25 September 2007

Bell's Batch 8,000 Ale

Commemorating - surprise, surprise - the 8,000th batch of beer they've brewed, Bell's uses the opportunity to serve up what I think can be best described as a newish category of beer - the American Strong Ale. The Batch 8,000 (to be brewed only once) is "a wheat ale spiced with Coriander, Orange Peel, and Paradise Seed," but its taste is not to be confused with Wolaver's Wit Bier, despite the overlap in ingredients. It clocks in at 9% ABV and while the booze isn't overpowering, the syrupy character is more consistent with other American Strong Ales (e.g., Dogfish Head Raison D'etre) than with wheat beers. A good beer but, I think, not playing particularly to Bell's strongest suit - the dark beers. A not-even-that-cold Bell's Porter later in the evening was more satisfying, though I am looking forward to the Sparkling Ale.

24 September 2007

Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder: a blend of small-batch single malts from three Speyside distilleries, casked in batches of 27. Because it’s a blend, you shouldn’t be afraid to mix it — straight, it has strong vanilla notes, and a long honey and malt finish. Powerful Speyside nose to it. Also good for replacing your blood with. As I am, right now.

18 September 2007

GMOs vs. Global Climate Change

Bad news/good news:
Researchers in Bangladesh say that a new strain of rice may be able to withstand the floods which wreak havoc there every year.

Researchers at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute say that the rice type, called Swarna Submergence One, can survive up to two weeks in water.

Every year, about one-fifth of Bangladesh disappears beneath the monsoon rain waters.

The floods cause huge destruction to the country's staple crop.


The government reckons that this year's floods - the worst in years - have so far caused losses worth up to $290m, hurting rural communities and pushing up food prices in the cities.

Scientists at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute say that the new strain survived the recent floods.

The institute's Director of Research, MA Salaam, told the BBC that Swarna Submergence One type rice plants they were growing on two farms in northern Bangladesh lasted more than 10 days under water.

Other rice types might benefit from being submerged for two to three days, but after any longer, they begin to die.

The new strain, a high-yield variety invented in the Philippines, has obvious benefits.

Dr Salam said that next year, the test will be greatly expanded and if that too proves successful, the rice may then be made widely available.

We definitely don't know enough about the long-term consequences of GMOs. Nor do we know just where global climate change is going. But the simple fact of the matter is that just as science has been a hugely contributing factor in getting us into the mess we're in, it's also going to have to carry the load in getting us out of it. People need to eat, and an abstract moralistic
stance against GMOs because we "don't know enough" or shouldn't be "playing God" frankly doesn't play with me.

12 September 2007

Kirkland Signature Disney Organic Animal Crackers - Vanilla

One of the more aggressively cross-branded products I’ve ever seen, but obviously very specifically targeted by several different actors at a hypothetical product-space. The label wears the logos of Kirkland Signature (Costco’s in-house brand), Disney, and the USDA Organic certification, all set in a peaceful blue sky above a field featuring Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, ’Roo and a unnamed bluebird (in the banner labeling the crackers “Organic”) gamboling about happily. Well everyone’s happy except for Eeyore, of course.

The crackers themselves are very good, not too sweet though not quite as lemony as the best crackers I’ve had. And as I noted after eating several handfuls, they do feature the shapes of “Winnie the Pooh” characters. Curiously, the words “Winnie the Pooh” appear on the box only for purposes of copyright clearance, and are not accompanied by any of the characters’ names.

11 September 2007

Hiker's Delight

Podin has finished the PCT, which he's been blogging since the Mexican border in late April. His last set of posts contains many with an itemized day's worth of food, this from the first day of his last leg:

Near North Fork Lemah Creek
August 25, 2007

2 pc french toast w/ blueberries, strawberries, bananas, whipped cream. (1200 cal est.)
3 c coffe w/ half and half (40 cal est)
1/3 bag plain ruffles (970 cal)
LUNCH: Cranberry Apple Cherry Clif Bar (230 cal)
9 squares Cadbury chocolate bar w/ caramel (300 cal)
DINNER: 1 box Annie’s shells and cheddar w/ 1 tbsp olive oil, dry pesto sauce (600 cal).
4 oz Jello instant pudding (400 cal)
SNACK: 4oz chili cheese Fritos (640 cal)
He kept at ~3200 calories for a week after that, but started getting incredibly hungry given a pace of nearly 30 mi./day, and so wrote the following:

