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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

Say Aloha at the Bar

When you want Hawaiian-style cocktails, but aren’t in the mood for sweet slushy fruit-based drinks, try out these libations.

The original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai recipe is wonderfully balanced, says JK Grence the Cosmic Jester:

1 oz. each gold and dark rum
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. orange curacao
1/4 oz. simple syrup
1/4 oz. orgeat (almond) syrup
2 cups crushed ice

Shake everything together in a shaker, pour into a double rocks glass, garnish with a sprig of mint and a speared pineapple piece and maraschino cherry.

The Royal Hawaiian was the signature drink of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel back in the 1950s. Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz. orgeat syrup

Shake well with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

sku recommends Sam Choy’s Li Hing Mui Margarita. Li Hing Mui powder is a popular seasoning in the Islands that’s sweet, salty, and sour all at once and is usually sprinkled on fruit. If you can’t find it locally, you can order it online.

1 1/2 oz. tequila

3/4 oz. Cointreau
2 Lemons
1 Lime
1/2 tsp. Li Hing Mui Powder

Squeeze citrus juices into a blender, add tequila, Cointreau, and Li Hing Mui powder, and blend. Rub the rim of a glass with lime juice, and rim with more Li Hing Mui powder.

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Hawaiian-style Cocktail

Organ Meat

The terms “organ meat” or offal, refers to animal innards. Feet, ears, and snouts may also be included. Some folks think offal is icky, but remember–foie gras is technically an innard. It’s goose liver and mighty expensive and delicious. If you like chopped liver, or pate, that’s organ meat too, of course. And what about giblets in the gravy?

You may graduate to sauteed beef liver (especially the super-mild veal liver) or fried chicken livers. From there, the sky’s the limit! Sweetbreads are considered a delicacy and, when properly prepared, are very mildly flavored.

Tripe, brains, kidneys, and tongue are not so much acquired tastes, perhaps, as acquired textures. Many are strange to our American palates.

Tripe is deliciously prepared in Mexican and Asian cuisines.

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organ meats?

A Nutty Snack

Sahale Snacks makes a great healthy snack, says AndrewCIrving. The snacks are a blend of nuts and dried fruits with interesting flavorings, like harissa and chipotle. They’re available at Target stores. Amazon sells them too

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Need ideas for snacking at work, tell me your faves!

Fast Times for Local Fare

An engaging Salon article (free site pass required) asks: As foodservice giants jump on the eat-local bandwagon, will they dilute the movement’s potential benefits to the environment, family farmers, and food lovers? The answer seems to be no—at least for some passionate locavores. As enviro-writer Bill McKibben tells Salon:

I think it’s pretty hard to co-opt local, though doubtless people will try…. The industrial food machine depends on economies of scale, and these simply aren’t available locally—which is good.

Running that “machine” accounts for 16 percent of U.S. energy consumption (including food processing, packaging, distribution, and refrigeration). But, Salon points out,

Those numbers don’t even take into account the amount of energy that goes into the industrial production of food, from the petroleum-based fertilizers to the heavy machinery. Every mouthful of food fairly oozes with oil, and it’s not canola.

That unappetizing thought is another good reason to support small farmers.

“Top Chef”: Cooking Up Controversy

Well, things have certainly gotten ugly fast, haven’t they? In the lead-up to this week’s Top Chef, Bravo was gleefully calling the episode the reality cooking show’s most controversial yet. I don’t know how controversial it was, but I certainly found it dark and disturbing.

It would now appear that the conspiracy theorists have been going full-throttle both in the Television Without Pity forums and at the blog Amuse-Biatch.

As Charlus of Amuse-Biatch says in his post today, “It’s time to bring in Oliver Stone.” Charlus then goes on to present screen-caps from the episode in question which seem to indicate Elia had a full head of hair during the whole course of Cliff’s attack on Marcel. What does this mean? Well, to put it bluntly, it means that after Cliff’s attack and Marcel’s subsequent escape, the rest of the cheftestants went off and had a high old happy time shaving their heads.

Bravo, on the other hand, tried to cut the episode to show the reverse chronology—that what started off as lighthearted head-shaving turned into something disturbing. Why would they do that? Well, if I’m correct in predicting that Elia is the winner, I think Bravo undertook to make Elia’s involvement (or passivity) in Clippergate seem less offensive. And they failed.

Reality-show manipulation is nothing new, but it is always rather disgusting.

In Trouble Again, Naturally

The world of labels can be so confusing: “natural,” “organic,” “no preservatives,” and my favorite, “wholesome.” The meanings of these words range from regulated terminology to meaningless marketing fluff. And while it’s difficult enough for consumers to keep a handle on them, even the world’s largest retailer is having trouble.

According to BusinessWeek, Wisconsin officials are investigating Wal-Mart because of complaints that the megastore is labeling items as organic that aren’t. The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based small-farm advocacy group, has some damning photos on its website, evidence that Wal-Mart still needs to get up to speed on its natural-food products and terminology.

Especially since it seems to be trying to lure the upscale healthy consumer by opening up ersatz Whole Foods stores.

Vietnamese Building Blocks

Vietnamese Building Blocks

Stepping "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen." READ MORE

Bacon in a Glass

Bacon in a Glass

CHOW's guide to smoked beers: rich, toasty-tasting ales that are made with malt smoked prior to brewing. READ MORE

Sausage Factory

Up in Sonoma County—the same bucolic northern California county where foie gras activists have threatened French chefs and charcuterie makers—the pig farmers of industry biggie CorcPork, Inc. have been hit by a lawsuit from the Animal Legal Defense League and the East Bay Animal Advocates.

Their beef? The confinement of pregnant and nursing sows in “farrowing crates,” which are narrow metal cages too small to allow the pigs to turn around. They are so small, in fact, that the pig can’t do much of anything beside stand in place. The state’s leading pork packer, Clougherty Packing Co., a subsidary of Hormel, is also named in the suit. Clougherty sells bacon and sausages under the Farmer John label.

As quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the suit alleges that “roughly 9,000 of CorcPork’s pregnant sows are crammed into small stalls on concrete floors amid their own feces without being able to take a step.” Without denying the existence of the pens—which are common practice on industrial farms—Clougherty spokesperson Steve Duchesne responds, “This is the continuation of the seemingly endless attacks by these extreme animal rights organizations against responsible livestock farmers.”

Size Matters

Across the pond, where obesity numbers are the subject of just as much scrutiny as they are here, a British watchdog organization has declined to ban a Burger King commercial that seemed to imply that manly men don’t like to eat healthy.

“Manthem” is a catchy paean to big fat cheeseburgers and a rejection of “chick food.” According to a piece in the Guardian, UK health groups “complained that the Burger King ad encouraged excessive eating of unhealthy food.”

“[Burger King] argued that it did not believe it was promoting excessive eating as the ad never showed anyone with more than one burger in their hand.

Although the Advertising Standards Authority did clear the King on health issues, the organization dinged the fast-food giant on truthfulness: Apparently the burgers portrayed in the television ads were noticibly larger than the ones you could actually get at Burger King. Burger King was told to pull the ads until it “corrected the misleading impression of the size and composition” of the burgers.