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Another Short Review of Cider

cider, alcoholic beverage, hard cider, apples, Smiths Organic Cider, drinks, dining

Samuel Smiths Organic Cider

This last weekend I was in Ferndale, Washington and found a couple of ciders I had not seen before.

I picked up a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider from the grocery chain Haggen. The bottle is the 550 ml size or 27 fl. oz. The alcohol content is 5%.

I like my ciders slightly sparkly but this one was flatter, with only the very slightest effervescence. The color as you can see is of a medium amber, consistent with most apple ciders. The glass is the lightest blue-grey so it could have affected the color slightly.

The flavor was a little too yeasty or musky for my taste. It didn’t have much aroma nor did it taste strongly of apples.Your basic hard cider.

Overall I found this cider lacking in flavor even if the apples were organic. I forgot to check the ingredients but often companies don’t list the types of apples they’re using. It’s very possible that Samuel Smith’s doesn’t use cider apples, which are specific and can make a difference in flavor and dryness.

This wasn’t a repulsive cider and if there was no other cider but this or Hornsby’s, then I would definitely choose this one. It just wouldn’t be that high on my list.

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Hot Off the Range: Speedcook Ovens

I’m travelling again so here is another old article from Technocopia.com. First published in 1999 or 2000.

The heat wave has arrived with the best of conventional ovens and microwaves blended with a pinch of something new.

Microwaves were popular in the 80s but never really caught on as an alternative to the conventional oven. They have maintained a place in most homes for warming leftovers, drinks and soups, and for making popcorn. The Wall Street Journal Europe (07/01/99) reported that “Just 19% of all home-cooked meals last year came out of microwaves, compared with 20% five years ago, according to NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington, New York, market-research firm.” The problem with a microwave oven is that many foods lose their appealing texture; pizza crust becomes tough, cookies look unbaked, steaks turn into shoe leather and roast chicken has skin that looks like…skin.

Conventional ovens brown and roast and seal in flavors but they require preheating and longer cooking times. Cookies can end up burnt on the edges and raw on the inside. In today’s rushed world, whether you’re a single person with a hectic work and social life, or a family where members run on different schedules, there is often little time for a prepared, oven made meal. If only there was an oven that was fast yet kept the best of flavors and textures.

With those ideas in mind appliance manufacturers researched and came up with several alternatives. General Electric has introduced Advantium, which uses the newest technology of halogen light cooking. Three set-in lamps, which come with a 10-year warranty, emit intense heat and light. Along with timed bursts of microwave energy, a roast is cooked, browned evenly and juices sealed in, its cooking time shortened significantly. The meal has a superior flavor, even when compared to a conventional oven. One downside is that paper will burn and plastic dishes melt from the hot halogen light. In that way, the Advantium is more like a conventional oven than a microwave, but has an 80-meal preprogrammed menu.

GE, believing Advantium will be a big seller, has devoted a $50 million dollar budget for promotion. The Wall Street Journal (10/18/99) quotes Jeff Moody VP of GE marketing: “We expect a good selling season for this . . . and by the end of next year, we should be at a decent run rate… If it takes as long as a microwave did,” he says, “I’d be disappointed.” Advantium can also be switched to its microwave only mode.

KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News (11/02/99) reports that “halogen light cooking has been available to the commercial food preparation market for about seven years.” GE chose to do studies and perfect their range first with licensed technologies from Quadlux in Silicon Valley. Quadlux introduced the FlashBake 120 last year for about $1600. It uses halogen flashbake technology but without the microwave burst. Through “thermal-pulsing” the FlashBake directs heat into and onto the food. FlashBake can be plugged into a regular socket like a microwave, whereas Advantium needs to be wired in like a regular oven.

Maytag, with TurboChef Technologies, Inc., has come out with the Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP. The 5XP stands for five times faster than a conventional oven. The Accellis works by jet impingement. Hot air is sucked out and recirculated at about 56 mph around the food. Microwave bursts make sure the interior is cooked. The downside is that the oven’s circulating fan is nosier than standard oven models.

Maytag promotes the easy, time-saving aspects of the Jenn-Air, and points to a “1996 survey by Working Mother magazine that said nearly 60 percent of women surveyed listed ease of preparation as their first or second most important factor in determining what to serve.” Associated Press (11/01/99) A “time wizard” interface allows the cook to choose from a menu for times and settings like a microwave. Maytag plans to market the oven at the beginning of 2000 and with a heftier price tag of $3500 compared to the Advantium’s $1300, it may be an item only for select consumers.

Thermador, with Enersyst’s (KRH Thermal Systems, San Bruno, CA.) commercial cooking expertise, has brought out JetDirect, which takes convection cooking one step farther and channels air into the food directly. Like most of these new ovens it has an automated “CookSmart” feature, which converts conventional cooking times to JetDirect’s. Thermador will also be producing out a “double-oven configuration, with the JetDirect located above and a thermal-convection oven below,” reports National Home Center News (07/19/99). At a cost of $5700 for the JetDirect models, it will be a while until the regular consumer will be using one.

