Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Bugs: the other meat

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I love protein. I don’t feel like I’ve had a proper meal if it doesn’t contain protein and vegetables. But I have a bleeding heart and as much as I love meat, I’m perturbed by some of the things I’ve read about the meat industry. Skinny Bitch recounted a few stories out of Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz, and I obsessed about one of the stories for days. I couldn’t get this visual out of my head of some guy torturing a pig on its way to slaughter, and wracking my brain trying to figure out why anyone would do that to another living animal. But we’re a murderous bunch, us beasts.

I was reading this article in the New Yorker about bugs as food. And delicious food from the sounds of the some of the ways they were being prepared: beetles fried in butter, soy marinated crickets, fritters adorned with worms, a spider roll w/fried tarantula instead of soft shell crab. My favorite sounding dish is available in Los Angeles at Guelaguetza: chapulines a la Mexicana are grasshoppers sautéed with onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes, topped with avocado and Oaxacan string cheese (though it doesn’t seem to appear on the menu on their website). But mmmmm….it sounds lovely.

Entomophagy is what bug eating is officially called. And it seems to be a hot topic right now. The thing about bugs is that they have as much protein as meat, sometimes more (fried grasshoppers have three times the amount of protein as beef), and have vitamins, minerals, and fats, and are less ecologically damaging to produce as a meat source than our traditional cows, chickens, and pigs. And breeding insects is more humane, “bugs like teeming, and thrive in filthy, crowded conditions.”


Isaac gleefully eating a giant grasshopper in Bangkok

The problem is getting over the disgust we as Westerners have for eating insects. Eighty percent of the world eats insects for food. That’s most of the world except for us. Me personally, as long as it doesn’t look like a little bug, I’ll eat it. We ate bugs in Bangkok. Well, my friends did, I picked at them a little. They looked too much like exactly what they were. I’ll be happier when they can process out bug protein and it doesn’t come in the shape of a giant grasshopper.

My favorite food in San Francisco

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I had a bad restaurant experience today so I thought I’d write about all the food I miss in San Francisco. I’m a creature of habit with food — it’s so easy to get bad food and it breaks my heart to eat awful food so I tend to eat from “safe” places I know I love.

  • Pho from Thanh Tam II at Valencia and 17th (577 Valencia St, 94110). The other food I’ve had here has been mediocre, but they have the best pho. I sometimes have it delivered to my house, but it’s better to have it at the restaurant because it arrives hot and fresh to your table. They have the most delicious broth and their meatballs are so flavorful. I usually get the special combination beef noodle soup (pho) with the flank steak, rare steak, tripe, and meatballs and I wish I could have it here in Irvine (it’s been so cold lately!).
  • Chicken liver crostini from Beretta at Valencia and 23rd. I also like their argula and fennel salad. I find most of their food to be just ok, but I love these 2 dishes with a glass of red wine especially after a hard, early afternoon workout on a weekend day before the crowds start forming for dinner and the place is mostly quiet and I’m mad for a protein fix.
  • Carpaccio from Kuleto’s on Powell in Union Square. I have tried carpaccio in a lot of places in southern California and I can’t find anything that comes remotely close to the one at Kuleto’s. It comes with a lovely little Cannellini bean salad, citrus vinaigrette, and two perfectly spiced shrimp. For $13.50 you cannot find carpaccio this good anywhere else. I’ve paid much more for much crappier carpaccio in a lot of different restaurants.
  • Chilled tripe at Pizzeria Delfina at 18th and Guerrero. I usually have this with one of their salads (usually the tricolore insalata) but it’s really the tripe I’m there for.
  • Kiji shooters from Kiji on Guerrero at 22nd. The oyster shooters with uni and quail egg….mmmm. I love everything at this place. I don’t have a Japanese place in socal yet that I love as much as I love Kiji. Their fish is wonderful, their service is great, the atmosphere is lovely, and Eddie (the owner) is awesome. I miss you, Kiji!
  • The white chocolate raspberry bread pudding from Nordstrom Cafe & Bistro on Powell. I’m picky about bread pudding and don’t like most of them, but this one is rich and heavenly, and much too decadent to finish, but luckily makes good leftovers :). I also miss that Nordie’s cafe because they have a full bar and most of them don’t.

Mmmm…homemade enchiladas

Monday, December 1st, 2008

I baked a chicken last week and there’s only so much chicken one person can eat on her own and I’ve been craving enchiladas. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked online so I mixed it up a little. I love veggies so I added them though I don’t think enchiladas usually have veggies in them. But each one of these has protein, veggies, carbs, and fat!

Ingredients

  • shredded chicken (I used the equivalent of one whole leg – thigh and drumstick)
  • 1/4 sliced onion
  • 1/4 sliced large orange pepper
  • 3/4 fresh corn (boiled it for a few minutes and cut off the kernels)
  • 4 yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 Tb butter (or oil)
  • oil for the tortillas
  • salt and Spanish Blend chili powder (or regular chili powder) to taste
  • 1 can Las Palmas enchilada sauce (I had a 19oz can, but only needed about 3/4th of it)
  • 1 c shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c shredded monterey jack

You’ll also need:

  • 7 inch by 11 inch baking pan
  • 2 saucepans: 1 small (big enough to fit one tortilla); 1 medium

Makes

4 little enchiladas

Prep

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chicken and vegetable filling

In a medium saucepan, heat butter (or oil) over med-high heat and sauté onions until they’re translucent. Add the peppers and sauté until they’re soft. Then add chicken and corn and season with salt and chili powder (I put a light dusting of salt on top, and plenty of chili powder), and about 4 Tb of enchilada sauce. Stir until seasoning is evenly distributed and the filling is warm (about 5 minutes). Turn off heat.

Warm and fill the tortillas

Warm the tortillas so they’re easy to fold (you can also use hot water to make the tortillas soft if you want to use less oil). In the small saucepan, add 3 Tb oil and warm over medium heat. Add one tortilla. You just want to warm each tortilla on both sides so they are pliable and don’t rip but don’t want to fry it– about a minute on each side (depending on how hot your pan is). It’ll soak up oil so you can use more or less oil to taste. Do one tortilla at a time and add more oil if you need to. You can fill the first tortilla while warming the second. Fill the center with about a 1/4th of the mix (don’t overfill it). I filled it almost edge to edge and about 1-2 inches wide in the middle so the ends overlap easily when you close them. Put them seam down in a baking dish. I left about 1/2 inch between each enchilada so sauce would get in between them.

Pour sauce and bake

Pour the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. I filled the pan so that some of the sauce reached over the top of the enchiladas, but didn’t drown them. Evenly distribute the cheddar cheese, and then the monterey jack across the middles (so it melts all pretty)

Bake for about 20-25 until the cheese melts. I love it — I got the hot enchilada sauce so it’s got a little kick, and I like the texture mix — the crunchy corn and the thick tortillas, and the mix of peppers and chicken…mmmm.

If you have leftovers

Don’t let them sit! Cover them immediately so they don’t dry out. I ate one and left the rest in the oven — bad, ugly move.

Chinese noodle bar at home

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Every Tuesday they offer a Chinese Noodle Bar at work. You choose from a variety of fresh vegetables (enoki mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, spinach, been sprouts, broccoli, pickled cabbage), tofu, small pork dumplings, noodles (thick Shanghai noodles, Lai Fun rice noodles). They dip it in boiling water for a few seconds, put it in a bowl, then you pick your meats which can change week to week. Last week it was tripe, grilled beef steak, pork in Peking sauce, curry seafood. Then they pour your choice of broth on it: a veggie broth and a meat broth (last week, veal broth).

Chinese Tripe Recipe

I wanted to make the tripe at home and had a hard time finding a Chinese tripe recipe online, but I did manage to find a recipe someone had posted on Chowhound from an old Chinese cookbook. I followed the suggested changes and it was delicious — even friends who didn’t like tripe enjoyed it. It was tender and the sauce was very good — slightly sweet. It was almost exactly like the one they serve at work at the noodle bar.

I’ve copied the recipe here the way I made it:

  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 lb parboiled beef tripe, cut in pieces 3/4″ x 2″ (note: parboil just means to cook before the final cooking. boil it in water for 30 minutes — the final cooking happens in the oven below)
  • 1 Tbs Shao Xing rice wine
  • 1 Tbs light soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup hoison sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash 5 spices powder
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix rice wine, soy sauce, hoison sauce, salt and 5 spices in a bowl
  3. Heat oil in wok (or saucepan). Brown ginger, onion and garlic 30 sec.
  4. Add tripe and stir-fry 1 minute.
  5. Add the sauce mix
  6. Add water, bring to a boil and let boil for about a minute.
  7. Transfer to a small oven dish and cover with foil. Bake for 1.5 hours.

You can eat this over rice, or you can put it in soup like I did. It’s very tender and yummy!

Chinese cooking

I learned a lot about Chinese cooking trying to put together this noodle bar at home (which went well — my guests were happy). I searched online to find out more about noodle bars in general and what they normally offer, but didn’t come up with much other than reviews of restaurants. Either this topic is really obvious or not that interesting — I’m guessing by the number of restaurants that it’s just obvious :)

I looked in a couple of bookstores (one used; one new) for some helpful Chinese recipes. I found one new book called Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China. It’s beautiful — part travel stories and travel photos, and lots of recipes and food photos. I made the veggie soup (for the broth), and the Asian Broth (with goat for the meat broth). I also made the pork jerky which looks and sounds like it’s absolutely yummy, but I altered the recipe a little bit and didn’t cook it long enough to get completely dried out, but it was perfect for the soup — amazing how a little salt and pepper makes pork so delicious (see recipe below)!

Things I learned about Chinese cooking:

  • Sichaun (Szechuan) peppercorns: aren’t called that in the store and Chinese people don’t refer to it that way. Sometimes they just call it pepper. Or sometimes it’s packaged as Prickly Ash. You don’t use the seeds, just roast the outer shell and stems unless fragrant, then crush or grind them (I’ve read in some places not to use the stems). They’re supposed to leave a slight tingling sensation in your mouth and are often an ingredient in Chinese five spice powder.
  • Star Anise: I’d never heard of it until this weekend, but used often in soups and broths and other slow cooked dishes, as well as a variety of other uses. It’s shaped like a star and smells like anise (hence the name). Just throw one in per 6-8 cups of water/broth.
  • Five spice powder: A mix of all sorts of flavors, this spicy, sweet, hot, mild, pugent, fragrant powder is used on virtually everything from meat to veggies, soups, and even breads.

Modified Pork Jerky (from Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China)

The original recipe in the book (p. 294) is super simple and eaten on top of white rice with some veggies. I modified it to be slightly less dry, then sliced them into even thinner, smaller pieces and put them in the soup broth. It was perfect for soup.

  • 2 lbs pork butt (or other pork roast)
  • salt (I used coarse sea salt)
  • freshly ground pepper (the recipe specified black, but I used a mix of peppercorns)
  1. Cut the pork against the grain into 1/4 inch slices
  2. Spread them thin on a broiling pan, sprinkle salt and pepper on them
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over
  4. Bake for another 15 minutes and remove
  5. Once cooled, slice with the grain as thin as you like

I threw in some small, leftover pieces of pork into a frying pan with a little bit of oil and salt and pepper and oh my, that was yummy, too! Make sure to get fresh pork from your local butcher.

Thanksgiving

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

I love the holidays. Even though it’s stressful to get away from work, and there’s never enough time to bake all the goodies and get all the gifts and pack all the clothes in a timely manner, I still love the holidays.

Highlights from the trip:

  • Jess in her 4 inch heels and frilly skirt with an apron tied around her 20 inch waist looking like she stepped right out of Stepford wives.
  • Mention of Boise on the television. Josh: Boise’s the capital of Idaho. Yes, it is. Jess: Idaho? Josh: Yes you are! Much laughter ensues at Jess’s expense :)
  • Hot cranberry guts pop out of the pan my mom’s stirring and land on my finger. I say fuck. My mother looks at me in horror, the cranberries don’t understand what you’re saying. All the better reason to swear at them!

Back from Vegas

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Las Vegas was awesome. We had a crazy, ill tempered, swearing shuttle driver takes us to San Jose airport. Ed got there at sunrise and was drunk by the time we got to the hotel in the mid-afternoon. The Hotel (part of Mandalay Bay) was nice looking, but dark. Everything was cutely named “The ___” including “the tp” for the toilet paper. And black. The beach at Mandalay Bay with the wave pool is great (except everyone leaves their towel lying around so there are towel mountains every so many feet in the sand). I went to my first strip joint in the states (but left unfortunately early — I, unlike most of the rest of the group, sadly did not smell like strippers in the morning.) I played some Black Jack — not a huge fan of gambling, but I broke even so I did well :) And I got caught trying to steal a fork from House of Blues by the coolest waitress ever.

Restaurants we ate at:

  • Red, White, & Blue (Mandalay Bay): sucked
  • Nine Fine Irishmen (NY, NY) — didn’t eat there, but the food looked awesome. And I love Irish music.
  • House of Blues (Mandalay Bay) — yummy
  • Raffles Cafe (Mandalay Bay) — ok, but wouldn’t go back
  • Pyramid Cafe (Luxor) — yummy breakfast
  • Fiamma (MGM Grand) — pricey, but incredibly yummy

Ghostbar at the Palms (oh my god, the beautiful women at the Palms!!) was interesting. And played decent music (as in music I’ve heard before including Beastie Boys) earlier in the night — pre 2/3am, and the view is amazing. And Club Paradise was the strip club we went to. That was nice — I’d go back, and everyone else enjoyed it way more than I got to.

Saturday night jazz at Pearl’s

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

I don’t get out much, but I had the best time last night. We all got dolled up and went to North Beach (the three of us girls and Ed). We had dinner at Figaro’s. The food was mediocre, and the wait staff a little clumsy, but our waitress was a hot, blonde woman from the Czech Republic with the just the slightest (adorable) little accent.

But jazz at Pearl’s was awesome. I’m not a huge jazz fan, but I love music. And Clairdee, the vocalist, was a great live performer. I couldn’t take my eyes off her (she’s got incredibly beautiful eyes, too), but when she’d stop singing, I was mesmerized by the saxophonist (whose name I can’t remember or I’d share it with you).

North Beach is a happening little place. It’s funny because every time I’m there I think the same thing. We got there late — about 11pm, and got out of Pearl’s at 1:30AM and the place was still crawling with crowds and crowds of people. There’s always such an energy when there’re that many people in one place — not always a good energy in localized pockets — there was a fight across the street in front of Vesuvio when we got out of Pearl’s — but it’s almost like static electricity — the crowds, the heightened emotional charge, the constant feedback. There’s a high I get from being in crowds like that — everyone out doing the same thing, having fun, hanging out, enjoying themselves and each other. And me there with them, doing the same thing.

How much meat?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

In the last issue of New Scientist, there was an interesting commentary/analysis on meat consumption in the world. The environmental and health impacts of raising and eating meat seem to be economically interelated in a twisted, self-agrandizing inflation of the GDP (gross domestic product) — the means by which we judge our standard of living.

GDP increases because meat consumption goes up — farmers raise and sell more animals. Health care costs also rise and contribute to GDP. Issues such as obesity and heart disease, which everyone knows is the direct result of consuming too much fat, and meat has tons of fat. Then we raise more meat, negatively impact the environment some more (our farmed animals produce 10% of all greenhouse gases, including 25% of methane — the most potent greenhouse gas), give more people heart disease, increase our GDP…

The average human only needs 1500 kilocalories a day. Eat twice that and most people become obese. Producing enough food for all of us is actually not a difficult task — if we stick to a plant-rich diet. But feed the plants to the cows, then the cows to the humans and the money’s flowing and the economy’s booming.

Did you know it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef? That’s 200 times the amount of water it takes to produce a kilo of potatoes. And it’s estimated that by 2050, the world’s livestock population will consume enough plant life to feed an extra 4 billion people if it wasn’t being fed to our meat. Four billion people. And all for the glory of consumption.

Of course, if I was feeling skeptical, I’d research the numbers more. Everyone’s got a slant. The numbers quoted here come straight from that New Scientist article. The author mentions a “new report” by the Compassion in World Farming group. But it’s not a “report”, it’s a new campaign to promote decreased meat consumption around the world. You can check out the PDF files for that campaign here — the Mar 15, 2004 posting. The full report is called The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat (PDF link).

I agree that we eat too much meat which is probably why I’m too lazy to check out those numbers just now (plus it’s 1 in the morning and I’m supposed to be working on something else). But if I were you I’d research those numbers (maybe you can email me when you’re done :).

No meat is good meat?

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Between the bird flu (which two people currently have) and mad cow, I can’t fathom wanting to eat meat again anytime soon. I’m finding myself drifting more and more towards vegetarianism. Not entirely intentionally, but not unawares either. Part of it is a health issue – now that I don’t smoke everything tastes so much richer – plain fruits and vegetables meet virtually all my cravings. And exercising regularly moderates my cravings, too – I don’t crave rich red meat or salty pork meat, and chicken, yuck, I’ve never been a big fan of fowl meat (pun intended :).

There’s also the moral aspect of cruelty to animals. I think I’ve purposely not learned much about it, but I know that the conditions that most food animals are raised in are far less than ideal – cramped quarters, feed that they’re not meant to eat, antibiotics and other drugs pumped into their systems. Their lives are not just less than ideal, they’re horrific. It’s easy for me to anthropomorphize critters, but let’s not do that and just think about the way that these animals live naturally, removed from the influence of humans and then compare that life to the lives they end up living on these farms.

Responsible consumerism is something that I’ve begun to be more aware of and conscioiusly supportive of. I think you can eat meat responsibly. I have a friend that argues that killing animals is wrong period. But I don’t agree – as another friend poses, “Is it morally wrong for one animal to kill another for food?” And I can’t say yes. Yes, humans have the option to choose not to eat meat, to choose not to kill animals for food, and perhaps it’s morally wrong for us to choose to kill when we can choose not to, but we’re biologically built to eat meat and vegetables, and I haven’t yet decided that eating meat is entirely wrong for me.