CK Links--Friday June 3, 2016

A quick update for readers: I'll be travelling for the month of June, so I'll put Casual Kitchen on a brief hiatus while I'm away. I might do an occasional Friday Links post, time permitting, but you can count on seeing new articles and a return to CK's normal schedule in July. See you then!

Also, a reminder: 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.


And now, on to the links!
*************************

We’ll start with a few CK-worthy recipes:
A Barley Salad that goes with everything. (Ahaar)

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower. (Chow and Chatter)

German Potato Salad. (Budget Bytes)

Articles:
True hospitality is subtle. (The Kitchn)

What the Amish understand about modern medicine that the rest of us don't. (Quartz)

Sobering article on the many unexpected negative interactions of antidepressant meds. (A Country Doctor Writes)

Gardeners! How to re-pot seedlings, plus a "duh" bonus tip. (Backyard Farming)

Embracing being wrong and avoiding "doubt avoidance." (Farnam Street)

A sneak peak at how your actions will likely change once you reach financial security. (Wall Street Playboys)

The beginning of the end of capitalism as a "blunt object," measuring GDP in units of things like steel and grain. (Grant McCracken)

Life-changing experiences in a sensory deprivation chamber. (Stephen Guise)

"Ironically, if today's rules for historical preservation had been in place in the past the buildings that some now want to preserve would never have been built at all." (Marginal Revolution)


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.

Virtue Signalling

"I only eat organic."
"I wanted a Tesla because it's important to drive an emissions-free vehicle."
"I'm a vegan/vegetarian."
"Are those eggs cruelty-free and cage-free? I only eat cruelty-free, cage-free eggs."

It's fascinating to observe the modern era's various forms of conspicuous consumption. We don't just buy stuff any more, that's not enough. Now, we can broadcast our ethics with what we buy.

Even when just meeting someone for the first time, people may do things like bluntly advertise their veganism or vegetarianism*--uh, or their Tesla ownership--early on in a conversation. Why? Is it really that important to drop conspicuous virtue bombs onto people we just met?

Without a doubt--because it reflects well on us. Thorstein Veblen could add an entirely new chapter to his book.

Virtue signalling doesn't only happen around our food and diets, of course. In politics, one of the reasons we take obvious pleasure in pointing out any cruel-sounding or dumb-sounding policies of our political opponents is because, you guessed it, it's a way to virtue signal.

If you observe objectively how politics are typically brought up in conversations or on social media, the position is usually stated in the context of "Look at how mean those Republicans are with XYZ policy!" He may not realize it, but the person saying this is signalling "I'm not mean. On the contrary, I'm a good person, because I'm pointing out how mean those other people are with this mean policy."

And just to make sure we observe the equal time rule, let's consider an example from the opposite side of the political spectrum: "Look at how dumb those Democrats are with XYZ policy!" which signals "I'm not dumb. On the contrary, I am very smart because I'm pointing out how dumb this policy is."

Whether intended or not, both of these are blatant acts of virtue signalling. I bet you'll never think about political statements the same way again, will you?

They say that a true test of your character is what you do when no one is watching. Think about that for a moment. When you signal your virtue, are you really being virtuous?

Or to put it another way: what does it say about the nature of your virtue if it needs to be seen?

"In our culture, undue emphasis has been placed on appearances. Here, I am referring not only to physical appearances, but to all the ways we attempt to represent ourselves to others. Looking good has become a national way of life.

...Another disadvantage of appearance being highly valued is that it distracts us from seeing what is real. What is actually occurring in current reality occurs independently of our perception of it. Current reality does not disappear just because it may go unrecognized."
--from The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz

To put Robert Fritz's quote in blunter terms: no matter how much virtue signalling you engage in, no matter how many external signs and signals you give off, you're still the same underlying person. Aren't you?

Which takes us to one last question to consider. Is virtue-signalling the same as practicing actual virtue? Your answer will say a lot about what kind of person you are.


