Gadget: Soup Making Machine

Samuel Tan wrote . . . . . .

There is nothing like nice warm soup as a starter to your meal. The typical way of preparing your favourite soup would be to chop and cook your ingredients in a saucepan then use a hand-held blender and pray hope that the hot soup doesn’t splatter. Then you have these soup maker machines.

These soup making machines however, has both the blender and heating elements built-in, to blend and cook your soup, all-in-one minus the splatter. Simply prepare and add your ingredients from scratch and have your home made soup in minutes.

You can do this in three easy steps. Prepare and chop your ingredients according to your recipe and place them in the soup maker. You then choose either the smooth or chunky setting depending on your taste. This feature is available on some machines only. It then chops your ingredients accordingly. When ready, add stock or water then continue to cook your soup in the soup maker.

Some machines does it the other way round, it will cook your ingredients in the stock and when ready, use the blender function to finish preparing your soup just the way you like it. You can probably tell now, there are two different types of soup maker (not including the hand blender). There is the blender style soup maker which is simply a blender with heating elements built to the bottom of the removable blender jug.

The other type of soup maker is the kettle style soup maker which as suggested, shapes like a big electric kettle with heating elements at the bottom of the cooking pan and a suspended blade attached to the cover. When shut, the spinning arm rotates the blades near the center of the jug unlike the blender style soup maker that has its blades at the bottom.

Remember, a good soup maker machine also lets you decide if you want you soup smooth or chunky and lets you saute the ingredients before adding the stock. An even better soup maker comes with keep warm function and insulated jug that keeps the soup warm for longer.

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French-style Braised Beef in Red Wine


1 bottle of red Burgundy wine
1-1/2 lb braising beef (chuck is good but cheek is best )
all-purpose flour, for dusting
vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup brandy
1 bouquet garni, made up of thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stalks
1-2/3cup beef or veal stock
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter salt
black pepper


3 tbsp unsalted butter
12 brown-skinned pearl onions (or small shallot), peeled
12 young carrots, peeled
4 oz smoked bacon, cut into thin strips
12 button mushrooms, wiped
juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and boil until reduced by half.
  2. Trim the beef and cut it into 1-1/4-inch cubes, then dust with flour.
  3. Heat a frying pan until very hot, add a dash of oil, and brown the beef well on all sides. Do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Once all the beef has been browned and set aside, discard the oil and add a tablespoon of clean oil, the sliced onion, and crushed garlic. Cook until the onion is brown and caramelized, then put the meat back in the pan. Add the brandy, followed by the reduced wine, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Pour everything into a cast-iron casserole dish, then season and add the bouquet garni and stock. Bring to a simmer, skim well to remove any surface scum, and cover loosely with a lid or parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook until the meat is tender – this should take 1-1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the cut.
  7. Let cool, then take the meat out of the dish and set aside. Skim to remove any fat, then pass the liquid through a sieve into a pan. Boil until it thickens to a sauce, then add the meat. Cover and chill until needed.
  8. To prepare the garnish, melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and add the onions, seasoning, 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the beef, and 1/4 cup water. Braise the onions until they are shiny and cooked through.
  9. Put the carrots in a pan with just enough water to cover and most of the rest of the butter. Season and bring to a gentle boil, then cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are tender and shiny with butter.
  10. Brown the strips of bacon in a frying pan. Sweat the mushrooms in a little butter over medium heat until cooked but still firm, then add seasoning and lemon juice.
  11. To serve, gently reheat the braise on the stove top while you prepare the garnish. Add a couple of knobs of cold butter to enrich and add shine to the sauce, then garnish with the onions, carrots, bacon, and mushrooms.
  12. Take the dish to the table for everyone to admire, then serve in wide bowls.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The French Kitchen

Video: 9 Great Ways To Eat Wagyu Beef In Japan

Watch video at You Tube (3:45 minutes) . . . . .

Watch also:

How Japanese Beef is Graded . . . . .

What Eating a Laundry Pod Can Do to You

Jeneen Interlandi wrote . . . . . . .

Laundry pods have made headlines in recent years because some children and dementia patients have mistaken the brightly colored packets for candy and eaten them. At least eight deaths have been linked to these accidental ingestions.

Now, some teenagers are posting videos of themselves putting these pods into their mouths—in some cases biting into them—as part of an online dare called the “Tide Pod Challenge.”

“We’ve seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded, ” says Stephen Kaminski, executive director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Poison control centers around the country logged 39 cases of intentional laundry pod “exposures” among 13-19 year-olds in the first two weeks of this year, according to the association. That’s as many cases as were logged in all of 2016, and almost as many as were logged in all of 2017.

“The intentional misuse of these products poses a real threat to the health of individuals,” Kaminski says.

Google says it is actively removing the pod challenge videos from YouTube, and that its community guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities with an inherent risk of physical harm.

Tide, meantime, recruited New England Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski to produce a public safety video warning people off of the challenge.

Consumer Reports has called on manufacturers to make the pods safer, including by making them look less candylike. We have also advised households with children younger than 6 or with anyone who has a cognitive impairment, to steer clear of them. Given how deadly the pods can be when ingested, we are very concerned that anyone would bite into one on purpose.

What’s in a Laundry Pod?

While the exact blend of ingredients in any given laundry pod is proprietary (and may differ from one brand to the next), we know that they generally consist of ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and what chemists call “long-chain polymers” but what the rest of us know as soap.

