9

Cat Forum: Food Musings

Image result for cat eating human food

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando here. Welcome to this month’s Cat Forum. We are going to talk about the distressing habit humans have when it comes to naming their food.

It started when Mom and our human brother went to Stratford, Ontario, to see a play. They said they were also going to a cat café. We were a little distressed at first. Sushi bars serve sushi, and oyster bars serve oysters. Mom explained that they were visiting cats, not eating them. They got to cuddle cats and sit with them, so all was good. Although they did smell a little weird when they got home.

Image result for cat's head

But it got us to thinking about how strange human minds are sometimes. Mom has a recipe for Cats Head Biscuits. We were mortified. She was going to cut the head off some poor cat? Well, no. It’s just a big biscuit that’s supposed to be big as a cat’s head because of the flour they use.

There are a lot of other foods that sound like someone’s eating parts of animals when they’re not. We can’t figure out the names. We’re meat eaters, and they aren’t even the tastiest part of the animal.

Image result for animal beaver tail

  • Beavertails – fried dough stretched to resemble a beaver tail (Canada)
  • Elephant Ears – fried flattened dough, topped with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar (North America)
  • Monkey Bread – pieces of sweet dough covered with cinnamon, sugar, butter, and pecans, baked in a pan then pulled apart and eaten (Hungary)

And what’s the deal with buffalo wings and chicken fingers? Everyone knows that buffaloes don’t have wings and chickens don’t have fingers. If chickens did have fingers, they’d be disgusting. Have you seen what they do with their feet?

Image result for buffalo wings meme

  • Buffalo wings – deep-fried chicken wing section coated with a vinegar-cayenne pepper sauce
  • Chicken fingers – pieces of chicken breast meat that are coated and deep fried

We thought that ants on a log might be tasty. Do you know what that is? Raisins, peanut butter, and celery! No ants at all.

Welsh Rabbit? No rabbit, just cheese and bread.

Sweetbread? Not sweet and not a bread.

Mincemeat? No meat.

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Egg Cream? No egg and no cream.

Ladyfinger? No lady, no finger.

We could go on, but we’re tired.

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Now do you understand why we sniff everything you give us?

(We followed Mr. Google to British foods because, apparently, they have a lot of funny names. We can’t tell you. We couldn’t figure out which ones were food. If we go back, we’ll study the language first.)

Image result for sorry cat meme

Mom wants us to apologize for not getting out to visit lately. It would have been her 30th anniversary last week, and she’s been useless not keeping up with things. We’ll apologize for her. We can’t do anything without her signing us in. So, it’s not our fault. But we have missed you.

6

Miaow Miaow (Holiday Treat Time)

The holidays are upon us, and everyone knows that means food. And gifts. Everyone loves homemade gifts, right? (Having received horrible ceramics, tree ornaments, and dried-out baked treats – not from our children – most of us would probably question that truism.)

Anyway, cats are members of the family. This year, I decided to look through some of the websites that have recipes for cat treats. As you may recall, Snoops and Kommando Kitty both love the Internet. So I have included their input.

These two received two paws up. (That’s good.)

Holiday Cheese Ball Treats

  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar or cheddar jack cheese
  • 1 egg white from a large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped catnip or 1/2 teaspoon of dried catnip

Combine the first three ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour and catnip. Add the flour mixture slowly to the first three ingredients, mixing until a soft dough ball is formed. Separate into 1/2-inch pieces and roll by hand into small balls. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes. Yield: Approximately 12 balls. Cool completely before serving.

Tuna Ball Treats

  • 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup of tuna packed in oil
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup of water

Grease a cookie sheet with margarine or use one lined with a silicone sheet. In a bowl, mix the flour and powdered milk together. In a separate bowl, combine the tuna and egg together, mashing the tuna until it is no longer chunky. Add the tuna mixture to the dry ingredients, and add the water a little at a time until a slightly sticky dough ball is formed. Using two spoons or a small cookie scoop, create balls and place them about one-inch apart on a non-stick cookie sheet. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes. Cool completely before serving to your pet.

Kitty Komment – We don’t know what whole wheat flour or powdered milk are, but cheese and tuna are yummy. And catnip is always good.

These two received two paws down. (That’s bad.)

Baby Food Treats

3 jars baby food meat (or veggies)
1 and 1/2 c wheat germ (or cream of wheat)
small amount of tuna juice

Mix well. Drop by 1/4 spoonfuls onto wax paper covered plate and cover with wax paper. Cook in microwave on high for 5-8 minutes until formed and firm. Store in fridge.

Kitty Komment – Does it really need one? Baby food and wheat germ?

Kitty Bruschetta

  • Lightly toast one piece of bread in the toaster.
  • Cut the toast into one-inch cubes.
  • Brush the tops of the cubes with a little fresh fish oil.
  • Lightly sprinkle the cubes with dried fish flakes.
  • Bake in an oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees F until the cubes are a rich golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly and serve warm.

Kitty Komment – Hissssss. Dried fish flakes are FISH food. Real cats don’t eat toast.

 Special Mention

Hanging Treats

  • Christmas tree cookie cutter
  • Piping bag with fine nozzle
  • Red or green grosgrain ribbon
  • 1 pound of lean, ground chicken
  • 1 16-oz. can of mackerel, chopped
  • 2 cups soy flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup powdered skim milk
  • 1 cup coarse, dry cornmeal
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 2 tablespoons Animal Essentials calcium
  • 3 tablespoons kelp
  • 4 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon cod liver oil
  • 1/4 cup alfalfa powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 400 IU vitamin E
  • 1 quart distilled water
  • 1 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey

Mix all the ingredients together. Knead into a firm dough. Roll the dough out on a cookie sheet about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into Christmas tree shapes. Poke a hole at the top of each tree for the ribbon.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool in the oven for an hour or leave overnight to harden.

Mix the cream cheese with the honey and add the coloring. Whip into a fluffy consistency. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Trace the tree’s outline with the frosting and add a few polka dots. Refrigerate for two to three hours to set the frosting.

Cut the ribbon into strips of about 6 inches, long enough to tie a bow. Decorate your Christmas tree with a few and store the rest in the refrigerator.

Kitty Komment – These really sound disgusting, but it might be worthwhile just to see the humans try to find all this stuff. And go through all this work for something we wouldn’t eat.

So if you’re like most of us and have scads of time during the holiday season, these recipes might fill some of those empty hours. And there are many more online if you can wade through all the doggy treats. Or you could order treats from any number of online vendors. Or you could just open a can of mackerel and show your love by putting up with the smell for a day.

0

Better Writing Through Better Eating

Hopefully you didn’t come here to learn which foods you should eat to turn you into the next Ian McEwan. I don’t write about food, except cheese and chocolate. My own eating bounces between healthy and a 10-year-old’s dream.

No, I’m going to share what some of the best-known writers of the nineteenth century ate. Think of it as an early celebrity diet book.

Prior to 1847, vegetarians were called Pythagoreans. I have no idea why. Maybe they were as unpopular as the man’s geometric theorems.

The Romantics (capital “R” to distinguish them from the believers in love) wrote that humans should show compassion to all living creatures whether animal or plant. Unfortunately someone figured out that would leave humans with nothing to eat.

And we know which group won that battle. Plant-eating people began to proliferate. Since they didn’t know why they were called Pythagoreans either, they decided they would be vegetarians. Less explaining to do.

As with all fads (don’t throw tomatoes, at that time it was a fad), some people took a fairly rational approach and others were more inventive. And some just had weird eating habits.

We can start with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a brilliant English poet. He was concerned with the transmigration of souls that would be brought about by eating an animal and so stopped eating them. Eventually he went back to eating meat. He died shortly before his 30th birthday. Maybe some animal didn’t want his soul?

Lord Byron could have written his own weight-loss blog. He loved starchy foods but was concerned with his weight. So he decided to create his own diet. While at university, he ate only dry biscuits and water or boiled potatoes in vinegar.

He felt that vinegar was a weight loss tool since it lessened hunger pangs and seemed to sharpen his mind. I wouldn’t be too hungry either, looking forward to a dinner of potatoes in vinegar. He did lose 70 pounds. Please feel free to try the vinegar as mental stimulant thing if you’d like.

Lord Byron may also have been the first Romantic purger. If he went to a dinner party and had to eat, he would go home and drink magnesium (as in the laxative). If he wasn’t going out, he would dress in layers of wool to sweat off some of the weight. No wonder he was so depressed.

Lewis Carroll was very fond of opium. He smoked it regularly, and when that wasn’t sufficient, he put it into snacks. Pot brownies were not an original idea in the 1960’s. It has been recorded that it gave him terrible breath, but there is no record of the impact on his weight.

Charles Dickens had a much healthier obsession: baked apples. He believed that if he ate one every day during sea travels, he would not get sea sick. Eating one upon landing would also fix the lack of balance experienced getting off the boat. I wonder how he convinced captains to load all those apples for his trips across the Atlantic? Or maybe that’s how he proved his theory.

I’m really glad I didn’t know John Keats’ doctor. Keats was diagnosed with mental exertion (no, I didn’t mistype exhaustion). His doctor prescribed a diet of (only) one anchovy and one small piece of bread daily. He was also bled daily. Oddly enough, he didn’t get any stronger. Might also have had something to with the reality that they were trying to treat tuberculosis, not a mental condition.

I will admit to not being a huge fan of the Bronte sisters. However, they grew up in poverty and often didn’t have anything to eat. Which explains why some of Charlotte’s heroines see starving themselves as a sign of strength. It’s the heart and mind that need to be strong. I probably would have liked her writing better if she’d been better fed.

Walt Whitman credited his breakfast for some of his success. Every day he had a special meat oyster breakfast plate. He said the meat was for fuel and stamina. The oysters would keep his wit and mind sharp. Maybe that was a nineteenth century euphemism for aphrodisiac.

Charles Darwin ate a small portion of meat, an egg-only omelet, and cheese. He also took ten drops of muriatic acid (now called hydrochloric acid) two times each day. He wouldn’t make any changes recommended by his doctor. He said that his diet had reduced his vomiting. Probably by burning out most of his innards.

Looking back over this, I only see one common thread. And we all knew it before we started. You need to be a little strange to be a successful writer.

(factual information courtesy of Sabine Bevers on listverse.com)

Aside
2

Recently I was reading an article on Consumerist (Consumerist.com) where they were talking about national food holidays. They had found a calendar that shows every food holiday of the year on Food.com. For some reason, they were significantly less enthusiastic about the idea than I was.

I checked it out. It is totally amazing. Not only does it have a month-by-month listing of the food holidays, but it gives recipes for the day.

Obviously, if you want to us it to plan your meals around it you will need to check out the necessary ingredients a few days in advance. But that’s not a problem since you can get the recipes for any day by clicking on that day. Just imagine – a holiday every day. Probably can’t get the day off work for them though.

