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Cold Prevention

May 24, 2019

A sickness has descended upon the Fussy household. First it came for my son, who after a day of being listless in the bed, was able to get back into the hustle of daily life. Then it came for Mrs. Fussy, who is tough as nails, and it knocked her out too. She’s still recovering, but might recover faster if she knew how to take it easy.

Now I fear it is coming for me. On the cusp of a beautiful long weekend to boot. Well, maybe not that beautiful. It’s supposed to rain on Saturday. But I’ve got work to do. Not necessarily Yelp work, but house work. Because before we can sell our home, we’ve got to make it ship shape.

I’ve already postponed my trip down to the city for this weekend, so I don’t get anyone else sick. And I’m struggling to balance getting things crossed off my to do list before I succumb to the bug, versus getting more sleep and building up my body’s defenses.

While I may not be as tough as Mrs. Fussy, I’m a fighter. My plan is to fight this thing tooth and nail. Today, I want to share my plan, and maybe you can help supplement my efforts.

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Deanna Questions Breakfast

May 23, 2019

Wow! These posts are getting later and later all the time. I swear I’m not checked out. Today I just had to get a diagnostic MRI. Please tell my mother everything is fine. The body is just getting old, and there are some parts the doctors can’t see, even with their modern tools.

So, that’s my excuse. But I also haven’t been thinking too much about food for the past couple of days. I know. The horror. And as I was struggling with what to write about today, a fortuitous note popped up on my Facebook feed.

Deanna Fox, who writes about food professionally (locally for the Times Union, and nationally for others), and who owns the Albany Cooking School in Different Drummers Kitchen, posed a question. Actually several questions. And since I can’t respond to even a simple question with just a few words, I thought it might be fun to chronicle my thoughts on the blog.

Because as it turns out, I do indeed have a lot of thoughts on breakfast.

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Pantry Staple: Ak-Mak Crackers

May 22, 2019

Great news! After ten days of medicating, cutting out coffee, reducing my alcohol consumption, eating more healthful foods, exercising a little bit, and monitoring my blood pressure, the train is back on its rails. I even dropped close to five pounds over that time. My doctor is thrilled.

What’s even more amazing is that I was able to do that while judging the Best Burger competition for the New York Beef Council and attending Saratoga Brewfest followed with a smorgasbord of delights at Mexican Restaurant El Cilantro.

My mantra has been “eat more oats” and I’ve been living on low fat yogurt, whole grains, green vegetables, beans, green tea, nuts, fruit, and dark chocolate for the past two weeks.

Yesterday I made perhaps the most intense heart healthy lunch to date. I pureed ramps, pistachios, mustard powder, chili flakes, and apple cider vinegar into a bright green pistou. And I spread that on ak-mak crackers. That served as a base for some brisling sardines, and the whole thing was topped with a sprinkling of sumac.

After posting a picture online, someone asked about the cracker. Well, where do I start?

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Eight Burgers I Ate

May 21, 2019

It was a tremendous honor and privilege to get to help the New York Beef Council determine the best burger in New York. Last week I was one of the judges tasked with tasting all of the finalists. There were only supposed to be four. But because of some technical difficulties with the online voting, all ten nominees were invited to the judging.

Two were not able to make the trip out to Onondaga Community College. Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn in Lagrangeville pulled out, so I didn’t get to try their JSK Cattle Co. Burger. But most tragically Nighthawks from Troy wasn’t able to come with its triple burger topped with a fried egg, special sauce, cheese and house-made pickles.

I didn’t even know they made a triple burger. Seriously, that thing had the potential to win it all.

But burger slingers came as far as Long Island to bring their beloved burgers to the NY Beef Council contest. And at the judges table were Kita Roberts of Girl Carnivore, Jacob Pucci who writes about food and dining for The Post-Standard, Christopher Carosa who literally wrote the book on hamburgers, and Kenneth Krutz from the NY Beef Council board.

All of the judging was done blindly. No, we weren’t blindfolded. We could see the burgers, but we had no idea which burger belonged to which restaurant. Each judge was provided a full sized burger, and could do with it as they saw fit.

One judge would just grab the burger with both hands and shove it in their mouth. Another went to great lengths to make it beautiful for Instagram. And as for the Profussor? Any guesses?

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Well Done

May 20, 2019

Before we talk about burgers, we should probably talk about cooking temperatures, and how we order food.

The food safety people will tell you that hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees. That’s what they think is the minimum safe temperature, and it’s widely regarded as being well done. Me? I like living dangerously.

However, these days, well done burgers aren’t necessarily the hockey pucks they’ve been in the past. Grind in enough fat, include cuts in the grind from beefier flavored parts of the steer, and sear on a magnificent crust, and you’ve got a pretty tasty patty. Especially if your burger has two of them and a layer of cheese melting in between.

Five Guys may have been the first place to convince me that well done burgers can be a thing of beauty, but now other restaurants and chefs are hopping aboard the smashed diner-style burger wagon. Beyond being delicious, it also saves them the heartache of having to remake orders that are returned to the kitchen for being cooked to the wrong internal temperature. And I suppose there is always the food safety angle too.

But I’m not here to talk burgers. We’ll get into that soon. However, we’ve just begun to scratch the well done surface.

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Little Beer / Big Festival

May 17, 2019

It’s almost beer o’clock on Friday! I think that means it’s okay if I write one of my periodic beer posts. Tomorrow, is the Saratoga Brewfest and Yelp is a promotional partner. As such, not only will I be there, but a bunch of people from the Yelp community will be too.

Just so you know, tickets are still available, and the weather at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds is looking beautiful for Saturday!

It wasn’t too long ago that I attended my first beer festival. I had heard them criticized for pouring big supermarket brands, and being little more than glorified fraternity parties where people drink to get drunk. But over the years, I’ve come to love these celebrations of beer, with their small sampling glasses, and the ability to take little tastes of a wide variety of brews. Including some from smaller breweries closer to home.

In fact, that’s exactly my plan for tomorrow. And while I do enjoy IPAs, New England IPAs, and Double IPAs, I am even more interested in trying some other styles. Tomorrow’s festival has a lot to offer, but instead of telling you, maybe it would be better to show you.

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May Flowers

May 16, 2019

It’s supposed to be April showers, not May showers. The past few weeks have been rainy ones in the Capital Region, but today it’s lovely. Looking into the future, it seems like we’ll have good weather for Saturday’s Saratoga Brewfest!

But enjoying a beer festival in the rain is all about coming prepared for the weather. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an occasional shower beer?

Still, the rain has dampened people’s spirits about spring. But the Fussies are loving that we actually have a transitional season this year. Sometimes the leap from winter to summer is far too fast. Personally, I love being able to mow the lawn in jeans without becoming a sweaty mess.

Right. So April showers bring May flowers. We still have flowers despite the extended rain and mud season. In fact, they seem extra happy. Since flowers are on the mind, and this is a food blog, I thought I would share a quick story about cooking and eating these beautiful springtime gems.

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