Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Chris also got a jar of maple syrup from his boss who taps on his family’s property in Chardon. We went to his sugar house to pick it up and it was so fresh that it was actually sap in the tree earlier that morning. Nothing smells better than a sugar house and if you don’t know someone with one, I recommend you visit Chardon Square. The Sugar House is open at noon every Sunday in March and the Maple Festival is April 22 – 25. And while you are in Chardon you can pick up any maple product you can think of at Richards Maple.
So speaking of green products and food (go figure) I have to share some things with you and apologize if I get long winded, but I am kind of obsessed. (Warning: I do get long winded, but you should read it anyways)
I am no stranger to the concepts of the local or Slow Food movement, but I have really been immersing myself in it the last few weeks. It was all brought on by this lovely spring weather and the book I’ve been reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She is the author of the Poisonwood Bible and this book is about her family’s pledge to eat locally for a year. They live on a farm in Virginia and raise their own poultry, have a huge garden, and barter with other local farmers to supply their entire food supply for one year. It has really sparked my craving to become a farmer and now I can’t stop thinking or talking about gardens, backyard chickens and bees, mushroom hunting, raw milk, cheese making, preserving, and urban farming in general.
I kid you not, yesterday I had two separate 45 minute discussions with relative strangers about milk.
The first: I was at Whole Foods comparing the Hartlzer Dairy milk and the Snowville Creamery whole milk (both local dairies). A man came up next to me to buy two cartons of Snowville and sparked up a conversation by showing me the pictures of his trip to the dairy last spring on his iphone. And then we both started gushing about our love for real milk and how good it is for you and how wonderful Snowville’s is because it is pasteurized at the lowest temperature allowed and it isn’t homogenized and it is fresh from grass-fed cows and on and on. He said the first time he tasted it he actually had an auditory hallucination back to his childhood and heard the clinking bottles of the milkman’s delivery. And he had others tell him they heard the same thing. That is a serious taste difference. The conversation took a few turns: to butter (I bought the Irish pasture butter he recommended), kosher meat, maple syrup, and a study about the effects of light on brain chemistry (turns out he was a psychiatrist) and it ended with him giving me his e-mail address and a pamphlet on sleeping like a baby. All because of a carton of really good milk.
The second: I live in a very diverse and interesting neighborhood. We have a list serve that keeps the block informed of various things, and last week we got an e-mail from a neighbor offering kefir grains to anyone who was interested. Well I have been wanting to try out cheese and yogurt making, so I couldn’t pass on free kefir. I was a little late arriving at her house after my long milk conversation at Whole Foods, and little did I know I was walking into the house of another kindred soul and a second 45 minute milk discussion. She gave me the kefir and showed me how to use it. Basically, you place the grains (it looks kinda like cauliflower) in a clean jar and pour in about 8oz. of milk. You let this sit uncovered on the counter until it has fermented to your desired level. She lets it ferment overnight, then strains it and combines it in her morning smoothie. The grains go back in a clean jar and begin fermenting the next batch of milk. Well now I have a batch going on my counter, so if you want some kefir grains, let me know. I am eagerly awaiting another book from the library, Wild fermentation: the flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and hoping cheese and yogurt making are in my future. And maybe some canning, pickles, and sauerkraut, we shall see.
On Saturday I convinced Chris to go mushroom hunting with me. We asked the mushroom man at the farmer’s market to recommend some field guides and then we went straight to the library to pick up The Audubon Society field guide to North American mushrooms by Gary Loncoff and A field guide to mushrooms, North America by Kent McKnight. We are still a bit early in the season here in northeast Ohio, but we found two types of (unfortunately) non-edible mushrooms. We are planning some additional trips this spring, I hope we find some morels!
