Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - I LOVE PUNS

I'm just going to leave this here...(thank you toothpastefordinner)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Technique - Preventing Bad Breath

This isn't a post about cooking sue me if you have a problem. I apologize for filling up my blog lately with articles and random quips but I haven't had much time to go out and eat at new places nor cook. Anyhow, here are some ways for you to help combat bad breath through foods!

Chew on them fresh or make them into teas: coriander, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and cardamom.

Some yogurt every day will keep the hydrogen sulfide away (from your mouth). Cut out the bacteria from your mouth and throw in some good ol' vitamin D to make bacteria hate sticking around. Active cultures are what you want in your yogurt though, not sugary dairy paste.

Fiber-Rich Fruits & Veggies
Plaque causes a lot of oral odors so get your teeth moving and your mouth moist by working on foods that are crunchy and cleansing. Apples, carrots, and celery are good examples of these.

Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Bacteria doesn't like vitamin C (or D as noted above). The vitamin can also help fight gum disease and gingivitis which is also very helpful to stop bad breath.

Of course, you should also remember that brushing your teeth twice daily is a big help. Floss too! Bad breath is a product of bad oral hygiene but also bad diet so make sure that you are keeping your mouth nice and clean as well as your digestive tract. Bacteria is not fun to have, especially a lot of it.

Reference article:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Articles & News - "Hungry for a Solution to Rising Food Prices"

I'm a bit late to the game about the food crisis that has been striking many countries in terms of production and costs. However, giving this article a read definitely opened my eyes to the quantifiable differences that have been occurring in food prices and the inability of many people to access what is necessary to sustain life. It is especially problematic when people in other countries are spending more than half their income on making sure that they have enough to eat. Do we feel this pressure in the U.S.? Sometimes...but the amount of price increases that we have seen are not nearly as high as elsewhere. In fact, this article notes that the big companies and producers of food in the U.S. are benefiting from the shortages due to the increasing numbers of exports. Regardless, we may be in an ignorant bliss and unprepared for the impact of the rising food prices globally.

One of the major reasons for such debilitating rises in cost is environmental. Droughts and floods make farming land inaccessible to those whose livelihoods depend on their crops. The Canadian Wheat Board reported that 10 million acres of wheat were unable to be planted in Saskatchewan due to oversaturation from rains. The resulting lack of expected wheat harvest numbers from this problem and the American Midwest's smaller crop yield led to wheat increases in Chicago of up to 74%. Grain prices have gone even higher as China, the world's largest producer of wheat, has experienced drought. Jason Lejonvarn, a commodities strategist at Hermes Fund Managers in London, noted that stockpiles are not near "acceptable" levels and will not be unless two perfect harvests occur through the 2012 summer. It seems that these issues are causing demand to be higher than supply. Environmentally, the carbon emissions of our various vehicles and other productions can be pointed to for the unnatural levels of droughts and floods worldwide - we are driving ourselves into starvation.

As food prices rise, the threat of inflation is imminent. Though the U.S. is not as worried as they ought to be about food inflation, other developing countries cannot safely say that they will not be affected. The article posits that the countries that will be hit hardest are those with strong growth and low unemployment. It is hard to combat such inflation, however, because problems crop up that require solutions which are in opposition to one another. The solutions for this general food price problem are difficult. Many places are attempting to limit supplies or safeguard what they can; others are spending billions to either aid others or boost production rates. Some are even working on price control. It is an arduous task to tackle, especially with the budget cuts or spending occurring with the natural disasters affecting many nations. I certainly hope that our governments pay more attention to the issues that we face concerning food to combat what we can and save our means for life. I suggest you read the entire article linked below.

Reader questions: Were you aware of the food price increases? Have you been noticing them in your own purchases? What do you think a viable solution is?

Original article:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Articles & News - Bacon: The Gateway Meat

Since we (aka I) was on the topic of bacon in the previous post, I was reminded that I have been telling friends about bacon being a gateway meat for vegetarians ever since I learned about this random fact. I love random food facts! Anyhow, what does that mean exactly? Well, when vegetarians become ex-vegetarians, the meat that is most likely to have been the caused is bacon. Oh the powers and wonders of such a fatty piece of meat. The article that I showed to my friend with whom I recently shared this information was not where I first learned about this fact but it was interesting to read.

The author brings up information from scientists who have studied how "food tantalizes the brain" as well as sociologists who have studied vegetarianism. One scientist, Johan Lundstrom, posits that bacon's protein-filled body and consistency of 1/3-2/3rds fat meets humans' desires for calories. The smell of it is overpowering and too enticing for many to pass up. The author also mentions the different sources and events on bacon that have cropped up recently to meet America's love for the tasty meat. I'm sure that there is so much more than can be learned from our neediness of this fatty piece of swine. All I know is that it is ridiculously delicious - perhaps vegetarians who choose their lifestyles are telling us something when they say that bacon tempts even them.

Reader questions: Do you love bacon? Did you know this fact about it being a "gateway meat," and if you didn't, how surprised were you to learn this? If you're vegetarian, do you get tempted by bacon?

Original article:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Articles & News - Denny's "Baconalia"

Uh, who loves bacon? *raises hand* Denny's is having a crazy bacon-loving festival with seven new dishes that feature the lovable bacon that tempts millions of us. You can have an Ultimate Bacon Breakfast, Bacon Flapjacks, Pepper Bacon and Eggs, Triple Bacon Sampler, BBBLT Sandwich, Bacon Meatloaf, or even a Maple Bacon Sundae. Yes that's right - you can top your vanilla ice cream with maple syrup and diced bacon. I wouldn't mind giving that a shot. It's too bad that I don't really have a car to go around to places or a nearby Denny's as far as I know. I'd be willing to try my hand at some delicious bacon feasting. I haven't had any in a while. Also, I love the Baconalia manifesto, especially because of the classical reference to Bacchanalia. We need more humorous advertising in our lives.

Reader questions: What would you try at the Baconalia? Are you going to head over to get some delicious Denny's any time during Baconalia?

Original article:

Quips & Anecdotes - International Waffle Day

Happy International Waffle Day! Okay well the waffle was not created on March 25th but the first patented waffle iron was (thank you Sweden for the Våffeldage!) and what a glorious day it was for waffle lovers around. Now you all may think of waffles as just the ones you get at some diner or the Eggos you have in your freezer (do people buy these anymore? I remember eating them all the time when I was younger...) but there are quite a bunch of different kinds. I remember falling in love w/Belgian waffles when I tasted samples at Costco for them, drenched in syrup and covered with light powdered sugar.

The picture I chose to use from above is of my favorite type - Liège waffles. Yummy in my tummy! As for an exact definition of a waffle, it really is just called so from its patterning. Waffles started out as wafers and then progressed from there into thicker, more leavened forms. They tend to be topped with various syrups or fruits and can be quite sweet. I remember using the Duke waffle irons during my freshman year here that caused every waffle to have "Duke" imprinted on them. There are so many kinds of waffles (American, Belgian, Liège, Bergische, Hong Kong, Scandinavian, and Stroopwafels)! Which kind will you eat today in celebration?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - La Casa Gelato

Have I ever told you all that I used to work in a gelato shop the summer after my senior year of high school? I knew that I would be leaving for college soon and needed some kind of short job before I headed out. It was the first "high school" job I had at a legitimate place (other jobs included tutoring or being a basketball referee - jobs that were very lenient on schedules or under-the-table), and I actually had a good time. Sometimes I wish I could just go back and work there but the place has turned into a self-serve frozen yogurt store now. Dangnabit...I shall miss Villa Dolce. Anyhow, I had a great time at the shop because I enjoyed making the gelato look good (especially when making perfect scoops for little kids) and creating flavor mixtures that tasted out-of-this-world.

Back to the reason for this post though - my friend from Vancouver recently told me about a place there called La Casa Gelato that has hundreds of gelato flavors! I thought that it was really neat and then I saw it featured in one of the food blogs I follow as well. So basically, I'm adding it to my list of places to visit when I go to Vancouver, which will happen in some point in life since I like traveling around. It all sounds so amazing. They always have 218 flavors on-site but have a total of 518 in their repertoire. Additionally they make in-house waffle cones and other delectable-looking specialty items. Custom gelato cakes are also available. It sounds so wonderful. I have no idea how one could visit there and make a choice quickly. I'm intrigued by flavors like dragonfruit and even their wasabi. Anyone want to go to Vancouver to do some crazy gelato tasting with  me? Maybe I'll find something better than the honey gelato that I found at San Crispino in Rome (best gelato I ever had...and I went there many times)!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Articles & News - Eating for Japan (NY)

It is without doubt that people can be generous in times of need, especially towards those whom they feel had no part in ending up in their unfortunate situations. Naturally, you must have all heard the news about the tsunami that hit Japan with detrimental impact on not only houses and people from the physical force of the tsunami but also the various nuclear plants' effects on Japan's citizens as their reactors or other components caused safety to be compromised. This has also led to a major scare about food contamination and water supplies being tainted with radiation. Though we here are not suffering from what they are, we all can imagine the fear that must be gripping Japan as they discover that their sustenance may be dangerous.

The ways which you wish to help are varied. Straight-up monetary contributions work. Donations work. Actual manual labor may be helpful as well. Some companies and groups are also spearheading efforts of products being sold with proceeds going towards helping the victims. As food-minded individuals, we should check out how we can help with our eating habits in some way. There are several restaurants participating in fundraising efforts for Japan aid. I recently saw an article in the NY Times about some restaurants in New York which are holding events at En Japanese Brasserie, Ballaro, Cadaqués, SushiSamba, Sho Shaun Hergatt, Tocqueville, Terroir wine bars, Hearth, and Koi to benefit relief efforts. I thought that it was a pretty awesome idea and not something that would take a lot of effort on behalf of the customer. I certainly hope that the benefit nights will be a success.

Reader questions: Do you have any restaurants in your area that will be doing benefit nights that you want to share about in the comments? Will you be participating in any? How are you helping Japan?

Original article:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - World Water Day

Did you think about how much water you used this morning when you got up and got ready for the day? How about how much water you use on a normal basis? How much do you drink every day? Today marks the 19th anniversary of World Water Day as deemed by the United Nations. While it is something that we use a lot in plenty of things, I'd like to take a moment to focus on the food-related aspect of it. One day is not enough for you to think about your habits of consumption and using water for food (how long DO you really need to wash that apple for?), but it is a good day to start becoming more aware of the water you consume and changing habits appropriately. While Earth is 70% water, very little of that is drinkable and even a smaller percentage of that drinkable water is available to the entire population. Nearly 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, something we all in the States take for granted. Everything is processed and filtered, treated and cleaned, ready and available.

This post is particularly in the Quips and Anecdotes section because I want to touch upon one of the projects that Circle K International has taken on in partnership with UNICEF that I thought of most prominently when I realized it was World Water Day. Our fundraising initiative, The Six Cents Initiative, focuses on providing oral rehydration sachets to those in underdeveloped countries who suffer from lack of clean water as well as educational materials and even family-sized water filters to help the situation. What are ways that you can help others get access to clean water or to educate about water saving efforts? Make sure to check out this year's World Water Day's theme (Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge) and activities/events you can do for it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Articles & News - Taco Bell Shootout

I think this guy just had a bad case of the almost-Mondays to be honest. Actually, I shouldn't make jokes because someone really could have gotten hurt over...a Beefy Crunch Burrito. Those nutso Texans and their love for food! A San Antonio man found out that his beloved Taco Bell menu item had increased by 50 cents in price when he was going through the drive-thru so felt that it was necessary to park his car, grab both an assault rifle and handgun, and march toward the fast food joint. When he realized that the manager had locked doors and called the police, he ran to a motel and proceeded to have a shootout with them. Nobody got hurt luckily and the suspect was apprehended but seriously, what's this guy's beef? It's not like the meat's real anyway! Oh wait...too soon? Haha.

Reader questions: What's the price to pay for jailtime? Is it more than 50 cents? Okay real question now, what do you think was the issue here? How would you have reacted if you were the Taco Bell manager?

Original link:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Articles & News - Laced Pork

Oh like we need another scare from China about its food production after the plastic rice craze. Again, glad I'm not living there under the sketchy production practices I've been hearing about (let's not discuss the problems America has in food production at the moment). Their largest meat processor, Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development Co, is under investigation for using an illegal additive in their pork products and have subsequently released an apology to the public. Its parent group, Shuanghui Group, is reported to have fed their pigs, under the Shineway brand, an additive called clenbuterol. This drug makes for leaner pork by speeding up muscle building and fat burning in the pigs but the effects do not deteriorate or dissipate from the meat when it is put on shelves for consumers. It causes dizziness, heart palpitations, and profuse sweating in humans and for those reasons, has been illegal in China for a while. While the products themselves have been pulled from the market for that particularly brand and is hoped not to damage the company's name, business, or the entire industry's, it may still be hard to get consumers' trust back. I know that I'd be pretty wary myself if I heard something like this slip by. Who knows what other companies may be using the additive secretly or other types that have gone by undetected? It will be a rocky climb for them if this pull has been particularly hurtful on their business and stock.

Reader questions: What would you do if something like this happened to your meat supply? How long would it take for you to trust the company or even the meat product itself again?

Original link:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - Domino's Commercials

I've always had a fascination with how food is presented, even thinking at some point when I was younger that being a food arranger would be a fantastically fun job (I still think it'd be fun). Watching the above video reinforced that fascination and definitely showed how much work goes into making food as good-looking as it tastes. The staff required for this one commercial is boggling, and all the tools used is also a bit surprising. It all looks fantastic and great but I'm guessing that I'd feel like the chef at the end of the day and just want to eat it, not play around to make it look more tantalizingly edible. On the other hand, I really want some cheesy pizza right now...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Articles & News - Agroecology and the Right to Food

Having been on the Alternative Spring Break trip, I have gained a greater interest in the production side of the food I consume. While it is hard to change my habits completely and to be anti-everything that is in my society today, it has been good to become more educated about the world around me. On March 8th, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, presented a report on the extensive results of studies in agroecology to the UN Human Rights Council. If you do not know what agroecology is, it's the practice of viewing agriculture from an ecological perspective, taking into consideration how certain actions affect the ecosystem as a whole. Agroecological farming aims to create sustainable systems that do not contribute to climate change, disease, or other environmental disturbances; the thought is to work on production as a part of the ecosystem and gauge what effects certain methods have on the environment.

The report claims that "small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by
using ecological methods" and shows positive results from various areas in various countries which have adopted these means. With the Earth's growing population and degrading environment, efficient and productive farming methods must be taken up in order to preserve our ecosystem and ourselves. De Schutter reports that an average crop yield increase of 80% has shown itself in 57 different countries already. These new means are to reduce the costs associated with commercialized farming (including insecticides and fertilizers) as well as the climatic impact involved.

These results sound quite promising and while it sounds nearly common sense to me, I can imagine that from a business standpoint, it's not something the large companies would readily convert to. For them, the profits from utilizing such detrimental practices are probably worth it - they're in it for the money. Small-scale farmers can definitely adopt the agroecological approach but perhaps changing for larger corporations is out of the question. Regardless of the discrepancy between farming models and the problem of capitalistic endeavors, I was glad to read that several less-developed countries have been seeing major success with these changes. I certainly hope that for the world's population's and the environment's sakes that farmers everywhere will consider and act upon this important approach.

Reader questions: What are your thoughts on agroecology? After reading the report provided below, do you think that many will embrace the results or still continue with their damaging practices?

Original link:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - On St. Patrick's Day

Ah what better place to be on St. Patrick's Day but on a college campus? I've certainly written about how I felt about alcohol already, but it's so hard not to think about when this sorry excuse for a holiday pervades just about everywhere. I remember when St. Patrick's was all about making sure to wear green to not get pinched by your elementary school friends on the playground. Sometimes I wouldn't have green available in my wardrobe so I would make sure to draw clovers on my hands with green marker (I got many a pinch back for that!) or find a green rubber band to be a "bracelet" for the day. As I got older, I began to realize that St. Patrick's Day was  not about wearing green to the older bracket of the world but was about pretending to drink like an Irishman for the day/night (do the Irish really get THAT drunk anyhow?). It's not like college students need an excuse to get wasted on "Thirsty Thursdays" however but lo and behold, the green day had to fall upon a Thursday itself. I'm looking forward to hearing all the drunkards celebrate on the day of, a Friday St. Paddy's Day party, and several St. Paddy's Day weekend parties...not. As for me, maybe one day I'll take a swig of some gimmicky green beer though I'm not sure how much food coloring I want in me. Silly alcoholics! I hope you puke rainbows and find your pots o' gold at the end of the night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Origins & Information - "Breadwinner"

(Props if you know where the above picture's from) Someone asked me what "breadwinner" really meant and where it came from - I thought that it'd be an interesting blog post. Unfortunately, my research produced somewhat skimpy results as to the origin of the word in terms of unique or intriguing facts, unlike my previous post on the phrase "tastes like chicken." Quite simply, "breadwinner" is a straightforward term and doesn't have any complex history. The definition of the word itself is "a member of a family whose wages supply its livelihood," which has the tendency to refer to the male head of the household. The first known use of this word was in 1771 or more commonly 1818 when it was used to refer to the "skill or art by which one makes a living." A compound word, the bread in "breadwinner" refers to the food that was a staple for many households throughout history and for the overall general referential term for food, and winner is what you all know it as. The breadwinner was the person who was able to "win" the most "bread" for the family, most likely the one who had the highest paying job. It's a term that many still use today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - Dinner in the Sky

Please please please, can I have one of these someday? Surely I would wait until I was well-off enough to have such an event (or if any of you become a billionaire and want to make me happy...*hint hint*), and the location would have to have quite the view in itself to be worth it. At a maximum of 180 feet up in the air, a Dinner in the Sky would put 21 of my closest friends in the air with me for a delectable and crazily expensive meal. Hah. Check out the neato set-up (it looks a bit like a rollercoaster ride to me) with 180degree rotating chairs for a maximum view!

The company that hosts this also does Meeting in the Sky, Wedding in the Sky, and Showbizz in the Sky. The actual Dinner in the Sky venture serves in 36 countries already. I'll make sure to pick my locale carefully. I mean, in addition to the travel to wherever you will be dining in the air (I mean country here and not the actual on-site location), the dinner is $300+ ish per diner but the neat thing is that the packages include pick-up and drop-off, a red carpet reception, access to the Sky Lounge, full chef and waiting staff, delicious food, and even photography for the event. A Belgian concept, Dinner in the Sky is done using a massive crane that lifts the "table" into the air and suspends the guests for the duration of the event. How swell! Highly expensive, sure, but definitely a fun once-in-a-lifetime night. *keeps it on her bucket list*

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - Foodie Registry

Not that a wedding's happening anytime soon for me but I came across this interesting concept for alternative wedding registries: Foodie Registry. Soon-to-be husbands and wives can sign up and register restaurant gift cards for their wish lists. While the website's constituents of restaurants seem to only be in four major cities at the moment (Chicago, New York City, Denver, and San Francisco), it's slated to also hit Los Angeles, a fact that the foodie in me definitely appreciates. It's a neat idea for those who do not need anymore appliances or knickknacks for the house after a wedding and a good way for a gifter to pretend that they're setting the two off on a romantic evening. Personally, there would probably be some house items I'd be eyeing still when it came around to wedding time but in the case that there was some swanky dig I'd like to check out but never found the gall to do so, this would be a swell place to register. Everybody likes a good om nom nom session!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Articles & News - Google Recipe Search

Thank you Google! What more can you do to make our lives easier? Just a few weeks ago, Google decided to roll out with a fantastic new search option to help narrow those internet searches o' yours when you're looking for a way to make some delicious dish. You know that side column that appears on the left after you've put in an inquiry through Google? Categories with which you may be familiar are "Shopping," "News," "Images," and the like. Now add "Recipes" to your tool belt and go searching away. I think it'll take me a little while before I get used to having this option since I usually just follow my queries with "recipe" but I'm sure this will be quite the timesaver. It removes any non-recipe links and as with other search results, features snippets and highlighted pictures to help with narrowing a search. You can also filter based on ingredients, cook time, and even occasion. Sounds pretty sweet eh?

Reader questions: Are you going to use Recipe View? What do you think of this new development?

