Chia Shrek by doyle.jack

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!  We've heard it all before, the daytime TV slogan of the ubiquitous Chia Pet and other Chia-related products of Joseph Enterprises (also the maker of The Clapper, "Clap on! Clap Off!).  What I didn't realize until last year was that chia is the name of the grain that sprouts on your Pet/Shrek/Obama/Homer/or Scooby Doo.

The little black seeds we all made fun of as children are now being touted as "Aztek Superfood" and being sold at Whole Foods and the like.  Its health benefits have been brought to light by both Oprah and Dr. Oz.  2010 brought record setting global chia harvests and 2011 will likely be even bigger.

Yes folks, chia is the new flaxseed. 

from Google Trends

I first had chia at the Granville Market in Vancouver as "the world's most amazing breakfast cereal," - Holy Crap.  Yes, that's the name of the brand, Holy Crap.  They mixed it with hemp milk and it was great; the tiny seeds remind my of poppy seeds but when wet they form a gelatinous bubble around them, much like a tomato seed has.

I've never had a Chia Pet but the Pet-making process is the same as eating it; you mix the seeds with liquid and give them a few minutes to gel.  Instead of spreading them on your Spongebob Squarepants; however, you eat them.  This gel is formed by soluble fibers, called mucilages, and helps slow the breakdown of the carbs during digestion.

According to The Chia Book, The University of Arizona Press, “Chia has more Omega 3 than fish oil, flaxseed and marine algae. It has more protein, lipids, energy and fiber - but fewer carbs - than rice, barley, oats, wheat or corn... Chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and copper.”

The chia plant is indigenous to Central America and Mexico and is used to make the popular drink chia fresca and is often mixed with ground toasted maize kernels to make pinole.  Because of it's high protien and of its ability to absorb 10 times its weight in water, it was a staple for indigenous people to take on long journeys.

In his book “Born to Run,” author Chistopher McDougall outlines how the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico routinly runs 50-100 miles at a time after drinking their chia fresca, made with water, chia, honey, and lemon juice.

The long distance running connection piques little interest to me to me because I don't run, I'm top-heavy and wouldn't even run to catch a bus - I do; however, often make a shake of sorts for breakfast anyways so I got some chia to check it out.

Chia Seeds Soaking in a Mason Jar by GilmourCreative

I tried mixing mine with almond milk, coconut milk, cow's milk, and sometimes simply water.  It never got to a consistency where I would enjoy eating it with a spoon; just too loose and watery.  They have very little taste anyway.  I ended up mixing 1-2 tablespoons with about 10 ounces of liquid, stirring, waiting and pounding it.

I didn't notice an outpouring of Aztek energy pumping through me, but I'm usually 3 cups of coffee deep when I leave the house anyway.  It produced a level of satiety that was similar to my normal breakfast concoction so I didn't see much of a benefit.

There was the novelty of the chia gel and I have read several recipes that use the gel to substitute for fats while baking.  They do this because the gel is so hydrophilic that it holds onto the water in the oven and keeps the baked goods moist.

I'll keep experimenting with chia and since it is so hot right now, I suggest everyone goes and grabs a bag at their local health food store to check it out too.  Some people report that they can't stand the gel because it is too mucus-like, other (whack-jobs, likely) report chia addictions.  But then again, there's that lady who likes to eat Comet.


Authordavid koch

Dr. Nammy Patel, the Toothhugger

Green dentistry pioneer, Dr. Nammy Patel is the first dentist to make a serious commitment to green sustainable business practices in San Francisco.  She takes a unique approach to combine dentistry and conserve the environment, using non toxic products, reducing waste and being minimally invasive.

Dr. Nammy conducts research and development to set standards in Green Dentistry and serves as a Enviro-mentor for the San Francisco Environment Agency to help small business become green.

Here is a recent interview we had:


1) Why the name Tooth Hugger?  You can't really hug a tooth unless you have really small arms!

It’s metaphoric, you see tree huggers save the trees, and toothhuggers save natural teeth!  That’s why we use small tools rather than arms to "hug" the teeth.

2) I'll bet you get this question all the time.  Do I really have to floss?

Absolutely yes!  Flossing is more important than brushing because it gets the bacteria in the gums and in between the teeth, so it cleans areas a toothbrush cannot reach.

3) By being green, do I have to use hemp floss that tastes like patchouli?

NO!  When it comes to flossing, you have the find the one that feels most comfortable for you. Some times people like thicker floss because they have larger spaces, some like it thin because their contacts are tight.  My personal favorite is Glide.


4) Can I use regular toothpaste, or do I have to use Tom's of Maine?

You can use any toothpaste that is SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) free. SLS causes sores in the mouth.

5) What natural things are good for my teeth, is there a secret blend of 13 original herbs and spices?

