Leftovers are the meal

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."

– Calvin Trillin, journalist and social commentator on things American

I love the leftovers. Stew, soup, Sorenne just had some lamb stock vegetable stew with lots of carrots and lima beans for lunch – ate it all up.

The New Zealand Herald reports tomorrow (today) that coked ham, with leeks and a mustard white sauce makes great pie filling and chopped into cheese muffin recipes makes for hearty transportable picnic fare at the beach or bach.

We love having Christmas in summertime. It’s part of the Kiwi way because summer is such a wonderful storehouse of seasonal fruit.

It is summer there.

Orthorexia nervosa: I don’t have it

22-hour road trips from Florida to Manhattan (KS) make for many McDonald’s Egg McMuffin breakfasts, KFC lunches and no dinner, cause I’ve already blown the daily 5,000 calorie limit.

So it’s good to know that an obsession with eating healthily could also be bad for one’s health.

Experts have reported a rise in such extreme behaviour, known as orthorexia nervosa.

Sufferers or orthorexia nervosa tend to be over 30, middle-class and well-educated.

While anorexia patients restrict the quantity of the food they eat, sufferers of orthorexia, named after the Greek for ‘right or true’, fixate on quality.

The ‘rules’ vary from person to person, but the drive to eat only the healthiest foods can lead to sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods being eliminated from the diet. …

Sufferers tend to spend hours reading the latest food research, trawling health food stores and planning menus.

Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, said,

“I see people around me who have no idea they have this disorder. I see it in my practice and I see it in my friends and colleagues.’”

She believes the rise of the condition is linked to society’s tolerance of food fads and those who promote them, from gym instructors to naturopaths, who prescribe changes in diet to treat illnesses.

Perhaps like whatever the U.K. National Centre for Eating Disorders is.


Waste not, want not: food safety, discarding food, and tough times

Whenever I think of leftover pizza, I recall my teenage years listening to Rolling Stones on vinyl at George’s apartment, I wonder whatever happened to that stray puppy one of the visitors brought home until the fleas were discovered, and I wonder how long the pizza would be good. I’ve probably eaten pieces of pizza that spent the night on the turntable.

So when Susan Reef, president of US Food Safety Corp., says eating pizza that has spent a few hours at room temperature is a no-no, I sorta scoff (low water activity, no epidemiological history of outbreaks from morning-after pizza consumption, she probably doesn’t like the Stones).

Kim Painter reports in USA Today tomorrow that if Maribel Alonso, a food safety specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, brings home a broken egg, she discards it.

Doug Powell, a food safety person at Kansas State University, says he would cook with the egg, probably into a batch of pancakes, adding,

"It’s just messy, but if it’s been kept cold, it should be OK.”

(Messy means, be careful of cross-contamination).

What’s in your fridge? Smell from leftover food in unplugged fridge sends 7 to hospital, sickens 28

Ever had leftover food loitering in your fridge for so long it made you yack?

Anyone who has worked or lived in an area with a communal fridge has a tale of grossness. Amy’s mom recalled yesterday about a fridge in one of their rental units that had been left full of food and unplugged – apparently for some time. The chicken was particularly interesting.

Amy and I found some grossness when we moved into our current house which previously was a fraternity drinking house – although the turkey carcass in the driveway was the grossest.

In San Jose, California, an enterprising office worker discovered an unplugged fridge full of rotting food, so decided to move the food into a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess.

The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.

Firefighters had to evacuate the AT&T building in downtown San Jose on Tuesday after the fumes led someone to call emergency services. A hazardous materials team was called in.

Authorities say the worker who cleaned the fridge didn’t need treatment — she can’t smell because of allergies.

Millionaire City boss tells staff to eat two-day-old burgers … to remind them how lucky they are to still have jobs

Local health-types are a bit miffed that UK gazillionaire Damon Buffini decided to punish the inflated egos – and bellies – of his staff by sending out for more than 100 McDonald’s burgers, waiting two days and then providing the aged burgers for a staff lunch.

Buffini apparently told the gathered staffers he was tired of their poor attitude, reminded them how lucky they had been in life, and that lunch would not be taken at any of the smart restaurants in and around Covent Garden. Instead, they were told to eat their ‘two-day-old’ burgers and reflect on how fortunate they all were to still have their jobs.

The burgers were apparently reheated.

Andrew Hamadanian, senior communication officer for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said,

“Without knowing the specific details, McDonald’s and other fast food are made to be eaten straight away. We would not encourage eating food that may not have been stored properly between purchase and consumption.”

CHUCK DODD: Eating dirt can be bad for you

New York Times journalist Jane Brody suggests that eating dirt is an instinctive behavior in humans. In her article, Eating dirt can be good for you – just ask babies, she interviewed researchers who think people should eat dirt in order to stimulate their immune system.  Brody says that immune system disorders such as asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States. 

