Wednesday, August 29, 2012


There is so much information available today on food production and my decision to read about it in book form wasn't easy.  One can become depressed, angered, feel powerless, and all sorts of other emotions that are unpleasant when reading about what has been happening in the food sector.  In deciding to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver I was influenced by the fact that the technical information would be couched in a casual narrative of this family's year of eating "local" and growing their own food.

Kingsolver presents a plethora of information on all aspects of the food industry.  Here are a few passages from the book:
*  Modern U.S. consumers now get to taste less than 1 percent of the vegetable varieties that were grown here a century ago.
*  Six companies - Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Mitsui, Aventis, and Dow - now control 98 percent of the world's seed sales.
*  An estimated 67 million birds die each year from pesticide exposure on U.S. farms.

Kingsolver's family took a vow to eat only foods grown and produced locally which meant that they needed to radically change their diets. No more bananas, salmon and many other foods that they were used to.  In addition to their other life tasks (work, school, etc.) they now also needed to plant, tend and harvest their food.   They needed to cook their meals rather than to eat at restaurants.  They needed to prepare their produce for long-term storage.  Their trials and rewards are all recorded.

Daughter, Camille, assumes a key role in the book, adding sidebars of her own, and tackling such topics as whether potatoes are good for us (due to high nutritional value) or bad for us (due to their high glycemic index, their ability to make us gain weight, and their contribution to type II diabetes).  She points out that eating potato skins isn't always safe since conventional potatoes are among the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables.  Since this family grows their own, their potatoes are safe.  Camille includes seasonal recipes for potato salad.  Recipes from the book can also be found at

Camille, a vegetarian, experienced difficulties with her friends over her food preferences.  Apparently, they felt that she was becoming too vociferous in her views.  After careful consideration, Camille decides that it is best to be less judgmental of others, to present her views as less of a mandate and more of a "choice" based on full knowledge.

Despite the heaviness of the topic, Kingsolver manages to present the material in a charming, readable manner, occasionally incorporating wit.  One small example - she includes a New York saying:  "A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat."

Two thumbs up for this book.

By the way, you may already be familiar with Barbara Kingsolver.  She has written twelve books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction including the novels "The Poisonwood Bible" and "The Bean Trees."

Monday, August 20, 2012


Mondays can be trying with work and all, so I thought you may enjoy a little cartoon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Perhaps the most celebrated chef of our time is Julia Child who passed away August 13, 2004, two days shy of her 92nd birthday.  Had she lived, today she would be celebrating her 100th birthday.  Read a short bio of Julia at:
See also a fun PBS video at:

In her honor, today I am posting a recipe for Clafoutis, a French fruit flan.  The recipe comes from her preeminent book:

Quoting from the book:  "The clafouti which is traditional in the Limousin during the cherry season is peasant cooking for family meals, and about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine:  a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven.  It looks like a tart, and is usually eaten warm."

CLAFOUTI.  Serves 6 to 8.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place the following ingredients in your blender jar in the order in which they are listed.  Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Pour a 1/4 inch layer of batter in a 7-8 cup lightly buttered baking dish or pie plate about 1-1/2 inches deep. Set over a moderate heat for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish.  Remove from heat.

On top of the batter spread:
3 cups pitted black cherries [Other fruits can be substituted.]
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pour on the rest of the batter and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.  Place in middle position of preheated oven and bake for an hour.  The clafouti is done when it has puffed and browned, and a needle or knife plunged into its center comes out clean.  Sprinkle top of clafouti with powdered sugar just before bringing it to the table.  (The clafouti need not be served hot, but should still be warm.  It will sink down slightly as it cools.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I just received an email from a foodie friend in Alaska.  She sent two recipes that sound so good, I'm posting them without even trying them.  Here's the challenge for you.  Test out the recipes and leave a comment for the rest of us.  If you made changes, let us know!

1/2 pint concentrated apple juice
1 watermelon quarter, diced
1/2 cup of ice, optional (Note:  Crush ice before blending as large chunks may harm blades.)
Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Very refreshing on a hot summer day!

WATERMELON MIMOSA.  Makes 2 to 3 cocktails.
1 cup watermelon juice (pureed, strained)
1/2 cup light champagne (preferably not Brut, but rather Asti or similar)
Divide watermelon juice among 2 to 3 champagne flutes.  Fill with champagne and Enjoy!
Thanks Debra!  Just in time for watermelon harvest!