I have another theory, this time regarding the the whole food blogging “industry”.  I think an industry is what it has become.  I think we’re already paying a bad price as consumers.

This industry, using a corollary to my previous theory on manufacturers chasing unsustainable profits by providing less value to their consumers, has bloggers chasing profit for themselves and watering down their content as a result.   The underlying control mechanism appears to be the same:   It’s the “more for me” by “giving less to you” principle.

I see blog topics getting thinner and thinner on valuable content.  It’s obvious that people are struggling to generate worthwhile content to keep their legions of followers coming back to their sites to generate ad revenue. This chasing attention is what caused me to stop blogging for a last few months.  I felt like an attention whore and the sad thing is that it wasn’t getting me any results.   I asked myself why I was torturing myself for attention online.  It didn’t make sense.  So I’m not posting for “attention” any more, I’m simply doing this for a creative outlet for my voice and food passions, which I hope are not irrelevant and so thin content-wise as to be a chore to read.

Some of the blog topics seem to be stretching reality and getting increasingly irrelevant..   They’re talking about stuff so obscure, and often unwanted, that no one has the time or ability to chase it.  And if they do, I imagine the results would be not worthwhile for the time spent.

Things with Titles Like This:

What to Do with the Last Spoonfuls in Your Honey Jar: Is it really this hard to figure it out?  Use up the last of the jar, open up a new one, and add it to the rest of the other to get the quality you need.   Why torture yourself by making this difficult by finding obscure ways to use it that only call for small amounts?

Something Saturdays:  What the hell does this mean?  I’ve been avoiding them because the headline tells me nothing.  I clicked on one while writing this bullet item, read it, and guess what? I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be about after reading it.  I think it was just a rehash of the drivel-of-the-week.  This happens each week too.  Why?

Spaghetti with Crab in Champagne Lemon Cream Sauce:  Why?  Just why?  Crab is sacred, don’t mess it up!

Honey, Rosemary, Walnut, & Bijou Grilled Cheese:  Huh?  Interesting flavor mix, but a bit convoluted. I still don’t know what “Bijou” is after reading half of the blog entry and wading through WAY TO MANY over-sized pictures that offer no explanations for each.  Pictures should ENHANCE content on a blog, not BE the content unless you’re on Instagram.  BTW, I think Bijou is a cheese, but it took too long to figure that out and made me mad in the process.

Spiced Persimmon & Creme Fraiche Custard Tart:  Benefit:Effort ratio very low here.  Same blog as before, again touting a creamery that 99.9% of people won’t have access to for ingredients.

Sponsored Posts:  This may just be a personal pet peeve, but multiple consecutive “Sponsored” posts for ingredients that a blogger probably wouldn’t normally cook with or buy, let alone promote without compensation.  And it’s stuff we probably shouldn’t be eating.  This stinks of desperation for cash flow.  Not that they shouldn’t earn it, but do something original rather than promote a manufacturing food culture that needs to die!  Sponsored posts are OK in isolation, but the bloggers should consider whether using these free items conflicts with their stated purposes.

Whole Wheat Stuffing Recipe with Dried Cherries & Pecans: Don’t mess too much with classics.  This one is messed up.  Pecans maybe, but whole wheat and cherries do not belong anywhere near a stuffing, especially at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  This post may have been around Thanksgiving.

I wasn’t able to find the ones I have recently come across that made me scream blasphemy inside my head and eventually have it fester enough to force me to write a post about it.

Blog names have been removed to protect the innocent; namely me.  The above topics were all on a blog feed I follow within the last month or two.  Maybe you’re luckier than me not seeing this stuff, since you probably don’t have four pages of food blog RSS feeds that you scan each day.

I hope that I haven’t done any of the things in this blog that I’m now complaining about.  If I have, I expect full retribution in the comments.   My reliance on goat products hopefully isn’t making me guilty of calling for unreasonable ingredients.  At least I use it in ways that only slightly alter a common dish using a new ingredient.  This hopefully doesn’t stretch my credibility too much.  For instance, goat milk products.  Maybe goat products aren’t that easy to find in your neck of the woods, but they are scattered all over in mine, even at the local Albertson’s grocery stores.   Albertson’s hits new lows of content quality every time I force myself to go into one.  So, if they have it, it’s not that obscure.

I apologize for ranting, but I needed to get this stuff off of my chest.  Hopefully there are others who feel the same way.

Sincerely,

Artorius  #CookMoreFood

unless he’s a chef that makes waffles.

Right now, as I type the title of this post, a song from the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is running through my head.   If you don’t have it running through your head already, because you’re a geek (nothing wrong with that BTW), here it is in all its glory.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gY8HilVZXQo

Sorry for the distraction, back to what I really wanted to talk about.    I have a theory (see above) that our current throw-away products in the market are this way because companies, especially food appliance companies (more on this in a bit) are really only trying to wring every last ounce of profit out of the market in order to reward shareholders with an unsustainable level of profit growth.   Wouldn’t it be great if companies were only concerned with sustaining their business through providing quality goods rather than making goods that fail quickly so you’ll buy them again and increase their profits.   Increase their profits, yes, but at the cost of customer satisfaction.   Whew, I need to take a breath.  This is a touchy subject with me and I wonder if we’ll see the day when companies do this again.

