November 16, 2017

Sid: My Food Loving Kitchen Helper

My goofy, lovable, food loving Husky-Malamute mix Sid.

He likes to be my "helper" in the kitchen when I am cooking fragrant food.  I trained him (Chow Chow-Pom mix Lexi, too) to stay on their kitchen "Safe Spot" when I'm cooking.  The "Safe Spot" is a long throw rug that is safely away from the hot stove and my sharp knife/chopping counter area.  The training for both dogs was easy with treats.

Now if I could only have as good of luck with Sid's counter surfing.  His best snag?  An entire pound of Angus Beef Oscar Meyer Frankfurters that I had just sliced up for high value treats.  😃

Never a dull moment.  But I would not change that for anything!

My Kitchen Helper Sid on his Kitchen Safe Spot.  God Boy, Sid!

Happy cooking and baking everyone.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 14, 2017

Stove Top Stuffing: Thanksgiving Dinner Stretch Waistband Pants Are All Sold Out! Bummer!

I don't eat Stove Top Stuffing.  In fact, I don't eat any stuffing.  I don't like bread stuffing, and neither does my husband Jim.

But, I gotta give Stove Top Stuffing a big thumbs up for a much needed, light-hearted marketing idea:
Thanksgiving Dinner Pants that resemble a box of Stove Top Stuffing and come with a stretch waist so you can eat all the Stove Top Stuffing you want on Thanksgiving.
No joke.  Is this hilarious, or what?!

And the Limited Edition Pants - priced at $19.95, with free shipping - apparently sold out pretty much immediately!  But you can still download Stove Top Stuffing's free Holiday Card!  You can learn about the pants and download your free Holiday Card by visiting

Screenshot credit:

Just wonder how much they will re-sell for on Ebay?

For more information about this hilarious gourmand-related fashion trend, click on Stove Top Stuffing's Facebook post below. 😋

Thanks for the smile today, Stove Top Stuffing!

Mary Rae Fouts

November 13, 2017

Les Gourmands Bakery in San Francisco: $29 for a loaf of burned bread? Give me a break!

And you thought the price of housing is high in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Try $29 for a loaf of burned bread.

Les Gourmands, a new French bakery in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, seems hell bent on starting a new Only-in-California happening:

Burned Brioche Bread.  At $29 A Loaf.
Yes, that's right, 29 buckaroos.  
For one loaf of burned-to-a-charcoal-blackened-top bread.

The owners of the bakery are charging this higher than Holy Hell price ostensibly to fund a paid intership program which teaches people with zilcho baking experience how to become bakers.  Whatever.  But the overriding issue is that I wouldn't pay $2 for the loaf of bread, let alone $29.

The bakery states another reason is the time it takes to make the Brioche Bread; it's a 3 day process.  Ok, then why doesn't the bakery take any care after that laborious 3 day process TO ACTUALLY BAKE THE BREAD CORRECTLY??!!

Here is a loaf of properly-baked Brioche Bread.  The crust has a lovely sheen and is a nice golden brown:

Photo credit:

Then then there is this burned-to-a-carbon-crust loaf of Brioche Bread from Les Gourmands bakery in San Francisco.  Similar photos of this burned bread have appeared on Facebook as well as Twitter feeds:

$29 Brioche Bread from Les Gourmands bakery in San Francisco.
Burned to a Crisp.

Yuck!  I'm an avid ... ok, obsessed ... Sourdough Bread baker; I know a thing or two about bread baking.  I'll just say this:  If that Les Gourmands' Brioche Bread had come out of my oven, after cooling, it would have proceeded directly to one of my compost tumblers.

You can read more about Les Gourmands bakery and their head shaking pricing strategy in this Sacramento Bee article "Pricey or ‘ripoff’?"  Don't know about you, but I'm voting for the latter.


Here's hoping this latest Only-in-California happening doesn't last longer than a New York minute.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 8, 2017

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing: This sodium-packed condiment is now available by the keg. Just in time for the Holidays!

Do you pay attention to what you eat?  I do.  Food fads and trends come and go, and I typically pay little attention to them.  You'll never see me hanging out in a Boba Tea shop, or eating a bowl of raw fish Poke.

However, this announcement caught my attention today.

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
You know, the condiment also known as White Ketchup
And it's now available in a keg.
Yes, a keg.
Just in time for the Holidays!
And you can get yours today for about $50.

The new Keg of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
And just how big of a Keg-o-Ranch Dressing to you get?  Glad you asked.  It's 9.7 inches tall and 6.3 inches in diameter.  This Keg-o-Ranch, which holds up to 5 liters of the popular White Ketchup condiment (that's 1.32 gallons for the metric-challenged folks 😉 ), is being promoted with great excitement.  "Includes a year supply of Hidden Valley Ranch!"  screams the Keg-o-Ranch's advertising.  Check out this USA Today announcement for more information about the newly-available Keg of Ranch.

Now just how is that Keg of Ranch Dressing going to stay fresh for a year after the keg is tapped (so to speak)?  Well, the keg purportedly has a "special" inside coating ... of undisclosed FDA-allowed "special" materials ... that promises to "keep the ranch tasting fresh".

Yep, keep "tasting fresh".  No guarantee that the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing will actually remain fresh by health standards, only that it will keep on "tasting fresh" for a year of Ranch-on-everything-including-your-pizza-and-pancakes enjoyment.

And as for the fine ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing?  Want to guess what the top 2 ingredients are?

Buttermilk?  No.
Regular milk?  No.
Answer:  Soybean oil and water.  Suprised?

Salt, MSG, and Fat Lovers Unite!

And while you're enjoying the keg's year supply of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, you'll also enjoy a substantial amount of your daily suggested sodium intake.  You see, a mere 2-tablespoon serving of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (And who in the heck thinks a typical serving is only 2 tablespoons?) is packed with enough salt and MSG (yes, MSG) to deliver a whopping 328 mg of sodium, or 13% of recommended daily sodium intake based on a 2200 calorie-a-day diet.  And as for the fat content, that's even more of a hit on your daily food intake.  The same 2-tablespoon serving of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing provides 15 grams of fat, or 23% of recommended daily intake for a 2200 calorie-a-day diet.

Not what I'd care to consume, but to each his own.

But what would Clark Griswold think?!

So, Ranch Lovers, get your keg of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing while you can!  And heck, for your Holiday shopping list, this Keg-o-Ranch may just be better than Clark Griswold's Jelly of the Month Club for those people on your list who seem to have everything.

I won't be joining you, but for those who love their Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing, I'll just close with:  "Happy Ranching!"  

Mary Rae Fouts

November 7, 2017

The secret to consistent baking results? Simple! An inexpensive digital kitchen scale.

King Arthur Flour's post on Facebook today about the virtues of weighing ingredients when baking really rang home with me.

When I started baking with sourdough, I converted my baking to baking by weight rather than volume.  I still use volume for any ingredient under 1 teaspoon, but everything else is weighed.  I keep a handy conversion list in my baking/cooking journal for use with new recipes.  Digital kitchen scales are inexpensive and easy to use.  Here's mine with a recent batch of just-mixed-up Multi-Grain Sourdough Cheese Bread dough.

The end result when baking with weighed ingredients?  Much more consistent results with all of my baked goods.  It's easy, too.  Try it!

Read more about this baking tip, including a volume to weight conversion chart, by clicking on King Arthur Flours' Facebook post below.  Happy baking everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts