Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Greenpeace's latest newsletter has an exhaustive and fascinating breakdown of how supermarkets are doing when it comes to buying, labeling and supporting sustainably caught/raised seafood.
They have a score board list for each state, click on your state and a page listing from best to worst comes up, click on the name of the store and a PDF file downloads giving you more information then you can imagine on all aspects of the store and their relationship to seafood.
Hats off to Wegmans * who rank # 1. A family owned small chain they have stores in New York state, (but none in NYC) Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
I've only been to the Wegmans in Ithaca, years ago, but it left a lasting impression, as a great store that from a produce point of even , even back then, had an obvious commitment to supporting local farmers.
It's interesting that their lowest score was for labeling and promoting sustainable seafood, you'd think if they go to all teh bother to get it they let people know!
Whole Foods dropped to #3 in the ranking.
Most interesting of all was Trader Joes, who ranked #17, the worst of any national super market chain surveyed. To put that in context, worse then Walmart, Pathmart and Save a Lot.
In NYC Trader Joes is always a zoo as it acts as the defacto NYU dorm grocery store, I loath the aesthetic of the store and have always been skived out by how the entire produce section is individually wrapped in plastic.
Having just discovered how to make amazing cheap and easy tortilla chips at home I know longer buy the big bags of chips, but Costco sells a huge bag of organic chips that we love. On my first trip there (about a month ago) I was very excited to see they have Great Lakes caught smoked White Fish so it was slightly disappointing to see they also didn't do so well according to Greenpeace's chart, they ranked 9 with a losey 2 out of 10 points (the higher the number the better the score.)
The big take away message for me here is how well a lot of the bigger stores, some totally unknown to me did. Giant, Martins and Stop & Shop all beat out Whole Foods, all getting the same score creating a three way tie for second place (Martins and Stop & Shop share the same owner).
It's encouraging that supermarket chains are listening to the concerns of their customers and responding to it. It's exciting that large companies are changing the way they do business in order to help protect our oceans and their bounty.
And not a moment to soon.
Now if only a Wegmans would replace the Fine Fare across the street from my apartment!
Monday, June 29, 2009
For some crazy reason bee keeping in NYC is illegal. This of course doesn't stop people from doing it, NYC is an active hive of bee keeping activity (I couldn't resist).
The New York City Beekeepers Association is actually filled with puns like that: Catch the buzz join our hive...
Anyway, here's the deal, go to the site and sign their online petition* and make our beekeepers legal. Or if you are at the market you can do it there as well.
(For some reason it won't allow me to link to it but it's at the bottom right corner of the home page for the NYC beekeepers association).
Having been a high end item for so long it is perplexing folks especially the lobster men how their prize catch is now over abundant and too cheap. It's a far more complex tale then it would appear on the surface, involved Canadian processing plants, banks collapsing in Iceland and the decline in luxury dining.
My 2 cents is eat up while it's plentiful, sustainable and cheap!
Keith is a big fan of lobster rolls, as am I, The Mermaid Inn has two locations, the East Village and The Upper West Side and they have a $20 buck Blue Plate special: Lobster roll, French Fries and a Blue Point Beer.
Yummy. Oh just make sure you get there before 7 weekdays.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Luckily with lots of help from Abigail, Jane's daughter, whose brain child the party was and whose generosity made it possible.
And what a night it was! Lots of fun and food was had by all.
Right now I'm too exhausted to give you all the recipes, but here's what we ate, some of the recipes are already here , but tomorrow I promise to post the rest.
White organic local Popcorn
with truffle butter
salt and fresh thyme
Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs
A Cheese course from Saxelby
Ascutney, Bi-Partisan and Kunik
Served with homemade whole wheat bread (made from local stone ground wheat)
House made crackers with sea salt sesame and flax seeds
Sour cherry compote
Fresh local Strawberries from Berried Treasures
Poached, wild caught Alaskan King Salmon on a bed of fennel, with a fresh herb, tartar sauce and an alternative ginger maple glaze (on the side)
Beets salad red and golden beets with pecans in a cumin and lemon vinaigrette
Potato salad homemade mayo with red spring onion, capers and parsley
The last of the local Asparagus with old fashioned hard boiled egg sauce
Almond meringue, fresh strawberry, lemon curd and whipped cream layer cake
This was a truly memorable dinner. Abigail hired the lovely Kameron to help with bartending, general food and clean up help; Jimmy flew in from London and brought with him 2 bottles of Dom Perignon for toasting the birthday girl. In addition there was Orzada - Jane's new favorite red from Chile odejellvineyards.cl and two whites, La Cala, a Sardinian wine made from Vermentino grapes, and a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire valley produced by Fournier.
OK it's sunny out and I've not seen the world beyond my kitchen in two days so I'm out of here to go enjoy the day and I guess, given it's gay pride, be gay!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Too many people = too much plastic.
I'm posting this today because I got it sent to me in an email and I thought I'd already posted it, but I hadn't.
Just today I was buying a box of bio bags and I was wondering how it is that these folks in Norway can make a fully sustainable, non GMO, easily bio degradable "plastic" yet to find it you need to go to a "health" food store and it's on the bottom shelf, costs way more and is surrounded by boxes of non biodegradable plastic plastic.
If we can do it, why aren't we?
The other day I was on the subway reading Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, for my bookmark I am using a promotional postcard from Food, Inc., when I got up to exit the train it dropped to the floor, I picked it up and as I was exiting a young woman who had seen what I had dropped said to me:
"Oh did you see that? I saw it at the Film Forum last night, it's really good, but now I feel like there is nothing I can eat!"
A funny choice of words because it's almost exactly what Neil has been saying since we saw it.
