Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's National Pancake Day

This is what National Pancake Day looked like in my house!

Mine came with over easy eggs and Jahrlsberg cheese cooked into them!!!

And of course there's random conflict. This is not IHOP's (which was in February), but the actual National one...According to some folks.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food News: Kids Get the Shaft and Adults Are Stupid

That about sums it up folks.

From NPR:
The Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act, as the Senate bill is known, is also unpopular with people who think adding about 6 cents per lunch is not nearly enough to update an outmoded program — people like real food pioneer Alice Waters, who thinks the number should be more like $5 more per lunch. (It's about $3 per lunch now, with most of the cost going to labor and overhead.)

In any event, Congress will recess next week until after the elections.

The Senate bill boosts spending by $4.5 billion over 10 years. It directs USDA to develop new nutrition standards that emphasize a variety of foods, not just nutrient targets. Right now, Vitamin C-fortified gummy bears can stand in for an orange.

The House bill is more generous, but as Time magazine's Healthland Blog points out, even if the House passes it's bill, it wouldn't make it to the Senate until next year or later — at which point, whole new budget issues may surface.
Sorry kids, apparently Congress is too scared of people who 'don't want Washington spending my money' to spend more money on your school lunch program AND maintain proposed future increases in food stamps.

So your parents may have more money on their food stamp cards to buy Velveeta and Wonderbread but your school lunch lady (if she hasn't already been outsourced) will only have a bit more than a nickle per meal more than today to try and undue decades of crap thinking about the nutrition you need during the day.

What's that? You think the parents should have more responsibility for this anyway? Well, I agree with you. I think parents as a societal entity have let schools and teachers take the rap for their schedules and inability to say to the boss "Sorry, I can't spend an extra 20 hours in the office this weekend, I have kids."

Yeah, those parents will be the voice of nutritional reason and good choices in food. They'll make sure their kids have healthy foods on the table and that they understand that healthy and good are synonomous when you don't teach sugar from age 2.

Sorry, you in the back, you have something to say from the New York Times?
Despite two decades of public health initiatives, stricter government dietary guidelines, record growth of farmers’ markets and the ease of products like salad in a bag, Americans still aren’t eating enough vegetables.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, it concluded. (And no, that does not include French fries.)

These results fell far short of health objectives set by the federal government a decade ago. The amount of vegetables Americans eat is less than half of what public health officials had hoped. Worse, it has barely budged since 2000.
That doesn't give me good fuzzy feelings.

There was, perhaps, a silver lining.
To be sure, vegetables are making strides in certain circles. Women, as well as people who are older and more educated and have higher incomes, tend to eat more vegetables, said Dr. Foltz, the pediatrician who worked on the C.D.C. report.

The vegetable, especially when grown from heirloom seeds on small farms, is held in such high esteem that knowing the farmer who grows the food is a form of valuable social currency. Vegetables are becoming high art. At Sotheby’s on Thursday night, the vegetable auction was part of a daylong event called “The Art of Farming,” raising nearly $250,000 to help hunger organizations, immigrant farmers and children without access to vegetables.

But vegetables are also becoming important on the other end of the economic equation. An increasing number of the nation’s 6,000 farmers’ markets allow shoppers to buy produce with food stamps. Urban gardens are springing up in vacant lots and on rooftops. Nearly every state now has programs that send fresh vegetables into poorer neighborhoods and school cafeterias.
People in other countries don't pick the menu and then go to the store. They go to store and only buy what is GOOD. What looks good, smells good, and IS good. It's not a Sotheby's auction. It's their right. To only eat good things.

You know what? The stores sell less crap because there's less of a market for it.

An Embarrassment of Riches

It is a College Football Saturday. My team doesn't play until 9:30pm. I can cook and watch all the other cames all day. What could possibly be better?

There is a sourdough/whole wheat loaf in my bread drawer and 1) split pea/ham; 2)bacon/squash; and 3) sausage/potato/greens soups in my fridge. The bread is Waverly goodness. The last soup is Woolsey Farms/M&M Meats and Homestead Farms CSA goodness I pulled together earlier this week.

The other two soups are the creations of my pal from parts East of here...waaaaay east of here. She's a trained chef with a penchant for just cooking obscene amounts of awesome. We've been trying to get together in the kitchen with our Singapore-Slinger pal Darryl so we can all just make a huge mess and feed the masses.

It will make my belly happy to do so.

But too, my sniffling-sneezing, ragweed-hating, Sudafed-popping friends; there is more. There are short ribs defrosting and white sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, beef broth, and ginger ready to get busy in my dutch oven.

Ummm, if I have to put up with your pollen and allergen-induced madness, Mr. Fall Weather...I will endure it with braised meats and root vegetables. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Washing Off the Dirt

Metaphor simplicity. I haven't cooked in a long while.

Grabbed some of my CSA potatoes to go in the pot with hot pork sausage, garlic, onions, chard, and hot cherry peppers. Ummm, yeah it's good.

