Tag Archives: Food

Elitism and Confirmation Bias

Classism and elitism bring with them a whole set of blinders that people don’t know they have or don’t care they have. Elitism comes in many forms, from intellectual, dietary, monetary, bloodline, social class, race, religion, experience, politics, location, work, title, or simple arrogance. But what they have in common is the disdain of one or more other groups or people because they are less than in some way.
The owner of a company that considers his employees less than him and nothing more than cogs serving his wallet does not see a problem in his behavior. For him, his time is worth more and his skills are better because he deserves where he is for some reason. He may think he worked hard for it or has better breeding, or better education, or better skills. Sometimes he just thinks he is better and more worthy or obviously they would be where he is.
Recently I had dinner with a vegan group on the other side of town. The food was good and the people nice but several conversations reminded me of others I have had and I was struck once again by the inherent classism in many vegan groups. Maybe it’s the type that tend to form the groups but there is a blindness to the basic need for a reasonable amount of money to afford the ingredients to support a healthy diet or alternately the storage space and transportation to make your own alternatives. The idea that a Sam’r membership was out of my reach and that I share a small apartment with 4 strangers and no ac was beyond their comprehension. The expensive meat alternatives are simply not in my budget. I use mushrooms and other things when I can afford them but when I am offered a good, healthy free meal I accept meat or no meat. The snide comment that I would grow a better backbone as I grew older does not make me want to be rude to my friends or go hungry, it just assumes I have the funds to eat how I prefer.
As a gamer I interact with a lot of random people of all types and it is interesting to me how different the response is from active game groups to some things that other groups I deal with. Maybe because we are so mixed and we have a different perspective because of it. But at work I always get shocked or degrading comments about my neighborhood and how unsafe it is. Many of them are racist in nature but most are economic because I am near the low income housing in an inexpensive area. On the other hand when the group at game heard I walked to the game because I lived nearby the general response was jealousy because they loved the area and all the stuff available there. It was a completely opposite response and one based in a different perspective.
The same variance in views occurs in various groups I visit or interact with around the world. A lot of them fall into various forms of confirmation bias and the tendency to disregard information that does not agree with you. Sometimes I get the impression is is an arrogance based in fear of failure and weakness. Sometimes they genuinely think they are better and that is why they have more. Sometimes they don’t even realize they act that way.
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Flu Shots and Food

Well, today I feel like doing something different. They are doing Flu shots at work this week and I have to be careful of my diet and stress to prevent getting sick during these times in my experience. As such, I have been working on ingredients and recipes to send my husband since he has to do this week’s shopping. I thought I would share some of that process and thinking and maybe a couple total recipes. Usually, I work of a concept or culture not a specific recipe so it can adjust to what I have and my time/tools available. – this may be a bit long with the lists and recipes.

from healthnutrix.com
from healthnutrix.com
Resistance tea from sunshineandthekiltedchris.blogspot.com
Resistance tea from sunshineandthekiltedchris.blogspot.com

First, let’s look at the basic ideas I am considering:

Immune system and flavor family – that is where this started

I need foods that boost my immune system and I need cultures that fit the ingredients I have or need.

Dealing with flu, cold, and similar things the first things that come up on food lists are the following, among others.

From Healthy Living
From Healthy Living
  • Mushrooms – usually the stronger flavor dark ones like shiitake, minaki, and reichi.
  • Ginger – fresh is recommended not dried, there are pastes available also
  • Garlic – again fresh is best, dried doesn’t really work for this
  • Carrots – the finer you chop them the faster they cook – this is something my mother taught me cook food faster to keep more in it when working on immunity. Slower if in liquid you are going to eat like soup.
  • Egg yolk – I usually use the whole egg – personal preference
  • Lemongrass – useful in everything from drinks to dinner, desert to breakfast
  • Yogurt – unsweetened Greek is best
  • Chicken
  • Fish – they usually recommend salmon but most would work for this
  • Cinnamon – interesting
  • Dark greens like kale or beetOld worn and scratched cutting board. Perfect background or texture.
  • Red peppers – the hot ones
  • Red onion – sometimes I see green onion
  • Tomatoes – especially vine

 

Ok, so that is the basic list we start with and we have to add a few things I know I have at home or want because it is in best season at the farmer’s market. There is more but these are specifics I want to use.

