Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador blames it on the beef

Alberto Contador blames the whole thing on the Filet Mignon he ate.
Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador blamed contaminated meat for his positive doping test.
“I’m the victim,” he said.
Apparently, Spanish cows are full of clenbuterol lately, and as Contador explained it, the had meat that came from Spain ( because the French beef at his Tour hotel was not acceptable) was positive for clenbuterol.

He promised to clear his name and not let this drug scandal “destroy everything that I have done.”

Alberto was suspended after a World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Germany found a “very small concentration” of the banned substance clenbuterol in his urine sample on July 21 at the Tour.
Clenbuterol is sometimes given to cows, pigs and other animals to increase their growth rate.

Almost in tears,“It is a clear case of food contamination,” Contador told a news conference, “I am sad and disappointed but hold my head high.”
“I think this is going to be resolved in a clear way,” he said. “With the truth behind you, you can speak loud and clear, and I am confident justice will prevail.”

He called the UCI’s suspension of him “a true mistake.”

Why Did Food Items Fail Hong Kong Safety Checks?

Food safety authorities in Hong Kong have released recent tests of 3,900 food samples in local shops and restaurants and discovered14 food items that failed safety inspections. Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety took about 2,700 samples for chemical tests and the remainder for microbiological and other tests.

Among the food items that failed the inspection were frozen suckling pig with excessive levels of a veterinary drug, frozen fish and shrimp with high mercury levels, and some fresh fish with elevated levels of cadmium.

Then there was the sample of Singaporean-style fried noodles which was contaminated with bacteria, while other foods were found to contain banned preservative chemicals.
The food safety authorities issued citations to the shops and restaurants involved.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Happy Meal after 137 days

There was this art experiment suggesting that McDonald's food doesn't decay, this of course  sent people into a panic, asking, exactly what's in that food?

A New York photographer left a McDonald's hamburger Happy Meal, complete with a small side order of french fries, sitting on a shelf in her home for more than 18 weeks.
Every three days, Sally Davies took a photo of the food.
As day 137 rolled around, the food looked pretty much the same.(photo above)
So, the assumption was, McDonald's must be using dangerous preservatives to make the food look fresh.
But scientists argue that preservatives aren't the main reason why McDonald's  food doesn't decay -- it's the fat.
Those delicious fries and burgers at McDonald's have a lot of fat and
"Anything that is high in fat will be low in moisture," says Washington State University Professor Barry Swanson.
Low moisture on a surface means mold can't grow, which means the food can't decay.
And then there's the salt.
A McDonald's double cheeseburger contains 1,150 milligrams of sodium, while a large order of fries contains 350 milligrams.
Sodium acts as a preservative, contributing to a low decay rate.

We know there's probably some point with an agenda trying to be made here, but to us, it's not important.
We just want to super size it.

Joseph Cerniglia, the suicide chef, had a fondness for the pastry chef

Joseph Cerniglia, the suicide chef had a fondness for the taste of pastry, actually it was his pastry chef he had a fondness for.

The 39-year-old chef had been in a romance with Jessica Marotta (above photo), his pastry chef, before he took the fatal leap.

"They loved each other very much," said the pastry chef's mom, Ana Marotta.
"My daughter is devastated," Ana said about her daughter Jessica, she went from waitress to co-owner of Cerniglia's Campania restaurant.

Many people wanted to blame Gordon Ramsay for the suicide of Joe Cerniglia but it appears those people are dead wrong.

It seems that Joe Cerniglia was having an extra marital affair with Jessica Marotta, and it was that affair that eventually destroyed his marriage with his wife.  

Because of all this, perhaps the name of Jessica Marotta seems to be an important factor in Joe Cerniglia's suicide and not Gordon Ramsay's.

It was Gordan Ramsay in a 2007 that warned Joseph that his restaurant was "about to swim down the Hudson."
As it turned out it was Joesph who was floating down the Hudson instead.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monahan Funeral Home to Open Irish Pub



City officials in Rhode Island Providence have granted a liquor license to the owners of
Monahan Funeral Home.
They will be remodeling their attached garage into an Irish bar and grille named "McBride's."
Some area businesses are not at all happy about this but the owners have agreed to close earlier than most area bars, 11pm weekdays and midnight on weekends.
Mark Russell, the operator of Monahan Funeral Home, hopes to be open by St. Patrick's Day.

