Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soup Loaf

The only downside to freezing food is that it's then frozen. No matter how much you suddenly want to eat that frozen piece of cake or goat kidney, unless you plan ahead or have a microwave (and I'm not big on either), your appetite alone will not make it melt.

That's why I recently found myself sawing a soup in half, as pictured above. It was the last of the infamous buffalo yam chili, which I had the foresight to freeze but not to defrost by the time I wanted it. So out came the bread knife and the elbow grease (mine, not the buffalo's, though there may have been some of that, too).

But when life gives you frozen lemons, make room temperature lemonade. My blood sugar level crashed as the soup slowly passed through phases of matter on the stove top, but I tried to view the experience in a positive light. However, all I could come up with was that I'd never seen a cross section of a kidney bean before.

Speaking of patience, my garlic didn't grow as much in the past 24 hours as I'd expected.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Kitchen Garden Update

April showers bring may flowers, and we all know what Mayflowers bring, but this morning I discovered that March showers bring March garlic.

The bulb that I split up and planted back in November has finally raised several green flags down in the kitchen garden, heralding the return of the kind of weather that couldn't kill you.

Speaking of which, I cannot believe that this tuft of French sorrel survived the winter:

That's because from mid December until a couple of weeks ago, the yard looked like this:

But those few, fragile leaves somehow emerged triumphantly after being buried under feet and feet of snow, ice, and fox pee.

Now I survived the winter too, but the difference between me and the sorrel is that it didn't have a coat, hat, gloves, snow tires, hot toddies, oil heat plus an electric space heater, wool socks inside Tibetan slippers, gourds upon gourds of mate, a freezer full of meat, carpeting, an apartment, and a girlfriend.

Now doesn't it seem unfair that it's me who gets to eat it? Link

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Adventures in Tealand

Seth, one of my former sketch comedy partners, and Maggie, his life partner, are traveling through tea country, apprenticing at estates in the Darjeeling district and beyond.

See here for their travel updates and to find out where the stuff that's everywhere actually comes from.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Sally Falon's The Ploy of Soy:

"The longest living man in the West was Old Par, an English peasant who labored in the fields until his death at 152 years. His diet consisted almost entirely of raw goat milk products."

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Killer Peas

Risen from the dead by rehydration, these dried peas came back with a vengeance.

I cooked them in an effort to work through the many mysterious bags of dried legumes we seem to have accumulated. We have enough to live on for several days, but have no idea where they came from, since dried beans can last longer than your memory of where and when you got them.

In an effort to purge the kitchen of unwanted but still edible items, I've been slowly using up our stash by making chili, soup, kitchari, and so on. But when I found these peas I wasn't quite sure what to do: I've had peas fresh, split, frozen, canned (yuck!), and wasabied, but never dried whole.

I started by soaking them overnight, which made them much more appealing. Formerly a dusty shade of gray, the soaked peas turned a plump, luscious green. I decided to first try them straight up, cooked in salted water and eaten like a grain. When I did, they promptly turned gray again and didn't taste much better than they looked.

So I did what made me need to make them in the first place: I forgot about them. A day later, the peas that were still submerged in water had sprouted tiny tadpole like tails. I put them in a a colander to slow the process, and forgot about them all over again. A day later, they were poking through the mesh, coming to get to me.

Since they were so ugly cooked and since sprouted things are supposedly better for you, I've just been snacking on them raw, which I hope has the same effect as chopping up a zombie so much that no part of it can attack you.

Let this be a lesson: you can forget about legumes, but legumes won't forget about you.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Heart Lamb Heart

I have a friend whose meat CSA has a cooler full of $1 parts such as hearts and tongue. Clearly they haven't gotten the memo about offal.

Like lobster and countless other foods that were once thought of as edible when necessary, offal has gone from rags to riches. To get a sense of the popularity of these non-meat cuts of meat, just google "the offal truth." That gives you a glimpse of how much it's being talked about, plus it's fun to see how many people thought that they invented the (admittedly clever) phrase.

But back in my world, two lamb hearts still cost a dollar. I adapted a recipe from Nose to Tail and braised the hearts on the stovetop with a cornbread stuffing (and by "adapted" I mean "left out lots of bacon").

The stuffing and the braising liquid were both the results of some serious scrounging. Ingredients included over-fermented cider and chopped up bits of Tom-Tom Turkey Sticks. Before there were in-sink-erators, there was braising.

