Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thrilling Purchase

And a question: Given all the time I spent reading the blog French Laundry at Home... Why did I never buy this book before?

Also, I have to share my favorite line so far: "The great thing about foie gras is that it's foie gras—like the great thing about caviar is that it's caviar."

Summer Garden Porn

This year's garden, though less ambitious than I'd like (story of my life), is going gangbusters this month, thanks to unseasonably sunny and hot summer weather here in Seattle. (Today's predicted high: 87!)

Of all the things I've tried for the first time this year, my proudest achievement is a tossup between potatoes (I just bought organics at the grocery store, chunked them up, and planted them in a repurposed sandbox, mounding dirt around the plants as they grew) and tomatoes.

Not just any tomatoes, though—these were grown from seeds I bought at the garden shop, against the stern advice of the saleswoman, who advised coming back for plants in a few months. I've been told over and over again that you can't grow tomatoes from seeds in the Northwest—it's too cool and wet for too long to give them enough growing time to set fruit—and while I've yet to harvest anything, the green ones are already coming in. Now I'm just crossing my fingers for a few more weeks of 80-plus temperatures and blue skies.

The first tiny tomatoes.

Potato plants—Russian banana fingerling, purple, and Yukon Gold

Wanna know how to tell the difference between male and female squash blossoms? Go here.

Lemon cucumber plants, with the last of this year's fava beans in the background

Tomatillos—another plant I've been told wouldn't grow in the Northwest. It grows like a weed.

Aaaah! They're taking over!!! (Note defenseleess carrots underneath squash plants; the leeks have already been buried.)

I had no idea what these were until I pulled one up. Who would've thought I planted parsnips?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Reason to Love Big Cities


And I thought the $3.99 brie-topped baked potato I bought at Michou for lunch today was a killer deal... Serious Eats NY has a roundup of food you can buy in New York for a buck or less.

On the list: Deep-fried meat/veggies/fish on a stick (including squid, tripe, beef and broccoli) from a street vendor in Queens, $1; agadashi tofu at May's Place in the West Village, $1; and a falafel half-pita from Cinderella Falafel, $1.

News Flash: No Matter How Many Cookies You Bake In It, Your Car Will Not "Reverse Global Warming"

Photo by Flickr user Amber in Norfolk.

And we're back!

Sorry, folks, for the long absence... as you may or may not already know, I've taken a new gig at PubliCola, which involves my professional and personal passions, respectively: reporting on politics and blogging about food!

I'm hoping, however, to get back to blogging here on a more regular basis now that things have started to settle down a little in my professional life. Although, honestly, the first thing that really got me itching to blog again wasn't about food, exactly—it was this article, linked on the Huffington Post (a site that makes my blood on pretty much an hourly basis) about how "baking cookies on your car's dashboard will OMG save the planet!!!"—which, depending on how you look at it, is a perfect example of greenwashing, "environmental" consumerism, cognitive dissonance, or all three.

I'm not exaggerating. Here's the headline:
Cookies: The New Dashboard Jesus?
They aren't being ironic, I'm afraid:
TreeHugger's virtual “watercooler” (via Skype) was all a buzz this morning with this delicious tip via Lifehacker: warm, chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies baked a la dashboard.

Which we love not only because it’s one more way to keep our kitchens cool during the dog days of summer but because it’s energy-free, no oven—or fossil-fuels—required. And in the grand scheme of things, helps reduce our carbon emissions!
"Have your eco-friendly cookies and eat 'em too," "reverse global warming," blah blah blah.

Look. I've got no problem if you want to bake cookies on the dashboard, eggs on the sidewalk, or whatever. But the idea that you can "reverse global warming" by baking cookies IN YOUR CAR—the same car, I'm gonna go out on a limb and presume here, you drive to work every day—borders on self-parody. Unfortunately, it isn't April 1.

Monday, June 1, 2009


And my world is complete... Mark Bittman talks (with Kay Steiger) about feminism and cooking:

Part of the reason food went downhill in this country, the biggest reason, was this marketing assault on the part of convenience food manufacturers that said, “Well, food needs to be convenient.” But why did people want to hear that? Women wanted to hear that because they were sick and tired of making dinner every night while raising the kids and, increasingly from the seventies on, having jobs. So they wanted to hear, “Oh, you don’t have to work so hard. You can put something in the microwave.” It’s too bad, it’s shit, but that’s the way it goes. But now we have—you know, maybe it’s just my kids—but we have this generation of people who say, “I want to cook. I want decent food and I’m not going to get it if I don’t cook.” Everybody knows you can’t afford to eat out all the time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Know What You’re Thinking

"What the world really needs is a special barbecue book FOR THE LADIES," amiright?

Fortunately for all you wimminz who've been too intimidated by your grill-hogging menfolk to "take your place back at the fire," this blatant deficiency in the world of cookbook publishing has been remedied.

Enter She-Smoke—a book of barbecue recipes, advice, and stories from "smokin' women" by Seattle restaurateur Julie Reinhardt. You may not have been aware that women need to "stand up for our barbecue rights," but once you read a few pages of She-Smoke, you'll understand that the typical American woman suffers from "firephobia," believes that her "grill could blow up at any moment," feels "iffy with big hunks of raw meat," and thinks barbecue is "scary."

But aside from learning not to "fear the fire," what gender-specific barbecue knowledge, you might wonder, are women lacking? Well, for the most part, Reinhardt's book reads pretty much like any guide to backyard barbecue, with tips about how to light a fire, how (and how long) to cook various meats, and so forth. Leave out the constant, cutesy references to "kickass 'cue girls," "smokin' barbecue blazers," and "knife-wielding babes," and what you're left with is actually a pretty good, if basic, guide to barbecueing and grilling that would be appropriate for any novice, man or woman.

So why "She-Smoke"? Obviously, it's a marketing gimmick—reel the ladies in with the one barbecue book directed at them—so I'm inclined to ignore the fact that it dresses up finding yet another way to cook for men as "female empowerment." In any case, as someone who owns several barbecue books (and several dozen cookbooks) myself, I'm betting this tactic's going to backfire. When I look for a book on an unfamiliar subject, I don't pick up the one whose color or cover or title seems best marketed to my demographic. (Oooh, pink!) I buy whichever one seems the best. You know, kind of like a man would.


Today in emails I was excited/somewhat terrified to receive:

On May 27, 2009, at 10:01 PM, [name redacted] wrote:

I bought ten mostly-incubated (but still raw) duck eggs today, and will be boiling some of them tomorrow afternoon with a friend of mine, to be eaten on my sunny back lawn with beer around 5:00.

(1) Would you like to join us?

(2) If not, would you like a couple of them raw to cook at your leisure?

I can't think of many people in my life who also might like to eat these things, but you make the list. ;)

It's true! I AM curious to know what they taste like. Unfortunately, a campaign kickoff prevents me from joining my friend on his sunny lawn, but he's saving me a couple to try later. Report (with photos) to come.