Glacier Pass, Mile # 2,615
Saturday, September 1, 2007
BREAKFAST: PB&J granola mixed w/ carnation instant breakfast and instant coffee (895 cal)
LUNCH: Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif Bar (250 cal)
9 Squares Cadbury Caramel Bar (300 cal)
DINNER: Annie’s shells and cheddar w/ olive oil and pesto sauce (600 cal)
Jello Instant Pudding (400 cal), 1 bueberry bagel (100 cal)
Mint Tea
A few salted mixed nuts (50 cal)
SNACK: 6.6 oz regular goldfish (840 cal), 2 blueberry bagels (200 cal), Bear Naked High Sierra Trail Mix (1,120 cal), Granola bar (160 cal).
MIDNIGHT SNACK: 4 oz regular Fritos (640 cal)


NOTES: I awoke at midnight last night with sharp hunger pangs. Try as I could, I was not able to get back to sleep and knew that I would have to eat something in order to sleep. I walked over to my food canister and, rationalizing that Monday was going to be a short day, pirated my Monday snack. So there I was, sitting alone on a log in the middle of the dark, tearing into a $.99 bag of Fritos like a wild animal. I got to sleep. They tasted awesome. This morning the hunger had subsided and I was feeling much better. As I was leaving camp, I nearly ran right into Jen, who had come back onto the trail from Stehekin yesterday afternoon and ended up camping just 3/4 a mile behind me. Right away I told her about my food shortage and she readily offered up two Clif bars she had extra. Later that day, we ran into other hikers heading home from various trips who were more than happy to give me their extra food. Soon I had a bag full of trail mix, nutrition bars, and other stuff. It probably weighed three pounds before I started munching it down. So I’m all set with food.

Pretty intense. Oh, and - congrats to Podin for successfully completing the PCT. I've been reading since the beginning and the last bunch of entries read like the end of an especially enthralling book - you keep reading faster and faster, both wanting to reach the end and knowing that you're almost through with a great story.

10 September 2007

Potatoes, Spinach, Peas

  • 2 lbs. potatoes
  • bag o'spinach
  • can o'peas
  • lotsa garlic
  • ginger
  • cumin
  • butter
  • milk
  • yogurt

  • Heat water to boiling in pot; boil potatoes for ~10 min., and set aside
  • Chop garlic and ginger
  • Heat skillet to medium-high with butter; add garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute or two
  • Add spinach, turning and covering in butter, ginger, garlic; cook until spinach is sauteéd down, and set aside
  • Chop boiled potatoes into 1/2" sections
  • Add more butter to same pan, then potatoes
  • Cook potatoes for several minutes over medium-high heat, adding cumin and some milk
  • Add peas, adding milk, yogurt, cumin to desired consistency
  • When potatoes are softening, add spinach back, lower heat to medium-low and again add milk and yogurt to desired consistency.
  • Enjoy!
Verdict: While loosely based on a fairly traditional Indian potatoes'n'peas dish, this was a total ad-lib of a recipe, taking only a small amount of inspiration (essentially, boiling the potatoes and the prep of garlic and ginger) from my other favorite potato dish. As it happens, it worked out really, really well, so I think this is both a keeper and a distinct recipe from the other potato dish, which is much spicier.

09 September 2007

Sweet Potato Psuedo-Curry


  • 2 lbs. sweet potato, chop into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes / large can of tomatoes (diced, crushed or whole), diced
  • garam masala
  • cumin
  • salt
  • butter
  • milk
  • yogurt


  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
  • Place sweet potatoes in baking pan; cover in garam masala and cumin
  • When oven is ready, place pan in oven; bake until charred and slightly softened, and set aside
  • Heat butter in large skillet; add onions and cumin to taste, cook until softening
  • Add tomatoes and milk; cook down to sauce, adding cumin and garam masala to taste
  • Add sweet potatoes and yogurt to thicken sauce; cook until sweet potatoes are softened further, adding yogurt and milk to desired creaminess of sauce, and salt to taste
  • Serve with rice
Verdict: The first of my invented psuedo-curries (dating to my "making it all up as I went along" days in New Cross Gate), this is a long-time stand-by. I always receive comments along the lines of, "I don't think I've ever had sweet potato curry before," which is almost always correct as it's not a common ingredient in Indian cooking, at least as expressed in American restaurants serving Indian food. No, just a post-national bastardization of two of my favorite foods - tomato-based curries and the sweet, sweet, sweet potato.

04 September 2007

Montgomery's Unpasteurized Cheddar

William Gibson sayeth:

5:03 AM
Yesterday morning I walked around the corner to Neils Yard Dairy and bought myself 200g. of the Montgomery's unpasteurized cheddar.

Asked for it by name. The clerk, in a proper cheeseman's cap, wrapped my interestingly discoloured wedge in that special white paper they use, glossy on the inside, folding it that way I can never quite master.

Now it's 5:23AM PST, back in Vancouver, and the Montgomery's cheddar really *is* a sovereign medicine for jet lag. And that is the reason it costs almost as much as heroin, in America.