* A note for new readers: this post is not criticizing vegans or vegetarians (or even Tesla owners!) in any way. In fact, we celebrate vegetarianism and veganism here at Casual Kitchen, although we do not practice either diet exclusively. Further, most of the recipes at this blog are either vegan/vegetarian or can be easily modified to be made so.


Read Next: “The Piles of Cash Were Fake”





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 May 27, 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!

*************************
Articles:
The ultimate guide to oven temperatures. (Stonesoup)

We throw out tons of perfectly good food just because of arbitrary "sell by" dates. Congress hopes to clear this up. (Munchies)

Related: The tradeoff of "sell by" dates and food waste. (Casual Kitchen)

Surfing icon Laird Hamilton shares his ten point plan to live forever. (LA Times)

"What is an expert?" Long, very interesting. (Harvard Business Review)

Wide ranging, fascinating transcript of the Freakonomics Blog's podcast with Tim Ferriss, a conversation that starts off with "I'd seen your face, and I knew that you were the '4-hour-blank' guy, and I assumed that you were a total charlatan." (Freakonomics)

In small town America, the internet really has changed everything. Long but worth it. (Backchannel)

Finally... a few intriguing recipes to finish off the week:
Wine Salt (Well Preserved)

Cuban Black Bean Soup (The Kitchn)

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas (Layers of Happiness)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic? 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.

Where Can I Find Low-Cost Sources of Protein and Fat?

As we continue to tilt our diets away from carbs and more towards protein- and fat-based calories, we're finding a problem: if you're not careful, a low-carb diet can cost a lot more money.

It's not all bad news. Remember the primary advantage of proteins and fats over carbs: they offer far more satiety. All else equal, you get a much longer-acting feeling of fullness from a calorie of protein or fat than you get out of a calorie of carbs.

This distinction is obvious to anyone who's compared the experience of eating a big bowl of cereal for breakfast versus eating, say, two eggs fried in olive oil. The calorie content of these two breakfasts is about the same, but the eggs have a far greater satiety factor. You'll feel full for hours on a couple of eggs, while a bowl of cereal puts you on a hunger rollercoaster... making you ravenous long before lunchtime.

In other words, protein- and fat-based meals offer us a win-win: we feel fuller, and thus eat less. This is one of the primary reasons people find it easier to lose weight when they cut back on carbs.

Another thing to think about: If it takes more carbs to get the same sensation of fullness, then this implies that a diet rich in carbs is very likely a diet with many more calories than you need. Put simply, if you eat a lot of carbs, it's a lot easier to eat more... and therefore spend more. So, the fact that you get a lot more satiety out of proteins and fats than carbs helps alleviate the cost issue.

Okay, let's get to the list. Here are the primary sources of the most cost-effective proteins and fats that we rely on here at Casual Kitchen:

Eggs: my primary staple food for a high-satiety, long lasting breakfast. But don't think of eggs just as a breakfast food! You can enjoy them in lunch/dinner recipes too, like Shaksouka or a delicious Frittata.

Meats:
* Ground meats, particularly higher-fat ground meats (80/20 beef is superior, both in cost and flavor, to 90/10 beef, for example)
* Whole chicken (see our Hilariously Easy Whole Chicken Soup)
* Chicken, bulk dark meat (drumsticks, thighs, etc.)
* Pork joints: pork shoulder/pork butt (perfect for a delicious and easy Pernil)
* Sausage (avoid sausages flavored with a lot of sugar or HFCS for obvious reasons)

A useful savings heuristic with meats: avoid the leanest meat cuts like the priciest cuts of beef for example. Contrary to dietary advice from decades ago, lean meats aren't "better" for you, and in my opinion they don't taste better either. They sure do cost a lot more though! A textbook example here is the price differential between so-called "healthier" 90/10 ground beef and 80/20 ground beef, or the price differential between a filet mignon cut and, say, a juicier, more delicious T-bone steak cut.