Besides timidly nibbling chicken parts in gravy, these were my first real hearts. I won't share the recipe since it wasn't an unmitigated triumph, and the next time I'd probably try roasting or oven braising. But they did turn out well and I'd eat them again. The texture was quite nice - between steak and liver - as was the appearance. Sliced into cross sections, the stuffed chambers made for an attractive semi-spiral.

Also, cramming the stuffing into the heart provided a good visual aid for what it might be like to eat too many fatty foods.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Whitehouse Greenhouse?

The Obamas have finally bowed to pressure from trowel wielding lefties and have torn up part of the White House lawn for a vegetable garden.

This a good thing for more reasons than a giddy Alice Waters could tell you in an elevator pitch.

Besides, how great is it to see the first lady with her feet in the dirt, clutching a rake? Laura Bush always appeared as though through a thick haze of surreality, but now we have proof that the new first lady quite literally has her feet on solid ground.

To state the obvious, the actions of the first family set the tone for the nation, and I have my own personal experience as proof. I can remember being in kindergarten and standing in a circle with my fellow classmates, talking about how tough Ronald Regan was. We may have gone so far as to suggest that he could beat up "anybody in the world."

I like to think that today, somewhere out there, a new crop of five-year-olds are talking about how delicious Obama's arugula will be.

(photo courtesy of the NYT)

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Friday, March 20, 2009

My Freezer

Spring has sprung, and since even the most stubborn mountains of snow in the corners of parking lots are beginning to ebb, what better time to scrutinize the contents of one's freezer. In the confessional spirit of Bittman and the IFA, I thought I'd do so publicly.

As you can see from the photo, we're well stocked. Literally: most of what you see is stock. Like many others, I keep a container of carcasses in the freezer and add bones, pan drippings, skin and such until it's full, at which point I cook it down into rich and delicious golden-brown chicken liquor. I like to think of every time I make stock as a sort of mini festival. Stockstock, if you will.

When it comes to stock, it's all about something-from-nothing. I won't add anything that has to be purchased anew (fresh meat) or could simply be eaten as is (celery). To me, stock exists not to be adulterated but to give waning ingredients a second chance. And which is the more noble way to treat a bird: throwing it in the trash or wringing its corpse for a few more drops of flavor and nutrition?

The white paper packages with red labels indicate another sub-zero staple: meat from Codman, a local, sustainable farm. A full blown vegetarian diet may seem better for the environment, but I still see animals as having a key role in the closed loop of sustainable farming. Plus, we don't eat too much of it, and the amount of red meat that you see in the photo will last us for weeks.

In addition to saving food for later, freezers can also serve as a purgatory for undesirable but not entirely unwanted items. Like the spiced rice I made for the Tu B'Shevat seder. It was good, but not great. Hence it lies enshrined in an icy tomb until I make myself -- or the bacteria in the compost bin -- eat it.

There's also some partially defrosted grapefruit sorbet that has separated into syrup and ice. I'm throwing it out as soon as I finish this post.

Between the identical rectangular tubs of stock and the yogurt containers (also full of stock), you'll see a heel of Elise's excellent oatmeal bread. It's so good that I don't know how it wasn't gobbled up fresh, but I'll be toasting it this afternoon.

In the background you'll notice a few amorphous plastic bags lurking. One contains hunks of pumpkin, the others are full of shrimp tails and pea pods, destined for (separate) stocks. There's one item in tinfoil that I can't identify. I don't know what's in it, and I don't think I'll find out.

At top right you'll see a container of the buffalo yam chili, and there are several items on the door rendered invisible by the angle of the shot. These include balls of dough, frozen jugs of slightly expired goat milk, the tough part of a chicken of the woods, the fat from my duck proscuitto -- too granular -- and of course vodka.

What I've learned from this exercise is that most of the skeletons in my closet belong to chickens. It seems my freezer is essentially a repository for stock, ingredients for stock, and things I didn't have the heart to get rid of but might still have a role to play in future meals.

Duck fat-goat milk-chicken of the woods-vodka pudding, anyone?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

For Mate Morons, More On Mate

After my last post on mate (the tea, not the romantic partner), I received a stern rebuking from my Chilean mate muse. He had this to add:

There are some points that could help you to improve your mate (not maté):

Aclaración: the idea is the leaves are getting wet from the bottom to the top. You said that you must cover the leaves with cool water... that's a mistake: you musn't cover it. You have to put in the water and try, always, to do it in the same point, in order to keep the top leaves dry: don't spread the water and never cover the leaves. Like that, it'll taste better and it will last more!!!

Not only did I accent the word incorrectly, I also missed out on the whole concept of the water percolating up through the leaves rather than down from above. So from now on, when I drink mate, I'll say "bottom's up!" And no one will know or care what I'm talking about.

I also received advice for brewing mate in a grapefruit, which sounds like a much classier version of smoking pot out of an apple. Eli wrote:

Make mate in your grapefruit. Delicious:

1. Hollow out a mate-sized hole in a grapefruit. Leave a thick layer of flesh on the bottom and sides. (You can still use the grapefruit scraps.)

2. Fill the void with yerba, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

3. Pour a little cool water down one side and slip the bombilla in (to keep the yerba from scalding).

4. Your mate is now ready for hot water, sir. Heat the water until it gets noisy, but don't let it boil. As you refill the grapefruit, squeeze it a little to flavor your delicious mate.

Is anyone else doing anything crazy with your mate that we should know about? (Again, that's the tea.)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Past, Present and Future of Fruit Leather

See here for my (first) article in the Boston Globe. The subject? Fruit leather.

Until starting the article, I was like most people in that I didn't put much thought into fruit leather. In fact, the only thing I ever thought about it was that it wasn't as good as a fruit roll-up, and I haven't thought that since 1994. Between then and now, my mind was a fruit leather wasteland.

But in my research I realized that there's more to fruit leather than meets the eye, which is good, because there isn't much to fruit leather that does meet the eye. I've come to learn that this murky, tacky strip of dried goo is actually quite fascinating.

The blogosphere is rife with fruit leatherheads making their own versions at home, and some of the world's top chefs have embraced leathers as one of the more doable tricks of molecular gastonomy (all you really need is a blender and an oven with the wattage of an easy-bake). On top of that, many cultures around the world make fruit leather as a traditional method for preserving ripe fruit well past its season.

When it came to fruit leather, I had only been able to see the present. But now, like Dr. Manhattan, I can see its past and future.

Again, the article:


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fried Gefilte Fish

See here for my latest article, this one on fried gefilte fish.

For those who don't know, gefilte fish is a Jewish dish of poached, ground fish. Fried gefilte fish is the same thing, but fried, and therefore that much more awesome.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Inadvertent Kitchari Cake

While it happened by accident, from now I'll be making kitchari cakes like this one on purpose.

The kitchari was intentional, but the lovely little cake was just dumb luck. It happened when I reheated some leftover kitchari in a small skillet in the oven. When I opened the door, I expected to find a fragrant mush of grains and spices not unlike the one I had put in, the only difference being the temperature. Instead I found this gorgeous little thing, the sides crisp and brown, the interior still moist and fragrant.

For those who don't know, kitchari, aka khitchari or kedgeree, is a combination of spiced grains cooked together. Probably one of the oldest recipes on the planet, it's typically made with mung dahl and rice, though I used green lentils, and the possibilities for other substitutions are endless.

Kitchari has seen a recent spike in popularity with the renewed interest in Ayurveda, though for every one person who is serious about "the science of life," there are a thousand poseurs. You'll know them by the yoga mats sticking out of their backpacks, advertising their higher consciousness and serving as blue, foam lightening rods for good vibes.

If you're going to make kitchari, I suggest experimenting with your own spice blend rather than reaching for that dubious shaker of "curry." I associate curry powder, which is in fact a blend of spices (and sometimes food moths), with a seemingly well stocked but unused spice rack. You'll find it next to the impotent cinnamon and the two containers of cream of tartar with their foil seal intact.

Use fresh spices when they're in season, and when they're not, buy small amounts of whole spices from the bulk section of your local natural foods shop. That way you'll never have so much of something that it will lose its umph, and you can experiment with things you'd never buy an entire canister of. Like fenugreek.

For my kitchari, I just used whatever I had on hand, though I admit that I was well prepared to do so. The blend included whole star anise and dried chiles, cardamom pods, fennel and cumin seed, bay leaves, a small cinnamon stick, and a nub of fresh, minced turmeric.

Since I've only made the cake by accident, I can't give the specifics, but if you mess around I'm sure you could figure it out. Essentially you make kitchari, then bake it.

There are several lessons to take from this experience. They are:

-kitchari is good
-buy small amounts of whole, bulk spices
-good things happen when you don't use a microwave


Recipe: Kitchari

Serves 2.

1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup green lentils (or whatever)
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp neutral (or coconut) oil
your own spice blend
salt to taste

1. "Bloom" the spices in the hot oil.