  • Fresh black eyed and purple hulled peas (soooo much better than dried)
  • Winter squashes – acorn, pumpkin, and several others are in now – pretty much all interchangeable in recipes
  • Black rice
  • Curry
  • Coconut milk (can use instead of yogurt or milk in many things)
  • Frozen berries
  • Nuts
  • Spices

 

from www.freesurvivalist.com
from http://www.freesurvivalist.com

This leads us to what to do with them and I think Thai is my major focus first but Moroccan, Indian, and Chinese among others may have ideas.

First I modified a Thai soup recipe for a good chicken soup a roommate made me in Hawaii – she was Korean and made some great food for when you were sick. The prep is from a cooking light recipe but I modified the ingredient list to fit my preference and pantry.

My notes are here and by ingredients. I left prep alone you can modify depending on what you have. This is based on a Thai chicken soup recipe. You can add anything you want really, as long as the basic stock is there. This makes enough for a couple days, can use for lunch if you don’t want soup for dinner. Rice or pasta with it or alone all work. Squash would be good with this. A citrus based desert with little sugar recommended.

12 ounces Mushrooms quartered

also from healthy living
also from healthy living

3 lemongrass stalks, bottom two-thirds of tender inner bulbs only, thinly sliced (if not there try lemon zest or something)

4 cloves garlic, chopped (can add if not strong smelling)

1 (4 inch) piece fresh ginger root, chopped (see if we have some, it would be old so would need more)

 4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth also works but we may have some)

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks (any chicken)

from www.10and9.com
from http://www.10and9.com

2 teaspoons red curry paste – I may not have this, I may only have the Indian yellow or green

 3 tablespoons fish sauce – if you can’t get this, juice from a can of tuna would work ok – bit different but ok

 1 lime, juiced – and another 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

 2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk

 1 red onion, sliced

 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (add more to serve fresh with it)

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced into rings – can do another if desired

 

from Real Simple
from Real Simple

PREP

15 mins

COOK

1 hr

READY IN

1 hr 15 mins Directions

Stir lemon grass, garlic, and ginger together in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain chicken broth and set aside. Discard lemon grass, garlic, and ginger.

Heat vegetable oil in a large soup pot over medium heat; Stir in chicken; cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.

from blog.wellwisdom.com
from blog.wellwisdom.com

Stir in red curry paste, fish sauce, and lime juice until combined. Stir in chicken broth and coconut milk; return to a simmer and cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes.

Skim off any excess oil and fat that rises to the top and discard.

Stir red onion into the chicken mixture; cook and stir until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add about 1/2 the cilantro.

Serve with plates of cilantro, lime wedges, and fresh sliced jalapenos.

 

 

After that I began to make combos, this is my personal recipe method.

I make a list of ingredients or flavors I want to use and try and then I come up with various ways to combine and cook them.

The following is 2 combo lists based on the previous discussion process.

Combo 1

From Epicurius
From Epicurius

 

  • Fresh Peas – black eyed or purple hull
  • Carrots – cut small or thin
  • Mushrooms – dark
  • Onion – red
  • Cilantro or parsley
  • Ginger – fresh or paste
  • Garlic
  • Chicken or salmon
  • Squash – acorn or pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • Mint
  • Yogurt or coconut milk
  • Coriander
  • Mustard seed
  • Red pepper

 

from www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu
from http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu

Combo 2

  •  Mushroom
  • Rice
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Edamame
  • Carrot
  • Egg
  • Onion
  • Shrimp
  • Possible
    • Pork
    • Fresh peas

 

 

So now we have a base of ingredients and a shopping list; what do we do with it?

The nice thing about doing it this way is I can adapt to time and the form I have ingredients in.

from healthnutrix.com
from healthnutrix.com
  • I can bake it using the chicken as the main ingredient
  • I can make lettuce wraps using the greens
  • Stir fry or fried rice is easy with this combo
  • Using a grill is good with either skewers or a basket
  • Soup is easy and doesn’t have to have a main ingredient same as skewers or stir fry
  • One pan dishes are an option or I can use them in small groups in a couple dishes to serve together.
  • I can also use some of them in tea or other drinks for meals.
  • I love soups like pumpkin soups and these are good mixes for that

Taste, Gastronomy, and our Senses

Continuing the study of Gastronomy and still reading Molecular Gastronomy (This, 2002/ 2006), I have been reading the study of taste and of what makes you feel full. This includes analysis of the differences and similarities to humans and animals as well as regional differences.

Studies of the brain show distinctive response to flavors (glutamate is a separate taste than the 4 basic categories of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour; also unami is really a taste) in people with basic differences such as handedness. The direct connection to language centers and motor activity is one of the more interesting aspects. Another is the sensitivity levels developed regionally of long periods (mostly studied in primates) such as the sensitivity to sweetness. You frequently hear about the impact of smell in taste, the interesting part in this study was that taste with no smell activated the same areas of the brain. This makes me wonder if the impact of smell is affecting flavor because it overrides some of the neurochemical response to the taste. How could we use this?

Another study done on MSG showed the interesting result that the hormonal response meant that the body registered the meal as primarily protein when it was primarily starch. This brings up interesting possibilities, if you are including correct nutrition, in how to impact the desires and satiety of people.  Other flavors, their use and their timing in a meal also impact satiety. One can infer from that knowledge and the method taste molecules function why this is true and how to manipulate the process. “Not all taste molecules act in the same fashion. Whereas hydrogen ions (sour taste) and sodium ions (salt taste) act directly on the channels of taste cell membranes, immediately modifying the electrical potential of the cell by adding their electrical charge to its total charge, compounds of sweet, bitter, and other tastes (licorice, for example) bind to molecules known as receptors—no doubt proteins—that are located in the cell membrane, in contact with the extracellular environment.” (This, 2002/ 2006)

Another example of the all encompassing affect of taste that can be manipulated is the connection to vision. Most often translated as the better it looks the better it will taste, the results of research at Columbia show “the transducin that is specific to the cones and rods of the eye in taste receptor cells.” So apparently there is more to that but in a far more base level than commonly understood.

The use of flavors to heighten or mask other flavors is common in cooking but in gastronomy it reaches a new level. Many modern studies in food, taste, and satiety are examining traditions, understanding, and ingredients from other countries and combining the gastronomy between cultures. This means many of the results are, though refinements of that knowledge, more a drawing of knowledge from other places into regional understanding. We have returned in the field of gastronomy to the Victorian era passion to draw from contact with other civilizations and their results.  The mGluR4 protein in the taste receptors transmits neural not sensory information and could be the first step in signaling satiety which is based not on fullness of the stomach but on signals of nutritional content. This means you should also be able to train a person’s response given time. The impact of flavors on taste varies given the mixes used and the specifics could be quite useful. Also the basic flavors have categories in our taste receptors. Bitter especial shows distinctive receptors and various bitter receptors trigger different areas of the brain. This seems truer in bitter than sweet or salty and could make some interesting experimentation.

Other aspects we shall look into at another time are thermal impact on flavor and taste receptors and the impact of sensation such as pain on receptors, brain, and biochemistry of the body. These are all easily manipulatable and modifiable aspects. Also, these are things that can be used to either trick or train the response of a person or animal. These studies have also led to medical treatments of viral and diabetic neuropathies and of rheumatoid arthritis.

Current results are that gastronomy is a varied science with impacts in many areas in and out of the kitchen and is heavily drawn from the 17th and 18th century works in the field. Steampunk in the kitchen could be a fascinating scientific work as well as very interesting fun.

Steampunk and Gastronomic Explorations

Today we return to Steampunk in the kitchen. I try to keep a copy of all my books on my computer and more and more purchase and get books in that format to use on the phone, tablet, laptop, and wherever I need them. I have been reorganizing thousands of books and categorizing them into easy to find folders. This involves a lot of reading (something which slows the process immensely as I stop to read and get engrossed, as I am now, in a topic). Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is a topic that I have been unsure of based on little actual knowledge for some time. Turns out I have quite a bit of information on the topic. The late 17th and 18th century saw the first accessible research in this field and was when the term shows up apparently. Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste (1825) is one source of information from the period. To quote Albert Sonnenfeld in Molecular Gastronomy (This, 2002/ 2006 p. Preface): “The science of food, which Brillat-Savarin called gastronomy, was initiated earlier by chemists in the Age of Enlightenment, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and belongs to the history of science. The kitchen was a laboratory like any other for famous doctor and pioneering chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. In Germany, Justus von Liebig, working in the Age of Positivism, applied meat extracts to the soups that still bear his name. The test tubes were pots and pans.”

Chocolate ginger sphericals howtocookthat.com
Chocolate ginger sphericals
howtocookthat.com

First, some definitions of Gastronomy (from Debevoises intro):

Brillat-Savarin called himself “le professeur.” Defining gastronomy as the intelligent knowledge of whatever concerns nourishment, the gourmet professor initiates his readers into a veritable eighteenth-century encyclopedia of natural history, physics, chemistry, cookery, business, and political economy.

Hervé This, our new millennium initiator, is more rigorously focused: Molecular gastronomy deals with culinary transformations and the sensory phenomena associated with eating. As a guide he achieves exemplary clarity for the nonscientist reader, and he is consistently entertaining.

Brillat-Savarin’s classic definition of gastronomy in the Physiology of Taste (1825)… (My formatting):

Gastronomy is the intelligent knowledge of whatever concerns man’s nourishment. Its purpose is to watch over his conservation by suggesting the best possible sustenance for him. It arrives at this goal by directing, according to certain principles, all men who hunt, supply, or prepare whatever can be made into food… .

Gastronomy is a part of:

  • Natural history, by its classification of alimentary substances;
  • Physics, because of the examination of the composition and quality of these substances;
  • Chemistry, by the various analyses and catalyses to which it subjects them;
  • Cookery, because of the art of adapting dishes and making them pleasant to the taste;
  • Business, by the seeking out of methods of buying as cheaply as possible what is needed, and of selling most advantageously what can be produced for sale;
  • Finally, political economy, because of the sources of revenue which gastronomy creates and the means of exchange which it establishes between nations.
An example from the Wine industry at winefolly.com
An example from the Wine industry at winefolly.com

All of this eliminates many of the faddish groups and chefs from the gastronomy roles but gives a new understanding of some other chef and bartender works. Living in Las Vegas I was not far from the well known Steampunk lounge there and saw a great deal of the concoctions and interests of the owner that changed my interest in the different terms and their application (we are not looking at the drink related field here). In his analysis of the difference between science and technology he arrives at the first difference in cooking and gastronomy being purpose: gastronomy is for knowledge, cooking is production of goods. Another difference is that gastronomy is science, chemistry and analysis. Cooking is technology, including experimentation, observation, and knowledge but not the same at all. His examples of the connections in the 17 and 1800s between scientific advancement and study of food are worth reading.

Some of the results and studies from that period have to be updated based on new technology and understanding but the foundation is solidly in that period. One must wonder was it science or necessity that brought about the development of many types of foods and uses of many ingredients that would be strange to eat if not commonly recognized as good food. Cookbooks are interesting but serve a gastronomist only in showing methods, ingredients, and apparent affects.

image from gastonomyatbu.com
image from gastonomyatbu.com

An analysis of them can show regional developments and indirectly reveal the reason varies processes are used and how they developed historically. This can direct you in your experimentation and study and can be fascinating information itself. As an example from my own reading, look at China: Only recently are ovens in use anywhere but the town baker if they had one, thus all the things we would bake are there pan steamed, fried, or cooked in some other method. This changes ingredients, ratios, results, and taste preferences that develop. By the same token if you look in a very cold mountainous region the ingredients are things that grow cold, can be stored, or are very seasonal. Compared to tropical regions where recipes tend to use readily available, fresh ingredients with less concern for storage. We know now that Brillat-Savarin was wrong in his analysis of the process of heat on the water in meat (it expands not compresses), however, his work is important to the fields of cooking and gastronomy. Advancement and understanding do not come without experimentation and study. If you begin research (as many do) knowing your goal and your fact you are proving – then it is not science, it is not research. The difference in that time was that most of these people were seeking understanding and knowledge – they were experimenting to find the fact or understand the apparent result. For us Steampunk followers, knowledge is the beauty; you study to see what happens not to duplicate someone else’s work. We want to know what happens and why. Understanding the history and uses helps this, so cooking and cookbooks are tools in gastronomy as are all the methods of science and lab work.

eating objects - tuvie.com (one of several home gastronomic kits I saw)
eating objects – tuvie.com
(one of several home gastronomic kits I saw)

Works Cited

This, Hervé. 2002/ 2006. Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor. [ed.] Albert Sonnenfeld. [trans.] M. B. Debevoise. New York : Columbia University Press, 2002/ 2006. excerpts from The Physiology of Taste by Jean Brillat-Savarin, translated by M. F. K. Fisher, copyright 1949 by the George Macy Companies,. isbn 0 -231-13312-x.

The following page struck me as although interesting and gastronomic directed, very much a result of the fad seen today:

What is Molecular Gastronomy?

Steampunk Food

Going into a new area today; I made poppy seed, berry, black treacle pie and discussing it on Facebook started me wondering about Steampunk and food. Reading more on the topic of Steampunk and food  moved me toward a concept, not a clear path yet, just something I am exploring. Some people discus Steampunk food by means of use the of technology, others focus on appearance, and some delve into the use of traditional recipes but with variations and adaptations making use of new technology. these are all valid ideas but don’t really work for me and the concept I am considering. Start with Captain Nemo or Dr. Moreau and their innovation and food development as portrayed in the stories and you begin to see where I am going.

Mini orange tree (not sure where I got this image, others linked at end of post)
Mini orange tree (not sure where I got this image, others linked at end of post)

Steampunk is in the details and the innovation but with a distinct style and elegance to the harsh, cold edginess of ingredients, methodology, and presentation. To see what I mean, consider the elegance of a full Victorian meal with the etiquette and setting to go with it but with a sense of experimentation and drama. This is where my idea starts.

Technology improves availability and variety as much as it speeds processes. Long tedious hand prepared meals that keep you in the kitchen all day seem very out of place in this setting. The same is true of super quick, incomplete, and unimaginative meals. Where to go from there however?

Foil meals for fire, grill, stones, engines, lab equipment...
Foil meals for fire, grill, stones, engines, lab equipment…

Technology is important and the innovation inherent in the steampunk genre must be a foundation. Does innovation and drama counter Victorian style meals? When you think about it, there was huge innovation in every area during that period, even when dealing with food. So no, I think it rather fits if it can be seamlessly blended in.

Okay, so what kind of innovation are we talking about? At what point does innovation leave the realm of Steampunk creativity and reach into a more cyberpunk region when you are discussing food? VerticalGarden18Nemo used what was available in dramatic and nourishing ways as well as extensively using hydroponics and other technological innovations.

How it is Presented is Important
How it is Presented is Important

Molecular gastronomy is not something I have explored a great deal so I am unsure about its place in a Steampunk discussion. I see the reasoning for wanting to use it and envision some wonderful possibilities. The concept is very much at home in the steampunk setting. To fit the steampunk genre they must have a visual appeal in the high aesthetic or formal setting rather than the supper modern settings you often see in molecular gastronomy eateries.  But should we use only English aesthetic or etiquette?

Chef Arnold
Chef Arnold: by John B. Carnett Cook Shop: Dave Arnold does what it takes-and sometimes it takes a lot-to make your food taste better. John B. Carnett

Asian cultures and many others frequently prepare food at the table with great drama and presentation. This is a perfect fit to the setting and the period it is based on. As an example, I have a very practical set of metal chopsticks that break down and fit into a small metal case you can stick in a pen pocket or glasses pocket. Another travel set I have is an origami dish set that could be made out of a number of interesting materials and used anywhere. Mine are silicon but they could be of many materials. Something you see often in steampunk characters and settings is a propensity to be prepared for anything, and be able to do it in style. Think a tea set on your belt and a travel apothecary on your sleeve, with a cartography set on your leg, and an armory on your hip or back.575854_660728157277931_1046375079_n

vintage-pressure-cooker
vintage-pressure-cooker

Steaming things is almost too obvious and I just don’t see it as a major component despite the propensity of steam technology in steampunk settings. Flame is good but I am not sure if it is the method that is the best focus.

