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Post Archive
2020 (0)2012 (8)
August (1)

Happy Birthday, Julia!
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
May (1)

EMR - Electronic Medical Records
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
April (1)

Step 1 - Shoot myself
Thursday, April 5, 2012
March (1)

Dinner Dare, pt 1
Monday, March 19, 2012
January (4)

Who's Got It Better Than Us?
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tasting Menu - January 11, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Food Labeling
Friday, January 6, 2012

Filtering - That Alfredo Guy...
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
2011 (28)
December (1)

So Unbelievably Mad Right Now.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
November (2)

33 Years of Destroying Closet Doors
Monday, November 28, 2011

Filtering - Sous Vide
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
September (3)

DADT & An awesome video.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Defending Serena
Monday, September 12, 2011
August (3)

Fair Compensation
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tasting Menu - August 10, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tasting Menu - August 3, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
July (5)

Tasting Menu - July 27, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Thrill, A Rush, A Change of Plans
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tasting Menu - July 20, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Feeding Controversy
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Avoiding Taxes
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
June (1)

Drunk Tennis
Monday, June 20, 2011
May (2)

I Want An Empty Waiting Room
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

About time!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
April (2)

The Things I've Learned (so far)...
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Love Sucks, Play Hard.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
March (5)

School Lunches
Thursday, March 17, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Food Science Blog For...
Friday, March 11, 2011

But You're A Med Student!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Filtering - Equipment
Friday, March 4, 2011

Blurring The Lines - Part I
Thursday, March 3, 2011
February (2)

The Future of Food...?
Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Biggest Mistake - Oenology Edition
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
January (2)

Filtering - Maillard, Water & Errata
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Filtering - Saucing It Up
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2010 (4)
Blogger Profile

School of Medicine
Dub C Med School CA USA

A med & grad student who used to work the line in LA, NYC, SF and Napa talking about the science of cooking and cooking with science. Harold McGee's On Food And Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen never satisfied my kitchen curiosity and more than one Chef grew exasperated with my asking "Why?" I'll try to stay on topic, but you may see a kvetch or two about the school & hospital.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Recent Comments
Comment by BeckonsAttore in EMR - Electronic Medical Records

Well, so emr software has it's problems, not like making them public wouldn't cause them any more trouble as it normally would in a paranoid mind, as this yannisguerra's perspective here. I've delv. . .Read More
Aug 08, 2013, 9:35am
Comment by Brian Krueger, PhD in Happy Birthday, Julia!

I'd gladly take on that burden if you were my roomie ;) . . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 4:25pm
Comment by JaySeeDub in Happy Birthday, Julia!

If it makes you feel any better, it could be worse. My roommates complain about expanding waistlines. . . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 2:33pm
Comment by Brian Krueger, PhD in Happy Birthday, Julia!

Your posts always make me so hungry and its 9am! I saw that amazon now has reruns of "The French Chef" available for streaming.  It made me want to go back and check some of them out.  I remember. . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 8:15am
Comment by yannisguerra in EMR - Electronic Medical Records

I feel your pain. It is really bad. Even worse when half of those pages are non important informations (like 5 copies of the same lab, including who ordered it, when, where, etc) So wastefu. . .Read More
May 10, 2012, 6:56pm
Views: 4315 | Comments: 3
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Aug 15, 2012, 4:25pm
Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.

~~ Henri Poincare

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

~~ Immanuel Kant

The sciences are not like Minerva, who sprang fully armed from the brain of Jupiter; they are the daughters of time, and take shape very gradually, at first by the assembling of methods developed through experience, and then later by the discovery of principles which have been deduced from the combining of these methods.

~~ Brillat-Savarin

Julia Child was my babysitter. Ok, not really. But after school, I’d turn on the TV and do homework with GI Joe and Transformers on. And then the news would start, so I’d change the channel - straight to channel 9 where Julia was. Sometimes it was reruns of her classic “The French Chef,” sometimes it was her and some chef I had not heard of until he’d popped up on the television with her. I’ll be honest; I didn’t watch the show for the cooking. Not at first. I thought her voice was just incredibly amusing. I didn’t find it funny. I thought it was just this incredibly warm and refined way of speaking – v . . . More
Views: 8098 | Comments: 2
Last by BeckonsAttore on Aug 08, 2013, 9:35am
I hate seeing thick patient charts. They're unweildy, and if you're carrying a stack of them they tend to slide around. Sometimes crap pops ut of them. The pages are held together by brass fasteners, and constantly flipping through pages eventually tears pages. Then you have to use tape to fix the tears. And punch them back through those brass fasteners.

