Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


San Francisco is for Nom Nom Nom

I'd been pretty convinced of New York's status as the finest food city in the States, but a few experiences last weekend have shaken that conviction a bit.

Out in San Francisco, I spent a fast-paced, food-focused weekend hosted by Foodbuzz, an online community of bloggers and food lovers.

Most of the activity was based around the Ferry Building, which is like a gastronomic Disneyland, especially on Saturdays when the farmers' market takes place there.

Mission Minis Cupcakes

So... what exactly does one do at a food blogging fest? I'd asked myself the same thing.

Apparently, you eat. A lot.


Foodbuzz set up a number of truly tasty events, from a gathering of top street food vendors (even now my mouth waters at the thought of the divine porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti) to talks and tastings by food producers (such as Sue Conley, a founder of Cowgirl Creamery) to a delicious closing-night dinner set up in the Greenleaf produce warehouse and set up by the talented folks at Outstanding in the Field.

In between the scheduled events, I met a lot of terrific people and enjoyed some of the culinary delights of the Bay Area. Some highlights:
My deepest thanks to Foodbuzz for putting together the wonder-filled event. Meanwhile, if you'd like a peek at the festivities (and all that tasty food) just click to find the photo tour here.

Miss Ginsu

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The 2008 Top-Ten Tastiest

The end of the calendar year is a fine time to cast a glance backward before we press on into the new frontier. What went well? What didn't go so well? How can we improve? What should be cast away, never to be spoken of again?

And so, before we recycle the upsie-downsie pages of 2008, here's a rundown of what we'll call:

The 2008 Readers' Choice Top-Ten Tastiest Posts
(as judged by total web traffic)

10. Faux Yo... in which the distinguished food scientist Harold McGee weighs in on active cultures in fro-yo.

Susky Banana Rama

9. A Scoop of Nutella-Bacon Swirl... because we love the bacon — even in our ice cream. :)

Bacon Ice Cream

8. What, Me Bitter?... discovering the delight of homemade bitters.

Homemade Bitters

7. For Love of Chocolate Almond Daim Cakes... in which we attempt to recreate an IKEA classic.

Daim Cakelets

6. I Drink Your Milkshake... after all, who doesn't need a creepy baby bib?

Milkshake Bib

5. Snuggle Up With a Good Label... in which we consider packaged foods vs. whole foods.

Food Guide

4. Top Ten Real-Food Workout Foods... a list of healthful snacks for active folks.

Chickpeas in the Park

3. Bacon + Cake = Yay!... a much-loved post on the combination of bacon and chocolate cake.

bacon cake!

2. Unlock the Salad Code... the secrets of stellar salads revealed!

Salad Chart

And finally, the number-one post of the year, as judged by web readers...

1. On Bread & Butter Alone... a shoot-out tasting of nine rich and creamy contenders.

Nine Butters

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and "voted" at MissGinsu.com with your eyeballs this year! It's great to know there folks out there peeping and reading.

To 2009! Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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Recession-Proof Recipes: DIY Tamales

I've noticed that after you've been blogging for a while, you find that your commenters often come up with even better material than you do. Oh, how I love online community!

A couple of my favorite blog comments can be found at the bottom of this post, in which commenter M. delves far beyond my sci-fi depth and in this post, in which an anonymous commenter has an astoundingly vast knowledge of butter.

This weekend, I received a very cool note from wine wizard Eric Hazard, who convincingly pitches this week's Recession-Proof Recipe: Homemade Tamales. What a gift!

Just about the only thing he doesn't provide is a wine pairing... although I think I'd prefer these little guys with horchata or an icy lager, myself.

Oaxacan tamale at La Loma, Minneapolis
Oaxacan tamales at La Loma, Minneapolis

From the man himself:
So, here's something to consider, since it is great way to extend meat and it is just so much fun to make: tamales.

Being from South Texas, I have long ago given up trying to find good tamales in NYC. So I took to making my own last year, and I've got it pretty well down.

Even though they look extremely difficult, the base ingredients are really simple.

Most crucial is Masa Harina. I had a devil of a time finding it in Manhattan, I'm sure it would be easier to find in the ethnic food markets in the boroughs. If not, $20 will buy plenty via Amazon. Corn husks can also be ordered, but this time of year, corn is plentiful so why not save the husks to be used later? (Plus, how cool is it to find a use for what most people would just throw away).