Ingredients and concept are important so it should focus on using ingredients or showcasing them. One idea is the, meal in a jar, type preparations I have seen in the disaster prepper groups and off the grid living groups. This method of preparing and storing complete meals for extended time ready to be simply cooked at a moment’s notice is an interesting combination with Steampunk innovation and lifestyles. The major point I see as relevant is the modification of traditional recipes to travel, to adapt to storage, and to make use of substitutions for location or special circumstances. Return to Nemo and you see the types of substitutions we mean. This use of available ingredients to alter traditional recipes being my preferred method of cooking, I may be a bit biased, but it fits so many aspects of Steampunk. 

mason-jar-monday-4-resized-600
Do we also include the method of growing and obtaining foods?

Adventurer meals and travel preparations from Victorian times updated in some ways and prepared to be enjoyed in style anywhere are a perfect example of where I am going with this. Food to be prepped for the lab and finished anywhere is another idea. I remember cooking a meal on the engine as we drove across country; it was a fairly traditional chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions in foil or iron pan type meal (could be clay too).

You are beginning to see the many other directions this idea could go. Formal Victorian meals with innovative twists are another. This is something I will need to explore further and experiment with but there are so many sources of ideas it will take some time and consideration.

Where do we get our food?
Where do we get our food?

Returning for a moment to the meal in a jar thoughts I want to look at the aspect of planning and preparation for quick use and quality presentation that fills a need in Steampunk. As the author of Design Artketing shows an example. Her plan for each week is to get all the ingredients together, prepare the jars for dinner, and maybe lunch. Each is stored as required by ingredients, most are pre-cooked. Each day, she just pulls one and spends her time on presentation or other things rather than preparation and stress after work. Another site uses them for picnics and work lunches, so they use mostly fresh ingredients. Still others use dehydrated, freeze dried, or other long term storable ingredients. Oh, the possibilities and the changes in container, ingredients, methodology, style, and concept this brings up.

Stored food
Stored food

I will quote Four Pounds Flour and Sarah Lohman’s exploration of Steampunk cooking:

“I think steampunk embraces the innovative and transformative, the implications of a super science without limits. Food that has those aspects in preparation, presentation, or taste seems to fit. Surprises, doing something completely unexpected with the available tools and parts. The more impossible seeming the better. I chose popcorn since it’s transformation is itself so remarkable. Toast actually has that kind of feel, bread slices vanishing into a metal box with two narrow slots to be returned with a new texture and taste.”

Meals for a week
Meals for a week

Where this leaves us is with many aspects and ideas for many situations and regions. As with any other aspect of Steampunk I think it is important not to limit ourselves too heavily and lose the innovation and creativity that draws us in.

References

(Quote) http://www.fourpoundsflour.com/what-is-steampunk-food/

(Image) http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2007-10/doctor-delicious

(Image, ideas) http://www.toquemag.com/food-drink/steampunk-cuisine

(Ideas) http://johnnahetrick.com/2011/11/

(Image) http://rainydayfoodstorage.blogspot.com/p/sauces-mixes-recipes.html

(Image) http://www.prepperpenny.com/chili-meal-in-a-jar/

(Image) http://www.homescoutrealty.com/chicago-real-estate-blog/bid/86823/Urban-Living-On-A-Budget-Glass-Jars

(Recipes) https://www.brit.co/12-in-a-jar/

(Tips) http://www.liveinthenow.com/article/recipe-round-up-meals-in-mason-jars

(Image, Ideas) http://sharehomedesign.com/20-vertical-garden-ideas/

(Image, recipes) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/50-things-to-grill-in-foil/index.html