How to make carrot juice “caviar” – Wired News 5.5.08

This is kind of cool, making “caviar” from carrot juice and sodium alginate – totally geeky and foodie at the same time.

I wonder what it tastes like. Maybe the mouth-feel is there, but the flavor? I mean, I guess caviar doesn’t taste like much, but it sure doesn’t taste like carrot juice!

It’s all in the yolk.

A buzz in health news headlines of the past few days has been this recent study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that eating more than 7 eggs per week causes increased risk of heart disease. This was a 20 year long study done on over 20 000 “Harvard-educated male physicians” who like to eat more than one egg a day. There are flaws in the study, and I am not about to do a critical review on it, but the authors did point out an important thing, which is that eating more saturated and trans fats does worse for your blood cholesterol than does actually eating more cholesterol. But obviously, eating more than 7 eggs a week does seem a bit much.

Another recent buzz may get a lot of people confused (or rolling their eyes at scientific research) – which is that eating more eggs can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 24 percent. The study was actually online before print in January and will be published in the June issue of the FASEB Journal. It is supported by previous findings that eating an egg a day or at least 6 eggs a week leads to a significant reduced risk of breast cancer. This is thanks to choline, present only in egg yolks (which also happens to be the cholesterol culprit. Ah, where is the happy medium?).

The good news is, if you want your choline and are worried about cholesterol, or are vegan, whatever, choline can also be found in coffee, skim milk, cauliflower, liver, and wheat germ (egg yolks provide about 25% of the daily supply).

And depending on whether you are an egg-lover or egg-hater, you can use either of these studies to back you up when you are in an argument. This is why I love being a research scientist.

2008 Golden Plates Awards

GP2008

The results for the Reader’s Choice 2008 Golden Plates Awards were published in The Straight today, with West Restaurant getting top honours.

There are some pretty bad choices that should never have even ended up on the list (Hons, for example.) But there are a few I agree with: Terra Breads beat out Cobs in the Bread category, as it should. Burgoo also got top Soup place (of course, but really there aren’t other choices for soup). And my favorite place to have fish – The Cannery, also got best Fish.

 There are also several additional categories from the Critic’s choices.

Brit Flavor: Tea, jam and cookies

We live in a time when we can – without ever changing out of our PJs – easily order some authentic food item from overseas and be eating it the very next day. But there is nothing like walking down the aisles of a store, seeing and touching things, especially if those things are imported and invoke some kind of nostalgia.

Growing up in Hong Kong when it was still a British colony, you are not exposed to a lot of traditional English cuisine per se, but you could buy the many imported packaged goods on the market. Especially things like biscuits, candies, chocolate, other confectioneries. For me it was Fruitips, Polo mints, and the original Lucozade in the glass bottles (otherwise I probably had more Asian junkfood). I think my mother would reminisce about things like McVities digestives.

Of course, McVities and Fruitips are not foreign to our supermarkets. But if you grew up on this continent you’d probably only have seen them in one light – North American packaging. A far cry from their original incarnations – which when encountered invoke much nostalgia for the non-indigenous folks. One place you can experience this kind of kid-in-a-yesteryear-candy-store-nostaglia is at the British Home Store in Steveston. It’s a little shop, but they have tons of British goodies – cookies, teas, spreads, chocolate, candy- all in their original packaging, and freshly made treats like pies and stuff. Bought some goodies, some of my mother’s favorites (I think):

UK Goods

 Essex apricot jam from Tiptree.

Fox’s Ginger Snaps.

Irish Breakfast tea from Taylors of Harrogate. (Irish Breakfast is not quite the same as English Breakfast, it has a slightly stronger flavor but is similarly comforting. It is not easy to find. They have them at The Secret Garden tea house, but as loose tea leaves and not bags. Twinnings sell boxes of IB tea bags, but no store I have been to have had them in stock.)

What is really a shame is that the city has decided to let developers tear down years of history on this block of Steveston Village full of its little speciality stores and heritage buildings, including the British Home Store, to build condominiums. That’s right, this very landmark Steveston block that has stood in Richmond since what seems like the beginning of time. Luckily the British Home Store will be relocating elsewhere in Steveston, but still, the whole thing angers me.

British Home Store

3986 Moncton Street (corner of Moncton and No. 1 Rd), Steveston Village, Richmond

Yakitate!! Japan

Yakitate Japan

Yakitate!! Japan

I’m hooked on Yakitate!! Japan right now. This is a 69-episode anime about a young and talented bread-maker named Azuma Kazuma who wants to create the ultimate Japanese national bread, or “Ja-pan” (pan = Japanese for bread). Azuma leaves the country side for Tokyo to train at Pantasia, the biggest bakery chain in Japan. The story is about him, his coworkers, the breads they create, and baking competitions. It’s like Iron Chef but as an animated soap opera, and all about bread making. Crap that just gets me all salivating and giddy.

Yakitate! Japan

There is some extreme comic fictitiousness to it all, like Azuma’s legendary “Solar Hands” (hands capable of forming awesome bread dough because they are warmer than body temperature), or a croissant with something like 500 layers. But the thing I find impressive about Yakitate (Yakitate = “freshly baked”) is that the science of bread-making is both preserved and not overlooked. For all the breads they would explain how a certain taste, texture, or some other aspect of the bread is achieved, or why an ingredient works the way it does. But that never takes away from the plot or becomes a bore. An example is the goat’s milk substitution in Episode 5: Azuma made bread using milk from a goat instead of a cow. This prevents allergic reactions to milk, because the most common allergen found in cow’s milk (Alpha S1-Casein) is not present in goat’s milk. It was also explained that goat’s milk make bread taste better because it has smaller fat particles, so more of the particles fit into the dough compared to cow’s milk, making the bread more flavorful. Here’s a screen cap of that explanation, so cute:

Bread dough

 

And this scene brought back memories of my recent visit to Kei’s Bakery (but it is reminiscent of many Asian French-inspired bakeries too):

Yakitate

Anyway, highly recommend for anybody remotely interested in breads and pastries – whether you like making them, or just devouring them. It’s an entertaining and hilarious anime, beautifully directed, but one thing that sets it apart is that it is also surprisingly informative. And makes you salivate and want to make bread afterwards. The manga is also available in English now on Amazon.

World Food Day (And World Bread Day)

WFD 07

The right to food is more than the right to basic staples or to sufficient dietary energy. It means an amount and variety of food sufficient to meet all of one’s nutritional needs for a healthy and active life.

-The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Today is World Food Day. This year’s theme is The Right to Food – which was officially declared a human right by the UN in 1948. It is pretty obvious that while we in the developed world are living in total gluttony, day in and day out, so many others go through days without a meal. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to live every minute with a growl in my stomach. Of course we aren’t doing enough:

hunger map

So take a minute before you throw out those left overs today. On World Food Day, the least you can do is throw a can or two into a food bank bin, after you and your buggy stroll down the fully-loaded aisles of your local supermarket.

WFD07

(All images copyright FAO)

On a lighter note- today is also World Bread Day. As usual, I had a piece of my favorite Alpine Grain toast this morning. It is awesome bread and I savour every bite of it.