Archive for July, 2010

These Jokes Have Vitamin A!

Friday, July 16th, 2010

How did Peter Rabbit propose to his girlfriend?

With a one-carrot ring!

Later, they wound up in couples therapy…

…where she asked him, “Do you carrot all about me?”

Why did the baby carrots get into a fight?

Because they were steamed!

But on a More Serious Note…

Friday, July 16th, 2010

If kids at school get carrots in their lunch, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ve come from a can because the canned vegetables cost less, keep longer, and take less effort to prepare. Problem is, they’ve got lower quality (i.e. worse taste, which means kids will be less likely to actually eat them) and may come with excess salt for anyone who does eat them.

Federal reimbursement levels are set to $2.68 per student—including labor costs.  If you’re wondering how anyone can possibly make a decent meal for that level of funding, the answer is that it’s pretty much impossible.

Congress is in the midst of updating the legislation that funds the school lunch program, and Slow Food USA is doing their part to make sure that our legislators understand the dismal state that the school lunch program is currently in.  Please consider taking part in their email campaign and sending your representatives a note to let them know you want our kids to be served good food.

We’re not talking gourmet meals, by any means—Jamie Oliver will not be the “lunch lady” at your local school.  But by providing increased funding to reduce the amount of processed [garbage] that is served in school cafeterias and sold in school vending machines, our nation could simultaneously offer students better nutrition, have a legitimate shot at reducing incident rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other dietary health conditions, and provide better education to students about where food comes from and what constitutes a balanced meal.

Please send your congressional representatives an email today.

Farmers’ Market Purchases

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I made it to Farmers at Phipps last night right before it closed, and was able to stroll through the Market Square Farmers’ Market this morning.  Such beautiful selections available at both!  Combined from the two markets, I bought corn, tomatoes, peaches, plums, blueberries, red currants, and apricots to supplement the vegetables I get from my CSA.  This is such an exciting time of year!

Click here to find farms and farmers’ markets in Pennsylvania!

Click here to find farms and farmers’ markets nationwide!

All-Purpose Guide to Vegetables

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Normally when I check a book out of the library, my basic plan is to read it and return it.  Very rarely do I develop such an attachment to the information contained therein that I decide I need a copy for myself.  But, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables has found a spot in my heart–and will soon be a permanent fixture on my cookbookshelf.  This is an alphabetized, all-purpose guide to not only cooking but growing and harvesting vegetables.

I don’t agree with every word written by Ms. Waters in this book, to be certain.  She relies very often on blanching and boiling as her preferred techniques for vegetable cookery, whereas I tend toward roasting–especially with green and white vegetables.  But the breadth of information that she conveys is astounding, and the advice on gardening mixed in with the cooking advice is refreshing and helpful.

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Good Cook II: The Sequel

Monday, July 12th, 2010

In May, I put up a few musings about what makes a good cook.  The original post prompted a flurry of activity on the site (1 comment), which in turn prompted my other reader (thanks, Mom!) to draft a formal response on what she believes makes someone to be a good cook:

Jesse:

A few weeks ago, you answered the question, “What Makes a Good Cook?”  I consider myself to be a good cook and at least partially responsible for your interest in cooking and your enthusiasm for food and fresh ingredients.  I have been thinking about this and mulling over my response and have finally come up with several ideas on the subject.

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Firehouse Demo Recipes

Monday, July 5th, 2010

I had a fantastic time cooking fresh foods at the Slow Food Pittsburgh table on Saturday morning.  How could I not?  Slow Food unleashed me to shop for whatever ingredients I could use, then I got to cook up whatever I felt like making from the freshest food available!  I just hope we collected enough donations to make the day worthwhile for Slow Food—because if so, I hope that will increase the chances of my being invited back soon for another Saturday of fresh food demonstrations.

Several of the shoppers/ samplers asked me if I had recipes for what I was cooking.  The simple answer was no, I didn’t—because I had no idea what I was going to make until the ingredients presented themselves to me.  For instance, the first dish of the day was a total shocker: Mott Family Farm had yellow transparent apples available, and the early, sour apples make an excellent applesauce—so that’s exactly what I made with them.

Instructions follow for each of the dishes I made: applesauce, Grandma Tolley’s salad (with my own twists), sauteed sugar snap peas with kale, pan seared summer squash with parmesan, freshly made croutons and vinaigrette (to spice up any salad), and maple sugar salmon.  Whew!  That was a full morning of cooking.

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Farmers @ Firehouse 7/3/2010

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Shopping in the Strip District this Saturday?  Be sure to swing by Farmers @ The Firehouse, the farmers’ market on Penn Avenue at 23rd.  It’s where you can connect with farmers for fresh, seasonal items straight from their fields.  I’ll be manning the demonstration table for Slow Food Pittsburgh this weekend, whipping up some improvisational items based on what the farmers have on hand.  Be sure to stop by and say hi.  If you have any cooking questions let me know–I’ll be glad to answer whatever I can for you!