Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Single Serving Banana Package


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Breast Milk Ice Cream Seized by Authorities Over Hepatitis Concerns

This is an update of a little item I posted last Friday.

Here's an excerpt from a piece in today's London Evening Standard:
Brian Connell, Westminster's cabinet member for business, said: "Following two complaints from members of the public and concerns from the Health Protection Agency and Food Standards Agency, our officers visited the premises and removed all ice cream being sold as containing breast milk."Selling foodstuffs made from another person's bodily fluids can lead to viruses being passed on and in this case, potentially hepatitis."

Image of jaundiced eyes: CDC via Wikimedia.

Friday, February 25, 2011

British Company Sells Human Breast Milk Ice Cream

Crazy fucking shit, if you ask me.

Here's an excerpt from The NYT:
The Icecreamists, a trendy ice cream parlor, says its "Baby Gaga" ice cream sold out as soon as it launched Friday.
The company paid women who donated their breast milk after health screening. The milk is then pasteurized and churned together with vanilla pods and lemon zest. The dish comes in a martini glass and sells for 14 pounds ($22.50) each.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge to Homeopathy Manufacturers and Retailers

James Randi:
"Customers are paying real money for fake medicine that leaves innocent people sick and suffering. This has to stop."


More at Randi's website.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Prahlad Jani's Claim of Total Fasting Endorsed by India's Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science

I, for one, couldn't be more skeptical of his claim. But, for what it's worth, it should be noted that Prahlad Jani, 82, who claims to live without the urge to eat or drink water — and without the need to pass urine or stool — has had his claims endorsed by India's Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Science.

Here's an excerpt from a piece in The Times of India:

Mataji was the subject of a fortnight-long study conducted (between April 22 and May 6) jointly by DIPAS and Sterling Hospital, along with SRISTI. DIPAS investigators have said that during the study, a protocol of strict round-the-clock surveillance was followed with the help of CCTV cameras and human observers.
Mataji’s every movement — for example, when he was taken out for MRI, ultrasound and X-Ray procedures — was recorded on tape. Periodic clinical, biochemical, radiological and other examinations were carried out on him. During the observation period, Prahlad Jani has not consumed anything and has not passed stool,” the update said. “The only contact with fluid was during gargling and bathing periodically during the study, beginning from the fifth day of the study. Also, Jani has not passed urine during the observation period.” 
The DIPAS stamp of approval should silence Jani’s detractors who had doubted the veracity of the claims made by the medical team which had first conducted tests on Jani in 2003. 

Continue >>

Photo credit: Sterling Hospitals.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

UPDATE: Prahlad Jani Reportedly Completes 15 Day Observation Without Eating or Drinking Anything

Here's an update on my post from last Friday about the Indian "holy man", Prahlad Jani, who claims to have neither eaten nor drank anything whatsoever for over 70 years and was under strict observation for the last 15 days in an Indian hospital to study his claim.

If this turns out to be true, it's truly amazing. As for my take on this whole thing, "skeptical" is an understatement--to say the least.

An excerpt from today's Indian Express:
Doctors from the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), which operates under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and Sterling Hospital held a press conference to mark the end of the observations on 82-year-old Prahalad Jani who claims to have not eaten or drank anything in the last 70 years.
The 15-day observation, which ended on Thursday, has thrown up no specific information which DIPAS is “ready to declare”. But the test results agree with those of a 2003 study on him, said sources.
“During the observation period, Jani did not consume anything and did not pass stool. The only contact with any form of fluid that he had was during gargling and bathing activities during the study,” said DIPAS director Dr Ilavazhagan.
“I must once again clarify that we have done the study for 15 days and cannot really comment for or against Jani’s claim of remaining without food or water for several years,” he continued.
Continue reading >>

Photo credit: Sterling Hospitals

Friday, April 30, 2010

Indian Man Claims He's Had Nothing to Eat or Drink for 70 Years

Video credit: AlJazeeraEnglish.

According to The Telegraph, Indian military scientists are closely observing the man to see if his claim is true. If so, they hope to gain life-saving knowledge from his ability to survive without food or water. As of two days ago the man had survived six days without any food or water--and had suffered no ill effects.

An excerpt from the piece in The Telegraph:

"We will be able to help save human lives during natural disasters, high altitude, sea journeys and other natural and human extremities. We can educate people about the survival techniques in adverse conditions with little food and water or nothing at all."
So far, Mr Prahlad appears to be standing up to scrutiny. He has not eaten or drunk any fluids in six days, and similarly has not passed urine or a stool in that time. He remains fit and healthy and shows no sign of lethargy. Doctors will continue observing him for 15 days in which time they would expect to see some muscle wastage, serious dehydration, weight loss,and fatigue followed by organ failure.
Continue reading >>

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beer and Bones

I had to drop some paperwork off at the paying job this morning. It was still quite early, but a few of our local homeless guys were already sitting in the weak Maine winter sun, on a porch a few doors down from the shelter where I work, drinking beer from tallboys--sort of concealed in paper bags. Now, it turns out, those guys must be making themselves some really strong bones. Read on.

LiveScience has a piece covering a study of the silicon content of various beers. The study, by researchers from UC Davis, was published in the February issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Here's the good news for beer drinkers: dietary intake of silicon is apparently necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy bones--and beer is a great source of bioavailable silicon.

From the LiveScience article:
...a new analysis of 100 commercial beers shows the hoppy beverage is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for bone health.
Though past research has suggested beer is chockfull of silicon, little was known about how silicon levels varied with the type of beer and malting process used. So a pair of researchers took one for the team and ran chemical analyses on beer's raw ingredients. They also picked up 100 commercial beers from the grocery store and measured the silicon content.
The silicon content of the beers ranged from 6.4 mg/L to 56.5 mg/L, with an average of 30 mg/L. Two beers are the equivalent of just under a half liter, so a person could get 30 mg of the nutrient from two beers. And while there is no official recommendation for daily silicon uptake, the researchers say, in the United States, individuals consume between 20 and 50 mg of silicon each day.
"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," Bamforth said. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer."
The silicon levels of beer types, on average:
  • India Pale Ale (IPA): 41.2 mg/L
  • Ales: 32.8 mg/L
  • Pale Ale: 36.5 mg/L
  • Sorghum: 27.3 mg/L
  • Lagers: 23.7 mg/L
  • Wheat: 18.9 mg/L
  • Light lagers: 17.2 mg/L
  • Non Alcoholic: 16.3 mg/L
Read the rest of the LiveScience article.

Photo credit: Kozzmo via Wikimedia.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crab Stew Savannah

Yesterday was cold and very rainy here in Maine. I had the day off from my regular job and was in the mood for a good, warm lunch. I remembered we had some leftover crab stew in the freezer. I slowly warmed it up in the microwave and with a semolina roll from Portland's wonderful Rosemont Bakery, which is just down the street from where I live, I enjoyed a really great lunch.

 Here's the crab stew recipe. Supposedly it was the "secret" creation of a once-famous Savannah, Georgia chef. I came upon it years ago and since then, I haven't tasted any crab stew that even comes close. Try it, I think you'll love it too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Alcohol Substitute?

The Telegraph has a fawning piece about some British scientists working on an alcohol "substitute" derived from benzodiazepines--the class of sedative drugs including the tranquilizers Ativan, Valium, and Xanax, and sleeping pills such as Ambien.

I had a lot of experience with benzos back in 2001-2002 when I was in the hospital busy dying of cancer. I can tell you that they are NO substitute for the "warm glow" alcohol drinkers seek. However, taken with alcohol, one experiences that "warm glow" along with an almost complete loss of any anxiety--a very attractive combination for someone seeking an alternative reality.

Trust me; if benzos became easily available in a world where alcohol was still around, a lot of people would be more wasted--not less. It seems to me, those (no doubt well-intentioned) scientists should consult with some experienced drinkers and druggies  before expending too much effort on this project.

An excerpt from the Telegraph article:
An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists.
The new substance could have the added bonus of being "switched off" instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work.
The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.
 But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.
Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.
The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain's top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy.
He envisions a world in which people could drink without getting drunk, he said.
No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.
Prof Nutt and his team are concentrating their efforts on benzodiazepines, of which diazepam, the chief ingredient of Valium is one.
Thousands of candidate benzos are already known to science. He said it is just a matter of identifying the closest match and then, if necessary, tailoring it to fit society’s needs.
Continue reading the Telegraph article.

Image via Wikimedia.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cajun Crab Cakes

Maybe it's an escape from the cold weather here in Maine, but for some reason we seem to be on a bit of a spicy Cajun kick at the Bic household these days. Last Friday night I made pan-blackened haddock along with some red beans and rice. And just this Tuesday night I made our favorite spicy Cajun crab cakes.

With crab cakes and me, it was love at first bite. I've tried about a dozen recipes and liked all of them--but this recipe is my very favorite. It's inspired by a recipe for "Louisiana Deviled Crab Cakes" that appeared in (the sadly now defunct) Gourmet magazine in April, 2001. I've spiced up the timid original recipe quite a bit and converted it to make use of clarified butter--which improves its flavor remarkably.

Try them sometime! Along with a simple green salad, a loaf of French bread, and a cold bottle of dry white wine they make for a delicious and fun meal in not very much time at all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pan Blackened Haddock

Friday was another cold day in a long stretch of cold and blustery weather here in Portland. Ms. Bic and I decided some spicy Louisiana fare would be just the ticket to warm us up--body and soul. Neither one of us felt like spending a lot of time cooking though.

It turned out we had some Cajun red beans in the freezer. They do take a while to make, so whenever I make them, I make an extra big batch and freeze some. They're as good after being frozen for a few months as the day they were made. On top of some steamed and lightly buttered long-grain white rice, they're soul-satisfying and delicious. Here's the recipe.

Although redfish and catfish are the usual varieties of fish pan blackened in Cajun country, haddock from the cold waters of the North Atlantic is at least as delicious and is what's beautifully fresh and almost always available here in Maine--so that's what I use in my recipe. If fresh haddock isn't available, use whatever fresh and mild white-fleshed fish fillets you can find--fresh is the key word here. Farm raised fresh catfish is now readily available throughout North America and its mild flavor and good texture go well with pan-blackened flavors. In any case, here's my recipe for pan blackened haddock. Most pan blackened fish recipes require an outdoor-vented commercial-quality exhaust fan over the stove to clear the prodigious amounts of smoke they create. This recipe doesn't and can be cooked in just about any kitchen.

You'll notice I suggest frying the fish in clarified butter. If you haven't clarified butter before, it's a great (and simple) skill to add to your cooking repertoire. Clarified butter has a significantly higher smoking point than "regular" butter which makes it ideal for high-temperature frying in recipes where you want the flavor only butter can provide. Here's how to clarify butter.

Try both the blackened fish, and the rice and beans sometime. If you don't have the time (or the inclination) to make the rice and beans together with the fish, a baguette with some butter--and a simple green salad round out the blackened fish very nicely and easily.

Don't forget the wine. Something cold, tart, and white. An American, Chilean, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect.

Update 12/24/09: For my Cajun Crab Cake recipe--which also utilizes clarified butter--click here.