It finally happened. I finally took the plunge into the world of sourdough. It’s been a long time coming. My real hindrance for the sourdough starter has been planning. I’m just not that great at planning two weeks in advance or whatever.
But a few weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to try my hand at this sourdough starter thing. There is a lot of near gospel on the Internet about this sourdough business. I really liked Ruhlman’s write up on sourdough although I decided not to use his method.
Instead I went with Peter Reinhart’s method from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. That means starting with these two kind of strange ingredients:
Yep. Pineapple juice and whole rye flour. That is going to make us a living and breathing starter.
Also, let me apologize in advance. Turns out that starter photos are kind of boring. Canned pineapples and rye flour is basically the best photo in the post.
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My mom bought Betsy a subscription to this magazine called Body & Soul last year. It has tons of tips about yoga and working out along with productivity tips like how to get better cuticles and save your marriage at the same time. It’s kind of an all-purpose clean up your life magazine I guess.
Ok. I’ll be honest. I’ve never really read it, but that’s the impression that I get. What I do read in it though is the recipes. I read the recipes occasionally because I get flack sometimes for not posting enough healthy recipes and this magazine is jam-packed full of healthy recipes.
Case in point: This amazing soba noodle dish cooked in a ginger broth with tofu and lots of veggies.
Health in a bowl!
I’m always a bit skeptical of recipes that appear to be too healthy because I worry that they lack in the flavor department. I was worried about this recipe for that reason. Turns out I was right to worry. The broth ended up being kind of bland.
If I were to make it again, which I’m sure I will as I did really like the dish anyway, I would make the below changes.
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Every other weekend, I review a cookbook in an attempt to lend some guidance in a field that has become overrun. These days everyone is writing cookbooks and it’s incredibly upsetting to buy a dud and have it sit on your shelf for years – staring at you, mocking your poor judgment.
Do you want to have The Best Day Ever? Who doesn’t right? If I could, I would love to have the best day ever – every day! David Wolfe in his new book, “Superfoods,” claims that just by eating a few of what he calls Superfoods we can all get healthier and happier. Repeatedly, he says that these foods will help you have The Best Day Ever.
Let me start by airing my biases. I really dislike fad diets (this book isn’t that). I really really dislike expensive fad food (this book is kind of that). I TRIPLE-really dislike people that eat algae and pretend that it tastes good (this book is really that).
With those things in mind, I was 99% certain that I was not only going to hate this book, but almost certainly think the author was a complete Wanker.
Let’s dive in though and find out if my biases have any merit.
David “Avocado” Wolfe.
Avocado is apparently his nickname. Ok. So it turns out that I might be wrong about the author being a Wanker. I mean that, literally, I might be wrong. I might be right also. It’s hard to tell. Let’s break it down.
Non-wanker traits: The author is incredibly smart. He has various degrees in many different fields from many different very prestigious universities. This is important because the book is filled with a good amount of scientific info and I wouldn’t trust it at all if the author isn’t who he is. The author also is all about getting people to eat healthier which I definitely support.
Wanker traits: Have you ever met an annoyingly happy person? I don’t mean just your normal happy person. I think I’m pretty happy. I must say though that “Avocado” seems like he might be too happy for me. Case in point.
Also, I get the impression that he might be the kind of person who would tell me that the beer I’m drinking is slowly poisoning my body with tons of oxides and beernoids. That may be true. But let a guy have a beer.
OK. But regardless of whether or not I would be BFF with the author, let’s dive into the book and see what all this superfood business is about.
What is a Superfood?
According to Avocado:
A superfood “has a dozen or more unique properties, not just one or two. For example, the goji berry is a source of complete protein, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, liver-cleansing betaine, anti-aging sesquiterpenes, antioxidants, over twenty trace minerals, and much, much more.
Whoa. Ok. I get the first part of that definition. It seems like superfoods are complex things that happen to be able to perform multiple roles for humans. That sounds pretty awesome. That said, I’m not sure I understand much of what he says about the goji berry. Those things all sound positive though I guess.
