Friday, June 3, 2011

Yay! It's National Donut Day!

National Donut Day is not just about sweet, doughy, round treats. It’s a holiday (how come we don’t get off from work?) that began in 1938 as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. It’s also a remembrance of women volunteers during World War I who delivered donuts to soldiers. It’s also where the term “Doughboy” came from, which was what American troops were called during that war (I’ve also heard, however, they were called doughboys because of the color of their uniforms …).

So check out your local donut shop and scarf down a few treats. Depending on where you live, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering free donuts, as is Krispy Kreme. Or, you could make your own at home.

Whatever the reason for National Donut Day, it’s always nice to have an excuse to eat a donut …

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Plate replaces food pyramid - what do you think?

Discovering that Americans do not generally plan their meals with geometric shapes in mind, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new food “pyramid” on Thursday. Obviously, it’s not a pyramid at all, but a plate and a glass (and a lonely looking fork). According to media reports, your average Joe is supposed to relate to this better.

Most notably, vegetables and fruits dominate the plate, with protein (as you can see, "meat" is not specified – leaving room for other protein-rich meat alternatives like soy, nuts or more vegetables) taking up a small portion. Actually, vegetables appear to be the largest share of the plate, with grains in second.

One problem I see is that the plate does not get too specific on portions. How much dairy is that glass supposed to represent? The bird’s eye view gives you no indication of volume.

Luckily, the actual Ag website behind the graphic is filled with good information.  They have links to recipes and diets specific to your condition – pregnant, trying to lose weight, etc. There’s a food search engine where you can find out how many calories are in a specific item, and plan how to fit it into your diet.

What do you think? Is this helpful to you? Will you use this graphic and the accompanying website to better plan your meals? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ketchup Salt? Bacon Rub? Weird? Definitely!

Our offices are located in South Seattle, in a warehouse, with a lot of cool neighboring businesses. Over the years we've made great friends with our neighboring peeps and have even come to do business with a few of them, which has been both fun and an honor for us here at ChefTools. One of our favorite neighbors are J&D's Foods - the makers of Baconnaise and BaconSalt.

A month ago they brought over some new products to sample and let me tell you, it was a buzz of excitement here in our offices. If there's one thing us chefs, cooks & foodies love, it's product samples to get excited about and share with the world and these new products filled with Baconny goodness were right up our alley.

Let's start with the Bacon Rub - um, hello?! It's absolutely fantastic! They nailed this one, it's all natural, Kosher, vegetarian and pretty low in the sodium department. But the taste? Well, let's just say that it will be going in my Father's Day gift this year because I know he is gonna love it! I can't wait to taste the goodies he'll be grillin' up on his trusty 'ol Traeger. Ribs, chicken, burgers - I'm thinking a brisket would be fantastic rubbed down in some good 'ol bacon lovin'!

Next up is the Ketchup Salt. For those of you who have traveled and eaten in Canada or parts of Europe, you'll understand this love for ketchup flavored goodness. Ketchup flavored potato chips are the norm there and they are delicious. For the rest of us who just so happen to love ketchup on everything and anything, then this salt's for you. It's light, not overly powerful and adds just a hint of the vinegary ketchup taste you might not think you're looking for, but will be pleasantly surprised to find.

"Is Ketchup Salt kind of weird? Absolutely. Is it weird that we dared to dream of a seasoning that would give us bold ketchup taste while keeping our fries crispy and our eggs smoking hot? Sure, it might be weird, but it's also innovative, forward-thinking, and dare we say patriotic?"

These two wonderful new products are being launched just in time for your BBQ filled summer. So, try them out and be weirdly surprised!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let's get you grilling (safely!)

I doused the charcoals with lighter fluid and threw on a match. A tall flame exploded from the grill, striving to reach the wooden ceiling of my porch. Within a few seconds, the flames died down. I peered at the charcoals; they were black, as if they had never been lit. Guess I have to light it again, I thought.

I paused as I reached down to pick up the bottle of lighter fluid, wondering whether I should hold off. Would it be safe to re-light these so soon? The thought left my mind as quickly as it came. I tipped the bottle upside down and squeezed.


The flames climbed the stream of lighter fluid quicker than my brain could process. The bottle exploded in my hand, flying across the porch; an explosion of hot air blew ash and dirt in a 10-foot radius around me. I stood stunned, wiping dirt off my face and checking to see if my eyebrows were still there.

A dumb grilling mistake that I shall never repeat. Good news is, the rest of the barbeque went fine, and, since no one was around to see me explode the grill, I kept it a secret. (And here’s a link to some good safety tips on grilling.)

I feel the need to retell it, though, because we are at the beginning of grill season. I hope all your barbeques went well over the Memorial Day weekend, and I hope they continue to go well for the rest of the summer. Grilling is one of the most enjoyable ways to cook (and we can cook virtually anything on a grill thanks to improvements in grill tool technology). There are a million great websites out there for grilling; here are two: Saveur’s newest issue is dedicated in part to grilling; also, CNN (of all news outlets) has put together a couple of simple, science-based grilling tips.

Good luck, and hang on to your eyebrows!