No Salt

New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has recently introduced a bill that would ban the use of salt in the preparation of restaurant food. I appreciate the import of a low-sodium diet, I must agree with virtually all of the comments that this is one of the dumbest, most overreaching pieces of legislation to come down the pike. Unenforceable, too. Chef secretly throws some substance in the pot – what was THAT?

Besides, it says here: Larousse Gastronomique insists that “seasoning includes a large or small amount of salt being added to a preparation. Salt may be used to draw out water, or to magnify a natural flavor of a food making it richer or more delicate, depending on the dish. This type of procedure is akin to curing.” I can imagine that some foods would end up so unsatisfying that the customer might well use too much NaCl from the shaker.

What I DO favor, whenever possible, is for restaurants to indicate the nutritional breakdown. We have gone to both Friendly’s, the Massachusetts restaurant chain, and McDonald’s this month, and it was startling. The menu at Friendly’s now indicates the calorie count on all its foods, much to the dismay of our waitress, who has noticed people deciding that the 1400-calorie banana split may just not be worth it. On the McDonald’s food wrapper, not only are calories listed, but like any food you’d find on the grocery shelf or in a vending machine, it ALSO has information on protein, fat and sodium. And there seems to be a LOT of sodium.

Cutting back on salt wouldn’t be such a bad thing. One can, for some items, season without salt. There are only two items that I actually add salt to: popcorn and chicken giblets. I should make sure I don’t consume them at the same meal.
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The Meatrix.


ROG

July Ramblin’

When the swine flu – I’m sorry, the H1N1 virus – was first announced in the spring, I was feeling bit peevish about the pundits who seemed to think that the government – actually world governments – were making too much of the disease. Frankly, i think it was due to lack of understanding of the nomenclature. We don’t know what a Level 6 (pandemic, declared weeks ago) feels like. We understand gradations of temperature, the difference between a Category 1 and category 3 hurricane or a 3.6 earthquake vs. a 6.6. Anyway here’s John Berry’s 2009 WHITE PAPER ON NOVEL H1N1 (PDF). Barry wrote the book The Great Influenza about the 1918 flu epidemic: “Three of the preceding four pandemics, 1889, 1918, and 1957, show clear evidence of some fairly intense but sporadic initial local outbreaks scattered around the world.

“The novel H1N1 virus seems thus far to be following the pattern of those three pandemics, and it seems highly likely that it will return in full flower. If the virus is fully adapted to and efficient at infecting humans, this would occur soon, possibly during the influenza season in the southern hemisphere or possibly a few months later in the northern hemisphere. The 1918 and 1957 viruses both exploded in September and October in the northern hemisphere, even though this is not the influenza season.

“If the virus needs further adaptation to become fully efficient in infecting humans, that could be delayed, quite possibly a year or two later. It seems very unlikely that this virus will peter out.”
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Got this e-mail: Black Male Teachers – Do you know any Black males who are seniors in high school who want to go to college out of state for “FREE” ? Several Black Colleges are looking for future black male teachers and will send them to universities/colleges for 4 years FREE .

The ‘Call Me MISTER’ program is an effort to address the critical shortage of African American male teachers particularly among South Carolina ‘s lowest performing public schools . Program participants are selected from among under-served, socio-economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities…

Visit here for more details and the online application or call (800) 640-2657.

