cookbooks

Could You Eat Well on $4 a Day? A Cookbook to Help Food Stamp Recipients Cook Cheaply Becomes a Massive Viral Hit

Four dollars a day. What could you do with four dollars a day that would feed your family? You might be surprised.  

four dollars

Maryn McKenna brings us this fantastic story of an upcoming cookbook (available now on PDF) that aims to fill in a critical gap between food assistance and eating well on a budget, even a food stamp budget.

Key ingredients missing? Recipes and skills.

This clever Canadian started out offering a free PDF on her site, that literally overwhelmed her site with 200K downloads more than once. She turned it into a Kickstarter (finally a Kickstarter we can get love!) and launched in May. You can buy it here still in PDF form and the book should be published by year's end.

Leanne's blurb says:

I'm a food-studies scholar and avid home cook in NYC, by way of Canada.

I think everyone should eat great food every day. Eating well means learning to cook. It means banishing the mindset that preparing daily meals is a huge chore or takes tremendous skill.

Cooking is easy — you just have to practice.

Recipes are simple, and include photographs of steps to show someone exactly how to to prepare the dishes. Honey and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potato? Yes, please.

 

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Read more from the always excellent Maryn McKenna see the National Geographic series "The Plate".

A Cookbook to Help Food Stamp Recipients Cook Cheaply Becomes a Massive Viral Hit – The Plate: Maryn McKenna.

 Eating well on a little more

For another take on the eating well on less theme, I highly recommend Amy McCoy's Poor Girl Gourmet. Amy's book is filled with delicious foods anyone can make and she gives the budget breakdown of every dish. For example: her Height of Summer Blueberry Crumble (p. 164) serves 6 to 8 for $5 - $10 depending on whether you add ice cream. It works out without the ice cream to about $1.21 per person. Amy's Chicken in Cider Gravy is a favorite here, and her Cornmeal Crust Peach Crostata gets rave reviews every summer.

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Oyster Century Club© Reading List

What are the essential books for ostreaphiles, oyster lovers, and cooks who love bivalves? I start here with a handful, which would you add? Special thanks to Jacobsen who's graciously allowed us to share materials from his site in our class.  

Books for Reading

The Big Oyster – Mark Kurlansky

Tracing the history of the oyster in America, specifically New York, Kurlansky introduces us to the characters whose lives were intertwined with the humble oyster. He takes us through rough neighborhoods like Five Points, and explains the relationships of oysters to industry, to captains of industry, to the settlement of Manhattan - all peppered with historic recipes, anecdotes and terrific quotes.

 

A Geography of Oysters– Rowan Jacobsen

Really an ostreaphile’s bible, Jacobsen’s Geography is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know more than the fact that they love oysters. It illustrates concepts like terroir or merroir, gives apt descriptions for the various taste profiles and profiles selected oyster growers among the various oysters of note from coast to coast.

Recipes, sellers, oyster bars and more included. Be sure to see his companion website for fun additional materials.

Shucked – Erin Byers Murray

A homegrown story that just happens to touch on a few things we really love: the life of a writer, life-changing mid-course corrections, and an intimate feel for the life of a locally beloved oyster producer through the eyes of a city-girl-turned-oyster-farmer. Reading her journey you can feel the sun on your back (as well as the ache in it) and the cool water around you.

Consider the Oyster: a Shucker's Field Guide - Patrick McMurray

A terrific guide to oyster varieties, maybe the best book for a new oyster fan. Great photos and easy reading style invite you to shuck your own. Known for his shucking prowess, McMurray is more than a world champion shucker, he's also a "publican" pub owner, and author.

 

Books for Cooking

Cookbooks belong here, too. While I prefer my oysters on the half shell, usually with some saké, I've got to admit a few broiled or grilled recipes have caught my eye. For anyone a fan of, or curious about, sustainable seafood cooked at home, I highly recommend the following:

Becky Selengut's Good Fish. With some simple and some more cheffie-style recipes, Becky offers us notes on sustainability and ingredients, as well as wine pairing suggestions. From stunning mignonette to classic Hangtown Fry and some intriguing succotash, she's got oysters covered, too. How about Oyster, Apple, Chorizo stuffing? Yes please!

Barton Seaver's For Cod & Country. "Oysters are what is known as a keystone species, a species that holds together the whole intricate framework of the environment." Without them, Seaver notes, the waters get murky and the whole ecosystem falls apart. In fact, Barton says "eating farmed oysters is our patriotic duty." Try his oysters with peaches and paprika.

Jill Lambert's Good Catch. Great clutch of oyster recipes including oyster leek chowder, and a po'boy sandwich too. Yeah, it's Canadian, go figure.

Rick Moonen's Fish Without a Doubt. His spaghetti with clam sauce technique will change the way you make it.

 

Julie Qiu of In a Halfshell fame, has compiled her own recommended oyster reading list here.

World of Flavor and Portuguese Stew

When you think about what Portugal has contributed to the world of gastronomic pleasure, we really do - all of us, owe them a debt of gratitude.

I was thrilled to receive David Leite's The New Portuguese Table (ahem) a while ago. As I do, I have spent months reading it and imagining making each recipe that catches my eye, imagining traveling to the town where the author first enjoyed it, or resting for a spell on the island from which it hails.

Yes, I do this with menus as well, so you never want to go out to eat with me if you're very hungry. "Oh look at this, what an interesting combination of flavors." "So you're having that?" "No, I was thinking of this instead, but it's really interesting to imagine that flavor profile. I wonder where the chef got her inspiration?" Yes, this how I approach almost every menu. It is part of the case for my husband's ascension sainthood. He - prone to low blood sugar crashes - has to remind me too often, I fear, that he's HUNGRY, NOW and can we JUST PICK SOMETHING AND ORDER PLEASE? Sorry, sometimes a girl just gets lost.

Lust and Lusophilia

I have been a Lusophile (Lusitania was the region of ancient times that corresponds to Portugal and Western Spain) myself since college. I learned a bit through customers in the wine shop about their visits, their love for the Fado sung with such passion in the cafés. Their descriptions of the pousadas (old mansions and castles, now inns for tourists) was so romantic, I openly wished and planned for a visit one day.

More recently, I learned about Madeira and Port and the wonderful wines of Esporão (and fantastic olive oil) at this tasting with my buddy Rich. I was thrilled to meet Marco Montez of New Bedford's own Travessia Winery and I'll be heading to see you soon Marco (what a great video intro to your winery!)

If you know anything about Portuguese history - you know it is, in a sense, a world history. The early Portuguese were such travelers, you'd be hard-pressed to find a country or a cuisine that did not reflect some influence or contact with Portuguese. In my native Japan we have Tempura (from Portuguese) and we call bread "pan" which is a Japanese pronunciation of the Portuguese "Pão".

Back to Portugal and Fall River. And Lamb stew.

Foodies among my readers will know David as the publisher of Leite's Culinaria - a beautiful and well-loved site dishing up "Hot Food. Dry Wit" (every time I read that I wish I'd thought of it first!) I know David through IACP (we were *this close* to doing a panel together for this year's conference.) He is a wonderful, accessible and down-to-earth guy who is always willing to share time, advice and insights, whether it's in a webinar for other cookbook authors and wanna-be publishers, or during an interview in the middle of alternate side of the street parking negotiation.

So my confession is two-fold: first, this is my first actual recipe I've cooked from the book (I think) and second, I didn't do the recipe straight. Don't hate me - I can explain!

Recently, we feasted for a week on Indian food lovingly prepared by our friend's visiting Mother. With the Indian spice palette lingering in my memory (and on my palate - please take note word-manglers out there - these are two different words), I turned to my beautiful boneless leg of lamb and to David's New Portuguese Table.

Lo and behold, a gorgeous recipe using many of the same warm spices we had been enjoying all week. Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger and garlic. White beans and carrots are the called for vegetables in Borrego Ensopado com Feijão Bronco, and they appeared in our stew, too. I also had some fingerling potatoes leftover from a bag half-used in another dish, so in they went.

We enjoyed it over rice and I had my leftovers served atop grits I simmered in homemade vegetable stock. I told myself that these little divergences would be forgiven and possibly not uncommon in a true Portuguese kitchen. I think or imagine at least, that many of these kitchens are like those of my ancestors where nothing gets wasted. So the dish may have ended up a little different from its original but then, isn't that the beauty of the multicultural world we live in today? And frugality? Hardly new, but new again, and much in evidence around here.

One of the things I love about this book is the way you are welcomed into a Portuguese kitchen. You can easily imagine sharing a coffee with a slice of Bolo de Laranja (Orange Cake, p 220) as he tells you stories, of his family in Fall River, Massachusetts or his time in Lisbon, or the traditions of this town or that. You just want to sit for hours and eat and drink and laugh.

This cake - coming soon to a kitchen near you ~ posting the recipe next.

That, my friends is what I encourage you to do - share a meal. Pick up this book, dream and travel the globe through it. Imagine the warm and lusty flavors of the Azores, the seafood, the salty cured olives or sausages. Then enjoy some hot food and dry wit with your friends or family. Or just on your own. Any way you do it, you really must just enjoy it. To help you ~ I'm offering a free copy to one of the lucky commenters here.

An Invitation ~ Convite

Share with us your connection to Portugal. Have you been? Where do you wish to go?

What flavors does your native cuisine share or borrow from Portugal? Been to an Azorean restaurant?

If you have a favorite fish curry from Goa ~ or have a hankering for Vindhaloo - you're longing for the flavors of Portuguese food. Love those little custard tarts in Chinese bakeries? "Po-tat" or "Dan-tat" (Pastéis de Nata, p 217) are said to have Portuguese origins coming to Hong Kong via Macau. Japanese tempura, bacalhao, enjoy a nice glass of Port or Madeira or Vinho Verde? Well, you get my drift.

So drop a comment and enter to win a copy of this gorgeous book. Just don't blame me if you also become a Lusophile. There's always room for one more at our table, no matter where in the world you hail from we've got you covered. And fed.

Holiday Gift Ideas 2011 - Bookworms' Edition

In the spirit of holiday gift giving, and for those of you with birthdays to buy for as well, I offer a list of cookbooks that are guaranteed to delight the cooks on your list. I'm enriched beyond words by knowing many of these authors and inspired in ways I cannot count. I hope that you'll consider purchasing one of these lovely books for someone on your list:

 

Books' Staying Power

Despite the popularity of tablets, apps, and the shrinking attention spans of the majority of readers, I still believe in books. In fact, I love them. I admire my friends who are published and hope to join their ranks one day. I will join them one day.

Here's an interesting piece (particularly the comments; is print really dead? who can make such pronouncements?) on the value of indie bookstores. I support the Brookline Booksmith here in the Boston area. Powell's made it easier to partner with them so I have these books on my Powell's Partner shelf. If you buy from my shelf I make a few pennies (honestly, a very few but the thought and the action matters) and I thank you. It is no easy road to choose, this business of being a writer.

The article above was flagged for me by my new friend Maria Speck whose sexy Ancient Grains for Modern Meals tops the New York Times Holiday Year's Notable Cookbooks list. (and the list of lists that Maria's book is recognized on is growing daily - HUZZAH!) I adore her and her book and was inspired by it to add a dish to my Thanksgiving Buffet. Black Quinoa with Golden Beets and Pomegranate. A hit. Recipe soon.

Right now we're at the end of holiday shopping crunch time. Books make perfect gifts. Long after the last tinsel is vacuumed up, a gift of a cookbook will continue to nourish and inspire your kitchen-dwelling friends. Trust me, they'll thank you each time they open it. If you're lucky, maybe they'll even cook for you from it.

 

Seriously Sexy Food - I keep telling people that Maria's book is helping to address the PR problem grains have had. Hippie food in all shades of gray and brown has no appeal. That food, thankfully, does not appear here. Ancient Grains has captured attention in part, because it does not begin with admonishments, preaching or urging us toward healthy goals. It says simply 'here's some lovely, delicious food' and they happen to be dishes most anyone can make. As well, they come from the traditions of the healthy Mediterranean cuisine.

Listen up, Y'all - I have to give a big shout out to Virginia Willis' and her From Basic to Brilliant, Y'all. One of a newish surge of interest in Southern cuisine. In this cookbook, Virginia's second, she takes a basic recipe most anyone can do, and shows you how to alter it slightly to make it a dish for when company's coming. It's a great idea and we have already begun cooking from it. I loved the concept when Virginia shared it with me last year and am so delighted for her success. Did you see her on Martha Stewart? Like her first book, it's full of lovely vignettes and headnotes with grace. The language of the South with a French accent. That's our V. Lovely.

"Be interestED and you'll be interestING." It was advice given to single girls back in the day. Well, I took it as a given that I was not waiting around for someone else to make my life interesting! And, my corollary was that I would not wait for someone else to join me, to make a great meal. Regardless of whether anyone else is around to see it, don't you deserve to eat well? Joe Yonan's Serve Yourself cheerfully answers in the affirmative. with relish. It's not only a love letter to our single selves, it is a fun reminder that we matter, and we should care for ourselves, and love our selves, nourish and nurture our selves, just as we do others. Serve Yourself it's full of great recipes you can make at home when you're cooking for one. (Truthfully, many can be doubled for company or could be supplemented by a good salad and you could make dinner for two from them.) As someone who happily assumed I'd always be single, I used to cook wonderful meals for myself, but I had plenty of friends who did not. They might have done so with this book.

Becky Selengut was my kinda gal the moment I met her: irreverent and sharp and always willing to laugh at herself first (and then others, when they've earned it.) One thing is unquestionable, her devotion to the ocean. She does with Good Fish what Virginia does with Southern cuisine. She introduces us to basic sustainability concepts and recipes, then gives us recipes we can grow into as our skills and comfort level allow. Anyone could pick up the book and make a delicious, sustainable recipe in short order. Don't we all wish for that sort of competence and confidence in the kitchen? Oh, and we benefit from her proximity to a solid sommelier and partner April Pogue. Each recipe comes with suggested pairings. I was honored to be asked to contribute a quote and thrilled to have it appear at the end of the acknowledgements.

 

Few people have done more for sustainable seafood than Barton Seaver and he has been rocking along as a National Geographic fellow, a chef, a speaker and now, a published cookbook author. For Cod & Country is a hefty book but one worth adding to your bookshelf. His food is not too "cheffie" - you know, most of the dishes are things we could make at home, any one of us.

 

Come all ye virgins - canning for everyone! You may remember my trepidatious start to home canning. What with the cuts and the mismatched pots, it is a miracle that I got anything done. But I did and it is in no small measure owing to the good cheer and steady tutelage of friends like Sherri Brooks Vinton. (See Confessions of a Canning Virgin) Sherri's jalapeño pickled heirloom carrots were gobbled up so quickly at Thanksgiving only a precious few guests got to sample them. Come see me in January or February when we pop open a jar of tomato corn salsa or make a cobbler from summer peaches preserved in spicy vanilla syrup.

Speaking of spice - que caliente y delicioso - Sandra Guttierez' New Southern-Latino table shows us a multifaceted side of Southern cuisine rounded out by spices, techniques and recipes of the many cultures that give true sabor to the South. I learned sopes and tomatillo-avocado salsa at Sandra's side and I cannot wait to see what else lies inside this well-received unique guide to Latino tastes in the US.

 

From the elegant dining rooms of our top toques to frigid rain and ice-drenched days, Erin Byers Murray goes from urban editor to oyster-poop cleaner and shares a unique story with us. Her story is part investigative journalism, part self-renewal, part sheer voyeuristic joy. For anyone who's looked at their umpteenth ridiculous email and wondered why, this story lends a rare window into the glorious but not often glamourous life of oystermen. For those who did not grow up near the shore, for those with an interest in a small business success story, for those who have a curiosity about our beloved bivalves - Shucked - gives one woman's insights into the stories that unfold when one simply looks up and says "what if?"

Because oysters have always held that sense of joy and wonder -- of possibility -- for me, Erin's story holds particular fascination. It's a quick read, and a peek into one aspect of our "farm to table" food systems. It really makes you wonder how and why we should enjoy delectable plump, briny-sweet gems of ocean kisses for a buck or two -- when you know what went into their cultivation. Wait, did I just say that out loud? Don't tell!

 

Really? You used to be a vegetarian? - It's true but as unbelievable to me as it is to those who've seen me chow down on meat. What I'll tell you is that my childhood was not filled with gorgeous prime ribs or rib eye steaks, we were all about the chuck roast (still probably my favorite). Since coming to know more about how beef is raised, I've taken a "less is more" approach with this resource-heavy, expensive luxury item. I'd rather eat it less often and eat better quality (Grass-fed, local, safely and hopefully humanely butchered). Where ever you may be on the journey from nondescript grocery story "meat" to a local, sustainable option - this book will show you exactly what cuts are good for what styles of preparation and also give you instructions from a professionsl butcher (who just happens to be a woman) on how best to cut, cook and enjoy your beef. Just as it helps to understand how a car works even if you never intend to change the engine block yourself, I'm a firm believer in being an educated consumer. Besides, if you know what to ask for a the butcher (or the mechanic's) you're likely to get treated with more respect. Why take what you eat any less seriously than what you drive?

(See also In Heels and Backwards. Women Butchers Breaking Bones and Barriers)

Goat Gone Wild - Yes, it is true. I'm a member of the Goaterie. We're a goat loving group of food writers and cooks who took up the call to arms and joined in some fun goat cookery. After meeting Mark and Bruce online and chatting over sustainable meats, pork, and of course, goat, I decided to have a look at this book which I'd been tipped off to by its food savvy publicist, Marisa Dobson. The book is charming, laugh out loud funny in many parts, and just plain good. You will certainly enjoy the Empanadas de Cabrito but I don't require you to make them at Medianoche (midnight.) Just make them. They're that good.

Finally,our entry in the "Wish I could cook more from it but can't" category is SugarBaby. What a delightful introduction to candy making. If you don't think you can do it, let me just give an image. People elbowing each other to get the last crumbs of some candy in the bottom of the cookie jar in my kitchen. And some of those elbows might've belonged to some in-laws. Who can cast blame? These treats are so good. Most of them not hard, but many of the most enticing recipes call for butter, so my hips are spared by the allergy. Small consolation.

 

A Giveaway to Brighten your Holiday

Drop a comment here and tell me:

1. what book you've most enjoyed getting or giving? (any)

2. Or, tell me which of these book you most look forward to cooking from and why?

AND

3. Tweet a link to this post (#bookwormsXmas) and you will be entered in a random drawing to receive:

- copy of Shucked - Or-

-  copy of For Cod and Country.

 

_ Hurry! Contest closes midnight Tuesday! _

 

Contest Closed: and the Winners are:

  • David: gets Shucked (Random.org: Timestamp: 2011-12-21 05:09:46 UTC)
  • Kristina: gets For Cod and Country (Random.org: Timestamp: 2011-12-21 05:10:47 UTC)

CONGRATULATIONS! We look forward to hearing how you like these books. 

 

Thanks to everyone for commenting, tweeting, now who's up for some sustainable seafood?

 

Treats for our Four-legged Friends

Inspired by Yvette van Boeven's Home Made - a Kitchn Holiday pick, I've been thinking about treats for our doggie friends. I've been wanting to bake some treats for our canine buddies in the building Tucker, Herbie, Doc and possibly Gia depending on her diet. I've come to learn that some foods are harmful in even tiny quantities while others are okay in small amounts. Then of course, doing research you see recipes that clearly violate what another forbids and dire warnings of gastrointestinal distress or worse that might be caused if the wrong ingredients are chosen.

My love for dogs overcomes the worries. And, just as with humans, a small treat once in awhile is far less harmful than something that makes up more than 15% of your diet. (Can you imagine potato chips as 15% of your diet?) So understanding that onions, garlic, grapes and chocolate are verboten...here's my first ever recipe for doggie treats. I will report back news from testers.

Folks in the area may see me from time to time, flying on the end of a red leash on the other end of which is one Tucker a black lab mix of some sort (and certainly there's some tracking/scent dog in there!)

 

Recipe: LDG Doggie Treats

Ingredients:

 

  • 1/2 tsp of grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of beef demi-glace dissolved in 2/3 C boiling water
  • 1 TBSP duck fat, plus fat from bacon
  • 1  1/2 TBSP chopped bacon, parcooked to render fat
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C cooked barley
  • smidge of olive oil to make dough pliable enough to roll out

 

Mixed all together, kneaded just a bit to make a dough ball we can roll out.

Cut into shape and sizes appropriate to canine friends' mouths, then baked in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

I'll report back shortly! Fingers crossed.

The Business of Being a (Food) Writer

Michael Ruhlman the author of the captivating inside look into the Culinary Institute of America (see his Soul of a Chef trilogy) and more recently the author of Ratio and Twenty, was also the author of this Tweet on a recent morning:

"email to cia student: learn 2 b excellent writer first, then turn that skill toward food. no one should set out to be a food writer."

This got me thinking of all the emails I've gotten and networking coffees I have drunk, when a friend of a friend calls to discuss "becoming a food writer." Not one of these coffee dates in recent memory resulted in the kid taking me up on my offer to review their work. Many have even forgotten to toss off a quick email thanking me for my time (which is also my money, meaning the time I sat with you to discuss why you think you could do my job, I wasn't making any money, or querying anyone else about my next paid piece of work.)

I do a lot fewer of these than I used to.

A Day in the Life:

People often ask me "what do you DO all day?" Just to give you some idea of how my day goes, today I'm:

  • Trying to learn what I need to add to my iPad to make it not only fun, but also a useful and productive tool.
  • Looking forward to, and preparing for, a speaking engagement tomorrow for a group called ASPIRE that reaches out to Asian American women. We are a panel in the food industry and I'm eager to hear what Patricia Yeo (Om) and Alison Fong (Bon ME)  have to say. I think it's interesting that all three of us have taken unconventional paths to where we are.
  • I'm also setting up and shooting photos for two other posts.
  • Troubleshooting my camera flash card reader. Why now?
  • Outlining my Thanksgiving wrap up post.
  • Following up on sponsor queries. ("Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful...")
  • Tackling a billing problem with AT&T who suspended my service for no apparent reason. Yesterday my one and only phone, the one I use for business, was suspended. (Victory: I got a big credit and a sincere apology, acknowledging that not one, but two people dropped the ball on their end. Never mind it took the better part of an hour. And the two calls that took more than two hours in the past two weeks.)
  • Planning dinner (which includes a recipe to test and photos to shoot), post to outline.
  • It's time to go for a walk (it's late actually, but I had to shoot while the light was good and then I discovered the card reader broke.) I gave up the gym and now walk for exercise. One of the dangers of working from home is living close to the refrigerator, testing recipes doesn't help. Yoga pants are not your friend.
  • Drafting my holiday gift guide. (90% done)
  • Looking at the pile of books to be reviewed and thinking how I can turn it into a post or two.
  • Reminding myself of the in-flight magazine query I have nearly ready to go...

 

A Big Milestone and a Big Decision

With the publication of my first piece in The Washington Post, I was inundated with emails thanking me for the piece. I am thrilled. And, I'm broke. This dichotomy has me thinking a lot about the business of being a writer. It's never been more difficult to be a writer. Like the back end of a horse, or a peek inside the sausage factory, people seem not to want to pay attention to the realities of being a writer. Like the beret-wearing, Moleskin-toting café denizen I like to call "Existential Crisis Dude", after every other boy I met in college, writing is often a solitary and unrewarded affair. But is it a job? I think it can be.

First and foremost, as a writer (whether it's about food or anything else) you are your own business. While the appeal of being your own boss is real (and there are benefits) most folks don't think beyond that.

Here is a quick post I put up on Facebook a few weeks back:

I wish to lodge a complaint with my Manager (me) that my IT Dept (me) is taking far too much time away from my employee's (my) productive work. Also, the Marketing Dept (me) is so terribly far behind that the Accounts Receivable Dept (me) is going to blow a gasket. Accounts Payable (me) is not happy either.

HR (me) is quite concerned, especially with all the personal time this employee (me) has been taking do deal with "family matters." Legal (me) is looking into this. We may need to involve the EAP (me).

Sales (me) as usual, is just hitting the bricks and trying to make a buck to keep this whole operation afloat. Sure hope the Executive Planning Committee (me) is taking note.

There was a period when everything broke or went South at once (the dishwasher, the refrigerator, the computer, etc.) and medical and family matters reared their heads, too. Inevitably, these things happen at once. So you're trying to follow up on queries to editors, scare up some news sponsors, while fielding calls to repairmen on the dishwasher, while scheduling the refrigerator repairman, and watching appointments vanish from your calendar while your support person says "I've never seen that happen!" And so on. People have said, "Oh, I hate when that happens." But they are collecting a paycheck and making those calls from work, from a desk which someone else paid for, by lights that someone else is paying to keep on. I'm still in a hole from the "everything's broken/breaking" period.

Being self employed also means you cannot take a sick day, even if you get sick. No one pays you for a personal day to run to a specialist doctor it took you six months to book an appointment with. The upside is if it's not a delusional fever you have, you can stay in bed in your jammies and get something done. Even if it's just photo editing. People often think if you have not posted anything you have not been working. Each piece you post has been written, edited, photos have been planned, recipes tested, etc. It's not that I've been sitting on the sofa watching Judge Judy.

Work like mine is not for the faint of heart. I am in awe of people like Michael Ruhlman and all the published authors I know, who somehow manage to get it done and support themselves in the process. I'm very tough, thick-skinned, creative at problem-solving and entrepreneurial by nature. I'm organized, I'm confident. And yet, it is a struggle. Very few writers I know actually support themselves with writing alone. Editors are beleaguered, many of them are now writing what they used to pay freelancers to write for their publications. People who used to pay for workshops now have no budget, or are hopeful they'll have one again in the Spring.

More successful writers than I advise me to "never work for less than a dollar a word." As far as I can tell, that mostly means "never work (period)." It's been a long, long time since I've found anyone paying that rate. If you want to be a (food) writer, my first piece of advice is: do not quit your current job. This is no economy in which to be casual about things like a paycheck, medical benefits, retirement accounts.

My second piece of advice echoes Ruhlman's - be a writer. DO the work. Ask for feedback, but be mindful of the time of those you are imposing on. The availability of free blogging platforms means anyone can have a blog. This is mostly a mixed bag. Too many people give away their work for free. Then they ask me how I make money as a food writer. Here's a hint: stop giving your work away for free. Just because you have a computer and a blog, doesn't make you are a writer. Just as having a camera doesn't make you Ansel Adams; you must work at your craft. Do it every day, get better. Treat it like exercise. Do something every day.

Be tenacious, flexible and thick-skinned. Be professional. (I cannot tell you how many editors tell me that freelancers regularly miss deadlines. I cannot believe it, but they swear it's true.)

The writing I want to do, the writing I cannot not do, will not get done while I'm chasing payments, querying editors and negotiating fees above twenty cents a word. So, while Mom asks if my Washington Post piece has "resulted in any offers" (if only it worked like that!), I have decided to go back into job search mode.

Yes, for the first time in five years, I'm looking for a conventional job. A "real job". I don't need benefits, I don't need to advance in an organization. I'd like something that allows me to make a contribution, maybe exercise the gray matter, and I will write before or after work. We'll see how this next chapter unfolds.

I will continue to write and hopefully, my readers and sponsors will stick around. In the meantime, if you know of anyone hiring...here's a little about what I've done in the not-too-distant past.


Before I became a Writer...