It’s great to eat foods that wash away easily. For example a apple is great becusec it does not get stuck to your teeth and saliva washes it away quickly.  Almonds are a great source calcium and protein, which helps maintain calcium in the teeth.

6) Can I still eat chocolate?  Coffee?  Marbles?

You can eat whatever food you like as long as you brush and floss!  Avoid the marbles they will crack your teeth!

7) What about mouthwash?  Most mouthwash that I've used in my life is already the color green...  

You technically don't need mouthwash!  The bacteria is removed by mechanical act of brushing and flossing. Mouthwash makes your breath fresh. It is best to avoid  mouthwash that has alcohol because it dries the mouth out.

8) I started using a tongue scraper recently, I'm not scraping my taste buds off am I?

 No, using a tongue scraper is like exfoliating your skin. Your body makes taste buds have a natural exfoliation process. Just don't scrape too hard.  My rule of thumb is scrape ten times.

9) If only do one thing to help my teeth last longer, what would it be?

FLOSS, use an electric toothbrush, and see your dentist



Thanks Nammy!

360 Post St. #704
San Francisco, CA 94108

Authordavid koch
Your author, having fun  
This is an entry for Project Foodbuzz, so get out there and ROCK THE VOTE for me!

In high school had a pair of shorts that read on the inside label, “Life is a lot more fun when you're having fun.”  It was written upside down and really, the only time it would have ever been seen was when the person wearing them happened to be on the toilet.  The people who made the shorts knew that oftentimes those moments are spent in reflection, and that mantra has been with me ever since.

There are many ways to have fun while cooking. You can have fun by creating new things: Hibiscus Bubbles, Lemon Verbena Fruit Salad, Spanish Almond Soup, Tomato Martinis, Oven Dried Persimmon, Gaucho Chili Verde, and Chelada Turkey Tacos.  What is more fun however - is making the mundane interesting.

Let me show you some of the fun things we have incorporated into our daily lives.

Make your own pepper blendMake your own pepper blends:  Black pepper (Piper nigrum) goes in nearly every savory dish in western cuisine.  Boring.  Make your own pepper blends to "spice things up a bit" - get it?  Never mind.  While green peppercorns are the unripened seeds of the same species, pink peppercorns are not.  Many blends come with those three, black, green, and pink, but have fun by adding more exotic spices that play nice with the black pepper profile.

Grains of Paradise (Afrimomum melegueta) are in the ginger family and taste like a cross between black pepper and nutmeg.  Our current grinder (yes it's a plastic disposable that's earned a second life) currently grinds out a 50/50 black pepper / Grains of Paradise blend.  It’s delicious, and it adds such a delicate nuance, unsuspecting guests cannot tell.  For the next blend I think we’ll introduce some Sichuan pepper.

Make your own Seasoned SaltMake your own Seasoned Salt.  Salt is boring too.  When I was a kid, I became intrigued by the salt alternatives like Accent, Spike, and Mrs. Dash.  I still am.  How could something taste salty if it doesn't have any salt in it?  Lowry's built an empire on their Seasoned Salt and nearly every home in the US has a jar, but that doesn't mean that you can't make your own.  Currently our consists of Kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, Tony Chachere’s Cajun blend, and sumac.

Try interesting oilsTry interesting oils:  There are other cooking oils besides olive oil.  Of course you should keep some great olive oil on hand, but branch out!  We have been through bottles of Avocado, Walnut, Peanut, Almond, Sunflower, and Grapeseed Oil.  My current oil of choice is Coconut Oil; the poor guy has been accused of being unhealthy but has a ton of healthy lauric acid.  Next on my list is cold-pressed Canola, it is supposed to be much more flavorful than the normal Canola you cook with.

Never buy salad dressing:  At the very least, an acid, an oil, and salt, make dressing.  Use some fun oil (besides olive oil) and mix it up with different citrus fruits and different vinegars.  Tangerines and Grapefruits make excellent dressings, as do Sherry and Champagne Vinegars.  Add some Brewers Yeast, and try adding different mustards.  One of my favorite dressings is with red wine vinegar, brewers yeast, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and stone ground mustard.  Try it on a Spinach Salad.

Make the most amazing cup of coffee every morningMake the most amazing cup of coffee each morning:  Every day brings a new world of possibilities.  Start it off right with the best cup of Joe you can muster.  It has taken me 18 years of making my own coffee each morning, and I’ve got it nearly to a science.  It starts with buying beans from your coffeehouse and I have them grind it on a #2.  This is fine like an espresso grind.  I know what you’re thinking, I ground my own for more than a decade.  If you drink coffee every morning, don't worry, you will easily go through that pound of beans before it gets stale.

