Win cookware from Boscov’s. Really.

Did you know that Boscov’s Department Store, with the Times Union’s Table Hopping, is having a “Best Simple Recipe” contest?

Umm…I didn’t.  And it sort of sounds like I’m not alone.  Maybe it’s because it’s summer, but it seems that the entry count is low and Boscov’s is trying to drum up interest, so they reached out to see if I would be willing to give them a plug.  Local department store chain running a recipe contest with an extra category just for kids?  Heck yeah.

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Banning bottled water has opposite of intended effect

I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising.

The Unintended Consequences of Changes in Beverage Options and the Removal of Bottled Water on a University Campus.

Related by the water bottlers as: Study confirms college bottled water bans increase consumption of less-healthy drinks

Long story short (since you have links to the long), when the University of Vermont banned bottle water sales, sugary drink consumption went up 25% and plastic bottle waste went up almost 10%.

I guess they could outlaw vending machines and bottled beverage sales and just have a bunch of hoses around to drink from 🙂

Taste the excitement!

Steve Barnes has report of two *yawn* new exciting *yawn* developments in new chains coming to the area:

Blaze Pizza.  3-minute pizzas for millenials.  Woo.  Hoo.  One of the gents opening the area Smashburgers did tell me that these instant pizza places were up-and-coming country-wide.  Look at us all catching up on national trends.  Feeling trendy?

Checkers or Rally’s.  You’re excited aren’t you?  I can tell.


Food Pods

Since I went all 2010 and got a fancified phone this year, I’ve found that often I’m listening to podcasts while cooking/baking instead of music.  In particular, food podcasts.  Since I haven’t found many I like, I thought that maybe if I wrote this post someone might mention some that I’m missing out on.  Here, briefly, in case you missed them, are the ones I like to listen to:

The Nosh Show – A junk food and fast food podcast.  Every two weeks you get about an hour of informative, humorous chat on what you can shove in your piehole and whether you should or not.  The chemistry between the hosts is easily half of what makes this such a great listen.  You’ve got:

  • Marvo of The Impulsive Buy, Ringleader
  • Eric of Junk Food Guy
  • Ryan of Grub Grade
  • Dubba of On Second Scoop

It all just works.  You’ll get info on the junk food that’s out and coming out, fast food trends and items to try (or try to avoid!), and of course Dubba’s all over the ice cream world.

Candyology 101: a candy podcast. (now cancelled) This one’s pretty new.  Not sure if Marvo came up with this one or just facilitated it or what, but they only just put out their fourth episode about Christmas candy and I haven’t even listened to this one, yet.  Honestly, it’s OK, I’m hoping the hosts find a groove soon and it gets a little better.  The four very different personalities and backgrounds on The Nosh Show is part of what makes it work, but I don’t get that so much here.  Your hosts are:

  • Cybele of CandyBlog, the candy reviewing juggernaut
  • Lauren of Candy Bar Reviews
  • Maria of Sometimes Foodie

I’ll just come right out and say it…I can’t tell Lauren and Maria apart.  Cybele is fantastic and is very natural here.  Like I said, maybe the others will find their footing as they go.  We can hope.  (Update: Lauren left)

Spilled Milk. Episodes of varying length and a wide variety of topics.  Basically the hosts, Matthew Amster-Burton and Molly Wizenberg, eat things and talk about them, often making up ‘facts’ about them when they’re not sneaking in some ‘real’ facts gleaned from a bit of web browsing.  It’s usually just hilarious, I’m not getting any deep foodological knowledge from these two or anything, it’s just entertaining and more or less about food.  You only need to listen to one episode to see if you’re going to like it, you either get their humor or you don’t, if they’re in your sweet spot you’ll get a kick out of it like me.

The Alton Browncast.  (update: comes and goes, barely even about food anymore when he does record one) Ok, this one might be tricky.  Depending on how you search this out, you might actually find two ‘The Alton Browncasts’.  One will be old episodes and one has the new ones.  I don’t know all the background stuff, but it went away and then came back, but with a new feed.