But if you GO to that page, you’ll ALSO read “Please read this memo regarding an email hoax that provides misinformation about our program.”
It has been brought to our attention that an erroneous e-mail, rife with inaccuracies and misinformation about the Call Me MISTER Program, is making its way around the country. Said e-mail makes such false claims as “South Carolina HBCUs offer FREE TUITION” and our program is for “African American MALES ONLY”, neither of which is true. While we do offer tuition assistance and book support, plus a small stipend to defray other associated costs of attending college, we DO NOT now offer, nor have we ever offered, a full scholarship.
Myths need to be debunked.
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Lean times in L.A. County leave no money for the dead. This is a story about more people opting for cremation. As someone heavily influence by Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death, I applaud the trend, even if it’s being done out of economic necessity.
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On a lighter note, from Yahoo! Food: 5 Summer Food Mysteries Solved. I KNEW the ice cream one to be true.
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My wife and her class saw the movie The Yes Men last weekend. “Shocking and funny,” she described it. as it turned out there was an article in the local paper about the movie’s follow-up, now playing on HBO and perhaps coming to a theater near you.
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Paul McCartney returns to the Ed Sullivan Theater as he appears on Letterman, 45 years after his first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Paul at Citi Field, NYC.
***Amusing and even educational. Church Advertising
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This video was made in the Antwerp, Belgium Central (Train) Station on the 23rd of March 2009. With no warning to the passengers passing through the station, at 08:00 am a recording of Julie Andrews singing ‘Do, Re, Mi’ began to play on the public address system.” As the bemused passengers watch in amazement, some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station entrances.
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A final goodbye for S. Palin, YouTube fodder from last year, but what they hey.

ROG

QUESTIONS about Comfort Food


About.com listed the top 25 comfort foods, each linked to an appropriate recipe either traditional or updated.

Here’s my take on each:
• Apple Pie – I like; maybe with vanilla ice cream, it’s comfort food,
• Baked Beans – not a huge fan. Hated as a kid, will eat now. No.
• Banana Pudding – more likely vanilla pudding with sliced bananas in it
• Beef Stew – maybe
• Brisket Pot Roast – probably
• Chicken & Dumplings -possibly, though haven’t had in years
• Chicken Pot Pie – eh, it’s OK, but not comfort food.
• Chicken Soup – no. Mushroom soup, yes.
• Chili – I like chili, but never thought of as comfort food.
• Chocolate Chip Cookies – there was this local brand called Freihoffer’s which made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. Either they’ve changed the formula or my taste buds have changed, but they just don’t do it for me anymore.
• Corn on the Cob – like it, not comfort food
• Fried Chicken – comfort food
• Gelatin – I only eat when I’m sick, so comfort food
• Green Bean Casserole – not a big fan
• Hot Dogs – not really. Saturday lunch or the ballpark.
• Ice Cream – sometimes
• Macaroni & Cheese – almost always, especially baked, the way my wife makes it. My daughter won’t even touch the stuff with the dayglo cheese powder.
• Mashed Potatoes – can be, depending on the mood
• Meatloaf – mash potatoes with meatloaf – now THAT’S comfort food
• Potato Salad – no. I eat it, but does not meet the level of pleasure necessary.
• Pumpkin Pie – no. I like it fine, but doesn’t quite get there
• Shepherd’s Pie – I didn’t even know what this was until about 15 years ago when, with the help of my girlfriend (now wife), I made it for 40 people I can see how it could be comfort food, but I always associate it with stressing over g=feeding a large number of folks.
• Spaghetti – no, and I do like spaghetti.
• Tomato Soup – not fond of tomato soup. Actively HATED Campbell’s tomato soup as a child, haven’t tried it since.
• Tuna Casserole – probably.

I suppose it’s definitional – it’s the stuff I like to eat when I’m sick or melancholy.

1. How would you rate the foods on this list as comfort foods?
2. What else wouuld you consider comfort food. Can’t think of anything else except Oreos with milk.

ROG

The “War on Poverty”: Not Won


I was surprised to learn that when the FOCUS Churches of Albany started a food pantry 40 years ago, the thinking was that it would be a temporary measure. Certainly, once the Viet Nam war was over, the government could spend more money on “butter” issues. Or fairer, more equitable distribution of wealth would take place.

Instead, the food pantry has become an ever-larger commitment for FOCUS, and no doubt other food providers all over the country. Even before this recent economic downturn, the need had never been greater.

I’ve long been puzzled by the notion of poverty in a wealthy country such as the United States, as opposed to other parts of the world. The business news touted how much more wealth the nation as a whole was creating. American workers were increasingly more efficient. Still, there were more and more people coming to the food pantry doors.