There were only two disappointments on the calendar. I missed National Cheese Day (June 4) and will have to wait almost a year to use it as a holiday.

Second, I could not find a day for many of the delicacies I have suggested you make for important dates. For example, I could not find a National Scorpion Day. So you are still on your own for making scorpion suckers at home. I would suggest they add it, but it looks like the calendar is pretty full. Maybe I just missed it.

Interestingly enough, today is Kitchen Klutzes of America Day. Which you might note is not a food. It features super simple recipes like versions of cocktail meatballs and tomato sauce. It seems to me that if you’re that bad in the kitchen, you would probably buy that type of thing at the store. Or do without. Your friends could probably survive with caviar on crackers.

Speaking of Caviar Day, it is July 18. That seems like kind of an interesting day for it. Don’t people generally serve that inside? Perhaps rich people don’t go out in the really hot weather. They recommend a caviar torte. “Served at my wedding and it was the biggest hit.” Guess that explains that.

Not a big fan of caviar? Maybe July 21 is more your style. That’s Junk Food Day. You can splurge on things like Potato Chip Sandwiches, Snickers Dip, and Cheez-It Chicken Fingers. Why would I make junk food? Isn’t that what Taco Bell and Dairy Queen are for?

The ickiest thing I could find was August 8. That’s Zucchini Day. I hate zucchinis. They are not squash. I do not care what anyone says. They are tasteless, mushy cucumber wanna-bes. Then they try to disguise it in things like Zucchini Chocolate-Orange Cake and Zucchini Nut Muffins. They may taste good, but beware. There are little pieces of green stuff in your desserts.

There were a few that were a little confusing (or downright misleading). Hot Cross Bun Day is on September 11. In my church, we eat them during Lent. Last time I looked, Lent has never occurred in September. Drink Beer Day (September 28) has a list of foods made with beer. How do you drink it if you have cooked it into something? Groundhog Day (February 2) does not have recipes for cooking ground hogs (thank goodness) but is full of desserts that look like various animals that are believed to predict weather.

In case you don’t like to micro-manage your dinners, they also show what foods are celebrated in which months. This month you can celebrate with Fresh Fruits and Vegetable, Turkey Lovers, Soul Food, Candy, and Iced Tea. Which sounds a lot better than March. March is Nutrition Month as well as Noodle Month and Celery Month. Thirty-one days of celery recipes. Yum.

Still looking for the perfect meal for Father’s Day? You’re in luck. It’s Lobster Day (the calendar was apparently put together by a bunch of fathers). In addition to the standard lobster tails or lobster curry, I would recommend a lobster salad cocktail. If you don’t cook, you could probably buy some lobster salad and put it in cocktail glasses. Or you could grill a steak with a side of lobster potato salad. A new spin on surf-and-turf.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning my menu for October 9. That’s Moldy Cheese Day. Unfortunately it does not refer to the cheddar in the back of my refrigerator. It is a celebration of Bleu Cheese, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort. Smelly cheese from all over Europe. Since I missed National Cheese Day, I can’t afford to mess this one up.

(My 100th post. Thanks for reading.)

5

Will Stout Make Me Fat?

I realized that my most recent post may have been confusing to some people since I was talking about beer glasses, but didn’t define the types of beer they could be used for. I thought that everybody (read: the rest of the world) knew what the different words meant. But wandering the beer aisles at work yesterday (there are three) made me realize that there are a lot of different ways to ferment those hops and malts. So if you’re not a brewer yourself (or exceedingly wealthy with a rather odd hobby), maybe I can shed light on some of it. Or not – as you will see, it is a really confusing world out there.

Starting with beer. Beer is created by turning a starch (malted barley and/or malted grain) into a sugar and then fermenting the sugar. Now would be a good time to remember your high school chemistry, since I don’t see anywhere that a liquid is mentioned in that equation. Beer is usually flavored with hops, although other flavorings such as herbs or fruit may occasionally be included (if you want to be able to say you are having a healthy drink).

Hops come from a flowering plant that is not used for anything other than flavoring beers. Hops are the bitter counterpart to the sugar mentioned above. Did you know that the bitterness of beers is measured on the International Bitterness Units scale? I don’t know how that works, but I wonder if it could be used on people. Hops have an antibiotic effect that favors the activity of brewer’s yeast over less desirable microorganisms. Another health benefit! Hops also aids “head retention”, which sounds dirty but is not.

Now we move further into the maze and talk about lager. Lager is a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures. Pale lager is the most widely consumed and commercially available style of beer in the world. Bock, Pilsner and Märzen are all styles of lager. So while you may think you are a regular guy who only drinks beer, not that “fancy” stuff, it’s probably lager you’re quaffing.  Interesting note: Pilsner  takes its name from the city of Plzeň, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The original Pilsner Urquell beer is still produced there today. (At least I thought it was interesting.)

For those who prefer something a little heavier, we have the stouts/porters/stout porters. Porter is a dark style of beer originating in London in the 18th century, descended from brown beer (lots of hops and brown malt). Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8% alcohol, produced by a brewery.  The name is thought to come from its popularity with street and river porters. (Useful trivia for your next party) The name “stout” for a dark beer is believed to have come about because a strong porter may be called or “Stout Porter”.  So you have the answer to my opening question. Stout will probably not make you fat, but it has a good chance of making you drunk.