It's hard having to be so aware all the time about what you eat and where it comes from. My hope is that some of the cheap and cheerful restaurants that we like to go to will get the message and start including simple things at first like organic eggs, dairy and maybe chicken or a grass fed burger. There are a handful in the East Village who already do, I keep meaning to write to my favorite restaurants and encourage them to make the switch.
I guess if I want to go out and for there to be something to eat I shouldn't wait any longer!
In the mean time here's Kristof at the New York Times.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Admittedly, I loved them.
We ate them with hot dogs, sometimes boiled and chopped and mixed in or sometimes on the side in buns.
When I mentioned to some of my friends I was making them they smiled and recalled fond memories or their grandmothers or mothers having made them.
Let’s face it when you put animal fat, sugar and carbohydrates in one dish, what can be bad?
Of course these days I eat very little meat and living in a home with a kosher kitchen more or less nixes the pork idea, so I came up with a version that doesn’t require meat that is nonetheless rich, sweet, spicy and delicious.
The thing about baked beans is that they take a very long time to make. You need to lean into the slow food mindset and go from there.
What got me thinking about baked beans was that a while back I got some dried Pinto beans at the Union Square green market from Cayuga Organics. I figured that all beans were created equally and that even though the classic recipe calls for Great Northern or Cannellini beans, that Pintos would be just fine.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The recipe I adapted called for the beans to be baked for 5 hours covered and an hour uncovered. When all was said and done I baked my pintos for 9 hours and then finished them stovetop, adding lots of extra liquid, and that was after they had soaked over night!
Whatever beans you use they will taste great, I encourage you to experiment, just be patient.
I’d use Pinto beans again, only next time I’d start them early in the morning on a day I was going to be around, or you can make them in a crockpot and start them the night before. Of course feel free to add a smoked ham hock or some thick cut slab bacon, just be aware that these beans are plenty flavorful with the meat.
Soak 2 cups of dried pinto beans in 6 cups or more of water over night.
Preheat the oven to 325 F
Place the beans in their soaking liquid into a Cazuela or Dutch oven.
1 T salt, 5 T brown sugar, 4 T Molasses, 1 T ground Cumin, 1 T dried Oregano, ¼ cup olive oil (or canola) 15 ounce can of organic crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried mustard, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 2 dried Ancho peppers (seeded, stemmed and pulverized in a spice grinder – about 2 T powder), 1 teaspoon black pepper, 6 large garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped.
Stir to incorporate, place the lid on the pot and place in the oven on 325 F. Cooking time may vary, but count on 9 hours or as much as 12 if you use a crock pot (and less if you use a white or black bean).
Check in on the beans every 90 minutes or so, stir occasionally, adding more water when needed, I added about 2 more cups of water over the cooking process.
It may seem too spicy hot for you in your early tasting, but as the beans cook and thicken, they get richer and more complex tasting and the heat from the pepper diminishes. If this worries you start out with a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne and then when the dish is finished you can add more or you can serve with a bottle of Tabasco on the side for those friends who like it hot.
Serve with cultured sour cream, chopped spring onions, on a nice bed of rice.
These may take a long time to cook, but they are so easy, nutritious and tasty.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Take for example, Minnesota Rep. Colin Peterson, this man acts like a Republican, not a Democrat. So why is he a Democrat? And what benefit is it to vote for a party who you think is going to act in your interest and then see them blithely ignore you and do the exact opposite?
Why is it the Republicans vote lock in step with leadership yet the Democrats all seem to vote how ever they are feeling at any given moment, depending on who is giving them money? Like how Rep. Peterson is so snugly tucked into the rear end pocket of big agriculture?
Shouldn't there be a law against this kind of pandering?
The Waxman-Markey climate legislation is this administrations attempt to really change the direction of this countries environmental policy by firmly addressing global warming and putting into place caps and other safe guards to reduce emissions among other things.
Big agriculture and their best friend Rep. Peterson think we would be better off not changing at all because it will upset their business model and bottom line. They are using all their power and resources to make sure this bill is so gutted by the time it gets to the floor as to be a waste of paper and from what I can tell President Obama is fine with that.
Tom Philpot at Grist does a good job of laying things out and explaining what it all means, as does Keith Goetzman over at Utne.
This is definitely one of those go to the window, open, stick head out and scream:
I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE ....moments.
Not that it would do you any good, but it might feel nice to get it off your chest.
Great video and an even better cause - healthy food for kids in school.
Here's the link if you want to take action or get involved further.
Take a minute and sign their petition.
Slow Food USA has done several videos which you can see on their YouTube Page.
It's a great organization that deserves your support.
My favorite excerpt:
This vital, if rhetorically clumsy, film by Rupert Murray subverts our ancient faith in the ocean as an inexhaustible resource, offering a persuasive case that the major species of edible fish are headed for extinction — by some estimates, as soon as the middle of this century (the bold is my emphasis).
The middle of this century, 2050, is 39 years away.
Your children will see the extinction of seafood.
Weird how the standard thinking on eating seafood has always been:
"you should eat more it's healthy for you!"
Sadly as this movie points out it's not so healthy for the fish.
We must be reaching a tipping point, Mark Bittman in the Times wrote just last week about this very topic.
The phrase "ancient faith" sticks in my craw a bit, if only because I think a lot of people still believe the oceans and their bounty will never run out. You think people ordering fish sticks at fast food take out places have ever even given the matter a thought?
I have friends in this city who think it's all just poppycock. And, no I don't think they will be seeing the movie. Or I may just be over reacting and this documentary and reams of scientific research may be just whack?
It's weird to think that we may die being the last generation to be casual about fish n' chips?