According to Dealerscope Consumer Electronics Marketplace (06/01/99), Frigidaire has come out with its Speed Bake range that by a user-controlled fan system speeds up cooking time by 30%. It “differs from traditional convection in that it does not reduce oven temperature and requires only the flick of a switch.” It is price between $650-$750.

Amana Appliances is the final contender in new faster cooking ovens but doesn’t use microwave technology, reports Tom Robbins for The Times (07/11/99). Although Robbins mentions that the Wave uses only halogen technology like the FlashBake 120, their website only lists the EvenAir, which is a convection range.

All these ovens promote faster cooking times with better textures and tastes to cooked foods. Each one has some automated menu or time-setting feature for cooking, and the halogen ovens include conversion charts from conventional oven recipes. According to the Associated Press article (11/11/99), it may be possible in just a few years to download recipes from the Internet into the oven’s memory. With programmable menus and cooking temperatures, it will not take much more to add the chips to make this possible. Speed cook ovens are just another step toward an integrated, automated kitchen that makes the most of time and cooking easier.

COMPANY

BRAND

COOKS BY:

COST*

TIME CUT BY**

General Electric Advantium 3 halogen lights (4500 watts max) & microwave $1300

75%

Quadlux FlashBake 120 8 Halogen lights (1650 watts max) $1600

35%?

Maytag & TurboChef Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP Jet impingement (forced hot air) $3500

80%

Thermador & Enersyst JetDirect Hot air & convection $5700

75%

Frigidaire Speed Bake Convection? $650-$750

30%

Amana Appliances Wave (EvenAir) Convection

25%

*approx. prices **Compared to conventional ovens (approx. times)

COMPANY SITES
http://www.maytag.com
http://www.frigidaire.com
http://www.geadvantium.com
http://www.geappliances.com
http://www.amana.com (convection ovens—nothing on the Wave)

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Eating Quirks

I was talking yesterday with a couple of people and we were discussing our odd eating habits. One woman, when she was a child, started pushing her food into separate piles so that nothing would touch. She thinks that it began because she’d have salad and there would be a pile of dressing left over on which her mother would place the other food.

Makes sense. My brother was one of those. His meat could not touch his potatoes could not touch his other vegetables. Me, I was of the other end. I didn’t exactly swirl all of my food into one mosaic. But I was very big on getting the different combos of taste sensations. I’m still that way. If I have turkey (keeping it seasonal for the US Thanksgiving), potatoes, stuffing and carrots, I will eat each one separately but then I’ll combine the potatoes and stuffing, the potatoes and turkey, the potatoes and carrots, the potatoes and carrots and stuffing, etc. You get the picture: as many combos as possible.

When I was a kid and I ate those super nutritious sandwiches of two slabs of white bread, a smear of radioactive yellow mustard and a micro thin slice of a ham/luncheon meat product, I still had to make deviations from the food norm. You’reprobably thinking, well there’s three: ham, bread, and ham and bread. As far as taste went that was true but I also ate in design combos or patterns. First, bite off the top piece of bread, leaving the ham and the lower bread slice. Then eat that. Next bite: eat the meat out of the middle, then eat the bread together. Next bite: eat the bread on the top, then the one on the bottom, then the meat. Next bite: eat the bottom slice, then the meat, then the top slice. Order mattered. Not as many variations, but a way to make a pretty bland sandwich more interesting. Of course, if you added lettuce or tomato, it gave more permutations. Some food was just too messy to do this with though.

I don’t really eat sandwiches much anymore but I don’t tend to go through the patterned bitefest either. Though if I’m eating cake, it would be cake, icing, cake with icing, cake with ice cream, etc. Or lemon meringue pie: meringue, then meringue and crust, then meringue and lemon curd, then lemon curd and crust… I do in fact still do that. I guess when I look at it this way, I was always playing with my food.

I have to say though, those meals of baked potato, roast with frozen peas and carrots (cooked of course) did not meet with my patterning standards. Then it was a case of eating the marrow of the potato and hiding the disgusting mushy veggies in its shell. Or taking bread and butter, putting the veggies on the bread and covering it in gravy to disguise the taste. I actually got in trouble for that last one but frozen vegetables were so putrid to me that they made me gag.

I wonder if studies could be done to determine people’s careers by how they ate their food. Who is more analytical though, the person who separates their food or the person that mixes the flavors together? My brother, one of the food separators, was a politician and likes to work at solving the world’s ills. The woman mentioned above is studying to be a doctor. My other brother, I don’t know if he was a mixer or a separator but he would eat the same food (hot dogs or BLT or…) for weeks on end, ad nauseum. He’s a teacher.

The same food for a week would bore me. I’m a writer but I’m sure there are as many food separators who are writers as the patterners. Or are there? Food for thought on a rainy day in Vancouver. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to those in the US.

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