Waterfront: July 2006

Soak, Cook And Settle In

New show highlights culinary creativity β€” even cooking in a hot tub.

Relaxing in a hot tub with some friends, some snacks and your favorite beverage is a welcome diversion everyone in this industry is familiar with. The Foodjammers took this concept and gave it their own special twist. A new show on Food Network Canada, Foodjammers stars Micah Donovan, Christopher Martin and Nobu Adilman and explores the lives and creations of these three regular guys coming up with ingenious designs for their own culinary contraptions. Each episode features a whole new experiment from making ice cream in a tin can to roasting coffee beans on the barbecue.

In "The Hot Tub shabu shabu" episode, the trio wanted to combine two relaxing pastimes: eating and soaking in a warm bath. Adilman, who is part Japanese, suggested Shabu Shabu, a Japanese dish/technique that involves boiling meats and vegetables in a hot pot of water with chop sticks, then dipping the food into a tasty sauce. shabu shabu translates as "swish swish," which fits since the very thinly sliced meat and veggies cook in the hot pot of water within two swishes.

The Foodjammers didn't actually cook their shabu shabu in a hot tub, but they did cook while sitting in the homemade hot tub they constructed with a galvanized steel horse trough lined in the bottom with cedar planks. The tub, and the hot pot of water right next to it where they cooked while soaking, were both heated by a fire below the hot tub equipped with a chimney system.

Sounds warm and yummy β€” and much better than a frozen pizza on a cold couch.

What A Croc

Freshwater crocodile frolics in Sydney pool.

A Sydney, Australia woman recently found a small crocodile in her swimming pool, just weeks after another one was found in a nearby pond. The uninvited guest was a 21-inch freshwater crocodile, a different and much less dangerous species than the 2-foot saltwater crocodile that turned up earlier.

In a move worthy of the Crocodile Hunter, the homeowner took matters into her own hands. "A woman called saying she had a freshwater crocodile in her backyard swimming pool," says Australian Reptile Park spokeswoman Mary Rayner. "She actually caught it. It was extremely angry and she bound it by the snout."

It was unclear how the crocodile got into the swimming pool. The species, which can grow to 10 feet in length, is not found in the wild anywhere near Sydney. The crocodile was taken to a local reptile park, where it will join the saltwater crocodile, though the two will not be rooming together. Rayner says, "I think we are [going to be] running out of displays if this keeps happening."

Salad Days

500-pound salad fills stomachs and a pool

Losing 500 pounds is no small feat. Twenty-seven West Virginia dieters did just that over a five-month period ending March 1, and celebrated with a big β€” and we mean BIG β€” salad. The 500-pound salad, representing the amount of weight lost, contained 110 heads of lettuce, 165 pounds of carrots and about 120 cucumbers, and was prepared in a swimming pool. It took about 2 hours to prepare and around four hours for the hungry crowd to eat, says Cheryl Mitchem, coordinator of the weight management program through the Tug River Health Association.

According to Mitchem, West Virginia has the nation's fourth-highest rate of obesity. Participants in the program were already suffering from obesity-related illnesses. "Health care providers referred them to our program if they had high cholesterol, high glucose, high blood pressure β€” any of the obesity related illnesses, and also, you could refer yourself," says Mitchem. "You went through a screening process, your body mass index had to be higher than 30. Or you had to have health-related diseases related to your obesity. Then they had to sign a commitment to losing weight, and follow up with our nurse practitioner to make sure that they stayed healthy. We've actually got 13 new participants since then. The original 27 are still involved, too."

The celebratory salad was so big a blowup pool was needed to contain it. "We were trying to find a large bowl, and we kept saying, 'What looks like a bowl that would hold it.' I went on the Internet and all of a sudden I was like, 'It's a pool, look, that's a bowl,'" says Mitchem.

And what of the dressing on the salad. "Of course it had to be fat free! We actually let them put their own dressing on, but the choices if you sat and ate with us were fat free and low-carb; had to be careful with that," Mitchem says.

Vegas Pool Is No Gamble

Staying cool in the desert heat is easy.

In recent years, Vegas has undergone a transformation from the land of the $5 buffet and cheap sleeps to a posh, upscale vacation destination, replete with gourmet restaurants, designer clothing stores and ultra-luxurious resorts, with pools to match. And the Travel Channel's No.1-rated coolest hotel pool is at Peter Morton's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The 4.7-acre pool area actually features two pools, has a man-made beach, cabanas outfitted with phones, refrigerators and personal misting systems, and swim-up blackjack β€” this is Vegas after all. "The pool and the parties that take place there are symbolic of the Hard Rock Hotel vibe and attitude that is seen throughout the property," says Spencer Villasenor, public relations manager. "During the summer, the pool is most definitely one of our strongest selling points as it is widely recognized as the No. 1 pool in Las Vegas, and arguably the country. Also, we have REHAB, which is our summer pool party and really draws an amazing crowd β€” nearly 3,000 people every Sunday."

As for being chosen the Travel Channel's coolest hotel pool in the nation, Villasenor says, "It just reinforced what everybody already recognized, but receiving an accolade like that is always appreciated and is testament to the great pool we have."

Saving The Pools One Bumper At A Time

Grassroots effort saves two Pa. public pools.

For one reason or another β€” though it's often not enough money in the budget β€” public pools get closed all the time. But in Easton, Pa., grassroots fundraising efforts are underway to keep both city pools open. Last year the city council had voted to close one, but, according to The Morning Call , residents, including some wearing swim gear and children carrying signs, attended several council meetings this year and pleaded to keep both open. The council rescinded its vote in February, but the city still needs $74,000 to fund both facilities.

Easton residents have stepped up to help out. Easton firefighter Terrance Hand established an account with a local community foundation and said the firefighters union donated $300. In addition, Peter Koehler, co-owner of Koehler Kheel Realty of Easton, spearheaded a fundraising effort involving stickers designed to look like the popular oval bumper stickers that represent European countries, which have subsequently been adopted by U.S. destinations.

Koehler got the idea while sitting at a traffic light. "There was one of those stickers that said OBX for Outer Banks," says Rachel Hogan with Koehler Kheel Realty. "So he had an idea to do the stickers and then was able to attach a good fundraising cause to it when the pool issue arose."

Koehler also wanted to get behind this particular cause since the pools in this community are a way for families to spend quality time together, says Hogan. "In particular, he had been thoughtful about the fact that some families can't afford to go on any vacation and that's especially true in certain parts of our neighborhood," adds Hogan. "So the pools are mini-vacation for those families and it's simply a quality-of-life issue for everyone."

Koehler had 2,000 stickers printed and they're selling for $3 a piece.

Equine Aquatics

Water wake-up eases Derby winner's surgery.

Most of the horse-meets-pool stories that appear on these pages involve saving the horse from the pool that it has accidentally fallen into. In this case, though, a pool helped save the horse.

When Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro pulled up with a badly fractured right hind leg just a few hundred yards into the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, May 20, it was an equine nightmare. The 3-year-old colt's leg was so mangled that just a few years ago (and even today at many tracks), he would have been euthanized immediately. But the lucky thoroughbred was taken to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center β€” arguably the most advanced equine surgery center on the East Coast.

Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery, described the approximately six-hour surgery to a throng of reporters. The shattered leg β€” one bone was in as many as 20 pieces β€” was reassembled and secured with a metal plate and screws. As difficult as the surgery was, it's often the recovery from anesthesia that determines if a horse will survive. "The swimming pool recovery system was used on Barbaro," Richardson told reporters.

According to the school's communications office, it was at Penn that the poolrecovery system was developed. New Bolton Center built its first recovery pool in 1971. The pool allows a horse to recover safely when awakened from surgery with minimal risk of injury. When the horse is on the operating table, it's fitted with a sling, then placed in a horse-sized inner tube and lowered into a large swimming pool.

Most horses are panicked and begin thrashing when awakened, sometimes damaging the limb that was just repaired. In the pool, the horse can move without risk of injury. A crew of about 12 was present as Barbaro came out of anesthesia, all working to assure that he remained calm.

Once Barbaro was safely awake, he was lifted out of the pool and returned to his stall.

While the colt still has a difficult convalescence ahead of him, the pool-recovery assured that he got through the post-operative stage without re-injuring the newly repaired leg.

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