November 2010

This Month's Simple, Good, and Tasty Book Club: Molly Wizenberg's "A Homemade Life"


Selfishly, I found myself super excited when this month's book club pick was announced. I'm a huge Molly Wizenberg fan -- she of the successful blog Orangette and the amazing, go-to recipe collection, and she of the blogger-turned-author fad that has swept the nation these past few years. I guess I just love her natural, homey, chefy, and Frenchy vibe -- and apparently I'm not alone. Wizenberg's practical. She's cheeky. She leads with her taste buds. She seems like someone I'd enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with. And, to be completely honest, I've also got a girl crush on her for parlaying her blog into a book deal. I bought this one the week it came out. You go, Molly!

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Short Rib Barley Soup - Like a Warm Hug from Your Beefiest Friend

If you had told me, even two years ago, that one day I would open up the crisp white butcher paper of a package from Clancey’s Meats and Fish, gasp at the stunning beauty of a couple of beef short ribs and run for my camera, I would have told you you were nuts. If you had told me that I would decide to write my next article about short ribs solely because the picture was so fantastic, I would have told you you were double nuts. If you had told me that while I was going all Richard Avedon on the short ribs, I would simultaneously be cursing myself for not having bought more of them, I would have paused, shrugged and agreed that it sounded like something I might do.

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Happy Thanksgiving - Eat, Drink, and Don’t Worry

Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general, can be a daunting time for those who are watching their waistlines. With so many food-focused festivities taking place bam bam bam, sheer terror strikes many a heart. Yet terror is antithetical to what the holidays are about and that terror can do way more harm than pumpkin pie lovingly crafted with butter crust and topped with real whipped cream.

‘Tis true, most of us eat more on Thanksgiving than we do on a typical day, but this doesn’t mean you’re going to gain weight. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, world renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, “Fortunately, the idea that Americans put on between five and 10 pounds over the holiday season is more myth than reality. A National Institutes of Health study published in 2000 showed that the average holiday weight gain is just over one pound.”

Going Rogue

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A Special Thanksgiving Shout Out to My Two New Friends

See the photo, above? That’s me in the middle grinning and blushing like a 12-year-old girl going backstage to meet the Jonas Brothers.

But, needless to say, those guys aren’t the Jonases. And though you may not immediately recognize their faces, I’m guessing you’ll need only their first names to know immediately who they are.

The one on the left is Ben. The other is Jerry.

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Thanksgiving Outside the Box: Recipe for Fruit and Nut Stuffing

In most cases, I don’t like food that replaces its key ingredients with impostors: tofu “chicken” and gluten-free vegan cupcakes come to mind. But last year when Thanksgiving rolled around, I was in the midst of trying a grain-free diet, and was left to figure out ways to maintain tradition and please my family while avoiding wheat. Stuffing had always been one of my holiday favorites, but if you look at the ingredients list on the box, it can be hard to recognize many of its components as food (partially-hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, anyone?)

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Impossibly Delicious Pumpkin Desserts for Thanksgiving

Pumpkins and other squash have been accumulating in my house since early October, so with Thanksgiving approaching, I decided to put them to the use they were intended for: delicious baked goods.

The first recipe below is so easy a child could make it (all right, maybe not a small child) -- I've been making it since I was in middle school, when I found a fast, easy pumpkin-pie recipe that didn't even bother with a crust (which I viewed as an annoying impediment to the pumpkin custard filling). I've been making it ever since.

Back then, I made the pie with canned ingredients. Nowadays the process is a little more involved, but a lot more tasty. A few years back I decided to experiment. I roasted a pumpkin from the Eastside Food Co-op and made my usual pie recipe. I expected it to be less good than one made with canned pumpkin. Turns out I was wrong. I'll never go back.

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Brussels Sprouts: Tiny Yet Mighty

You say brussels sprouts, I say Brussels sprouts, she says brussel sprouts. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…a rose cabbage, that is. This is what the Germans call these baby brassicas (“rosenkohl” = rose cabbage) that may be the funkiest and prettiest vegetable you’ll ever see growing. A tall, single leaf-topped stalk supports 20 to 40 buds crammed together like peas with no pod.

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Understanding the Farm Bill: What's SNAP Got to Do With It?

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to help out at the Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis, one of the area markets that allows patrons to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly called Food Stamps) benefits to purchase fresh produce. Seeing firsthand how Farm Bill legislation is put into practice was a great reminder of how something as seemingly arcane as the Farm Bill can actually affect our neighborhoods, and of the kind of improvements we can make in the 2012 Farm Bill.

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From Vision to Reality: Revisiting The Cornerstone Group's Rooftop Farm

Last spring, I wrote about my visit to Cornerstone Rooftop Farm in Richfield, Minnesota, a pilot project of The Cornerstone Group, a real-estate management and urban-planning group, among other things. At that point, they had plans, hypotheses, and growing structures, but not yet any produce.

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"Nourish" Provides Inspiration to the Next Generation of Food Revolutionaries

I’ve heard or read Michael Pollan’s words so many times by now, if we ever were to meet, it’d feel like catching up with a familiar acquaintance. Nevermind he has no idea who I am, and aside from his positions on food and agricultural systems I don’t really know much about the man; he has a conversational and folksy style that conveys what he says is just plain truth, and he’s saying it because he wants what’s best for us.

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