Monday, 26 May 2014

Practice makes semi-competent

After a few test runs, my pork bangers are coming out more uniform and pretty. my opinion
if you stare long enough, you get the urge to dive in, to what must surely be a veganless parallel universe
With the help of my reluctant daughter, these puppies were pumped out in no time. Of course the 2-3 hours of preparation is a distant memory. 

The meat (belly and shoulder) is chopped into chunks, ground twice, mixed with the spices of your choice and some water, left overnight and then pumped into some animal intestines that I happened to have lying around.

The twisting into lengths part is a very anxious one for an amateur like me, especially with sheep intestines that are easier to break than pig's. I managed to better my previous best, with only 3 eruptions.

Despite how brilliant they look, they're not quite good enough to eat raw, so yesterday's breakfast/lunch was a couple cooked with scrambled eggs. Unfortunately I had no onions or black pudding handy.

With enough in the freezer to last another couple of months. 

Yes, I definitely think the effort was worth it.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Litoria caerulea vs Grains and Legumes Nutritional Council

I stupidly clicked on a news article yesterday entitled "Lack of whole grains putting Australian health at risk". I don't know why I did, it was obvious from the title that it'd be pushing every boundary of stupidity and ignorance. 

But I did. And it was very, very stupid. So stupid, I had this long and detailed post in mind, expressing my intense bemusement that any sane journalist would write it, or any sane person take it seriously.

The claims came from the Australian Grains and LegumesCouncil. Of course. That such a council exists is news to me, although that they are in the business of pushing their own agenda is hardly surprising. Kinda like the liquor industry forming a council and declaring “people aren’t getting their daily dose of red wine and they’re in danger of anti-oxidant deficiency”. And then a journo runs with it and some people actually believe it.

The intelligence of some human beings is astounding.

But all of this is so predictable and I got bored very quickly. I was hanging up some washing last night and one of our (approximately) 300 green tree frogs was sitting on the line, as they do, just sitting, looking as cool and indifferent as a house cat, an expression on its face that would suggest it had not a care in the world. I imagined it telepathically asking me "why the hell are you wasting your brain cells on such a blatantly idiotic matter?"
Dude, wtf?
It’s hard to think of a more relaxed and placid animal – Litoria caerulea (at least the ones at my house) aren't too fussed if you get close or even pick them up. Found chilling out in pot plants, in your clothes basket or the pocket of your jeans, they only seem to get animated when a monsoonal storm erupts - a deafening choir of croaking, as if they're competing with the sound of the rain on our tin roof.

"Like many frogs, green tree frogs call not only to attract a mate, but also to advertise their location outside the mating season, usually after rain, for reasons that are uncertain to researchers."

Memo to researchers - they're having a massive party, 'cause rain makes them happy. Der.

Green tree frogs are way more interesting than the Grains Council. They're not biased or full of shit for starters. They're also carnivores, with a taste for insects and spiders. Anything that reduces the population of spiders is a hero in my book.

And if you believe wikipedia:

"Although frogs have lungs, they absorb oxygen through their skin, and for this to occur efficiently, the skin must be moist. A disadvantage of moist skin is pathogens can thrive on it, increasing the chance of infection. To counteract this, frogs secrete peptides that destroy these pathogens. The skin secretion from the green tree frog contains caerins, a group of peptides with antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also contains caerulins , which have the same physiological effects as CCK-8, a digestive hormone and hunger suppressant. Several peptides from the skin secretions of the green tree frog have been found to destroy HIV without harming healthy T-cells."

Reading the bit about hunger suppressants, I imagined a morbidly obese person reaching in to their handbag/backpack, pulling out a frog, licking it, and putting it back in. But maybe that's just how MY mind works.

So I guess the point of this post is that I'm trying to unlearn my habit of reading and wasting my time on utter bullshit. It might take some time, but I'm determined to make it work.

I could click on Lack of whole grains putting Australian health at risk and read nonsense like this: "ONLY one third of Australians are consuming enough whole grains and may be putting their health at risk, according to new research."

Or I could take Litoria Caerulea's advice and "just stop that shit, there are millions of things more interesting and important that you could thinking about right now"

Smart frog.
A little smug looking, but probably has every right to be


giving me moral support as I cook ribs on the bbq

Insert your own caption for this one.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Because beef ribs

Is the answer to many questions, not just the obvious ones such as "why don't you try this raw vegan diet I heard about?" 

Why didn't you pick my mother in law up at the airport?
Why are you so happy today?
Why are your kids so bright eyed and healthy looking?
Why did you leave me waiting at the alter?
etc etc.

