September 2007

I was hoping that I would avoid my usual bout with a cold/flu around this time of the year with healthier eating and regular exercise and all that, but no such luck. Once again I'm enduring the stuffed head, sore throat, and achy body. My favorite home remedy to combat a cold, besides Ricola tea, is lemon-honey water: the juice of one lemon in a big mug with hot water and a spoonful of honey. My grandmother's favorite remedy was umeboshi, though I'm not sure why (she believed in umeboshi for a variety of ailments). What are your favorite homemade cold remedies?

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Keep reading Cold remedies →

I am a usually a big fan of the Italian design firm Alessi, who make, besides other things, all kinds of cool, funky and expensive kitchen gadgets. However, this Mr. Chin line of kitchen timers and other gadgets made me wonder, what were they thinking.

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There's quite a lot of slightly matted plush fur flying in Britain this week over the new Marmite TV ad, which features the lovable Paddington Bear, devotee of marmelade sandwiches, tucking into a Marmite sandwich. It made so much of a furor that it even made the evening news on the BBC yesterday. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond has been accused of selling out and for supplying the script for the commercial (he has denied both). There have been dozens of news stories and editorials devoted to it (my favorite headline is What Next, Rupert Bear in Burberry?).

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uk

Following up on my previous post, here are some more recipes that use wiener sausages on Cookpad:

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I often like to peruse the excellent Japanese cooking site Cookpad. Cookpad is a unique cooking community site. The bulk of it consists of cooking blogs, where people post recipes and pictures. People can post short responses to the recipes called tsukurepo, where they show a photo of their attempt making the recipe. A lot of recipes also note which other recipe on the site inspired the poster to come up with theirs.

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In the last few years, there seems to have been a resurgence in the interest in macrobiotics in Japan. At least it does seem so judging from the magazine articles and cookbooks devoted to the subject.

If you're unfamiliar with macrobiotics, it's a form of almost-veganism (macrobiotics does allow for some fish) with quite idiosyncratic theories. It originated in Japan, was exported to the West, and gained popularity in some circles, especially the ones devoted to alternative lifestyles (like hippies and such). There's a tendency in Japan to get overly impressed by anything (or anyone) in Japanese culture that gets popular in other countries, which I think accounts for at least part of the renewed popularity of macrobiotics - or makurobi as it's abbreviated to - there. The macrobiotic diet has a lot of similarities to the traditional, or pre-WWII, diet, but isn't quite the same. It's also not the same as sho-jin cooking - elegant vegan cuisine that was originated by Zen Buddhist monks.

I've been generally trying to increase my repertoire of vegetable and grain based dishes this year (though I'm not a vegetarian), so I've done quite a lot of research into makurobi these past few months. There are plenty of very appetizing looking cookbooks coming out regularly, and I've collected quite a stack of them.

Yet it's quite unlikely that I'll be turning into a full-fledged macrobiotic convert any time soon. The main reason is that I can't fully buy into one of the central philosophies of the religion - I mean, theory - that of yin and yang foods. Basically the theory is that all foods have yin (dark or cold) and yang (light or warm) energies, and we are better off eating close to the center of the yin and yang scale. Foods that are at the center are generally things like whole grains, beans and other pulses, root vegetables (but not potatoes), and so on. Since macrobiotics did originate in Japan, brown rice is the king of grains.

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Around here it's already cool enough to declare that summer is over and fall is here. (Actually we had a very cold, wet summer anyway, but nevertheless.) So the summer vegetable plants in my garden are dying off, and I'm in the process of salvaging the remaining tomatoes and eggplants, picking the last zucchini, and eyeing the winter squash to see when they will be ready.

Tender herbs like basil are on their last legs, so I'm picking and preserving those flavors of summer so that they can brighten the dark winter months. Last year I took the lazy option and froze everything, packing the picked leaves in plastic bags and throwing them in our big locker-type freezer. Freezing is okay if you're too busy to do anything else with your herbs, but not really the optimal way all the time to keep tender herbs in the long run. So this year I'm thinking things through a bit more and considering how I want to use each herb, and preserving them accordingly. Each method is quite easy and really doesn't take that much time.

I finally succumbed to the inevitable and went to the dentist yesterday, to have a back molar that has been twinging with pain for months looked at. And, as to be expected when you hold off that dreaded dentist visit for too long, my options weren't good: root canal surgery, or get the tooth pulled. I pondered my choices for, oh, about 5 seconds before settling on the tooth extraction option. (I've had root canal surgery once before...never, ever again will I go through that agony).

While it was my lesser-pain option, and Herr Dentist was as efficient as can be, I was still in pain as I got back to Zürich. (Herr Dentist is in Winterthur.) But my spirits lifted when I saw that the Wednesday Speciality Market (Spezialitätenmarkt im Hauptbahnhof) was back after a monthlong summer vacation. I headed straight for my favorite cheese vendor, which sells cheeses made by farmers/cheesemakers in the Züri Oberland region - in other words, very local, all artisanally made and so on.

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A little non-food business. I have been getting tons of invites from people I don't know (and a couple I actually do) for yet another social networking site called Quechup. It seems that sometime during the signup process, this site makes it possible for people to send invites to all the people in the GMail and other online mail service address books. It's kind of interesting to see who has my address in their address books, but nevertheless...if you want to avoid this annoyance, just avoid Quechup.

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At the moment there are so many UK TV food shows that are compelling enough to watch that it's hard to find time for them all. Thank goodness for DVRs and torrents. Here's a rundown, in no particular order of preference - all of them are worth watching for different reasons, and most are far better than almost anything that U.S. TV has to offer at the moment.

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uk

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