Some Things of Interest 12/3/13: Ritz Crackers and a Danger in Your Refridgerator You Might Not Know About. News at Eleven.



My fascination with Canadians and their food dates back to a family trip to Detroit almost twenty years ago. My brother and I crossed over to Windsor to order a bacon cheeseburger and see what we got. We wanted to know if Canadians called Canadian bacon “Canadian bacon” or just plain “bacon.” My honeymoon was spent eating our way through Vancouver and Victoria which, I should tell you, if you haven’t, do. I must admit to overlooking the fastidiousness with which Canadians go about balancing their meals. At least Canadians not named Kristin Barkiw of Rossburn, Manitoba, which is somewhere up there.

The lunch she packed for her two children, roast beef with carrots, potatoes, milk and an orange, missed the mark of 1 milk, 1 meat, 1 grain, and 2 fruits/vegetable by a grain, so unlike a Big Mac – two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion, on a sesame seed bun – did not meet the requirements set down by her chosen day care facility and left her subject to a fine of $5 per child. Not to be left grainless, the day care supplemented the kid’s meal with Ritz crackers, and here the trouble begins. As James Lileks points out in his “Athwart” column in the recent National Review, the choice of Ritz crackers is particularly provocative. As the plural of Ritz is Ritz and there are two children involved we are left unsure how many butter filled processed grain wafers are required to raise the nutritional value of left over roast beef, carrots, potatoes, an orange, and some milk to that of a Big Mac. One? Three? Half? Perfidy!

Turkey LeftoversFive days in and we still have a long way to go. Seven adults and two children had a go at the beast on Thanksgiving night. Days of snacking, various meals, and a carcass devouring soup have already claimed their shares and still a mighty pile remains. Tonight, pulled meat with turkey stock and Scriracha. It won’t make a dent. In my Google quest to find something interesting to do with the remains I came across this surprising article warning against keeping left over turkey in the fridge for more than three or four days lest it bacterialize you. Confident that the warning came from someone who owns a “Roadtrip for Ralph ’08″ t-shirt, assuming they haven’t all spontaneously biodegraded by now, I searched for refutation. Nope. No Corvair here. Thanksgiving Turkey, per the experts, is bad by Monday. To put that in perspective, say your attempt to have The Best Christmas Ever! via a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale results in a broken arm and possible concussion requiring observation. By the time you are released from the hospital your bird is likely contaminated. No leftovers? That’s not America. At least not as our founders saw it. I say this because I plan on eating the rest of this bird and there is no way I’m finishing tonight. I know that I go on blogging hiatus for weeks or months, but I intend to keep at it for the next little while, so in case you don’t hear from me in the next few days, assume the worst.

The University of Notre Dame is not Mario Batali. Is it just me or does it seem like he should have at least one if not two more consonants in his last name. Turns out it was prudence rather than greed that delayed payment. As of this afternoon, Legends of Notre Dame, a bar owned by the university has released two $5,000 tips to two of their bartenders. An anonymous benefactor has made a habit of stamping receipts with @tipsforjesus and tipping $3,000 and $7,000 in Michigan and $5,000 twice in one place on the same day near Notre Dame and tips in the thousands popping up all over the country. Suspicion leans toward the patron being a college football fan as college football fans are inherently noble. Also, the receipts pop up in towns around the time they host “major” (for the non-SEC fan at least, which is cute) college football games. But back to Legend’s of Notre Dame, why can I get “Irish Nachos” but there’s no Shepherd’s Pie?

Etc. Damn, that was a sexy press conference… Because you can’t put a price on, wait. What?… How is it alive? How?… The good life in action.

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Let’s Just Super Size It To A Billiondy-Million

Wilfred Scott McDonaldThis Thursday, strangely on the anniversary of no people’s anything that I can find, America’s fast food workers, we are told, will rise as one in cities across the nation to decry their meager wages and make the case that fast food employees deserve a minimum wage of $15 and hour. tells us that “Raising pay for fast food workers will benefit workers and strengthen the overall economy.” Service Employees International Union’s web site tells us “I’ve told friends and family on Facebook about my “success story” with the Affordable Care Act, and several friends have emailed me for more information about how to sign up.” So priorities are fleeting. No doubt the ACA defacto mandated 29 hour work week will bring them round these parts again. There is a mention of support for Wal-Mart workers hope for higher pay on the home page, but no direct tie in to the fast food issue despite the New York Times mention of the SEIU’s backing. Continue reading

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Recipe: Simple Piperade (Pronounced Like Gatorade)

Of course he's not tired. He's had his Piperade.

Of course he’s not tired. He’s had his Piperade.

When I was in high school my friends and I held deeply rooted opinions about incredibly stupid things. Thankfully, age has refined and focused our scope of interest. We are now serious adults with serious adult opinions about serious adult stuff. But when we were younger, we actually argued about who was the best rock guitarist. Jimmy Hendrix? Jimmy Page? There was always some outcast with greasy bangs who would bring up Steve Via, but you know… kids. The argument usually boiled down to Jimmy Page and wild abandon vs. Eric Clapton and controlled precision. Was it more impressive to bang away and play a few bars with your teeth like Page or acknowledge limits and work to impress within them like Clapton? As with all high school debates, it was a zero sum game. All or nothing. An adult can acknowledge the charms of both a Page-like high alcohol, highly extracted zinfandel and Clapton-like restrained, refined Bordeaux without triggering a brain swelling conflict event. Not so an adolescent. Opposing opinions take root in the youthful cortex and volley back and forth with notional mortars and grenades until one side, sensing imminent defeat, launches an all out attempt to escape the head entirely. That’s what causes zits.

This is a really long way of saying that Basque cooking is Eric Clapton. It’s all eggs and paprika. So when I tell you that this Basque dish, Piperade, has eggs and paprika, you should hum a few bars of “Walk Out In The Rain” instead of calling me Captain Obvious. So yes, it’s a simple dish. But it’s damned good. Backless good. Continue reading

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SI Makes Us Wait For Sex, Drugs and College Football One-ups The Mob

SI accuses OSU of using sex to sell their program.

SI accuses OSU of using sex to sell their program.

Sports Illustrated just published part one and the overview of a five part series detailing alleged improprieties committed by the Oklahoma State University football program over roughly the last decade and the football world went gaga. Hat tip to SI for serializing. Hook us with salacious tales and them bore us with dollars and cents. Part 1: Money was released Tuesday. Part 2: Academics came out Yesterday. Merely appetizers. In the overview we were tantalized by revelations that members of the hostess program gave it their all while players used and dealt drugs. Here comes Part 3: Sex today and Part 4: Drugs on Friday. The weekend is looking up.

Sports Illustrated, seemingly has made up its mind as to the veracity of the evidence they have so far put forth. Of former OSU assistants Joe DeForest and Larry Porter, “DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, who was running backs coach from 2002 to ’04, also made straight payments to players.” That’s not the tentative statement of a multi-million dollar publishing entity with what would be assumed a Manhattan skyscraper floor’s worth of legal advice/warnings. No “allegedly.” No “according to witnesses.” X did Y. That doesn’t mean SI is right. It does mean they are confident in this article. Continue reading

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Let’s Talk About Parsley.

Ex-ParrotIf you have ever seriously considered murdering a parrot, this might be the most important blog post you ever read. According to The Food Encyclopedia, parsley is “poisonous to most birds and lethal to birds in the parrot family.” Here’s the best part. The Kitchen Physician puts forth the contradictory notion that parsley is not only not poisonous to birds, it’s practically a panacea. There is no downside for the would-be bird killer here. Continue reading

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No Longer In Repose

Tom Bagby from Substrate Radio's GET SOME!

Tom Bagby from Substrate Radio’s GET SOME!

I let the blog go. I even let the domain lapse. Had you been a bit more alert, gentle reader, you could have usurped my domain name and ruled in your own right, but you had your chance. I’m back to sing the praises of Dutch ovens, rosés, the Oxford comma, and anchovies to my heart’s content. My return is partly inspired by the most welcome return of Confluent Kitchen, partly intoxicated/deluded by the same urge to be heard that stokes and stocks town hall meetings, op-eds, and any event where one person stands on a stage and the word “slam” is somewhere on the promotional flier, and partly driven by my on-the-cusp-of-seven-year-old’s suggestion that I use my blog to tell the world that a second door handle on my Hyundai came off in my hand and Hyundai won’t come across with one penny to fix what their maintenance guys say is a faulty part (this is really a thing) that costs around $220 with installation so “no one will ever buy a Honda, I mean Hyundai, again.” Really I just missed writing about food, wine, football, and poets who drink themselves to death.

Not a huge blog post to (re)start things off, but if you want to tune your browser, I’ll be on the web station Substrate Radio tonight as a guest on Tom Bagby’s GET SOME! We’ll be reminiscing about restaurant days, drinking beer, tasting cheese, discussing food writing, and listening to what I’m told will be a jazzy diversion from the show’s usual alternative, metal, punk, or generally harder than jazz roots. The show is 7-9 Central so that means 8-10 Eastern, 6-8 Mountain, and sometime shortly after one of those long lunches I imagine Walter Becker types indulge in in California where the subject of conversation flows without shame from vineyards to infidelities to tax shelters to cocaine. This is my first time in any type of broadcast booth so the potential for disaster is very real. I’m taking solace in the fact that Tom has done the show solo to great result so I can hide in a corner if need be. Anyway, tune in if you get the chance.