Now Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor statistics note that the national poverty rate has increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 (a record low) to 12.5 percent in 2007, an increase of 5.8 million Americans living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate has risen from 4 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent currently.

One of the great fears of most organizations that deal with the poor and near-poor, I’m sure, is that given the current economic uncertainty, contributions will dry up. Indeed, I saw a number of stories on the news pointing to half-empty shelves. Yet, I have read long ago that, proportionally, people with relatively little give far more than those who are well off.

Please contribute to and/or volunteer for a food pantry near you.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott

Mr. Scooter Chronicles himself, Scott asks:

Have you ever seen a baseball game at Yankee Stadium? If yes, what are your thoughts on such a hallowed baseball ground seeing its last game?

Actually, not in a long time. The first time, I was a kid, and the Yankees beat the Washington Senators, The last time was probably in 1977 when I lived in Queens. Tearing down the stadium annoys me, because I don’t know why the current facility was inadequate. Oh, it doesn’t have those luxury seats, but after this week, who can afford to buy them anyway. Moreover, the funding is more corporate welfare foolishness.

Who do you think will win the World Series this year?

I picked the Cubs to lose the WS to Cleveland at the beginning of the season. About midseason, I switched to the Cubs over Tampa Bay, so I’ll stick with that. How annoying that my trip to the game was when the Cubs had hit a bad patch.

What do you think would be considered more historic: Obama being elected President, or Palin being elected Vice President?

Well, someone being elected President. If Palin were running for Prez and Obama were running for VP, it’d be Palin, but as it is, Obama. Besides, a woman had at least been NOMINATED before by a major party.

Do you think that the bailouts of financial companies will help the economy in the long run, destroy the idea of creating tax breaks for most of middle America, or see no real lasting effects on anyone?

Well, first off, I’m really ticked off about it. I listened to Henry Paulson, not once but twice on Sunday – Tom on NBC asked better questions than George did on ABC – and I got nothing but “Psst, it’s really bad. Do this or we’re doomed, trust me” without any real information.
I looked at the original language of the bill here and I was gobsmacked by Section 8: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Pardon my French, but WTF? Decisions non-reviewable? Gimme a BREAK!
I’m glad to see Democrats and republicans in Congress find some cojones, apparently because their constituents are hopping mad about this. Arthur at AmeriNZ found this example.
In answer to the question, the devil’s in the details. if there’s help for homeowners who are in their houses, limits on executive compensation and other measures, MAYBE things will turn around some.
And speaking of compensation, from Salon. “Regarding executive pay, Rep. Frank’s draft would mandate that any company selling assets into the program ‘meet appropriate standards for executive compensation,’ including limits on what could be deemed excessive or inappropriate, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. The government would also have the ability to ‘claw back’ incentive pay that was based on ‘earnings, gains, or other criteria that are later proven to be inaccurate.’ Mr. Paulson is resisting those efforts.
Astoundingly, Paulson plans to fight any efforts to limit executive pay because ‘he fears that provision would render the program moot, since many firms might choose not to participate.’
They might choose not to participate in a $700 billion plan designed to save them from a mess they were primarily responsible for causing? I don’t think I’m alone in finding that prospect irritating.”

On the other hand, someone at Pat Buchanan’s site posted this recently: “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.” – Malcolm X
As the letter writer noted, “Sounds pretty damn close to me.”

When was the last time you felt good about voting for a political candidate (on any level of government) feeling that they truly were the right person for the job?

I worked for Tom Keefe for city court judge a few years back. I’d known him for years and he seems to be doing a good job.

What is your favorite “healthy” thing to snack on?

apples and cottage cheese.

What is your favorite “evil” thing to snack on?

Muffins – fruit muffins (blueberry, preferably).

What is your favorite movie comedy of all time?

It’s tricky, because Annie Hall is, but it’s not all that ha-ha funny. On a pure laugh meter it’d be either Airplane! or Young Frankenstein.

Other then Jeopardy!, what is your favorite game show?

I’m partial to the various forms of Pyramid and Password,
ROG