Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Nutrition News and Odds and Ends

Scanning the funny papers ...

1. Tons of school lunch news these days, starting with La Vida Lacovore. If you have a school-aged child, in public or private school, or if you pay taxes that support a school, or if you eat food, you owe it to yourself to at least scan the headlines at La Vida Locavore.

A teacher in Illinois has been buying her school's lunch every day and posting her experience on her blog, "Fed Up: The School Lunch Project." Even a simple PB&J turns into an agro-business nightmare.

And here's a look at the anti-school lunch reform movement, the nutritional equivalent of the Know Nothing Party, I guess.

2. Vitamin D: Miracle Drug or Hype?

Interesting piece on the potential benefits of Vitamin D.

However ...

This one article sums up just about everything that we need to keep in mind when reading about the latest research on just about anything.

“Correlation does not necessarily mean a cause-and-effect relationship,” said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, a Harvard professor who is chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

... [S]ince most of the data on vitamin D comes from observational research, it may be that high doses of the nutrient don’t really make people healthier, but that healthy people simply do the sorts of things that happen to raise vitamin D."

3. A simple breakdown of the differences between whey protein and soy protein here, at VeloNews.

4. Everyone has been talking about watching too much TV lately. A study in Australia found that watching TV is correlated not only with diseases associated with a lack of exercise, such as heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, but also an increase in death by all causes. In a nutshell, it comes down to our general lack of not just exercise but activity. You can work out all that you like, but that's only 30 minutes to an hour or so out of the 24 hour day. If you spend the rest of the day sitting in front of a computer or shuffling papers, and then add even more sitting down to your leisure activities, then the smidgen that you dedicate to working out pales in comparison. And as David Munger of says, "Out of the hundreds of thousands of years Homo sapiens has existed, we’ve been intensely physically active for all but a few of them."

5. A look at the mental health of Virginia Woolf and its impact on her work, from the folks at Seed.

6. Interesting side-trip here at Bang Goes the Theory, a BBC show that mixes Myth Busters with NOVA. How much energy does the average family use, in terms of cyclists pushing generators?

Reason #237 why you need an iPad

The seeds from your everything bagel will not find themselves into the nooks and also the crannies of your keyboard.

That is not insignificant in this household. Well, not for the entire household, but for the grazer-typist looking me back in the mirror.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bánh Mì the second time around

The website is called The Battle of the Bánh Mì, which is obviously a bad pun ("bad pun" being redundant, of course). But there's more to the name than just the pun. The word "battle" is not insignificant, because it is a battle of the taste buds to see which of the several thousand variations of this simple sandwich is the best.

Why all the love for a simple sandwich?
The Greasy Skillet calls it "a sandwich I could marry." M. says it's the best sandwich she's ever had, which is high praise, given that we live down the road from the Choice City Deli, home of maybe the biggest and best Reuben you'll ever find (centered around a foot-high pile of bison pastrami). One the one hand, it is just a sandwich. But on the other ... oh what a sandwich it is.

Take your classic American BBQ, with tangy sauce on succulent meat, accented with sour pickles or relish ... and then put that on steroids. That's the bánh mì for you. No, that's not quite right, because this isn't an over-powering meal. Just a near perfect combination of flavors that you'll never get tired of trying.

Last month we made our first excursion into bánh mì territory, trying out a meatball version, using this Jeanne Thiel Kelley recipe. That sandwich was so good, I really doubted that there was any room for improvement. But making the grilled pork version has convinced me that there can't possibly be a wrong way to make this sandwich. Both the meatball and grilled pork versions called for fish sauce, which I omitted. Instead, I added a couple of squirts of Sriracha to the marinade, which brightened it up without scaring off my wife's western Nebraska sensibilities.