To take sushi for granted?
I'm making wild caught poached salmon for dinner on Saturday.
Deviled eggs with smoked trout and horseradish cream.
Eat it while you can? I eat it rarely and source it with fanaticism on the special occasions I choose to serve it.
My thinking on it for now is eat very little, only eat fish that are certified sustainable and buy local fish from local fisherman.
How did the waters turn so dark, so quickly?
Monday, June 22, 2009
We have been big fans of John Kelly's for years. As a HUGE Joni Mitchell fan I always adore seeing John perform his loving musical tributes to her work.
Don't go expecting an impersonation, it's more homage. He is a very talented musician and performer, charming and often very funny. Our friends Patrick & Jorge went with Neil and I on opening night.
He's performing this weekend, get your tickets here.
How great would that be?
More than 98% of supposedly natural and environmentally friendly products on US supermarket shelves are making potentially false or misleading claims, Congress has been told. And 22% of products making green claims bear an environmental badge that has no inherent meaning, said Scot Case, of the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice.
I'm by nature very suspicious of anything in a package someone is trying to sell you. It's why the urban homesteader thing is so appealing to me: if you make it you control what goes into it. Certainly being able to have the time to do this is difficult as everything is quite time consuming.
Maybe the spike in unemployment will make us reconsider our priorities? Anyway read the whole article here. Interesting stuff.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Or at least the wine world will never be the same.
This is the perfect thing for me to blog about because it involves two of my favorite things, wine and Canada. Now you don't normally hear those two words together in a sentence very often unless your talking about ice wine. That has now officially changed.
My friend Jorge sent me this article, apparently a Chardonnay from the Niagara peninsula in southern Ontario, very near where I grew up in Hamilton, has produced a white wine that has the oenophiles all a buzz, because it's a Chardonnay not an ice wine and it's from Canada! And even weirder it's good! But at 33 bucks a bottle I won't be ordering a case any time soon.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Sweet little video, I'd never heard of the Island of Dominica.
It hard to fathom eating Whales, if only because such large creatures who have lived in polluted waters are filled with mercury and other poisons. If Swordfish is hazardous imagine the amount of chemicals your getting in your whale steak?
The Japanese government needs to put a moratorium on whale hunting promptly. It's morally repugnant and unnecessary, not to mention species threatening to these very sophisticated, smart and in many instances, endangered creatures.
It's only playing at Cinema Village which is a small venue for such an important film, so please get the word out and go see it so maybe it might get some much need press and better distribution.
Other then signing petitions, going to actions and giving money there seems to be very little more I can do. Any of us can do.
It's so frustrating and heart breaking to sit here in my Manhattan apartment so helpless to affect change. So angry at our own leaders for their inaction.
The reality is that China wields tremendous power over Burma and works hand in hand with he military Junta that rules the country. And China doesn't care.
It's interesting to note that when you look at the history of SE Asia, a region that has come to mean a great deal to me over the years having traveled their so extensively, that it was China that supplied the Khmer Rouge with guns.
The Khmer Rouge enlsaved it's own people and forced them to work day and night, literally starving them to death to grow rice, so they could in turn use it to sell to China in exchange for weapons. Which in turn were used by the Khmer Rouge to enable them to control and kill 1.7 million Cambodians. Of course not all of them were shot, bullets were expensive, so other means, like starvation, where utilized.
When the Vietnamese liberated Phenom Penh Cambodia was in the midst of one of the worst famines of our time. They say the city was without bird song because even the smallest sparrow had been eaten.
Funny how all these years later we see a similar situation in Burma: a cruel and insane military leadership selling it's soul to China for weapons, while stealing children away from their families to fill the ranks of a military of child solders who are brainwashed to do what ever the despots require; like killing monks. Causing harm to a monk is something so unheard of in this part of the world as to seem absurd by its very suggestion. Yet, tragically that is what is happening as is so incredibly documented in Burma VJ. A country sunk deep into isolated despair and madness.
I ask you to spend a moment today to raise a glass and think about Aung San Suu Kyi, the plight of the people of Burma, to wish her a happy birthday and let her know the world has not forgotten her.
Now today I see Tom Philpott from Grist has done an article on GMOs that basically says Monsanto et al., control all the information, so anyone who wants to get their seeds to do independent work, can't, or if they can they are afraid to speak out because they are afraid of losing their funding.
Right there that says everything I need to know, when there is no freedom of information or when the information is so closely gaurded then you have to wonder what the GMO makers have to hide?
Again, go see Food, Inc. it talks about Monsanto's business practices and those alone should turn any decent person off of wanting to support a corporation who has so willfully destroyed the lives of so many farmers.
I get that this could taste good, that all things considered it's an attempt to take things that aren't so healthy - cheeseburgers - and make them into a salad, so it would be low carb, high protein with a good dose of crunchy greens. All good things, I admit, but could it be any uglier?
This is a Rachael Ray recipe and I know by making fun of it I'm immediately a horrid elitist. She even offers the choice of turkey as an option instead of sirloin. The patina of healthy-ness is all over this dish.
What I see here is a great opportunity for a very popular and well liked food show hostess to talk to people about how unhealthy factory farmed meat is for both the animals and the people who eat it, instead of encouraging reckless consumption, 'nuff said.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wouldn't it be cool to live in the city and be able to grow a majority of your own food? What a great life to spend your day planting, maintaining and then cooking, preserving, freezing your own harvest? I think about it all the time, but maybe that's because I've been unemployed for a year and the idea of self sufficiency is so appealing?
