Washington, May 24 (AP/UNB) — Living by the beach is becoming even more cost prohibitive.
While many Americans know about the sky-high costs of housing in New York City or Seattle, affordability is increasingly the worst in areas where the wealthy vacation and a large share of local workers cater to their needs. The trend taps into the worsening economic inequality that is reshaping American society.
Roughly 78% of U.S. metro areas have seen home prices rise faster than wages, according to an Associated Press analysis of home values tracked by CoreLogic and government income data. Of the top 10 communities with the biggest gaps between home values and incomes, half were seaside. But there were also places with a growing concentration of highly-paid tech jobs.
"In places that see a widening gap, buying a house and achieving the American Dream is going to be increasingly difficult," said Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. "But if you can get your foot in the door, the benefits may last for a lifetime."
The widest chasm in home prices relative to incomes was in Honolulu, followed by Los Angeles and the Hawaii city of Kahului. Other metros in the top 10 of largest gaps in affordability include Key West, Florida and Ocean City, New Jersey, both tourist destinations. Just outside the top 10 are San Diego, Santa Cruz and part of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Consider Ocean City. This southern stretch of the Jersey shore includes the Victorian cottages of Cape May, the sweeping mansions of Avalon and wood-planked boardwalk of Ocean City, which became a family-oriented resort destination after banning the sale of alcohol. Home prices have climbed 158% since 2000, while wages have increased just 45%.
The area balloons in size each summer with a swell of vacationers, which creates jobs during the summer. But the wealthy with summer homes — who've seen their incomes soar — often earn their fortunes elsewhere. Few restaurant employees and seasonal workers can benefit from a growing stock portfolio or lavish bonuses. So as home prices rise and income growth lags, the year-round population of the surrounding Cape May County has fallen 8.6% since 2000.
Other metro areas in the top 10 of worsening affordability include major tech hubs such as San Jose, California and Austin, Texas. The boom in parts of California has been so robust that price growth in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco is now running below 2% and could turn negative, possibly narrowing the gap relative to incomes.
Rounding out the top ten are the California cities of Napa and San Luis Obispo and Boise, Idaho.
Areas where homes are still affordable relative to incomes are generally in two types of areas.
They're either in places such as the mid-size Georgia cities of Albany and Valdosta where home prices have yet to fully recover to their pre-2008 peaks.
Or, they're in places in Illinois such as Bloomington or Peoria where home prices never experienced either a surge or subsequent crash from the housing bubble, and have seen property values stay mostly flat since 2008.
Seattle, May 22 (AP/UNB) — Ashes to ashes, guts to dirt.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.
It allows licensed facilities to offer "natural organic reduction," which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows' worth of soil in a span of several weeks.
Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.
"It gives meaning and use to what happens to our bodies after death," said Nora Menkin, executive director of the Seattle-based People's Memorial Association, which helps people plan for funerals.
Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land.
"That's a serious weight on the earth and the environment as your final farewell," said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Democrat who sponsored the measure.
He said the legislation was inspired by his neighbor: Katrina Spade, who was an architecture graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, when she began researching the funeral industry. She came up with the idea for human composting, modeling it on a practice farmers have long used to dispose of livestock.
She tweaked the process and found that wood chips, alfalfa and straw created a mixture of nitrogen and carbon that accelerates natural decomposition when a body is placed in a temperature- and moisture-controlled vessel and rotated.
A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study.
In 2017, Spade founded Recompose, a company working to bring the concept to the public. It's working on raising nearly $7 million to establish a facility in Seattle and begin to expand elsewhere, she said.
State law previously dictated that remains be disposed of by burial or cremation. The law, which takes effect in May 2020, added composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis, a process already legal in 19 other states. The latter uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.
Cemeteries across the country are allowed to offer natural or "green" burials, by which people are buried in biodegradable shrouds or caskets without being embalmed. Composting could be a good option in cities where cemetery land is scarce, Pedersen said. Spade described it as "the urban equivalent to natural burial."
The state senator said he has received angry emails from people who object to the idea, calling it undignified or disgusting.
"The image they have is that you're going to toss Uncle Henry out in the backyard and cover him with food scraps," Pedersen said.
To the contrary, he said, the process will be respectful.
Recompose's website envisions an atrium-like space where bodies are composted in compartments stacked in a honeycomb design. Families will be able to visit, providing an emotional connection typically missing at crematoriums, the company says.
"It's an interesting concept," said Edward Bixby, president of the Placerville, California-based Green Burial Council. "I'm curious to see how well it's received."
New York, May 21 (AP/UNB) — Coca-Cola drinkers will get a chance to relive one of the company's darker chapters as New Coke makes a comeback under a partnership with the Netflix drama "Stranger Things," the companies announced Tuesday.
Season 3 of the show will take place in the summer of 1985, when Coca-Cola changed its formula for Coke. New Coke was considered one of the biggest marketing blunders of all time and the new version was dropped after 79 days, though sales of the original Coca-Cola rebounded.
"The summer of 1985 did in fact change everything for us with the introduction of New Coke, which was also arguably one of the biggest pop culture moments of that year," said Oana Vlad, director of Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola North America.
Workers had to retrieve the New Coke recipe from the safe for the "Stranger Things" partnership.
"All told, everything took about six months and was top secret," said Peter Shoemaker, director of sparkling category commercialization.
Workers also had to recreate the logo and the slightly different Coke red for the cans from more than 30 years ago.
"The partnership with Coke gives Netflix the opportunity to reach a massive audience via one of the most recognizable brands in the world in a deeply authentic way," said Netflix Head of Global Partner Marketing Barry Smyth.
Beginning Thursday, Coca-Cola will release a limited number of cans of New Coke as part of a "Stranger Things" package. An "upside-down" Stranger Things-inspired vending machine will also pop up in select cities this summer to dispense free cans of New Coke for a limited time.
With the flourishing of new restaurants and cafes, we at times tend not to visit our old haunts, those timeless places. One of those for my generation is Tastebud restaurant. This place has been well-known for its exceptional custom-made cakes and its variety of cheesecakes particularly the Nutella Cheesecake as well as their platters. I remember it was one of the first places to have its own Red Velvet Milkshake. I loved it ! In addition to this, their ambience and interior design is always a favorite.
As we were going through offers in various restaurants on Facebook, we came across what Tastebud has to offer. The 'Oven-Baked Platter' caught our eye, and we placed a reservation with our choice of platter, although not before some interchanging with the drinks and desserts offered with their 2 other platters (I’ll list them at the end of the article).
As we entered, we found that it was ‘house full’. We were served our platters few minutes before the azaan for Maghrib. It included BBQ Chicken Pizza, Spicy Bruschetta, Lasagna, Poutine, Nutella Mini Cheesecake, Watermelon Juice, Dates and Water. As it arrived, the fantastic smell of cheese in particular was turning those last few minutes into an agonising wait for my senses I must admit. Food can be sinful at times.
All the items tasted at least satisfactory, as one would expect at Tastebud, but undoubtedly the best time I had was with the pizza. The strong flavor of the barbecued chicken pieces rose above the walls of cheese to win the attention of my tastebuds. The lasagna was okay, not too cheesy. Overall the whole platter was decent. The only problem was that the poutine got cold as I was romancing the pizza. Couldn’t quite blame them for that either.
Tastebud’s iftar platters are priced at Tk 550+ Deep-fried Platter contains Chicken & Wedged Sandwich, Fried Mushroom, Chicken Lollypop, Spicy Chicken Burger, Brownie, Coffee Milkshake.
Stir-fried Platter contains Stir Fried Rice, Chicken Chili Mexicana, Mongolian Chicken, Cheesy Potato Wedges, Red Velvet Cupcake and Virgin Mojito.
There’s probably no recipe that better showcases salt and pepper working in multiple ways and together than Chinese salt and pepper shrimp, an enticing dish of plump, moist fried shrimp with shells as shatteringly crispy_and appealing to eat_as fried chicken skin, and a killer savory-spicy flavor profile.
A quick salt-rice wine soak improved the shrimp’s texture, plumping them, as well as contributing flavor; the Sichuan peppercorns gave the dish sparkling spice and aromatic piquancy, while black peppercorns provided a straightforward hit of heat.
We added the black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns along with cayenne and sugar to the coating and then fried more of the same with ginger and garlic to make a flavorful paste that we tossed the fried shrimp in for great depth. For an extra jolt of spiciness, we also fried a couple of thinly sliced jalapeños.
We like to use frozen shrimp; thaw them overnight in the fridge or under running cold water and blot them dry. Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe. Serve with steamed white rice.
CRISPY SALT AND PEPPER SHRIMP
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 pounds shell-on medium-large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound)
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable oil
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 225 F. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and line large plate with triple layer of paper towels. Toss shrimp with rice wine and 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Combine black peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns, sugar, and cayenne in small bowl.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until oil registers 385 F. Meanwhile, drain shrimp and pat dry with paper towels; wipe bowl dry with paper towels. Transfer shrimp to now-empty bowl, add 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon peppercorn mixture, and toss until well coated.
Carefully add one-third of shrimp to hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally to keep shrimp from sticking together, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 375 F and 385 F. Using wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to prepared plate and let drain briefly. Transfer shrimp to prepared rack and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 385 F and repeat frying shrimp in 2 more batches, re-tossing each batch thoroughly with coating mixture before frying. Line plate with clean paper towels as needed.
Return oil to 385 F. Toss jalapeno rings with remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch in separate bowl. Shake off excess cornstarch, then carefully add jalapeño rings to oil and fry until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer jalapeno rings to prepared plate. After frying, reserve 2 tablespoons frying oil.
Heat reserved oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, and remaining peppercorn mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 45 seconds. Add shrimp, scallions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Line serving platter with shredded lettuce. Arrange shrimp on platter and sprinkle with jalapeno rings. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 251 calories from fat; 28 g fat (2 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 143 mg cholesterol; 729 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 16 g protein.