Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drinking and Cancer in Women

*%#@%&*!!!! In case you hadn't heard, a new study shows that drinking in women , even moderate drinking, causes cancer. The highlights of the study are as follows. It was a big study (1.3 million women over 7 years), so the results are probably accurate. One drawback to the study is that it didn't distinguish between women who drank one drink a day for seven day, and women who drank seven drinks in a row once a week. Researchers estimate that 5% of all cancers diagnosed in women is due to low to moderate alcohol consumption. Drinking accounts for 11% of the breast cancer. Two drinks per day increases your risk for breast cancer by 32%. Three of more drinks per day increases your risk by 51%. Also, if you drink and smoke, your risk of oral,throat, and esophageal cancer is increased more then in wome who just smoke.
Michael S. Lauer, MD and Paul Sorlie, PhD who conducted an accompanying study state:

"Even if there are modest beneficial cardiovascular effects, we still don't have a clear picture of the overall risks and benefits of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption," he says. And because heart disease kills mostly elderly women, and because more middle-aged women die from cancer, the findings seem to suggest that the risks of drinking outweigh the benefits in this age group, he says.

"It might be reasonable to suspect that many women in the lay public who are asking physicians about any possible safe effects of alcohol are middle-aged: for this large group, the only reasonable recommendation we can make is that there is no clear evidence that alcohol has medical benefits," Lauer and Sorlie wrote.

Found in previous studies, women have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. This means drink for drink, women suffer more liver damage and get drunk faster.

On the flip side, the 120,000 strong nurses study (the theory is that nurses report accurately in health studies) showed that women who drink one drink a day live longer. One drink a day (no, you can't save them up for the weekend) is thought to protect you from heart disease, which kills more women (although usually older women) then cancer. Alcohol probably raises HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and reduces inflammation and blood clots. The nurses study showed that moderate drinking cuts your risk of heart disease in half.
It also protects against strokes and osteoporosis.

See the article on Web Md, US News and SF Gate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler. Back in the 80's, when Cajun food was all the rage, my mom clipped some of Chef Paul Prudhomme's recipes from a magazine. This recipe is adapted from that one. It was made originally from white rice. I always use brown rice. There are better jambalayas in the world, but this is mine.



2 Tbsp butter

1/2 LB smoked ham, diced

3/4 LB boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

3 1/2 tsp Paul Prudohmme's Cajun poultry magic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp sage
pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 cup long-grained white or brown rice

2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup tomatoes (I use one drained can)

1/2 cup tomato sauce (one small can)

If using brown rice, preheat the oven to 350. Melt butter (I add some of the butter and continue to add the rest as needed) in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add ham and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and 3 tsp seasoning mix; brown 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in onions, celery, pepper, and garlic; cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in rice, then chicken broth, tomatoes and sauce and remaining 1/2 tsp seasoning mix. Bring to boil.

For white rice: reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For brown rice: after bringing the mixture to a boil, place the covered dutch oven in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the rice is done.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Iron Chef

I was watching the Chairman on Iron Chef today. I was thinking to myself, I wonder how many takes it takes to film the scenes with the Chairman. If I were a chef on the show (which would require a horrible casting snafu followed by massive firings), I would not be able to keep a strait face. Turns out, neither can the chairman. Check out this video on youtube. (16 seconds)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sodium Suprise

Healthy adults should get no more then 2300 mg of sodium per day (about 1 tsp). You probably know to avoid soy sauce (1160 mg per T), chicken bullion (1,100 mg per cube), frozen dinners (Stoffers Lasagna with meat sauce has 930 mg, some have more), and cured meats.

You might know that these foods are high in salt, but might not know how high.
Ramen Noodle Soup Chicken flavor 770 mg 1/2 package or 1540 mg for the whole package
1 cup Clamato Juice 880 mg
Pickles 1 Vlasic kosher pickle spear (1/4 pickle) 280 mg sodium
4 green olives 330 mg
Schlotzky's Large Original sandwich 4,590mg (about 2 days worth)

But I bet the sodium in these foods would surprise you:
Prego Heart Smart Traditional Italian Sauce has 430 mg per 1/2 c serving.
Aunt Jemima Original Pancake and Waffle Mix has 200mg per pancake.
Chocolate Jello Instant Pudding has 420mg per serving.
Progresso 50% less sodium Chicken Noodle Soup is 470 mg per serving, but more then 1000 mg if you eat the whole can.
1/2 c 1% Cottage Cheese 360 mg
1 c Heart Healthy V8 juice 448 mg
1 Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain White Bagel 440 mg
Tall Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino 220mg
McDonald's Premium Ceasar Salad with grilled chicken has 890 mg of sodium without dressing.
McDonald's Premium Ceasar Salad with grilled chicken has 890 mg of sodium without dressing. (in case you missed it)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Popcorn, Lesson, and a Tips

First, I've decided to list my popcorn recipes separately. The single post was getting too long. The Honey butter post is new. The rest are old and just reposted.
I learned a cooking lesson yesterday. If you take a pan out of a really hot oven, make sure you have a good pot holder. I thought I did, but it only looked heavy duty. When you're cooking over 400 degrees, it's a good idea to uses a oven mitt designed for a barbecue. I was making these pork chops with red onion jam stuffing with port and dried cherries and dates and smothered with bleu cheese. They sound amazing don't they. They look pretty amazing too. Too bad they were a ton of work and just pretty good. I won't be making them again.
Here's my tip. When you do inevitably burn yourself while cooking, ice the heck out of your injury. I prefer to use frozen juice cans to ice my cooking burn. The plastic on the outside protects you a bit from the ice being too cold. Also, you can refreeze the juice cans. I keep switching them out as they warm up. Keep icing your finger for hours until it doesn't hurt when you remove the ice. I wrapped a blue ice block in a t-shirt and took it to bed with me. The several hours of icing payed off. My finger is almost back to normal today. No blister at all and just a little tender.

Honey Butter Popcorn

This recipe is based on this post on slash food. The original recipe uses more butter and honey and the stove. I cut down the butter and use the microwave to make things easier and cut a few calories.

Honey Butter Popcorn
1 Batch of Popcorn (I like white popcorn)
1 T butter
1-1 1/2 tsp honey (I eyeballed about 1/3 to 1/2 the volume of the butter)

Heat butter and honey in the microwave until bubbling. This took less then 30 seconds in my slow microwave. Pour over the popcorn and salt.

Chocolate Almond Popcorn

I make this popcorn in a whirly pop brand popcorn popper. It’s a popcorn popper that you put directly on the stove and turn a manual crank that stirs the popcorn in the popper This recipe is adaped from one in the book that came with the whirly pop.


1 c sliced almonds
1 c chocolate (white, dark, or milk)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c popcorn (I like white popcorn)
1/4 c oil
1/4 c sugar

I add 1 cup total of additions. I'm still experimenting, but I'm thinking of things like nuts, raisins, dried cranberries and pretzils)

Place chocolate chips in the food processor. Pulse a few times until the chips are chopped into smaller pieces. (you can skip this step if you use mini chips. Add chocolate and almonds (and dried fruit or pretzels if using) to a large bowl. Add salt, sugar, oil, and popcorn to the Whirly Pop and pop as directed. Pour immediately into the bowl with the chocolate and nuts. Immediately stir to coat. Once the popcorn is coated, let it sit to cool. (If you can) After the popcorn has cooled it will more easily break into pieces. It tastes much better after it cools and is less messy. Don't forget to lick the bowl. :)

Tobasco Popcorn


I stole this recipe from my neighbor Sue. Just make your regular popcorn with butter and salt. But, before you add the melted butter, mix an equal amount of Tabasco with it. Then add the Tabasco/butter mixture to the popcorn and salt. For the calorie conscious, you can skip the butter altogether and just add drops of Tabasco to the popcorn.

Red/Green Popcorn (or any other color)

You can make this popcorn in red and green for Christmas. The popcorn in the second picture is red, "white", and blue for the fourth of July. You can also make it in a mix of pastels for Easter or in your favorite team colors. I make this popcorn in a whirly pop brand popcorn popper. It’s a popcorn popper that you put directly on the stove and turn a manual crank that stirs the popcorn in the popper.
For Christmas gifts see also my red hot popcorn recipe and my cinnamon crunch popcorn recipe. This recipe came from the cookbook that came with the whirly pop popper.

Red Green Popcorn

1/3 c unpopped popcorn
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c oil
1/4 tsp salt, optional

a few drops of food coloring, optional (use more for blue or purple)

Put all ingredients in popcorn popper (whirly pop). Pop until the popping almost stops and pour into a bowl. Pop only one color at a time and wash the popper before you make another color.

Cinnamon Crunch Popcorn

I make this popcorn in a whirly pop brand popcorn popper. It’s a popcorn popper that you put directly on the stove and turn a manual crank that stirs the popcorn in the popper. This popcorn recipe is my personal favorite. This recipe came from the book that cake with the whirly pop.
Cinnamon Crunch Popcorn

2 tsp cinnamon
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c popcorn (I like white popcorn)
1/4 c oil
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and salt and set aside. Put oil and sugar and popcorn in the popcorn popper (whirly-pop). Pop the popcorn until the popping almost stops. Pour into a large bowl and immediately coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Red Hot Popcorn

I make this popcorn in a whirly pop brand popcorn popper. It’s a popcorn popper that you put directly on the stove and turn a manual crank that stirs the popcorn in the popper. Red hot coated popcorn. What more could you want. One tip. The spiciness of red hots permeates the air and can get into your eyes. Turn on the fan above to stove as you pop the popcorn. As soon as you are done, run hot water in your whirly pop popper. This recipe came from the book that came with the whirly pop.

Red Hot Popcorn

1/3 c popcorn (I like whites)
1/3 c red hot candies
2 T oil

Place all the ingredients in a whirley-pop popcorn popper. Pop as directed. The red hots will melt and coat the popcorn as it pops.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ginger Ale

A few days ago I saw the Good Eats show on Ginger. I was totally fascinated. Ginger Ale and candied ginger. I made the ginger ale. It's pretty good, but not great. An easier way to make your own ginger ale would be to add the ginger syrup to club soda. I think making ginger ale is fun however and will make it again. When I make it again I will
1) Be sure to follow the directions and cover the syrup while it steeps. Woops. I think that's why my ginger ale doesn't have enough ginger flavor.
2) I will open the ginger ale with extreme caution. I sprayed about one cup around my kitchen in a huge fountain. It looked like someone dropped an Altoids into a bottle of pop.
In the spring, I'm going to try replacing the ginger with rhubarb and to make rhubarb ale.

Ginger Ale

1 1/2 oz finely grated ginger (I used a micro-plane zester)
6 oz sugar
7 1/2 c filtered water (I used tap water)
1/8 tsp yeast
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used bottled)

Place ginger, sugar and 1/2 c water in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for one hour.
Pour the ginger syrup through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing down to get all the juice out of the ginger. Chill quickly but putting the bowl in another bowl with ice in it or by setting it uncovered in the refrigerator until it reaches room temperature.
Using a funnel, pour syrup into a clean 2 litter pop bottle. Add the yeast, lemon juice and 7 cups of water. Cover and shake gently. Leave at room temperature for 48 hours. After 48 hours open the bottle with EXTREME CAUTION to check for carbonation. If it is as carbonated as you would like, place it in the refrigerator. If you would like more carbonation, let it sit at room temperature later. Store for up to two weeks. Open the bottle at least once a day (very cautiously) to let out excess carbonation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is Why You're Fat

Prepare to be grossed out at This is why you're fat. Tacos with bacon for a shell. Turbaconucken (it's completely wrapped in bacon). Bacon cheese burger with Jamaican beef patties as the bun. That's just the first two pages. I'm perplexed. On the flip side, the sweets make total sense to me. Deep fried candy bars. A brownie wrapped in peanut butter, wrapped in cookie dough and deep fried. I could eat me one of those.
Ahhhhh! A cheese stuffed, deep fried ground bacon burger.
Is it wrong that I think the Snack Stadium is awesome? I want one complete with blimp. How many more months until football starts?

Bulgur and Mushroom Pilaf

If you like to cook a meat, a vegetable, and a starch, this recipe could help shake things up a bit in the starch section of your plate. It's a pretty quick recipe. When I made this I just skipped the porcini mushrooms. I'm sure they would be good. I didn't have them, so I didn't bother. I just skipped ahead to step 2 and added 1 c water where it called for soaking liquid. Bonus. Bulgur is a whole grain. Make sure you get bulgur wheat and not cracked wheat. They look the same, but aren't. This recipe is from the cookbook "The Quick Recipe from the Editor's of Cook's Illustrated Magazine".


Serves 4 to 6


½ oz Dried porcini mushrooms

3 T unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/4 tsp salt

8 oz cremini (preferably) or white button mushrooms, stem ends trimmed, quartered (or cut into 6 pieces if large)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)

1 ½ c bulgur, preferably medium-grain

1 3/4 c canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 ½ tsp soy sauce

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

ground black pepper

1. Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with ½ cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single layer of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup. Add enough water to the soaking liquid to total 1 cup and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until reduced in volume and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in bulgur, broth, soy sauce, and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, stir in the parsley and fluff the bulgur. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.