Sunday, September 26, 2010

Less Spam, More You

There have been improvements in spam blocking on the blog!  Friend of the blog, MandiCrocker, noticed that the Blogger comment verifier, wasn't working quite right, especially in combination with programs like Networked Blogs on Facebook.  I decided to turn the Blogger visual verifier off for the time being, at the risk of spambots  overwhelming the blog.  I did get many spam comments sent to me, but they weren't showing up on the blog.  Lo and behold, Blogger has added a nifty spam collector in the comments tab of the dashboard.  More information on this functionality can be found at  Good work Google, I am much happier with this approach.  Less hassle for readers leaving comments and less spam on the blog.  So let us test it out... leave your comment and let us know how it goes.  Just make sure it's not spam.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Ryback folding santuko knife

Here's the scenario--you're going to someone's house where you're likely to be pressed into service in the kitchen, and you know they don't have a decent knife in the house, but you don't want to be so presumptuous or it's otherwise inconvenient to carry a knife roll. Or maybe you're going away for a weekend where you'll be cooking and you want to travel light. Of course one can always make do with what's there, but maybe there's an alternative--a folding kitchen knife.

I proposed this query to my friends on the eGullet food forum, and we came up with various ideas, but there seem to be three real, full-sized, multi-purpose folding kitchen knives out there, all in the style of the Japanese santuko, a knife of relatively modern design, the name of which means "three virtues"--slicing, dicing, and mincing--as opposed to the more specialized traditional japanese knives like the usuba for slicing vegetables or the long yanagi sashimi slicing knife.

There are some inherent design limitations in a folding kitchen knife. To be practical, the blade will be about 4-5 inches at most, and to fold properly, the handle has to be longer than the blade and the end of the handle has to come about level to the edge of the blade, meaning it must be used at the edge of the cutting board or with a small cutting board, or the end of the handle will hit the board before the knife completes its arc. The long handle also creates a balance problem, since the handle is usually shorter than the blade, and one normally wants the balance point to be around the spot where the heel of the blade meets the handle.

The knives we came up with on eGullet were the A.G. Russell Hocho, the Ryback Folder, and the beautiful Maruyoshi folding santuko. There was one very avid user of the Russell Hocho which is the least expensive of the three at around $65 and is the longest in production, but based on the photos, I liked the design of the other two. One poster bought the Maruyoshi, which has a nice wooden handle and beautiful handmade damascus blade, but it was the most expensive at about $250 from Japan Woodworker in California, and seems more to suit people who like to hold the knife with a pinch grip rather than my preferred hammer grip, which I think is better suited to a knife with a short blade.

I settled on the Ryback folder for about $100 shipped from Germany to the U.S., because I liked the fit and finish based on the photos, and the real article lives up to the photos. It also comes with a handy padded cordura pouch.

The frame lock mechanism, above, is very sturdy, but beware that there is a detente before the knife is fully open, and it is necessary to open the knife fully for the lock to be engaged.

The blade is 1-7/8 inches wide, which is wider than my Wusthof santuko shown above, and 4.5 inches long with about 4-3/8 inches of usable cutting edge. Full length from handle to tip is about 10-3/4 inches.

Out of the box the edge is comparable to the factory edge of a decent German knife, but I've come to like a finer edge, so I've made it sharper using my Japanese whetstones.

I've been using the Ryback for everything for a few days, and I've gotten used to the balance, but I still prefer my fixed blade knives given the choice. Watch the video above, though, and think about the last time you made a meal in a vacation condo with whatever dull steak knife they had in the drawer. Wouldn't this have been better? The blade holds a fine edge very nicely, and it's a real, functional kitchen knife that works like a chef's knife or a santuko.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Love Bug Bento

These bentos are for my Love Bugs.
They feature:
Open faced turkey sandwiches with Jarlsberg Swiss.  The cheese heart was cut with a cookie cutter.
Caterpillars made of celery filled with almond butter and Honey Nut Cheerios.
"Cuties" Mandarin Oranges on the side.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Southern "Fried" Chicken (Without the Frying)

Tonight I got good reviews on a "fried" chicken recipe that I made at home.  Here's a secret, it wasn't really fried.  In fact, it was kind of healthy.  I built the recipe from one in my Weight Watchers Cookbook.  A few substitutions seemed to make this dish tastier than when I made it in the past, so I am archiving it here, for future dinners.  Sorry, no pictures; it is in our bellies, now.

Southern Oven "Fried" Chicken

1/2 Cup of Skim Milk
1 tsp Vinegar
3-4 drops of Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup of Total Cereal
1 TBSP Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Graham Cracker
3 TBSP All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 1/2 to 2 Pounds of Skinless Chicken Breast, sliced into chicken finger sized pieces
4 tsp vegetable oil
Olive Oil Spray

Combine the Milk and Vinegar in a large shallow bowl.  Add the Red Hot Sauce and set aside. Do this before anything else so the Milk Mixture has time to curdle.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with Olive Oil Spray.

Measure 1/2 Total Cereal; then crush it down.
Mix the crushed Total Flakes with the Parmesan Cheese and add Graham Cracker, crushing with a fork to make sure all the lumps are crushed out.  Add the flour, salt, and pepper.  Mix well. 

Dip the Chicken into the Milk Mixture, then dredge through the Crumb Mixture coating each piece well.
Place the coated chicken onto the baking sheet.

Drizzle the 4 tsp of Vegetable Oil onto each piece of chicken.  This will help crisp the chicken up in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes; turn the chicken over and bake for 10-15 minutes more.

This recipe will serve 4 and is around 5 to 6 WW Points per serving.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dance With Me

It's here!  Dance With Me Cardio Fit is the DVD at home version of a Dance Class that I love.
With all of the food I eat, I need to burn a few calories, and with this workout, I burn more than just a few.
High Cardio exercises are combined with different dance styles to create an addictive workout.
Billy Blanks Jr. and Sharon Catherine Blanks are an inspiration.
Highly recommended!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Time Keeps on Slippin'

Am I feeling patriotic?  Am I strangely inspired by Steve Miller?  Am I a huge Stephen Colbert fan?
All of those things are true, but that is not why I made these Eagle bento boxes.
My little babies are growing up and they have graduated into their new Eagles classroom at Preschool.
On their first day I made these boxes.

Almond butter and jelly on french bread for the head.
A thinly sliced baby carrot and green bean for the eye.
String cheese for the neck feathers.
Pretzel sticks for the body feathers.
Cantaloupe for the Beak.

Now they're ready to fly like eagles; to fly right into the future.

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