Monday, June 30, 2008

Thinking Inside Of The Box: Square Watermelons

This is brainstorming at its best.

The Japanese don't have much room to spare. Not in their inner cities, not in their apartments, and definitely not in their refrigerators.

Watermelons? Forget it. They're huge, oblong, and they take up a lot of negative space.

The only solution possible? Transmute that negative space into a positive. Make square watermelons. Huh?

Read this amazing story on Procter & Gamble brand manager Dave Knox's blog: "Hard Knox Life".

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lavender Ice Cream

"Edible Austin" is a fabulous magazine reporting on local, fresh foods in Austin and Central Texas. In their very first issue last year, they featured a great recipe for lavender ice cream, featuring my Agasweet Lavender flavored agave nectar as the healthy sweetening ingredient.

Browse their resourceful website and look at the simple step-by-step instructions for this delicious summer treat.

Lavender Ice Cream

Friday, June 27, 2008

The True Story Behind The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

Some people may give Ronald Reagan all the credit for the fall of the Berlin wall, others point at Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost - allowing public criticism of the communist party - for being the cause of the events surrounding the end of the Cold War. How did the Berlin Wall come down? What is the Berlin Wall timeline? What are the facts about the Berlin Wall?

I think there are many contributing factors responsible for the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the communist regime in East Germany. However, the strongest push came from the rebellious power of a suppressed people.

When enough is finally enough, and a government shows no willingness whatsoever to move toward serving its citizenry, the synergy of mounting unrest combined with additional, seemingly coincidental events will create a most irresistible force for change.

This is exactly what happened in East Berlin. Visit my page with incredibly dramatic eyewitness videos of the growing tension at the border crossing before the people crashed through into freedom. Another clip shows the escape of three men and one woman across the border river Spree. The woman is too exhausted to pull herself up on the shore wall. A speed boat with armed border guards is moving in...

What really happened in November of 1989.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Tipsy Texan and French Chansons

TexaFrance - anyone? Christine Albert is one of the most charming and talented singer/songwriters ever to come out of my adopted home state of Texas. She is "part Edith Piaf, part cowgirl, and always (all ways) wonderful...", wrote New Texas Magazine in April of 1992. I've listened to her live concerts many times, usually in intimate club settings around Austin. Her renditions of classic French chansons always touch me deep in my heart. Go browse her website and you might just find what you always wanted to hear.

Back to the Tipsy Texan. His name is David, and I see him every Saturday at the farmers market where he sells incredibly good artisan coffee by Katz Coffee from Houston. Try the "Jumping Mouse" sometime! Turns out, David is a fabulous blogger, talking about seasonal specialties like loquats, and what you can do with it. He loves to experiment with wine making and new cocktail recipes, and he is a fantastic chef, too. Visit the Tipsy Texan - it's a lot of fun!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Recovering Alcoholics Are My Superheroes!

I wanted to acknowledge the folks who literally saved my life: recovering alcoholics who carried "the message" to me. It took several attempts, because I'm a bonehead. But finally, in 1997, it all stuck, and I've been sober since.

There's one man who should get most of the credit for my sobriety - my sponsor for 7 years, Paul "Buddy" T. He was a funny, wise, no-nonsense kind of a guy who's been around the block himself a few times. He knew how to cut through my BS, and he pointed me in better directions.

For examples of his wisdom and a whole lot more of useful info for a happy life in sobriety, please visit my page: Anonymous Alcoholics - My Superheroes!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Wife Karen - My Superhero!

It was like a fairy tale - we met, fell in love, moved in together, got married in Alaska, increased our small business success - you know, the whole shebang.

Then, the proverbial mud hit the rotary blades - my wife fell very ill.

We had to go through nightmare after nightmare with the hospital system in Austin, Texas. Without health insurance and definitely no huge sums of dispensable funds there would be no surgery for Karen.

But Karen discovered something. She had awakenings, breakthroughs...

I'll tell her story in my new Squidoo lens: "My Wife - My Superhero!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Great Foodies Are Not Always Chefs. Meet Margaret Schaut!

Depending on your criteria of standards, you could call Margaret Schaut the "Best Squidoo Lensmaster Ever". She probably deserves that title no matter what your criteria are.

However, Margaret has created incredibly good food lenses. They are well-researched and chock-full of fabulous recipes, relevant information, and fantastic shopping tips.

Everyone loves chocolate.
Not everyone knows about Amish recipes.
Everyone loves chili.
Not everyone knows about the salts of the Earth.

When you have reached the bottom after reading one of Margaret's Squidoo pages, you walk away with a significantly enriched awareness of the subject, and a satisfied feeling of joy for having learned something new and good.

Brand-new today: A portrait of the person behind the icon -
Margaret Schaut Superhero

Let's have some fun with beer and your life expectancy!

Short and sweet, today.

Have you heard of "He'Brew - The Chosen Beer"? What a unique marketing concept!

Calculate your "real" age versus your biological age, and find out about your life expectancy with this nifty little tool. You might enjoy the news...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blakberi Lavender Fizz (that's how they spell it!)

Recently, I've noticed more and more recipe sites with suggestions to use agave nectar instead of refined sugars. Several of them now talk about flavor-infused syrups, and they give instructions on how to make these infusions. As many of you know, my line of Agasweet flavored agave nectars presents a perfect blend of flavorings and syrup. Instead of tinkering yourself with herbs and hot water, you could simply use one of my Agasweet varieties with high-quality essential oils as a flavoring ingredient.

Two days ago, one of my mail order customers sent me a link to a wonderful drink recipe, so I'll share it with you. The cocktail is called "Blakberi Lavender Fizz".

