Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Low carb’ Category

Are the Health Benefits of Nuts Limited to Those Eating Bad Diets?

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From the video:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the highest ranked peer-reviewed scientific journal in nutrition. That should tell you a lot about the field, since it’s published by the American Society of Nutrition, whose sustaining partners include the Sugar Association, candy bar and soda companies, the corn syrup people, and the meat, dairy, and egg industries. And this is the highest ranked nutrition journal. The fact that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is a sustaining partner may help explain their publication of this article. . . 

The entire video (5 minutes) is worth watching. FWIW, I eat about 1/4 cup of nuts per day, generally walnuts (and 1 brazil nut).

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2022 at 2:02 pm

What Does the End of Beef Mean for Our Sense of Self?

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An article by Ligaya Mishan (with photographs by Kyoko Hamada) in the NY Times Magazine discusses the on-going evolution of our dietary preferences. (Gift link: no paywall) The article begins:

MEAT IS PRIMAL, or so some of us think: that humans have always eaten it; that it is the anchor of a meal, the central dish around which other foods revolve, like courtiers around a king; that only outliers have ever refused it. But today, those imagined outliers are multiplying. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the consumption of beef per capita worldwide has declined for 15 years. Nearly a fourth of Americans claimed to have eaten less meat in 2019, according to a Gallup poll. The recipe site Epicurious, which reaches an audience of 10 million, phased out beef as an ingredient in new recipes in 2020. Diners at some McDonald’s can now sate their lust for a Quarter Pounder with a vegan McPlant instead. Faux meat products are projected to reach $85 billion in sales by 2030, according to a recent study by UBS, and Tyson Foods, one of the biggest beef packers in the United States, has hedged its bets by introducing its own plant-based line.

Even in the stratosphere of the world’s most expensive restaurants, where multiple-course tasting menus often rely on the opulence of a marbled steak as their denouement, a few notable exceptions have abandoned meat within the past year, including the $440-per-person Geranium in Copenhagen (still serving seafood) and the $335-per-person Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan (save for the puzzling persistence of a tenderloin on its private dining room menu through this past December). Could this be the beginning of the end of meat — or at least red meat, with its aura of dominion and glory?

Those who believe humans are born carnivores might scoff. Indeed, archaeological evidence shows that we have been carnivores for longer than we have been fully human. As the French Polish Canadian science journalist Marta Zaraska recounts in “Meathooked” (2016), two million years ago, early hominids in the African savanna were regularly butchering whatever animals they could scavenge, from hedgehogs and warthogs to giraffes, rhinos and now-extinct elephant-anteater beasts.

Yet it wasn’t necessarily human nature to do so. Meat eating was an adaptation, since, as Zaraska points out, we lack the great yawning jaws and bladelike teeth that enable true predators to kill with a bite and then tear raw flesh straight off the bone. To get at that flesh, we had to learn to make weapons and tools, which required using our brains. These in turn grew, a development that some scientists attribute to the influx of calories from animal protein, suggesting that we are who we are — the cunning, cognitively complex humans of today, with our bounty of tens of billions of cortical neurons — because we eat meat. But others credit the discovery of fire and the introduction of cooking, which made it easier and quicker for us to digest meat and plants alike and thus allowed the gastrointestinal tract to shrink, freeing up energy to fuel a bigger brain.

Whatever the cause of our heightened mental prowess, we continued eating meat and getting smarter, more adept with tools and better able to keep ourselves alive. Then, around 12,000 years ago, our hunter-gatherer ancestors started to herd animals, tend crops and build permanent settlements, or else were displaced by humans who did. Our diet changed. If we narrow our purview to more recent history, from the advent of what we call civilization in the fourth millennium B.C., the narrative of meat eating shifts.

“For nearly all of humanity’s existence, meat was not a central component of people’s diets,” the American historian Wilson J. Warren writes in “Meat Makes People Powerful” (2018). Far from being essential, for most people around the world, meat has been only occasional, even incidental, to the way we eat: craved and celebrated in certain cultures to be sure, showcased at feasts, but not counted on for daily nourishment. This was true outside of the West well into the 20th century, but even in Europe before the 19th century, the average person subsisted on grains (cakes, ale) that made up close to 80 percent of the diet. The Old English “mete” was just a general word for food.

The rich were different, of course, with the resources to dine as they pleased. And not just royals and aristocrats: In 18th-century England, as incomes rose, an ambitious middle class began to claim some of the same privileges as their supposed betters. The Finnish naturalist Pehr Kalm, in a 1748 account of a visit to London, reports, “I do not believe that any Englishman who is his own master has ever eaten a dinner without meat.” The caveat was key. Those not so fortunate as to control their own lives had to make do, as the British poor had done for centuries, with mostly gruel, perhaps enlivened by vegetables, although these were perceived, the late British urban historian Derek Keene has written, “as melancholic and terrestrial and in need of elevation by the addition of butter or oil.”

So meat was both sustenance and symbol. To eat it was to announce one’s mastery of the world. No wonder, then, that the citizens of a newborn nation, one that imagined itself fashioned on freedom and the rejection of Old World hierarchies, should embrace it. “Americans would become the world’s great meat eaters,” the former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin writes in “The Americans: The Democratic Experience” (1973). And the meat that would come to define Americans was beef: a slab of it, dark striped from the grill but still red at the heart, lush and bleeding, leaking life. . .

Continue reading. (Gift link = no paywall)

Update: The end of beef might come suddenly for those are bitten by a lone-star tick.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2022 at 5:43 am

Dietary fat and leaky gut syndrome

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8 January 2022 at 6:28 pm

Drawbacks of the keto/low-carb diet

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Here are four brief videos that reference studies (and even meta-analyses, which look at a collection of studies) on the effects of keto diets. Bottom line: the effects are bad, according to the research that’s been peer-reviewed and published.

I thought it would be useful to collect these videos in one place, though they are also included in my post on the diet I currently follow. Full disclosure: I followed a low-carb;/keto diet for 5 years. I am a type 2 diabetic, and 10 weeks after switching from a keto diet to a whole-food plant-based diet, I was told by my doctor to discontinue my medications because I no longer needed them. For why I switched, see this post.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2022 at 6:39 pm

Keto v. whole-food plant-based for loss of body fat — and an onion note

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Onion note first: the antioxidant content of onions varies by layer. The outermost layer, just under the papery skin, has the highest concentration of antioxidants, and the antioxidant drops, layer by layer, and you move to the center, with the innermost layers have basically no antioxidant content. And onions follow the general rule for vegetables: the darker the vegetable, the higher the antioxidant content, so red onions are better than yellow, and yellow onions are better than white. (That’s the takeaway from this video.)

The following video compares the effect on the loss of body fat (not just loss of weight, which can be merely water loss) of a keto (low-carb high-fat) diet vs. what he calls a “vegan” diet but from the context seems to be rather a whole-food plant based diet. (The vegan diet is not limited to whole foods but can include refined foods and highly processed foods.)

Written by Leisureguy

29 November 2021 at 11:47 am

Buttercup squash was delicious

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I should have taken a photo, but it’s too late now: I’ve eat the half of the squash I cooked — and also the seeds, which I roasted with the squash. I cut it into chunks, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper (and just a little maple syrup) and then roasted at 400ºF for 26 minutes. The seeds I spread out a little, drizzled a little olve oil over them and stirred them, then salted them. The pan had seeds at one end and the squash everywhere else.

I have the other half in the fridge, and I’ll cook that tomorrow. Killing two birds with one stone, I put in the oven the Field No. 10 I used yesterday, freshly coated with Larbee, and cooked that with the squash to freshen up the seasoning.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2021 at 2:33 pm

Two commute-style breakfasts: Bran Muffins and Breakfast Bites

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I just got a request for these two recipes, so I thought I’d point them out for people interested.

I started making these Bran Muffins for The Wife’s commute. They are made in a 12-compartment muffin pan, and I use those fluted paper cups, so there’s no sticking.

I switched to these Breakfast Bites when we moved to a low-carb diet. I used parchment paper to line an 8″ x  8″ pan, and I later learned that if you wet the parchment paper and wring it out, it is easier to mold it into the pan.

Both recipes become quite easy with practice.

Nowadays, I follow this whole-food plant-based diet, and my breakfast now is usually three pieces of fruit and a pint of hot tea. “Plant-based” means no food from animals (i.e., no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs), but it does include fungi (which are not plants).

Update: There’s also this whole-food plant-based smoothie recipe.

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2021 at 11:48 am

Although some plants are included, I would not call this dish vegan

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But it does look like a good way to cook a steak.

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1 June 2021 at 2:38 pm

The Effect of Animal Protein on Stress Hormones, Testosterone, and Pregnancy

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Animal protein doesn’t seem to be all that good for you, particular if you eat it every day — and some eat animal protein in every diet. Indeed, some eat only animal protein — the carnivore diet. I’ll be interested to see scientific studies of the long-term effects of their diet (not their own personal impressions).

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2021 at 1:55 pm

Human health benefits of cultivated meat: Food safety

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Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 5:18 pm

A departure from plant-only: chicken hearts

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I generally stick to a whole-food plant-only diet for health reasons. It’s pragmatic, not ideological. So from time to time I will have a non-plant food. Tonight it was chicken hearts.

I just received my new Max Burton 6600 induction burner, which has a nine-inch induction coil, so that my cast-iron skillets will heat evenly. Tonight I tried it for the first time.

Can’t say that I lack the controls — the UX person who designed this has an AA degree at best — but performance was excellent. Even heaat.

Cooked onions well in a little olive oil with salt and pepper. Once they were starting to caramelize, I added half the chicken hearts I had bought (along with tung ho, some weird Chinese broccoli (very stalky), Taiwan cauliflower (and they definitely labeled it “Taiwan” cauliflower), and bitter meon (3)). They cooked better, and that will now be my practice.

Tomorrow I’m going to cook the remaining half of the chicken hearts with scallions, fresh garlic, and bitter melon. And maybe a jalapeño.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2021 at 5:21 pm

Braised beef short ribs

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I do follow a whole-food plant-based diet on the whole, but occasionally I have a hankering for something not included in the diet. It started with watching a video by Chef John of, and then I found a video whose technique I liked better (and made more sense to me) by Helen Rennie. Moreover, in the notes to the video on YouTube, she provides the full text of the recipe.

Obviously, I’m not making six pounds. I just got 3 shorts, though after seeing them in the pan I’m using (2-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan), I think that if I ever do this again I will go with 4 short ribs which would fit the pan better.

UPDATE: The parchment-paper lid worked much better than I expected. It occurred to me that you could avoid the boiling problem by cooking at 200ºF for 6-8 hours. Also, a fat separator obviates the need for refrigerating overnight. It was very tasty with tarragon mustard and horseradish (and the rest of the red wine).

Here’s her video:

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2021 at 3:28 pm

Does a low-carb/ketogenic diet help diabetes? or make it worse?

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As it turns out, a low-carb/ketogenic diet can reduce diabetes symptoms (high blood glucose readings) — as aspirin can reduce a fever — while having no effect on the disease — as aspirin will not cure pneumonia. In fact, it’s even worse: a low-carb/ketogenic diet can reduce the symptoms while making the disease worse. It is an example of “bending the needle”: responding to a dangerous situation, where the needle on the gauge has moved into the red zone, by bending the needle so it’s no longer in the red: not really a solution and can lead to disaster.

Watch this brief video (and persist through the awkward metaphors in the middle: he does return to study results).

And for a more detailed explanation of how a low-carb/ketogenic diet has detrimental effects on one’s health:

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2021 at 6:42 am

The next time you have breakfast in a restaurant that offers eggs any style, order this

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Narration is in French, so I turned on subtitles. As she notes, you can make it with fewer eggs (in which case a small skillet might be desirable).

Written by Leisureguy

28 February 2021 at 2:17 pm

Is the World’s Best Butter Worth 50 Dollars a Pound?

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We’ve been having a butter discussion here because of the relatively low quality of Canadian butter, something that is possible (and possibly encouraged) by a lack of competition due to Canada’s stringent import controls on dairy. Those import controls do some good (for example, keep out cheap plentiful boving-growth-hormone-saturated daily from the US that would decimate Canadian dairy industry), but also some bad (for example, keep out really superior butter from France, Ireland, and England so that poor-quality butter can thrive in the market). See this article for a discussion of some of the issues. (For example, Canadian dairy farmers feed hydrogenated palm oil to their dairy cows to increase the fat content of the milk.)

But what about really great butter? Alex Halberstadt wrote a good article about it in Saveur in 2017. The article begins:

If you’ve never been in the presence of a day-old calf, they happen to be disconcertingly large. Recently I followed one—the color and size of a golden retriever—as it stumbled around Diane St. Clair’s barn, bleating loudly. Rain pounded on the roof, my boots were spattered with mud, and my neck ached after a five-hour drive. But it hardly mattered. I’d come to this sparsely populated corner of western Vermont to taste the country’s most sought-after butter.

In a tiny creamery just off the barn, St. Clair reached into a refrigerator and took out a pound of her product—four dandelion-yellow balls in a large Ziploc bag. A former New Yorker with no experience in food production, she began making butter almost by accident, after buying a pair of Jersey cows. Wanting an expert opinion, she mailed unsolicited samples to Thomas Keller; he called back to say he wanted to buy all of it, and eventually asked her to acquire more Jerseys. These days, outside several fine-dining restaurants, St. Clair’s Animal Farm butter is only available once a year at the Middlebury Natural Food Co-op and at Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York. The butter comes in the same Ziploc bag, costs $50 a pound, and sells out within hours.

For most of my life I’ve been preoccupied with butter. Of course there are those culinary Bartlebys who believe it to be nothing more than a baking ingredient or, worse, a condiment. Nutritionists continue to dispute its merits. Oh, I could tell you that Tibetans make it into sacred sculptures and the ancient Finns were buried alongside barrels of it, but I won’t. I will tell you, though, that for diehards like me, butter is the purpose of mashed potatoes, scones, and summer corn, the reason that bread exists, the very fulcrum of eating. What moves me about butter is that unlike cheese or pastry, its essence isn’t confected but comes directly from the land. Elaine Khosrova, the author of Butter: A Rich History, described it to me as “a pure presentation of man, land, and beast.” Like oysters and wine, it’s one of the perks of being born on this planet.

My obsession with butter began among identical rows of tenements on the outskirts of Moscow where I grew up in the late 1970s. The groceries in our sparsely populated supermarket aisles ranged from unexciting to barely edible; one of the few exceptions was the fresh rye bread sold every morning in bakeries across the city, especially the dense, chocolate-hued loaves topped with coriander called Borodinsky. Naturally, they required butter. This became the best part of my midday meals, eaten in the school cafeteria under portraits of jowly Politburo chiefs. The slightly sour bread was the foil for the Platonic butter of my memories that opened with bright, creamy sweetness and, after a tangy sour note, faded in a long, lightly nutty finish. The mouthfeel was firm and unctuous but never greasy.

Somehow, as an adult, I began to forget butter. I ate supermarket brands and assumed that my longing was a figment of childhood nostalgia. Then, several years ago, while in Reims, I tasted a butter that obliterated the memory of the very worthwhile Champagnes on the table. It was made by Jean-Yves Bordier in Brittany, and was not imported to the United States. But the experience of Bordier stayed with me. In time, it ignited a determination to recapture the taste I remembered.

Finding a stand-in for the bread of my childhood took no time at all. The crusty miche from Bien Cuit, a bakery near my home in Brooklyn, was a delicious substitute for the Borodinsky. But replicating the butter proved slippery and enigmatic. First, I visited New York’s Russian-Jewish enclave, Brighton Beach, for several specimens made in the land of my birth. I found them in a store with smooth jazz on the speakers and the delightful name of Gourmanoff. Unfortunately, these items turned out to be mixtures of butter and vegetable oil with the texture of margarine. Premium and imported brands from the grocery store didn’t approach the experience I remembered either. Most tasted waxy, grainy, or dull, with no discernible finish.

