Potatoes


How many potatoes have I peeled? Measured by vegetable jackets we doff, would a life heap of potato skins greater than all other vegetables combined betray age, rural childhood? Do ponders of what to eat salivate anticipation over a plain boiled potato – of course not. Texture aside, try describing a plain boiled potato.

Growing up, unless a rare spaghetti night broke the monotony, dinner included a pot of potatoes – 7 people, 7 potatoes plus “one for the pot”. Skinning potatoes was easy, summoning root cellar courage was another matter. Lurking beneath the kitchen floor, it existed in another dimension. Ten steps down to audible protests of a wood plank door, passage into cellar’s domain called for swift adherence to entry protocol – one deep breath to mitigate cellar’s earthy assault on senses, focused determination to locate light bulb’s string, followed by fixation on tidy mason jar rows of peaches and tomatoes. Glass caged peach optimism derailed packed earth floor and walls long enough to snatch potatoes and run. For a few weeks each summer “new potatoes” escaped the cellar, thin skinned delicacies boiled intact with a handful of fresh mint.

I love potatoes. Perfect recipient for butter or gravy, enthusiastic sponge for dinner plate juices. Mashed, scalloped, shredded, fried, stewed, caked, salad – a food staple champion. History found potatoes in Bolivia and Peru, cultivated in the Andes for up to 10,000 years. Apparently the Inca thought slices placed on broken bones would speed healing, carried in pocket prevented rheumatism and measured time in potato units – time it took to cook potatoes. In 1537 Spanish conquistadors introduced potatoes to the known world. Per person North Americans eat 110 pounds of potatoes a year, double that consumption for residents of Europe. Ireland was introduced to potatoes when Queen Elizabeth 1 gave Sir Walter Raleigh 40,000 acres of land to grow tobacco and potatoes. Prior to the Great Famine of 1845-1852, average Irish families consumed 10 pounds of potatoes a day. Close to a million people starved to death, another million emigrated during an outbreak of crop failing potato blight – the potato credited with Ireland’s population falling by 25%. Below a source of little known potato facts –

http://nppga.org/consumers/funfacts.php

In primary school most of us cut potatoes in half, carving designs to make stamps. Did you know potato water cleans silver – after cooking remove potatoes, immerse tarnished silver in potato water for an hour. Remove rust from cast iron pans or baking sheets – rub with a cut potato, acids in the flesh wipe it away. Last night I found instruction on growing rose bushes from cuttings inserted into potatoes –

How To Grow Roses From Cuttings

High Above The Forest Floor


If Saturday morning demands jumping out of bed at 5 am, the job site should always be high above the forest floor. Guests were met at Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver with chocolate biscotti and a mug of grand marnier hot chocolate. Steps before the 137 meter long, 70 meter high crossing of the Capilano River, mini scones topped with seared pork belly and a fried quail egg fortified guests. Reaching solid ground called for smoked salmon lollipops. Meandering trail gave way to a series of steps, up to the “tree house” for a bite of mini quiche. Up, up, up across the canopy – I’m waiting with candied lemon topped smoothies.

Presiding over the last nibble, my boss carefully places sculpted noodle “bird nests” on a tree stump. Park staff warned us of cheeky chipmunks – nary a peep until filling nests with ginger doughnuts. Let me assure you, cheeky doesn’t begin to describe the goal oriented tenacity of that chipmunk. Given countless opportunity to stand down, pleas of polite reason, stern admonishment, it simply wouldn’t listen. No one punches a chipmunk in the face without good reason. Instinct, not malice, sent that chipmunk flying 3 feet to the ground. Regrettable but necessary, chipmunk shook it off and graciously relented.

If you have to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, I recommend it be for a perch high above the forest floor.

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My perch, 110 feet high

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Good morning Mr. Banana Slug

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Care for a smoothie?

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As seen from my vantage point

All You Can Eat


In all likelihood, over thirty years working in hospitality deems me incapable of objectively pondering “all you can eat” phenomena with anything less than contempt and bias. “All you can eat” is a mindset triggered by the suggestion of unrestricted consumption. From humble beginnings along the Las Vegas strip in the 40’s and 50’s, all you can eat became an integral facet of North American culture. All you can eat condoned gluttony, encouraged excess and banked on popularity. Quality mattered less than quantity, all you can eat fooled patrons by suggesting they controlled the dining out experience.

Fine and dandy, but here’s the problem – all you can eat culture has come to consider every edible display as all you can eat. Regardless of setting or demographic, despite common sense, decency or good manners – the moment an unrestricted table of food is displayed, is the moment “all you can eat” seizes the day.

A few days ago a client booked coffee, desserts and non alcoholic beverages to be served following a public lecture at Science World. No problem, 150 guests, service split between two stations, and if I do say so myself, stunning visual presentation. Who am I kidding? Within moments post lecture, long lines formed at each table. I watched the first thirty or so load plates with perilously high stacks of dessert bars.WTF! Do they think it’s a bottomless pit? Are they aware of how many people are lined up behind them? Did they consider a garbage bin full of “one bite taken” throw aways, while dozens go hungry?

One of my first ponders is titled “Is That A Hot Dog In Your Gucci?” Linked below for consideration –

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/is-that-a-hot-dog-in-your-gucci/

 

I Hate Turkey


Home late, another Christmas party put to bed, too tired to ponder more than the turkey dinner at tomorrow night’s party – a reblog of my thoughts on turkey.

notestoponder

Hate is a big word, I”ll temper that to a strong dislike. Turkey has a unique distinction – it’s strictly a holiday meal. No one in their right mind plans a dinner party in May and says “hey, a Turkey would be great”. If people actually liked Turkey, it wouldn’t be disguised as “healthy alternative” sausage or processed into blocks of seasoned sandwich meat – only trotting out the big birds when Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter demand preparation of something nobody wants the rest of the year.

The idea of Turkey eclipses reality. There’s a reason we say “I hope it’s not dry” – everyone knows it will be. Turkey requires gravy, cranberry sauce, or mayonnaise once it lands in a sandwich. We make it into soup or casseroles to disguise a loathsome reputation. Turkey is not great protein, it’s an obligation.

Today was Thanksgiving in Canada. Over time I’ve…

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Enough With The Kale


Not so very long ago Kale was an inedible frilly border at salad bars, indestructible platforms for plastic bowls of bean salad or canned baby corn. A mainstay of supermarket deli platters, predictably hiding aluminum trays while cleverly taking up space. Not for human consumption, questionably decorative but for a stoic refusal to wilt.

Enter “eating healthier”, the dawn of all natural, organic, antibiotic and pesticide free,  Earnest organic farmers sustained farmers markets and upscale restaurants, social media took care of the rest. Forget spinach, new age consumers demanded kale, the tough, slightly bitter, hard to digest acquired taste became an overnight sensation.

Kale chips, caesar salads, smoothies. We couldn’t just eat healthier, we had to eat kale. Whole Foods sells more kale than all other leafy greens combined, who cares that it doesn’t have more nutrition than spinach. According to Whole Foods that equals 22,000 fresh bunches a day, and they stock 250 items containing kale.

I don’t mind a little kale here and there, but stop short of paying ridiculous prices for meager bunches, half of which are fibrous throw-aways. Today we went to Whole Foods for sausages to BBQ, they have a great selection of unique flavor combinations. Normally I’d settle on the lamb or andouille. Overtaken by a fit of madness, I took home the lemon kale pork. I can’t describe that first bite, it was like eating the bottom of a peat bog. Dry, spongy, expanding before my eyes the moment its’ casing was breached. Enough with the kale, time for a new vegetable.

Foodie


Wikipedia defines “foodie”  –

A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger.

Urban Dictionary gets right to the point –

“A douchebag who likes food”.

Apparently anyone can be a foodie. Membership requires nothing more than inflated ego, unflappable willingness to declare yourself “expert” because you can spell umami but not pretentious, determination to forsake anything that actually matters, and the belief someone cares what you had for lunch.

Foodies are everywhere, relentless Instagrams witness every morsel to cross their lips. Snippets of foodie jibber-jabber permeate the land.  Self absorbed social media nincompoops behaving like king of the douchbags with nary a blink.

We all enjoy a good meal. Write a review once in a while, share recipes, watch the Food Network, throw dinner parties, eat at a new restaurant every night. But please, I’m begging you – refrain from being the arrogant know it all.

 

 

Surely You Don’t Plan to Eat That!


Some problems are considerably more difficult to solve than others. Despite multiple contributing factors, number of people involved or sense of personal responsibility, the logical solution never changes – tackle the root cause. Band-aide solutions not only prolong the agony, they create unfair burdens on those involved. Recognizing a problem exists is admirable – wimping out by ignoring the cause while scolding those caught in its web – pisses me off.

A plan under consideration by Public Health England to combat alarming obesity rates epitomizes  half assed band-aide solutions. These geniuses want to involve major grocery chains in a program to shame customers whose carts overflow with fat, salt and sugar. Based on analysis of purchases, customers deemed guilty of unacceptably high unhealthy choices, would find a printed “health alert” on their receipt. Messages cautioning purchases fell short of nutritional requirements, or where unacceptably high in salt or sugar. Holy crap – they can’t be serious.

http://www.shopping-program.se/?p=2525

We live in a rabid hotbed of marketing hype – words like natural, healthy, whole grain, real fruit or lightly sweetened assault from grocery shelves. Natural can’t contain synthetic or artificial ingredients – so far so good. Good until you grasp they can be processed within an inch of their lives, contain pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup. How about “Made with Real Fruit” – real fruit usually means a small portion of fruit concentrate. Take Betty Crocker Real Fruit Strawberry Gushers – in reality, a minute amount of pear concentrate, Red Dye #40, and almost half their weight in sugar. Lightly sweetened – in the U.S. the term isn’t regulated, the claim means squat as products contain any amount of sugar the manufacturer sees fit.

Staggering obesity results from a multitude of of factors. This ponder isn’t about anything other than asinine bureaucrats plugging their ears and covering eyes, while patting themselves on the back for finding it brilliant to publicly scorn unfortunate victims of corporate poppycock. Honestly – one of the stupidest, not to mention misplaced attempts to solve a problem I’ve ever encountered.

Did it occur to any of these nincompoops to go after manufacturers? Turning a blind eye to corporate deception, allowing half truths and blatant manipulation – somehow unaccountable because “Joe average” doesn’t know any better? What is wrong with you people!

Problem solving  wastes time unless you’re willing to look the root cause straight in the eye.