dr_mabeuse's Profile

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Top 3 Hot Dogs

For me, all kosher dogs are not the same, and I never get mine grilled. I want to taste dog, not char. Charring is for Oscar Meyer.
Get one plain. Does the dog 'pop' when you bite into it? Does it run with savory doggy juices? Is the bun in that ideal state where it offers a bland but luxurious cushion on which to showcase each bite? Together, are they the right temperature to melt onto your tongue?
Your plain dog is your ground zero of quality. If you wouldn't eat one of their dogs plain, then move on.
Now the condiments: Onions fresh and not skunky? Mustard sparkly and bright? Relish (not a favorite) clean and not too cloyingly sweet? Peppers and pickle fresh and aggressive?
I'm a purist. Anything more than OMRP&P is overkill. They're trying to hide something, and it probably isn't good.
Finally, fried should accompany it and they should be from real potatoes and fresh, and wrapped with the dog in that traditional tissue. Something magical happens when dog meets fries in that confined space. A melding, a mellowing. And if some fries adhere to the dog when you eat it, so much the better.
It's very hard to find places that still wrap the fries with the dog "old school", but they're worth seeking out. Gene & Jude's comes to mind, and Poochie's will make them that way if you ask.

May 12, 2013
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Factory vs organic produce and factory vs. organic meats are two different balls of wax. Science hasn't been able to establish any negative health effects of factory vs. organic produce, but the deleterious health effects of additives and antibiotics in meats have been pretty well established.

Sep 05, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

It IS hard to pin down. Because no one has ever been able to show a cause-and-effect relationship between FDA-allowed levels of pesticides and cancer, at least as far as I know. In other words, science, which seems to be the best method of establishing empirical truth that we've been able to devise, cannot find evidence of such a link.

People are entirely free to choose their foods by whatever criteria they like, and I have no doubt that one's attitude towards one's food has an influence on one's health. But so far, there's no scientific evidence that FDA-approved levels of pesticides in food are harmful. And I'm on the side of the scientists.

Sep 05, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Well, when I said 'more', I meant 'proportionally more'. I apologize for not being clearer.

I'm entirely willing to be proven wrong on this, if you can find some documented examples of (proportionally) more people getting ill from eating 'inorganic' produce than from eating the organically produced counterparts. I say produce and not meat, because the problems with factory-farmed meat are well-known.

But there's a price to be paid for not using pesticides, and that's that organic produce is simply exposed to more pests, including insects and their eggs and larvae, and fungal infestations that you just don't see in treated produce. And the use of manure as fertilizer carries with it certain risks, especially if it's not composted properly.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Aside fro variety, the most important factor in determining the organoleptics of fruits and vegetables seems to be freshness. So it could very well be that your close-by organic tomato tastes better because it's fresher, not because it's organic.

To be sure, you'd have to test a fresh-picked factory-farmed tomato against a days-old, shipped in organic one.

In my own experience, the best produce I've ever tasted has always come straight from the garden, whether raised organically, inorganically, or by robots from Mars. Fresh-picked lettuce is unbelievable.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

I'm old enough to remember that too. I was a city boy, and I recall the scary job of husking corn my dad would bring in from the farm stands on the edge of town, and the nauseating feeling of finding some big brown worm wiggling around in there. I remember finding thrips turning the inner leaves of a head of lettuce into brown slime after I'd already eaten some, and maggots floating to the surface of my raisin bran after my grandma poured the milk in.

It's no wonder I didn't eat fruits or vegetables for the first 25 years of my life.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Okay, I apologize and I stand corrected regarding polyphenols in tomatoes.

"The more stress plants suffer, the more polyphenols they produce," points out lecturer Lamuela.

So factory-farmers need to scream and abuse their plants more.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

The real problem with most nutritional studies is this: Food just doesn't really make that much of a difference. Certainly not enough of a difference that it emerges as a smoking gun in nutritional studies with a clear cause-and-effect relationship.

Yes, if you live on a diet of lard and twinkies you'll be sicker than someone who follows a more prudent diet, but any health difference between drinking 2 and 4 cups of coffee/wine/whatever are dwarfed by other lifestyle factors, many of which are still unknown, and so the statistical results they come up with are pretty much meaningless. And that's why last year eggs were poison and fish oil prevented Altzheimer's, and this year eggs are nature's perfect food again while fish oil does nothing.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Here's an article from the NY Times about an outbreak if salmonella that occured in organically grown peanuts:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/dining/04cert.html?pagewanted=all

And here's one from the FDA about the danger of organically-produced eggs:
http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/ucm276901.htm

Better yet, just check out this Google search page for reports of contamination in organically grown spinach, pistachio nuts, and bean sprouts:
https://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=organic+food+salmonella&oq=organic+food+salmonella&gs_l=igoogle.1.0.0i30j0i8i30.13499.28645.0.32101.23.23.0.0.0.0.487.4406.4j13j3j0j3.23.0...0.0...1ac.WMzfwGLWJwo

Part of the problem is, we've come to equate "natural" with "wholesome", whereas in truth, Nature is quite capable of making some very nasty toxins without man's help, and without man's intervention, food can be a lot more dangerous and less appealing. The most potent carcinogen we know of is a natural product: Aflatoxin, which comes from a a mold which grows naturally on stored peanuts unless they're treated to prevent it. All almonds naturally contain cyanide compounds, and mushrooms, no matter how organically grown, contain a host of chemicals linked to cancer. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

We are a chemophobic society. We assume anything that has a chemical name is a poison, which is just nonsense. At its worst, our chemophobia leads to mass hysteria like the Alar scare of 10 years ago, which devastated the apple business for years after Meryl Streep, that notorious expert on food chemistry and safety, testified before congress:
http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubi...

