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Tito in the Raw

What do you get when you combine my favorite Yugoslav head of state, a Mad Men drink that makes a morning cameo, and our rawsomeness?  After pushing my Swedish meatball of an automobile to the mechanic, we felt that a reward was in order.  Stopped in the liquor store and picked up a liter of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.  Can I get a volunteer to go find out what the f— is handmade vodka?  Thanks.  Anyway, this is made by a geologist and geophysicist, as opposed to the rest of distillers who have distilling degrees.  I mean if it were made by a chemist, I guess it would appeal to the scientific side of me but I guess it’s good that it’s made by a man of science and his crack team of Mad Men found a story to tell.  I like Austin, Texas where this vodka is from, I have two friends who like to drink it, it beat out many high priced vodkas in competitions, so at $21 it’s also recession proof.  Sold!  We come home, fill dissimilar glasses with ice cubes, pour Tito’s into the glasses, and add legally obtained but socially defiant raw milk.  Not a fan of vodka per se but since this action produced a blog post, a smile on my face, and a frown on many others, I’m happy.

You are what you eat

I pride myself on my humility.  Back up, scratch that.  Ever see that big cheese ball who’s eating cheese?  He’d be lucky if it were cheese.  I just cracked an egg with one hand and dropped its contents in my mouth with two, some day it’ll take just one.  So many people fear the idea, the action, yet they consider themselves open minded.  Somehow they’ve been indoctrinated into being scared of these things.  They eat chicken, they eat tofurky, they eat what they eat and are what they eat what they are.  I think Oscar Wilde said that at a raw foods buffet or was it F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Not sure but I’m running out of ideas and this egg is rotting in my teeth.  Wasn’t the exhilarating experience I was expecting.  Eat everything once and then decide.  Eat everything more than once to make a conclusion.  Don’t talk the talk if you’ve never tried it.  I am fed up with that and you’re time is up.  Next!


Grass-fed sirloin steak, mushrooms and onions sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil from the Greek island of Crete, a little bit of Celtic sea salt, freshly ground-pepper, some oregano to taste, and perhaps some raw goats-milk kefalotyri cheese.  That is what I call a real cheesesteak.  Where can one find such a cheesesteak?  Not in the city of Philadelphia, unless of course, I am there and equipped with a wood-burning oven.

So, I wake up early in the morning, it is Labor Day 2012, and I decide to take a trip to Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia before making the drive back to New York.  I order two cheesesteaks from the guy trying to impersonate the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.  There was only one person in front of me, and nobody behind me, and they still tried to pressure them into “ordering fast”, to give you the impression that they are like the Soup Nazi, or perhaps to practice their “Soup Nazi” routine for when tourists were to be around.  Sorry, I didn’t buy it.

As I was eating my cheesesteak I kept staring at the meat and kept thinking that this looks a lot like the pre-cooked meat you get when ordering a steak-like-meat sandwich during one of those special promotions at McDonalds/Burger King.  Actually, I think I can hit the nail on the head perfectly for you… Imagine your son or daughter comes home from school one day and tells you that they had a great Philly Cheesesteak sandwich at school in the cafeteria!  That’s right! The meat looked like public-school cafeteria meat.  Got it?  Anyway, the onions also looked like they were lovingly sauteed by a robot with Artificial Intelligence in some factory in Ohio, freshly canned and shipped over to Philadelphia.  As for the mushrooms? I don’t think they were grown on dirt from the planet earth.  I still don’t know how I used to find these “sandwiches” tasty back in the day when I was a student at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.  Come to think of it, cheesesteaks at Pat’s were or are supposed to be the best in all of Philadelhpia.  In other words, cheesesteaks from everywhere else in the city are horrible when compared to those of Pat’s King of Steaks, or from those of neighboring Geno’s.

After I finished my Pat’s cheese steak, I decided to go the bomb-Iran/we need TSA checkpoints on highways, union supporting Geno’s Steaks.  Geno’s was different than Pat’s in that it was littered with “Support Our Troops” and other “patriotic” stickers, along with one that particularly caught my eye that said  “Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Deportation”.  Nevertheless, there were no stickers saying “Bring our Troops home”, or “End the wars”, or “End the Wars and Fix Veterans Healthcare First” stickers.  Incidentally, this is the same place that once gave a free tee-shirt to myself and a good friend of mine named Russel from Oklahoma, all because the lady behind the glass thought we both had amazing blue eyes.

The cheesesteak from Geno’s tasted almost exactly the same as the one from Pat’s.  So much for surprises, Pat’s = McDonalds, Geno’s = Burger King.  Here is a picture of the Geno’s cheesesteak in all of its glory:

So I decide to buy an extra cheesesteak from both establishments to bring home to my brother in New York so that he could try them and see what he was “missing”.  Back home in New York, I couldn’t finish my portion of these cheesesteaks without drowning them in ketchup.  How do people eat this stuff almost daily in the city of Philadelphia?  Well, at least we now have Obama care, because every single “civilized” western nation has free health insurance to cover people who eat crap food like this, get fat and subsequently get heart attacks and cancer by eating this chemical-laced, hormone/antibiotic pumped, factory produced “meat-like” products.

So the Philly Cheesesteaks were not a hit, but the Reading Terminal Market was.  I arrived in Philadelphia on the Sunday morning the day before Labor day and was not expecting to see raw milk for sale in the Reading Terminal Market.  For if I were expecting it I would have brought the largest cooler I have and would have packed it with ice and as much raw goat’s and cow’s milk as I could put in it!  So I was unfortunate and had to buy a smaller portion of milk.  My hotel room wasn’t even ready by the time I got there, so I decided to sit in the lobby and enjoy some of my recently purchased raw goat’s milk:

The cow’s milk was second on my list of drinks to enjoy, and I ended up finishing it while driving back home to New York:

Philadelphia, when I return to you I will get more raw milk from you, but a cheesesteak? Never again!

That’s all for today, and this is John signing off and telling you remember, eat whole foods. Why? Because there is a reason they are called “whole” in the first place.  The word whole means complete, entire, not missing anything.  They call that big supermarket chain which has its headquarters in Austin, Texas Whole Foods for a reason.  They didn’t call it “Skim Foods”, or “Mechanically Separated Milk Foods”, they called it whole foods.  Think about it, would you rather enjoy the company of a wholesome person or of a non-wholesome person?  Words don’t lie…  and words don’t get their definitions by edict, neither from  Congress nor from Obama or the Supreme Court.  So from now on, drink only raw whole milk.  And if you are lucky enough to live in Philadelphia, you know where to get it from!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Just back from our (or rather John’s) weekly trip to Queens Farm and then Whole Foods.  Even though the kitchen was overloaded with tomatoes, eggplants, and other local treats we bought heirloom tomatoes.  And here I am thinking to myself, yet another phrase that the mom and pop organic industry is spreading to make me think they are on the cutting edge of whatever it is we should be eating to stay healthy and keep them in business.  But I was wrong.  A quick Google search led me to wikipedia (why didn’t I just search wikipedia?) where there was an article on heirloom tomatoes.  Heritage, or heirloom tomatoes are not genetically modified (unless indicated otherwise).  They reproduce automatically which is great cause I like my organic food to be on auto-pilot so long as it does pull a Little Shop of Horrors on me and turn the food chain on its back.  Now it is time to start eating the food we bought because alas the trouble with organic food is that you can’t store it for the winter!

Grass Fed Beef Chronicles

I am in Tucson, Arizona this week and while the only grass I see here is on the prized golf courses, several places are peddling grass fed beef.  I feel bad for the golfers but I guess that explains the Titleist in my burger!  Seriously though, I think the beef here in Arizona is pretty good.  I am slowly coming to the conclusion that any place that is ‘known’ for their beef probably mass produces it and therefore has junk quality.  Take the US Midwest for example.  Kansas City, known for their BBQ, Memphis, known for their BBQ, St. Louis, not known for their BBQ but close enough to the other BBQ towns are all big on corn-fed beef!  The restaurants even advertise ‘Fresh Kansas City Corn Fed Beef’  WTF, are among the acronyms that come to mind.  Aren’t these places known for their beef?  I guess it’s the preparation that they’re known for and yes, it’s pretty darn good and ya’ll come back now!