Before anyone else says it, "people will be dying to get there."

Dead Mouse Found In Loaf of Bread

Stephen Forse was making sandwiches for his children when he noticed a dark-coloured object embedded in some of the  slices.
A moment later he understood, there was a dead mouse in the loaf of bread he was slicing.
"As I looked closer, I saw that the object had fur on it,"Stephen Forse said.
As a result,  the maker of this Hovis loaf has been fined because of the dead mouse found in the aforementioned sandwich bread.

For whatever it's worth, Mr Forse bought the bread from Tesco Online.

To make matters worse, the mouse was without a tail.
Mr Forse felt ill when he realozed no one knew where the tail was. (anyone want to guess?)
He said,"Had it fallen off prior to the bread being wrapped or had any of my family eaten it with another slice of bread on a previous day?"

The manufacturer is Premier Foods and they have been fined £5,500 and ordered to pay an additional £11,109.47 in costs at Oxford Crown Court for failing to maintain  standards at their site in Mitcham, south London.
A spokesman for Premier Foods said: "We apologize profusely for the distress caused as a result of this isolated incident."

Isolated?
That remains to be seen or perhaps eaten.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Body Pulled From Hudson River - Chef Featured On "Kitchen Nightmares"

Joseph Cerniglia, owner of Campania restaurant who we watched on Kitchen Nightmares in 2007 was found dead on Friday as his body was discovered found floating in the Hudson River.

According to police, officials are looking at the possible connection to a report of a man jumping from the George Washington Bridge earlier that day.
It was reported that on Sunday that a 911 caller had reported seeing a body floating in the river shortly after 2 p.m.
Police said at 12:50 p.m., a different 911 caller had reported seeing a man jump from the bridge.

Campania was featured on Kitchen Nightmares, and after the show was televised, Joseph Cerniglia said  “We were very busy, but I couldn’t seem to make a profit. We kept getting deeper and deeper into debt. Our food costs were high, and we couldn’t get our labor costs under control.” in regards to his decision to be on the hit series. He went on to say “Let’s just say I got to see the softer, more nurturing side of Gordon Ramsay.”
So it's unclear why Joseph would want to commit suicide if that is even what he did?
If we learn any more details, we'll pass them along.

Here's an eerie look back at Joseph on Kitchen Nighmares: 




How To Carve A Halloween Pumpkin


Pumpkin carving can be messy, so, cover your counter-top, table, or floor with something like  newspapers or  heavy plastic.

Decide what kind of lightening you are going to use.
When removing the seeds you'll be cutting off either the top or the bottom of the pumpkin.
If you cut a hole in the top, you'll have a vent the heat from a candle.
If you cut off the bottom, you'll have  better access for an electric light cord.

Decide how wide to cut the access hole, just make sure it's large enough for your hand to fit through.

You can either draw your jack-o-lantern design on a piece of paper and transfer the design to the pumpkin, or  you can also draw right on the pumpkin.

After you have drawn the circular area for the lid or bottom, start your cutting with a knife or one of those pumpkin saws sold in kits.
We like using dinner table steak knives because they cut faster.
The saws are somewhat fragile and take longer to cut out the opening and if you apply too much pressure on the blade they may break.

Here's a nice little tip: by cutting the top out holding the knife at a 45 degree angle, with the tip of the knife pointing toward the center of the pumpkin.
This way the lid won't slip through the opening into the pumpkin.


Decide which side of the pumpkin will be the face side.
On the back side, mark with a little cut in both the lid and the corresponding pumpkin edge to remember how the lid should be sitting after carving.

Next comes the fun part, by digging in and pulling all of the guts out.
Scrape the remaining seeds and strings away from the sides and the bottom with a heavy serving spoon.

Now it's time to draw a face onto the pumpkin.
You can go freehand or trace a pattern especially designed for pumpkins.

Okay, it's time to begin carving the design.
We told you we like steak knives, you can also use paring knives, utility blades, exacto knives, wood carving tools, or those pumpkin saws and tools that are sold in kits.

You can test the look of your pumpkin by the use of a a votive candle or flashlight inside.
If you need to make adjustments in certain areas now's the time to do that.