Tamale masa is basically a combination of the masa harina corn meal, lard, baking soda, salt and chicken stock. This forms the basis for whatever meat (or vegetable) you wish to put into the tamale. It is really tasty and really filling, making the more expensive ingredients inside go a long way.

For my filling, I use pork, cooked with green chilies, diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, and enough chicken stock to keep it honest as it slowly boils. Once finished, I run it through the food processor to chop it up and evenly distribute the flavors.

Then it is a matter of spreading the masa on the moist corn husks, laying down some filling and rolling up. The batch is then steamed for 45 minutes and you're done.

Really filling, really tasty and you can make a ton to freeze and save for later. If I had to take a guess, I'd say I can make a dozen for about $10. Most of that being the cost of pork.

As an extra bonus, the Homesick Texan just recently posted about making your own lard, so you could really go to town on the DIY tip if you were inspired.

As far as quantities for the batter, you should probably go with about a cup of fat to every four cups of masa harina. That'll yield about 35 tamales.

DIY Tamales
1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
4 cups masa harina
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

You'll also need
Your filling of choice (stewed pork, cheese, chicken, veggies, etc.)
About 40 corn husks, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
Twine or kitchen string

1. Blend lard or shortening, masa harina, soda, salt and stock together.
2. Spread about 1/4 cup of tamale batter across the center of each husk.
3. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling along the center of the batter.
4. Wrap the batter around the filling, rolling in the sides and tucking the bottom of the husk. Bind top (and bottom, if necessary) with lengths of twine or kitchen string. Repeat this process with the remaining husks, batter and filling.
5. Place two or three dimes in the bottom of a large pot fitted with a steamer basket (while it boils, they'll jingle, letting you know there's still water in the pot) and add enough water to meet the basket base, but doesn't let that level rise above it.
6. Stand the filled husks in the basket, keeping them upright, but not cramped.
7. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to keep the water simmering gently. Steam about 45 minutes.

If you really go crazy for homemade tamales, you should definitely try some Brownie Tamales while you're at it. Invite a few amigos over. Bust out the cervezas. Have a fiesta on the cheap!

Muchas gracias a Señor Hazard por una buena idea!

Salud a todos!

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Zen and the Art of Blog Maintenance

I used to reluctantly admit to food blogging as though I were revealing a shameful secret. "Um, well, yes... I write. Online. It's, you know, a kind of journal. Yes, I did go to journalism school. I suppose it is kind of like a blog. Okay, fine... It's a .. (food blog)."

I mean, even the word itself has a certain embarrassing mouthfeel to it. Blog. It's sort of damp and heavy, isn't it?

But after four years of doing this, I think I've mostly gotten over the online stigma.

Aside from 100% searchability (thanks, Google!) I think the major advantage that food blogging has over traditional food journalism is the interlinked relationships made possible through comment systems, links and forums. An online recipe (or article) isn't necessarily the static, stand-alone work of yesteryear. Nowadays, the reader is empowered (nay, encouraged!) to be more active, to immediately offer up variations, suggestions, compliments and comparisons.

Last week, the lovely Adrianna over at What I Made for Dinner bestowed a "Blogging With A Porpoise Purpose" award on this here blog.

It's very sweet, but I'll admit that I do fear online awards. Such a thing arrives at the doorstep with a grinning, gap-teethed face and a fist full of fresh responsibility. In the best-case scenario, the recipient is supposed to, in turn, bestow the award on deserving others. There's so much pressure there. What if I wrongly bestow? What if I neglect a deserving candidate?

Rather than weight anyone down with duty, I'd like to send the love without the obligation. For those who want the award, it's yours. I feel that anyone who takes the time and energy to regularly blog is driven by a purpose.

Meanwhile, as anyone who peruses food blogs very well knows, there's all kinds of luscious food blogs out there and very limited internet hours in the week.

Just like everyone else, I try to keep tabs on the big dogs of the food blog world: Chowhound, Serious Eats, Grub Street, 101 Cookbooks, Orangette, Delicious Days, The Kitchn, Eater, Chez Pim... It's a mighty reading list.