I knew it was time to get serious. So, several months ago, I delved into the surprisingly contentious thickets of butter connoisseurship. I wanted to understand what drove the most obsessed of its producers, and which criteria they prized. I ate more of it than might be medically advisable. I’d assumed I knew my butter, but here’s what I learned: Sometimes the thing we love is the one we know least of all.

The further I waded into what makes for great butter, the less tractable my search became. Many aficionados insist that culturing—the extra step of allowing the cream to ferment before it’s churned—is the key to deep flavor. Certainly the best cultured butters (sometimes labeled “European-style”) possess a subtle tangy note that can add complexity, but the process does not assure a superior product. Some of the butters I enjoyed most happened to be of the uncultured, or the “sweet cream,” variety.

Some brands tout fat content as the key to quality and print it prominently on their labels. In the U.S., federal regulations require butter to be at least 80 percent fat, a level some insist is too low. But to my surprise, several expensive high-fat butters tasted bland and oily. “As you ramp up fat content, you squeeze out more milk solids,” explained Aaron Foster, owner of the Brooklyn specialty food shop Foster Sundry. “The fat itself is relatively mild, so you get richness at the expense of flavor.”

Then there is the dilemma of salting.  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

I should note that this is a PSP (public-service post), since I personally am not eating butter these days. But I know that many readers do, so I thought this would be of interest. (If you also eat ham, check out this video.)

Update: Continuing the butter exploration, read Kristy Mucci’s Saveur article from May 2018:

I’ve been doing personal butter research for years: Several years ago I had butter in Paris (of course) that stopped me in my tracks, and since then I’ve been trying to find anything else to measure up to it. I’ve done several taste tests, I’ve made butter (cultured and not) from every good local cream I could get my hands on, I pick up any new-to-me butter I see, and after all that, I am convinced that there is no better butter in the world than Le Beurre Bordier. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to good butter because I grew up with those spray bottles of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not stuff, but I know I’m not alone in my aggressive enthusiasm. Once you experience the Bordier jolt, you’re changed. You’re hooked.

I know plenty of people who’ve smuggled it back from trips to France, who ask people to smuggle it back for them, and who try to stretch out their contraband butter bricks for as long as possible (and I’ve done all of those things, too). I’ve even gone so far as having it overnighted from a friend in Paris. It’s that good. Bordier recently started popping up in a few restaurants in New York, and it’s now being sold at Le District in New York City’s Financial District, which means you no longer have to stress out about getting it through TSA.

What makes it so special? If you ask the man behind the butter, Jean-Yves Bordier, he’ll say something modest like, “I haven’t invented anything new, I use old methods that respect the land, the animals, and tradition.” Actually, he’s said exactly that—isn’t it delightful and vague and French-artisan-sounding? But the thing Mr. Bordier doesn’t seem to be aware of is that his product makes you look at butter in a completely new way. It’s not just a mildly flavored fat that’s fine on bread, or good to bake with, or extra tasty when it’s browned; it’s a completely special ingredient in it’s own right, this butter can be appreciated the way a good cheese is. It’s got so much character, the texture is noticeably elegant, and once you get some of his flavored butters, you realize this guy is like Willy Wonka for adults who like good food.

The importer who is bringing Bordier to New York sent me some up-close-and-personal intel from a recent visit to the Bordier workshop. Here’s what I’ve learned about how the best butter in the world is made.

It starts with the milk: Bordier only sources milk from local small farmers who use the best farming practices. The cows responsible for Bordier live lovely lives grazing on grass and flowers, and enjoying their environment (no overcrowded and unpleasant factory farms for these guys).

They take their time: A typical brick of butter is made 6 hours after the cow is milked. It takes Bordier three days. For a lot of that time, the cream is culturing and developing flavor.

They knead differently: Regular butter is made on a large scale, in a factory setting that produces a lot of product at high speed. Bordier has a special wooden machine (only one!) called a Malaxeur that the butter is kneaded through, at a slow speed, for a specific amount of time—kneading time depends on the season, but it can be as long as 30 minutes. They say it helps develop . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 February 2021 at 4:51 pm

Grilled spiral sausage with Basil-Garlic Mayo

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Two videos that go together.

