Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Cranberry Sauce Tradition

As we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, CNN's website informs us that the cranberry sauce that will grace most American tables was almost certainly not eaten by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving:

While the cranberries the Pilgrims needed were probably easy to come by, making cranberry sauce requires sugar. Sugar was a rare luxury at the time of First Thanksgiving, so while revelers may have eaten cranberries it's unlikely that the feast featured the tasty sauce. What's more, it's not even entirely clear that cranberry sauce had been invented yet. It's not until 1663 that visitors to the area started commenting on a sweet sauce made of boiled cranberries that accompanied meat.

There's the same problem with potatoes. Neither sweet potatoes nor white potatoes were available to the colonists in 1621, so the Pilgrims definitely didn't feast on everyone's favorite tubers.

An Interesting Twist on Cherry Pie

I am spending Thanksgiving at a rented home with my in-law's family on the edge of Deep Creek Lake, Md. My assignment for Thanksgiving dinner was to make four pies for dessert. (There are 10 adults and 5 children among us.)

I finished making the four pies last night. Two of them are pumpkin. For the sake of variety, I also made one apple and one cherry. If my fellow diners were as adventurous as me, I would have been tempted to add a twist to my cherry pie recipe by borrowing from this recipe I uncovered recently from the N.Y. Daily News.

I love pistachios, and the use of these nuts in the crumble topping sounds absolutely wonderful.

By the way, the photo above is of the Daily News recipe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkish Food

The night before we hit the road for Thanksgiving, we were in no mood to cook. So we ate last night at Cafe Divan in Washington, D.C.'s Glover Park neighborhood.

It's a Turkish restaurant. Cozy and comfortable. The food was very good; I had a lamb shank, and the hummus appetizer I had was excellent. But the Turks seem a bit too fond of rice pilaf. It seems to accompany just about every entree. Oh well. Still a good restaurant.

If You're a Mac-N-Cheese Purist . . .

. . . this article by the N.Y. Times' Alex Witchel might make you cringe. He writes about (and falls in love with) a mac-n-cheese made with goat cheese.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Au Bon Pain

An excerpt from an article in last month's Hemispheres, United Airlines' in-flight magazine:

When it comes to bread, the French know best.

Boulangeries can be found at almost every city street corner in France and are stocked with croissants, pain au chocolat, and the most famous bread of them all, baguettes.

. . . Celebrated around the world, the baguette has been a French standard since pre-Revolutionary days.

. . . Even during the devastating food shortages of the 18th century, Parisians refused to eat "bad bread." In May 1775, low-quality breads began popping up in the midst of riots, and Parisians began calling them "black breads."

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Better Pumpkin Pie

I disagree with this statement in the current issue of Cooks Illustrated:

The best thing about pumpkin pie is that you only have to eat it once a year.

I could eat pumpkin pie year-round. But even so I welcome the magazine's article suggesting three ways to add some zing to pumpkin pie. Here they are:

1) Substitute sweet potato puree for part of the pumpkin puree

2) Replace the ground ginger with freshly gated ginger

3) Substitute maple syrup for a portion of the sugar

Each of these ideas sounds good to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where's the Beef?

I have heard that the hamburger was invented in New Haven, Conn., so I was surprised to read this blog post from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Referring to Seymour, Wisc., the blog post explains:

It was there that 15-year-old Charlie Nagreen decided to flatten the meatballs he was hawking at the 1885 Outagamie County Fair and slap them between two pieces of bread to make the meal easy to carry around.

After coining the term "hamburger," he became known as "Hamburger Charlie" and continued to market the meal well into his 80s.

The town of Seymour has a Hamburger Hall of Fame, adding an exclamation point to its reputation. If you ever get lost trying to find the Hamburger Hall of Fame, just ask someone: "Where's the beef?"

Two Very Different Yelps

Courtesy of, here are two reviews for the same restaurant in San Diego -- a place called Etna:

First, here is Dinah P.'s sour opinion of Etna:

No, thanks. Shabby location, shabby service. Waiters and waitresses don't look like they want to be there, and make you wait forever. The food is not good, very bland tastes, and is pretty pricey for quality of service and food. Overall, this place deserves negative stars! It's gross, the end.

But Kailey I. gives Etna 4 stars and lavishes praise on it:

My Favorite Italian Resturant for Pastas! We love Etnas and our waiter Henry made the experience enjoyable and even took his time to sit down and chit chat with us. The plate is huge enough to bring home for the next day. I can only say I love everything I tried here so far and the Garlic Toast is to die for!
It's fascinating how differently people can look at the same eatery. I guess if we loved the same restaurants, it would be awful time to find a seat, eh?

(P.S. - I must say that I find Kailey I.'s review annoying. Is it something to praise when a waiter takes "his time to sit down and chit chat with us"? I don't go to a restaurant to make new friends; I go there to eat and hang out with current friends.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

ISO: Perfect Turkey Gravy

Nothing is more celebrated, yet so elusive, on Thanksgiving afternoon than producing the perfect gravy.

In this article from the N.Y. Daily News, Martha Stewart's advice is to save the turkey neck and gizzards for use in making a stock to enhance the flavor of the gravy.

Now I have heard this explanation for many years, but I have never known anyone who succeeded at it. From what I can see, the reason is that the neck and gizzards don't produce much in the way of juice or drippings.

My mother was a good Thanksgiving cook, but even she couldn't seem to coax much of value out of the turkey neck. She'd leave it in a small pot with about a 1/4 cup of water over it, and then she'd let it simmer.

Sure enough, the water would evaporate and little of anything would be left to add to the turkey gravy. According to the article I've cited:

Says (Martha) Stewart: "It's not difficult to make a delicious gravy if you start with a really nice, rich stock."

That means you shouldn't throw out the gizzards, liver and neck when you put the bird in the oven. Instead, simmer these with some leeks, carrots and fresh herbs while your turkey's roasting. The stock is then strained, and skimmed of fat.

I have never seen anyone do this and yield anything more than a negligible amount of stock. Maybe we weren't going about this the right way, but I'd be curious whether anyone has had genuine success in this area.

Kudos to Quaker

Kudos to the executives and other employees at Quaker Oats! Let me explain why.

A month or so ago, I sent the company an unsolicated email praising their multigrain chewy granola bars. I saluted them for creating a granola bar that's lower in fat and sugar than most other granola bars, and -- most importantly -- one that tastes great. (I am partial to the cinnamon-brown sugar flavor.)

These granola bars make excellent snacks, especially when I'm heading to the airport during a work-related trip.

Anyway, I had forgotten about sending that email when, a few days ago, a box arrived at home. It was a thank-you note from Quaker's Marketing Dept., along with some free products and coupons. Very classy, and smart.

Hey, Quaker Oats, could you please tutor the execs of GM, Ford and Chrysler? I have a feeling they could learn a lot from how you think and operate.
Now excuse me while I go eat my oatmeal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turtle Soup

Perhaps the very thought of it sounds disgusting to you.

But I started thinking about it the other day, not so much out of my own appetite, but more out of a sense of curiosity.

In other words, whatever happened to turtle soup? It used to be considered quite a delicacy. Now it's very hard to find on any menu, especially if you are dining anywhere but the Low Country or the Gulf Coast. Even in the Gulf Coast, Ralph Brennan agrees that one is unlikely to find it on a restauant menu. Brennan offers a reason for this:

While supplies of fresh water turtles, the only kind lawfully sold as food, are abundant in the New Orleans area to make Turtle Soup; in other parts of the country, the dish is illegal.
Turtle soup recipes in The Big Easy tend to be thicker, tomato-based versions. (Here's an example.) Yet even in New Orleans, turtle soup is rare to find. Maybe this reflects how much tastes have changed over the past couple of centuries. Turtle soup was considered a delicacy in colonial America. In one of the oldest English novels, The History of Tom Jones, the author writes:

The tortoise — as the alderman of Bristol, well learned in eating, knows by much experience — besides the delicious calipash and calipee, contains many different kinds of food . . .
Presidents must have loved turtle soup. At an 1843 reception for President John Tyler, turtle soup highlighted the first course. Abraham Lincoln served turtle soup at his inaugural event. Ten months earlier, during the Buchanan administration, the first Japanese delegation to visit the White House reportedly "relished" their meal, which included turtle soup.

This White House cookbook published in 1889 contains a recipe for mock turtle soup. Amazingly, recipes for turtle soup seem to have survived the passing of time. In fact, earlier this year the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found a local resident who has 15 different recipes for making turtle soup.

How's that for variety?

I've had turtle soup before, and I thought it was pretty good. But I don't know how authentic the version was that I was served. (In other words, did it bear any resemblance to what an upper-crust American would have eaten had he or she prepared turtle soup in the 1800s?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Gotta Be Maple Syrup

I love maple syrup. How much? Sometimes when I'm dining out for breakfast or brunch, I won't even order pancakes or waffles if the eatery doesn't serve them with real maple syrup. I have found that the cane sugar syrups (Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, etc.) have a one-dimensional, bland taste.

Last week, a graphic from USA Today listed the top 5 states for maple syrup production. Below is the total production in gallons, and the figure in parentheses is the percentage of growth in production:

Vermont . . . . . . . 500,000 (11%)

New York . . . . . . 322,000 (44%)

Maine . . . . . . . . . . 215,000 (-4%)

Wisconsin . . . . . . 130,000 (73%)

Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . 118,000 (57%)

I was under the impression that maple syrup wasn't such a profitable business, but the fact that most of these states saw solid jumps in production suggests that there must be some money in it.

Nearly everything you could want to know about maple syrup can be found on this web page, courtesy of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spam Is a 4-Letter Word

You know times are tough when you find yourself at the grocery store, reaching toward the shelf for this blue-colored tin.

When I was growing up in the late 1970s, much to my chagrin, my father would trudge off to the grocery store on a weekend morning and occasionally come back home with a tin of Spam. His purchasing decision had less to do with my family's economic status than it did with the fact that my father was born without taste buds.

According to the N.Y. Times, Americans may be opening a lot more tins of Spam in the days ahead:
The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant [in Austin, Minn.], times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

Spam, a gelatinous 12-ounce rectangle of spiced ham and pork, may be among the world’s most maligned foods, dismissed as inedible by food elites and skewered by comedians who have offered smart-alecky theories on its name (one G-rated example: Something Posing As Meat).

. . . Hormel declined to cooperate with this article, but several of its workers were interviewed here recently with the help of their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 9.

Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”
Now, there's one line you never hope to be standing in.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Voting Had Its Just Desserts

Over at, I just noticed this blog entry on the New York City page which had been posted on Election Day:

The City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization will host an Election Party tonight from 7 pm until the choosing of our next President!

. . . tonight they will be hosting an election watch event with, “two separate projectors and will live-broadcast the State-by-State Roll Calls, on both indoor and outdoor screens, courtesy of On the grill we’ve got all American burgers, dogs and veggie dogs at ‘08 Recession prices, as well as Brooklyn beer and soda available for donation. All American Apple Pie will be served with proof of vote cast, and since this is one of the most patriotic of nights, make sure you BYO American Flag!”
You gotta love that -- apple pie served with proof of having voted. So I guess Starbucks' promotion was trumped after all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Holiday of Carbs

Crusty dinner rolls. Mashed potatoes. Bread or cornbread stuffing. Corn. Each of these carbohydrate-ridden items adorns most American dinner tables on Thanksgiving Day.

But have low-carb zealots rained on our Thanksgiving parade? That's a question that is explored indirectly in this article by Melissa Clark in the N.Y. Times. Clark writes:

A decade ago, the breadbasket was pushed off my family’s Thanksgiving table. It was banished. Barred. Forbidden from showing its yeasty face.

. . . My father had developed diabetes, and the refined white flour that had made up the backbone of his homemade crusty French baguettes and anadama bread wreaked havoc with his glucose levels.

. . . This year, with my dad’s diabetes under better control, anadama bread seemed due for a revival at Thanksgiving. I volunteered to play bread baker.

In honor of the breadbasket’s triumphal return, I decided to bulk it up. Although one could argue that more carbohydrates are the last things a Thanksgiving meal needs, they’re also in keeping with the holiday’s spirit of excess.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A True Retro-Salad

The year was 1948. We were not yet chanting "I Like Ike." There was no color TV. This was the year when the N.Y. Times first ran a recipe for Green Goddess Salad.

But the Green Goddess Salad is actually much older than the year that the Times first published this recipe. The salad first claimed fame in 1923 when it was served by San Francisco's Palace Hotel.

I found it interesting to read in this recent Times article that today the Palace Hotel still serves more than 50 Green Goddess salads every day. Am I missing something? A basic dijon-based vinaigrette is generally my preference.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fond Memories of Lavandou

Lavandou was one of my favorite restaurants in Washington, D.C., during the early 1990s. Located in Cleveland Park, the Provencal food was so good that patrons were even willing to eat in the bistro's narrow tunnel-like entry hall.

The pate made with Marc was amazing. The simple peasant bread they brought to your table was excellent -- a nice crusty exterior, but a chewy interior. Everything they prepared (from Soupe au Pistou to the salade composée with smoked duck breast) was delightful.

The wine list was not filled with the great clarets of France, but the selection was diverse and offered good value.

When Lavandou made a deal to acquire the space next-door, its patrons were excited. The bistro's reopening was anxiously anticipated. We all waited quite patiently.

The new space was marvelous, and, best of all, the things we'd loved about the old Lavandou remained -- efficient service and superb bistro food.

Like its sister bistros in Paris, Lavandou shut down for most (if not all) of the month of August. But we took that fact in stride. I kept eating there, as did the restaurant's many other loyal patrons.

We were sure that Lavandou would always be Lavandou. Alas, we were in for a let-down.

Somewhere along the way, the chef and/or management of Lavandou changed. The service got a bit off-kilter. The menu was expanded far too much. Then it was shrunk dramatically. Most importantly, the quality of the food became inconsistent.

Why am I telling you the story of Lavandou? Basically because I have a decision to make. I feel just a little like the jilted lover who was so devoted to a restaurant and then betrayed in some way. I opened my email this morning to find this email from Lavandou.

This week, we are serving one of the oldest specialties from the South of France and one of the most appreciated:

The delicious CASSOULET!

This classic has slowly stewed white beans and various meats and it is backed under a crispy breadcrumbs topping. Le Cassoulet certainly calls out for a robust wine with enough tannin to match the hearty strength of the dish. Grenache-based wine of Gigondas is the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Located high in the hills above the Rhone Valley, Gigondas is known for rustic, untamed wines that we usually find too raw to be enjoyable, but when paired with a dish like cassoulet, a muscular, inky Gigondas is sublime.

We have it by the 1/2 bottle and bottle.

I am tempted to give Lavandou another try. But should I?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Twinkie Is No Imposter

Maybe it's a sign of the times, but it appears that everyone is down-sizing these days. Even the people who makes Twinkies. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me this A.P. article:

Hostess Twinkies are becoming the latest product remade and repackaged into 100-calorie snack packs, a product some analysts say could do well given that more people are packing their own lunches in the slumping economy.

The maker of the golden yellow, creme-filled cake is launching "Twinkie Bites" nationwide in stores . . .

And while Leavitt notes that the original Twinkie came in at 150 calories, people asked for a lightened version and the company got to work. They didn't want to just shrink the Twinkie, known for its elongated shape, Leavitt said, so they created three, miniature round versions. Leavitt said people enjoy having multiple bites rather than just the one product.

"It's not some imposter like some portion control products would be," Leavitt said. "From that standpoint it eats like a Twinkie, it smells like a Twinkie, it tastes like a Twinkie."
Is that supposed to reassure consumers?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost in Coffee Hell

That's how I felt this past weekend. I had left a convention and was driving for about an hour to reach the Pittsburgh airport.

I stopped at a few diners or restaurants that were located along a rural stretch of Highway 30. Both times the coffee that I purchased "to go" was utterly undrinkable.

It continues to amaze me how many Americans seem willing to put up with coffee that manages to be both bitter and watered-down at the same time.

Dunkin' Donuts doesn't make great coffee, but it's okay. Unfortunately, there were none of 'em around.

Americans need to realize that they don't have to drink bad coffee. Really. They don't.

Review: Bardeo

I had dinner last night at Bardeo, the smaller and less formal next-door cousin of Ardeo restaurant.

Bardeo has been open at its Cleveland Park location for many years so this review is more of a check-in or progress report for an eatery with which many Washington, D.C. residents are familiar.

This is a place where you can get a choice of about a dozen small plates -- proscuitto-wrapped fig and risotto balls, for example -- as well as a good choice of wines by either the full glass or half glass.

All three of the reds I drank last night were fine; I'd probably grade them each as a B or B+. I ordered mussels steamed in a creamy white wine and butter mixture. (Yeah, yeah, I know . . . . mussels with red wine? Well, I just wasn't in a white wine mood.) Anyway, the mussels were not impressive. I enjoyed dipping my bread into the liquid, but the mussels were simply "okay." They were big, but not nearly as tasty as P.E.I. mussels.

My other dish was the star of the night: the potted foie gras, which was infused with (I'm guessing) with cognac or armagnac and served warm with grilled bread.

The interior is very pleasant -- sleek and post-modern. But I never like to sit too close to the entrance, especially in cooler weather because of the draft that sweeps in whenever someone enters.

I always have a good meal at Bardeo, but rarely a great one. But that's fine. Bardeo's is what it is -- a nice casual bar-eatery with upscale food that is served in unfussy ways. It's not a restaurant that's trying hard to impress anyone, but when I want something good to eat and drink that isn't too far from my neighborhood, Bardeo often comes to mind.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giddy About Goat Meat

John T. Edge writes the column “Food from the Edge” that appears in USAirways in-flight magazine.

I enjoyed the column that Edge wrote for the magazine’s October issue. Here is an excerpt:

I had eaten goat before. At Jamaican restaurants that specialized in jerked goat. And at barbecue festivals in western Texas, where goat is the meat that, after a parboil and a mesquite smoke, emerges from the pits as succulent as pig, as tender as chicken, and just a tad wild and raunchy.

But goat suffers from a bad rap among mainstream eaters — except for goat cheese, which has in the past two decades gone from boutique exclusive to grocery-store

Mention goat meat, however, and most folks bleat out a protest. Something about goats being scavengers. Something about goats eating tin cans. All of which is patently untrue.

As America diversifies to accommodate immigrants from all over the world, goat meat — often referred to these days by the more formal and appetizing term “chevon” — will go mainstream. And some white-tablecloth chefs are already leading the way.

At Komi in Washington, D.C., Johnny Monis is serving milk-roasted goat ragù atop a nest of homemade pasta . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ducasse's Discount

Lately, I've been wondering a lot about the extent of the "hit" the restaurant industry is likely to take from the severe economic downturn.

Several days ago, in this article USA Today's Jerry Shriver wrote:

Is this the bargain of the year, or an indicator of how desperate things are — and are going to get — in the upscale restaurant industry?

Multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, who operates some of the priciest eateries in the world, offers a $1 appetizer at his Benoit bistro in New York. The "egg mayo," on the menu since the April opening, resembles a deviled egg and comes with a slice of toasted French bread and a lettuce leaf.

Maybe this tasty morsel is just Ducasse's wry commentary on the state of the economy — all of the other appetizers cost an average of $14. Or it could be that he's pulling out all the stops to keep customers coming through the door of his restaurant, which is located on some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

If it's the latter, he's joining the legions of restaurateurs across the country who are lowering prices, adding low-cost bar menus, offering coupons and two-for-one specials and expanding their open hours to keep traffic flowing.

The Scoop on Doughnuts

For its "Chewing the Fat" series, Serious Eats (SE) sat down with Alton Brown and got him talking about doughnuts. The interview is here.

SE also provides this link: A Guide to the Best Doughnuts in New York City. (This link is worth clicking on if only to check out the beautiful, luscious close-up photos of doughnuts.)

SE also features this National Honor Roll of Doughnuts. I've been to a few of these places, but SE doesn't seem to pay appropriate homage to apple cider doughnuts. Maybe that's because they are generally made and sold only at orchards and rural markets, not big-city retail shops.

But under the listings for Michigan, how could they leave out the Franklin Cider Mill? It makes marvelous apple cider doughnuts, and only 45 minutes northwest of Detroit. This real estate agent seemed to love their doughnuts as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Starbucks' Pro-Voter Promotion

Yesterday, I overheard more than one voter chatting about Starbuck's promotion on Election Day. It was one of many promotions by food and beverage companies. But according to

Starbucks announced Saturday that stores would be offering a free "tall" coffee to anyone who voted [on Election Day]; Krispy Kreme promised a doughnut with red, white, and blue sprinkles.

. . . Wait a second, isn't this voter bribery illegal? Yes, though it probably wouldn't be prosecuted.

