By Cathy Erway
A little over a year ago I stood amidst a swarm of chickens at Queens County Farm Museum. They were attracted to my brass boot buckles, so I was told, and I was frankly a little frightened by them. Until then, the only time I had encountered chickens that closely they’d been on my plate. As they pecked relentlessly at my feet, a bobbing whirlpool of auburn, those Rhode Island Reds taught me my first lesson about the social science of chickens: the flashiest are often at the bottom of the pecking order.
This year, on Mother’s Day, I became a part-time mom to a small flock of heritage breed hens. There are four in total, and they were raised at a farm in upstate New York from chicks to the roughly one and one-and-a-half-year-olds they are now. One lays pastel blue-green eggs, one has iridescent black plumage. The flashiest one, a Silver Spangled hen named Yoko, seems to have found herself at the bottom of the pecking order, the poor dear. But there’s plenty more drama to play out, which I just can’t wait to see. Continue reading
By Casson Trenor
I was recently interviewed by a CNN team who wanted to know about sustainability in the sushi industry. This video clip is me explaining what I call the “4-S rule” – a simple if somewhat crude guide to eating in a more sustainable fashion at the sushi bar (oh, and a small correction to CNN’s byline – I am a co-founder of Tataki Sushi Bar, but I don’t actually own the restaurant.)
Basically, there are four adjectives, each starting with the letter S, that form the eponymous rule. If you bear these descriptors in mind while you order, you can markedly diminish your environmental footprint at that meal. It’s not a perfect system – there are exceptions to each of the four “S” words – but by and large, it will help you eat sushi more sustainably. Continue reading
By Pam Anderson
[Pam discusses reasons for living. See more of her musings – and her daughters’ – at ThreeManyCooks. – mb]
Emails with video links and “You HAVE to see this” usually trigger my delete key. So I’m not sure what made me click and watch Dan Buettner’s presentation based on his book, Blue Zones. (It’s twenty minutes long—eternity in web-time! But I was captured.)
Blue Zones refers to unusual spots on the globe where people tend to live a long, long time. And Buettner and his team of social scientists set out to discover why. What do they have in common? He features one in Sardinia, Italy, another Seventh Day Adventist group in Southern California, but it was the zone in Okinawa, Japan that caught myattention. Continue reading
By Edward Schneider
OK, it’s two days later. Time for more leftover boiled brisket, this time in the form of miroton. Like ropa vieja, miroton contains onions and takes advantage of both the meat and the broth it generated when it was simmered. Other than that, they could hardly be less alike.
Ropa vieja uses shredded meat, one of whose virtues is that it’s slightly chewy. For miroton (etymology unclear, by the way), you slice the meat thin across the grain, as though you were going to make a sandwich; one of its virtues is that it is very tender. In ropa vieja there are several vegetables; none predominate. Onions are (almost) the main ingredient in miroton; one could probably make a plausible version without the meat, not that I’d want to try. While ropa vieja doesn’t need an acidic element (a dash of something sour doesn’t hurt, though), miroton requires vinegar, enough to make you cough as you add it to the onions.
By Julie Sahni
[I’ve been an admirer of Julie Sahni since I first began cooking from her essential Classic Indian Cooking in the 80s, and I’m happy to say we’ve become friends. Ms. Sahni is the chef/owner of Julie Sahni’s Indian Cooking in New York City, and an award winning author of 10 cookbooks (Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking is also a must-have). She’ll be writing about Indian cooking periodically for mb.com – how great is that? – mb]
I love to visit Indian grocery stores in Queens, not just for spices, legumes and chutneys but for Indian vegetables. Mounds after mounds of tiny okra-like tindola squash, long and windy snake gourd chichinda, crocodile-textured karela, tiny eggplants, guar beans, and Indian kakri cucumbers are dumped on racks, bins, and baskets, not oiled and stacked like LEGOs.
My mother taught me very early on that okra’s tenderness can be gauged by simply running fingers, ever so gently, on its body. Silky smooth texture with rounded edges suggests perfect okra while hairy skins with tough ridges not so. And, the secret of freshness lies at its tip. A quick, neat break means the okra is fresh while a soft and rubbery generally points to staleness. Continue reading
We’re giving away another batch of apps today. Here’s the deal: Post a comment telling us how technology has changed the way you cook–or not. We’ll read through them and pick the five that speak to us. Then we’ll post them for all to see, ask you to send your email address to us, and get you your personal copy of How To Cook Everything–the super-comprehensive, searchable, amazing iPhone version. Only comments posted before midnight May 12th will be eligible.
By Paula Crossfield
[I’m envious of Paula’s rooftop garden, which has everything described here and an amazing view. Paula is a founder of Civil Eats. – mb]
I made a decision in early April that has improved my quality of life immensely: I broadcasted hundreds of lettuce seeds throughout two, 2 ft. x 6 ft. raised beds on my rooftop.
One bed was seeded with “European Mesclun Mix,” from the Baker Creek Seed Bank in Petaluma, California (a gift from my lovely fellow editor at Civil Eats, Naomi Starkman). The second bed was filled with “Ultimate Salad Bowl,” from my other favorite seed place, the Hudson Valley Seed Library. For four weeks, the sun, soil and water have worked their magic. Now, I have delicious red and green curly lettuces, baby kale, radicchio, endive, mizuna, mustard greens, mache and orach (a relative of spinach). And arugula! Continue reading
By Laura Virginia Anderson
Last week, my friend Priya hosted a dinner party and made an amazing mango mousse. She improvised it using heavy cream, canned mango pulp she had bought at an Indian grocery, sugar, fruit pectin, and lime juice. The result was incredible: the texture of a stovetop pudding married to the flavor of a mango lassi.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so when the weekend arrived, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have any mango pulp or fruit pectin, but, in a blaze of overconfidence, I felt sure that I could achieve similar results using a couple of ripe mangos and a traditional mousse technique. I peeled the mangos and cut them into chunks, then I puréed them in a blender with four egg yolks, a little sugar, and some lime zest. Meanwhile, I beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, lime juice, and a little more sugar—so far, so good. Continue reading
I think it’s worth reading this summary in Environmental Health News of the Korean study that showed a decline in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals and antibiotics after just five days on a “vegetarian” diet. (I first saw this in a piece by Tom Laskawy, over at Grist. And here is an earlier study with similar results.)
The quotes around vegetarian are necessary because the study doesn’t specify what that means; rather, it says participants lived in a Buddhist temple and “adopted to the monk’s lifestyle.” Which could well mean a vegan diet. (Or even one free of root vegetables, since some Buddhists eschew those, because they kill the plant. But let’s not discuss this.)
By Edward Schneider
One of the best reasons to cook a big piece of meat is the leftovers, whether they be flesh or bones, and all the things you can do with them. Hence, one of the best reasons to boil a piece of beef is the subsequent ropa vieja: Cuban-inspired shredded meat with vegetables in a tomatoey sauce. And the subsequent miroton: onions in vinegary sauce layered with thinly sliced beef, topped with breadcrumbs and baked till brown and crisp.
As a kid I hated boiled beef (and boiled chicken too), but I have come round to it in a big way, thanks perhaps to exposure to bollito misto in Italy, though it could just be part of growing up, or at any rate growing older. (By the way, did anyone out there actually like boiled meat, other than corned beef, as a child? Italians needn’t answer: of course you liked boiled meat.) Continue reading