And the absolute worst part is that thick charts are still common. Especially with new patients. Why? Because when a patient moves from one office/hospital to another, and if the new office doesn't use the same exact EMR system as the previous place the digital records can't get transferred over. Not as a digital record anyway. Do you know what happens in that instance? Those records are printed. They don't always get printed at the new office or old office. Sometimes, they're printed at a "Health Information Exchange" which is basically a third party office that prints up digital records. These companies exist solely because they have multiple EMRs and will print all the electronic information to paper. And then mail off stacks of paper. Sometimes giant stacks of paper.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If you can install multiple instances of EMR software on a given system, why can't you just convert files ove . . . More
Views: 1328 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Apr 05, 2012, 6:31pm
I've been sick. My allergies are acting up. I am tired. I am harried. I haven't been able to play tennis in almost 3 weeks. Really play. Not just rally for someone who is kinda at my level or below. I am ready to blow my top and I've been snarking at everyone around me. And I'm pretty sure the next person who gets us all publicly excoriated on the floor or in lecture or in lab is going to go missing, because I will dump their body in a giant vat of solvent.

Whomever decided Step 1 should be taken after the 2nd year, and that we should still have final exams should be beaten to death with a baseball bat and have their body dumped somewhere in the Nevada desert. Sure, the exams cover "basic" science - anatomy, micro, biochem, pathology, pharmacology, behavioral science, genetics and immunology. But the score determines matching for residency. And I'd like to get above the minimum 188 (out of 260). And into a decent residency match.

I don't want to study for finals or Step 1 anymore. All I want to do is drink cold, cold Ricard, slurp oysters and work on getting a one-handed backhand as flashy, precise, powerful and pretty as Richard Gasquet's.

Sorry. Had to get that out.

. . . More
Views: 605 | Comments: 0
Apparently some of the French have decided that restaurant menus should note when items have been prepared from frozen, processed and canned goods versus fresh. A very interesting, and curious concept. I'm pretty sure if something similar were proposed in the US, chain restaurants would be up in arms as so very little of their products are prepared fresh and on site. This is to keep costs down and maintain equivalent quality. But there are also very good preserved foods that come out of jars (and some cans) - sardines and olives for example. For the non-Francophones in the audience, a translation can be found here.

If you haven't heard, the FDA decided first to not regulate antibiotics use in the meat packing industry. They then reversed their position and decided to regulate an entirely small group of antibiotics used in animal agriculture. M . . . More
Views: 32096 | Comments: 6
Last by JaySeeDub on Jan 09, 2012, 8:44pm
Food labeling is complicated. And confusing. For one thing, there is a lot of information on there, from calorie count to ingredients to calories per gram of fat. You almost need a science degree to start to understand it. Serving size, for example, isn’t helpful. On a bag of Doritos you’ll see that the serving size is 1oz (28g), and that there are about 9 servings in a bag. Now I have a kitchen scale. I advocate the use of a kitchen scale in cooking. But I, for one, am not going to pull out the scale when I want some chips to watch the Niners in week 2 of the NFL Playoffs. I don’t sit at home on a Saturday after the Costco run measuring out individual servings of pistachios and chips and peanuts and pretzels. I have other things to do. And yes, the new labels do approximate how many Doritos make up a serving, about 12, but I’m still not going to sit there and count out 12 chips per person per serving. Friends and family will think I finally fell off the deep end and have me committed.

But one of the big puzzles about the nutritional information is how it is calculated. Calories can be done quickly. Throw the items into a bomb calorimeter and burn them. Measure the increase in temperature and calculate the kJ of energy. Then convert those kJ to kcal. 4.184kJ = . . . More
Views: 674 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jan 04, 2012, 1:08pm
The jars of the stuff are everywhere. Glass jars with thick, white sauce. Alfredo with garlic. Alfredo with mushroom. Alfredo with four cheese. Alfredo with red peppers. Sun dried tomatoes. The list goes on and on. And the way we eat them is no different. One of my younger cousins will only eat pasta alfredo if there's chicken and garlic. A simple bowl of homemade pasta with white sauce? Nope. It won't be consumed by her.

The classic "Alfredo" isn't really alfredo sauce. It's a style of dressing pasta. It's just butter and cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. If you do a Google search for "alfredo recipe," you'll come up with a lot more complicated recipes. You'll also notice a common theme in those recipes - cream. In the jarred sauces and many "alfredo sauce" recipes, cream is used as both an emulsifier and a thinning agent. The fats in cream can give a weak sauce a lot of the thick, rich, luxurious mouth f . . . More
Views: 1641 | Comments: 7
Last by SonicThreat on Jan 23, 2012, 1:32am
I have quite a few friends graduating this Winter. Some in teaching credential programs. Some in undergrad. Some from Grad School. And hey, that's awesome. I'm looking forward to quite a few parties this Winter.

And some people I know are graduated from Chiropractic school. And have started to call themselves "Doctor." All three people I know who went to Chiropractic did not make it into a med school. They weren't quite competitive with their grades. And one scored less than 20 on the MCAT, out of a possible 45. But now she gets to stick "Dr." in front of her name.

I am just so , so mad right now. So mad. I want to bang my head against a wall now.

Or maybe just hit things with a billy club.