Saving the best for last, we’ll tackle the ales. Anyone from the Detroit area will probably know that there is Vernor’s ginger ale and pale ginger ale. Vernor’s makes the best ice cream float in the world. Called a Boston Cooler for some reason. Pale ginger ale can’t stand up to the ice cream. Wimps.

But I digress. Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers’ yeast. The yeast will ferment the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which help preserve the beer and impart a bitter herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the malt. Sounds pretty harmless and well-balanced, right?

Let’s meet it’s tamer sounding cousin, pale ale. Names can be deceiving. Pale ale was a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. (I assume the kind used in smelting, not snorting.) By 1830, the expressions bitter and pale ale were synonymous in England. Breweries would tend to designate beers as pale ale, though customers in the pub would commonly refer to the same beers as bitter. It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers such as porter and mild. Apparently porter is darker but less bitter tasting. Bitters vary in color from gold to dark amber and in strength from 3% to 7% alcohol by volume. It’s probably just me, but bitters sound like something a doctor would have prescribed in the 19th century for a headache.

One more note: a Black and Tan is a beer cocktail (those words don’t belong together). It’s a blend of a pale beer (usually pale ale or lager) with a dark beer (usually stout or porter). Apparently the beer equivalent of a Rusty Nail (Drambuie – sweet whiskey with Scotch – sharp whiskey). The Brits need to be given a wider range of alcohol to work with.

So I leave it with you to decide how much bitterness you can stand in your drink. You might want to balance with the amount of bitterness you have in the rest of your life. Or you may want to just embrace your inner bitterness.

2

Idiot! You Put my Pilsner in a Weizen Glass!

(This is longer than most of my posts. But I think that it is vital for you to know the correct way to serve beer before it gets much warmer and you embarrass yourself serving out of the wrong stemware.)

I grew up in the Dark Ages of beer drinking. When our dads would relax with a beer, it meant they would pop open a can and drink. Some men thought they were classy and drank bottles of beer. Being across the river from Canada, we had access to Canadian beer, but “real men” drank Stroh’s and Pabst, maybe Bud.

I have no idea what they put in those kegs at college. They called it beer, but it did not smell like anything I’ve run across before or after. Not being a beer drinker, I can’t comment on the quality. Being the first beer I ever drank, I think it ruined me for life.

Times have changed. There are any number of boutique beers as well as the large companies. I work in a mass-market store, and we sell six kinds of beer glasses, as well as mugs. Connoisseurs have many more and are adamant that you need the right vessel for the drink:

“In fact, some glassware is designed specifically to help preserve the foam head of your beer, while others are designed to help enhance the colors of your brew. It’s important to remember that it’s more than just a glass that holds your beer; it’s a delivery mechanism that brings out the unique flavors, colors and aroma of your favorite beer.”(http://learn.kegerator.com/beer-glasses/)

We no longer drink beer. We experience it. Let me help you avoid making a mistake that could ruin your future. Recommendations courtesy of http://craftbeeracademy.com/beer-glass-types/

Note: if you do not recognize the type of beer the glass is used for, you are obviously not classy enough to drink from that glass.

First, we have the goblet. Yes, that piece of crystal that you have been using to serve wine. A heavy goblet is called a chalice (yes, it looks like the ones the Catholics and Anglo-Catholics use in church). The benefits include the ability to maintain a nice head and being wide-mouthed to allow deep sips. It looks like it would be perfect to chug from, but that is frowned upon. These glasses are preferred for Belgian IPA, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Berliner Weissbier, Dubbel, Quadrupel (Quad), and Tripel.

Next up is the mug. Mugs are made from heavy glass and have a handle. The handle is useful if you want to clink your glass with someone else’s. It’s best not to suggest that in place of a champagne toast at a wedding. A stone/ceramic mug is a stein. Steins traditionally come with lids – a holdover from the days of the Black Plague when they wanted to keep out the flies. The main attraction of a mug is that it holds a lot of beer.

Mugs are used for Amber / Red Ale, Black Ale, Blonde Ale, Brown Ale, IPA, American Pale Ale (APA), Porter, Stout, Strong Ale, Baltic Porter, Bock, Cream Ale, Czech Pilsener, Doppelbock, English Bitter, Euro Dark Lager, Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB), German Pilsener, Irish Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, Keller Bier / Zwickel Bier, Maibock / Helles Bock, Märzen / Oktoberfest, Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Scottish Ale, Vienna Lager, Witbier. (and root beer)

If you are reading carefully, you will notice that the type of beer does not necessarily indicate the drinking utensil. Ales in particular seem to be tricky. If you’re doing a BYOB kind of event, tell the guests they must bring the appropriate glass for their beverage. Anyone who brings paper cups should not be allowed through the door.

Back to the glasses with the pint glass. That’s the one you see in all the commercials with the guys raising a glass to whatever. It’s also popular in pubs. It’s cheap to make and easy to drink from. Function over form.

Pint glasses are used for Adjunct Lager, Amber / Red Ale, Amber / Red Lager, Black Ale, Blonde Ale, Brown Ale, Dark Wheat Ale, Double / Imperial Stout, IPA, American Pale Ale (APA), Porter, Stout, Strong Ale, Baltic Porter, Black & Tan, California Common / Steam Beer, Cream Ale, English Bitter, English India Pale Ale (IPA), English Pale Ale, Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB), Irish Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Old Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Rye Beer, Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy, Winter Warmer, Witbier.

If you are paying attention, you will notice that some types of beer can go in more than one type of glass. Which leaves a question for the aspiring beer snob: should I make my first investment in glassware or in trying to figure out which types of beer would most impress my friends without making me gag.

