By Kent Whitaker Nothing seems to beat the wide variety of fruit that comes into markets during Spring. Everything from fresh picked strawberries to apricots and even Kiwi! Then, the flavors keep coming as peaches, oranges and even bananas at their peak flood into grocery stores and produce stands. So, it stands to reason that grilling gurus across the land should add some of these tasty fruit flavors to our recipe collection! It could be a simple as a quick-and-easy fruit flavored infused sauce to grilling a couple of slices of your favorite fruit. Here’s three spring & summer grilled fruit hacks~ Grilled Coconut Rum Bananas I have a buddy that’s a rum expert! He knows classic rums, white, dark, brands, history and even enjoys the new fruit flavored rums that are gaining in popularity. He suggested using some coconut flavored rum for a Caribbean inspired recipe! This recipe hack is inspired from Cuban and Caribbean style grilled plantains. Slice the banana lengthwise and keep them in their peals, brush with melted butter or use butter flavored non-stick spray. In a small bowl, combine some coconut rum, melted butter and little bit of honey. Grill the sliced banana – in their peels – over medium high heat. Fee free to use foil or a grilling griddle. The banana will start to cook and pull away from the peel around the edges. Baste evenly with your rum mixture. Remove from the peel and serve with your favorite ice cream topped with toasted coconut shavings. Grilled Fruit Cobbler Chances are that you probably have a favorite cobbler recipe. Don’t worry if it’s a quick-and-easy recipe or one that requires more than just dumping a few ingredients in a baking dish. Both will work on a covered grill. Basically, all you’re doing is using your covered grill like an oven. You can use foil pans, cake pans or even cast iron – but, I would avoid using glass baking dishes! Make your recipe, cover with foil, cook on an upper rack in a covered grill, and rotate the pan as needed to ensure even cooking. The last few minutes you can uncover, baste the crust with butter and sprinkle with sugar and allow the edges to become golden brown. Grilled Peaches and Cream I live in East Tennessee just a few feet away from Georgia, Alabama and a day drive through the mountains to South Carolina. Why am I telling you this? Because every summer regional fresh [...]
By Kent Whitaker Fall is coming which means more tailgates centered around football tailgates! And that means more and more people are going to toss bratwursts on the grill! And, at the same time – some people shy away from grilling brats because of the perceived mystique of the stuffed link! Have no fear – grilling Brats – aka Bratwursts – is as easy as grilling a batch of hotdogs. Here’s a couple of tips that you can use for serving up some perfect brats every you toss some on the grill. Beer Bath or Veggie Boil Yes, you can use a beer bath to add some bonus flavor to your brats. However, most brats are sealed in a casing which limits the transfer of juices. So, that beer bath may not add as much flavor as you think to your finished bratwursts. On the other hand, most people toss a whole bunch of veggies in with the beer. The veggies, most often onions and pepper slices, cook in the beer mixture, along with drippings from the bratwursts, and whatever added spices you toss in. Before serving up the bratwurst simply toss some of the bath boiled veggies onto the hot grates to add some grill marks. Serve those tasty slices of flavor on the finished bratwurst. Some people use a beer bath, some use a fruit juice bath, some use a light marinade bath, and some just toss the things on the grill and go for it. All the above are fine. Method for Bath Grilling a Bratwurst My personal preference for grilling bratwurst with a beer, or fruit juice, bath is to rotate the bratwurst from bath to grill grate and back. Then, finish off with a quick roll across the hot grates. I start the bath first in a foil pan. This gives a chance for the liquid to heat up. Then, place the bratwurst on the grill grates to add some marks before moving them to the bath. Toss your sliced veggies, if using any, into the bath as well. Let the bratwursts simmer a bit and then move them back to the grill, then back to the bath. Keep them warm in the hot bath until someone walks up with a plate and bun. Roll the bratwurst across the grates to let any excess bath burn off before placing on the bun. What’s up with the No Fork Rule? I’ve had several people question me over the years about why people say [...]
