Interesting Articles: May 23-29 2005

* Women and Competition (New York Times) (includes a number of interesting references at the end)
* The Lean and the Restless (New York Times) (i.e., fidgeters lose weight)
* A Comprehensive Look at Hot Dogs (with reviews of New York spots) (New York Times)
* Is Your House Overvalued? (New York Times) (One of the better written discussions of the housing market I've read in the last few weeks.)
* With Popcorn, DVD's and TiVo, Moviegoers Are Staying Home (New York Times) (The most interesting component of this article is the graphic. Time spent watching movies has still increased, just not as much as the other items in the graphic. The real question is, where is all this time coming from?)
* Unofficial Museum Tours (New York Times) (You have to listen to the examples. They crack me up.)
* Also, the Series of Articles on Class (New York Times) is still ongoing, and still very interesting.

Buying a Kitchen Knife

A while ago (six months), I bought myself a nice chef's knife. In the process, I did a lot of research on brands and types of knives, probably much more than necessary since most reviews say (correctly) almost all knives are perfectly fine and useful. The most useful articles I found in my research were:
* Kitchen Knives Review (Consumer Search)
* Discussion of inexpensive chefs knives (forum hosted by ChefTalk)
* Buying Advice: Knives (Consumer Reports) (Note that the link is only part of the article. You'll have to pay to read the whole thing, or go to a local library as I did. The whole article is definitely very useful and worth the time to track down; if you do so, most other references are probably unnecessary.)

Cutting Board Types: Wood or Plastic

A while ago (six months), I did a lot of research on what kind of cutting board I wanted and especially the benefits and hazards of wood versus plastic cutting boards. Here are the most useful web sites discussing this issue:
* Cutting Boards - so many choices but what to buy? (The Reluctant Gourmet)
* Cutting Board Safety (SecurityWorld synopsis of Food Safety and Inspection Service recommendations)
* All About Cutting Boards (What's Cooking America)
* Cutting Boards: Wood or Plastic? (Ochef)
* Cutting Boards -- wood or plastic (Queensland, Australia government conclusions)
* What's better, a wooden cutting board or a plastic one? (The Straight Dope)
* Cutting Boards (Plastic Versus Wood) (College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the University of Arizona)
Many of these, and others, can be found by a google search on [cutting boards wood or plastic].

(I only post this now for my own future reference, if I need it.)

Artichoke Festival

I tried to get some friends to go with me to the Artichoke Festival with the following invitation:

I'm thinking about going to the Artichoke Festival this weekend
held in the artichoke capital of the world, Castroville, near Monterey.

Now, I'm not a big fan of artichokes or generally a fan at all, but this might be a fun time to try all the different ways they can be served: "Artichokes fried, sauteed, grilled, marinated, pickled, fresh, and creamed in soup. Plus foods from the many ethnic groups that give this area its character." Also a farmer's market and wine tasting (as well as other events), for those whose tastes lay that direction.

Sadly none bit, so on May 22nd 2005 I went by myself and later wrote:

The Artichoke Festival, it was pretty decent. And it wasn't just about artichokes; they had a lot of other food booths there and two stages for bands/shows, an arts fair, a farmers market, wine tasting, a classic car show... all the components of a food festival. But I concentrated on the artichokes. and got the opportunity to try
- grilled artichoke (pretty good, especially with olive oil)
- crab topped artichoke crowns (artichoke very mild, but served as a handy base)
- deep fried artichokes (oh so good.. better than buffalo wings or deep fried cheese sticks; might even be slightly better than jalapeno poppers, because of the internal texture)
- artichoke infused yogurt filled wontons (from a cooking class; they were very good but artichoke wasn't worth mentioning)
- sauteed baby artichokes (what you'd expect; from a cooking class)

My pictures from the trip, especially of the Agro-Art competition in which people build artwork out of vegetables (especially artichokes) and of some of the best crafts from some of the booths, are available.

And I grabbed some great fresh cherries at a stand off 101 on the way. Good stuff: infinitely better than those artificially colored sugar balls they call cherries in desserts at most restaurants and ice cream shops.

Vegetables are Low in Calories

When eating dinner recently, I noticed the nutrition facts label for my green beans said a pound of them only has around 150 calories! My goodness. I guess they're mostly water?

This reminds me of a recent NPR story describing how people judge how much to eat by volume, not by calories and suggesting that we should make lower caloric density food by, for instance, adding vegetables.

Interesting Articles: May 1-7 2005

* On the Evolution of the Science Fiction Genre (New York Times)
* Excessive E-Mail Harms IQ (Bloomberg News via Rocky Mountain News) (Ironically, I received this link via e-mail.) (This story is soundly criticized by a blogger.)
* A Profile of a Patent Litigation Company (New York Times)
* A good article about what it takes to retain quality employees. (New York Times) This article focuses on women, but the points are pretty general.

Calamari Is Broader Than What You Think

Neat fact: I always thought calamari was simply the battered deep fried squid commonly served as an appetizer. It seems the real definition is actually much more broad.