Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome to My World's - Miyuki Hatoyam

Those crazy, fun kids.  Of course were are speaking of Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama and his lovely bride
Miyuki Hatoyam.
She's got it all,  a life-style guru, a macrobiotics enthusiast, an author, a retired actress, television personality, and a designer of her own creations, including a skirt made from Hawaiian coffee sacks.
But there is so much more to her.  As busy as she is, she found time to travel to the planet Venus, and if that wasn't enough, she was even abducted by aliens.  Where does she find the time?
“While my body was sleeping, I think my spirit flew on a triangular-shaped UFO to Venus,” she said. “It was an extremely beautiful place and was very green.”
The 62-year old, um, traveler, also knew Tom Cruise in another life – that's when he was Japanese.
She is  looking forward to making a Hollywood movie with him. "I believe he'd get it if I said to him, 'Long time no see', when we meet," she said.
“He was Japanese in his past life, and we were together so when I see him, I will say ‘Hi, it’s been a long time’ and he will immediately understand,”

But back to food.  Known for her lively TV cooking demonstrations, where she dances and juggles food, Miyuki has authored several popular cookbooks including "Hatoyama Miyuki's Spiritual Food" with Hawaiian macrobiotic recipes and "Welcome to Hatoyama’s Kitchen."
Mrs. Hatoyama also tells us that she eats the sun...for energy.
“I eat the sun,” Miyuki says, raising her arms as if to tear pieces off an imaginary sun. “Like this: yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy.”

Woman Gets Mad - Eats Goldfish

Our story begins as a Houston woman has this fight with her former common-law husband, and things start getting crazy.
Police say the husband reported that the woman took the goldfish from his apartment.

Apparently, this wacky couple argued earlier about some jewelry the man had given her, but took back, and she wanted the jewelry returned. About this time all hell breaks lose and she decides it's time to start frying up the goldfish.

The seven goldfish were purchased together by the couple during their happier times.
When officers showed up at the woman's home they found four fried goldfish on a plate.
The woman said she already ate the other three.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dentist To buy back Halloween Candy

A West Chester dentist is offering to buy back Halloween candy trick-or-treaters get in a bid to improve children's health.
Dr. George Downing will pay a dollar per pound for up to five pounds of candy per person.
Dr.Downing will sent the candy to deployed soldiers,
(to destroy their teeth and health) while improving the oral care of children and preventing childhood obesity.
Why do we think a Halloween tax is not too far away?

Halloween Candied Apples

What's Halloween without candied apples?
Blood red, a touch of spice and the tart taste of the Autumn harvest.

Here's what you need:
2      cups granulated sugar
2      cups corn syrup
1/3   cup cinnamon candy
1      cup water
3/4   teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon  vanilla
1/4   teaspoon ground cloves
3/4   teaspoon red food coloring
6      medium size apples

Remove stems from apples, wash, and wipe them dry.
Stick a wooden skewer in each apple, running it through the
apple almost to the end of the base without stick out the other end.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon candies, and water in a saucepan.
Cook until it all  dissolves, stirring constantly.
Don't let it come to a boil.
Add the cinnamon, vanilla, ground cloves, and food coloring.
Mix thoroughly.
Using a candy thermometer, boil the mixture to 300 degrees  without stirring.
While mixture is boiling, generously spray a baking sheet with a non-stick spray, just to get ready.
When the mixture reaches 300 degrees, remove it from heat and quickly dip each apple, one at a time, into the mixture until it is thoroughly coated. Set the coated apples on their bottoms with the skewer pointing up, on baking sheet until mixture hardens.
Let apples reach room temperature.

Halloween Food Art

As we get closer to Halloween we will be sharing impressive offerings like this:


Pet-food Industry Thrives in Weak Economy

Even with rising unemployment, credit-card debt and cautious spending,  pet owners love their pets and remain faithful to an industry that continues to grow.
The pet-food business is given life by customers who aren't afraid to spend money on food and necessities for their animals, even though are willing to cut spending on themselves.
For all of us who have pets, you have probably noticed price increases in nearly every pet-food category, yet it hasn't stopped consumers.
Perhaps Dogs and cats are getting fewer new toys or accessories and not as many visits to the groomer but
total sales of all pet products gone over $45 billion this year, a 5 percent increase, and retail sales of pet food are up 4.5 percent in 2009 at about $18 billion.

Starbucks in an Instant

Starbucks predicts that their new brand of instant coffee, called VIA "will change the way people drink coffee.  We've heard talk like this before.
"With a $21 billion global instant coffee business, and instant coffee representing 40% of overall global coffee sales, we believe Starbucks is uniquely positioned to capture a significant share of this market," said Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, in a statement.
As we have discussed in earlier posts, Starbucks has been in the coffee wars with rivals such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's as coffee drinkers have become more price-conscious.
We don't want to necessarily be the barriers of bad news for Starbucks,  but coffee purists generally look down on instant coffee because it's regarded as inferior compared to brewed.
Starbucks proclaims Via is made with 100% natural roasted arabica coffee and that it took 20 years to develop with a microgrind technology that preserves the taste of fresh coffee.

Via is sold in packs of three cup-sized servings for $2.95 or $9.95 for a 12 pack.

Starbucks has partnered with a number of other companies that could benefit from Via's travel friendly package. The instant brew will be available on United Airlines  flights of more than two hours, and at Omni and Marriott  hotels.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shrunken Heads for Halloween

There is nothing more filled with mystery and imagination than the sight of a shrunken head.
(no, that is not Barbara Walters next to the apple)

Start by peeling large apples and then coating them in the lemon juice and salt mixture. This helps reduce the browning of the apple. 
Using a knife carve out a face with eyes and nose. Keep it simple, a holes for the eyes and nose and mouth.  

With the paring knife, carve exaggerated facial features, such as deep-set eyes and crooked, gnarling mouths. Start by making basic outline cuts and then just gouge the pieces out–and fortunately, the less pretty it is, the better it looks at the end!

It's time to "pickle" your apple.
Immerse it in a solution of  ½ cup of salt mixed with about 4-6 cups of water.

Adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of lemon juice will keep it from oxidizing.
Let it soak for 24 hours. 
It’s important to leave them in long enough, or they won’t preserve as well, mold is not the look we’re going for here!
If you live where it's humid,  your apple shrunken head may tends to rot instead of drying, so let's move things up a bit by placing it on the center rack of a warm oven 200 degrees, until dry.
Dry the apple in the oven at the lowest heat for around 4 hours.
After drying in the oven, put in a cool, dry place for a few days to continue the drying process.
As the moisture evaporates, the apple will shrink and turn brown.

For some heads try using rice (teeth) or staples, this make it look like they were stitched, weren't shrunken heads mouths generally stitched up? Otherwise, we like left gaping mouths look as well. 

We will not be held responsible for anyone with homicidal  tendencies.  Shrink only apples, what we have discussed here is not how to shrink another person's head.  Just use good judgment!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Paula Deen on the View

Paula Deen's visit to The View to promote her cookbook for school kids was priceless. Paula may wear thin (pardon that expression) but she did well on the view.
The book is, Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunch-Box Set.   The best thing was watching these ladies just having fun with a table full of food, just look at their plates.  But it was Barbara Walters who looked like that horrible relative nobody likes — just watch her, displaying her displeasure with the thought of having to actually speak to Paula.
It bcomes funny, Barbara with all her superiority, says with great disdain,
"Let me act like your mother... This is a cookbook for kids. Obesity is the number one problem for kids today. Everything you have here is enormously fattening. You tell kids to have cheesecake for breakfast, you tell them to have chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch and french fries... Doesn't it bother you that you're adding to it?"

Watch the 7 minute video:

Gordon Ramsay loses temper after being asked if he still cooks

Gordon Ramsay reaches his boiling point on the BBC Breakfast show after Bill Turnbull asked if the chef actually still cooked.

Ramsay was on the show promoting his new Red Nose Day sauces when Bill asked him if it was still possible to get something cooked by the chef himself.
Fuming, Ramsay said that one would not expect clothes designers to stitch every garment.
He said: "When you go and spend £500 on an Armani suit and you are happy with it, you don't ask the lady at the desk whether it was Georgio himself who stitched it.
"I know the confidence I have in my team, in fact we have been together for over 10 years - how can you propel talent if you don't expose them."
The celebrity chef became further enraged when Turnbull  asked if he actually produced anything in the kitchen himself, to which Ramsay shot back: 'Of course I still cook.'
He said: "You sound sad. I am 42 years of age. I have been at the stove for 21 years, I want a life outside my kitchen, sorry.
"Would you like me to polish your shoes Bill, come on, get a life."

Eat, Drink and be Merry for Free at The Fat Duck

Chef Heston Blumenthal has washed his hands (so to speak) of  responsibility for the infection that caused 529 customers to vomit and suffer diarrhea all over the place after eating  at the Fat Duck in January and February.
The good news? He is inviting them back for a free meal.
“I am relieved to be able to finally offer my fullest apologies to all those who were affected by the outbreak at the Fat Duck,” Blumenthal said  in an e-mailed statement. “It was extremely frustrating to not be allowed to personally apologize to my guests until now,” he said. “I wish to invite them all to return to the Fat Duck at their convenience.”
"It was deeply upsetting to all of us that your enjoyment of The Fat Duck was not as we had intended it to be," he said in the letter. "I would be delighted if you would consider returning to The Fat Duck at a time that is convenient to you."
He adds: "If this is not appropriate to you personally, please contact us and we will address each individual situation with our insurers."
Chef Blumenthal  wanted to write to the diners months ago, but the collective heads of his lawyers and insurance people almost exploded  advising him against it.
The Health Protection Agency said in a report last month that they were hit by norovirus, also known as the "winter vomiting bug," (the what?) and that it was probably introduced by contaminated shellfish.
The restaurant, located in the village of Bray, west of London, reopened in March. Diners can choose from a variety of dishes, including a multi-course, at only  $208 per person.

The Autumn Passage - HALLOWEEN

Halloween, one of the world's oldest holidays, (and one of our favorites) and is celebrated throughout the world.  This autumn passage is a tradition, All Souls' Day, the third day of the three-day Hallowmas observance, is the most important part of the celebration for many people.
As we discussed in an earlier post, the word, "Halloween," actually began its origins from within in the Catholic Church. It comes from a perversion of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" or "All Saints Day, is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain which means "end of summer", the Celtic New year.

This time let's take a closer look at some of the customs and how they may have started.

Trick for Treat

There are probably several origins to this. During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks and cause panic and destruction.  So, the local folks would give the Druids food as they visited their homes as an "protection offering" of sorts.
There's also an Irish peasant practice going door to door to collect money, breadcake, cheese, eggs, butter, apples, in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.
Additionally, there is a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2nd, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The idea here was, the more soul cakes collected, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the "soul cake" givers. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and this prayer, even by strangers, could move things along for the soul's passage to heaven.

