To Be Or Not To Be . . . Labeled GMO?? That Is The Question!! (revised)





I’m going to weigh in with both feet on this one and I promise you it won’t be pretty.

California, as many of you know, experiences an interesting form of democracy. Out here on the Left Coast along with our beaches, blonds, oranges and Left Wing ideals we have the Initiative process. This process allows any citizen, with a  few requirements, to place an item on the ballot that has the power to change the State constitution.  This allows the citizens of California the power to vote in or out following their reason and their passion.

Who thought up this idea?

I am not, let me repeat, I am not a fan of partisan politics. I long for the days of heated discussions and collegiality amongst our elected officials. A healthy difference of opinion helps flush out the meat of an argument. Collegiality and respect allow both sides to compromise.  It is often said that ‘If both sides are unhappy, you have a good compromise.’  What I am underwhelmed with is that most voters are swayed by passion, however-well-intended, rather than reason. The result of this are laws written into the State constitution that invariably end up being challenged in court.

Prop 37 is no different. In fact it has already landed in front of the bench and we haven’t even voted on it yet! Here is where a little reading goes a long way.  One of the provision of the law states that processed foods may not be labeled as ‘Natural.’  For example flour because it has been milled or olive oil because it has been pressed, may not be labeled as Natural. Okay, on its face this seems innocuous enough and the proponents of Prop 37 have taken a step already to this argument: The sued to have the Secretary of State change the wording in the Impartial Analysis found in the Voter’s guide.

The correction asked for by Proposition 37 supporters, and ordered by the court, amounts to the change of one word. Specifically, the court ordered that the word “some” replace the word “all” in this sentence: “Given the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions would be interpreted by the courts to apply to some processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.” (In the actual voter guide, the word some will not appear in underlined bold form.) *

Okay some processed foods will be effected.  But which ones?  The law doesn’t state. Here is the kicker, every citizen in the State of California has the right to enforce this law by filing a lawsuit. This lawsuit is filed not against the producer but . . . wait for it . . . the grocer!!   Yep folks that’s right, Mom and Pop are now financially responsible to keep reams of paper documentation on hand for every food product in their store and they must produce it for inspection by consumers when asked. If they don’t happen to have the latest GMO information sheet about say . . . Brand X Olive Oil . . . you can sue them.  That’s right you as an ordinary citizen can sue your local grocer. That’s just for starters.

“So Tom,” you ask, “Don’t you want to know what is in your food?”

Of course I do and this law on its face makes me feel good. It makes me believe that I am getting useful information when in fact I am not.  If I want really useful information I need to bother my grocer into providing me with written information about the product I am considering buying. So here goes. I’m in the store and I find my favorite Natural peanut butter except it is no longer labeled Natural. Only ingredient is still just peanuts. Hmm? Curious.  I as the grocer why and he has to drop everything he is doing to dig through  . . . Binders! (sorry couldn’t help myself) . . . of paper to find out why.   Or I now buy the same loaf of bread that I always do and it is labeled ‘Contains GMO”  What’s this?? Again the grocer must dig for a piece of paper while I wait.  Multiply this by everyone in the State of California who shops.  Not fair, not a well written law.

(It has been brought to my attention that the previous paragraph may not be entirely accurate. I still maintain that this piece of legislation is poorly written and confusion about such interpretations must be settled in court, wasting time and resources. For a well written opposing viewpoint please visit:  )

“But Tom,” you say, ” I want to know if my food has any GMO’s. I have a right to know.”

Yes you do! But what does this simple little statement tell you: Contains GMOs.  Nothing! If you have not already take a few minutes to read my opinion on the term ORGANIC. You will find that it means little or nothing at all, since there is no one definition for the term.  The same with Contains GMOs.  There is no one definition.  Does my ham contain human growth hormones, is this corn RoundUp resistant?  I don’t know. Another kicker is that many items are exempt from labeling. Here is compromise working against our better interests. If we are to do this, we need the complete information on everything we consume.

“But Tom, there may be health risks.  We don’t know but I want to be on the safe side.”

Exactly! We do not know.  Precisely the reason not to act. Acting without knowing is what got this country in to two expensive drawn out wars. Act when we do know.  You will find my voice chief in this case.

“But Tom, 50 other countries already have laws in place labeling GMOs.”

Good for them.  How are their laws written.  I am not saying that it is a bad idea, just the opposite. What I am saying is that this law is not well written.

“But Tom, look at the two top donors: Monsanato and DuPont Chemical and follow the money.”

Granted I am not a big fan of large corporations.  I believe that they have agendas that most likely do not coincide with my best interests.  But guilt by association is just another fear tactic being employed to get you to vote for the passage of prop 37. What’s worse yet is that if this poorly written law passes there will be no effort to write a law that actually makes a difference.

Another question: Who is to gain if this law does pass? Most likely the Natural Food Companies that donated to this proposition.  The same way they benefit from having the term Organic on their labels. This law is just another bit of marketing hype with no real benefit to consumers.