Here's another tip: Coating all cut edges with petroleum jelly will help keep pumpkins from drying out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Asians - Cajuns and Crawfish


Brother’s Crawfish in Dorchester Massachusetts is the restaurant where crawfish is really the hot ticket.

This crawfish boil could easily be mistaken for some Cajun pot of goodness , but then you see the spring rolls, fried rice, and you suddenly realize you are in a Viet-Cajun restaurant in Boston Massachusetts.

The cuisine definitely has the influence of the Cajuns from Louisiana, where Vietnamese immigrants who were fishermen lived.
“The delta of south Louisiana is very much like the Mekong Delta geographically and natural history-wise,’’ says Jerald Horst, a fisheries expert and coauthor of “The Louisiana Seafood Bible: Crawfish.’’
Dozens more Viet-Cajun crawfish restaurants have since started up, and lately have gained popularity along the entire West Coast,.
You'll find them in Las Vegas, Washington, Atlanta, and Boston.
Louisiana Crawfish Co., a supplier, has had inquiries from restaurants in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, and New York. “It’s spreading to the East Coast and the center of the country now,’’ says David McGraw, company president.
Long Le and his brother Tuan opened Brother's Crawfish

Owners Long and Tuan Le opened Brother’s Crawfish say, “We started buying our own crawfish and doing boils at home,’’ says Long Le, who developed a taste for crawfish while visiting New Orleans. “Everybody loved them so much, we thought we might as well open a restaurant.’’
“Anywhere there is a large Asian-Vietnamese community, that’s where they pop up,’’ says Dada Ngo, who owns the Boiling Crab, a nine-restaurant Viet-Cajun chain in Texas and Southern California. “Big groups like to gather around food, and crawfish is casual enough that it can be fun. I think that really resonated with younger crowds. I mean, we have a cult following now.’’

The draw is fresh Louisiana crawfish  which are farmed year round, but are bigger and juicier from January to June.
The Les have the crawfish shipped overnight air because anyone who understands crawfish knows these shellfish perish quickly.
The brothers won't buy crawfish from China because they say, “It’s not as good.’’

Just like the Cajun, Viet-Cajun chefs boil live crawfish with their special seasonings.
People in the south use ingredients like: mustard seed, coriander, bay leaf, dill, allspice, and a lot of cayenne. They also use onion, garlic, celery, lemon, sausage, corn, and potatoes.

The Viet-Cajun method offers ingredients like: ginger, lime, lemongrass, or the salty fish sauce nuoc mam.

The brothers begin with Cajun boil spices, and then with celery, onion, sugar, pineapple and orange juices, and halved oranges with their rind, “to get that whole citrus taste,’’ they say.
As of now crawfish is the signature dish, but  don't be surprised if you eventually see the menu with seafood and Louisiana delicacies like gumbo, cornbread with a side of red beans and rice.

The popularity Viet-Cajun continues to grow. “We’ve been bombarded with requests to franchise. We’ve even had offers to open Boiling Crabs in Saudi Arabia, India, and Indonesia,’’ says Ngo.

The Le brothers may not be Cajuns, but when people taste their food they might as well be.
“...when they taste the crawfish, they know we get it right.’’

Brother’s Crawfish, 272 Adams St., Dorchester. 617-265-1100, www.brotherscrawfish.com

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Four courses of horse anyone?

 Food Editor Grant Jones eating horse meat in the Orrichette with Ragu di Cavallo

The meal for began with a horse salumi and mortadella, carpaccio, horse ragu with pasta and a horse steak with polenta.
We are told the meat is lean, has a subtle, sweet, distinctive flavour and should be on the menu of every second Italian or French restaurant in town.
Be that as it may, there is only one person in Australia that can sell it, otherwise it has to be done in secrecy,  because of the death threats.
There was a restaurant in  Melbourne that wanted to serve horse meat but canceled that idea after threats against the chef and a protest outside the restaurant.
But horse meat, like many meats is best when the animal is young (12 to 18 months).

