Senate Passes Child Nutrition Bill: Now What?

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by Jill Richardson

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, a bill that would do just about everything to improve the school lunch program – except fund it. This is no small exception, considering that a tiny percentage of schools are currently able to follow the USDA’s nutrition regulations. How will they be able to comply with improved regulations with only six additional cents per lunch? And, although it passed in the Senate, the bill may still die on the House floor because some in Congress think even six cents is too much.

The school lunch debate has devolved entirely into a fight over the budget, and a rather disingenuous one at that. If members of Congress truly need to cut the budget somewhere in order to adequately fund healthy school lunches, they need not look further than the Pentagon. Representatives and Senators so love to fund weapons programs that provide jobs in their districts that they continue purchasing fighter jets even after the Pentagon begs them not to. (For example, the C-17, the F-35 engine, and the F-22.)

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Posted in Food Politics

Dueling Pigs

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by Edward Schneider

Jackie and I started buying pork from Flying Pigs Farm at the Union Square farmers’ market years ago, but we keep ordering pig meat in restaurants that claim that theirs is somehow special. And we keep being disappointed: other pork rarely has as much flavor as Jen and Mike’s – Jen Small and Mike Yezzi being the farmers. Rarely, but not never: We were impressed a while ago with a Mangalitsa loin (see Mark’s account of a similar roast) and thought it might be fun to cook one of those simultaneously with Jen and Mike’s and see which was more popular among our guests. 

Well, the distributor was fresh out of Mangalitsa, but had just received something that sounded interesting: small (one-and-a-third-pound) roasts cut from the shoulder of Ibérico pigs, the black ones that are known mainly for the exquisite hams their legs get turned into. I ordered two, one of them destined for the freezer.  

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Posted in American

Vitamin Water Lawsuit

Here are two reports, one from John Robbins and the other from Michele Simon, on CSPI’s (Center for Science in the Public Interest) lawsuit against Coke, specifically their Vitamin Water. According to John Robbins, Coke is defending itself by claiming that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” Gotta love that. -mb

Posted in Food Politics

Cuke = Hot Dog Bun? Why Not?

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by Cathy Erway 

Perhaps it’s a maternal instinct of tucking things in, but I’m a fan of stuffing food inside other food. So when I signed up for the Great Hot Dog Cookoff for the third time this year, all I could think of was: what’s going to be the bun? 

Previous exploits in this cookoff, a benefit for City Harvest, had led me to roll up tofu dogs inside nori with sushi rice, bake a hot dog inside a flaky pastry with brie and raspberry jam, and steam Asian buns to put hoisin-slathered hot dogs inside. What was going to be the vessel for the almighty (and, in my opinion, otherwise boring) American barbecue food this year?  

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Posted in Produce

Senate Passes Child Nutrition Bill, Cuts Funding For Food Stamps

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by Paula Crossfield

In a surprise move last week before heading out for five weeks of recess, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act with unanimous consent, which means all 100 senators agreed to pass the bill without an individual vote. The bill allots an additional $4.5 billion dollars over ten years to fund federal child nutrition programs including school lunch.

First Lady Michelle Obama supported the bill as part of her Let’s Move campaign to fight childhood obesity, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post last week,”This groundbreaking legislation will bring fundamental change to schools and improve the food options available to our children.”

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Posted in Food Politics

Sunday Supper: Gazpacho

For another steamy Sunday, here’s one of the best cold dishes in the world (and it’s barely any work to make). Adapted from How To Cook Everything.
 
Gazpacho, Fast and Simple
 
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 20 minutes
 
No one can definitively say what “gazpacho” is—you see it with grapes, with almonds, even with melon— and you can indeed make delicious gazpacho with all those things. This basic recipe is what you probably expect when you hear the word gazpacho, but with this formula you can replace the tomatoes and cucumber with fruits of similar texture and change the soup in infinite ways.
 
2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped, or one
28-ounce can (include the juices)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded if you like, and chopped
2 or 3 slices bread, a day or two old, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
1 /4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bread, oil, vinegar, and garlic with 1 cup water in a blender; process until smooth. If the gazpacho seems too thick, thin with additional water.
 
2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately (or refrigerate and serve within a couple of hours), garnished with a drizzle of olive oil.

Posted in Recipes

Shiso Fine

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by Kerri Conan 

There are a lot of things we could do with the purple shiso in our herb garden. My husband Sean and I have tried several: like marinate the leaves whole in a sesame-soy concoction, shred a few into salads and stir-fries, and scrunch several into a jar of carrot pickles. Other ideas we have yet to explore: shiso pesto, tempura, or tea. 

But we usually enjoy these sturdy leaves plain, to transport food from plate to mouth, as if you were eating with castanets. (Is this how shiso is often used in Japan? I’ve never been, but whenever the leaves are used to garnish my sushi, it never goes to waste.) 

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Posted in Farming, Produce

Technical Difficulties

As you may know, markbittman.com was down for the last day or so due to some technical difficulties beyond our control. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience!

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Some Answers

Readers’ comments to my “waiter there’s plastic in my soup” piece, were varied and interesting. (I wonder if most people are quite as bold and polite as they say they are. After the fact, everything is easy.) 

My feelings remain mixed. But a) I did tell the server immediately, and I didn’t think it was my responsibility to then go tell the manager; b) I was the guest of someone else, who didn’t care about the charge, so arguing about that seemed far more trouble than it was worth (and anyway, the right thing for the restaurant to do was to comp the meal, for anyone); c) no, I won’t go there again; and d) yes, I’ve told my friends the name of the place.  

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Posted in Behind The Scenes