I moved to Boston for law school in 1985, having been convinced that this was my route to having an impact while earning a living. This was prior to our city’s culinary renaissance and it is no exaggeration to say that the quality of food in this city at that time nearly caused me to leave. While new opportunities kept me here much longer than anticipated, I watched our city discover its capacity for more than boiled potatoes and broiled cod.

I have enjoyed many aspects of success in conventional employment, all the while keeping connected to the food world through volunteer experiences. (I’ve co-chaired charity events at nationally acclaimed restaurants, I’ve also volunteered teaching cooking skills to at-risk kids, developed marketing plan for a specialty food product, and I’ve looked at culinary school and other hands-on cooking jobs, too.)

After two years of law, left it for the consulting field and enjoyed the fit of business over law. I used the skills learned in practice to succeed in account executive and consulting roles. Strategic thinking and client focus enabled me to successfully prospect business, develop high level client relationships at Fortune 500 companies, and to consistently exceed goals. Some of my corporate accomplishments include:

  • Simultaneous management of all 13 GE business unit relationships; effectively developing those with strategic opportunity and turning those into partner, rather than vendor,     relationships. These resulted in new revenue streams for my company and in my being invited to speak at Crotonville, GE's leadership training center.
  • Turned around an at-risk client making it into a high-margin, high-satisfaction client. Developed, and was only outsider invited to, cross-business, cross-functional steering committee.
  • Grew Fidelity speaking engagement (Spring Leadership Conference) into a consulting project with Systems Company. Resulted in higher customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction for units that implemented our flexible work arrangements system. Fidelity is now implementing the system corporate-wide.

Within my own company, I designed and implemented organizational effectiveness manual and training, developed the first cross-functional account team, and was project manager and contributing writer to the telecommuting handbook.

After years of consulting, I took a spin through several startups, with great successes, followed too closely by pink slip after pink slip. I love the ability to contribute whatever you can in a startup environment, unfettered by title. Often one can contribute in ways that are not possible in larger more evolved organizations. Some of the startup successes I enjoyed included:

 

  • Closing a multi-million dollar deal for the first national extra-net VOIP network. (I knew nothing of hardware technology before taking that job but learned it, and impressed people with my ability to make deals, build relationships.)
  • Creating a joint venture between a major insurer and a hi tech company with innovative supply chain protection tool.
  • Developing new verticals and bringing at-risk clients back to a technology driven, distance-learning company.

Since my career path is unconventional, HR software will screen me out of most jobs I might apply to. So, I'll be reaching out to friends and acquaintances, networking like nobody's business. Put your thinking caps on and accept my gratitude in advance.

Allons-y!




 

Recipe for a New Golden Age of Patronage and Some Golden Pumpkin Spice Rolls

This did not come easy, but then, life is not easy. While the downward compression of pay for writers continues, our costs go up. I'm offered fifteen cents a word for a job that last year might have been $1 a word. My hosting service and my newsletter service both cost real money and those costs increase. In fact, the newsletter which has won the All Star award, costs me more as more people subscribe! When I started this writing thing, I resisted adding a "donate" button to the site. "I'm not a charity, I'm a business!" I protested. I'm a freelance writer, published in great places like The Washington Post. I've gotten numerous small awards and much-appreciated nods from editors and writers I admire. Even better, my readers have written me lovely emails indicating how my writing has educated them as well as entertained them. These emails and comments, and the professional recognition, mean a lot.

A better experience for you, costs me

I do a few things differently from other writers and bloggers. You will never see a product advertised here that I don't believe in. I know other writers that make different choices and honestly, I understand why. But do the pennies they earn from those ads, mean more to them than my experience on their site? Maybe they haven't thought of it that way.

I also don't enjoy reading good writing about nourishing our families, while having belly fat or mortgage re-fi ads in my face. I don't like reading about supporting local family family farms and seeing Big Ag ads like Kraft Singles or Hamburger Helper, interspersed in the post.

These choices I make to improve my readers' experience and are a reflection of my desire to publish this blog consistent with my values. But it comes at a cost. As I continue to seek new sponsors, and to be grateful for those I've got, I'm experimenting with a donate button here on the sidebar.

A new Golden Age of Patronage?

I hope you might donate through that button and support my work.  I want to make improvements that I cannot now afford. I know my comment module sucks. I am sorry, but it costs real money to hire a developer to do that work. I'd like to migrate back to Wordpress so I can make changes like this, myself but that site migration costs, too. And it costs a lot.

I hope that the way people have embraced crowd-sourced funding like Kickstarter campaigns and Awesome grants, means that people will not be offended. Maybe we are in a new Golden Age of Patronage? Similar to various Renaissance patrons who supported artists and composers, we now see the growth in opportunities to support artists in various ways. Think of this as a virtual upturned hat and me as a busker playing a really good cover of your favorite song. If 50 people find a post here as valuable as their morning latte, and donate that $3.00 I could pay for the next couple email newsletters. If 500 did, I could fix that damn comment module.

I believe people value good writing, compelling story telling, well-researched information.

I am proud that my readership has reached a level where potential advertisers have contacted me to inquire about ad space here. I am confident that turning down those ads -- ads for products and services that have nothing to do with my core values or my "brand", nothing to do with the things I care about and the things you like to read about -- I believe saying no to them is the right decision. But maybe I'm wrong.

Please tell me I am not by kicking in a few bucks to my upturned PayPal hat. I care deeply about your experience here. I appreciate all the support I've gotten via sponsors and readers, via Tweets and Facebook shares. Keep it up as long as you think I'm holding up my end of the bargain and producing good content. Forward the newsletter to your friends, forward this post to them, especially. Encourage them to read me, too.

And do let me know what you think I'm getting right, what I could do better, and how you feel about the dreaded (maybe only by me?) "Donate" button.

Giving thanks to you, I now share a recipe for your Thanksgiving table:

 

pumpkinrolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOLDEN PUMPKIN SPICE DINNER ROLLS

The golden color fairly screams Autumn harvest. I think it's perfect to break bread and open this discussion of the new Golden Age of Patronage.

The flavor is pretty subtle, and the texture is definitely dinner roll, not sweet, nor muffiny, nor too flaky, like a Southern biscuit. I've modified this from an old recipe, I think it was in Gourmet. The recipe is pretty simple, not too time consuming, and best of all you can make them now and freeze them. One less thing to do just before the big meal. Take them out the morning of or night before. Warm them in the leftover heat of the oven as your turkey rests or if you have a warming drawer, pop them in there.

This recipe was modified to make it dairy free. You can substitute real dairy if you like. For those with egg allergy, you could brush with milk, soy milk, or just thinned honey.

Ingredients:

 

  • one package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 3/4 C So Delicious Coconut Milk or Earth Balance Soy Milk
  • 5 C All Purpose Flour
  • 2 C Organic Pastry Flour
  • 1 generous teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (throw out that old tin in your cupboard that has long since lost its oomph. Get whole nutmeg, grate as needed. You will thank me.)
  • 1 teaspoon Chai spice (I love Arvinda's if you're in the Greater Toronto area. Or try my friend Raghavan Iyer's new Chai Masala. Alternately, you could add some Chinese Five Spice powder.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 3/4 C Earth Balance Soy butter or baking bars
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 can of organic pumpkin puree (not the pie filling; alternatively you may make your own puree, but various pumpkins and squashes have different sugar levels and moisture levels, I find the good canned variety of puree easier)
  • egg wash: one egg yolk or one whole egg beaten with a TBSP of warm water and 1-2 tsp of honey

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Butter a 13x9x2 metal baking pan.
  2. Warm milk to about 110, in a small bowl place one tsp of the sugar, the yeast and the milk. Whisk it with a fork to unclump the yeast. In a few minutes it should look frothy. This is "proof" the yeast is indeed, "active." Hence the term "proofing the yeast." (Don't ask me why it's not "proving the yeast.")
  3. In a large bowl measure the flours, spices, salt, remaining sugar.
  4. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the shortening or butter or butter substitute.
  5. Add the whole egg, pumpkin puree, yeasty milk and stir until it's all well-mixed.
  1. Here is where that tea-ball duster idea comes in handy. Sprinkle a fine layer of flour on that cool counter, then turn dough, wet and dry bits together onto the counter.
  2. Knead about ten minutes until the whole thing comes together in a springy, golden ball. Only dust a little flour if it's really too sticky but if you're not worried about the whole thing, trust me the dough will come together without much more flour. A bench scraper works well here. Scrape the counter to gather all the dough bits together and knead it all into a ball.
  3. Clean out your big bowl, butter it, then turn the springy golden dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat it.
  4. Place the bowl in a warm spot or in the oven on proofing temp if you have that (85-100 degrees)
  5. After about an hour, the dough should have risen to about double in size.
  6. Turn onto that lightly dusted counter, and roll out into a fat log, divide in half.
  7. Roll log out to about 1 1/2 to 2" in diameter. Use your bench scraper or a butter knife to divide in half, then into balls about the size of a lemon.
  8. Do the same with the other log.
  9. Place the balls into the prepared pan, you should have about four rows of seven.
  10. Second rise, cover lightly and return to warm spot for another rise ~ 45 minutes. They'll puff up a bit and fill in any gaps.
  11. Preheat oven to 350.
  12. Brush the rolls lightly with the egg-honey wash. Don't let them get soggy.
  13. Bake about 30-35 minutes. The house will be fragrant enough that your snoozing spouse will lift his head and say "something smells good."
Cool in the pan, then on a rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly and freeze until the day before the big feast. To reheat frozen and thawed rolls wrap tightly in foil and warm in your 350 degree oven about 20 minutes.
These are really good at dinner or for next day leftover turkey, cranberry sandwiches, or in a leftover bread pudding or strada. Most likely, you won't have that many leftover though!
Here's to a new Golden Age of Patronage. Thank you for your readership and your support!