 Chef Andrew Stewart with horse carpaccio Source

Perhaps animal activists are protesting the eating of horse meat, but Australia exports 40,000 or more horses each year to be eaten overseas."What we are doing is perfectly legal. There is just an emotional connection to it," said Stewart White from the Australian Association of Food Professionals, who was responsible for the dinner menu.
"We have an aversion to anything Disney made a movie of."
Earlier this year Vince Garreffa of Mondo Di Carne gourmet butchers in Perth presented the country's first horses for human consumption.
But soon after Mr Garreffa was approved to sell it, he received several threats.
Last week Mondo's sent out a vacuum-packed 10kg shipment for some interested food industry professionals to try in Sydney. The meat sells for anything from $19.50 a kilo for mortadella to $90kg for fillet.
The dinner, cooked by two well-known Italian chefs from Sydney, who preferred not to be named, was less of a stunt and more of an experiment.
"It needs help as it is a lean meat," one chef said at the Inner West location, kept secret until the last minute.
Cooked as a minute steak, with salt, pepper and olive oil, it is not unlike venison, but not as gamey, and far superior to kangaroo in my opinion."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Doritos Buddy-Boy in Tights Chips

Unless we are mistaken, that guy on the Japanese Doritos package has his foot on his victim's package. (click photo for a closer look).

You just got to love Frito-Lay's relationship with Japan.

The product is "Tights-kun Doritos."
"Tights-kun"  translated means something like, "Buddy-boy in tights" and is a somewhat popular cartoon character in Japan.
Frito-Lay felt comfortable using Buddy-Boy in tights as a mascot to get attention to their black corn chili Doritos.

One must remember, Japan is a place where here you can enjoy sea-urchin and beef tongue flavored ice cream.
So a foot in the crotch just  may be he hot ticket

Junior MasterChef will return next year

The good news is, Junior MasterChef, according to judge Matt Preston, will return next year.

It's easy to be become jaded and unimpressed, like we often are, BUT,  Junior MasterChef gives us hope,

When we watch contestants like Ainsleigh Friedrich, who has has undergone 7 open-heart surgeries in her 11 years cooking up a storm, and fellow Queenslanders, the Brisbane twins Isabella and Sofia in action, we become believers again.

Next Sunday night is the cook-off to determine the final 12, but we'll have to wait until October to see the  young chefs compete.

Ainsleigh dazzled the judges by preparing a squid tube stuffed with breadcrumbs, chilli, parsley, lemon and prawns.
Her squid dish was cooked perfectly and she was chosen as one of those who will continue on.

Only in Japan - Strawberry Cheetos

What a fun team Japan and Frito-Lay make.
Frito-Lay (a division of PepsiCo)  is making the new Strawberry Cheetos, yes, these are the same people who brought Japan Pepsi Ice Cucumber during Japan's record-breaking hot summer of 2007, and the Milk Chocolate Cheetos.
From what we hear, the "Strawberry Cheeto" is a regular Cheeto dipped in some sort kind of strawberry frosting and is "actually very good," according to some who believe cheese and strawberries are delicious together .

Halloween - The Celtic Festival of Samhain

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain,  It's an Iish Gaelic word and depending on where in Ireland it can be pronounced 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 celebration ended, 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.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stoner Cold Pot-infused Ice Cream

Crème De Cana, a new medical marijuana shop in Soquel has an alternative to smoking pot, a bowl of pot-infused ice cream instead.

The current flavors at Creme De Canna, which opened last week, are Banannabis Foster, Straw-Mari Cheesecake and TRIPLE Chocolate Brownie. Kolodinski said more flavors are next.

The owners said he is offering the ice cream as a healthy alternative to patients who do not want to smoke medical marijuana, and so far, business is brisk
And that's at $15 a half-pint, and they are potent.

There are about two to four doses of cannabis for each half-pint, so eating one would be similar to smoking an eighth of high-grade marijuana, in other words, eight joints.

IHOP SUES IHOP

We find ourselves in Kansas City, Mo. where the International House of Pancakes is suing a another kind of IHOP, the International House of Prayer.
The breakfast IHOP says the IHOP church is taking advantage of the restaurant chain's famous name and letters.
The pancake IHOP dished up the lawsuit to the Kansas City-based house of prayer last week in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The restaurant  IHOP, which trademarked the initials in 1973, claims infringement and trademark dilution as the grounds for their lawsuit.


The restaurant's spokesman says the acronym infringement is becoming a problem because the church is expanding and some branches are serving food.
They decided to formerly press charges because the church refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark.