By Kent Whitaker Summer is here! Grills and smokers will be fired up for holidays, family meals, and outdoor dinner parties. Now’s the time to check your outdoor cooking items to make sure they’re in good shape. And, it’s perfect time to a few grilling safety tips into consideration. After all, you don’t want you grill breaking before the steaks are done. And, as I say during my book signings and chef demo’s; when it comes to food safety you want your guests to remember the wonderful time and tasty meal. Not a trip to the emergency room due to food poisoning. Here’s a brief Summer Grilling Checklist! GRILL CHECK: Before using a gas grill after it’s been sitting dormant for a while you should check the lines for damage. Replace any worn burners, tighten loose bolts and nuts, clean any rusted areas and clean out debris from the last grilling session! Perform similar maintenance on gas grills and smokers. PREHEAT: Pre-heat your gas grill before using to burn off any residue from cleaners. When you light the charcoal, or fire up the gas for the first time, you might run off a few insects that have made your grill their home. CHECK YOUR FUEL: Before the neighbors come over for your cookout you should double check your fuel. There’s nothing wrong with an extra bag of charcoal or making sure you have enough fuel. CHEF TOOL SPRING CLEANING: Throw away and replace any damaged or rusted utensils, sharpen knifes, and check the batteries in your instant read thermometer. WASH YOUR HANDS AND SURFACES: This act cuts down on cross contamination. If you don’t have an outdoor sink at your grilling area then simply place several handy wipe containers around for you, and your guests, to use freely. Constantly clean around your cooking area as well. ICE FOR DRINKS & ICE FOR EVERYTHING ELSE: If you’re having more people over than you would for a normal family cookout then plan on having two containers for ice. One container holds cans and bottles of beverages that are covered in ice while a separate container holds clean ice for consumption. An ice scoop should be used as well. Any ice used for keeping food chilled should be separate. TEMPS: I’m not going to go over all of rules for keeping foods at the proper temperature. What I’ll do instead is give you a rule of thumb that I mention during my chef demos. “Keep the cold food cold and [...]
Real, Cultured, or Printed? Nowadays we’re accomplishing miracles in the laboratory. It started, of course, with successful cloning, but we’ve moved on to teasing immature stem cells into making all sorts of tissues, such as skin for burn victims, miniature versions of human organs (called organoids) to learn to treat disease, and actual functional organs for lab animals that fulfill the function of a natural organ. More interesting is something that was accomplished back in early 2015. Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital grew a complete rat forelimb in a petri dish . Fingers/claws, skin, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and muscles all in the right place and functional. In theory, it could be attached to a subject and tested to see if nerve and blood vessels connections were reliable, and if the bones and connective tissue were durable. There is no reason that they shouldn’t be. Meat in a Lab Muscles, of course, are also referred to as meat, and would be fairly undifferentiated from a naturally occurring meat in texture or flavor. What would be the primary difference about meat made in a sterile laboratory? No animals would be slaughtered; there would be no parasites; there would be no fecal contamination; and, most importantly, there would be no antibiotics or growth hormones necessary. There would be no vast tracts of land necessary, dedicated for the use of our current herds of animals. There would be no concurrent crops necessary to feed all these animals as they grew to a size appropriate for the abattoir, and then the local meat market. There would be no need of veterinarian care for herds to treat diseases. It would eliminate animal suffering,because meat would not be sourced from animals at all. In other words, by just about every popular definition, it would be completely Vegan meat. Of course there are always doubters; those who think meat is bad and artificial meat would be inadequate for some other reason. It’s very much like people that protest Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods—it makes no sense–since everything in our diet is a GMO. There is virtually nothing in our diet that has not been changed. Franken-Food Everybody loves corn for instance, but 8,700 years ago in Mexico it was known as teosinte, with just a few grains per stalk that would have easily fit on top of a 25¢ coin. We crossbred many teosinte with more grains than other plants, and eventually came up with the “cob” that was dense with grain. Yet no [...]
Hydroponics is - the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. In agriculture hydroponics has been remarkably crucial in assisting to lower the usage of pesticides and herbicides. This has translated in more fertile soils and has reduced the chemical burden on farms. Genetically engineered crops such as Bt Maize and Bt Cotton are pest-resistant. Better still other genetically modified crops that are drought-resistant have been produced. Such research has been hugely crucial in a world whose need for food has been increasing exponentially. New pesticides and remote sensing have played essential parts in reducing the amount of harmful chemicals that enter the ecosystem, and allowed farmers to meet the ever increasing needs of the planet. However, fungi and insects are developing resistance even to newest pesticides. In addition, even the best of modern pesticides still enter the food chains and harm humans and animals alike. For instance, in Holland, farmers have had to switch from soil-growing plants to hydroponics because of the accumulation of toxic salts that come from pesticides and fertilizers. The promise of genetic engineering technologies has been in developing pest-resistant crops which do not need pesticides and can grow without the need of irrigation (Eliot, et al 611). Genetic engineers have stated out rightly that there is a lot of hope such diseases can be treated either the insertion of corrected genes or modification of defective genes. Eventually, this hope of totally eliminating genetic ailments and also the treatment of non-genetic diseases is to a large extent attached to breakthroughs in gene therapy (Hammond, 165-166). Another benefit of hydroponics is in the ability to screen for genetic defects in unborn babies. These screenings are essential for parents and medical staff in preparing for the arrival of a child who may have specific needs. A possible potential benefit of genetic engineering that has been awaited with much eagerness is that a fetus that has genetic defects can be treated using genetic therapy before they are born. Current there is a lot of research that is going on with regard to the use of gene therapy for embryos before they are implanted into the mother through in-vitro fertilization (Robert, 93-94). Agriculture is one of the fields which have experienced diverse benefits of hydroponics through rDNA technology. This has translated in improved genetic fitness of many plant species. Some of the common benefits in agriculture are increase in photosynthetic efficiency, increase in the salinity resistance, drought and [...]
