Saturday, March 31, 2012

New in the 'Hood

It's hard to keep track of all the food related places opening up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

A media favorite and for good reason is Pok Pok a tiny hole in the wall Thai place at 137 Rivington street with James Beard award winning Chef Andy Richer at the stove.  Pok Pok has a limited menu that specializes in the most amazing chicken wing variations.  Awesome!

Thai Posters hang everywhere giving this place a Bangkok feel it actually reminds me of a place I used to love to go to in Bangkok that was an art student hang out where you could get lunch for 2 bucks.   Dinner at Pok Pok is a little more expensive then that, though still very reasonable.

The food has a decided Issan (Northeast Thailand) feel and I found the non chicken wing items were not as strong.   I had a pork dish one night with sticky rice and Som Tam that I felt was a little tame and sweet, but now I know the folks here are very game to spice things up "Thai Style" if you ask and you should ask!

This isn't the best picture of Christian Vautier: Le Concept, (the Times took a better one) the inside is bright, simple and airy with a long banquette for sitting and at the back a wonderful selection of home made truffles and confections to eat in our take away.  I've sampled three different truffles: Praline, Salted Caramel Kiss and Passion Fruit all exquisite.   They are also serving Dallis Brothers coffee.

This part of Broome street between Ludlow and Orchard is so hot it's crazy.  If it's not a new gallery, store or food place opening up it's pack with film crews.  Just down the street from Le Concept is Home Espresso Bar which is wonderful if simply because it is so,well....homey.  In this landscape of super hip and trendy places it's nice to have something local and easy, where you don't have to dress up to go get a quick latte. 
Finally the new (but not new) Doughnut Plant has opened and boy is it fancy!  They did a great job and even though it was instantly packed it is a great improvement from the original space next store.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pink Slime and Jon Stewart

Info Graphic Kind of Day

So in my ongoing struggle to learn how to use WordPress and get my new site up and running I find myself having a lot of anxiety and frustration.  Instead of leading me to the kitchen to cook my frustration out at how stupid I am when it comes to web site code and back end navigation (back end is not a lewd reference it is the techie term for the behind the scenes place where all the blog and web site magic happens) is leading me to the wine store.  Which of course doesn't exactly make for a clear headed me - thankfully as of yesterday I have given up attempting another 4 hour marathon where I try to teach myself WordPress code and back end magic and am having my friend, Yoga teacher and Techie genus Eli come over and help me out.  Still it's taking a lot longer then I would have imagined.  It's kind of like apartment renovating in NYC....but I digress.

One of the things I have been doing while trying to not explode with frustration and anger at how difficult it is to put up a simple site on WordPress is look at other food blogs and read endless amounts of food "news".  Today the thing that caught my eye where two graphics (I think it's a trend) explain how tuns gets from the sea to your plate and just exactly what kind of people buy solar panels (short answer: cheap ones who like to use a lot of electricity!)

I have given the links for both of these just in case when you click on them they don't get big enough for ya or because I want more info then the graphic gives.

One of the things that I notice about food blogs is they are always just about food.  Which may sound like a stupid thing to say, but I always have felt that how we eat and what we eat is part of a larger story and it seems to give short shrift to the big picture if all you do is write about Brownie recipes.  Maybe if you are reading this you feel the same way, maybe not.  I'd love to hear what you think...and now I'm going to go to The Brooklyn Kitchen and distract myself with some good old consumer kitchen therapy!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Two Shelf Solution

The Daily Show did this very funny take down of the Park Slope Food Co-Op last night.  There is a conflict at the Co-op over whether or not to carry Israeli foods because buying food from Israeli is at the expense of Palestinian human rights.

My feeling is that the individual, not the collective, should make up their minds as to what they want to buy or not.  It will be interesting to see what the Co-op's final decision is....

This just in: Last night the Co-op voted down the idea of an Israeli food boycott 1005 against to 653 for.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Really,it is...

