Friday, June 9, 2017

Houston's Star Fish Takes Seafood to a Whole New Level

Houston has been blessed with yet another new concept from Cherry Pie Hospitality. Lee Ellis and Jim Mills have managed to overwhelm my tastebuds along with most of my other senses yet again. It isn't very often when you know that certain restaurateurs are dedicated to their craft. The kind of passion that goes into every aspect of a diner's experience is obvious and such attention to detail is rare. When you listen to them talk about how they formulate recipes, procure their ingredients, and the care and techniques they employ in preparing meals for diners, you just know you're in the right spot. 

This beautiful aquarium greets you upon entering Star Fish. 
Star Fish is aesthetically cutting edge and casual at the same time. It's not a great idea to show up without a reservation. However, my dining companion and I took our chances at 8:00 PM on a Wednesday night and found the place teaming with people. Yet, there was no sense of pretense as we entered and were warmly greeted my the host staff. 

The expansive bar stocks some serious spirits. 
We were lucky to get a spot at the bar and settled in for the 30 minute wait. Time flew as we chatted and watched the bartenders handcraft some amazing looking cocktails. The aromas of the food and the drinks were intoxicating on their own. The "Celtic Kavanagh" comes complete with a freshly torched rosemary garnish. Whether you order one or not, you will appreciate the attention to detail and pyrotechnics involved in the making of the drink. 

Laurie's Old Fashioned with apricot infused bourbon.
I watched in earnest as the bartender poured two types of bitters along with an apricot infused bourbon into my glass, then enrobed a Luxardo cherry in a fresh peel of orange. It truly is a drink to be savored and just the thing to take the edge off of a long day. 


Oysters on the half shell

Once we settled in at our table we were both incredulous at what the menu had to offer. A meal could be made of appetizers alone. We decided to start with a dozen Atlantic oysters. I lifted the photo above from the Star Fish web site because honestly, neither of us thought to take a picture until there was nothing but a pile of shells left on our plate! (See below.)



Korean Style Glazed Spare Ribs
Since one of us ordered the grilled whole Gulf red snapper we were in for a bit of a wait so we managed to kill the time by ordering the Korean style glazed spare ribs. They were served with picked daikon radishes and carrots. The vegetables provided a wonderful juxtaposition to the rich just ever so sweet falling off the bone tender ribs.

Whole Gulf Red Snapper
The whole Gulf red snapper comes either fried or grilled. We ordered the grilled version, which tasted as though it was swimming in the Gulf moments before being cooked. The dish really is large enough for two to share. Once again the accompaniments were perfect. The spinach was delicious and did I mention the butter fries yet? 

Pan Roasted Halibut
The pan roasted Halibut was served with a creamy shrimp sauce and buttered rice. Another beautifully executed dish. The flavors were deep, rich and fresh. 
Butter Fries
Now back to those fries... I have to call this dish a rebirth of the potato. Fries, chips, call them what you may, are served in many ways, drowned in gravy and cheese curds, chili and cheese, etc. In some parts the world they dip their fries into more than just ketchup (mayonnaise or aioli come to mind). But how they are fried is pretty standard. We've all had fast food fries cooked in basic vegetable or canola oil. I've had them cooked in olive oil and even in duck fat. I've also had fries that are par cooked at a lower temperature and then fried a second time at a higher temperature to achieve a delicious crunch. However, Butter Fries take fries to an entirely new level. The flavor and texture of these fires is simply hedonistic. 

The list of what I can't wait to get back and try is extensive and will require several trips. I can't wait to dive into the puffy lobster tacos, pan fried crab cakes, PEI mussels, or wood grilled oysters, all items just from the appetizer menu. The shrimp and lobster soup, jumbo lump crab meat and avocado over cucumber salad, as well as the southeast Texas shrimp and andouille gumbo are literally calling me back. Pan seared diver scallops, Star fish bouillabaisse and Rohan duckling also await. It's just going to take patience and time to work my way through the menu. 

I've somewhat scratched the surface at what you can find at Star Fish, but there is something for everyone, carnivores included. I'm going to take a wild guess that even the cheeseburger would be a pretty good bet!  Explore the menu yourself here. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

What to look for when shopping at the grocery store!

As a self proclaimed foodie, with a bit of training, I've been cooking and shopping on my own since I was in the fourth grade. The neighborhood grocery store (Weingarten's) was literally across the street from our first residence in Houston. Being the oldest of 3 children, my mother often had her hands full with my two younger sisters so I would volunteer to walk over and pick up the essentials when there just weren't enough hours in the day for mom to get everything done. I dutifully followed instructions which included details on how to pick fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and occasionally I came back with some ice cream or some other treat that wasn't actually on the shopping list. 


Today I consider myself a relatively savvy shopper and I do a lot of cooking and baking. I am constantly surprised by the choices people make at the market. I know this might sound silly to some readers, but I see people on the produce aisle walk up and toss the first box of berries they encounter into their cart without the least bit of inspection. I recently felt obliged to let a woman know that the raspberries she cheerfully placed in to her cart were already moldy. Upon inspection, she thanked me and put them back. I of course felt obliged to also inform store management. 

Whether you are just going out on your own for the first time in the world or have been at the shopping game for a while now, it is helpful to keep a few key thoughts in mind when shopping for fruits and vegetables. Pick up apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits, bananas, mangos, etc. and make sure they are not bruised or blemished. Look for soft spots, as they are a precursor to ugly bruises. Citrus should be heavy for its size and not have a white haze on the surface. The skins should be nice, bright, and not discolored. If you buy a whole pineapple, pick it up and smell it, if it doesn't smell of pineapple, it is not ripe, make sure the leaves are not dried out. Strawberries should smell like strawberries! Try to learn what produce is seasonal and not grown half way around the world and imported. Seasonal, local grown produce is always best. 

As for vegetables, think as you choose what you'll be eating or feeding your family. Look for the freshest leafy greens, tomatoes (I'm aware they are technically a fruit) should be relatively firm, free of bruises and actually of a nice red color. Cucumbers, all types of squash, and even eggplant should be firm, heavy for their size and blemish free. Stalks of celery should be bright green, firm and fresh. Mushrooms should be firm with a fresh smooth appearance  the surface should be dry and appear plump and the freshest mushrooms will still have a closed veil covering their gills. Onions, shallots and garlic should also be heavy for their size, not discolored and have tight fresh looking outer skins. Be careful to peel back the first layer or two of leaves when picking cabbage, making sure the head has not been damaged in shipping. Carrots usually come in bags, as do many types of lettuce, mushrooms, cut up fruit, along with other produce. Check packaging, sell by, and expiration dates. The longer the date, the longer the food will stay good in your refrigerator and the less food will eventually go to waste. 

It is astonishing how much food goes to waste in the United States. According to an article in the Huffington post that cites the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans waste or throw away nearly half their food. According to the 2012 report a family of four throws away an average of $2,275.00 worth of food a year. 

What prompted be to make this entry were recent observations in the grocery store. I thought surely people must know better. But then I ran across the following article on The Food Network's web site on how to pick the freshest meat and seafood. The article goes into detail about how to choose the freshest beef, poultry, lamb, pork, fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and oysters. It is a great read for anyone that shops for food. So I came to the conclusion that this information some folks could really benefit from knowing. 

Then of course there is the relatively new (in our country) focus on organic foods, produce, grass fed beef, free range chicken, etc. I lived London in the late 1990's and I was quickly educated on terms I never really took seriously before such as organic, GMO, growth hormones, antibiotics and how they relate to our food supply. Concerns about genetically modified foods and pesticides made it to the forefront in the UK and Europe long before the average American became informed. 

Earlier this year I posted an article focusing on which foods are best to buy organic. I think this is a good time to revisit this helpful information from Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. and the Environmental Working Group. 
Dr. Andrew Weil M.D.
I have been following U.S. trained physician, author, holistic health and integrative medicine specialist and all around health "guru" Dr. Andrew Weill for some time.


Dr. Andrew Weil has an ongoing partnership with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. Together they are spreading the word on one of EWG’s most valuable pieces of research - a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The list is based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies over 9 years. 

Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing. 


The Clean 15 - Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic
Of the fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following "Clean 15" foods had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

                Avocados
                Sweet corn
                Pineapples
                Cabbage
                Sweet peas (frozen)
                Onions
                Asparagus
                Mangoes
                Papayas
                Kiwi
                Eggplant
                Grapefruit
                Cantaloupe (domestic)
                Cauliflower
                Sweet potatoes

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. 

Dr. Weil maintains that pesticides are toxins and that they cannot be good for you. But the big question is how bad are they? They can be toxic to the nervous system, disrupt endocrine functions, and may increase risks of Cancer and other chronic diseases. So we should all be trying to take action to minimize our exposure to pesticides. According to Dr. Weil data supports that people who eat organic foods, find that measurable pesticide levels in their (body) tissues drop. 

Dirty Dozen Plus - Foods You Should Always Buy Organic
At the opposite end of the contamination spectrum we have the "Dirty Dozen Plus". These foods had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic - or to grow organically yourself:

                Apples
                Strawberries
                Grapes
                Celery
                Peaches
                Spinach
                Sweet bell peppers
                Nectarines (although Dr. Weil specifies imported)
                Cucumbers
                Cherry tomatoes
                Snap peas (imported)
                Potatoes

Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as "highly toxic" and of special concern:
                Hot peppers
                Kale and Collard Greens
                Blueberries (Dr. Weil adds domestic blueberries to round out his list)

So how realistic is it that all people will or can afford to eat organic? There is a way to start moving in the right direction without breaking the bank. 

According to Dr. Weil, if you simply shift to eating foods on the clean 15 list, (these are foods you can buy conventional versions of), you will have a measureable drop in tissue accumulations of pesticides. 

Keep in mind that maintaining your family's health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Even though we can peel some foods such as mangoes, avocadoes and bananas, making them safe for consumption, pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion. They can also cause damage to local ecosystems and may be a contributor to what is called  "colony collapse disorder," the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply.

To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it's best to buy organic whenever possible, including when you are purchasing all produce. 


Here is a very useful tool when trying to sort out which foods are best to integrate into your diet, and which to omit. The EWG's food Scores Calculator is a huge database of thousands of food items and ingredients.  You can find the EWG Food Scores Calculator at http://www.ewg.org/foodscores where you can even download an app for your mobile device. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What Makes Your Thanksgiving Traditional?





The one holiday ALL Americans can celebrate is Thanksgiving. It is a time when all religions and cultures can come together and be thankful for the blessings granted to us all as citizens of the United States. Every family has favorite dishes, from turkey and other proteins to sides, breads, cake and pies. But with so many dishes to prepare time management is essential to a successful meal. How do you decide what to make from scratch or semi-homemade and what to buy ready to serve? 

There are always options, but I've posted three favorite dishes here that will definitely amp up any Thanksgiving table and are worth making from scratch. 




Alex Patout’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping 
    This recipe has graced my family's Thanksgiving table since the first time it appeared over    
    a decade ago!  It's worth the extra effort and every calorie because it is so delicious! 
5 large sweet potatoes or yams½ cup (1/4 pound) butter, softened½ cup sugar2 eggs, beaten1 teaspoon vanilla1/3 cup milk½ cup heavy cream1 cup light brown sugar1/3 cup melted butter1 cup chopped pecans Preheat the oven to 350*F. Scrub sweet potatoes or yams well and place them in the oven. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes, and remove. When they are cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop out the insides into a large mixing bowl. Mash well. You should have about 3 cups (it's fine if your potatoes come out to 3 1/2 cups).  Mix the softened butter into the mashed yams or sweet potatoes along with the sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into a baking pan or casserole dish large enough to hold the potato mixture. Don’t forget to allow some room for the topping. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cook the mixture over medium/medium high heat until it reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the chopped pecans well. Pour this mixture over the yams. Bake until very hot and beginning to brown. Serves 6-8. 


