A Turkey Tale

apple pie

Or more accurately, the story of an apple pie: One of my colleagues has a niece, Kylie Jo Cagle, who baked her first pie to bring to her boyfriend’s family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Gorgeous, no? Apparently it was also the first dessert to be devoured. So here’s to Kylie and her newfound knack for baking. (Pizza is next on her agenda.)

I love hearing when people get turned on to cooking. And I’m glad How to Cook Everything: The Basics can help make that happen. Thank you all for your readership. Hope everyone enjoyed a lovely weekend of good food and good cheer as we kick off the holiday eating season.

Photo by Kylie Jo Cagle

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HTCE Fast: Red Lentils with Toasted Cauliflower

Red Lentils with Toasted Cauliflower

Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

There is no better use for lentils than dal, the stewed, spiced lentil dishes ubiquitous in India. The idea is to cook them long enough so they begin to break apart and become creamy. And these red pulses are not only traditional for the soupy dals (which are often used like sauces), but they also soften in minutes. Toasted cauliflower adds another layer of texture. To easily expand the meal, serve with rice, bread, or steamed greens.

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
1 inch fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cups coconut milk (two 15-ounce cans)
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
4 scallions

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Food Power!

There are four basic ways to change the food system. I talk about three of them a lot: The first is to eat differently, focusing on good food and especially plants; the second is to bring change to your work, whether that means becoming a farmer or helping other people eat better through your role as a teacher, doctor, artist, techie, lawyer or journalist. The third is to work locally to effect change in, for example, school systems or municipal politics.

The fourth is the toughest: Change the system that governs everything, including food. This means changing dominant economic theories and practices, and indeed the nature of capitalism itself. That isn’t happening anytime soon.

But incremental changes are possible within that system. Some believe that food is a bipartisan issue, since it’s in everyone’s interests to eat better and to protect the environment from the ravages of industrial agriculture. But it’s also true that public health, income inequality, mitigating climate change and fighting racism (just a few examples) are bipartisan issues as well, and we know how slowly change comes with those, even though change is in the interest of all but a few defenders of the status quo.

Read the rest of this column here.

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A Sustainable Solution for the Corn Belt

It’s hard to imagine maintaining the current food system without Iowa. Yet that state — symbolic of both the unparalleled richness of our continent’s agricultural potential and the mess we’ve made of it — has undergone a transformation almost as profound as the land on which cities have been built. A state that was once 85 percent prairie is now 85 percent cultivated, most of that in row crops of corn and soybeans. And that isn’t sustainable, no matter how you define that divisive word.

It’s easy enough to argue that one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world could be better used than to cover it with just two crops — the two crops that contribute most to the sad state of our dietary affairs, and that are used primarily for animal food, junk food and thermodynamically questionable biofuels. Anything that further entrenches that system — propped up by generous public support — should be questioned. On the other hand, if there are ways to make that core of industrial agriculture less destructive of land and water, that is at least moving in the right direction.

Read the rest of this column here.

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HTCE Fast: Broccoli Tabbouleh with Charred Tomato and Lemon

Broccoli Tabbouleh

Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

Tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad of bulgur, tomatoes, herbs, lemon, and olive oil. If you pulse raw broccoli in the food processor, you wind up with crunchy bits that make a fine addition. Charring the tomatoes and lemon is gilding the lily, but you do it while the bulgur cooks, and it only takes a little extra work.

1 lemon
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup bulgur
Salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
Pepper
1 small head broccoli (about 1 pound)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 garlic clove

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Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion

At dinner with a friend the other night, I mentioned that I was giving a talk this week debunking the idea that we need to grow more food on a large scale so we can “feed the nine billion” — the anticipated global population by 2050.

She looked at me, horrified, and said, “But how are you going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”

I suggested she try this exercise: “Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because she — and almost all of you reading this — would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

 Read the rest of this column here.

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HTCE Fast: Roasted Salmon with Potato Crust

IMG_8906

Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

 Topping salmon with a thin layer of shredded potatoes and roasting it in a hot oven is as impressive as it is delicious. It’s also a 5-ingredient dinner, and you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand.

2 or 3 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (8 ounces)
4 thick salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh chives

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Pickling and Chemotherapy

An interesting response to this week’s pickle piece:

Dear Mr. Bittman,

When a family member was undergoing chemotherapy for her cancer, her oncologist happened to mention in passing that a spoonful of vinegar might improve her appetite. As you know, a naked spoonful of vinegar of the kind found in most households is not particularly appealing. At the time she told me about her conversation, it occurred to me that vinegars could be more palatably “administered” in the form of pickles — my recipe follows below.

Read the rest of this article here.

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12 Recipes for Pickles, No Canning Required

EAT pickles

I remember when pickles were either something that you bought from a barrel on the street or — if you were crafty — canned in your kitchen. But somehow they’ve become the emblem of all things hipster-artisanal-twee, as much a joke (we can pickle that!) as they are a food.

The reason so many of us have outsourced our pickle making to the waxed-mustache set is that canning is sufficiently daunting; the thought of boiling jars, with its mysterious science and prospect of imminent disaster, is enough to send most home cooks running to the store. Fortunately, canning is not a prerequisite for pickling. In fact, as long as you can commit to eating them within a week or two, there are countless pickles that you can make quickly and store in your fridge.

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Sam Kaplan.

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HTCE Fast: Za’atar Wings and Eggplant

8_final_drizzledsauce

Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

Buffalo wings go to Beirut. The sauce is creamy and spicy — a familiar pairing for crispy wings — but the flavor is new and unexpected thanks to za’atar, a spice blend containing thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds that’s ubiquitous in the Middle East.

Za’atar Wings and Eggplant with Yogurt-Harissa Sauce
1 small garlic clove
1 lemon
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon harissa
Salt and pepper
1 large or 2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds)
3 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ground sumac
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

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