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

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Required reading for anyone who eats. READ MORE

Homegrown Pure and Simple

Homegrown Pure and Simple

Learn to grow your own. READ MORE



Read yourself sustainable. READ MORE

A Real Dive

Are you thrifty enough and environmentally committed enough to shop for food out back of the supermarket? Once thought to be the province of the truly down-on-their-luck and adventurous starving students, Dumpster diving for food has attracted (at least a couple of) people who dive as comment on our wasteful culture.

In an article in the Contra Costa Times, Berkeley, California, residents Cynthia Powell and Stephen Vajda talk about their lifestyle:

There is so much food thrown away and there are so many starving people in the world, it’s shameful to let it go to waste when it’s just as easy for me to eat it. It’s really disgusting when you have an apple (from a grocery store) with a blemish on it and people won’t buy it.

Perhaps what’s really new here is the mainstream-media attention, since groups like the Freegans and Food Not Bombs have long practiced the art of acquiring cast-off food for free to reduce their environmental footprint.

Luckily Vajda and Powell live in Berkeley, where law enforcement has a relaxed attitude toward this type of activity: “The biggest problem we have with people Dumpster-diving is they make a mess,” notes a spokesman for the Berkeley police department.

Instant Entertaining

Instant Entertaining

Low-key holiday hosting. READ MORE

No Ifs, Ands or Big Red Butts

As a holiday gift for pun-loving headline writers everywhere, the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement has decided to ban the distribution of Santa’s Butt Winter Porter. When we first heard this story, we figured the label of the imported British brew would be showing more of Santa than even Mrs. Claus wants to see. However, the illustration is actually Norman Rockwell-cute, featuring a broad-beamed but fully clothed St. Nick seated on a jumbo-sized beer barrel (also known as a butt, hence the name), a loaded stein at the ready while he goes through his list, checking it twice.

And that’s just the problem, says Maine State Police Lt. Patrick Fleming. The ruddy-cheeked guy might appeal to children, setting them up for a lifetime of … buying pricey small-batch microbrews with silly names? Thank goodness some beer-geek lawyers at the Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation have a little time on their hands; citing First Amendment rights to artistic expression, they’ll be working overtime this holiday season to put Santa’s Butt where it belongs—right into your hot little hands.

However, it’s not the first time that distributor Daniel Shelton has had trouble with his labels. Both Connecticut and New York have tried to ban their Seriously Bad Elf ale, along with a few of their other holiday-themed brews. Says Shelton from the company’s headquarters in the appropriately named Belchertown, “Last year it was elves. This year it’s Santa. Maybe next year it’ll be reindeer.”

But we’re putting our foot down over offering Comet, Cupid, and Vixen a couple of cold ones—we’d hate to see Lt. Fleming have to arrest the fat guy for flying with intoxicated reindeer.

Blasting Rachael Ray into Space

My God. Even in space, where they can’t hear you say “Yum-o,” you can’t escape from the culinary juggernaut that is Rachael Ray.

According to USA Today, Ray’s personally prepared meals will be winging their way to places dark and cold on the December 7 launch of the space shuttle Discovery. Ray has prepared a Thai chicken dish along with two others, and when Discovery commander Mark Polansky appeared on Ray’s talk show, he opined that the chicken was “great.”

“The meals will make ‘a nice … psychological twist for our crew members,’ says NASA food systems manager Vickie Kloeris.” I would kill to know what exactly was said inside that ellipsis.

For those of you keeping track of all the space food firsts this year, the December 7 trip marks the first time that “food celebrity” meals will fly on the shuttle.

Eh, wake me up when they finally invent a bona fide food replicator.

Your Guac Is a Crock

No wonder store-bought guacamole tastes like glue: It is glue! OK, not really, but it certainly isn’t real avocados, either. As Los Angeles resident Brenda Lifsey discovered, the green glop sold by Kraft Foods is primarily composed of staggering amounts of coconut and soybean oils, corn syrup, modified food starch, and food coloring, with a minuscule amount of avocado thrown in. She was so upset that she took Kraft’s ass to court on Wednesday, and her lawyer says other faux-guac purveyors will soon be targeted as well.

How did she make her discovery? “It just didn’t taste avocadoey,” Lifsey told the L.A. Times. “I looked at the ingredients and found there was almost no avocado in it.”

But Kraft says it wasn’t out to deceive anyone:

‘We think customers understand that it isn’t made from avocado,’ said Claire Regan, Kraft Foods’ vice president of corporate affairs.

Ridiculous as this reasoning may be, the company hasn’t technically done anything illegal. While the FDA mandates that anything labeled “peanut butter” must contain at least 90 percent peanuts, anything goes when it comes to guacamole. Still, Regan said Kraft is even now in the process of changing its label to clarify that the dip is merely “guacamole flavor.”

Some Chowhounders argued that suing Kraft, the king of fake food, for this kind of thing was ridiculous; but as one user pointed out, often legal action is the only way to incite change when it comes to food regulation (or really any kind of regulation) in this country.

Good for What Ales Ya

As winter settles in and we need to pack on pounds for warmth, it’s time to head for the nearest brewpub or beer store to try out the season’s winter beers and ales.

The problem (well, not really a problem, it’s more of an issue) is that there are just so dang many of them that you could never hope to sample them all—although it would certainly be a lot of fun to try. Especially since even the names of these beers can lead to a warm, fuzzy feeling of seasonal happiness: Sled Crasher, Ho Ho Homo Erectus, Blitzen.

Happily, everyone from newspaper columnists to bloggers to our own Chowhound community is posting their impressions to help quaffers separate the unpalatable chaff from the delicious wheat.

Curry by the Book

Curry by the Book

In search of a true spice education from a new Indian cookbook. READ MORE