So I promised last week that "change is coming" to this here blog, and indeed it is, I just didn't realize it would take so long and be so, er....challenging.  In the interim I had to deal with a Chinese hacker from Taiwan who commented on 4 posts from 2009 saying in English: "Great Post" then in Mandarin a long list of links to porn site.  It was at this point that Google wrote me and said, um, dude we are so closing down your site if you don't remove all the offensive initial thought was: It's a food blog! Is this a Monsanto backed attack to destroy me?  No indeed it was just some Taiwanese pornographer posting links covertly on my site.

Tonight I was looking for a Lemon Pudding Cake that I have a memory of that is like Chocolate pudding cake, instead I just kept finding version of the popular souffle type lemon dessert that is all about a runny, fluffy egg white mixture that is cooking in the oven in a hot water bath and comes out all light and fluffy.  In my mind I wanted a dense cake with a lemon pudding at the bottom, but was unable to find a recipe so if you know of one please let me know otherwise I'll have to start experimenting and see if I can't figure it out on my own.

All this to say that my hands have been full lately. Mostly because creating a new site is a lot more work then I could have imagined.  Not being 20 and a computer whiz first off puts me at a disadvantage, the learning curve is not insignificant.

Anyway be patient and hopefully in the next couple of weeks things will be back to normal and looking much better.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lupe Gonzalo

Very  moving installment from the Perennial Plate folks this week, a must watch.  This weeks video explores the lives of the people (immigrants) who pick our tomatoes (and I'm guessing other fruit and vegetables as well).


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Backyard Hens Part 2


Friday, March 23, 2012

Death by Lemon

Death by chocolate is one of those catch phrases that are given to over the top chocolate desserts. Why I wonder is there no Lemon equivalent?  I love lemon desserts yet the options when you do research on them seems to be fairly slim, lemon curd, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon meringue pie....oh and steamed lemon pudding.  It's a good list of wonderful desserts, but I wanted a lemon cake for an occasion that had a little flourish, some more than a tea cake like lemon poppy seed.   

What I came up with is a Bundt cake make with cake flour for lightness, lots of lemon rind and juice for an intense flavor and thick rich full fat greek yogurt for a sour/moist one two punch.

After the cake is baked it's soaked in a lemon syrup, and I serve it with a large dollop of lemon curd and unsweetened whipped cream.  There you have it folks: Death by lemon, and what a way to go!

Lemon Bundt Cake

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

With  room temperature butter generously butter and flour a 16 cup bunt pan.

Sift together in a medium 3 cups Cake Flour, 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda and 1/2 teaspoon of Salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer added 1 cup of room temperature Unsalted Butter. Beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy, then add in a slow stream 3 cups of Cane Sugar.   Continue beating for 4-6 minutes.

While this is mixing  add 2 tablespoons of  grated Lemon Peel (about 4 lemons) into a small bowl with 1/3 cup of Lemon Juice.

One at a time add 6 large room temperature Eggs, add the next egg when the previous one has been well incorporated.

Add the peel and lemon juice.

Turn off the mixer and with a wooden spoon or spatula add the dry ingredients all at once. Mixing just enough to incorporate, then fold in 1 cup full fat Greek Yogurt.  Pour into the prepared pan and place on a wrack in the top third of the oven.

Bake for an 1 and 15 minutes.   At this point check for doneness by inserting a cake tester (knife, skewer what ever you have) into the middle of the cake - it should come out clean.  It may take longer but keep testing every 5 minutes after this point as you don't want to over bake it. 

When done remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wrack for 10-15 minutes.

While cooling make the glaze.  In a small sauce pan add 1 cup of Cane Sugar and 1/2 cup of Lemon Juice bring just to a simmer and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved then take immediately off the heat.
When the cake has cool, using a pastry brush spread some of the glaze over the stop of the cake.

Before I invert the cake is see if the sides pull away from the pan easily, by gently pushing the cake inwards toward the center, if I get any resistance I use a butter knife or small spatula to help loosen it.  Place the wrack on top of the cake and quickly invert it.  You may need to gently knock it on the counter to free the cake from it's pan.

Place the cake and wrack on a cookie sheet and diligently paint the cake with the glaze.  It may seem like a lot but don't worry this cake will absorb every last drop.
Or almost, I even took lapped up the drippings from the cookie sheet and spread them over the cake.

