Archive for September, 2008

September 19th, 2008
together we cook!

together we cook!

Sometime about 4 years ago I was kicking it with my dad at his house.  We have lived together a few different times and have always enjoyed cooking, drinking wine and chatting, with each other and whomever is around.  So, about 5 years ago we had an idea for an internet tool.  Although I have a good touch with food, I have a deplorable memory, and soam sometimes forced to call my dad to ask questions about timing, temperature and other specifics.  In an effort to immortalize my father’s clean, simple, basic approach to food,

So we came up with the concept of  The paradigm grew into  duckspoon, although the actual name of the site had not revealed itself until recently.

This was in 2005 when we started this endeavor: before the video recipe encyclopedias was ubiquitous.   Google had just started recording the volumes in libraries.  We could see that the ides of free information was growing and we wanted to throw in our passion and love of food done correctly.  Hence the simplicity of

We did not want any of the sensationalism that was so abundant on the cooking shows.  As much as I admire  Anthony Bourdain’s writing and revel in his adventures, he has ushered in the concept of the celebrity chef…and pop culture loves the celebrity chef.

We weren’t interested.   Straight, to the point information without wasting  time was our goal.  Just the right information.

I wanted folks in the middle of dinner to be able to rely on going to my site and finding the answer to their question quickly and easily.  How long to you roast the chicken for?  What temperature?  Those questions.

Now by  creating an information system that was sleek and easy to use, and by limiting the video recipes to 3 minutes or under, we were omitting certain components of the meal.  When you are watching us make lentil soup, you don’t have to wade through the chopping of carrots, the mincing of onions, the dicing of bacon.  Unless you want to.  In the written instructions to the side of the actual videos are links to “chopped carrots” and “minced onions” and “diced bacon” that you can hit and see the instructional videos which will  guide you through that particular chore.

The site is finally coming together.  Granted may be way behind the curve now and probably not considered innovative, but I funded it myself and it’s mine.

I’m about having a lot of fun and I hope that it becomes a useful tool and that others will enjoy duckspoon as much as I do.  I am fortunate enough that the owners of the restaurant that I at, Adam and Jackie, support my project and allow me access to the entire life of the restaurant.  It’s a beautiful little concept that has grit and whose owners are ready to walk the long way home.

So, have fun with me.

Playing with absinthe

September 19th, 2008

I went to visit House Spirits here in Portland, Oregon a couple of weeks ago.  Ryan, one of the owners, had invited me to come visit and ponder the philosophy of the cocktail.  We talked a little cocktail history, discussing it’s evolution and where it might go today.  Soon the absinthe was broken out.  

The absinthe had been distilled at House Spirits, but was not part of their line and was just about to be released.  I enjoyed it.  Not as mouth-washy as some absinthes I have tasted in town, and, with a little chilled dilution and a touch of simple syrup, was quite elegant.

We touched on a concern that new absinthe distillers might market the liquor based on its reputed psychoactive qualities and not on the fact that it is a historic beverage that can amaze your palate. Jagermeister came to mind.  Jager is a digestiv that my family in Germany drank after a meal.  A liqueur made with herbs meant to aid the digestive system.  However here in the United States jaegermeister has become a frat boy drink of choice.   All in the marketing.

Well, we shall see.  The next week I took a bottle of absinthe up camping and made absinthe mojitos, which were a lot of fun to make and even more fun to drink.

Slight Recant

September 10th, 2008

O.K. I have a little back stepping to perform.  In regard to caloric information on menus, I have to give the mom and pop shops a break.  The restaurant I work at changes our menu at least once a week, sometime, in seasonal transitions, 3-4 times a week.  It seems an inordinate amount of work to have to analyze every weekly change in the menu.

My chef says that people ought to know that a hefty caloric intake goes along with a cheeseburger; fried chicken is similarly full of calories.

Although I understand the financial and time implications of providing information about your menu to the public, I have to lodge a question.  Whose responsibility is it to provide information to the public?

Of course I advocate learning about the food one eats and making conscious food choices, but it seems to me that providing food (enjoyment as well as survival) to guests also entails educating them. If they want to know, then supply the information.

Perhaps the information does not need to be written on every menu, or even posted somewhere in the house, but having the information for those guests interested in learning about their food intake ought to be obligatory to a hospitality business.

caloric information

September 5th, 2008

In January New York passed a law requiring restaurants to list the amount of calories next to each menu item.  The New York Restaurant association sued claiming infringement of commercial freedom of speech under the First Amendment. (Economist Aug. 30-Sept. 5)

I understand from a business perspective that to change menus costs money, and even more damning is the fact that customers might shy away from many items, even many restaurants, when fully understanding the caloric intake of their food choices.  

Information must be free and open to the public.  Ever since the middle ages, when bakers would add sawdust to bread to make the loaves heavier, subterfuge has existed in the food process.  Americans today need a wake up call.  We need to understand why 3 in 10 Americans are obese, and why we suffer the consequent maladies.  Obesity has now overtaken smoking as the leading cause of death in the United States. (The Little Food Book, Craig Sams 2004).  

Provide us the information and let the market  handle the outcome.


September 4th, 2008

So this fellow in New York waits tables.  He just published a book explaining that every guest is a dollar sign to him and nothing else.  He mentions that he won’t mess with your food if you don’t mess with him.  Mutually assured destruction, he calls his policy.  Really? Have we gotten so cynical? 

What happened to the sanctity of food and drink.  In arabic the word for blasphemer and someone who withholds water are the same.  I learned a long time ago from a very wise man that any job done well, regardless of its importance, is a job well done.  

It may be as simple as picking up the pancakes in the kitchen window and dropping them off at the table, but I don’t think so.  Every human needs food to survive.  Folks can survive off the processed junk that comes reeling out of the factories, and survival is the lowest common denominator, but isn’t there more to life than survival?   People flourish when eating food made with love.  People enjoy themselves and come away uplifted when eating food served with love.

Sure, some tables don’t want much personality, and some may even be rude.  And that hurts.  Some folks live dirty, mean, closed lives and it hurts to come into contact with those sort of people.  One may receive a crappy tip, which does not help pay for rent or food or electricity, as well as being treated rudely.  But that should not affect the basic, spiritual nature of providing food for another human being.  I may hate you and complain to my associates about what a cheap, low class dog you are, but your food will arrive safely, cooked and served with integrity.  

When you come back next time I will smile and hope that my kindness might elevate the tip from 10% to 11%.