Next buy a plastic cone and some paper filters.  Boil your water and I add a heaping tablespoon for each mug, maybe a little extra for those mornings when the eye boogers are especially thick.  If you like sugar, add it to the coffee in the filter.  This, I assure you, will be the best cup you’ve ever had.  Mess around with the extras, different sugars, soy, almond, and hemp milks.  There’s no need to mess with the process.

When it comes to the kind of coffee, mix it up.  Different regions produce different styles of coffee; the major ones are South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.  Go through each one to become familiar, then start working on blends.  Make them your own.  If your coffeehouse sells loose beans, ask them to mix them for you and grind them up together.  Peet’s sells an excellent blend called Major Dickason’s that was developed by one of their customers.  Maybe one day you’ll have your own blend named after you.

Brew your own beerZymology, brew your own beer:  People have been doing it for thousands of years.  It’s easy and your results will often be better than anything you can find in a store.  I make my own beer and I have been since before I could legally buy it.  They don’t ID for yeast, hops, and malt.  I have been to the edges of good taste and back.  Some of my creations include: Kava Kava Cranberry Mint, Agave Lime beer with Chilies, Mocha Stout, Multigrain Light and Multigrain Dark (they included barley, wheat, oats, rye, and rice), and a Hoppy Hard Cider.  

Brewing is easy.  If you drink beer, you should make beer.  Read a book, buy a kit, and make some.  My dad made his own wine when I was growing up and although I’ve taken a home-winemaking class, I don’t have the storage for it right now.

Brew your own vinegarBrew your own vinegar:  A friend gave me a vinegar mother about two years ago and I’ve been brewing my own red wine vinegar ever since.  I started with a bottle of Petit Syrah and, whew, it is intense!  Now, whenever we don’t finish a bottle of red wine, we add it to the jar and it continues.  Call it a cuvee if you will.  This is how the ancients did it.  There is nothing I’ve ever tasted like real red wine vinegar.  It not only makes salad dressings amazing, but a little splash adds that note of acidity that make dishes pop.

Brew your own kombuchaBrew your own kombucha:  I started drinking kombucha with the rest of the masses about two years ago and when I finally read up on it, I realized how simple it is to make.  I ordered a kombucha mother on eBay for about $10 and have been cranking it out.  I have made mint, cranberry, orange, lemon, basil, and pomegranate.  Sipping a kombucha after a good workout really hits the spot.  

So there you have it.  Change up your nuts and bolts routine to make things more interesting and you will have more fun in the kitchen.  Listen to my shorts, “Life is more fun when you’re having fun.”  Or, if you don’t listen to my shorts, listen to Vince from the Slap Chop commercials, “Stop having boring tuna.  Stop having a boring life.”


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science
16 CommentsPost a comment

The New Pepsi Challenge

In the late 1970's Pepsi began doing public blind taste tests where subjects would take sips of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi - and choose which one they liked better.  They found they had a slight edge in these tastings over Coke and ran the claim, "Nationwide, more people prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola."

I remember these ads clearly.  I also remember being a big proponent of Coke at a young age, but I couldn't tell you why.  Even though Pepsi was, "The Choice of a New Generation," I felt angry that so many foolish people would incorrectly pick Pepsi when Coke was so clearly better.

In his amazing book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell actually describes some of the nuances of taste tests that the Pepsi Executives may-or-may-not-have knowingly taken advantage of.  When testers are asked to take only a sip, Pepsi, being slightly sweeter than Coke may be chosen more often even though many might think its flavor cloying over the course of a whole drink.

Anymore, the two are equal in my book; and although I don't drink sodas often, they go great with Mexican food.  When I figure out why, I'll let you know.

So, what's the New Pepsi Challenge?  Last year, Pepsi and Mountain Dew released "Throwback" versions of their sodas made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.  Just like the good old days, you know, 1980.  They were released only for a limited time and came in old-fashion cans, which I think look pretty cool myself.

I bought a 12-pack of each the Throwback Pepsi and the regular one and conducted my own New Pepsi Challenge asking testers to see if they could choose the one made with real sugar over the one made with corn syrup.

While some people just made their guess, some added that they preferred one over the other.  Some people even said, "I think this one is corn syrup AND I think I like it better."  Although I could discern a very slight difference in flavor, I couldn't tell you beyond a guess which one was which.  I also didnt prefer one over the other.

They both tasted like sour carbonated sugar water.

And your results:  8 vs 8.  A tie. 

Authordavid koch
3 CommentsPost a comment

Delicious Cocktail Wienies

10. Top 10 Foods with Funny Names (via the Los Angeles Foodie)

With such classics as Super Dickmann's, Mini Dickmann's, Cock Soup Mix, and Fart Juice how could you go wrong?  I didn't know that Heinz made a microwavable Spotted Dick Sponge Pudding in a can!  Sounds scrumptious!