There's no scientific study I'm aware of that shows that man-made chemicals and pesticides in the doses permitted under USDA/FDA guidelines are harmful to humans. Believing in something for which there's no factual evidence is called "faith" by some, "superstition" by others.

But my point isn't that organic food is bad, or a scam, and I believe that if it makes you feel better to keep an all-organic diet, then by all means, go for it. But organic food is not the Philosopher's Stone to good health that some advocates would have us believe.

Jul 08, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

Outside of industrial accidents, I'm not aware of any scientific studies that link consumption of residue levels of common pesticides to health problems. What evidence there is appears to be anecdotal and probably psychological. Meanwhile, pesticide-free produce can be demonstrated to contain more insect filth and infestation (under the skin as well as on it) than its pesticide-treated counterpart, and there are more recorded cases of people getting sick from eating organic produce than from non-organic.

But still, I wouldn't dismiss the placebo effects of eating organic foods, which can be real and significant. If you believe in the superiority or organic produce, then you're probably going to feel better if you eat it. In an objective double-blind test, though, I'm unaware of any studies that show any demonstrable health advantages. One of the big reasons there's so much controversy and contention about the standards for 'Organic' is that they're based on no scientific evidence, and therefore merely reflect people's opinions of what 'organic' should mean.

Jul 04, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

The USDA does have a very precise legal definition of "organic" as it applies to food, which can be found here: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/of..., or summarized in the Wikipedia entry on "Organic Certification". It's been enforcing it since 2009.

The problem is, there's never been any scientific evidence to support the idea that organic produce is any healthier. safer, better-tasting, or more nourishing than non-organic produce. The superior taste some people discern in organic produce is generally attributable to its being fresher or &/or from a more flavorful variety. Same is true for farm stand produce.

The aura of healthfulness and purity that surrounds the notion of "organic" produce is mostly superstition, albeit a very strong and persistent one.

Jun 20, 2012
dr_mabeuse in General Topics

Kale Preparation

A Southern friend taught me to make greens back in my college days, and though I've since substituted OO and garlic for his bacon and onions, I've been using his method ever since: heat some garlic in oil, then throw in the wet kale and let it braise in its own liquid ~20-30 minutes, season, and that's it..

You've got to remove the tough stems from the leaves first, though, and here's a neat folky trick for that: toss your kale in the sink and wash it well. Then pick up a leaf and hold it by the tip, tip up, and just rip the leaf away from the stem on one side, pulling down like tearing paper. It comes off in one piece with remarkable ease, and it's kind of amazing to see. Then turn the leaf around and do the other side.

Saute your garlic in a pot containing enough OO to coat the bottom (OO/butter also works well), then toss in the washed and de-stemmed kale. The leaves will have enough water on them to provide sufficient braising liquid. If not, toss in a little more water. Cover the pot and let them cook. When they're soft enough, after about 20-30 minutes or so, eyeball the amount of pot liquor, and toss in the appropriate amount of dry bouillon and pepper flakes (optional). Cook for another 5 minutes and that's it.

Apr 22, 2012
dr_mabeuse in Home Cooking

Cheese Board Ideas

Cheese can be a bit rich and intense, even when served with crackers or bread, so I'd suggest serving fruit too. Pears are great with blue cheeses, and apples with cheddars, and it's hard to go wrong with grapes, which are attractive and easy to serve. The fruit compliments the cheese's texture and really does refresh the palate.

Sep 24, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Cheese

Top 3 Hot Dogs

Well, that could be. Using real spuds, if the oil isn't up to temperature when they're put in, they'll soak up grease like a sponge.

But back in the day, i still remember when you *expected* the fries at some places to make your paper bag translucent from grease. Sammy's on Division near LaSalle (?) was notorious for this, and i had a friend whose old Plymouth Barracuda was protected not by a coating of wax, but by the grease stains from all the bags of Sammy's fries we ate off the hood of his car.

Apr 22, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

Wow! An Italian beef in a *bun*? No, that's a new one to me, but I should say that I actually grew up on the North Side in Budlong Woods, around Foster and California, and didn't move down to the Halsted Armitage neighborhood till I'd started college in '60. As a kid, every Tuesday night my dad would bring hot dogs from Lerner's, which I *think* was on Lawrence near Kedzie near the old Terminal Theater, though I also recall a stand-alone shack on the SE corner of Bryn Mawr and Kedzie that I think was called Lerner's too. So things get hazy for me back there.

Apr 11, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

Exactly. Hot Doug's is an excellent eatery, but it's in no way a Chicago Hot Dog place, and they offer a completely different experience.

