Given a Choice, Why Eat Antibiotics?


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.)  

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Posted in Vegan

Leftover Boiled Beef Day One: Ropa Vieja



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

Posted in Recipes

And the Winners Are…



When we challenged readers of to win a copy of Food Matters by telling us stories, I had no idea how varied, wonderful, and downright inspiring these stories would be. (You can read through them here if you like.)

Choosing three wasn’t easy, but these are my three favorites. (Winners: please email your snail mail address to and we’ll get them in the mail.)

Stay tuned. We’ll be giving away more How to Cook Everything i-phone apps and some copies of How to Cook Everything this week.   

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Posted in Events

Government’s Rightful Role in Nutrition

By Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D. 

[Kelly is the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, and a leading advocate for sensible nutrition. His influence is tremendous – though I wish it were even more so – and he is a major force behind the national push for the soda tax. (Which I wrote about here.) We’re hoping to coax him for updates on his work and his insights regularly. – mb] 

A profound and welcome change has swept the country. Once relegated to the backwaters of public policy, nutrition issues such as childhood obesity have exploded into the limelight and captured the attention of public officials who now realize something must be done. Though “treatment” remains popular, the prevailing public health view is that we must focus on prevention, and that officials must change the factors driving poor nutrition.  

The urge to act can be found at all levels of government, and there is support from surprising quarters. For example, a group called Mission: Readiness, run by senior retired military officials, recently announced that obesity and lack of physical fitness threatens national security because only 1 in 4 youth ages 17-24 meet minimum standards for military service. [Check out this frightening and ironically amusing PDF – mb.] 

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Posted in Food Politics

A Return to Sweeter Times


By Suzanne Lenzer

[Following up on her popular On Eating Alone, Suzanne suggests the opposite: inviting someone over, for an old-fashioned coffee cake. – mb]

Remember how in old television shows neighbors visited each other in the middle of the day for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake? Ethel and Lucy would hatch plans over coffee, and long before Samantha made Darrin his evening martini, Esmerelda would have been around for a cup of Sanka and a touch of bewitching mayhem.

Back then everyone seemed to have time to sit and talk over coffee and cake, with no one checking their blackberry in the midst of a chat. And in those days, an afternoon coffee wasn’t just a jolt of caffeine, but an excuse for a real break. The cake was a further reason to linger an extra half hour or so. Now it seems a nostalgic reminder of the days before Atkins, personal trainers, and Pilates. Continue reading

Posted in American, Baking

Blogs With Bite


[Mike is one of my oldest friends; we started hanging out together in, oh, 1966 or so, though we knew each other before that. Nowadays, he lives in DC, blogs at NotionsCapital, and will contribute frequently to, with a monthly Blogs with Bite (the most unusual food sites you’ll ever find) and more. – mb]

Blogs with Bite is an occasional omnivorous sampling of food blogs and sites we find particularly tasty. Follow the trail of bread crumbs back to earlier editions, starting here.

Here’s a fresh serving of Blogs with Bite:

Asian Dumpling Tips —  Few people know more about gyōza, wonton, lumpia, momo, bao, har gow, siu mai, and samosa than Andrea Nguyen, and none of them write as well.

McDonald’s History – “Travel through time using our Interactive Timeline! See the birth of McDonald’s, the launch of your favorite menu item, McDonald’s characters, or advertising jingles!” Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Pasta in brodo


I’ve written a little over at the Times about my recent illness and comfort food. 

But one thing I didn’t mention was what must be among the most soothing dishes ever: pasta in brodo.

There’s some history here. In case you were wondering, I’m not – at least to my knowledge – Italian. (My family tree looks like a 3-month old shrub, so no one really knows.) Yet when I was young, my mother made me pastina – which is essentially couscous without the cachet – when I was sick. Pastina and butter. God, I can taste it now. Continue reading

Posted in American, Italian

Politics of the Plate


By Barry Estabrook

[Barry’s weekly roundup of food news.]

Know Your Senator

Three prominent Republican United States senators sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently condemning the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, introduced last fall to help strengthen local food systems.

