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Nika's Culinaria - Eat With Your Eyes: April 2006

Nika's Culinaria - Eat With Your Eyes

Culinary Photography

Does my blog look good in this? #5 May edition (DMBLGiT)

DMBLGIT is now officially closed to new submissions.

Thank you everyone for your beautiful submissions!

We are now scurrying around like little woodmice judging and scoring and collating.

Check back here in a few days for the results!

orange - view at original size!

Ok fellow food photographers/bloggers extraordinaires, start your engines!

I am hosting the May edition of "Does my blog look good in this?".

The way it works is as follows:

You will send me the URL of the blog entry that contains the photo you wish to submit. This blog post MUST have been posted to your blog in the month of April. My email address for this contest is FoodShots2006 at yahoo dot com. The DEADLINE for submissions will be May 24th.

Included in this email you should send the following information for consideration of your photo in this contest.

1- Your name
2- Your location
3- Name of your blog
4- Description of the food in the photo

Please remember that there are a few ground rules in this contest:

- As I mentioned before, this photo that you submit must have appeared on your blog in April.
- The subject of the photo must be related to the topic of food and or drinks.
- You can submit only one photo and that photo must be an original, by you, and not borrowed from anyone else.

The metrics which judges will use to evaluate the photos will be:

Originality - this can describe both the food itself or the quality of the photo (extraordinary food styling for example)

Eatability - a food that looks like it works tho, as with so much in the world of food, this is subjective! A twinkie to one person is an abomination to another. Fermented squid guts could be an old-home favorite to one person and worse than dumpster diving to another!

Aesthetics - artistic qualities of the food styling and photo composition

In the coming days I will be letting you know who my fellow judges are and also some of the fun categories (often which arise from interesting entries that demand their own categories!)

Some of the main categories will include:

- Overall or Grand winner
- Most Edible
- Most Original
- Most Artistic or Aesthetic

Recipe Madness - Are you up to the legal challenge?

Steuber takes a stand for journalistic ethics outside the Atlanta Federal Courthouse Monday.

Felonious Recipe for Disaster - or at least - heartburn

No doubt you have noticed that every day we humble readers are assulted with felonious injury by scheming food writers who publish recipes without disclosing the source. I know that I personally have suffered considerable pain and suffering due to such criminality as I am sure you have too.

Case in point would be the nefarious tale of Nancy Steuber of the RedBook magazine. She has been brought into federal court for witholding the source of a maple-glazed ham that was published in the February issue of RedBook.

Federal Judge Antonio Pelicore asked that Steuber reveal the name of the "culinary miracle worker" responsible for the recipe, which was included in a Redbook feature titled "Easter With Zip."

The judge went on to say:

"It is the opinion of the court that this is the most devastatingly succulent ham to come across our docket in a very long time. ... The state has a vested interest in learning the identity of the person responsible for a dish of this mouth-watering magnitude."

Prosecutor Wendy Hardin said:

"I think the people have a right to know what inspired this cook to create a sweet glaze that doesn't overwhelm the savory taste of the ham," Hardin said. "Such deliciousness cannot remain hidden any longer. .. It's a crime."

In response, Ms. Steuber has said:

"It's a women's magazine journalist's job to report on recipes of this caliber fairly and accurately. ... But when it comes to who is behind those recipes, or how best to use the leftovers, I'm afraid I'll have to remain silent, no matter the personal cost."

This is not likely the last time we will hear of this case. My only question is whether she will have her friends bring in take-out while she is serving time in the culinary wasteland of the penitentary.

Strawberry - Unadulterated Food Porn


Open and say "Yummmm"

Well Fed Network article: Egg Creams – Where's the egg?

A recent article of mine had gone live over at The Well Fed Network.

Let me know if you love this drink and if you know of any do-able recipes that actually contain eggs!

cascarone: step 1

Egg Creams – Where's the egg?

The recent egg-fest of Easter has kept me in a persistent eggitative-state of mind with the odd result of my needing to know what an "Egg Cream" soda is. I have never had one but have seen many sigh rapturously over the virtues of this drink. In my egg cream-virginal state, I imagine something like an egg nog but have a sense that if you added egg nog to soda, it might be more nauseating than rapturous. My inner jury is out on that one.

Its not really clear whether egg creams started out with egg in them but it seems that they no longer do. Many claim that the egg cream evolved in Brooklyn and that it is most authentic when made with milk, seltzer from a proper dispenser (i.e., not from a plastic bottle but from a siphon bottle. One could also try this adapter to siphon off of a plastic bottle), and chocolate syrup. New Yorkers would say that Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup is the best choice.

While recognizing that one may not have the siphon bottle or an olde time soda jerk fountain at your disposal, I submit to you the following recipe.

New York Egg Cream Soda


Approx. 1/2 C cold whole milk
1 C bottled seltzer
2 TBS chocolate syrup


Pour 1/2 inch of cold milk into a tall soda glass.

Add seltzer or club soda to within 1 inch of the top of the glass; stir vigorously with a long spoon (this will cause it to become white and bubbly with a good head of foam).

Very gently pour 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup slowly down the inside of the glass; briskly stir with a long spoon only at the bottom of the glass where the chocolate sits.

The resulting drink should have a dark brown bottom and a 1-inch high pure white foam top (if you mix it too much, the foam disappears).

Makes 1 serving.

Culinary Nemesis

prenatal vitamins

So I am like your average food blogger with an obsession with photography. If/when I cook, I play with food styling and I cook with my camera in the kitchen. I always have it nearby. I used to have to worry about keeping sand or other dirt out of my camera when I went hiking, maybe clean the lens, etc. Now I have to clean the poor thing like I would my toddler, wiping food off it's chin.

Nowadays, I can not cook because of the persistent morning sickness (which should be called all-day sickness). Not only can I not stand being in the kitchen or looking in the fridge, I have a hard time even looking at food photography! Thats pathetic to me and I have been struggling with it.

Bea at La Tartine Gourmande has been so amazingly productive lately and the sun of spring and summer shines so bright in her photography that I am slowly coming around.

I suggest that anyone who loves food photography take a peek at her site and at her flickr stream. She is on a ROLL that is awesome to behold.

Me? My breakfasts are too insignificant to consider! Nevertheless, I have included a pic of my average breakfast above, my brutal sadistic prenatal vitamins and omega-3 oil pill (which I take twice a day). Be glad you are not near when I must take them. I do not tuck into a delightful enveloping universe of titilating aroma like one might with a truffle omlette. No, when I take these prenatals, I even scare the cats (with fluffed fur and everything) with the occasional very loud and threatening sounds of a failed attempt to get them down.

I am at 3 months 1 week. Time is a forward vector, inevitable, inexorable. This too shall pass.

Applied Cascaronomics

At last, we got to use our food-based confetti delivery vehicles (cascarones). On each other of course.

KD smashes Q!

KD self smash!

Q self smash!

Q smashes KD!

KD Q together

Cascarones Completed

We have finished our cascarones with a surprise inside.

Cascarones Done 1

Cascarones Done 2

Soon we will go outside and have some fun!

Food can be fun :-)

Have a beautiful Easter!

Here are some other shots from our bunnirific morning.

KD easter basket

Daffodils 1

Daffodils 3

Easter Toys

My Batik Egg - 2 best viewed large

Bunny Poo

Countdown to Cascarones

Like life, this post will evolve over today and tomorrow.

We are making the usual pagan easter eggs but, in addition, we are making cascarones.

I will be posting their progress as we make them!

Step One:

The foundation.

cascarone: step 1

Step Two:


cascarone: step 2

Technorati taggage:
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What are cascarones you ask? Here are some informational links:

The Historical Cascarone
Zoom Cascarones
Texan Cascarones
Literary Cascarones
Cascarones Mejicanos
Cascarones de Arizona
Crafty Cascarones
Aquatic Cascarones in Colombia - Carnaval de Barranquilla
Technophile Cascarones
Retail Cascarones
Cascarones in Context - Fiesta in San Antonio (how I miss thee)

Fishing for some clarity - Well Fed Network article

You can find my latest article at The Well Fed Network and below.

Fishing for some clarity

Leaping Salmon

One debate about the modern seafood industry focuses on heavy metals and other toxins in the fish we eat, especially large predators such as tuna. The press's alarmist coverage suggests that we should all stop eating tuna salad sandwiches and toro sushi.

After much hue and cry, the public has been left with a murky understanding of the key facts in this discussion. Environmental toxins such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are mainly relevant to women in their childbearing years, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, babies, and young children. Why? Because these compounds affect fertility, gestation, embryogenesis, and early childhood development.

In these at-risk groups, exposure to high concentrations of mercury or methylmercury (MeHg), both potent neurotoxins, can result in mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and seizures.

But outside of the demographic I mention above, these compounds do not significantly affect our population.

In the end, it's about running the calculus of risk assessment. Pregnant women should avoid tuna and other fish from the top of the food chain. They should avoid wild fish native to the polluted fresh waters of the US and other countries. They should eat fish that are harvested at a young age, such as salmon. Fish such as tuna and swordfish are taken from the sea after years of exposure to and accumulation of toxins from the fish they eat.

Even following these guidelines (more can be found at the links below), pregnant women should eat these fish in measured doses, eat a wide variety of protein and omega-3 containing foods, and pay close attention to the source of their food.

If you want "cleaner" seafood, farmed fish can be a healthy option if you find a fishery that buys certified toxin-free fish feed, which is very expensive. Farmed fish that eat ground-up and toxin-rich fish-based feed, the majority of farmed fish aquaculture, become toxin sponges. Wild fish might potentially have fewer heavy metals but there is never a 100% guarantee that your particular fish didn’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks. Fish-by-fish testing is just not available to the retail-level consumer.

If you are not a female of childbearing age, pregnant, or breastfeeding, eat that tuna without much guilt, but don't feed tuna, swordfish, tilefish, shark, and other large fish to your kids. (See this link for a listing of fish and their mercury content)

Please wait until their little brains have had a good chance to develop properly. While it is not clear when neural development is no longer susceptible to injury due to mercury exposure, it is clear that critical development continues well into the teen years.

Do what you can to help young women, pregnant mommas, and children in your life move away from these food sources.

Resources for Learning:

Got Mercury?

FDA: Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish Updated February 2006

FDA: What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish - 2004 EPA and FDA Advice For: Women Who Might Become Pregnant, Women Who are Pregnant, Nursing Mothers, Young Children

EPA: Fish Advisories

EPA: Mercury information site

Without getting too political about the effect that the current administration has had on the integrity of certain government agencies, remember to never rely on a single source of information.

Note that organic definitions don't exist for fish. The USDA has not advocated for organic standards in the past, but policy makers have co-opted the term to ease the way for non-organic food producers to capitalize on this market niche.

A source for Organically fed Farm Fish:

Black Pearl Natural Choice brand (at some Whole Foods Markets)

© 2005-2007 Nika's Culinaria - Eat With Your Eyes

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