Halloween is also known for "barnbrack", something like a fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home.  As the story goes, this cake, can foretell the eater's future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that you would have a prosperous year.

Bobbing for Apples

Some say the custom of bobbing for apples dates all the way back to pre-Christian Ireland and the festival of Samhain. It has also been associated with Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fruits, trees, and gardens, in whose honor a festival was supposedly held each year on November first, even though there seems to be  evidence to support any of this,  and it appears to stand on shaky historical ground.
We do know for certainty that the practice of bobbing for apples goes back at least a few hundred years, beginning in the British Isles and that it originally had something to do with fortune telling.
British author W. H. Davenport Adams, wrote about bobbing for apples  in his 1902 book, Curiosities of Superstition:
[The apples] are thrown into a tub of water, and you endeavor to catch one in your mouth as they bob round and round in provoking fashion. When you have caught one, you peel it carefully, and pass the long strip of peel thrice, sunwise, round your head; after which you throw it over your shoulder, and it falls to the ground in the shape of the initial letter of your true love's name

The Witch's Broomstick

The name comes from the Saxon wica, meaning wise one. When setting out for a Sabbath, witches rubbed a sacred ointment onto their skin. This gave them a feeling of flying, and if they had been fasting they felt even giddier. Some witches rode on horseback, but poor witches went on foot and carried a broom or a pole to aid in vaulting over streams. In England when new witches were initiated they were often blindfolded, smeared with flying ointment and placed on a broomstick. The ointment would confuse the mind, speed up the pulse and numb the feet.
The "insane root" which Shakespeare spoke of is a member of the Mandrake (yes, just like Harry Potter) and other plants of the nightshade family. They contain alkaloids that block nerve impulses, which may lead to hallucinations. There are those who think the witches ointment may have something to do with plant species.


Irish children used to carve out potatoes or turnips and light them for their Halloween gatherings. They celebrated Jack, a shifty Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the Devil wanted him. Rejected by both the sacred and profane, he wandered the world endlessly looking for a place to rest, his only warmth a glittering candle in a rotten turnip.
During the  Irish Potato Famine (1845-50) many Irish immigrated to the Americas. These immigrants brought  their traditions of Halloween and Jack o'Lanterns, but turnips were not as readily available as back home. So they replaced the turnip with, you guessed it, the pumpkin.
Halloween  Mask

From the beginning people wore masks when natural disasters struck. They believed that the demons who had brought these disasters would be frightened away by the scary masks. Even after the festival of Samhain had merged with Halloween, Europeans felt uneasy during this time of the year. Food was stored preparing for the winter and their homes were warm and comfortable. The jealous, cold, envious ghosts were outside, in the neighborhoods and people who went out after dark often wore masks to keep from being recognized.

Black Cats

Here in the Voodoo Kitchen we are partial to black cats, we have five.
While the fall festival of Samhain which was celebrated by the ancient Celts of Ireland and is the ancestor of our present day Halloween, it did not however involve sorcery or devil worship.
Samhain did involve a belief that Oct 31st, which marked the changing of the season from summer to fall, and during a brief time the natural barrier between our world and the spirit world was temporarily lifted allowing spirits of the dead to return. Once back in the world many believed that the spirits of the dead would enter the bodies of people and animals and, for some reason, a myth became a belief  that returning spirits were attracted to black cats.
There really was no connection between black cats and witches until the Puritans came to America.
The deeply religious Puritans who settled in the New England colonies saw the devil and evil everywhere. Because of their association with witches, black cats were also looked upon as evil and therefore, were not to be tolerated. While the poor women accused of witchcraft in seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts and neighboring colonies, were at least given a trial before being executed, the poor black cats didn't even get a trial.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Samhain: The Real Halloween

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain,  Its an Iish gaelic word and depending on where in Ireland it can be prenounced as sow an, soow an, or sow en.
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To celebrate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and told each others fortunes. When the celebrationended, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
Modern Traditions

The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.
The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

We will bring more Halloween in the days to come.

Devine's Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch

We love Halloween and any group that goes the extra mile when harvest time arrives deserves all the publicity they can get.  We found Devine's and thought you should know about it.  Pictured below is the corn maze.

Devine's Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch, It's finally here! 
Opening weekend for Devine's Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch! 
Sept. 25-Oct. 31. 
Make plans now to bring the family out for some great farm fun! 
10 acres of corn mazes, petting area, hay ride, pumpkin patch, kid's activity area, bonfire with free marshmallow roasting, and much more! 
Come on out to the farm!  We have tons to do and fun for all ages. Come get lost in the corn maze, pet the critters, go through the hay maze, straw crawl, and pick a pumpkin. We have games and activities around every post. Visit Halloween weekend for trick or treating or if you dare go through the "Field of Terror"! They will be waiting. Open Fridays 6 until midnight and Saturdays 10 a.m. until midnight. Call for group rates. Groups of 50 or more may schedule a weekly visit. Come out and see us this fall!
It's fun for all ages! 
Hope to see you there!

623 Talmage-Mayo Road
Harrodsburg, KY, 40330


"can't tell if it's a worm, brains, or something else altogether"

This photo and post was discovered on Flickr last month but we didn't run with it because there is no way to establish truth here.
But then we kept looking at the photo and decided to allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Here's the post:   Found this "thing" in a piece of thigh meat that I got at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Marshfield, MO - can't tell if it's a worm, brains, or something else altogether.

