Tag Archives: food

Flyover country again…

I just returned from a week in Lincoln, Nebraska.  For the second time this year I’ve had my preconvienced notions of ‘flyover country’ shattered (well, not all of them, it’s pretty flat out there).  Still, my smug East Coast attitude is beginning to crack around the edges.

If you happen to find yourself in merry ol’ Lincoln may I recommend Brewski’s which (on Thursdays at least) had a great set of ‘dueling pianos’.  I was sold with their rendition of Snoop Dogg‘s ‘Gin and Juice‘  and it only got better from there.

Nebraska boasts a decent selection of local beers which I highly recommend.  I tried many types ranging from pale ales to porters and don’t recall getting a bad one.

Another bar worthy of checking out is the ‘Starlight Lounge‘ which is (I think) a satellite operation (and attached to) a restaurant called ‘Buzzard Billy’s‘ (also worth checking out.  The lounge is decorated in late 60’s/early 70’s blue vinyl and was fantastic.  Even if it wasn’t, however, the evening would have been worth it based on the following snippit of conversation I heard while entering the restroom (two guys were talking to each other):

“…so I went home and googled it and found out there’s this whole fetish around women wearing casts.  It’s like regular porn except the woman has a cast on her arm or leg.  Yeah…cast porn.”  (Hey, do me a favor and finish reading this before you jump to google and search it, okay?  And don’t pretend you aren’t gonna do it…we both know you are.)

I don’t really know anything about sports but Lincolners (Lincolnites?  Lincolnese?) seem to be unusually enthusiastic attachment to their local college football team (the Cornhuskers).  I don’t really get the name.  I mean, don’t teams pick mascots that indicate the level of fieceness or determination to win?  Are people who husk corn particularly driven to that sort of thing?  I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explaination for this but I feared my question might enrage the residents so I thought the best course of action was to keep my mouth shut.

Nebraskans are yet another group of people who are generally nicer than my Northeastern brethern.  I’m confident, however, that we’re MUCH better prepared for the zombie apocalypse (really, who doesn’t know that you have to destroy the brain to keep a zombie down?).

The airport in Lincoln has one of those full body scanners but, yet again, I was thwarted from making a scene and demanding a pat down when I was directed through a regular metal detector.  Damn you TSA!!!  I had three hours to kill!

On the other hand it didn’t look that they were directing many people through the scanner.  In fact, I’d almost say it was there for show but they finally sent one poor sap through it.

Oh…I wrote this in Chicago Midway airport on Friday night.  My only story to tell from here:  I see a young couple across from me talking, flirting, etc. (I can’t hear what as I’ve got my headphones on) but I just saw the woman pick the man’s nose and seconds later kiss him.  I have no idea what the hell kind of mating ritual that is but it kind of freaked me out.

Update:  Oh! And I forgot the weirdest thing of all.  Apparently, Lincolners (or maybe Nebraskans in general) have a favorite local dish which is comprised of a bowl of chili and a cinnamon bun which they use for dipping.  I have to admit the thought of that makes me throw up a bit in my mouth.  Still, they swear by it (it was on at least one menu I saw) and claim that it’s in regular rotation in the school lunch program along with carrot sticks.  What the hell, I guess if you’re already going to commit culinary homicide by mashing up a cinnamon bun and chili it’s probably too much to expect sense to be made with the sides.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Light posting for this weekend…Americans will be too busy digesting massive quantities of turkey to care about the internet and foreigners will…will…what do you do when we stop paying attention?

Even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I’d like to send my best wishes to my foreign readers and say that you are included in the list of things I’m thankful for.

Now, for those of you wondering what we’ll be having at the TwShiloh Mountain Redoubt ™ this year, the menu will be:

  • Virginia peanut soup
  • Wild rice with chestnuts
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Turkey (yes, Thanksgiving is the one day a year I break my vegetarian fast which, I’m sure, one turkey is NOT thankful for.  On the positive side, it was a free range, vegetarian-fed turkey.)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Cranberry wine
  • And…of course…Brains

All dishes will be lactose AND gluten free for Mrs. TwShiloh.


Talking about Afghanistan over some tea

Allow me to recommend Adagio teas (No – this isn’t a paid endorsement – wait for a sec and the link to Afghanistan will become clear).   I’m a big tea drinker and they’ve not only got a nice selection of teas but you can actually fashion your own blends.

And so, (here’s the connection to Afghanistan you’ve been waiting so patiently for) I made my own that I’m calling ‘Parwan Blend‘.  I attempted to capture my ten months there in a cup of tea and after tasting it last night think I did a pretty good job.

I describe it thusly:

A mix of lapsang souchong (to recreate the smokey taste and smells of open cooking areas), almond (a nod to the ever present candied almonds that were present at most meetings with local elders and officials) and peppermint (to balance the other two and capture the essence of the ‘lightness’ of the Afghan tea I frequently drank) teas.

The smokey lapsang hits you first but dissipates pretty quickly followed by a long almond finish with the mint subtly underlying the whole endeavor.  I’ve only had it straight so can’t tell you what it’d be like iced, with sweetner or milk but if it’s from TwShiloh, it’s GOT to be good!

Best to think of this as a tea ‘inspired’ by Afghanistan rather than trying to replicate the taste of the tea that I actually had there.  In the same way some movies are ‘inspired’ by true events…

For $10 you can get 3oz. of the stuff which is a sizable amount.  For full disclosure I think if a bunch of people buy the stuff I get some free tea or something but really, I just dig tea and thought the ability to blend your own stash was pretty cool.

Now, buckle up and brew some tea because I’ve got some Afghan posts in the hopper.

In which I demonstrate I can follow a recipe

Mark Bittman‘s book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” is, quite frankly, brilliant.  We had a ton of produce from our CSA and I needed to do something with it…fast.  Tomato sauce is easy and I made a bunch, ‘getting rid’ of the extra tomatoes that were accumulating everywhere like tribbles.   So, cracking open this massive tome I found and made:

Indian Style Pumpkin Soup

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 lbs pumpkin (or squash) cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (I used a white onion but I don’t think it matters)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon each:  minced garlic, minced, fresh ginger, curry powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat the butter on medium-high and once it’s melted, add the pumpkin and onion.  Cook until the onion is soft (the book says 5 minutes but I had a small pot and had to keep stirring it to distribute the heat so it took longer).  Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for an additional minute or so.  Add the stock, bring to a boil and lower the heat so you’ve just got a little bubbling action going.  Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Puree the soup (I ladled it out into a blender and did it in batches).  Once it’s all pureed, put it back on the stove on low heat and mix in the coconut milk and the cilantro.

I served it over rice made with vegetable broth, rather than water to add a bit more flavor. Very filling, very tasty.

Particularly good with some nice, substantial bread.

Where can a guy get a good Balanee around here?

If you happen to be in Central New Jersey and have a hankering for some Afghan food, check out the Afghan Kabob and Grill.  I was there yesterday and the food was most excellent.  The owner, Omar, is super friendly and if you want to talk Afghanistan you’ll be in luck.  It was a particularly good day to go since I’ve been jonesing for Afghan food for a bit now and the smells and tastes brought back some good memories.

Prices are very reasonable, portions generous and taste is very good.

Now, if I can just find someone who imports Afghan melons….

Kvick Tänkare

Ta-Nehisi has a great post about the case of the D.C. detective pulling a gun on a bunch of people throwing snowballs.  The detective is claiming that he thought an angry mob of  anarchists were threatening him and he feared for his life and so pulled his gun.  Yeah…cause anarchists attack a whole lot of cops…and snowball them to death.  Maybe…maybe, he’d have a case if the G20 was meeting at the time and he was in the area of protests.  But no, Baylor was in civilian clothes and a civilian vehicle.  There was no way he’d have been identified as a police officer.  That means Baylor had to be under the assumption that these ‘anarchists’ were on some sort of racial attack.  Yeah…cause as widespread as anarchists attacking police officers is, it’s even more common for them to lynch random black people.

