Archive for October, 2009

Salt Talk

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

First of all this has nothing to do with global arms talks of the late 60′s.

This is me blogging about salt in food.  Not the naturally occurring salt, but yeah, maybe that, too. I mean to talk about the evils of table salt. I have been speaking to friends about eating out at restaurants, one of my fav subjects as you may well know.  What I have uncovered is an unwillingness to go out as much as people age.  When I push the issue, I find out that people are concerned about their salt intake.  Many of them, and me, swell up after eating salty foods.  Mostly around the waistline, but in other places, too, like the face, hands, feet, ankles.  Need I say more.  No, I need not.

I do not own a salt shaker.  I use salt to gargle once in awhile.  My palate, taste buds, and brain are all attuned to a salt free, natural flavor of foods.  Even bland potatoes are delicious to me, just as they are.  I am not a super taster, I have fairly normal buds for a person my age.  I love spicy foods, too.  But once the salt is sprinkled or tossed or dumped in, mostly all I taste is salt.  Then, I get thirsty, then my cells swell, and I say, I cannot order that soup, or sauce, or sandwich again, while it’s bathing in salt.

Like many of you, I have watched PBS chefs do their tv thing for years and almost always they put a pinch or a dash or a teaspoon of salt in every dish.  Even ice cream has a ton of salt.  The only thing I really have ever liked salt on once in awhile for fun is cantalope.   That’s it.  Yet, they insist it makes the flavor of the food come out.  Not.  It covers the flavor.  (It acts as a preservative, too.)

If you are a chef, a cook, or a household person who creates exquisite food dishes for your family, friends and self, please heed these words.  Please offer a salt free alternative for every salty dish you serve.  People can put their own salt in dishes at the table.  Please don’t salt us up anymore!

Funny story.  Me and dh went into the old Monte’s and I ordered French fries without salt.  So the waiter brought over my fries, I tasted them, I felt them and they had salt on them.  So,naturally I sent them back.  Please, no salt this time!  Okay, another batch comes to me and I say, hey these STILL have salt on them, taste them yourself.  He did and agreed, yep, salt.  So the third one came.  Still salty I said.  The waiter said, no, I watched the cook.  NO salt.  OMG!  Potatoes are naturally that salty, at least certain varieties from certain unknown grounds!  OMG.

Some food is naturally salty.  Most processed food has salt in it.  So, we should get enough salt without addition.  There was an old time deal where people didn’t get enough iodine for their thyroids, and so salt was a way to get that because it was added commercially.  But nowadays, well, my thyroid is fine, so more should be researched about that, but maybe ask your doctor if you can do without salt because the theory behind all this is that salt swells cells (say that three times real fast) and swollen cells are more susceptible to invasion by stuff you don’t want in your cells.

Also, chefs want to know if they are doing something wrong.  It doesn’t help business if people complain about a restaurant, so I will tell the waitstaff  or the chef directly if something is wrong.  It’s my money and my body.  I take control in a kind way, and make things better for everyone.   I invite you all to join me in this activity whenever necessary.  And your bonus for reading to the end, is that honey is an anit-inflammatory agent.  How far that goes, well I seem to notice the difference after drinking a cup of tea or my homemade lemonade with a tablespoon of honey in it if I’ve gotten an extrra unwanted dose of salt previously.

Why Don’t Spiders Get Caught In Their Own Web?

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This science experiment came from Robert Krampf. See permission and url below.
This week’s experiment started as an idea for a Science Photo of the Day, asking why spider’s don’t get caught in their own webs.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it had great potential for getting folks to actually go out and explore the wonders of a spider’s web.

To try this, you will need:

- a spider’s web
- a thin blade of grass or piece of string

A good time to find spider webs is in the early morning, before the spiders have dismantled them.  Before a rain is also a good time, as the spiders know that insects are very active before it rains.  This bit of weather lore is useful when you are hiking.  If it is going to rain, invite a friend to lead the way, so you don’t get all those webs in your face.

Once you find a web, take a few minutes to look at it carefully.  If the spider is there, be sure not to disturb it.  If you are lucky, you will be able to watch as it moves around the web.  Notice how it walks on the web, and that it never gets stuck.  Why?  If other creatures stick to the web, why don’t the spiders?

First, not all the strands are sticky.  In a standard orb web, the strands that radiated out from the center are not sticky.  They are a different kind of silk from the sticky strands that circle around the web.  In fact, spiders can spin up to seven different kinds of silk for different purposes, ranging from thick, non-sticky strands for support, to tough, non-sticky strands for making egg sacks.

You can identify the sticky strands by carefully using a thin blade of grass to touch different strands.  Be careful not to destroy the web, although if you wind up causing some damage, the spider can easily repair it.  In fact, many spiders destroy their old webs (eating the silk to recycle it) and spin a new web every day.

Even if it walks on the sticky strands, the spider does not get stuck.  Part of this is because it only touches the silk with the very ends of its legs, so there is not much surface area to get stuck.  It is also thought that some species produce a chemical that keeps their feet from sticking to the adhesive of the silk strands.