So, yes, this is Alton Brown of Food Network cable TV fame.  Honestly I liked the older show better, but I can see how Alton might have gotten tired of it.  He used to interview chefs and talk about food, take calls about food problems, talk about recipes, etc.  Now?  Now you never know what you’re going to get.  He basically just interviews people.  It might be a food person.  It might be a tailor.  It might be the crew of Cutthroat Kitchen.

Long story short, if you want Alton Brown, food guy, download the old episodes.  If you just want to hear what Alton’s up to and interested in, listen to them all.  Honestly, if I’m not interested in his guest or what they’re talking about (whiskey?  no.) I just skip that one.  I think Alton would be fine with that.

A Taste of the Past.  I like this one and still have a massive backlog (still 92 to go!).  Very regular and often informative, sometimes entertaining.  The host is food historian, Linda Pelaccio.  This is an interview style show where Linda usually interviews one interesting guest about a topic.  I love that she does her homework before each show and her list of set questions is usually spot on and gets to the best of what we want to hear.  I’ll be blunt, though, her attempts at ad libbing humorous repartee with the guests is often strained and awkward.  I find it’s easy enough to overlook it.  I wish that she didn’t always have to say something when she thinks of it, though.  Like if the guest is rambling on and she thinks of something she thinks is witty she’ll keep trying to interrupt and, failing that, will just say it later after they’re done and it’s not in context anymore.  Roll with the punches, Linda!

Linda usually tries to tie whatever the topic is to the past, so even if she’s just talking to someone about a book they wrote about a type of food or a chef, she brings it back to some history of the food/cuisine.  And sometimes the history is a real deep dive with a guest that’s more about history.  Not much here about ‘what to cook’ or ‘what to try at Hannaford’, but interesting and informative.  Easy to listen to while doing something else like working in the kitchen.

BBC Radio Food Programme.  Nothing mysterious here.  Straight up food talk from the BBC, often about British food, but sometimes global-looking.  I do a lot of picking and choosing with this one, some I skip, some I listen to.  Absolutely fascinating recent episode about mutton.  You’re just going to have to look at the feed and see what you think.  The quality’s pretty good, it is the BBC, with good production value and the politics are often kept to a minimum.

My Welcome Table.  (update: seemingly done) I still don’t love this podcast, but I listen to it.  I’m not sure how active it is, though.  Basically, on most episodes, you’re just being read to by the host, Jessica Harris.  Jessica’s sort of a renaissance food writer, having written cookbooks, reviews, etc. etc.  Lectures.  Journalist.  She’s got the background.  Sometimes she throws in a brief interview, but, yeah, mostly she’s just reading to you the episode she’s prepared.  Each episode focuses on a particular place and the food culture of that place.  I fight my way through the rest to hear about these places, sometimes nearby and sometimes far flung countries I’ll never get to.  If you want to hear the word ‘diaspora’ a lot and how influential black cooks are, Jessica’s your lady.

The DFB Podcast.  (update: seemingly done) This is just a bit of fun.  Now posting VERY infrequently, it’s just AJ from Disney Food Blog and Brad from WDW for Grownups.  They talk about the best places to eat, Walt Disney World and Land news, treats, tips, etc.  Nothing fancy.  They have good chemistry and REALLY know WDW.

Gastro Pod – Food with a side of science and history.  Another new one that I haven’t made up my mind about.  The topics are fairly interesting as are the interviews.  Here you’re listening to a journalist and a writer that decided to team up on a podcast.  It’s pretty well done and definitely informative.  It’s just SO stilted and awkward outside of the interviews.  I mean, the ‘unscripted off-the-cuff’ jokes and banter are so stiff, painful, written, and over-rehearsed.  Cringeworthy.  For now I’m trying to fight my way through it to get to the brain food.

America’s Test Kitchen.  (update: with Christopher gone and Bridget doing the hosting, it’s not as much fun, but we’re still listening, hoping Bridget gets better at this) The one that started it all when my wife started downloading this one like a year ago.  It’s a podcast of their radio show, which is basically their TV show.  The product reviews and taste tests are sometimes informative.  The main segments, when they have them, range from interesting to ‘fast forward’.  I really listen for the call-ins where Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster answer questions and such.  I consider this one of the best food podcasts.  High production quality, of course.

Eatfeed – the sound of good food.  First, let me be clear that this, one of the first food podcasts, seems to be dead (update: dead).  There hasn’t been a new episode for a long time.  Still, I enjoy these blends of food knowledge, recipes, history, etc. etc.  It’s almost like the host just chased whatever food thought she had until she caught it, then presented it in an interesting manner.  It’s calm and relaxing to listen to.  Another good one to cook to.  There are a lot of episodes, I’ve still got 86 more waiting for me, so I suggest giving them a listen and enjoying what we have.  (Update: been plowing through these during Christmas baking and they’re changing to a variety of styles, some short episodes, some regional ones, etc. Still interesting enough to finish them off.)

The Kitchen Cabinet.  This one’s just a bit weird.  I’ll let them describe it:

Jay Rayner hosts a culinary panel show packed full of tasty titbits that might change the way you think about food, cooking and eating. The expert panel answers questions from audiences around the UK.

This one doesn’t seem to show up very often, either, but you can check out the back catalog.  It’s a bit out of control sometimes and you’d best be prepared for British lingo, but it’s sort of funny and somewhat informative.

So that’s it.  Along with a few music podcasts and one news one, that’s what I listen to when I’m not listening to music in the kitchen.  Any others I should try?

Do as the internets say, not as they do

I always get a kick out of stuff like this…

So Yahoo has this story from Bon Appetit magazine called “6 Crock Pot Mistakes You’re Making”.  Here’s number six on their list:

6. Cook something that needs to hold its structure
Macaroni and cheese? Lasagna? Sure, there are slow-cooker recipes for them out there, but you definitely shouldn’t attempt to make them. More often than not, pasta (and other things that should hold their shape) becomes a mushy mess. Just don’t do it.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s in the sidebar:crock101513


Feeding the poor and helping them feed themselves

While some donate, some educate, and some cook, there are other ways to help: Three Biotechnology Scientists Awarded 2013 World Food Prize

Washington, D.C. (June 19, 2013) – Three distinguished scientists — Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Mary-Dell Chiltonand Robert T. Fraley of the United States — were today named the winners of the 2013 World Food Prize during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department, where Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address. Mr. John Ruan III, Chairman of the World Food Prize, also participated in the ceremony.
“Hunger is a trap that prevents people from realizing their God-given potential,” Secretary Kerry said. “Food drives life. And the struggle for food is a struggle for life. This makes hunger an economic issue, a national security issue – and without a doubt a moral issue. Through innovation, we can help alleviate hunger and malnutrition today – but more than that, we can help fulfill our responsibility to tomorrow.”

“These three scientists are being recognized for their independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology,” Quinn said. “Their research is making it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate.”

The revolutionary biotechnology discoveries of these three individuals – each working in separate facilities on two continents – unlocked the key to plant cell transformation using recombinant DNA. Their work led to the development of a host of genetically enhanced crops, which, by 2012, were grown on more than 170 million hectares around the globe by 17.3 million farmers, over 90 percent of whom were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries.

Armenian Festival – impending yumminess

We’ve been hitting up the St. Peter Armenian Church’s Armenian Festival for several years now with much gusto.  With a nod to my Armenian heritage, we’ve made the trek to Watervliet over and over.  It’s always been well worth it.  Smaller and more ‘homemade’ than what the PolishFest is turning into, we come home stuffed, satisfied, bearing treats, and wet.  Yes, wet.

What’s the deal, St. Peter’s?  Must it always pour just before and/or during the Festival?  I’m sure they’re even more sick of it than we are, but really, it’s getting ridiculous – and this year will be no exception with more torrential rain headed our way tonight and early tomorrow to, once again, turn their nice back field into a mud pit.  Le sigh.

Still, we’ll put on our old sneakers and head there with smiles on our faces.  Perhaps the mud will dry in time to put our mud sneakers back on to go strawberry picking at Bowmans soon, also in the mud as usual.