Although allergies do appear to be on the rise, the awareness of allergies, the ability to diagnose allergies, and the number of people at risk (the U.S. population) have also risen significantly. 

The director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Dr. Joel Weinstock, said in the interview,

"There are very few diseases that people get from worms. Humans have adapted to the presence of most of them. … Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat…let kids have two dogs and a cat, which will expose them to intestinal worms that can promote a healthy immune system.”

Dr. Weinstock, I’m sure glad you aren’t my doctor. 

I agree that immune systems are naturally stimulated by various exposures to the environment, and that Americans use too many antibacterial products, but I question Dr. Weinstock’s knowledge of zoonotic diseases.  Intestinal parasites from animals that infect humans, since many are not adapted to humans, often leave the intestines and migrate through the body.  There are approximately 10,000 human cases of larva migrans in the U.S. each year.  Unfortunately, most of these cases are in children, and a few of these kids die.

Eating dirt is an instinct?  Not for me.  Babies eat dirt because they don’t know better.  Some may think that bad behavior is an instinct, but calling bad behavior an instinct doesn’t excuse it.  Bad advice shouldn’t be excused either. 

Dirt may have poop in it, so don’t eat it.


Clean the damn car once in a while and stop leaving food on the dashboard

I drove a Nissan Quest for about 8 years. Put on a lot of miles driving to Florida, saw a lot of vomit with four kids.

So for 6 a.m. hockey practices – and I was often the coach so I and whatever lucky kid was on that specific team had to be there at 5:30 or something stupid – I would often microwave an egg or two, slap it between some bread and away we’d go. I even sometimes put it on the dashboard.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. A poll by insurance.co.uk of 1376 car owners found that British motorists spend more than three years of their lives behind the wheel and over a quarter eat en route every week.

The poll also (…) revealed some startling hygiene calamities some drivers have faced.

Some motorist admitted finding dead mice, dog poo, fishing maggots, a three-year-old sandwich, a joint of beef, a partner’s [or] ex’s knickers, a used condom, child’s vomit in a door pocket, and mushrooms growing in the floor.

My van wasn’t that bad.

Gross bathroom behavior at LAX

Maybe it’s the delirium from 20 hours of traveling back from Australia with another 12 to go (that’s air-time and wait-time), but as I was dutifully washing my hands at the Los Angeles airport bathroom, a middle-aged well-dressed dude walked in eating an apple. I pulled a Howard Hughes and got a little compulsive about my hands, to see what this guy would do. He wandered around the bathroom, looking for an empty stall, all the while eating his apple.

He went into a stall while continuing to eat his apple.

I left.

What is the safe temperature for reheating leftovers?

The Sydney Morning Herald asks in tomorrow’s edition (today? they’re 16 hours ahead of us), is it safe to reheat leftovers?

The story is not particularly incisive, but does cite Lydia Buchtmann from Food Standards Australia New Zealand as saying,

If there’s a lot of leftover food to put away — or you’re cooking in advance — it’s best to divide it into small portions to cool rather than putting large quantities of soup or a casserole into one big container. The idea is to speed up the cooling process so that bacteria have less chance to grow. This is also important with pasta and rice – foods that might seem less dodgy than others but which can harbour the sneaky Bacillus cereus that can produce a toxin, especially in foods that are cooled slowly. Because this toxin is heat-resistant, it’s not destroyed by reheating.

Buchtmann also says when reheating, they should be served really hot all the way through (at least 75 degrees C, or 167 F).

This question came up in our cooking with a microwave piece, and I’ve been tardy with the response. So here’s what we got:

A chicken fillet that has been precooked to 165º / 74ºC and then cooled in a federally-inspected plant, and where the cold chain temperature is maintained at or below 28.5°F / -2°C, will have a negligible internal pathogen risk.  The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized that precooked products from a federally inspected plant present a reduced risk.  Because of the reduced risk, the FDA permits a wide-reaching exemption for the reheating of precooked foods sourced from these facilities, allowing them to be reheated to 135ºF / 57ºC (FDA, 2003).  After finding no scientific basis for its regulations, the FDA reduced the reheat temperature of precooked foods sourced from federally inspected plants from 140ºF / 60ºC to 135ºF / 57ºC in 2003.

The required reheating of precooked foods to their original cooking temperature introduces the assumption that there is a significant risk of internal contamination of the food product and subsequent pathogen growth between the cooking step at the federally-inspected processing facility and the reheating of the product at the restaurant.  This assumption is made despite risk-reduction protocols in place to guard against post-cooking contamination. 

Surface contamination of the precooked product is more likely than internal contamination.  Reheating precooked foods to 127ºF/53°C will eliminate any potential surface contamination.  Heating the product to higher temperatures will not increase this protection step.  However, this presents the assumption that precooked products that will be reheated and served hot are inherently more of a food safety risk than precooked products which are served chilled; there is no evidence to support this assumption.

In most cases, scientific rationale behind the many differing North American food safety regulations is not evident.


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