What Is the Purpose of Society?

The world of food and agriculture symbolizes most of what’s gone wrong in the United States. But because food is plentiful for most people, and the damage that conventional agriculture does isn’t readily evident to everyone, it’s important that we look deeper, beyond food, to the structure that underlies most decisions: the political economy.

Progressives are not thinking broadly or creatively enough. By failing to pressure Democrats to take strong stands on everything from environmental protection to gun control to income inequality, progressives allow the party to use populist rhetoric while making America safer for business than it is for Americans. No one seriously believes that Hillary Clinton will ever put the interests of Main Street before those of her donors from Wall Street, do they? At least not unless she’s pushed, and hard.

It’s clear to most everyone, regardless of politics, that the big issues — labor, race, food, immigration, education and so on — must be “fixed,” and that fixing any one of these will help with the others. But this kind of change must begin with an agreement about principles, specifically principles of human rights and well-being rather than principles of making a favorable business climate.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Food Politics

HTCE Fast: Cheddar Waffles with Bacon Maple Syrup

IMG_5837

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!

These cheddar waffles are an addictive mix of sweet and savory. They bake up crisp and rich like grilled cheese sandwiches, only with the classic flavors of breakfast on top.

Vegetable oil
6 slices bacon
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup grated)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
Pepper

Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Good Riddance to the Foam Take-Out Carton

Strike another blow against so-called convenience and bring back the paper coffee cup with the Greek columns: foam cups and other polystyrene foam packaging, even packing “peanuts,” are going bye-bye in New York City.

They’re already banned, or will be, in over 100 jurisdictions in the United States, including the District of Columbia; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis and San Francisco, and some 90 other municipalities in California. But the New York City move may signal the death knell for the stuff most of us call by its common (and technically misapplied) name, Styrofoam.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Food Politics

HTCE Fast: Jambalaya des Herbes with Shrimp

Jambalaya des Herbes 1

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!

To accommodate Catholics who were abstaining from meat during Lent, a vegetarian version of gumbo with lots of greens—gumbo z’herbes—was often served in New Orleans. This recipe takes the same approach with another bayou classic, jambalaya.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
2 green bell peppers
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 large ripe tomatoes (1 pound)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 pound peeled shrimp
Hot sauce for serving (optional)

Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Let’s Address the State of Food

The state of the union, food-wise, is not good. The best evidence is that more than 46.5 million Americans are receiving SNAP benefits — formerly food stamps — a number that has not changed much since 2013, when it reached its highest level ever.

Even if you allow for fraud, which barely exists (imagine being so desperate that you’d risk imprisonment for $130 a month; I doubt you can), the number would be far higher if everyone who was eligible knew it, if pride and stigma were not issues and if it were easier to enroll. Still, 15 percent of the nation is bad enough; it’s roughly equivalent to the population of Spain.

Posted in Uncategorized

Simple Stocks for Soup on the Fly

Herb Stock

For years, I’ve written about the merits of homemade stock (or at least stock made by a real person), even insisting that if it’s a choice between canned or boxed stocks and water, you’re better off with water. At their best, the canned and boxed versions taste like salt; at their worst, like chemicals.

But here’s the problem with homemade stock: It’s so good that it doesn’t last long. What’s needed is something you can produce more or less on the spot. Although water is a suitable proxy in small quantities, when it comes to making the bubbling, chest-warming soups that we rely on this time of year, water needs some help.

Fortunately, there are almost certainly flavorful ingredients sitting in your fridge or pantry that can transform water into a good stock in a matter of minutes. The process may be as simple as simmering in water fresh herbs, mushrooms or even tea, or browning aromatics to create richness, or adding staples like crushed tomatoes or coconut milk. To further maximize flavor in minimal time, it pays to reach for ingredients that pack a punch, like miso, anchovies, chipotles, Parmesan rinds, sometimes even leftovers.

Read the rest of this column herePhotos by Sam Kaplan.

Posted in Uncategorized

HTCE Fast: Ricotta Dumplings with Spinach and Brown Butter

IMG_6686

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 homemade pasta faster to whip up than ricotta dumplings. The only part that requires patience is cooking them in batches so you don’t overload the pot. It’s worth the short wait, though; these are downright luxurious.

Salt
6 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups grated)
2 eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese
Pepper
3/4 cup to 1 cup flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 bunch spinach (1 pound)

Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Let Them Eat Foie Gras

The lifting of the California ban against selling foie gras (the hyperfattened liver of geese or ducks, brought about by overfeeding the live animals) is pretty much a nonissue, except to point out that as a nation we have little perspective on animal welfare. To single out the tiniest fraction of meat production and label it “cruel” is to miss the big picture, and the big picture is this: Almost all meat production in the United States is cruel.

The sale and production of foie gras was prohibited in California in 2012. Though the ban was widely ignored — foie gras was served for free in many restaurants and sold illegally in others — it’s now legal to serve it. (Production remains banned.)

But so what? Foie gras is among the most overrated of luxury ingredients, ranking right up there with caviar and truffles. Done right, all three are delicious, but we can call them rich people’s food, and as such they’re not that important except to chefs who want to impress rich people or rich people who want to be impressed.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Uncategorized

HTCE Fast: Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

IMG_3880

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!

The most time-consuming part of making meatballs is rolling them. The solution? Don’t. Just use two spoons to drop little mounds of the mixture into the hot skillet. (Skipping the rolling also prevents you from overworking the meatballs until they get tough.) Leave them alone to brown beautifully on the bottom while you start building the tomato sauce around them.

Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces ground beef
6 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups grated)
1 bunch fresh parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Pepper
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 pound spaghetti

Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes