Kids Radically Changing the Food System

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by Paula Crossfield 

On a recent Sunday afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, over a hundred people gathered at the 6000-square foot Eagle Street Rooftop Farm to talk about the farm’s newest addition: six laying hens.

The farmer, Annie Novak, put together a panel that included Bronx gardener Karen Washington, Owen Taylor from Just Food, and a thirteen year-old chicken enthusiast from Massachusetts named Orren Fox, who has twenty-seven hens and four ducks in Newburyport, 35 miles north of Boston. Last year, he started O’s Eggs, which sells eggs for $5 a dozen. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Fondant Fennel

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by Edward Schneider

A while ago, elsewhere, I wrote about fondant potatoes: cooked slowly in clarified butter so that they become golden-crisp on the outside and creamy inside. Just recently, I was staring at a bulb of fennel, trying to decide whether to slice it thin and serve it raw or to quarter it and braise it. 

Another element of the same meal was to be potatoes of some sort, and it occurred to me that by using the fondant technique I might cook both in the same way, and indeed in the same pan. So I did, quartering the fennel and cooking it cut sides down, for just as long as the potatoes – more than an hour. See the linked post for instructions. 

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Posted in American

Bamboo Fire

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The reason we ate at the unnamed restaurant the other night – the one I kind of trashed here - was because Delray’s Bamboo Fire was closed.

Turns out the funky, kind of charming, mom-and-pop is really mom-and-pop, and mom – Beverly – and pop – Don – both have full time jobs, and both have long commutes. They’re doing this restaurant as best they can, which means it’s only open Wednesday through Saturday. This takes dedication, love, and perhaps hope.

It shows. As this chowhound thread indicates, it has something of a local cult following. And although I’m far from an expert, in fifty years of visiting elderly people in south Florida, Bamboo Fire is the only place I have eaten outside of Miami that I could heartily recommend. If you measure worthiness in travel-time (as in, if money were no object you might fly to El Bulli for a meal, but you might not drive more than a quarter of a mile out of your way for a McDonald’s), I would rate Bamboo Fire at about an hour – and indeed, people are heading up here from Miami, and they don’t seem to think they wasted their time.

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Posted in American, Travel

Disaster Dal

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by Laura V. Anderson

Some days, dinner does not go as planned. I’ve been working some late nights lately, and I wanted to throw together a fast, easy dinner that didn’t require a trip to the grocery store. Since I already had red lentils and spices in my pantry, dal was the obvious solution. I also had a bag of red potatoes lying around, so I decided to add a few to my lentil stew for heft. 

Tired, hungry, and harried, I peeled and chopped fresh ginger and garlic, and I cubed my potatoes. I transferred these to a soup pot as I rustled around for the other ingredients I needed. My kitchen is small—the two square feet or so of counter space it offers are perennially taken up by a dish rack and an electric kettle. There wasn’t really enough room for the soup pot on the counter, but I managed to balance it pretty well on the edge—or so I thought. Five seconds later, as I reached into my cabinet for coriander seeds, I heard a bang and looked over to see cubes of potato and flecks of garlic and ginger bouncing across my studio apartment.
 
Posted in Indian

Getting to the Root of the Matter

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By Edward Schneider

Saturday’s quick scoot through the Union Square Greenmarket – Jackie and I were in haste to beat the afternoon thunderstorms that never came – yielded a pint of half-and-half and three bunches: tiny turnips, elongated white radishes and the skinniest little red scallions you can imagine. It was tempting to shred or paper-thin-slice the turnips and radishes (closely related botanically, incidentally) and make them into some kind of salad, but I’d faced down a salad the night before and was still unsettled by the encounter. 

So I cut the scallions into one-and-a-half-inch lengths, stir fried them in peanut oil (I’d have used ginger too if I hadn’t made it all into lemon-ginger syrup the day before) and turned them into fried rice, adding a couple of scrambled eggs seasoned with salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Great rice: there’s nothing like salty, slightly caramelized members of the onion family in fried rice.  Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Bitty’s Book Review: Is Meat for Pussies?

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[I stopped writing book reviews ten years ago, when I angered Marion Cunningham, who I believed to be a flawed goddess who wrote a very flawed book; it’s hard to be honest without angering people. And there’s another intrinsic problem: about half my friends write books, so it’s sometimes tough to be objective. Still; there’s no better way for me to understand the world of food books than to write about it, and I’m starting here. [Why with this book is a good question, but the answer is simply that I found it intriguing.] – mb)

I came to Meat Is for Pussies (John Joseph, Crush Books, $19.50) prejudiced in its favor. I think we eat too much meat; I like in-your-face writing; I think Big Food has too much power; I think our diet needs to change.

Yet do we need a “how-to guide for dudes who want to get fit, kick ass and take names”? What does “take names mean, anyway?” What about chicks, or whatever you call the counterpart of dudes?

Clearly, I’m not the target audience: I’m way too old, I’m not from Brooklyn, and I don’t really know who John Joseph is. But the science here is non-existent, there’s little or no consistency, and it reads like a not-very-well-grounded 200 page rant. Much of it is a well-deserved diatribe against processed foods (in fact there is a section advocating a mostly raw diet), yet there’s a recipe that calls for WestSoy Seitan (brand names abound, by the way), San-J Sweet & Tangy Sauce, Daiya Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese, and Tofutti Sour Supreme. Who is going to be convinced to change their diet by that? And has Joseph ever read the label of Earth Balance butter substitute, Ener-G Egg Replacer, or Gardein Chick-n Strips, all of which he recommends? How does he define “processed,” one wonders? Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Sunday Supper: Grilled Beef Salad with Mint

Starting this month I have a new column in Parents magazine – called Simple Suppers. The idea is to give really fast recipes to help busy families (or anyone really) get good, healthy meals on the table quickly; check it out here. Or you can start with this old favorite of mine–Grilled Beef Salad with Mint–from How to Cook Everything.

Grilled Beef Salad with Mint

Makes 3 to 4 servings

Time: 25 minutes

A simple, bright, and light salad with tons of flavor. One of the best possible lunch dishes. Other protein you can use: chicken, pork, shrimp.

12 ounces beef tenderloin or sirloin

4 cups torn Boston or romaine lettuce leaves, mesclun, or any salad greens mixture

1 cup torn fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary (see page XXX) and diced

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce) or soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1/2  teaspoon sugar

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or a broiler to medium-high; the rack should be about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill or broil the beef until medium-rare, about 5 to 10 minutes; set it aside to cool.

2. Toss the lettuce with the mint, onion, and cucumber. Combine all remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon of water—the mixture will be thin—and toss the greens with this dressing. Transfer the greens to a platter, reserving the dressing.

3. Thinly slice the beef, reserving its juice; combine the juice with the remaining dressing. Lay the slices of beef over the salad, drizzle the dressing over all, and serve.

Posted in American, Recipes

For Perfect Peas: Shock and Thaw

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By Kerri Conan 

Pardon the circular logic, but peas are perfected by cooking perfectly. Of course you can eat them raw, but why would you? Their flavor, color, texture, and digestibility are all improved by heating. Either that, or ruined by it. 

Over the decade that my husband Sean and I have been growing—and cooking—peas in our Kansas garden, we’ve tried at least a dozen different ways to perfect them for both immediate and future eating. Our experiments with assorted varieties of snow and snap peas have resulted in clunkers and epiphanies. I’ll spare you the suspense and spill the hardly surprising technique that works best: shocking. 

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Posted in Produce

A Dangerous Disappearing Act

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by Daniel Meyer

Every Friday I sell pork in the Union Square greenmarket (Manhattan) for Flying Pigs Farm. Flying Pigs, as I have come to learn over the past two years, is an extraordinary farm. Their meat, pasture raised, rare heritage breed pigs, seems second to none, but strangely enough, the pork isn’t nearly the best thing that comes out of their farm. The owners of Flying Pigs, Mike Yezzi and Jen Small, are working tirelessly to prevent the loss of productive farmland to development in their native Washington County, in the whole of New York State, and beyond. The American Farmland Trust, Jen’s employer, notes that a farm is lost to development in New York every three days. Mike and Jen know how urgent their project is, and they are dead set on getting others to realize the same.

To that end they began holding “Farm Camp” up at their farm in Shushan, NY last fall. Farm Camp was a chance, explains its website, to “expose the NYC food professional to a broad range of agriculture issues that affect not just how and what we eat but also the future of our food system and rural landscape.”  The four two-day sessions were incredibly successful according to campers and organizers alike, so much so that they quickly sought to secure funding for another session in the spring. The fifth installment of Farm Camp concluded on Monday; this time I was fortunate enough to attend.

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Posted in Farming, Food Politics