Archive | January, 2010

Have You “Herd” of COWPOOLING???

30 Jan

Cowpooling = sharing a side, not a ride

cowpooling Cowpooling: Share a <i>Side</i>

I just learned of this on a morning newscast … or should I say “moos-cast?”

You grow much of your own produce, visit your local farmers’ markets for the foods that you can’t grow yourself and have even started participating in a food co-op, but you’re still left high and dry when it comes to purchasing a decent steak.

Enter Cowpooling, the latest buzz term for the practice under which a group of neighbors team up to purchase a whole cow from a local farm. The cow is then butchered to order and the various cuts divvied up among the neighbors (who presumably aren’t going to argue over who gets the last T-bone!)

But, beyond the nifty name (seriously, cowpooling? Genius!) how exactly is it any different to good ol’ fashioned cow-sharing? Well, typically when you sign up for a cow-share, you’re signing up to have access to the cow’s fresh raw milk as opposed to, well, the actual cow. In addition, when you’re participating in a cowshare, you generally have to pay for a portion of the cow’s upkeep, usually in the form of a holding fee to the farmer.

So, now that we’ve got the “what” down, lets take a look at the who, why and, most importantly, how of this whole cowpooling thing!

Who?

Currently, the practice is gaining popularity with “locavores,” that is, those who choose to practice food sustainability by eating only food from local farms. However, essentially anyone with a few family members of friends (or the ability to find some!) can participate. Another criteria for participation in cowpooling? You really have to like – and more importantly, eat – a lot of meat and have the capacity to store it. Now, we’re not talking about having access to a full-scale meat locker, but if you’re living in a cramped city apartment with nothing more than a fridge-freezer combo, cowpooling probably isn’t going to work out for you.

Why?

There are a couple of reasons you might want to consider cowpooling:

  • Buying Local: There certainly is something to be said for buying locally. Not only do you support your local farmer, but you also support your local butcher and your local meat packer. Not bad, ey?
  • Keeping Control: Want to avoid purchasing hormone-laden, corn-fed beef or make sure that the beef you’re buying comes from a happy cow? Cowpooling allows you to shop around for a local farmer that can accommodate your request.
  • Health Helper: You’ve heard the horror stories about people ingesting contaminated beef, but purchasing a side of beef – as opposed to the composites of meat sold in grocery stores – significantly reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Wallet-friendly: Ok, we’ll be honest here – sometimes it is more expensive to cowpool than it is to purchase meat from your supermarket, especially if you’re a whiz at clipping coupons and shopping the sale section! However, in today’s economy, where the cost of food can fluctuate so drastically, it is nice to purchase enough meat to last you a few months at a flat rate.

How?

So, you have the storage space and you sure like meat, but how exactly do you get involved in a cowpool?

The first step is to ask around – ask friends and family if they know of any local cowpool groups (because recommendations from a friend are always the best!). If you’re hitting a dead end, however, there’s no harm in asking your local butcher or even a neighborhood grocery store if they have any recommendations. Still coming up empty handed? Head down to your local farmers’ market – they might know of a farm who might be interested in starting a cowpool up. Another great resource? Hit the Internet! You’d be surprised what a simple Google search will show up!

The next step is to consider how much meat you want to purchase. Cowpooling doesn’t have to necessarily mean that you buy the whole cow. Rather, your cowpool can choose to purchase a side (or half a cow in laymans terms!) or even a quarter and then split it up among your fellow poolers. Essentially, you’ve got to look at your storage capacity, examine your own meat eating needs and then work with your group to come up with a purchasing situation that will suit everyone.

The third step? Get cookin’!

If you’d like to learn more about cowpooling, these resources are particularly helpful:

  • The Oklahoma Extension Service offers tips (PDF) about purchasing beef in bulk and how to best store it (plus a nifty little survey to help you figure out whether buying bulk beef is a good choice for you!)
  • Want to know how much meat a typical cow will yield? Ask the Meatman.
  • J.D. at Get Rich Slowly details his experience of buying a side of beef.
  • Jason Krause at Chow.com shares a similar experience.

How Do You Say “Pecans?”

30 Jan

These guys couldn’t decide and said it both ways — in the SAME COMMERCIAL!!!

Real Southerners say “Pee-Kahns” — how ’bout you???

Concord Re-Issues “Strangers in the Night” CD

29 Jan

Concord Music continues its streak of winning CD re-issues with this classic from “Old Blue Eyes.” This is swinging mid-sixties Frankie at his finest. The first two tracks are gold — the title cut and “The Summer Wind,” which features lyrics by the amazing Savannah, GA native, Johnny Mercer. I am also very fond of Sinatra’s groovy take on Tony Hatch’s timeless “Call Me.” The album’s only clunker is “Downtown.” Yes, the same tune that Petula Clark rode to the top of the pops. It just doesn’t click in Sinatra’s hands and, frankly, he seems a little annoyed during the take.

But why focus on the negative when there is so much winning material here. The bonus live tracks are fun, but it’s the studio cuts that you will come back to time and time again. Nelson Riddle’s arrangement work is spot on and future star Glen Campbell even played rhythm guitar on the title track. Betcha didn’t know that!

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — “Strangers in the Night” was Frank Sinatra’s best-selling single and — between the single and its namesake album — the recipient of four Grammy Awards including Record of the Year in 1966. But it almost didn’t get to market in time, with Bobby Darin and Jack Jones cutting the song at the same time. Sinatra’s version was the hit, displacing the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” to the #2 position in 1966 and proving the biggest hit of his career. The album shot to the top of the charts as well. Even in the rock ’n’ roll era, nine-time Grammy recipient Frank Sinatra was still the Chairman and one of the most important musical figures of the 20th Century, selling more than 27 million CDs in the SoundScan era alone.

On January 26, 2010, Concord Records, on license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), will release Strangers in the Night: Deluxe Edition, a digitally remastered reissue of Sinatra’s classic album featuring three bonus tracks and liner notes by Ken Barnes. The deluxe edition contains all ten of the original Reprise Records album’s songs as well as three previously unreleased additions: “Strangers in the Night” and “All or Nothing at All,” both recorded live at Budokan Hall in Tokyo in the ’80s, and an alternate take of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” from the original 1966 album sessions.

The Strangers in the Night album was arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle (with the title track arranged by Ernie Freeman). Sonny Burke was the album’s producer, with the exception of the title track, which was produced by Jimmy Bowen, theretofore known primarily for his work in rock ’n’ roll and country. German composer/arranger Burt Kaempfert, known for his production of the Beatles’ first commercial recordings in the very early ’60s, had supplied theme music for the James Garner film A Man Could Get Killed called “Strangers in the Night.” Within days, Bobby Darin and Jack Jones were both recording it. But Bowen heard it as a hit for Sinatra and instantly set up a session to record just that song (most sessions would produce four songs at a time). Sinatra was not initially crazy about the song, but trusted Bowen’s judgment. It wasn’t long before the trust was justified.

Within hours of final mixing, Bowen sent acetates of the song to key radio stations —by private planes. The extravagance paid off, but not overnight. Two months later, the song broke big in the U.K. and a month later, on July 2, 1966, it hit #1 in the U.S. and in every major territory, becoming the biggest record of Sinatra’s career.

The rest of the Strangers in the Night album was recorded in two May 1966 sessions with longtime producer Burke again at the helm and Riddle arranging. The songs were primarily classic standards with a few of them reflecting the current scene. But as annotator Barnes points out, there was no attempt to appeal to teenage America, other than that some of the songs came from Sinatra’s own teenage years: Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn’s “My Baby Cares for Me” from 1928, Donaldson’s “You’re Driving Me Crazy” from 1930, and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” also by Donaldson and Kahn, from 1925. Also included was Rodgers & Hart’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” from the 1935 musical Jumbo. Apart from the album’s title track, the most important song on the album was a German tune with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, “Summer Wind,” which reached #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.

Two British songs, both popularized by Petula Clark, “Call Me” and “Downtown,” were a nod to current tastes, as was Alan Jay Lerner’s “On a Clear Day,” one of the better show tunes of its period.

Ken Barnes observes, “Despite a marked stylistic difference between the title song and the rest of the tracks, Strangers in the Night became Sinatra’s most commercially successful album. He had dealt with the new pop age spectacularly — and on his own terms.”

www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/strangers-in-the-night

Chattanooga Bakery’s MoonPie Crunch Mint

29 Jan

Be sure to stock up for your 2010 MARDI GRAS celebration …

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Chattanooga Bakery, Inc., maker of the iconic MoonPie brand marshmallow sandwich, announces the introduction of MoonPie Crunch Mint, scheduled for first shipment in November 2009. Chattanooga Bakery also announces the unveiling of its newly-designed web site (www.moonpie.com) which, among other things, will allow consumers to order the new MoonPie Crunch Mint products as well as the full array of other MoonPie products.

Sized like today’s “Mini” MoonPie, the MoonPie Crunch Mint product touts a creamy Mint filling, a crunchier, chocolate-flavored cookie and a chocolatey coating on the outside. Mint will become the second item in the new MoonPie Crunch line, following the launch of Peanut Butter in September 2008. Consumer research results on Mint have been very encouraging, with most comparing it favorably to the ever-popular Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.

“We’re really excited to be launching another new and different item under the proven MoonPie® trademark,” said Tory Johnston, VP of Marketing for Chattanooga Bakery. “For over 90 years, we stayed true to our original design – soft cookies with marshmallow filling. With the early successes we’ve seen on Peanut Butter, we’re hopeful Mint will also deliver on the taste and quality expectations our consumers demand. It’s encouraging to hear the positive comments on the Crunch line so far – Mint is next, with more in the pipeline.”

MoonPie Crunch Mint will be available in the exact same formats as Peanut Butter – an 8 ct. multipack carton, a 48/8 ct. floor display and a twin pack for single-serve, available in a 12 ct. shelf / counter caddie and 96 ct. floor display.

MoonPies are available in three sizes (Original, Double-Decker® and Mini) and six flavors (Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana, Lemon, Orange & Strawberry). Distribution is national, with particular strength in the Southeast and Southwest. The brand can be found in Grocery, Mass, Club, Drug, Convenience, Vending, Foodservice and a number of specialty retail outlets. The MoonPie products are typically merchandised in the cookie section of stores.

Chattanooga Bakery was founded in 1902 as a subsidiary of the Mountain City Flour Mill. A fourth generation, family-owned business, the company made nearly 100 snack cake and cookie items under the Lookout(TM) trademark, named after the popular residential and tourist community near Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain. In 1917, after a brainstorming conversation between a bakery salesman and some Appalachian coal miners, the MoonPie® was born, and by the late 1930’s was the bakery’s #1 seller, a spot it still occupies today.

Web Site: www.moonpie.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/moonpie

Recipe for Spicy Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

23 Jan

If you can’t get to Uncle Lou’s in Memphis, this is the next best thing …

Chicken and honey is a classic combination that takes on a fiery twist in this recipe for crispy fried chicken dipped in honey and cayenne. This works well for any kind of fried chicken—bone in, boneless, or chicken fingers and nuggets. Short on time? Give deli fried chicken a quick dip and listen to your family rave about your cooking! Serve with cold, creamy cole slaw and buttered biscuits.

Tip:  The heat of hot pepper increases when it is heated up in food, so taste the honey dip to find your desired level of fire-power after heating it.

The Recipe

Spicy Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

  • 3lbs chicken pieces, boneless breasts, or chicken strips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

How to Make Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

  1. Pour buttermilk over chicken in a ziplock bag and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  2. Combine the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper in a plastic bag.
  3. Remove chicken from buttermilk and drain off excess.
  4. Shake the chicken one piece at a time in the bag of flour; shake off excess flour and allow the floured chicken to rest on racks for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a deep fryer, or pour to a depth of 1/2-inch in a deep frying pan and heat to 325 F.
  6. When oil is hot, place the chicken skin side down in the pan or fryer and cook for 10-12 minutes per side for bone-in chicken pieces, or until the chicken is cooked through and crispy brown.
  7. While chicken is cooking, combine the honey and cayenne in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until hot and thin in consistency.
  8. When chicken is done, use tongs to lift one piece at a time from the pan, shake gently to drain off excess oil, and dip immediately in the hot honey. Allow excess to drain back into the pan for a moment; place the dipped chicken on cooling racks over a cookie sheet to finish draining.

Serve immediately.

Don’t worry. You’re still the best, Uncle Lou!

“The 5 Second Rule” Revisited

21 Jan

For a better view, click here http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/youdroppedfood.jpg

Bacteria Frequently Found in Fountain Drink Dispensers

9 Jan

Caught this piece on the web — pretty darn distrubing. Is nothing safe?

The latest fast food “ick factor” isn’t in the burgers or fries — it’s in the soda.

A group of microbiologists at Virginia’s Hollins University found alarming levels of bacteria, possibly from feces, in fast-food soda fountains.

A scary 48 percent of machine beverages tested contained coliform bacteria – which can originate in fecal matter, the International Journal of Food Microbiology study showed. Even more worrying: Most of the bacteria identified were resistant to antibiotics.

“Coliform bacteria was detected in 48 percent of the beverages,” the team’s abstract states. “More than 11 percent of the beverages analyzed contained Escherichia coli [E. coli].”

Several other types of bacteria also were discovered — including Staphylococcus (Staph). Most showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics used in the study, lead researcher and Hollins biology professor Renee Godard told AOL Food.
The scientists tested 90 drinks in 30 soda fountains within a 20-mile radius of the university’s campus in Roanoke.

Godard wouldn’t name the fast-food outfits and convenience stores studied but said they included “all the typical places you would go to get a soda.”

“This is probably happening in restaurants too,” she said.