2. Add the rice, stir until toasty.

3. Add the lentils, and cover with the coconut milk.

4. Simmer until tender, about a half hour, adding water if necessary. Remove any spices such as cinammon sticks, whole chiles, or bay leaves, or leave them in as surprises.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste... I Think

Thanks to recycling, I'd just as soon throw a can into the trash as a dog would pass through its invisible fence. In other words, every now and then I do, but it causes me great pain.

I'm hoping that after reading this post, people feel the same way about citrus rinds. Though precisely why that is I don't yet know.

Here's what I do know. Every time we eat a clementine or a squeeze a lime for a michelada, we simply toss (or compost) the rind. But the rind is a powerhouse of vitamins, and it's used in everything from marmalade to Chinese medicine. In other words, there's a deposit we can claim on this bottle.

I haven't decided what to do with the rinds I'm saving, so for now they're simply thumbtacked to the kitchen wall, where they've dried quite nicely and look like tropical snakes. I first thought to save my rinds when I read the following in Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America:

"The [orange] peelings were to be scattered all over the room, so that they could fill it with their aroma. When they began to wither, they were to be cooked for a long time and then used for preserves."

The quote hails from a Polish immigrant who was experiencing their first orange and clearly intended to make the most out of it. If someone handed me an orange for the first time, I certainly wouldn't throw any of it out. Especially not during the Great Disruption.

A Ukranian friend of mine suggested hanging the rinds up in closets as moth deterrent, but I was hoping for something I could eat. Any suggestions?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Buffalo Yam Chili

Like some of my all-time favorite dishes, this one just came to me out of the blue, like a buffalo thundering across the prairie and then into my pot.

I'd never heard of chili with yams (or pineapple vinegar) before, but the spirit moved me to unite these unlikely but not unfriendly ingredients. It turned out to be the best chili I've ever had. I'd be tickled for others to take up the gauntlet, and if you do make it, drop me a line and let me know how it turned out.

There are three reasons as to why it was so good. The first was the choice of ingredients, especially the spices. For those still using "chili powder," I strongly suggest creating your own mix. You might find that you prefer more cumin, or less partially hydrogenated oil and silicon dioxide, all of which are commonly found in the pre-made stuff.

I went heavy on whole cumin seeds and chipotles, and their smoky heat paired beautifully with the sweetness of the yams, while the buffalo kept it grounded.

A word on buffalo. Yes, I used buffalo, like a buffalo, not like a buffalo wing, which is chicken. Some might balk at the idea of eating a buffalo, and if you're ethically opposed to eating meat, then I understand where you're coming from. But if not, and you just can't stomach the thought of eating an animal that doesn't appear in a white kid's barnyard animal picture book, I have no sympathy for you, and you don't deserve to eat this anyway.

Also, from what I understand, buffalo don't tolerate confinement, and so raising them in a CAFO is not (yet, I'm sure) an option. Therefore any buffalo meat, even if it's in an otherwise ecologically disastrous chain supermarket, is technically free range, for what that's worth, which is something. As the NYT reported in '07:

"A meeting of people who raise buffaloes is not at all like a meeting of people who raise conventional cattle. For many buffalo herders it is a calling, an effort to save part of their national heritage. They talk of sustainability and even of a holistic approach to raising their animals, which, unlike cattle, are still wild, not domesticated."

Of course you shouldn't eat too much of it, as you shouldn't eat too much of any meat, especially red. Which is why I used a small amount of buff for a big pot of chili, going with the Mark Bittman-Thomas Jefferson approach of using meat as more of a seasoning than a main dish.

The second reason it was so good was browning. Brown everything you put in the pot, from the cumin seeds to the meat. The broth will be richer, the color darker.

The third reason it was so good is that it was chili.


Recipe: Buffalo Yam Chili

3 yams
1/4 lb ground buffalo
1 large can of tomatoes (or fresh in season, but never these)
2 cups of precooked beans in the pinto or kidney family (or 1 small can)
2 onions
1 red bell pepper
5 cloves garlic
2 dried chipotle peppers
2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
a splash of homemade pineapple vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
salt to taste
neutral, high heat oil for browning (i.e. canola)

Note: This might seem like a lot of ingredients and steps, but you're only really doing two things: browning and simmering, and you can certainly handle that. Therefore you'll need a skillet and a big pot.

1. Put the tomatoes in the big pot on medium heat.

2. Toast the cumin seeds and chipotles in the dry skillet. Add the cumin to the pot with the 'maters, set the chipotles aside.