   Green Bean Casserole with Cremini Mushroom Sauce
   
   1 pound shallots, thinly sliced 
   1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
   Vegetable oil for frying
   Salt
   2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
   2 tablespoons unsalted butter
   1 medium onion thinly sliced   
   1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
   Freshly ground pepper
   1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
   1/2 cup crème fraîche
   2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the shallots with 1/3 cup of the flour; shake off any excess flour. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil until shimmering. Add the shallots in 2 batches and fry over moderate heat until very crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer to paper towels, then sprinkle with salt. 


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain  and refresh under cold running water; drain and pat dry. 

Melt the butter in a large, enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne and a large pinch of pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add mushrooms, cover and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour and gradually stir in the stock until smooth.  

Simmer the mushroom sauce over low heat, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice and beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large glass or ceramic baking dish. 

Preheat the over to 400F. Cover the Casserole with foil and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Uncover, scatter the shallots over the top and serve. 10 servings. 


MAKE AHEAD 
The assembled casserole can be refrigerated overnight. Let return to room temperature before baking. The fried shallots can beeped overnight in an airtight container. Recaps in a 350° oven and let cool. 

NOTES 
Cremini mushrooms are actually baby portobellos and can be replaced in this recipe with a variety of small mushrooms from white button to chanterelle. 


Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

I always thought stuffing referred to when you actually stuff your turkey with a bread/cornbread or a variety of fillings. However, I have been informed that anything south of the Mason-Dixon Line is referred to as dressing whether or not it has been cooked inside the bird or not.  That being said there are many ways to prepare dressing. I prefer the old fashioned way made with homemade cornbread, however there are many versions to choose from. So whatever you call it, enjoy it! I like this recipe because it is takes dressing to a new level, especially if you make your cornbread from scratch the day before.  I might add about a cup of roasted chestnuts to the recipe next time I give it a go! 

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
3 ribs celery, small dice
Kosher salt
1 pound spicy sausage, casing removed, broken into bite-size chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
10 sage leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups dried cranberries
3 to 4 cups chicken stock.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the onions and celery and saute over to medium heat. Season with salt and cook until the vegetables start to become soft and are very aromatic. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, sage and rosemary and cook for another minute, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix together the cornbread, cranberries, and the sausage mixture. Add chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt, if needed and transfer to an ovenproof dish.Bake the stuffing until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell 2009
© 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Where Food and Organic Produce Come Together in a Master Planned Community

John Karas, Realtor
jkaras@andreasnoddy.com
Cell: 832.483.604
Office: 713.781.4663

As those of you who listen to my monthly reports on The Cleverley Radio Show or follow my blog know, I am a realtor and foodie. Over time I have become more and more interested in organic and locally grown food. Imagine my excitement when I discovered a new community that has it's own organic farm where residents can lease space to grow their own fruits and vegetables. The development also boasts a Community Shared Agriculture program, a planned weekly farmer's market as well as "you-pick" areas where residents can pick their own fruits and vegetables. There are also educational opportunities available for residents getting started with an interest in growing their own produce.  


The community is Harvest Green and it is strategically located in Fort Bend County, between Katy and Sugar Land, which gives residents the option of several routes to make their daily commute.

I sold a home to one the very first residents in the community and I have to say they are one happy family. More than 10 home builders are involved in building the new homes with prices starting from as low as the $240's and to above the $430's. 

The resident only farm club provides the opportunity for home owners to lease their own plots of land and grow whatever they choose as long as they do not use pesticides and follow the rules of the FDA's National Organic Program

Harvest Green bills themselves as Fort Bend County’s newest and most innovative 1,300 acre master-planned community and "agri-hood". They are indeed the first Houston-area development centered around a community farm.

