Ask a Robot to Tell You What to Cook

Watson—the supercomputer and Jeopardy star can now help you figure out what to make based on the ingredients you have on hand.

Well it can’t help you you, at least not yet. But the demo is pretty impressive:

If you give Watson a few ingredients and cuisine specifications, it can help you with recipe ideas. I had a few things in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what to make with them — ground turkey, frozen peas, dried mushrooms, canned tomatoes. I live in San Francisco, so it’s easy to get Asian and Mexican spices. [...]

“If you can understand what’s in an actual ingredient,” [IBM engineer Steven] Abrams says, “so what is in butter, what’s in strawberries, what’s in chocolate. What are the key flavor compounds that give them those pleasant sensations? Then, you can make predictions about what’s going to be pleasant, what’s going to be sweet and spicy and salty and savory.”

Read/listen to I’ve Got The Ingredients. What Should I Cook? Ask IBM’s Watson {npr}.

Let’s Use Loyalty Reward Cards to Feed the Homeless

This is a cool idea:

If every customer of Qdoba used the same shared loyalty rewards card to earn free meals, a lot of food could be donated to hungry families.

That’s the Project Burrito idea that Chris Overcash brought to Random Hacks of Kindness this weekend. Today, you could start using the above loyalty rewards account to help earn free food for needy families, beginning here in Philadelphia.

I’m not big on Qdoba, but I suppose it could make a difference nonetheless. What other loyalty rewards cards give actual stuff (as opposed to just points)? Also seems like it could be a logistics nightmare.

Go to the Project Burrito site to get the barcode {via technically philly}.

Reminds me of that debt buyback initiative Occupy Wall Street recently started.

SCOOPED: Ben & Jerry’s “Key Lime Pie”

Part of Ben and Jerry’s Limited Batch series, Key Lime Pie is “lime ice cream with a tangy lime twist, fluffy meringue swirl & pie crust pieces.”

Light and not too sweet, Key Lime Pie is a nice summertime treat. Although not light in the caloric sense—the second ingredient behind cream is water—meaning it’s the second-most prominent element {fda definition}.

The lime flavor is “subtle,” as my sister described it. However, I would prefer this to the alternative, as alluded to in the opening: ice cream that is too sweet. This isn’t the most flavorful ice cream, but it is creamy and very tasty. The pie crust pieces were lacking in the pint I tasted; but that’s more of an aesthetic preference on my part and wouldn’t have had a great effect on flavor.

The meringue bits were delicious and are the one element of this flavor I wish I had tasted more of.

All in all, I give this ice cream flavor five cones. (See scale.)

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The Ethical Case for Eating Meat

The New York Times posed the question and now you can vote for the most convincing case. Here’s the one I found the most surprising:

Production of vegetables without the use of animals requires much larger amounts of energy. In small-scale farming, we use animals to clear fields of vegetation instead of relying only on industrial systems like tractors and herbicides. On our farm, we grow rows of vegetables while green cover crops and weeds fill the spaces in between those rows. After the harvest, dairy goats are grazed to get the land back under control, followed by the chickens that eat most of the remaining vegetation, and then finally with one pass of my tractor, I incorporate what is left back into the soil and plant the next crop. The animals clear vegetation and leave free fertilizer. They build biology in the soil rather than destroy it. Working in the natural order reduces our dependence on outside sources of energy, allowing us to harness the energy that is on-farm. The method leads to a better product, one that is more balanced for my customer, my community, my land, and me.

From Put Your Ethics Where Your Mouth Is {nyt}.

Green Smoothies! {recipe}

kale smoothie

So good… Tastes better than it might look!

I’ve been making them constantly over the past few months. Wanted to share the recipe I’ve developed.

  • •I start with 2-3 bananas, chopped into 2-inch chunks.
  • •3-4 kale stalks, de-ribbed and broken up into smallish pieces.
  • •Frozen pineapple, 3-5 cubes. I love how the pineapple blends with the earthy taste of the kale, rounding out the flavors.
  • •Scoop of protein powder.
  • •Water and/or almond milk. The amount is up to you; I like ‘em on the thin side so they’re easier to drink.
  • •Optional: third fruit—frozen or otherwise. I usually do frozen strawberries, but also recommend chopped apples, blueberries, blackberries… etc.

I’ve also used spinach when I have it, but I much prefer the taste of the kale now. The base (bananas, water, pineapple, kale) is the key—the rest is fun to experiment with!

Let me know if you try it out or have any additions to share.