The store manager tried to tell me that it was nothing and was quick to grab it from my hands and throw it away. Offered me a free piece to replace it ... yeah, right ... last time I'll ever step foot in KFC ever again. Even tried to contact their corporate office to file a complaint and never get a response.

This is a huge health concern for me ... What is this? How many people ate this? Nasty, KFC, nasty!

To see the entire set for Jtolber photos 

Inmates Swine Flu Hand Gel - Shaken Not Stirred

Imagine their delight when Inmates discovered  what officials had overlooked.
So, of course the inmates took advantage of this oversight and have been drinking  liquid hand gel after they realized it contained alcohol.
Some men apparently drank the stuff straight, while others mixed it with sugar and fruit to make even better tasting.
The whole idea was to fight the threat of swine flu in the Verne Prison
(seen below) on Portland, Dorset.

However, instead of rubbing it into their hands, inmates  have been placing their mouths over the dispensers and consuming it.

Prison officers suddenly had their hands full with a number of drunken convicts, then the brawl erupted.

Apparently, one prisoner became aggressive after a mouthful of  gel and started a fist fight with another inmate.
As a result, no more happy hour, all dispensers has removed from the prison. 

A similar thing happened at the the Dorset County Hospital in nearby Dorchester after vagrants wandered in and started drinking it.Those dispensers have been removed as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

GREEN ONIONS - It's Salmonella

Two California produce shippers have recalled thousands of cases of green onions from an onion farm in Mexicali, Mexico, because the onions could be contaminated with salmonella.   Agriculture inspectors found salmonella in a routine test taken in New York last month.
Officials notified the shipper, Salinas-based Steinbeck Country Produce.
The company issued a voluntary recall Aug. 28 for 3,360 cartons.
Steinbeck's produce was distributed in California, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, New York, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Arizona.

Castroville-based shipper Ocean Mist Farms recalled 1,746 cases as well, after realizing they came from the same lot. (they didn't even know where the onions originated from initially)
Nor would they say where it's onions were distributed.
We find it odd that Ocean Mist didn't want to say where the shipments went.  So, we went to their website instead to see how they view the world:
At Ocean Mist Farms, we take a “farm-to-fork” approach when it comes to food safety. Our goal is to provide the highest quality and safest vegetables possible — and safety begins on the farm. (the one in Mexicali, Mexico) By implementing an effective Good Agricultural Practices program (GAP) on the farm, (the one in Mexicali, Mexico) and focusing on prevention, we are able to provide products that are free of microbial, chemical and physical contaminants.
Through our rigorous food-safety principles and procedures, Ocean Mist Farms is able to provide our customers and consumers with not only the best quality products, but also products that are wholesome, nutritious, and safe.

U.S. delayed telling schools about tainted food and recalls

"The check is in the mail", one of the big lies something akin to "My dog ate my homework," it's an excuse you gave when you had no excuse.

Then of course there was,
"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

The federal government has once again lived up to that famous lie by failing to inform schools of recalls and suspected tainted food,  putting millions of schoolchildren at risk of food poisoning over the last two years.

The recalled foods included salmonella-tainted peanut products linked to the deaths of at least nine people, said the report, which was completed last month by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
The GAO said it did not have any data on how many children may have been sickened by he food they ate at school, but it said it had confirmed that “some affected commodities were served to schoolchildren after holds and recalls were announced.” The findings raise “concerns about the safety of foods served in schools and the welfare of schoolchildren,” the report said.
While food items that are being pulled from grocery store shelves across the country they are still being served to millions of schoolchildren.

Nearly 4,000 products produced by Peanut Corp. of America, which were recalled this year for possible salmonella contamination. Schools in Arkansas, California, Idaho and Minnesota received some of the recalled products directly through the school meal program; in addition, peanut butter was shipped to a further processor, which distributed the products to other states.

More than 143 million pounds of meat from ill cattle that had been sold over two years by Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which were pulled early last year in the biggest food recall in U.S. history. About 50 million pounds of suspect ground beef was provided to more than 7,000 school districts in 46 states and the District of Columbia before and after the recall.

Canned vegetables produced by New Era Canning Co., which were recalled from December 2007 to February 2008 because of possible botulism contamination. Schools in in 37 states received the products.

Food and Nutrition Service officials “told us it was not their responsibility to check on the effectiveness” of the recalls in the review, saying “they relied on their regulatory partners ... to conduct these quality checks,” the GAO said.
“As a result, they were unable to ensure that the recalls were being carried out effectively by schools,” it said.
Afterward, some schools reported that they could not find landfills that would accept large quantities of recalled products.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Suicide Prevention - Butter

In southeast China there is thousand-foot-long bridge and it is providing an essential lesson on suicide prevention.
Authorities have coated the bridge with butter in order to discourage suicide attempts and the messy traffic jams they cause. The buttery spread surfaces are too slippery for even the most desperate person to climb.
The bridge has been a favorite spot for people looking to finalize things, and officials wanted to discourage the practice. They have put up fences, stationed guards at each end, but nothing worked.
It was time to bring in the butter and give that a try, after all butter isn't all that popular among the Chinese.

And what's the old saying, "want not, waste not."