"We are compelled to protect the 350 small-business owners who own IHOP franchises and the IHOP good name that's been around for 52 years," the spokesperson said.

Gary Hecker, a well-known intellectual rights attorney in Los Angeles, said he believes the courts will side with the restaurant chains because the prominence of the acronym may give IHOP the "right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes."
However, Gary Hooper, a former Houston attorney who until recently served as the church mission's chief financial officer, said he didn't think the lawsuit had any legal basis.

Here's the video:

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We’re Still Not Eating Our Veggies

With all the talk about veggies and fruits and fighting obesity you would think eating vegetables and fruits would be on the rise.

According to a new government report, that's not the case, the majority of Americans just say no to vegetables.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that last year about one-third of U.S. adults consumed fruit or fruit juice at least twice a day. That's down slightly from more than 34 percent in 2000.

Only about 26 percent ate vegetables three or more times a day, the same as in 2000. The statistics come from a national telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

No state met federal goals of three-quarters of Americans eating enough fruit, and half eating enough vegetables. California ate the most fruit and Tennessee was best with vegetables. Oklahoma was at the bottom for fruit and South Dakota had the lowest vegetable consumption.

The most popular vegetable is the potatoes. (one of our favorites)

The first lady and health officials have been trying to promote fruits and vegetables but the data is discouraging, said Dr. Jennifer Foltz, one of the study's authors.

"We aren't making progress, that's for sure," said Foltz, a CDC epidemiologist.

Reminds us of the old saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can make it drink."
Same goes for fruits and veggies, you can't force it down our throats...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Michelle Obama wants restaurants to serve healthy foods

Michelle Obama wants restaurants to add more healthy options to menus, and label those items as such.
Speaking to the National Restaurant Association the First Lady asked restaurants everywhere to take a little butter or cream out of their dishes, use low fat milk and provide apple slices or carrots as a default side dish on the kids' menu.
Mrs. Obama said that Americans are spending half their food dollars in restaurants.
She suggested it was the responsibly of restaurants to rethink their menus in order to fight childhood obesity.
"We have to do more, we have to go farther, and we need your help to lead this effort," she told the restaurateurs.

Kris and Julie Alberts - I Put a Spell On You

 Halloween with Kris and Julie Alberts 
'I Put a Spell On You'

Monday, September 13, 2010

Your Favorite Smells


Toast is UK's favorite smell, bringing back comforting memories of childhood.

What is your favorite aroma?
Is it the smell of popcorn, coffee, bacon, perhaps a roasting turkey in the oven?

A study, by scientists at Cardiff University discovered 99% of Britons admitted to loving the smell of toast.

For many, the smell of toast brings back comforting childhood times, not just toast memories, but happy memories, the warm, feel-good emotions.

What are your favorite smells?

The Autumn Passage of Halloween

Halloween, one of the world's oldest holidays, (and one of our favorites) and is growing more popular 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.
 
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.

  Let's 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.

Jack-O-Lanterns

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.


We now have our countdown now at the top of the blog.
This will help you get prepared for this special day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

OKTOBERFEST 2010

It's that time again.
The festivities begin September 18 and continue until Oktoberfest ends on October 3, 2010.

But on Saturday, September 18th, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, here you can watch the official opening ceremonies.
At noontime,  the lord mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. 
Once the barrel has been tapped, all visitors will  be allowed to quench their thirst.

Beer Serving Hours
Weekdays: 10am - 10:30pm
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 9am - 10:30pm

Daily Tent Closing Time: 11:30pm
The "Käfer Wiesn-Schänke" and the "Weinzelt" are open until 1am.
Last call for alcohol: 12:15am.

For up to date information, click on OKTOBERFEST

Who is Colonel Harland Sanders?

It's been120 years since the birth of Colonel Harland Sanders.
Yet, KFC has discovered that half of young Americans think he was made up.

This has caused KFC to re-introduce the Colonel to the public, with a resurrect the dead campaign.

Harland Sanders was born on Sept. 9, 1890 and he used a $105 Social Security check to start KFC, that was when when he was 65. 
That first restaurant, named Sanders Court & Cafe eventually became the chicken empire known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Back in 1976, only heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was more recognized as a celebrity.

How soon we forget, over 60% of Americans aged 18-25, considered KFC's key demographic, didn't even know who Sanders was, in the KFC logo.

In a survey released recently, 50% think he's fictional,  made up by a advertising agency, like McDonald's Ronald McDonald or Burger King's The King.
And then there's the 30% who have no idea who Colonel Harland Sanders is.

We would like to suggest that the fault belongs to the decision makers at KFC.

Sanders died 30 years ago and over the years the KFC name and logo has become more obscure.
Didn't we use to call it, 'Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken?' 
The decision to change the name distanced us from the man in the white suit.
And speaking of his white suit, who decided to take Sanders out of his iconic white suit and put him into a red apron in its logo?
Then KFC decided to make sandwiches without bread, wraps and grilled chicken when it was his fried chicken and the Colonel's secret recipe that made them famous.

It's no secret who made the public forget.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Armenia delights us with the world's largest chocolate bar

We love chocolate, and here is a dream come true for people just like us.
The Armenian company Grand Candy has unveiled the world's largest chocolate bar, with the dimensions - a 25-centimeter-thick (10-inch-thick) slab weighing in at 4,410 kilograms (9,720 pounds) and measuring 5.60 meters (18.4 feet) by 2.75 meters (nine feet).

Right on television, Guinness World Records measured the dark-chocolate bar and certified it as the new record-holder.

Grand Candy CEO Karen Vardanian said the bar was produced in honor of the company's 10th anniversary.

The record was held by a chocolate bar produced in Italy in October 2007 that weighted 3,580 kilograms (7,890 pounds).

GRAVEYARD PUDDING

Graveyard Pudding is one of our most requested recipes and it's perfect for parties and to celebrate Halloween at home, school or work. 

Here's what you need:

Oreo type cookies crumbled, 1 whole box (we use chocolate and vanilla cookies)
Pirouline Chocolate Hazelnut Cream wafers broken (not crumbled)
Vanilla Pudding 16 oz prepared
Chocolate Pudding 16oz prepared
Heavy Whipped Cream ( we beg you, please, not from the can)
 
You will need 1 pint of high-quality cream
Simply whip the cream with your mixer until the cream looks like soft butter.

You wont be adding sugar, vanilla or anything, we want plain whipped cream.
Here’s a little tip, room-temperature cream won't incorporate air,
so use well-chilled cream straight from the refrigerator.

 
Here's how you make it:
 
First, layer the bottom of your bowl or pan with chocolate pudding.
Next comes a layer of whipped cream.
Layer some of ther crumbled Oreo type cookies on the top of the whipped cream.

Next comes the vanilla pudding, the whipped cream and more cookies.
Keep repeating this process until you run out of pudding and cream.
Now sprinkle the rest of your Oreo type cookies on top (so it looks like dirt)
Next add the broken Pirouline wafers on top (they are suppose to look like bones)

 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mussels Mariniere with NZ Chef Steve Morris



We know a lot about New Zealand and the great food there, we lived there for several years.
So, we present chef Steve Morris, with over 30 years experience, who is educating the the world online.

He offers online tutorials on Stuff.co.nz every Friday,  teaching the basics in his 'Raising the Standard' series.

We hope you enjoy the video, and here's his recipe for mussels mariniere.

You will need:

- 24 mussels
- 75 gr shallots finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 500 ml white wine
- 20 gr Italian parsley stalks
- 100 ml cream
- 75 gr butter
- 75 gr flour

Here's what you do:

Wash and scrape the mussel shells.

To begin preparing the sauce, combine the butter and flour into a paste and set aside.

In a large pot place the white wine, shallots, garlic and parsley stalks, then cover with a lid and bring to the boil.

Add half the mussels, making sure to replace the lid immediately to maintain heat.

When mussels start to open, remove from pot and repeat the process with the second batch.

Add cream to liquid left in the pot.

Remove the beards then release the mussels from the shell and set aside while you finish the sauce.

Once the mixture is creamy and boiling, whisk small knobs of butter and flour paste. When thickened strain
through a fine sieve.

Add some of the chopped parsley.

Place the mussels into a serving bowl, ladle over the mariniere sauce.

Serve with crusty, fresh bread.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Giant 30 Pound Goldfish

This is not just a fish tale about the one that got away.

Fisherman Raphael Biagini fought for ten minutes to bring this giant fish out of a lake in the south of France.

