Archive for May, 2019

Is Chernobyl still dangerous?

Posted: May 26, 2019 in History
Tags: ,

cher_3The 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is being commemorated in Ukraine. Even now, decades after the meltdown, the impact of the explosion at reactor 4 of the Soviet power plant is still being debated. Indeed, efforts to contain and secure the stricken plant are ongoing.

A vast exclusion zone remains in place, 30km in radius. However, this is now a nature reserve, and reports indicate that wildlife is returning to the area.

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leafy_veg_storesThe fresh produce section of a grocery store promises what few other aisles can whole foods, largely unprocessed, full of nutritional benefits like fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Part of that “pure food” message is spread by tiny nozzles mounted above leafy greens that spray water all over vegetables in timed intervals.

There are, of course, perceived benefits to doing this. Psychologically, shoppers probably like seeing produce that’s shiny with water, presuming it’s going to remain fresh. Some stores even pipe in thunderstorm sound effects to complete the visual.

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vegemite_11082015The VEGEMITE brand has a history spanning over 90 years. Its story began in 1922 when the Fred Walker Company, which would later become Kraft Food Company, hired a young chemist to develop a spread from one of the richest known natural sources in the Vitamin B group, brewer’s yeast.

After months of laboratory tests, Dr. Cyril P Callister, Australia’s leading food technologist of the 1920s and 30s, developed a tasty, spreadable paste. It was labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.

The Spread That Could

The Fred Walker Company initiated an ingenious plan; to have the Australian public officially name their spread. A national competition was launched, offering an attractive 50 pound prize pool for finalists. Unfortunately, the name of the winning contestant was not recorded, but it was Fred Walker’s daughter who chose the winning name – VEGEMITE – out of hundreds of entries. In 1923, VEGEMITE spread graced the shelves of grocers Australia wide. “Delicious on sandwiches and toast, and improving the flavours of soups, stews and gravies,” was how the spread was first described and marketed.

The reality was that Marmite, a thick, dark English spread, already dominated the Australian market and Australians were reluctant to even try Fred Walker’s locally made product. Poor sales of VEGEMITE spread resulted in its name being changed in 1928 to ‘Parwill’. Walker was determined to emulate the success of Marmite and the logic behind the re-branding strategy was simple; “If Marmite…then Parwill.”

Walker’s innovative method of marketing was, however, unsuccessful. Parwill failed to gain momentum across the country. It would take Fred Walker 14 years of perseverance and a change back to the original VEGEMITE brand for Australians to embrace what would later become an Australian icon.

The Spread That Did

In 1937, a limerick competition with substantial prizes including Pontiac cars was just the promotion to not only encourage entries, but also sales of VEGEMITE spread nation wide. Following the successful promotion, the VEGEMITE brand gained official product endorsement from the British Medical Association in 1939 and began advertising in the British Medical Journal. Medical professionals and baby care experts were even recommending VEGEMITE spread as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food to their patients. By 1942, exactly twenty years after it was first developed, the VEGEMITE brand had become a staple food in every Australian home and in every Australian pantry.

During World War II the Armed Forces were buying VEGEMITE spread in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. Fred Walker’s company had to ration VEGEMITE spread on a per capita basis across Australia in order to meet the demand. It’s well known that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so the reduced supply of that ubiquitous VEGEMITE flavour grew in the hearts of Australians. Once World War II had ended – coupled with the post-war migrant and baby boom, VEGEMITE spread was well and truly a part of Australia’s history, and its heart.

The Song Of Australia

In 1954, a trio of bright, energetic youngsters burst into song on radio to a toe-tapping jingle named ‘Happy Little Vegemites’. Two years later, Kraft Foods developed the infectious song into a television campaign, which continued intermittently through to the late 1960s. For the next decade, Australians were informed through advertising of the nutritional benefits of VEGEMITE spread for people of all ages, and it wasn’t until the dawn of the 1980s when the original ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ commercials, re-mastered and colourised, were broadcast to an entire new generation of Australians who were offered the chance to revel in the VEGEMITE brand’s nostalgia – and have a rose placed in every cheek thanks to what has become Australia’s second, unofficial national anthem. This commercial was brought out again in 2010 to remind Australians of their love for the iconic brand.