Federal law states it's a crime to offer, solicit, or accept any "expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote." Those who violate the rule are subject to imprisonment for up to one year, a fine, or both. (At least three of the companies offering Election Day giveaways — Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and Ben & Jerry's — have since changed their offers. Now they're offering free stuff to everyone, not just people who claim to have voted.)

The federal ban against voting quid pro quo only applies to national ballots. . . . In California, for example, it's perfectly legal to reward voters for showing up to the polls in a local election — but it's against the rules to buy a vote for a specific candidate. (In theory, Starbucks could hand out cups of coffee — or, indeed, wads of cash — to induce turnout among California voters as long as no federal candidates were on the ballot.)
And I found this snippet amusing:

In 1999, California State Assembly candidate Elihu Harris and the state Democratic Party sent mailers to predominantly African-American neighborhoods offering a free chicken dinner for anyone who could prove that they voted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Welcome Package

When I returned home from a work-related trip to Wisconsin, I was pleased to find that a package had arrived in the mail from Rhode Island. It was six bottles of coffee syrup from Autocrat, a company based in Lincoln, R.I.

In the early 1990s, I spent a few months in R.I., and became rather fond of coffee syrup. I tend to add it to my coffee instead of granulated sugar. It adds sweetness, as well as intensifying the depth of the coffee flavor.

Coffee syrup is also pretty good drizzled over ice cream or frozen yogurt. Rhode Islanders use coffee syrup mostly to make what they call "coffee milk," which is a glass of milk with a few spoonfuls of coffee syrup stirred in.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brownies and the Krauts

I was surprised to learn from reading this N.Y. Times article that the brownie has made its way to Germany. According to the article's writer, Anna Winger:

. . . [My friend Cynthia] has a popular American bakery in Kreuzberg and is widely credited for bringing Der Brauny to the city. Virtually no one was baking brownies when the wall came down, and now they’re everywhere.

She often complains about the German competition: too soft, too dry, too sweet and undercooked. The frustrating thing about serving brownies to Germans, she says, is that they insist on eating them with a fork.

. . . [In the year 2006] my friend Patti from St. Louis opened a cafe across town (in Berlin). Patti was baking brownies, too, and so inevitably, in a city with about 13,000 American inhabitants, people made comparisons.

Which one was better, and more important, which one most authentically American? “Cynthia paved the way,” Patti told me. “I’ll give her that. But mine are better.” Cynthia just said, “Patti who?”

. . . It seems to me that there is room for two good brownies in a city of nearly three and a half million Germans who are just going to eat them with a fork.

Is Ketchup Heart-Healthy?

According to this article by cardiologist Steven Kang at the Cholesterol Network website, ketchup may help to prevent a heart attack.

The average American consumes about 17 pounds of fresh tomatoes each year and more than 60 additional pounds of processed tomatoes in the form of ketchup or tomato sauce.

The article points to the presence of lycopene, which acts as an antioxident. Tomatoes are very rich in lycopene.

But, according to the article, tomato juice and ketchup actually have higher concentrations of lycopene per ounce than do fresh tomatoes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Maple Syrup and Pancakes

That wasn't what I ordered for breakfast in Milwaukee a few days ago. That, if you can believe it, was a flavor of ice cream — um, I mean frozen custard — that I tried at Kopp's Frozen Custard.

Frozen custard is very popular throughout Wisconsin, as the ubiquitous Culver's chain demonstrates. (BTW, Culver's is the originator of the famous ButterBurger, a source of pride in the state known as "America's Dairyland.")

It would be hard to drive 15 miles in any direction in Wisconsin without seeing a Culver's. But Kopp's has only three locations, each one is in metro Milwaukee. And any foodie from Milwaukee is likely to insist that an out-of-towner make at least one trip to a Kopp's, especially for its frozen custard.

There were other flavors that sounded interesting — Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie and Strawberry De Leche, to name a few — but the idea of Maple Syrup and Pancakes frozen custard made me very curious so I just had to try it.

My verdict? It was strange, but sort of good. There were small strips of pancake dough within the custard.

Kopp's normal-sized hamburger is huge. Don't order the larger burger unless you have a voracious appetite.

One thing I like about both Culver's and Kopp's is that when you order a burger, one of your options is to order it served with raw onions or fried onions.