April 28, 2013
There’s a lot of bad science out there. Even I, a non-scientist, can tell. We are constantly bombarded with misinformation, and a lot of it has to do with food and health. We have become a nation bizarrely obsessed with health and medicine. It seems that nearly every article in the newspaper is related to health and medicine, as is a huge chunk of the evening news, and much other media. Is that all we think about anymore? Could this obsession be, well, unhealthy? Are we are now the dog being wagged by the medical-pharmaceutical industry?
And is it any wonder, therefore, that some of us have developed, let us say, a certain sense of cynicism when the latest news is blasted out to the world? Do this, don’t do that. Eat this, not that. Oh wait, do this or eat that instead of what we told you yesterday. Nowadays I just hit the mute button or turn the page.
Each new study is touted as gospel, and often a mere correlation is mis-interpreted into a cause-and-effect relationship. Correlation does not necessarily mean one thing causes the other! (If more of us understood statistics, and how to interpret them, I suspect we would be less prone to being misled by all this information.)
There are sites that try to de-bunk some of this bad science, and one that I have come across, thanks to a recent post to the NYT’s Diner’s Journal, is the blog, Science-ish. Don’t you love that name? Blogger Julia Belluz has recently taken to task Gweneth Paltrow’s new cook book, “It’s All Good,” about a severe elimination diet she put herself - and her children! - through. All this cleansing, detoxing stuff…seriously, your body knows how to cleanse itself, folks! It was, um, built to do so.
And this reminds me of the juicing craze. (Excuse me while I climb a little higher on my soapbox.) Do you really need a bazillion times the normal intake of vitamin [whatever] that you’ll get from puréeing massive amounts of leafy vegetables? What do you think your body does with all that excess? Uh, it eliminates it. Your body can’t use that overload, doesn’t need it, doesn’t want it. Plus, with juicing, you’ve ruined or strained out the fiber - and the deliciousness! - you would have gotten had you eaten the whole food. Remember that term - WHOLE food.
On the lighter side of questionable food topics, is the practice of throwing out food as soon as it slips past its sell-by or expiration date. We throw out shocking amounts of food, and even though I teased my late father mercilessly about keeping really old (often rank) food around, it is true that many foods are fine beyond those dates. Some of them are described in this NPR article.
(p.s. Now, I wonder how many incorrect facts I have put into this post?!)
April 13, 2013
A COMMUNITY POTLUCK AT A SOUP KITCHEN BRINGS THE COMMUNITY TOGETHER
Slow Food Central New Jersey and Elijah’s Promise of New Brunswick are holding their second annual Eat Local Meet Local potluck dinner on Friday, May 3, with the goal of bringing together people from all walks of life to share a meal of delicious, local food.
“This is a great way for people to come together to network, learn from one another and work together to build a healthier, stronger food community for all!” says Lisanne Finston, Elijah’s Promise’s Executive Director.
There is also an educational component: “The fast food industry has taught the public to like the taste of junk food,” says Jim Weaver, cofounder and co-leader of Slow Food Central Jersey. “We must collaborate to undo this. Through education, events and community involvement we can retrain people’s palates.”
Participants are encouraged to bring a dish made of local food (if possible). In addition there will be food from local businesses and farms such as Promise Culinary School, Beechtree Farm, Tre Piani Restaurant, George Street Co-op, Tula Restaurant and Lounge, Pitspone Farm, Great Road Farm, Griggstown Farm Market, OQ Coffee and more.
The event will take place on Friday, May 3 from 6:00-8:00 pm at Promise Culinary School. Food will be served buffet-style and there will be informal discussion groups about food, sustainability and food justice. Come, meet new people, enjoy great food and help change the way we eat.
Promise Culinary School, 211 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick.
Free, bring a dish to share. Donations are welcome.
Questions: please email email@example.com or call 732-762-1546.
October 21, 2012
Food Day, created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is Oct 24. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.
Locally, the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative (PSGC) is starting small, but looks forward to growing events at Princeton Public Schools and all around town in the coming years. They are participating in/supporting numerous events over the coming week, including a very cool pop-up white dinner on October 25. (Don’t know what a white dinner is? Read this, and get out your white togs. Or not - it is, after all, past Labor Day.)
For the dinner, Corner House partners with Princeton University to present Dîner Inn Blanc, a “flash” family dinner on Thursday, October 25 with check-in and seating at 5:45 p.m. Twelve to 24 hours before the event, registrants will receive via email the site and directions. At the dinner, PSGC members will be setting tables and scooping Bent Spoon ice cream made with Princeton School Gardens herbs (which Michelle Obama also enjoyed in Princeton recently!).
Bring your family and join members of your Princeton community and Princeton University for a sit-down, family-style dinner held at an outside site. Dinner is $5 per person or $20 per family. Click for more info and online registration…[UPDATE ON 10/23 - THIS DINNER IS SOLD OUT.]
July 25, 2012
If you’re looking to revamp your diet, consider this 5-part workshop series on establishing new habits for healthy and satisfying eating. It is led by Judith Robinson and held at the Nassau Inn. At each session a one-day menu plan will be given to participants to begin the process.
The fist two sessions are July 31 (”Creating New Habits of Eating“) and August 7 (”Sources of Protein Besides Meat“), 6:30-8:00pm. The last three sessions will be in the Fall.
Judith Robinson had her first organic garden in 1974 and has been researching and teaching about healthy eating habits and organic growing ever since then. She is the manager and co-developer of the Princeton Farmers Market and has her own company, Our World Our Choice. She has produced and directed videos on organic farming and environmental concerns and is currently working on a book connecting the health of soils to the health of food.
Cost is $25 per session. To register or for more information, please call 609.356.0558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 4, 2012
I couldn’t fit two recipes into today’s In The Kitchen column in the Packet, so am including a second one here. This chili, one of my weeknight delivered dinners from Simply Nutritious Meals, was simple, yet delicious. It came with a little cornbread muffin that was not too sweet.
When owner Tiffany Millen shared her recipe with me, I was shocked to find it calls for green pepper, but not green chili. If you asked me, I would invariably say I don’t like green bell pepper! I could have sworn I tasted green chili, and will defintely use a little can of those when I make this myself, but for those of you who prefer bell pepper, go for it. Maybe it was the cilantro that gave the dish the southwestern taste? As a food writer, I love it when something like this happens and blows my pre-or mis!-conceptions out of the water!
Simply Nutritious Meals White Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth- homemade or organic reduced sodium
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
One 11-14oz package of frozen white corn or sweet white and yellow corn mix but fresh when in season is best!
1 can 15-16oz white kidney beans or presoaked and boiled dried beans if you have the time
2 cups cooked chicken breast, think leftovers or a rotisserie chicken breast shredded
In 4 quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions, peppers and garlic, stirring occasionally until peppers and onions are tender.
Stir in remaining ingredients except chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Stir in chicken; simmer about 5 minutes or until hot. (1 serving of 1 1/3 cups= 320 calories, 6g fat, protein 31g, fiber 11g)
Serve over crumbled corn bread or brown rice and top with extra cilantro and sriracha sauce for added heat.
September 12, 2011
I found this soup at Whole Foods Market, and really liked it. The label, “Butternut Possole” (can you believe they misspelled it?), caught my eye, as I love posole, which to me is any stew-like dish made with hominy. I don’t normally buy their soups because they are as salty as Campbell’s, but this one, I noticed had only 33mg per serving - amazing!
It is part of a new line, a worker told me, with a little Health Starts Here logo on the label, denoting healthier versions. That seems a little ironic to me, in a store that is supposed to pride itself on healthfulness in the first place, but so be it. This soup was also fat free.
But it didn’t actually have posole in it! It had regular kernel corn, along with zucchini, butternut squash, and collard greens, and plenty of good seasonings like ancho chile powder and lime juice, though, so it was delicious. But now I’ve got to make some real posole. My green chile stew (similar to the link) with hominy and Cherry Grove Farm pork is bubbling away on my stove as I type.
June 5, 2011
Garnished is an occasional post on culinary news and issues that strike my fancy - the good, the bad, and the delicious. Comment as you see fit (but civilly).
Spotted in the New York Times on June 1, a sign of our wonderfully global times:
At Long Last, Tacos in Paris
(NYT) Candelaria, in the Marais district, claims to be the city’s first authentic taqueria.