John McCain (R-AZ), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) wrote that they had “serious misgivings” about Know Your Farmer. They asserted that the program is aimed at “small and organic producers” whose customers generally consist of “affluent patrons of urban farmers markets.” Continue reading

Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Sunday Supper: Coq au Vin

[Simple: we’re going to post a solid Sunday recipe every weekend, in hopes of helping you plan a fine meal. Soon, there’ll be photos too, but for now, the basic, classic recipes will have to hold you. For another Sunday chicken option, check this out at Kitchen Daily. Happy eating! – mb]

Coq au Vin

Makes 4 servings

Time: About 40 minutes

[Adapted from How to Cook Everything]

The French standard, very home-style, dark, rich, and lovely. If you use a typical chicken, it’s actually a pretty quick recipe to prepare; traditionally, the bird would be old and tough (if you’ve come across such a bird, cook it this way, but for a while longer). Use a decent but not necessarily expensive red wine.

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1/4 pound good slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large onion, sliced

1/2 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut up, with legs cut in 2; or use any combination of parts

6 cloves garlic, peeled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

2 cups Burgundy (pinot noir) or other fruity red wine

2 bay leaves

Several sprigs of thyme

Several sprigs of parsley

2 tablespoons butter

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water to cover while you proceed with the recipe. Put the bacon in a large, deep skillet that can accommodate the chicken and later be covered; turn the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon gives up its fat and becomes brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the onions, button mushrooms, and chicken, skin-side down, and brown the chicken well, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary; the process will take about 10 minutes. About halfway through this period, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Pour or spoon off any excess fat and add the stock and the wine, along with the herbs. Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently but steadily, and cover. Cook about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through; the bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155dgF to 165dgF. (If you like, you can remove the breast pieces, which will finish cooking first, and keep them warm, while the leg pieces remain.) Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm.

3. Drain the porcini, add them, and turn the heat to high (if you like, strain the mushroom soaking liquid and add that, too). Boil until the mixture is reduced by about three-fourths and becomes fairly thick and saucy. Lower the heat, stir in the butter, and return the chicken to the pan, just to reheat a bit and coat with the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then garnish and serve.

Posted in Recipes

A Mixed Grill for Herbivores


By Kerri Conan

[Kerri launches the grilling season with creative treatments of a few different vegetables. Those of us who don’t live in her neighborhood are jealous. – mb]

After working in the garden all day Sunday I had cellulose on the brain. So I emptied out the produce bins in the fridge and headed to the grill. The plan was to serve everything room temperature over softened rice sticks, splashed with a lively nuoc cham-style sauce.

I had grilled tofu, asparagus, and onion before, but the rest of the stuff on the tray was novel territory. So I set up a two-tier fire with lump charcoal: hot one side, nothing on the other. Everything was started on the cool side and cooked covered for a few minutes—to ensure tenderness and smokiness—then seared. Or vice versa. And because there was too much for one grill load, I paused to add coals midway through, which gave me time to make the sauce. Brushed everything with grapeseed oil and sprinkled with a little salt. That’s it. Let’s work around the assortment in the photo clockwise; for more how-to shots of the process, flip through the slide show.

  • Red onion halves: don’t turn them too much or they’ll separate into rings.
  • Peeled blood oranges: they were too dry to eat raw but became chewy little rubies after grilling.
  • Parsnips: I thought it would be easiest to handle them on skewers, but a couple broke off; super yummy though.
  • Napa cabbage leaves: each contained a full spectrum of textures ranging from silky to papery; I cut them into wide ribbons for serving.
  • Tofu steaks: I cut them a little over ½-inch thick so they were crisp and charred on the outside, with a custardy interior
  • Asparagus: as big around as your thumb and grown nearby; I didn’t bother to peel the ends but I arranged them on the grill so the ends were toward the hottest part of the fire.
  • Thinly sliced jicama: wrap a delicious layer of carbonic flavor around their usual crunch and that’s what you get.
  • Celery heart: the big surprise, smoky and grassy and silky all at the same time.

The sauce was based on spearmint and chives from the garden, a dusting of last year’s ground chiles, some minced garlic, fish sauce, simple syrup, water, and lots of both lemon and lime juice. Fortunately there are lots of leftovers.

Posted in Produce