The Spread We Love

There aren’t many products or brands that have been embraced in the same style, or with the same amount of love, as the VEGEMITE brand has been. And there are certainly not many that continue to. The world may be forever evolving but one thing that remains the same is VEGEMITE spread’s relatively unchanged recipe. It’s loved by children, teenagers and adults. It’s still consumed by our troops overseas. It’s carried in the suitcases and backpacks of Australian travellers, as a small reminder, and a small taste, of home.

There’s a reason over 22 million jars of VEGEMITE spread are sold every year and it’s because there’s no other concentrated spread out there so full of Vitamin B and nutrients, so pleasing to the palate and so intrinsically linked with Australia’s past and future as the VEGEMITE brand is.

VEGEMITE spread can be enjoyed in many ways, and is not just limited to toast and crackers. Visit our recipe section to see the varied and versatile ways you can incorporate VEGEMITE spread into your diet.

Questions and Answers

Question: What is Vegemite made from?
Answer is: What it’s made from. According to the brand, the recipe of Vegemite is relatively unchanged. … This brewer’s yeast extract is indeed a by-product of beer manufacture and, along with salt, malt extract from barley, vegetable extract and B vitamins, it’s what gives Vegemite its unique flavour.

Question: Why is Vegemite black?
Answer: Vegemite is a thick, black, salty spread made from leftover brewer’s yeast. The yeast is combined with salt, malt extract, the B vitamins thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate, as well as vegetable extract, giving Vegemite the unique flavor that Australians love so much

Question: What does Vegemite smell like?
Answer: But ask someone to tell you exactly what the yeasty spread smells like, and they’ll probably answer: "It smells like Vegemite". Or maybe: "It’s a sort of meaty-but-not-meat-smell". Its fragrance is certainly distinctive Vegemite doesn’t smell like anything else.


coleman_mustard_powder“Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.” Mustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia.

Drop a dab of this yellow dynamite on your naked tongue, and in less than two seconds you’ll feel the heat in your sinuses like the afterburner from a jet engine.

“It’ll blow your socks off and make you breathe better than you have in years,” laughed Sheela Kadam, co-owner of The British Emporium, a specialty food store in Grapevine, Texas, where Colman’s mustard is a staple item on the shelves.

The Colman’s company calls its hot mustard “The Not-So-Mellow Yellow.” And indeed, one taste of this fiery English condiment will convince you that not all British food is as bland and boring as it’s reputed to be.

“Colman’s is the classic ‘clean’ English mustard, where all the heat comes from the mustard itself,” said Barry Levenson, curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. “Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.”

From a Tiny Mustard Seed

mustard_seedsMustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and also mentioned in the Bible. Mustard has been grown in England since Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1720 that a process was developed in England for grinding and sifting the oily seeds to produce a dry spice with the texture and consistency of milled wheat flour.

The real popularity of mustard powder in Britain dates from a century later, in 1814, when Jeremiah Colman—a flour miller himself—first created his own pungent blend of ground-up brown and white mustard seeds at a water mill in Stoke Holy Cross, south of Norwich, England. The product was soon a commercial success, and Colman’s business continued to grow. In the early 1850s, the Colman’s mustard factory relocated to the outskirts of Norwich, where it remains a center of mustard production today.

Colman’s mustard was originally manufactured as a dry powder, or mustard “flour,” that could be used either as a spice itself or mixed with water (or other liquids) to produce “made” mustard, for use as a cooking ingredient or table condiment. Later the company also started producing its own “made” mustard, the condiment that is now called “prepared,” “wet,” or “pre-mixed” mustard. This beloved British condiment is often served in little ceramic mustard pots, at home and in restaurants, as an accompaniment to roast beef and other cooked meats.

For decades Colman’s dry mustard powder has been packaged in a distinctive yellow “tin”—a re-usable metal spice box—with bright red lettering and the company’s bull’s-head logo on the front. The “prepared” version, marketed as Colman’s Original English Mustard, comes in glass jars. Both products are available at most gourmet food shops and large supermarkets in the United States, although you might find the dry powder located in the spice section of the store and the prepared mustard on the shelves with other similar “wet” condiments.

