Farmers’ Market Recipe Generator

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 9.54.07 AMScreen Shot 2013-08-03 at 9.54.18 AM

When the farmers’ markets are full of white eggplants, shell beans, baby squash, multicolored carrots and greens whose names you don’t even know, it’s time to go shopping: without knowing what you’re looking for, without any kind of plan, just shopping to buy what looks or tastes good — or what the farmer tells you is good. The Recipe Generator is essentially a one-armed bandit of ingredients and techniques, offering more than 50 combinations of things you’re most likely to find in a market or your C.S.A. basket, with recipes that make wonderful use of them.

See the Farmers’ Market Recipe Generator, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s a Buyer’s Market!

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 9.45.55 AMAlthough there are areas of the country where farmers’ markets feature loads of fresh vegetables year round, those of us who live in regions with a different set of blessings experience long stretches when farmers’ markets (at least those that remain open) offer only cider, apples, root vegetables, frozen meat and things like candles and sweaters made of the coarsest wool. Which is all fine, but it mostly serves to enhance the excitement we can feel when we hit the big time: a farmers’ market loaded with stuff that was picked not only nearby but yesterday.

When you see mini-cucumbers, white eggplants, shell beans, baby squash, multicolored carrots and greens whose names you don’t even know (and which can be up for debate — I’ve seen mizuna referred to as “spider mustard”), it’s time to go shopping: without knowing what you’re looking for, without any kind of plan, just shopping to buy what looks or tastes good — or what the farmer tells you is good. This is food shopping at its best, and right now you don’t need to go to California or even Union Square to get it done. (If you belong to a community-supported-agriculture farm or have a garden, you may not even need to do the shopping.)

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fast Food, Low Pay

Last November, following the Black Friday protests by Walmart employees, 200 workers at 30 New York fast-food restaurantswalked off their jobs.

Not much happened immediately. There was press and vocal support from organized labor and the nascent food movement. But the strike didn’t spread like wildfire.

Something else didn’t happen, however: no one lost his job. And that was a huge deal.

As far as I can determine, only one worker was permanently terminated as a result of the many actions that have followed nationwide. Usually, the striking fast-food workers are escorted back to work by co-workers, clergy, union leaders and even elected officials, who together insist that there be no retribution. That’s worked.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

This Armenian Life

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 9.41.50 AM

Greater Los Angeles is a collection of not just smaller cities but also exotic populations. Among those cities is Glendale (not so small: it would be the second-most-populous city in New England), a center of the Armenian diaspora and home to one of the world’s largest Armenian populations outside Armenia. Fleeing religious violence in the late 19th century, genocide in the early 20th or the Soviet Union after that, Armenian Californians became integral in the development of the fig, raisin and bulgur businesses.

Edward Khechemyan came to Burbank, which borders on Glendale, in 1991 — the same year Armenia left the U.S.S.R. He was 17 then, and of the move, he says simply, “We didn’t like the Communist system.” His father, who left Iran for Armenia — the home of his ancestors — in 1974, was a chef who dreamed of opening a restaurant, and in 1997, he did just that.

The name of the restaurant, which is on the terminally unhip San Fernando Road right near the Burbank border, has changed twice; it is now called Adana. The food-and-travel writer David Latt, a friend who has never steered me wrong, listed it as among his favorite restaurants when I was picking his brain last year, and we ate there together last fall. It was so good that I’ve visited Adana on each of my four subsequent trips to Los Angeles.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Spices, Travel

The Whole Story

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 9.40.34 AM

Whole grains, whether truly “whole” or not, have gone mainstream.

You can’t mention quinoa without hearing about the plight of the Bolivians who can no longer afford to buy their crop because we’re willing to pay so much for it. The word “rice” has become loaded: there are more colors (red? black?) and types (extra-long brown Basmati?) than those of us who grew up knowing only Carolina and Uncle Ben’s could have ever imagined. The other day I heard half a talk show devoted to what couscous really is. (Pasta, and I don’t know why it was so hard to figure out.)

It gets more complicated. Manufacturers claim processed foods are, or contain, whole grains when it isn’t true. Debates rage about the relative benefits of “whole grain” pasta versus the real thing. Then there’s the “are whole grains even good for you?” thing.

Feh. You shouldn’t care. They’re fantastic.

Read the rest of this article, here.

 

Posted in Recipes

Midsummer Links

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 9.41.05 AM

U.S. agriculture and food companies are struggling to attract enough workers, a problem the industry concedes is getting worse.

Twenty-two primary-school children died in India after eating free lunch prepared with oil that was believed to have been stored in an empty insecticide container.

In a setback, the House approved a bill that would prevent California from requiring that eggs imported into the state be produced under standards ensuring that hens have room to spread their wings. Related: Yet another study has reinforced the idea that keeping animals in confinement and feeding them antibiotics prophylactically breeds varieties of bacteria that cause disease in humans.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Food Politics

Watermelon All Day Long

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 7.08.47 PM

You don’t need an expert to tell you that watermelon is just about the most refreshing thing you could possibly eat in the middle of summer, and that the first and best way to “prepare” it is to just cut it up and devour it, letting the juice drip down your face and spitting the seeds (more on these in a minute) as far as you can.

When the weather is clammy and the watermelons are juicy and sweet (and cheap), it makes sense to have them on hand pretty much all the time. And that means there may be instances when your innate creativity (or boredom) might drive you a little further. Luckily, there are many worthy and refreshing things to do with watermelon that are somewhere between simple slicing and full-blown cooking.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Cocktails, Produce

Breeding Bacteria on Factory Farms

The story of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals is not a simple one. But here’s the pitch version: Yet another study has reinforced the idea that keeping animals in confinement and feeding them antibiotics prophylactically breeds varieties of bacteria that cause disease in humans, disease that may not readily be treated by antibiotics. Since some of these bacteria can be fatal, that’s a scary combination.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are bad enough, but now there are more kinds; they’re better at warding off attack by antibiotics; and they can be transferred to humans by increasingly varied methods. The situation is demonstrably dire.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Are You VB6?

What is your VB6 experience? I want to know. Share your stories, tips and more, here on Facebook. I’ll be publishing some of my favorite posts to Facebook and Twitter, so join the VB6 conversation.

Mark

vb6-680x440

Posted in Mark Bittman Books

The VB6 Cocktail Party

mojitoMy last newsletter offered tips on maintaining VB6 during backyard grilling season. With the Fourth of July coming up, VB6ers face yet another test of willpower: summer cocktail parties.

Maybe it’s the heat or the fact that when the weather gets nice, all we want is to kick back and have fun, but for many of us, alcohol consumption increases during the summer.

Of course, drinking makes us lose our inhibitions, which can result in eating foods we might otherwise avoid. That said, here are some tips for navigating a cocktail party—in the summer or anytime.

Crudités: Home base. Try dipping only every fifth piece or so.

Passed hors d’oeuvres: Let one platter of each go by before deciding what’s best.

Meatballs: Can you stop at one? If not, veer toward the cocktail shrimp instead.

Cheese tray: There’s fruit nearby, yes? Make this dessert.

Cocktails: If you want a drink, go ahead, but alternate each alcoholic glass with one of sparkling water.

Posted in Newsletter