Had to wash the potatoes so I pulled them out of the bag a couple at a time to wash and then set them on the cutting board.

Moment of clarity.

In mid-thought. Literally as I was scrubbing a potato with cold water.

I was so happy to be washing the dirt off potatoes that came out of the ground this morning and putting them in a pot so I could feed myself.

There's the ego of all of this and my love of parties and friends and wine and charcuterie and braises and sautes.

And then there's the underlying reason.

I just like being in the kitchen.

Significant tangent and pop-food-culture rant coming.

If you have no time and don't like to cook, pardon the interruption in your microwave life. I work at my schedule as best I can so I never have to use the microwave. That means I eat out because I like to and and I frequent restaurants with fresh cuisine ranging from the best burger in town to the seared ahi with warm white bean salad and onion burgundy sauce. I like cheesesteaks and tacos, but I don't want them to come out of my freezer.

Those sanctimonious crap ads about Lean Cuisine Market Creations that mock anyone who answers they relax when they get home by slicing and prepping veg? They're sanctimonious crap to me. You can shove your Food Myths...well, just shove them.

Let's compare ingredient lists for dinner tonight.

My ingredients:

Five small potatoes, large dice
2 bunches of white chard, sliced whites and greens
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small onions, chopped
3 hot cherry peppers, sliced
3 cups of water
salt
pepper
oil

My prep: Washing, chopping, slicing, mincing in five minutes. Saute onion, garlic and sausage, four minutes. Add water and simmer, 15 minutes (time to do something else in the house). Add greens and cherry peppers and simmer again, 10 minutes (another quick task, in my case, writing most of this post). 34 minutes total. Done. Bowl of freshness.

Their ingredients:

Blanched Udon Style Noodles (Water, Enriched Durum Semolina (Durum Semolina Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Egg Whites, Wheat Gluten)
Water
Broccoli
Shrimp (Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphates)
Red Peppers
Yellow Carrots
Butter (Cream, Salt)
Garlic Puree
Salted Chablis Wine (Chablis Wine, Salt)
Modified Cornstarch
Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes)
Yeast Extract
Lemon Juice Concentrate
Salt
Dehydrated Garlic
Lemon Zest Flavor (Lemon Peel, Sugar, Lemon Oil)
Sugar
Asiago Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes)
Buttermilk Powder
Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Flavor, Enzyme Modified Butterfat)
Potassium Chloride
Enzyme Modified Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Water, Salt, Enzymes)
Spice
Dried Cream Extract
Whey Protein Concentrate
Dehydrated Onions

Their prep: Not on the website. Ads say steam it all in the bag. Probably under 10 minutes.

This was just a lark because I was happy to be in the kitchen tonight and had seen that ad recently and almost gave the TV a not-so-polite gesture.

But wait...

No, really.

This is about to get interesting...

You SALT the WINE? There are sub-ingredients to the sub-ingredients in the PASTA? There are sub-ingredients in the SHRIMP?

Even the purported good guys are stuck in a world where you have to balance food with shelf-life.

Ugh...

I have to believe that I win. They believe they provide nutrition in a convenient package. And to a lot of folks, they likely do.

But when your survey man calls me to survey cooking habits of the modern American 30-something professional...he's going to get at least one outlier in the 'Do you consider time spent in the kitchen after coming home from work?' question.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spelunker's Custard

Hiding in plain site. That's Spelunker's. The classic fast-food style building has frozen custard. The homey stands nearby that say "Kustard?" Well according to some in town they just serve fro-yo, not real frozen custard (higher egg content for serious richness) like Spelunker's.

But Spelunker's? Real custard. Chocolate, vanilla, and a flavor of the day. Peach and jimmies on the Saturday we went. Rice Krispie Treat (with marshmallow and puffed rice cereal) on Sunday. I know because I had all four flavors! Seester brought some back before we headed to tube. Then Karl, Shuanica, DrChillyD, and I rolled there after brunch to get more custard.

And a dog. Because the look on my sister's face when she described the Spelunker Dog was...ummm...well she liked it. A lot. And now I know why.

A ripper style dog with a spicy mustard and a sublimely-complex, spicy-rich, sweet-with tang, succulently-caramelized onion relish.

I asked if they sold it by the quart. Seriously.

Silver lining to them not? Staff said they guessed if I called a few days ahead when I was coming to town, I could ask the manager to make an extra batch.

Yeah...they make it in house.

It may well be THE ULTIMATE hot dog topping.

And I'm originally from a State that has serious opinions about hot dog toppings.

It was as close to perfection as you could get. Snap of the dog. Soft bun. Spicy mustard. Hot/Sweet/Tart Onion Relish.

If I hadn't just had breakfast, with a stop at the BBQ trailer on the way south to the Skyline Drive, and then more tacos before heading back home...I might have ordered a second.

That good.

Spelunker's Burgers and Frozen Custard on Urbanspoon