Use It, Don’t Lose It

coleman_mustard_spreadThe beauty of having dry mustard in your kitchen cabinet is that you can make it up at a moment’s notice, I recommend combining equal parts of Colman’s dry mustard and a liquid such as water, wine, vinegar, beer, milk, or cream, then letting the mixture stand for ten minutes, for the full flavor to develop, before using it. “I’ve even heard of people mixing it with champagne!"

Wet or dry, Colman’s mustard can give a flavorful kick to casseroles, soups, stews, sauces, relishes, dips, marinades, and many other recipes. Stir a tablespoon of the prepared mustard into a cup of mayonnaise, for a spicy sandwich spread. Add a teaspoon of it to your favorite salad dressing. Use it to perk up baked beans.

Just don’t slather gobs of Colman’s all over your hamburger or hot dog, unless your tongue is coated with asbestos. A little goes a long way.

Colman’s is also an essential ingredient in classic deviled eggs. “The British food term for something that is ‘deviled,’ like eggs or sauces, stems from the addition of hot mustard to the dish,” It suggests that there was a bit of devilry going on in the kitchen, or that the devil had a hand in it.”

I also found a mouthwatering use of Colman’s dry mustard for making English roasted potatoes. “Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and parboil them until they’re half-cooked. Then rub them with olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and plenty of Colman’s dry mustard powder. Place them in the pan around a chicken or joint of beef, and roast them in the oven, basting the meat and potatoes with the meat juices as they cook. When done, these potatoes come out all crispy, with a wonderfully flavored crust.”

Connoisseurs’ Cult

The enthusiasm for Colman’s mustard has grown into a cult of connoisseurs in Britain and abroad. Several websites (see Sources) also offer a variety of Colman’s products for purchase online, along with recipes, cooking tips, and souvenirs.

Colman’s souvenirs? That’s right. You can buy all sorts of products sporting the Colman’s logo, from aprons, tea towels, and mugs, to mousepads, wristwatches, and teddy bears. One of my favorites is a bright yellow ceramic mustard pot shaped and painted like a tin of Colman’s mustard. The best selection of these souvenirs can be found at Colman’s own quaint Mustard Shop in the historic city center of Norwich, England. Inside this replica of a Victorian spice store, you’ll find a mustard museum in the back and plenty of Colman’s food products, memorabilia, and gift items for sale in the front. Some of those souvenirs are also sold on the Internet.

No matter how you cut the mustard, Colman’s “not-so-mellow yellow” is hot stuff!

Recipes

Mustardly Deviled Eggs

These spicy appetizers are perfect to serve with a casual brunch or even a picnic. For an even spicier recipe, add a teaspoon or two of habanero hot sauce.

  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons English Red Mustard (see recipe)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a boql. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, onion and the English Red Mustard and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the fillling among the egg halves, mounding it slightly. Garnish with dried pepper flakes or paprika powder. Arrange the eggs on a platter, cover, and refrigerate.

Yield: 3 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Mustard Barbecue Glaze

This recipe comes directly from Colman’s. Use it to finish pork or lamb chops on the grill.

  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, put through a garlic press

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a sauce to mop over pork, beef, or chicken on the grill or in a barbecue smoker.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Heat Scale: Medium hot

Hot Crab Dip

This recipe also comes directly from Colman’s. Use the dip with crackers, tortilla or potato chips, or sliced celery or carrots.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat

Combine all of the ingredients except the crabmeat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the crabmeat and heat until warm. Serve warm.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

Heat Scale: Medium

English Red Mustard

This recipe comes from Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. If you want it really hot, use piquin chiles.

  • 4 tablespoons cracked brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 small dried hot red peppers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup beer

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl, then whisk in the water and beer until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, for the mustard to thicken and “ripen” before using. Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup

Heat Scale: Hot

NOTES: You can order this mustard from Walmart and Amazon with free shipping, I recommend Walmart


civet_coffeeKopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, has become an international sensation. This exotic coffee sells for $30-$100 per cup and $100-$600 per pound. Retailers of this coffee market it as a rare product sourced from wild civets’ feces. They claim that suppliers need to forage for the partially digested coffee beans in the wild, which only allows 1000 lbs of kopi luwak to be produced each year, justifying the high price. This may have been how the coffee was originally sourced, but due to the increasing international demand, this story is now far from the truth. In order to satisfy the global demand, “civet poo coffee” is rarely sourced from the wild; it has become an industrialized product. Wild civets are instead held captive and force-fed coffee cherries to produce an estimated 500 tons of this “farmed” product annually.

The global Kopi Luwak market drives the illegal and inhumane civet trade.  In the wild, civets are solitary and nocturnal omnivores. Their diets consist of insects and fruit, including coffee cherries. In order to satisfy the demand, suppliers of Kopi Luwak capture civets from the wild and keep them in cramped cages, feeding them almost exclusively coffee cherries. The civets become very distressed from being caged in close proximity to other civets. The extreme stress and unhealthy diet leads to severe health issues and the caged animals frequently die.

Wildlife Alliance has rescued over 200 civets from the illegal wildlife trade. However, the international demand remains high, and civets increasingly disappear from the wild. With your help, we can save these animals before it’s too late.

You can also make a difference by sharing the truth behind civet coffee on social media and ensuring that your local coffee shop does not support this cruel trade.


fake_meatIf you’re vegan, it’s a question you probably get from time to time. And if you’re not, it’s probably something you’ve wondered: Why do vegans eat fake meat? And the answer is simple. First, most vegans grew up eating meat, and since many family traditions center on food, vegan meat alternatives allow people to enjoy familiar dishes and some of their favorite comfort foods without compromising their values of kindness and compassion.

Second, most people don’t go vegan because they don’t like the taste of meat. By switching to vegan versions of chicken, fish, burgers, and more, you can still enjoy your favorite flavors without supporting an industry that treats animals like garbage and pollutes our water and air.

Even if vegan meat isn’t for you, there are plenty of other delicious sources of plant-based protein. But remember, vegan meat is just meat made from plants. Wheat, soy, and peas are common ingredients in these products, which are cholesterol-free and typically high in protein and fiber.

Ready to give vegan meats a shot? Here are my top picks. Be sure to try a bunch to find your favorites!

Field Roast Frankfurters
franks
Everything you want and nothing you don’t.

Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble
beef_crumbles
Delicious savory crumbles, totally free of soy and gluten!

Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices
torfunky
From Tofurky’s mouthwatering variety of deli meats that are perfect for sandwiches!

Gardein Fishless Filets
fishless
Definite crowd pleasers.

Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
bacon
Because bacon doesn’t have to come from a pig.


Field Roast Smoked Tomato Deli Slices
roast
Packed with flavor.

So good!


nomoons_fingernailsTurns out the size of the moons on your nails reveal the current state of your health!

In case you’re wondering what moons are, they are the rounded shadow located at the base of your fingernails, closest to your fingers.

According to palmistry, overly large moons can mean an overactive thyroid and high blood pressure. Small or no moons are thought to predict, the opposite; an under-active thyroid and low blood pressure.

Scientists have found that a lack of a fingernail moon may indicated you are low in Vitamin B-12 or in iodine which feeds the thyroid. You would not want to be in this boat, as Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked with lack of energy, depression, and loss of coordination and memory, among other things. Iodine deficiency has been linked with breast cancer.

An article on Fingernail Analysis in Natural Health Techniques tells us what your moons ideally should be sized like. “There should be 8 of these. The lunulae on the little fingers should be missing according to Eastern Medicine Philosophy. The one on the thumb nail should be 25% or less than the total length of the nail from base to flesh line at the top”.

Small or No Moons: There is not much research on this topic but one study has shown that missing moons are associated with various systemic disorders including issues with your thyroid or pituitary gland, iron deficiency, chronic renal failure, depression and possible B-12 deficiency. Have your iodine and Vitamin B-12 levels checked. Have your blood pressure and thyroid function checked.

Missing Lunulae missing

Normal to Large Lunulae 
normal_to_large

Large Moons: Have your thyroid and blood pressure checked. It’s difficult to tell if your moons are overly large, so there is no need to panic if your blood pressure and thyroid have been normal!