I just got notification from the library that two other books I have been eagerly awaiting are in, Farm city: the education of an urban farmer by Novella Carpenter and The backyard beekeeper: an absolute beginner's guide to keeping bees in your yard and garden by Kim Flutton. The second is recommended by the Greater Cleveland Beekeepers Association. Ever since I closed on the house I have been plotting my backyard chickens and now I have added a desire for beehives. I live within the City of Cleveland and based on my research thus far I am allowed 6 chickens (no roosters) and two beehives as long as they aren’t within 500 feet of my neighbor’s house. This topic has been getting a lot of discussion lately and according to the NY Times Sunday Magazine this is quite the trend with stay at home moms. So I’m not on to anything new. If anything, I just want to get back to eating the way humans have been eating for thousands of years.
When I was reading this wonderful blog and she mentioned the book Real food: what to eat and why by Nina Planck I couldn’t resist yet another perspective. I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in getting back to your roots when it comes to food. She provides excellent research on the benefits, but still makes the book very readable. She has really been inspiring me to eat as seasonally, locally, and real as possible.
If you are actually still reading, maybe you too are interested in this topic and have read one of Michael Pollan’s books (Omnivore’s Dilemna, In Defense of Food, etc). I haven’t actually read either, but they are both on hold for me at the library. And after watching Food, Inc., in which Michael has a big part, I know he will be preaching to the converted for me. If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. I highly recommend you watch it and get as many other people as you can to watch it. Here is a link to 10 ways you can get involved with their movement.
I’ve never listed so many books in one post, so I am going to save the gardening ones for another post.
Some Cleveland notes:
The Cleveland International Film Festival is screening a film called Ingredients about the Local Food movement on March 19-21. Great Lakes Brewing is also offering a free private screening on March 23 that I will be attending, all you have to do is call and make a reservation and added bonus you get a free voucher to see another film at the festival.
This Sunday I will be attending the Greenhouse Tavern’s Chef School Series class called Butcher. We will be butchering a 300 LB farm raised pig from Aaron Miller’s Livestock. The Class will include chef’s tasting of dishes made utilizing the whole animal. You should totally join me cuz I’m a little nervous…
Saturday night is my birthday party at Happy Dog in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Good (and cheap) food and beer, come celebrate! It isn’t a snuggie pub crawl, but it will still be a good time.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I have entered this stage in life called “All your friends are having babies”. It came a little sooner than I had anticipated, since the “All your friends are getting married” stage is still in full swing. And I am a little like, “Hey can you guys wait until the rest of us get married? Like, let us catch up before you move forward. Are we all sure we are ready for this???” But alas, the babies are coming one after the other. There is no stopping these babies.
This new stage means learning baby etiquette. Similar to wedding etiquette, there is this whole set of rules about what is polite and what is expected when it comes to expectant parents. I will let you in on what I have learned so far:
It starts with The Announcement – you can’t tell anyone you are preggers until you are through your first trimester. And when a friend tells you that they are indeed prego, keep it to yourself, cuz you don’t want to be ruining the surprise for anyone else. But its hard, cuz you are really excited too!!! And secrets are hard to keep… but don’t do it - keep a straight face and wait your turn.
Next, it’s the Showers. This one is similar to weddings; RSVP in a timely manner, offer to bring something, stick to the registry and no one gets hurt. Also if there are games involved, be a good sport, you may even get a prize. It may be baby themed prize, but hey, free stuff, no complaining – just eat your cake and muster as much enthusiasm as you can over baby gifts.
The Waiting Game. You are getting close to the big day. Be sure to check in on your friend and offer to help with whatever they need. They are likely uncomfortable and stuck in the house with no alcohol privileges, so don’t be bragging about your social life. Also, don’t take pictures of expectant Moms without permission. And tread lightly – these women could burst at any second.
The Delivery. You don’t have to do much here. Unless you are a very close friend you aren’t expected to go to the hospital. Just wait for texts and updates and spread the news. Offer your congratulations and be thankful everyone is healthy and has survived the messy miracle of birth.
Meeting the Baby. Offer to bring your friend dinner (more on this below) or wait to be invited to meet the baby. Once invited, make sure you are not sick (if you are sick, politely decline) and be sure you are as clean as possible. Prepare yourself to ooh and ahhh and remark on how cute the baby is and how much you like the name. Again, keep your real opinions to yourself and no one gets hurt. Ask general questions about the delivery, but don’t dig too deep here, you probably don’t want to know the answers.