As the community grows and programs are put in place residents will have access to just-picked produce, neighborhood gatherings where they can form friendships over casual wine dinners, and a place where their children will gain an appreciation for the environment as they watch crops grow. Harvest Green truly is a master planned community unlike any other in the greater Houston area.
I can not stress the importance of having a realtor represent you when purchasing a new home, I am familiar with this community and it's builders. I would like nothing more than to hear from you if you would like more information about Harvest Green. I am happy to take you on a personal tour the community. My goal is to place clients in communities that are right for them and to negotiate important details on their behalf. 
Feel free to contact me for more information on Harvest Green or any other community you are interested in potentially purchasing a new home. I specialize in representing buyers as well as sellers, and can even help you with leasing a property anywhere in the Houston area. 





Saturday, June 18, 2016

Real Estate Update


I recently posted that I started a career in Real Estate last year and I'm happy to report I'm making my way forward! I am getting ready to close on a house I recently listed in Briargrove Park that I was able to put under contract in just 4 days!
I feel very blessed to have to the opportunity to be working with Andrea Potts Snoddy at Andrea Snoddy & Associates LLC, she has been an amazing mentor. To be in an environment where integrity, client loyalty, and attention to detail are foremost has made me feel all the more at home.

I have done residential leases, worked with buyers as well as sellers to meet my clients' every expectation.  Speaking of leases, I just started working with the owner of a small apartment complex in Afton Oaks to list some apartments in the very heart of Houston.
The complex was built in 1965 and has been superbly maintained. There is only one unit available for lease at the moment but there will be others coming up soon. Click here to find out more about this spectacular opportunity to live in an area surrounded by the newly emerging River Oaks Distrct, Highland Village and the Galleria at an amazingly affordable price. 
I have also sold homes in the growing Fort Bend area. The commute into the Galleria area from this beautiful home is a lot faster than you might imagine. It just took some creative searching to find a niche neighborhood. We closed on this home last November. It touched my heart when this client recently called me one evening as he was pulling into his driveway to thank me for finding his dream home. He said that every time he comes home he can't believe he owns this house! That really touched my heart. 
Harvest Green is area I hope to be telling you all about more soon. It is in Fort Bend and has amazing amenities including an organic farm co-op. So far I have placed one family in this amazing neighborhood and they love it. 
You may recall this home I had on the market last year. We had a remarkable opportunity to lease it to a wonderful family. However, it may be going back on the market for sale again soon. Stay tuned. 

Please let me know if I can help you with your residential real estate needs. I work with customers in any and all price ranges in and around the Houston area. I'm even working with a new client to find some acreage "in the country" to build on. You can reach me at (832) 483-6604 or email me at jkaras@andreasnoddy.com. 

I look forward to hearing from you! 


Friday, June 17, 2016

Apple Cider Vinegar! Fact or Fiction?


For a while now I've been hearing that there are keen health benefits to apple cider vinegar, especially the organic variety, so I decided to read up on it and found two main sources of information that seemed pretty reliable. 

Of course Dr. Mehmet Oz, is renowned as a health expert and offers advice on many levels. It seems he has been touting the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for some time now. 

Dr. Oz claims that the miracle substance is good for: 

