CK Links--Friday September 23, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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A quick announcement: my friend and blogging colleague Monica Bhide just released a new novel: Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken. Filled with poetry and food, it follows the journey of a young man as he tries to overcome a tragic childhood and manifest his dream to feed the hungry. Take a look!

Remember last week's link about how the sugar industry distorts dietary science? Here's an intriguing rebuttal, with an interesting take on "bias" in research. (Nutrevolve)

If you saw this week's post at CK and were curious about Black Swallowtail Butterflies, you can actually raise your own! Here's how. (Texas Butterfly Ranch)

Consumers aren't exactly overjoyed to pay extra for cage-free eggs, leading to losses and substantial oversupply. (Jayson Lusk)

Saving a young man from a life of financial depravity. (Mr. Money Mustache)

Intriguing short article about an inventor who figured out a way to turn waste plastic from the ocean into low-cost building materials. (Popular Science)

Beware of policymakers who pathologize others for doing things they don't understand, without realizing it is their understanding that is limited. (Medium)





Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Is It Worth It To Grow Home-Grown Parsley? Hell Yes! [Plus: Bonus Butterflies]

Readers, we've been running a little experiment over the past two years with home-grown parsley. We wanted to see if it was worth it to grow it at home--worth it in the sense of the cost, the time involved, and the quality of the parsley we grew.

Well, it is worth it... in many more ways than we expected. Two years ago, in springtime, Laura bought a $1.49 packet of parsley seeds, and put them in a big $2.50 plastic pot filled with $2-3 worth of potting soil. We set that baby out on our little balcony and just let it grow.

Any time we had a recipe calling for fresh parsley I'd run out there with a pair of scissors, give Mr. Parsley a quick haircut, and return with a handful of parsley so fresh and fragrant, you could hardly believe it.

Better still, when winter rolled around that year, we just brought our parsley plant inside and let him keep growing. The following spring, not only did he yield even more parsley, he began flowering too, which later produced (free) seeds for us. We'll probably give those away, but if we wanted to, we could theoretically grow still more parsley in still more pots at minimal extra cost.

As it was, that one pot by itself produced plenty of parsley, as much as we could use. And each time I harvested parsley off of this plant, I saved money, time, and effort in a wide range of ways: I no longer needed to remember to write "parsley" on my grocery list, I no longer needed to pay a grocery store $1.99 for a bunch of three-week-old parsley leaves shipped in from California or Mexico. For two years and counting, I never even needed to think about this very common recipe ingredient.

All of these benefits grew from a one-time cost of less than $7.00. Which means this pot of parsley easily paid for itself in season one, and will continue to offer value and convenience to us for who knows how many years.

This year, however, there was yet one more benefit, a gigantic one. A few weeks ago, we started seeing a few visitors in and around some of the leaves on our parsley plant--little dark caterpillars like this one:


The other day I took a close look around in there and was shocked to see this guy!


We freaked out at first (Gahhh! What the heck is that??) but then discovered it's the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly--a beautiful butterfly that's perhaps second only to the Monarch in popularity among butterfly fans. The smaller, darker caterpillars were simply at an earlier development stage. The freakish looking "mature" caterpillar should begin forming a chrysalis in another 10 days or so.

Wow. So in addition to two years' supply (and counting) of fresh parsley, we got a bonus free lepidoptery class too. Yep, it's definitely worth it to grow home-grown parsley.


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday September 16, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Mark Bittman goes off the rails a bit on the science of GMOs. (Jayson Lusk)

How to open any jar. Any! (Stonesoup)

How the sugar industry has distorted dietary science for over 50 years (Vox)

How truffle oil became a complete scam. (Priceonomics)

What it's like to be the New York Times restaurant critic, and be the judge, jury and executioner of restaurants. Long, but a good read. (New Yorker)

How can students better "future-proof" their careers? (Atlantic)

A challenge to you to stop procrastinating. And no, you can't read it later! (Zen Habits)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Wait... Does It Really Cost More To Go Partial Vegetarian?

Jayson Lusk wrote recently about a recent study he published examining whether or not vegetarians spend less on food:

"This issue is of interest because food costs are often a reason touted for reduced meat consumption. The argument is that meat is expensive and thus eschewing meat (or participating in meatless Monday, for example) will save you money."

Except…. the results Jason Lusk found weren't at all what I expected, at least with regard to part-time vegetarianism:

"...at every income level, partial vegetarians spend more than meat eaters while true vegetarians spend less (assuming same gender, household size, etc.)."

I had to wipe a big mouthful of coffee off my laptop screen after reading that. How can your food costs go up if you reduce your most expensive source of calories? This is the exact opposite of my personal experience over many years of cooking and eating (and writing) at Casual Kitchen. I'm sure many readers feel the same.

Well, fortunately, the study doesn't literally say it costs more to change to partial vegetarian. The study didn't examine households that changed from meat-every-day diets to partial vegetarian diets. Instead, the study analyzes households in a steady state. In other words, it could be the case that people who are highly mindful of the health benefits of eating less meat tend to spend more on food. Or, perhaps those partial vegetarian households who spend a lot on food now spent even more back when they were heavier meat eaters. We don't know.

Furthermore, no dietary change happens in a vacuum. When making food substitutions in your diet, if you take something out, the other things you eat will fill up the space left over. And if you replace the most expensive element of your diet with something else, your costs will go up if and only if that something is even more expensive.

Therein lies the secret. If you replace one or two steak-centered meals each week with equivalent calories from, say, bean-centered or lentil-centered meals, I personally guarantee that you will save money.

On the other hand, if you replace those steak-centered meals with meals of organic, out-of-season heirloom tomatoes, resting on a bed of cruelty-free, gently wilted, out-of-season baby spinach, all carefully dusted with stevia-sweetened, fair-trade certified Madagascar cinnamon... you're going to spend more money. A lot more money.

Am I exaggerating? Okay, okay... maybe just a little. But it makes the point clear: you have to be smart. You can't just cut out one category of foods and pay zero attention to the relative cost of what you replace it with. This is basic, first-order thinking for any budget-conscious Casual Kitchen reader.

READ NEXT: A Superior, Yet Less Expensive, Solution




How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday September 9, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Why can't science just make up its mind and tell us what we should be eating? (The Pool, via Addicted to Canning)

Splashing around in the dismal swamp of so-called "diet science," showing how easy it is to hoax lazy journalists. (AL.com)

Intermittent fasting: where are we now? (LeanGains)

Seven great ways to use eggs. (OwlHaven)

Ever wondered what the difference is between a mansion and a McMansion? This post explains all. (McMansion Hell)

Did you know that math (uh, statistics actually) is racist? (CNN Money)

Meet the parents who who won't let their kids study literature. (Washington Post)

Intriguing post about the internal dynamics of the media interview. (Grant McCracken)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.