Food Briefs: May 7, 2014

Posted Online: May 06, 2014, 11:02 am
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Mr. Tidbit: Bowled Under
Kraft's single-serve Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese Dinners aren't new, but Mr. Tidbit (having just bought one) has noticed a significant fact: The deep microwave bowl in which they are packaged, which the shopper sees inside the cardboard sleeve, is much larger than the serving they produce.
To prepare one of these, you add water to the macaroni-seasoning mixture — up to the "fill" line fairly low on the bowl — stir, microwave and then stir in the cheese sauce and sprinkle with the bacon bits. Surprise: The finished product, although tasty, doesn't occupy significantly more of the bowl than that initial "fill" line.
To be fair, the package front does mention that it "makes about 1 1/4 cups" (so those who can accurately picture 1 1/4 cups really shouldn't be surprised), and the bowl must be large enough to contain the mixture while it's bubbling in the microwave. But Mr. Tidbit measured the capacity of the bowl to be almost 3 cups — more than double the amount of food it ultimately contains. To what Mr. Tidbit likes to think of as his mind, the word "deceptive" springs.
-- Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Can you eat rhubarb after a freeze?
Spring may be here, but as any hardy Midwesterner knows, that doesn't necessarily mean we've seen the last of Jack Frost. Although we can tough out a chilly morning here and there, for the tender plants popping up in the garden, it may be a different story.
This is true for one of the earliest gifts of the garden, rhubarb. A hard freeze can leave the leaves wilted and limp — but since you don't eat the leaves (they are poisonous), is that a problem?
Yes, according to a news release from the University of Illinois Extension. "After a hard frost oxalic acid may move from the leaves into the leafstalk. When consumed the oxalic acid can crystallize in the kidneys and cause permanent damage to the organs," writes horticulture educator Martha Smith in the release.
In other words, a hard frost can push the poison from the leaves down into the stalks. For this reason, you should avoid eating rhubarb that has experienced a hard freeze. Instead, remove and discard any stalks that have been exposed to the frost and allow the plant to rebound on its own. Any re-growth will be safe to eat.

Cookies that scream ice cream
If you're a fan of cookies-and-cream ice cream, then the latest offering from Chips Ahoy! might pique your interest. Dubbed Ice Cream Creations by the Nabisco mix masters, it's a line of cookies based on popular ice creams, including Mint Chocolate Chip, Mocha Chunk and our two favorites: Root Beer Float and Dulce de Leche. Two root beer cookies weigh in at 140 calories, two dulce de leches, 160. If you sandwich the cookies with ice cream, that's another story. Suggested retail price for a 9.5-ounce package: $3.79. For more, visit snackworks.com. At supermarkets nationwide.
-- Chicago Tribune


Local events heading

  Today is Sunday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2014. There are 101 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We hear that Col. Reynolds has employed C.D. Merrill to drill for water to supply the Rock Island Barracks.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Billy Catton, famous billard player, returned to Rock Island with a view to making this city his home in the future.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The belief is growing that a great decisive battle of the World War was being fought at Verdun, a strong fortress of France on the Meuse near the French frontier, according to a London dispatch.
1939 -- 75 years ago: William Stremmel, 91, Rock Island's last Civil War veteran, died.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Workmen of the Midwest Wrecking Co., Clinton, have begun razing the historic old office building of Deere & Co., 1325 3rd Ave., Moline. The site will be used by the Deere Plow Works for its shipping and receiving department.
1989 -- 25 years ago: East Moline developer Jim Massa says the financial package for the proposed $34.5 million Quad City International Motor Speedway is down to making sure "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Finalizing this will give the green light to see if NASCAR and CART, the auto racing sanctioning bodies, approve race dates.

(More History)