I followed a different recipe for pickling the veggies, and both ways came out great. My only recommendation would be to follow the one that you think is easiest in terms of containers and storage space. The first time, I used nothing but vinegar, sugar, and salt. The second version called for a warm water solution with a little bit less vinegar, a little bit less sugar, and the same amount of salt. It simply comes down to, would you rather save a couple of cents using less of the ingredients if it means the extra step of filling a container with water? It's really a toss up.

My recommendation: give this version a shot, and then look around at
The Battle of the Bánh Mì and see which direction you can take it.


Pork chops, loin, or shoulder works. I used a one pound pork loin, marinaded overnight in the following. An hour or so before cooking, I sliced the pork into super-thin medallions and returned it to the marinade. Then I pan-fried it with a light spray of olive oil.

2 tsp brown sugar (white sugar is fine)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 of an onion or 1-2 shallots, chopped fine
1/3 - 1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs sesame seed oil
fresh ground pepper
a shot or two of Sriracha

Marinate in an non-reactive container for at least one hour, up to 24 hours before cooking.

I sliced the pork super thin and only needed 1-2 minutes per side on medium high heat. You can do this ahead of time and then warm it up in the oven before assembling your sandwich, or make this the last step before everyone sits down to eat, or a combination like we did: grill the meat, transfer to a baking sheet and cover and keep in the oven until chow time.

Pickled veggies: Lots of options here.

One daikon block, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into strips

2-3 cups warm water, depending on the size of your container

3 Tbs vinegar (rice, cider, white wine, etc)

2-3 Tbs sugar (less if you like sour pickles, more if you like sweet ... duh!)

2 Tbs sea or kosher salt

Measure cold water and nuke it for a minute or two. (Never cook with hot water from the tap ... picks up too many contaminants along the way.) Add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved, then add the vinegar. Pour over the veggies in an air-tight container and store for at least an hour (I did mine overnight again).

Sandwich time!

High quality rolls, warmed in the oven for a few minutes.

Mix 2 Tbs mayo with a shot or two of Sriracha, mix, and spread on the bread.

Layer your meat and pickled veggies. Sprinkle with finely chopped cilantro. Eat and enjoy!

For our side dish, we made this wonderful salad from Molly Wizenberg at Bon Appètit. A very simple combination of celery root, fennel, and apple (she used Gala, but I'm addicted to HoneyCrisps), matchsticked, with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. On paper, it sounds like way too much going on at once, but the earthy yet crisp and clean salad went perfectly with the tangy / spicy / sour sandwiches.

Hope you give this a shot, either as a pair or by themselves.

National Western Stock Show 2010

Had a weekend visit with the boy and took him to the stock show. First time for me, first time for him, but M. used to go a lot as a kid, so she guided us through it, made sure no one walked up to a horse from the wrong side and watched where we stepped when we followed the bulls.

Pix here.

Music in the Kitchen

Now, why is Willie Nelson's tequila-mango salsa not a surprise?

Music in the Kitchen

Favorite Recipes from Austin City Limits

January's News You Can Use

A quick jaunt around the newsroom ...

1. Weight lifting is good for your brain. From the NYT's Well. Seems like the more we learn about the brain, the more we find that it's just one big muscle, capable of all kinds of growth and change and modification and re-routing.

2. LA Times Health and Fitness: All Fibers Are Not Created Equal. A quick look at sources of naturally occurring fiber and how the supplemented, processed foods measure up. If you're on a low-carb diet or just plain eating too much junk, you need to think about this one.

3. Hal Walters looks at olive oil. "While most other dietary oils are virtually absent of phytonutrient phenols, extra-virgin olive oil, obtained from the whole fruit using the cold-press technique, is very high in phenols."

4. More on brain health. From Dr Phil Maffetone, fourteen things you can do just about every day to keep your brain ticking. Seven here and seven more here.

5. Running barefoot is getting more and more attention, but this web-based shoe retailer wants you to reconsider the risks. Hmmmm ... sounds like he's realized that it's hard to sell air to barefoot runners.

