Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


I can haz cute now?

Had a terrific trip to upstate New York yesterday to tour Ronnybrook Farm and nearby Coach Farm.

I'll get into the dairy details and post some tasty video soon enough, but I wanted to get to the cream first: all the squishably adorable baby animals.

Behold, my friends... the cute.

Jersey Calf at Ronnybrook
A charming Jersey calf at Ronnybook Farm. Check out that little black tongue.

Newborn Dairy Cow at Ronnybrook Farm
Newborn dairy cow at Ronnybrook Farm. Those nose freckles are killing me.

O Hai. A wee little kid at Coach Farm
O hai... a wee little kid at Coach Farm.

A slightly older, cock-headed goat at Coach Farm
A slightly older, cock-headed goat at Coach Farm.

Yet another charming Alpine goat at Coach Farm
Yet another charming Alpine goat at Coach Farm.

Yours in love of cuteness,
Miss Ginsu

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Resolution #3: Get Cultured

There's nothing like the zeal of the convert, and ever since I started getting regular doses of probiotics in my diet, I can't shut up about 'em.

After years of having a constantly grumpy tummy, the belly is soothed and I feel my overall health is better. Thank you, gut flora.

Fermented milk products like yogurt or kefir are an obvious way to get the probiotic party started, but not everyone eats dairy, so those folks can look to fermented plant products like pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kombucha for their healthy bacteria.

Probiotic Party

I eat yogurt almost daily now and have a happy flora party rocking out in my guts, so as a good party host, I want to make sure my little guests have snacks they enjoy.

As it turns out, gut flora like soybeans, unrefined oats, wheat and barley and foods that contain inulin, like onions, garlic, jicama, burdock, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root and dandelion.

So in that spirit, this wellness resolution is all about getting (and growing) my active cultures. I'll now be on the lookout for ways to boost inulin, like adding jicama to my favorite mango salsa. After all, what's a probiotic party without salsa?

Jicama Mango Salsa (Makes 6 to 8 servings)
1 lb jicama (1 medium root): peeled diced
1 medium cucumber: peeled, seeded and diced
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 to 3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine diced jicama, cucumber and mango with minced onion, jalapeno and cilantro.
2. In another bowl, mix together the cumin and lime juice. Slowly pour in the olive oil, incorporating it with a whisk.
3. Dress the jicama-mango mix with the lime dressing and season to taste with salt. Spoon over grilled meat, chicken or fish, or serve with tortilla chips or tacos.

Two more wellness resolutions on the way...

To our health!
Miss Ginsu

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Faux Yo?

With new fro-yo joints spreading like a plague around the city, proclaiming health superiority, probiotic power and "live & active cultures," I got to thinking back to junior high biology... could frozen yogurt really could support active bacterial cultures? I mean, isn't freezing one of those things we do to food to stop the growth of bacteria?

Susky Banana Rama
Fro-Yo... no better than the Susky Banana Rama?

So I wrote to food science writer Harold McGee for the, er, scoop:
Mr. McGee,

I've seen a lot of ads for probiotic products at frozen yogurt shops as of late. I understand the desire for healthy flora, but doesn't the process of freezing a yogurt kill off the little buggers? It doesn't seem like a frozen yogurt could possibly do much good for the intestines.

Best Regards,
Miss G.


Miss G,

Freezing does kill some but not all of the bugs, so if they've "fortified" with probiotics, you'll get something. If it's just standard froyo, then the yogurt is diluted with lots of sugar and other stuff and you'll get less.

Best wishes,

Aha! So it is possible to get some helpful cultures in the tummy though your Pinkberry, but somehow I think it's still better for the belly to eat un-frozen yogurt.

Heidi Swanson of (101 cookbooks) posted a very tasty-looking (not to mention easy looking) vanilla frozen yogurt on her site that I'm planning to try out, but I view that as fun, not filled with health benefits.

Meanwhile, I'll stick with morning yogurt and granola or smoothies to feed my belly buggies. But given the popularity of fro-yo, I'm probably alone in my suspicions that it's no good for you at all.

So what about you, reader? Do you consider the care and feeding of your internal flora? Or do you let the little guys fend for themselves? If you've got a minute, drop a note and let me know.


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Italian Pecorino Cheese: A How-To Video

In my short career in video blogging, I've run through making fresh paneer cheese, watching the Salvatore Ricotta folks stuff cheese into cannoli and now, my latest clip documents the making of uber-traditional pecorino in the Italian countryside.

I'm afraid you'll start to believe I'm a bit cheese-obsessed. I assure you, the theme is entirely coincidental. I swear the next video will be about something other than cheese.

Meanwhile, I have to say, this is really my favorite clip yet, featuring some truly charming Italian sheep and goats I met in the mountains of Abruzzo while on a farm stay near Sora, Italy. They were excellent actors, all. Very cooperative.

Abruzzo, Italy

A very charming goat

Sheep stomach

You'll notice that, in making the cheese, the shepherd uses nothing more than milk in a big, black cauldron, a stick(!), some sheep's stomach and coarse salt. That's it. There's a campfire on hand for making ricotta, which is a byproduct of his pecorino processing.

Aside from the shepherd's snazzy threads, there's very little here that's any different from the way people have been making cheese for thousands of years.

Looks easy, no? But before you go and get yourself a herd of your own, know this: the shepherd and his wife get up before dawn every day to do this. Weekends. Holidays. Every day. There's no vacation from a herd of sheep and goats.

Meanwhile, I secreted a wheel of this very cheese back to the states in my luggage and am going to ask Anne Saxelby to nestle it in her cave to age for a bit. We'll see how it tastes after it's had a few months to rest.

Cheers, ya'll!

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