Details (amounts, ingredients) here.

Details here.

Written by Leisureguy

12 February 2021 at 10:45 pm

3-D printed meat and (vegan v. whole-food plant-only)

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A vegan is not the same as a person who (like me) follows a whole-food plant-only diet. For one thing a vegan generally puts a high priority on animal welfare and will (for example) not use products derived from animals (no leather shoes, belts, wallets, or handbags, for example, and no wool sweaters or shirts or socks). The WFPO person is focused on food, not attire, and their primary concern is health.

One effect of this difference is that vegans will eat many foods that a WFPO person will avoid — namely, foods manufactured from refined ingredients using industrial processes. In fact, in a typical supermarket there’s often a whole section of such highly processed foods specifically marketed to vegans — imitation meat (“field roast,” for example), imitation cheese, and the like. These are about as far from whole foods as you can get (and, oddly, they are sold at Whole Foods despite the market’s name).

So now we have manufactured meats that do not involve killing animals but instead are made by cultivating animal muscle and fat cells and printing them to make a steak. A vegan (preumably) could happily eat such a steak — no animal suffering involved — whereas a WFPO person will avoid them because, despite the absence of animal slaughter, the food still is high in (for example) saturated fats and in its effects on IGF-1. 

It will be interesting to see how this new food plays out in practice, but it certainly strikes me as vegan-acceptable.

Laura Relley reports in the Washington Post:

An Israeli company unveiled the first 3-D-printed rib-eye steak on Tuesday, using a culture of live animal tissue, in what could be a leap forward for lab-grown meat once it receives regulatory approval.

During the coronavirus pandemic, alternative protein products have soared in popularity, prompting nearly every multinational food corporation to hasten to bring its own versions to market. Frequently plant-based products have been patties or processed nuggets — “everyday” foods easier for companies to produce — that aim to ease the climate effects of the worst offender: Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bioprinting technology — which uses living animal cells as opposed to plant-based alternatives — allows for premium whole-muscle cuts to come to market, broadening the scope of alt-meat in what is expected to be a rich area of expansion for food companies.

Several other companies are sprinting to capture what is expected to be a robust appetite for what is often called “cultivated meat.” San Diego-based BlueNalu has announced its intent to bring cell-based seafood products to market in the second half of this year; Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat aim to have cultivated meat products in the market by 2022, each with proprietary methods of growing meat tissues from punch biopsies from live or slaughtered animals.

But the lack of a regulatory framework could stymie the companies’ race to market. In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the world’s first head of state to eat cultivated meat, and that same month Singapore became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat. It remains unclear when other countries will follow suit. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not set a date for when it will rule on the matter.

The new meat-making process, developed with research partners at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, prints living cells that are incubated on a plant-based matrix to grow, differentiate and interact to achieve the texture and qualities of a real steak. It has a system similar to an animal’s vascular system, which allows cells to mature and nutrients to move across thicker tissue, resulting in a steak with a similar shape and structure to traditional cow tissue before and during cooking.

“It’s not just proteins. It’s a complex, emotional product,” says Aleph chief executive Didier Toubia. He says the product mirrors the sensory quality, texture, flavor and fatty marbling of a traditionally produced rib-eye.

Toubia’s claim will be quickly tested. Unlike plant-based burger patties or meat strips used in a more complex dish, Aleph’s rib-eye will often be served unadorned and at the center of a plate — with no bun, sauce or other ingredients to disguise it. Toubia said the company will even be able to adapt the steak to a specific country or palate, for instance, making it more or less tender, according to a consumer’s taste.

“With cows, the breed has a role, but the quality comes from the feed. With our cultivated meat it is similar,” Toubia said. “We control the cultivation process, and we can design meat specifically for a market, adjusting the amount of collagen and connective tissues and fat, to tailor meat to specific requirements. The idea is not to replace traditional agriculture but to build a second category of meat.” . . .