 

The Art of Beef Cutting - Book for Beef Lovers

 

Learning your way around an old-fashioned butcher's counter can be tough. If you grew up, as I did, with "meat" coming wrapped in plastic (not paper) on a styrofoam tray, you had little clue what part of the animal the meat came from or truly, that it even came from an animal.

 

Kari Underly Range Partners

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/dining/the-lost-art-of-buying-from-a-butcher.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210&adxnnlx=1320238853-cPlCjnq5f1NcqSmk32tUmw

Peach Insomnia or Why Lawyers Make the Worst Home Canners

You may recall I've sneaked around canning like a voyeur at a sex club. Very intrigued. Not jumping in. I was delighted to connect my experienced friends when the Canvolution got underway and to attend the first event here in the Boston area.

Canning (listen Rich, we know they're jars, but it's called canning and jarring just sounds, well, jarring) is a practice that combines so many things I love:

  • celebration of local food
  • DIY, self-sufficiency
  • feeding ourselves and others from the heart
  • cheating
  • worrying.

peaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me explain. Enjoying local, seasonal food is just a no-brainer. It's better for us, better for the environment, I can support the local farms I love. Support the local economy, reduce my carbon footprint for the foods I buy. Vote for low pesticide use and organic methods with my food $. We can enjoy foods at the peak of freshness and nutrition.

There was a time not too long ago for many of us when Do it Yourself things were not chic. What our grandmothers did to survive was something we may have been too quick to discard or move away from. Rather than food in jars and head cheese we wanted fresh raspberries in January and only the best loin chops with nary a thought to how a raspberry would arrive in New England in January or what happened to the rest of that pig or how she or he lived their life or met their end.

Canning connects us to each other. We share food, share questions about proper preservation. We nourish families with the food put by in Summer with thoughts of Winter eating. We can, sort of, cheat Mother Nature in this way. Frozen properly, seasonal farm-fresh produce retains color and nutrients. Canned we gain freezer space with shelf-stable processed foods and we can look forward to creative ways to use the precisely balanced recipes we followed when putting these foods up.

I've done some beautiful beets, some nice corn, tomato salsa which we can add to beans and burritos or scoop up with tortillas or chips.

Turning our Attention to Worrying

I come from world-class worriers. I have friends or acquaintances who are worriers and many more who are not at all. Never. Worried. About. Anything.

This worries me.

There are some who worry with style, like Nanette, the elegant Gourmet Worrier. That is not me.

Then there are those like me that can develop a bout of insomnia over a few pints of peaches. Read my Confessions of a Canning Virgin for a good laugh.

I 'd like to blame it on my training as a lawyer, but truth be told, I was a worrier long before law school. I have learned the joys of living a bit more free of worry, and of taking big risks. But there are times in one's life when one is flush with confidence and feeling as if you are a capable partner to life's challenges. Risks fade. Other times, careful research and planning can assuage fears that creep around. Worry beads for the non-sectarian - prayers for the atheists - we put much faith in books, in experts, in research.

And, finally there are times when research can be your enemy. When peaches can wake you from a deep sleep, whispering that they harbor clostridium botulinum. Anyone who is jumping on the canning bandwagon (and I hope there are plenty of you) and doesn't know what that is, should worry. And learn.

More than one friend has told me that they had to get off WebMD because they became convinced they had cancer or were soon to meet another horrible fate. Been there, done that. Back to botulism. We can do dangerous things like driving or even jumping out of planes safely, when we follow certain precautions. Ignore the risks at your own peril. Follow the rules of the road and your training, you'll most likely be fine.

Food preservation by boiling water method or canning by hot water bath method can be, I think, thought of in the same way. I share my peach-inspired insomnia to help you avoid the worry and to encourage you to can SAFELY.

Good lord, I've seen some worrying things. "Fresh lemon juice" in canning tomatoes, for example. Most of us would not choose bottled lemon juice over fresh squeezed. Guess what, when you're balancing the acid to prevent the growth of deadly bacteria - you want a reliable level of acid. Bottled has that, fresh lemons can vary.

 

 

peaches_closeup

 

 

 

 

 

  peaches_lids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For now, sit back and relax. I'll do the worrying for you.

August Winners - BBQ Bonanza

 

photo: Denise Woodward

 

So, it's almost 2:30 AM and I've finally cleaned the kitchen of most traces of, and all dishes dirtied in, the maiden voyage into canning-land. Eight pints and one bandaged finger later we have a tremendous sense of accomplishment and a foreboding sense of what lies ahead tomorrow morning when I try to rise in time for HVAC guy coming to investigate our AC's recent crapping out.

After Irene (who came closely on the heels of Mr. what-was-that?-Here?!-Yes, Earthquake), I realized that having good food put by for emergencies is even more important than ever. Well, it seems so anyway. Could be I'm simply trying to make myself feel better about this horribly bandaged finger. Did I mention I have a latex allergy? Actually all adhesives... but I digress.

One more thing I had to do before slugging the last of my G&T (Knockabout Gin, Ryan & Wood, Newburyport, MA) from a Ball jar, natch, was to pick our winners for August BBQ Bonanza prizes!

I am so genuinely grateful to our sponsors this year. And for the record, this little virtual cookout we've got going here has generated over 5,500 hits on these four August posts. Think this means we've gotta do it again next year. And stay tuned in September - more great guest posts coming!

July

August

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

Thank you to our sponsors for these terrific gifts.

PRIZE #1

A Sauce trio from the Silk Road BBQ guys. This is an exclusive offering of three of their sauces.

  • one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork);
  • one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy);
  • and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).

 

Gloria - Congratulations Gloria!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

10

Timestamp: 2011-09-01 06:17:05 UTC

Ask Jenni how she's enjoying the sauces, she was our July winner. Who will win in September?

 

PRIZE #2

Our second prize was donated by The Lisa Ekus Group. Andy Schloss is the author and we both have the honor of Lisa as our agent. Beyond cool to be amongst such a great group of accomplished authors. Mine is coming - promise!

Congratulations Sharon! As a baker, a home charcueterie maker and a great broad who knows her way around a heritage breed pig or goat, I'm confident Sharon will thoroughly enjoy this prize!

Here are your random numbers:

3

Timestamp: 2011-09-01 06:18:39 UTC


Prize #3

Finally our four piece grilling tool set, courtesy of OXO creator of our favorite kitchen and bath tools. I love the marriage of practical and efficient with affordable good design. Who doesn't?

I could not be happier that our friend the Random Number Generator picked David for this prize. Poor guy has been grilling everything since Irene visited his house and left with his electricity. As a huge supporter of local farms like Blackbird Farms (terrific Angus, pastured and dry-aged) he had a freezer full of good meat for his lucky girls. Unfortunately, last I checked he still had no power!

David will certainly get good use out of these.

Here are your random numbers:

2

Timestamp: 2011-09-01 06:20:11 UTC

 

Okay barbecue fans, stay tuned to see what's next in our BBQ Bonanza! Like a scavenger hunt?

✘ Find the location on Silk Road BBQ's site that is NOT one of their actual locations and enter the answer here for a chance to win.

 

Two Months of Sustainability at the Grill

Today I thought I'd collect links from our Sustainability at the Grill BBQ Bonanza series. It's been an impressive run and we're going to be grilling through September as well, so keep this bookmarked and share your own grilling recipes, sustainability questions, tips and traumas. We've got a fabulous crew who are helping us take new steps toward a more sustainable, but first and foremost, deliciously satisfying grilling experience.

[photo credit: Denise Woodward]


July

August

Gratitude & Love for Our Sponsors


 



...is giving away another set of their terrific barbecue sauces (exclusively available for us); each winner will receive:

  • one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork);
  • one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy);
  • and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).
✘ Find the location on Silk Road BBQ's site that is NOT one of their actual locations and enter the answer here for a chance to win.

 

Comment on BBQ Bonanza August posts also enter you to win Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything. (Even includes recipes for goat, donuts, I kid you not, and scallops with grapefruit mojo. Really - there ARE recipes for grilling everything!)

 

 

The good people at OXO have graciously added this Four Piece Grilling Set to our August Contest!

 

How to win one of these THREE prizes:

  1. Enter a comment in any August BBQ Bonanza post.
  2. Write your own post on the theme of Sustainability at the Grill and link back here. You'll get a second entry!
  3. Hit the Silk Road! Find the phony location of a Silk Road yurt, post the true and the false locations in your comment here, and gain another chance to win.
  4. Tweet, RT (#BBQBonanza), post to Facebook.

Don't forget to stop by our sponsors' sites. Share a tip with fellow readers here in a comment.

  • Which OXO tool do you love the most?
  • What's your favorite order at Silk Road BBQ?
  • What would you most love to see a recipe for?

 

Tomatoland: a Thinking Person's Love Story

As a person that loves to read, a child who spent hours with her nose in dictionaries and encyclopedias, it pains me that I read so slowly. But I do so with relish and with great appreciation of the work that goes into good writing. It's no secret that Apples of Love get me hot. And, food justice issues get the lawyer in me riled up, too.

So it will surprise no one that I have just finished Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, nor that I love it and highly recommend it.

An Exposé, a Page-Turner

In parts, this reads like a David and Goliath legal battle page-turner. Other chapters will recall the best travel writing, where the reader feels the dust on your clothes and sun on your back. And much of it is a horrifying exposé that the best investigative journalism sheds light on.

No where does the book lapse into the hand-wringing exhortations that turn many away from activist organizations who may achieve good ends through questionable tactics. There are no gimmicky theatrics. No dogma. Just a well-researched, well-documented and exceedingly well-written story. Or stories, really, as Estabrook covers and pieces together elegantly years of research; weaving them all into a compelling read.

From the high mountain deserts of South America to modern slave quarters in fetid, repurposed shipping containers, to the greenmarket in New York City where chefs from tony restaurants pickup orders from cranky artisan farmers, Estabrook takes us on the Tomato Trail. He traces its botanical history, its bizarre place in Florida agriculture and introduces us to characters both evil and saintly.

  • Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but produces fruits with a fraction of the calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and fourteen tiimes as much sodium as the tomatoes our parents enjoyed.
  • Commercial tomatoes are responsible for more produce-related food-borne illness than any other vegetable. Your supermarket tomatoes even had a nice chlorine bath before landing on your sub sandwich.
  • The tomatoes you get in the supermarket, as well as the workers who pick them, are covered in a toxic soup of hazardous chemicals, like methyl bromide which is toxic to humans, the earth and the ozone layer. Horrendous and extremely rare birth defects were documented among the workers in tomato fields of Ag-Mart Produce.
So these ubiquitous supermarket orbs (whose shape is actually regulated!) are the product of slave labor, chemical warfare, grown in utterly barren soil, in dicey conditions. The only thing they have in common with tomatoes from your farmers' market or backyard are distant genetics. The kicker is that they don't even taste good. All "mature greens" as they are known are gassed with ethylene gas to induce a color change.

A Love Story, Too

Lest you think the book is too depressing to pick up, let me hasten to add that this is one of the most uplifting books I've read in a while.
How can it be after documenting all these travesties? I'm renewed by the stories of the otherwise unknown characters (I mean that in both senses of the word) in this book. The folks who get the work done. This book introduces us otherwise nameless folks; not only the field workers, struggling under inhumane conditions because it's the best opportunity they can see for themselves. It also tells the stories of the many people on the Tomato Trail, from the worker advocates, developing fair housing, fighting for a penny-a-pound wage increase, running child care centers for the workers. It also tells of people who are trying to find a better way, some of them succeeding.

Everything-but-certified Organic farmers, breeders trying to find a market for flavorful tomatoes, farm worker organizers, even attorneys fighting and settling the cases on behalf of the children born with birth defects to farm workers forced to work with unsafe chemicals. These are the people who would otherwise have remained anonymous to us. These are the stories I find uplifting, the sort of stories would seldom hear but for the work of people like Estabrook who is finally getting some recognition for his work, too.

In reflecting on this book and the people whose stories it tells, I kept thinking of Marge Piercy's To be of Use.
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

Yes, this book is not just about our love for tomatoes, it is about the many hands, and backs, the tears, the blood, the efforts of all who research better ways to grow better tomatoes, those that grow them, that pick them, that pack them. It's a fascinating path tracing how our food systems have corrupted what is our most precious and beloved fruit.

To eat a perfect tomato changes you. To read this book does, too.

 

Empanadas de Cabrito Medianoche - Goat empanadas at Midnight

Midnight at the Goat-asis. Sing your baby to bed. Got shadows painted on faces, traces,

of dinner in our heads.

... with apologies to Maria Muldaur

Late Dinner and New Recipes

You know my husband has a little blood sugar issue. So making him wait for dinner is always a risky proposition. I'm not talking about domestic violence, just serious crankiness. I've been talking about these goat empanadas for ages. Then there was a mixup at the butcher, the order was delayed. I spoke at TECHmunch, deadlines, family stuff, and finally it all came together.

I did a quick review of the recipe -- Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough's Goat: Meat ✻ Milk ✻ Cheese; Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2011) --

and thought I'd lay out the mise en place and take some photos at various stages. No problem. Just finish the last edits on the allergy piece I'm working on, then get started. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Knock, knock, who's there?

The neighbor's painter got locked out, could we help him find the spare key? Oops, where did those last edits go? Crap! Did I save over the edits?

Husband comes home early, with a beautiful side of salmon...and I realize I haven't eaten since breakfast, will I make it to dinner? Will he? I just don't know. In order to keep us going 'til dinner is ready, I decide to toast some pita chips and make some tomatillo-avocado salsa. The tomatillos were a little bigger than I'd wanted, and they turned out to be a little bitter. The avocado was a little past its prime, I fiddled around with it trying to make it tastier. More time passed.

So the way it unfolded, I was starting later than I thought.

Then I read the recipe more carefully - somehow I'd missed the "let the dough rest an hour" part.

In all the empanadas -- with brief pauses to photograph stages -- took about three hours to make. What I should have done was make the do-ahead stuff, ahead. Like the filling which is able to be done up to 3 days ahead. The chimichurri, up to a week. But no, I started the whole thing, at once. Late.

In the end, I didn't let the dough rest quite long enough which may have been why they didn't look so pretty. But tasty they were. At least, I thought so. Him, not so much. It was way past his bedtime by the time they were done. And he just prefers beef.

Medianoche means Midnight

Okay, it wasn't exactly midnight. It was more like 9:30 but for some of us, es lo mismo.

I loved this recipe and highly recommend it. I don't recommend doing it all on a day when you're running on caffeine. Do yourself a favor and do the do-ahead parts, ahead. And enjoy! The cinnamon and allspice are lovely. The sweet vermouth dough is silky. And the cabrito, ay mamĺ, que rrrico!

Empanadas Filling Mise en Place

Simmering filling

 

Filling cools while you make chimichurri and roll dough

Dough mise en place

Dough balls

 

Ready for the oven!

 

Done. Now the hard part is waiting...

 

Ahhh

 

Cut and sauced.

The Book

While I could urge you to eat more goat because it's sustainable. But my first rule is that it has to taste good. And goat does. Sensual, Sensible, Sustainability. It has to taste good. It has to be affordable, and we hope it can be sustainable. Happily cabrito is all three. And this cookbook is fun, it's filled with laugh out loud stories, little sidebars with helpful tips and "more to know" advice. Doc just looked at me and asked why I was laughing reading a cookbook.

The recipes include dishes from around the globe (tandoori, tzatziki, cajeta) and most all are made with ingredients anyone can find, from Paris to Peoria.

So get the book. Laugh at the stories. Learn from the authors of Real Food Has Curves. Enjoy these empanadas. Just don't wait till medianoche to eat.

 

And click the badge to go to La Fuji Mama's blog and peruse all the other goaterie posts:

 

We have Winners - Ancient Grains, Mediterranean Meals

Congratulations to the Winners of our two latest book giveaways!

Our theme for these was cooking with grains, ancient grains, modern recipes, integrating whole grains and Mediterranean style dishes into our diets. These two books are recent additions to this genre.

 

Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck goes to Kristen of Batter Licker

 

and

 

The Oldways Table by K. Dunn Gifford and Sara Baer Sinnott goes to Annapet of The Daily Palette.

 

What's your favorite recipe using grains?

Can't wait to see Kristen and Annapet cook up for us!

BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Goat Skewers with a Vinegary Herb Sauce

You're standing at your barbecue grill with a package of hot dogs and you're wondering "why don't I do something more original?" Or maybe you're thinking about where the beef in your burgers came from. Whether you use an indoor grill, a gas grill, a Weber with Kingsford charcoal or a hibachi with fancy Japanese super-coal...What you put on the grill, and how you cook it (brine? marinate? grill as is?) is as important as the tools you use.

BBQ Bonanza 2011

This year, our theme is Sustainability at the Grill. I'm going to be hosting a killer series of guest posts from award-winning cookbook authors, famous chefs, food writers and bloggers, BBQ experts and new converts to the cause, over the next three months. I can almost guarantee that you'll be inspired to expand your grilling horizons, each week, all summer. And there are giveaways, recipes, contests. So fire up that grill - or plug it in - and get ready to rock some amazing sustainable food.

We begin this year's Bonanza with a recipe from my new friends in sustainability, chiefs of the "Goaterie" Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein. Mark and Bruce are the enviably successful authors of several cookbooks, including the Beard nominated Ham. They also write a great blog called Real Food Has Curves.

Photo credit: Denise Woodward, Chez Us

Why We Love Goat

Guest post Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough

Mark and I refer to our selves as the hardest working food writers no one’s ever heard of.  How can it be when we’re North America’s most published food team? Mark’s the writer and I’m the chef.  We’ve developed over 10,000 original recipes over the past 11 years, most of which have been published in one of our 19 cook books, some in our magazine work, and the rest posted on our food blog www.realfoodhascurves.com. The blog is named after our book Real Food Has Curves – a 7-step plan to get off processed food - which was published last May.

This March we received our first James Beard Award nomination for HAM: An Obsession With The Hind Quarter and published its sequel, GOAT: Meat Milk Cheese. According to Bon Appétit Magazine, “If we’re all eating goat in 5 years it will be because of this book.” High praise indeed.

So why goat?  We’d both eaten it in the 70s—Mark in Cancun, while mine was served up by my grandmother’s Jamaican home health aide in Manhattan. Delicious? Yes. But our first tastes were strong, musky, and a bit gamey. Neither of us ran to the butcher looking for more anytime time soon.

Three decades passed before we had the chance to try goat again. We had driven up to Vermont’s Mad River Valley to buy some grass fed ham from North Hollow Farm. To our surprise, Julie and her husband Mike (owners of said farm) were keeping a few goats around with the grass fed cows and pigs.

“They’re going to be slaughtered for meat,” Julie said, “but I don’t know if I’m doing it right. Would you be willing to taste test and let me know what you think?”

This goat meat was nothing like the Caribbean meat we’d both had years earlier. This was sweet, mild, and tender— tasting like a cross between dark meat turkey and pork — we were hooked. No wonder most of the world loves this animal. Did we mention that it can be both kosher and halal? And it accounts for 70% of the red meat eaten on the planet. Goat is going to be the next big thing  - and with any luck, Mark and I will go along for the ride.

 

Goat Skewers with Vinegary Herb Sauce

This recipe appears in Goat: Meat, Milk, & Cheese. (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011)

You'll end up with four skewers. (One per person, maybe? double or triple the recipe at will.)

Some of the best chunks come from the goat leg, the meat sweeter and subtler. We’ve already considered that meat in the Goat and Quince Stew (page 52), but here it’s more elemental, less adorned, a real pleasure on its own. Bruce’s sauce here is sort of like chimichurri (page 111) but skewed more to the Middle East, less to South America.

  • 1/4 cup (55 g) minced fresh chives or the green bits of a scallion
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) stemmed, packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) stemmed, packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3  cup (165 ml) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) goat meat chunks from the leg, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 metal kebab skewers

1. Whir the chives, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, pepper, and salt in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. While the machine is running, pour the olive oil through the open feed tube in a slow dribble to make a light sauce.

-- No food processor? Mince the chives, cilantro, and parsley on a cutting board, then mash them with the other ingredients in a mortar with a pestle until pasty. Drip in the oil, grinding the mixture into a sauce as the oil is added in dribs and drabs. It won't be as smooth as that from a food processor, but it'll do in a pinch.

-- No food processor, no mortar, no pestle? (Are you sure you wanted to buy a goat cookbook?) You can make this sauce by rocking a knife through the herbs on a cutting board until they’re minced, almost pureed, then adding coarse-grained salt and wiping the side of the knife’s blade across the mess, using the grainy salt to further mash the herbs into a pulp. Scrape all this into a bowl, stir in the vinegar and pepper; then whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream.


2. Place half of this herb sauce in a large bowl (reserve the remainder in a separate bowl in the fridge for a garnish). Add the meat cubes, paprika, and cardamom. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.


3. Thread the meat cubes onto the skewers and set them aside at room
temperature while you prepare the grill, either heating a gas grill to high heat (about 550 F [288 C]) or building a high-heat coal bed in a charcoal grill. If you don’t want to use the grill outside, heat a large, heavy grill pan over medium-high heat until smoking. As the grill is heating up, take the reserved sauce out of the fridge so it comes back to room temperature. You can even nuke it for a few seconds to take the chill off (but don’t get it too hot or the taste will become too pronounced, almost bitter).

4. Set the skewers directly over the heat (or in the grill pan). Grill for 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into a cube without touching the skewer registers 160 F (71 C). Serve the skewers with the reserved sauce on the side.

 

❦ ❦ ❦

 

BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:

Click on the logo to visit their site.

 

❦ ❦ ❦

 

Here's Ed at the Rowes Wharf "yurt" and that's their 1st place trophy from the Cape Cod BBQ event. That's right, first place. Stop by one of their locations to sip a free cup of tea, savor some fantastic BBQ and enjoy some old school social networking.

 

Giveaway Rules:

We'll be giving away three Silk Road BBQ Sauce Trios. One trio will be given away in each month: July, August, and September.

Each winner will receive: one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork); one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy); and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).

 

Here's what you have to do to win:

1. Add a comment on any of the BBQ Bonanza posts. I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner from that month's comments.

2. Add a post on your own blog and link back to one of the BBQ Bonanza posts (and let me know which), earn another shot.

3. Add an answer to this question: Which of the sites on the Silk Road BBQ website is NOT a current actual location of one of these yurts? -- Or this one -- in what category did Silk Road BBQ win first place? -- and gain another chance to win.

 

 

Bonus Round!

➜ Bon Appetit says goat may be the next big thing. Tell us your goat story on this post and you will also be entered to win a copy of Mark Scarbrough's and Bruce Weinstein's terrific book.

Mediterranean Mussels & Farro

Maria Speck has given us a great gift; her book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals takes whole grains out of the realm of should and into the province of want. Going from "I know I should eat more of these" to "That looks great - more, please?" is no small feat with something like grains. Whole grains sort of have a small PR problem. If whole grains were a Hollywood starlet, she might be advised to do something slightly naughty to catch a headline. Maybe she could date a bad boy just to get noticed?

Grains have been the culinary equivalent of your plump Auntie, beloved yes, but not one to inspire covetous fantasy. Or, they've been like that Deadhead roommate you once had, who ate everything in shades of gray and brown and dressed the same. All patchouli, unshaven, draped in Indian prints; her Dr Bronner's soap seemed more inspired and flavorful than the food she ate.

With Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Maria Speck gives grains a saucy makeover. From drab to fab, the enticing recipes and gorgeous photos will actually have you skeptics thinking "Hm, I should try this."

Click the image to order from my Powell's Bookshelf. Follow Maria on Twitter @MariaSpeck.

 

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Sara Remington © 2011

 

✔ Remember these 5 Tips for combining a healthy Mediterranean Diet with Gluten-Free eating? Some of those tips can apply here - though Farro is not GF. For example, Tip #3: Cook once, eat often: you can make a large batch of farro ahead of time and then prepared farro can be quickly combined with a salad or tossed into a soup on any harried weeknight.

 

PEI Mussels Share the Spotlight with Saucy Grains

Malpeque Harbor, Prince Edward Island Malpeque-wm Just back from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, I'm inspired to incorporate more seafood into our diet. I'm especially fond of the mussels and oysters from PEI. Having a taste of something plucked from the place it grows offers an unparalleled taste memory. Ropes of these beauties reminded me of jewelry. [recipe and giveaway after the break - read on!] mussels

 

Did you know: Mussels are an excellent lean protein, high in Omega 3s, Vitamin B12 and iron, they're also low in fat. From a sustainability standpoint, mussels are an excellent choice. They grow on ropes (no sand!) and harvesting doesn't damage the habitat. They're filter-feeders so they actually clean their environment.

In this recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Mussels are paired with farro and Mediterranean flair.

 

Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine

Serves 3 or 4 as a light main course, or 4 to 6 as a starter

Farro

  • 11/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Stew

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery stalks (1 to 2 pieces)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 11/2 cups dry white wine
  • 11/2 cups chopped fresh or diced canned tomatoes with their juices, (one 14-ounce can)
  • 11/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

To finish

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. To prepare the farro, bring the water, farro, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, drain any remaining liquid, and set aside.

2. While the farro simmers, rinse the mussels under cold running water, brushing to remove sand and residue on the shells. Remove the beards (hairy clumps around the shell) with tweezers or a sharp knife. Discard chipped mussels. Tap any open mussels and discard if they don’t close. Set the cleaned mussels aside.

3. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, the bay leaves, chile, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add 1/4 cup of the white wine, and cook until syrupy and the liquid is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the water, the remaining 11/4 cups white wine, the pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar.

4. Add the mussels and the farro together with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and steam over medium to medium-high heat, shaking the pot once or twice in between, until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and discard any unopened mussels.

5. To finish, add the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Drizzle the mussels with the olive oil and serve right away in deep plates, garnished with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side.

To get a head start:

Make the farro, as in step 1, ahead (see page 23). The stew, as in step 3, can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Reheat before adding the mussels and farro, as in step 4. The mussels should be bought the day they are cooked. For a speedy, light dish, omit the farro altogether, and do not add the water to the stew.

To vary it:

Easily available and affordable pearl barley plumps up nicely to compete with farro in this dish, or simply use leftover brown rice. You will need about 2 cups cooked grain (for cooking instructions, see page 25).

maria_mussels200Maria's Mediterranean Mussels

 

Giveaway

I love grains with fish. Two simple things together often elevate each other, such is the case with grains and seafood. What is your favorite grain?

Leave a comment with your favorite way to make grains sexy and you will be automatically entered to win a copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.

✦ Alternatively, if you're new to cooking with grains, you may leave a question or a recipe request and also be entered to win!

 

Ed. note: as a Twitter follower pointed out, rather tactlessly, my original title included the words "Meatless Monday" and that would be false as this recipe does contain a non-plant protein. She was "embarrassed for me," so to spare her further trauma, I removed the offending "species-ist" wording. Indeed, this recipe would be wonderful minus the mussels for purists. And, would also be a step toward more sustainable protein for those taking steps toward a truly meat-free Monday. May we all dine with more forgiving and pleasant company.

My Kansha Kitchen

The rhythm of my cooking, my kitchen changes during the holidays as so many of yours do.