Success – baby etiquette has ended. Enjoy having a baby in your life that won’t keep you up at night. Now you can return to treating these friends like normal - if you ever see them again.
But lets return to the post-baby dinner delivery. My friend Hannah and I were discussing this over the weekend because we both have dinners to deliver this week. Hannah text her sister (mother of 3) to ask what is the best food to eat when you are breast feeding? The answer: Fish. So we asked, what is second best? The answer: Broccoli. Ok, broccoli I am a little more comfortable delivering to someone’s house. But I asked my friend Jessica (mother of 2) and she said broccoli could give the baby gas (which equals crying and no sleeping for Mama) so, not too much broccoli. Jessica suggested anything bland, reiterated that fish is good, and no garlic. And also deliver the dish in something disposable. This is getting complicated…
Here is what I have decided upon – Chicken Divan. A simple, fairly bland recipe that involves some broccoli, some protein (chicken or turkey and I suppose you could use fish if you are sure the mother would enjoy it), and no garlic. It calls for a 12x8” pan, but I split it between two 8x8” disposable pans so they can eat one and freeze the other. I am going to deliver both without baking, but with directions attached to each to bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes so they can enjoy it fresh and warm ( I have been assured this is appropriate). Phew! – this baby stuff is crazy!
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
2 cups milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 boxes (9 oz. each) frozen broccoli
3 cups cubed chicken or turkey (I poached 2 breasts and 2 thighs)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 2-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and bouillon granules. Gradually stir in milk, cooking and stirring constantly with wire whisk, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in mayonnaise and mustard until well blended.
2. In an ungreased 12x8-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish, arrange broccoli spears. Top with chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.
3. In small bowl, mix topping ingredients; sprinkle over top. Bake about 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
My name's Jamie Oliver. I'm 34 years old. I'm from Essex in England and for the last seven years I've worked fairly tirelessly to save lives in my own way.I'm not a doctor. I'm a chef; I don't have expensive equipment or medicine. I use information, education.
I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life. We have an awful, awful reality right now. America, you're at the top of your game. This is one of the most unhealthy countries in the world.
Can I please just see a raise of hands for how many of you have children in this room today? Please put your hands up. Aunties, uncles, you can continue ... Put your hands up. Aunties and uncles as well. Most of you. OK. We, the adults of the last four generations, have blessed our children with the destinyof a shorter lifespan than their own parents. Your child will live a life ten years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we've built around them. Two thirds of this room, today, in America, are statistically overweight or obese. You lot, you're all right, but we'll get you eventually, don't worry.
Right? The statistics of bad health are clear, very clear. We spend our lives being paranoid about death, murder, homicide, you name it. It's on the front page of every paper, CNN. Look at homicide at the bottom, for God's sake. Right?
Every single one of those in the red is a diet-related disease. Any doctor, any specialist will tell you that. Fact. Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the United States, right now, here today. This is a global problem. It's a catastrophe. It's sweeping the world. England is right behind you, as usual.
I know they were close, but not that close. We need a revolution. Mexico, Australia, Germany, India, China, all have massive problems of obesity and bad health. Think about smoking. It costs way less than obesity now. Obesity costs you Americans 10 percent of your health care bills. 150 billion dollars a year. In 10 years, it's set to double. 300 billion dollars a year. And let's be honest, guys, you ain't got that cash.
I came here to start a food revolution that I so profoundly believe in. We need it. The time is now. We're in a tipping-point moment. I've been doing this for seven years. I've been trying in America for seven years. Now is the time when it's ripe -- ripe for the picking. I went to the eye of the storm. I went to West Virginia, the most unhealthy state in America. Or it was last year. We've got a new one this year, but we'll work on that next season.
Huntington, West Virginia. Beautiful town. I wanted to put heart and soul and people, your public, around the statistics that we've become so used to. I want to introduce you to some of the people that I care about. Your public. Your children. I want to show a picture of my friend Brittany. She's 16 years old. She's got six years to live because of the food that she's eaten. She's the third generation of Americans that hasn't grown up within a food environment where they've been taught to cook at home or in school, or her mom, or her mom's mom. She has six years to live. She's eating her liver to death.