As Coates sums up:

…it’s good to know that Detective Baylor won’t be, like, fired or anything. Wouldn’t want a cop who feels endangered by snowballs to be bounced off the force. The rough streets of D.C. need men with that kind of mettle.

If you are the sort of person that worries about the carbon footprint of food, don’t feel guilty about bananas.

Bananas are a great food for anyone who cares about their carbon footprint. For just 80g of CO2e you get a whole lot of nutrition: 140 calories as well as stacks of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and dietary fibre. All in all, a fantastic component of a low-carbon diet.

• They are grown in natural sunlight, which means that no energy-intensive hot-housing is required.

• They keep well, so although they are often grown thousands of miles from the end consumer, they are transported by boats, which per kilo of freight transported emit only 1% as much CO2 as planes do.

• There is hardly any packaging, if any, because they provide their own. (You might sometimes see a bunch in a light plastic bag or wrapper, but this probably pays for itself carbon-wise by reducing the chance of customers ruining the fruit when they try to split a bunch.)

“You get to play with very large toys in the oil industry.”  A great explanation of the science behind the BP oil spill.  (h/t Phronesisaical)

I was never a big fan of Andrew Sullivan’s ‘View from your window’ (probably because he refused to publish my own, most excellent entry) but he’s now got a contest where you guess the location of the shot.  It’s quite amazing to read the logic people use to figure out where the picture was taken.  I only wish they published all the guesses.  Great critical thinking exercise.


I’m skimming through a recently released report titled ‘Too Fat to Fight‘ from an organization called Mission Readiness which is calling for revamping our school lunch programs to provide more healthy foods designed to increase child health instead of the current system which is designed to act as a huge government subsidy to the processed food industry.  The argument is that our current food trough system is making so many obese young adults that we can actually foresee a day when the problem will have real national security implications.

This was a pretty shocking paragraph:

When weight problems are combined with educational deficits, criminal records, and other disqualifiers such as asthma or drug abuse, 75 percent of Americans 17 to 24 years old are unable to join the military for one or more reasons.17 The military will need to have more fit young men and women if it is going to find enough recruits with the excellent qualifications needed for a modern military.

Perhaps an important reason by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is doomed.

And how about this?

Every year, the military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before their contracts are up because of weight problems;

That’s not crusty old chairborne rangers who’ve gotten chubby from too many years in hand to hand combat with the jelly donuts.  That first enlistment soldiers which means they’re primarily in the 18-24 age cohort and when they should be in great physical shape.  What’s it saying that after a couple of months of basic training these enlistees can so easily fall back to being so overweight they have to be discharged?  Insufficiently rigorous physical training?  Unhealthy meals in the mess halls?  Years of bad habits?

Absolutely shocking.

Kvick Tänkare

As if the post-apocalyptic world wasn’t bad enough, word has come out that the BBC is canceling their series ‘Survivors‘ (no, not the reality TV show).  h/t MEGAT0N

I hated school (well, pre-university school that is).  It was 12 years of mind numbing exercise designed to elicit docile behavior and unquestioning acceptance of authority while incidentally cramming a few facts into our brains without any attempt to make it interesting (ok, there were a couple of exceptions to that but not many).  Well, guess what?  Our educational system may be like that because we don’t really want our schools to encourage creativity…we want docile little Stepford children (to turn into Stepford adults).

Is it really surprising that we are willing to overlook the abuses of dictatorships throughout the world if we have competing (usually short term) priorities?  The only thing that should be amazing is that fact that every time this sort of thing blows up in our faces we just scratch our heads and wonder what happened?

