Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I first discovered the Vendy awards two years ago when my favorite lunch cart, sausage gurus Hallo Berlin, won the coveted prize. The Vendy's are the street food equivalent of the James Beard Awards--a hallowed prize that deserving open-air food vendors can lord over their neighborhood water dog stand.
Alas, Rolf and Wolfgang, the rad German dudes who fry up some quality sausages over at Hallo Berlin (and this praise is coming from a Wisconsin boy, don't forget) are not in the running this year. But there are a lot of deserving vendors on the docket. My boy Matt just wrote a piece about this year's finalists, and I was even Robin to his Batman on his trip to Kwik Meal.
Learn more about this year's Vendy ceremony here.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Man, how nice must it have been to live back in the days when bisque, beef, duck, and foie gras could all be consumed guilt-free in one meal?
I just ran across this fascinating archive of old menus on the New York Public Library website. This promises hours of fun...
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
This is the first of what I hope to be many reviews on TO BEET. Not only will I be writing reviews of books, magazines, foodstuffs, and foot massages, I hope that other people will chime in with their own reviews in due time too.
ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver is a new entry in the hot category of books that already features The Omnivore's Dilemma and What to Eat among others. In a way, I see these books as the equivalent of fantasy sports for the dedicated food lover. They're a chance for us city folk to live vicariously through the people who are really at the forefront of the sustainable agriculture revolution, and at the same time learn more about where our food comes from.
Like The Hundred Mile Diet, Kingsolver's family takes on the challenge of eating locally for an entire year. That means what they can't grow themselves, they have to buy from or trade with local farmers. So, no pineapples, bananas, Cheetos, or Ben and Jerry's for 365 days. To make this challenge doable, the family relocates from the barren American Southwest, and hangs their shingle at their summer farmhouse in the Appalachian mountains--a climate that will allow for a lot greater variety of local produce and a lot fewer meals of nopales and scorpion meat.
Without delving too deeply into the book's plot, the highlight of the book is certainly Kingsolver's ability to put food choices into perspective. While it's obviously a buttload of work to grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and then make dozens of pounds of tomato sauce to store for a winter lycopene-infusion as she did, it's inspiring to see such a short trip from garden to plate. While most of us probably don't have the stamina, skills, or desire to take on this big of a challenge, we can still think about smaller ways to minimize the out-of-season and packaged foods that most Americans rely on.
That being said, the heart of this book focuses on reminding us that prior to "cheap" forms of long-distance transportation, humans pretty much ate what could grow in their immediate vicinity. And if that meant going without fresh eggs in late winter, you had to find another way to get a daily protein source. While it may seem like a human right to have raspberries in New York in January, it's actually just a privilege that ends up costing a lot of fossil fuel.
While Kingsolver's writing style is a little cutsier than I would prefer, I have to accept that the core audience for this book is likely middle-aged mothers who are interested in safer ways to feed their family. But even as a handsome, hip urbanite, I found a lot to take away from her practical advice. There are simple, seasonal recipes throughout that can help you make the best use of ingredients as they're available. And there are informative sidebars written by the author's husband that explain some of the politics of the locavore movement and point to important resources for learning more. Over the next few weeks I intend to explore these resources and I'll point them out on the blog as they become relevant.
Overall, this book is a must-read if you're interested in the hows and whys of the locavore movement, and if you want some concrete tips that can help you integrate local, seasonal foods into your own diet year-round.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
School started this week, and it looks like cafeterias across the country are making positive steps to offer healthier options.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
One thing he mentions is that especially in climates with short growing seasons, local farmers are scrambling to make a year's income in only 3-4 short months of harvest. Therefore, unlike the supermarket (read: California) farmers who have most of the year to get a return on their investment, they have to charge a premium price during those precious summer months.
In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver offers a way to help your local farmers out and therefore encourage them to return to the market the next season. Instead of just buying what you need for the week or for the summer, buy a bunch of extra tomatoes, peaches, berries, garlic, melons, herbs and such, and can or freeze them for use during the winter. That way when you want to make a tomato sauce or smoothy in December, you can reach for your stored produce. I actually bought a bunch of extra pints of berries this weekend and froze the extras--they'll be much better yogurt mix-ins than the bland supermarket option in a couple of months. And now that farmer my local farmer has that $10, instead of Key Foods. And right now those berries, tomatoes, squash and melons are much cheaper at the Farmer's Market than they will be out of season in the grocery store in a few months--so in this case you can actually save money in the long run and end up with a better meal.
Monday, September 3, 2007
My version of a vegetable garden is the local Farmer's Market. And since I'm a novice at this whole seasonal-produce thing, I thought I'd adapt the garden journal to a market journal. I bought a classy little notebook that's small enough to carry with me to the market so I can write down what I bought, whom I bought it from, and even what I later cooked with it. If you're like me, you'll forget which heirloom tomato had the best flavor by this time next year, and having it all conveniently jotted down will avoid monumental mistakes.
The Apica notebook I bought is a Japanese import--only a couple of bucks but sturdy and small enough to put in your pocket. I picked mine up at Spoonbill and Sugartown in Williamsburg, but they're avail on the internet as well. Any notebook will do, of course, but how many other brands carry such an appealing example of Japanese to English translation gone awry? "Most Advanced Quality Gives Best Writing Features," is proudly displayed on the cover of my new Apica.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I don't fancy the M-F Midtown lunch either, for the reasons Cease noted below. Plus, the crack-speed salad makers always leave me regretting at least one ingredient choice (sunflower seeds instead of almond slivers, for example).
My lunch sack of choice is a reusable bag I found at Pearl River last year. The size is perfect because it can fit two lunches, so I save time packing and don’t need to carry it daily. It’s colorful and flowery. So if that’s not your style, look for plain ones at drug stores.
You could also scour eBay for lunch boxes – instead of Ninja Turtles, I like the construction worker-style tin pail. Add a canvas strap to sling it over your shoulder. One more thing: Get your company to ditch the paper and plastic and invest in silverware and reusable plates.