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Sugar shock: Drinks and their sweet analogues

Rockstar doughnuts

Photoblog World of Mysteries nominates its choices for most "harmful" drinks in America, dramatizing its selections by picturing them surrounded by their sugar-equivalent in other foodstuffs.

So when you see a can of Rockstar energy drink next to six Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, you have to think twice about the amount of sugar you'd chug down, without thinking, in one beverage.

The photos have drawn criticism by commenters who find them grossly misleading, as the calculations focus on sugar and ignore fat and other nutritional minefields. Yes, drinking a can of Rockstar is "better" for you than eating six doughnuts, since the beverage has no fat and won't peg your blood cholesterol.

Still, there's food for thought here. The images are making an impactful point about the drinks consumers down without making the sugar connection, as they would with more traditional sweets.

See 'King Corn' at Hallwalls

The Lexington Coop and Edible Buffalo have teamed up to offer "Food Matters," a four-film series delving into modern United States food production and its effects on people who eat.

Since that includes everybody, organizers should have no problem getting a good crowd for "King Corn," which kicks off the series at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27.

From the film's PBS page: "Two recent college grads discover where America's food comes from when they plant a single acre of corn and follow it from the seed to the dinner plate. With the help of government subsidies, genetically modified seeds and powerful herbicides, America's most-subsidized crop becomes the staple of its cheapest - and most troubling - foods."

Also in the series: "The Real Dirt on Farmer John," "Dirt! The Movie," and "FRESH."

Tickets are $6-$8 per film or $20 for a series pass. The shows are at Hallwalls, 341 Delaware Ave.

Politics and produce: Pollan on the American 'food movement'

If more Americans are rediscovering their food, digging into the issues surrounding their daily nutrition, can the politicians be far behind?

After digesting a groaning table of new books on food policy, Michael Pollan wrote an essay in The New York Review of Books pondering how far the discussion has come in recent years. With First Lady Michelle Obama raising food issues from her new White House garden, does that mean some of the federal policies that led to the current American state of food be ready for overhaul?

Lest we forget, Pollan writes, it was massive federal intervention on behalf of certain corporate sectors of the food industry that brought us here:

Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any people in history—slightly less than 10 percent—and a smaller amount of their time preparing it: a mere thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up. The supermarkets brim with produce summoned from every corner of the globe, a steady stream of novel food products (17,000 new ones each year) crowds the middle aisles, and in the freezer case you can find “home meal replacements” in every conceivable ethnic stripe, demanding nothing more of the eater than opening the package and waiting for the microwave to chirp. Considered in the long sweep of human history, in which getting food dominated not just daily life but economic and political life as well, having to worry about food as little as we do, or did, seems almost a kind of dream.

Readers familiar with Pollan's concerns about sustainability and the petroleum-based corporate agricultural system will find him hitting some familiar themes here and there. But the essay is worth reading as a useful overview of five recent books that add to the national conversation about what we eat, where it comes from, and why we ought to care.

Recipe: Brunswick stew

When you smoke pulled pork, there will be leftovers. And when there's leftovers, some barbecue fans down south make Brunswick Stew, a tomatoey concotion featuring pulled or chopped pork shoulder and a whole lot more.

(This recipe is from the cookbook I wrote about today, The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook, 25th Anniversary Edition by Ardie A. Davis, Paul Kirk, and Carolyn Wells, Andrews McMeel Publishing.)

Brunswick Stew
Makes 5 quarts, 12 to 14 servings

1 whole fryer chicken
1 pound barbequed pork shoulder, chopped
4 slices thick hickory-smoked bacon
4 cups diced peeled potatoes
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen baby lima beans
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 medium Vidalia onions, chopped
4 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Georgia barbeque sauce, such as Johnny Harris Original or Hickory Bar-B-Cue Sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen whole kernel corn

Rinse the chicken and cut into 4 to 6 pieces. Put the chicken pieces in a large stainless-steel kettle and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the broth; remove and discard the skin and bones when the meat is cool. Cut the meat into small pieces. Add enough water to the broth to make 8 cups.

Add the chicken, pork, bacon, potatoes, lima beans, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, barbeque sauce, and Worcestershire to the broth. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Spring Lake Winery's Riesling honored

The Late Harvest Riesling from Lockport's Spring Lake Winery has caught the eye of judges at several wine competitions, the winery reports.

At the 2010 U.S. Professional Wine Buyer's Competition in Santa Rosa, Calif., the 2008 vintage won bronze in a field of 2000 wines from 467 wineries, according to a release.

The winery's Late Harvest Riesling also took bronze at the 2010 Dallas Morning News Competition, silver at the 2010 Finger Lakes Competition, and double gold at the 2010 Women's Wine Competition.