Continue reading.  There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2021 at 11:00 am

Whole-food but not completely plant-based: What I’m going to make tomorrow — update: Plan vs. Actual

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The Wife and I went to Farm & Field Butchers today, me to buy Okazu Spicy Chili Miso with sesame oil (sunflower oil, too, which I despise (very bad omega-6:omega-3 ratio), but I figure just once in a while is okay). I’ll use it to sauté tofu cubes or slabs. It’s wonderful stuff.

They did have some very good looking thick cross-sections of beef shank, so I yielded to temptation and got one. Here’s my plan:

I’ll use my yellow 24cm Staub round cocotte (3.8L — see above) rather than the red 20cm (2.2L) one. I bought these just as they were being introduced, apparently: I remember that the red one cost me $65, and I see the price today is $300. (I also got most of my All-Clad at introductory prices.) I’m going to use the 3.8L one so I can spread out the food more to braise in the liquid.

After I posted how I planned to make it, this morning I actually made it, and the difference is enough that I describing the two (planned and actual) separately, with the planned method first.


• 1 head red Russian garlic, cloves peeled, sliced thinly, and set aside to rest
• 1 beef shank cross-section, allowed to rest at room temperature for an hour

Thoroughly dry the beef. Heat the pot, add a little olive oil, and brown shank well on both sides, then remove it and set it aside.

Add to the pot:

• 1 large leek and 3 leek tops I’ve saved, all sliced thinly
• a little more oil if needed

Cook the leeks 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Add:

• the garlic, which has been resting and preparing itself for this moment
• 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
• dried sage leaves
• dried thyme
• ground coriander
• ground black pepper
• 6 or so whole allspice, ground
• 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (from the refrigerated section)

Put the shank to the pot and nestled it among the veggies so that it rests on the bottom of the pot. Add:

• many small domestic white mushrooms, whole (I got these today)
• some red wine — not a lot: maybe 1/2 cup
• juice of a lemon
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or maybe tamari: umami is what we want)
• maybe a tablespoon of the Spicy Chili Miso.

If I had any cognac, I’d add a little of that, perhaps toward the end.

I’ll cover the pot, put it into a 200ºF oven and leave it for 8 hours or so.


I decided to skip browning the meat. The idea of browning meat is get flavor from the Maillard reaction and (especially with steaks) to have a flavoral crust.  But I will get plenty of flavor from the other ingredients, including lots of umami (mushrooms and Worcestershire or tamari), not browning the meat means greater tenderness for meats that are stewed or braised. For example, I stopped browning the little pieces of beef when I made chili. (I much prefer beef to pork for chili: much more tender, especially a chuck roast that you cut into small pieces and cook long and slow.) The Younger Daughter taught me about not browning meat for stews and braising, and Quebec Steve reminded me this time. So no browning.

Moreover, I decided that I would not sauté the vegetables for much the same reason: not needed for flavor, and also obviates the need for added oil (the extra-virgin olive oil).

So here’s what I actually did — and note that in some cases I revised the amounts:

Put beef shank into pot.

In a large bowl, mix:

• 1 large leek and 3 leek tops I’ve saved, all sliced thinly
• 1 head red Russian garlic, cloves peeled, sliced thinly (no need to let it rest)
• 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (1/2 head would have been too much)
• dried sage leaves
• dried thyme
• ground coriander [discovered I was out; I’ll get more and would have used it]
• ground black pepper (about 2 tablespoons
• about 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (from the refrigerated section)
• 1/2 cup red wine
• juice of a lemon
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons Spicy Chili Miso.

Pour the mixed vegetables, herbs, spices, and flavorings over the beef shank. This filled the pot (since I did not sauté the vegetables, they were still voluminous, though they will cook down). Put the pot in a 225ºF oven for 1 1/2 hours to allow vegetables to cook down to reduce the volume. This did work, which left room for the next step.

Remove pot from oven and add:

• small (about the diameter of a quarter — 30¢ at the most) white domestic mushrooms

I added all that I had purchased, which covered the top of the vegetables 1 (small) mushroom deep. I then used a spatula to mix the mushrooms in with the vegetables, leaving the beef on bottom.

