This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Six

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It’s easy enough to despise Chocolate Cheerios, but they point the way to an understanding that organic food can hardly be considered blameless when it comes to the relentless drive of Big Food to addict or at least hibituate children to eating what amounts to dessert for breakfast.

A few days after we posted a picture of the looming display of Chocolate Cheerios, I happened to be staying in a house where someone bought a package of Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Granola. After one glance at the Granola label, I decided to go on both companies’ websites and do a little nutritional comparison. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Solstice Greetings

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By Clotilde Hryshko   

In the 1991 movie Raise the Red Lantern, the character played by Gong Li was wife #4 to a lord of a powerful family in 1920’s China.  The wives all ate together and they knew each other’s status partially based on the food served.  Gong Li’s character always desired spinach and tofu.  The movie stuck and replayed in my head for many reasons but her continual requests for this dish became my fixation.   

Many years later at the end of a rainy June market we had lots of spinach left.  I wasn’t in the mood to freeze it and took the opportunity to finally come up with my version of “spinach and tofu”.  I crumbled tofu with scallions in a skillet and cooked them until the water had evaporated.  The spinach I steamed in batches and when cool squeezed out any excess water.  I added the chopped spinach to the tofu, salting to taste.  From there I used this as my filling for egg rolls.  It became one of my favorite dinners to make for Father’s Day.  I take no credit for how well the tofu and spinach work together.  Nor is there any claim to authenticity.  I serve the egg rolls with a sesame-chili paste, sometimes adding peanuts.  Continue reading

Posted in Farming, Produce

Sunday Supper: Radish Salsa

Recently on Kitchen Daily I wrote about the cucumber and its many uses; from pickles to salads and salsas–all of which in the heat of the summer are a welcome change from turning the oven on. If you’re looking for something a bit unusual this weekend, this radish salsa is one of my favorites–and yes, it includes cucumber.  

Radish Salsa

Makes: About 2 cups

Time: 30 minutes

Radishes are a classic salsa ingredient in Mexico, and the technique—mixing a vegetable (or fruit) with onion, an acid, chiles, and fresh herbs—is downright common. 

2 cups chopped radishes, like daikon, red, or a combination (about 1 pound)

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh chile (like jalapeño or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lemon, or salt as needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.

 
Posted in Produce

Wonderberry Jam, Take One

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by Cathy Erway 

[Cathy writes about Wonderberry Jam and much more on her new blog Lunch at Sixpoint. -mb]

One of the cool things about gardening is that you get to grow things that you didn’t even know existed. Browsing the catalog at Baker’s Creek, Seeds of Change or Seed Saver’s Exchange, some of my favorite sites to find crazy heirloom seeds, is like opening the door to a third dimension of food, where cantaloupes come in fifteen distinct shapes and flavors, and eggplant can be ghost-white, green, golden or red. Or rather, welcome to agriculture, pre-monoculture, again. Eight-ball zucchini, anyone? 

I still don’t know of anyone else who’s heard of wonderberries. They seem to have slipped through the cracks of popular food culture, and that was what probably compelled my boyfriend, Shane, to order seeds for the plant. From the start, it was one of the most prolific growers, beating its neighboring brassicas and lettuces in its race to regenerate. Branches and leaves multiplied. Flowers blossomed and withered in early spring. Now, we’re looking at three great bushes that seem to want to crawl out of their keg-containers and blanket the rooftop with berries. Maybe that’s why they were regarded with “wonder.” 

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Posted in American, Produce

Spontaneous Stock with a Strong Scent

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By Kerri Conan

Last weekend I got one of those gee-I-wonder-what-will-happen-if flashes. I was standing at the sink, snipping the tough ends from the bottoms of just-picked garlic scapes, the lily-like flowers that sprout up from hard-neck garlic as the plants start to form bulbs underground; there should be some in farmers markets for at least the next week or two.)

Anyway, the pile of these extremely fragrant green sticks is growing, and they’re weeping a little garlicky nectar from the cut ends—sort of like tears—and now I’m thinking surely there’s a way to save my precious darlings who never hurt anyone from the compost heap. Or at least delay their demise.

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Posted in Produce

From Inventory to Dinner: Scallops and Peas

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by Edward Schneider

In another place, Mark recently wrote about the genesis of a dish. In some of my stories here and elsewhere, I try to describe this too, though not explicitly, and when Jackie and I are together in the kitchen I’ve been doing my best to tell her what goes through my mind as dinner is prepared. Her contribution turns our meals into real collaborations – and it palpably improves them. 

Mark describes opening the refrigerator, pondering its contents and starting to cook. For me, a dish starts to come together – for good or for ill – before that, on my six-minute walk home from the office. I may not know exactly what the fridge and the pantry hold, but I have some idea of the staples and the more recent accessions – and of the scraps and leftovers that should be eaten before they need to be cast aside. 

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Posted in American, Seafood

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

Something to Squawk About

During the winter here in Vermont, my 12 laying hens seem content enough residing in a retrofitted horse stable. But when I open the henhouse door for the first time in the spring, feathers literally fly as the birds stampede to get outside. In celebration of their newfound liberty, they flap, run, peck, and scratch—in short, behave like chickens.

Which is why I’m always skeptical when a factory farm claims that hens are perfectly happy spending their entire lives crammed into barns with tens of thousands of other chickens in stacked battery cages each not much bigger than the average computer screen. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) apparently agrees. Last week, the organization filed a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to stop Rose Acre Farms, the country’s second largest egg producer, from making “false and misleading animal welfare claims.” Continue reading

Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Holy Mackerel

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by Casson Trenor

Your browser may not support display of this image.Mackerel is a fantastic fish. Not only is it healthy and nutritious, but it reproduces quickly, breeds in large numbers, and often benefits from effective and precautionary management. In fact, saba has been a sushi staple of mine for years, and I encourage you to give it a shot in the place of other more sustainably troubling sushi items (like unagi or hamachi, for instance) next time you visit a sushi bar.

That being said, some troubling news from the Atlantic has forced me to revisit my standard double-fisted endorsement.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Five

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By Suzanne Lenzer

In this era of public cynicism toward corporate America, it’s exciting to see a company, traditionally known for developing junk food delivery systems, trying to do some real good. Walking through the aisle of the local supermarket it’s hard not to notice these Hostess Twinkies: there’s a giant ogre on the package.
Admittedly, it’s “only” a co-marketing campaign to promote the new Shrek film, but still. These Twinkies aren’t like the traditional ones with that cloying white cream substance in the center–these appear to contain a cloying green cream substance instead. At last, a product aimed at encouraging kids to eat their greens!
 
How exciting it must have been to have to be a part of that product development meeting: “Hey, instead of just making sugar snacks that encourage childhood obesity and diabetes, let’s do some good, public service even. Let’s make the same #$!% but in green! We’ll be helping kids get over their fear of green food–parents will love it.”
Sure, some will say the executives at Hostess really just needed a way to help sell movie tickets–and Twinkies–but come on, that’s just so cynical.
Posted in Food Politics