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Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes? Further Testing Says...

good work, guys. My own similar tests over many years and with my own homegrown and many other varieties agree with your conclusions. Refrigerating them has always been my preferred method - they taste better and keep better; no downside that I could ever find.

A friend who agrees with me claims to have found the earliest evidence of the ancient "no fridgie" rule in an old trade publication for growers and that its purpose was simply to sell more tomatoes, more often. Can't find a link but it seems to make enough sense to give it at least some credence in that tomatoes at room temperature will surely deteriorate much faster.

One thing I think worth noting - while refrigerated tomatoes taste better than non, having them out of the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before serving is, IMHO, "Optimo Primo, Baby!"

Would You Eat Human Cheese?

This has proven to be a most interesting topic - the reactions are all so strong, many even vehement/vitriolic. I'm surprised at the 'prickliness' of this subject. It's apparently okey-doke fine to make cheese from cows, sheep and goats. Even horses and yaks in some cultures. And physiologically, our digestive system and metabolism is clearly geared to work with human milk. When I was a kid, I assumed the Chihuahua cheese used in my fave Mexican taqueria was made by milking Chihuahua dogs (lots of them!).

A number of comments seem to skirt the question by insisting the milk go to "milk banks" (which a vast number of smaller cities don't even have). Sure, that's a good idea where practical. Many of the rest just express outright revulsion at the very thought of it.

I guess it's clear, that for most of us, this question has a quick trigger. I admit, I'm in no hurry to try it myself though I probably would under the right circumstances. And, I'm pre-disposed, wholly without lack of evidence, that I wouldn't like it though I can't give a good reason why.

We humans are a funny lot. Perhaps it's good to be reminded that our emotions can far outweigh our ability to reason pragmatically as, from that standpoint, it shouldn't really be such a big deal.

Anyway, since we're on the subject of whether we'd try something different, what about pig milk cheese? Rat milk cheese? giraffe cheese? zebra cheese? or even the aforementioned 'real' Chihuahua cheese?

Best pizza in Michigan?

tough one... being a transplanted Chicago boy and living in Michigan for 26 years, I've been questing for really good pizza all that time. I'm sure there must some excellent candidates somewhere in this state. Also, to be fair, I don't get to the Detroit metro are enough to research it there.
In West Michigan though, pizza is not properly respected and revered in my opinion. There are some pretty good ones and plenty of marginal and just plain bad ones. There's also a penchant for using what I call lo-grade 'polymer cheese' that doesn't really melt or brown and just sort of 'oozes' instead.

Fortunately for me, Pizza Mambo in Saugatuck came to the rescue two years ago. At last, there's pizza in Michigan that can thrill the senses and the appetite. Excellent homemade, hand-tossed crust with excellent texture, delicious home made sauce, high quality toppings and all baked to perfection! The first time I ate this pizza, I experienced tears of joy and waves of ecstasy! Better still, many of the locals are now discovering what truly fine pizza should be and that will hopefully raise the bar over time.

There are a couple other contenders worth a mention that get reasonably close to my lofty standards; Skile's Tavern in nearby downtown Holland Michigan has consistently delivered good Chicago barroom-style pies all the years I've lived here. Di Maggio's Pizza near St Joseph is another. Also Vitale's in Allegan and Grand Rapids are consistently good and reasonably authentic...

6 Ways to Build Your Spicy Food Tolerance

some good stuff here. The appealing thing about the heat factor has been mentioned a couple of times - a heavy blast of capsaicin makes one's brain release endorphins which, is sorta like the body's homemade morphine and making one gloriously & deliciously high (however briefly). For most of us, a hellacious, righteous buzz is funner than heck. Combine that with delicious food and what's not to like?
In my experience, that "high" brings a rather startling and highly pleasurable "clarity" to the other flavour elements present and for many of us, greatly increases our enjoyment of a fiery meal - in any case, it does anything but numb the taste buds - it expands them.

The health benefits of capsaicin have also been mentioned above and that's a very real thing to consider - capsaicin stimulates circulation (profoundly so when taken in large doses. It's great for blood pressure and immunity, Some migraine sufferers get relief by ingestion of capsaicin because of it's ability to stimulate tiny blood vessels - their constriction is the main underlying cause of the migraine. Unfortunately, there are some it does not work very well for in that if the constricted vessels are in certain parts of the brain that (for yet unknown reasons) capsaicin doesn't reach. Also, many people with acid-stomach issues usually benefit from "dosing" (that;s because capsaicin is an alkaloid and therefore tends to neutralize excess acid.

Overall, developing a higher tolerance for hot chiles in one's diet can really benefit the pleasure of eating and one's overall health. The various cultures of the world didn't become fond of hot chiles so they could "macho-posture" over who could eat the hottest; they did so for culinary and health reasons.

