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Ask the Profussor – Auspicious Beginnings

January 11, 2012

Penzeys. Trader Joe’s. The next Fussy Little Tour. I’m even trying to get ahead of the next Times Union Reader’s Choice Poll. DocSconz posted a very flattering piece on the FLB. Readership and activity appear to be up (and hopefully will continue on that trendline). I’ve got more to talk about than there are days of the week.

2012 is off to a running start.

It seems hard to believe that the last Ask the Profussor was only three weeks ago. Despite everything that’s going on, it’s important to stay on top of the questions and give them the answers they deserve.

For anyone who is relatively new to the blog, I have committed to answer every question that is left in the comments, so long as it includes proper punctuation. If you use a question mark, I guarantee an answer. While it would be great to keep up with these questions as they came in, sometimes life gets the better of me. So every few weeks I gather up the questions that have been neglected and answer them in this forum.

Now onto the questions.

Weenie Girl was either impressed or was mocking me, it’s hard to tell:
A food guru who is also a poet? Is there no limit to your talent? For those of us who have a “godly” reason for not eating ham (honeybaked or otherwise), could you suggest a beefy (or lamby or vealy or venisony or bisony) alternative? It sounds like it could be yummy.

Despite my critical success in the form of the limerick, the long form poem that served as my annual HoneyBaked Ham post didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. I would be surprised to see any more “poetry” on the FLB in the future.

As to limits on my talent, there are far too many to count. For starters, I’m awful at letting things go. Also I’m terrible at accepting compliments. 

Sadly there is no other animal that is made into anything even remotely resembling a HoneyBaked Ham. For better or for worse, with today’s modern animal husbandry practices pigs are cleaner than chickens. I don’t know what God’s problem is with pork. However, if you are not engaged in the regular stoning of your neighbors for seemingly mild transgressions, I say you are free to pick and choose the religious laws you follow.

C must think I’m a micromanager:
I had Honey Baked ham last night at the proper temperature. I did put it between two slices of Rock Hill Bakery bread with some horseradish spread though, is that acceptable?

You can take your HoneyBaked ham and do any unspeakable acts you like, just so long as it never gets warmed up in an oven. Ever. Eat it cold or at room temperature. And if that is offensive to you, I suggest you find yourself some other kind of ham. That said, bread and spread gets my go ahead.

Weenie Girl is more concerned about ShopRite than Trader Joe’s:
ShopRite in Niskayuna is only the first of I’m not sure how many additional ShopRites are being planned but I have heard of 2. I’m not quite sure if that’s the kind of competition that would be good for the region. What are your thoughts, Profusser?

I’m struggling to think how this kind of competition could be bad for the region. Price Chopper is our local market, and they seem to be doing a lot to defend their territory. This has been good for consumers. It led directly to double coupons and online shopping & delivery.

Yes, this promises to be hard on Price Chopper and Hannaford. There is only so much money the region can spend on groceries, and with more stores opening existing locations can expect to have a lower share of the market moving forward.

If Price Chopper gives up and moves its headquarters out of Schenectady that would be bad for the region. Or if they decide it’s just too hard and sell out to some larger corporation that could be bad for the region too. But I suspect they will fight the good fight. And where the chips will land is anybody’s guess. However in the meantime this promises to be very good for consumers.

C called me out on not staying current with the changing menu at a local Chinese restaurant:
Is Shining Rainbow serving sushi again? I know they stopped after the Tsunami and subsequent radiation disaster in Japan. So you may not have to forgive them at all.

Whoa. I had no idea. This seems like an excuse to pull these items from the menu, and frankly, I hope they are gone for good. But here is the blurb as it appears directly on the restaurant’s website:

Some of our japaness food are directly from japan. and we are worry about the radiation from japan and it might cause any result to our food. we will stop serving ALL the japaness food start at 4/01/11. Please put a notes for online ordering that we are not serving any japaness food. It just a for a period of time. We will let you know when to turn back on. if any questions please contact 518-522-0028 Justin. We will start serving Japaness food until finalize.

jenh718 had a different experience with a local specialty:
Doughboys addictive? I don’t get it. I was so excited to try one with all the raves about them. I even had a couple of glasses of wine before hand so I would be in the appropriate state of mind. I was less then impressed and the doughboys were less than meh.

This could be one of those cases where food tastes better when you don’t have to pay for it. A whole heap of doughboys just showed up after an AOA Tournament of Pizza judging session, and I ended up taking a bunch of them home. Pretty much every morning for the next few days, I was re-warming these little pockets of chewy dough and soft cheese in the oven and wolfing them down for breakfast. And I couldn’t stop. I ate an unreasonable quantity of them every day, and it was totally my guilty pleasure.

Maybe instead of eating them after a glass or two of wine, you try them in the morning with your coffee and get back to me.

aed939 probably wasn’t expecting me to get all political:
I think you are overreacting. Should we check our insurance before we reach for those cantaloupe pieces on the fruit tray?

As they say, sh*t happens. And all it takes is a little poop on your food to really ruin your life, especially if you don’t carry health insurance. I know far too many people who are smart and work their asses off who can’t afford health insurance. Not because all their money is going to iPhones and drugs, but because it is prohibitively priced for individuals. Ideally, we as a society, would have some kind of safety net so that should you get unlucky and eat a tainted piece of cantaloupe you could get the medical attention you need and walk out of the hospital without bankrupting yourself.

