Eat Street "Babes"

Because food and women are the American dream!

We like to watch Eat Street on The Cooking Channel. It’s a show about different kinds of street foods—often sold via food truck or other means—around the country, as well as in Canada. It usually inspires conversations about where we’d like to travel someday because, let’s face it, like Danielle’s stepsister in Ever After, we’re just there for the food.

Today’s episode, however, gave me pause. There was a food truck advertised as “Baby’s Badass Burgers” from Los Angeles, and the truck’s artwork featured buxom women either bent over, nearly showing the woman’s behind, as well as a woman holding two burgers where her breasts were provocatively.

That’s their business and their choice, and I have a lot of opinions about why it’s wrong—and why we wouldn’t purchase food from such a business, let alone let our daughter see it—but again, it’s their business and their choice. They did call their gimmick an original one, however, which isn’t true—plenty of other dining establishments use women’s bodies to sell their crap food.

However, this is a family-friendly show, and my daughter did see it. And to introduce the truck, the host held a girl in one arm and a burger in the other and declared a burger and  babe “the American dream.” Um, is this the American dream for 51 percent of the population, which happens to be female? I seriously doubt it, even if one out of two qualifies. Then the host catcalled at another woman, “Nice buns!” and his “squeeze” abandoned him and he acted baffled by it.

Right, because not only are women objects—the things to acquire to fulfill your American dream!—but we’re also clueless airheads who shouldn’t mind A. being ignored while you openly ogle someone else or B. being ogled and catcalled at in the first place.

I am so sick of this dehumanization of women in our culture. Everywhere I look, my sex is an object, not a personhood—and my daughter gets more and more confused. Stop telling her she needs to wear little clothing to be worthwhile, that the only costumes for her are “naughty” this or that, and that she is an object to please men! Stop telling us all, for that matter.

Unfortunately, this truck’s business model proves that we have gulped the purple kool-aid as a culture; it’s not just the media anymore. The population has bought the idea that women are objects, and that’s what sells. And I guess until you can prove your product is superior without placing it alongside a pair of breasts, you’ll keep doing it. I challenge those businesses that actually have merit to try another sales approach, particularly if they value women as anything other than trophies.

Buying pork from Wal-Mart

Or, why you shouldn’t.

A friend of mine who lives in the United Kingdom once scoffed at my then-vegetarianism. His father was a butcher, and he maintained that the animals he ate were well cared-for and humanely killed. I’m still not sure I believe in a “humane kill,” but I can maintain that here in America, our factory farms are quite different, as this new footage shows. (Warning: the content of this video is very graphic.)

The pigs being harvested for sale at Wal-Mart are being treated anything but humanely. Not only are they crammed into tiny gestation crates where they can’t  turn around (can you imagine a life like that?), they are also having their tails and testicles cut off without anesthesia. “Runts” and other pigs that don’t grow correctly are smashed to death and put into a pile. I am writing this as plainly as I can; I do not mean to shock, but to simply help people be aware of what they are paying for when they spend their money on pigs treated this way.

We should all demand that Wal-Mart, a company that seems to be at least trying to improve their image lately, not purchase pigs from this farm any longer and to pressure the company to treat their animals more humanely; we should also ask our elected officials to step in and regulate this business, which is completely unethical and certainly cannot be legal… Can it?

Staying Safe While Grilling This Summer

Summer is just around the corner, which means grilling season is about to begin. When cooking food outdoors, there is an increased risk of food poisoning. This is due to the lack of proper storage facilities and the exposure of meat to the elements. When getting ready for a barbeque, here are some things to think about in order to reduce your risk of harboring food-borne illnesses:

  1. Keep your meat refrigerated as long as possible before placing it on the grill. Meat should be left out of a refrigerator for no more than two hours in order to prevent bacteria from growing. If you need to transport meat from one area to the next, be sure to use a cooler if you are traveling a very long distance.
  2. Completely cook your meat until the juices running from it are clear and not pink.  It may be difficult to develop a taste for well-done burgers and steaks, but leaving even a little pink on the inside can be dangerous. The only way to completely remove bacteria is by cooking the meat all the way through.
  3. Separate different types of meat at all times. Do not let raw meats come in contact with one another while you are preparing them and place them on separate ends of the grill. It can also be a good idea to place them on separate plates once they have finished cooking. Doing so means that if one type of meat is contaminated, there will be a decreased risk of spreading these bacteria to the other selections.

Easy Ways to Make Beef Jerky at Home

Beef jerky is an expensive treat when purchased at the store, but it is very easy to make at home. Using a food dehydrator to make beef jerky is the preferred method, but if you don’t have one, you can also use a grill or oven.

Begin by taking a piece of flank steak and cutting it into strips that are about an inch wide. Next, take these strips and marinate them in any type of sauce you like.  Seasoned jerky makers recommend adding some liquid smoke to your marinade to give it a smoky taste. You can also use a teriyaki marinade, steak, soy, or barbeque sauce.  Thoroughly cover your meat and allow it to baste from 8 to 24 hours.

Place the marinated beef in an oven on very low temperature. Somewhere around 100 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit is normally sufficient for baking the jerky. You can also put the meat on a gas grill or in a smoker. When cooking beef jerky in this manner, it is important to keep an eye on the meat to prevent it from overcooking and also to prevent fires. Cooking beef jerky by using one of these methods can take 18 hours or longer, so you may want to have someone else help you take shifts while preparing it.

Since leaving an oven or grill burning for such a long time is often intimidating, many people prefer to use a food dehydrator to make beef jerky. This can take 12 to 24 hours to complete, but the risk of fire is much less than it is with an oven, grill, or smoker.

Understanding the Categories of Doneness

Many people disagree as to what a medium rare or rare steak is. This is because there can be slight variations in these categories based on region, cut of meat, or individual preference. Even though some people have slightly different criteria, the categories of doneness and each one’s characteristics generally include the following:

Rare-this means meat that is mostly red in the center and only slightly cooked on the outside.  Beef that is cooked rare will have an internal temperature of between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If the internal temperature is less than 120 degrees, it is considered to be raw meat and not safe for consumption.

Medium rare meat is slightly more done than rare meat is. A steak cooked medium rare will be pink or dark red on the inside and light or medium brown on the outside. The internal temperature of medium rare meat is about 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium steaks have a pink center with bands of light gray or brown inside as well. They are slightly darker on the outside and have light juices flowing from them. Their internal temperatures will read between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium-well beef will have only a thin band of pink inside and little or no flowing juices. It will be medium or dark brown on the outside with internal temperatures registering from 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Well done steaks do not have any pink or red inside them whatsoever. They will also be very dark on the outside, and may even appear to be charred. Their internal temperatures will be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

New Ways to Enjoy Spaghetti

Spaghetti is an inexpensive meal that is also easy to cook. If you enjoy eating spaghetti but are tired of using ground beef or meatballs to make it, you’re in luck. This is because there are plenty of other choices you can make to give your pasta variety so you do not become bored with eating this dish.

Why not try smoked sausage with your spaghetti? Cut the sausage into small sections and then grill along with slices of onion and green pepper. Cover these with marinara sauce and let them simmer for 30 minutes or so to lock in the flavors and then serve over warm spaghetti noodles.

Italian sausage makes a great substitute for ground beef. Brown this sausage much like you would hamburger and then add it to your favorite sauce. If you think the sausage is too spicy, you can mix it with a little bit of ground beef before browning it in a skillet. You could also use it to make meatballs instead by mixing cracker crumbs, eggs, and milk with the sausage.

Cook your spaghetti as normal and then rinse and drain. Place the pasta in a 9x13 inch pan and drizzle with sauce. Add a few slices of pepperoni to the top of this mixture and then sprinkle with shredded cheese. You can also add a few mushrooms, black olives, or bell peppers to this casserole before placing it in the oven. Bake in a moderately warm oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese had completely melted.

Tips for Cooking Deer Meat

Whether you’re an avid deer hunter or simply like to purchase venison from a meat locker, you may be concerned about the meat’s gamey taste.  If left unchecked, deer meat can be unappetizing for people who are not used to the flavor, and might also be difficult to chew. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the gamey flavor of deer meat so that it tastes more like traditional beef or pork does.

