September 23, 2011

CF123 – Goodbye Good Eats

CF123 – Goodbye Good Eats

The Show Notes for episode 123: Goodbye Good Eats

Welcome, Folks, to the Catholic Foodie, Where food meets faith! I’m your host Jeff Young and today we are saying goodbye to one of my favorite food shows: Alton Brown’s Good Eats on Food Network. Well, it’s sort of a goodbye. This goodbye may be a bit early, since three hour-long episodes are coming out this season. But, back in May, Alton did announce that he is capping the series at episode 249, which he recorded a little over a week ago.

We’ll dig into Alton’s Egg-Files to discover the best way to fry an egg, and we’ll discover the secret to perfectly scramble an egg.

It’s tomato season, and Sarah Reinhard brings us a Mary in the Kitchen segment that will share the feeling of late summer and early fall canning in Ohio.

We have all this, and more, right here at the Catholic Foodie…. Where food meets faith!

This episode of the Catholic Foodie is brought to you by… Me! : That’s right. If you have been a listener for a while, then you know that a little over a year ago I left a career in education to go out on my own as a WordPress Consultant & Developer. I also create content for websites.

If you need help with your WordPress site, or if you want to learn about the benefits of WordPress as a content management system (and the advantages of WordPress over other platforms), I am here to help. You can reach me via email at or visit my professional site at


It’s the end of an era, folks.

Food Network began airing Good Eats back in July of 1999. That was 12 years ago. Since then, Alton Brown has produced 249 episodes over 14 seasons.

Two pilot episodes were produced in 1997, and first aired on Chicago, IL PBS affiliate WTTW in 1998. The two episodes were about steak and potatoes. The episode titles were: Steak Your Claim and This Spud’s For You. The show was picked up by Food Network in late 1998.

Here’s an early review of the pilot episodes by Steve Johnson, a Tribune Television critic. It was published on July 17, 1998:

“Good Eats: This PBS series attempts to be a cooking show inspired more by MTV than Julia Child. Mostly it succeeds, as writer-host Alton Brown dares vacate the kitchen to actually visit spots where cows are raised, meat thermometers are sold, etc. The spiky, energetic camera work is first rate, the episodes are shot on luxurious film, and Brown’s writing and on-camera presence are sharp enough to hold up to the aggressive production. Friday’s episode, the second of only two that WTTW-Ch. 11 is airing, looks at how to cook a steak. But assuming, wisely, that most of us don’t know beans about beef, it first shows us where the cuts come from and how to shop for them, and only then explains how to actually treat the meat. A short course: pepper, kosher salt, peanut oil, sear in cast-iron skillet, then bake in extra-hot oven. I hope I’m remembering it right because I plan to try it soon, but, of course, as with any attempt to practice the culinary arts, your results may vary. This lively, well-made and refreshingly different show deserves a place at a televison table overcrowded with cookie-cutter cooking programs.”

Obviously, the show did get its place at that table. And, it could be argued, that Good Eats changed the whole menu (or, rather, changed the game) for all those cookie-cutter coooking shows.

So, what makes Good Eats such a great cooking show?

It quirky, it’s different. Heck, sometimes it’s really hard to categorize it as a cooking show. As a matter of fact, just last week, Alton Brown was interviewed on NPR, and this was his response when asked how he classifies Good Eats: [Play clip – HOW DO YOU CLASSIFY THE SHOW?]

Ultimately, I think THAT is why Good Eats is so popular: It’s fun! It’s quirky, it’s different. It brings two tastes together that (surprisingly) taste great: food and science. Which, incidentally, I find quite amusing, since that is what I have done with food and faith at the Catholic Foodie.

Two great tastes that taste great together. Now, I have to tell you, I’ve never been a science guy. Never cared for it, was never interested in it at school. Science was always one of my most challenging subjects. In retrospect, I can see that it was challenging not so much because it was difficult. Rather, I just wasn’t interested. I struggled with science all through high school. And I had what I thought was a great excuse: Science just wasn’t my forte. I was gifted with the magic of words and philosophy, not pitre dishes and microbes. But all of my excuses came crashing down a few years later in college. I did not want to take any sciences. But, they had these core courses that were required no matter which major you chose. So, I was stuck. I put it off as long as I could, then finally signed up for a biology class. It was a night class. 3 hours. Pure torture. I don’t know how I made it. It must have been all the prayer and fasting. I was terrified as the mid-term exam approached. But, guess what. I passed it. Not only did I pass it, but I had one of the top scores. I was so excited! I thought, “hey, I can do this!” My next thought was, “darn, now I can’t use my old excuses.”

Even after college, I never developed an interest in science. Not really. So, if you had tried to sell me on Good Eats from a science angle, I would have told you to get lost. But the crazy thing is, I love the show. I absolutely love the show. I wish full episodes were available on Netflix or Hulu, but they’re not. Bummer.

And I love the show because it’s fun. I find the science fascinating. You know why? Because Alton is not just teaching, he’s entertaining. In that NPR interview from last week, Alton was asked about this… about how he manages to bring so much information into each episode… it’s like science class, but fun. Here’s what he had to say: [Play clip – GOT TO ENTERTAIN]

He went on to comment a bit further on this. And I want to play this clip too, because it reminds so much of how we convey the faith. If we treat evangelization and catechesis as just a class, we are really doing everybody a disservice. And we failing to really communicate the message of the gospel in a way that inspires and changes lives. Listen to this: [Play clip – ENTERTAIN, DON’T PREACH]

One of the things that I love about the show is the way Alton plays with words. He takes elements of pop culture and puts a punny foodie spin on them. I’ve already mentioned Steak Your Claim and This Spud’s For You, but here are some other titles that have always made me chuckle:

  • The Egg Files (which, by the way, we will be returning to in a moment)
  • Churn Baby Churn (Burn Baby Burn… Disco Inferno)
  • The Dough Also Rises (from the Sun Also Rises – Hemmingway)
  • For Whom the Cheese Melts (For Whom The Bell Tolls – Hemmingway again)
  • Citizen Cane
  • Ear Apparent
  • Fry Hard
  • A Grind is a Terrible Thing to Waste
  • Pork Fiction
  • Mussel Bound
  • What’s Up, Duck?
  • Grill Seekers
  • Mission: Poachable
  • Crepe Expectations
  • Squid Pro Quo

The list goes on and on. There’s 249 of them!

A couple of the titles I just shared have to do with eggs (like the Egg Files intro I played earlier in the show). And those egg episodes demonstrate the genius that is Alton Brown and Good Eats. I mean, it’s the incredible, edible egg. Anybody can cook an egg, right? Well, I guess so. But, I’m going to tell you a little secret. I learned a few lessons about eggs the other day from Alton. And those little lessons make all the difference in the world.

I want to let Alton tell you some of those secrets himself. In October 2009, right around the time they released the first Good Eats cookbook (which covered the early years), Alton appeared on the CBS Early Show to teach Harry Smith how to cook the perfect egg. Let’s listen to their conversation. [Play clip – INCREDIBLE EGGS]

I tell you what. Alton’s method works. We’ve been making eggs over easy for breakfast every morning this past week. And his tips have made all the difference. In the clip you heard him mention that it’s important to have a hot plate. He has mentioned in other places that he never puts hot food on a cold plate. There are a few ways that you can heat your plates before putting hot food on them. One way is to soak them in hot water. Another is to stack them in the oven on a very low temperature (just make sure they are oven-safe). And the way that I have been heating my plate up when I cook eggs, is to set it on a burner on the stove at a very low temperature for just a few minutes. It’s amazing how different the eating experience is when your hot food is placed on a hot plate.

Here’s another secret I have learned recently from Alton about eggs. This one is about salmonella, and I got from his first Good Eats cookbook.


People used to eat raw egg applications all the time: eggs sunny side up, Caesar salad, hollandaise sauce, chocolate chip cookie dough. But about twenty years ago the government, via the USDA and CDC, started telling us that shell eggs can be infected by Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), which can make healthy people mighty sick and sick people dead. The fact that this happened rather suddenly is some evidence that this is not an egg problem or even a chicken problem as much as it is a production problem that stems exclusively from the fact that we’ve decided to treat the chicken like machine parts that just so happen to have pulses. Instead of forcing agri-business to clean up its collective act, the USDA (which was formed, by the way, to promote the agriculture industry, not protect us from things like salmonella) tells us that in order to safely consume eggs we must cook them to 160 F, which pretty much ruins them as far as I’m concerned.

Well, you know what I say? I say I’m not going to marginalize the world’s best ingredient just so the poultry industry can play it loose and we can have eggs that are cheaper than they ought to be. Find a local farmer who keeps a few chickens roaming around the yard and buy his eggs. Oh, sure, they’ll be all shapes and sizes and colors and they’ll cost twice or even three times as much as grocery-store eggs, but guess what: They’ll taste great and you won’t have to worry. Better yet, get your own chickens. Most municipalities in this country allow the average homeowner to keep a few cluckers around the yard. And heck, when one stops laying: stew!

I did not know this about salmonella until just the other day. But, I am happy to say, that we have been buying our eggs from local farmers for months now. We have been eating brown eggs from free-range chickens for years. But several months ago we discovered that we could get our eggs locally from a farmer, and we actually save $1 per dozen. So, good deal. And these eggs taste so much better.

There are tons and tons of tips in Alton’s cookbooks. The first two Good Eats cookbooks are already out (Good Eats: The Early Years and Good Eats 2: The Middle Years). They were published in 2009 and 2010. His third and final Good Eats cookbook, Good Eats 3: The Later Years is scheduled to be released this month, on September 27th. If you plan on buying any of his cookbooks, I would ask that you kindly use my Amazon affiliate link (above). It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but when you order by clicking on my affiliate link, throws a little money my way. It’s a very easy way for you to help support the work I do here at the Catholic Foodie. Thank you so much!

Now, if you are saddened that Good Eats is coming to an end, I’m right there with you. But, there is some good news. There are three more hour-long episodes coming out this year. The final episode will be the Thankgiving show. And, with the release of the new cookbook, Alton will be traveling on a book tour. I am very happy to tell you that he is returning to New Orleans as part of the tour. He will be at Octavia Books on October 19th. And, guess what… We will be there! Again! Back in 2008, Char and I took the kids to meet Alton when he was on tour with his Feasting on Asphalt cookbook. It was great to meet him and to get a picture with him. We look forward to a similar experience next month.

And what about Alton after Good Eats? What now? Well, in that NPR interview he had this to say… [Play clip – I’M JUST EVOLVING]

Mary in the Kitchen

It’s tomato season, and Sarah Reinhard brings us a Mary in the Kitchen segment that will share the feeling of late summer and early fall canning in Ohio. To view the full text of this week’s Mary in the Kitchen, click here.

Thank you so much, Sarah! That was Sarah Reinhard, folks! You can find more of Sarah’s work, including her recently published Advent book, Welcome Baby Jesus over at

And now, over at you can find all of Sarah’s Mary in the Kitchen segments in print format. Just go to There’s a Mary in the Kitchen spot right there on the homepage. Or you can go to

A big thank you to L’Angelus for allowing us to use their Ave Maria in the show. You can find L’Angelus at

Feedback & New Catholic Foodie Site

This brings us to the end of the show, folks. I certainly hope you have enjoyed it.

I have a few quick tidbits for you before with close the show:

First of all, I am looking for voice feedback from… Well, from you! I want to hear from you. How does food meet faith in your life? You can call in your voice feedback by dialing 985-635-4974, that’s 985-635-4974. You can call that number day or night. Just leave a message, and I’ll be able to play that on the show.

Also, the NEW Catholic Foodie site is now live! And I think it looks great! That’s not just my opinion though. I have received tons of compliments from folks. So, thank you all so much! If you haven’t alreayd, please do go check it out.

I was also flattered the other day when I learned that had been chosen as the Website of the Day by in Australia. Awesome! A big shout out to all my Aussie friends! Good-on-ya! And thank you,!

And, Finally, a Little Wine…

And finally, I want to let you in on a little secret. I am working on a wine buying guide.

Have you ever been in the grocery or the wine store and stood there looking at all the bottles feeling, well, feeling a bit awkward? There are so many different kinds of wines, and so much that goes into the wine-making process, how are you supposed to know which one to buy? Well, I have known that feeling. And what I am putting together will help you! I know this because I have had so many people ask my advice when it comes to buying wine. I am so excited about this new wine buying guide that I have set up this link where you can go to sign up for more information. If you want to be one of the first to know when this guide is finally released, sign up over at Do it today.

I look forward to seeing you again next week. Until then you might want to check out the Catholic Foodie on Facebook at Follow me on Twitter at And don’t forget to check out the new Catholic Foodie website at

Until next time… Bon appetit!

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