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Barbaric Weight Loss Tongue Patch

The barbaric weight-loss treatment also known as the "Chugay Tongue Patch," a postage-stamp-sized piece of mesh that is surgically attached to your tongue to make eating painful.
The tongue patch, which is supposedly all the rave in Southern California  (that would explain why all of 10 people already have it)  stays in your mouth for a whole month.
It's a daily reminder that you shouldn't be eating be eating, and if you do, it's 20 lashes.
During the month you get everything you need through a liquid diet "full of vitamins and nutrients."
The tongue patch inventor is Dr. Nikolas Chugay, the medical director of the Chugay Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, he says that patients report losing 15 to 30 pounds in a single month.
But if you're on a liquid diet what would you expect?  What happens when you start eating solid food?
After all that, what if you gain weight?
Then what, do you really want to return, to the patch of agony again?

The Dress For Dinner Napkin

Does the thought of getting dressed up for dinner seem  bothersome to you?
If you're invited to a dinner party an  you need to wear something nice, but you think, "I've got nothing to wear,"The Dress For Dinner Napkin"s may provide the answer.
With four different designs, you have choices, making sure you're got just the right look!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Piece of Wendy's Spoon Found in Man's Lung

Not to be outdone by McDonald's drive through gifts, remember the gun and a bag of pot?
John Manley,  recently discovered that a piece of a plastic spoon was the source of his two years of ill health, coughing, vomiting and pain.
Having surgery last week to remove part of a plastic spoon from his lung, it was discovered that it wasn't just any old plastic spoon; it came from the fast-food chain Wendy's, with the restaurant logo clearly visible on the handle. Take that McDonald's!
"It must have been in the food or drink," Manley said.
He figures he inhaled the chunk of plastic when he took a large swallow of soda at a fast food restaurant.
"I'm a gulper," he told the paper. "I gulp stuff. I always have."
Manley finally convinced doctors to run a scope on his lungs.
They were flabbergasted to discover the jagged chunk of plastic with writing on it.
His doctor found the spoon after looking into his lungs with an endoscope, a medical instrument with a long, thin tube containing a light and a video camera.
"He explained that there was an object down there, and it had writing on it," Manley said. "It spelled out 'Wendy's' on one side and 'hamburgers' on the other, and I was a little floored."
So were his relatives, who, when he telephoned them with the news, were eating ... at Wendy's.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

OKTOBERFEST - September 19 - October 4

Oktoberfest began in Germany in 1810, and beer and Oktoberfest have always gone hand in hand. Oktoberfest began when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Theresia in Munich.
It happened that the occasion fell at the same time as the traditional harvest festivals, so they decided to combine them and threw a huge party. 
It was such a success, Munich celebrated their created Oktoberfest every year.
Now it just may be the world's biggest party.Master brewers  come to Oktoberfest to display their very best each year.
Most beers when Oktoberfest first began were heavy and dark beer.
The Viennese first tried to brew a lighter beer in 1841, and eventually a Munich brewery picked up on that and began brewing what's called Marzen beer, translated as "March beer."
Many beers still have the label of Oktoberfest Marzen, which was a long standing Oktoberfest tradition.
If you want a true Marzen, then look for a darker coppery color.
This year, the 176th Oktoberfest in Munich is expected to serve more than six million guests over the two-week festival. It's not only beer that is a big part of the festival, but more than 200,000 sausages and 480,000 roasted chickens will also be devoured.

San Francisco Mayor Newsom Calls Soda the New Tobacco

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Calls soda the new tobacco and will introduce legislation this fall that would charge a tax to retailers that sell sugary beverages.
Newsom needs voter approval to tax individual cans of soda and sugary juice, but he only needs approval from the Board of Supervisors to levy a tax on retailers. 
His tax legislation would charge grocery stores, but would not affect restaurants that serve sodas.

Newsom wouldn't say how much the stores would have to pay or how the city would spend the tax money. Back in 2007 when he first suggested the idea, he said the money would go to his Shape Up San Francisco exercise program and for media campaigns to discourage soda drinking.
The city attorney has warned him the city would probably be sued over the matter, but what does he care? He said it is worth the risk to try to curb a leading cause of obesity and diabetes. (and for the tax money?)

"We know we'll be sued," he said. "But I really believe this is important to do."
A soda tax has also come up in the national debate about health care reform as one way to help pay to insure more people. 
The American Beverage Association has responded saying: "If our goal is to address obesity, then educating consumers about the importance of balancing calories consumed from all foods and beverages with the calories expended through physical activity is what matters - not demonizing any one particular food."
Jim Lazarus, vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said the group opposes the soda tax.
"Does this mean there's a fee on candy bars, on ice cream, on potato chips?" he asked. "Where do you draw the line?"
Coca-Cola Co. CEO Muhtar Kent said  "I've never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink,"

Recall Alert: Spinach May Contain Salmonella

Here we go again.
This time we turn our attention to SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Over 1,700 cartons of spinach sold this month in stores across the country, including Florida, have been recalled.
The California Department of Health said Friday that Ippolito International was recalling 1,715 cartons of spinach after tests showed it may contain salmonella.
The bulk of cartons were packed under the “Queen Victoria” brand in Florida, 11 other states and three Canadian provinces; and the “Tubby” brand on 200 cartons sold in California and New York.

Packaging Information
According to Ippolito International, the Queen Victoria cartons were labeled with the following Code Date stickers on the outside edge panel:
The Tubby cartons were labeled as follows:

Educated Family May Suggest Eating Disorder Risk

As much as we love food we got thinking about the reports suggesting girls whose mothers, fathers, and grandparents are highly educated and their possible increased risk of developing an eating disorder.

The report suggest that girls from families with higher academic achievement are at relatively greater risk, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Jennie Ahren-Moonga of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
It's possible, the researchers write, that these girls feel more pressure from family to succeed -- which for some could translate into an obsession with controlling their eating and body weight.
In addition, higher-achieving girls may be more likely to have certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, that make them relatively more vulnerable to eating disorders.
These high demands likely play an important role in eating disorder development, Ahren-Moonga said.

"This is even more relevant," she noted, "when combined with low self- esteem, as the feeling of not being able to live up to expectations plays a crucial role in both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa."

Overall, girls whose parents went to college had about twice the risk of being treated for an eating disorder as those whose parents had only an elementary-school education.
The risk was six times higher among girls whose maternal grandmothers had a college education, compared with those whose grandmothers went only to elementary school.
Similarly, girls with the highest grades at age 15 had twice the risk of hospitalization as girls with the lowest grades.

We remain somewhat skeptical, but admit the study provides food for thought.
It very well may point to a group of girls who may be at risk, but it does not prove that the desire to succeed or obtain greater education and school achievement leads to eating disorders in girls.

If you would like more information, check out the American Journal of Epidemiology, September 1, 2009.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alohomora -The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Alohomora! The secret is now unlocked as to when Universal Studios Orlando will open the attraction the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's sometime the spring of 2010, that hardly narrows it down.
Did you even know that a Harry Potter theme park is coming to Orlando, Florida?
We didn't, we thought it was going to be somewhere in Great Britain.

The website for the park The Wizarding World of Harry Potter gives a quick glimpse of the attractions, which will include recreations of the Hog’s Head and Three Broomsticks pubs.

There's not much to go on yet except the artist conception of Three Broomsticks pictured above.
We have heard that the menus will feature traditional British food and drinks, and, yes, butterbeer  as well as pumpkin juice will be served.

Every shop and eatery is Potter-themed. Honeydukes  (pictured below) sells chocolate frogs and 'Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans', Ollivander's peddles magic wands, Zonko's joke shop has Sneakoscopes, and the British restaurant Three Broomsticks pours Butterbeer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

People Food that Can Kill Your Pets

It happens to a lot of dog and cat owners. You’re snacking away, and you can just feel it, those big sad eyes staring at you that say,  " Feed me. I’m so hungry, Really!"The temptation may be great to give in, but there are certain foods that can cause your pet great harm, even death.
So what’s one of the worst things you can feed your pet?
Most of us know about Chocolate.
Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid from the cacao plant.  If eaten in larger quantities, it can kill your pet. Dark and unsweetened chocolates contain even higher quantities of theobromine, and can be especially lethal.
Candy in general is bad for pets, but the sugar free candy and gum can be downright deadly.
Sugar free candy can be “especially dangerous” for dogs because it contains xylitol.
While completely safe for humans, it can cause a dog’s blood sugar level to plummet, which can lead to seizures and even death.  Too much xylitol can also cause liver damage.
Just two sticks of sugar free gum can kill a 20-pound dog.
The dangers aren’t just limited to candies. Check out the other foods that can harm your pet:
Nuts – Walnuts and macadamia nuts can be particularly lethal.
Avocados – This fruit has a high fatty content and element in avacados called persin, which can cause tissue damage.
Onions – Onions can be toxic to pets, damaging red blood cells leading to anemia and breathing problems.
Grapes and raisins –  The problem with grapes and raisins is not fully understood.  The Web site suggests it may have to do with the “fleshy” part of the grape.  Symptoms can include vomiting and lethargy with an end result of kidney damage.
Medicine – It’s not uncommon for pet owners to give their pets people medicine to ease an ache or pain.  But some drugs, especially acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can cause liver damage, ulcers, kidney failure and death.
Bones- In particular, this applies to chicken and pork bones.  Not only can they get stuck in your pet's throat, marrow inside the bones is not a good thing.  "The marrow inside the bone is very rich and can cause them to have inflammation of the pancreas and cause them to become quite ill.

Eating Durian with Alcohol Can Kill You

We've heard it before, well, actually we knew nothing about it, but now we do.  Eating Durian, known as the 'king of fruits', along with alcohol can kill you.  John Maninang and Hiroshi Gemma from the University of Tsukuba, Japan believe that the lethal side effects might be due to stinky fruit’s high sulphur content which impairs alcohol breakdown.

The experiments have shown that Durian extract turned off the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase by up to 70 per cent, reports New Scientist and this enzyme plays a vital role in clearing toxic breakdown products, and this enzyme plays a vital role in clearing toxic breakdown products.

We have all leaned something today!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chinese Urged Not To Import Kangaroo Meat

The father of the late Australian conservationist Steve Irwin has asked the Chinese people not to eat kangaroo meat because it could put huge numbers of kangaroos at risk. 
(we notice he didn't tell them the risk of eating it)
Bob Irwin made the plea from his home in Australia, urging China not to start importing kangaroo meat.
Russia recently stopped kangaroo meat imports, after being the main market for the kangaroo trade for many years.
Moscow only banned kangaroo meat imports because of concerns of bacterial contamination.
Kangaroos  can harbor a wide range of parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral diseases and the majority of infections are unapparent,  animals will most likely will appear normal.