. . . More
Views: 854 | Comments: 0
It has been 33 years since San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot and killed in his office in San Francisco City Hall, along with then Mayor George Moscone. Harvey was elected in 1976, to represent the Castro District, and in 2 years he helped focus and change San Francisco and California politics. Most famously, in 1978 he fought against the Briggs Initiative. The Briggs Initiative would have made it mandatory to fire any gay teachers or any public officials who supported gay rights. The initiative went on to pick up opposition from then Governor Jerry Brown, President Jimmy Carter and future President, and former Governor, Ronald Reagan. The latter opposing the Briggs Initiative because it may infringe upon individual rights. In a year where gay rights in the US lost ground, the Briggs Initiative lost by more than a million votes in the state of California.

And what few remember is how much Harvey fought for the individual neighborhoods in San Francisco. He felt each neighborhood was its own community. And should offer the same services and opportunities. He fought against closing an elementary school, even though the majority of his district were gay men without any children. He helped pass an ordinance that required dog owners to pick up after their dogs. He w . . . More
Views: 795 | Comments: 0
I feel really bad for leaving readers in a lurch. I think I may have taken on a bit more than I could handle these past few weeks. But, I did run across this really cool article on MAKE on how to make your own immersion circulator. They call it a "sous vide machine," which is fine. The upside is that it costs about $75 to make. Versus spending $400 for the "SousVide Supreme." And anyone with a lab catalog handy can tell you how much a new immersion circulator or water bath can cost. About a grand. Starting. Unless you know of a lab closing that you'd feel comfortable snagging. Not that I'd ever condone or suggest theft.

The absolute great thing about a circulator is that it maintains a constant temperature. There is no fluctuation. There is no overcooking. You can stick your food in a vacuum sealed bag and let it sit at temperature for several hours. It will maintain that temperature. Want roast beef for dinner, but don't want to wait 2-3 hours for it to cook in the oven? Pop it in a vacuum bag in the bath before you leave for work, even better the night before, with the bath set to 55C . . . More
Views: 595 | Comments: 1
Last by Aish on Nov 16, 2011, 4:52am
The military's odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was repealed as of 11:59pm 9/19/11. Finally. I don't have much to say on this. I'll leave it to those service members who are coming out to share their stories, but I saw this video and couldn't help but to share it.

That was an incredible video. And one badass dad. Period.

. . . More
Views: 434 | Comments: 0
School lunch was something that left my mom exasperated. My younger brother loved school lunches. The cardboard squares of "french bread pizza." The gormless chicken nuggets. The "doesn't taste like beef" hamburgers. Overly salted and overcooked french fries and tater tots. He still misses those flavors, and tries to recapture them every chance he gets. Usually by buying microwavable french bread pizzas, hamburgers at AM/PM and tater tots at Sonic. Needless to say, we have very different tastes.

I wasn't a fan of school lunches. They either had no taste or tasted like crap. I preferred bringing my lunch from home. Whether it was a cold sandwich, some chips and a piece of fruit or leftovers. Leftovers were actually my favorite. My mom would get up even earlier to throw rice in the electric rice cooker ubiquitous of Asian and South Asian families throughout the Bay Area. I would then get leftover adobo, a vinegary Filipino stew which usually featured pork or chicken, or tenola, another type of chicken stew that had a thinner, clearer broth and more vegetables. My favorite was pancit. Thin, cellophane rice noodles tossed with soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind juice, prawns, thin sliced chicken and a variety of vegetables all stir-fried together. Kids who brought a l . . . More
Views: 409 | Comments: 4
Last by Suzy on Sep 18, 2011, 3:21am
The Monday broadcast of the US Open Men's final is on in the background. Rafael Nadal, the undisputed King of Clay, squaring off against Novak Djokovic, the man who has a 5-0 record against Nadal in 2011. This morning, Serena Williams' tirade against the chair umpire during yesterday's Women's Final made sports news everywhere. If you hadn't seen or heard the exchange, here it is:

Now, Serena berating an official? Kind of crass, but here's where I will excuse her. Yes. She did yell and interrupt the point. But, Stosur had no real action on the ball. Her racket could not make a controlled return. At all. Yes, the rules state that interfering with your opponent's fair play is an automatic point against the person who returned the ball. But, here's my problem...

The rules are horribly, horribly enforced in tennis. Don't believe me? Take a stopwatch to a Nadal or Djokovic match. From the time the last point ends to the start of the next point, the player has 25 seconds OR until the server is at the baseline and ready to return. How many seconds do you count between points? Especially when Nadal or Djokovic (or Ferrer or Murray or Verdasco...) are down? 30 seconds? 45 seconds? You bet. Heck, in Ferrer's seco . . . More
Views: 1931 | Comments: 6
Last by Samantha Lewis on Dec 21, 2011, 1:26am
If you haven't noticed before, especially from some of my finance tweets, I tend to lean to the right on Economics and Finance matters. Maybe it's the years of working Mergers & Acquisitions. Maybe it's the Econ degree. Maybe I'm just that damn greedy. Or a combination of the three. And Gimpyblog and I got into a discussion on salaries on twitter earlier (around midnight for me). I've Storify-ed the exchange here.

Which leads me to my question - why is compensation in academia so crappy? George Smoot made $149,000 last year, and Elizabeth Blackburn made just over $250,000. Dr. Blackburn would barely qualify as a HENRY - High Earner, Not Rich Yet. I certainly have my ideas as to why, as noted in the link on Storify. And salary certainly doesn't encompass all compensation, but salary can be a good marker of what total compensation is. But, if I was making more in the Finance field, doing incredibly less important work, why could I get away with . . . More
Views: 451 | Comments: 0
I feel really bad for doing another "Tasting Menu," but I started working with someone I admire a whole lot in my spare time. It's eating into my writing time. Well, that and the fact that I have all these things I'm trying to write introductions for and I hate the intros I come up with right now. I think I killed a dozen last week.

First "course" is a bit on how what the mother eats during pregnancy can influence a child's palate. This is actually really interesting and supports some other work done at Monell and INRA on how child's taste preferences are formed early on.

Over on Grist is a thought provoking piece on flavor and nutrition. There's a common belief that taste buds are linked to finding nutritious foods, but no one has ever really looked at nutrition of a food and its flavor. Currently the USDA doesn't differentiate, nutritionally, between an AgBiz tomato and one grown by a small farm. But, the green market/small farm tomato tastes better than the mealy, watery, tasteless things that hit supermarket shelves.

The . . . More
Views: 277 | Comments: 0
To open this week is a story about home gardens and free seeds on CNN. One thing I do sometimes want in the apartment is a garden, but then I walk around the green market(s) and everything is right again.

This is a pretty nifty guide for anyone wanting to cut down on their use of plastics - how to store fruits and vegetables without plastic containers. Interesting that I've been using a lot of these tips already, but I'm happy to apply more of them.

Another interesting fight is happening in the GMO discussion. This time it encompasses transgenic salmon.

I was surprised when Wal-Mart vowed to source a portion of the produce in each store locally, I'm not so surprised that they may change local farming patterns.

Manipulating the physical properties of food has been around since the 90s with Ferran Adria and el Bulli. Bartenders started getting more involved with some of those concepts, and there . . . More
Views: 660 | Comments: 4
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jul 28, 2011, 1:20pm
This week's tasting menu is started off by Mark Bittman at the New York Times, who toured a "traditional" pig farm in Iowa. Traditional in the sense that they don't use antibiotics, the pigs aren't penned and the crops he does grow are rotated. I'd like to note that farms like these aren't the ones receiving much of the federal farm subsidies. Most of that money goes to factory farms. A pity. Farms like these are doing good things.

The LA Times has a bit on bluefin tuna farming. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, if it can be beneficial or just as harmful as some large scale salmon farming has been.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released their annual Xtreme Eating Awards. And (?) include The Cheesecake Factory with their "Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake" at a whopping 1,540 Calories and 59g of saturated fat as well as their Farmhouse Burger (1,530 Cal and 36g sat fat), Coldstone Creamery's PB&J Shake (1,590 Cal & 42g sat fat) and Mo . . . More
Views: 441 | Comments: 3
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 26, 2011, 1:35pm
There was a rush in a job well done. Not just any job well done. The rush we got was like rocketing down I-5 at well over 100 miles an hour between Livermore and Bakersfield. Just open road and octane. A friend used to say my job "wasn't nice." His dad's company had been targeted by a competitor. And they'd come to us to help them proceed with a leveraged buyout. After all the research done, we passed. They were in too strong a position. The client paid us our fee and we were on our way. A younger, newer, hungrier outfit tried after us. They were eaten alive in a fierce fight. I don't think those other guys ever found new jobs in our sector. It was that brutal. See, what we did was "Private Equity." A pleasant, sterile name for a very ruthless sector. If our company was sniffing around your doors, chances are someone else wanted to buy you. And when they bought you, we got first pick of all the good stuff. Your corporate retirement and pensions? Gone. Employee Stock Ownership Plan? Not anymore. Jobs? Probably liquidated. All of that stuff was ransacked to pay our salaries and bonuses. You remember in 2008 when Goldman Sachs was still paying bonuses? Yeah, that's how they were doing it. Not from bailout money.

I cleaned out my desk for the last ti . . . More
Views: 308 | Comments: 3
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 26, 2011, 1:36pm
This is a collection of stuff other people got to before I ever did. I may visit these later on for something more in depth, but why let it all just sit around? I may have RT'ed some of these on twitter. Apologies if you're reading it twice.

. . . More
Views: 1896 | Comments: 8
Last by JaySeeDub on Jul 12, 2011, 6:05pm
It was autumn. The air was crisp and cool. Leaves were in the midst of their transformation from vibrant green to red, orange and yellow. The brown would come later. The walkways and cobblestones of Montmartre were slick with damp.  The soles of our cheap shoes couldn’t find much purchase on the stairs of Rue Foyatier, so we clung to the wet handrail. My gloves would smell like rusty metal for weeks after we returned home. The street lights made the ground shine, like some magical place. Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road and Oz had nothing on the magic and majesty of Paris and her damp slick streets in autumn. You couldn’t help but hum along with Edith Piaf, “The falling leaves / Drift by the window / The autumn leaves / All red and gold.”

