Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FOODucation: Foods That Could Kill You

Pop quiz! Of the following, which does not belong? Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches, Cyanide?
If you guessed Cyanide, I'm sorry to say that is incorrect. Actually, they all belong!

Today's post is about educating the lethality of common foods!! AHH!!! Now there's a real Halloween scare! Bon Appetit not only provides great recipes, but they also have some interesting articles, one of them is entitled "8 Foods That Could Kill You (If You Eat Enough of Them)."

Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches: Cyanide
Stone Fruits: Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches
Some stone fruit contain cyanogenic compounds. For example, swallowing a cherry pit is not a problem, unless it happens to be broken. A single cherry yields about 0.17g of cyanide per gram of seed which does not seem like much, but 0.1g of hydrogen cyanide is enough to put a 150-lb human down for the count. So I'd advise you take the extra few seconds it takes to spit out the seed instead of swallowing it!

Rice: Arsenic
It would appear there is another hit against sushi. Brown rice has the highest amounts of arsenic, a toxin that may cause vomiting and abdominal pain in large amounts. The good news is that it is quite difficult to consume enough rice in one sitting to produce any harmful effects.....the bad news is that over time, consistent exposure to the toxin increases changes of heart disease and bladder cancer. The FDA states there is 2.6-7.2 micrograms of inorganic arsenic in one serving of rice and it takes about 50g of arsenic to cause death in a 150-lb individual. So unless you intend to consume 1800 cups of rice in a single evening, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Rhubarb: Oxalic Acid
Pie anyone? The leaves of this plant contains oxalic acid, a chemical found in bleach and anti-rust products! Although eating the leaves can causing burning sensations, and cooking doesn't get rid of the chemical, the good news is that it would take a 130-lb person to eat 10lbs of the leaves to show symptoms of poisoning.

Potatoes: Solanine
Not the french fries!!! Green potatoes contain concentrated amounts of solanine, a natural pesticide. Poisoning leads to vomiting, diarrhea and even cardiac arrest. To show symptoms it would take a 100-lb adult to consume a full pound of completely green potatoes.

Apples and Pears: More Cyanide
Apples and Pears
Cyanide, revisited! Dun dun dun! Yet again the seeds are the culprit behind potential cyanide poisoning. Apple seeds contain about 700mg of hydrogen cyanide per kg translating into about a 1/4 lb of seeds or 25 apple cores in one sitting....I guess this wouldn't keep the doctor away..

All photos and information were taken from this article:

Stay healthy and safe everyone!
- Charles Quinto

Monday, October 28, 2013

Funday Monday Links

Worried about a beer belly? Find out if calories from alcohol really count.

Thank you microscopes, for letting us look at stuff super up close.

Have you ever been in an interview where the interviewer asked you, "So do you have any questions for me?" and you didn't know what to say? Problem solved.

Speaking of interviews... Men, if you're going to wear a suit to an interview, PLEASE make sure it fits right. Tailoring makes a world of a difference!

If you want to start composting your food scraps but don't know where to start or what to put in it? Here's a simple infographic that can help.

Confessions of scientists. I am definitely guilty of a few of these..

And finally, Sail by Awolnation played on a Tesla coil:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Food for Thought: Food Day

Hey everyone!

October 24th is Food Day! What is food day? "It's a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food." The aim of Food Day is to bring awareness to consumers and promote a better diet.

Want to take part? Go to the Agyros Forum for some great events!
Health Fair 12:30pm - 2:30pm
Come talk to local farmers, Sodexo and even students in the food product development class!
You may even get the chance to taste some new products!
Cooking Demo (FREE FOOD!) 1pm - 2pm
Hosted by Chef James Douglas!

Learn more about Food Day because there's so much more than I can fit in this blog post!
There's a link below to find all the information about it!

There is also a Food Literacy Quiz that has some interesting facts such as:
- Adding water to plants is still considered damaging to the ecosystem because it is non-rain water and therefore not a natural event!
- It takes about 3 gal of water to produce one serving of lettuce versus 500 gal to produce one serving of a typical hamburger
- Americans waste 40% of the U.S. food supply, or about 20lbs of food per person per month!
- Honeybees are responsible for pollinating about 1/3 of the entire food supply in the U.S.
- For every $1 spent on food, only about 11 cents ends up going back to the farmer
- 95% of the world's total oyster consumption is sourced from sustainable farming operations

Lastly, Food Day is partnering with Rouxbe Online Cooking School so they're allowing supporters and participants with a FREE 30-day pass to the online cooking school! So if you're interested you MUST SIGN UP ON FOOD DAYhttp://www.foodday.org/unleash_your_inner_cook_on_food_day_blog

Learn about Food Day at:

- Charles Quinto

Monday, October 21, 2013

FOODucation: Scratch and Sniff Wine Guide

Hey everyone!

