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5 Reasons GMO Labeling Doesn't Matter

I don't want to eat genetically modified (GM) food but I do.

You probably do, too.

According to recent surveys, about 90% of the Americans they asked would like GMO food to bear labels declaring that fact. Presumably, if the label says the product is GM then people won't buy it.

Yeah, right.

Call me cynical—and believe me, you won't be the first—but I think consumers will continue to buy food products with GM ingredients. Yes, even if it's labeled.

Besides, the major GM foods are already labeled, just not the way you think...

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Old Cook's Tale: You Can't Whip Egg Whites With a Speck of Yolk in Them

You can't whip egg whites if there is even a tiny speck of yolk in them. It is known.

According to the common wisdom, that tiny drop of yolk in the photo is enough to stop a bowl of egg whites in their tracks and reduce them to a weepy, watery mess.

Ask any baker and they will tell you this is true. They may go on to recite the rest of the basics, described here by King Arthur Flour:

  • The bowl and beaters must be clean and grease-free.
  • Use a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl, not plastic.
  • Egg whites will whip higher if they’re at room temperature before beating.

Admonitions to ensure everything is dry, lest a drop of water render the whites too runny to whip, are often included.

Truth be told, this isn't a particularly onerous list. If you wash your dishes, they won't be greasy; separating eggs is not rocket surgery; most of us have glass or stainless bowls; and a few minutes in warm tap water fixes cold eggs.

Still, it bothered me. Such exacting instructions coupled with dire warnings if not complied with exactly.

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Happy Blow Things Up Week, America!


If it's the Fourth of July, it must be time for my traditional celebratory photo.

Marshmallow, meet the first amendment. First amendment, meet a marshmallow (homemade raspberry marshmallows with a layer of bittersweet chocolate in the middle, to be precise).

That thing in the background, btw, is my old military insignia, from when I swore to protect and defend the Constitution (of which the 1st amendment is perhaps my favorite part) from all enemies foreign and domestic. Nobody said a thing about protecting flags from flames and graham crackers.

Have a hppy and safe holiday, everyone!

Wordless Wednesday: Hardwood Floor 1, Knife 0


My favorite paring knife. tiny sob

Padma Lakshmi May Have a New Gig


Apparently, Padma has a new gig as the Stepford Vampire on True Blood.


You sure? This photo has that scary undead-dead-eye thing going on.

Padma-lakshmi-lickthespoonThe truly sad thing is that this is a barely adapted real ad from the Top Chef / Bravo on crack PR people. The only changes were cropping, and a swap of text and the color of the chocloate/blood on her arm.

It's a "For Your Consideration" (Please, We Beg of You, PLEASE Give Us An Emmy) ad designed to sell the Emmy people on Padma as, I guess...since that's the category.

Bravo, I do NOT want to lick that spoon. The majority of your viewers are probably also disinclined to lick that spoon. Hell, even Padma does not want to lick that spoon, although, according to Urban Dictionary, that expression may indicate that she has, in fact, licked that spoon well and good.

Since it's 2012 and we are all equal and stuff, where's Tom Colicchio's money shot? Yeah, that's what I thought. It's also why food is still a feminst issue.

Food Revolution Day: Make Your Own (Lower) Sugar Chocolate Milk

See that innocent looking glass of chocolate milk? It's public school enemy #1, at least according to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Seriously, they declared an entire week to fight against flavored milk in schools and it often seemed to be the defining issue in the school lunch debate.

This seems, to me, like an odd focus. Flavored milk doesn't even make my top ten list of problems when it comes to school lunches. Bad policies, processed commodity food, budgets and staff stretched to the breaking point, a lack of creative thinking at the highest levels, and kitchens without actual cooking equipment...those strike me as the real enemies.

Flavored milk, not so much.

Still, Oliver's enthuiasm about feeding kids better lunches is laudable, even if his approach sometimes seems to be more showman than scientist and I am sometimes left questioning WTF this or that stunt or statistic was about. I have both questioned and snarked while watching the spectacle, wishing all the while that we'd see more serious work from Oliver...less reality show and more reality.

Today makes me happy.

Food Revolution Day, Oliver's latest endeavor, is a day of food-focused activity designed to get people talking, teaching, cooking, and eating good, healthful food. It's about home cooking, getting in the kitchen with your family (If you need a cookbook, might I suggest mine) When I heard about that mission—and nary a word about banishing flavored milk—I couldn't help but jump in with both feet and a bit of a 'tude...

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Reflections and Shades Upon an Anniversary...

Seven years ago, kitchenMage was born into a rather small and snuggly online food'verse. Quirky sites like Belly-Timber (now sadly in eternal hiatus) could tell the tale of the Mighty Cheese Warriors (cached) to a crowd that was sufficiently inside to get the joke and Food Blog S'cool meant we didn't need no stinkin' conventions.

In 2005, agents and publishers had not yet begun to demand that their writers start a weblog. This is fortunate for me since I might have ended up writing about nothing but esoteric technical topics, government compliance, training and other things that, as one reader said, "makes your brain hurt." I still do that work but I have also written a cookbook and having food as an additional focus has been sanity-saving.

Anniversaries are time for reflection and renewal and this one is true to form. kitchenMage is undergoing a serious makeover behind the scenes; one that has been near-eternal, largely because a few months ago I decided that I needed to rework the structure and content as opposed to simply the look and feel.

For a variety of reasons, the last few years has left me reading a lot more than writing and it's been interesting. The food'verse has been utterly transformed since way back in 2005 and not always for the better. While there are a lot of really great web sites, they are increasingly hard to find amongst the self-promotional noise and assemblages of food-like substances.

Just today a twitter conversation led me to discover that "pie inside cake" gets 13.5k hits on The Google. Fortunately, fewer than 500 are images. On the other hand, most involve frozen pies and cakes from a box. The more ridiculous the combination, the more likely it is to garner attention and page views. I have found myself sighing a lot as I read.

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Noisy Jelly: Magical Musical Game

This thing looks like pure fun!

A couple of technomages in Europe have conjured up Noisy Jelly, this odd-looking device consisting of a box with electronic bits and gelled cones of agar-agar/salt solution. They describe it like this:

With this noisy chemistry lab, the gamer will create his own jelly with water and a few grams of agar agar powder. After added different color, the mix is then pour in the molds. 10 min later, the jelly shape can then be placed on the game board, and by touching the shape, the gamer will activate different sounds.

Technically, the game board is a capacitive sensor, and the variations of the shape and their salt concentration, the distance and the strength of the finger contact are detected and transform into an audio signal.

This object aims to demonstrate that electronic can have a new aesthetic, and be envisaged as a malleable material, which has to be manipulated and experimented.

Note : This project is a fully working prototype made with Arduino and Max/Msp, there are absolut no sound editing in the video...

Noisy Jelly press kit (from which I also extracted the photo)

I can see many of you nodding along with blank looks on your faces (me too at first) but here it is in action.

Is that the coolest thing you have seen lately?

From what I can see this is not likely to hit the store shelves any time soon but it is a fascinating and fun convergence of food and tech.


Raphaël Pluvinage
Marianne Cauvard

More information:

Noisy Jelly press kit
Noisy Jelly flickr set 

By the way, this bit of wonder came my way via the Very Short List newsletter which delivers a blessedly brief bit of "cultural gems from a different curator every day." I only signed up recently and find it more interesting than not, which is saying something these days.

Cupcake Epiphany!

768px-Chocolate_Cupcakes_with_Raspberry_Buttercream_detail Photo courtesy Whitney in Chicago via Wiki.

As anyone who hangs out here knows, I have long had an antipathy for cupcakes. To my mind, cupcakes have represented what is most problematic with the world: Overpriced, tasteless, twee, empty calories mindlessly consumed instead of more usefull options. Not to mention that the sprouting of cupcake stores on every corner has not helped the US obesity crisis...well, except to help it grow.

Recent data sorting on my computer has turned up the draft of my The Manifesto
of a Cupcake Abolitionist. Last thing I did before shutting down my computer last night was move a copy of the Manifesto to my "Writing NOW" folder so I could find it.

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Gideon's Kitchen ~ Key & Peele

This captures the emotional manipulation of cooking shows just about perfectly.

from Key & Peele

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