Thursday, October 27, 2005

Food and Class

By championing the environmental, cultural, and gastronomic superiority of small-scale farming, the Slow Food movement offers a flavorful alternative to the bland, nutritionless fare of America's agribusiness giants. The movement seeks to narrow the chasm between food's consumption and production, preserving biological and cultural diversity along with taste. Unfortunately, the equally wide chasm between America's rich and poor has limited the model's reach: while locally grown food is available throughout the country, it is significantly more expensive than its imported, industrial competitors. Things weren't always this way, Tom Philpott writes in Grist. For the bulk of human history, people have lived on locally grown food; only the wealthy few could afford to import exotic delicacies. Then cheap labor, massive subsidies, and large-scale operations of modern agribusiness pushed the price of food hauled long distances to unprecedented lows. America is now hooked on industrial food, and the consumption of small-scale agricultural products lands primarily on the tables of well-heeled urbanites. Rural America, caught in a long-term economic decline, consumes an overwhelmingly industrial foods diet, and even people involved in the production, preparation, and presentation of locally grown grub can scarcely afford to purchase their own products. Grist exists to tell the untold stories, spotlight trends before they become trendy, and engage the apathetic. It claims: "We're fiercely independent in our coverage; we throw brickbats when they're needed and bestow kudos when they're warranted. And while we take our work seriously, we don't take ourselves seriously, because of the many things this planet is running out of, sanctimonious tree-huggers ain't one of them." Well worth keeping up with.


Friday, October 21, 2005

The Science Of Cooking

Learn a little bit of the sweet science behind cooking at this fun site. The articles and other information on The Science of Cooking website scientifically break down food-related techniques such as Pickling, Baking, Organic Farming and Candy-Making. Rummage through one of the food topics which include "Candy", Bread", "Eggs", "Pickles", "Meat", and "Seasoning". There are lots of cool features to explore including the "Candy-o-matic" (which shows how different candies are made) and the "Kitchen Lab", an experimental feature of each yummy section. Discover how a pinch of curiosity can improve your cooking! Explore recipes, activities, and Webcasts that will enhance your understanding of the science behind food and cooking.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The All-Purpose Turkey Site

America's Test Kitchen, publisher of the fabulous Cooks Illustrated magazine, has updated their Turkey Help website designed to answer all questions about making Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners featuring our favorite bird. This year, they've added more recipes, new equipment recommendations and shopping sources, and both a video and photo essay on how to carve a turkey.

Here are a few of the tips included in this rich information site:
1. A stuffing bag is one of the Useful Turkey Tools, but if you don't want to buy one, it's easy to construct from cheesecloth.
2. To keep gravy warm at the table, as well as easy to pour, use an insulated coffee carafe. It cuts down on spills and keeps gravy hot throughout the meal.
3. If you don't have a storage container to protect your pie, the bowl from a salad spinner makes a great cover.
4. To easily rinse brined turkey, place it on a wire rack, set the rack in your (empty) sink, and use the spray hose to wash off the turkey.

Turkey Help

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Goddesses of Chocolate

At Chocolate Deities you'll find everything from the Goddess of Willendorf to Kokopelli lovingly preserved in handmade chocolate. You can choose the scary visage of the Irish Earth goddess Ma Gog in her Sheela na Gig visage complete with gaping vagina. Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-faced god, is available in dark, white, or milk chocolate. Our advice? Go with the full pound of milk chocolate formed in the image of the Goddess of WIllendorf. She's a 30,000-year-old fertility figure. Take the advice of the makers of these delectable deities and hold her in your hands, feel the weight of her voluptuous body, gaze on her tremendous breasts. As you let the chocolate melt slightly in your hands, bite her head off and see if she's as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny rip-off. Chocolate Deities are handcrafted of excellent quality Belgian, fair-trade dark, milk and white chocolate by family chocolatiers in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Each one carries with it the story of that particular deity and implicitly a wish. The designs are unique, accomplished by a design and sculptural team that includes Jeanne Fleming, Jessica Bard, Natasha Brooks-Sperduti and Cristina and Diego Cid of Creators of Legend. They can custom make any deity you may require, given enough lead time.

Chocolate Dieties

Monday, October 10, 2005

Community-Based Food Systems

With an increased concern over the nature of food production across the globe, it would make sense that a number of organizations and foundations would see fit to address these conditions through any number of crucial initiatives. Launched in 2000, Food & Society is one such initiative. Created by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the purpose of the initiative is ìto support the creation and expansion of community-based food systems that are locally owned and controlled, environmentally sound, and health promoting.î On their homepage, visitors can sign up to receive news updates and look through a calendar of upcoming events. Another highlight of the homepage is the ìFood in the Newsî, which features the latest information on such topics as farmersí markets and recent reports, such as "Perceptions of the U.S. Food System: What and How Americans Think About Their Food".

Food & Society

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Family That Eats Together

Name How often does a book come along that will change your life? The Surprising Power of Family Meals will. Digesting its information and implementing even a few of its helpful suggestions will benefit every member of your family in deep and lasting ways.

The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier is the first book to take a complete look at a ritual so common it flies beneath our radar screens. Virtually universal a generation ago, family supper has undergone a striking transformation. No longer honored by society as a time of day that must be set aside, some families see it as little more than a quaint relic. But others are beginning to recognize it as a lifeline – a way to connect with their loved ones on a regular basis and to get more enjoyment out of family life.

The Surprising Power of Family Meals presents stories, studies, and arguments from the fields of psychology, education, nutrition, family therapy, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and religion. It provides examples of families and communities around North America responding creatively to the pressures of a 24/7 world to incorporate memories of their own childhood meals and to share strategies for taking what is best from our past and transforming it to meet current needs.

Miriam Weinstein is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. As a journalist, she has won several awards from the New England Press Association. Her work has appeared in Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe magazine, Hope, and ParentSource. She has written extensively for the on-line magazines Jewish Family & Life! as well as for A former staff member for North Shore Weeklies and freelancer for Essex County Newspapers, she writes restaurant reviews and food columns as well as features on a wide variety of subjects. Her previous books include Yiddish: A Nation of Words and Prophets & Dreamers: A Selection of Great Yiddish Literature. She lives in Manchester, Massachusetts, with her husband and has two grown children.

Miriam Weinstein, 272 pages, ISBN: 1-58642-092-5

Random House Steerforth

Saturday, October 01, 2005

All About Omelets

Omelets have been a part of French cuisine for hundreds of years. One of the earliest texts about French cooking is a single large chapter in the manuscript called Le Ménagier de Paris. Written around 1393, Le Ménagier has two recipes for alumelles, thought to be an early reference to flat omelets. In 1653, François Pierre de la Varenne published his Le Patissier François with 22 recipes for sweet and savory aumelettes, many of which are almost identical to recipes published three centuries later. The place of the omelet today in a French meal is not as a breakfast dish, but as an entrée (a first course) or a dessert. Add a little extra milk and sugar to a basic omelet preparation and you have a custard. Add a little flour and the omelet becomes a crepe batter. Early omelets were served flat or rolled. Nowadays, they can be flat, rolled, folded, stacked, or souffléed. They can be savory or sweet. The filling can be mixed with the eggs or rolled inside the cooked eggs or spread across the top of the finished dish. Peter Hertzmann savors the life and times of the venerable omelette in his latest offering on the inspired, and inspiring, à la carte website.

à la carte