This mix of chemicals is great at cleaning dirt, grime, and food stains off of your clothing. But it’s not meant to be eaten.

In their laundry-pod concentration, these three ingredients alone (never mind what else is in there that we don’t know about) have the power to burn through the lining of your mouth and stomach.

The film that encases this packet of highly concentrated (and, when ingested, very toxic) detergent is thin and specifically designed to dissolve in water. That water is supposed to come from your washing machine, but it can also come from your mouth: According to Don Huber, Consumer Reports’ director of product safety, both your saliva (which is made up of water and enzymes) and gastric juices can break that film down in a matter of seconds.

“You would have to regurgitate the ball almost immediately to avoid injury,” Huber says. “And given the physical size of the pod, it’s not something you can just vomit up easily and have it remain intact.”

What Happens When You Ingest One?

When the film dissolves and the detergent is released, the ethanol, peroxide, and polymers can burn—and not just a little. Toxicologists describe these burns as “caustic,” meaning they can literally eat away at the tissue that makes up your gums and inner cheeks. The same will happen to your esophagus, stomach, and other parts of your gastrointestinal tract as the ingredients make their way through your digestive system.

The intense discomfort of this internal destruction is likely to induce a lot of vomiting. So much that you run the risk of aspirating that vomit, meaning you could literally breathe it into your lungs.

It will also cause severe (the term here is “explosive”) diarrhea. Stool softener—the medication they give people who have trouble going to the bathroom—is also made up of long-chain polymers. Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser, says ingesting a single laundry pod would be “something like the equivalent of taking a whole bottle of stool softeners.”

How, Exactly, Does It Kill You?

Without medical attention, your lungs may start to fill with fluid, which will in turn make it very difficult for you to breathe and eventually send you into respiratory arrest.

At the same time, the portions of the laundry pod that have made their way into your stomach and GI tract can migrate into your bloodstream, vital organs, and central nervous system, including your brain. From there, it can be a short path to seizures, coma, and eventually death.

There is no hard and fast rule for how quickly this process will run its course, but Gary A. Smith, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, says that such deaths tend to be relatively quick.

“It’s a direct toxic effect on the central nervous system,” he says. “This is not a typical product. This is a highly toxic product.” Most of the people who died from accidentally ingesting laundry pods died within hours to days.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of leading brand laundry pods, including the Tide Pods, says its product should be used only to clean clothes and should never be ingested, even as a joke.

Source: Consumer Report

Seizure Drug May Help Ease Symptoms of Major Form of Dementia

Serena Gordon wrote . . . . . . . .

A drug normally used to treat seizures may help ease some symptoms that occur with a type of dementia known as Lewy body dementia, researchers are reporting.

The drug is called zonisamide (Zonegran). When added to treatment with the drug levodopa, zonisamide helped to control Parkinson’s disease-like movement symptoms that are associated with Lewy body dementia. These symptoms may include tremors, stiffness, slowness and trouble walking.

This finding could be significant, dementia researchers said.

While higher doses of levodopa can also help control movement symptoms, they can cause serious psychiatric side effects, including hallucinations, in people with Lewy body dementia. Zonisamide didn’t appear to increase psychiatric problems or worsen memory troubles in this 12-week study from Japan.

“Movement symptoms in Lewy body dementia are problematic to treat with standard Parkinson’s disease medications, because they can provoke hallucinations,” said Dr. Daniel Kaufer, director of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Memory Disorders Program. Kaufer wasn’t involved in the new research.

“Zonisamide improved motor function in a dose-dependent manner, without inducing serious side effects,” Kaufer said.

However, the drug would not have any effect on the memory problems associated with this type of dementia, he said.

Lewy body dementia affects about 1.4 million people in the United States, and is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

Symptoms vary, but may include memory and thinking problems, difficulty understanding visual information, trouble with attention, Parkinson’s-like movement symptoms, hallucinations and changes in sleep or behavior.

Kaufer said treatment options for this and other neurodegenerative diseases are limited, so any advance is welcome. Zonisamide is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of seizures.

The study was led by Dr. Miho Murata from the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo and sponsored by zonisamide’s Asian manufacturer, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, in Japan.

It included 158 people diagnosed with probable Lewy body dementia. (As with other forms of dementia, the only way to definitively diagnose Lewy body dementia is after death with an autopsy.)

The study volunteers were already receiving treatment with the Parkinson’s drug levodopa.

They were given a placebo for four weeks at the start of the study. Then they were randomly placed into one of three groups that received a placebo, 25 milligrams or 50 milligrams of zonisamide once daily.

The participants who received the highest dose of zonisamide had the most improvement in their movement symptoms compared to a placebo. Those who received the smaller dose had slight improvements over a placebo, according to the study.

Kaufer said the drug showed a clear-cut dose response, which indicates the medication is working.

“This study identifies another potential therapeutic option for a circumstance that is not uncommon. The results weren’t earth-shattering, but zonisamide could be a viable treatment option to improve quality of life,” he said.

Dr. Sami Saba, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that zonisamide could be beneficial.

“Zonisamide looks pretty effective at improving movement symptoms and not causing psychiatric symptoms,” said Saba, who wasn’t involved in the research.

“This is known to be a difficult disease to treat, and this adds to the cadre of things we can use that may help this subset of patients,” he added.

The study authors noted that the current study size was small, and said a larger study is needed.

The findings were published online in the journal Neurology.

Source: HealthDay

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