Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Good or Bad?

Bad Milk

Back in March I posted an blog entry titled “How Long Will It Last” which discussed different kinds of food and how long they were good for. To this day, that remains one of the most viewed blog entries on the site.

But it looks like a new site might be able to help out if you’re stuck on whether or not something is good (thanks to a recent posting on lifehacker.com). Rather than posting a comment asking me when your tuna will go bad (believe me, I’m no expert) try heading over to BestWhenUsedBy.com, a site that will try to help you keep track of your food and let you know when it’s going bad. The site isn’t fully functional yet, but there’s a demo that’ll help you figure out how it all works.

Can’t wait for that site to launch? Well check out this comment from Drama Queen from a Lifehacker post. She says this is the Layman’s version of how to tell if an item is still good (just for fun, of course!):

Is it good or bad?

THE GAG TEST: Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).

EGGS: When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

DAIRY PRODUCTS: Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can’t get any more spoiled than it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese but you realize you’ve never purchased that kind.

MAYONNAISE: If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.

FROZEN FOODS: Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

EXPIRATION DATES: This is NOT a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you’ll spend more on groceries. Perhaps you’d benefit by having a calendar in your kitchen.

MEAT: If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.

BREAD: Sesame seeds and Poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable “spots” that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth areas are a good indication that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.

FLOUR: Flour is spoiled when it wiggles.

SALT: It never spoils.

CEREAL: It is generally a good rule of thumb that cereal should be discarded when it is two years or longer beyond the expiration date.

LETTUCE: Bibb lettuce is spoiled when you can’t get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet. Romaine lettuce is spoiled when it turns liquid.

CANNED GOODS: Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of. Carefully.

CARROTS: A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.

POTATOES: Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

CHIP DIP: If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

EMPTY CONTAINERS: Putting empty containers back into the refrigerator is an old trick, but it only works if you live with someone or have a maid.

UNMARKED ITEMS: You know it is well beyond prime when you’re tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food. Generally speaking, Tupperware containers should not burp when you open them.

GENERAL RULE OF THUMB: Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in or nearby your refrigerator to gauge this.

Still curious if your food is good? Check out this article from BusinessWeek that covers the topic.

Hope some (if not all) of this helps.

Photo from BusinessWeek.

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Luxury Canned Food

 Eggplant

Ever grab a nice steak from the grocery store, go home, throw it on the BBQ, and then realize that you forgot to get something to go with it? Or maybe you’re in a rush for dinner and need to prepare something quick. Well no longer do you need to sacrifice good tasting food just because you’re in a bind.

TASTE is billing itself as the first luxury canned food. According to The Luxist

It’s made from first class all-natural ingredients and packaged in a classy contemporary way.

I thought that since The Luxist made mention of this that it’d be pricey, and it is more expensive than canned foods should be, but they’re not out of this world prices.

For example, the canned cherry tomatoes with basil will run you $2.99, while the premium Italian Grilled Peppers, packed in water and lightly seasoned, will cost you $6.99 a can, which is the same price as the canned Grilled Eggplant.

Also available are a variety of canned seafoods, fruits, nuts and candy, although no pricing is available yet. But click here if you want to learn more about their canned products.

They Like Us!

WWFF

Here’s a list of some sites that have been showing us a little love by linking or posting about us recently.

These are all some great sites to bookmark and check out daily (besides Will Work For Food, of course).

SAVE LETTUCE!

lettuce

I never really buy lettuce cause I’m always afraid it’ll go bad before I use it.

Thanks to yumsugar, I now know how to keep my lettuce from going bad.

Last week I mentioned how to save wilted lettuce, but how do you keep it from getting that way to begin with?

  • For starters you should discard any leaves that have brown or black spots.
  • Then soak them in an ice water bath for 15-30 minutes.
  • Spin them dry (or gently pat them dry with a kitchen towel) and wrap loosely in dry paper towels.
  • Finally put them in a Ziploc bag, squeeze as much air as possible (don’t crush the leaves), seal the bag 3/4 of the way and store in your fridge’s produce drawer.

This entire process will help slow the deterioration process down and will hopefully, depending on the state it was in when you purchased it, allow your lettuce to last for up to two weeks.

Photo from Flickr. Trivia below from Wikipedia.

