Can Big Food Regulate Itself? Fat Chance

Life would be so much easier if we could only set our own guidelines. You could define the average weight as 10 pounds higher than your own and, voilà, no more obesity! You could raise the speed limit to 90 miles per hour and never worry about a ticket. You could call a cholesterol level of 250 “normal” and celebrate with a bag of fried pork rinds. (You could even claim that cutting government spending would increase employment, but that might be going too far.) You could certainly turn junk food into something “healthy.”

That’s what the food industry is doing.

(Read the rest of this article here.)

Posted in Food Politics

Frozen Chocolate Bananas


By Freya Bellin

In light of the recent heat wave in New York, I’ve been avoiding the oven at all costs. Instead, I’ve found an excellent way to cool down: frozen chocolate covered bananas. Frozen banana becomes very creamy, just like ice cream, and the bittersweet chocolate mixture is a perfect complement. Add the texture of chopped nuts, and you have a well-balanced, simple dessert.

When preparing the banana skewers for this recipe, make sure the bananas are frozen completely before you try to dip them in chocolate. Once frozen, they are dense enough to remain on the stick in one piece, but until they’re totally solid they fall apart when picked up. In order to thoroughly coat the banana with chocolate (which, believe me, you’ll want to do), you may need to spoon the chocolate onto the banana, rather than dipping. And you can get creative with the add-ons. As mentioned below, coconut, crushed cookies, or any nut make great toppings. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Stir-Fried Tofu with Scallions


Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

The most basic stir-fry you can make and one you can build on indefinitely. Master this and you master the world, at least the world of stir-frying tofu, which is not insignificant.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

1 1/2 to 2 pounds firm to extra-firm tofu, blotted dry

3 tablespoons peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger (optional)

2 dried chiles (optional)

1 or 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths, white and green parts separated (about 2 cups total)

1/3 cup vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch or slightly larger cubes. Put the oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, over high heat. When hot, add the garlic and the ginger and chiles if you’re using them and cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add the tofu and the white parts of the scallions; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu begins to brown, a couple of minutes. Add the stock and cook, stirring, until about half of it evaporates; add the green parts of the scallions and stir for about 30 seconds.

2. Add the soy sauce, stir, taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish if you like, and serve.


Posted in Recipes, Vegan

DIY Clambake


A clambake is one of those absurdly demanding culinary tasks that can still be performed by normal people — that is, nonchefs. And your first clambake can go well: the hardest part is finding the right beach, preferably one with an abundance of seaweed, big rocks and dry wood. It’s still not an intuitive process; at my first clambake, I wound up scraped, burned and sore, and the food I produced was undercooked and sandy. Part of this was drinking too much, too early, and part of it was that I was making it up as I went along.

I’ve worked through all of that. And if you follow my “recipe” (which includes phrases I don’t often employ, like “find about 30 rocks, each 6 by 4 inches”), you should have a memorable experience. Few meals are more beautiful than a well-executed clambake. And because demanding culinary tasks are in vogue, at least for a certain hard-working segment of the sustainable-food set, it seems like the right moment for a clambake revival.

(Read the rest of this article here)

Posted in American, Seafood

Irradiation and the ‘Ick Factor’


After the E. coli outbreak in Europe last month — which sickened more than 3000 people and killed at least 50 — it was impossible not to think about irradiation. “What if,” I asked myself, “those little fenugreek seeds had been irradiated?” Might there have been fewer deaths, fewer cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (essentially, kidney failure; there were 900), fewer tragic stories?

The answer is “yes.” But it’s not the only question.

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Posted in Food Politics

Honey-Melon Soup


By Freya Bellin

This chilled soup is almost more of an herby fruit juice, incredibly refreshing and simple to make. And gets along well with booze! The lemon and herb (I used rosemary), add a savory element to the dessert, cutting down the sweetness a bit. You may consider making extra syrup in step 1, as it lasts a little while and would be a great addition to homemade iced tea. I skipped the straining step because I liked the texture of the pureed melon—a little bit like a slushie—but taste as you go and decide for yourself. Eat with spoons or straws. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Pearl Couscous Pilaf


Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Pearl couscous is so forgiving: It won’t turn to mush with too much liquid, it can be served hot or at room temperature, it reheats well, and it’s delicious in a number of different guises. Highly recommended. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 cup pearl couscous

4 sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in warm water as you would mushrooms, and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives

11/4 cups vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh basil, mint, or oregano leaves for garnish

1. Put the oil in a pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pearl couscous and cook until the couscous is lightly browned and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and olives and cook for another 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the stock, sprinkle with a bit of salt (remember the olives will add salt) and a good amount of pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente, about 10 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped herbs, and serve hot or room temperature. Or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (reheat or bring back to room temperature and stir in a little olive oil just before serving).


Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

A Better Sort of Pig


In May, I went to Iowa, primarily to learn more about so-called conventional agriculture, those thousand-acre farms growing corn and soybeans, planted, tended and harvested largely by machine. (We have plenty of the other type — what’s variously called traditional, or alternative, or non-conventional — in the Northeast.) But thanks to an auspicious combination of topsoil, climate, topography and weather, Iowa is among the best locales for farming in North America, and I saw a wide range of practices.

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(Photo Credit: Quentin Origami via Flickr)

Posted in Farming, Travel

Wheat Berries with Zucchini and Mozz


By Freya Bellin

If you’re in search of a great picnic dish, look no further. This recipe is summery and herby, while still hearty enough to fill you up. Wheat berries are an unusual grain: dense, chewy, and very nutty. That texture is a great vehicle for pillowy broiled zucchini and rich, creamy pine nuts. Mozzarella adds a nice saltiness (I recommend fresh) and pairs surprisingly well with dill. Just keep in mind that wheat berries can take almost 2 hours to cook, so plan ahead or substitute in another grain in a pinch. This salad tastes great at room temperature—partly what makes it an excellent picnic candidate—but the flavors get a little muddled over time. Just add some fresh dill and cheese to brighten up the dish before serving. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes