House Republicans Vote to Cut Food Safety Funding

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Via WaPo:

Arguing that the U.S. food supply is 99 percent safe, House Republicans cut millions of dollars Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration’s budget, denying the agency money to implement landmark food safety laws approved by the last Congress.
Saying the cuts were needed to lower the national deficit, the House also reduced funding to the Agriculture Department’s food safety inspection service, which oversees meat, poultry and some egg products. And lawmakers chopped $832 million from an emergency feeding program for poor mothers, infants and children. Hunger groups said that change would deny emergency nutrition to about 325,000 mothers and children.
The House also waded into a controversial issue pending at the FDA, forbidding the agency from approving the sale of genetically engineered salmon, a matter that has triggered an intense debate about the place of biotechnology in the food supply.
No Democrats voted in favor of the agriculture appropriations bill, which passed by a vote of 217 to 203. Nineteen Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition.
The White House opposed many of the cuts, saying they would force the USDA to furlough inspectors at meat and poultry processing plants and leave the FDA unable to meet the requirements of a food safety law passed in December. The legislation, which was the first major change to the nation’s food safety laws since 1938, calls for the FDA to significantly step up scrutiny of domestic and imported food and devise a system aimed at preventing the kind of contamination that sickens one in six Americans every year.
The law, which received bipartisan support, followed years of cutbacks at the FDA and waves of food-borne illnesses linked to foods as varied as spinach, peanuts and cookie dough.
To carry out the new law, President Obama is seeking $955 million the FDA’s food safety program in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Republican leaders in the House pared back that to $750 million, which is $87 million less than the agency currently is receiving for food safety.

Cooking Ribs–New Easy Dry Rub

Dry rub recipe I put together:

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix everything together use fingers if necessary and then taste. It should taste like sugar without the sweetness and touch briney.

Rub baby back ribs all over with all of the rub.

Turn grill on and make sure it is very hot. Place baby back ribs, fleshy side down for 2 minutes or until you get nice deep grill marks. Then cover with foil and bake in regular oven for 5 hours on 200 degrees and then followed by 1 hour at 170 degrees. Make sure flesh side is down for the entire time.

At the 3 hour mark, you can cover with barbeque sauce or not. It is important that you do not drain the natural juices but let the ribs cook in them.

Don’t thank me, just say a prayer for me in payment.

Eating Opah

So I had a Hawaian fish called “Opah” while in Idaho at the Cottonwood Grille restaurant. First have to say that this was a great place to eat if you are ever in Boise, ID. Great atmosphere and food. I generally have no use for beef or red meat selections. There are cows everywhere and I don’t have to travel 500 miles to eat prime rib. So I tend to go local or seafood.

Well, on the menu were a couple of intruiging seafood choices, Opah, and something else–a fish described as a deep Pacific fish. Let’s just say I’m not going to run into these options back in DC on regular basis. So I went for the Opah. 

So here’s the general deal with Opah. It was really moist and the flavor was very good. The problem with eating a fish once is that you can’t easily separate its flavor from the sauce. So I would need a couple more tries to ferret out its distinctiveness. But it was a delicious meal. 

Here’s what they look like:

According to the linked website, these things range in weight from 60-200 lbs. Now my initial question when I see something that looks like this is, who came up with the idea that this would be delicious to eat?  Pretty gross, but I’m glad someone stepped up.

BTW, sometimes we think of fish eating as pretty obvious, but I note that Jared Diamond, in his book, Collapse, talks of the Greenland Viking population that died out of starvation in a couple of centuries becuase they had a taboo against eating fish.

What’s the difference between white and brown eggs?

Apparently 20 cents.

After spending more on a dozen brown eggs I felt healthier until I did a google search that revealed the truth. Here’s what Yahoo ask says:

Contrary to popular belief, brown eggs aren’t a healthier alternative to white eggs. . . . The difference between brown eggs and white eggs is purely cosmetic.

Wiki answers has this to say:

The first and obvious difference is their color, the second is the type of chicken it comes out of, personally i haven’t tasted any difference between the two.

Nutritionally there is no difference, various breeds lay different colors. White eggs are popular with grocery stores visually (clean and fresh looking) and one of the best laying breeds happens to lay white eggs. Restaurants often prefer brown eggs as it is easier to see bits of shell when they fall in the food being prepared. A tiny white bit of shell in a pound of flour is hard to find until somebody crunches it. Yolk color is adjusted by feed contents.

And the definitive word from Yahoo Answers:

White eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown-ish chickens. Most of the eggs in your supermarket come from the following breeds of chickens: the White Leghorn, the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire, and the Plymouth Rock.

White Leghorn chickens are white and lay white eggs. Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire and Plymouth Rock chickens are all reddish brown and lay brown or brown-speckled eggs.

So there you have it. Do not waste an extra cent on a brown egg.

Peruvian food

I had dinner at El Chalan a great Peruvian restaurant in downtown DC with friends. It was absolutely yummy. I had a fish dish with a seafood sauce. The fish was fried, but it did not have the heavy fried feel. Moist and flaky I might add. The sauce was a brownish sauce that we could not figure out, but it did have actual seafood in it, like squid, scallops, shrimp, etc. For appetizer we had this great mussel dish. The mussel was open with a pico de gallo type mixture with a great dose of lime.  There was also bread with a “peanut butter” type spread. We figured and confirmed that it was a blended mixture of chilis, garlic, oil, and peanuts and something else.

Grilling Spare Ribs

So after a couple of rough starts and $30 later, I’m finally getting the hang of grilling spare ribs and it took the world wide web to figure this out.  I’m fairly proficient with burgers and steaks, but haven’t had much luck with ribs. I had purchased vacuum sealed ribs with tons of fat at the local grocery store and attributed the disaster that ensued to the poor quality meat. I then went to the local grocery/butcher shop called Nicks and I got a fresh slab of spare ribs and the results were slightly better, but not because of the meat.

After this last attempt I decided to check out what the internet had to say about grilling spare ribs. I found this BBQ Institute site and it does a great job explaining things. First, I really had not thought about it but there is a difference between spare ribs, which come from the stomach area, and baby back ribs which are from the higher part of the rib cage. Although, these guys say there is no difference if cooked right. Still, good to know.

Then, I confirmed my nagging suspicion against slapping the entire slab on the grill without doing stuff to it. I could not figure out why my ribs didn’t look like the stuff at the stores or on TV. Well, that’s because one must carefully trim the meat. (I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, so while this may be obvious to everyone it did not occure to me.)

The seasoning part I’m not worried about because I’m cool with basic sauces and rubs, so I don’t need anything special. Although, I will experiment with smoking with different woods once I learn to actually cook the ribs. Now, cook time, this is what has eluded me for so long. These guys suggest at least 4 hours, but up to 7-8 and the ideal temp between 225-250 ish. I suspected as much but lacked the patience. The better experiment worked out because it was in longer, but now I have my confirmation.

So that is what I learned for next time. Once I get this fall-off-the-bone rib thing down, then I’ll begin to experiment with the rubs and sauces.

Cooking French Bread Chunk Stuffing

From time to time we try a stuffing recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It calls for butter, onions, chopped walnuts, taragon, parsley, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. The first time we made it, chopping up bread into bread crumbs was too taxing for our little food processor and so we improvised and tried french bread chunks.

The idea is melt 2 sticks of butter in a dutch oven, then add a lot of chopped onions and cook 5 mins till soft. Then add chopped walnuts and cook for 3 minutes until slightly browned. Then mix the bread chunks with chopped fresh taragon and then add chopped fresh parsley and toss all this in the dutch oven, turn to low and mix. The result is a not a traditional looking stuffing because the bread chunks are so big that they easily soak up the butter and so the gel factor is not there. But if you can get over that then it is actually quite delicious. It tastes better if you let it set overnight.

French Bread Chunk stuffing

I had a couple of days later with left over breaded seafood and it was heavenly. So I’m thinking, there’s room for breaded seafood. That, I’ll have to experiment with. I can see mixing in crabmeat but that can get expensive.