The bulk of this book is devoted to ten of these superfoods that David believes can seriously alter your life, mood, and health. Some of these ten are more commonplace (coconut) than others (Marine phytoplankton). I won’t go into specifics on all ten of these bad boys, but you can conveniently find almost all of them at David’s online food supply company: sunfood.com. Some might argue that it makes perfect sense that he would say these foods are super because he is trying to sell them.
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is selling them because he believes in them. He also only mentions a few times in the book that he supplies some of the foods on the list. Mostly he leaves the buying decision up to you. I get the impression he is sincere in his preachings.
The Goji Berry.
One of the more interesting superfoods, for me, was the Goji Berry. I found it interesting because A) I’ve heard of it before, B) There is a ton of interesting myths (or truths!) about its powers, and C) that it’s actually tasty!
David does an incredible job of describing the different varieties of all of the superfoods, and the Goji Berry is no exception. He lists all the common forms and different ways you can find it and eat it. It was actually pretty educational.
As far as the stories go, I found them very entertaining whether or not they are true. I really liked the story of Li Qing Yuen who was said to have lived for 252 years! She ate Goji Berries daily and popularized their claims to longevity. True or not, it’s a cool story.
As for the reasons why these berries are classified as a superfood, David gives a bunch. They are all very scientific and honestly, I don’t know enough to say whether or not they are justifiable. Here is a quick excerpt as to why the Goji Berry is, for example, a great immune booster:
“There appear to be three major components of the goji berry that improve the immune system: the goji berry polysaccharides (lycium barbarum polysaccharides, or LBPs), beta-carotene, and the mineral germanium…”
There is a lot bundled into that statement. Do those items actually boost the immune system? And do goji berries actually contain significant amounts of all those things? David will tell you that yes and I have no reason to not believe him!
There are recipes in this book that contain all of these foods. Quite a few recipes actually. This is great because I would have no idea where to start with most of these ingredients. I’m pretty sure that David practices a raw diet which means he doesn’t cook anything. Also, none of the recipes have meat or any dairy in them. So you are looking at uncooked, Vegan recipes here.
That said, some of them don’t seem that bad! There are a ton of good sounding smoothies and granolas. But there are also some recipes that don’t sound quite so great. Like Warm Blue-Green Algae Elixir.
I’ve poked some fun at David in this post, but in reality, I support what he is trying to do. It would be SO much better for everyone to be on his end of the spectrum than the opposite. I just happen to believe that there is a happy medium.
Here are some serious things that I think are true about this book:
1) Even if 5% of the things that David claims about these foods are true, it’s worth trying to incorporate some of them into your diet.
2) David seems like an alright guy. Hopefully if he reads this (yea right) he has a good sense of humor.
3) You don’t have to go all out! Honestly, I’m going to give some of the stuff in the book a shot and I’ll report on it. If you are looking for some healthy, different things to incorporate into your diet this wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
SO is this book right for you? I can’t really answer that. You have to have a pretty open mind to get past some of his claims, but I have no evidence that anything he says is false. At the end of the day, David convinced me to give some of these things a shot and I’ll let all of you know how it goes.
Last weekend, there was some silly hacker who figured out how to bypass all of WordPress’s security measures and hack into a LOT of self-hosted WordPress accounts… including one of mine.
Not Macheesmo luckily, but they did manage to worm their way into Foodie Fights – the site I run with Dan. I noticed it when a reader brought it to my attention that all of the permalinks to individual posts were not working.
At first I thought it was odd that Dan changed all of the permalinks to look like this:
After a quick google search though I realized that I was one of the unlucky thousands that had been hacked.
Anyway, if you happen to run a self-hosted WordPress site, be sure to upgrade to 2.8.4 as soon as possible if you haven’t already. It’s kind of a pain to fix if you are hacked. If you’ve already been cyber-robbed, the instructions I used to fix Foodie Fights were on Journey Etc. The comments were helpful also.
No poll this week because I’m going to be out of town and away from the kitchen this weekend. Here are a few links though!