9. 10 Great Health Foods for Eating Well (via the Mayo Clinic)

Well, hasn't this subject been beaten like a filthy rug on a windy day?  I thought this was interesting because it is from the freaking Mayo Clinic, not, bestfoodsforstaying, or  Let's get real, the list starts with Apples, Almonds, and Blueberries...

8. Top 10 Mispronounced Foodie Words (via Chicago Tribune)

I've been told that Bruschetta can be correctly pronounced at least two different ways but confusing Chicken Mole with a dish consisting of a flightless bird with a dark spot on its skin is unacceptable.  Pączki?  They got me on that one but I think there are at least two more common ones they missed: chipotle and asiago.  No Vern, it isn't che-pote-el and ah-see-ah-joe.

7. Top 10 Food Hacks (via Lifehacker)

First there's the old "Open a banana like a monkey" trick.  Hint: don't tear it from the stem.  Then there's the "DIY microwave popcorn hack" and the "Making Super Mario-style mushrooms from radishes" how-to guide.  Lastly, they teach you how to make edible shot glasses.  Do all four hacks at the same party and you unlock a badge on Foursquare!

6. Top 10 Food Trends for 2010 (via Epicurious)

Lamb is in, Pork is out.  Home Made Beer is in, Mad-Science Cocktails are out.  Mini Whoopie Pies are in, Mini Cupcakes are out.  Vancouver is in, Barcelona is out...  I'm so bummed right now because I just booked my tickets for the 1st Annual Spanish Basil-Lavender Gin and Tonic, Cupcakes, and Chorizo Tour.  I leave in May.

5. Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented (via the Endless Simmer)

From staples such as a ground pig parts, dipped in batter, skewered with a stick, and deep fried (the Corn Dog) - to more delicacies like impaling a turkey with a duck, that's been impaled with a chicken, that's been packed like a musket with sausage stuffing (the Turducken), this is a solid Top 10 of American gluttony.

4. Top 10 Common Food Poisoning Risks (via the New York Times)

"Each year, about 76 million people in the United States become ill from the food they eat, and about 5,000 of them die, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of food-borne illnesses..."

3. Top 10 Food Related Stand-up Comedy Bits (via LA Weekly) - Mature Audiences

The highlights?  9 minutes with Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III talking mostly about Chinese food.  CK Lewis discussing how he won't even try duck vaginas lest he finds out how much he likes them.  There is also Patton Oswald lamenting on how KFC piles everything they have in to their Famous Bowl, and we Americans proceed to eat out of them like dogs.

2. Top 10 Most Common Ingredients in Fast Food (via The Learning Channel)

Would it surprise you if I told you that there are 67 ingredients in a Big Mac?  How about if I told you that Xanthan Gum was in a lot of fast food?  Do you know what Xanthan Gum is?  It is produced by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris and is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer the world over.  Enjoy!

1. 10 Food Feuds (via Chow)

The list includes such [sort of] heavyweights as Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Scanwich, and Rick's Original Philly Steaks.  They close each showdown with classic quotes as: "The intern has been dealt with, we took away his zero pay," "Mr. McFarland called the allegation that he was a Caesar salad thief ‘a pretty ridiculous claim,’” and “I want to be a good neighbor, but I am nobody’s fool, and nobody’s pushover, and I should not have to carry a baseball bat on my truck in order to sell cupcakes.”

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

Diner enters restaurant, is seated, and peruses the menu.  

He places the menu on the table, indicating that a decision has been made.  The server greets the diner and takes the Diner's order, but what's this?  Red wine with fish?  The Cardinal Sin!  Not on my watch!  

The Server, aghast:  "One moment sir, I'll fetch the sommelier."

Diner:  "That won't be nec..."

Server:  "One moment sir, just one moment."

Sommelier enters scene, corkscrew a blazin':  "May I make some recommendations, sir?"

Diner:  "I'll have the Argentinian Malbec with my Mackerel please."

Sommelier:  "Instead Sir, may I recommend a New Zealand Savignon Blanc?"

Diner:  "The terrior at this particular Château, mon frier, has a very low iron content.  I will have the Malbec and I will wallow in my own decanal and heptanal if the case may be, thank you."

Sommelier:  "Um, but, um.  But the tannins, sir, the tannins.  Um.  Very well."


What did the diner know that the sommelier didn't?  What's this about iron?  In a recent article published this past August in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a team of crack-shot food scientists broke open the door to pairing red wine with fish... and it's not the tannins.

According to The Economist

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Science
3 CommentsPost a comment

I had seen the blind tasting done on the TV show Top Chef a handful of times but what made me actually want to sit down, get blindfolded, and do it was an article in the April 2009 issue of Saveur, titled "Dream Job."  It was written by Bryan Miller a restaurant critic for the New York Times from 1984 to 1993.