I can't read everything, but here's some of what's new-ish and tasty in my RSS:

The Guerrilla Gourmet
New blog on the block. Love the design. Love the mission.

White on Rice Couple
A lush garden, a motorcycle and the gorgeous California landscape. Always a treat to see what these kids are up to.

Food for the Thoughtless
A San Francisco food blog with bite.

Wine Hazard
To hell with Parker. Eric Hazard reviews the wines I can actually afford.

What I Made for Dinner
Adrianna describes Brooklyn motherhood and food exploration in all its harrowing, hilarious detail.

Twenty Bucks a Day
Mike Lee is trying to eat at every restaurant on the Village Voice's Cheap Chow Now list (2005). Bonne chance, Mike.

Baking Blondie
A sweet, ambitious 15-year-old food blogger with baking skillz and a good lookin' dog.


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Happy Blogiversary!

In lieu of Food Quote Friday today, this website is celebrating its 4th birthday. Yay!

Started off under the name "The Hedonista," this blog began with a silly gush of praise over Fage Yogurt. But over the years since, it's come to mean a great deal more to me.

These days, I get the biggest thrill from being able to explore all the weird and wonderful things that food brings into a life. And I get to share with and learn from all sorts of people across the web that I'd never meet otherwise.

From fellow food bloggers to random readers, you folks brighten my days. So, thanks. Thanks to everyone who's ever stopped by. Thanks to those who comment and those who link over here. You make the world seem like a small, friendly place that's filled with interested and interesting people.

Miss Ginsu

If you've been reading all along (hi, mom!) you've probably seen most everything that's come across the screen hereabouts. If not, you might have missed a thing or two. Herein, you'll find the Best of Miss Ginsu, as determined by reader visits and links.

Happy blogiversary to me and Cupcake, and also to you, dear reader.


The Best of 2008 (so far)
Bacon + Cake = Yay!... The infamous and strangely tasty bacon cake.
On Bread (and Butter) Alone... A survey of 9 butters and 1 sick food blogger.
April Fish!... In which we explore the wacky history of fishes and April 1.
Bacon + Cake = Yay!... It's far better than you'd think.
The Donut Wars... Because my donut is not necessarily your donut.
Beans on Toast Strike Back... A recipe for homemade tomatoed beans.
I Drink Your Milkshake... I do. I drink it up.
Wild Rice for Breakfast... A porridge worth waking up for.
A Revised Food Pyramid... Because the USDA could make a few adjustments.
Unlock the Salad Code... The secrets of the professional garde manger.
New Year Dog Biscuits... For four-legged friends.

The Best of 2007
The World's Lunchboxes... To-go, the world over.
Hot Artichoke Dip... Because everyone needs delicious hot dip recipe.
The Ginger Toddy... It cures what ails yeh.
The Yule Log Cake... It's a log! It's a cake! It's a log cake!
Make Your Own Bitters... In which we find out how easy (and pretty homemade bitters are.
Your Own Vinaigrette... In which we explore dressings.
A Spot of Chai... A nice method for homemade chai masala.
Sugarplums!... Yes, they do dance in my head.
Merry Citrus!... And a Fruitful New Year!
A Tale of 3 Ramen... Three great ramen shops. No weird little seasoning packets.
The Cookies of the Dead... Why Day of the Dead is cooler than Halloween.
The Power Smoothie... A power breakfast evolves.
Top-10 Real Workout Foods... Energy from natural sources. Like your kitchen.
Friday Food Quotes... Great minds, great mouths, great quotes.
The Gastrognomes!... Because Minneapolis doesn't suck.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Wretch... Why is space food so unappetizing?
Chocolate Daim Cakes... Why should IKEA have all the fun?

The Best of 2004-2006
Podunk: A Nook for Tea & Decorum... In which we explore a mysterious tea shop.
Thinking Outside The Cave... A consideration of the original pasta primavera.
Tools Make the Chef... Tips on the kitchen essentials.
Tomato + Watermelon = Friends Forever... It's a soup! It's a salad!
The Foodie's Apocalypse Kit... In which we explore better options for our Emergency Stashes.
Happy National Tortilla Chip Day... Because everyone loves a good food holiday.
Desktop Panini 101... In which we discover the secrets of desktop dining.
Garlic Challenge: Part II... In which we enjoy "bona calda."
Cold Comfort... In which we discuss the cooling refreshment of horchata.

