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The REAL Food Star

 

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What makes humans unique in the animal world? Depends upon who you ask. An anthropologist would probably name one thing and a psychologist another.

Some people say language sets humans apart from other animals. Other animals do communicate, but none seems to have such a complex language system as humans, but communicate they do.

Others say it is opposable thumbs that make us unique.

Some others say the ability to make tools is unique to humans, but in the last few decades some animals have been found to use tools as well.

Others scientists say it is our highly evolved brain.

Now comes some new and intriguing research that says that what sets human beings apart from all of the other animals is…………..……tah dah……………………cooking.

Yes, cooking.

It may be that being a chef is the oldest, or at the least the most important profession in the world, at least from an evolutionary point of view.

In an article in Science News, Rachel Ehrenberg writes:

Homo erectus, the extinct hominid that’s a mere branch or so away from humans on the family tree, was the first to master cooking, new evidence suggests. This seminal event had huge implications for hominid evolution, giving the ancestors of modern humans time and energy for activities such as running, thinking deep thoughts and inventing things like the wheel and beer-can chicken.

Evidently cooking food was a huge, HUGE, gigantic even, step in the evolution of the species. Seems other animals spend up to half of their time looking for and chewing and digesting raw foods.

Humans spend about 5% of their time eating. Giant apes up to 48% of their time eating. Seems it takes a long, long, long time to chew raw food stuffs and then even more time digesting it; and for darn little nutritional value to boot!

Because of this other species do not have time for other activities. Cooking skills saves time, plus, here is the real kicker, cooked foods provides more nutrients to the species thus allowing the brain to increase in size and complexity and as well as more time for inventing and building and myriad other activities with that new bigger and more complex brain.

WOWIE ZOWIE!!!!!!

 

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Humans are the only animal that cooks.

According to another article on this subject at the guardian.co.uk humans cooked up their first meal 1.9 million years ago……..” long before our ancient ancestors left Africa to colonise the world, scientists claim.”

This is part of an emerging body of science that shows cooking itself is important for our biology; that is, we are biologically adapted for cooking food,” said Chris Organ, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard……….

 The advent of cooking was one of the most crucial episodes in the human story, allowing our ancestors to broaden their diet and extract more calories from their food. Because it softened food, it also spelled an end to the days of endless chewing.

There is even an entire book on this theory: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham.

Move over Next Food Network Star.

Meet and allow Homo Erectus, our newest Food Star, to take a well deserved bow!

Featured Recipe        Chicken and Rice with Parmesan Cheese

This is a great weeknight meal when time is of the essence. It is a stove top, one-pot casserole. You can make it even faster if you buy cut up chicken tenders (I could find none), use diced garlic in a jar, and pre-sliced mushrooms. It will be a bit more expensive, but some times you just have to. I purchased sliced mushrooms which were 10-cents more than non-sliced. Like I said, when you are pressed for time some times you just have to pay the price. Only you can decide if that 10-cents is worth it or not.

No matter, this is a quick and easy dish and as delicious as it is easy. Everything cooks quickly since everything is cut into small pieces.

I do not know in what magazine I found this recipe. It is just a clipping in one of my cookbooks.

You can substitute more chicken broth for the wine if you wish. I use the less expensive vermouth in place of white wine.

I also use only a pinch of thyme rather than the ½ teaspoon the recipe calls for.

This time I also only used 2 tablespoons of parsley because the store only had curly parsley, no Italian. Curly is a lot stronger so I used less.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

1 teaspoon of olive oil                                                          

1 small onion chopped                                   

1 small garlic clove diced                 

Pinch of dried thyme                                   

8 ounces sliced mushrooms             

¾ pounds of chicken tenders          

½ cup dry wine                                  

1 cup uncooked instant rice            

1 cup chicken broth                         

½ cup Parmesan cheese                    

¼ chopped parsley                   

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Chop onion and garlic.

Cut the chicken tenders into bite sized pieces.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, thyme, and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes until onion is translucent.

Add chicken pieces, sauté for 4-5 minutes until chicken is slightly browned.

Then add the white wine, salt and pepper and cook for about 3-5 more minutes until the liquid is almost completely evaporated.

Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

While waiting for the rice to absorb the chicken broth chop the parsley.

When the liquid is absorbed by the rice, then add the chopped fresh parsley and the Parmesan cheese to the skillet and mix well.

Serve with a salad and a vegetable.

Bon appétit!!!

Cost

1 teaspoon of olive oil                       $0.12                          

1 small onion chopped                      $0.43             

1 small garlic clove diced                  $0.05

Pinch of dried thyme                        $0.04

8 ounces sliced mushrooms              $1.88

¾ pounds of chicken tenders            $4.83

½ cup dry wine                               $0.70

1 cup uncooked instant rice              $1.84

1 cup chicken broth                         $0.32

½ cup Parmesan cheese                  $2.04

Chopped parsley                              $0.05

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $12.30
Cost per person = $3.08

Quote of the Day

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.


Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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