Miller said that he would place dried herbs on his tongue a few times a month to try and identify them.  Like culinary push-ups, now I was intrigued by the blind tasting.  His Kryptonite?  Dried turmeric, Miller states "To this day, I wouldn't know the spice if you rolled my pillow in it."

We set up our own Top Chef-Style Taste Test.  With three people, we each tasted the other's picks, not tasting our own.  One of us would set up their tray and administer to the test to one while the third was in another room.  

I went first.

Dave's Picks
  1. Currants
  2. An Orange wedge
  3. Turmeric
  4. Raspberry Jam
  5. Oyster Sauce
  6. Smoked Paprika
  7. Coconut Oil
  8. Wasabi Peas
Dave:  "As I suspected, currents threw them off
Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science
3 CommentsPost a comment

Thirsty?  How about juice?  Or some Gatorade?  Water?  No thanks, don't be silly, only Vitamin Water for me.  Or wait!  I know what I'm craving!  Mmm, how about some Age Defying Skin Balance Water?  That's right, Borba!

According to the website:

"BORBA Age Defying Skin Balance Water contains a revolutionary cultivated bio-vitamin complex...

Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science

My wife was craving some KFC the other day (it's not Kentucky Fried Chicken anymore) and I didn't feel like cooking... well that, I was exhausted from work and I could walk there too were all factors that helped her cause.  We got some combos with the requisite Mashed Potatoes 'N Gravy (which I call wallpaper paste), Cole Slaw (which I shamefully enjoy), and their biscuits (which have gone dreadfully downhill since my youth.)

What caught my eye was the packet titled "Colonel's Buttery Spread" which beyond its title bore only the following two tidbits of information: "Keep Refrigerated" and "Artificially Flavored."  What is this magical spread?  Was it outsourced to the Keebler Elves and made churning Yeti milk with a unicorn's horn?

I went online to take a peek at the KFC Nutrition Guide...

Authordavid koch
7 CommentsPost a comment

Caffeine has become so commonplace in our society that I'm starting to think it has become unavoidable.  I'm a big-time coffee aficionado (RYO Coffee, Latte Art, (STARBUCKS)RED Whole Bean Coffee) but methinks sometimes marketing "gurus" take it a little too far. 

Recently, I counted 14 different flavors of Monster Energy Drink at a Fry's electronic store in a cooler by the registers.  Do any of them taste good?  Unlikely.  Maybe that's why they have to keep cranking out new ones, to keep the public guessing.

Here are some of the latest snacks that have been, shall I say tainted with caffeine:

Butterfinger Buzz...

The definition of a Calorie (note: Calorie with a capital "C") is "the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius." - conversely, calorie with a lowercase "c" is the amount of energy to heat one gram of water.  Essentially, a lowercase calorie is 1/1000th of a Calorie.

For all intents and purposes we will be referring to "Calories" here because that is the standard measurement in the United States (that's what is on your food labels).  Ironically, we use Calories in the U.S.... but not Celsius.  Go figure.

Back to the the question ,"Can I Shed Pounds Drinking Ice Water?"  By the definition of a Calorie, yes, absolutely.  There's a little math involved, but it's easy, let's go.

Here are the facts:

A)  Ice water is approximately 0 degrees Celsius. 

B)  Body temperature is about 37 degrees Celsius.

C)  A kilogram of water takes up one liter (that's the beauty and logic behind the metric system). 

D)  Urine doesn't come out cold, it's comes out at body temperature.

If you were to drink a liter of ice water, about 32  fl oz (or four cups), it would require your body to burn 37 Calories to bring that liter of ice water up to body temperature

So the answer is yes, sort of.  For every 8.35 pounds of ice water you drink, you would burn the Caloric equivalent of a half-ounce of cookie dough.  There are a lot more effective ways to slim down.  Stick to the "8 cups of water a day" rule; however, make it ice water every time, and that's burning 74 Calories a day.

Just think, you would only need to drink a gallon of ice water to burn the Calories in 3 tubs of McDonald's BBQ sauce...

Authordavid koch

The crew of the current Endeavour mission completed what was almost a 5 hour spacewalk on Monday, detached from the space station today, and prepare for a Friday landing.  Which begs me to ask... what are they eating up there?

Many of us have had "Astronaut Ice Cream," the freeze dried Neapolitan brick of what was once ice cream.  That odd texture of something at room temperature still melting in you mouth always throws me.  And then there's Tang of course. 

Beyond that however, what those brave souls are subsisting of up there, traveling at 17,000 miles per hour, remains much of a mystery. 