Hey all you single guys out there…Princess Madeleine’s wedding has been put on hold until next year.  You’ve still got time to break her up from Jonas Bergström, ingratiate yourself with the royal family and set yourself up as her consort (insert gratuitous princess shot here in 3…2…

Jason points to a group of military personnel who have formed their own tea-party collective.  They’ve since come out with a statement reaffirming that they are NOT advocating a military insurrection and admit that Obama is the lawful President of the U.S..  Look, I know I’m supposed to regard the tea parties as a legitimate political force in America now but geez, I’m having a hard time taking these people seriously.  It’s like they’re all standing around patting themselves on the back acting like they just invented cold fusion because they agree on some amazingly generic principles.  Yes, only you guys are in favor of not wasting money and building a strong country.

Sven has a bit of artillery and kiwi themed humor.

Freidersdorf fisks that jackass Thiessen (h/t Daily Dish)

I’ve never been a big fan of veggie burgers but now there’s another reason to be picky when picking out a brand.  Some are apparently bathed in a neurotoxin to remove excess fat.

Challanges in food – part 2

Last week, we watched the first two episodes of the Jamie Oliver show ‘Jamie’s Food Revolution‘.  Now, it’s a reality show and suffers from the staged drama and pop psychology these shows all incorporate into their stories but it still has some really interesting aspects to it.  I can’t tell how much of the show is creative editing (I hope a lot) or just how in the dark people are about food and nutrition principles.

Utterly shocking that kids don’t know what many vegetables are (hey, I’ll cut ’em some slack about cauliflower but not a potato?).  Parents and school officials that think pizza (for breakfast) and chicken nuggets (for lunch) constitute healthy meals  Thinking the only alternative to deep fried, high fat food is lettuce only meals.  It’s frightening…

And unfortunate that the show takes place in West Virginia.  I suspect that many, because of stereotypes of West Virginians, will be able to sit back and consider this a view into a freakshow.  But perhaps that would happen regardless of where the show was.

There’s some controversy about Oliver’s actual tactics and I’m not familiar enough with his program to say if his particular menu choices are good or not but I endorse anything which 1) helps people understand where their food comes from and 2) allows people to have food options healthier than fast/processed food.

Oliver’s experiment is over and results are coming out that kids overwhelmingly don’t like his food:

Children preferred pizza, chicken nuggets and the other school entrees they were used to by a margin of 4-to-1, with nearly eight in 10 “very unhappy” about Oliver’s alternatives. Many stopped buying the chef’s lunches, which the researchers said may be healthier than what children get at home.

Not to sound heartless but who cares?  As Marion Nestle writes:

Since when do kids get to decide what’s best for them to eat?  Isn’t that an adult responsibility?

Challanges in food part 1

A couple of food items have caught my eye recently.  Here’s the first in two pieces about them…

First is this article about the practice of food fraud:

John Spink, an expert on food and packaging fraud at Michigan State University, estimates that 5 to 7 percent of the U.S. food supply is affected but acknowledges the number could be greater. “We know what we seized at the border, but we have no idea what we didn’t seize,” he said.

The National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, part of the Marine Fisheries Service, randomly sampled seafood from vendors between 1988 and 1997; it found that 34 percent had been mislabeled and sold as a different species. In 2004, scientists at the University of North Carolina estimated that 77 percent of snapper sold in the United States is mislabeled.

This can be a serious problem but allow me to make a suggestion to minimize your risks at least for a portion of the food you might eat.  Consider buying and eating the ‘lower quality’ items that may be passed off as something else.  An example:

And last year, a Fairfax man was convicted of selling 10 million pounds of cheap, frozen catfish fillets from Vietnam as much more expensive grouper, red snapper and flounder.

That catfish is probably Basa or Swai which are reasonably good in terms of their environmentally impact are dirt cheap (fillets are available at my local market for around 3.99 a pound) and are quite versatile and forgiving to cook with.  So, if you’re looking at a one third chance of not getting that expensive piece of fish you were thinking of getting why not give the alternative a shot and use the rest to bring home a nice bottle of wine?

Uh oh…

…E&J Gallo, the nation’s largest wine seller, sold 18 million bottles of Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir between 2006 and 2008 that had been filled in France with wine made from cheaper merlot and syrah grapes, according to a French court that last month indicted a dozen of its citizens in a scam dubbed Pinotgate.