Did you know that the average ear of corn has about 800 kernels? Or that the typical sunflower head contains more than 1,000 seeds? Indeed, I tend to despise numbers. But knowing that a TB of salt includes about 100,000 grains is just fascinating. It’s almost as impressive as knowing that we Americans drink about 45 gallons of soda per capita each year. Combined, that’s enough to fill more than 21,000 Olympic-sized pools!
Following are a few more intriguing numbers.
Even the bottom 20 percent of U.S. earners spend almost one-third – about $1,100 per capita – of their annual food budget eating out, according to The Atlantic. The middle and top 20 percent spend about $2,100 and $5,800, respectively.
U.S. citizens, by the way, spend much less of their income for food than most other developed countries. At 7 percent, we’re fairly close to our U.K. friends’ 9 percent. But when you head over to France, the percentage jumps to 13 percent. (Must be the cigarette appetizers.) In Russia, it’s 31 percent. Yep. Socialism seems to have worked — for everyone but the hungry Russian citizens.
65 Million – The number of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook volumes sold since 1950, when it was called Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook. To date, it’s the all-time best seller in the cooking genre.
Yeah. It’s expensive.
Never mind that you’re paying $20 per pound for Waygu beef. That Saffron in your cupboard is as expensive than gold, ounce for ounce. The spice comes from the Saffron Crocus flower. Particularly, the stigmas. It takes 75,000 of them to make a pound of the bright yellow stuff. Considering that some Saffron can go for as much as $15 per gram, which equates to about $425 per ounce. OK, so gold was selling at $1,367 per ounce this week. But … If you were buying by weight, you could buy about 10 Rolls Royce Ghosts for the same price as the equivalent (5,300 pounds) of Saffron.
$110 Billion – The amount Americans spend annually on fast food. Shame on us.
Budgeting = Dieting
Want to lose a few pounds? Shop with cash. — According to a still-applicable 2010 study in The Journal of Consumer Research, credit card grocery shopping tends to make us heavier around the waist and lighter in the pocketbook. The study shows that we are more likely to bring home a can of pressurized fake cheese spread and a lemon merengue pie when we pay with plastic. (That’s especially shameful when our shopping list consisted only of a bag of carrots and some toilet paper!)
Need help staying on track? Use one of those carry-baskets, versus the 5-cubic-foot basket on wheels. That mocha almond fudge impulse isn’t quite as loud when you have to carry it around the store.
20 – Pounds of pasta eaten annually by the average American. ~ The worst pasta dish in America? According to Men’s Health Magazine, The Cheesecake Factory earns top (or bottom) honors with its Bistro Shrimp Pasta. The dish, at more than 2,700 calories and 78 grams of saturated fat, is equivalent to eating three sticks of butter and 14 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts. Homer Simpson would be proud.
Bringing home the corn
While bacon is a big seller in the U.S. — more than 550 million pounds of fixed-weight sales in 2012 — corn is still king. According to the USDA’s most recent report (2011), corn crops brought in about $64 Billion in sales. And it makes sense, considering that corn ain’t just sold by the can or ear. Those little kernels are used in the manufacture of everything from glue to ethanol (gasoline).
269.1 Million – Cases of the top-selling U.S. beer sold in the year ending this past September. The winner: Bud Light.
269.1 Million – Minimum number of U.S. beer consumers who, in the year ending this past September, made unexpected drives to CVS or Walgreen’s to buy Imodium or Kaopectate.
Truth is, if your local Thai joint is worth its salt, making your own fresh spring rolls won’t save you any time or money. But it’s fun. And your guests will be impressed — especially knowing that you made the Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce with peanuts (and no peanut butter). If I were a better person, I’d make these beauties a main dish. They are, however, some of the best appetizers ever.
Fresh Spring Rolls
2 oz – Cellophane noodles
27 – Large (21-30 ct.) Shrimp
4 – Napa Cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup – Fresh Bean sprouts
1 cup – Carrot, julienned
1/2 cup – Cucumber, peeled & julienned
1/4 cup – Fresh Cilantro leaves
2 TB – Fresh Basil, chopped
1 TB – Fresh Mint, chopped
9 – Rice paper wrappers
Prepare the shrimp
Shell and devein the shrimp completely. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place shrimp in water. When it returns to a boil, turn off the heat and cover saucepan. Allow to sit for about 3-5 minutes (until shrimp are completely pink). Drain and place shrimp in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Prepare the Cellophane noodles
Instructions for prepping Cellophane noodles vary, depending on the brand. Follow instructions on the package for soaking and/or boiling. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Build the Fresh Spring Rolls
Instructions for softening rice paper wrappers also vary — from 3 seconds in water to a minute. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
One at a time:
- Soften a sheet of rice paper and place on cutting board;
- Near the bottom edge, add about 1/2 cup of the noodles leaving about 2 inches on both sides of the rice paper, then roll one turn;
- Add a few Napa Cabbage leaves, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, basil and mint, then roll another turn;
- Place 3 Cilantro leaves across the length of the filling, then place (3) shrimp atop the leaves; Roll one more turn;
- Carefully bring in the sides of the rice paper to envelope, then tightly roll up the wrapper.
- Place Fresh Spring Rolls on serving tray and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 9 Fresh Spring Rolls. Serve with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce (below) and Thai Sweet Hot Dipping Sauce.
Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 cup – Roasted peanuts (unsalted)
1 cup – Coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 cloves – Garlic, minced
2 TB – Fish sauce
2 TB – Brown sugar
1 TB – Chili paste
2 tsp – Toasted Sesame oil
1 tsp – Tamarind paste (or pulp)
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth. Adjust saltiness with additional fish sauce, as desired. Sweetness can be adjusted by adding more (or less) brown sugar.