lot of controversy about MSG, scientists all over the world are publishing findings that show it to destroy nerve cells and interfere with normal brain function. And the manufacturers of the stuff and those agrigiants that use the stuff to enhance whatever flavor is left after processing, cite the US FDA (that does ABSOLUTELY no testing itself on ingredient safety) states that MSG and any product made with concentrated glutamate compounds, is safe to use. (Okay, a side note, the FDA approves the use of azodicarbonamide for food use. The EPA declares it too toxic for use in food. ((FDA and poison)) and only to be used in the US for industrial purposes.) I know, just because the feds say it's safe, I personally don't believe them. Science, being the highly subjective discipline it is and dependent on funding from manufacturers for the most part really will never have any specific definitive opinion on anything. 

But then there are a whole family of other flavor enhancers that are coming into vogue. I've talked about them before, back when I did the "What's in your food" series a few months ago. But they are related, some bad, some not so bad, like the Disodium twins - guanylate and inosinate. Which are not specifically seen to be mutagenic or carcinogenic. At least there haven't been any research done yet on the stuff. Inosinic acid, a whole family of ribonucleotides and the most expensive (therefore rarely used) but probably the safest, Guanylic Acid. And lesser known and used because it is less effective are the Maltol and Ethyl Maltol, which comes from larch tree bark or pine needles. All these compounds and additives are available to food manufacturers and are known collectively by the title of this article, cheats. They have one function, to alter the perceived flavor profile of the manufactured food product in which they are added. Cheats. Cheating. Prestidigitation. Sleight of hand, or perhaps, your food dollars.

Sometimes I think that I'm the only person in America that believes this is wrong.

Depending on your point of view, whether it be that of one of those placing their faith on evolution, or of one that believes that we, the planet and all living things on it were created in one swift wave of the hand, or command of the almighty; none of the cheats were included as standard fare for consumption by humans in any scenario. They all are, created by men specifically for one purpose, to make dull crappy foods bright and vibrant tasting. With as little cost as possible and with few detectable side effects. And of course, to be able to achieve regulatory approval easily. In today's world, that's a big one. The FDA right now has a three year backlog for reviewing new applications for NEW food additives. The EAFUS right now has over 10,000 entries in it. However the scary part is that only 3,500 of those are considered GRAS (EAFUS Everything Added to Food in the US and GRAS Generally Recognized as Safe) So, even the FDA is confused about GRAS, you can go here, and go to item 16 and see how the CFR is disjointed and does not contain a complete list of GRAS ingredients as they just are unable to maintain the database (FDA on GRAS) And the companion piece (EAFUS)

Now I'm all about science, for the most part science gives us a very reasonable view of the universe we live in. Food science though is a bit different, especially the parts about adulterating the food products presented to Americans, and the world, so that they give the APPEARANCE of being wholesome healthy and wondrous. Now I understand the constraints of the socioeconomic system that we live under that forces most families to work more than would be possible for them to be at home and cook healthy food items for themselves and families. I understand that. We've allowed that to happen to us, and this piece isn't about any sort of revolution or anything, it's about trying to torture you with the concept that the food presented to you isn't healthy and in fact, may be damaging to your health over time. Let me see if I can explain that.

Back some time ago, businesses learned of a new process for rice called polishing. They took brown rice and polished it to make it white. The new product was pretty cool. It was easier to cook, it had greater texture appeal, it could be warehoused for years instead of the normal 10 to 12 months that plain brown rice suffered, and of course, it was absolutely lacking in most nutrients. If you ate it, it didn't hurt you. You could eat it for years, and you and your kids would grow to have spindly bones and rotting teeth. But it didn't kill you when you ate it. A little after that some scientists built this really cool high speed roller mill that could take wheat and grind it into very very fine flour and at the same time, remove the bran and the germ. The resulting white flour was a miracle to bakers and business men. It could store for years, it could make incredible products and of course, it made everyone money. It was of course, denuded of all the nutritive value and those that ate it as a steady diet got sick. Well scientists are a willing lot. What they destroy they are willing to fiddle with and find a fix to the problem. Which they did, enhancements of vitamins and minerals helped. And yes, I understand that this was a long time ago, and it isn't the exact same thing as adding chemicals to foods today, but the principal is nearly the same, business leaders and their paid minions, scientists, tell us things are safe without really doing long term testing or as so often has happened, even thinking about the consequences of what they have done.

Now we come to the cheating part. Scientists have created all of these wondrous cheats, flavor enhancers, fillers, emulsifiers, and on and on, chemicals to do so many things. And they test them, and find them to be wondrously safe and proficient at making money for their users. And we get to consume them. Now comes the hard part. Just as in the past, it might take decades to harm us. We all know that apples contain arsenic. At small amounts, it won't kill you. It builds up in your kidneys, liver and brain, but a major part of the stuff you ingest in the form of apple juice or almonds, is excreted in your urine. But we all know that if you concentrate arsenic, and put a small amount in your rich husband's coffee everyday, he will die. The thing is, we don't really and truly know what will happen to people that consume these chemicals on a daily basis after ten, twenty, thirty years. Scientists say they know. 

They are paid to say that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Football Food my crazy version of pigs in a blanket

Last Saturday the group of friends that were kind enough to allow me to play in their Fantasy Football League, had the team draft. I know virtually nothing about football. But I like my friends, so I made food for the event. My version of Pigs in the Blanket. Started with a basic whole wheat bread dough, the usual, warm water, yeast, a tablespoon honey
and one of sea salt. Add a half cup olive oil and mix in wheat flour until stiff batter forms, then knead on medium for ten minutes. Add in a cup of diced green chilis. 
Make some chorizo, I soak my chorizo spices in a half cup of beer then mix in two pounds ground pork. Form it into little
football shapes and brown in olive oil.

Set them aside to drain. Here you can see them as they start to cook and then as they get a bit brown they give off the color from the


I bought a bunch of Spicy Italian sausages and cooked in the broiler. Hey, it was over a hundred outside, I wasn't going out to use the grill. Anyway, nice and browned.

Then I also took some Mozzarella cheese and cut into long pencil sized pieces. Then It was easy, take a golf ball sized piece of dough, flatten it out on the counter and add a piee of cheese, a split sausage, then a chorizo. Pull the sides together and pinch on the top.

Let them rise until double, bake at 400 until golden. And I also added some cheese to the tops to give them a nice crunch


Some Cajun Delights

I guess the pictures didn't come out all the well, but they tasted fantastic.
Potato and Spinach cakes. Grate using fine grater on food processor four Yukon Gold potatoes. Place into a dish towel and twist it to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Then in large bowl, beat two eggs with a tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Add the potatoes and break the ball of shredded potatoes up into the individual shreds and toss well. Oops, before all that, take six cloves garlic sliced and add to large skillet with a tablespoon olive oil, cook a minute then add a pound of washed spinach. Turn over a few times, and cover, reduce heat to low and cook a few minutes until all completely wilted. Cool. put the spinach into a towel and squeeze to dry. Chop roughly the ball of spinach. Add to the potatoes and toss well. Wipe out the big skillet and add a quarter cup olive oil and bring up to smoking point. Then plop big half cup portions of the mix into the pan and sort of spread out. Brown well, turn and brown the other side. Remove and set aside to allow to drain. Make the sauce by starting with small dicing a red pepper, four celery stalks and a small onion. Sweat in olive oil and cook until starting to brown. Toss in some diced smoked mushrooms, or for those that eat meat, choose whatever you want. The smoked mushrooms are incredible, I thought they were bacon pieces. Anyway, add a quarter cup unbleached flour and a quarter cup Cajun seasoning and stir well until beginning to brown. Then add two cups or so of some stock. I used vegetable stock I made from trash in my freezer trash bag. (tops of celery, onion skins and whatever stored in the freezer for when you need stock)  Bring to boil, simmer about ten minutes or so. Now take a pack of sour cream and add a package of my Jalapeno Cilantro Dip Mix, set aside. In a nice clean hot pan, add some butter and then fry a couple eggs per person. Take one potato patty, place an egg on it, top with the sauce and then a dollop of that spicy sour cream. Yikes that will wake you all up.  Cajun seasoning recipe at bottom

Cajun Spice Blend - Mix together 2 oz. Cayenne pepper, 2 oz. sweet basil, 2 oz. ground thyme, 2 oz. garlic powder, 2 oz. onion powder, 1 oz. ground chili, 1 tsp. ground mustard, 1/8 tsp ground clove.  When using this mix, always add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.