Archive | October, 2011

Review of INGREDIENTS

31 Oct

At its heart, Ingredients looks not only at the nutritional value of unprocessed food but also at its aesthetic value. Farmers and restaurateurs share their knowledge and appreciation for real food as well as the process of taking it from the earth to your table. Many food documentaries share a disdain for our current cultural habits in our food choices. However, Ingredients highlights something as natural to us as the food it praises, and that is relationship. People may not commonly digest the concept of beauty and relationship with food, but everyone can grasp a need and a desire to connect with people. This film encourages you to ask, “Who is the person behind my food?” As our culture explores less-processed foods, cutting down obesity (especially in our youth), and the widespread need for allergen-free foods, many people are starting to wonder about where our food comes from and what’s really in it. Ingredients gets into the heads, hearts, and even the homes of people who have healthy relationships with food and desire to make a living by connecting  good food and the public at large. There is a nod to the past, to the traditional ways of gathering food, that seems to want to push its way back into our culture but is in tension with our intense and constant demand for quick, easy options and our desire to eat foods from wherever we want, whenever we want. Ingredients acknowledges this collision between thought and practice and seems to break things down to a very simple value. It starts at your local farm or farmers market. It starts at restaurants that are dedicated to using locally grown foods. It starts on field trips during which children are shown where food comes from, at places where they can be part of the process and taste the goodness of food firsthand. Ingredients makes a firm but sincere statement about food and the direction that it needs to take, with a loving invitation to us to partner with those making it happen so that they can continue to do so bringing natural foods from the earth to our tables.

 

by Erica Nevius

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Hot Cheese

30 Oct

This is a simple recipe that I cooked up a long time ago. It makes a quick meal or snack. We have always called it “hot cheese,” but the chiles are mild.  (You can make it “Very Hot Cheese” if you add more salsa, or “Extremely Hot Cheese” if you add a few canned jalapeño slices.)

Cover a large flour tortilla with thin slices of cheddar cheese. (A layer of shedded cheese works, too.) Open a can of mild whole green chiles, drain the liquid out of the can, and slice up a few of the chiles lengthwise. Arrange the chiles on the cheese. (I like the wagonwheel pattern in the diagram.) Chop up a couple of garlic cloves and sprinkle them on top of the chiles. You can also sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of chunky salsa or jalapeño relish. Put the tortilla on a cookie sheet and broil it in the over for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese melts. (Watch it so it doesn’t burn.) You can use this as a main dish (one or two per person) or as a snack.

Recipe by Randa Dubnick

The image is “Hot Cheese Diagram,”  a mixed media drawing  by Randa Dubnick.  All rights reserved.

Still Life with Vegetables

28 Oct
Still Life with Vegetables

Yesterday was the last pick-up day of the season for The Food Project, which is a local CSA (community supported agriculture organization).  From May to October, every Thursday afternoon, we have gone out to Long Hill Gardens here in Beverly, Massachusetts, to pick up our weekly grab bag of produce. We had hoped to take some pictures out there yesterday, but it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs.  So instead, I took this picture of some of what was in our “grab bag.”

There is a lot of work involved in being part of a CSA, I will give you that.  But there is a lot to like about it, too.  And one of the things I like best is that it brings out the adventure and creativity  in cooking.

To get this photo, I actually just put my iPhone camera down inside the bag and took a picture.  The resulting light effects gives this the look of a Rembrandt-era still life, a reminder that there is beauty—and even artistry—to be found in the garden and in the kitchen.

Photo by Randa Dubnick.  All rights reserved.

Adventures in My Exploding Refrigerator

27 Oct
Fridge Goes Boom! (art by Randa Dubnick)

Tomorrow is the last day of the CSA share for the year, and I have to say, I’m relieved. I’ll miss all of the fresh vegetables (and even strawberries and watermelons), but after five months of participating in a CSA through the Food Project, not to mention harvesting tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies easily grown in containers from my own small garden, I am struggling to keep my fridge from bursting. And that’s not counting the 12 winter squashes sitting on my kitchen counter. I’ve tried freezing the peppers and drying the herbs, but I never can seem to keep up. I love to cook, so I rarely see it as a chore, but I do have to make sure I set aside many hours each week just to make sure I use everything up all of the food before it goes bad—and that’s after the 2 hours or more we spend going out to Long Hill to collect the share and pick our own green beans, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and chard.

I split the CSA share with my parents, but even so, it is an awful lot of food to keep up with. Every weekend, I have to go through all the food in my refrigerator and on my counter in an effort that I can only describe as triage. I use up whatever I can by making soups and sauces that can be frozen (I haven’t graduated to canning yet). And since many of the vegetables in the CSA share are unfamiliar to me, such as turnips, it can be quite challenging to figure out what to do with them. But even relatively simple foods such as radishes can be a challenge. How many radishes can one person possibly eat?

Beets are my favorite vegetable—or at least, my favorite vegetable from the CSA share. (In fact, my true favorite would either be artichokes or avocados––if you consider avocados to be vegetables, which technically they’re not––but so far I haven’t gotten that lucky, nor do I expect to. However, we’ve ended up with quite a surplus of shallots this season.) My least favorite vegetable, I’m sorry to say, is the turnip. I just can’t figure out what to do with it. I know, I know––they can be used to make faux mashed potatoes––but I already have plenty of potatoes, and I’m not a fan of faux foods, thank you very much.

Even though the season is just about over, I have a long way to go to use up all these squashes, turnips, potatoes, and shallots, so this section will feature ongoing posts about the CSA share experience, including pictures and recipes, so stay tuned!

Pear and Oatmeal Treat

26 Oct
pastel by Randa Dubnick
Pears on a Blue Plate

Great food can be simple, like these pears on a plate. The important thing is to appreciate the scent, shape, and beautiful colors of pears. I like to eat pears plain, just like the pears in this drawing.  But here’s another idea for a simple snack with pears and oatmeal.  Dice up a pear and put it in a microwave-safe bowl (like a cereal bowl).  Add some ginger (about 1/4 tsp),  about 2 tsp sweetener (sugar or substitute), a pat of butter, and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup oatmeal.  (No need to add liquid: the oatmeal will cook in the pear juices).  Put this in the microwave for about 45 seconds on high.  If you can’t smell the fragrance of the pears and the ginger, give it another few seconds in the microwave.  The consistency of the oatmeal will be more like a fruit crisp than a bowl of cereal. It’s a nice treat for a fall afternoon. This is for one person, but you can make more if you want to share.  And you can add apples or cherries or whatever else you like.

The image is a pastel drawing that I drew a few years ago, posted on at http://randiart.blogspot.com.  All rights reserved.

Welcome!

26 Oct

Welcome to Seasoning for Every Palate, a blog dedicated to food writing and food art: recipes of every kind; food memories; kitchen science; culinary history; diet and nutrition; fruit, vegetable, and herb gardening; and restaurant, cookbook, and product reviews. It will also feature articles on related matters, such as permaculture and food politics. Contributors come from all walks of life and provide many different perspectives.