Oh, and did you know there are traces of opium in ALL LETTUCE?

  • The largest lettuce head was one that weighed 11 kg (25 lb), of the Salad Bowl cultivar, grown by Colin Bowcock of Willaston, England, in 1974.
  • In the United States, 95% of all head lettuce is grown in California and Arizona.
  • Lactucarium (or “Lettuce Opium”) is a mild opiate-like substance that is contained in all types of lettuce.
  • Yazidis consider eating lettuce taboo.

Master Chefs

Master Chefs is a pretty hilarious yet very instructional video that you can find on YouTube. According to The Gluttonist

It showcases two very funny guys taking snacking to a whole new level. Although they’ll never win a James Beard award, let’s just say they share The Gluttonist’s passion for food.

Snacking? Ha. More like haute cuisine at its lowest. But great, nonetheless.

Enjoy Illinois

Illinois Art

Serious Eats has a great post on a new Illinois tourism campaign.

These posters pay homage to various styles of art and feature a famous Illinois landmark. The above are just a few of the collection.

The best part about these posters are their price. You can pick up one of these (15 x 19 inches) for $35.99 framed. They also have the artwork for sale in other forms (hats, shirts, etc.)

Seems like a great deal to me.

Grocery Store for Kids

Kidfresh

This is one of those ideas that you say to yourself, “why the hell didn’t I think of this first?”

With obesity levels rising, more and more parents are becoming concerned with what their kids eat. Well parents now have a place to take their kids so they can do their very own grocery shopping at, and not have to worry about them eating bad.

At Kidfresh, prices are kept low, and kids can mix and match different kid cuisines. They offer “shapewiches” which are a much more fun, kid friendly version of sandwiches. Kids can enter through a special door and grab their own kid sized shopping cart. They even offer cooking classes and events to get kids excited about cooking, and parents can even put money on credit cards that the kids can use. There’s even an ice cream counter featuring fruit kabobs and design-your-own cupcakes.

Busy moms and dads who want to provide their children with nutritious organic fare, but don’t have the time or wherewithal to whip up all their meals from scratch, will love the Kidfresh concept. A children’s food store, designed by a team that includes an award-winning chef and dietician as well as a pediatric nutritionist, New York-based Kidfresh offers prepared “Grab + Go” meals or “Mix + Match” selections that cater to four different age groups, ranging from baby to age 10. Food boxes are colour-coded according to age, and contain breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks, priced from USD 4.95 – USD 7.25 per meal.

The company’s founder wanted to create a Whole Foods for children, offering kids the same variety in prepared foods as Whole Foods does for adults. All menu items are made with fresh, all-natural and mostly organic ingredients, and represent a variety of food groups, with an emphasis on fibre, fruits and vegetables. Portion sizes are age-appropriate, and, keeping in mind the interests of young eaters, Kidfresh serves food in fun shapes and colours. Menu items include Organic Yogurt Parfait with Pureed Strawberries, Honey BBQ Chicken & Cheese Wrap, Piggy-Tail Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Turkey Meatballs, and Honey Graham Stix with Yogurt Pineapple Dip.

1628 2nd Avenue
(Between 84th and 85th)
New York City, 10028
212.861.1141

Sushi-Grade Seafood

Tuna

Time after time I’ve gone to a local grocery store and asked for a piece of raw fish. Usually tuna or salmon. I then went home and attempted to slice it up, sushi style. But it never EVER came close to what’s offered in sushi restaurants. I thought it was me and the lack of sushi training I had. But according to Slashfood and SushiFAQ apparently I was wrong…

The question of what is sushi grade fish comes up a lot and no one seems to accurately answer that question. After some research I am now able to offer an answer. As for micro standards for sushi or sashimi grade seafood, I have spoken with many in the seafood industry who supply ‘sushi grade’ fish for sushi and sashimi served at restaurants and they all give me the same answer… they do not know of any regulations from FDA or other agencies which is why suppliers set up their own micro and chemical parameters for their products. A search of FDA documents turns up the same results, no clear standards as to what makes fish ‘sushi grade’ or ‘sashimi grade’ and no definition of the term. The only concern any inspectors have is the parasite destruction guarantee, which is accomplished by ‘freezing and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours’ which is sufficient to kill parasites. The FDA’s Food Code recommends these freezing conditions to retailers who provide fish intended for raw consumption (for further information, please visit the FDA website). I know that is a mouthful, but it’s the facts. Other than a few specific organisms of concern for some seafood, sashimi standards are set as any other ready-to-eat item.

Much more info can be found on the links above. But if you’re too lazy to either prepare it the right way or read the linked article, you can just visit Catalina Offshore Products and have them deliver fresh sushi to your door. They’ve been selling the finest seafood to fine dining restaurants and sushi bars for over 25 years. Now you can purchase the same high quality products at wholesale prices.

I’m no sushi expert, but the prices actually look pretty fair, too. Am I right? Let me know if I’m wrong about that.

Good Wine, Bad Wine

Cork Screw

Now that I’m starting to enjoy wine drinking, I always feel like a bottle needs to be finished in one sitting.

But does it?

To get to the bottom of this, I turn to Cellarnotes.net for the real answers.

How long can you keep wine once the bottle has been opened? How soon does wine in an open bottle go bad? Do I need to finish a bottle of wine in one sitting when it has been opened? This question gets asked in a great many ways but it always does get asked. This is because one of the harder things to figure out about wine is when to pour out wine that is left in the bottle.

There are lots of variables regarding the wine type, method of production, age of bottle and on and on. There are all those considerations and exceptions but for 95% of the wine that most people drink, the answer is pretty simple.

Three (3) days. Around here, we keep wines up to 3 days after the bottle has been opened. Once a bottle of wine is opened, the oxygen in the air starts a process that initially softens the flavors and opens up the aromas of the wine. As this process (oxidation) continues over many hours and days, the wine is ultimately made undrinkable. The trick is to use the wine before it becomes unpalatable or to pour it out before bad wine is served to guests.

You can (and usually should) refrigerate recorked bottes. You can buy stoppers and gadgets to create a slight vacuum in the bottle. You can get systems that put a layer of inert gas in the bottle. All these items and efforts are aimed at slowing the oxidation that will eventually destroy the wine.

What makes the whole thing tricky is that the wine will not go immediately from good to bad. The wine will, at a point, begin to progressively develop tastes that are unpleasant. Just like milk that is going bad, each person has a different point at which they identify the beverage as having gone bad.

If you want to play it safe (and who doesn’t with either milk or wine), then just use the 3 day rule. Recork and refrigerate the bottle for up to three days. With red wines, pull the bottle from the refrigerator at least 1/2 hour before you want to use it so it will warm to a desirable serving temperature in the mid 60’s F. With white wines or roses, just pull and pour when you need them.

Keeping opened wines beyond 3 days is like playing golf in a lightning storm. You may get through but you are tempting the fates. If you keep a table wine for more than 3 days, you will be serving a wine that has lost most of the characteristics that are prized. The aroma will start to change and much of the fresh fruit smells and tastes will subside. At worst, you’ll be serving a wine that has oxidized too much and is partly or entirely bad.

Dessert wines like Sauternes, most everyday Ports and most Sherries can last much longer but those are special cases. Just play it safe with the 3 day rule. It is a good practice to write the date the bottle was opened on the label if there is a chance of confusion.

Picture from Flickr.

Wine Loves Food

Wines

Wine That Loves is a new wine that easily pairs wine with the food you’re eating. But how? Simple…thanks to the design of their bottles, just read the label. With flavors like “Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken,” “Wine That Loves Pizza,” “Wine That Loves Grilled Steak,” “Wine That Loves Grilled Salmon,” and “Wine That Loves Pasta with Tomato Sauce,” you’ll be sure you’ve made the perfect pairing.

Each wine is specifically suited to one dish, which leaves no room for error; these are wines that singularly ‘love’ pizza, grilled salmon or pasta with tomato sauce. The dishes were chosen based on popularity in American households.

Wine That Loves takes the guesswork out of food and wine pairing, while promising “world-class quality, distinctive character and winning style that will also delight wine aficionados.” The wines were picked and paired by Ralph Hersom, a wine expert and professional wine taster, who was Wine Director at New York’s Le Cirque restaurant for seven years. (Springwise)