-----
Hot Doug's
3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Apr 10, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

First time I ever encountered that "garden dog" concoction that's now mistakenly called Chicago Style was in about 1959-60 at a place on the NE corner of California and Touhy called Paul's Umbrella. They loaded on tomatoes and celery salt and--if I recall correctly--cucumber slices. I remember that my folks found these an especially exotic take on the usual Lerner's Hotdog, and Paul's was quite the rage for a while, but to my skeptical tastes, all that superfluous vegetation seemed to be masking a decidedly inferior-quality sausage, and I've been anti garden-dog ever since.

The classic Chicago hot dog I knew from the mid-50's on up was a kosher sausage on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, relish, and onions (and never, ever ketchup). Typically the fries were thrown on top of the dog and all wrapped together in white tissue paper to keep everything warm, giving the classic "meal-on-a-bun" arrangement. Later, sport peppers and pickles gained acceptance, but for me, that dreaded salad-on-a-sausage that now passes as a Chicago Style Hot Dog will always bear the same relationship to the real Classic as one of those parasol-bearing, tropical fruit-laden Trader Vic cocktails does to a good glass of scotch.

Apr 10, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

For years I lived on Dickens and Bissell and I used to eat lunch, dinner, and breakfast at that stand. As I recall, the owner's name was George and he had a bad burn on one cheek that looked like a cooking accident. He just about lived there and told me how he used to catch some sleep in back on the sacks of unpeeled potatoes.

I have many fond memories of staggering back from the bars on North Avenue on a freezing winter's night and seeing the glow of that stand with the clouds of steam billowing from the service window and knowing civilization was nigh. At the time, a dog and fries cost $1 and were wrapped together in paper and put in a little brown paper bag, and you'd grab the paper and pull it free, spilling the fries into the bag, then eat the dog as you walked home. The dog would heat you up inside while the bag of hot fries kept your hand warm.

Apr 10, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

Fluky's seasonal decorations were cute and the kids loved them, but I think that's one of the things that led to Fluky's losing its reputation and credibility among dedicated Chicago Dog Purists. It seems to me they started the decorations about the same time they put in the salad bar and started selling soup and chicken sandwiches, which is always a bad sign.

Apr 10, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

You're right, you're right, and i stand most gratefully corrected.

Apr 10, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Top 3 Hot Dogs

For the pure Zen Essence of the Great Chicago Hot Dog there is alas, only one place left: Gene and Jude's. This is NOT for sissies. This is NOT for tourists. Because this is NOT the modern "Chicago Style" dog piled up with slop like tomato and lettuce and cucumber slices and celery salt and so much other crap that it's like eating a bad salad with some kind of sausage buried in it. That is NOT a classic Chicago-style dog.

The classic Chicago Hot Dog stands and falls on its own merits: a toothsome casing that snaps when you bite into it and releases a buttery-beefy rush of spicy and garlicky hotdog flavor that makes the senses reel, nestled into a perfectly-steamed bun whose bland doughiness provides the solid stage upon with the flavors of the dog can whirl and dance. This is what you find at Gene and Jude's, and it's worth the 40 minute drive it now takes up.

AT Gene and Jude's, ALL they serve are dogs, tamales, fries, and soft drinks. The ONLY condiments available are mustard, relish, onions, peppers and pickle. That's how God intended it, and a trip to Gene and Jude's will reveal the wisdom of His plan. Once upon a time, before the advent of that hellacious "garden dog" where you can't tell wither the weiner is Vienna or Hygrade BallPark, most Chicago hotdogs were this good, but no more.

Oh yeah: real hand cut fries too, rolled up with the dog in the classic "meal-on-a-bun" configuration. Damn! I need one NOW!

Apr 09, 2011
dr_mabeuse in Chicago Area

Posole!!!!! [moved from L.A. board]

In my experience, pozole's a pretty idiosyncratic dish: Everyone's got their own version and their own way of cooking it, and they all seem good. We add dried chicken bi;;ion to the stock because unless you use hocks and bones and make a separate stock, you get a very tasteless broth.

We use a 2-21/2 lb chunk of pork, cover it with water, throw in a whole unpeeled head of garlic (it comes out later), some oregano and white pepper, and simmer till the meat's falling off the bone, about 11/2-2 hrs. We also add 5-6 chicken thighs after an hour and let those cook along with the pork too.

Fish out the meats (and the garlic head) and let cool. Skim the stock, and add sufficient instant chicken bullion to give some flavor to the stock. Add the drained and washed canned hominy and heat through. Meanwhile discard the garlic, cube the meats and add them back to the broth, season with salt and pepper, and serve in bowls with hot tortillas and lime wedges, chopped white onion, radishes, and lettuce (gives a nice crunch), and either chopped green chilies or hot sauce.

You can add whatever you like once everything's in the pot: dried red chilies, salsa verde for green pozole, or red for...red. We make a huge pot of this and eat it happily for days. It gets better as it stands.

Fish out the pork a and throw in 5-6 (boneless are easiest)

Dec 18, 2010
dr_mabeuse in General Topics