3. Cut the yams into bite sized hunks. Seriously brown them in the oil, then add to the pot.

4. Dice and brown the onions. Mince the garlic and add it and the diced bell pepper to the skillet when the onions are at the halfway point. Transfer to the pot when ready.

5. While the onions are in the skillet, de-stem and de-seed the chipotles. Soak in some of the warm tomato water until soft, then muddle (or blend), and add to the pot.

6. Brown the buffalo. Add to the pot.

7. Add the beans, simmer ten minutes, then add salt and vinegar.

8. If it needs more kick, add cayenne to taste. It's good now, but it will be better tomorrow.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maté Weather

It's a gray day, no longer winter, not yet spring. Is it warm? Uh-uh. Cold? Ish. On Sunday it was sixty degrees, on Monday it snowed three inches. If Macbeth were here he'd surely proclaim it "foul and fair" (Act I, sc. III).

When it's that hard to get a fix on the weather, nothing feels better than suddenly deciding what it is you want to eat or drink. I imagine this is how some women (or men) feel when they know exactly what shoes to wear. Today, I slid my feet into some warm maté.

The world outside is muddled, but in my apartment I'm drinking maté, and everything is warm and clear. Like the final act of a Shakespeare play, just one sip turned chaos into order.

I'd dabbled for a few years, but it wasn't until last summer that a Chilean friend fully inducted me into the cult of maté (not to be confused with the maté cult). Whenever I drink it I dutifully practice his method, and now so can you.

How to Make Maté Like Gabriel Sepulveda:

1. Fill the gourd halfway with yerba maté leaves. (You could use a less exotic vessel, but you could also drink champagne out of a rusty tin can.)

2. Shake the gourd with your hand covering its mouth, then blow off the dust that gathers on your palm. Repeat until there is no more dust.

3. Gently insert the bombilla (metal straw) into the leaves at a 45 degree angle. Never move it.

3. Cover the leaves with cool water.

4. Fill with near boiling water (between shrimp eyes and crab eyes) by trickling it down the straw.

5. Let steep about four minutes. Drink!

6. Continue filling with hot (but not boiling) water for several more infusions.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Cured Duck Breast à la Ruhlman

In December Michael Ruhlman blogged about how incredibly easy it is to cure your own meat, here and then again here. The original post was entitled "Salt!"

And those are really the only two ingredients you need: salt and enthusiasm.

I couldn't imagine that it was as simple as Mr. MR said, so I decided to test his most basic recipe. I took a duck breast, wrapped it in salt for 24 hours, rinsed it off, and hung it up in a red bandanna not unlike one you might find dangling from the stick of Emmett Kelly.

Pre-salting it looked like this:

Post-salting it looked like this:

The flesh had darkened to a deep, almost purple red, as though somewhat cooked (which is what the salt does). I realize these photos would have a stronger before-and-after effect if I had shot the same side of the breast each time, but I didn't. So shut up.

When the appropriate length of time had passed (one week), I sliced off a piece, giddy with anticipation. It was disgusting.

Elise pointed out that it may have been the way I cut it. If you think of biting into a thick hunk of prosciutto (or prosciutto Americano), you can imagine it validating the too much of a good thing theory. I tried slicing it thinner, a difficult task for someone with knives like spoons. It wasn't bad, which of course means that it also wasn't good.

Once I trimmed the fat (saving it for rendering), I found that a thin slice was quite palatable. Still, it seemed like Ruhlman was right about being able to cure with nothing more than salt, but not about having it be something that you're particularly interested in eating. When I fried some up, all that changed. Crisped in a pan like bacon, the cured duck was extraordinary.

Ruhlman was dead on. With nothing more than salt, meat turns from a ticking time bomb of expiration to a delicious treat that you can keep enjoying from the time you cure it until the time at which you become neurotic about how long it's been since you cured it.

The duck bacon performed best when slivered, crisped in skillet, and served with something of contrasting texture and flavor. For instance, on top of a root veggie mash, as pictured at top.

In addition to tasting great, Ruhlman's simple salt cure provides an extremely low tech solution to making food last. No doubt this is an ancient answer to a problem we now counter with machines that require massive amounts of ill begotten energy.

How convenient that nature provides fixes to its own problems. God made meat that goes bad quickly, but god also made salt. And Michael Ruhlman.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Quote of the Day

From a recent article in Mother Jones:

"According to a 2008 report from Carnegie Mellon University, going meat- and dairyless one day a week is more environmentally beneficial than eating locally every single day."