One more quick thought on meats: occasionally there will be "supply shocks" to specific meats. For example, over the past few years there has been enormous excess supply of lobster worldwide, driving prices down to the point where, over the past year or two, even casual-themed chain restaurants are rolling out things like lobster ravioli and other lobster dishes. I'm not suggesting lobster as a protein source per se here (it's delicious but not nearly as cost-effective as other protein sources), I merely bring it up as an example of how prices can fluctuate widely for various meats--offering savings opportunities for the open-minded consumer.

Legumes:
* lentils
* red lentils
* mung beans
* canned and dried (store-brand) beans

It should be no surprise to see Casual Kitchen singing the praises of legumes! We love to live on lentils. One tremendous savings hint: seek out ethnic grocery stores in your community for low-cost bulk legumes. In a local Indian grocery store near us, for example, we've found astonishingly good prices on bulk red lentils and bulk mung beans. Sadly, in the standard American supermarket, foods like mung beans or even red lentils are thought of as "aspirational"... and priced accordingly. In an Indian grocery store, they're just "food"... and priced far more reasonably.

Brown rice: Yes, brown rice costs more than white rice, but it also has a better ratio of carbs/protein/fat per unit of food. You can lower your costs here by buying in bulk, buying the store brand, or, again, seeking out deals at ethnic grocery stores in your community.

Nuts:
* Peanuts
* Peanut butter (watch out for and avoid HFCS- or sugar-laden peanut butters. Blech!)

This is a tough category, simply because many types of nuts are crazy expensive and/or sold as aspirational products. Peanuts, however, are seen by the grocery industry as a low-end commodity food and thus priced accordingly. We buy only store-brand unsalted peanuts and store-brand unsweetened peanut butter.

Canned tuna in oil: remember to field-test the store brand! Remember: it's likely from the same third party food producer as the branded tuna.

Basic oils: on many mornings, I consume 1-2 teaspoons of olive or canola oil in addition to 2-3 eggs (also fried in oil). This quick, satiety-boosting dietary tweak helps me stay feeling full from early in the morning until well past noon.

* Olive oil
* Canola oil

You can safely skip the idea of buying any of today's various trendy oils: coconut, avocado, pumpkin seed oil, etc. Like red lentils or many types of nuts, these are aspirational products in the eyes of grocery store retailers, and--no surprise--they're also priced accordingly. Don't buy. Generally, we buy one or two large jugs of commodity olive or canola oil, and only buy when on a significant sale (as in half-off or buy one/get one free). We keep an inventory in our pantry, which allows us to wait until the grocery store meets our price, not the other way around.

Readers, now it's your turn! What low-costs protein and fat-based foods would you add? What did I miss?


Read Next: The Consumer Must Be Protected At All Times

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 May 20, 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!

*************************
Useful timesaving cooking tips from real life line cooks. (Thrillist)

A study linking fat babies to Diet Coke reveals everything that's wrong with dietary and epidemiological studies today. (Jayson Lusk)

Bonus: Why a "no added hormones" label on pork or chicken is truthful ...but misleading in a surprising way. (Jayson Lusk)

On the dominance of Allrecipes, and why the gap between the food we cook and the food we talk about has never been larger. (Slate)

The media always gets this wrong about maintaining weight loss. (Greatist)

How breakfast became a thing. (Priceonomics)

If you're a kid wanting to open up a little lemonade stand in Austin, TX… here's your long list of regulations, requirements and fees. Kind of depressing. (Marginal Revolutions)

Fascinating post on "aphantasia"--the inability to form visual images in the mind. (Blake Ross)

Forget Photoshop. It's camera angles that make you look thin (or fat) in photos. Really interesting. (Bustle)

Social networking algorithms are boosting conspiracy theories... and distorting reality. (FastCoexist)

"Financial impotence has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it." (Atlantic)

Mr. Money Mustache does a good job exposing some of the fallacies and biases in the above Atlantic article. There are a lot of 'em. (Mr. Money Mustache)


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.