There are several concerns with eating on a space shuttle in zero gravity.  Liquids can be dangerous.  Who knows what would happen if a floating ball of orange-flavored liquid were to slip into the control panel.  That and small objects.  Just imagine what kind of havoc a fist full of Mike 'n Ikes would create with an onboard air filtration system.

Sometimes this just limits their choices.  The serve up, for example, tortillas not bread.  Bread crumbs could be dangerous, but tortillas tear nicely - and they make for great frisbies too.  They have been on every mission since 1985.  In other circumstances, nearly everything they eat is contained in either a plastic bladder, or what they call an "edible coating." 

They can Velcro their dining trays to their legs and attach their utensils magnetically.  Salt and pepper are delivered to their food in liquid form, airborne salt and pepper could be a nightmare.  They rehydrate the food with the waste water from the fuel cells

Apparently there are no rules against "playing with your food."  Many have seen the video of the banana spiraling into the astronaut's mouth...

But what are they eating?  Well, pretty much everything that can be freeze-dried, dehydrated, thermo-stabilized, served in a pouch, and eaten with a spoon.  That's quite a bit.  Common space meals include things like beef stroganoff, brownies, chicken stew, scrambled eggs, granola bars, macaroni and cheese, chocolate pudding.

On the space station, which is a U.S./Russian venture, they eat both American and Russian dishes.  Fruit is a luxury, only being available in the space station for a few days after being visited by the shuttle or an unmanned cargo drone.  Another luxury they don't ever get... beer or wine.

This is my favorite picture... If you look closely in the photo above you can clearly make out a bottle of the famous Thai hot sauce, Sriracha.

There seems to be issues with fish coming across as too fishy and one swordfish dish was so bad that a few astronauts refused to eat it.  Apparently they don't eat the world famous "Space Ice Cream" either. 

But what seems to be the most popular dish?  Freeze-dried shrimp cocktail, served with horseradish-infused powdered sauce.  (Gross)


Authordavid koch
7 CommentsPost a comment


photo by bashfordphoto by Photo Mojo

Ahh Beer Can Chicken, a staple food growing up and always a go-to grill option for my father.  The logic is sound, prop up the bird so that the breast meat is not scorched by the direct heat of the grill and thus dried out.  The beer gently steams the cavity adding a subtle nuance of malted barley and hops; the liquid also adding to the moisture of the meat.  Brilliant.

But wait.  Is there a plastic liner in my beer can?  What's this about Bisphenol-A (BPA)?  Is BPA going to kill me?  What about the paint on the outside?  Is it true that Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's Disease?  Oh my gosh, is my Beer Can Chicken going to kill me?

This debate sprung up recently and I decided to check the facts.  Note:  I'm not a doctor but I had a cameo as one in a school play.  Let's begin:

Is there a plastic liner in my beer can?
- Most likely.  Beer and soda are reactive to metals and would taste horrible out of a can without a liner of sorts.  There is a wonderful article on the History of the Beverage Can by the Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising that states that lined cans hit the market in 1935 - and the industry, basically, never looked back.

This is an image of the plastic liner inside a beverage can that has had the aluminum exposed by dissolving it in acid (photo courtesy of Steve Spangler Science):

What is all this news about BPA?
- BPA is a building block of many everyday plastics.  Researchers have correlated exposure to BPA to heart disease, diabetes and possibly cancer.  Consumer awareness about BPA hit an all time high last April when news detailed baby bottles that contain BPA and Nalgene quickly removed its water bottles from shelves.

Is BPA going to kill me?
- Maybe.  Not from drinking beer it appears [thank god] but a recent study by the Center for Disease Control fount BPA to be present in 93% of the population in the U.S.  That's how everyday this stuff is. 

In 1995, the Society of the Plastics Industry, ran a study to quantify the migration of BPA from can coatings.  They determined that an average adult consumer would have to consume "about 500 pounds of canned food and beverages every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

Before you sigh a breath of relief, there are some mitigating factors here... Do you trust that the EPA has correctly determined what safe exposures to BPA are?  Do you trust the results of a BPA study conducted by the Society of the Plastic Industry?  Why hasn't anyone studied the exposure generated by grilling a can of beer that's been stuffed in a chicken's rear end?

What about the paint on the outside?
- Hmm, I've got nothing for ya - except Little Jimmy used to eat paint chips and we all know how he turned out...

Is it true that Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's Disease?
- "They" don't think so.  The link between Aluminum and Alzheimer's was first put forward in 1965 and aluminum has been shown to be present in both plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.  I know people who avoid antiperspirant because they contain aluminum-based compounds.

According to the Alzheimer's Society; however, "The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings outlined above do not convincingly demonstrate a causal relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease, and that no useful medical or public health recommendations can be made− at least at present (Massey and Taylor 1989)."