There are over 38,000 species of spiders, with new ones being discovered every year.  Recent discoveries include the world’s largest orb weaving spider and a species of spider that eats plants instead of insects.  That means that there are thousands of different web designs.  Try testing different webs, to see which parts are sticky.  This can help you figure out how the spider uses its web.

A good example is the “cup and saucer spider” which builds a saucer shaped sticky web that is horizontal.  Above that, it builds many non-sticky strands that crisscross.  Flying insects bump into the crisscrossed strands of the “cup” and fall into the sticky “saucer” below.

You can wind up your web wondering by eating a snack the way a spider does.  Spiders don’t have jaws for biting and chewing.  Instead, they have two sharp, hollow fangs.  To eat an insect, they bite it with their fangs and inject a venom that kills the creature, and then digests its internal organs.  After letting the prey digest for a bit, the spider sticks in its fangs and slurps out the liquified insect, just as you can slurp a milkshake through a straw.

Have a wonder-filled week.

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My Hot Lemonade Recipe for Flu Season

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

About once every two weeks, I make a batch of this great cold or hot lemonade.

Take 6 lemons fresh from the store.  Cut them in half and in half again.

Put them into a container and freeze them until you are ready to cook them.

Pour about 16 ounces of pure water into a steel sauce pan on the stove.

Throw the cut up lemons into the water. Also add one golf ball sized piece of

fresh ginger root.  Doesn’t have to be exactly that size.

Put the burner on high until the water comes to a rapid boil.  Lid ON.

Turn the burner down low to simmer the lemons and water for 20 minutes,

the lid is still on.

(To simmer means to let the water boil very slowly.  There are bubbles, but

only like a couple per second or even less is fine in this case.)

After 20 minutes, add a dozen hot pepper seeds from an herb pack or any fresh hot pepper.

Then, add about a half of a cup of honey.  Stir thoroughly and let sit off the burner for a few minutes.

When cool enough to handle, strain the mixture before drinking.

At this point, I drink a little bit as is.  It is way too strong and hot, so don’t do it.

Poor one ounce and then let the lemonade cool and then add as much water as you need.   I usually go for a one to five ratio,

one being the lemon part and five being the water part.

I then divide up the remaining lemonade into three or four 12 oz jars.  I keep one for the frig, and freeze the others.

This way I have about 8-10 glasses of cold lemonade or cup of hot lemonade whenever I want and they are fresh.

You can also add this mixture to roasted chicken recipes, soup, or other teas and juices.

Keep It Fresh

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Prevention magazine has a great online article on keeping foods fresh in the refrigerator.

Pizza at the Golf Club?

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Pizza at the golf club.   I wonder.  Hmmmm and mMMMMMMMMMM!
My favorite pizzas are Aurelio’s and Due’s in Chicago.
One is just almost a pizza pot pie with every good thing in it,
even anchovies.  The other, Aurelio’s is just a super good sauce,
and perfectly sized in thickness with yummy cheddar and mozzarella
topping. Nothing else needed or wanted, except maybe mushrooms from
time to time.

Having said that, the golf club pizza is something else altogether.

First of all, it was a hefty helping.  I only ate half of it after a
buffet salad. Dh finished it off as he was extra hungry.

This pizza is finger food, but just barely.  Very super thin crust.  I
had to fold it to eat it without utensils. It came with  a goodly
covering of nicely browned cheese on top, all mozzarella, with a good

amount of stringiness to it…not too much, but there so you know it but don’t have to tangle with it.

The tomato sauce with oregano, not one I am very familiar with overall, but I
can tell you that it had no garlic after effect whatsoever, so I am
guessing there was very little in the way of other seasonings.
Sometimes plain is better.  Just let the tomatoes and cheese speak for
themselves. The oregano might be Mexican oregano and that is somewhat
different from it’s Italian or Greek counterparts.  It is a very good
herb to use.

I asked for mushrooms, but did not see them.  Just had a buffet salad
where I picked up a few mushrooms, so I didn’t mind too much.  I think
the chef might have thought the mushrooms would push the pizza’s
portability over the edge. In other words, the pizza would not support
any additional weight…I know that from another time when I tried to
have a chef pile  the ingredients onto a thin crust pizza. (This is a
tendency I have leftover from my kindergarten era meals where I blended
all the potatoes, vegetables and meats together because I didn’t like
any of them individually, but knew I had to eat something.) That chef came out and explained to me about the construction of a pizza.

Overall, the pizza was enjoyable, flavorful, and creamy, but don’t expect neighborhood style
pizza.  Think more imaginatively.

Dh had the Pasta al Burro tossed with bacon, garlic, parsley and
butter. If you like carbs and fat, you’ll like this dish a lot, like I did when I
tasted it. Cut the bacon into bite size pieces and brown the butter to
make it nutty and you can make this at home.   We also ordered the $2.00
add chicken with it.  Good choice.

I should talk about the buffet salad.  Very good stuff on it. Healthy.  Fresh.  A good picker upper of energy.  Go for it!

PS-if you are a new reader please know that the golf club encourages the public, non members to eat and play!