I am all for knowing what is and what is not in my food.  I tend my garden with the minimum of chemical intrusion.  I enjoy tasting the sweet ripe flavors of each piece as it comes off the vine. I encourage you to plant your own garden whether it is just a few herbs  or you dedicate your front yard to growing food as an example to your neighbors.

But I am voting No on Prop 37.  Not because I do not believe in what it stands for but because it is a poorly written piece of legislation.

Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. That’s just organic horse manure you smell on my feet.,_Mandatory_Labeling_of_Genetically_Engineered_Food_(2012)

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Pumpkin Pie?? NO . . . Pumpkin Thai!!

Thai Pumpkin  SoupThai Pumpkin Soup that is.  Yep and you only thought Old Jack was good for pies, lattes and the ever seasonal decorative carving. No way Jose, the soup pot is wear my pumpkin landed, no stones required. With the reaction I received from serving this dish I am sure that fewer of my garden gourds will find their way to the porch.

Now my dear departed mother, a charming, intelligent, loving and talented woman could burn water . . . no really . . . I saw her do it once. That being said she did have a bit of baking streak in her and each holiday season she would bake pies for our larger family dinners: cousins, grandparents and hangers on.  From an early age I remember shopping for groceries and helping out in the kitchen and quickly learned how to cook pasta, brown ground meat and boil blocks of frozen vegetables.  Hey, it was a balanced diet!

One holiday season we were set on baking a pumpkin pie so I asked my mother, “How do I cut up the pumpkin for the pie?”


“No honey,” she replied, “We use a can.”  (Sound of a vinyl record screeching to a stop in my head.)

“Oh”   So I took the can from the cupboard and opened it.  (I’m Helping!!)

We mixed milk and eggs and sugar and spices and about 2/3rds of the can of pumpkin into a bowl. Now here is where I get annoyed. It’s the same thing every year.  We make a pumpkin pie, use 2/3rds of a can, and the rest stays in the refrigerator until enough time has passed for the ‘guilt of wasting’ to waste away.  Then it gets thrown out ultimately to make room for the next remaining 1/3rd of a can of . . . whatever.  The real pisser is that the recipe on the side of the can, for pumpkin pie, calls for 2/3rds of a can!  Maybe we should have had pumpkin subsidies instead of corn??  I have no doubt we could make ethanol from left over Jack O’Lanterns and sell it at the Headless Horseman Gas Station . . . wait for it.

Cut PumpkinRoasted Pumpkin

Enough of my childhood, let me Thai this up for you.

I’m not big on measurements but here is the gist of what I did.

1          Pumpkin; small, cut, seeded and roasted until tender and slightly browned
Olive oil to saute
1/2       Onion; small, diced fine
2          cups of stocks (+ or -); vegetable or chicken as you prefer
1          Basil; small bunch, chopped
4          Red chilis; dried, seeded, chopped (reserve 1 for garnish)
1/2       cup – Cream of coconut (the thick stuff in the top of the cream of coconut milk can)
(stick the rest in the refrigerator until the guilt passes.)
1/2       cup (+ or -) heavy cream
Apple cider vinegar to taste
Salt to taste
Maple syrup and creme fraiche to garnish

In a large soup pot, sweat the onions in olive oil until clear, scoop the roasted pumpkin from the rind and place it with the onions. (You may not wish to use all of the pumpkin at this time. Reserve it for pie, lattes, muffins or to adjust soup consistency.) Add 1 cup of stock and bring to a boil.  Take the pot off of the heat and let cool a minute while you set up your blender. (A blender works better than a food processor for making a smooth soup.) Ladle in equal parts of cooked vegetable and stock until the blender jar is half full. You want the solids to just be covered with liquid.  Place the top on and start out on the slowest speed increasing speed every 5 seconds until the soup is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl until all of the vegetables are pureed. If you have more vegetable than liquid you can add more stock, cream and/or cream of coconut to maintain liquid/sold ratio.  In the last jar to be blended, add 3 chopped chilis and the basil – blend.

Rinse the soup pot and return the puree to the pot and adjust consistency to a medium thickness. Heat until it just begins to boil, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Add salt and a small amount of vinegar to taste.  Serve in cups or bowls and garnish with maple syrup, creme fraiche and diced chilis. Eat it up Yum!


Eat Well and Smile Often!!


p.s. Headless Horseman . . . Horseless Carriage . .  . gasoline . . .


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Roly Poly Ravioli!!

Roly Poly RavioliI am not a Master Chef but I am a pretty good cook with plans to open a pizza/bakery/fresh pasta establishment in the near future.  To that end, I set to a recipe for homemade ravioli. To maintain a purist bent I went with a seasonal buttternut squash filling.  Roasted squash, maple syrup, fresh nutmeg, a touch of cream, salt, pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar just because. Very tasty indeed.

Now for the fun part: Fresh Pasta!!

I broke out my handy, dandy Marcato Atlas pasta machine. In my opinion the optional motor drive is the way to go.  Hand cranking . . . eh . . . motor drive . . . oh yeah!Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine

You can see the package of Semolina Flour in the picture above. Semolina flour is ground from the endosperm of the hard durum wheat berry. It is the perfect flour for your pasta making due to its very high levels of protein and cellulose (the substance that helps keep the cooked pasta firm).  I chose to follow the recipe on the package which called for equal parts AP flour and Semolina.  The package called for 6 large eggs to be added.  All I have are medium sized eggs and the dough was a little dry to start. (I’m okay. I have a healthy self image.)

Cuisinart Food ProcessorI tried to mix the dough in my new Cuisinart food processor which sports a dough kneading feature. In Cuisinart’s DVD it works great with baguettes and soft doughs but not so much with this pasta recipe.  So I took extra time and care running the dough through the pasta rollers, on the widest settings, until I got a smooth elastic sheet to make my raviolis.  I would insert the dough into the rollers and collect it as it came out. After folding it into thirds I would would reintroduce the pasta to the rollers (Rollers – Pasta, Pasta – Rollers) at a 90° angle. I spent about half and hour running sheets through the rollers to get the right consistency.  Next time I’ll use my mixer with a dough hook.

Lesson learned.

Pasta Sheet

Filling these little beatsies took a gentle hand as too much filling spills on to the sealing edges and can cause a blow out when boiling.

Egg Wash

Butternut Squash Filling

After placing a sheet of pasta on the ravioli mold and making the depressions for the filling, egg wash is required. We applied this to the entire surface of the bottom and top sheet of pasta. This is literally the glue that binds the two together.  A little gentle pressing with the hands then a roller to cut the edges and voila!  Ravioli, Tom Fool Cookery style.

Edge Cutting Ravioli

I cooked these little guys in gently boiling salted water until they float evenly on the surface. Using a small strainer I fished them gently from the water, tapped the strainer bottom on a towel to remove excess moisture then plated them up!  Hmm, perhaps a little brown butter to top them off. What do you think?


Eat Well and Smile Often!!



Tom Whining


p.s. I suggest enjoying them with a little wine.

Man Can Cook!!

Tom a cookin'By now you know that this Man Can Cook . . . does yours??

I have engaged in an informal study of sorts. You see, I like to cook. I’m pretty good at preparing some things and still experimenting with others. But it’s fun. Whether the dish turns out successfully or as a ‘recipe in progress’ really does not matter too much to me. It is the process and experience of cooking that I like.  So why would I not want to share this experience with my date? No reason comes readily to mind.

I asked my friend Jeffery what he thought about cooking for a date, he is a very good cook and one of the nicest men I have ever met. His reply summed it up nicely, “Cooking for a date in your home doesn’t have to be sexual, but it is intimate.”  He is spot on. Roasted PumpkinThe process of preparing food for another person, going to all that effort just for them, is very intimate. It also shows how much you care about them.  The general consensus of opinion is that, “It makes me feel pampered.” And why wouldn’t you want to pamper someone you care about? (FYI: That was a rhetorical question.) Again, no reason comes to mind.

I asked my New York, electronic Pen Pal Melani Robinson if she liked it when her dates cooked for her. Melani writes a blog 1 Year of Online Dating at 50 where she explores online dating with equal measures of bravery and vulnerability.  She wrote back to me and I quote, “I’ve never dated a man who could cook for me, but I’m still hopeful. A guy who knows his way around the kitchen is a big turn on–delicious food is very sexy. Cooking together? Fantastic!”

So fellas . . . What’s Up!!

I am extra lucky in that my paramour Suzanne Griffin of Cooking by the Bay is a fantastic cook.  When we get together sparks fly!!  “What do you mean it has too much lime in it?!”  Well, not always like that.  But honestly, cooking with her is one of my favorite-st things to do. We chop up recipes, hash out techniques, and both of us know how to ‘stir the pot’ as it were.  It is so much fun.Suzanne Griffin

So guys, here’s the thing and it ain’t hard.

  1. Clean your house.  And I mean CLEAN it.  Dust, wash, scrub if you have to, air it out and buy one or two (no more!) scented candles.  I suggest cinnamon.
  2. Clean yourself . . . shower, bathe . . . whatever and wear clean clothes.  Pick out what you are going to wear a week ahead of time.  Take your clothes to the cleaners so your shirt is clean and pressed.
  3. Read my blog! There are a few great recipes in here.  Think ahead about the meal you want to prepare. If you have time, PRACTICE making the main dish.  (Look, you have to eat anyway.) If you get stuck, drop me a note. I’ll un-stick you.
  4. Be ready when your date arrives.  Kitchen clean, items prepped in the refrigerator, wine glasses polished and wine chilled if not red.

Wine Glasses

I like to cook in front of my date but you may feel better/safer having many things prepared ahead of time.

Cooking is an intimate, kind gesture to make for a friend, new or long-time. Go ahead  . . . pamper someone . . . make their day.  They just might make yours!! ;)

Eat Well and Smile Often!!




p.s. Be kind for everyone’s life is hard – Plato