I went to Austin to start the month of August off and the beef is good as well and Austin’s hippie/hipster/yuppie sub-culture somewhat demands grass fed or at least menus that say so.  I am not sure how much is truly grass-fed.  My trip was followed by a week in Calgary, Alberta and let me tell you something Mr. Midwestern Cattle Rancher….  Your stuff will never compare to what is up north in Canada.  Alberta is full of open space and it is just about expected that the beef is grass fed.  The worst steak in Alberta was better than the best beef I’ve had in the USA. This whole USDA thing and whether it’s local or not means nothing to me any more.  If you want beef, go to the farm and watch them feed the cows but I would rather just fly over to Calgary or Edmonton for a steak.  And while you’re there you can even have Caribou, Venison, Elk, Bison, and Wild Boar.

And so now you may think that I’m upset and bitter about the fact that good ol’ USDA isn’t really that good.  I look at the bright side.  This year I had my fill of well prepared BBQ in Kansas City and well raised beef in Alberta and now I can go back home maybe go for a more meatless or balanced diet.  Of course I can still ridicule at such farmers who feed their cows gummy worms!

Real Greek Yogurt

There are two and only two ingredients in real, authentic Greek Yogurt:

  1. Raw Goats’ Milk
  2. Yogurt Culture

I made some of my own real, authentic Greek Yogurt this past weekend by using none other than the fine Raw Goats’ Milk that I obtained from Edgwick Farms in Cornwall New York.  What I did follows and you can use this information as instructions for how you can make real, authentic Greek Yogurt from the privacy of your home without having to deal with all the additives, preservatives and other nasty tricks that “Greek Yogurt” manufacturers engage in in order to make a bigger profit, at your expense.

You can visit Edgwick Farms yourself, they are located at 348 Angola Road, Cornwall, NY. By the way, their Feta is awesome…

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I took about 3 liters of raw goats’ milk and placed it into a pot and turned on the heat. Once the thermometer read 115 degrees Fahrenheit I introduced a small amount of yogurt culture into the bottom of the pot and stirred it slowly to avoid leaving any thick yogurt clumps.  The yogurt which I used said “contains live cultures” on the package.  After allowing it to incubate for approximately 7 hours, I noticed that very little yogurt culture thrived and I was left with a pot full of milk and very little “new” yogurt.  After doing some research, I determined that this occurred because raw goats’ milk contains many naturally occurring cultures that also compete with the cultures that I introduced via an amount of already existing yogurt.  So I decided to heat the milk up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit to kill some, if not most of the already existing cultures. (Most yogurt manufacturers heat their yogurt to temperatures above and beyond 185 degrees Fahrenheit, which not only kills any live cultures, it also destroys the molecular structure of any, if not most beneficial compounds present in your milk.) After heating the milk to 150 degrees, I waited for it to cool to 110 degrees and then I tried again with some more starter yogurt.

After 7 hours of sitting in the oven – my incubator, I opened the pot and to my delight saw my brand new yogurt made from fresh raw goats’ milk!  I then wrapped up the yogurt in a cheese cloth and placed a bowl beneath where I hung it up to collect the whey.

After 2 hours, I opened the cheese cloth and scooped out some real Greek Yogurt.  I then placed it into the refrigerator and here is what it looked like after about 1 hour:

Now, that is *REAL* Greek Yogurt!  Not yogurt made from reconstituted milk or non-fat milk mixed with milk solids and powdered milk and some more “forms” of milk.

And you want frozen Greek Yogurt? How about you stick it in the freezer overnight.  Don’t believe the Ben & Jerry’s hype, their yogurt is full of sugar and other things that they think the average person cannot understand like “liquid sugar”, “sugar”, “water”, and “corn syrup solids.”  I’m serious, see the picture of the label below, the ingredients literally read:

  • Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Corn Syrup Solids

Did the chef have a hard time with that one? Mix Sugar and Water, add to yogurt.  Take sugar, add to yogurt, take water, add to yogurt.  Take corn syrup solid, add to yogurt. Wow, I must say, this is an amazing recipe, I only dream of being like the folks over at Ben & Jerry’s one day.  Why don’t the founders go occupy some real food ingredients for a change?

Fake frozen Greek yogurt:

*Raw Goats’ milk was legally purchased from Edgwick Farms in Cornwall, New York. (see, or find them on facebook)

Note: In the State of New York, you can only buy raw milk on the farm from a licensed raw milk farm.  So that means I have to drive 2 hours each way from home in order to buy raw milk.  But the milk and yogurt tastes so much better that I am more than willing to make the trip there from time to time.

“Share of the Stomach”

Interesting article in the Washington Post on a former Coke executive and how he regrets the result of his work as a top marketing executive of Coke.  He feels like he contributed to the obesity issue of the day.  Disney is no longer going to accept ads or sell soft drinks at their parks.  NYC Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces.

The comebacks from Coke are so transparent.  They hide behind their diet, low calorie, and no calorie drinks which are just as bad.


This morning there was a large salad bowl on the kitchen table.  At first I thought we were leaving cookies for some kind of vegan Santa Claus but alas it was for us, the people who live in the house.  Our mother had prepared koliva to remember the dead.  Some is brought to the church and some stays here.  Everyone makes this a little differently and whether you believe in its traditional purpose or not, it is very healthy.  I had a variation of koliva at Kafana, a Balkan restaurant in New York City’s Lower East Side as a dessert dish; I think they call it zito.

The core ingredient, wheat, is boiled and then laid out on a cloth on the kitchen table to dry out.  I bet if you left this out it would sprout baby wheat!  The wheat is then mixed in with almond chunks, ground walnuts and walnut chunks, sesame seeds, pomegranate, traces of parsley, spices such as cinnamon, and raisins.  The key thing here is that everything remain dry so it does not chuck up and become mud!  Brown sugar is on the side so we can add to taste.  Keeping the sugar on the side increases the shelf life of koliva.

Midnight Raw

The other night, at midnight to be precise, there was a phone call.  All kinds of crazy thoughts ran through my mind, was it my Japanese ex who worked as a bill collector?  No wait, it was the raw milkman!  And he didn’t come for my wife but for my wallet.  As ordered, he brought a gallon of raw cow’s milk, several duck eggs, and raw butter.

The milk came in a farm-sealed plastic container and the butter in a deli style plastic container, the same kind you get potato salad.  I was hoping for glass containers but I guess this kind of food has a very short shelf life so the milk and butter won’t have time to absorb plastic stuff.  Of course having only taken two courses in Chemistry back in the ’90s I am no expert in how food absorbs plastic. webhosting info .  Anyway, I digress.

John showed me the glass of milk that he had just poured.  Looked like milk!  Having been warned that raw milk is scary and will cause you to react like that chestbuster scene in Alien or look like Kuato, I took a whiff.  Nothing strange here.  Still, I wanted to wait 24 hours to pass after John tried it before I would.  I was also contemplating the risk factors.  Was this more dangerous than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with a stranger strapped to my back?

And so I tried some.  The clear plastic container was transparent enough for me to see a layer on top of the milk.  I had already poured half a glass, so I closed the container and shook the slightly milk to get an even distribution in pour.  I drank whatever was in the glass and poured a full glass of shaken milk.  One sip went down and it was good.  I felt something strange in my stomach.  A bit of a rumble and movement; would this be the end of my drinking of raw milk?  No wait, that was my Android ‘smart’ phone attached to my belt buzzing away.  No strange smells, I didn’t go blind, so I continued to sip.  All along waiting for something strange to happen; a hallucination would have been cool.  I emptied the glass and it was just like having regular milk, just tastier, richer, and fuller.  It didn’t blow my mind the way bungee jumping did, but it was good.

I haven’t tried the butter or the duck eggs.  You must all know that John is beyond overly enthusiastic.  Not sure if this was better for him or his recent car purchase but now we all know his weak point.  A bottle of raw milk and he will name his first born after you.

Tomorrow there are plans to make out of season egg nog.  Duck eggs (quack, quack) and raw milk; will they find raw Bourbon?