Saturday, June 28, 2014


You know what I hate? I hate it when food bloggers try to tell you every little detail about their life. I hate that feeling of "No, I just came here for the banana bread recipe. I don't care that your kid started the first grade."

And I really hate it when food bloggers, or any kind of bloggers, try to explain to their readers why they haven't posted in awhile. I really don't care. Your blog isn't Mad Men. I haven't spent the week dying to know what happens next. Honestly, I didn't even notice that it had been so long.

Of course, some people can pull it off. Some people can write something you don't expect them to write and have it be delightful. They can go off on a tangent about their personal life and you can eat it right up. There are some people who just know how to craft a sentence so bloody well that you would read the transcript of their conversation with a telemarketer and beg for more.

It's a gamble, though. It's a gamble even if you're that good. And I'm not sure that I am.

So with all that out there, let me tell you that it's been a rough couple of weeks.

Among other things, the building I live in might be getting sold this summer. The landlord has put it on the market, which we found out by reading the sign advertising Hammond Residential: Max Dublin, Realtor. Max Dublin seems like a nice enough guy. He has been in contact via e-mail with my upstairs neighbor, Helyne, who has been nice enough to forward their correspondence on to the other ten inhabitants of out little three decker. There was an offer. It feel through. He'll be showing it again this coming week.

Neither our landlord, Terry, nor his wife, Lynn, who likes to remind us whenever we have a complaint and her husband is too drunk or otherwise irresponsible to come to the phone that the building is not in her name and none of this is, strictly speaking, her problem, have said a word to anyone about the impending sale. Which leaves us with the following options:

  1. Do nothing and hope that the house either doesn't sell, or that the new owner will choose to renew our leases without a substantial rent increase
  2. Find a new place to live
What with option 1 being so pathetic and depressing, and option 2 sucking up so much time, the annual 4th of July party just isn't coming together this year, which makes me sad for its own set of reasons. This cookout has always been an important one for me. It kicks off Corn Free July, gets people excited about it, gets me excited about it. (See? I made it relevant!) The grass fed burgers on the grill, the red, white, and blue cheesecake, the conspicuous absence of corn on the cob, it's all become a tradition. But this year it just isn't happening, and so Corn Free July will come in not with a bang but a whimper, though it will be no less important.

There are a lot of things that can be sacrificed when time and resources and focus run low. The fact that I still plan on sticking Corn Free July out reminds me that there is always room for our top priorities in life. Rather than a fad diet that can be forgotten if things get too chaotic to maintain it, my month away from processed foods is something on which I won't compromise. It's too important. We shouldn't eat the way we do. Our farm system shouldn't work the way it does, and neither should the system by which we obtain goods on the other end of the chain. It's not good for our physical health, and it isn't good for our mental health either. Our brains deserve a diet. A cleanse. Some time away from fast food, from stolen lunch breaks and hasty dinners before rushing off to whatever's next. July is going to be a time of change, and no matter what else happens, I'm going to make sure that I'm well nourished.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Corn Free July 2014: Stock Those Shelves

Corn Free July will be here again before we know it, and I want you to participate for one week. That's right. Just one week. You can wait until after July 4th if you want, since that's a big food holiday. There won't be an official start date. But I will be rolling out a one-week menu over the next several posts to make your Corn Free week as easy as possible.

First things first: It's not too soon to start phasing your pantry into Corn Free ready mode. The next time you're low on any of the following items, make the switch:

Cooking Oil: If you normally use regular old vegetable oil, odds are it's made from corn. Andrew Wilder at the blog Eating Rules has devised a great cooking oil comparison chart which lets you know everything from nutritional content to smoke points of various oils.

Baking Powder: This surprisingly has a bit of corn starch in it, but it's easily replaceable in most recipes with a 2:1 ratio of cream of tartar to baking soda.

Confectioners' Sugar: Corn starch is what gives confectioners' sugar its texture. Luckily, there are plenty of starch substitutes out there, such as potato and tapioca, which will easily stand in as a thickener in a recipe that calls for corn starch. Making confectioners' sugar is a little bit trickier. I've found information recommending a mixture of potato starch and regular sugar, but the texture doesn't quite come together the way I wish it would. Let me know if you have any luck with this.

Soy Sauce: I happen to have a bottle of La Choy brand soy sauce in my fridge right now, which sadly contains both corn syrup and caramel color, so I'll need to get a new bottle in the next few weeks. Luckily, Tamari brand is corn free, and only costs about 50 cents more. (Although, whether we should be eating any big name brand of soy sauce is a whole nother conversation.)

Hot Sauce: I'm not a hot sauce fan, because I don't enjoy being in pain, but for all you sick freaks out there, I'm sorry to say you will not be able to bring your beloved Sriracha with you on your corn-free journey. However, Tabasco is just fine, and Frank's red hot sauce? Feel free to put that shit on everything.

Please help make Corn Free July 2014 a success by liking the Facebook page, and by joining the conversation with #CornFreeJuly on Twitter!