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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Hey, the First Ingredient Is “Beef Lips!”

Once you start peering at fruits for organic labels and checking food labels for high-fructose corn syrup, it gets a lot harder to just throw a bag of Whiskas in your grocery cart without thinking about it. Just what's in that bag of food you pour into a bowl each morning?

Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat, by Marion Nestle (What to Eat) and Malden Nesheim, peers into the pet food industry and advises the ethical animal owner. Nestle and Nesheim are in the middle of a book-reading tour (which includes a stop at the incomparable Omnivore Books in San Francisco on Saturday), but Nestle was able to take the time to answer some questions for CHOW by email.


You Got Hazelnut Latte in My Oatmeal!

You Got Hazelnut Latte in My Oatmeal!

This week's mission: instant oatmeal, served haute. READ MORE

A Dandelion Patch in Your Kitchen

Dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salad if young and tender enough, or cooked like other bitter greens.

Gio grew up eating dandelion salad. "My mother used to say, 'Bitter in the mouth, sweet in the stomach,'" she says. "I suppose that made her feel better about serving the very homely greens to us. But, truth to tell, I loved the salad then and I still do. Just the greens—especially the tiny leaves from the center and the little unopened sweet buds, well washed, seasoned with salt and pepper, very good olive oil, and red wine vinegar."

corneygirl blanches dandelion greens, dresses them with red wine vinegar, and adds them to pizza with caramelized onions and blue cheese. Other hounds sauté them as they would other tender greens: with bacon and cider vinegar, or with anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Have dandelion greens for breakfast with CHOW's Wilted Greens with Balsamic Fried Eggs.

Discuss: Anybody else eating dandelion greens for dinner tonight?

Drug Booze

Drug Booze

This week's mission: Coca liqueur grabs your attention, but does it make a good drink? READ MORE

A Check on Rude Behavior

A Check on Rude Behavior

"Forgetting" cash and other questionable moves. READ MORE

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I love strawberries in salad. My favorite is spring mix with sliced strawberries, toasted sliced almonds, shredded poached chicken, and poppy seed dressing." – Yamalam

"I made brownies in my mini-muffin tin and they came out crusty and chewy—perfect!" – Ruth Lafler

"The yummiest burger I have made had the following: slow-roasted tomatoes with herbs, [salt and pepper], meat stuffed with blue or Gorgonzola, arugula, and a Dijon mustard." – JEN10

Checking Yelp’s Work

Frequent diners bitch a lot about user-generated reviews. Almost as much, in fact, as they complain about the reviews written by professional food writers. But few people do anything about it, which is what makes this Yelp semi-takedown by Tim Carman such an interesting read.


Pee-wee’s Playhouse Meets Food TV

Robert Lloyd, the Los Angeles Times TV critic, adores the wacky, colorful sock-puppet-strewn world of Thu Tran's television show Food Party, which is now airing its second season on IFC. The show, which Lloyd describes as a cross between Julia Child's The French Chef and Pee-wee's Playhouse, grew from Tran's installation art, and a desire to hang out with friends and "have something to show for it." While it might not give you any practical 30-minute-meal ideas, the psychedelic stoner anime vibe of the show is a lot more fun to watch than the manicured slickness of the Food Network. Have a look for yourself.

Home-Aged Jack Cheese

BobB forgot about an unopened package of Monterey Jack cheese in his fridge for a few months. He was going to throw it away but noted there was no visible mold, and like a true hound, decided to try it. "What a revelation!" he says. "The biggest difference is in the texture—it has ripened into a semi-soft cheese, at room temperature actually spreadable. And the flavor has deepened, not in an 'off' way, but somehow richer and more savory than any Jack I've ever tasted. The only thing I can compare it to is a really soft Bom Petisco."

Melanie Wong has had soft-textured aged Jack made from raw milk and aged over 60 days. "This cheese had developed a richness and nutty nuances with a semi-soft texture that reminded me of Alpine cheeses," she says. "The cheesemonger who sold it to me said he had suggested that the name be changed to something else, as this cheese has little connection to what we think of as Jack cheese."

Discuss: Aged Monterey Jack – who knew?

The Flavor of Apricot Pits

The typical dried apricot, as greygarious understands it, is halved and has its pit removed before drying. Slip-pit apricots are dried with their pits in; then the pits are removed. But once in a while, a lucky and resourceful Chowhound can find dried apricots that still have their pits in them. greygarious had some of those recently; "I found that the pit-ins were spectacular, imbued with a stronger oaky, amaretto flavor than the slip-pits," says greygarious.

Vetter also loves the flavor of apricot pits. "I still have a whole bag of apricot pits in my freezer from last summer—I was going to make ice cream with them," says Vetter. "I better get on that!"

Note: Apricot pits do contain some cyanide; eat at your own risk.

Discuss: Speakeasy apricots