Let’s talk about one of the most commonly used plastics today – Polyvinyl chloride. Or, as we all know it - PVC. In fact, 20 million tons were produced only in 1995. The reason why it is so commonly used, is because it’s a low cost material, light weight and comfortable to work with. In this article we will talk about and explain, how PVC is made, what the bad side effects from using it are and what the methods of its disposal are. How PVC is made? In very simple terms – by linking monomers (a molecule that can be bonded to other identical molecule) together. This creates polymer that can occur in two shapes: rigid and elastic. We get a flexible polymer when we add Plasticizers in the rigid one. Plasticizers are an additive, which passes on special rubber-like attributes of the polymer. (For a more elaborated version of how PVC is made, visit Manufacturing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a three-step process. In the process of making PVC, other additives are used as well, such as: impact modifiers, fillers, processing aids, smoke suppressors, UV stabilizers and optionally, pigments. What the end product would be used for will decide what sort of additives will be added in the process. Many of these additives are released into the nature when PVC’s are getting made. This delivers a bad effect on the environment, which we will talk about in the succeeding chapter. Why PVC is bad for the Environment? With the use of raw chemicals, the production of PVC can be harmful for the surroundings. Particularly for the environment that is close to where it is being made. For example, residents from Mosswile, Louisiana – a town that is close to a chemical facility for production of PVC – have had three times more than normal dioxides level in their blood. All this is caused from the pollution of the water, ground and air. The pollution, of course, comes from releasing and disposal of additives during the devising process. In putting out these chemicals, which some are classified as carcinogenic, we risk our health. In fact, dioxin – one of the elements that occurs in the process, has been classified as a known human carcinogen. This is confirmed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and U.S. National Toxicology Program. Latest research indicates that there is no safe level of dioxin exposure for humans. Tests have been performed on animals, and they all showed a negative affects. [...]
Starting from coffee cups and shopping bags all up to protective gear and food packaging – plastic is a big part of our lives. Plastic is around us more than many realize, and it’s an important part of our everyday living. But, should it be? How safe it is? In this article, we will try to cover many how plastic is made and what exactly is plastic. Hopefully, we will bust some myths about it and give you a new insight for it. It’s Organic That’s correct – plastic is made from oil and/or plants. The first one that is made is from oil actually made from naphtha – a type of oil that cannot be refined for gasoline or motor oil. The second one that is made is from plants is a bioplastic – mostly used for disposable items like packaging, straws, pots, etc. The method of making a plastic is a long one, but we will try to explained in short words: - The Naphtha is processed into polymers , substances that are formed by chemical reaction in which large number of molecules (monomers) are joined together – creating a chain. - Different combination of monomers can yield the plastic resins with different properties and characteristics. - When the plastic finally emerges from the reactors, it’s not yes as we wanted to be. So therefore, additives are added (hence the name :). Not only that additives are meant to change the mechanical, physical and chemical properties of the plastic, but to protect it as well, from light, heat or bacteria. Bioplastics are made from plants such as corn, orange peels, cellulose, etc. A good thing about this kind of plastic is that it is compostable: these plastics can decay into natural materials. There are 2 types of polymers (plastic) -Thermoset, plastic that once is made – it cannot be changed. -Thermoplastic, plastic that once exposed to heat it returns in its original condition. Environmental effects that plastic can cause With so many plastic products around us, some kind of impact on the environment is expected. Some of those impacts include: -Danger to animal life There is a big amount of plastic bags and bottle in our oceans. In fact, that kind of trash in the Pacific is estimated that is a size of Texas. This not only cause dangers to the marine life, but to us as well. Many countries spend a lot of money for picking up litter. Only the country of Australia is spending [...]
Major League Eating sponsors competitive eating contests around the world. In the following interview we talk about them. They run about 80 contests a year. This is primarily an interview with Crazy Legs Conti a competitive eater and several time champion. Crazy Legs Conti uses Zen to prepare for contests. Zen is "a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition."