Professor Ermias Kebreab explains the trial

OK. The above title is really false, which I'll explain shortly. But it grabbed your attention. After all, we generally think that cows are making too much methane gas that contributes to climate change and that it's coming out as farts. 

Turns out that is false. While they do emit a considerable amount, 95% of it is coming from their breathing and not from the other end. This little detail was revealed to me recently during a visit to UC Davis' feed lots where they are studying ways to reduce these emissions.

Food bloggers had been invited by Mootral, a new supplement created by Swiss company Zaluvida. UC Davis is world renowned for its agricultural programs and is one of the few research centers in the world that can handle many types of animal studies. Mootral is in California for a six month trial of their supplement to test it in our conditions. 

It should be noted that California's Air Resources Board and other agencies have been tasked with reducing factors that contribute to climate change - and that includes through agriculture and livestock. So these studies help toward these efforts. 

We were met by UC Davis Professor Ermias Kebreab, Don Harper, in charge of the cattle operations at UCD, and Breanna Roque, a graduate student working on the Mootral trial. 

Harper explained the feeding that the cows receive and the nutrition involved, especially at finishing lots. The primary focus at UCD is for large cattle operations to feed the masses of Americans who are used to cheap beef in the stores. That means they focus on finishing with corn and other ingredients rather than on totally grass fed cattle.




Video shows the corn, steamed/pressed corn, cotton seed, almond husks, 3 stages of feed mixture moving to more corn, molasses, added vitamins/minerals


One interesting bit of information was about how blessed our California cattle are. Due to our agricultural bounty, their feed is often supplemented with byproducts that we humans don't consume. Such things as the husks from almonds or the cotton seeds. Not only do they help to rid us of these excessive byproducts, eliminating waste going to landfills, etc., but it takes them out as competing with humans for other products that we do eat, such as corn. Other ingredients included processed corn and spent grains from alcohol processing. Added to the feed mixture is molasses and other vitamins and nutrients, providing a very precise nutritional mix. 


the feeder
The Mootral is all natural. It's basically garlic and citrus extracts that are added to feed pellets and given to the cows at only 15 grams per day. The Mootral works to reduce the amount of gases created in the cattle's digestion by 30%. 

I had to ask how the emissions are measured and that's when we learned the fact about the breathing. The cattle are encouraged to eat out of a special feeder that they stick their heads in. As they breathe, a fan system sucks up their exhalations into a device that is able to measure how much methane, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. is exhaled. 

There are many companies and scientists trying different methods to reduce emissions. Professor Kebreab tells us that after the Mootral trial there will be another one with dairy cattle and a seaweed supplement.



We finished with a nice dinner at the UCD Meat Lab. If you are local and did not know, you can buy meat from some of UCD's butchered animals from their Meat Store. 

For more about cattle, be sure and read my piece on Calving at edible Sacramento. 

Thai chicken

Do we need another make-your-own pizza place in town? If you are a beer drinker, you'll say "YES!" when you hear about the newest addition - PizzaRev TAPROOM. The reason I've capitalized the TAPROOM is because, unlike other PizzaRevs which do serve a few beers, this one has an entire bank of taps and you can serve your own beer.




It may surprise my regular readers to see me touting a feature I'll never use because I don't drink, but this was something new to me that I thought readers would appreciate. Really, it might be not new at all, but my friends and I had never seen this serve yourself concept/method before.



Like all the other similar pizza places, PizzaRev has a bank of ingredients and you go down the line and tell them what you want on your pizza. There's thick, thin, or gluten-free crust and then an assortment of sauces, meats, vegetables, and cheeses so you can be as creative as you want. There is always the list of set pizzas on the menu board as well (margherita, Mediterranean, etc.). 




When you get to the register and select your drink, you can choose to use the Coke-your-way soda machine or choose beer and wine. Choosing alcohol means you will receive an electronic wristband so you can go serve yourself at the bank of beers/wines.




There are 24 taps along two walls. Two are wine, the rest are beers, including many local favorites. Hold the wristband up to the machine and it will trigger it to allow you to pour your beer, dispensing a measured amount. While we were there for the VIP soft opening, the wristband allowed 32 ounces of beer. So apparently they can be programmed. 


Margherita

As for the pizzas, we choose to try the Thai Chicken (Thai sizzle, mozzarella with buffalo milk, sweet chili chicken, shredded carrots, fresh cilantro, fresh green onions) and a regular Margherita. We enjoyed the Thai one with the exception that they could reduce the amount of the the Thai sizzle sauce. It's pretty strong and sticky and easily overwhelmed the pizza. 


plenty of hot sauce options

This PizzaRev should do very well being that it is located a mile from Sac State and affordable for students. It has a good amount of seating and a lovely fire pit outside as well. 


For more on make-your-own pizzas and a comparison of other brands, read 

Comparing Fast Casual Pizzas.



You may have read my bio and know that I grew up in Saudi Arabia for all my school age years. My dad was there for 16 years and during our vacations back in the States we would often get the (stupid) question - Do you ride to school on a camel?


Suffice it to say, I never rode a camel. I saw plenty of them, of course. I even was given freshly milked camel's milk by a bedouin in the middle of the desert, but I never rode a camel. That is, until last week. Not only did I ride a camel, but I raced one. 


Every September for the last 58 years Virginia City has hosted camel races. Not just camels, either. They also race ostriches and zebras. This traditional, fun, family weekend has been one of the staples of Virginia City's tourism calendar. Lucky for me, Fridays are devoted to media, who are invited to ride.

This is my third posting of Virginia City on my blog, but in the upcoming November issue of Sacramento Magazine you should find a piece I wrote about it as a great getaway weekend for adults and for families. 


I arrived Friday morning to find a dozen camels, four zebra, and about ten ostriches and a handful of emus. All of these exotic animals come from Hedrick's Promotions, Inc. based out of Kansas. Joe Hedrick has a history in rodeo and with dealing with exotic animals. Over the decades he has amassed about 70 camels, 50 ostriches, and more on his Kansas ranch. I'm assured by the the Virginia City Chamber members who have visited his ranch that the animals live a very good life there, with plenty of open acreage to wander about. 

We were given an orientation about what to expect, sign waivers, etc. Then we got to ride a camel around the ring to see what it was like when they were just walking. Very bumpy. 



While we waited we got to hang out behind the scenes. The ostriches, like the camels, are very tall. I definitely was having to look up at these crazy birds. At one point I had my back to them and my elbow resting on the bars of the enclosure and next thing I know, I got bitten! Others have fared worse, I hear, with bruises and hurtful nips. For me it was like someone with a set of plastic, duck bills on their hand that clapped onto my arm. Shocking at most. 


Finally it was our turn for the last race of the day. It was quite difficult for me to climb up as there was no ladder and I'm only 5'3". I was finally on board and then was shocked to get a soaking! I thought the camel was somehow peeing on me! But how can a camel pee up and cool? Turns out a gust of wind came just at that moment and blew water off the awning behind me. At virtually the same moment the gates were open and we were off!



All I cared about was hanging on and I think you can see that in my expression. I asked a woman in the audience to film me, so that's why the poor quality of my video. Thank goodness Daniel from Visit Virginia City got the great still shots!

If I continue to go back each year there's a chance I can graduate to zebra or ostrich! So why not?

Check out the Virginia City calendar. There's always something fun going on. Next month: Outhouse Races!




You've seen the stories on Dateline or in the news. Lonely women who become victims to dating scammers. I'm always a bit dismayed that there are women out there that can't spot the signs.  I guess when you are looking through rose colored glasses...

I first came across a dating scammer years ago on Match.com. He had attractive pictures and was conversational. He was also (supposedly) working overseas, so he wasn't available for an actual meet.

I just ran across another one over the last month. It always takes a while to figure out they are scammers.  Oh, I don't even let them get as far as asking for money. I have them figured out way before that.  Still, there are several signs I'd thought I'd share.

1) Few pictures. They only have 1-2 pictures in their profile and they are attractive, but not super attractive.

2) Poor spelling and/or grammar.  In this day and age of emails and text messaging with emojis and acronyms, we have become very forgiving for occasional poor spelling and grammar. So this is a sign, but not necessarily enough to be a red flag right out of the gate.

3) Flowery or strange language. Flowery language just seems like trying too hard. But more often it's a matter of the sentence structure doesn't flow like the way we talk here in America. A sure sign of a foreigner. Many of these scams are coming out of Africa, just like the lottery winning scams.

4) All about you, nothing about themselves. If getting any more information about their lives, likes, and dislikes is like pulling teeth, it's a sure sign. Instead they will focus all on you and how wonderful you are and all your interests. Or, they'll ask you about what you are looking for in a man so they can be all those things.

5) They Google you. Expanding on #4, if you have a good presence on the internet, whether via articles, news items, or profiles on public sites, they have plenty of information to use. Because of this blog I do have a lot if you search for me on Google. It was actually this one that was the red flag for me to know they were a scammer. He started talking about how he wanted to open a restaurant one day (setting up for asking for money later??), how he knew about SactoMoFo and Sacfoodtrucks (even though he's supposedly in the Bay area, not local), and how his daughter was going to turn 13 on my December birth date. I'm sorry, but a parent says their child is 12, not that their child is going to be 13 on December X when it's only February.

6) They often have a pre-teen daughter. I guess they seem it makes them look like an awesome dad. Why daughters and not sons? Have no idea. But both of my cases had 12 year old daughters...supposedly.

7) They won't meet.  They might say they are nearby, but will conveniently cancel or be a no show at any arranged meet.  Thank god I never reached this point that I was investing time to wait for a scammer.

8) They ask you to use the Whatsapp app to communicate.  While Whatsapp is a legitimate app used by thousands or millions of people, it is particularly used for international communication because it uses little data by using wi-fi instead. Many people use it to communicate with family and friends in other countries. But it's also a preferred method for those foreign scammers.

9) Their email address is suspect. It turns out there are a lot of anonymous email sites out there and a few are particularly favored by these foreign scammers. In my case, the email was @contractor.net. I searched for a contractor.net website to no avail, but then I came across an article talking about how contractor.net is often used by scammers.


There are many companies that provide free email services and most people use them for legitimate purposes. However, because there is no charge and hence no need for a verifiable billing address, bank account or credit card, these accounts are fairly anonymous. That and easy access from ubiquitous internet cafes means such accounts are often abused by criminals who send variants of the "419" scam. Most of these emails are sent from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa and various cities in Europe with West African residents as well as various places in Asia. By reporting the scam accounts to the webmail providers you can usually get them closed.

10. Don't trust the phone or Skype. Remember, anyone can get a Google Voice phone number or can Skype you from anywhere in the world. That's why it's best to keep close to home and make them meet you in person!

11. Reverse search their photos! This is a trick bloggers use to see who has stolen our food photographs but it works great for checking on possible scammers. Just used it today, in fact and SCORE! When you click on an image, especially in Google Chrome, you can choose Search Google for Image. Sure enough, today's guy came up as a some model in Florida with a different name. I then went to Facebook and looked him up and found more pictures of him in more casual scenes - family. So the scammer used those to look more legit.  Reported him!

12. They list a foreign university or school.

13. They have a job very unlikely to be found in your area. The likelihood of an offshore drilling engineer living in rural California, Virginia, whatever, is a pretty big clue. 


In the end it took me about a week to figure out this latest guy was a scammer. I started getting suspicious after the second email that was lacking any more details about him. His last email, with my same birth date, was the clincher. Yet I know there are hundreds of women that are lonely and hopeful for love that they fall for these. 


I reported the guy to the dating app and they removed his profile. 

Given a choice of sitting in a parking lot of cars due to a big rig accident or finding something to do to kill a couple of hours, I opted to turn around and have dinner in Reno. Sometimes I am in the mood for the casino buffets, but not this night. Instead I asked my friend, Eileen, for a recommendation. She goes to Reno often and has a good knowledge of the Reno dining scene. She sent me to Centro Bar & Kitchen near downtown. 

part of the menu

Centro is on California, a smaller business street. It occupies a medium sized space that has roll-up garage doors to take advantage of great weather. It has an industrial feel of brick walls, wood, and metal surfaces and furnishing. The bar area is backed with an open kitchen with additional kitchen space hidden toward the back of the restaurant.

The menu features small plates that were hard to choose from. I was by myself, so I could only order two, but so many others interested me. My only thought is I would have liked to seen more vegetable items, like Brussel sprouts or spiced edamame. 

The first choice was the Sticky Ribs. They were fried and then tossed in a thick, sticky coating of a sriracha style sauce and then topped with pickled carrot and chimichurri. I was warned they would be spicy and they were, but nothing I couldn't handle. They were definitely messy, but super tasty and meaty.



My second choice was the Octopus with the black garlic sauce and greens and orange slices. The octopus was cooked well, but I found the garlic sauce overpowering and I would have liked less of it. The salad and orange did help to cut it a bit, but not enough. 



I still needed to kill some time when I checked the accident status of Google maps, so I opted for dessert. I chose the lemon sponge cake with vanilla ice cream and berries. The presentation is lovely, but the sponge cake was dry and dense. Sponge cake makes one envision something light and airy. Not here. 

Now these two last items might make it seem that I wouldn't recommend Centro. In actuality, I'll happily return. I had gotten there early for a Friday and found the staff to be really friendly and great service. As I lingered the place filled to capacity and I was able to watch other dishes be prepared from my bar seat near the kitchen. Every dish I saw pass by looked delicious and people seemed to be enjoying their selections. And, as I mentioned, there were many other items on the menu that interested me. So yes, I do plan to return on a future trip to Reno.