To make the lemon curd in a medium bowl add: 4 large Eggs to 2 cups of Sugar  and stir in 1 scant cup of Lemon Juice then add 1 cup of roughly chopped Unsalted Butter place the bowl over simmering water and with a wooden spoon stir constantly until the curd has thickened (it will coat the spoon) about 7-10 minutes.

Place a fine sieve in a bowl and pour the curd through it.  Set aside to cool at room temperature before you chill it in the refrigerator in a covered container.

To serve cut a small slice of the cake on a plate,add a dollop of lemon curd and finish with a smaller dollop of whipped cream.

If you want to make you cake even more pretty you can candy finely sliced lemon and ring the top of the cake with them.

Of course I made this cake at home, but we ate it at my friends Patrick's place for his birthday and by that point I totally forgot to take pictures of the final product.  Ah well, guess I'll just have to make it again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Makin' Bacon

Couple of things about this clip.  I think it's funny it makes Bacon with Kosher salt (just saying) also he brings up the controversy of adding nitrates to bacon but doesn't discuss it and I wish he would have.  I have a 19th century British cookbook that has a recipe for making bacon, it's a very involved process more a cured bacon then a smoked one.  Also when did the sugar get added?  Or did it?  I love Maple bacon.  Or dipping bacon in maple syrup when you are eating it with pancakes.  Mmmmmmm

Anyway I love watching Kevin TV and fantasizing about what it would be like to have a wood burning stove in my backyard.    I mean, first I'd have to get a backyard....

Lastly I have been super busy with several big projects which has made my blogging less robust then I would like it to be, but not to worry, by early next week I should be back to full throttle and with a big surprise.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Many Calories are in Your Movie Theater Popcorn?

How many?

The current administration in Washington along with the Movie theater owners think that posting calories for movie snacks is un-necessary.  If you disagree send a letter letting them know that knowledge is the best way to make smart food decisions.

Change is Coming

Over the next week - and it may take longer, as these things often do - the address for this blog will be changing.  Don't worry it will still be called Urbanfoodguy, but it will be changed to a different server and become

There will be a new look and as the weeks (months) pass a bigger, better, easier to search site will evolve.

Fingers crossed.

Now back to our regular programing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Multigrain Seed n' Nut Bread

High fiber bread is defined as any bread that has 5 grams of fiber or higher.  It's important to check this when you buy bread at the grocery store because so many of them claim to be high fiber but aren't. 5 in this  instance is the lucky number, a bread with 5 grams of fiber allows you to the deduct the fiber from the total Carbohydrate count of the bread so for example if you are eating a slice of Aunt Millie's Bakehouse Fiber for Life Honey Crunchy Oat Bread you will see the total fiber is 6 grams and the total Carbohydrate is 25 Grams you deduct the fiber from the Carbohydrate so in reality each slice is only 19 grams.  This was something I was taught by a nutritionist when I first found out that I was a Type 1 diabetic a few years back.  I believe it is because the fiber isn't digested and passes right through you.

Quickly it became clear that how many food claims on packaged food were lies.  Case in point "significant source of fiber!"  the package says and you look and it has 3 grams....NOT a significant source of fiber, yet some how they get away with it.

So back to this bread recipe.    This was a recipe I found online and was immediately impressed by how  wonderful it looked.  I also liked the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ingredient list in particular the ground up, uncooked brown rice.  One of the categories for this bread as listed on the website I found it is: High Fiber.  Of course no fiber per slice is given for it, but given all the seeds, nuts and grains that go into making it and how delicious it tastes I'm just going to it is actually high fiber as I plan to make this on  a regular basis! 

Here is my adaptation:
 Multigrain Seed n' Nut Bread

This is a two day process. 

Day 1:  In a spice grinder or blender add 1/2 cup brown rice (Basamati is my favorite) and grind it until it is the texture of sand.  

Add the ground rice to a big bowl along with: 2 1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Bread Flour (available in NYC at the Union Square market both Wild Hive and Cayuga Pure Organics sell it) 2 cups of unbleached or Half White bread flour, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 2 Tablespoons Wheat germ, 3 Tablespoons Sunflower Seeds,  2 Tablespoons each of: Flax Seeds, Poppy Seeds, and Sesame Seeds, 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of Yeast.

Give this mixture a quick stir to get everything integrated.

In a medium size bowl add 1/4 cups of Honey, being aware that the stronger the flavor of the honey the more pronounced it will be in the finished bread.  I like strong flavored honey, in this instance I used the local honey I had on hand which was Wild Flower Honey and fairly mild.  Add 2 1/2 cups of warm water to the honey and whisk until the honey melts.  Pour all at once into the dry ingredients. 

Start out mixing this big mess with a spatula or wooden spoon, when it becomes impossible to manage any more use your hands.  It should be on the wet and sticky side, if it's not add more water.   It should not be a perfect ball of dough bliss at this stage, but rather a ragged mass of a mess. If you feel the need you can add a little bit of flour to bring it together, but be careful not to over work it or to make it too dry.  

Cover with a slightly dampened rag and or an old plastic bag or some parchment paper and a rubber band around the bowl (I hate suggesting anyone buy plastic wrap it's so unnecessary and wasteful and reused plastic bag that someone brought wine in is perfectly fine) and place in the fridge for about 4 hours.   Ideally start to make this before dinner time,  so that the dough can rest in the fridge until it's bed time when you can then remove it from the fridge and leave it out over night. It can proof for 12-16 hours.  

Day 2:

Get out some flour and lightly sprinkle the wet dough with it and then with well floured hands form the mass into a ball, adding flour as you need.

Place the ball of dough into a bread form or a stainless steel bowl the size of a round loaf of bread.

Cover again and let rest for about 2 hours.

At the 1 1/2  hour point turn on your oven to 500 F.  When it has reached temperature place a dutch oven or any other baking dish with a lid you have, into the oven (this is what you will bake the bread in) let the empty container heat for 30 minutes.  

In a small bowl mix together 1 Tablespoon Flax, Sesame and Poppy Seeds.  It should be noted here that you can add flavored seeds like Fennel, Cumin or Caraway to this bread, both in the dough and in the seed topping.  I would add 1 Tablespoon into the dough and another tablespoon on top if you are going to try this.  Fennel and Golden Raisins are a popular combo these days and I think would work well in the context of this bread.

When the dough is finished proofing gently turn it out onto a floured surface and using either an egg white or whole milk brush the entire surface of the bread, then cover the loaf with the seed mixture.  Don't press too hard!  Often I tuck the edges of the bread under to make a better shape as sometimes it can get unwieldy and not be the perfect round I want it to be.  Using a sharp knife, serrated or not or a bread blade cut a 1/2 inch deep circle around the top of the loaf about two inches from the top and then another one another 2 inches further down the loaf (see picture).

Take the hot pot out of the oven.  Gently coax the dough onto a dough cutter or pizza peel.
Remove the hot lid (be careful!) and place the bread into the container, cover and place back into the over.  Turn the temperature down to 450F and cook covered for about 20 minutes.

Don't worry if you smell something burning, some seeds will fall off the bread and into the cooking vessel - these loose seeds cook way faster than the bread and can burn and smell, not to worry.

At the 20 minute point remove the lid and cook for roughly another 20 minutes.  You are looking for a gold brown loaf of bread that has a slightly hollow sound when tapped.

When done remove form the cooking vessel and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  This bread is wonderful spread with mustard and  cheddar cheese or spread with Quark and topped with Smoked Salmon! Personally I love it sliced thin, toasted and slathered in peanut butter to go with my morning cups of coffee (yes cups).

Lastly, after using this basic no kneed technique for years I still find the transference of the bread to the pot can be tricky.  At the end of the day you should not worry how perfect your loaf looks because it's how it tastes that matter and the taste of this loaf is a winner!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fukushima Radioactive Ocean Water

This picture shows the contamination of the Pacific Ocean by radioactive matter spilt from the Fukushima plant that melted down after Japans horrific tsunami last year.

