Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
People are making all kinds of efforts to eat more local food. In Tuesday's Observer, you can read about a family that ate only whole foods for 100 days.
Here's another way to work local foods into your life: The Center for Environmental Farming Systems, based at N.C. State University, has launched a statewide campaign to get you to spend 10 percent of your existing food dollars on food produced in North Carolina.
According to CEFS, North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If we each spent about $1.05 a day, or $7.35 a week, on locally grown, raised or made food, that would put $3.5 billion into the local economy.
If you're a joiner, you can register online to pledge to do it, at www.nc10percent.com. You can also find links to organizations that can help you locate local food sources. CEFS is hoping businesses also will sign up to focus their spending power or host employee challenges to eat local. Compass Group also is a partner. It has pledged to source 10 percent of the produce it sells to N.C. clients from within the state, and will work with CEFS to develop a model "farm-to-institution" buying program.
How about it? Do you have clever ideas for how you can boost your local-food spending?
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Thanks again to everyone who joined in today's live food chat. Answering questions that fast doesn't live much time for thinking them over, so I hope I gave information that was correct and useful.
As promised, we did a random drawing from the names of people who submitted questions. Kirsty won the autographed copy of Ree Drummond's "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" and Caity gets the copy of Steven Raichlen's "Planet Barbecue." If you'll both send your contact information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'll put the books in the mail.
And to the person who wanted to know how to cook a roadkill possum, I do actually have an answer: Possum are scavengers who eat carrion, so the only way to make the meat palatable is to catch them live and pen them up for a week while you feed them clean food. My grandmother taught me lots of useful things like that.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
3 fresh green chile peppers
1 large unripe papaya, peeled
1 tomato, seeded and cut in bite-size wedges
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole dry-roasted peanuts
Coarsely mash together the garlic, chile peppers and tamarind paste. Shred the papaya into long strips using a box grater or a hand-held shredder and add it to the tamarind mixture.
Mix in the tomato, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Stir well. Stir in the peanuts. Cover, and refrigerate until serving. Can be made a few hours in advance, but it doesn't keep much longer than that.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
That would be KellyC, who entered at 12:23 on July 14. KellyC, send your mailing address to me at email@example.com and I'll get the book on its way.
And thank you all for entering, for sharing your stories and for so many nice comments on the article by my colleague Andrea Weigl.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Before we scatter for the weekend, here's a tip from the Food pages that I want to make sure you don't miss.
My colleague Andrea Weigl's story on Southern vegetable plates had a lot of great recipes. But my favorite was this advice on cooking field peas, from Jeff Allen of Beth Moore's state at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. It works with Dixie Lees, crowders and all manner of peas - including that dandy bag of pink-eye peas I bought last weekend at the Charlotte Regional Market:
"Cover 2 cups of peas with water in a pot. Add a piece of seasoning meat, either ham or country ham, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a summer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Feel free to substitute broth and a tablespoon or two of butter instead of water and ham."
Have a good weekend and don't forget to eat your vegetables.
- Corn Roast Day returns at the Matthews Community Farmers Market, after being cancelled for two years by drought. Joe Bonaparte and chefs from the Art Institute will do the roasting, and there is supposed to be gourmet flavored butters. Ears are $2 each (it's fund-raiser for the market) and it starts at 9 a.m.
- If you're out earlier, Marc Jacksina, formerly of Lulu and now of Andrew Blairs, will teach the 7:30 a.m. Chef's Secret class at the Matthews market. Topic is supposed to be "alternative cooking techniques." Knowing Jacksina, there's no telling what that means.
- One more from Matthews: Tomato Tasting Day is July 24. You'll get to sample dozens of kinds and vote on your favorite. I was lucky enough to land at the Carrboro Farmer's Market on Tomato Day last year, and I still cherish the memory of a tomato jam I met there.
- At the Davidson Farmer's Market, Saturday is Melon Tasting Day from 8:30 to 10:30. They'll have samples of watermelons, Sprite melons and Crenshaws. They're claiming the hot, dry weather has concentrated the sugars, making this year's melons especially sweet. Go by for a taste and test the theory.
- How's your salsa? The Davidson market is holding its first Salsa Showdown on July 24. Deadline for entries is July 17. Four contestants will be picked through a blind drawing, and customers get to vote on the winner. Prize is $25 in market bucks. (Meaning, you have to spend them there. But that shouldn't be hard to do.)
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
- Domino's Pizza wants to make the point that what you see in the pictures is what you get in the box. So it's doing away away with anything that smacks of food styling. No steamer-softened cheese stretches or blow-torch browned spots. (Pity - there's an art to making food look both real and tasty.) To mark the occasion, they're having a contest: Take a picture of a Domino's pizza and win $500. You have to shoot the pizza au naturelle and submit the picture at www.showusyourpizza.com by July 26.
- Have you ever entered your cooking in a fair? The season is coming. The Dixie Classic Fair, Oct. 1-10 in Winston-Salem, has more than a dozen food competitions this year, from the Great American Spam Championship to the Fried Apple Pie Contest. Get details, deadlines and entry forms at www.dcfair.org. If you're aiming for the N.C. State Fair, Oct. 14-24 in Raleigh, the competition premium book that lists those cooking contests will be available in August at www.ncstatefair.org.
- So maybe you can't be the next Food Network star. Or even the Top Chef. You still have a chance at being a hot food blogger. Food-blog aggregator Foodbuzz is sponsoring Project Food Blog, a series of challenges focusing on food bloggers. Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine (you know, a magazine -- one of those old print media things) is the judge. The last blogger standing (typing? posting? uploading 12 pictures of the same thing?) gets $10,000 and gets featured on Foodbuzz for a year.
Friday, July 2, 2010
It was the end of the day last Tuesday. At home, the cupboards were bare because I’d had to miss my usual Saturday market expedition. A teenager was waiting to be rushed off to his evening appointment. I was too hot, tired and drained to have much energy left at all.
I pulled into the Atherton Mill Market, 2104 South Boulevard in SouthEnd, grabbed a couple of bags and dashed inside to see what I could find.
A handful of green and white Zephyr squash. A bag of newly dug potatoes, from thumb- to marble-sized. Haricot vertes-type green beans as skinny as embroidery thread. A bag of freshly shucked corn. A small Sugar Baby watermelon and a cantaloupe. A round loaf of roasted garlic & olive oil bread and a tub of the hot tomato oil from Duke’s Breads. A couple of packages of freshly harvested chicken wings from Red Dirt Ranch. Tomatoes, of course -- a fat red heirloom and a box of orange Sun Glos.
Rushing into the house, I found the teenager had already eaten and was on his way out. A reprieve, and dinner just for two of us, empty-nesters in training. I put the corn, squash, tomato oil and chicken wings away for later in the week and set aside the cantaloupe for breakfast.
On the counter, I spread out the tiny potatoes and green beans, the watermelon and the tomatoes. I looked them over and came up with the easiest dinner I could. First, two links of Trader Joe’s chicken sausage left over from the night before went into a skillet to brown slowly.
I scrubbed the potatoes under running water to take off the last of their dusty dirt and piled them in a skillet with just enough water to cover, a squirt of olive oil and a fat pinch of kosher salt. I put the lid on and brought it to a boil for 10 minutes. Tiny potatoes don’t take very long to cook.
While I waited, I pinched the tops off the little green beans. I put them on top of the potatoes and covered the skillet for 2 minutes longer, then took the top off and let the water boil away, letting it all finish cooking in the salty oil left behind.
While the potatoes cooked, I cut a couple of fat wedges of the roasted garlic bread, wrapped them in foil and tossed the package in the toaster oven to warm.
I sliced the fat red tomato and arranged it on a plate. I topped it with a pile of halved Sun Glos and some shredded basil from my garden, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
I sliced into the watermelon and found flesh that was as magenta-red as raspberry sorbet, a color so deep it almost looked fake. I cut away bite-size sweet chunks and piled them in a bowl.
Twenty minutes later, we were sitting down to plates with just a little chicken sausage, piles of green beans and potatoes, tomato salad with plenty of juice to soak up with the wedges of warm bread, and watermelon. It looked like a painting of summer and tasted like someone else’s life, someone more sophisticated, more elegant. M.F.K. Fisher, maybe, or Ruth Reichl.
Stopping to market on the way home like we’re living in Paris. I could get used to this. Next Wednesday, my colleague Andrea Weigl will bring you a story about the joys of summer vegetable plates. In the meantime, I hope you have a Fourth of July weekend full of all the fresh produce you can find.