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January 31, 2007

Stapler Suspension

Recently a friend tried to pull the new favorite office prank on a co-worker. But when her prank failed, we decided to come to her rescue since the prank involved a failed recipe.

The inspiration for the prank came from The Office episode when Gareth finds that his stapler has been suspended in "jelly."

The victim of the prank never actually noticed that his stapler had been taken for a weekend away. It wasn't until Monday, when our friend, the prankster, returned to the office looking sheepish and confessed that her stapler Jell-O suspension never really hardened up. Instead of a gently jiggling mass her results were slushy soup, with rust already setting in on the stapler. We felt it was our duty to supply the proper recipe and correct her geling error.

In our test kitchen we've experimented with Jell-O colors, quanities and consistency and have arrived at what we believe to be a superior recipe.

Ingredients:
7 packets of clear Knox geletin
1/2 packet of Jell-O in your favorite color (but choose a different color than the stapler unless you're going for a monotone look)
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup cold water.

Directions:
Combine all packets of geletin in bowl. Add boiling water to geletin. Add cold water. Pour into mold. Insert Stapler.

The geletin will be so rubbery that even after unmolding the stapler will remain blissfully suspended.

Posted by Cakehead at 03:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2007

Turntable Recipes

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baked noodle ring

After a long day at work are you too tired to read a recipe from a cookbook? Well, maybe you should put the needle on the record and start listening to those recipes. With the album, Katie's Kitchen you can have recipes for Peas Thompson and Sunday Duck described to you so you don't even have to open a book.

Otis Fodder of WFMU's Beware of the Blog, found Katie's Kitchen in a used record shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market and after reading that there was a recipe for a Crab Meat Nut Sandwich that he could serve with Lime-V8s it was easy to plop down the five bucks.

Posted by Cakehead at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2007

MTA roasts lamb on subway?

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The smokey smell on the 2/3 train Wednesday morning was not the usual track fire variety. It smelled like a sweet juicy rack of lamb, smeared with rosemary and garlic. We're not sure why the MTA is doing their roasting underground. Maybe it was a special breakfast request by Bloomberg. Maybe it's a way to use up all the gas and maple syrup that seems to be accumulating without explanation in the city. Either way, we're hoping for more culinary experiments for our morning commute.

Posted by Cakehead at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2007

The Economy of Food

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The latest issue of The Economist has two very good stories about the history of two of our favorite items: Cured Meat and Sugar. "Feet in the Trough" presents a historic overview of the oldest method of preservation (and the best). The article discusses regional approaches to curing throughout Europe dating back to the days of the Romans. We recently did some curing ourselves and were curious to read about the history of the Scandinavian tradition of preparing gravlax. While the article briefly touches on the history of smoking and salting salmon for lox, there was no mention of the surprisingly easy-to-prepare gravlax. So we did a little research.

See below to learn how to prepare gravlax and to learn more about its history.

The second article, "Sick with Excess of Sweetness" is about the political boycotts that were organized during the 17th Century to protest the barbarity of the sugar production in the West Indies. While scholars are doubtful that the actions of young British radicals made much of an impact, it's a reminder that boycotts are nothing new. Click here to see what food products today's radicals are protesting.

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Gravlax, a Scandinavian preparation of Salmon differs greatly according to whether it is made in the traditional way dating back to medieval times, or by modern methods. Astri Riddervold has described both and pointed out the earliest mentions of the former:

The word gravlaks can be tracked back in Scandinavian history to 1348, when a man from Jamtland, called Olafuer Gravlax, is mentioned. In 1509, another man, called Martin Surlax is mentioned in the annals of Stockholm. The word gravlax and surlax (buried fish and sour fish) are used as synonyms, buried fish describing the technique, sour fish the result - the fermented stinking fish. According to the old custom of giving people surnames in Scandinavia, both were probably professional producers of buried Salmon.

[From The Oxford Companion to Food]

Making gravlax in modern times does not involve burial. Here is a very easy gravlax recipe:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. crushed coriander
1 tsp. crushed white pepper
1 large bunch chopped dill including tender stems
2 Tbs. aquavit or vodka

Directions:
Combine 1/4 cup kosher salt, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons crushed coriander, 1 teaspoon crushed white pepper, 1 large bunch chopped dill including tender stems, and 2 tablespoons aquavit or vodka.

