An article in the 10-11 December, 2016 Wall Street Journal focused on “staple” products in the food stamp program. The first sentence says it all,” In a rare tuneup to the $74 billion federal food stamp program, U.S. regulators deemed potato chips and ice cream too unhealthy to count as staple foods.”

Well, is comment really necessary? And where do I begin? It is hard just to get past the fact that food stamps is a 74 billion dollar program in and of itself. That is just mind boggling, especially in our affluent, first-world, expanding economy where there is so much job growth, construction, and low unemployment. Next, the fact the potato chips and ice cream were ever considered staple products is… just embarrassing.

Two more references to the article are necessary.  The first is that “more than 45 million people received funds from the program last year.” The current population of the U.S. is about 318 million people. That means that about 14% of our country receives assistance from the food stamp program alone.

Wikipedia lists 79 “means tested” programs for which 2.3 trillion dollars were spent in 2011. These programs include social security, housing, food, training, childcare, and medical programs among others. The 2011 figures do not include the so-called Affordable Care Act. The 2011 figure amounts to a cost for each American of about 7,192 dollars per year. That is just the cost of welfare programs. Is it any wonder our national debt is so high?

Last point of reference from the article is that not only were potato chips and ice cream removed from their former status by the USDA, but “Twinkies can no longer be considered bread and pork rinds aren’t considered a staple meat.”


Fallen Chocolate Cakes

29 November 2009

I have been meaning to type this recipe up and send it out, for years now perhaps? I was prompted yet again to do it a few days back. The original is form Cook Magazine, from about 1998 I think. I don’t think I have changed the recipe any, just added a note or two about how I have done things. Be careful not to overcook them, as you will end up with tasty cupcakes, but not gooey chocolate cakes.

Fallen Chocolate Cakes

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for ramekins
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or 5 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate)
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for ramekins

Set oven rack at center position.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter and flour (or use cocoa powder) eight 6-ounce ramekins. Melt 8 tablespoons butter and coarsely chopped chocolate on medium heat in double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat the eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and sugar with whisk until thickened – the color will be light and the volume should be nearly tripled. Takes about 5 minutes in a standing mixer. The mixture will drop from the beaters in a thick stream.

Pour egg mixture over melted chocolate and butter; sprinkle flour over egg mixture. Gently fold egg and flour into chocolate until batter is completely mixed.

Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (At this stage, you can put them into the fridge for about 8 hours. They’ll need to come back to room temperate [about 30 minutes] before you bake them.)

Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cakes have risen over the rims. They’re done when they have a thin crust and the center jiggles slightly when you tap ramekins.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and invert onto a plate. Let the cake cool for about a minute before removing the ramekin.

Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, and/or whipped cream.


Today at five AM I decided to fulfill a promise to email our recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls to a friend. We brought the dish to a Halloween party and they were a big hit.  Everyone loved them.  We have discussed bringing along the recipe on cards to hand out, as we have experienced the same thing bringing them to other parties.  But we never got that together. The next best thing is to post the recipe here.

This is a simple, delicious appetizer that can be a meal:

Spring Rolls

Rice wrappers (round, we use Mekong Rice Paper brand, 25cm. diameter, just run them through hot water, pull them out immediately and begin filling)

Rice noodles (the very thin ones, we use Buddha Brand, careful not to overcook, drain and cool before rolling in wrappers)

Chopped lettuce

Green onion- chopped very small

Cucumber- chopped in thin strips or shredded

Carrot- chopped in thin strips or shredded


Tofu- cut into long, thin strips and fried

Peanut Sauce

½ cup peanut butter, chunky, fresh ground

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, roasted is best

Juice of one lime

¼ cup water