The Nutritional Value of Ice

You would think everyone would know the nutritional value of ice after all it’s just frozen water and water has ZERO nutritional value.  Apparently that thought was lost on some government bureaucrat in North Carolina.  I offer as evidence a photo of the bag of ice I bought just before Thanksgiving.

Zero – Zero – Zero – Zero – Zero and Zero

What the ? !  Nutrition Facts for Ice? !  This is too much!  Has our nation’s education level sunk so low that consumers need to be told that ICE has ZERO calories?  ZERO – no fat either, or sodium. Potassium and carbohydrates are ZERO too, and let’s not forget protein, a solid ZERO as well.  Did some overzealous nutrition nut call the state and complain they weren’t getting enough information about the ice they bought.  Water that is “purified water from the mountains of western North Carolina” according to the bag.  I won’t go on a tangent discussion of what might have been purified out of the water – let’s just leave it as “purified.”

It was great ice – as ice goes – but truthfully I wasn’t expecting a lot.  Cold and tasteless is my favorite type of ice. I didn’t expect to have stronger muscles from protein or higher blood pressure from too much salt.  I was just buying ice for the holiday.

If you actually took time to read the Nutrition Facts above your sharp eyes and keen intellect might have wondered how there was 56 servings in one bag of ice.  It was a 20 pound bag!  I had never seen a 20 pound bag of ice before but when I need ice I’ll look for it again.  The bag had EZ grip handles at the top for carrying the bag home and as an added bonus the bag is 100% recyclable; just what you would expect from a company that distributes purified water with no calories from fat.

What’s Next for Nutrition Labeling

What lame-brained government official decided that ice needed a nutrition label and wrote that law into their regulations?  What’s next?  Nutrition labels on kitchen faucets?  However will we know if the water we drink can make us fat (Hint, it’s not the water it’s what we put in the water that’s making us fat.)  A shot of bourbon does tend to add to the enjoyment of ice but even after several shots of bourbon I can still tell you it’s the alcohol not the ice that’s causing me problems.

Grow up legislators! Ice is not the enemy of America.  Assume we consumers have a bit of common sense.  I don’t mind being reminded by an ice cream container that there’s lots of fat and sugar.  I will have fewer and smaller scoops if I take the time to read  the label; but ice, get real.  Requiring  the nutrition facts about ice to be printed on a bag; that’s government intervention gone too far.  It’s time to revolt and take back our frozen water and our sanity.

I’ll stop ranting by the next blog – if you’re not already being notified when new blogs are posted fill out the Follow This Blog box in the right column.  In the meantime, do you have a pet peeve about labeling – or water?

 


Thanksgiving Food for a Small Family

Ybtky_2b

(Photo credit: gvgoebel)

This year there will be 6 of us eating turkey.  Seven people will be at the table but the youngest member is what some people might all a picky eater.  I have other words for a child that passes on mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  The problem of cooking for a small family is that if we served everyone’s favorite our dinner would consist of: deviled eggs, turkey, dressing (traditional, cornbread and oyster), gravy (one with giblets and one without), cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray I love you fresh stewed with oranges and red wine), mashed potatoes, potato salad, rice, macaroni and cheese (or as the granddaughter said “the good kind, homemade not out of the box,” green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole with pecan topping, sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping, dinner rolls, butter, some type of green salad, a bottle of wine or maybe a Mimosa, pecan pie, coconut cake, key lime pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and chocolate cake.  Do you see a problem?  As much as I like food even I can see that’s too much food.  We may live in a land of plenty but that menu is plenty too much.

Thanksgiving Past

Personally I would be happy going to a restaurant, that is until Friday arrived and there was no leftover turkey to make into a sandwich.  Normally I prefer multigrain bread but for a down home true leftover turkey sandwich you can’t beat plain old white bread – slathered with mayo and heavily salted.  It’s an eating sin I live with during the holidays:  too much fat and  too much salt. Some people top their post-Thanksgiving sandwiches with dressing and cranberry sauce but that’s too much; make it plain and simple for me – reminiscent of my childhood.  Years ago we had traditional Norman Rockwell holiday meals with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins around the table.  All the food spread out on a table with the turkey as the crowning glory at the table’s head.  Whether he carved or not my memory recalls my grandfather carving the perfectly roasted bird for the assembled family members.  Was wine served?  With the adults involved it should have been but I don’t know; I, after all, was just a child and intent of stuffing my face not observing what the old people at the big table were doing.

