Character Breads

12 Chinese Zodiac Signs

The breads are available for a limited time period at Pompadour Bakery in Tokyo, Japan.

The price for one set of the breads is 3,500 yen (tax included).


Berry Clafouti


2-1/4 cups mixed berries, such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, washed
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
4 Tbsp toasted slivered almonds
Yogurt or cream, to serve


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, separated


  1. Put the fruit in the base of a heatproof, shallow dish which fits the top of the steamer, and sprinkle the sugar on top.
  2. Mix all of the batter ingredients together except the egg white.
  3. Whisk the egg white until peaking and gently fold into the batter. Spoon over the fruit in the bowl and scatter the almonds on top.
  4. Cover the dish with pleated foil and secure with string. Cook, covered, in the steamer for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until the batter is cooked through.
  5. Remove the foil and serve immediately with yogurt or cream.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Steam Cuisine

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Appliance Maker Awarded Comprehensive Patent For Kitchen-Centric Computer Vision System

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Over the past couple years, there’s been what can only be described as an intellectual property land grab in the world of computer vision as Google, Amazon and Microsoft file more patents in an effort to establish foundations from which to launch an innumerable amount of AI-driven products and services over the next decade or more.

But as it turns out, big appliance isn’t quite ready to cede the entirety of this fast-moving space to big tech, especially when it comes to their home turf, err, the home. Last week appliance giant Whirlpool was awarded what appears to be a a fairly broad patent for a computer vision system to track behavior of people and objects within a home and enable all sorts of potential scenarios such as auto-replenishment, guided cooking and more.

The patent, entitled “Interaction recognition and analysis system”, starts with fairly broad language to describe a system that utilizes image capture technology to identify the contents of a person’s hand and trigger a range of reactions from appliances within the home. From there, the descriptions and related diagrams get more specific, illustrating how the system could enable a variety of specific scenarios such as suggesting a recipe or ordering more laundry detergent from an online retailer.

One such example is a description of how the system could be used in a fridge across a number of different “access regions” that correspond to the different storage areas within a fridge. The system would know the freezer drawer from the fresh food drawer and be able to monitor corresponding changes in frozen food or fresh food inventory.

In another example, the patent describes how the system could be used to monitor activity in the cooking cavity of a microwave or oven. It could also determine the level of doneness of the food. From there, it could initiate a specific timer or a series of cooking processes. In other words, the system could serve as a foundation for guided cooking.

Of course, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that Whirlpool would be delving into computer vision-powered services as suggested by this patent. At the last CES, the company showed off ingredient recognition capabilities of the new Yummly app and has been showing off concept demos utilizing computer vision-powered interfaces since CES 2014.

Still, this new patent is intriguing and I am very interested to see where Whirlpool takes this type of technology in the future. Because of the broadness of the patent, it could serve as the IP underpinning for what is essentially a kitchen operating system, where fridges, ovens and washing machines are not only in sync with the consumers that use them, but also with each other and all the various systems in the home. The end result could be a more sentient and anticipatory kitchen in place of the smart appliances operating independently of one another that occupy our homes today.

Sure, that’s a lot to infer from one patent, but that’s the direction Whirlpool, BSH and others have been heading in the last couple years. My guess is 2019 will see significant moves in this direction, starting in just a couple weeks at CES in Las Vegas.

Source: The Spoon

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How Exercise Reduces Belly Fat in Humans

Some of you may have made a New Year’s resolution to hit the gym to tackle that annoying belly fat. But have you ever wondered how physical activity produces this desired effect? A signaling molecule called interleukin-6 plays a critical role in this process, researchers report December 27 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

As expected, a 12-week intervention consisting of bicycle exercise decreased visceral abdominal fat in obese adults. But remarkably, this effect was abolished in participants who were also treated with tocilizumab, a drug that blocks interleukin-6 signaling and is currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, tocilizumab treatment increased cholesterol levels regardless of physical activity.

“The take home for the general audience is ‘do exercise,'” says first author Anne-Sophie Wedell-Neergaard of the University of Copenhagen. “We all know that exercise promotes better health, and now we also know that regular exercise training reduces abdominal fat mass and thereby potentially also the risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases.”

Abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of not only cardio-metabolic disease, but also cancer, dementia, and all-cause mortality. Physical activity reduces visceral fat tissue, which surrounds internal organs in the abdominal cavity, but the underlying mechanisms have not been clear. Some researchers have proposed that a “fight-or-flight” hormone called epinephrine mediates this effect. But Wedell-Neergaard and co-senior study author Helga Ellingsgaard of the University of Copenhagen suspected that interleukin-6 could also play an important role because it regulates energy metabolism, stimulates the breakdown of fats in healthy people, and is released from skeletal muscle during exercise.

To test this idea, the researchers carried out a 12-week, single-center trial in which they randomly assigned abdominally obese adults to four groups. A total of 53 participants received intravenous infusions of either tocilizumab or saline as a placebo every four weeks, combined with no exercise or a bicycle routine consisting of several 45-minute sessions each week. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to assess visceral fat tissue mass at the beginning and end of the study.

In the placebo groups, exercise reduced visceral fat tissue mass by an average of 225 grams, or 8 percent, compared with no exercise. But tocilizumab treatment eliminated this effect. In the exercise groups, tocilizumab also increased visceral fat tissue mass by approximately 278 grams compared with placebo. In addition, tocilizumab increased total cholesterol and “bad” low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol compared with placebo, in both the exercise and no-exercise groups. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that interleukin-6 has a physiological role in regulating visceral fat mass in humans,” Wedell-Neergaard says.

The authors note that the study was exploratory and not intended to evaluate a given treatment in a clinical setting. To complicate matters, interleukin-6 can have seemingly opposite effects on inflammation, depending on the context. For example, chronic low-grade elevations of interleukin-6 are seen in patients with severe obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. “The signaling pathways in immune cells versus muscle cells differ substantially, resulting in pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory actions, so interleukin-6 may act differently in healthy and diseased people,” Wedell-Neergaard explains.

In future studies, the researchers will test the possibility that interleukin-6 affects whether fats or carbohydrates are used to generate energy under various conditions. They will also investigate whether more interleukin-6, potentially given as an injection, reduces visceral fat mass on its own. “We need a more in-depth understanding of this role of interleukin-6 in order to discuss its implications,” Wedell-Neergaard says.

In the meantime, the authors have some practical holiday exercise tips. “It is important to stress that when you start exercising, you may increase body weight due to increased muscle mass,” Wedell-Neergaard says. “So, in addition to measuring your overall body weight, it would be useful, and maybe more important, to measure waist circumference to keep track of the loss of visceral fat mass and to stay motivated.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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