Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me…

…I guess I’ll go eat worms.

Or, at least, that’s what the author of this article from The Huffington Post would suggest.

In the vast world of environmentalism, hybrid cars and bicycle lanes are to transportation what bugs and roadkill are to food — the great answers to the problem of finding sustainable energy for moving our bodies.

I remain unconvinced.

Let’s take, for example, a few choice morsels from the article, entitled “Who Needs Meat When You’ve Got Bugs?“, and dissect them if you will:

The Feral Forager, a self-published ‘zine excerpted in Sandor Katz’s The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, rebrands pill bugs as “land shrimp”; grasshoppers are “surprisingly tasty and filling” and taste “something like popcorn”; crickets, “incredibly high in calcium and potassium.” Roasted grubs make a fat-filled protein snack that, again, tastes “a lot like popcorn.”

I’ve always thought that lobster and shrimp look exactly like insects — namely, cockroaches — anyway.  We’re already halfway there with our love of crustaceans.  Would any of this really be that different?

I mean, we already eat and love mollusks, as it is, and those are creatures whose entire source of food comes from filtering sea water.  Or, as Wikipedia so poetically describes it, they “…draw water in over their gills through the beating of cilia. Suspended food plankton and particles are trapped in the mucus of a gill, and from there are transported to the mouth, where they are eaten, digested and expelled as feces or pseudofeces.” Lovely thought.

Then, however, there is this:

As the Feral Forger notes, “picking up roadkill is a good way to get fresh, wild, totally free-range and organic meat for absolutely free.”

Really?  Free-range and organic?  I beg to differ.  Let’s count the number of things that I saw dead and flattened on the side of the road this weekend during my trip to DFW and back:

  1. Armadillos
  2. Skunks
  3. Possums
  4. Raccoons
  5. Squirrels
  6. Various breeds of dog
  7. Coyotes
  8. Unrecognizable carcasses of indeterminate origin

And now let’s count the number of things on that list that normal people (including your adventurous blogger herself) would eat:

  1. None of the above

I mean, okay…  Those skunks and raccoons and possums are wild as all get out, but I don’t know about “free-range” or “organic” (I mean, the damned things subsist on grass and old Twinkies and cigarette butts, for God’s sake) and I sure as hell wouldn’t classify those remains as “fresh,” even on the side of I-45 on a crisp February day.

Moving on to the final argument:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and similar regulatory agencies elsewhere all permit a surprising number of “insect parts” in a given weight of packaged food because it is impossible to remove all of the insects during processing, especially in plants.

Ah.  The old “You’re Already Eating It, Whether You Know It Or Not, So You Might As Well Just Keep Going” argument.  It’s a winner almost every time.

The Huffington Post has spoken: give up now, people.  A generation from now, your children and grandchildren will be enjoying tasty Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies and Mealworm Fried Rice, laughing at your “old-fashioned” resistance to the charms of grasshoppers and grubs.

*shudder*

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Oh-oh-oh, Oh-oh-oh, I Love Sangria Wine

Good grief.  And I thought the TABC was bad.

In Virginia, serving sangria could land you in jail 

Serving the traditional Spanish beverage of sangria could land you in hot water in the southern state of Virginia, but lawmakers were debating Thursday whether to legalize the tapas bar favorite.

“We have a code in Virginia that says no distilled spirit may be added to wine or beer prior to a customer’s order,” Kristy Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, told AFP.

“A lot of restaurants like to pre-mix a drink in the morning and have one big batch to serve throughout the day. It’s the pre-mixing that makes it illegal,” Marshall said.

Violating the code, which dates from 1934, a year after the end of the Prohibition Era, when alcohol was banned in the United States, is a “class one misdemeanor, punishable by a 2,500 dollars fine and/or 12 months in jail,” Marshall said.

And from today’s Chronicle:

Since 1934, the state has prohibited mixing wine or beer with spirits. Frances McDonald, vice president of La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurants, found that out the hard way when his Alexandria location was cited for violating the sangria ban in 2006 and fined $2,000.

McDonald and managing partner Shana McKillop appealed their case to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Thursday before going to the Capitol to urge legislators to pass a bill legalizing the red wine, liqueur and fruit concoction.

What’s a tapas restaurant without sangria?  Heresy!  Although it appears that if you’re ever actually in Spain, you should avoid sangria served at tapas bars like the plague.  Hmm.

More importantly, what was the impetus behind such a law back in the 1930s?  Anyone have any idea?  Mixing spirits with spirits…maybe.  Maybe.  But mixing wine and spirits?  Was there some kind of dangerous Kir epidemic in 1930s-era Virginia, where people were abusing their wine cocktails and causing untold damage to persons and properties? 

And why has Virginia taken so long to repeal such a strange law?  Then again, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code has an entire section devoted to “Offenses Related To Bingo,” so I guess we can’t really throw stones.

Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce

Enough, I say!

Enough posting links to and pictures of other peoples’ brilliant work in lieu of my own mediocre and haphazard creations.  I’m finally going to write about something I actually did for a change.

I’ve been putting off posting this for a while, not because it was a disaster, but because the photographs themselves are absolutely hideous.  I couldn’t get the light right, I couldn’t get the camera to focus and I was rushed because the people I was serving the meal to actually wanted to eat it, instead of sitting around and watching me take pictures of their food while it grew cold.  Stupid, impatient people.  Heh.

So, just keep in mind that while the photographs make the food look as if it was reconstituted out of some awful 1970s-era Baptist Ladies’ Fellowship cookbook, the food itself was really quite good.

Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Serves: 4

 

Before I discuss the ingredients, I’d like to talk a little bit about where I found this recipe.  My friend Sarah gave me the new Rocco DiSpirito cookbook recently.  Aside from the undeniable eye-candy on the front cover:

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Yum.

…there are also some fantastic-sounding recipes inside (Beef with Crispy Potatoes and Blue Cheese; Goat Cheese Ravioli; Fried Scallops with Melted Onions; just to name a few).

But the book itself is weird.  I’m educated-guessing that to replace the television income that has been depleted by his widely-publicized legal battle with his estranged produced/friend Jeffery Chodorow, he’s entered into a partnership with one or more food companies to promote their food in this cookbook.

The result is a bizarre mixture of polished yet accessible recipes (good!) with recurring calls for such random yet specific ingredients as “Amore® garlic paste” and “Victoria® Fra Diavolo sauce” or “Dole® classic Romaine lettuce” (bad!).  I mean, we’re getting down to brands of lettuce here?  Really?

The entire thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  These aren’t even things that real chefs cook with.  Canned okra?  Hellman’s® Dijonaise?  Real chefs aren’t sending their staff out with directions to the nearest Sam’s Club, all: “If you don’t return with 80 cans of Green Giant® creamed corn, you can kiss your ass good-bye!”  It’s a scam and it irritates the hell out of me.

If I wanted to cook with a specific list of pre-made, preservative-laden, name-brand ingredients, I’d rip the paper off the back of a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.  It’s just not a very tasteful or professional way to write a cookbook and I find myself — yet again — disappointed with our boy wonder, whom I want so desperately to like.

All that said, I enjoyed the sound of Rocco’s recipe for porkchops with a mustard/cherry tomato sauce and decided to tweak it for my own tastes.  It’s quick, easy to make, and is a real crowd-pleaser, which is why I love it.  Finally…here is the recipe (brand names left out for everyone’s benefit): Continue reading Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce

Iiiiiiiiiit’s…bacon!

Hooray for bacon!  So many wonderful uses, such unparalleled taste, so few ways to go wrong with it!  Right?

Except, perhaps, for this monstrosity:

bacondog.jpg
Holy shit, that’s a lot of grease.

This, my friends, is a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, Cheese-Whiz-filled hot dog.  Go ahead and vomit now; I’ll wait for you to return.

The wretch-inducing, myocardial infarction of a snack comes to us courtesy of…Seattle, of all places, and the fine folks at The Stranger.  But there’s more!  Check out the article itself for additional pictures of the construction and eventual consumption of the deep-fried bacon-cheese-dog, including this picture:

bacondog2.jpg

…which will all but ensure that you will never want to eat a hot dog again.

There’s also a recipe, should any of you be intrepid enough to actually recreate this masterpiece of cholesterol, saturated fat and unpronounceable chemicals at home.  If so, I would definitely make sure to conduct this experiment in a well-ventilated area and — as the article helpfully instructs — don’t fry the dogs for too long or the “cheese” inside will explode.  Basically, one way or another, these things will kill you.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Make Your Voice Heard…In Pearland

Awesome reader David sent me an e-mail today that said, in part:

I thought you might be interested in combating the sprawling of big-chain restaurants in the Houston area. The new ‘WaterLights District’ that is being constructed in Pearland is polling to select the restaurants for their new riverwalk-style project…

Yes, Dave. Yes, I am.