The incidence of Toxoplasma bacterial contamination is amongst the highest in Australia.
The concern is that recommended cooking methods which will not kill this parasite.
A newly identified worm thought to be derived from marsupials was found to be responsible for acute illness in two humans. Like Trichinella they invade muscles. The worms are thought to belong to a class of nematodes known as Muscpiceoids.
Australian producers now expect to start exporting to China in the first half of next year.
Bob Irwin has other kangaroo worries, whose late son Steve was known internationally as the Crocodile Hunter, thinks that Australia's kangaroos are vulnerable to large scale imports from China.
Official estimates suggest there are 25 million kangaroos across Australia, 15 percent of the kangaroo population are killed off each year.  Regardless, Mr. Irwin thinks the Chinese will  totally wipe out the population.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PETA and The Chicken Empathy Museum

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has written a letter to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine with an offer of a lifetime.  They want to rent his state's Botetourt Correctional Center building which is among a number of state facilities to be closed because of that budget of theirs. So, what plans does PETA have for an empty prison?   But of course they want to turn it into a "Chicken Empathy Museum."  Why? You already know why,  first to raise awareness about the treatment of these intelligent, thinking, feeling, almost human like fowl, who don't deserve to be treated like chickens. Second to paint a mural of a chicken's fate.  The museum, it says, would also feature a "Chicken Empathy Restaurant" that would serve items like faux-chicken drumsticks and chickenless pot pie. (we always wonder why vegetarian food always has to look like the cooked animals they hate to see butchered?)  
In the letter to Kaine, PETA also promised that it would give each visitor aged 12 or younger a free plush chicken toy with a tag reading "I Am Not A Nugget!" 

"In addition to creating jobs, the museum would convert a building that was built for the purpose of incarceration into a tribute to liberation,"  
A spokesperson for Kaine, said that the state doesn't lease to private entities, with the exception of cases in which such leases are already in place when the state buys a building.

May Your Fears End - Decaf Test Strips

We really didn't know this was a problem, but if you suspect you are being slipped regular coffee when you made it clear you want decaf you can breath easier.
We are told that studies have shown that up to 30% of decaf coffees ordered at restaurants contain high levels of caffeine.  To end such shenanigans you can use these strips to determine whether your coffee or tea is really decaf. 
According to the instructions, here's all you have to do to get those lab accurate results: "bring the test strip in contact with a beverage sample; do not allow the D-Caf Strip to come into contact with the beverage that will be consumed – so remove a small test sample from the cup (we suggest putting some on a spoon of course), and do not consume the tested sample."
After that you only have to wait 30 seconds. If it is DECAF the strip will read as “D” line darker than “C” line, or only D line present. If it is NOT decaf the “C” line will read darker than “D” line, or only “C” line present, or lines will be equally dark.  Got all that?

Sadly these strips won’t work on your latte, so remove the sample for testing before adding milk, or other additives. Using single-use strips will only detect caffeine above a 20 mg-to-6 oz ratio. (whatever that means) Works with hot and cold beverages. 
20 strips per package.  

You get all this for only $9.95

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hey Kids, McDonald's Now Offers a Gun and a Bag of Pot

McDonald's has become so fun these days.
A South Carolina teenager got more than he expected from a local McDonald's. After placing his order and paying, he drove up to the pickup window, where the McDonald's employee asked him, "who gets the bags?" The customer said it didn't matter, so three bags were handed over — two containing the food and one with some extra goodies: a loaded handgun and bags of weed.

It turns out the gun and pot were actually intended for the the next car in line at the drive through. The next car in line followed the young man all the way to a gas station. One of them jumped out of the car and demanded that he give them the bags. And he did just that.
In the end, the group in the second car was never caught, and we can only assume the kid at the window was reprimanded by the manager for mixing up orders.

Pakistan stampede kills up to 20 women, children

Up to 20 women and children were killed on Monday in a stampede which broke out as charity workers were handing out free flour to the poor in a crowded neighborhood of Pakistan's financial capital Karachi, officials said.
More than 30 were injured and  there were 20 bodies of women and girls, an official in Civil Hospital Karachi, told said.

"They by suffocation in the stampede where a charity was distributing free flour among hundreds of women and children during Ramadan.

Women clad in black burkas sobbed and wailed as ambulances raised through the streets, taking the bodies and injured to hospital.
Injured women and children lay on beds in a crowded hospital, where relatives searched to find their loved ones and dead bodies lay covered in white sheets.
Witness Fatima Hashim, 55, whose daughter was seriously injured said the stampede happened in a small area where huge crowds converged for handouts.
"The place where wheat flour was being distributed was very narrow, which suffocated hundreds of women and children," she said.
"I went along with two of my daughters to get two bags of flour but now my younger daughter is struggling for life in the hospital," she added.
They were in a long line waiting for their number to be called to get a  22-pound bag of flour from the charity when people started running."

Heavy traffic delayed rescue workers in reaching what is one of the most congested areas of Karachi, a teeming city home to an estimated 14 million.

In April 2006, the country's worst stampede in recent history killed 29 women and children at a religious gathering to mark the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed's birth in Karachi.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pizza Shop must pay for a 340-pound employee's Weight Loss Surgery

Who's the biggest loser here?  An Indiana court has decided that a pizza shop is responsible for a 340-pound employee's weight-loss surgery to ensure the success of another operation for a back injury he suffered at work.
This Indiana Court of Appeals decision, along with a recent Oregon court ruling, could make employers reconsider  hiring workers with health conditions that might cost their companies thousands of dollars as time goes on.
Boston's The Gourmet Pizza must pay for lap-band surgery for Adam Childers, a cook at the pizza place , under last month's Indiana ruling that upheld a 4-3 decision by the state's workers' compensation board.