The orange koi carp weighs a whopping 30lb and is believed to be one of the largest of its kind ever caught.
Other fishermen knew about this fish and told him they had spent six years trying to catch the legendary 'giant goldfish'. 

Mr Biagini, said: 'To begin with, we couldn't tell what was at the end of the line, but we knew it was big.
'The fish was a good fighter, but not enough to win.'

After a quick photo the goldfish was returned, not to the fryer, but back into the lake.

But if he had wanted fry it, here's a simple recipe:

Deep Fried Carp Fillets Recipe

Serves/Makes: 6 Ingredients:
  • 2 pound fresh carp fillets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup biscuit mix or pancake mix
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil (for deep frying)
  • Lemon wedges
How to cook Fried Carp Fillets:
  • Remove the skin of the carp and take out all the brownish-redish-colored part of the meat, the "mud vein" discard.
  • Chunk up the rest of the carp fillets. Place carp fillet pieces in a shallow dish. Pour the milk over them and let it stand for half an hour, turning the fillets over once during that time. Stir the salt into the biscuit mix.
  • Take carp fillets out of the milk and pat them into the biscuit mix, covering both sides.
  • Fry carp fillets in deep fryer or in medium hot oil in fry-pan for 5 - 10 minutes until cooked through and browned on both sides. Use tongs or slotted spoon to turn them.
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges. 
ENJOY!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unhappy Dollar Meals - McDonald's

Unhappy dollar meals at a McDonald's in San Francisco. (what a week they're having)

The homeless who have been hanging out at the Golden Gate Park were able to get the99-cent burgers at the McDonald's located at Haight and Stanyan streets in the Haight-Ashbury district.
But that McDonald's got rid of the Dollar Menu about a month ago calling it a business decision.

But the street people are up in arms saying the menu is too expensive now.
The Dollar Menu now cost $1.50.
29-year-old Nicholas Newhar complained, "I eat less. I have to get more money, if I don't have a dollar and I want food, I just end up going to a trash can."
He is among those who spent the better part of the day on the steps of the restaurant.

Even though McDonald's is there to make money, and anywhere else this would be considered simply a business decision, advocates are saying, "the target are the homeless."


Monday, September 6, 2010

Pumpkins - Vegetable or Fruit?

With Halloween just around the corner it's time we once again ask the important question:
Is your Halloween pumpkin is a vegetable or a fruit?
We went over this last year, but for those of you that weren't around, let's explore once again.

The answer is the same as a tomato, and that's because pumpkins and tomatoes have something in common?
Here's a hint, it's in the above photo.
They both have seeds, right?
This, of course, makes pumpkins and tomatoes both fruit.

But wait there's more...
It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and walnuts all fruits as well. Right?

The answer is also based on the parts of the plant involved.
Besides the seeds, basically, fruits are developed from flowers, vegetables are not.

Vegetables are not made from flowers; instead, they are the plant's roots (carrots), stems (celery), leaves (cabbage) and other edible parts of a plant.

It's common to refer to these fruits as vegetables:

* Pumpkin
* Squash
* Tomato
* Cucumbers
* Green beans
* Hot peppers
* Bell peppers

If you are speaking in culinary terms, you can call these fruits vegetables, even though  they are actually fruits.

The United States Supreme Court back in 1883 had some extra time on their hands and entered a legal verdict on whether a tomato should be classified as a vegetable or a fruit.
They decided unanimously, in Nix versus Hedden, that a tomato is a vegetable, even though it is still a fruit.

Another way to determine whether it is a vegetable or a fruit is after being picked a Fruit will ripen, and a vegetable will rot.

Another San Francisco Proposed Tax Increase on Alcohol



While we are on the topic of San Francisco and alcohol taxes, there is a proposed tax increase  on alcohol has been given the green light for signatures by the secretary of state's office.
That means it very well may be on the November ballot.
If it does, voters will be asked to skyrocket the tax on alcohol.

This initiative would raise the state excise tax on a regular bottle of wine from 4 cents to $5.11.

The excise tax on a six-pack of beer would increase from 11 cents to $6.08 and the tax on a 750 ml bottle of spirits would go from 65 cents to $17.57.

Once again the citizens of San Francisco are being asked to believe it would raise $7 to $9 billion that would go to support alcohol-related programs and services.