Cover pot, return to oven, reduce heat to 200ºF, and cook for another 6 1/2 hours.

Once I’ve eaten a serving for dinner, I’ll update with my verdict.


At the right is a photo of the stew (as it is turning out to be) when I checked it after 5 hours. I think 3 hours more will be plenty. Although the pot is sitting on my induction burner, it is merely resting there for the photo; it’s being cooked, covered, in the oven.

It turned out that 6 1/2 hours was plenty: meat very tender, flavors melded (but probably better tomorrow). I’m having a bowl of it now, and it is well suited for winter dinner. One bowl stew alone (topped with the single bit of marrow), one bowl over kamut and lentils — good both ways.

I think next time I’ll try it on a mirepoix (not much — just a cup) with more of those little mushrooms. And I might throw in some marrow bones to get more marrow. But I won’t be having it for a while — still mostly plant-based.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2020 at 6:40 pm

How traditional French butter is made

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Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2020 at 11:03 am

Some excellent tips on making scrambled eggs

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I’ve pretty much stopped eating eggs (after watching this brief video), but The Wife has a couple of scrambled eggs each morning for breakfast, so I sent this article to her. It begins:

Scrambled eggs are one of the ultimate throw-together meals. Less work than even the easiest poaching, and less fuss than a standard fried.
Still, who hasn’t overcooked scrambled eggs into rubbery unpleasantness? I know I have. Here are a few tips to success, as well as strategies for cooking your eggs exactly the way you want them.
Consider a nonstick skillet. I know, some of you are going to swear you make great scrambled eggs in your well-seasoned cast-iron. And if you do, don’t let me deter you! But for anyone who has struggled with eggs sticking or burning to the skillet, nonstick can be a lifesaver. “Most pans, even the really good ones, are actually filled with little cracks and crevices,” Joseph Provost, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at the University of San Diego, told me last year. Provost, who co-wrote “The Science of Cooking: Understanding the Biology and Chemistry Behind Food and Cooking,” explained that when a pan is heated, the metal expands, which means eggs can get trapped in those microscopic cracks, where they then stick and burn. The coating of a nonstick skillet provides a smooth surface and separates the food from the metal.
Use a smaller skillet. One of the easiest ways to guard against overcooking is using a smaller skillet. My 12-inch nonstick skillet is great for when I want a very thin omelet for folding onto a sandwich. The greater surface area, though, means it’s all too easy for the eggs to dry out quickly. When you want actual curds (whether dense and creamy or light and fluffy), consider dropping the skillet size to 10 or even 8 inches, depending on how many eggs you’re cooking.
Salting. From a taste perspective alone, I have found that adding a little more salt (I favor Diamond Crystal for its easy-to-grasp grains that nonetheless dissolve well) than my instincts would tell me has made a marked improvement in flavor. My eggs have gone from blah to, wouldn’t you know, well-seasoned!
But there’s another reason salting is important for scrambled eggs: It can actually improve the texture. As Harold McGee explains in “Keys to Good Cooking,” heating eggs (more on that below) causes the proteins in both the yolks and whites to stick together, or coagulate. The more that happens, the more dry and rubbery the eggs get. The goal, then, is to keep those proteins from getting too close and squeezing out water. Salt can help achieve that. In “The Food Lab,” cookbook author and food science guru J. Kenji López-Alt explains that the salt serves as a kind of buffer between the proteins. For the best effect, he recommends salting eggs at least 15 minutes before cooking (while you assemble other ingredients/preheat the skillet, perhaps) to allow the salt to evenly dissolve, though just before cooking also helps. He found that salting toward the end of cooking produced tougher eggs that wept liquid.
Similarly, in “Salt Fat Acid Heat,” Samin Nosrat suggests “a few secret drops of lemon juice” in scrambled eggs. Like salt, acid affects the way proteins bond, in this case affecting the speed and density at which the they coagulate. . .

Continue reading for more tips.

BTW, I not only don’t eat eggs, I also don’t add salt to what I cook.

Written by Leisureguy

28 September 2020 at 12:21 pm

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