While eating may not be as dangerous as driving, people in America get seriously ill from food all the time. We can’t live in fear or stop eating. And I don’t think the solution is irradiating all our food either. The answer lies in keeping food cleaner as its grown and produced. In the meantime however, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’ve got good insurance.

Stevo also broaches another hot button topic:
How many times a month does the average American eat out? Why aren’t we all getting sick if the food supply is tainted with lots of germs? It’s like global warming. The data indicates that the climate is changing, and yet life goes on just as it always has.

If you believe this poll, then answer is 4.8 times per week. And for the record we are all getting sick. If you believe these numbers, the annual estimate for food poisoning is that it sickens 76 million people and kills an estimated 5,000. Now should you think the data on climate change isn’t having any real world effects, ask one of our local apple orchards. Hail is ruining crops at a rate they have never seen and has been on the rise. Your life may not be impacted by climate change yet, but that does not mean its impact isn’t felt elsewhere.

Mirderams is feeling me out on other egg preparations:
What is your feeling on coddled eggs?

Honestly, the only coddled eggs I’ve had were used in Caesar dressings. Personally, I’m quite tolerant of risk when it comes to food. If the whites are mostly set and the yolk is runny, I’m going to be a fan.

standfordsteph is feeling a little nervous about the upcoming Tour de Egg Sandwich:
Might I suggest that we have a Tour buddy or buddies?

Most definitely. The Tour de Fish Fry almost killed me as I attempted the first three locations without a partner. Luckily I picked up a tour buddy on the last two stops, otherwise I don’t know how I would have made it without booting.

I actually have no idea what North Country Rambler is getting at here:
So DB – seriously, you don’t think you’re cut out for retail sales. Really? Maybe a tanning salon first.

Tanning is a big waste of time, money and healthy skin cells. And really I have no idea how it’s relevant to the subject. Now to clarify my point, it’s not that I don’t think I’m cut out for retail sales. Rather, it’s that I can’t be positive about people’s cooking fiascos. Not that I would deride them or anything. No. I would welcome the opportunity to offer some helpful advice as to how they could improve their cooking.

Such helpful advice is what gets me banished from the kitchen every time that Mrs. Fussy wants to prepare a meal.

Kerosena included a question in a direct quote, but it was a good one:
I love the application. There are items like, “What is your favorite spice or seasoning, and how do you use it?”

My favorite spice is freshly ground black pepper and my favorite seasoning is salt. Seriously. When you use great ingredients you really barely need to do anything to them to make them taste amazing. Salt, pepper, some cooking oil and good technique are the keys to exquisite food.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness must be spending too much time at the office:
We’re getting a Penzey’s???

And a Trader Joe’s. Now I know how all those people in Redding, CA felt when they got their first Macy’s. It’s big news when a small town gets a major retailer. But I think people forget that Albany is a really small town.

Greg K appears to like Penzey’s but hate malls:
Its nice that were getting one but in the mall? it wont be any different than me ordering from them once or twice a year.

Malls are magnificent. No joke. There is ample parking, they are temperature controlled, and you can walk around all day people watching. You never have to leave. They have relatively clean bathrooms and passable things to eat. There are places to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. If you get desperate you can even go into a store and browse their merchandise. Maybe there is an off chance something you want will be on deep discount, and you can buy it for a competitive price with what you would find online. I think the problem is that most people go to malls to shop. Think of them as a great indoor anthropological playground, and your opinion will soon change.

Gabby likes eating well but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money:
Daniel, can you tell us what you’ve found worth buying at Wal-Mart? I hate shopping there, but would at least like to think I’m encouraging more sustainable practices if I do have to buy some organic things there.

Okay, here are a few of the items I buy regularly:
– Organic baby carrots, best price in town, just check the bag and its date closely.
– Heidelberg 4 ingredient 100% whole grain local bread.
– Pineapple is neither organic nor local, but carries a low pesticide load.
– Onions and garlic can be purchased conventionally too.
– As can sweet potatoes, mangoes and cabbage.
– Great Value brand brown rice is less than $1 per pound.
– Good prices on dried beans, although values on these can be found elsewhere.
– Cascadian Farm organic granola is about $3 a box.
– Plenty of organic junk food for the kids – EnviroKids, Natural Cheetos, etc.
– Great Value 100% whole grain spaghetti, linguini & rotini are actually good.
– Stoneyfield low-fat organic plain yogurt, best price in town.

Mama Michelle has an easy problem to solve:
The ketchup on hot dogs thing makes me never want to serve hot dogs. But I do anyway, otherwise, how would I get my own fix??

A)   Eat hot dogs out of the house by yourself on your own terms. I may know somebody who can keep you company. And our region has plenty of famous hot dog joints to explore.

B)   “Run out” of ketchup the night you are serving hot dogs. Although you can be prepared with a variety of other toppings that are less offensive, like pickle spears, sport peppers, relish, onion, tomato wedges and celery salt. Or you could even attempt your own meat sauce a la Hot Dog Charlie’s.

I’ve got some hot dogs of my own lurking around the freezer. They are duck with foie gras and Sauternes. Naturally they came from Adventure in Food Trading. These are mine to eat alone, fried in a pan and smothered in caramelized onions. Everyone needs a secret stash of something that is theirs and theirs alone.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gabby permalink
    January 13, 2012 9:24 pm

    Yay, thanks for answering my questions–so very helpful. I’m grateful to be able to benefit from your fussiness!

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