Oh my gosh, is my Beer Can Chicken going to kill me?
- I am completely unqualified to answer this, but... I don't think so.  For what it's worth, this is my logic:  As long as beer is still inside the can, the temperature won't reach much more than 212 degrees F, the boiling point of water. 

The boiling point of BPA is about 428 degrees F, so whatever BPA there might be inside the can liner, likely won't cook into the food.  If it does, it will stay mostly inside the cavity of the bird and considering how unappetising chicken ribs are, no one is likely going to be eating them. 

The paint on the outside follows the same rules as far as I'm concerned.  Ensure there is enough liquid in the can and the paint probably won't bake off either.

As far as the aluminum goes, just think about how much plastic and paint there is on that can protecting you from that nasty aluminum...

There is a great debate on Beer Can Chicken going on in the Chowhound forums, here is my favorite comment so far:

I think to many people are a little to panicky about these simple heath issues. You never heard anyone say anything back in the day when we all as kids drank from the garden hose. How about putting marshmallows on a tree branch to roast them? Maybe an insect deficated [sic] on that branch, or maybe it was sprayed with mesquito [sic] spray, who knows? - Jimbosox04

Lastly, if you want to see how beverage cans are manufactured, thank How it's Made by the Discovery Channel for making this video.

Authordavid koch
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"051707_004 [HDR]" - photo by Ushlambad

High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR) is a technique that takes [usually] three what-would-be-identical images, but with three different exposures.  One is under-exposed, which brings out detail in the very lightest areas of the photo.  One is normally exposed; optimal for the lighting conditions.  The last image is over-exposed, which brings out detail in only the darkest areas.

HDR was developed in the first half of the 20th century but it didn't become mainstream until the digital age; where, now everyone and their Aunt Ruth has a digital camera, and software like Adobe Photoshop CS4 (CS2 or later make work?) and Photomatix can easily seam your images together.

I have dabbled around with HDR photography a little bit, and with either of the two above programs your results can be quite satisfying.  Although most HDR content are of landscapes, the broad range of lighting captures and immense amount of detail, here are some photos I found of food (because I can't even take a decent picture of the back of a lens-cap).

Which of these are your favorites?


"snow & HDR" - photo by Giuliagas


"Wine & Chocolate HDR 2" - photo by beatbull


"Subway HDR" - photo by *Melody*


"Late Lunch" - photo by neona

"duckunit" - photo by witpim


"'Know your onions'..." - photo by Compound Eye - 1st book at Blurb now!


"小龍包作っている" - photo by angrydicemoose


"Busy(HDR)-Taiwan" - photo by 中華民國台灣台� � Taipei, Taiwan


"The Secret Underground Restaurant...." - photo by wattsbw2004


"A Chinese Family at Dinner" - photo by Stuck in Customs


"Groceries" - photo by Mista Yuck

"The Secret Ukrainian Underground Restaurant" - photo by Stuck in Customs



Authordavid koch
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Dried Durian ChipsI saw these at a local Vietnamese sandwich shop and I couldn't resist. 

I've never eaten durian before and part of my instincts told me that, after everything I've heard about their odor, I shouldn't open them in my house...

but I did anyway. 

To my surprise, there was not any unpleasant smell, let alone one that knocks the wind out of you.

Because of its smell, stories abound about how durian is banned in public places like malls and subways in many parts of South-East Asia. 

It is also rumored to be forbidden in many hotels.


Sometimes referred to as the "King of Fruit," it is said to throw a pungent, sulfuric nose like an athlete's sock or a rotting corpse - but what makes people crave the fruit is that the horrible smell of durian is only to be outdone by its delicious taste.


Quotes pulled from Wikipedia and Urban Giraffe:

  • British novelist Anthony Burgess writes that eating durian is "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory."
  • Chef Andrew Zimmern compares the taste to "completely rotten, mushy onions."
  • Anthony Bourdain, while a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit as thus: "Its taste can only be described as...indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."
  • Travel and food writer Richard Sterling says... "its odor is best described as pig-s#!t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.
  • Henri Mouhot, Food Naturalist:  "On first tasting it I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction.
  • "The durian's smell is its outstanding feature - it is pungent, a bit like a clogged drain or rotten eggs."  From the Financial Express.
  • "It has been likened to rotting onions, unwashed socks and even carrion in custard, but the most accurate description by far is that of a sewer full of rotting pineapples." - BBC




A company called Greenday makes these dried durian chips in Thailand.  Inside the bag were 20 or so thumb-sized bright yellow moons.  They looked freeze dried and had no moisture to them whatsoever.  Some were a little porous, some were smooth.

They smelled more closely to banana chips than anything else, and they tasted quite similar too.  There was a distinct sulfur, eggy-like note but balanced with a complex sweetness.  Although they were dried, they yielded a creaminess when you began to chew them.

I tried pairing them with a lager and a Savignon Blanc.  Both seemed to compliment them well.  I think that the dryness of the drinks countered the sweetness of the durian.  They weren't cloying like dried mango can be, but again, sweet like dried banana chips.  Although the contents didn't look like much, the 50 gram bag was unusually filling.

Although this wasn't the fresh fruit, which I can't wait to try, there was nothing unpleasant to it at all.  I wonder what makes durian so repulsive then before it is dried.  We'll call durian chips a durian primer for me, unlike this 15 month-old who goes straight for the good stuff...


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science
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photo by otherthings

Artist Liz Hickok recreates accurate, scaled-down cities with Jello.  The photo above is San Francisco and they are pouring on the "fog" before they do the photo shoot.  She has done several neighborhoods of San Francisco as well as Wilmington, Delaware and Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Her installations and photography are surreal, you can check them out and purchase them from her website here

Liz begins by taking photos around the city, capturing the facades of landmark buildings.  Then she makes tiny models of the structures out of balsa wood and/or foam board.  She pours up silicone molds of the models to make her Jello molds.

The last step in the process is taking a large aerial or satellite photograph of the city and laying in onto a table, making a ton of Jello, and placing the buildings into place. 

Playing with your food?

She has also made videos:


Here are some more photos of San Francisco...


photo by kwc

photo by jennY

photo by jennY

Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science
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The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Pollan
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Keyboard Cat


Author Michael Pollan goes on the Colbert Report to explain how the food-industrial complex is destroying what we eat by processing and synthesizing it.  He opines on how reducing a complex food down to a single component is fundamentally detrimental to our health.

One of the tenets of his newest book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, is to only buy things with "5 ingredients or less."  He is steadfast that this is the most simple method for reducing the amount of synthetic food in our diets.

Interestingly, I recently tried Häagen-Dazs' new ice cream that is actually called five.  They boast that it only contains five ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks... and then whatever flavor it is.  They make it in make Mint, Coffee, Vanilla, Ginger, Passion Fruit, Brown Sugar, and Chocolate and it's good!

Some of the highlights of the Colbert clip include Michael admitting to eating Yodels; how he got "busted" at the supermarket buying Fruity Pebbles, and he blasts infant formula but his mom is in the audience - and she tells him that he wasn't breast fed.  Zing!



Authordavid koch
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16 Ingredients: water, concentrated crushed tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, distilled vinegar, green bell peppers, salt, high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as preservatives, citric acid, chili powder, natural flavor, garlic, spice.



I'll have to say, there ARE 5 vegetables in here; however, there are also 3 chemicals that are both mysterious and difficult to pronounce. Let's review some of these chemicals (content is from wikipedia):

Xanthan gumis a polysaccharide used as a food additive and rheology modifier. It is produced by fermentationof glucose or sucrose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium.

Sodium benzoate - also called benzoate of soda, has thechemical formulaNaC6H5CO2.  It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and exists in this form when dissolved inwater. It can be produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid.

Potassium sorbate - the potassium salt of sorbic acid.  Its primary use is as a food preservative.  Potassium sorbate is effective in a variety of applications including food, wine, and personal care.


In case you were wondering, no, the stuff doesn't taste very good.

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Authordavid koch
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photo by Dave Koch

We use a lot of soap in our house and I've always been a fan of Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castile Soap but the huge squirt bottle kind of sucks.  Really.  What I discovered recently is that the magic really occurs when you dilute it into a foaming hand soap pump.

Well, you've got to wash your hands, and you've always got dishes to do... so why not do them the Magic Pure Castile way?

Begin with a fancy foaming hand pump soap, we use Dial [don't you wish everyone did...?]  

Use it up.

photo by Dave Koch




I grew up on the stuff, usually the Peppermint scent.  It works great for cutting grease on dishes and it doesn't do a nasty toll on your "dish-pan" hands.  Unfortunately, it never has had a decent delivery system - until I tried putting it into foaming hand soap pumps.  Now it is complete.



We have used the Peppermint, the Lavender, and the Tea Tree Oil.  I even added a little Tee Tree Oil that I had sitting around to each batch.  Why not?  

photo by dave Koch

For each, add a small squirt (maybe an ounce or so) to the soap bottle, fill the rest up with water, cap it and you're done.  

I'm not the cheapest bastard in the the bunch but let's do the math:

A 32 ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner's costs $15 and will make about 20 batches of hand soap.  That's about 75 cents per batch and I swear it works as good as - or better than the stuff you have laying around.

Give it whirl!  I'm going to try the Rose or the Eucalyptus next...

Authordavid koch
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