Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Braces, Coffee, Bedtime, and Cooking Like a Swede

Four More Weeks
My orthodontist wants to wait four more weeks to take my braces off so that I can get a new crown. Meantime, my insurance is actually considering paying for some of this expensive dental work. Hot dog.

Acid reflux, acne, and upset stomach down to flavored coffee
I just tried to expand my food horizons and once again, ended up with problems. It took a few months to figure out it was flavored coffee. It's not the caffeine or the acid, since regular coffee and tea doesn't bother me, or anything I put in it (I take it black). It's not any natural flavors, since nuts, vanilla and cocoa don't bother me. It's the chemicals. According to enotes.com,

Flavoring oils are combinations of natural and synthetic flavor chemicals which are compounded by professional flavor chemists. Natural oils used in flavored coffees are extracted from a variety of sources, such as vanilla beans, cocoa beans, and various nuts and berries. Cinnamon, clove, and chicory are also used in a variety of coffee flavors. Synthetic flavor agents are chemicals which are manufactured on a commercial basis. For example, a nutty, woody, musty flavor can be produced with 2, 4-Dimethyl-5-acetylthiazole.

The pure flavor compounds described above are highly concentrated and must be diluted in a solvent to allow the blending of multiple oils and easy application to the beans. Common solvents include water, alcohol, propylene glycol, and fractionated vegetable oils. These solvents are generally volatile chemicals that are removed from the beans by drying.  

What a way to start your day!

Getting more sleep
A few weeks ago, I read a (sort of) scientific book, did a lot of thinking and made a plan to get to bed earlier. The big plan: start getting ready for bed at 9:00 to get enough sleep and have the stamina to go out on Friday. It's working. I've gone to bed by around 10:30 every night except for those that I either went out or didn't have to get up early the next morning. (It's a bit after 9:00 now, but I've already packed a lunch.) But because of my sore stomach from the coffee, I haven't gone salsa dancing on Friday.

If you've got the meat, eggs, cream and vegetables, Chef Niklas the recipes.
Image from Barnes & Noble

Chef Niklas Ekstedt wants to preserve Sweden's food culture. "I fear that otherwise, we will drown in a sea of sweet chili sauce, pine nuts, and liquid smoke," he says in his cookbook Scandinavian Classics. "A great way to get inspired is to flip through old cookbooks, perhaps written during the last century, by writers who knew how to cook real food, from real ingredients." There's much in the book about Swedish history, traditional foods, seasons, selecting ingredients, and even the wood stove. There's no talk of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, zucchini pasta or low-fat ingredients. The pork loin recipe, for instance, calls for "1-3/4 lbs pork loin, center cut with a thick rind or fat cap, skin intact." Charts show the different cuts of meat of pigs and cows, and with 52 recipes for preparing fish and sauce, a few dozen meat recipes (including a few for making sausage), and several ways of cooking cabbage, root crops and other vegetables that flourish in the far north, and the simplest hollandaise recipe I've ever seen, this should be a staple for paleo and low carb cooks. It's more accessible than The Odd Bits, whose recipes take a lot of preparation, but it has instructions for cooking odd bits like oxtail, liver and ham hocks. The recipes mostly call for short lists of everyday ingredients. I've only prepared a couple of dishes, and had to substitute an ingredient here and there (like finely shredded steamed cauliflower for rice and butter for cream to make sausage rolls), but they were terrific. Having cooked for over 20 years, I can tell these recipes would turn out well.

1. Enotes.com, "Flavored Coffee Bean." Accessed April 2, 2013. http://www.enotes.com/flavored-coffee-bean-reference/flavored-coffee-bean

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