Onward and upward (so to speak) to the Weizen glass. These glasses have a thin wall that helps show off the beautiful color of the Weizenbier (wheat beer). The large opening helps to contain the foamy head on most wheat beers. Do not serve with a lemon or orange slice. It ruins the head and takes away from the aura of being a beer savant. I’m guessing the following are all wheat beers: American Dark Wheat Ale, American Pale Wheat Ale, Dunkelweizen, Gose, Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Weizenbock

We are now at the pilsner glass. Ignore that we have already shown at least two glasses for pilsners before this. It is defined tall, slender and tapered 12-ounce glass, that captures the sparkling bubbles and colors of a Pils while retaining the head. I would recommend serving these beers early in the evening before everyone is too drunk to appreciate the artistic qualities of the beer.

Pilsner glasses are used for American Lager, Amber / Red Lager, Double / Imperial Pilsner, American Pale Lager, Doppelbock, Dortmunder / Export Lager, Dark Lager, Pale Lager, German Pilsener, Happoshu, Japanese Rice Lager, Light Lager, Maibock / Helles Bock, Munich Dunkel Lager, Munich Helles Lager, Vienna Lager

Think snifters are just for brandy and cognac? Hah! It is good for beers that are high in alcohol, because they allow the aroma to rise. Also the glass lends allows for the beer to be hand-warmed, as most higher alcohol beers should be served a little warmer than they are (one point for the Brits).

Snifters are used for American Barleywine, Double / Imperial IPA, Double / Imperial Stout, Strong Ale, Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Barleywine, Red Ale, Gueuze, Lambic – Fruit, Old Ale, Quadrupel (Quad), Russian Imperial Stout, Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy, Tripel, Wheatwine Note: these beers are usually expensive – do not buy them for people who say that Bud Light is their idea of quality beer.

Two more to go. (Didn’t realize you’d still need to be paying attention did you?) We have the tulip glass. Guess the shape. It’s used for beers that benefit from a large foamy head. Such as Double / Imperial IPA, Wild Ale, Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian IPA, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Bière de Garde, Flanders Oud Bruin, Flanders Red Ale, Gueuze, Lambic – Fruit, Belgian Quad, Saison, Farmhouse Ale, Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy.

Last but not least is the stange glass. It is straight and narrow. The cylindrical shape is used to serve more delicate beers, amplifying malt and hop nuances. (I had never realized that there was such a thing as a delicate beer.) These beers include Altbier, Bock, Czech Pilsener, Gose, Gueuze, Kölsch, Lambic.

Got all that? Good. Make your next party a beer tasting (separate glasses for that). Once you’ve bought all the supplies for your new stock of beer, you won’t have any money left for the meat you usually start grilling this time of year.

8

Roadkill, the Nouvelle Cuisine

I am reading a wonderful book, A Prickly Affair: My Life with Hedgehogs by Hugh Warwick. Horatio, my hedgehog, approves. Mr. Warwick is a British researcher whose specialty is hedgehogs. Apparently hedgehogs are so common over there that little research has been done to this point.

One passage gave me pause. Mr. Warwick is a vegetarian. Not so one of his colleagues. This man says that he has eaten a hedgehog, but swears that it was roadkill. Horatio is not amused. The man says it was delicious; tasted a little like chicken. Why does everything in the world taste like chicken? Did chickens run around the prehistoric world sharing their genes with everyone? Disturbing thought.

A paragraph or so later, another colleague states that she too has eaten roadkill hedgehogs. Horatio is even less amused. Given the state of roadkill around here, I’m a little disturbed.

Are these people telling the truth that the hedgehogs were really roadkill? Perhaps one of their little friends got overly feisty and met an unfortunate end. Are they the cause of the roadkill? If not, how long has it been waiting? Are all those jokes about British cuisine true, and roadkill is an acceptable part of the diet?

A short quote from (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/10246910/Five-roadkill-recipes-to-try-at-home.html): Lawmakers in the US state of Montana have introduced legislation allowing locals to take home wild animals killed in road accidents. In that wildlife-filled state, you’re now entitled to make a meal of any deer, elk, moose or antelope you happen to stumble across. But in the UK, roadkill connoisseurs are far more likely to have a squirrel, rabbit or pheasant bubbling away in the pot.

Perhaps the British are less civilized than I had been giving them credit for. I decided to look at things on our side of the pond. If British researchers were eating things they find on the side of the road, who knew what we might be doing.

Sure enough, we eat our share of accident victims as well. There is a lovely site called Dead Food (www.deadfood.com) that specializes in recipes for various types of creatures. I can’t make up my mind whether it is a real site or a joke. The recipes for things like muskrat and possum appear to be real. The recipes for elephant and camel, not so much.

According to Jezebel.com, people in the UK are not allowed to eat roadkill they have personally run over. It seems the law was enacted to keep people from seeking out their dinner and killing it. Over here, people are free to take home whatever they find. I guess we are less likely to intentionally run things over (other than cheating spouses). The recipes here certainly sound serious.

As you can probably tell, I am having a little trouble believing that people can eat food that is just lying by the side of the road with no knowledge of how long it’s been there. But is does seem like a waste to just let the meat rot with so many people going hungry. Besides, rumor has it that the French developed all those wonderful sauces to cover the taste of rancid meat.