Godard said the root of the problem is the failure to properly clean the soda machines, where bacteria fester in the plastic tubing. Flushing the tubes out with sanitizer is the solution.

Godard said the response from the fast food and soda industries and the Department of Public Health has been “weak.”

There has been only one epidemic of illness linked to a soda fountain on record, about a decade ago. That doesn’t account for food poisoning unknowingly caused by tainted beverage machines.

“There isn’t any major food-borne outbreak. It’s not like we’ve had some massive mortality from these,” said Godard. “Soda fountain beverages could be linked to gastrointestinal upset that could go unreported.”

Buck Owens & Don Rich in Their Technicolor Prime

8 Jan

Classic B.J. Thomas Re-Issues on Collector’s Choice

6 Jan

A grand total of 8 (count ’em … eight!) BJ Thomas LPs have recently been re-issued on CD by the folks at Collector’s Choice. The recordings chronicle Billy Joe’s rise to fame during the 1960s and 1970s. Casual music fans surely remember Thomas as the Texas singer behind the original hits “Hooked on a Feeling” and, most importantly “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” The latter was a certified worldwide smash hit that was featured prominently in the classic film, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” However, fans digging a little deeper into BJ’s vault of recordings will be rewarded with several hidden gems. Of the 8 recent re-issues, the first 2 and the last two are perhaps the least inspired. The middle 4 LPs feature timeless pop and some of Thomas’ greatest performances on wax.  

The Sceptor LPs Young and In Love, On My Way, Raindrops, and Everybody’s Out of Town are lifted above the rest thanks to solid songwriting and tasteful instrumental backing. The bulk of the tunes are penned by masters like Burt Bacharach/Hal David and Mark James (writer of Suspicious Minds for Elvis Presley). Other contributors include the legendary Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Jimmy Webb, and Joe South. Most of these tunes were recorded by producer Chips Moman at American Studios in Memphis — the setting for many famous hit recordings by the likes of Elvis, Neil Diamond, and countless others.  Sceptor LP SPS 582 “Everybody’s Out of Town” is the best of the lot with standout tracks like Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin,” Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil’s “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” Mark James’ “The Mask,” Wayne Carson’s “Sandman,” and the Bacharach/David title cut. Frankly, there is not a weak track on the entire album. That was a rarity in a decade when LP’s were stuffed with quickly tossed together “filler.” This CD is essential for music buffs with an affinity for great singing & songsmiths at the top of their game.

B.J. Thomas (born Billy Joe Thomas) straddled the line between pop/rock and country, achieving success in both genres in the late ’60s and ’70s. At the beginning of his career, he leaned more heavily on rock & roll, but by the mid-’70s, he had turned to country music, becoming one of the most successful country-pop stars of the decade.

Thomas began singing while he was a child, performing in church. In his teens, he joined the Houston-based band the Triumphs, who released a number of independent singles that failed to gain any attention. For the group’s last single, Thomas and fellow Triumph member Mark Charron wrote “Billy and Sue,” which was another flop. After “Billy and Sue,” Thomas began a solo career, recording a version of Hank Williams’ standard “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records in early 1966, the single became an immediate hit, catapulting to number eight on the pop charts. Although he had a series of moderate follow-up hits, including a re-release of “Billy and Sue,” Thomas failed to reenter the Top Ten until 1968, when “Hooked on a Feeling” became a number-five, gold single. The following year, he scored his biggest hit with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” taken from the hit film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was followed by a string of soft rock hits in the next two years, including “Everybody’s Out of Town,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “No Love at All,” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” which featured guitarist Duane Eddy and the vocal group the Blossoms.

After “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” Scepter Records went out of business and B.J. Thomas headed to Paramount Records. At Paramount, Thomas had no hits, prompting the singer to pursue a new country-pop direction at ABC Records. “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” his first single for ABC, became his second number-one record on the pop charts, as well as establishing a country career for the vocalist. For the next decade, he continued to have hits on the country charts, with a couple of songs — most notably “Don’t Worry Baby” — crossing over into the pop charts. During this period, he switched record companies at a rapid pace, but it did nothing to slow the pace of his hits. Thomas hit his country peak in 1983 and 1984, when he had the number-one hits “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love” and “New Looks From an Old Lover,” as well as the Top Ten hits “The Whole World’s in Love When You’re Lonely” and “Two Car Garage.” Throughout the ’80s, B.J. Thomas recorded a number of hit gospel records for Myrrh concurrently with his country hits.

At the end of the ’80s, the hits began to dry up for Thomas, but he continued to tour, and put out the occasional country and gospel record in the ’90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Cliff Richard and The Shadows – “Move It”

1 Jan

Marshall Crenshaw covered it, but this is the rockin’ original!