Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How does he do it?

Just saw this awesome article on a physicist-turned-cook who invented a colour-changing ice cream!

He uses natural ingredients but the ice cream changes from purple to pink as it melts called "Xamaleon"

How does he do it? He is not telling yet as he has patents in the works. Any ideas out there?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why do you read this blog?

Not trying to be nosy or anything...well, actually, I am.

I am giving a talk at the IUPAC International Conference on Chemistry Education,, in July in Toronto and would like to learn a bit more about who is reading my blog and others like it.

I am trying to do my small bit to demystify the chemistry (and physics) of everyday food.  My target audience is the general population but, of course, everyone is welcome!

So, what I want to know is who is reading regularly or casually. Are you a scientist, a food lover, a science geek or all of the above?

What else do read? Any other awesome blogs I should read/mention/link to?

Any comments on why teaching some practical chemistry via cooking is useful or important?

Thank you for any and all comments.  If I end up quoting any in my talk, they will remain anonymous.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

And another ACS webinar on Beer! Always of interest!

Learn more about why beers are different colours:
Professor Charlie Bamforth of Food Science and Technology stand in the brewery on Friday January 17, 2014 at UC Davis.

Red and White Beer for St. George’s Day

The color of beer run the whole gamut from colorless to almost black.
We have red beers – think Irish Red or other amber style beers –
and white beers. In the latter case, however, we are usually talking
of wheat (weisse, wit) beers.  Join in as Dr. Charles Bamforth shares
what determines the color of beer, how color is measured in the brewing
industry, and what is involved in the production of a red beer and a
white beer? This is the second presentation in our Liquid Chemistry
Series. View the first topic , “Bruising, Louching, and Fire, Oh My!”

What You Will Learn
  • The chemistry of underpinning beer color
  • How beer color can be controlled
  • How beer color influences the perception of flavor in beer
  • How to know if you have a genuine white beer
  • And much more …

Webinar Details
Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014 @ 2-3pm ET
Fee: Free to Attend
Download Slides: Available on Live Date

Meet Your Experts

Charlie Bamforth is the Distinguished Professor of Malting &
Brewing Sciences at UC Davis. He has been involved in
brewing since 1978 and was formerly with Brewing
Research International and Bass. Dr. Bamforth is a
Fellow of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling and Editor
in Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Brewing

Bill Courtney is the chef/owner of Cheese-ology Macaroni &
Cheese, located in the University City Loop, just west of the
city of St. Louis, Missouri. Following completion of his
undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of
Missouri – Columbia, Bill worked a short time as a Q.C.
Chemist for ConvaTec. A shift in interest eventually took
Bill to the Genome Institute at Washington University, where
he spent 9 years working with the leading genetic and
genomic research scientists in the United States. In a radical move,
Bill struck out on his own to open Cheese-ology, the culmination of years
of a self-described “un-natural obsession” with Macaroni & Cheese.
Open since June 2010, Cheese-ology Macaroni & Cheese features over
15 varieties of Macaroni & Cheese to satisfy any Mac & Cheese craving.

Shaken or stirred? Learn more!

Another cool webinar from ACS:
splashing-216091_640 from pixabay 100x100

The Chemistry of Cocktails: Bruising and Louching and Fire Oh My!

You can have them straight up, on the rocks, shaken or stirred, but you
can’t have a cocktail without chemistry. Join Dr. Darcy Gentleman for a
discussion on the chemistry of cocktails and quench your thirst for
knowledge during the Q&A. Follow up next week with part two in our
Liquid Chemistry Series with “Red and White Beer for St. Georges Day.”
What You Will Learn
  • Shaken or stirred? Is there any chemistry to “bruising” a drink?
  • Just add water: What is the mystical chemistry behind louching absinthe?
  • Aside from some whiskeys, how can fire be an “ingredient” in cocktails?
  • And much more …

Webinar Details
Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014 @  2-3 pm ET
Fee: Free to Attend
Download Slides: Available on Live Date

Meet Your Experts
Darcy J. Gentleman, Ph.D.,  uses his analytical chemistry
background as an amateur mixologist.  Full-time, Darcy
works at the American Chemical Society in its Office of
Public Affairs as a science communicator. He manages
ACS Science &the Congress, coordinates social media
efforts, and is team leader for the 2014 Chemistry Champions
#chemchamps via @AmerChemSociety. In his spare time,
 Darcy is the Director of Speaker Preparation for thirst, a
DC-based organization that engineers creativity by gathering curious
minds at events where learning is unconscious amidst all the fun.

Kathryn Verona volunteers at thirst alongside Darcy to
prepare speakers and encourage scientific discussion
in the audience. In her professional capacity Kathryn
handles the State Government and Member Engagement
programs for the Advocacy team,  and is the lead for the
Innovation and Defense Policy portfolio for the American
Chemical Society.

- See more at:

Friday, March 7, 2014

to meat or not to meat?

Turns out that there may be a relationship between amounts of proteins eaten and cancer mortality rates!
But it is age dependent...

Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population

Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 3, 407-417, 4 March 2014Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.10.1016/j.cmet.2014.02.006

The study by Levine et al found if people 50-65 ate a diet of low protein, their rates of overall, cancer and diabetes mortality decreased. But a diet of low protein intake after 65 increased overall and cancer 

So after 65 - eat your meat!

Graphical abstract from: Cell Metabolism - 4 March 2014 (Vol. 19, Issue 3, pp. 407-417) 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

more sous-vide for the holidays

ACS is doing another sous-vide webinar for holiday cooking:
Getting tired of eating the same holiday cuisine over and over again every year?  Why not mix things up with sous vide?  Learn how to re-imagine several of your favorites, including turkey, veggies and ice cream by infusing a little science!  Join us as Dr. Douglas Baldwin returns to explain the chemistry behind the cooking. It’s sure to whet your appetite!

What You Will Learn
  • How to cook a sous vide turkey so that it’s moist and safe
  • How to cook a sous vide chuck roast that’s better than most prime-ribs
  • Why sous vide cooking produces more nutritious and flavorful vegetables
  • How to use sous vide to make great custards and ice creams
  • And much more…

Webinar Details
Date: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Time: 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Fee: Free

Friday, June 28, 2013

taste and the senses...

Two things popped up on my horizon this week:  one is the article in Flavour that compares food taste with colour and shape of cutlery and the other is a restaurant that really tests your tasting skill based on your taste buds alone.

The first study was done by Harrar and Spence, psychologists from Oxford University to determine how participants experienced the taste of food on different types and shapes of cutlery.  The article is open access so you can read it in its entirety here:
Vanessa Harrar and Charles Spence, (2013) The taste of cutlery: how the taste of food is affected by the weight, size, shape, and colour of the cutlery used to eat it.  Flavour 2:21  doi:10.1186/2044-7248-2-21Published: 26 June 2013

Some cool observations were that yoghurt tasted thicker and richer from a plastic spoon and cheese tasted saltier when eaten off a knife!  The contrasting colours between food and utensil also made a difference to the perceived taste. The effects are possibly related to personal expectations, physical effects (i.e. how the utensil feels in the hand), and among other reasons.  

This could be tried at home with a simple test - taste some yogurt with different cutlery and see if you can taste a difference!

The second item is a different kind of restaurant experience - eat in the dark!

This socially conscious concept sprang from Jorge Spielmann, a blind pastor in Zurich who used to blindfold his dinner guests at his home so they could share his eating experience. In 1999, Spielmann opened Blindekuh (German for Blind Cow), a project aimed at teaching the sighted about the sightless world and providing jobs for blind people. "How lucky am I." Moe proudly states. "I get to do something I love and make a difference." from O.Noir website
These restaurants are staffed by blind waiters and the entire dining experience is done in pitch blackness  (you do order in a lighted bar and pay there too).  Without sight, the idea is that your other senses are more attuned to the nuanced taste of the food.  And a secondary lesson is understanding a bit more about what the blind experience daily. There are supposedly a number of restaurants in Europe and two in Canada, one in Montreal and one in Toronto (both called O.Noir).  Neat idea and one I am looking forward to experiencing!