An Orgy of Tomato Goodness as the Garden Comes a Cropper

August 13, 2008

Fresh tomatoes in abundance adorn my daily table. This is my best crop ever. Fresh salsa and tomato-laden entrees are nightly dinner fare. After the backbreaking initial work and the tenacious nurturing the rewards of growing one’s own are many. I’ve been making sandwiches and tortilla wraps with Boca spicy organic chicken patties and combos of my own garden tomatoes, peppers and store-bought lettuce, ranch dressing and cheese. My fresh salsa recipe is simple: cut up a medium-sized tomato and supplement with a couple of grape tomatoes to add a tinge of sweetness, cut up a little onion (I only had some dried onion lately, as the pix attest, but they will do), cut up some of my home-grown jalapeno peppers, add a little black pepper and some cilantro (dried will do)—and that’s it. This is pretty basic, but the freshness can’t be beat, and the chunkiness and texture differ from the slimy store-bought stuff. Note that I had to use a champagne flute for my Sauvignon blanc because I finally broke the last of my wine glass set. Anyway here are some pix from some healthy, low-fat meals of the past few days. -EG

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Does Evian Give You the Runs? Verdict Inconclusive

May 23, 2007

100_0565-13.jpgI’ve had lots of bottled waters but have to admit that I’d never tried the much-vaunted French H2O, Evian, until this weekend. Walgreen’s has it on sale this week for $1 for a large 1-liter bottle, which makes this usually pricey item affordable to me, and thus worth a try. I have to say, it’s pretty good, not as soft as I might have expected, but nicely neutral with no hint of plastic that I can detect; the product comes in what seems to be a pretty good grade of hard PET plastic. By chance, I was store hopping on my bike on Sunday and crossed paths with my next door neighbors. I mentioned to them that I had just bought this Evian for the first time and the good lady informed me that she had tried it once and got such a severe case of the runs that she was laid up for a day. “That’s ’cause it’s mineral water,” she explained. Sounded kinda unpersuasive to me. Although Evian does have a lot of dissolved minerals, I don’t think they’d cause diarrhea. As it turns out, though, I’ve been a little excessively “regular” ever since I started drinking this stuff a few days ago, but that’s probably because I concurrently developed a craving for raisins that I have satisfied to excess by downing handfuls of the sweet shriveled grapes. I think it can be reasonably assumed that my regularity-in-overdrive can be attributed to this, not the water.

Anyway, there is another question that comes up in regard to Evian that I can’t seem to find a good, conclusive answer for (at least in searching the discussion boards via google)—and that is: Why is there a tiny “do not refill” command on the label?

The various posited internet speculations include things such as:

** “Evian knows that if consumers are so stupid to buy bottled water in the first place they will blindly follow any command on the bottle and continue to spend more money on new bottles instead of refilling them.”

** “The plastic in the bottles begins breaking down immediately, putting excess chemicals into the water.”

** “Unscrupulous entrepreneurs and bartenders have refilled empty Evian bottles with tap water and sold them as new.”

All, some or none of these may be true, or not.

Since the 1-800-633-3363 Evian consumer number is printed right next to the warning, I decided to go ahead and give them a call and ask.

A rep by the name of Sofien politely explained: “Evian is bottled under strict sanitary conditions,” which are not replicated when consumers refill and reseal the bottles.

So Evian considers it a customer safety issue. I find it hard to argue with that reasoning. Whether it’s entirely true or not is up to you.

-EG


Mexican Granola and Other Crap

May 22, 2007

Pardon me for being effusive, scattershot and probably tangential. And also lightweight.

But I’m going to be.

You see, ever since I’ve been doing this blogging thing, I’ve accumulated notes-filled paper scraps about stuff I want to write about here at Gravy Bread.

And the ideas—and the little sheets of paper—have outpaced my ability and time to address it all.

So in this super post I’m going to sort of “bullet-point” some of these nagging bits and get them, and the sheets of paper, out of the way.
That won’t leave much room for essay-like detail or probing analysis.

Maybe another time.

I start with something we all like and sort of need: food.

100_0338-10.jpgHere we have a new product: Nature Valley Crunchy 100 percent natural cereal with granola bar pieces, made by General Mills—an attempt to morph its popular granola bars into a mini cereal version. This ain’t a review, but for the record the cereal would be better with just the flakes and without the much-touted granola bar pieces, which are way too sweet. So I’m not recommending…
What really disturbed me about the product, though, was a little info offered at the bottom on one side of the box. I think you can read it. It says: Product of Mexico. That’s right. Somehow, I always assumed that major, everyday brand-name flag-wavin’ and ‘Merkin as apple pie General Mills food products like this would always be made in the USA. After all, how is it efficient for a US company to make a food product and then have to ship it all the way back into the country?100_0342-10mex.jpg

So, now food has gone the way of other manufacturing, jobs and everything else that corporate America has shipped away. I don’t think we can last long as a nation of burger flippers or paper pushers trading stocks on the internet…producing nothing but electronic zaps of hope and greed. As for food cleanliness standards abroad, do the words, “pet food” sound any alarms? Then again, we had our own self-inflicted dirty spinach fiasco of last fall, and e. coli and salmonella scares all the time, thanks to our severely screwed-up, de-toothed, de-balled and underfunded inspection system.
So, in conclusion, add General Mills to your list of corporate American traitors…

100_0528-103rdeye.jpgIf you’re out there on the road on a bicycle you might want to get past the initial sticker shock of paying $15 for a tiny 1-inch mirror and go ahead and get it anyway. That’s because the Third Eye Pro bike helmet mirror is one of the best safety investments I’ve ever made. I picked one up at Bardstown Road Bicycles, slapped the little two-sided glue sticky slab onto the oblong attachment surface, placed it onto the left side of my helmet just above and to the side of my eye and now have a great view of everything behind me. No more dangerous and nerve wracking head-turning every few seconds to see what’s doing in the rear, as it were. The alternate idea of100_0526-15-3rdeye.jpg putting a mirror on the handlebar is a bad one, I think, (rattles around, interferes with hand movement and grip, prone to theft and breakage, etc) compared to this compact and easy helmet solution.

I love this thing and find it indispensable out on the dangerous streets. Plus it makes you look like the Borg and is thus a great conversation starter. I’ve noticed that women seem fascinated by it, for some reason.

labrea-breads.jpgSmart shoppers know that checking the deli bread area at Kroger every few days can pay off, because the expensive artisan breads often get slashed in half or more in price as the expiration date looms. Which means the chance to try expensive products I might otherwise overlook. So when I saw a “$1.05” markdown sticker on something called “La Brea” honey rolls. I gave ‘em a shot. They’re packed in a yellow paper sack with a plastic view window (nice to make sure there’s no mold). There are about six of these three-inch rectangular semi-hard buns in the bag. I ate a couple of them at room temp with cheese and was not too impressed, but when I heated them for a minute or two in the toaster oven and schmeared some real butter on ‘em they were kickass delish! (OK, so this time I didn’t “buy local;” they come from California.)

100_0524-60moon.jpgGood grief, I’ve already run out of energy and there’s still dozens of little sheets of paper. Sorry this ended up sounding like a bunch of product reviews. But in that vein, here’s a shot of the moon I took about 6:40 a.m. two weeks ago, with a lowly Kodak EasyShare digital camera. Not bad, considering…

Anyway, the super post will continue when we meet again…

–EG ( who made no money on any of these endorsements!)