  1. Dandruff Removal -  Salon sprays can be costly, but with apple cider vinegar, your dandruff destroyer will cost only pennies per spray. Just mix equal parts (about 1/4 cup each) apple cider vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Spray onto your hair after shampoo, let sit for 15 minutes and rinse. Use twice per wink and you should be flack free in no time. One theory suggests that the acidity in the vinegar makes it hard for the fungus to grow on your scalp.
  2. Sore Throat - If you suffer from chronic sore throats, but don't want to overdose on cough syrup, turn to apple cider vinegar. Mix one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and three teaspoons clover honey in a glass of warm water for an easy elixir. All three ingredients will work together to hep you heal: Apple cider vinegar and honey have antibacterial properties, and the capsaicin in hot peppers helps alleviate pain. If that sore throat is due to allergies, apple cider vinegar packs an extra punch, since it also breaks up mucous and sinus congestion. According to Reader's Digest - as soon as you feel the prickle of a sore throat, employ germ-busting apple cider vinegar to help head off the infection at the pass. Turns out, most germs can't survive in the acidic environment vinegar creates. Just mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup warm water and gargle every hour or so.
  3. Eliminate Foot Odor - Make amazing foot deodorizer wipes by pouring one-cup apple cider vinegar over baby wipes. (Thick single-use size paper towels will also work.) Soak the wipes overnight in the fridge, then store in a zip-lock bag to use as needed. The acids in the apple cider vinegar will alter the pH level of your skin, which fights off bacteria that cause smelly feet. In a pinch, these wipes also make great all-natural underarm deodorizers. Don’t be thrown off by the vinegar smell – it will dissipate once it dries.
  4. Balance your digestive system - Apple cider vinegar may just be the solution to help your digestive issues. To reduce gas, dilute a tablespoon of enzyme-rich apple cider vinegar with a cup of water or tea, and drink before a meal. This will also combat constipation, since the vinegar stimulates digestive juices that help your body breakdown food. You can also take a dose as soon as you feel heartburn symptoms coming on for a quick fix. Some theories suggest that heartburn occurs because of low stomach acid levels; so vinegar brings that level up. If you hate the taste of this mixture, try adding a dollop of honey.
  5. Clear up your skin - Apple cider vinegar can do wonders for your skin. For an all-natural astringent, apply a washcloth soaked in diluted apple cider vinegar to your face. Afterward, the protective acidic layer will make your skin feel smoother, absorb excess oil and reduce fine lines. This works by restoring the proper pH levels to your skin, and beta-carotene helps to counter future skin damage. Plus, a dab of diluted apple cider vinegar left overnight on age spots, pimples or acne scars will help reduce their appearance.
  6. Heal a sunburn - Burnt to a crisp after a day in the sun? Apple cider vinegar to the rescue! Try adding a cupful or two to your bath to neutralize the burn. After soaking for 10 minutes, the apple cider vinegar will have helped restore your skin’s pH levels and your skin will feel cool and soothed.
  7. Whiten your teeth - Yellow teeth are no match for apple cider vinegar. For stubborn stains, rub apple cider vinegar directly on your teeth then rinse with water. Be careful not to do this too often, as it can break down tooth enamel. For a less abrasive whitening mouthwash, mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water, then swish around in your mouth.

Over 10 Million Pounds of Flour Recalled


After hearing recent rumors that Gold Medal and Wondra brands of flour have been recalled and contaminated with the E. coli virus, I decided to visit the General Mills website to find out more. While the claims have not been traced directly back to General Mills, over 10 million pounds of flour have been recalled according to major new sources such as NBC New, USA Today, and Fortune Magazine. Just below is the official statement from General Mills. Here you will find a complete list of the flours to be on the look at for. Also, towards the end of my post see what advice the CDC has for you. 
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – General Mills is collaborating with health officials to investigate an ongoing, multistate outbreak of E. coli O121 that may be potentially linked to Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour (sold in Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme). Out of an abundance of caution, a voluntary recall is being made.  To date, E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products.
Consumers: Please open this page to ask additional questions of our consumer relations team, or call us at 1-800-230-8103.
State and federal authorities have been researching 38 occurrences of illnesses across 20 states related to a specific type of E. coli (E. coli O121), between December 21, 2015, and May 3, 2016. While attempting to track the cause of the illness, CDC found that approximately half of the individuals reported making something homemade with flour at some point prior to becoming ill. Some reported using a General Mills brand of flour.
Based on the information that has been shared with General Mills, some of the ill consumers may have also consumed raw dough or batter. Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.
“As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” said Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division.
Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. E. coli O121 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, the very young, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. 
Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician. Anyone diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli O121 is also urged to contact state and local public health authorities.
The recall affects the following retail flour products that could be currently in stores or in consumers’ pantries. It includes six SKUs (stock keeping units or UPC codes) of Gold Medal flour, 2 SKU’s of Signature Kitchens flour and 1 SKU of Gold Medal Wondra flour. 
  • If you have any of the products listed below, they should not be used. 
  • Consumers, please visit this page to ask additional questions of our consumer relations team or you can also call us at 1-800-230-8103
  • For additional information on this recall, please visit the General Mills blog.
  • Media can reach the General Mills communications team at 763-764-6364 or at media.line@genmills.com