The winery is located at 7373 Rochester Road, Lockport. Its early harvest Riesling took silver honors at the 2010 Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival competition as well.

Making the most of your CSA

Soon, first-time subscribers to Western New York's community supported agriculture farms will face their first case of green overload.

Bunches of greens start piling up faster than they get eaten, especially if you don't have customers happily devouring chard and leaf mustard. That's when guilt kicks in - when you start to wonder if you invested in a CSA for the unique experience of bringing home remarkably fresh greens and vegetables, to watch them die in the fridge.

Carolyn Cope, writing the "Crisper Whisperer" at Serious Eats, has some excellent suggestions for CSA members, whether novices or frustrated returnees. "The good news," writes Cope, "is that with a little weekly preparation and planning and a few simple strategies, you'll rarely have a week where you can't use or freeze your whole haul."

'Bitchin Camero' revs up your kitchen

The Spanish-inflected Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe in today's Elements column - boring old chicken breast rescued by Spanish chorizo sausage and red peppers, wrapped in ham then covered with provolone cheese and smoked paprika - comes to you courtesy of a Miami cook with an urge to share.

Melissa Camero Ainslie has a Cuban heritage and an eye for detail, which makes her food blog Bitchin Camero a satisfying read on those days when you fear you may never experience deliciousness again.

Besides the chicken dish, here, check out a few of Ainslie's favorite posts:

On her mom's arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice:

Arroz con Pollo is the Latin American version of meatloaf. Or pot roast. Or mac & cheese. Everyone’s got a recipe and everyone swears that theirs is the most authentic and the most delicious. Well, they’re wrong. My mom’s recipe is the most delicious. It just is. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

Check out her homemade Banana Chocolate Granola Bars. Or, though you might have to wait a while before you want to cook, it, her salad of roasted winter vegetables with whole wheat orzo and bacon. You can never have too many good recipes, after all.

Finding raw milk in WNY

A Michigan farmer was pulled over by state police last October and busted with contraband.

Authorities confiscated his load: 453 gallons of milk.

As recounted in a Time article, Richard Hebron was a milk smuggler - a dairy farmer willing to ignore a state law against selling milk that hasn't been pasteurized. Those laws exist because raw milk makes a fine medium for deadly bacteria. That's why nearly all American milk products are pasteurized, heated to kill bacteria and remove the chance it could make you seriously ill. "By eliminating most of the pathogens that cause disease, including E. coli, salmonella and listeria, they say, pasteurization has helped lower infectious-disease rates in the U.S. more than 90% over the past century," the article says.

Yet raw milk fans have been growing in number, due largely to claims that raw milk's live enzymes have healthful effects. They "insist that along with the bad pathogens, heat-treating milk destroys beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes that aid in digestion. Some people with a history of digestive-tract problems, such as Crohn's disease, swear by the curative powers of unpasteurized milk," Time reported.

I was curious if raw milk was available to Western New Yorkers, and found a few signs that raw milk fans here could meet their needs. Teacup Farm in Barker says it's permitted for raw cow and goats milk sales. If you don't bring your own jug, they can sell you a proper half-gallon jar.

Another possibility is the Lapp Family Farm (595-3210, 3505 Cassadaga Rd., Cassadaga 14718), state licensed to sell raw milk, in addition to their cheese, cheese curds and yogurt. The farm doesn't seem to have a website working currently, but give them a call if you're interested, and they'd be happy to tell you what they have available at the moment.


Making pierogis with Lottie Pikuzinski

Lottie Pikuzinski makes pierogi for her customers at the R & L Lounge (23 Mills St., near the Broadway Market) the old fashioned way: one handful at a time. I got to meet her for today's "At Your Service" feature, and enjoyed every minute. This woman can talk, and she can cook. Her pierogi and cabbage rolls were simply terrific versions of Polish comfort food, with a lighter texture than the Play-Doh-like efforts I've tasted elsewhere.

Her place has become a fixture on the Forgotten Buffalo tours of the historic Polonia district led by Ed "Airborne Eddy" Dobosiewicz. He convinced Lottie to demonstrate her pierogi skills for the world, and captured the experience in a video:

Nun so sweet: Sisters of St. Francis tasting tonight

 This could be habit-forming. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities throw
their annual "Food & Wine Tasting" at the convent from 5 to 7 p.m. today, May 4.

   Besides finger food and complementary wines, there's a silent auction and a live auction on
tap. "Back by popular demand" this year is the "Nun-Sweeter" Bake Sale, a celebration of
bakery goods fashioned by the nuns.

   Tickets are $40 each. The event is at St. Mary of the Angels, 201 Reist St., Williamsville.
For more information, call 632-2155, Ext. 685.

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