And what about the uproar about the new Google recipe search function? (See Julia Moskin’s recent article in the NYT.) Used to be I could google for a recipe for something and besides all the ordinary stuff on the large sites, I’d also find wonderful, quirky sites with more interesting recipes. Many of these sites are run by devoted bloggers, and have quite a following. Now they’re pushed to the back of the pack, not even the first half dozen pages of search results in many cases. Google, shame on you! (And ditto to all the other search engines who do the same.)
Check out the cover of the new issue of Saveur - gorgeous ribs! And inside, get a load of this smoked prime rib!
The July Fancy Food Show is in Washington DC this year, instead of the usual Javits center in New York, which is being renovated and enlarged (and hopefully with a better cooling system!). My Packet In The Kitchen colleague Pat Tanner is going, and I know she’ll bring back all sorts of news on new trends and old favorites in the world of specialty foods. It’s nice that, for a change, some of the great restaurants on the DC dining scene, once considered so stodgy, will get some press too!
What’s more, the National Archives’ forthcoming exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet,” will be open by then, too, a regular culinary festival in our nation’s capital.
How safe is our food? Well, after the deadly e. coli outbreak in Europe, we can only hope that our own government will finally stand up to the influence of the industrial food production lobbies (I feel like I’m back in the 60s saying that!), and pass some safety regulations that have teeth in them.
Oh, and start eating like this (guess those dairy industry campaign dollars paid off):
May 28, 2011
This Back to Nature Bar Harbor Blend was all too good! (Haven’t ried the Nantucket yet.) The real surprise hit in the bag was the vanilla scented almonds - who knew?!
In truth, many of today’s trail mixes and granolas should be in the candy aisle. They are often high fat, high sugar, and therefore high calorie - so read those nutrition facts carefully.
I have found a more favorable nutrition profile in Udi’s Artisan Granola, however, they are simple and simply delicious. And then there’s Udi’s Gluten-Free granolas (a different company, I gather), and the totally addictive Bakery On Main gluten-free granola (try the cranberry-orange-cashew…).
February 28, 2011
This is not home made! When I was sick recently, I resorted to my emergency stash of canned soup, which included this Select Harvest soup from Campbell’s.
They have improved their soups in recent years, so, while the Select Harvest line is still more processed than I’d like, it hit the spot, and was only somewhat too salty. It came in one of those pop-top styro tubs, meant to be portable, but of course I put it in a proper china bowl to heat it in the microwave. I was sick, after all, not crazy!
December 3, 2010
When I was sick over Thanksgiving weekend, my friend (and neighbor) Joan sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse: “How about lunch? I made my favorite red lentil soup - I can bring you a cup in a couple of minutes. Made with fresh ingredients, olive oil and fresh lemon. Just say yes. Okay?”
SURE! I emailed back, then called too, just to be sure she knew I was eager. I happened to be starving and needed to get something together for lunch, so this was perfect.
This is an evolved version of the lovely soup that Melissa Clark wrote about in The New York Times, almost two years ago. Since then, Joan has made it her own, as they say, and the results are delicious. For the recipe (see NYT link) red lentils are cooked with onion, garlic, lentils and carrot, a little tomato paste and plenty of lemon juice. The recipe says to purée half of it, but Joan wisely just mashes it up with the back of a spoon a little. Seasonings include cumin and chopped cilantro, but Joan doesn’t care for the former and doesn’t bother with the latter if she doesn’t happen to have it. Besides, parsley works, too, she mentioned.
She’s made another lentil soup I also love, a Lebanese version with spinach. My notes say it, too, is from The New York Times, but I can’t find it online, although I do have it saved in a document, and have pasted it in below:
Lebanese Lentil Soup
1 bunch parsley
1 pound spinach
1 cup brown lentils
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon pepper
5 garlic cloves
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
Wash parsley and spinach, tear off stems and wash and chop. Rinse lentils several times and soak in water for an hour. Drain excess water. Bring salted water to boil. Add lentils. Reduce heat to medium, cover and boil for 15 min. Stir occasionally and add chicken broth. Cook covered for another 20 min. Add parsley and spinach and cook another 20 min. Pound garlic with pinch of salt. Mix garlic with lemon and olive oil. Add to soup and simmer uncovered for 10 min.
(The wonderful lentil soup at Marhaba in Lambertville is topped with caramelized onion…)