UPDATE 9/5/13: Pod cast to be available tomorrow at

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Good People Brewing Co. Collectivelly Sell Souls to Devil, Gets Baseball Park Built Across Street

IMG_3473It seems too good to be true: a small Birmingham craft brewery looking to make it big moves to an out of the way warehouse in Alabama, a state peculiarly unfriendly to beer makers and just downright rude to beer drinkers. Before them obstacles fall and opportunities arise. The City of Birmingham green lights a plan to build a new 8,500 seat stadium for AA baseball’s Birmingham Barons directly across the street from them. The pro-beer organization Free The Hops successfully lobbies the state legislature to pass The Brewery Modernization Act allowing them to open a tasting room bar in the brewery itself. Luck? Insider knowledge? Well placed bribes? Shrewd business sense? On condition of anonymity, a Good People Brewery employee gives a glimpse of those behind an ambitious brewery on the cusp of realizing their dreams.

“It has to be about the beer,” says our insider, Qfwfq (not his real name). “The beer has to come first. If you skimp on ingredients, if you take shortcuts, you fail yourself and you fail your customers. Early on… we were learning as we went so, sure, we played up the Good People ethos,” he continued. “Not exactly ‘oh shucks’ or anything like that, but we knew there would be mistakes in the beginning so we adopted an attitude that said to our customers ‘Look, we make great beer, but the scope of this thing is new to us. We will fuck something up, but we are on the lookout and whatever mistakes we make, we’ll fix.’ People understand that. If you let them know where you are headed and demonstrate that you are on the path, they forgive the occasional foamy keg or sour ale.” He pulled on his cigarette and looked at me with earnest eyes. “We made it this far and can see even brighter days coming. We have a product we are really excited about, experience, and a tried and true process that consistently scores us high caliber brews. We are where we want to be now, but I really feel like it was our ability to convey our goals to our customers that kept us afloat in the early days. As a back up, we sold our souls to Satan, our Dark Lord and Master.” Continue reading

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Literary Cravings Part The Second: Oxtail and Barley Soup

Game of ThronesAs I have mentioned before on these electronic pages, I have no defense against a well written description of food. I want what the characters in the book I’m reading are eating and I want it regardless of season, availability, or health implications. There are limits. I don’t see myself salivating over any passages containing sensibility shocking words like “mayonnaise” or “mustard” but I can scarce imagine any author of talent jarring their readers with such grotesques any more than I would expect them to us the phrase “genital warts” when describing a love scene. Doesn’t work (even in a parenthetical).

I am currently reading the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (“R.R.” apparently being to creators of immersive epic fantasy what “Earl(e)” was to killers over the last couple of centuries). Continue reading

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Lenten Friday Recipe: Marcella Hazan’s Fish In Crazy Water

Medieval PoachingThis is an interesting take on sous vide done with out the wrap in a process called “poaching.” The practice of poaching began in the Late Middle Ages when peasants were banned from hunting wild animals, such pursuits being reserved for the nobility. Although poaching the King’s deer or pheasants was punishable by death in many places, the practice proved nearly irresistible to the peasant classes, enamored as they were of eating game in this fashion.

Poaching continues to this day, though is mostly limited to reserves or protected areas of Asia and Africa. Occasionally a case of poaching is prosecuted in the United States. Best to check your local ordinances before trying out this Italian classic from Marcella Hazan. Continue reading

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Hangovers, Scotsmen, and a Certain Team That Won A Certain National Championship Game Last Night

Glaswegian cough syrup.

Glaswegian cough syrup.

When you wake up with a hangover, the first thing to attempt to bring into focus is that you probably had a good time the night before. Of course there are hangovers that follow bad things like the passing of friends, divorces, or the election of a Democrat, but more common in my experience are hangovers preceded by wonderful things: weddings, holiday gatherings with friends and family, or increasingly, the victory of your favorite college football team in the BCS National Championship Game.

I can’t speak for everyone as different fan-bases experience different emotions and have different reactions over the course of a given season, but fans of a certain team which I won’t mention out of respect to the rest of the college football world have got to be saying to themselves, “Damn. This is the third hangover I’ve had in four years. Why does my team keep doing this to me? Do we have to be champions so often?” It’s getting to be a real inconvenience and one that is not likely to go away. I read several articles about the team this morning and the word “Dynasty” appeared prominently in most of them. What is a fan to do? Continue reading

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