Monday, July 30, 2012

Food Recalls: be the first to know about an outbreak

To find out about current food recalls in the U.S. due to salmonella, ecoli, or (heaven forbid) some species-threatening pathogen, or to sign up for email safety alerts, see the FDA website.

New This Week: Mostly Listeria in onions, it seems...
  1. Burch Farms Athena cantaloupes (Listeria monocytogenes).
  2. Cool Creations and Fiesta Garden Fresh Salsa (Listeria monocytogenes).
  3. Catswell cat food (possible propylene glycol). 
  4. Wegmens prepared foods with white onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  5. Tita Colombian style cheeses (possible Staphylococcus aureus). 
  6. Trader Joe's salads (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  7. Whole Foods prepared salads (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  8. Delish, Marketside, Raley's brands that contain onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  9. Purina, Dumor poultry feed (lack of vitamin D). 
  10. Gills onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  11. Ciolo dips and spreads (Listeria monocytogenes).

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Voyage of the Mimi: survival skills TV from the 80's

Few videos (and I mean VHS here, but also other media types) bring back fonder, sweeter memories than "The Voyage of the Mimi." [You can watch it for yourself on YouTube, either for nostalgia or curiosity.]

you know you loved the show if you can sing the theme song 20 years later

Created in 1984, the educational PBS series about a young boy (Ben Affleck) aboard a scientific research vessel taught elementary and middle-school children about biology, mathematics, and (most pertinent here) survival skills. 

avoid hypothermia by sharing a sleeping bag
Two of the episodes my friends and I have re-hashed throughout our lives were the episodes during which Li'l Ben and The Scientists distill seawater for drinking, and the episode where (if my memory serves me correctly) one of The Scientists gets in a sleeping bag with an old man to prevent hypothermia. 

[If any blog readers remember escaping class/library time to giggle over, for example, the Mimi crew making a tent out of tree branches, please let us all know about it.]

Friday, July 6, 2012

This one's for all the ladies in the world

*Spoiler alert: If you are squeamish about menstruation, please do not read the following.

Ladies of a certain reproductive stage know that surviving an apocalypse (or, for that matter, enjoying a vacation/long hike on a deserted tropical island) presents one significant additional challenge not encountered by our male counterparts: the "period".

When the supply of non-sustainable feminine hygiene products will most certainly be the first thing to be pillaged from burning CVSs world-wide (OK, maybe after smoked beef-jerky), how are we ladies to handle daily life, work, escaping an alien invasion, etc?

Yet this is the same question that women all over the world are asking themselves right now, perhaps excepting the aliens bit. In some places, women cannot work or go to school during that time of the month, severely impacting their ability to live their lives.

Those of us privileged enough to live in a place with limitless tampons can still benefit from the cup.  (There are multiple brands.)

Why the cup?
1. Much safer than the one-use alternatives.
2. Pays for itself in one month. 
3. Completely unnoticeable to the user (and everyone else). 
4. FANTASTIC for the environment. No waste/reusable. 
5. While it sometimes takes a couple of cycles to get over the ickiness and learn how to properly use the simple device, once that is over, you can survive the apocalypse -- no problem. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's very easy to bake your own bread

Two of the best bread recipes I know are also two of the easiest I can imagine: a no-knead yeast bread and a low-maintenance sourdough.

Even though I am not NEARLY the baker that, say, Ben R. and Alan R. are (no relation), these are easy enough for basically anyone. 

No-Knead Rustic Yeast Bread
From Diane B. and the New York Times (among other sources,) comes an easy bread recipe that calls for very little hands-on time. 

--3-3.5 cups all-purpose flour
--1 TBS gluten (optional, but it might make the bread rise a little higher. Alternatively, you can use bread flour as a substitute for some of the all-purpose flour.)
--2 tsp salt.
--½ tsp instant yeast
--1 ½ cup water
--drop of honey (optional).

Day 1:
-- Mix together all ingredients. 
-- Let sit overnight. 

Day 2:
-- Stir down in the morning, and let rise for approximately 5 more hours.
-- Grease pan, move bread to whatever you want to bake it in (pyrex baking dish, clay pot, cast iron pot, metal loaf pan, etc.)
-- Let it rise until bread has doubled (another 3-4 hours).
-- Preheat the oven to 450F, put in your bread, and then bake 30 minutes. Take off lid and bake another 15 minutes to brown the crust. 

No-Knead Sourdough Bread -- makes 2 loaves
From Ben R. and his posse comes a very easy sourdough that comes out wonderfully every time. 

*note, it calls for "starter," which is just a yeast culture that you can start and then maintain easily in your refrigerator. It's completely worth it if you like having good home-made fresh bread around. See for suggestions, or do a google search to start the culture...

Day 1:
-- mix together (1cup flour, 1 cup water, 1.5 heaping teaspoons of starter. 
-- let sit covered for 24 hours. 

Day 2: 
-- Add (2 cups water, 2 teaspoons honey, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 teaspoons salt, 5 cups flour*). Mix well.
*Flour can be any mixture of whole wheat/all purpose/bread flour, but some high-gluten flour (bread flour) will improve texture. 
-- Let sit 2 hours. During this time, flip dough over in the bowl about every half an hour. 
-- Put dough into well-greased bread-baking containers. Let sit for about 3 more hours to rise. 
-- Pre-heat oven to 450F. Once the oven is hot, put in bread and bake covered for 30 min and uncovered for 30 min (to brown crust).