It was our last night together in Paris. I would remain for another week. M’s sister was heading home. The other two members of our erstwhile quartet, whom I’ll refer to as D and A, were heading to Nice. A pale, coke bottle lensed imitation of Jake Barnes and Hemingway’s Lost Generation in The Sun Also Rises.  Reservations made and held at a brasserie we’d found earlier in our visit. The white linen tablecloths, waiters in tuxedoes and copious amounts of vin ordinaire paired with the incredible food had endeared the place . . . More
Views: 366 | Comments: 3
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 10, 2011, 11:05am
About two months ago, we (2nd year med students) recieved our contracts for FY2011-12. And I was pretty ticked off by my reclassification. No longer a student, now I'm an "independent contractor." Cool. That's fine. Been there before. But now I'm looking cold and hard at some previous student loans coming due. Which isn't terribly worrying. I can more than make the minimum calculated payment, and still make rent, tuition, books, fees.

I'm not terribly sure why we're now "independent contractors." Or at least why I am. I haven't discussed the specifics of my contract with other students, just vague general information. I do think I got the better end of the stipend stick, though. Some of my fellow students? Not so great at negotiating. We're still covered by the school's liability policy, and don't have to seek our own liability. We still have to pay into the school's health plan, which doesn't actually have such hot coverage. But apparently we were only "students" for that first year. Or at least I was.

However, I can now pull off a plan to severely decrease my tax burden. A good example was provided by Brett Arends a . . . More
Views: 832 | Comments: 2
Last by JaySeeDub on Jun 20, 2011, 9:18am
It was the cool of an English summer. The kind of cool temperatures that I love. There is sun, but it isn't the kind of summer that I grew up with. There is no oppressive and dry heat. Instead there's the hint of pleasant warmth. Maybe it's just me, because I've worn board shorts while snowboarding, but it was still on the warm side. Maybe it was just the nervous energy and excitement, that nearly had me wanting to rush the crowd.

The air smelled crisp and sweet. A remnant of the rain and mist of the previous days. Of the carefully manicured and cut lawns. Ryegrass. A durable grass. An absorbing grass. Necessary for the lawns and courts of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Rye makes the surface at Wimbledon so very different from any other court played all year. For the first week, the court plays fast. Low bounce, little change on the velocity of the ball after the bounce. Rewarding the server, the attacker. Punishing the returner and defender. Where attackers have historically reigned supreme - Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Jack Kramer and Roger Federer. I'll admit to a bit of bias. I grew up learning to play attacking tennis. So I care nothing for the games of Rafael Nadal or Caroline Wozniacki. Serve and vol . . . More
Views: 3158 | Comments: 10
Last by Gynecomastia on Oct 19, 2011, 4:38am
I was 3 years old. I didn't know what it meant, but I was 3. The next year, I'd be 4, and I would want an Atari 2600 for my birthday. But at that point in time, I was 3 and the world was going to change. I would later hear about how everything changed and the ensuing hard, uphill struggle to inform. To survive. But instead I was 3. Being filmed in the garage at my grandmother's house on my Uncle's old Betamax camcorder. Running around the small backyard in the Outer Sunset District.

. . . More
Views: 524 | Comments: 5
Last by JaySeeDub on May 27, 2011, 1:10am
Earlier today, the USDA published a press release that revised recommended cooking temperatures. The new temperatures are 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats and 165 °F for poultry, measured with a food thermometer at the thickest part. To this I say, "It's about damned time!"

I know. I know. There are those food safety people who will balk at these lower temperatures, because bacteria are killed off at 154°F(68°C). And there are two major problems with this. For one, the majority of bacteria present will be on the cut surfaces of the meat. Which is why the rules still require a higher temperature for ground meats, blades touch every part of that meat, distributing all the fun stuff everywhere. On the obverse, higher temperatures are only needed to kill bacteria quickly. If you're willing to wait, and preserve flavor, you can use a lower temperature for a longer time. Such as using an immersion circulator or water bath, or a bain marie a low temperature oven. Sear the meat on all sides. Then seal in a plastic bag that can withstand the temperatures in the water bath, or place in a proofed dish in the low temperature oven. The oven method is a little harder to pull off . . . More
Views: 851 | Comments: 5
Last by yannisguerra on Apr 23, 2011, 3:50am
First year will be over in a few short months. Giving us the last "summer vacation" any of us will ever have. We've sat through countless hours of Fundamentals in Patient Care; Nutrition & Metabolism; Cardiovascular; Pulmonology & Renal. Those of us who did volunteer duty have rotated through a number of departments acting as glorified gophers, learning to take patient histories and basic vitals, and learning to stand quietly in the background as Residents and Senior Staff worked. Those of us who were insane enough to want a PhD sat through insane 2-4 week "electives," that made us wonder why we were taking Cell Phys and Physical Chemistry all over. In a much, much shorter time frame. Tears were to be had. Honest.