Stacy, the Edwards family. This is a normal family, guys. Stacy does her best, but she's third-generation as well; she was never taught to cook at home or in school. The family's obese. Justin, here, 12 years old. He's 350 pounds. He gets bullied, for God's sake. The daughter there, Katie, she's four years old.She's obese before she even gets to primary school. Marissa. She's all right. She's one of your lot. But you know what? Her father, who was obese, died in her arms. And then the second-most-important man in her life, her uncle, died of obesity. And now her step-dad is obese. You see, the thing is obesity and diet-related disease doesn't just hurt the people that have it; it's all of their friends, families, brothers, sisters.
Pastor Steve. An inspirational man. One of my early allies in Huntington, West Virginia. He's at the sharp knife-edge of this problem. He has to bury the people, OK? And he's fed up with it. He's fed up with burying his friends, and his family, his community. Come winter, three times as many people die.He's sick of it. This is preventable disease. Waste of life. By the way, this is what they get buried in. We're not geared up to do this. Can't even get them out the door, and I'm being serious. Can't even get them there. Forklift.
OK, I see it as a triangle, OK? This is our landscape of food. I need you to understand it. You've probably heard all this before, but let's just go back over it. Over the last 30 years, what's happened that's ripped the heart out of this country? Let's be frank and honest. Well. Modern-day life.
Let's start with the Main Street. Fast food has taken over the whole country. We know that. The big brands are some of the most important powers,powerful powers in this country. Supermarkets as well. Big companies. Big companies. 30 years ago, most of the food was largely local and largely fresh.Now it's largely processed and full of all sorts of additives, extra ingredients, and you know the rest of the story. Portion size is obviously a massive, massive problem. Labeling is a massive problem. The labeling in this country is a disgrace. They want to be self ... They want to self-police themselves.The industry wants to self-police themselves. What, in this kind of climate? They don't deserve it. How can you say something is low-fat when it's full of so much sugar?
Home. The biggest problem with the home is that used to be the heart of passing on food and food culture, what made our society. That isn't happening anymore. And you know, as we go to work and as life changes, and as life always evolves, we kind of have to look at it holistically -- step back for a moment, and re-address the balance. It ain't happening. Hasn't happened for 30 years. I want to show you a situation that is very normal right now. The Edwards family.
JO: Yes you are. You are. But we can stop that. Normal. Let's get onto schools, something that I'm fairly much a specialist in. OK. School. What is school? Who invented it? What's the purpose of school? School was always invented to arm us with the tools to make us creative, do wonderful things, make us earn a living, etc., etc., etc. You know, it's been kind of in this sort of tight box for a long, long time. OK? But we haven't really evolved it to deal with the health catastrophes of America, OK? School food is something that most kids -- 31 million a day, actually -- have twice a day, more than often, breakfast and lunch, 180 days of the year. So you could say that school food is quite important, really, judging the circumstances.
I need to say one thing, and it's so important in hopefully the magic that happens and unfolds in the next three months. The lunch ladies, the lunch cooks of America ... I offer myself as their ambassador. I'm not slacking them off. They're doing the best they can do. They're doing their best. But they're doing what they're told, and what they're being told to do is wrong. The system is highly run by accountants. There's not enough, or any, food-knowledgeable people in the business. There's a problem. If you're not a food expert, and you've got tight budgets, and it's getting tighter, then you can't be creative, you can't duck and dive and write different things around things. If you're an accountant, and a box-ticker, the only thing you can do in these circumstances is buy cheaper shit.
Now, the reality is, the food that your kids get every day is fast food, it's highly processed, there's not enough fresh food in there at all. You know, the amount of additives, E numbers, ingredients you wouldn't believe ... There's not enough veggies at all. French fries are considered a vegetable. Pizza for breakfast. They don't even get given crockery. Knives and forks? No, they're too dangerous. They have scissors in the class room but knives and forks, no.And the way I look at it is, if you don't have knives and forks in your school, you're purely endorsing, from a state level, fast food. Because it's handheld.And yes, by the way, it is fast food. It's sloppy joes, it's burgers, it's wieners, it's pizzas, it's all of that stuff. 10 percent of what we spend on healthcare, as I said earlier, is on obesity. And it's going to double. We're not teaching our kids. There is no statutory right to teach kids about food, elementary or secondary school. OK? We don't teach kids about food. Right? And this is a little clip from an elementary school, which is very common in England.
I want to tell you about something, I want to tell you about something that kind of epitomizes the trouble that we're in guys. OK? I want to talk about something so basic as milk. Every kid has the right to milk at school. Your kids will be having milk at school, breakfast and lunch. Right? They'll be having two bottles. Okay? And most kids do. But milk ain't good enough anymore. Because someone at the milk board, right -- and don't get me wrong, I support milk, but someone on the milk board, probably paid a lot of money for some geezer to work out that if you put loads of flavorings and coloringsand sugar in milk, right, more kids will drink it. Yeah.
And obviously now that's going to catch on. The apple board is going to work out that if they make toffee apples they'll eat more apples as well. Do you know what I mean? For me, there ain't no need to flavor the milk. Okay? There is sugar in everything. I know the ins and outs of those ingredients. It's in everything. Even the milk hasn't escaped the kind of modern day problems. There's our milk. There's our carton. In that is nearly as much sugar as one of your favorite cans of fizzy pop. And they are having two a day. So, let me just show you. We've got one kid, here, having, you know, eight tablespoons of sugar a day. You know, there's your week. There's your month. And I've taken the liberty of putting in just the five years of elementary school sugar, just from milk. Now, I don't know about you guys, but judging the circumstances, right, any judge in the whole world, would look at the statistics and the evidence, and they would find any government of old guilty of child abuse. That's my belief.
Now, if I came up here, and I wish I could come up here today, and hang a cure for AIDS or cancer, you'd be fighting and scrambling to get to me. This, all this bad news, is preventable. That's the good news. It's very very preventable. So, let's just think about, we got a problem here, we need to reboot. Okay so, in my world what do we need to do? Here is the thing, right. It can not just come from one source. To reboot and make real tangible change, real change, so that I could look you in the white of the eyes and say, "In 10 years time, the history of your children's lives, happiness -- and let's not forget, you're clever if you eat well, you know you're going to live longer, all of that stuff, it will look different. OK?"
So, supermarkets. Where else do you shop so religiously? Week in, week out. How much money do you spend, in your life, in a supermarket? Love them. They just sell us what we want. All right. They owe us, to put a food ambassador in every major supermarket. They need to help us shop. They need to show us how to cook, quick, tasty, seasonal meals for people that are busy. This is not expensive. It is done in some. And it needs to be done across the board in America soon, and quick. The big brands, you know, the food brands, need to put food education at the heart of their businesses. I know, easier said than done. It's the future. It's the only way.
Fast food. With the fast food industry you know, it's very competitive. I've had loads of secret papers and dealings with fast food restaurants. I know how they do it. I mean basically they've weaned us on to these hits of sugar, salt and fat, and x, y, and z. And everyone loves them. Right? So, these guys are going to be part of the solution. But we need to get the government to work with all of the fast food purveyors and the restaurant industry. And over a five, six, seven year period wean of us off the extreme amounts of fat, sugar, fat and all the other non-food ingredients.
Now, also, back to the sort of big brands, labeling, I said earlier, is an absolute farce, and has got to be sorted. OK, school. Obviously in schools we owe it to them to make sure those 180 days of the year, from that little precious age of four, til 18, 20, 24, whatever, they need to be cooked proper fresh foodfrom local growers on site. OK? There needs to be a new standard of fresh proper food for your children. Yeah?