Anyway, we Australians like to think we are brilliant at cooking on the barbecue. In reality, the average Aussie is pretty shithouse at it, throwing on some mystery bags, lamb chops and steak, turning them a few times and expecting the meat to magically transform into something worthy of a Michelin star.

There are exceptions, of course, including the many Italian/Greek/non-Caucasian Aussies who know a thing or two about spices and marinades and treating meat with respect.

I like to think I'm probably/hopefully somewhere in between.

Our oven has been cactus for about 2 months and the electricians we foolishly hired to fix it have been pushing the limits of incompetence. So, a little sick and tired of cooking on the stove top, it was BBQ time.

I saw these slabs of gorgeousness at the shop and, like any self-respecting human being, thought "they'd be nice in my belly".

About 4kg of stupendousness
Where I live, it costs around $10-11AUD a kilo ($10USD for 2.2 pounds or 6 British Pounds per kilo) for beef ribs like these. Pork ribs will cost around $18-19 a kilo so it's sort of a no-brainer unless money isn't an issue.
Cooking tender ribs is time consuming. Of course you could simply boil them in stock, but I've heard that if an American sees you doing this, you're likely to be shot, so if i have time, slow cooking is best.

A dry rub consisting of salt, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powder, a little bit of cumin and whatever else is laying around is applied. Lay them in a shallow bath of your favourite beer and cover with foil. I'm not sure what you'd use if you didn't want beer - maybe beef stock.
No one actually drinks Fosters here
In the oven or bbq with the hood down. Temperature of around 180-200 Celsius and leave for 3 hours.
S'ok, curiosity didn't injure the 5 year old

And this is what you get

To get some crispy action going, I coat them in a bbq sauce and finish them off, directly on the grill plate over high flame. I know, bbq sauce is almost pure sugar, but you don't need much and this is something I'd eat only occasionally. My sauce is a mix of hoisin, tomato sauce (ketchup), maple syrup, possibly some balsamic, or whatever takes your fancy. 

Keep an eye on the beer bath, because if it dries out completely, so does the meat. If cooked well, the meat should be tender and falling off the bone.

Not exactly cheap, but if you have someone special that you'd like to impress, particularly a male, then this should fit the bill.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Brown rice and personality disorders

Surely they are correlated.

There are many, many things I don't understand about the "I will go to extraordinary lengths to prove I'm healthier than you" crowd, but toward the top of the list is brown rice.

I tasted it once, back in the days when I thought Muscle Magazine was a credible source of nutrition advice. It's so bad, I would question its classification as food fit for consumption. It is so freaking awful, they should be required to package it with a warning - "eating brown rice will damage your taste buds and you run the risk of washing your mouth out with whatever is immediately available, even if that is brake fluid."

If we ignore, for a minute, that brown rice isn't "healthier" for humans than white rice, I don't care how healthy something is, if it tastes like arse, I'm not putting it in my mouth. If some researcher came out with irrefutable proof that brown rice prevented cancer and guaranteed a long and healthy life, I'm sorry, but that's just not a price I'm willing to pay.

I apparently have a perverse obsession with subjecting myself to mainstream nonsense, because I couldn't help but click on this link.

If you bother clicking on it, and I'm not sure you should, do not, under any circumstances scroll to the comments. You will hate yourself afterwards.

Anyway, the article is entitled "It's possible to have too much healthy food". Some would say it is a fascinating insight into the minds of the "damn, I'm so healthy it hurts" crew. I say it is a fascinating example of seemingly intelligent people missing the obvious penis protruding from their forehead and dangling in front of their eyes. 

It starts: "So, you start the day with a green smoothie – almond milk, coconut water, avocado, cucumber, kale, LSA, CHIA and Greek yoghurt. Lunch is generally a quinoa or brown rice salad with nuts and seeds along with a little chicken or tuna. Another almond milk smoothie keeps you going until your nightly gym visit and you finish the day with Thai takeaway or sushi or a piece of salmon and brown rice – all in all, a very healthy day. Numerous nutritional boxes have been ticked, you have swapped your dairy for almond and coconut milk and plenty of nuts, grains and seeds have ensured you have received your good fats. So why are you not losing weight?"

There are so many things wrong with this opening paragraph, I'm not quite sure where to start. As to the final question, I would have thought the answer was obvious, but apparently not, because the author says:

"Healthy, fit individuals doing their very best to eat well, but such an intense focus on including as many ‘'healthy’' foods in the diet as possible has resulted in a little too much good food, which unfortunately then also translates into a calorie overload."