6. One of the things I find fascinating about education is how much inertia is in our systems and infrastructure. Teachers should be on the cutting edge of just about everything, should be innovative and open to new ideas. But throw them an idea that requires them to get off their butt and change, and you'd better get ready for some serious whining. Case in point: it makes zero sense to ask kids to clean their plate and fill their bellies, then send them out to the playground. Zero sense. And yet, only around 5% of schools schedule recess before lunch.

The Well: Play, Then Eat

(When it comes to education, we should frequently ask ourselves, if we were designing this from scratch, is this what it would look like? I think we'd be surprised how often we'll answer that question with a "no," and yet how infrequently we'll do anything about it.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little Beckham

And we're back.

Going to tie up some loose ends here with a couple or three videos of the boy. Sorry about the low rez quality. The iPhone video cam is super convenient but has its limitations in low light, despite M's Tarrantino-esque vision and de Millian camera-work.

First up: check out the rocket right leg on the boy. 18 months and he's firing shots that have every junior league goalie trembling.

One of my faves: showing off his juggling skills.

Truth be told, traditional ball-centric sports are a distant second on Z's preference sheet. He's more of an extreme outdoor enthusiast: climbing and BASE jumping.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Non-Recipe

Posole is a staple in these parts. Mexican soup. And like chicken noodle or any other soup, it has a million variations. You need hominy, probably pork but chicken isn't verboten, a clearish non-tomato-y but still thick broth but tomatoes aren't unheard of, chiles of any flavor, spices ... and the rest is left up to you.

You can cook it in the crock pot or on the stove. You can cook the meat in the liquid or brown it first on the stove or braise it in the oven. There's basically no wrong way to cook it, as long as you end up sort of in the same space.

Your building blocks are:

Meat: 1.5-2 lb pork shoulder, boston butt, picnic, or any roast. Pork loin or tenderloin is not unheard of.

Hominy: either dried or canned. Dried will require overnight soaking and then boiling. Canned is fine. About 4 cups.

One onion, a few garlic cloves, chiles of any sort (sweet or hot).

Chiles: Yeah, I know I already said chiles, but wanted to make sure. Freshly roasted is great, canned are alright, frozen are convenient if you can get them in your neck of the woods. About a cup, more or less to taste. Mild or hot, doesn't matter.

Spices: Cumin, oregano, cayenne, maybe cloves. I've seen folks prep the meat in a stock with cloved onions, whole peppercorns, and cumin seeds, and then use the ground / powdered later as well. Pre-mixed chili powder is cool as well. I'm digging Savory Spices' no-salt chili powder right now, a lovely mix of Ancho and Chimayo chile, garlic and cumin, paprika and cayenne, and Mexican oregano.

Step One: Prep the meat.
There are three basic ways to get started. You can chop the meat up, add it to the soup while it's cooking, and cook the meat in the soup liquid. That's the easy way, because it's fewer steps, but the meat gets a little bland and everything can taste watered down. A very common way to get started is to simmer the meat in salted water or broth (chicken or veggie stock). If you're using water, maybe add a clove-studded onion, garlic cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and even a carrot or celery stick or two.
Yet another way, and the method pictured here, is to brown the pork shoulder first. Pre-heat your oven to 350º. Then prep the meat by chopping your pork shoulder in several 3-4 inch wide chunks. If you're using a bone-in shoulder, leave some meat on the bone. Using an oven-safe pan with a lid (a Dutch oven would have worked as well), take a couple of onions, sliced fairly thin, and sauté over medium-high heat in olive oil, 3-4 minutes, and then add a mix of chili powder and Mexican oregano (one Tbs each), some freshly ground pepper, and cayenne or red chili pepper flakes, if you're into that.
Then add the pork chunks and brown on all sides, just 2 minutes tops per side. At this point I threw in some carrot and celery chunks, totally optional. Add 4-5 cups water or broth, bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1-2 hours, depending on how much meat you have. The meat is ready in one hour, while two hours will give you a richer stock.

