Archive for May, 2010

Low Country Boil

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Any red neck wannabees out there? Below is Obie’s recipe for a low country boil that is a sure bet. The quantities are set for a turkey fryer pot but of course you can scale up or down as you wish. For some unknown reason it’s better the larger the batch you make.

Heat a large pot about half filled with water over an outdoor cooker (turkey deep fryer), or the largest pot you can find that fits on your kitchen stove. Add Old Bay Seasoning to taste and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, lemons, and sausages, and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Add the corn and onions and cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Add the shrimp and crab when everything else is almost done, then cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the shrimp are pink.

Everything is done: Open the beer and wine. Drain off the water, spread out some newspaper and dump everything in a big pile (get ready to catch rolling stuff when you dump it). Grab a plate and enjoy!


  • 1 package of Old Bay Seasoning (Add some “Crab Boil” liquid for extra spice)
  • 1 Bottle of cocktail sauce, if you like
  • 12 (5 lbs) Red potatoes (Chopped into “chunks”)
  • 3 Lemons (quartered)
  • 2 Packages of Sausages of your choice (andouille, hot or smoked Italian or other spicy sausage), cut into about ¼ inch thick slices
  • 4-6 Ears of corn (cut into 3 inch length pieces)
  • 2 Onions (chopped)
  • 3-4 lbs Large shrimp
  • 3-4 lbs Whole crab, broken into pieces
  • Mushrooms (if you like)

Gimme a YEEHAW!

Gourmet Salt…What’s in it?

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

I’m sure you have seen those appealing bottles of gourmet salt for sale in gourmet food stores. They come from all around the world in a variety of colors and types of crystals. Did you ever wonder what makes one pink, another gray and yet another brown? Probably not, but I did. Yea, I know, pretty geeky, but table salt, NaCl, is colorless. So I bought a dozen different brands, then we dissolved about 0.14gm in 50ml of 2% nitric acid and analyzed by ICPMS for metal content, in particular heavy metals that might be harmful to one’s health. The tables below list the salts tested and the results. Oh, we also tested normal table salt and reagent grade sodium chloride, NaCl.

Gourmet Salts analyzed

Cyprus Black SaltMed. SeaSeaDark Grey2-10mm crystals
Mediterranean Sea SaltMed. SeaSeaWhite2-3mm crystals
Sel Gris De GuerandeFrance?Light Grey1-3mm crystals
Alaea Hawaiian Sea SaltHawaiiSeaRed Brown2-3mm crystals
Hawaii Kai Black SaltHawaiiSeaBlack1-3mm crystals
Murray River Pink Flake SaltAustraliaRiverLight Pink/Beige<2mm Flakes
HimalaSalt Primordial Sea SaltHimalayas?Pink to white2-10mm crystals
Sel de MerIsrael?White3-5mm crystals
Murray River Pink Flake SaltAustraliaRiverLight Pink/Beige<2mm Flakes
Kala Namak Black Mineral SaltIndiaMineralLight Brown/BlackFine powder
Chardonnay Oak Smoked SaltFranceSeaGrey/BrownSmall crystals
Himalayan Pink Mineral SaltHimalayasMineralLight pink/whiteFine crystals

Toxic Metals in Gourmet Salts (parts per million by weight)

MetalHIJKLTable SaltReagent NaCl

Effect of Toxic Metals on Adults

As you can see the levels of heavy metals in these samples were very low. The concentration was only about one ppm for lead in several of the samples and the other heavy metals were generally at least an order of magnitude lower. But one has to watch out even at these low levels as heavy metals tend to be difficult for the body to eliminate and therefore they can accumulate over time.

  • Lead: Is a cumulative poison and causes cancer reproductive problems.
  • Cadmium: Causes hypertension, bone and joint aches and pains and damages the kidneys and liver.
  • Mercury: Is the most toxic of all the heavy metals. Causes tiredness, loss of appetite and brain damage.
  • Arsenic: Causes skin cancer, kidney and liver failure

So how much is too much? It is a very tough question so I’ll give you some information and let you decide. A number of sources list the allowable concentrations of heavy metals. But the key is the total quantity or weight of the heavy metal one takes in since one person might consume much more or less of a food, supplement or in the case here gourmet salt. Current recommendations are for one to limit their intake of sodium to 2400mg per day which equates to about a teaspoon, or 6gm of table salt. So our calculations will be based 6gm of salt, which is probably low for most people.

The table below lists the Allowable Daily Limit (ADL) of four heavy metals in micrograms per day, one microgram = 0.000001gm. We also list the maximum weight found of these metals equated to a 6 gm sample of the salt. Based on this, the last column shows the percent of the daily allowance that one would get from the 6gm intake of salt. As you can see salt would contribute low percents of these daily intakes but bear in mind this is only one source and all sources add up, so one must minimize each source as much as possible.

Allowable Daily Intake (ADL) of Heavy Metals (ug) (6 g Daily Serving)

ElementMax Wt (ug) found in 6g sampleADL% ADL per Serving