It's a dream, to be sure, but the idea that we could all be more independent of AT&T, Con Ed, Time Warner and the local grocery store, seems to me is appealing no matter what your employment status is.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The important fact not included in the video is what a good value it is. With about 22 weeks of food it works out to $22.72 a week for a bounty that you couldn’t buy anywhere else for the price.
Join a CSA today!
What, you may ask, is a lacto-fermented soda? An age old process used before refrigeration, lacto-fermentation takes place when the starches and sugars in vegetables, fruits and roots are converted to lactic acid by lactic-acid producing bacteria - lactobacilli - which apparently are everywhere.
This fascinated me for some strange reason. I'm not been a soda drinker for years, but I do love ginger and have always been a big fan of ginger beer. When I read the article/recipe I started to get really excited. Homemade cola, root beer and ginger beer, oh my!
First, I was flummoxed by the need for a... carboy? For the longest time I got in my head that it was called a "crowboy", so not only couldn't I find one, but people had no idea of what the hell I was talking about! Luckily I got that straightened out and could start a proper, systematic search.
Apparently New Yorkers are not big on making their own wine or beer as there isn't a wine or beer making supply store anywhere close by. The ones I contacted on Long Island or in New Jersey sold only plastic ones or were out of stock or it was going to involve a long journey or a steep shipping cost to get. Seems to me someone should open up an old fashioned general store and start selling this kind of stuff...
And then, finally, about a month ago, Neil and I were wandering around in Williamsburg and found an old, glass, watercooler bottle - a de facto carboy i.e. a large multi-gallon container with a small, narrow opening - in a "junk" shop. One part down!
The other thing that this process calls for is a fermentation lock, some fancy gadget that regulates the gas coming out of the fermenting liquid and prevents yucky things from getting in. Needless to say I didn't buy one of these either, although they are cool looking and maybe one day I'll get one, but for now folded, multilayered cheesecloth seemed to work just fine.
If you have ever had one of those Kombucha drinks you will have some idea as to what the end result will taste like. Fizzy, crisp, and in the case of my recent batch of ginger beer, really gingery.
The response has been great, with only one person saying that it was "a bit too healthy for me" (and it wasn't Neil! he keeps opening new bottles, drinking it and offering it to company, spreading his enthusiasm and The Word).
Neil has never liked root beer, however, but I'm really dying to try it, if only because I think it is so cool that the "root" in root beer is burdock, something else I learned from this foray into soda making (and another great recipe from Homegrown.org).
The fact that naturally fermented beverages are pro-biotic was the real clincher. I have a history of stomach issues small and large and to be able to have a bottle of delicious home made ginger beer in the fridge that will sooth the demons in my tummy is a great alternative to phosphorescent pink tablets of bismuth.
OK, so finally the recipe - I have linked above to the original article but I've rewritten it here with observations based on my recent actual experience in making it. Oh and I call it ginger "beer" as opposed to "ale" because the end end result is cloudy, not sweet, and very gingery, and my association with ginger ale is the commercial, sweet, clear stuff. This reminds me more of the Jamaican ginger beer I used to get when I lived in Toronto.
And in case you needed any other motivation to search out a carboy and start your own soda making enterprise, apparently home made ginger ale/beer is all the rage according to the NYT.
This is like sour dough starter. Clean a quart mason jar, fresh out of the dishwasher is easiest, but if you don't have a dish washer obviously hot water and soup and some elbow grease work just as well.
This is going to be your starter, which you can use over and over again. Chop 2-3 tablespoons of fresh ginger. The original recipe called for 1 or 2 and said it could be grated or food processed, I don't think it said anything about peeling it (probably you don't need to, but I did), so I used more ginger (as is my want) and roughly chopped it with a knife.
Add the chopped ginger to your clean a quart mason jar full then fill with still mineral water - DON'T USE TAP WATER chlorine kills all the good bacteria you will need to make this work.
Add 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar, place the lid on the jar and leave sit at room temp over night.
Every day, for the next week (so a total of 7 days), add another 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar. By the end of the week the water will have become somewhat cloudy and you should see little bubbles. I had no problem with mold or other yucky things happening, but if it does appear skim it, if it becomes a problem then your jar wasn't clean enough and you need to start again.
Ta da! Now you have a live bacteria starter. If you are still in search of your carboy you can put it in the fridge until you find it, when ready to use just take it out and add another teaspoon or so of sugar and let it sit out over night to warm up and reactivate.
Now the fun really starts. Making the Wort (funny name, eh?)
Into a 4 quart or larger pot finely grate or food process 8 ounces of ginger (I doubled the original amount and used a food processor for this part). Add 3 cups of sucanat (I used a similar unprocessed sugar, but you could use maple syrup, agave, malt extract or honey - they suggest to stay away from white, raw and brown sugar, molasses and corn syrup - I can't imagine the last one even occurring to someone thinking of making a lacto-fermented soda, but just in case...). Add 8 cups of mineral water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let boil gently for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and add the juice of 4 lemons.
My experience with this boiling process was that the unrefined sugar still contains molasses and so you get a kind of nasty black scum happening, I skimmed and discarded this. I was also surprised at how much darker the sugar got when cooked. It all worked out fine, so if you have the same experience, not to worry.
In lieu of a fermentation lock the original recipe says you can use a balloon with a few pin pricks in it, I somehow never managed to get around to buying a balloon and instead just used cheesecloth I folded three times with an elastic band to hold it in place over the mouth and neck of the bottle.
Once cool, using a funnel, pour the ginger mixture into your carboy, then add a gallon and a half of mineral water (in my late night soda making excitement I added two gallons of water - but maybe because my starter was sweeter or beginners luck or something, again it worked out just fine) and just the quart of water from the starter straining out the ginger to be reused for your next starter.
