Miracle Berry Tripping: Live Blog

Good friend of the blog Sara is celebrating her birthday this evening, and she made the very wise decision to do so the miracle fruit way.

Long-time readers will remember I first starting blabbing about Miracle Fruit nearly two years ago: the gist is that these tiny African berries have the effect of numbing your tongue’s sensors so that everything sour tastes sweet. Sour cream becomes vanilla frosting, tequila tastes like candy, sour patch kids are just patch kids.

I wanted to try these things so badly that my older brother even bought me a miracle fruit tree for Christmas! Alas, it turns out Brooklyn winters are not quite the same as tropical African ones, and my miracle plant withered before bearing any fruit. But now we’re giving it another try. Sara has purchased 10 miracle berry tablets for her party, and we’re about to finally find out what all the fuss is about. Read on, if you dare.

PS – No, mom, they’re not drugs. I swear.

8:27 pm: The Feast


Laura: It looks like someone got high and wanted all really healthy food.

Adam: You all are fucking gimmicky.

8:45pm: Sara breaks out the mBerries


Looks kinda small. Hope we didn’t buy too much food.

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Spend vs. Skimp

frozen vegetables

As the noted economist and Nobel laureate Steely Dan once said, “Times are hard…you’re afraid to pay the fee.”  While Mr. Dan was not necessarily talking about our current economic downturn, the sentiment remains true.

When it comes to buying food, though, there are times when it makes sense to cut some corners and there are times when you just have to bite the bullet and shell out for quality.  The smart shopper, however, knows the difference. There are some no-brainers out there.  Never buy cheap gourmet ingredients like prosciutto.  These types of purchases don’t come often, and when they do you’re usually happy to lay out some cash.

But what about the staples that form the backbone of your kitchen? How can you get the best bang for your buck without overspending for something that won’t pay off?  Check out the list below for our top three best investments for your shopping dollars and the three items you can nab from the bargain bin.

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Beer and Cereal — Together at Last?

beer and cereal

Unlike gansie, I’m a serious lover of cereal. Like gansie, I’m also a pretty big fan of beer. Unfortunately, societal norms prevent me from pouring beer over my breakfast cereal. But I still haven’t given up on finding a way to unite these two favored food groups of mine. So I was pretty intrigued when I stumbled upon this post over at Accidental Hedonist:

I’ve either been reading way too much beer research of late, or there has to be a workable beer recipe found in the cereal aisle of your local grocery store.

In perusing the ingredient list of a box of Grape Nuts cereal, I read the following:

Whole grain wheat flour, wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast, soy lecithin

So, am I crazy, or is there a basic beer ingredient list in here?

Beer from cereal? Is it really possible? Because if so, I may have found my new calling in life: home-brewing batches of rice krispies beer, cinnamon toast crunch beer, and fruit loops beer.

Let’s hear from all you amateur brewers. Is cereal-brew the wave of the future? Or a sad bachelor’s pipe dream? And what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever tossed in a home brew?

(Photo: Slightlynorth)

Fix The Fuck Up: It’s A French Thing


Editor’s Note: Fix the Fuck Up is an occasional series in which we try to look like we actually know what we’re doing, well, after we’ve already fucked up. Here’s the original massacre.

Eggs are evil.

Not misguided evil, like Darth Vader. Or megalomaniacal evil, like Dr. Moriarty. Or naturally evil, like cats. More like an oblivious, self-centered, lah-de-dah kind of evil; like Q. Eggs just do their own thing, often in spite of your best efforts to tame them. They collapse when you whip them into foams. They turn into waterlogged mush when you overcook them. They force you to blame your significant other for your own emission control problems. But the evilest thing eggs can do is fuck up both baking and cooking; sometimes both at the same time, as was the case with Allyson’s recent quiche quatastrophe.

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Cupcake Rampage: Hummingbird Cakes

I know what you’re thinking: Hummingbird cake? WTF? That’s okay, I’d never heard of it, either.

You could call this the third leg of a twisted Triple Crown of Southern-style baking, following the Kentucky Derby day mint julep cupcakes and the beloved red velvet ones before that. To carry the analogy further, if red velvet is Man o’ War, and mint juleps are Secretariat, then hummingbird cake would be Seabiscuit.

Get it? Of course you do.

Hummingbird cake is another creation peculiar to the Deep South with an even more convoluted and obscure history. Also called “granny cake” and “cake-that-doesn’t-last,” some sources claim the original recipe hails from Australia, where it’s also popular for some reason, while others say it started in Jamaica and was bastardized into its current incarnation along the way. The oldest recorded appearance of hummingbird cake is 1978, when it appeared as a reader-submitted recipe in Southern Living magazine. However, Jamaican newspapers have mentioned something called “Doctor bird cake” as early as a decade before that. The national bird of Jamaica is the red-billed streamertail hummingbird, also called the Doctor bird because its long tail feathers and top-hat-like crest makes it look…kind of, sort of, maybe if you squint and pretend it has a tiny birdie stethoscope around its neck…like the nappily-dressed Victorian doctors of old.

What all this has to do with a cake, no one seems to know. The Jamaica story is a stretch, at best. It could just be called what it is because this cake is so sweet, thanks to sugar from three separate ingredients, even a hummingbird would be attracted to it. However it came to be, the recipe is after the jump…

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Robots Confirm: Human Flesh Tastes Just Like Bacon


This may be helpful when zombie times come. Wired reports:

Researchers have designed the cute little guy to the right: a metal man gastronomist, “an electromechanical sommelier”, capable of identifying wines, cheeses, meats and hors d’oeuvres. Upon being given a sample, he will speak up in a childlike voice and identify what he has just been fed. The idea is that wineries can tell if a wine is authentic without even opening the bottle, amongst other more obscure uses…

But when some smart aleck reporter placed his hand in the robot’s omnivorous clanking jaw, he was identified as bacon. A cameraman then tried and was identified as prosciutto.

Is it weird that I really want to know whether I taste more like bacon or prosciutto? I’m guessing maybe a fine sopressata.

(Photo: Wired)

Sous Vide or Not Sous Vide?


We touched on this topic briefly during the final Top Chef live blog, but it’s such a dilemma for me that I really have to expand and get some serious input from the ES community.

First things first, I’m a total food sucker.  OK that sounds really gross, but don’t worry, I chew my dinner like a regular person. What I mean is that even though a try to be an ultra-cynical food blogger, I have to admit I’m drawn in by pretty much every silly, over-hyped food world craze. Tell me grass-fed beef is trendy and I’ll switch to it. Mention that buffalo meat is the new pork? I’m game. Make bacon out of duck? Why not?

But inevitably, I’m never that impressed by these trends and get mad at myself for being sucked in. Grass-fed beef smells bad, buffalo is just kind of meh, and duck bacon is fine, but it’s no bacon-bacon. Yet of course I get suckered again and again. Which brings me to sous vide…

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