OK, why I am talking about this?   This all brewed in my head as I was making breakfast for my family this morning using a 50 year old waffle maker because there are no longer any good waffle makers being made in the market.  This sucks!   Not that there is anything wrong with an old one, but I’m annoyed that there are not any modern technologically improved equivalents that perform just as well.

Sigh.  The waffles out of my archaic waffle maker were wonderful this morning.   Crispy, a tiny bit sweet, and awesome covered with a  bit of butter (or butter substitute) and pure maple syrup (no flavored corn syrup substitutes, sorry Mrs. Butterworth).

Here is the waffle marker in all of its 50-year-old glory.   It’s a thing of beauty, heavy, and hot as well.  Perfect for crispy waffles.

I have decided that the quick and simple waffle recipes I had been playing with for expediency are a waste of time. They come out a bit flaccid and lacking in a pleasing texture (think defrosted and un-toasted Eggo(ick)-waffles)  The back-to-basics waffle works perfectly in my little food-kingdom.

The recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens – New Cook Book doesn’t disappoint.   Other than needing to whip a couple of egg whites, it’s not all that hard to do and satisfies that pit in your soul that can only be filled with a waffle.   And maybe a slice or three of crispy bacon.   Enjoy!

IMG_2027

Classic Waffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 4" waffle squares
 
A classic waffle recipe perfect for that 50 year-old waffle maker that will never let you down.
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (separated into whites and yolks in two bowls)
  • 1¾ cups milk (goat milk for us)
  • ½ cup canola (or any mild) oil
Instructions
  1. In one 2-qt or larger mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and mix lightly.
  2. In another bowl (or a large 4-cup measuring cup) combine egg yolks, milk, and oil. Mix until fully combined.
  3. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture, mixing until slightly lumpy. More mixing will be coming with the egg whites.
  4. Whip egg whites in yet another bowl until soft-firm peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg/flour mixture. Streaks and small lumps of egg white are OK at this point. Don't over-mix!
  5. Pour ⅓ (or ⅙ for smaller 2-sqaure makers) of mixture into your waffle maker of choice. Depending on the size of your waffle maker, this will make three or six batches, about 12 waffle squares altogether.

Oh yeah, COOK MORE FOOD!

I was reading my blog roll’s RSS feed list the other day and stumbled across this kickstarter project.  It solves a problem, that while not important, made me NOT a growler aficionado.  It didn’t ever make sense to buy and fill a growler that contains more beer than I want to drink in a single sitting.  It also pained me to have to throw away perfectly good beer when I’m not able to finish it quickly enough to have it be a pleasure to drink.   Being able to keep it fresh, fizzy, and drinkable filled a void that I didn’t think much about until I saw this.

It didn’t take long before I was a supporter.   When I added my support pledge I think they were already up to $300k or so.   Now they’re up to almost $600k and still have lots of time to go.  Do you think this is an under-served need in the craft beer drinking industry?   I’d say so.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/growlerwerks/the-ukegtm-pressurized-growler-for-fresh-beer

They’ve got two sizes on offer, both 64oz and 128oz.   I decided that I needed one of each size.

This will allow me to get 64oz of beer for drinking at my leisure, and also use the other for self carbonating stuff I want to brew.   In the past I have made both beer and hard cider and was only kept back in my ability to proceed technically by not wanting to invest lots of space and money in a carbonator setup.

Forgive me, but I’m going to step up on my soapbox for a minute…

I’m noticing that many of my posts on my Facebook page recently call out some of the evils of our modern food world and it’s becoming harder and harder every day to trust that any commercial provider of food has our health or welfare in mind when offering their wares to us.  How can we get around this?   Sadly, there may be limited options to us, but one should always work.

It’s up to US, and only us, to COOK more food. It won’t cook itself, and quite honestly, we’re getting to the point where we can’t trust others to do it for us any longer.   Maybe if we pull this power back into our own hands the food industry may notice that people care about what they’re eating.  Maybe then they’ll think about food quality again.

So, to help promote this viewpoint, I’m going to start tagging my future posts with the trailing comment “Cook More Food.”

Take care and…..

 

COOK More Food.

-Artorius

 

This project only has $215 to go to get this awesome invention in production.   Anyone who uses a wok on a home gas stove NEEDS one of these.    I know I routinely struggle with getting my wok up to a high enough temperature on my 30k BTU gas stove, so something like this would make my stir fries (especially noodle dishes) even better.    To be fair, I have pledged to this campaign, so I’ve got a slight self-interest in seeing this thing shine.

http://www.crowdzu.com/funding/campaigns/19/wokmon/

Crowdzu Wokmon

When a recipe “makes your soul scream,” please don’t cook it.