That means that they can be students, young parents, and be able to sort of duck and dive around the basics of cooking, no matter what recession hits them next time. If you can cook recession money doesn't matter. If you can cook, time doesn't matter. The workplace. We hadn't really talked about it.You know, it's now time for corporate responsibility to really look at what they feed or make available to their staff. The staff are the moms and dads of America's children. Marissa, her father died in her hand, I think she'd be quite happy if corporate America could start feeding their staff properly.Definitely they shouldn't be left out. Let's go back to the home.
Now, look, if we do all this stuff, and we can, it's so achievable. You can care and be commercial. Absolutely. But the home needs to start passing oncooking again, for sure. For sure, pass it on as a philosophy. And for me it's quite romantic. But it's about if one person teaches three people how to cook something, and now they teach three of their mates, that only has to repeat itself 25 times, and that's the whole population of America. Romantic, yes, but, most importantly, it's about trying to get people to realize that every one of your individual efforts makes a difference. We've got to put back what's been lost. Huntington Kitchen. Huntington, where I made this program, you know, we've got this prime time program that hopefully will inspire people to really get on this change. I truly believe that change will happen. Huntington's Kitchen. I work with a community. I worked in the schools. I found local sustainable funding to get every single school in the area, from the junk, onto the fresh food. Six-and-a-half grand per school.
That's all it takes. Six-and-a-half grand per school. The Kitchen in 25 grand a month. Okay? This can do 5,000 people a year, which is 10 percent of their population. And it's people on people. You know, it's local cooks teaching local people. It's free cooking lessons guys, free cooking lessons in the main street. This is real, tangible change, real, tangible change. Around America, if we just look back now, there is plenty of wonderful things going on. There is plenty of beautiful things going on. There are angels around America doing great things in schools, farm to school set-ups, garden set-ups, education.There are amazing people doing this already. The problem is they all want to roll out what their doing to the next school, and the next. But there is no cash. We need to recognize the experts and the angels quickly, identify them, and allow them to easily find the resource to keep rolling out what they're already doing, and doing well. Businesses of America need to support Mrs. Obama to do the things that she wants to do.
And look, I know it's weird having an English person standing here before you talking about all this. All I can say is I care. I'm a father. And I love this country. And I believe truly, actually, that if change can be made in this country, beautiful things will happen around the world. If America does it I believe other people will follow. It's incredibly important.
When I was in Huntington, trying to get a few things to work when they weren't, I though if I had a magic wand what would I do? And I thought, you know what? I'd just love to be put in front of some of the most amazing movers and shakers in America. And a month later TED phoned me up and gave me this award. I'm here. So, my wish. Dyslexic, so I'm a bit slow. My wish is for you to help a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again, and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.
Monday, March 1, 2010
I had pulled this recipe out of the NYT a few weeks back and thought this would be the perfect occasion to try it. The results were true to their name. We tried them with maple syrup, honey, and sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar, but they were amazing just on their own.
Published courtesy of the New York Times: January 14, 2010
This recipe appeared in The Times in an article by Joanna Pruess. The recipe came from Bridge Creek Restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. A few tips: Don’t cook the pancakes all the way through. You want the center to be a pocket of cream. The pancakes are so fragile that it may take a few tries to flip them. I used the thinnest, most flexible spatula I own, wedged it halfway under the pancake, letting the other half hang, then turned my wrist and gently laid it down on the other side. I recommend this over more aggressive flipping, which will tear the pancakes.
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cake flour
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing griddle or skillet.
1. Whisk together all the ingredients except the vegetable shortening in a large bowl; beat until smooth. This can also be done in a blender. Chill the batter overnight. (The batter will keep, refrigerated, for up to one week.)
2. The next day, heat the griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Beat the batter to re-emulsify it. Lightly coat the griddle or skillet with shortening. Drop small spoonfuls — I used ¾ tablespoon — of batter onto the griddle, making sure that when they spread out they measure less than 3 inches in diameter. When a few bubbles appear on top of the pancakes and the bottoms are browned, turn and cook the second side briefly. (You don’t want to cook the pancakes all the way through because you want the center to remain creamy.) Serve with syrup or honey on the side. Makes 50 to 60 small pancakes.