Original link:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - Twitter Cookbook

I've never been a Twitter-er/Tweeter/whatever. It seemed to be a lame way to post about mundane life as if others cared. I don't personally need to know what my friend is doing every second of his/her day. However, I guess I can't say that it's much different from a blogger other than there are more frequent updates and less words used. That being said, I still do not have a Twitter account. However, I always hear about how some companies and organizations have Twitter-specific deals or post exciting news that followers get before the general public so maybe one day, I'll be persuaded to join in on the fad...just not now.

The point of this post was that I heard about a Twitter-based cookbook called Eat Tweet that features the 140-character recipes of Maureen Evans' tweets. I admit that I have this strange obsession with collecting cookbooks to which I never refer but just keep around my place just in case. To be honest, the one that I've used the most is my childish Redwall cookbook but that's beside the point. I'm intrigued with this concept because 1. it's a cookbook and 2. it plays with language and, I'm a English nut. The fact that she conveys over 1,000 recipes in this cookbook in just 140 characters is quite nifty and curiosity-invoking. Recipes themselves can often be quite lengthy and require long explanations (hah, just look at my blog posts) but 140 characters is apparently enough to get her concoctions across. I salute you Ms. Evans and will have to add this pop cultural, trendy little memento of our world today to my hitlist of things to officially check out!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Articles & News - Plastic Rice

Uh, what is this madness? Fake rice in China? Though it's possible that the allegations may be hearsay, it's not a surprise considering how many issues have cropped up over the years for contaminated or altered food products from China. Toxic supplies, bleached and polished old rice, "rare" rices, and the like have been a part of the rice production history and last month, a report in Weekly Hong Kong (in Korean) blamed certain manufacturers for creating fake rice out of a blend of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plastic industrial resin. This sounds horrific! I wish I could say that when I consume rice, I would be able to pick out if the grains were off in some way but depending on how malleable the resin is, it could be hard to distinguish it from regular rice. Also, I'm sure that like some of you, rice is just a filler that you gobble up quite quickly instead of contemplate. An official from the Chinese Restaurant Association pointed out that three bowls of this synthetic rice contains the same amount of plastic as in a plastic bag. Om nom nom those grocery bags right? Three bowls of rice sounds about normal for a day's worth of meals back home but a plastic bag a day doesn't. I'm glad I'm not living in China during this scare - I'd be wary of eating in restaurants or rice of which I didn't know the origin.

Reader questions: Do you think you'd be able to tell the difference between a bowl of this fake rice and normal rice that was a little undercooked? Do you believe these allegations? What would you do if you found out this hit the States?

Original link:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recipe - Butternut Squash Rice

Having a butternut squash soup during the Alternative Spring Break made me want more, so I bought myself a large squash and needed to make something with it. I realized that I hadn't had rice in a long time; this recipe sprung about from my desire to have some. Yum yum. As I am sure you have noticed, I tend to make very simple dishes so hopefully you all can give them a try too!

Step 1: Ingredients (serving size: 2-3 small dinner portions)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups water

Step 2: Preparing the vegetables
You can either grate or mince the ginger. I personally opted for mincing because I enjoy crunching on ginger in my food. Start a saucepan with your water and ginger while you chop the butternut squash into inch pieces; put this in the pan too.

Step 3: Adding the rest of the ingredients
Add the rice and butter. You may put on salt as you see fit now. Make sure to drop the heat to low so it can simmer until the rice is cooked and the squash has softened.

Step 4: Completion
Before I finished the dish completely, I added some garlic salt which wasn't mentioned in the Ingredients section because I am a sucker for garlic salt. Whoo!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - ASB: Day 4

The last day of the Alternative Spring Break! We went out with a laborious bang actually, checking out a community garden and working on the campus farm again. The whole thing ended with a fun bonfire in the Duke Forest with good cheers and local beers with sausages. It felt like the end of Spring Break and was hard to believe that we actually had a few more days left. I definitely want to start reading much more about food and production now, and hopefully I will touch base with the other participants every once in a while and go on fooding adventures.

So the first place we went was SEEDS community garden. They function to provide space for the Durham community to grow, learn about, and maintain food. They've also developed programs to help inner city youth work on creating a sustainable farming career/job through their marketable crops. We helped by digging out some invasive Bermuda grass to make way for an edible flower bed. It reminded me of good ol' Key Club days. I really enjoyed doing it except for the fact that it was hitting springtime so my nose was running from potential allergies coming back.