That said, for next year's first years I have a few words of advice:

. . . More
Views: 468 | Comments: 2
Last by JaySeeDub on Apr 07, 2011, 7:08pm
It's spring. A time of year that evokes confusing emotions for me. A two month window where I become manic about the weather. On the one hand, I suffer from terrible seasonal allergies and rant and rail about everything from wanting to claw my eyes out and rinse them with TRIS buffer to dreaming about slashing and burning every last plant on the planet. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen recent rants on the matter. On the other hand, it is also a time where we start to see long stretches of dry weather in Northern California. The threat of constant rain starts to become a distant memory. As April gives way to May, the threat becomes a weirdly hazy memory. Something akin to a nightmare from two nights ago that your mind can no longer grasp or recall. This constant dry period lends itself well to one of those other passions in my life - tennis.

. . . More
Views: 530 | Comments: 3
Last by JaySeeDub on Mar 23, 2011, 4:03am
Ketchup. A condiment ubiquitous to the American household. I don't think any condiment evokes more flavor memories for Americans. Nor does any condiment have as many rules. Ketchup with fries? Check. Ketchup on a hot dog? Not in NYC, OK on the West Coast. You can put it on a burger, but I will stab you if I ever see you put it on a steak I've made for you. And in 1981 the USDA, under the Reagan Administration, proposed classifying it as a vegetable for the school lunch program. It didn't happen.

School lunches are hit or miss. I remember pre-made, mass produced crap. Chicken nuggets. "Enchiladas." "French bread" "pizzas." Grey green beans. Neon orange carrots. Spongy, soft, sweet rolls. These are not flavors or memories I cherish. I was the kid with the "weird" food. I grew up in a Filipino household. My best friend's mom worked the line at a high end restaurant in SF, and her dad was the sous chef at another Italian restaurant. The flavors I remember best growing up were of sardines in oil alongside eggs at breakfast; fresh avocado everywhere; fresh fish prepared whole in a number of ways (the eyes are still one of my favorites); s . . . More
Views: 4987 | Comments: 4
Last by JaySeeDub on Mar 12, 2011, 9:40pm
So, I was reminded earlier by Jason Goldman that Monday* is Pi Day. And I mentioned that my favorite kind of pie is shepherd's pie. Added to the fact that Dr. G gave me his copies of Modernist Cuisine, I'm going to be distracted. The next part of Blurring The Lines will be delayed. So yeah. It's recipe time. By the way, these books are nearly 21kg total. People on BART were not happy with me when I brought them back.

Braised Short Ribs

6-8 trimmed short ribsSalt (kosher)Cracked pepper60mL olive oil2 medium onions chopped coarse1 whole celery (about 6 stalks), diced large2 carrots, get the biggest you can, diced large (same size as the celery)1 fennel bulb (remove the fronds and stalks), diced large (same as above)1 large leek (white only), diced large (same as above)5 cloves of garlic, finely minced1 bottle of Burgundy (or Pinot Noir)Fresh rosemary, thyme and 1 bay leaf6 cups beef stock, preferably homemade (can also use water)


Set your oven to 300F . . . More
Views: 913 | Comments: 9
Last by Alchemystress on Mar 10, 2011, 9:25am
It's something I get asked quite a bit. Especially when I'm doing private dinners with friends or "Subculture Dining Events" (SCE) as a fundraiser for some University tennis club. Yes, I am a Med Student. Well, MD/PhD student. But, who amongst us is really defined by one facet of our life? And really, why should all the food sci people have all the fun? See, what I'd be doing if it wasn't medicine would definitely be molecular gastronomy. And not the fake kind you see on TV where someone dips stuff in liquid nitrogen or makes foam. Instead it would be what Dr. This works on, Dr. McGee writes about, what the people at UC Davis' Robert Mondavi Institute study. The one that breaks down the how and why of what's going on in the kitchen. Not the flashy television stuff.

In one of my bookcases at home, the bottom two shelves are taken up by 12 4" D-Ring Binders, the Thirteenth Edition of the Merck Index, a copy of McGee's On Food & Cooking, and This' Molecular Gastronomy. The Binders have Mass Spec, GC-IR, H+ and C13 NMR printouts. The printouts are arranged alphabetically by what was put in, and indexed by CAS. Yes, I took the time to make an index. It's even searchable and digital, and maybe one day I'll take the time . . . More
Views: 428 | Comments: 0
There are two important things you need before you begin a recipe - good ingredients and good equipment. Good ingredients are key because they need minimal work. Why bother hiding the inherent good flavor in a quality piece of protein or vegetable under mounds of spices and herbs? Doesn't need it.

Equipment is something home cooks don't always think of the right way. The most expensive cookware isn't always the best and flashy isn't always better. You can pick up a multitude of decent cookware at any restaurant supply store - pots and pans, storage, tools. You don't need the $130 stainless steel pan when you can pick up a decent one for $20 at a restaurant supply store (as I mentioned previously).

