Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Child is the mother to the pan

From the Los Angeles Times comes this somewhat predictable aftershock of the film "Julie and Julia":
Celebrated TV chef Julia Child served retailers a healthy helping of business this weekend as moviegoers rushed to snatch up cookbooks, buy biographies and even sign up for French cooking classes.
The surprise surge came as the Meryl Streep film "Julie & Julia," based in part on Child's life, opened in theaters over the weekend. It ranked No. 2 at the box office in the U.S. and Canada and pulled in $20 million.
By Sunday, Pasadena bookstore Vroman's sold out of the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The tome, which Child co-authored and plays a central role in the film, is credited with introducing French cuisine to the American mainstream.
"Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" began flying off shelves last week, as did several of Child's baking books and her autobiography "My Life in France," Vroman's book department manager Justin Junge said.
The bookstore even cobbled together a display table featuring guides to Paris and "all the cookbooks we could get our hands on," Junge said.
"It's all been selling like hot cakes," Junge said. "And it will carry on for quite some time. Julia Child has always been a great seller."
The Barnes & Noble store in downtown Pasadena also had a special table for Child's books but was sold out of the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Sunday. The classic was first published nearly 50 years ago and was No. 1 on Amazon's most popular list on Monday.

Back to the earth

As restaurants begin to report a slight uptick in visits, it's awful to hear of ones that didn't make it through the tough economic times. I'm sad to report that Organic To Go, the first fast-casual restaurant chain to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has shuttered most of its West Coast stores to focus on its wholesale and catering business.

Founded in 2004 and based in Seattle, Organic To Go operated 33 cafes in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington, D.C., and the company supplied wholesale organic fare to more than 170 locations, including 15 universities and nine outlets at Los Angeles International Airport.

In March, however, Organic To Go — a public company since 2007 — also announced that it was terminating the registration of common stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission to eliminate the expense of reporting as a public company, according to the Seattle Times.

One of the complaints we heard at the health-care reform forum we attended last night was that too many restaurants rely on corn syrup and other flavor enhancers that add calories without nutrition, adding to the cost of health care for everyone. It's disappointing when restaurants that focus on providing good food can't make a go of it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

End of the World News

No, this post has nothing to do with the end of the world: The headline is just referring to the sign-off that the BBC used to use on their news programme, World News. It always sounded rather apocalyptic, and thus funny.

But what got me thinking about that was a story I saw on the BBC web site the other day about climate change and adapting to the changes that are bound to come, and how science is trying to help.

To see the BBC video of this story, click here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hot weather tips

  • Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.
  • Marshmallows won't dry out when frozen.
  • Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.
  • Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using them so they won't burn during cooking. To keep food from slipping off during cooking and turning, use two parallel skewers rather than a single skewer.
  • Drinkable ice packs keep a lunch cool: Fill a 12-ounce plastic bottle about halfway with drinking water and freeze it overnight, tilting the bottle so the water will freeze at an angle (if you freeze it straight up, the expanded water will make the bottle bulge). Next morning pack the lunch, add more drinking water to the bottle, and stick it in the lunch box to keep the food cool. It will be ready to drink by lunchtime.
  • When picnicking, keep cold foods as cold as possible and hot foods as hot as possible. Be aware that bacteria on food will rapidly multiply when left at temperature between 45 F and 140 F. Wash your hands thoroughly and often.