When it's done, you're going to remove the meat and set it aside, then strain out the onions (and carrots and celery, if you used it), and use the stock for the soup. After the meat has cooled, chop it or shred it into bite-sized pieces.

Since you have the oven already going, you can roast a couple of jalapeños at the same time. I use a gringo technique of slicing them in half, removing the seeds, then wrapping in tinfoil and baking for 30 minutes or so, just enough to soften them up and slightly sweeten them. When they have cooled, chop them up and set aside.

In a large stock pot (or, again, a Dutch oven works here as well), sauté another 1-2 onions in olive oil, medium-high, 3-4 minutes. Add a few cloves worth of chopped garlic. Add about 2-3 Tbs total a mix of cumin, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper, and/or Mexican oregano, and stir to coat the onions evenly. Then add the shredded pork and continue stirring for a few minutes to again evenly distribute the spices.

Add hominy, stir, and then pour in the reserved pork broth. (You can always top it off with chicken broth, if you don't have enough to cover the pork and hominy.) Then add about a cup of chopped green chiles and the oven-roasted jalapeños.

Simmer for at least 45 minutes, until the hominy is tender. Simmer for up to 2 hours to maximize the flavor of the broth, to let it soak up the chile and pork flavors.

Depending on how well you strained your pork broth, you might need to skim a little fat off the top of the soup before serving. Or, if it's winter time, leave it there for extra warmth!

You can serve it up as is, or you can add a little bit of chopped green cabbage, white onion, and chopped cilantro. A squirt of lime juice is not unheard of. Warm tortillas on the side, of course.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Confederate Coffee

Ran into this in the doc's waiting room the other day:

How a coffee shortage killed the confederacy,
in Mental Floss.

Turns out it wasn't the substantially larger population, industrial infrastructure, or transportation assets, but coffee that determined the outcome of the Civil War.

For those of you who want to really get down to the details at your next re-enactment, here's a coffee recipe from The Confederate Receipt book, 1863.

Take sound ripe acorns, wash them while in the shell, dry them, and parch until they open, take the shell off, roast with a little bacon fat, and you will have a splendid cup of coffee.

A letter to the Tennessee Baptist in 1861 claimed that okra coffee is indistinguishable from the real thing:

We Have Tried It.—We have been somewhat skeptical about the various substitutes that have been proposed for coffee.—We have doubted whether any thing would have the flavor of the genuine article. But, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." We have tried the okra coffee, and had we not known it to be okra, we should have supposed it the best of Laguyra or Java. It has all the rich spicy aroma of the genuine article, and we have no doubt, is equally nutricious [sic] and probably less injurious.
We would advise all our friends to reserve a large space in their gardens or farms, for planting okra. It will do, and no mistake, blockade or no blockade.

Me, I'm going to stick with good old coffee beans for now.

Super-quick non-recipe Coq au Vin

I knew I had all of the ingredients for coq au vin, but I wasn't sure how much time I had to get it ready before M. got home. And I knew we had about seven different recipes for it, so I was left in a predicament: do I grab the first one I see, or take a few minutes to scan them all to figure out which one is the quickest? Because I wasn't looking for the original version, with the cognac flambé, but just a quick last-minute throw-together version.

I went with the latter, and somewhat fortuitously, the first one I found was called "Quick Coq au Vin." Bingo! That had to be it. But there was something now quite right about it. It called from frozen pearl onions. Frozen pearl onions? Never bought any such thing, so this clearly wasn't the recipe I had played with before.

So I left that book out and kept looking, and low and also behold, the next one was also called "Quick Coq Au Vin." Ahh, mon Dieu! Now, what I should have done right there was to just start cooking, but something struck me about these two menus. They had different pictures, but the fonts looked remarkably similar. One called for chicken parts, the other for chunks of breast meat. But the moving pieces were laid out the same: brown chicken, sauté veggies, deglaze and create your sauce, simmer. So instead of getting to work, I spent a few minutes browsing. And noticed the really weird thing: that both recipes were from the same magazine, one from the original magazine and one from a reprint collection. Same magazine, same title, very similar but completely different.