The kebab meals will, naturally, be the centerpiece of our pig out.  My wife will have the chicken and I’ll likely have the lamb.  Each will be accompanied by a golden pool of hot, oh-so-buttery pilaf that I couldn’t bring myself to make so rich at home.  Also, a serving of salad topped with a fresh, light lemony dressing that cries out for a warm, sunny afternoon – not the damp drizzle fog we’re more likely to encounter.  Did I mention the pita?  We’ll eat every scrap.

Here’s the menu, you can start drooling now.  And, don’t look now, but they’re changing things up this year.  Sorry, belt, I might have to leave you at home.

Looks like you have more choices in your kebab meal this year, which is a fantastic option.  All the above for $15, this year featuring 3 skewers of meat instead of 2.  And you can pick what you want.  Ummmm…lamb.  You can also get pork or losh (half ground beef, half ground lamb).  Previously the lamb meal was one lamb and one losh and I always wanted more lamb…looks like my wish comes true this year!

Or for $8 you can get one skewer, pilaf, and pita.  That’s a nice deal right there.  Heck, these ladies’ pilaf is worth that.  And, what’s this?  A burger?  A lamburger?  It’s the “Hye Burger”: “10 oz. Beef/Lamb burger with authentic spices served on fresh baked hard roll, topped with traditional Armenian salad and a serving of pilaf.”  Interesting.  Where are my stretchy sweatpants?

Two years ago we tried the cheese beoreg and just about melted at the cheesy, pastryness of it.  I think we’ll have to get another this year.  I tried a lahmejune instead last year and, while OK, I want another beoreg!

Did I mention the yogurt sauce?  Oh, man, the yogurt sauce.  I freaking love that stuff.  Not quite a tzatziki, this is a thin, yogurty, lemony delight.  I eat it with my pita, with my kebab, with my pilaf.  I made my wife hang around for like 15 minutes last year while I pestered one lady after another on what was in it…except none of them could tell me.  Each one I asked referred me to another one, each one older and more important than the last.  But none of them knew what’s in it.  Somebody‘s gotta be making it.  Maybe this is the year I find out.  Truth be told, I think I’ve found the recipe, or one very similar online, but still, I’d love to get the recipe straight from the source.

Then there are the take home treats.  My wife almost always brings home a kadayif, which she really likes.  Almost-but-not-really baklava (or ‘paklava’ here) with shredded phyllo instead of layered, I don’t care for the nuts.  Incidentally, one of our cats goes absolutely freaking bonkers crazy over this thing.  I don’t understand it at all.  She’s never had any to taste, but when she gets a whiff of it she ends up crawling all over my wife, practically climbing on her head to get a whiff of it.

We’ll also bring home cheoreg.  They’ve got some quality cheoreg bakers at this church and my continuing effort to replicate the deliciousness will continue.  I’ve made some OK cheoreg, but I’m just missing something.  I plan on enjoying this batch slowly and carefully to see if I can figure it out.

Well, I’m already hungry.  12-8 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday, I cannot recommend too strongly that you should go visit this annual festival and the friendly, smiling faces.  I haven’t even mentioned  the other things to do there, just the food, but the food alone is worth it!

Update: And we’re back.  Amazingly, the torrential rains decided to stop before the festival this year.  Crazy, I know.  The kebabs?  Fantastic.  Pilaf?  Drool-worthy.  Salad?  M’eh.  Cheese beoreg?  Nom nom nom.

They set up some games for the kids this year in addition to the bouncy house.  A band was wailing away in the dining tent (um, amplification not necessary, guys – we were as far from you as possible and couldn’t hear ourselves talk) with traditional music.  Dancing.  Food demonstrations.  Desserts.  Shirts.  CDs (Armenian Hot Dance Mix! heh!).  Brought home a bag of cheoreg, a slab of cream-filled kadayif, and, surprise!  A nice lump of string cheese!  That’s new this year – or at least we never saw it there before.  I’ve never had the traditional Armenian kind, which this appears to be, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

You’ve got until 8 Saturday and noon to 5 tomorrow – go stuff your face, you’ll thank me!