Cooking Light’s “Thai Chicken in Cabbage Leaves” is one such recipe and I ignored what my brain was telling me as I read the instructions.   One portion of the instructions says to add the first three ingredients (chicken, sliced red onions, and water) and cook in a non-stick pan.  Not too bad so far, but the combination of water and a non-stick pan gave me pause.  Fond development is always a good thing that seems to have been ignored by whoever developed this recipe.   The next instruction was “cook until chicken is done and then drain”.    WHAT??!!!   My soul screamed as I could see what little flavors those ingredients might have developed, as the chicken cooked, going down the drain.   I imagine that the folks at Cooking Light thought they were doing the readers a favor by saving a few calories on the oil that would normally be used to perform the chicken cooking step.   Cooking liquids are often very full of flavor and should not be tossed without a very good reason.   I saw no such reason here.

Even after modifying the recipe, and shamefully serving it to my family anyway trying to salvage what I knew was going to be a disaster, it still sucked.   The dish was very heavily unbalanced, tasting only of fish sauce and lime.   I tried to fix it by adding some things to sweeten it, make it a bit saltier, and add some umami.   Mirin and some medium sweet soy sauce (a variant of kecap manis) were added.   While the resulting dish was edible, it was a lost cause at the start that my meager skills as a “chef” could not save.   I can only imagine what the unmodified dish would have been like.   I am still shuddering at the thought.

So, when your brain tells you that a recipe is seriously flawed, do yourself a favor, listen to it and don’t cook it.   I could have done much better creating this recipe ad hoc from the depths of some severely damaged brain cells and still have been money ahead in this race.

I hope to never post such recipes here and take credit for them as my own.   This I pledge to you.

-Artorius

Ahhh, fondue.  Very few dishes I make scream to me luxury, deliciousness, and indulgence as much as fondue.  This one screams it pretty loud, and justifiably so.  Maybe this is why it doesn’t get made very often in my house; I’m lazy.  Indeed, it is fatty, heavily caloric (my fancy-pants word for fattening), doesn’t seem to trigger that “I’m full” response that tells you to stop eating, and is so INSANELY difficult to make.    Wait a second, maybe that last one isn’t so true.  In fact, it’s absolutely not true at all.  Making fondue isn’t one of those rocket-sciency cooking endeavors.

As with most dishes, most of the time-sink work on this one is in ingredient prep, but even that’s not so bad here.   If you can slice, chop, grate, and stir, you’re in good shape.

More »

I picked up these artichokes at the store today.   All I could think when I saw them was holy cow!   Of course, my next thought was YUM!   I’m going to steam these and serve them as a light side for a dinner-time rack of ribs that’s going into the smoker in the morning.    Now all I need to do is come up with a dipping sauce to go with these gargantuan, but hopefully tasty, leaves.

ChernobylChokes

This morning, there was a request for waffles for breakfast.  Because they tend to be labor intensive, I’m not often in the mood to tackle them first thing in the morning, but today there was energy in the morning air, so waffles sounded worth tackling.   The thought of chocolate waffles energized both the wife and the kid-lings, making the effort even more worthy of tackling.

This recipe was in our multiple volume “recipes to try” binders.   There were about four different waffle recipes in the to-try pile.   Two pumpkin waffle recipes, one chocolate, and one banana cinnamon competed for attention, but chocolate won out, well, because it’s chocolate.   Who am I to argue will the will of the universe?

This recipe I had in the to-try book was from a March 2012 copy of Food Network magazine.   Only sitting in the book(s) for two years before trying is actually a fairly short span for me.   This recipe should feel lucky <grin>.

More »

A friend of mine, after reading my post about Chicken & Cabbage soup,  commented about how awesome a beer cheese soup he’d tried was.   Since then, I have tasted, and seen prepared a few times, good beer cheese soups.   It got me thinking that I could do that, but do it with goat cheese.    I hadn’t seen anyone attempting a beer cheese soup using only goat cheeses and I knew such a thing could be done and likely be better than the ones made with cow cheese.   Quest accepted!

So, I went cheese shopping, looking for goat cheeses ranging from ultra soft and gooey, sharp and flavorful, to moderately firm, but melt-able.   If I’m looking for specialty goat cheese, my first port of call is usually a local chain called New Season’s Market.  They seem to hit a sweet spot that combines quality local food, mass-market offerings, and some hi-end “foodie chow” type stuff.   There is always something interesting in their cheese case.   For cheese variety selection close by, it was either New Season’s or Whole Foods, and I find that the selection of goat or sheep cheese seems to be slightly better at New Seasons, and a bit cheaper as well.  Trader Joe’s also seems to have a  small, but dependable, selection of goat and sheep cheese at very good prices. Our mainstay “Goat Gouda” comes from here for about $8/lb.  They’ve got a great goat brie as well.  I’d have tried TJ’s for the soup cheese, but I knew they weren’t going to have the flavors I was looking for.   Maybe on my next batch, I’ll use some of their down-to-earth goat cheese varietals and see what I end up with.

I found three cheeses that seemed to fit the bill at New Seasons:

More »