Of course being a food blog writer with an obvious political and environmental bent the first thing I wonder is : what is this doing to the fish?  And what will it do once it reaches the West coast of North America where most of the best fish we eat is from (Salmon, wild line caught Cod...)

Not good, not good at all.  Here is the video just in case you need more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Prune Armagnac Crème Brûlée

Last year I got one of those little mini kitchen blow torches, but up until yesterday had never used it.

The above picture of just one layer of sugar caramelized.  The recipe from Kate Zuckerman that I used called for 2. It would have made the layer thicker and more consistent, but I was just so happy to have accomplished this I left well enough alone.

This is my adaptation of Kate's recipe.  It's serves 4 although I think you could easily split one of this between two people especially if you serve short bread or some lace cookies in addition.

Prune Armagnac Crème Brûlée

Chop 4 or 5 pitted prunes in half, cut each half into four strips, place them into a small mason jar or other container with a lid that will seal tightly and add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of Armagnac or brandy. Let macerate over night or longer.  Always good to have on hand.

In 4 ramekins (4 ounces - any shape you like) divide up the Armagnac soaked prune slices and place them in the center of each ramekin.
In a small heavy bottomed sauce pan heat up a tiny pinch of cream of tartar, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of water.  Bring to a slow boil and cook until golden about 3-5 minutes, once the color has started to change and caramelize immediately take it off the heat and pour a little of over mound of prunes. 

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Separate 4 large Eggs, keep the eggs whites for another use.  Place the yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 3 Tablespoons of sugar.

In a medium heavy bottom pot pour 2 cups Heavy Cream and add 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Over medium high heat bring the cream mixture to just to a simmer the promptly remove from heat.  Add 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla and 1 Teaspoon of Armagnac.

A few tablespoons at a time add the hot cream mixture into the eggs yolks.  After you have added half of it you can pour in a steady, slow, stream the remainder, whisking all the time.

Ladle the custard mixture into the prepared ramekins.

Place the prepared ramekins into a shallow baking dish and fill with water until about 1/2 inch from the top.

Place in the oven and baked for 40 minutes or so - the custard when done will be fully set and no be wobbly in the center.  Remove from the oven and remove from the water being very careful not spil any water on the custard - I use a flipper and an oven mitted hand.

Cool.  When room temp put them in the fridge over night.

When ready to make the burnt sugar tops make sure the tops of the custards are dry.  In my experimentation with this I discovered less sugar is better.  After you have done one layer you can do another and it's best to use the sugar very sparingly,  melt it with the blow torch and then add more.  I used a good Tablespoon all at once and it didn't melt properly, so I had lumps of burnt melted sugar and lots of untouched granulated sugar.  Not a pretty sight.  Much better on my second try.

You can try to melt the sugar under a broiler or forget about it all together and just dust some powdered sugar over the custards.  Also when baking the custards you may choose to cover them with a cookie sheet or tin foil, if the later punch some holes in it.  I didn't cover mine.

This is a picture of the one that I added too much sugar too and didn't melt well:
I'm going to have to make more so I can improve my technique.

Coffee and Pizza from Seattle

Caffe Vita and Via Tribunali have been a long time coming.  When I first wrote about the two store fronts on Ludlow just north of Delancey that were being opened by Seattle Napolese pizza makers and coffee roaster.  Although I think initially it was going to be a Pike Street Fish place that was going to open and somewhere along the line it turned into pizza.  And let's face it, you can never have too much pizza.
Caffe Vita is located at 124 Ludlow and Via Tribulanli is next store at 122 less than a block up from Delancey Street.  I went in to the Caffe today and got a simple cup of drip coffee (french press) and not only was it a good strong cup of coffee it was, for a limited time, free.
The space is small with a small selection of coffee paraphernalia and bags of there home roasted coffee. One of the things that makes the space seem smaller is the large coffee roaster at the back.  I look forward to going in when they are roasting and inhaling.
When I took these pictures they were still just in the middle of there opening night party, since then the paper has come done and the two small rooms have been packed ever since.  Featured prominently at the back of the second more southernly room is the authentic wood burning pizza oven.
The thing I can't help but think about other than fine coffee and delicious pizza close to home is how hard it is to open up a restaurant in NYC.  These space were started in 2010 and had signs in the windows in December when I wrote about them, in a way that suggested that they were going to open at the very least soon-ish.  Here we are 2 years later, which is in its self a reason to stop by and grab some coffee or plan a pizza night out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Foraging for Food in NYC

Steve "Wildman" Brill is a naturalist and forager who lives in NYC and does fairly regular outings to the parks, hills and dales of NYC with small groups to see what they can find growing here that is edible.