Which leads me to the practical issues. If I come across what appears to be a freshly-dead animal, how do I get it home? I suppose I could carry a bag for the smaller items: possum, ground hog, skunk. It seems like you would need more than one of these for a meal. Do I take it home and throw it in the freezer until I accumulate enough? I suppose it’s weather-dependent on whether it can stay in the trunk during the day while I am at work.

What about the larger items? A fresh deer might be appealing, but I certainly couldn’t lift it by myself. Besides it won’t fit in my trunk. I guess I could drag it into the bed of my husband’s truck. If I were out with some friends to help. Hey guys, what’s that on the side of the road? A dead animal? Fresh? Can you help me get it home? Probably not a first-date adventure.

How do I get it to food form? I have no idea how to skin and gut an animal. What parts are actually the meat? I guess I’d have to find someone to process an entire deer.

Without a use-by date, I wouldn’t know how fresh it is. So it goes in the slow cooker. With lots of onions. And wine. And spices.

Never mind. I don’t like meat that much anyway.

7

Gee, I Didn’t Know I Needed That

Wandering around the store, I see all kinds of stuff. Stuff I have lived without to this point in time. Stuff that I might like to have. Mostly just stuff.

Waffle-makers in large, medium and small sizes. I guess that the idea is that everyone can get the perfect size for their individual situation. But what happens if you are single and own a small waffle maker because you’re not really that fond of waffles. Then you get a sleep-over friend who loves waffles? Do you want to make the commitment to a $45 large waffle-maker as a commitment to the friend? Do you throw the $45 commitment at the other commitment when you find out that your friend has other friends with Belgian waffle-makers?

Individual condiment dishes for each of your guests. I originally thought this might be a good idea for those people who are repulsed that their significant other hangs out with double-dippers. Then I looked more closely. The dishes hold maybe 2 oz. That would probably limit their usefulness to things like wasabi and other sauces that people use in small quantities. Or caviar, if your friends are the type who put it on their baked potatoes. Note: your caviar-loving friends are probably expecting something a little less tacky than a made-in-China ceramic holder for their condiments.

Foil cutter for your wine bottles. I’m guessing these may be intended for those people who are embarrassed to use a knife to cut the foil. Or those who have lost a finger trying to use a knife to cut the foil. It looks like one of those things someone would have to show me how to use the first six times I had it out. I’m less embarrassed using the knife.

Cheese grater. I have a full-size box grater, a small box grater with attached box to catch the gratings, a grater I hold in one hand and grate with the other (requires way to much coordination for me),  and a set of rasps. I can grate anything I need to grate. And my fingers as well. However, I can see where the less well-endowed (no, the phrase does not always refer to female anatomy) might like one of these. It would certainly be more impressive to bring to the table for a romantic dinner than a box grater to grate Parmesan cheese onto your date’s salad. Assuming your date wants someone else grating his/her cheese, likes Parmesan cheese, and is worth the cost of fresh Parmesan and the special grater. (see waffle-maker above)

Stew meat. I made a beef stew today. The meat was off a chuck roast. It’s a cheap cut of beef in a world where there is no cheap beef. However, if I wanted to get stew meat from chuck, it was almost a dollar a pound more. For the same meat cut into bite-size pieces (if you’re a water buffalo). It took me about 15 minutes to cut up the roast and remove the major marbling. I’m sure the store’s butcher would have been done in less than 5.

Pre-crumbled cheese. Feta, I get. It doesn’t matter whether you buy it in a chunk or crumbled, it ends up crumbled by the time you’re ready to use it. Same with bleu cheese. And let’s face it, those cheeses are not generally on the menu of the cash-strapped. But paying twice as much so that you can get pre-crumbled cheddar and colby jack? It’s not like those cheeses are going to look classy on your salad anyway. Maybe you’ve noticed that those are the ones in the “This salad is not as healthy as you think” pictures.

Pre-made Easter baskets. I’m a stuffed-animal purist. The animals they put in these baskets would never get a second look. The candy? Not even worth the calories.  As far as I’ve been able to tell, the main advantage to these baskets? The year the child realizes that the basket they get on Easter morning is the same one they saw on a self at the grocery store is the last year the parent needs to buy one.

Gack. I just realized that my issue with several of these things is that they put convenience over the willingness to spend time preparing food for our loved ones. The others are spending money for specialized equipment I don’t need. I sound like my grandmother. Is that worse than sounding like my mother?

 

4

PSA: Green Food and Drink

No jokes today (well, maybe a couple – it’s congenital). Just thought some of you might be in the same boat as I’ve been in the past. It’s the last minute, you need a dish for the work pot-luck or party tomorrow night. Or you’re the one having the party and are looking to impress with a new drink. As you have learned in the past, I am a master of the strange party food. So here we go.

From http://www.examiner.com, 35 lucky green cocktails/mixed drinks (you are on your own to find the actual recipe):

Irish Julep – This very light green cocktail calls for Amaro, Irish whiskey, simple syrup, mint leaves and sprigs and crushed ice.

Irish Lady – If you prefer a little champagne with your St. Patrick’s Day, check out this recipe that calls for Midori melon liqueur, orange juice and champagne.

Irish Eyes – This cocktail calls for Irish whiskey, whipped cream and Crème de Menthe. Add a mint leaf and cherry for garnish.

Irish Pride – This citrusy cocktail has green Crème de Menthe, Amaretto and lemon juice.

Everybody’s Irish – You’ll need Irish whiskey, green Crème de Menthe and green Chartreuse.

Lunar Leprechaun – If you drink too many of these, chances are pretty good you’ll be seeing lots of leprechauns. This drink, by Cheri Loughlin, calls for tequila, melon liqueur, Triple Sec, lime juice and a lime wheel for garnish.