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She Slices, Dices... & Gets Slapped with a Cease & Desist

Golly! I never realized that such a mild (and frankly, nerdy) hobby as food blogging could be so edgy. So disquieting. So dangerous.

So... get this: I just got hate mail from Ed Valenti, who is apparently one of the marketing gurus who launched Ginsu Knives into the public eye back in the late '70s.

Here's the story, according to your friend and mine, the Internet:

The knife that is now sold under the "Ginsu" name was once a blade called "Quikut" — a mild-mannered utensil manufactured in Ohio to little fanfare.

In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife... but it can't cut a tomato!

Thanks to some fast-talking ad copy, a fabricated name and the services of a Japanese foreign exchange student who appeared in the ads, a classic commercial was launched out into TV-land. The campaign was a cheesy wonder and the U.S. post was inundated with "limited-time offer" shipments of razor-sharp Ginsu knives traveling to homes across America.

Dave Choppity-Chopping

NOW how much would you pay?

Of course, as a pop-culture reference, the word "Ginsu" was also a source of good laughs. Jerry Seinfeld, Weird Al Yankovic, Notorious B.I.G. and Nas have all made sharp-sharp Ginsu knife references in their works.

That's probably why one of my fellow cooks called me "Miss Ginsu" while observing my killa fresh-outta-cooking-school knife skills. Soon thereafter I started food blogging, and I used "Miss Ginsu" as my pen-name rather than the far-less-catchy real name that my parents gave me.

But that's not all!

Fast-forward to today, when I receive this fan letter in my Gmail inbox:
Please be advised that Ginsu is a registered trademark of the Berkshire Hathaway Company. You indicate a copyright after your name. Please provisde me with any copyrights you have obtained or a letter of permission to use the mark from BH....

Ed Valenti
1775 Bald Hill Rd
Warwick,RI 02886
401 826 3600

I posted my very first food blog entry waaay back in May, 2004, and like most people who cook, eat and feel some strange need to share all that the internet, I've been blogging in obscurity ever since.

Do I make money from this site? Nope. Food blogging has been a four-year drain on my free time and my personal finances. Why do I do it? I love food. I love connecting with other people about food. I love all the things I discover about food as I travel and cook. And I love sharing that stuff.

So why does marketing guru and accomplished public speaker Ed Valenti care about harassing an obscure food blog?

Well, it all comes back to dollars. He doesn't own the word "Ginsu," nor my nickname, "Miss Ginsu," (I guess Berkshire Hathaway owns all that) but since Ed Valenti makes his money in lecture halls and marketing books about "Ginsu" concepts, it seems that he has his own business interests to protect.

...But this is a limited time offer, so call now!

So here's where you come in, dear reader. I'll probably have to change my name and my website pretty soon. I find it sad that crushing little food bloggers with legal power is sorta the way this country does business.

I used to blog as Miss Ginsu, and my blog was titled, "The Hedonista," but that got pretty confusing. People asked me, are you "The Hedonista" or Miss Ginsu? Understandable confusion.

These days, this site is about excitement and discovery and the way food discussion is relevant in nearly every aspect of our lives. I don't know if "The Hedonista" really encompasses that food exploration theme.

Anyone out there on the inter-webs have a good suggestion for a name replacement? I'll offer a T-shirt to the kind soul who comes up with a winner. Help a girl out and post in the comments. Thanks, y'all!

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Menu for Hope 2007

As many who read food blogs know, Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim has once again organized the annual Menu for Hope campaign for December 10-21, 2007.

In case you're not familiar with the concept, Menu for Hope an online raffle in which food bloggers from around the globe stop writing about food for a few minutes and focus, instead, on those who are going without.

To participate, simply buy one or (hopefully) more virtual raffle tickets for a chance at the great prizes available (see instructions, below). Tickets are priced at $10 each, and bidders may buy multiple tickets for each prize to increase the chances of winning. (Not that I'd be suggesting generous donations or anything.)

Proceeds go to the U.N. World Food Programme, which seeks to fight hunger worldwide, and the donations format is extremely effective: last year's Menu for Hope raised an eye-popping $62,925.