I've posted about him before, but think this year I will finally take the plunge and go with him on one of his tours.  They are a bargin with a $20 suggested donation the next one he is doing is in Prospect park on March 17th.

You can sign up for tours on his website.
This is a video by another forager Vladimir Danilov who learned about foraging from the Wildman.  For more information about how to make the most of NYC's food resources check out this cool website

School Breakfast

Share Our Strength is a wonderful and important organization working towards ending childhood hunger in America.  To find out more click here.

I thought this video was a moving testament to the work SOS is doing:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ippudo - The Best Soup in Town?

You'd think so from the lines.
I saw this walking to yoga the other day around 5:30 I'd guess?

When Ippudo opened several years go I stopped in on several occasions and really enjoyed what I had there.  Mostly soup, once I had some pickles that were very traditional and if memory serves reminded me of the kind you find in Vietnamese restaurants more then the typical Japanese ones.
Ippudo is located in the East Village which is now often referred to as little Tokyo, for it's large Japanese ex pat population and the vast amount of Japanese restaurants and home to the best Japanese grocery stores in the city (Sunrise Mart). One of the many things that makes Ippudo special is that is part of a huge Japanese Ramen chain that started in Fukuoka and grew to become a large chain in Japan, this is there first oversees location.  The design of the room is great a whimsical take on traditional Japanese aesthetic.  The Ramen soup is usually in a pork broth (they have one veggie option soup on the menu) and is reasonably price at $15 with extra toppings for more money if you want.  The give you something to compare this to David Chang's Momofuku charges $18 for a bowl of there Ramen (which I love and is one of my favorites).

It would be great to visit Ippudo again, I'm jut not sure I'm up for waiting in line for a bowl of soup. It could be fun with a group of friends if you went on an off night early in the week. Part of me wants to do it to see what all the fuss is about.  Because as much as I remember liking the soup,  I don't remember it being this good:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fast Company's Top 10 Most Innovative Food Companies

The companies listed are all food giants what is interesting to me is how many of them seem to be on this list because of a commitment to sustainability and quality food (even local!) often in the context of a mass produced or fast food context.

Here is the list.

Heritage Seeds

If Monsanto had their way seed sharing and heritage seed exchange would be illegal.  They think they should own a monopoly on nature and have taken legal action again and again against farmers and seed sharers to shut them down and more importantly to shut them up.

This weeks Perennial Plate video is a fascinating look at traditional southern food plants and chats with the man behind the Southern Food renaissance Glen Roberts.  It's one of my favorite videos from them in a while and a must watch.

Carolina Gold: Episode 94 of The Perennial Plate from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

And we're back....

Had a little internet outage yesterday.  Funny how much withdrawal I suffer when I can't get online at home.  It did how ever give me soem time to cook something I have not been writing about much lately.

I made a high fiber seed bread that appealed to me because the recipe called for 1/2 cup of brown basmati rice, ground up into a gritty powder....funny how weird things often attract me to a recipe.

Ok recipe to follow and much, much, more.

If any body out there has any skill or knowledge about web design I am in the process of transferring this blog to a .com site and sure could use some help.  Drop me a line if you think you could help.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Meryl, Hillary and Women Not in the Kitchen

This is a video of Meryl Streep's introduction of the closing speech given by Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit.

I wanted to post this, but had a moment's pause: what does this have to do with food?  Not that I don't promise in my heading "random digressions", but I do realize that most people who visit here do so for the food content.

The next thing that came into my head was a story a friend of mine, who was volunteering in Africa, told me.  He was in a small village in Kenya hours away from Nairobi helping construct a building for the village. They needed a volunteer for the kitchen and so he volunteered.  When he got there the women all snickered and were visibly uncomfortable. They really wouldn't let him help, because it was so wrong, in their culture, for a man to cook: it was women's work.