XOCO’s Chocolate – At Rick Bayless’s new restaurant in Chicago, they are making chocolate from scratch. This better be GOOD for all the work it involves. I’m sure it’s worth it. (@ Time Out Chicago)
Big Food vs. Big Insurance – A great opinion by Michael Pollan. He presents a really fascinating argument that if health care reform is passed, the insurance companies will actually line to up tackle the obesity epidemic. Right now they have no incentive to do that, but the reform would give them the proper incentives to work toward getting healthier food options for America. (@ NY Times)
Top Chef Exit Interview – Ok. Don’t click this link if you watch Top Chef but haven’t watched the most recent one. It’s a crazy surprise! I’m totally getting into this season. If you watch it, Jennifer is definitely my horse. She’s got the skills and calm professionalism to win it I think. Also, since the first 4/5 people eliminated were female, that basically assures that a female will win it. (@ Endless Simmer)
Artichoke Tapenade – An awesome end of summer appetizer! This is one of those recipes that’s been passed around the food blog world, but I like this write up on the dish. (@ David Lebovitz)
Have a great weekend!
Photo by Eric M Martin.
I really struggled with what to make when a Baked Dip won the poll last week. I know a few very good baked dips, but I feel like a lot of people kind of know all of the same baked dips. I wanted to try something a bit new.
I had some potatoes left over from the deep fry party and mashed potatoes just happen to be one of my favorite foods so I thought I would try my hand at coming up with a mashed potato dip. My idea was to mash up the potatoes with all kinds of goodies and then bake them with cheese and scallions and bacon on top.
This dip is ready for some football.
Great potatoes = good dip.
My main concern with this dip was texture. I didn’t want it to have the texture of mashed potatoes which I knew was going to be hard considering that it was basically mashed potatoes. I tried to make it more “dip-like” by mixing in a good amount of cream and cream cheese.
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Last Saturday I went for a three mile run which was the longest I’ve ran in awhile. I also did some push-ups, stretched, drank a lot of water, and ate a salad.
That’s because on Sunday I knew that I was hosting a deep fry party. You have to prepare for that kind of thing.
For the last two years now, I’ve hosted this event at the group house where I used to live. The premise is very simple: You bring it. I fry it.
There’s a lot that could go wrong with a party like this, but luckily everything went right. I thought I would share a few photos of friends and fried things!
So you want to host a deep fry party eh? It’s really pretty simple. You’ll just need the following things:
Deep Fry Party Setup:
- Outdoor space! You can’t do this kind of thing inside or even in an enclosed area. It is much, MUCH too messy. Hours of hot splattering oil will basically ruin any surface so hopefully if you do this, that surface is dirt.
- A turkey fryer. That’s the basic version, but if you are going to be using it a lot, I recommend the one with all the bells and whistles. I have this exact model and it works fantastic when you need to heat up 4 gallons of oil. These kits also come with a bunch of accessories but most importantly it comes with an industrial thermometer which is essential.
- 4 gallons of oil. That’s about the right amount to fill up the pot. I think peanut oil works best. You can buy 2 gallon jugs of peanut oil from Home Depot or probably other department stores.
- Propane. You can get the refillable jugs most likely from the same place you get the oil.
- A Fire Extinguisher. Just in case.
Ok. So maybe that’s a lot of work for one party. But you can use this setup for all kinds of other things like a clam/crab boil, actually frying a turkey, or even making beer.
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“I don’t really like quesadillas.” That’s what my roommate, Jeff, said when I told him what I was making for dinner. I, of course, took this as a challenge. The problem with most quesadillas, as stated by Jeff, is that the fillings tend to be kind of dull and people just rely on tons of cheese for flavor. So you end up with this gooey mess of cheese.
Some people like gooey messes of cheese.
But what you don’t want to do is rely on it. So, to prove him wrong (something I really enjoy doing), I made a really flavorful filling using three different kinds of chile peppers. Then you can either add a bunch of cheese or not. You can also top your three chile quesadillas with all kinds of fun stuff.
A mean quesadilla.
The recipe for these guys is extremely flexible. I’ll reproduce what I did below, but seriously feel free to adjust the peppers or the pepper quantity based on how hot you can handle.
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