But there's one key piece of equipment that I cannot stress enough. Especially if you are going to go out and play with modern cuisine and the array of ingredients that read like they belong in a chem or biochem lab - xanthan gum, sodium alginate, anhydrous citric acid, anhydrous caffeine, tapioca maltodextrin. Maybe you've picked up Martin Lersch's handy guide over at Or maybe you& . . . More
Views: 866 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Mar 04, 2011, 8:13am
I had to break this post up, it just got really big.

It was a typical balmy November afternoon in Los Angeles. I was walking down Santa Monica Blvd to meet my party. Foodie friends I’d made in Southern California had converged to try one of the hottest new spots around. The food? Everyone described the chef in question as practicing “molecular gastronomy.” “Oh really,” I thought to myself. This should be good. The food was well thought out, nuanced, far different from his offerings on a certain television show. Each component was well balanced.

. . . More
Views: 576 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Mar 04, 2011, 7:15am
Mark Bittman at the NY Times has a great opinion piece up on the current food system in the United States. I read this thanks to the ever wonderful Maryn McKenna, who tweeted about Mark's piece. Now food legislation in the United States is tricky. On the one hand, there are the people who support better food as a means to better health. On the other hand, there are those, like Anthony Bourdain, who feel that our priority should be cheaper food for the poor. Sustainable agriculture works, but it is incredibly expensive, and out of reach for those hovering around the poverty level.

Bittman's idea is to tackle the argument at both ends. First by eliminating or severly reducing the subsidies to corn and soy. Corn and soy are two wonderful ingredients, but they're no longer used the way we think they are used. Both are turned into a raw material for processing into feed or plastics or fuel. Very little of the corn grown is the sweet corn we eat. Slightly more soy is turned into something edible for human consump . . . More
Views: 617 | Comments: 5
Last by Lab Mom on Feb 02, 2011, 11:26pm
It was a warm July day in 2008. The temperature was hovering somewhere between pleasant and stifling. For those that could retreat into air conditioned tasting rooms, shaded verandas and terraces or tipple cold, cold Sauvignon or Fume Blanc it was pleasant. Lounging and loafing around speaking to the attendants in tasting rooms and caves. Yet one more pour of the latest release. The dry texture and salty taste of crackers to cleanse visitor palates. A swig of water to keep hydrated for the tourists. Winery staff almost always used the spit buckets exclusively. For those working outside, it was hell.

It was the kind of warm day I typically hate. My allergies were triggered and I was self medicating with some weird combination of Claritin and Zyrtec. Two, or three, Claritin and one and one half Zyrtec for the first 4 hours. Another two Claritin and another Zyrtec, plus the other half, at around 1pm to stave off the worst of my allergies. They never completely went away, but the drugs made it a little more bearable to be outside. I could not wear my contacts because my eyes would not stop watering. This meant I couldn’t wear sunglasses out in the bright Napa sun. My motto of “just pave it all” was close to being uttered. I was missing the salt air and fog of home, just . . . More
Views: 715 | Comments: 8
Last by Coma on Jan 31, 2011, 10:28pm
So you've got your 1-1/2 inch thick, 24-day, dry aged New York Strip, ready to try out my bordelaise, right? Now the question is, do you throw that perfectly aged, buttery piece of red meat goodness on the grill or do you stick it in a pan? Backyard enthusiasts would go for the grill. What's better than a hunk o' beast thrown onto the grill over a charcoal/wood/gas fire? What's more primal and better tasting than the juicy char derived from meat over fire? Well, they're wrong.

Now I'm not saying that backyard grilling and bbq are universally bad, it has its uses, but it isn't for that nice steak. We've all heard of the "Maillard reaction," right? Chemical reaction that happens with a lot of foods that involves non-ezymatic browning. Brown in this instance means flavor. You see, step one of the Maillard reaction is when the reducing end of a sugar reacts with the amine of an amino acid's backbone. This process produces an N-substituted glycosylamine and water.

Now that water is important. See, what are the byproducts when you burn a hydrocarbon? CO2(g) and H2O(g). That means that smoke you see coming up from your grill has water vapor. Now, if water is being formed, you want to completely limit its presence in any reaction . . . More
Views: 502 | Comments: 6
Last by Evie on Jan 11, 2011, 3:36pm
I thought I'd start a weekly series here, where I tackled quick fixes and ideas in the kitchen.  Partly because these are questions/ideas that deserve an answer, but are quick to answer.  Partly because some of the other posts I've got lined up are taking a while to get back from my technical editors (friends I've worked with on recipes/ideas).  Actually one post I've had on the back burner since I started may very well end up a book considering the amount of literature I've consulted to write it.  Seriously.  It's kind of insane.  I may need to chop it up into parts or talk to Dr. G at the Robert Mondavi Institute about finding a publisher.

First up - Sauces.

Who doesn't love sauces?  Whether it's a creamy mornay over macaroni (mac n cheese), ketchup with fries, or a cherry gastrique with braised pork belly.

Sauces serve two purposes.  They accentuate and enhance the food they're lusciously draped over.  And they help lube your mouth.  (For my more prurient readers, I'll allow you time to compose yourself.)  The acids and salts in sauces stimulate your salivary glands into producing more saliva, and if your sauce has any fats, even more lube!  Seriously, your mouth needs all the lube it can get, otherwise you'll choke.

A friend of mine wou . . . More
Views: 551 | Comments: 5
Last by Hannah W on Dec 19, 2010, 9:15pm
Many families have Sunday Dinner, or its equivalent. That one meal, at least, you don't get to miss. The rest of the week may involve trekking back and forth between sports practice, band rehersal, late nights at the office (or in the lab), and who knows what else. For me these were sizeable get togethers of family – core, extended, friends and neighbors. These insane Filipino fetes that no one got to miss.

When I first moved out to Big Public SoCal School, I took that tradition of a big meal with friends with me. They didn’t fall on Sundays, but through necessity and logistics became Fridays. My criteria for these dinners were that it was cheap, filling, moderately difficult and could easily be timed. There was no wagyu beef, no black truffles or caviar making appearances. These meals also couldn’t be boxed or IQF either. It had to wow without being expensive. After graduation, the meals moved around as we all became busy. But to this day one of the dishes that still seems to delight is one that is incredibly simple – risotto. Rice cooked slowly with lots of liquid over a longer period of time, in relation to steamed rice. It fit all my criteria, and if you make it . . . More
Views: 448 | Comments: 6
Last by JaySeeDub on Dec 17, 2010, 9:06pm
So, I'm sitting here steaming after another frustrating episode of Top Chef, and I realized I haven't shared any recipes with you guys. Well, I'm also sitting out here (yes, I'm outside) drinking a bourbon and bacon shake. You heard me right. Bourbon and bacon. Together. In ice cream. And then turned into a milk shake. Oh yeah. It is good. So, as a peace offering, I'm sharing my Bourbon and Bacon Ice Cream recipe.

What you'll need:.5kg good bacon cut up into lardons (tiny chunks)80-100mL good bourbon (I used a 2000 Evan Williams Single Barrel)475mL heavy cream (about 2 cups)300mL whole milk (about 1.25 cups)200g granulated sugar (about 7/8 cups).6g kosher salt (1/8 tsp)7 egg yolks1 vanilla bean and 15mL of good vanilla extract

How to assemble:Fry up your bacon until crisp. Set aside the bacon and the drippings.Combine cream and milk in medium sauce pan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and deposit seeds into cream mix. Remove the cream from the heat, steep the vanilla for a half hour. Throw bacon and fat into warmed mix and let sit overnight in refrigerator.Combine eggs, sugar and salt. Cream together until the egg . . . More
Views: 885 | Comments: 10
Last by Matt on Jan 22, 2011, 6:15am
I had originally planned a badass recipe as my first post. My go to dish to entertain and wow, but then someone DM'ed me over twitter asking if they could substitute something else for salt. "Substitute something else for salt?," I asked myself. I won't go into further details, but the gist of the conversation was that they'd always watched their sodium intake and wanted a new way to season food. They had tried herbal mixtures, spice mixtures, low/no sodium salt substitutes (yes, they exist), all to no avail. And the thing is, there is no real substitute for salt. At all. Sure, it's a rock, and there are other salts out there that have a cation other than sodium, and sometimes an anion that isn't chlorine, but it's the only damn rock we eat. That we need to eat.

Aside from the sodium-potassium pump, sodium is a necessary regulator for normal body function. But more important to this blog, salt is taste. Remember the tongue/taste map from elementary school? Yeah, throw that out the window. Salt's role in . . . More
Views: 1437 | Comments: 19
Last by fuel dispenser on Dec 09, 2010, 2:11am
Hello, Labspaces!

So, introductions.  Right.  I’m a “grad” student in NorCal, and you can pretty much narrow down which institution from there.  I’ll try to keep this pseudo-anonymous as my school has actual restrictions on blogging and social media about what goes on there, hence the quotation marks around “grad.”  Which is hilarious because they still want us to go out and promote the school every so often at local high schools and whatnot.  I don’t make policy there I just follow it.  Sometimes.  I’m still pissed about the whole scrubs thing.  Vile, disgusting garments, we may as well be dressing like hobos with lab coats and stethoscopes.

But, I digress.  In addition to subjecting myself to the joys of med school, I’ve also worked “the line.”  “What’s the line,” you ask?  The line is basically the kitchen at a restaurant.  It’s split up into different stations (grill, fry, cold, etc.), and everyone who works a station is a “linecook.”  There are other guys there who have “Chef” in their title – Sous Chef, Executive Chef, Chef de Cuisine – and those are the guys everyone knows.  I wasn’t one of those guys.

I’ve worked for a couple restaurants throughout life and undergrad.  Whenever I’ve had to . . . More