When I was growing up my mother worked at an office.  As a single parent she was not only the cook/homemaker, but also the bread winner.  Hard to make dinner when you are sitting at a desk in an office thirty minutes away from your kitchen.  So, starting at a very early age, because I got home from school by 4 and she didn't get home from work until 5:30, I started to do simple food chores, like take the hamburger out of the freezer.  Quickly, I started to cook the thawed hamburger, too, and by age - what... 7? - I was more or less making the family dinner.

So what does any of this have to do with Meryl Streep introducing Hillary Clinton at a conference?

Well, I think everything.  Gender roles have no place in the kitchen just as they have no place in the world. We are equal and all can, and should, aspire to do what it is we have a passion to do.  Not dismiss it because it isn't appropriate to our gender, age, or class.  Had I said to myself: No it's wrong for a man to cook, it's women work, I would never have found the one of the great sustaining passions of my life.

All of this rambling to say that you don't have to be a women to be inspired by Hillary Clinton's amazing life in politics:

Designing a Restaurant in Reverse

Smart has a great article on a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia that has purpose made urinals that collected pee to be used as fertilizer for crops of Canola which will then be harvested and used to heat next years restaurant, which if I understand it correctly is first used to cook with then recycled for heating. How great is that? The video above is a time lapse of the building going up.

Designed by Joost Bakker who says:

"I have designed a restaurant in reverse.  I've started at the end: assessing the waste production and working back from there."

Kind of ass backwards you might say, but brilliant - read the whole article which goes into detail about building materials and how it got built.

A man after my own heart Joost states that:

"My dream has always been to create a restaurant hat created no waste and I think I have achieved it!"

I'd love to do something like that here in NYC, but you have to wonder what the City department of buildings would have to say about it!

Check out this fact sheet which outlines the materials, time frame of the build out and much more.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Just Label It: Info Graphic

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I so wouldn't want to be this guys son.  Can you imagined a 3 Michelin star restaurant any where else in the world that is located in a subway station?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cup Cake ATM?

Sprinkles in Beverly Hills now has an automated cup cake dispenser.   I'm curious to know how much they are as they don't say in the video ($3.50 is the price on line I wonder if it's more for the convenience?).  This seems so LA to me and so about car culture.... this way you don't have to interact with annoying people.  Of course I say that snarkily but if I was walking by I'd want to at least try it once.   Though really I'd rather to go Butter Lane and have them make one especially to my liking then have one from a machine.  Just another reason I don't live in LA.  Oh and I don't drive...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thought for Food

Colbert does it again....Pre Dawn Fondue Nightmare

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anonymous Hacks Monsanto

This is the message they sent:

Your continued attack on the worlds food supply, as well as the health of those who eat it, has earned you our full attention. Your crimes against humanity are too many to name on one page, you have put over 9000 small-time farmers out of business by using your enormous legal team to bury them with your malicious patent lawsuits. You have continually introduced harmful, even deadly products into our food supply without warning, without care, all for your own profit.

We are aware that posting this outdated database will do little to harm you. Rest assured, we will continue to dox your employees and executives, continue to knock down your websites, continue to fry your mail servers, continue to be in your systems, and continue to expose your bullshit.

Expect Us

For the whole story check out Grist.

Continental RIP

I don't remember air plane travel when it didn't require you to be squashed into a tightly packed sardine and be fed meals on mass that were akin to TV dinners.  The picture above is from the lounge on a Continental 747 circa 1970 something.  The good old days.   

As a hard core airplane nerd and a Continental frequent flyer I lament there passing, when they decided to merge with United in 2010 ,my fingers were crossed that they would keep the Continental name. As it is they may not have kept the name, but they have kept everything else: logo, website and most of the senior staff.   My fingers are crossed that the new United will be every bit as good as the old Continental.