Childers, who was then 25, weighing in at 340 pounds in March 2007 when he was accidentally hit in the back by a freezer door. Doctors said he needed surgery to ease his severe pain, but that the operation would be pointless unless he first had surgery to reduce his weight, which ballooned to 380 pounds after the accident.
His employers agreed to pay for the back surgery, but paying for a $25,000 weight-loss operation was unfair because Childers already was obese before he was hurt.
The board and the court, however, said the surgery — and disability payments while Childers was unable to work — were covered because his weight and the accident had combined to create a single injury. They said Boston's didn't present any evidence that his weight had been a medical problem before the accident.

The  Oregon case we mentioned earlier, where the state's Supreme Court ruled Aug. 27 that the state workers' compensation insurance must pay for gastric bypass surgery to ensure that a man's knee replacement surgery was effective.
But it's this Indiana case which experts say could have a chilling effect on business.

The ruling will likely make employers afraid of hiring people who are overweight or have other conditions that might expose them to workplace injury.
So while legally, you cannot refuse employment to a 350-pound person because they're 350 pounds, that's against the law. But there are always other reasons not to hire them.
The biggest loser?
Boston's The Gourmet Pizza? 
Adam Childers?
Employers and or future employees?

This is Different - Eating Spiders

Watch this nutty guy in India eating spiders.

Paula Deen's Cast Iron Cookware Recall

In March 2008, Paula Deen said she was about to go on the air (QVC) to present her new cast iron cookware. That cookware she promised would have, "a little extra stability..." a high-quality cookware that will stand the test of time.

A few weeks ago, customers who had bought three of Ms. Deen’s cast iron pans received letters from QVC, informing them that the pans were being recalled because they can crack or shatter during heating. So much for extra stability, high quality and the test of time.

QVC sent recall letters to people who had purchased the pans. Consumers who bought any of the three items will get a refund; all other Paula Deen cast iron products are “safe for use.” Finally, she wrote, “Paula Deen is aware of the situation and completely supportive of the actions being taken.”
For those of you who purchased The Paula Deen cast iron pansfrom QVC, your lucky item numbers are k14984, k11970, and k135024

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spain's El Bulli World’s Best Restaurant

LONDON – El Bulli was named the world's best restaurant, and that's the fourth year in a row, but its head chef dedicated the prize to his British runner-up.

The restaurant in Catalonia came top of the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants 2009 following a poll of more than 800 chefs, restaurant critics and industry insiders for Restaurant Magazine.

Accepting the highly coveted award, El Bulli chef Ferran Adria said it had been "a very important night for Spain", with Spanish restaurants occupying three of the top five spots.

He also gave praised to Heston Blumenthal, the chef at Britain's The Fat Duck restaurant, who was forced to temporarily close his establishment earlier this year after a health incident and who came in as runner-up.

"I dedicate this prize to Heston Blumenthal. He has shown me what honesty means in this business.... This prize is for you," Adria said.

Heston Blumenthal returned the complement, crediting Adria as "my teacher".

He added: "If you had told me 10 or 15 years ago that I would be in the top 200 restaurants in the world I would have been delighted."

2009 winners list:

  1. El Bulli, Roses, Spain
  2. The Fat Duck, Bray-on-Thames, UK
  3. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark (Chef's Choice)
  4. Mugaritz, San Sebastián, Spain
  5. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
  6. per se, New York City, US
  7. Bras, Laguiole, France
  8. Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain
  9. Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France
  10. Alinea, Chicago, US
  11. L'Astrance, Paris, France
  12. The French Laundry, Yountville (Napa Valley), California, US
  13. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
  14. St John, London, UK
  15. Le Bernardin, New York City, US
  16. Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, Crissier, Switzerland
  17. Tetsuya's, Sydney, Australia
  18. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris, France
  19. Jean-Georges, New York City, US
  20. Les Creations de Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
  21. Chez Dominique, Helsinki, Finland
  22. Cracco Peck, Milan, Italy
  23. Die Schwarzwaldstube, Tonbach, Germany
  24. D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil
  25. Vendome, Kadettenstrasse (near Cologne), Germany
  26. Hof van Cleve, near Kruishoutem, Belgium
  27. Masa, New York City, US
  28. Gambero Rosso, San Vincenzo, Italy
  29. Oud Sluis, Sluis, Netherlands
  30. Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
  31. Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City, US
  32. Oaxen Skärgårdskrog, on the island of Oaxen, Sweden
  33. Martin Berasategui, San Sebastián, Spain
  34. Nobu, UK
  35. Mirazur, Menton, France
  36. Hakkasan, London, UK
  37. Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, South Africa
  38. La Colombe, Cape Town, South Africa
  39. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Biscay, Basque Country, Spain
  40. Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France
  41. Daniel, New York City, US
  42. Combal Zero, Rivoli, Italy
  43. Restaurant Le Louis XV, Monaco
  44. Tantris, Munich, Germany
  45. Iggy's, Singapore
  46. Quay, Sydney, Australia
  47. Les Ambassadeurs, Paris, France
  48. Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio, Italy
  49. Le Calandre, Padua, Italy
  50. Mathias Dahlgren, Stockholm, Sweden