Shamrock Shaker – This ice cold drink includes Kahlua Coffee Liqueur, Amaretto, ice cold milk and green cake sprinkles or green edible powder.

Shamrock Shooter – This drink includes Midori melon liqueur, Irish whiskey and Bailey’s.

Bagpipers Melody – This refreshing drink calls for 2 ingredients – whiskey and green Crème de Menthe.

Lucky Tart – You just may get lucky with this drink that calls for Sour Apple Pucker, tequila, melon liqueur and fresh lime juice.

Midori Cosmopolitan – Get your Carrie Bradshaw on!

Apple Martini – This super-simple Taste of Home recipe calls for vodka, sour apple liqueur and lemon juice. Voila!

Apple Fools Martini – There is nothin’ foolish about this cocktail! You’ll need fresh basil leaves, Blanco tequila, simple syrup, Green Chartreuse, red grapefruit juice and lime juice.

Emerald Martini – The color of this Martini is just plain lovely.

Emerald Isle – You’ll need Crème de Menthe, gin and bitters for this drink.

Jade Isle – This pretty drink calls for Midori melon liqueur, Blue Curacao, cranberry vodka, 7-Up, sweet and sour mix and a cherry.

Midori Mimosa – You’ll need Midori melon liqueur, sweet and sour mix and champagne for this top-rated cocktail.

Midori Mojoito – Besides Midori, this refreshing drink calls for white rum, club soda, lime and a few mint leaves.

Skinny Mojito – This cocktail includes Agave nectar, club soda, African rum, mint leaves and a lime wheel.

Fresh Lime Margarita – This popular drink calls for gold tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, sugar, kosher salt and lime wedges.

Margarita Jello-Shots – This fun recipe calls for Lime Jell-O, tequila, triple sec and lime juice.

Cactus Jack – This drink calls for agave tequila, blue curacao, orange, pineapple and lemon juices.

Green Eyed Tiger – You’ll need Midori, silver tequila, ginger knob, orange and lime juice.

Green Apple Champagne Cocktail – Besides champagne, this cocktail recipe calls for apple pucker, apple vodka and pineapple juice.

Midori Sour – This popular drink rates nearly a perfect 10.

Love Junk – Need a little love junk this St. Patrick’s Day? This drink calls for 3 ingredients – Midori, peach schnapps and apple juice.

Melon Chiquita Punch – If you are looking for a bit of tropical delight this St. Patrick’s Day, look no further. This punch recipe includes Banana liqueur, pineapple juice, coconut milk and Midori.

Green Daiquiri Punch – This emerald green drink calls for frozen limeade, Gatorade, light rum, and lemon-lime soda.

Green Flash Cocktail – This green beverage calls for Peach schnapps, vodka, Blue Curacao, orange juice, sprite and ice.

Green Lizard Shot – You’ll need Green Chartreuse and rum. Don’t forget the shot glass.

Kiwi Cocktail – This drink looks fabulous! You’ll need kiwi liqueur, vanilla vodka, ice cubes and a ripe kiwi.

Sage Lady – If you are looking for the perfect emerald green beverage, this one isn’t it. This cocktail calls for sage leaves, VeeV Acai Spirit, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Warming Zen – This yellowish-greenish cocktail calls for Zen Green Tea Liqueur, simple syrup, steamed milk, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, matcha and cocoa powder.

Pickle Back – Yep. A shot of bourbon or Irish whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine – that’ll cure what “ales” you!

Frozen Grasshopper – If you are looking for a great way to end your evening, try this delicious recipe on for size. You’ll need vanilla ice cream, green Creme de Menthe, white Creme de Cacao, ice and and fresh mint leaves.

There is also Dr. Oz’s Green Drink, which is supposed to make you feel hale and hearty. Personally I’d save it for another day (or never): Apples – 2 medium , celery – 3 stalk, large, cucumber – 1 cucumber, ginger root – 1/2 thumb; lemon (with rind) – 1/2 fruit, lime (with rind) – 1 fruit, parsley – 1 bunch, and spinach – 2 cup. Throw everything into a juicer/blender. Hold down the button until it’s as close to liquid as it gets, and enjoy. It’s been endorsed by Oprah, if that makes it sound better to you.

For something to slow the alcohol, here are some foods from http://www.listplanit.com. On the health scale, they fall between Dr. Oz and the drinks:

Green Veggies – peppers, celery, cucumber (with the skin on), asparagus, avocado, broccoli, green beans, spinach, lettuce, peas, sugar snap peas, zucchini (ick)

Green Fruit – Granny Smith apples,kiwi, Honeydew melon, green grapes

Other Green Foods – pea or broccoli soup, pesto (I would recommend putting it in something, it’s a little oily straight, spinach wraps, spinach pasta, green veggie chips, pistachio pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream

Green Chocolate Chip Cookies – made like you normally do but with green food coloring and mint chocolate chips, then make ice cream sandwiches with these and some mint chocolate chip ice cream!

Green Food Coloring – Add a little green food coloring to any soft, light colored food – remember that one drop can go a looong way: milk, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, homemade bread or biscuits, apple sauce, rice Krispie bars, white cheddar macaroni and cheese, ranch dressing, vanilla yogurt, whipped cream. You may want to save some of these for after the drinking starts.

Remember: green beer is generally the bar’s cheapest beer with a couple of drops of food coloring in it.