Spread this seasoning mixture over both sides of 1 skin-on fillet of salmon, about 3 pounds. Wrap in plastic, weight with a board and a heavy can, and place inside a pan to contain the drippings.

Cure the salmon in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, turning over and reweighing every day. Continue curing in the refrigerator. The salmon is ready when firm to the touch.

Posted by Cakehead at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2007

Stalks that Suck

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engineered celery straw with hollow center

We have the folks at Duda Farm Fresh Foods to thank for finally finding a purpose for celery's existence. They have engineered celery stalks that are grown with hollow centers -- the perfect shape for sipping your Bloody Mary. But the celery straw's functions don't stop there. The creators suggest some other things you can do with the straw:

These "celery straws" can hold a hidden cream cheese or peanut butter surprise.

Sounds tasty.

Watch for the edible sip sticks to start appearing at restaurants and hotels soon.

[from Neatorama via CoolBusinessIdeas]

Posted by Cakehead at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2007

Wild Winter Games

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The Starling, 2002

With the backyard crab apple tree threatening to blossom, we're tempted to begin to practice some crab apple jelly recipes in our test kitchen. But because we'll have to wait until March for the apples to ripen, we have another project to keep us busy. Friends have been begging for a mid-winter backyard barbecue since the weather is balmier than it's ever been in January.

After a visit to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to look at Walton Ford's slightly twisted Audubon-style paintings, we're craving wild game. We know many will be tempted to mail in trophy meat from those hunts in Africa, but we'll just be grilling the standard stuff. Send us your elk sausage, pheasant breasts and venison burgers. If the weather holds we'll haul out the smoker and mourn the loss of winter.

Posted by Cakehead at 01:27 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2007

Film Activity: Our Daily Bread

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Typically we concentrate our efforts on referring our loyal readers to food-related activities in the New York City. But we just saw a disturbing and beautiful documentary, Our Daily Bread, that should be seen by anyone interested in the industrialization of food production. We slipped in to see it on the last day it was screening in New York. But that doesn't mean that those scattered throughout of the rest of the country can't see it.

If you can, check out this gorgeously shot film that has no narration or interviews - nor are they necessary. Only the gorgeous imagery and the natural sounds of planting, watering, slaughtering, picking and spraying are needed to mesmerize audiences.

Click here to see screening locations and dates or see below:

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Hawaii, Hilo
January 28 - January 29
Palace Theater
(808) 934-7010

Indiana, Notre Dame
February 17
Browning Cinema
(574) 631-2725

Michigan, East Lansing
January 10 - January 14
East Lansing Film Festival
(517) 336-5802

Minnesota, Minneapolis
March 23 - March 25
Walker Art Center
(612) 375-7619

Nebraska, Lincoln
February 23 - March 1
Ross Media Arts Center
(402) 472-9100

New Jersey, Cherry Hill
February 11 - February 14
19th Street Theatre
(856) 424-7877

New Mexico, Albuquerque
February 4 - February 6
Guild Cinema
(505) 255-1848

New York, Binghampton
March 2 - March 4
Harpur Film Society
(607) 777-4998

New York, Huntington
March 22
Cinema Arts Centre
(631) 423-7611

New York, Ithaca
March 2 - March 4
Cornell Cinema
(607) 255-3522

Ohio, Cleveland
February 17 - February 18
Cleveland Cinematheque
(216) 421-7450

Ohio,Columbus
January 23 - January 24
Wexner Center for the Arts
(614) 292-0330

Texas, Houston
January 26 - January 28
Rice Cinema
(713) 348-3138

Virginia, Williamsburg
January 20 - January 26
Kimball Theatre
(757) 565-8670

Washington, Olympia
December 30 - January 4
Olympia Film Society
(360) 754-6670

Washington, Port Townsend
March 2 - March 8
Rose Theatre
(360) 385-1039

Wisconsin, Madison
January 5 - January 17
Orpheum Theatre
(608) 255-8755

Posted by Cakehead at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)