Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Corn Free July 2015

Hello from the world of neglected blogs! I'm proud to report that I was able to complete a pretty decent first draft of my novel, A More Elegant Solution, during my time off. The research for that led me to explore in more depth the sustainable food movement and its pros and cons, and I'm ready to get back into that arena in a more journalistic way. That said, July has crept up on me even more than usual this year, and my kitchen is sorely ill-prepared for a month of eating unprocessed and grass fed. Maybe that makes it more of an adventure. I hope you'll join me on the journey! And please, please send me links to restaurants or recipes that might accommodate.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February Link Roundup

It's been a rough February, and I couldn't be happier that we got through it. Now if only someone would tell the snow that it's almost spring everything would be perfect. Here some of the most noteworthy news I found while I was snowed in:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy names top 5 energy efficient states. Massachusetts is Number One!

Dr. Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon from Arizona, writes a book adding his professional opinion to the growing consensus that fat isn't to blame for our national health epidemic.

Brewers in Portland try their hand at making beer with purified waste water in order to conserve and work around drought.

Obama freaks everybody out by proposing to consolidate food safety oversight currently done separately by the USDA and the FDA into one organization run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Recipe Roundup

So many recipes, so little time. I've accepted the fact that I will never get to all the recipes I've bookmarked over the years, just like I will never get to all the books on my shelf, but here are a few that I tried for the first time in January, and found successful:

Whole grains and beans for heartiness and protein, offset with fresh, crispy vegetables for brightness make for a surprisingly satisfying meal that doesn't feel heavy. Plus a salad like this doesn't need to be cooked, and leftovers are easily packaged and stored to take to work as lunch.

Baked Potato Soup from Simply Recipes

This on is perfect for rewarding yourself after shoveling snow. It's also a great example of how to use meat as a garnish rather than the focal point of a dish. Bits of bacon, and frying the vegetables in bacon fat, give it flavor and heartiness without overpowering the potatoes that are the star of the show.

photo credit: Danielle Omar

This dish is fun because the squash, lentils, and walnuts make for a complex bite with three very different, complementary textures. If anyone knows how to efficiently peel and chop a butternut squash though, please let me know.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A New Year and A New Project

I hope you'll forgive me if I'm not around much the next few months. I have a new writing project that, like a new baby, requires constant supervision if it's going to thrive. If you know me, you know I I've always been more comfortable in the world of fiction than the real world, and blogging, with all its need for getting facts straight and doing research and writing about things that are still happening and relevant has always been a challenge for me.

Which is why my next project is a novel. It's an exploration of the food system and what we can do to change it, told through the eyes of a very flawed and very not at all real young man named Adrian who shares some of the same passions that we do. It's been a lot of fun reading all the usual news on this subject and wondering how Adrian would react to this or that. This is, of course, not highly conducive to analysis or journalistic networking, so I'm going to leave that part of my writing life alone for awhile. I'll still be writing from time to time, just with less frequency.

In the meantime, please continue to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. And I hope you'll read the finished product someday.

Monday, December 29, 2014

What's in the News: December 2014

Well, the holiday season is pretty much over, and so is 2014. We're just a couple of bottles of champagne and a half-hearted joke about an unused gym membership away from putting this whole thing behind us, but before we do, let's see what happened in food news this past month that you may have missed:

From CoconutOil.com: Sporadic and anecdotal evidence shows that coconut oil may reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. The Alzheimer's Association is reluctant to test this, going so far as to imply that coconut oil consumption could actually be bad for you.
-5 points

From Boston Business Journal: New startup CookRadar pairs adventurous foodies with amateur chefs who name their own price for home-cooked meals.
+5 points

From Aljazeera America: Vermont becomes the big player in the GMO labeling issue. If it's law goes into effect in 2016 as planned, it could set a precedent for nationwide labeling.
+5 points

Monday, December 22, 2014

December Recipe Roundup

One thing I love about the holiday season is all the nice, warm comfort food. Here are few favorite recipes I tracked down this month that were delicious:

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberries from Paleo Leap:

This is a great gluten-free option, and with a glaze of cranberries, honey, and cinnamon, it's a perfect cold weather meal.

Easier and more flavorful than your average stir fry, this delivers a hearty, complex bite with just five ingredients.

I talked about these in my Holiday Cookies post a couple of weeks ago, but it bears repeating now that I've gotten some favorable reviews on them, that these are a little fluffier than most sugar cookies, and are great with or without frosting.

I was shocked at how easy it was to make these guys. If you're short on time, or just don't want to get a lot cookie sheets dirty, no-bake is the way to go. No gluten, no animals products, and very little sugar go into making these a quick and easy treat any day of the year.

What have you eaten this month?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kitchen Sink Cookies: Your Holiday Baking Just Got Easier

The holidays snuck up on me again this year. Three weeks ago, I was feeling great, having gotten a head start on my planning, and now here I am still not done yet.  Christmas is ten days away, there are rumblings at work of a last minute Secret Santa, and one irritating friend has already caught me off guard by giving me a gift before I was ready.

If this sounds like you, fear not! I can't help you with the fact that the Amazon shipping window has closed, but I can remind you that dessert is always a great gift. Whether you've got a office party or cookie swap obligation, or just a family member that's hard to shop for, something hand-made and thoughtful is never a bad way to go. Cookies also make a fantastic last-minute gift for someone you didn't plan on seeing, or item to bring to a party you forgot about.

Last week I posted some of my favorite fancy pants cookie recipes, but it you feel that the time for getting all that has passed, you can still wow your love ones/hated ones/tolerated ones with some seriously good cookies they've ever had without even making a trip to the store.

Every year, the last batch of cookies I make is to use up the orphan ingredients. This works at any season of the year to clean out your cupboard of items you don't know what to do with, and it's equally useful for whipping up a hasty holiday treat.

No two batches are alike.
Directions: (based on the Original Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Variation: Use up to 50% nut-based flour without changing the recipe.
  3. In a large bowl, beat 2 sticks butter, 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until creamy. Variation: Sub coconut oil for butter, almond extract for vanilla, and feel free to cut back on the sugar. In the photo above I COMPLETELY FORGOT the brown sugar, and they ended up tasting a little more like a short bread cookie, but still good.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time (or about 1/4 of a very ripe avocado to make it vegan)
  5. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
  6. Stir in about half a cup each of chocolate chips, oatmeal, chopped nuts, dried fruit, whatever you've got in the cupboard. Get creative.
  7. Back 9 to 11 minutes, until golden brown. If you're using nut flours, they will spread out a little, so take that into account when you're spacing them out on the cookie sheet.