Chef Bunny Tote
Use Prize Code UE28 for your chance to win!

For my part, I'm offering a Chef Bunny Natural Cotton Eco-Tote from my design shop.

Chef Bunny arrives ready to leap into culinary action with a savory starter: Five aromatic spice blends custom-made by your own sassy spice girl (that'd be me). We're looking to beat last year's total this year ($100,000 anyone?), so spread the word!

If you're interested in buying into the raffle, here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from the Menu for Hope

2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make your donation(s).

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the Personal Message section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize. Use prize code: UE28 for a chance at the Chef Bunny Tote & Spices.

Many, many thanks in advance for donating, and good luck!

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Introducing: The New Chez Ginsu

Miss Ginsu & Cupcake

After months of thinking, tinkering, plotting, planning and fussing about, I'm proud to present the new & improved MissGinsu.com. (With boundless thanks to J for patiently debugging my buggy code and The Roomie for her advice on cuteness.)

It's still not perfect ("Dammit, Jim! I'm a cook, not a programmer!), but I hope that once you have look around, you'll agree it's a heck of a lot better.

The new display is best viewed on Safari and Firefox, tolerable on IE 7 and still miserably broken on IE6. If you're on a PC and you don't have Firefox yet, you can download it here for free and get the whole awesome Miss Ginsu experience.

What's Changed
  • The Name: Is the site called, The Hedonista? Is it called, Miss Ginsu? In truth, it was supposed to be "The Hedonista: A Food Blog by Miss Ginsu", but it was pretty confusing. That's over now. We're going totally Miss Ginsu from here on out.

  • Simplified Navigation: The navigation bar has been stripped down to the basics: Tasty Places to go, tantalizing Recipes to cook and our favorite Food Finds. Looking for something? Check out the search bar (at right) or browse the archive.

  • The Color Scheme: It's brighter, happier and more diner-like.

  • The Miss Ginsus: The place is chock-full of 'em. Why? Well, why not? They're cute. And we think the world could use more cute. Also: Naps. But we'll work on cute for now.

Meanwhile thanks for reading, and I hope you like the new look!

-Miss G.

PS: Completely unrelated, but also important... The Roomie wants anyone knitty (or crochety) to know that the Love Keeps You Warm program could really use scarves or yarn donations to help warm folks that are living with HIV/AIDS. If you have skillz, scarves or a bunch of extra yarn sitting around, contact Diana Previtire at Actor's Equity NYC before November 30. More info on the flyer at Miss Heather's Greenpoint Dog Log Blog.

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Food bloggers, you are being watched.

They know what you're thinking. They record what you're typing. They're snatching up excerpts.

Though you may sometimes believe you're addressing an empty auditorium (hear that echo?), research companies are listening. And reporting.

One of the latest "well, this shouldn't be shocking" findings to cross my desk is the revelation that companies have now established themselves as experts on the "blogosphere," mining the web for blogs, newsgroups and comment threads that indicate consumer preferences. They then distill all they find into whitepapers and research to distribute to companies.

(This is a great business model, by the way... they dig through what's free for the taking, digest it, and sell the findings. It's like foraging in the woods for mushrooms, but with less physical mud beneath the fingernails.)

Case in point: the lead story on Umbria, a market intelligence company specializing in blog chatter. Umbria has determined that "Low Carb is Out, Organic is In" and has published a whitepaper to this effect.

From April through June, 2006, Umbria's agents monitored the blogosphere to understand key trends in Organic food purchasing, specifically: where, what, why and for whom.

They targeted their research for conversations about Wild Oats Markets, Whole Foods Market, Safeway and Wal-Mart and provide an "interesting cross-section of attitudes and trends related to Organic purchasing across a broad range of income levels and geographic accessibility."

I know you're busy and protective of your email address, so I'll summarize the results for you:
Those online talking about Organic foods are overwhelmingly female, a fact that's particularly interesting when you look at the total number of women (segmented into Boomer, Gen X and Gen Y age ranges) who blog and comment.

Conversation was punctuated by the April release of Michael Pollan's hot-topic book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and Wal-Mart's May announcement of a big push into the Organic marketplace.

Wild Oats and Whole Foods tend to dominate discussions about Organic foods. Few bloggers seemed randy about trucking over to Wal-Mart for their Organics.

