November 26, 2011

Why I Dont Like Ready Mixes

Homemade cakes are my favorite. I hate those from some bakeries: full of cream, sugar, the sugar coat and the intoxicating fake flavor and color. Even worst: I dont eat wedding cakes. I'd just take a bite perhaps ( for social reasons). They lack the freshness and flavor of a true cake.

The best cakes I like are homemade, fresh from the oven, hot , fluffy, and chocolate flavored.
Don't we all love our mother's or grandmother's cakes? They do their own secret mixes, inspired from the TV show host, some advise from their neighbors, and from they book they read 10 years ago, and Voila the perfect mix to make us happy!

But this exquisite mixes were replaced with  industrial, ready mixes. Mixes made on a large scale to ensure there is no time wasted, no error done, no defect made, no haphazard effect that can occur  when we are in the kitchen baking. 
This is not what I want in my cake. I dont want Betty Crocker. I dont want to use it.
Why do I want to use something that will let me forget the joy of baking ? Let me forget how to err in the recipe? How to ruin my cake? How to make it taste bad or good? Isn't the whole purpose of baking to enjoy it and make something from your own hands (taken from the lebanese , men 2eedaykeh?)

I can only say about Betty or any other mixes: they are like the  botux for baking.; filled artificially with ingredients that make desserts taste more delicious and look more tastier!

To get more proves than why is better to prepare your own mix for baking , I went to the supermarket to compare a ready mix for pancakes and buying the ingredients from scratch.

Here are the points that I compared:

November 16, 2011

The Red Velvet Cake Dilemma

The Red velvet cake has lately been prominent. Everytime I am around my friends , the Red velvet cake should be either mentioned or devoured in their mouths.One can’t deny that its feathery texture, the striking red color, and the overwhelming vanilla taste, that contribute to its fame. It is indeed a magical cake, and just looking at it reminds me of cartoon, and all the Disney movies we all grew up watching.
Picture from the web
However, beauty is not pure. And as everything in life have their pros and cons. The red velvet cake is not an exception to this rule, sadly.

Normally nutritionists scare you off from these high caloric cakes, but as I am a food scientist I’d rather take another angle.  So, this post  is not to scare you away from the calories; rather, it’s the “red” you should worry about.

Let’s take Martha Stewart’s online recipe of the cake. Martha uses around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of a red food coloring to make one cake. She clearly states to put 2 one-ounce bottles liquid red food coloring to achieve the desired shade!Consider a normal diet; you are having one piece of the red velvet cake every month, along with other colorants in food from the halloween candies, to the Eid Mlabbas, to the Christmas colored cookies, to potato chips, fruit loop cereals, the guacamole dip, to the hotdog and the  frozen vegetables…etc The list goes one because everyone is increasingly relying on  processed foods.
 The question is whether all these colorants will cause any health implications.

Let us start why is there color in my food? 
Remarkably, sensory scientists found that color is always associated with flavor. Consumers may refuse to have a green chocolate drink or a brown strawberry juice. Therefore, industries rush in adding colorants to make their product look fresh, nutritious, and thus appealing to consumers. That’s because consumers love everything that resembles nature. ( more on how color affects the sense of tastes of food & drinks by Washington University)

November 4, 2011

China: Through the mouth of the beholder

Perhaps noodles and chopsticks are the hallmarks of the China's cuisine, nevertheless this cuisine is abundant with plenty of  food items. Outstandingly, the cuisine had evolved throughout history due to ethnic, geographical changes and the different dynasties ruling the empire. It had been also shaped by eight distinct gastronomical schools. Therefore what the capitol of China , Beijing,  is bidding nowadays in its food markets, is different than what "china town" or the Lebanese (wanna be) Chinese restaurants are offering.
Let us visit Beijing through the taste buds of  Reina Yammine, who traveled there for her summer internship in a technology company.

Reina, Indulging in her Starfish