Have you ever wanted to improve your knowledge about wine? Well now you can with this scratch and sniff guide book! Richard Betts has put together a short illustrated guide that is catered towards any individual interested in wine. He increases the accessibility of the information by simplifying concepts and language. So dive right in, scratch and sniff to your hearts content to smell the aroma of various fruits and odors!

Here's a link to the original article:

And another in case you're interested in purchasing it, it's only $11.99!

Have a great week!

- Charles Quinto

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ask Alton Anything

 Alton Brown is on his Edible Inevitable Tour, and this weekend he will be in Cerritos with his cow:

Image: Alton Brown

I stumbled upon an Ask Me Anything he hosted on Reddit about 4 months ago and to gear up for the show, here are some highlights of the thread.

Redditor: Is there anyone within the Food Network confines that you could not/cannot stand?
Alton Brown: Hell yes

R: Have you considered bringing something like good eats to a webisode format?
AB: Yes...in fact, we're doing that right now.

R: What do you make for dinner after a long tiring day at work?
AB: reservations

R: What is the one food that Food Network would not let you make an episode of Good Eats about, that you wanted to do the most?
AB: Food Network has always been very supportive of me and they've let me get away with a lot but when I said "sweetbreads" they said "no." Same with rabbit.

R: What did you think of the south park episode "Creme Fraiche"
AB: Pinacle of comedic genius. Though i would never rub a pork loin with butter.

R: You appear on several shows (Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Next Food Network Star) as the food guru. Have you ever wanted a role as a competitor? Do you ever hang out with other Food Network stars? If so, what do you do? If not, what do you do for fun?
AB:I have no desire to compete...I'm just not that kind of guy...not that way at least. I don't hang out with Food Network stars because, well...I don't really fit in with the big "A" list stars and the young folk think I'm old. So, I'm kinda on a "C" list all by myself, which is perfectly fine.
As for fun...I'll get back to you.

 R: Where do you buy your bow ties at?
AB: All over. In fact I have a line of bow ties coming out with a great company called Hook & Albert.

R: Who is your favorite Iron Chef?
AB: The one who brings me a cocktail during the battle.

R: What is the strangest food you've ever made/ate?
AB: Curried lamb eyes [shudders]

R: What did you think about going to the strip club with Anthony Bourdain?
AB: If I had a time machine....I would so take that one back. I've never been more uncomfortable in my life.

R: I hope you have the slightest inkling of how many nerds you have gotten laid because they learned how to cook because of you.
AB: Pretty freakin awesome ain't it.

R: Im defending my PhD in chemistry next year. Partially thanks to you AB.
AB: Defending? Is someone trying to steal it?

R: What do you think of the recent Amy's Baking Company issue?
(funny and sad and...well)

 R: Last meal. Death row. What's it gonna be?
AB: Duck confit because it takes 3 days to make.

R: If it were possible, would you ever want to cook in space for the astronauts on the ISS?
AB: To cook in space is my dream...absolute dream.

R: Is there any food trend going on that just makes you roll your eyes?
AB: I don't understand the whole "raw" thing. I'm pretty sure that learning to use fire gave us the ability to seriously up our dietary game and made us what we are...apex predators on planet Earth.

 R: Alton, you are one sexy, smart man, and I just want to say, keep doing what you do. Muah!
AB: Thanks. I hope your eyes get better soon. (Don't scratch them till the pads come off).

R: How did you come up with the idea for Good Eats?
AB: Just staring at the wall actually.

R: Can you tell us a little bit about what you plan to do on tour?
AB: Live food songs...outrageous food demos, puppets, multi media presentations...puppets, Q+A. Ponchos.

R: Ever been fired from a cooking gig?
AB: Nope...fired though from a bus boy job because I was underage.

R: Who would win in a fist fight to the death, bobby flay or Guy fieri
AB: Bobby Flay, hands down. Dude is tough, wiry, determined. No contest.

R: Alton would you tell us briefly about your faith and how that has impacted your career?
AB: I'm a Christian. It impacts everything.

R: How do you typically deal with fans on the street? I saw you in soho a few years ago and you were incredibly dismissive of anyone who approached you.
AB: I don't think that's true. First off I usually don't notice when someone approaches me because I tend to be a bit of a goof. But I have never ever blown off a fan in the street...ever. If I'm with my family I may move fast but I've never been dismissive. I'm calling you out on this.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Food for Thought: Peanut Butter & Alzheimer's Disease

Hey Everyone,

Fall is definitely here if you couldn't tell from the chilly temperatures and the pumpkin themed flavors and aromas everywhere! I personally love the smell of the traditional pumpkin spices used - the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger...all of it! Speaking of scents, did you know that patients with Alzheimer's have an altered sense of smell with their left nostril being significantly more impaired than the right!?

It turns out that the ability to smell is one of the first sense affected over the course of cognitive decline due to its association with the first cranial nerve. The University of Florida has been studying smell sensitivity using peanut butter! Generally, our sense of smell uses two distinct sensations: the olfactory sense and the trigeminal sense. Peanut butter was chosen because it is "a pure odorant that is only detected by the olfactory nerve."

Normal clinical diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's take weeks to receive confirmatory results so preliminary tests with immediate results such as the peanut butter test could be beneficial. The article describes the method used to test each individual's ability to smell peanut butter and is posted below. Check it out! It even has a short video.

Here is a link (with a video!) to the University of Florida's Newspage:

Here is a 2nd article link:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Funday Monday Links

This could be a useful for Product Development. Serious Eats has started a thread about which words should never be used to describe food. Top offenders include "moist," "sexy," "unctuous," and "crusty."

Looks like Kellogg's, Smuckers, General Mills, and Hersey's are going to have a good year.

A food issue close to my heart: food date labels. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic teamed up and wrote a report about the ridiculousness of words such as "best by," "use before," and "enjoy by." It's a long read, but you can learn how these labels contribute to food waste which is a bigger issue than most people realize.

Some science-y GIFs that will make you want to buy a bunch of chemicals. I personally love the ferrofluid.

The difference between baking soda and baking powder, as told by Joy the Baker.

From Scratch: Inside the Food Network is a recently-published book that covers the recipe behind the Food Network. While it doesn't contain a ton of dirty little secrets, the book covers how they went from a tiny start-up to one of the most influential businesses in America. Okay, maybe a few dirty little secrets, like how 9/11 gave them a huge popularity boost...

Friday, October 4, 2013

FOODucation: FOODucate Yourself!

Hey Everyone,

So a friend of mine recently informed me of this opportunity to learn about the science behind recipes created by chefs themselves! It's an online class BUT it's completely FREE and you can audit the course so you DON'T HAVE TO COMPLETE ASSIGNMENTS OR TAKE EXAMS. It's simply a course offered to educate those seeking information.

The class starts Oct. 8th and while I know we are all busy with our current responsibilities such as work, life at home, classes, etc don't let that stop you from learning something you're passionate about! It's rare we get the opportunity to take a class for FREE let alone get a FREE PASS on assignments.

Take advantage of this course, it's called "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. The topics include emulsions, elasticity, and spherification among other innovative techniques! The class encourages you to be "an experimental scientist in your very own laboratory - your kitchen."

Check out the website:

Happy Friday!
- Charles Quinto

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Food for Thought: Tomato + Potato = TomTato!!

Lo and behold, the TomTato!

Hey everyone,

To get you through the midweek grind, I offer you a Frankenplant in celebration of Halloween!! As NPR has pointed out, your fries AND ketchup now come in one complete package!What is awesome about this plant is that it grows potatoes in the soil and above ground are tomatoes that are sweeter than those on the market right now! (At least that's what they say). What's even more exciting is that it is not a genetically modified product!!

A UK company known as Thompson and Morgan has grafted (spliced the stems of both the tomato and potato plant and allowed them to heal) the two crops to grow as one! The director Paul Hansord explained that it's difficult to achieve grafting as the stem needs to be the same thickness, but they managed to pull it off after 15 years! The fruits of their labor is actually, well a fruit! Partly anyway...

Here's a link to a short video made by Tompson and Morgan on the plant, check it out!

In addition, here are a couple articles I used to summarize the information for you guys!

- Charles Quinto

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

EVENT: SoCal Creative Food Summit!!

Hey everyone!

I hope you're all enjoying the Fall weather, it's the first day of October! I'll keep this short and sweet, this weekend Oct. 5th & 6th there is a creative food summit in Costa Mesa! It's part of the Patchwork Show, edible edition.

"patchwork show: edible edition is an annual creative food summit in southern california bringing visionary chefs, authors, bloggers, handmade craft vendors and food artisans together with attendees for two days of eating, learning, tasting and shopping."

The event is FREE and you can attend cooking demos, lectures and even get some HANDS ON cooking experience and it's STILL FREE! If you want to be more involved and see how these events are run you can also volunteer and as a thank you, receive "cool swag and a free lunch!"

Check out the site for details

Have a good week!
- Charles Quinto