And that's when I realized that this was one of those dishes that really doesn't have a recipe. It's more of a technique, or a starting point. There's no such thing as having the right ingredients for this, because there is no such thing as "right." One of the recipes called for frozen boiling onions, the other for leeks. One started with bacon to help flavor the chicken, the other was straight-up olive oil. One used the traditional mix of carrots and onions and mushrooms, and the other used red grapes.

But the process was the same. And it's the process that makes the wine sauce that coats the chicken and veggies and soaks into your noodles, potatoes, rice, or whatever side-dish you want to add.

So instead of a traditional recipe, here's a process-centric version with a pick-and-choose ingredient list.

Meat: 1-2 pounds of chicken. Maybe 4 bone-in thighs and 4 drumsticks or boneless breasts, cut into 1-2 inch cubes or strips. Dust with a few Tbs of flour, salt and pepper.

Sauté: 2-3 Tbs of olive oil, or 3-4 slices of bacon plus 1-2 Tbs olive oil.

Veggies: 3-4 cups total, pick from julienned leeks, thinly sliced onions, mushrooms, carrots, maybe a tiny bit of celery.

1 Tbs tomato paste, maybe a few cloves of garlic.

Deglaze: 1 cup red or white wine plus 1 cup chicken broth. (Adjust based on the size of your pan and the amount of chicken and veggies you have.)

A dash of thyme or sprig of fresh thyme. Maybe a couple of Tbs of butter to thicken the sauce.

Chicken with bacon, veggies waiting their turn

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Or, put the salt, pepper and flour in a bag, add the meat, and shake. Whatever.

Grab a huge non-non-stick pan with a lid. (Yes, non-non-stick. You want the chicken and veggies to stick just a little.)

If you're using bacon, fry the bacon, remove the cooked bacon, and add a Tbs or two of olive oil to the bacon fat. Or, just heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides, then remove and set aside.

You'll have some burnt bits (fond) on the pan. Don't worry about it.

Add the veggies in the order of longest cooking to quickest cooking. Do not crowd the mushrooms! Keep the heat up to medium high and gently stir so as not to bruise the veggies. (I just made up that last part.) Sauté for 3-4 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer for onions and leeks.

Stir in the tomato paste and optional garlic. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the tomato paste is evenly distributed.

Now for the money move. Add your wine to deglaze and scrape up anything that stuck to the pan. Turn up the heat just a skosh, and let the heat and wine soften up the fond so that it gets incorporated back into the sauce. Return the chicken back to the pan, sprinkle with the thyme, and add the chicken stock or broth. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Watch it closely for the first couple of minutes, just to make sure that it doesn't boil over, but after that, you can let it go.

Maybe, if you're feeling crazy, add a Tbs or two of butter to the final product and stir in. Not necessary, though.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or any other starch.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weekly Highlights for Jan 14

1. From endurance athlete and world champion burro racer Hal Walters, home-made energy bars.

Homemade real-food energy bars
By Hal Walter

2. Growing and Repairing Your Brain, Dr. Phil Maffetone and Dr. Coralee Thompson

The brain, after all, is just a muscle, albeit one we are only beginning to understand. Check out Dr Phil's thoughts on working it.

  • Eat more brain food and avoid processed carbohydrates
  • Move your body—walking, dancing, swimming, etc.
  • Get more sun exposure—without sunscreen
  • Live your passion—find things you're crazy about doing; and do them
  • Get more sleep
  • Change routines often
  • Perform respiratory biofeedback (AKA “The 5‐Minute Power Break”)
(The original 7 ideas are here.)

3. Is the Military Getting Soft? Interesting discussion. I'm ashamed to admit this, but the day after the Ft Hood tragedy, the NYTimes ran a front page photo of Ft Hood soldiers doing PT. And instead of feeling anger at the murderer or empathy for the victim's families, my first thought was, damn, soldiers are fat these days.

4. Running Barefoot: Trend of the still very New Year. The running barefoot discussion is really heating up. It's not quite at teaparty-esque momentum, but there is a certain grassroots feeling to it, with the little people going up against the big corporate giants who are scheming to keep our little piggies trapped in their over-priced coffins.

Check out this piece in the February Runners' World.

No-Rise Cinnamon Rolls (which makes them sort of a cinnamon biscuit / scone / muffin / roll)

No yeast but 4 tsp of baking powder make these "rolls" more like biscuits. To me, they're just as good as traditional, but just a little different. I actually prefer the more biscuity texture, instead of the doughy, bready feel of your standard roll. And since they take about 20-25 minutes of hands-on time, it's worth it to give them a shot just once. If they're not your thing, go back to the yeast rolls.

Ready for the belly. Maybe the world's ugliest cinnamon rolls, but wicked easy. One notch harder than opening the Pillsbury tube.

2 cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, ice cold, baby
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon

Optional: 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins, currants, or almonds. (We went with almonds today. Like how they caramelize when they bake in the brown sugar / butter mix.)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
Splash of milk

Grease your muffin tin. Mix the 1/3 cup butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Put 1 tsp into each of cup of the tin. Save the remaining mixture for your roll filling.

bit of brown sugar and cinnamon that will soak up into the rolls

In a largish bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in 1/4 cup butter.

* Side: I hate cutting butter. Never get it quite right. But then I read Scott Peacock's description in his American Classics series. Makes a lot of sense, and easy to follow instructions.

In your flour mix, make a well in center and pour in the milk. Slowly stir until you have a smooth dough.

Turn dough out on lightly floured cutting board or counter top. Knead about 10 times. Roll out into rectangle about 1/4 inch thick and a foot long. (That's 12 inches, and you have 12 muffin cups ... so guess how thick each cut will be when you're ready to make your rolls.)

Spread the remaining cinnamon mixture over dough rectangle. Sprinkle the almonds or raisins (optional) onto the cinnamon mix. Roll up so you have a foot long roll, and the cut into 12 slices. Instead of measuring, just cut it in half, and then each half in half again. Then cut each of those pieces into three equal pieces.

Bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes. If your rolls are nice and tight, the cinnamon mix will stay put, but mine were a bit loose and the mix bubbled over the top. I needed to put an extra baking sheet until the muffin tins to catch the overflow.

The rolls should pop right out as soon as you take them out of the oven. Drizzle the tops with your powdered sugar / milk glaze.

Living without eating, drinking, or speaking

There are a lot of people struggling, and it serves no purpose to try to rank their suffering. But Roger Ebert is living a hell that I cannot imagine. Since his surgery for thyroid cancer, he has been unable to eat, drink, or speak. That took a while to sink in. No food of any sort. No meat or dairy or plant. Not a sip of water, let alone a bottle of wine or a Grape Nehi. And every bit of communication is non-verbal.

Nil By Mouth

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mango Chutney Chicken and Friends

This one takes about an hour, but the chicken has about three seconds of hands-on time, so you have time to make the rice and clean up while it's in the oven. The grilled tomatoes can go in with the chicken and bake for the full hour, at the chicken's temperature, instead of the time/temp called for in the recipe.

The first night, make the chicken, rice, and tomatoes. Double the recipe if needed so you have leftovers. Then on the second night, substitute the stir-friend cauliflower for the tomatoes.