2

Attention Velveetistas!

At work, we have been getting callers anxiously wondering whether we still have any Velveeta left. As you may be aware, Kraft is warning that there have been production problems which may create a shortage of the pseudo-cheese affecting Super Bowl parties. No problem, you think, I’ll switch to guacamole. Wrong. Avocado shortage due to drought in California. Maybe I’ll go retro with a fondue theme. Wrong again. Cacao bean shortage due to poor growing conditions in Africa. It’s starting to sound like a crisis.

My first instinct was to send you to Facebook. You may not be aware, but you can “friend” Velveeta. It has thousands of “friends”, and I am sure that some chat group has addressed the possibility of a Velveeta-free Super Bowl party. They might also point out that there is something called Queso Blanco Velveeta. You might consider making your queso dip out of Queso Velveeta which does not enjoy the popularity of “real” Velveeta and is still plentiful.

However, I have a better idea. Why don’t you use the opportunity to try out something really unique? I have done a little rooting around and come up with some foods that should make your party the talk of the water-cooler (or ER) for days. I’m not really sure where to get some of this stuff, although I would guess that most of it can be found for sale on the Internet. I found the foods at BootsnAll.com, a travel site. It’s too late to make most of them at home, so try a sampler before you plan for next year. And don’t forget the beer. Lots and lots of beer.

We can start with the insects. We all have bugs flying around. Why not make them useful? In Southeast Asia, you can get silkworms, grasshoppers or water bugs fried, roasted or toasted. Since it’s been so cold and snowy this winter, I would recommend ordering out, but you can probably go to the pet-food store and have a do-it-yourself kind of thing during halftime.

Staying in the Far East, you may want to try the Cambodian treat of deep-fried tarantula. You need to keep them in the deep-fryer until the legs are stiff. You may season them however you wish. Although obviously you cannot dip them in Velveeta this year. You probably stand the best chance of getting fresh tarantula in the Southwest this time of year. Do not use your room-mate’s pet.

Korea is the home of the next dish. Sannakji is made by chopping a live baby octopus into several pieces, seasoning it with sesame seeds and oil, and serving it immediately. If prepared and presented correctly, the parts will still be wriggling on the plate. This dish is properly served with chopsticks. The suction cups on the tentacles are still active and will stick in your mouth or throat until thoroughly chewed. If a tentacle gets caught in someone’s throat, it may very well choke them. Please watch your guests closely if you serve this dish.

If you want to wash your Asian foods down with an authentic beverage, you could try some Vietnamese snake wine. A venomous snake is left to steep in rice wine for many months to let the poison dissolve in the wine. The ethanol makes the venom inactive, and the snake is said to have significant medicinal value. The wine may be classified as a rose due to the snake blood imparting an attractive pink color. There are variations on this wine across Southeast Asia, including one where the belly of the snake is sliced open to let the blood drain into the wine and served immediately. Of course you could also try some plain rice wine. Some folks will still opt for Coors (especially the Denver fans).

Lest you think I am fixated on the Asians, I will move on to Europe. Sweden gives us surstomming, fermented Baltic herring. The herring is caught just prior to spawning and fermented in barrels. After a couple of months, the fermentation continues in the can. You may want to open it outside or the house will smell like fermented fish. It can be eaten with flat crispy bread and boiled potatoes. Ritz crackers would probably work. It is popular with beer, so it is the perfect Super Bowl treat.

The Ukraine brings us salo. It is a slab of cured fatback sliced and served on a piece of bread. Once again Ritz is an option. It is generally served with vodka. But it sounds pretty close to some of the things my grandma ate in upper Michigan, so I imagine it would go just fine with beer.

Here’s something that may not taste any better than it sounds: lutefisk. It’s from Norway and Sweden, and is very popular there. I’m told they also eat a lot of it in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Must have something to do with being in the snow so much of the year. Fish, traditionally cod, is aged in lye for several months. I have heard that it has a strong odor, but have never heard the odor described. It becomes gelatinous in the lye (so you may be able to eat it on a Ritz with some effort).

Still looking? Let’s go back to insects. Or insect larvae. In more proof that we really are a global village, I have larvae snacks from both the Old World and the New. First, from Sardinia we have casu marzu, also known as maggot cheese. The farmer introduces the larvae of the cheese fly to the sheep’s milk cheese. Fermentation is caused by the larvae digesting the cheese fats. It must be eaten while the maggots are alive or it becomes toxic. The EU has banned casu marzu, but you can still get it on the black market in Sardinia and Italy. We do have an extradition agreement with the EU which could be an added cost.

On this side of the Pond, we have Mexican escamoles. Escarmoles are ant larvae which are eaten in tacos with guacamole. They are said to taste nutty and buttery. Since guacamole may also be pricey this year, you would be serving a true delicacy.

My next three foods are found in the U.S., so they may already be known to you. We have scorpion suckers, Rocky Mountain Oysters, and pickled pigs feet. Scorpion suckers are exactly that: scorpions in candy on a stick. Pickled pigs’ feet are pork bits in brine. And Rocky Mountain Oysters are a type of seafood.

Not so fast. To make the oysters, you take the testicles of bulls and peel them. Coat them in flour and seasonings; deep fry them. Then serve them up with dipping sauce. It sounds like the perfect macho snack for the Super Bowl. You can follow them up with fish and chips gelato from Australia, which is what it sounds like: ice cream flavored as fish and chips.

After all these choices, you’re gonna sound kinda lame if you opt for cut-up vegetables or chips and dip.