Monday, December 17, 2012

Uzi vs. Oozy . . . Automatic Weapons and French Cheese

There's an interesting article in Huffington Post this morning:  "Automatic Weapons vs. French Cheese:  Which Is Easier To Buy In The U.S.?"

This is a particularly sore topic in the wake of a horrifying school shooting in Connecticut.  Guns and gun control is the topic du jour.

I'm not going to air my feelings on gun control.  But I am going to air my feelings on cheese control and the prohibition of the sale of raw milk.  Basically, my opinion can be summed up in two words:  It sucks.

Yes, you can conceivably get various diseases from raw milk.  You can also get salmonella from raw eggs or raw chicken (commercial or otherwise), but there's no prohibition against any backyard poultry producer selling you raw eggs or chicken.  There's certainly nothing stopping large-scale commercial poultry and egg companies from selling you the least hygienically-raised eggs and chicken money can buy, and we blithely take those home every day.  Groceries sell us spinach and green onions and strawberries that may or may not be infected with e. coli.  Convenience stores sell us cigarettes that are extensively proven very, very definitely harmful.  But I can't buy a gallon of raw milk or a flavorful raw-milk cheese aged less than 60 days because there's a remote possibility that if the producer isn't observing good standards of cleanliness at his facility, it might contain harmful bacteria.

The typical response to this is:  Well, hey, pasteurized milk cheeses are delicious.  So are cheeses aged over 60 days.  What's the big deal?

As somebody who has actually eaten artisanal, unpasteurized Brie de Meaux, I can tell you that, yes, it is a big deal.  It's the difference between a Monet and a Xerox copy of a print of a Monet.  It's the difference between a really great bottle of wine and Mogen David.  It's the difference between a juicy, seared, well-seasoned burger fresh off the grill and a mystery meat patty from McDonald's that's sat under heat lamps for an hour.

The artisanal foods movement is a big and growing concern.  Small wineries, microbreweries, artisanal breads, and green markets selling organically grown produce, free-range chicken, pastured meats, all face their own challenges in competing against the big commercial concerns.  Their goods cost more than commercial, mass-produced equivalents.  There's no way around that.  Therefore, they have to offer something the commercial producers can't -- better flavor, better nutrition, a clean conscience about the living conditions of your meat or the environmental impact, whatever.

The artisanal cheese industry, however, is also disadvantaged by the War On Raw Milk.  This seriously limits the cheeses that can be produced and "dumbs down" the flavor of these artisanal cheeses.  Imagine artisanal vintners being told, "You can make all the wine you want, but you can only use white grapes.  Hey, why are you complaining?  What's wrong with white wine?"

If the government is really that worried about the dangers of raw milk and raw milk cheeses, why not just require a warning label sticker?  "Warning:  This product contains unpasteurized milk.  Unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria and can cause diseases such as listeria."  (Never mind that eggs and raw chicken and other foods aren't required to carry such labels.)  Heck, I'd be more than willing to sign a liability waiver for my cheesemonger.

Just one last point.  I've never heard of anyone killing anyone else using gooey, rich, unpasteurized cheese as a murder weapon.  It may well have happened in the history of the world, but frankly, I find those odds more than acceptable.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vegetarians beware! All others, prepare to drool!

Grilled steaks in mid-December?

Hell, yes!

We have a remarkable and unusual concatenation of events here.  First, it's unseasonably warm for December -- today's high, 56 degrees.  Second, by a remarkable coincidence, the little oddball IGA nearby had whole ribeyes on sale for $3.99 a pound (the whole ribeyes on sale happens about every couple months there, although last time they were $4.99).

We bought a whole ribeye and cut it up -- part into a beautiful big roast, the rest into monster steaks almost 2" thick.  These were actually really great ribeyes, well marbled with a lot of fat.  And because it's so warm out, we decided to have Paul's infamous grilled steaks in the middle of December.

Now, let me put in a word here about Paul's steaks.  My husband is justly famous for his steaks.  I've literally never had a steak better than his.  We ate at the famous St. Elmo's here in Indianapolis and the steaks were no better than his (just a whole lot more expensive).  Everyone who knows Paul starts to salivate at the mention of his steaks.

We start with really thick steaks because Paul and I like our steaks on the rare end of medium rare -- heck, when asked how I like my steak, I usually say, "Just walk it through a warm room."  BUT we also like our steak nicely charred on the outside.  Hence, thick steaks.

Paul seasoned the steaks with his seasoning mix du jour -- it varies with his mood -- and drizzled them with a little olive oil while the grill heated up HOT.  When he put those babies on, the flames shot up high!  I cooked the veg while Paul put our steaks through the hellfire.  He later showed me his arm -- he'd managed to singe all the hair on his forearm!

Paul then called me out to gauge doneness, because even after years and years of cooking steaks, he can't tell when they're done.

For those of you who don't want to have to call the spouse to come over and check the steaks, here's an excellent tutorial on how to judge the doneness of your steak without poking disastrous, juice-leaking holes in it:

You want to take your steak off the grill a little bit before it's completely done to your liking, because it will continue to cook after you take it off.  The thicker the steak, the longer it will continue cooking.  Also, if you're like us and really like the outside a bit charred, that makes gauging the doneness a little more tricky, so there is something of an art to it, I'll admit.  At any rate, Paul has the knack of cooking steaks.  I have the knack of divining doneness.  We make a good team.

Put your steaks on a warmed platter and let them rest at least five minutes, ten if they're really thick.  This is crucial.  Let them rest undisturbed.  Otherwise, they won't finish cooking, and when you cut into them, the juices will leak out everywhere instead of remaining in the meat.

Paul's steaks today were perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  The pinnacle of steak perfection to which all steaks should aspire.  The outside was nicely charred, the inside was medium rare to rare, every juicy morsel tender and seasoned to eye-rolling deliciousness.  It's a common misconception that people on Atkins live on steaks, and today of all days I'd be pretty much okay with that.

As Paul would say, "Not bad for $3.99 a pound."

In a few days I'll try, TRY, to make a prime rib roast that measures up to those steaks (I'd really have preferred bone-in, but there you are), but I'm telling you, the memory of those steaks will have me drooling until the next warm spell.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Anne's Going Renegade!!!

Hey, folks.

You may notice me becoming less visible (or invisible) on the low-carb lists.  I'm not going to give any specifics because saying negative things about others is absolutely not me, but some things have upset me and I'm kind of undecided as to where I go from here.  Arguing and complaining and bringing negativity to a list is something I just refuse to do, so I'm going to just lurk for a while and see how I feel later.

At any rate, I feel like there's room out there for another low-carb list with a different slant, so in the spirit of all those people who have ever been told, "If you don't like [insert mood/policy/rule here], why don't you go start your own list?"  Well, I'm doing it!  Please feel welcome to join me at LCNoStress:

I hope to see all my low carb friends and hopefully plenty of new faces, too!


Anne Logston