Now we just need to work on getting these on board lounges back!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Growing Cucumbers in January in Edmonton

KevinTV's video this week about Sunfresh Farms is very inspiring to me.  I fantasize, on a regular basis, about having a roof top farm with a greenhouse.  The idea for me as an urban dweller is to have a way to grow salad greens, herbs, peppers (maybe even come citrus and flowers) in the Winter (given that we still have winter by the time this fantasy would ever become a reality).  Inspiring stuff.

Episode 33 - Doef's Greenhouses from Kevin Kossowan on Vimeo.

Vermont Leads The Way: Mandatory Labeling of GMO's

As reported at Treehugger proposed legislation in Vermont would make it mandatory for all food products to be labeled by 2014. The bill is being called the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Act  click on the link and sign their petition.  Basically the bill requires proper labeling of food, specifically about GMO's, but also they are taking on the use of the word "naturally" which always makes me furious because it is used in such as way as to be meaningless, it's just a cynical marketing ploy that manufactures have been able to get away with for years on all foods with the exception of meat.

This is good news and something many people having been fighting for for years.  Vermont is leading the way but several other states: California, Washington and Connecticut.

Hopefully in the long run this will result in a federal mandate for all food to be properly labeled.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Street Art Squirrel In Williamsburg

Every where you go in Williamsburg there is art - it's so exciting.  I love it.  This guy's eyes are so expressive.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Big Bowl of Chocolate Pudding

In our household chocolate pudding is serious business.  It's also not something we eat lightly...which is to say it's all about volume!  I like to serve it in a big bowl instead of dishing it out individually, it's easier and I like the aesthetic of spooning out portions of it according to each person love of pudding.  Last time I made it Neil had three servings....which will explain why the recipe is so large.  You can half it, but I don't recommend it.

Adult Chocolate Pudding

In a large bowl sift 1/2 cup organic Corn Starch (tapioca starch works just as well, but if you use corn starch make sure it's organic regular corn starch is GMO and you wouldn't want that now would you?) 
2/3 of a cup plus 2 Tablespoons of  Cocoa, 2 cups of Cane Sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt 
Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk 8 egg yolks and 1 cup Whole Milk then whisk into the sugar coca mixture.
 In a large heavy bottom pot add 2 cups whole Milk2 Cups Half and Half and 1 Cup Heavy Cream.  Bring just to a boil.

I use a metal 1/2 cup mixture to slowly integrate the hot mi;k mixture into the chocolate egg mixture...after I add a couple of cups I slowly pour it directly from the pot

Until it is all mixed in and then return it to a medium low heat for 8-10 minutes until it has become thick enough to hold it's shape.  This thickens in a haphazard way, don't worry just keep stirring.
Remove from the heat when thick and add 2 teaspoons of Rum (Brandy, Scotch or Vanilla) and stir.

Place a fine sieve over a large bowl and bowl the hot pudding mixture into the sieve and with a spatula press it all through.

Divide 8 ounces of dark chocolate chips*.  Mix in the first half until completely melted and well incorporated then repeat with the second half.

* Because of the amount of cocoa this tends towards the dark side for pudding so depending on your taste you can add bitter sweet chocolate chips up to 70% or semi sweet chips around 40% or mix them up and do something in the middle.
 I like to use a bowl with a lid for this, if you place the lid on directly it prevents a skin from forming conversely you can also use a piece of parchment paper directly on the pudding if you don't like skin or just ignore it if you are a skin fan (I'm not).

This is best made the day before and served with oh so lightly sweetened whipped cream (Creme Chantilly as it called in fancy circles).


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Tao of Cornbread

Love how opinionated she is. I think this looks like a very authentic corn bread, but one that needs to be served with something, covered in Chili Con Carne, or Collards and bacon.

Thanks to my friend Chris in Asheville who I owe a phone call to for tipping me to this:

So the recipe would be: 

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Mix 2 cups white corn meal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder and 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda stir in 1 large egg and 1 1/2 c cups of buttermilk.  Stir until mixed then add 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter (melt the butter in the same cast iron skillet you will cook the corn bread in) of course for really rockin' corn bread swap out the butter and use 4 Tablespoons of rendered bacon fat.

Cook until brown and a cake tester comes out clean.  I'd say about 20 minutes?
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