I don’t live in Pearland, but I will support anything that encourages more local establishments / restaurants in the Houston metro area.

For those of you who don’t live in Pearland and / or don’t run in commercial development circles, the WaterLights District  is one of the many efforts to develop pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, high-density “city centers” in various parts of Houston.  The first attempt in The Woodlanads was such a success, that now many other areas / suburbs are throwing their proverbial hats in the ring, too.

One such development is taking place directly across the street from my neighborhood: City Centre, which is being developed in the footprint of the old Town & Country Mall and which will be a sister development to the wildly successful Town & Country Center, from which it is only separated by a small street.  City Centre will be a mix of lofts, brownstones, high-end retail and restaurants, boutiques, a sprawling gym and an arthouse movie theatre.

In that same vein, Pearland is developing the WaterLights District, which has the added bonus of being located along a landscaped waterway with development on one side and a planned Presidential Park & Gardens along the other, to feature giant busts of various American presidents.  Ever wonder what on earth was going on with those enormous heads in that parking lot off Taylor?  I know I’m not the only person who went over there on the weekends to take pictures of them…  Well, now you know.

waterlights.jpg

And here’s where it gets really interesting: The WaterLights District’s developers are asking for the public’s input when it comes to choosing restaurants for “The Grand Canal.”  I was pleasantly surprised to see a wealth of local restaurants in each category (I’m going to close my eyes and pretend that I didn’t see the disgusting Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden among the choices, though…).

I’m not sure how much bearing the public’s opinion will ultimately have on which restaurants are chosen, as I can’t really see the guys from Nino’s or Hugo’s or Vincent’s (just as examples) developing into “chains” or wanting to get involved with a project this cumbersome.  And whatever the public says, it’s ultimately up to the individual restaurant owners as to whether or not they want to lease space here.  But it’s a good tool to measure public interest and I appreciate that they’re making the effort to feel out their audience.

So, have at it, Pearland and non-Pearland residents alike.  Want to see a Taste Of Texas on the Grand Canal?  How about a reincarnation of the Rainbow LodgeGo cast your vote and make your restaurant patron voice heard.

A Link A Day

I usually refrain from just madly linking to other sites en masse, but there were a few links that have come up in the past few days that are too good not to share.  Enjoy!

  • AIEEEEE!!!  Through January 31st, Amazon is having a ginormous sale on Le Creuset right now!  And if you buy at least $159 worth of merchandise, they’ll throw in this handy spatula set in its own, adorable Le Creuset utensil crock — for free!  It’s normally $69, but for you?  Free!  Cute, thrifty and useful: three of my favorite words.  Le Creuset makes some of the best cookware in the world, so if you’ve been saving your pennies and waiting for a good time to buy, that time is now.

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    This darling, nearly-seven quart French oven is marked down from $295 to $219.  And it comes in a range of other colors.  Madness!

  • The Onion‘s A.V. Club has a new interview with everyone’s favorite bad-boy chef: Anthony Bourdain.  It’s long and winding and terrific fun to read.  Some nuggets of wisdom:

    Anything that improves people’s expectations of a meal is good for the world. Anything that weans even one kid or one adult away from Chili’s or T.G.I. Friday’s is definitely a win for the good guys.

    Thanks to Alison Cook for the original link on her blog.

  • An article on The Dogs of Pohnpei, in which a volunteer English teacher on a tiny, Pacific island is offered a true delicacy by one of his students: roast dog.  Does he accept this offering and eat the dog meat?  Read the fascinating article to find out.
  • And, finally, a hilarious recounting of one man’s mission to visit and drink a beverage from all 171 Starbucks stores in Manhattan in one 24 hour period.  Did he succeed?  More importantly, should a brave soul attempt this feat in Houston?  According to Starbucks’ website, there are at least 170 stores with a Houston address.  This doesn’t, however, include stores in Sugar Land, Missouri City, Kingwood, Cypress, Katy, Clear Lake, Pearland, Pasadena, etc.  And, frankly, 170 still seems like a pretty low number considering that the shopping center across the street from our neighborhood has three separate Starbucks in it…

Both of the last two links were provided by commenter Callie, but were tucked away in the comments sections of two different blog entries.  So here they are, reunited and available for all to enjoy!