We headed to the Duke Campus Farm after lunch to finish up some things we started the other day. I helped put up wire along the tops of the poles for the deer fence. It surprisingly took the whole time because of how many kinks were in the wire as we unraveled it. It was like a giant Slinky that kept getting tangled. Others worked on putting the fence up and some did a whole vegetable bed. I helped push the planter a few times so that was fun at least!

After it got really cold, we called it quits but still stayed outside as we headed to the bonfire site. It was a pavilion area in the Duke Forest where we started a fire and ate a lot of chips w/salsa and hummus, baked sweet potato, and sausage from Farmhand. We also rounded up some local beers and had some apple-lemon crumble thing one of the participants made. It was a good end to the night, and I tiredly made my way to bed around 10:30pm (which is why this post is backlogged). What a wonderful start to Spring Break!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quips & Anecdotes - ASB: Day 3

As I was uploading my pictures, I realized that I had taken over 60 for the day so there may be more in this post but I will certainly be mindful of how many with which I will bombard this post. We had an earlier start to today than yesterday but certainly made use of the full day. Picture time:

Our first stop of the day was at Ninth Street Bakery where we got to meet the owner (Frank) and tour the facilities. The bread there looked amazing, and I was quite impressed that they had been organic since day one of operation. They gave us some pastries at the end of the tour that were delicious!

Our next stop was Prodigal Farm which was a goat dairy farm. What was interesting here was that the owners were actually not farmers their entire life but picked up the practice quickly after they realized that their career paths were not their callings. Katherine, the woman, used to work as a lawyer in Manhattan for about 15 years and was on her way to becoming a federal judge; her husband was a general contractor for Wall Street businessmen. Despite the typically affluent and enviable careers they had, goat farming became their new and enjoyable life. They did, however, mention how they banded together with other farmers in the area, did research, and fought against Homeland Security's potential project of building a Biological Weapons Defensive Facility nearby. Thanks to being smart and getting facts straight, the farmers won! Anyhow, back on track, we got to see where the goats were milked as well as the goats themselves. They were honestly quite cuddly - I did not expect them to be so gentle and loving. I really liked how they took a school bus and converted it into a sleeping shed, hah! We then, as a group, helped move brush and felled trees to clear some space before sitting down to a delicious lunch of a corn & okra quiche, goat leg, and lemon pound cake. I also took a bite of their Jerusalem Artichoke, which looks nothing like artichoke and tastes like sweet jicama. I even played a bit w/their dogs Oliver (black Lab) and Simon (Collie).

We visited Four Leaf Farm next which was quite a delight. The farm was only two acres in size but they were a bit space-conscious and managed to produce a lot of produce in the small amount of space they had in comparison to other farms. In fact, this was the same place that provided the produce for Watt's Grocery, one of the restaurants we had visited the night before. The owner, Helga, was very sweet and charming, explaining a lot of the crops and how they did certain things. We were also graced by their resident cat who was a fiesty little orange tabby with whom I played. I took many pictures of him as well as he got underfoot sometimes or just rolled around in vegetable beds he wasn't supposed to. All of the produce looked beautiful from what I could see, and I completely understood why a restaurant would want to work with them. It was fantastic.

We returned back to our home base and worked on some dinner. Squash curry soup, salad, tomato mozzarella bruschetta w/spinach & arugula pesto, and sauteed chard filled our bellies before a dessert of sweet potato-y goodness. I was in charge of doing the greens but was given instructions/a recipe from the person who meant to do them but had to leave. I don't think that they turned out all too well though; they were a bit bland but still edible. Perhaps I should've taken more creative license with them. Oh well. Anyhow, we had a speaker come to talk about GM foods and her work with the ETC Group. It was a pleasant evening of conversation about food in general and policy though I did more listening than chiming in. This is an area of food that I have no clue about but luckily the conversation was lively and I was able to learn what I could by just listening. We only have one more day of this all but I'm so glad that I've been a part of this program. It has definitely educated me a lot more about the wonders of food and the local food movement. As aforementioned, I took a lot of pictures and they have not all been posted. However, if you would like to see more, you can look on my Facebook album here.