The specific products in the recall include: 

  • 13.5 ounce Gold Medal Wondra
Package UPC 000-16000-18980
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 25FEB2017 thru 30MAR2017

  • 2 poundGold Medal All Purpose Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-10710
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC thru 03JUN2017KC

  • 5 poundGold Medal All Purpose Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-10610
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC thru 31MAY2017KC, 01JUN2017KC, 03JUN2017KC thru 05JUN2017KC, 11JUN2017KC thru 14JUN2017KC
  • 10 poundGold Medal All Purpose Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-10410
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 02JUN2017KC,03JUN2017KC

  • 10 pound Gold Medal  All Purpose Flour- Banded Pack
Package UPC 000-16000-10410
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC, 05JUN2017KC
  • 5 poundGold MedalUnbleached Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-19610
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC, 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC
  • 5 pound Signature Kitchens All Purpose Flour Enriched Bleached
  • Package UPC 000-21130-53001
    Recalled Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 28 2017
  • 5 pound Signature Kitchens Unbleached Flour All Purpose Enriched
Package UPC 000-21130-53022
Recalled Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 27 2017

  • 2 poundGold MedalSelf Rising Flour
Package UPC 000-16000-11710
Recalled Better if Used by Dates 23AUG2016KC1
According to Food Safety News, “Illnesses started on dates ranging from Dec. 21, 2015, to May 3, 2016. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 95, with a median age of 18,” according to the CDC outbreak announcement.

Additional victims could be identified because it takes several weeks for illnesses to be reported to officials after an E, coli infection is diagnosed, CDC reported.
Of 21 victims, 16 reported that they or someone in their household used flour in the week before they became ill.  Of 22 victims, nine reported eating or tasting raw homemade dough or batter before becoming ill.
A dozen of 22 victims reported using Gold Medal brand flour. Three victims reported eating or playing with raw dough at restaurants, according to the CDC.
As of May 31, the states with outbreak patients were: Alabama 1, Arkansas 1, Arizona 2, California 1, Colorado 4, Iowa 1, Illinois 4, Massachusetts 2, Maryland 1, Michigan 4, Minnesota 3, Missouri 1, Montana 1, New York 1, Oklahoma 2, Pennsylvania 2, Texas 2, Virginia 2, Washington 2 and Wisconsin 1.

Advice to Consumers
  • Consumers should not use any of the recalled flour and should throw it out.
    • If you stored your flour in another container without the packaging and don’t remember the brand or better by date is, throw it out to be safe.
    • Consumers should thoroughly wash the containers before using them again.
  • Eating raw dough can make you sick.
    • Flour or raw eggs used to make raw dough or batter might be contaminated. 
    • Bake items made with raw dough or batter before eating them. Follow the recipe or instructions on the package
    • Do not taste raw dough or batter. Even tasting a small amount could make you sick.
  • Clean up thoroughly after baking.
    • Wash any bowls, utensils, and other surfaces that were used when baking with hot water and soap.
    • Wash your hands with water and soap after baking.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating raw dough.
    • Most people infected with STEC develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps an average of 3-4 days after swallowing the germ.
    • More information about signs and symptoms of STEC infection is available on the Signs & Symptoms page.

Advice to Restaurants and Retailers

  • Restaurants and other retailers should not sell or serve any of the recalled flour.
    • If you stored your flour in another container without the packaging and don’t remember what the brand or better by date is, throw it out to be safe
    • Restaurants and retailers should thoroughly wash flour storage containers before using them again.
  • Clean up thoroughly after baking.
    • Wash any bowls, utensils, and other surfaces that were used when baking with hot water and soap.
    • Wash your hands with water and soap after baking.
  • Always practice food safety for raw dough.
    • Do not give customers raw dough to play with or eat. It is not safe to eat or play with raw dough, whether made from recalled flour or any other flour.
    • Bake items made with raw dough or batter before serving or selling them. Follow the recipe or instructions on the package.