I hope you'll get through these hot summer days with a cool tummy by experimenting with flavored agave nectars as healthy and tasty additions to teas, waters, and refreshing cocktails.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My First Cooking Teachers - Mom And Dad!

My mother taught me many things about her rich Bohemian/Austrian way of cooking. Her Wiener Schnitzel recipe is featured in my Squidoo page "Chef Keem's Best Recipes To Die From".
So is her scrumptious potato salad preparation. (With a few of my own additions)

My dad knew how to make great cakes and dishes with incredible ground beef sauces.

We were the last family on the block to have a TV set or a car. Good food was always the first expense in our daily lives. Quality cold cuts and cheeses for dinner, excellent roasts for Sunday lunches, frequent restaurant visits to outstanding eateries - those were the things important to my parents.

I was spoiled rotten and I never knew it. Now I made a squidoo lens about my parents - my super heroes.

The photograph shows my mom as a little girl in Vienna.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When God Created dessert - He Made Fresh Peach Cobbler!

God asked all angels first: "What shall be our primary divine dessert?" And the angels answered in unison: "Fresh peach cobbler made with Texas Hill Country peaches!"

Only one scrawny little low-carb angel in the corner raised his right wing tip in opposition. "And what would you suggest, St. Atkins?" asked God. "Uhm...angel food cake?!" came the timid reply. The rest is heavenly history.

Fresh peaches, butter, vanilla, cinnamon - a listing of the main ingredients invokes memories of tantalizing kitchen aromas wafting through the house - something delicious is baking in the oven!

My new lens, "The Best Peach Cobbler Recipe", will guide you step-by-step through the best peach cobbler recipe in the whole wide world. Make it for yourself first, until you are comfortable with the procedure. Then serve it to your guests and you will achieve instant celebrity status.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is Agave Nectar Better Than Honey?

It's a tough question - if you even want to try for an answer.

Both agave nectar and honey are fantastic gifts of nature. Honey has wonderful healing properties - it was one of the first medicines for wound treatment known to man.

Especially around here, in Austin, Texas - many folks use honey to fight off allergies.

However, agave nectar has the lower glycemic index rating and a higher fructose vs. glucose ratio. That's extremely important to people who watch their glucose intake. Diabetics should consult with their doctor about adding agave nectar to their diet. It might be a perfectly acceptable sweetener if they work it sensibly into their meal plans.

I've started a hot new debate on this brand-new "Hey, Monkeybrain" lens:

"Agave Nectar Is Better Than Honey!"

Come join the discussion - only personal opinions count!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Selling at the Farmers Market - My Experiences and Tips

I've had a booth at the local farmers market since 2001, when I was laid-off from my restaurant chef job. I had decided at that point that I wanted to be my own boss. It was a bold and energizing decision and I've never looked back.

It's a new life, with new worries and responsibilities. There are no more regular paychecks every two weeks, no health insurance, no free weekends - when you're in business for yourself. But there are also many rewards in being your "own boss". You work for yourself - and nobody tells you what to do. You're in total control of your success - or failure. It's up to you.

As a chef, the obvious first choice for me was to "make something good" and sell it at the local farmers market. There are several things to observe when you want to set up a booth and make a living from direct sales at a market.

Visit my newest Squidoo page about these topics. And here are some pictures from today's Sunset Valley Farmers Market.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Drink, Smoke, Be Healthy! Huh?

This is a good one! A Scandinavian study suggests that people who had a moderate alcohol consumption were 40-45 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. The biggest benefits (of guzzling) were seen among smokers with a genetic profile known to make them vulnerable to the disease. And... I love Anthony Bourdain's writings. His cook books are marvelous - but his novels kill! And now I've discovered his blog and I had to subscribe immediately. Great behind-the -scenes stories! Anthony Bourdain's Blog

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Even Carnivores Enjoy The Vegetable Orchestra!

Would you like a burger with this, Ma'am? A truly delicious experience for your eyes and ears. Eat what you want while watching this performance video of the Vegetable Orchestra! Look at this report from Germany about the dangers of energy drinks. We simply can't trust our beverage giants to provide us with decent products. Label info doesn't help much either, anymore. The FDA is nothing but an extension of the industry. So, what shall we drink for more energy? How about tea? Here is the website of a company that manufactures the best tea ever, in my opinion. I'm not a "tea drinker" by nature, but SESA Tea's fabulous blends might make a fan out of me.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Armageddon" has arrived for the food biz!

Today's post on the blog of Marketing Magazine reports on PETA's victory in their fight with the owners of the Canadian KFC franchises. From now on, chickens shall be gassed for a more humane transition into their frozen afterlives. I hope it's part laughing gas they're using, for happier fryers. Will there be any residue traveling through the systems of deliriously silly KFC customers, giving a whole new meaning to "Happy Meals"? Oh, wait - that's the competition.

KFC Canada president Steve Langford said he was delighted with the agreement: "Our preference is to have nothing negative attached to our brand." I'm sure we'll get roasted, somehow.

Furthermore, KFC Canada announced that they'll be serving "vegan chicken". Two questions: Why? What will be gassed?

In a somewhat related news bit, Reuters writes that food giants like Kraft, General Mills, Sara Lee, ConAgra, Unilever and Danone all expressed their commitment to healthier products, to fight off the effects of the weak U.S. economy and help price hikes stick after a big leap in commodity costs.

Basically, these guys want to exploit the growing trend to buy fresher, healthier foods by marketing their same old junk with one or two great-sounding additions (omega-3! blah-blah-blah...), at a premium price. Another reason to go shopping at your local farmers market.

Follow this link for a list of "America's Top 10 Farmers Markets & 4 Farm-Fresh Recipes".

(Translation of the talk bubbles on top: the left bunny says "my butt hurts!"; the right bunny asks "what?")