Mentioend last year - the turducken of deserts - pumpecapple piecake. Three full pies baked into an object that weighs in at nearly 24 pounds. Sure its $175, but its less than $7.50 a pound and will make a lasting impresson on the recipient as well as their waistline.
He went on, “I recently saw a retired executive of an international company. He got a life coach to help him, and one of the pieces of advice the coach gave him was to get on a gluten-free diet. A life coach is prescribing a gluten-free diet. So do podiatrists, chiropractors, even psychiatrists.’’ He stopped, stood up, shook his head as if he were about to say something he shouldn’t, then shrugged and sat down again. “A friend of mine told me his wife was seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety and depression. And one of the first things the psychiatrist did was to put her on a gluten-free diet. This is getting out of hand. We are seeing more and more cases of orthorexia nervosa”—people who progressively withdraw different foods in what they perceive as an attempt to improve their health. “First, they come off gluten. Then corn. Then soy. Then tomatoes. Then milk. After a while, they don’t have anything left to eat—and they proselytize about it. Worse is what parents are doing to their children. It’s cruel and unusual treatment to put a child on a gluten-free diet without its being indicated medically. Parental perception of a child’s feeling better on a gluten-free diet is even weaker than self-perception.”
The initial appeal, and potential success, of a gluten-free diet is not hard to understand, particularly for people with genuine stomach ailments. Cutting back on foods that contain gluten often helps people reduce their consumption of refined carbohydrates, bread, beer, and other highly caloric foods. When followed carefully, those restrictions help people lose weight, particularly if they substitute foods like quinoa and lentils for the starches they had been eating. But eliminating gluten is complicated, inconvenient, and costly, and data suggest that most people don’t do it for long.
The diet can also be unhealthy. “Often, gluten-free versions of traditional wheat-based foods are actually junk food,’’ Green said. That becomes clear after a cursory glance at the labels of many gluten-free products. Ingredients like rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch are often used as replacements for white flour. But they are highly refined carbohydrates, and release at least as much sugar into the bloodstream as the foods that people have forsaken. “Our patients have jumped on this bandwagon and largely left the medical community wondering what the hell is going on,’’ Green said.
“You know, people are always dropping off samples of gluten-free products at our office. And when I eat them I regret it. I get heartburn. I feel nauseous. Because what are the things that sell food? Salt, sugar, fat, and gluten. If the makers take one away, then they add more of another to keep it attractive to people. If you don’t have celiac disease, then these diets are not going to help you.” People seem to forget that a gluten-free cake is still a cake.
this time the fruit (via The New York Times) A remarkable cataloging of American apple types - most are gone, but perhaps amateur efforts can spot forgotten trees still growing.
Sadly only about a dozen varieties are readily available. The article lists sources for seeds, but the reward isn't immediate:-)
Hat tip to Cynthia for pointing this out. She recommends Apples of Unknown Character by Rowan Jacobsen (hardcover, Kindle and iBook versions) - a look at more apple varieties than you're likely to encounter even if you frequent rare apple festivals.
Cast iron pots are heavy. They can rust. The dark black seasoning will not stand up to hours of simmering if the liquid is acidic, like tomato sauce or sauerkraut. And once the seasoning layer is broached, excess iron can leak out of the pot into your food, risking iron overload disease. Thermal conductivity is eight times lower than copper, which is why cast iron fry pans are notorious for hot spots. The surface is mildly non-stick, but requires a bit of oil or fat to reach its full potential. Cast iron can be cleaned, but not aggressively. And I never use my cast iron pots to cook caramel or make crepes or to scrape off a tasty "fond".
A much superior technology is a laminate of durable stainless over an inner copper heat spreading layer, and a second generation Teflon non-stick film bonded to the cooking surface. Eggs slide out with no added fats, and brown uniformly from edge to edge. Burned sugar pops off in an acrid sheet. Home fries crust perfectly and are nearly greaseless. The stainless never rusts and can be scrubbed aggressively. Not to mention lightweight.
But Teflon has one Achilles heel- above 400F or so, Teflon breaks down and releases a number of fluorinated organic compounds which are dangerous in small doses. The seasoning on a cast iron pot will also break down at high temps, and while the actual compounds have not been carefully tested for toxicity, they are likely to be no worse than a bit of barbecue smoke. Which is to say toxic, but only in high doses.
So I use my cast iron pots on the grill. Under the broiler. Over a fire. For deep frying and steak searing. And every once in a while, when things get out of control, the seasoning pops up or burns off. But the pan is just as easily repaired, and soon as good as new.
This is why I took the time to develop a particularly effective seasoning technique. But to understand how this method works, a bit of background on non-stick surfaces is in order.