Mango Chicken Chutney

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup dry white wine
2 pounds boneless, skinless
chicken breasts
1½ cups jarred mango chutney
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
½ cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add
curry powder and cardamom and cook 2–3 minutes. Stir in wine until well
blended and remove from heat.
Place chicken pieces in a casserole dish. Pour butter mixture over chicken
and bake 30 minutes. Spread chutney over chicken and continue baking
an additional 30 minutes, basting frequently. Sprinkle with coconut,
chives and raisins. Serve with Carrot Jasmine Rice Pilaf and Oven
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

Oven Roasted
Cherry Tomatoes

2 pints cherry tomatoes
1½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried orange zest
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 425°. Put tomatoes
in a 9 x 13-inch glass dish or roasting
pan. Drizzle with olive oil and
sprinkle with salt, orange zest, garlic
and cardamom. Roast until dish
is fragrant and tomatoes are fully
cooked—about 20–25 minutes—
stirring once halfway through.

Rice Pilaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
2–3 carrots, chopped
3 teaspoons dried grated
orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¹∕8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2¼ cups chicken broth, heated
½ teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
over medium heat. Add shallots and
pine nuts and cook 4–6 minutes.
Stir in rice, carrots, orange zest,
cardamom and crushed red pepper.
Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth, honey, and
salt. Cover pan and simmer 12–15
minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

Indian Ginger Cauliflower and Green Peas

3 Tbs EVOO
1-3 chiles
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin.
3 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1 jalepeno
One head of cauliflower (about two pounds or larger)
--> cut into 1 inch florets, about 6 cups
2 cups frozen green peas
1-2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garam masala

At medium-high, heat the EVOO, then add the chiles, coriander, and cumin. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and jalapeno and stir quickly for another minute.
Add the cauliflower and stir vigorously until it is evenly coated with the spices. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the peas and salt, give the whole thing a quick stir to distribute the peas, cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes until the peas and cauliflower are tender. Uncover, turn up the heat to high, cook for two minutes until any liquid is gone, and then sprinkle with the garam masala.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Power of Time Off

Oh, if it were only this easy ... taking a year off to recharge the batteries. But maybe there are little bits and pieces that anyone can apply to their own particular circumstances.

In my group session the other day, we listed meaningful activities, things we do to recharge. And funny but no one listed watching TV or updating our Facebook status. And yet, when we have the choice, how many of us do exactly that instead of taking the time for something that makes us feel better?

Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Foodie Quotes

Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste
it must be an egg with butter and salt,
and after the egg is there anything in
the world lovelier than fresh warm
bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?

—Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes (1996)

Wish I had time
for just one more
bowl of chili.
—Last words of Kit Carson,
American frontiersman (1809–1868)

I was 32 when I
started cooking;
up until then,
I just ate.
—Julia Child

A computer lets you
make more mistakes
faster than any other
invention in human
history, with the
possible exception of
handguns and tequila.
—Mitch Radcliffe

Feasting is also closely
related to memory. We
eat certain things in
a particular way in
order to remember
who we are. Why else
would you eat grits in
Madison, New Jersey?
—Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet
Keeps the Feast (1995)

Tastes are made,
not born.
—Mark Twain

In cooking, as in
the arts, simplicity is
a sign of perfection.
—Curnonsky (pen name of Maurice Edmond Sailland, a French writer, novelist, biographer, and gastronome.)

Never hesitate to
take the last piece
of bread or the
last cake; there are
probably more.
—Hill’s Manual of Social
and Business Forms:
Etiquette of the Table (1880)

. . . smell and taste are in fact but a single
composite sense, whose laboratory is the
mouth and its chimney the nose. . .
—Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

When baking, follow
directions. When cooking,
go by your own taste.
—Laiko Bahrs

[on cranberries] The Indians and English use them much, boyling
them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat,
and it is a delicate sauce.
—John Josselyn, while visiting New England in 1663

O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your
thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and
a crust to endear them...with such a taste that will
make you close your eyes and wish you might live
forever in the wideness of that rich moment.
—Richard Llewellyn, Welsh novelist (1907 - 1983)

Nature alone
is antique and
the oldest art a
—Thomas Carlyle