When you are choosing deer meat, it’s important to select the leanest cuts available. Extra fat or gristle can contribute to the gamey flavor and chewiness of the meat once it’s cooked. If you’re buying this meat from a meat locker, the butcher there will likely do this upon request. If you’re doing this yourself, it’s easier to do while the meat is still frozen.

Thaw the deer meat at room temperature, but take care not to leave it out too long. Once the meat is completely thawed, the next step is to marinade the venison in order to break down tough fibers. An acidic-based marinade containing vinegar or Italian salad dressing is often used for this purpose. Whole milk is another common product used to marinade deer meat although it’s uncertain how this liquid helps to remove the gamey flavor.

It’s best to marinade deer meat for 24 to 48 hours before cooking it. Be sure to rinse the meat underneath warm water to remove the marinade if you plan to add another condiment such as barbeque sauce. Cooking deer meat slowly in a crock pot can also make it tender, juicy, and less gamey tasting.

Planning Ahead

Looking for ways to save time when preparing meals? By cooking up large quantities of meat ahead of time, you can make meal preparation much easier. Best of all you can also save money by buying in bulk while resisting the temptation to eat out whenever you’re in a hurry.

Ground beef is an easy meat to cook ahead. You can buy several family packs of this food and then brown it all at one time. After draining the ground beef, you can then scoop it into Ziploc freezer bags and then store until needed. When you’re ready to use the meat, all you need to do is place it in a skillet and then warm it up until it thaws completely. You can add a bit of hot water to the skillet in order to speed up the process.

Making hamburger patties ahead of time takes a bit of ingenuity. Form the patties by hand and then place on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for two to three hours and then remove the hamburger patties with a spatula. Now you are ready to put them into freezer bags without worrying they will stick together when you do so.

You can cook large quantities of chicken breasts in the oven, on a George Foreman grill, or on an outdoor one. Simply allow the meat to cool, and then place the amount you would like into a Ziploc bag. Be sure to write the date you did this on the outside of the bag so the meat can be used before it gets too old.


Meat Lockers-An Old Idea that's New Again

With the increase in food prices, many people are rediscovering food lockers. This fact along with the trend toward buying locally-produced meat has caused new meat lockers to spring up in many small towns throughout the Midwest. It seems that buying meat in bulk from a meat locker not only saves money but makes people feel good as well. This is because they can be more confident about the quality of meat they buy while helping local farmers as well.

During deer hunting season, these meat lockers are especially busy as many hunters bring their kill in to be processed. As such, many hire seasonal workers to help with the processing during this time. Many times, the owners of the deer do not pick up their meat, which means many meat lockers may have venison available for the public to purchase.

In some instances, customers can reserve all or part of a hog or cow even before it is brought in to slaughter. Doing so can normally save them even more money over buying large quantities of beef or pork. Many meat lockers also have a wide selection of chicken and farm-raised catfish as well.

The trend toward buying from meat lockers has not only helped many local economies, but small farmers as well. The United States Secretary of Agriculture claims that in the first decade of the new millennium, over 100,000 new family farms came into existence. If you’re interested in checking out a meat locker, you can normally find listings in your local Yellow Pages.


Stretching your Meat Budget

With the price of meat escalating, many people are finding it difficult to afford it. If you’re not ready to do away with meat altogether, you may be wondering how to save money on this food. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to save on your grocery bill without becoming a vegetarian.

Look for manager’s specials at your local supermarket. These are often packages of meat that need to be sold right away because it’s near the expiration date. Many chains mark their meat down only on certain days so you may need to visit your grocer on a regular basis in order to find out what this schedule is.

Consider mixing ground beef with fillers such as cracker or bread crumbs and milk or eggs.  You may be used to doing this when you make meatloaf or meatballs, but you can also use this mixture to make hamburger patties or Salisbury steak. If you don’t like the idea of using fillers, substitute some of the ground beef for ground turkey or chicken instead, as these meats are normally less expensive than beef is.

Use dark meat instead of white meat when making chicken casseroles. Dark meat pieces such as drumsticks and thighs are normally less expensive than breasts are.  Whenever chicken is on sale, pay attention to whether it is frozen or simply refrigerated meat. Frozen chicken pieces may cost less per pound, but this weight includes a great deal of ice and water. As a result, you could actually save more money in the long run if you buy chicken that isn’t frozen.