So, knowing their definition of 'good' is 'bland and unsatisfying', it helps to understand why they can't see their problem:

  • the food they're eating is not satiating
  • the food they're eating is making them hungry not long after they've eaten it
  • they appear to be mashocists
  • the poor souls can't seem to source any animal fat, eggs or butter
  • there's a chance all the brown rice is messing with their neurons
I know almost zero about food reward theory (zero care factor), but it is tempting to call this scenario the "nutritionist paradox", because there are no sane people who would consider this food 'rewarding' and yet they can't seem to stop eating it.

I know liver is chock full of nutrients, but I gag at the taste. If I put some in my mouth and try to convince myself "mmm, this is so delicious", I would not only hate myself, but I'm pretty sure it would lead to some sort of personality disorder. 

The author of the column is "one of Australia’s leading dietitians", Susie Burrell. I don't know her and I haven't read any of her books, so I'm almost tempted to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one and speculate she's ....
nope, I have no idea what she's thinking. 

Must be the brown rice.

Ayrton Senna. 20 years has flown by.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Catalyst for censorship

I s'pose it was only a matter of time. 

Australia's ABC broadcast two episodes of their Catalyst program late last year, in which Dr Maryanne Demasi presented the counter argument to mainstream advice on saturated fat and cholesterol medication.

Not surprisingly, the authorities and experts didn't like it. Apparently it was biased and misleading and "people would die" as a result of watching it.

An ABC internal review has now found that the program breached editorial standards on impartiality and the videos have been taken down from the website.

I can attest to the Catalyst episodes being a big deal here. I didn't know they were being aired until I started getting phone calls from family saying things like "turn on the ABC, there's some people agreeing with you about fat". 

Of course I didn't think the show was biased, but maybe that's because the Heart Foundation, food companies and authorities have it had it their own way for decades. They've had a free run of things, with little to no opposition. When someone pops their head up to question their 'facts' and 'thorough research', they get it chopped off.

Sad, but predictable, and I certainly hope it isn't the end of rational debate on this incredibly important topic.

You may still be able to view the episodes on YouTube or otherwise. While they aren't flawless in their presentation, they did wake a few people up and have them questioning why they were taking pills "just because".

not relevant, but nice to look at. Mmmm..mud crabs.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Gimp suit required

If we are to believe the press and a certain group of scientists (c’mon, don’t be a skeptic, why wouldn't we?), cancer cells represent a morbidly obese Biggest Loser contestant and Low Density Lipoproteins are an all-you-can-eat buffet.

If you’re in to self-harm, you can read the relevant paper here -

It is chock-full of gobbledygook and you only need to skim the title to realise it is a painful read – “Cholesterol Regulates Syntaxin 6 Trafficking at trans-Golgi Network Endosomal Boundaries”.

Dr Thomas Grewall, from the University of Sydney, is obviously a very smart man because he knows what Syntaxin 6 is and where the trans-Golgi network leads to. I tried to read his team's paper but I recently retired my Gimp suit and ball and gag and I think if you’re going to practice masochism you should always do it in the proper uniform.

So this is where the journos become semi-useful because they managed to get some juicy quotes from Dr Grewall that allow us to interpret his research team's views: 
  • “The study found “bad” cholesterol helps integrins – "Velcro-like" molecules that live on the surface of cells – move around the body more freely.
  • "this is the first time we have seen how blocking LDL uptake could help stop cancer cells from moving," Associate Professor Grewal said.
  • “Our findings advance the theory that knowing how to manipulate and lower bad cholesterol could significantly help to reduce the ability of cancer cells to spread.”
  • Prof Grewal said the best current way forward is to exercise and cut cholesterol in the diet and eat the good cholesterol in polyunsaturated margarines.
  • “people with common cancers, such as breast, prostate, lung and liver cancers, often have low LDL levels because the cholesterol has been absorbed by the cancer cells which need it to grow and spread.
  • "More research was needed to determine if statins and other cholesterol-inhibiting drugs can be used to block cancer cells because it was "impossible" to remove cholesterol from the body entirely", he said.
If you don't trust journos to quote Dr Grewall properly, then you can hear it from the horse's mouth here -

I concede that, given I didn't study his paper and learn all I could about integrins, Dr Grewall could be correct. I could be just another lazy, ignorant skeptic, too entrenched in my own fantasies to see the truth even after it has been pushed in front of me.

But life is short and my care factor is on life support. I believe that, where possible, it makes sense to trust your gut when something smells like bullshit. The integrin theory of statin deficiency reeks of it.

If I’m diagnosed with cancer anytime soon, I reckon the last thing I’ll be putting down my throat is a drug to reduce my cholesterol. 

But that’s just me. Fingers in my ears. La la la la, can’t hear you Dr Grewall!

Lewis Hamilton doesn't want to hear it either