Women in the Gen Y group (15-30) appear to be the most salivation-worthy bunch from the perspective of retailers (apparently they love browsing and shopping at high-end Organic shops) and there's a "give 'em samples!" recommendation.

When it comes to Organic purchases, people are not as concerned about the environment, as they are about flavor, their health and the well-being of their kids and pets.

Also... some people think Organic foods are too expensive, snooty, hippie or just far too much ado about nothing.
It's only ten pages. You can go read it for yourself, but that's pretty much the gist of it.

Maybe I'm way off base here, but I really believe that the demise of the Organic philosophy came as soon as the US bill for the government certification of Organic foods was signed into law back in 2002. Wal-Mart just happens to be the most obvious of the nails in the Organic foods coffin.

Why? Well, it takes $400-$2,000/year and at least three years to be certified Organic by the government. That's meant to ensure quality and avoid fraud, but it's still a lot of cash for a little farm. Thereafter, there's a lot of paperwork and inspections. And if you grow organically managed lettuce but live beside to someone who chooses to spray, there's no way you can be certified.

That's why a lot of small-scale farmers choose to say they're "all natural" or "organically managed," or use "integrated pest management" (think: ladybugs).

Organic foods can be shipped from across the country or around the world, losing nutritive value as they age in transit, using up a bunch of fossil fuel in the process and robbing your local economy of an agricultural income source.

What Michael Pollan gets at is this: The absolute best way to ensure your vegetables are raised in the way in which you would grow them yourself (if only you had the time) is to know your farmers. We need to be able to look someone in the eye, have a conversation, and know that the eggs we're buying aren't from miserable, debeaked chickens stuffed into tiny laying boxes.

Unfortunately, we live in little enclaves separated from our local neighbors and craftsmen. We shop at big national stores, and we talk about those stores as if they ensure something virtuous for our food purchases. They don't. Walk around Whole Foods and do your own survey of what's local, what's Organic and what's conventionally sprayed produce flown in from Chile.

I wish I had the time and opportunity to source everything I buy. I can't. I have a day job. So I do the best I can. I get eggs, fruits and vegetables from my Community Supported Agriculture group, which is supplied by Eve, from Garden of Eve farm on Long Island. I've met her. She doesn't seem evil to me.

We get milk and yogurt from Hawthorn Valley Farm or Ronnybrook at the NYC Farmers' Markets.

J. picks up turkey sausage from DiPaolo farms and cheese and bread from Anne Saxelby at the Essex Street Market. She's passionate about cheese, she rides a cute bicycle and all her stuff is artisanally-made American foods.

That's not to say that I'm never going to savor a Hawaiian pineapple or a Florida orange. Sometimes you gotta get a nice box of Clementine oranges to stave off the scurvy. But the more you purchase locally from actual people, the more you do for your neighborhood, state and region.

Buying from local farmers means you stay in touch with the seasons (wow! the first pumpkins are showing up at the market! cool!), you feel proud about the successes of your neighbors, and you enjoy food quality and regional variety that just doesn't ship well.

Umbria can go on all they like about how hot Organic foods are. Maybe they are hot. But they're not the real answer.

The real answer is good food made by people who actually care about it and about you. And there's nobody who can slap a certification on that... except you.

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Wookin' pa nub... and recipes

I know what you're looking for.

Thanks to the wonders of the web age (such as site statistics), I can now confirm all kinds of suspicions that would have been simple conjecture back the early days of blogging.

I know, for example, how many of you are reading this piece right now. (Not many, since I know that most of you don't really read blogs like this on the weekends.) I know that a lot of you sneak peeks during the workday. I know that a whole heaping bunch of you use Google to do your searching and you're checking out the web on a Windows machine with Internet Explorer.

I know how you got here, and according to my the data provided by hosting client, I get the tiniest inkling of what was through your head right before you got here.

Turns out, you folks are very interested in food. And sex. Very id, yes? (Also very predictable. This is the internet, after all, and it may have been created for military use and research, but it belongs to everyone now, and deep down, people are pretty attached to their vices.)

Here's a few recent searches:

  • how to make black walnut hull tincture (Good question. Anyone know this one?)

  • pierre herme chocolates in paris (Clearly a web user with good taste and deep pockets.)

  • patel brothers in nyc (Here's Patel's in Minneapolis and Patel Brothers in Queens.)

  • mahnomin porridge recipe (I wish I knew. I'll do some research and post the results.)

  • bad things that christopher columbus did (You should probably check the Wikipedia entry.)

  • organic hot chocolate reviews (Try Dagoba)

  • n.y. style spiedie marinade recipe (Links to recipes plus sandwich history here.)

  • cooking huitlacoche rice recipe (I don't have one. But you can find one here.)

  • wasted drunk (Sorry. I got nothin' for ya.)

  • apocalypse kit (No foodie should let an apocalypse start before they buy these things.)

  • aphrodisiac ingredient list (Check with this book.)

  • tomato haiku (Simple. Efficient. Elegant. Tomato Haiku is my medium of choice.)

  • tomato and watermelon salad (Far tastier than you'd guess.)

  • holy shit a talking muffin (Yay! My favorite muffin joke!)
  • And, quite surprisingly, these are the most popular searches of all...
  • miss ginsu (Aw, thanks!)

  • what is kritamo (A valid question. A valid answer here.)

  • marshmallowy treats (Maybe marshmallowy Peeps?)

  • how to make wild lard and recipes (This was a strangely popular search for Canadians. A terrific lard tutorial [how often do you get to say that?] can be found on An Obsession with Food)

  • bona calda recipe (Find both garlic love and bona calda info here.)
  • You guys like strange things. And it seems like you enjoy learning. Bully for you. I'm all for that.

    With all this in mind, you can be sure I'll continue peeking into the dimly lit corners of the world, unearthing more recipes, tutorials and sources for strange and wonderful foods. You're on your own for the sex and drinkin'.

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    Film v. Digital... the tradeoff for convenience

    I take a lot of photos, and as anyone who eats with me can attest, 80 percent of those photos are food shots done with my stealthy little Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital Elph.

    I love it because it's about as small and heavy as a deck of cards, which makes it fantastic for quick little things like this:

    Lunch at Iposa in Barcelona.

    (BTW: The salmon was fair, the pork was very nice and the lunch menu price was simply super: 6 EU for an entrée, beverage and coffee. Plus, it's around the corner from the Boqueria. I score it at two spoons out of five.)

    While packing for Spain I glanced at my trusty (but dusty) old Pentax camera. It's a lovely SLR film version (the PZ-20, to be precise), and I wondered if my digital mania came at the cost of some image beauty. Should I even keep the old gray mare? I hadn't touched the poor thing in years... So to perform a test, I made the trek to B&H (which really is worth it just to see all the wonder that is B&H) for a new battery and some fresh rolls of Fuji film (my fave).

    I took both along to Spain and used the digi for stealthy restaurant shots and the SLR for obviously touristy stuff. I just got back my 1-hour film developing, and you can see the head-to-head results here:

    These are both images taken at Gaudi's fabulous (and as-of-yet unfinished) Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona. The one on the left is film, the one on the right is digital. Click into each of them to get the larger versions.

    Now, aside from a size difference and a difference in overall hue, look at the detail in the film version. The digital blows out in the lightest areas and doesn't pick up the delicate shapes of the shadows. Comparatively, the film version has such crisp lines and such touchable depth, it makes the digital version look flat and dull. The film version makes my stomach jump with its color and beautiful light handling. The digital one is merely... okay.

    Of course I knew film was superior, but still: wow. I'm a bit shocked at the difference. I know all the digital benefits, of course... less fuss, less expense, fewer nasty chemicals in the processing, less looking like an idiot tourist or even worse, a theft target.

    And yet, I also wonder how less tasty my food photos look. How much more lush tomato goodness would we see in this photo? How many moments are now captured as pale, digital index cards rather than vivid, tantalizingly rendered images?

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    Adam Kuban: The Burger King

    Behold! The Butterburger!

    Just to let you know... Sassy-smart food blogger Adam Kuban just launched his freshest new venture, A Hamburger Today, with hope of glorifying the burger genre with the same adoring eye he's lent his beloved slice.

    This baby's bicoastal (although I'd bet the barn that the finest burgers come straight outta the heartland), and I foresee ample fodder for old-school web-style flame wars over the finest in flame-broiled.

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