Sunday, January 27, 2008

Eat Yer Greens

Brussel sprouts. Broccoli. Green beans. Most kids don’t like them much. But what if we hide these healthy foods in chocolate chip cookies? Jeepers, the tots will never know…

Such is the claim behind two best-selling cookbooks (one by Missy Chase Lapine, the other by Jessica Seinfeld) that sneak vegetables into everyday dishes. Raymond Sokolov of the Wall Street Journal reviewed them in Saturday’s paper.

The books contain recipes like mac-n-cheese (the box variety) with white been puree and oatmeal raisin cookies with spinach puree. The premise here is that kids will get the nutrients and vitamins from these veggies without ever fussing. But Sokolov raises a fine question—down the road, how will kids learn to like or even recognize veggies if they are masquerading in other (often processed or sweet) foods?

The best line of his article: “These women treat vegetables the way Victorian mothers treated sex, with silence.” He urges instead for culinary transparency. Real food, introduced gradually.

I agree. It’s fine if kids don’t like spinach. Tastes change and mature. Think of the foods you loved as a five-year-old. Tomato slices on pumpernickel and a mid-afternoon espresso? Probably not, unless you were a highly sophisticated little darling.

Here’s the thing: a brownie with spinach is still a brownie. It’s not something you’d be serving to your children at every meal (I hope). So when kids do have sweets, I don’t think the addition of mashed cauliflower is necessary. Throw a few Flintstones vitamins into the cake batter instead (joking).

I love veggies. I just ate a sweet potato. And now I am going to have a cinnamon cupcake. Maybe I could’ve found a way to combine the two while baking, but I didn’t bother. There’s a better way!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Me and my Paddle

A while back I alerted my loyal readers to a new no-knead bread recipe that I ran across. Since then, I've gotten a hold of the book that the recipe came from, and I've been trying out some of the other variations on the basic recipe. I made the light whole wheat dough, and gave pita bread a try. My first two pitas were a little overcooked, but the second two came out well. My advice for anyone else trying the pita recipe is to keep a close eye on them during baking, and pull them as soon as they start browning even a little.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pollan Q&A

Michael Pollan has a new book out called IN DEFENSE OF FOOD. I'm still waiting for my copy, but from what I've heard, it's really quality stuff (which doesn't surprise me since his last book, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA was bomb). Coincidentally, a friend of mine has been working diligently on the launch of, and she just posted a really interesting Q&A with Pollan.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Are You Pernil?

Yo. I spent New Year's in Puerto Rico--a country that gives major props to my favorite eatin' animal, the pig. I'll admit, I ate a nice chunk of this guy:

And no, I don't regret it.

Coincidentally, upon my return, Mark Bittman had posted an online video about cooking Pernil, a Puerto Rican pork shoulder specialty. Can't wait to try it out, but I'm gonna have to find someone other than my vegetarian, Jewish lady friend to help me polish it off. Any takers?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm Back

Happy New Year to everyone. While I was away, I read Judith Jones' memoir, The Tenth Muse.
Jones is a legendary Knopf editor who 'discovered' some of the most popular and influential cookbook writers of the 20th century--from Julia Child to Marcella Hazen to Madhur Jaffrey. Before Julia and Judith teamed up, the country was headed towards a future of TV dinners and jello salads. If it weren't for the food revolution that they started, any semblance of good home cooking that still exists in America would have likely completely disappeared.

And for a book editor who's very interested in good food, this book was a fascinating look at how hands-on and collaborative Jones' projects were. Before the much more corporate publishing environment of today, she was able to fly basically around the world to work with her authors, test recipes, and eat some of the best food available. Not a bad gig.

Check out the NPR Weekend Edition interview with Jones here.