For years, I’ve talked about what I like to call “less-meatarianism” – an attempt to move away from the all-or-nothing mantras of dietary restrictions and think about incremental investments that we as eaters can make in a healthier and more sustainable food system.
Eating less and better meat makes sense from just about every perspective. At this point, we know that reducing meat consumption and eating more plant-based foods promotes better health (something the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are finally talking about, though not explicitly enough). Beyond our health, decreasing meat consumption could have far-reaching implications for industrial meat production and its practices that we know are damaging to our environment, our workers, and our animals’ welfare. Continue reading →
Here are a few words by Jose Oliva and the Food Chain Workers Alliance about the proposed new Labor Secretary, possibly Trump’s worst appointment yet (although given the others, that’s not for sure):
Andy Puzder is a completely unacceptable choice for Labor Secretary. An avowed enemy of restaurant industry reforms, his past is riddled with class action wage theft lawsuits, sexist remarks, and falsehoods that paint wage increases as ‘job-killers,’ minimum wage earners as entitled teenagers, and his own employees as lazy welfare recipients. His nomination threatens the incredible gains our members in the restaurant industry such as ROC United have made over the past eight years, including eliminating the subminimum wage and establishing One Fair Wage for all workers. Contrary to what Puzder and his associates at the National Restaurant Association would have you believe, restaurant workers are largely women and people of color, making as little as $2.13 per hour, and thus relying on tips to survive. As a result, they face disproportionate rates of poverty, discrimination, and sexual harassment. They deserve a Labor Secretary that believes, as Dr. King once said, that all labor has dignity. On behalf of the nation’s 21.5 million hard-working food-chain workers and the 12 million restaurant workers, the Food Chain Workers Alliance and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United opposes the nomination of Andy Puzder as Labor Secretary.
I was sitting at my desk at the Times 10 years ago when Jim Lahey – whom I knew only by reputation – emailed me: “I have a new method of making bread that requires no kneading and can give you professional results at home.”
I started baking bread in 1970, and, when my friend Charlie Van Over developed what I still believe is the best food processor method there is, I adopted that and never looked back. But Lahey’s invitation was intriguing, and, besides, Sullivan St. Bakery was a 10 minute walk from the Times. (Not, as you might imagine, on Sullivan Street, but on 47th Street.) Why the hell not?
It was a period during which the Times was experimenting with video, and I was one of the lucky guinea pigs. So on a bright November day (Jim insists it was election day 2006; I have no recollection), I walked over with two video people, we watched Jim do his thing, I wrote it up, the video people edited, and …. It became one of the most popular stories in the history of the Times.
That level of popularity was a peculiar confluence of events, but that bread recipe (which I used yesterday, and will tomorrow, barely unchanged from the original), has legs. That original description by Jim remains true, and literally millions of people now make bread according to Jim’s instructions.
A few weeks ago, just before election day 2016, I met two video people from Food & Wine at Sullivan Street (which hasn’t changed much) and we taped a reunion, with Jim commenting on and critiquing my technique (which evidently isn’t bad). You can watch (the extremely abridged version) here. As you can tell – we had fun.
My youth was dotted with pecan-crusted cheese balls, the hub of every respectable 1960’s aluminum party platter. The display varied from hostess to hostess—and competed for coffee-table real estate with full ashtrays and empty highball glasses—but relish trays were an obligation taken seriously. There might be devilled eggs and vegetables marinated in red wine vinegar and dried oregano. Cubes of salami and bacon-wrapped cocktail onions. We kids ate canned black olives we had stuck on our fingertips as we ran outside to play; the adults dragged a Ritz through the artichoke dip on their way to the bar.
Now, as an adult, I can hardly go a day without an assortment of piquant snacks, especially during the holidays. And my guests are frequently subjected to the same fate. But instead of confining the selection to a tray, I scatter little bowls and plates across the whole dining room table and call it “The Relish Spread.” Continue reading →
As I hope you’ve heard, I’ve published a new cookbook: How To Bake Everything. Its goal (sort of as usual in this series), is to teach you how to bake … well, many things. Simply, reliably, and well.
Equally exciting, I also just released the pilot episode of my new podcast, Get Bitt. If you’ve ever wondered what a day in my life is like, Get Bitt provides the answer: I cook, I interview a couple of folks, I feed pigs on Glynwood farm (where I’m living), I wisecrack. Many think it’s a hoot.
In listening to it, I’ve noticed that I say the word “awesome” a lot. (I’m going to stop, soon. Right after this.) So I’m announcing a contest—an awesome contest. Listen to the pilot episode of Get Bitt, and count how many times I say “awesome.” The first 20 correct responses will get a signed copy of How To Bake Everything.
As a bonus challenge, I offer you this: The pilot also features two very obscure American garage rock songs from the ’60s. The first person who can figure out the name of each song and the band that recorded it will get a complete signed Everything collection. (That’s five big fat books!)
The podcast is embedded below. Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contest ends on December 23rd and winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Enjoy, and good luck!
At our house on Thanksgiving, side dishes may switch in and out but two things remain constant: turkey is the main event; and there is always apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie on the table.
The menu for the next day is also set in stone. For the last fifteen years, we have invited friends to our house for turkey gumbo and an eclectic assortment of communal leftovers. It’s a guaranteed good time; everyone has successfully navigated Thanksgiving and can really relax and kick off the holiday season.
Making the gumbo has become kind of a meditation. First thing in the morning, I get the stock going, breaking the carcass into pieces, adding onion, celery, black peppercorns, and water to cover generously. Bring just to a boil, dial the heat down to a bare simmer, and let it do its thing on the stove for three hours or so. Once it cools down a bit, strain, then strip all the meat from the bones. This gets put in a bowl, topped up with additional turkey that was cut off the carcass before it went in the stockpot. Continue reading →
This Thanksgiving let’s stop and really give thanks for the food on our table, and for those who bring it to us, who are in disproportionate numbers among those Americans who can’t afford this necessity. About one in seven Americans relies on food stamps through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)—including 13% of food workers—and we know the program only reaches a portion of those who are eligible; countless others struggle to afford good ingredients every day.
Making good food more affordable is a widely shared priority; despite our political differences, most Americans are united in the belief that our children should not go hungry. Yet when we talk about solutions, we too often confuse affordable food with cheap food. While this may seem like semantics, it’s not—what we’re really talking about is the ability to cover the true cost of what you need to buy. Continue reading →
Maybe you are lucky enough to get local vine-ripe tomatoes in autumn. In early-freeze zones (like where I live, in Kansas), the bounty of summer would have been replaced weeks ago with hardy roots and squashes. Except this year: As of last Saturday, all sorts of heirloom tomatoes still dotted the landscape. In my excitement, I’ve been greedy.
With shortened days and less intense light, November fruit in mid-country latitudes tend to be starchier and potentially mealier than the juicy July tomatoes. They can also have a sour, almost fermented taste. And of course they look pretty beat up. All you have to do is coddle them a bit. Literally. Continue reading →