The puerile and neomacho "I can eat hotter than you" is just an unfortunate sidelight and distraction (besides, I can and do eat hotter than anyone! (sorry, couldn't resist the opportunity to provoke those ninnies).

Anyway, the premise of this article is a good one - developing one's tolerance allows one to better enjoy the varied cuisine our world offers, it benefits one's health AND you can get a righteous, legal and healthful buzz.

Also, in our own extensive research, it turns out the best way to cultivate a high tolerance of and deep, passionate affection for ultra hot chiles is also the most expedient (less than a half hour).We used my own "death ray" habanero salsa recipe (ludicrously, frighteningly hot but truly fruity, smoky, delicious). Victims (Um, I mean recruits) were given a large tortilla chip with about a teaspoon full of the elixir and a glass of tepid spring water.Then they were allowed to freak out, convulse, cry, sweat and curse for about 10 minutes. This was followed by a second "dose" only this time the "outbursts" and dramatics were not allowed. 7 minutes of silence and another sip or two of water, then the third round. At this point, the former pain/discomfort reaction was largely quelled by the endorphin rush. The subjects were beginning to accept it as just a set of sensations rather than discomfort. To conclude the test, they were immediately offered a 4th "dose" which they could accept or refuse. In every group, more than 50 percent (some even gleefully) said "what the Hell" and went for #4! Voila! Pain/discomfort had been successfully transformed into bliss/pleasure! Ongoing pleading requests in coming weeks for their own jars of habanero death ray salsa went thru the roof and many "quickie-converts" were made. OK, perhaps not the most scientific methodology but pretty dang convincing and interesting in any case...

Dinner Tonight: Calabazas Horneadas (Baked Squash, Chiles, and Corn Tacos)

This recipe sounds great - I just tried it with (somewhat precooked) delicata squash (an early fall/winter type but relatively tender).

Epazote is a really versatile herb. Usually available dried in Mexican grocery stores and sometimes they'll have bunches of it fresh (even better). Hard to describe its flavor. I always add plenty of crushed epazote leaves when I cook black beans or when I cook pintos or cranberry beans for refried beans. excellent flavor AND a nice plus - epazote is said in Mexico to reduce the gas producing tendency of beans. eggs in all forms also love epazote. I also use it when making quesadillas by sprinkling onto the queso an also add chopped chiles, scallions etc - then, when you grill them in the skillet they release a delighful aroma as everything is gettin' hot and melty. Epazote is our friend!

A Virtual Tour of Kenji Alt's Food Lab Kitchen

Great kitchen tour; thanks. And if you're serious about trading the Thermomix for a Vita-mix (model 20, all stainless, several years old but used very little), I'm game for the swap.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Hummus

I haven't been overly fond of any of the purchased hummus preparations though, Sabra is okay. Seems like all of the traditional Lebanese, Israeli and other homemades I've had in mainly Chicago and Detroit all have something significant all of the prepared ones somehow lack. For starters, it's the better quality tahini used. Olive oil is not generally used except as a drizzled topping. Fresh lemon and freshly and very finely minced (never crushed) garlic are all important too. I think the main thing though is its characteristic "substance"; smooth but substantial rather than overly creamy. The best ones are a meal and, without being overly oily from the tahini. Another fairly common component. is many use homemade tahini made from well toasted sesame seeds which is a dramatic improvement over most commercial brands (not to mention, MUCH more economical). Occasionally fresh or dried herbs are used (a bit or parsley or basil are wonderful and our personal fave to make at home incorporates rosemary (sometimes fresh and finely minced leaves or often, dried and ground).

I suggest everyone trying the hummus from your local eateries.. chances are, any of them will be FAR superior to the supermarket "readymades"

How to Make Guacamole, With Chef Ivy Stark of Dos Caminos

gosh, all the bickering's a hoot. Ya gotta love the passion of foodies! It's why I love this place...

Anyway, I did try this recipe just a little while ago and yes, completely "by-the-book" so to speak. it's great. And, quite similar to my usual.

But, my tasting panel of 11 here mostly liked it a lot but unanimously complained too (without being asked - they didn't know I was usin' 'em as guinea pigs, they just always want me to make 'em my guacamole so I served them this version instead.)...

The most polite comment was It's good but sorta different; the most vehement: "what happened - did you forget how to make guac?"

I will less-than-modestly say that the recipe I use has gotten universal top marks ever since I first served it in my restaurant in 1974 and that even avocado-haters love it (once berated sufficiently by their friends to just try it).

a small question too: might the 2 teaspoons of chopped onion really be a typo instead of 2 tablespoons? 2t. seems miniscule for 2 avocadoes... just wonderin'


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