English: A small plate with a serving of mashe...

Remembering my grandmother’s kitchen it’s amazing she could amass such a feast.  I’m sure every family brought something and it must have gone immediately to the table as each group arrived.  There would have been no room in the kitchen.  Many modern homes have closets larger than that kitchen.  Yet the best food in the world came out of that tiny room.

More Food, Why Yes I Believe  I Do

One Thanksgiving tradition never changes.  I’ve been grocery shopping once and even with a pared down menu I still have my 2nd list of things that were forgotten on the first trip.  Will there be a third trip?  Probably, even though it’s a small family I want my grandchildren to remember a festive and full Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite holiday food?  and no fair saying “dessert.”

 


To Raisin or Not to Raisin

English: A pile of Sunmaid raisins.

Let me be truthful and admit right here and now and be up front about this issue.   I’m on the “Not” side of putting raisins in food.  As I was preparing my list of foods that taste better without raisins I asked a friend for confirmation.  She listened to my list and was shocked, yes shocked, that I thought oatmeal cookies were better without raisins.  Obviously we can’t be stranded on a desert island together if she is going to have such outlandish food tastes.  I shudder to think what she must put in her sweet potato casserole.

Best Comfort Food (Without raisins)

Creole Bread Pudding with Vanilla Whiskey Sauc...

What got me thinking about raisins was actually bread pudding; the ultimate comfort food. It’s so sweet and loaded with carbohydrates; any who reads this blog regularly knows those are my two favorite food groups.  I once had a bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts.  It was too light and fluffy, like the donuts but something was missing.  Bread pudding should be able to stand on its own.  Sure it’s called pudding but that’s a misnomer actually it should be called “bread with some pudding to moisten and sweeten it” but I guess that name’s too long for most cookbooks and restaurant menus.  Back to the main topic:  I’ll dine on a bread pudding with raisins swimming among the bread because those tiny dried grapes are easy to spot and scoop out as I’m eating but oatmeal cookies that’s another thing.  Raisins in oatmeal cookies are harder, in fact it is near impossible to not eat the raisins.

Too many bakeries ruin what should be a morning treat of cinnamon toast by pouring in the raisins.  What, do I look like I need more fiber?  No my brain is attuned to pleasure not pretending by eating a few raisins in my French toast I will have a healthy day.  Oatmeal is for healthy days. Cinnamon toast is for delightfully sinful days.

OK Food (With raisins)

Raisins

(Photo credit: huppypie)

I’m not anti-raisin.  There are a few foods I like that raisins make better.  Carrot salad is one that comes to mind especially if the carrot salad has chopped up pineapple as well.  Celery is ok for crunch but it needs to be finely chopped and added with a light touch. It is almost lunch time and needless to say my mind is wandering.  When I finally head out the door it will be a strange combination of foods that I’m craving.  First though I need to finish my thoughts.

Trail mix; you can’t have a decent trail mix without some raisins.  That seems to go back to the idea that raisins go best in foods that appear to be good for you.  Apparently the flavors of raisin and pineapple meld because it’s not trail mix for me without those two ingredients.  For a midday snack a small box of raisins does hit the spot.  It’s convenient and doesn’t leave powder sugar all over my blouse or cherry stains on my fingers.

And the Winner is!

What’s the score? Three food ideas for raisins, three against.  In my electoral college the “Nots” just won.  It’s a rather complicated voting system – too long to explain here just accept the fact that raisins do not belong on my list of sweet treats.

Join the conversation – are you for or against raisins?  Leave a comment below.

 


A pimento by any other name is

Recently I agreed to go back to work for a month to fill in for a sick employee.  Yes, I’m tired at the end of the day and lots of things are left undone at home but one of the greatest reasons for returning is the pimento cheese sandwiches.  Growing up I didn’t know Pimento cheese was a Southern tradition; it was just something that was part of our weekly food fare.  Usually it came in a plastic tub from Publix – Ruth’s brand I think – but occasionally mother would make it from scratch.

