Friday, August 17, 2012

Batch of links

- We’ve heard all about how this year’s drought has affected crops, corn in particular, and will be bringing up food prices in the coming months. According to Time, however, there is an upside to the heat: certain crops like peaches, watermelons, cantaloupes and beets will taste sweeter; onions and garlic will be more pungent; peppers will be spicier; and bitter compounds will be more concentrated in crops like fennel, carrots and dill. So here’s to tastier food!

- Julia Child was all over the news this week, as she would have celebrated her 100th birthday. Here’s a link that was a bit different from the rest: the mistakes she made while cooking and how she handled them, like the broken layer cake, the messed-up omelet and the dropped rack of lamb. As she reminds us, you can’t learn how to cook without making mistakes. And while we’re at it, here’s what she had to say about her iconic kitchen, on Architectural Digest.

- Would you eat 3D printed meat - schmeat? On the one hand, I totally support what this would mean from an ethical point of view: no animal has to suffer or die for me to have a steak. And I think this technology would be wonderful if applied to regenerative medicine. However, I still think it doesn’t sound appetizing at all, even wrong on some levels. Maybe I’ve seen too many Star Trek characters complain about the food that comes out of replicators…

- Two weeks ago, I shared a link to help you tell if your knives are sharp enough. Here’s a follow-up, to help you hone and stone your knives properly. On a side note, for those of you in the Montreal area, I’ve heard nothing but good things about L’Émouleur, on Laurier West, a store that sells quality knives (going so far as to make sure you try them before buying them), sharpens them and gives classes on how to sharpen them properly.

- Apparently, there’s an official Cookie Monster cookie recipe, but it’s for sugar cookies. Am I the only one who remembers him eating chocolate chip cookies?

- Another reason not to use the self-cleaning function on your electric oven. Ours is built-in, and the repairman told us not to use that function or we’d risk damaging the wood on the wall. . Not to mention all the fumes that are toxic to small pets… and to bigger ones without proper ventilation. I just line the bottom with tin foil, which makes cleanup much easier.

- Someone made Le Creuset Dutch oven rings!

- Have you ever wondered about the etiquette of telling your hosts they’re about to give you food poisoning? It’s a delicate subject, but in the example given (you see meat go unrefrigerated for several hours), many commenters on The Kitchn came up with a tactful solution: kindly offer to put that in the fridge to help the hosts.

- Almonds apparently have fewer calories than we thought Really, at this point, I’m just surprised that scientists don’t have a fool-proof way of knowing how many calories are in our food!

- Another surprise this week: not only are oven temperatures not set in stone, they’re also somewhat arbitrary. This will be quite a shock for my friend the Legal Chef, who’s a stickler for following the recipe exactly.

- Finally, I read this article on personalized pricing. I was aware of the practice, because I’ve noticed our grocery store doing it. We always use the same card to pay (not even a loyalty card), and we get coupons based on products we might be interested in. For example, they know that someone in our household is lactose-intolerant and will occasionally give us catalinas for lactose-free products. I think that’s perfectly fine; as a matter of fact, I like that these companies will know what my favorite brands and products are. What bothered me was learning about the (relatively new and not-yet widespread) practice of modifying the price of an item based on your buying history. But anyway, this then led me to an article about how Target has this down to such a precise science that they can know when a shopper is pregnant, even before she’s told her family, based on what she’s buying (fewer scented products, more lotion). Target does this to use customer-specific advertising and get the shopper to buy a lot more stuff there, then develop store loyalty. “One Target employee […] provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August.”

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