Rick’s Picks: Great pickles and pickled vegetables. Read our review.
While many people search high and low for one Very Special Gift, there’s often nothing better to give food-lovers than the most delicious versions of everyday products they really enjoy. The best gourmet peanut butters, jams, chocolate bars, maple syrups, teas or mustards, e.g., are treats that recipients can appreciate every day of the year—and they’ll think of you with every delicious bite or sip. Put together a selection of the best in a gift box. In addition to the foods, your gift will be the joy of discovery. Check out the Main Nibbles section for our favorite everyday foods (peanut butter, salsa, etc.) and see the Gift Finder section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for more product recommendations in every category.
Want to mix up a little something special? How about coconut egg nog? It’s a basic rum egg nog recipe plus coconut milk or cream—the type used to make piña coladas. See the coconut egg nog recipe and find other holiday cocktail recipes in the Cocktails & Spirits section of THE NIBBLE online magazine (there’s regular egg nog, chocolate egg nog, and [in our Diet Nibbles section] diet egg nog). You can find general holiday recipes in the December issue of THE NIBBLE.
Actual imagery of factory farms is too depressing for food pages, so we’ve substituted this image from The Meatrix. See the Times story for the real thing.
In yesterday’s New York Times magazine section, Michael Pollan, who is professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the school’s Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism, does more than just expose another filthy meat “factory farm.” In these huge, meat-producing operations for pigs, chicken and cattle, animals are penned in on top of each other, standing in their own muck, such that they must be fed antibiotics daily or they would die of disease. (If you want to see the animated film version this, suitable for children, see the award-winning “The Meatrix”). It’s just not ugly anymore, though: It may be fatal. A virulent strain of the Staphylococcus bacteria, called MRSA, is now killing more American than AIDS, and it’s antibiotic-resistant.
Studies in Canada and Europe have found that confinement pig operations (factory farms) are reservoirs of MRSA. While scientists have not established that any of the strains of MRSA that are responsible for American deaths originated on factory farms, the livestock industry has not been cooperative, nor has the Department of Agriculture rushed to investigate. What can you do? Read Michael Pollan’s story, and switch to organic meat. The latter is not a suggestion of the Pollan story, but THE NIBBLE’s. Organic meat comes from antibiotic-free animals, which would avoid any forthcoming drug-resistant infections in humans that stem from the antibiotics in meat. You can read more about the challenges of Big Agribusiness in Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and more about organics in the NutriNibbles section of THE NIBBLE online magazine
Crush a package of red spiral peppermints with a rolling pin between waxed paper. Keep them in an airtight jar. Then, use them to apply a touch of holiday flavor to ice cream, the rims of hot chocolate mugs, cupcake icing, other desserts, vanilla yogurt…whatever strikes your fancy (use a pinch to garnish to any dessert plate). It’s as if the Good Peppermint Fairy touched her wand to make things a bit more special. Peppermint bark is crushed peppermint added to chocolate bars. Read about our favorite peppermint bark from Enstrom’s—peppermint plus semisweet and white chocolate and chocolate cookies!
This week’s prize in THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet Giveaway is a delicious 3-4 pound spiral-sliced, boneless ham from Nueske, which we rated as one of our favorite hams after tasting more than 40. It has a hand-applied honey glaze that gives it a mild, sweet flavor. And it comes fully cooked, already cut into neat, even slices—ready for a party or a special family dinner. Serve at room temperature or gently warmed. Few things so delicious require so little preparation time (“remove ham and set on plate”). You can see more of Nueske’s ham and bacon products at Nueskes.com. See more of THE NIBBLE’s favorite hams in the Gourmet Meat & Poultry Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. Also take a look at the other top hams in our ham challenge tasting. Take trivia quizzes on ham and other food topics at the Gourmet Giveaway home page.