Pimento cheese on Ritz crackers.

I’m an advocate of the pimento cheese at Agnes Scott College in Decatur. It was the first item to my “to eat” list when I returned. The college’s pimento cheese has just the right touch of heat to offset the cheese and mayonnaise.  For you non-Southerners let me explain:- the name says it all – pimento cheese.  Take sharp cheddar cheese (I prefer grated) – add mayonnaise and a handful of pimentos for color. Mash it all together. Maybe add some salt and pepper in case you think cheese and pimentos don’t already have enough sodium and your arteries haven’t already slammed shut.  That’s the basics for purists but then come the recipe changers adding cream cheese, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, jalapenos, even onions, garlic and dill pickles.  Needless to say I’m on the purist side of the fence but I need to find out what small extra spice is added to Agnes Scott’s pimento cheese.

Sadly when I worked there full time I ate a few too many sandwiches and my cholesterol level sky rocketed 20 points.  The next checkup, after I pulled back on my p.c.sandwich consumption, the cholesterol was back down to doctor smiling numbers.  I have no idea how high the cholesterol is of fellow employees I see spreading mayonnaise on their bread or putting a few strips of bacon on top.  I can’t fathom medical numbers that high.

Green Spanish olives stuffed with pimento visible

Taste buds and medical tests aside what is a pimento anyway? Yes it’s the red thing in olives and I was too old to admit it before I realized olives didn’t grow with the red center.  Ahh childhood innocence.  And little strings of pimento don’t grow on bushes; pimento is just another name for a variety of cherry tomato.  A cherry tomato that has one of the lowest Scoville scale ratings of any chili pepper.  How boring. I could probably grow pimentos in my garden; not exotic at all.

Is your mind going where my mind went?  Who thought of the idea of taking an olive, pushing the seed out and replacing it with a piece of pepper?  That’s a lot of work; first cutting up the pepper then pushing out the pit and finally stuffing it with that small red pepper. Why?  Were stuffed olives gourmet foods for royalty?

Of course the industrial revolution changed everything and machines were invented with a hydraulic pump to shoot the pimento in the olive while at the same time shooting the pit out the other side. As I’ve now been researching pimentos I read that even that is passé in many companies.  To save money batches of pimentos are pureed and formed into strips that are held together with guar gum.  Sadly besides destroying the beauty that is a pimento strip it apparently means someone with a peanut allergy could have a reaction to the guar gum.   Next trip to the grocery store I’ll check the labels before buying my olives.  Back to basics – buy real pimentos!

Once, in a fancy overpriced restaurant, I ordered pimento cheese balls – breaded and deep-fried.  Nope, if I’m going to raise my cholesterol stats let it be with traditional pimento cheese.  Comfort food on white bread.

What other food delicacy will I find while back at gainful employment?  Who knows.  I’m hoping for the bread pudding before I leave the campus again.  Stick around and see what new food is explored here on FoodThoughts.  Sign up on the right to receive an email update when new entries are posted in this blog.


Fall Food is Coming!

 

Fall Food is Coming!  I need a megaphone so I can run up and down the street letting everyone know – Fall Food is Coming!

sweater

(Photo credit: saxarocks)

It was 56 degrees this morning – time to pull out the woolen sweaters.  Yes, I do live in the South and 56 is chilly. Perhaps a heavy sweater is a bit too dramatic; a long sleeve shirt will work.  I would say layered but it warms up pretty quickly so a long sleeve shirt that you can roll up the sleeves would be best; then you don’t have to carry that 2nd piece of clothing around with you.

Food – This Blog is Supposed to Be About Food Not Fashion

But clothing is not what this blog is about – it’s about food – random thoughts about food.   Let me random you this – roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and fragrant spices.  Soup:  soup sounds good too.  With Christmas trees already in some stores it’s probably too late to be thinking harvest treats like popcorn balls and caramel apples but they are on my mind right now.  It feels good to stand in the kitchen look out the window and anticipate the fall colors soon to arrive on the trees.  It’s also good to contemplate the end of mowing the lawn for the year.

The Book of Ecclesiastes comes to mind – and with that Pete Seeger.  To everything there is a season.  After the long hot summer we’ve had this upcoming season with its earthy scents like pumpkin and sage is overdue.  I’m taking a deep breath here in anticipation of smells to come.

Yes today is random day.  I’m leafing through cookbooks searching for fall inspiration and yes it is more fun to look at cookbooks and then use the internet to find variations on an interesting recipe.

An Old Fall Food Favorite

Here’s an old favorite I need to mix up and enjoy while I read.

Russian Tea – for relaxing and sharing with friends

russian tea mix

(Photo credit: heatherknitz)

1 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Instant Tea

1 pkg lemonade mix (my original recipe called for Wyler’s – I’m sure Kool-Aid would work just as well)

1 small jar Tang or 1/3 of a 27 oz. jar)

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

As you have surmised this recipe makes more than 1 teacup full and needs to be stored in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Back in the day, the 70’s, it was popular to make this mix up and put in mason jars to use as gifts.  Humm – I wonder if anyone does that anymore. FYI: You would need about 2 tsp. for a single cup of tea.

Almost Twin Breads

Oddly in my recipe card file book I have Pumpkin Bread and Zucchini Bread stored in the same slot.  After reading them I can see why.  They are virtually the same recipe except for the summer vegetable zucchini or the fall/winter pumpkin.  The summer squash treat gets vanilla while the dark delicious gourd version has nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.  Interesting?  I wonder if I realized that when I put the recipes away or if I had just run out of spaces.

All that aside I’ll be camping this weekend so anticipate a few rounds of S-mores before crawling into the sleeping bag.  Life is good – even if a bit random today.

English: A S'mores made with a half a Hershey'...

Will life be less random next week?  I don’t know.  If you’d like to know sign up on the right to receive an email when new thoughts will be  posted.

 


The Unknown Food Server

 

The idea hit like a bolt of lightning: I was the unknown food server.  It started with an urgent plea from the local band boosters for help in the concession stand.  Why not?  Another notch in the belt of things I have never done before.  I checked with the granddaughter who goes to the football games to ask what was I thought a simple question “what do the folk in the concession stand wear?  Team colors, shirts with the school’s mascot? Shorts or jeans?

Body Parts – I’m Now Just Body Parts

The reply came swiftly from the child that can take an hour to decide which the perfect color of blue is before purchasing jeans.  “I don’t know.”

Hand

(Photo credit: yorkville)

She didn’t know!  How many nachos has she bought from that concession stand in the last 2 years?  Then the bolt out of the blue hit my brain:  To the fashion conscious granddaughter concession workers were merely hands –hands that took money and doled out food.  I was basically going to be “body parts” and nothing more.  Perhaps I should wear a Vampire costume.  Vampires are really hot now and maybe somebody would notice me.  Not likely; all the folks in line want is food and drink served quickly so they can get back to cheering the home team to victory (or not).

I couldn’t be mad at precious granddaughter though because if I look back into my past I couldn’t tell you who handed out the snacks at Vacation Bible School.  I know where in the church I went to get my cookies and juice and I can tell you the workers wore dresses; probably prints like small flowers.  What I can’t tell you is whether it was my mother, grandmother or their friends who served the snacks. I doubt I could have told you the name of the person as I was being handed the cookie because at that moment what was important was how sugary that large cookie was and hopefully that it wasn’t peanut butter.  I preferred the sugar cookies.

English: This is an image of one of the cookie...

Other Unknown Food Servers

Isn’t that the way?  You can be unknown for so many reasons – especially where food is involved.  Think about it; when the eager server comes to your table and announces his name do you remember it past the main course?  Of course not, unless you have received horrible service and want to complain to management.

And it’s not just the people who hand you the food.  I include as food servers the cashiers at the grocery store.  The issue here is that the good ones move on to better jobs and the remaining ones are too busy talking to their colleagues for you to care about their names.

On the other hand I can tell you the names of waitresses at my regular haunts.  These people see my car parking and have my favorite drink ready as I plop into a set. Not only do I know their names I can discuss their children, aging parents and more.  I buy school fund-raisers from them; they buy Girl Scout cookies from me.  It’s a rather symbiotic relationship.  We both benefit.

A mound of Girl Scout cookies. This mound cont...

It takes a lot of work for a food server to move from unknown status to first name.  Both sides have to work at it.  In all honesty I doubt there will ever be a time when anyone knows my name at the concession stand.  I think I’m now permanently the “I need more fries!” lady.

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To Freeze Food or not to Freeze Food

English: Frozen peas (Pisum sativum). Suomi: J...

I can almost tell you to the day when I discovered the difference in the canned vegetables my mother served us and the frozen peas a neighbor made for dinner.  Why didn’t my mother know about these delectable treats?  Or thinking back, my mother had a garden, why didn’t she grow us some fresh vegetables instead of only flowers?  I don’t know the answer to those questions but I’m learning a lot about how frozen foods came into wide-spread use.  As usual I found a book in the browsing section of the local librarian; they put out such intriguing books.  The book is Birdseye:  The Adventures of a Curious Man.

Although I’m breezing through Birdseye I’m also trying to remain sane while I also slog through The Maltese Falcon.  The problem with The Maltese Falcon is stopping to reflect on how close each scene is to the movie; needless to say it’s very slow going.  Frozen food is so much faster.  I’m almost halfway through the Birdseye book and still no mention of frozen vegetables.  So far I’ve been hunting ticks in the Wild Wild West to help discover the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  I’ve been to Labrador on a hospital ship.  At one point there was a brief stay at a cooking school. I’ve eaten food out of tin cans, skinned foxes and other furry animals and discovered salted cod doesn’t freeze.  That’s quite a bit for 88 pages.

In the Beginning

Incandescent light bulb (no labels)

Clarence Birdseye was an adventurer and an inventor.   My new friend Clarence was born within a decade of: the invention of the telephone, the phonograph, the first incandescent light bulb, the first automobile that was practical to use, George Eastman’s roll film and camera (say “Cheese”) , even the first capillary feeding fountain pen (be gone inkwells), and don’t forget  cash registers (Cha-Ching).  There was Coca-Cola flowing, washing machines pumping and this surprised me, contact lenses were patented.  Simply put, the close-knit world of everyday citizens was expanding: rapidly expanding.  Clarence Birdseye was willing and ready to help with this widespread expansion.

We’re Never Satisfied

If I read nothing but the preface I would have a thought to ponder for a long long time. It’s human nature to desire what we normally don’t have.  Right now I’m thinking something from a bakery. A tailor’s son wants a factory-made suit the same factory made envy for a boot maker’s child.  Clarence Birdseye grew up as the industrial revolution was gaining speed.  He was pro industry.  Industry could produce items faster and cheaper than mom and pop operations.  Clarence traveled about the world and tasted foods so foreign to the local foods he was used to.  He wanted others to experience the wide range of foods available. We’re all post-industrial babies and love our local markets but if Clarence Birdseye were dropped into today’s society he would not understand the artisanal movement.  Why buy close to home when the world is our home?   Think about that for a while.   I’ve been contemplating that sentence for several days.

You were about to get a pithy quote from Edgar Allen Poe but I discovered I was mixing up my metaphors.  I was having the raven quote something about pendulums.  It didn’t work for the raven or for me.  As long as I was checking out my nonexistent quote I also picked up the Birdseye book to check a fact.  I discovered in the next paragraph, which since the book was open I took a moment to scan, Clarence started going by the name of Bob.  Bob?  Best guess is that he determined that people found it easier to talk to a Bob than a Clarence.  I’m guessing if he showed up in today’s world our naming habit might throw him for a bigger loop than our post-industrial ways or possibly he would be so intrigued by the variety of names that he would never get to explore our current foods issues.

 The End of the Story is Yet to Come

Apparently I have fields of vegetables and schools of fish to read about before I sleep – even a mountain top in Peru.  First I shall take a break and celebrate with something from the freezer and a slice of artisanal bread and then curl up with both Sam Spade and Bob Birdseye…a kinky combo.

Figure 1 from United States patent #1,773,079 ...

Figure 1 from United States patent #1,773,079 issued to Clarence Birdseye for the production of quick-frozen fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So are you an artisanal fan or love the ease of frozen foods?   Your thoughts are welcome.