There are cookies to bake, candies, lemon curd.

Then there are the traditional roasts and such.

It can be a season of excess: more butter, more spices, more cream than we typically consume. And, truth be told, I like spice, I like butter, I like cream.

After the holidays many launch into their "eat better" modes - cleanses are common, "detox" is heard often.

Even I tend to eat differently on weekdays than on weekends when I'm cooking for two. There are other reasons to sit, reflect and to make changes of course. It's cold and windy so it's nice to sit inside for a bit. Or, then, when you run into some health issues, some decisions get made for you.

For the time being, I am off dairy. Butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt! Turns out, I'm ALLERGIC to dairy. Not "intolerant" but ALLERGIC. Talk about a bummer. I learned as I was in the midst of holiday baking, actually (see above and guess which items can be made without butter. Zero.) It's a moderate allergy as opposed to one that causes anaphylactic shock (like hazelnuts) but the allergist suggested that beginning January 1, I start a total elimination diet removing the three moderate allergens from my diet: dairy, carrots (I know, who the heck has ever heard of this one? Happens that in Europe they have a much higher incidence of this particular allergy than here in the US but it's not that common for either), and almonds. The nuts I thought I COULD eat. Oops.

So with much whining, I launched into this three month trial period of elimination, after which we will reintroduce these three allergens one at a time and see how they are tolerated. You know which one I'm starting with, right?

 

A Different Path is Revealed - Kansha

I'm half-Japanese, "hapa" as we say (if you're a fan of Hawaii 5-0 you'll hear this referring to someone who is half one thing and half another. Usually there "hapa-haoli" which means half-white and is not a compliment. I digress.) Growing up, we ate very "American" food. Due mostly to my Mother's desire to assimilate into her new culture, we had Velveeta, Wonder Bread, Tang. Mm mm. But once in a while we had "her food." And as I got older, I began to eat more of it at college and then at home. After she and my father divorced she ate her own foods, much more regularly. And, we know how much gyoza have figured into my marriage...

 

While I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself (No butter! How will I bake?! No carrots? How do you make mirepoix w/o carrots! What about juicing?) a beautiful thing happened. Elizabeth Andoh sent me her lovely new cookbook, Kansha. I can just about hear my Mother falling over right now because this post already contains about as much Japanese as I speak, in total. But Kansha is a style of cooking and also a philosophy. It's also a gift to me at this moment of sorry self-absorbed focus on deprivation.

Kansha is also a very timely book when so many of us are trying find ways to tread lightly as we consume. In the Kansha philosophy beautiful, healthy food is made using every bit, "heaven and earth" (leaves and roots) of the vegetables. Layers of flavor are achieved through choices of broths and other ingredients, as well as through cooking techniques. Our palates, indeed, all our senses, can become dulled or jaded. Especially with food we find ourselves seeking hotter, spicier, fattier, crunchier, saltier foods in a search for satisfaction. Just as yoga or meditation can ground us and help us shake the frenetic noise in our lives, Kansha cooking can awaken our appreciation for simpler, cleaner flavors. Think of California cuisine versus heavy classic sauce-covered foods. A fresh, first-of-spring asparagus spear doesn't need hollandaise, even if we enjoy it. It's important, once in awhile at least, to simply enjoy the beauty of it - unadorned.

 

 

 

Someday Soon They will Get It

When I saw the news about the Israeli author who got a book deal for a pork cookbook, it was hard not to feel a small sense of sleight. I guess I got the offal wrong when I thought chicken parts were trayf (Hello -- chopped chicken liver? see what I get for writing my Shiksa Varnishkes post on only one cup of coffee.) But I am CERTAIN that pork is not kosher. Of this, I am sure. And he got a book deal.

But, I told myself, be patient. (After all, you're so good at that.) I tried. I smiled, I nodded, I politely declined when one editor didn't "get it."

I believe that the market will catch up to my and my quirky obsession with weird heritage breed pigs and those farmers that I love, working against all odds to save these old breeds from extirpation. When you have an obsession, it helps if others share it. It also helps if they seem like good, salt-of-the-earth types. I've met many and we all agree: we are on the right track and good things will come. The rest of the world will follow.

 

 

The UN declared 2010 to be the Year of Biodiversity. Actually, they declared it several years back but the world slid backwards and the little progress that had been made was lost. The 2010 effort (largely unnoticed by the media, I might add) was meant to re-energize the issue and spread the urgent message that the world is losing one of its more precious resources, the very diversity of life that not only feeds us, but nourishes the planet and sustains life.

So my focus of late has been another interest, at the intersection of ocean conservation and gourmet food. Sustainable seafood has been an interest for years and bringing that message to others, sharing resources and helping people adopt a science-based framework to make better choices... this became my focus. Pigs would have to wait.

Working in the wee hours on my 4th annual Teach a Man to Fish round up, I took a break to check email. And there it was:

New York Magazine - that obscure publication on the periphery of the zeitgeist - sharing Breeds Apart - How to tell your Mangalitsas from your Ossabaws, and six other heritage varieties. Surely, this is a sign. Surely the publishing world will notice. (And yes, if you're a publisher and you may call me Shirley.)


Here I am with American Guinea Hogs (not on the NY Mag list, also missing Mulefoot)

 

So I am now hopeful that I'll get a little more traction with "the pig book" and am, as well, moving forward with "the fish book." Here's a little amuse bouche for you on my favorite topics.

 

Pig Tales: a Love Story -

Pig Tales is a story of seduction. It’s about how America is falling in love with heritage pork.  First it was Kurobuta, then the Mulefoot now it’s the Red Wattle and the Hungarian Mangalitsa that seem to dominate chefs’ and food writers’ attention. Taste memories for good old fashioned pork, our various pork-centric food traditions and our newest celebrities - the farmers - all play a part in the story. Pig Tales is a story of my love for pigs, for the farmers who also love them and are trying to save them from extinction, and about the chefs whose love for heritage products is bringing them back to our tables. This is about our love for flavorful food history and for underdogs.

The Last Fishermen -

Who are the people whose livelihood is disappearing with the vanishing wild fish?

The Last Fishermen will introduce a seafood-savvy public to the fishermen who supply them with wallet-card approved seafood. As the farm-to-table message permeates the food culture, the same links are being explored in the ocean-to-table chain. From community-supported fisheries to fishing cooperatives, new models are emerging in an attempt to salvage what may be a disappearing lifestyle.

The Last Fishermen will explore sustainable seafood issues - from the vantage point of the other end of the pole: the fishermen holding it.

 

 

Secrets of Korean Cuisine Revealed

While I may doubt that eating only Korean cuisine would keep me slim, I have no doubt that Ms. Yongja Kim is a gifted teacher. With grace and humour and a great depth of knowledge, she adeptly led an assemblage of culinary stars through a tutorial on Korean cuisine last week at the home of the Korean Consulate.

Korean lanterns at the front door

Ms. Kim's new cookbook, The Secret to Staying Young and Slim, Korean Cuisine, is a beautifully photographed and well-designed cookbook. (See review and Bulgogi Recipe, here.) Your restaurant favorites are explained - do you know the difference between Bulgogi and Galbi? - and ingredients are spelled out. As well, she gives brief etiquette tips and serving suggestions. Both the phonetic spelling of Korean terms "GOCHUJANG" and the English terms are given for ingredients (chili paste) - making it easy to find or to ask for ingredients. I recommend H-Mart for Asian groceries.

 

Grace Niwa, the powerhouse behind New Asian Cuisine (along with Jaden Hair); Tim & Nancy Cushman (O-Ya, read my post on them here); and German Lam (Glam Foods.)

Mrs. Yoon Gyung Kim, wife of the Korean Consulate introduces culinary and consular dignitaries in the audience. (To my embarrassment, she included me!)

Ms Yongja Kim awaiting her intro.

Pajon demo

How to turn pajon.

German volunteers next.

Click through to see more photos and continue reading

 

I learned two words in Korean:

Ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo (I think?) = Delicious!

and

Thank you = kamsahamnida!

 

I had a wonderful lunch with members of the International Women's Club and Raymond Ost and Patricia Yeo at my table.

 

Now, I'm already cooking my way through the book. Here's my new, authentic galbi. The grated Asian pear adds subtle sweetness. These are so enticing. You eat one piece (snip between the bones with kitchen shears) and then you want another, and another. Soon you're a sated, happy, slightly sticky mess. This afternoon I made beef broth with udon.


 

 

Growing up we occasionally ate bulgogi, a recipe my father acquired some how. Always mystified me how a poor white kid from Jersey ended up with a recipe file from faraway places. We had an electric indoor table top grill and there was a giant Tupperware bowl he'd mix his marinade in. We would eagerly await this special meal. I particularly love the combination of hot rice and cold spicy kimchi (he also made his own, telling me how in Korea they ferment it in big clay pots buried just so). Later when my mother would take me back to Japan and we visited a special cousin we delighted in sharing kimchi together, something my mother never enjoyed as much as I do.

These flavors are truly memorable and I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn first hand from teachers like Ms. Yongja Kim, even the boy from Jersey.

Kamsahamnida to Grace Niwa for inviting me and to Mrs. Yoon Gyung Kim for hosting us.

Now go get cooking!

 

Do you cook Korean food at home? What do you make?

Email me if you'd like a copy of the recipes she shared.