Well, I can tell you this much: rhubarb is certainly overrated. It tastes nothing like it does in the pie.The bags of sour cherries that you get frozen at the supermarket, on the other hand – and the frozen blackberries and frozen mixed berries – are the perfect Cooking Like a Guy™ snack. Just open and eat with God’s own chopsticks, your index finger and opposable thumb. The trick? The veritable ‘je ne sais quoi’ of the frozen sour cherry snack? Do not defrost. You can let them thaw a little, but beyond that you are making a mistake.

I can also report that “dried plums,” as they are now cleverly being marketed – a plum assignment! handled with such aplomb! – taste an awful lot like prunes.

The really interesting food to discuss for a minute – well, there are radishes, but radishes deserve a whole column (see, for example, November 11, 1999, “Underappreciated Vegetables,” which also lacked room for the radish) – is the Walden Farms Fat-Free Sugar-Free Hot Bacon Salad Dressing. Not only is it fat-free and sugar-free; it is cholesterol-free, carbohydrate-free, and calorie-free. You see what I am driving at? How is this possible? Calorie-free? It is a thick, creamy, flavorful, imitation-bacon-bit salad dressing. What could it be made of? Smog?

I’m expecting answers from you, people.

FIXED LINK

Ron Goldthwaite: “The link in yesterday’s column was mangled. Since it’s an interesting article, it’s worth fixing.”

☞ Oops. Click here for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory report that discusses the effectiveness of plastic sheeting and duct tape in preparing a residential safe room.

AND ONE MORE THING TO WORRY ABOUT

Ed Biebel: “In addition to my regular working life, I am also a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician with my community’s local ambulance service. Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations has been part of our basic training since I became an EMT 10 years ago. My point in mentioning this is that a lot of the current buzz about chemical attacks sticks in my craw. True Emergency Management is “all hazard, all risk.” That is to say that terrorist attacks are not the only vector for exposing a population to deadly chemicals. Tanker trucks full of lethal chemical agents regularly travel our highways. In our region, we have had accidental chemical releases from nearby plants, derailed freight cars carrying chemicals, natural gas main breaks involving evacuation of numerous city blocks . . . and the list goes on. These are risks that occur every day. Yet the agencies that should be protecting us and reducing our risk are being gutted. State agencies struggle with budget cuts and if there is money trickling down from the Feds to help, I’m not sure where it is going. Sure we want to check to make sure that the driver of a chemical truck isn’t a terrorist. But don’t we also want to make sure that the brakes on the truck work and that the tanker is properly inspected and that the company is observing all of the regulations for transporting deadly chemicals?”

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