We'll watch and see if it gets on the ballot,  and if it does, how many people are actually helped. 

The Black Widow of eating contests beats Joey Chestnut



Known as the Black Widow of eating contests,  Sonya Thomas ate 181 chicken wings in 12 minutes, gobbling up the national championship record in Buffalo.
"I'm so happy!" Sonya Thomas declared, she had just finished 4.86 pounds of chicken wings to win the contest, beating Joey Chestnut at the ninth annual National Buffalo Wing Festival.
Buffalo, New York, is suppose to  be the birthplace of the wings, typically fried and covered in tangy vinegar and hot sauce.

Chestnut, who just licked the rib eating competition in Sparks Nevada a few days ago, is America's No. 1 professional eater.
He was favored to win Sunday's competition. He came in second after eating 169 chicken wings, or 4.55 pounds.

This was the first time Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., and Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., faced off in a chicken wing eating contest. They went at it "neck and neck," said Drew Cerza, the founder of the festival.
"They pushed each other really hard," Cerza said. "Joey is so strong. He's got great jaw strength. But Sonya's so fast with the hand."
Thomas, who's 5 feet tall and weights 105 pounds, calls herself the Black Widow because she often defeats bigger male competitors - Chestnut is 6-foot-2 and weights 230 pounds - in eating contests. She set the previous wings record in 2005, when she ate 174 in 12 minutes.

She also holds eating records for oysters, hard-boiled eggs, cheesecake and jalapeno peppers.

The 43 year old Black Wdow said she owed the win to her fancy finger work.
"Sometimes if I try to chew too much I slow down," she said. "I used my hands more than the mouth."

Smothered in Buffalo sauce, she said she was still hungry afterward, calling the wings "an appetizer." About an hour later, she made a guest appearance in the Ridiculously Hot Buffalo Wing Eating Contest and ate 20 more.
"The hottest wings!" she said. "I had to drink a lot of water."

She's our kind of girl!

San Francisco City Leaders Want to tax Alcohol

The always helpful, ever selfless, city leaders in San Francisco considering a tax  on alcohol that would go to cover some of the costs linked to drinking too much.

Small laws, and small tax increases, here and there may not seem like much but they have the uncanny ability to develop into bigger things.

While this is not prohibition in the traditional sense, the city planners don't want alcohol to go away, they want the tax money, they don't care if you drink too much, just as long as you pay the tax.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors want to tax wholesalers and distributors that would add about 3 cents to a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 4.5 cents to a 6-ounce glass of wine and 3.5 cents to a standard drink with 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol.

What it's really all about  is the $16 million a year it would bring in, according to the city's controller's office.

Once they get a taste of $16 million dollars, where will it go from there?

We are promised, the money would be used to help cover expenses the taxpayers end up paying for emergency room visits that go unpaid, prevention programs, a sobering center and ambulance transports.
San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, the the main supporter of the legislation said:
"As an elected official, I am constantly asked to do more to help those who have fallen prey to alcohol abuse. This fee will enable the city to continue the work to make our sidewalks safer and provide hope and dignity for people struggling in the streets and alleys,"

Well, if $16 million dollars can do all that for the sidewalks and struggling people, imagine what $30 million could do, how about $50 million?
Where does it stop? 
When it comes to tax money it usually doesn't stop.

The alcohol and hospitality industries are against the tax, arguing that it would hurt business and kill jobs, and this idea is supported by Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

"I just think that in this difficult economic time, adding on a new fee is not the right thing to do," said Dufty.

And if it does pass, Mayor Gavin Newsom has promised to veto the legislation.

We know the photo above doesn't fit the report, but we love the photo.

So perhaps at the end of the day this piece of tax legislation won't pass in San Francisco.
But beware, there are money hungry politicians everywhere who claim they only want to help.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Dangers Lurking In Your Refrigerator

Think your refrigerator is a safe harbor for you and your family?
Think again!
This is an interesting report that may be food for thought.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mexico City has set a new record for the longest taco

Mexico City has set a new record for the longest taco ever prepared in the country, with the 40.9-metres long taco.
Thousands of pieces of pork, pineapple, coriander, onion, beef, chicken, beans, cheese, cream, rice among other ingredients were mixed in to create the taco. (looks more like a burrito to us)