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If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe's: A Waltz With Mortality

I have mixed feelings when it comes to Trader Joe's. Actually, I take that back: my feelings aren't mixed at all. I love some things that they have and hate the rest. That's cheap alcohol and excessively packaged, dubiously ecological dry goods, respectively.

The creator of the viral video posted below seems to share some of my negativity towards the store, though for different reasons. Regardless, the film is an interesting new breed of commercial, one which the maker made of his own volition, though it clearly does the work of TJ's marketing board for them. And that's the idea. In his own words from an interview on NewTeeVee:

“I’m interested in the idea of creating a new genre of advertising, the heartfelt commercial, that really expresses how you feel about a product or store,” he said. “It’s a whole new area of advertising, where there’s much less client involvement — they can just say yes or no.”

Still, I have my doubts. It still reads like a fake in the way that the subjects comply with the narrative, from managers who aren't supposed to let the guy be filming to the accommodating yoga moms. Everyone knows that yoga moms are actually really mean.

But viewed as an artistic statement, I like it. Whether it's a new media ploy or not, you'll notice a dark, nostalgic undercurrent, a dance with temporality against a backdrop of life giving juices and bran muffins.

In other words, no matter where you shop, you're still going to die.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bear With Me

Don't worry, it's the verb form of "bear."

Just a heads up that I'm in the process of consolidating the labels on previous posts, so if anything looks funky in that section, it will be fixed by tonight.

In the meantime, here's a picture of a butternut squash seed that stayed on my dog's butt for a surprisingly long time.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Again, Silk Oolong Formosa

The last time I wrote about the silk oolong formosa I picked up at Red Blossom, I marveled at its milky quality despite the absence of actual milk. I was wrong. Vegans beware, this tea is not for you.

Some s.o.f. actually does contain dairy. Apparently a "milk oolong" can fall into one of two camps. The milk flavor can occur naturally, from a combination of the variety of tea, climate and conditions, or it can be literally infused with milk. Like from a cow, which is what gives Red Blossom's version its warm, caramel aroma and flavor.

I can't tell if that makes me like this tea more or less. It reminds me of my dad's search for the perfect stereo equipment. When surround sound debuted, he saw it as cheating, and wanted a pair of traditional speakers made so well that they could achieve a similar effect. He wanted naturally milk scented sound.

My hunch is that the milk-infused variety has taken the place of the more rare (and expensive) original, in much the same way that "liquid smoke"-infused lapsang souchong has largely replaced tea that has actually been cured over a fire.

Using milk instead of a balletic synthesis of natural elements does seem like cheating, and it is, but if it produces a better result that more people can enjoy, then why not? Because it also threatens a time honored tradition and the livelihood of those who practice it.

But do I enjoy my silky, milky tea? God, yes.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yogurt Pancakes

Like silly putty, this recipe was stumbled upon completely by accident. Like America, I'm sure someone else had stumbled upon it first.

I wanted pancakes, but didn't have milk (be it cow, nut, grain, or bean) or eggs, and I was in a fluffy mood. I cast about the refrigerator and paused when I saw the yogurt. Yogurt: kind of like eggs and milk mixed together, right?

Wrong. It's better. These pancakes were so light and fluffy that I had to tether them down. I'd previously thought that MB's beaten egg white pancakes were the fluffiest, but these have those beat. Yes, these beat Bitten's beaten ones.

Sure they were poofy, but were they also moist? As moist as the day is long, and I'm not talking about the day of the winter solstice. I'm talking about about that sprawling summer solstice day. In other words, they were extremely moist. The yogurt also imparted a pleasant, savory tang.

On Sunday I skated across Walden Pond and found myself on top of a body of water I had only previously been in or under. The yogurt must have had the reverse experience when mixed into the pancakes. Used to sliding around on top, it suddenly found itself deep within them.

The only downside is that the cooking process probably nullifies the probiotic content of the yogurt. But you know the old saying: you've got to break a few billion bacteria to make pancakes.


Recipe: Yogurt Pancakes

1 cup mixed whole grain flours (I used barley, spelt and corn)
1 cup plain yogurt (or whatever it takes to look like pancake batter)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon

Gently mix all of the above, leaving it lumpy. Marvel at its fluffy nature.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a greased skillet (I used a non-stick pan, no oil at all, and they really didn't stick.) Once bubbling, flip, cook briefly on the B-side, and cook again until golden.

Mourn bacteria.

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