• Posted by Califia Suntree on July 13th, 2011, 11:38 AM

    Q: I want to be able to sauté and make omelettes without a ton of oil or fat, and without food welding to the pan. Are nonstick pans really that bad? What are my options here?

    It’s pretty much undisputed that those black, shiny nonstick pans really “work”–you can fry an egg without any grease at all, and food glides off of them with unnerving ease. But being able to “fry” without oil is inherently creepy, and defies the essential science of cooking (frying = high heat + grease). That alone seems reason enough to avoid polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or “Teflon” when it’s made by DuPont). PTFE is essentially a super-duper high-powered lubricant, used on on things like gears and guns. Among many other chemical compounds, nonstick coatings also contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which is also used on pizza boxes and all manner of food packaging. (Because PFCs basically mimic fatty acids and lipds, the EPA reports that PFCs can effect cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So not only are those potato chips giving you high cholesterol, the bag might be, too!) Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on March 14th, 2011, 7:00 AM

    Q: I just moved into a studio, and I need to get a knife. (Of all the kitchen things on which I was, it turns out, totally reliant on my rooommates, that is the only one that I kind of can’t even cook without.) Any recommendations? Say a girl were to want two to three knives, which ones should she get, and what brands? –L.K., Seattle

    On the one hand, this is a really easy question to answer. On the other, it’s impossible to answer fully because knife needs and requirements vary and knife shopping is as personal as shopping for jeans: a knife’s gotta fit right, look good, and suit your lifestyle. Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on December 6th, 2010, 11:00 AM

    Q: I had some leftover apples, so I decided to make applesauce. It turned out OK, but I wonder if you have a recipe for it? And any recommendations on the best apples to use? Also, I wanted to avoid added sugar so I used ginger and nutmeg (because I didn’t have cinnamon). Any other ideas on seasoning?

    This is the perfect time of year to make applesauce (or pie, or butter, or cider), as the markets are loaded with apples that aren’t perfect, autumnal, just-picked beauties, but we aren’t yet sick of them as we may be come spring. (For me, when the first berries appear, apples become but a distant memory until September). Also, the wintry months are ideal for all those dishes that naturally go with applesauce: potato pancakes, stuffed pork loin, noodle kugel, goose. Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on August 9th, 2010, 1:59 PM

    Q: I was in Madrid recently and splurged on some memorable Ibérico ham. I was tempted to bring some back to the States, but since you can now buy it here I thought I’d avoid the risk of having it confiscated at customs. Which raised the question—if you can buy it in the U.S. now, why are they still throwing it away at the border? The ham dealer in Madrid told us it was because it’s not actually the same ham. Is that true?

    Some day, I am confident that we will look back at this age of forbidden pork products as an American folly. Ibérico ham is truly the apex of cured pork products, and Spaniards have been eating ham made from wild pata negra pigs, cured in caves in the mountain air, literally since prehistoric times. But the USDA doesn’t take millennia of hale and hearty Spanish ham eaters at face value, and insists that imported meat products be processed in USDA approved facilities. (But ammonia-treated pink-slime burgers are totally A-OK. That’s logical.) Read on… »

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