Scraped, not Peeled

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By Edward Schneider  

I used to take the Elizabeth David-era recipe instruction “Scrape your carrots” as a quaintness dating from before the invention of the vegetable peeler. 

Then, a decade or so ago, I was introduced to the tiny, flavorful early carrots sold by Manhattan farmers’ market vendors such as Paffenroth Vegetable Gardens, of Orange County, New York (not for a moment to be confounded with the fraudulent “baby carrots” carved out of superannuated storage roots and sold in supermarkets). Taking a peeler to these would leave you with a matchstick, albeit a delicious one. So Jackie and I – mainly Jackie, who is more patient with these painstaking tasks – have adopted the old practice of using a paring knife to scrape off the root hairs and a bit of the outer surface, at least for these early summer treats.  

We had dinner guests the other night and served them such carrots, meticulously processed by Jackie, and you know what? They noticed.

Posted in Produce

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

Big Ag’s Big Pal in the Oval Office

Even as a journalist following food and politics, I have trouble keeping up with the revolving door between the Obama administration and the corner offices of huge agrichemical and GMO seed producers like Monsanto and DuPont. The latest announcement to catch me by surprise is that Romona Romero, a DuPont corporate lawyer, has just been nominated by the president to the post of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

So it was great to receive this handy roster from the Organic Consumers Association last week. The list could grow, but here’s the current lineup of Team Big Ag:

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Posted in Food Politics

Spicing Up Butter––With Herbs

By Cathy Erway

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Before we get into the how, let’s talk about why you should make herbed butter. Herbs grow, a lot. It seems a shame not to enjoy their zingy, full flavors while they’re at their prime these hot months. Yes, you can dry out the leaves and use them all year, but this usually weakens or at least alters their flavor.

And I’m not saying don’t make tub after tub of pesto, but maybe your freezer is full of those already. You could even make a tincture, or try your hand at homemade perfume. But if you like to make bread, or serve it at dinner, then it’s fun to have a host of flavored butters on hand. And chopping up herbs, storing them in fat — butter — preserves their flavor, even stretches it, as it’ll permeate the whole glob. Continue reading

Posted in Farming

When Life Gives You Limes: The Limeade Primer

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By Mike Hawley 

[Mike is one of these guys who does most everything right. Limeade, too. - mb]  

When I’m sweating my way through the tropics (my haunts are Cambodia and all over south and central Asia), my drink of choice is lime soda, with lots of fresh squeezed lime juice. I usually don’t take sugar or syrup with it because limes are sweet enough over there, though they’re still tart. Interestingly, a pinch of salt when it’s stinking hot, or when the limes are really acidic, can help.  

Back home, up here in the frigid North (i.e., Boston, where it was simmering near 100F last week) I love limeade. Or Margeritas. Or gin and tonic with a huge amount of lime juice. But most especially, I love limeade. I like lemons, too, and what follows also applies when life gives you lemons.   Continue reading

Posted in Cocktails, Travel, Uncategorized

Pie on the Fly

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by Barbra Walton

(Barbra cleverly improvises a fix during a crisis – a baking crisis no less. – mb)

I hate it when I screw up a dish. So when I moved the flour and found the unopened package of tapioca behind it, I said all my favorite swear words and pulled my freshly-made cherry pie out of the oven and plopped it on the counter. This pie already had a long history; I bought the sour cherries at the farmer’s market Saturday morning, but by the time I pitted them and made the crust, the temperature had hit 95 degrees and we don’t have air-conditioning. Running the oven would have made the house uninhabitable. Everything went into the fridge until a milder day.

Monday morning was cool. Shortly after my first cup of coffee, I decided to get the pie in the oven before the day heated up, and that was my first mistake: never do anything requiring skill or precision before two full cups of coffee. I wanted to make a lattice-top, which I’d never done before, and took my time getting it perfect. I congratulated myself as I put it in the oven, at least until I found the tapioca. Continue reading

Posted in American, Baking

Sunday Supper: Fast Avocado Soup

It’s the weekend after the 4th, it’s hot, and you’re still stuffed with meat. Check out this unbelievably refreshing (and quick) avocado soup from How to Cook Everything. There’s no cooking required, but if you have any leftover cooked shrimp or crab lying around, definitely try the variation.

Fast Avocado Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 10 minutes, plus time to chill

Creamy, with a gorgeous color, this soup couldn’t be simpler. If you like, dress it up with chopped cherry tomatoes, sliced scallion, chopped chervil or mint, or a dollop of crème fraîche (or any of those in combination). Or see the variation for some seafood additions.

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Posted in Mexican, Recipes

The Last Luncheon

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By Kerri Conan 

When house guests first arrive the kitchen is filled with promise. I’ve shopped, baked, and gardened. The over-stuffed pantry is mapped in my mind, and select jars of homemade canned treats have been moved to the fridge to chill along with the wine. 

These preparations—which undoubtedly include advance menu planning via email—are a lot more fun than changing the sheets and scrubbing the bathrooms. But their thrill is just as fleeting. Before you know it, the suitcases are lined up by the door and we’re all gathered around the table for the farewell meal.  Continue reading

Posted in American

What Are Your Five-Minute Fixes for Rice?

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It’s not a recipe, exactly, but it’s a revelation, or it was when my roommate Judy showed it to me 40 years ago (scary, but true; it was 1970). There was something daring, creative, wonderful about it.

What was it? Lemon rice. Lemon, black pepper, cooked rice. Fried rice with lemon and pepper. Whatever you want to call it, it’s hardly exciting now. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Beverage Notes: Moxie

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By John Thorne 

If you’re not doing anything else today, you might consider driving to Waldoboro, Maine, to help celebrate Moxie Day. The Moxiemobile will be there and other Moxie-intensive excitements, plus free samples of that beverage for everyone. Despite the fact that, before the Great Depression (I mean the earlier one), Moxie was America’s bestselling soft drink (okay, I don’t believe it either, but it does seem to be a fact), most people south of the Maine border have never heard of the drink, and the few who have, more than not, have refused to sample it again. Among them I count my doctor, who favors diet Dr Pepper, a drink which in any form should never have been allowed to cross the Mason-Dixon Line. (We already have it in New England; we call it cough syrup). When I suggested he might try diet Moxie, he reacted as though I had suggested he sip iced sewage.  

Moxie’s popularity in Maine is genuine. Checking online to confirm the Waldoboro event, I discovered that there are other Moxie Day celebrations in Maine this summer — in Lisbon Falls, Kennebunkport, and Union. I mention this only in passing, since my interest is in the beverage, not the “famous” Moxiemobile, Moxie memorabilia, or even Moxie ice cream. Even so, that these things actually exist gives me that comforting feeling you have when you discover you’re not alone.   Continue reading

Posted in American, Uncategorized