Cover the carboy with your fermentation lock/balloon/cheesecloth...keep at room temperature (they say 75 degrees, I think anywhere close is fine).
After 2 days taste your concoction and then taste every day after that until it has a suggestion of sweetness. This is a gray area as far as I'm concerned as I really don't understand what " a little bit of sweetness" really means. If memory serves me I left this mixture in the carboy for about a week.
The other worrisome thing that happened was that for some weird reason there was a tremendous amount of sediment at the bottom of my carboy and I still can't really figure out what it was. The sugar was all boiled and melted, the ginger was only 8 ounces, so it miffed me, but in the end it didn't matter, when if came time to bottle I just shook the whole thing up and put it all through a sieve with a piece of cheese cloth on it - which I felt was needed anyway to get rid of the grated ginger.
The original recipe calls for an elaborate process of bottling in beer bottles and capping and uncapping daily to check on the fermentation process and to see if the ginger beer is carbonated enough for your liking. As there is no way to get beer bottles, caps and a capping machine with out great effort and expense I just used those resealable bottles in which you get fancy French lemonade. Or there is even a wine called Vin de Picnic that uses them as well. I supplemented my supply with some I got on sale at Broadway Panhandler for half price. If you were serious about this as an ongoing endeavor it seems like you could buy a box of them wholesale on line.
This recipe makes a lot of soda! It made 8 of these big bottles and I had to throw some away because I didn't have enough containers to put it in. Also, in order to stop the fermentation process, you need to be able to put what you have made in the refrigerator. So be warned! It's very space consuming.
The joy of using these bottles is that you can open and close them with ease. I left my bottles fermenting at room temp for at least a week because I was somehow convinced that it wasn't working. In part that's because after my initial tastes I decided I could see the level of carbonation by looking - WRONG! I was lucky because by the time I refrigerated them they were perfectly carbonated, but had I waited another day I would have had a bunch of exploded ginger beer and glass all over my kitchen!
Due diligence is needed once you have bottled to check the carbonation, it seems to me 5 days or there about is what it takes.
Check back here and I will update you on how to make cola and root beer, but before I publish a recipe I want to try it for myself.
At this moment I think replacing the lemon juice with lemon grass that is also boiled with the ginger could be a good idea (in the fall there is even local lemongrass at the market). Or in addition to using lemongrass add lime juice, we had this drink in Bali that was lemongrass/lime/ginger and it rocked.
Good luck and report back here with your results and comments.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We need to, all of us, understand very clearly that food safety, our health, the health of the planet are not things Government in this country has traditionally been concerned about, it's not interested in taking care of us, it's interested in taking care of Monsanto, Perdue, Tyson et al. no matter what the cost.
I posted the trailer a while back, but you should also check out their website for more information and actions that you can take.
Even if you've read Omnivores Dilemma, and much of the movie goes over similar territory, it is much more devastating to see the visual reality of CAFO's and the industrial meat farming then it is to read about it.
Please do not wait, go and see this film now, it is so important that we, the people who already understand what is at stake, create a tipping point in order to get this very important message to a broader audience. It's not just about food, it's about the planet, it's about our humanity and how they are all being threatened by the pernicious and evil system of "making" food in this country. It has to stop, I'm here to recruit you! It will take every person we can find to make this change possible.
The first thing we can do is create change with our food choices, buy local, support farmers, buy organic, avoid GM foods and factory meat.
OK, thanks, soap box is now put away.
Monday, June 15, 2009
It miffs me as to why every rhubarb and many cranberry recipes that I have come across call for orange juice in them. These two sour wonders are North East stalwarts and in my ongoing attempt to try and keep it local, as much as I can, I wonder, given the plethora of recipes that all make orange an intrinsic part of the recipe, is it possible to make something with these delicious fruits (well, yes technically rhubarb is a vegetable in the sorrel family, but we all eat the stalk as a fruit) that doesn't have orange in it?
Here is what I came up with: a dense, sweet loaf cake with lots of sour, sweet rhubarb chunks that surprise you every now and again with their wonderful pucker, the orange juice is replaced with the rhubarb sugar juice that you get when you roast these sour stalks with a little sugar.
Place in a baking dish and roast for 25 minutes.
While the rhubarb is cooking, butter and flour a loaf pan.
Sift together in a medium bowl 2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder.
In a big bowl beat 1 large egg, gradually adding 1 cup organic cane sugar (I use my Kitchen aid for this but hand held beaters or a whisk all work fine).
When the rhubarb is finished cooking, remove the cardamon pods and discard them, using a slotted spoon remove the rhubarb chunks to a bowl, being careful to drain as much juice ff as possible.
Pour the "juice" that was expressed from roasting the rhubarb into a measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to the "juice"until you have a total of 3/4 of a cup of liquid. To this hot liquid add 2 T of unsalted butter (it's quicker if the butter is room temperature).
Stir until the butter has melted.
Starting and ending with the dry ingredients alternately with the juice/water/melted butter add to the egg/sugar mixture until well incorporated.
Fold in 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional) and the reserved rhubarb spoon into the prepared loaf pan.
Place in the middle of the preheated oven and cook for about an hour or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before inverting.
Spoon over each slice some stewed strawberry/rhubarb compote with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
After a couple of days if you still have some left you could make an awesome trifle with this as your base, alternating fresh strawberries with a heavy custard, whipped cream, stewed rhubarb...the options are endless and you didn't even have to use an orange after all!
* the rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of sugar to 1 pound of rhubarb, I used a pound in developing this, but being the rhubarb fiend that I am thought it could have more! Which is why I say 1-1/2 pounds in the recipe.
The cake is quite sweet so if you do add a more generous amount of rhubarb I wouldn't add a full 1/4 cup extra of sugar as the ratio above would suggest, maybe a tablespoon or so as the sourness of the rhubarb is essential to adding contrast this easy, local, loaf recipe.
Of course I need to point out my own inconsistency here, cane sugar is hardly local, but I feel like each little gesture helps and by not adding citrus to this it is one less thing that has to be flown in from afar.
Maybe next year I need to grow sugar beets?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The other is their over view of 7 bloggers review of Food Inc., which opened this Friday in NYC at the Film Forum, I'm going to see it on Monday. You may remember I posted the link to the trailer here a while back.
It's also worth the time to check out the review of Food Inc in the New York Times, which calls it the scariest movie of the year.
This is great a story about so many of my favorite things: Canada, the environment and plastic. You know I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how we have all backed ourselves into a plastic corner and how plastic isn't biodegradable? Well at least that's what I always thought, turns out it does biodegrade it just takes 1000 years.
A very brilliant young man has won the Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada by showing how it can be done in, oh 6 weeks.
My crazy concern is how to we get to all that plastic that is already buried, or the stuff floating in the ocean. Mostly though I just think we need to figure out a way to make naturally biodegradable non-fossil fuel plastic, we should get this 16 year old working on it!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Pulled pork takes a long time to cook so if you're looking for something to make in a hurry, this isn't it!
This is a fairly large amount of sauce so you have some leeway with the size of roast you use, but I'd say between 1-4 pounds would be optimal.
It occurred to me today that this is the first time I have ever published a meat recipe. The meat in this case was purchased at the Union Square green market from a farmer who assures me he sells the best, tastiest and most humanely raised pigs in the market, I of course after an hour of searching have lost his card, so I'll come to back and give you his link when I find it.
This spicy, sweet, tomato based pulled pork goes great on these Potato Buns
- try using sweet potatoes or whole wheat flour.
Rinse a 2 -5 lb. pork butt or pork shoulder under running water then dry completely. Generously season with salt and pepper and set aside in a large bowl, covered, while you make the marinade.
and smashed, In the bowl of a large food processor add: 1 cup roughly chopped onions, 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, 4 Serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded (you can substitute Jalapeno), 4 T tomato paste, ½ cup raw organic cane sugar (like turbinado, or you can substitute brown sugar), 2 tsp. ground allspice, 2 T fresh thyme (just the leaves) 3 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 2 T dried Ancho pepper (ground into a powder: if you find a whole dried Ancho, de-seeded and grind in a coffee grinder or food processor), 2 T Dijon mustard, 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar.
Pour puree over prepared pork butt and marinate overnight.
I'm off now to my friends Pam and George's place to make this using their grill. Here's how I see it going.
Make sure your meat is room tempterature (so take it out of the fridge 2-3 hours before).
Take the marinated roast out of the marinade and wipe the meat as clean as you can (n need to be too crazy about it)
Once the cools are hot and the embers glowing place the roast on the grill. Don't place it directly over a flame, cover and keep it slightly ventilated, after about 15 minutes, turn it over and cook for another 15 minutes.
I idea here is to infuse the pork butt with smoke and char it a little before finishing it in tin foil either in the oven or on the grill.
Prepare a cooking sheet by lining it with tin foil, double layer it, unless you are using the heavy industrial stuff, place some of the reserved marinade on it. Place the roast on the marinade, cover it with the remaining marinade and pull together the tin foil to create a sealed package.
At this point you can put it back on the grill, we cooked our 3 and a half pound roast another two hours, a total of 2 1/2 hours, it reached an internal temperature of 190 when we finally took it off the heat.
It was well cooked but did not shred, we chopped it.
At this point the grill was also losing heat and would have needed another batch of hot coals. The meat was steaming in it's own fat and juices and marinade, yummy, but it wasn't falling apart by any means, I'd say it could have cooked for another 2 hours, but was perfectly delicious as it was.
Mix the pork with the sauce the cooking marinade), place on a bun, serve with cole slaw. We ate it just on buns last night with lovely sauteed chard and an delicious asparagus vinaigrette George made.
The marinade is nicely spicy. George was saying he'd read a recipe where the pork was served with sauerkraut, sounds good! George also made a kick ass almond creme englaise over fresh strawberries with de stropple cookies.
At the end of the day I feel this is a recipe that is best started in the early morning, sear the meat, then wrap it in tin foil and cook for another hour or 2 on the grill until the heat starts to wane then finish it off in an oven at approximately 375 for another 2-3 hours or even longer.
Conversely you could do the whole thing in a crock pot and cook it for the 8 hours you are away at work.
BBQ season is here! Enjoy.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The CSA we signed up for this year Paisley Farms have co-partnered with croptocup a beyond fair trade coffee company that deals directly with family farmers and pays significant;y above the average per pound to help support these coffee farmers and their families. By joining our CSA we now are given a special rate of $6.99 a pound which is awesome cheap for coffee of such pedigree.
If you check out their site and go to the home page you too can order coffee from them directly.
The page I have linked to is the information "about us" page. On which they talk about their mandate:
How does Crop to Cup compare with "Fairtrade"?
A. While we support the Fairtrade movement, and seek to source certified beans when we must go outside of our relationships, we require neither Fairtrade nor organic certifications. Rather, we believe that respectful and credible relationships with the farmers are the best way to make an enduring difference through coffee. Our goal is not to compare ourselves with FT, but if you are looking for a point of reference, it would look like this:
To my way of thinking it is like supporting a farmer at the market who you know and trust and who doesn't have the money to become certified organic nor the desire since the Bush administration has so degraded the standard and since Obama seems less then interested in changing it any time soon. In part because big Agri business - Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer and Syngenta to name are so wealthy and influential anything they don't want or like they can de facto obstruct or stop or so bastardize that unless you are prepared for a battle it may be best to leaves things as they are. A sad state of affairs if you ask me, but there it is, the bottom line rules.
Anyway, I digress, check out these crop to cup people and see what you think, meanwhile I'm going to sign up and get some beans and do a taste test. I'll get back to you.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Hey kids! I'm going to Berlin to BBQ for the opening of Summer Camp part 1 at my friend Christian's gallery This Is Exile July 18th. I'm going to be making my original recipe for spicy pork butt and homemade potato buns.
If you're in Berlin please come by!
Yep. That's right. Really just wanted to make sure you were all kept up to date on the latest bacon news. No need to say anything else now is there? Of course if you're curious check out their site.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
If you aren't a member of Food Democracy Now I heartily encourage you to join. Otherwise you can always count on me to pass along their latest action.
After the letter is a link so you can send a fax to Secretary Vilsack.
Since December 2008, the price that farmers are paid for the milk they produce has dropped over 50 percent -- the largest single drop since the Great Depression -- to a point far below the cost of production. This unprecedented collapse in prices has occurred in large part due to market manipulations and increased foreign imports by milk industry giants.
Increasingly, dairy farmers are at the mercy of these giants, such as the Dairy Farmers of America, the country's largest dairy "cooperative" which controls 40% of US milk production. Last year DFA was fined $12 million for price fixing by the US government and has also been implicated in the recent massive increase in imported milk products.
Already banks across the country are cutting off farmers' access to credit and at least two dairy farmers have committed suicide in California. The latest estimates are that the crash in domestic prices might lead to the loss of up to 30 percent of the remaining dairy farmers by the end of this year -- as many as 20,000 family dairy farmers could be off the land by the end of this year.
The loss of this many family farmers across the country will have a devastating economic impact on rural America, erasing over $52.7 billion of economic development in less than one year. Even worse, the loss of domestic supply will also create a serious gap in U.S. food safety as the DFA and others dramatically increase foreign milk protein concentrate (MPC) imports from countries such as Mexico, India and China -- countries which have much lower food safety standards than we do.
Today we're asking that Secretary Tom Vilsack, head of the United States Department of Agriculture, halt this injustice and adjust the price of milk paid to farmers to "reflect the price of production” by invoking his authority under Section 608c (18) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. This legally mandated "floor price" should be at least $17.50 per cwt (a cwt is the standard measure for milk producers).
Because of the importance of this matter and the fact that we want every voice to be heard, we have partnered with Credo who has agreed to send a fax in your name to Secretary Vilsack's office.
We must stand by them so they can continue to produce a safe product that not only nourishes our children, but also our rural communities. Without a fair price for their milk, they can do neither. Now is the time to embark on meaningful reforms in dairy pricing to ensure that a disaster like this never happens again.
If you'd like Secretary Vilsack to hear your concerns in person, please call his office at (202) 720-3631 after you send your fax and tell him that you stand with America's dairy farmers during this crisis.
As most of you know I am Canadian even though I've lived in Manhattan for 23 years and hold an American passport I still consider myself a Canadian. It makes me proud when the neighbors to the north do the right thing. I am a bit embarrassed to say I had never heard of Nahanni national park, it is after all a very big country!
Still, it's nice to see them giving the land over to the grizzly bears and caribou than to some large corporation to exploit.
I give the link to the article in reuters, but then have include it in it's brief entirey below.
This just in from reuters:
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada plans to expand one of its most prized parks to more than six times its current size in a move to help protect the habitats of grizzly bears, caribou and other species, the government said on Tuesday.
Ottawa unveiled legislation to increase the size of the Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories to more than 30,000 square km (11,600 square miles) -- an area two-thirds the size of Switzerland -- from the current 4,800 square km.
The South Nahanni River, which runs through the center of the park, is considered to be one of the top paddling rivers in the world. The original reserve was created in 1972 to protect the river from possible hydro-electric development.
The new park will be home to around 500 grizzly bears, two herds of woodland caribou as well as alpine species of sheep and goats. The new boundary includes the highest mountains and largest ice fields in the Northwest Territories.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty)
For some reason I've never realized that honey was not allowed by vegans, which I only mention because since my experimenting to come up with a maple syrup cake it's gotten me into a maple syrup phase. In truth I've been in a maple syrup phase since I first tasted the stuff. Right now with strawberries in season I just really enjoy how the mellow, rich sweetness of dark maple syrup sets off the tart sweet sourness of the strawberries.
Macerating a quart of strawberries in a few tablespoons of maple syrup is just such a wonderful thing, simple and after an hour or so in the fridge gives you a wonderful strawberry maple "juice" perfect for soaking into a biscuit or some nice sponge cake along with the berries and some whipped cream, ice cream or something luscious, cold and non dairy.
Here's what I've got so far.
Clean, stem, cut in half 31/2-4 cups of strawberries. Place them in the bowl of a large food processor with 5 tablespoons of maple syrup (I like grade B but use what ever you have or prefer), 1/3 cup red wine and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Puree.
Pass the puree through a fine seize to remove the seeds.
In another bowl whisk together 1 cup heavy Cream and 1/2 cup yogurt until peaks form. It should be fairly stiff.
Add the strained puree, mix well and place in a metal bowl and place in the freezer. After about an hour the edges should have frozen, but the middle will still be liquid, whisk it all together again to spread out the ice crystals to make it an even consistency and place back in the fridge.
It should be done and ready to serve in 4 hours.
Before serving take it out of the fridge and let warm up a bit.
I'll up date this later when I see how it works out. Update: I whisked it again at hour 5 and it was creamy deliciousness and could be served, it held it's shape but was still creamy and soft, but had a n ice crystal quality to it that I found refreshing. It's cold sweet sour strawberry hit just the right note for me and with the addition of sweetened whipped cream and strawberries macerated in maple syrup I think it would make a dynamic combination, but if you want to you could certainly add a tablespoon or 2 more of the maple syrup.
All in all my conclusion is that if you were to make this in a larger flat baking tin (say 10 x10) instead of using a bowl like I did it would freeze quicker and you could have yourself a cool summer treat in a few hours. I also think you don't need to take it out and whisk it, you could just let it be and I believe the result would be creamier and more ice cream like - damn , guess I 'll have to make it again.
Oh and lastly, if you do end of leaving it in the freezer longer and it becomes too granita-like, just let it sit out for 10 - 15 minutes it should soften up and be luscious once again.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The United Nations has named this the first ever World Oceans Day or maybe it should be called a day without seafood?
Reading the reviews of the new documentary The End Of The Line makes it sound more like a horror flick you have to keep looking away from.
Looks like Sushi needs to be taken off the options list. Also Fish and Chips are rarely made with a fish one can feel comfortable with, Natural Resource Defense Funds seafood chart now includes not only Cod, but Atlantic Halibut as must avoids. In general it seems like most Atlantic fish are in danger, with the exception of Lobster which seems to be making a come back.
It seems to me like eating fish out has become a very treacherous affair and that really at this point the only fish you should eat should be bought from a local fish monger at the green market. Unions square green market has two or three fish mongers and I believe one is there every day the market is open. Of course I also have noticed that one of the fish mongers sells Cod so...
As always grist.org has a bevy of informative and interesting articles and have knocked themselves out today with ocean day coverage.
One way to do something productive on this World Oceans Day is to click here and take action. They offer several ways to do things from calling the White House to emailing them (which I did) and some other social networking stuff. Here is the text they are suggesting:
President Obama, in honor of the first annual World Oceans Day I'm asking you to take the lead on getting the Convention on the Law of the Sea ratified before Congress goes home for the summer. Though the votes are there, it is unlikely that the Senate will adopt any major treaty without Presidential leadership. This treaty has broad bipartisan support and will help protect marine life, keep our ships safe in international waters, and boost our economy.
Mr. President, please steer the Law of the Sea towards ratification and show your commitment to working cooperatively with the international community by speaking out about this important treaty today. Thank you.
Now let me be clear, this happened during a food demonstration. A food demonstration. Which brings me to my new regular, if inconsistent, feature - the Rush Limbaugh Awards - given to anyone who acts or speaks in an irrational, offensive, inflammatory, nasty and otherwise just mean spirited way, today's winner folks is Gordon Ramsey for being an ill tempered, homophobic, misogynist and generally mean spirited guy. You may remember that I called Anthony Bourdain the Rush Limbaugh of food for saying that he felt Alice Waters was a little bit too Khmer Rouge for him, well ladies and gentleman the torch has been passed.
This brings me to another topic that is disturbing and pertains to TV food shows in general. I'm not sure where I read this, I read so many books on food and recipes at some point everything becomes a blur, but someone I was reading recently made the statement that more people watch food shows now than ever before in the history of TV and the corollary to that is that fewer people cook now than every before. Cooking has become a spectator sport, and apparently testosterone fueled tirades are entertaining!
If Charlton Heston were alive today I'm sure he'd have a wildly successful cooking show, it could be funny really he could start each show by going out and shooting what ever it was he was going to cook.
Funny and kind of unfortunate I think. In time of yore when Julia and the Galloping Gourmet ruled the airwaves, their shows were meant to inspire people to turn off their TVs and actually to cook. Or is that just me projecting?
I wonder if that is possible now? Or if we have been so sucked into the vortex of agribusiness as usual or made into fast food take out zombies that this most essential of all things: feeding ourselves, has become too much bother? This is a favorite theme of mine so I won't go on any more, you get the point.
My own self involved interest in it has in part to do with my ongoing fantasy of wanting to have a TV cooking, food, environmentally inclined show myself. How can I want to do something that so goes against what I believe? Of course it's all fantasy at this point, but I wonder if it is actually possible to make TV that inspires action not inaction? Is it possible to be entertaining with out being outrageous? Do you have to sink to the level of Khmer Rouge Lesbian Pigs to stay relevant? I don't think so and I certainly hope not, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Monday, June 8, 2009
From the Saxelby newsletter:
The Heritage Radio Network was started by one Patrick Martins, one of the founders of Heritage Foods USA. Through the business, Patrick and his cohorts aim to save heritage breeds of livestock, mostly turkeys and pigs, by hooking up farmers in the midwest with savvy chefs and restaurateurs who have an eye for quality meats. Just last year, the spirit moved him to take his 'slow' business show on the road. Patrick convinced the owners of Roberta's that they needed to have a radio station in the back yard (really, what respectable pizzeria doesn't?) and in the spirit of wily culinary cowboys, they agreed. Two shipping containers and many a good conversation later, Heritage Radio is thriving. Programming is great and growing all the time, and features chefs, artists, master composters, authors, and now dairy gurus too!
This is indeed good news since my friend Craig found a 1960's model 21 KLH radio on the street in someone's garbage and gave it to me (he cleaned it up, but otherwise it was in perfecting working condition). Now I can sit by my radio on Sunday afternoon anxiously anticipating the meliflious tones of Anne Saxelby chating with guests about cheese. You go girl!