Tag Archives: Michael Pollan

10th day of Christmas

There’s a little flexibility, shall we say, on what the tenth day of Christmas is  all about.

There are10 red

pipers piping


lords a leaping


ships a sailing


Mayflower II.



drummers drumming


cocks a crowing

rooster crowing

But enough about the music…..time to review the FOOD.

New Year’s Day had a food change of plans….so I still haven’t made the Overnight Baked Crunchy French Toast, but since the ingredients are in my fridge, I’ll be making that tonight for tomorrow’s  breakfast. And lunches and suppers and Freezer Treasures.


I have oatmeal for breakfast, which I started doing a few years ago. One month of oatmeal for breakfast  – and I swear no other deliberate or conscious changes –  it really did lower my cholesterol, just like the ads said it would. Still working.

I put different things in it, but not on a day to day sort of change – I just don’t have enough brain before coffee to make those sorts of choices – but more of a week to week thing. The Gracious Pantry  had a whole run of oatmeal add-in suggestions that I still haven’t run through.

I don’t like mushy oatmeal and I’d rather have salt and pepper then sugar and cream. First, coffee, though. No oatmeal before coffee.

Darth Coffee Roz Cummins

Roz Cummins posted this picture today and asked if the coffee maker  looked like Darth Vader, to which I replied, “I like my coffee on the Dark Side..” Enough Star Wars.

Back to New Year’s Day.

Since there were more then enough leftovers from the New Year’s Eve Chinese Food Feast at the ancestral home, making MORE food was uncalled for.


Just plain silly.

Wasteful, even.

No need for French Toast or Waffles or any other food.

take out carton

Carton, carton, what’s in the carton? And there were the things already moved to Tupperware….

There were egg rolls


There were 2 left, so Mum and I each took one. One carton down and out.

Egg foo young (Chinese: 芙蓉蛋; Jyutping: fu4 jung4 daan6*2, also spelled egg fooyung, egg foo yong, or egg fu yung)  – thank you Wikipedia


Again, just one, so we each took half. Another carton down.


Chicken fingers and Shrimp fingers. We each took a shrimp – which were pretty dang NOT SMALL, downright JUMBO Shrimp shrimp -and then there were NONE.

I’m starting to get groggy…food coma by association …..there was more ….spare me, spare RIBS – boneless spareribs and VERY tasty.


Between the Jumbo Shrimp and Boneless Ribs, these seeming oxymora are beginning to sound  like the opening of a George Carlin routine…


George Carlin 1937-2008

OF course, there were both fried rice AND noodles


Our version had considerably more soy sauce in it creation


Chinese noodles

These are more chop suey-ish then the noodles on the table…no flowers in our batch

Keep in mind, there are the leftovers.….

There was also some Beef Teriyaki, but that was put aside for my little brother to eat later, which he did.

Chicken Wings – Chinese Chicken Wings. We took one each.

And we heated the plates in the microwave and sat down and ate.

And ate.

and ATE.

We did not have seconds.

We did have some fruit later, and coffee and charmellas later then that.

While I was there and not stuffing my face, I packed up more of my things to take back to the shiny brand new  place. Which included various jars of beans as well as a jar of lentils that I was going to cook for supper.

mason jar storage

This looks like my cupboards. I have lived in houses with moths (do not store bird seed in the house, that’s why we have garages and steel cans, people!) and mice and I got tired of feeding both.

Perhaps, because of the Michael Pollan ‘In Defense of Food” that aired in December,

defense of food tv

it seems that the internet is full of New Year’s Resolutions

to cook.

At home.

As if you could go out and cook in other peoples house without their invitation or out on the street or ….where else would you be cooking? Because people who go out and cook in  kitchens other then their own do it to make a living, not their own meals. Life is not a cooking show.

And I do cook. At home. Sometimes at work, because that’s my job, too.  But even my recent spate of ‘not cooking’ still include coffee and oatmeal each morning; supper each night, although a few of them have been tea and toast.

(FLASHBACK: Ma and Pa Flynn used to have tea and toast each afternoon as they watched Merv. I’m becoming my great-grandparents. Without the Merv. )


Merv Griffin . He sang, he danced, he played the piano, he  hosted, he created Jeopardy and he married Zsa-Zsa….

But not all of them.  I cooked down a 15 pound pumpkin and have had pumpkin and potato frittata as well as just plain pumpkin and potato ‘dish’; I made rice the other  night, but that dish also isn’t named, and it wasn’t a recipe per se.

Here’s the directions:

I open the fridge and said to myself,  “What’s a deep breath away from compost? What’s a day or two from talking back to me? What’s about to start walking around under it’s own power tonight?? What is that thing behind the egg nog?”

Then,  I  cooked the things that I had. I started with plain ole white rice cooked in the leftover carrot juice (if you cook carrots in carrot juice they are carroty X ∞ (that’s ‘carrot times infinity’), thank you Kevin from Solstice in Kingston. Cooking veg in veg broth or veg juice incredibly improves them!)

I also had some a deep breath away from perky pea-shoots that we great in salad earlier in the week, but were not quite up to salading again, so I added them in half way through. Topped the whole thing off with a little grated cheese. A lovely contrast of golden/orange  rice and greeny greens.If I had to name it, it would be:

Risi e Bisi : Variation for the Autumnal New England Kitchen.

That’s a name that could be twenty bucks a plate.

Or, as I called it : Supper. Actually, I called it, “hmm hm hmmm yum yummm yea” as part of a happy food hum. There was another veg and fruit and pear cider to drink. Hot chocolate with marshmallows later as both the coffee and dessert course.

Not the flashy production values of a new FoodNetwork Show, but pretty tasty and quick and note to myself to try veg juice with rice again.

I did not cook the lentils because….I ate enough food for 2 days. Seriously, I wasn’t very interested in breakfast the day after.

But I don’t have a dainty appetite, and I’ve since recovered.

Now, to make that Egg Nog French Toast…..

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Cooked, food for thought

I’ve been reading Cooked, which has me thinking…..

Cooked...the book

Cooked…the book

Or the question the book dodges….

Why don’t we cook anymore?

Which seems to imply there is a basemark/benchmark for a common good old days that is eluded to but never really defined or examined. There are some scary statistics gathered by agencies that have agendas, but are they really data? Even last week another study was released – that looked at 12 families. Twelve. Who said they didn’t have time, didn’t have money, didn’t have the kitchen…… How do twelve families represent what is going on in the whole country today? I can get a better – and bigger – cross section at my next family gathering. Or at lunch at work.

Anyhow, beyond questionable samples, Pollen and his ilk talk about how our Grandmas did things. But do we really  have that common Grandma? Is common the same as average?  Nobody is average, Grandma’s included.

I don’t even have that common Grandma among my grandmothers.Both of my Grandmas were uncommon and above average.

One, Nonna, came from the old country (one of the old countries my family is from, that is), and was famous for her bread that was baked in a wood-fired oven. Back in the old country. She never used a recipe, she just cooked things. Wonderfully. But she only cooked Nonna food. She wasn’t interested in trying new tastes or flavors, she was interested in making the new things taste familiar.

The other, Nana, loved going out to eat, and take out,and when she did cook, she double checked the Fannie Farmer on her shelf to help her memory. She worked in a grocery store. She loved food in boxes. Good FOB (Friend of Betty…. Crocker).

Betty Crocker, Nana's kitchen friend.

Betty Crocker, Nana’s kitchen friend.

BUT both Nana and Nonna assumed that a kitchen would have a hot place and a cold place, a wet place and a dry place. You would need a knife and a spoon and a pot and a pan, a dish and a bowl. And a table, to work on, to clear and to sit around to eat at. Nothing in the room was designed or coordinated or needed updating, it was functional and familiar and just fine just the way it was.

They assumed that everyone contributed to the meal, whether it was stirring the pot or earning the money to pay for the groceries or running down to the store to pick something up or reaching up on a high shelf to get something down or setting the table or sweeping the floor. Something. No free lunches. That sitting down was part of the meal, as was a prayer. That there was always enough, and if  someone should show up at meal time, then there was plenty.

Waste was a sin, and an unnecessary one.

Besides the elusive common Grandma, and benchmark for how much have we lost when, there are a few other unanswered questions/broad assumptions that need a little more attention:

1. How to define cooking…

When I asked my son about summer cooking he said we didn’t cook, we just ate.

Back to salads, sandwiches and smoothies…

But according to SOME measures, putting bottled dressing on salad mix is cooking. Not in my house.

I’m with Alton Brown on this: Food + Heat + Cooking


Are salad based cookbooks really cookbooks or does there need to be another name for that genre, this category of food prep? But I digress…imagine that.
Sometimes I buy things for a salad and then eat them one component at a time…those little new potatoes I boiled up for One Potato Salad? Just as good, one potato at a time, either hot or cold. Is that cooking?
But we ate nonetheless. At home.Mostly.

2.Is the microwave cooking? Is it different if I’m ‘nuking’ something frozen by a corporation versus something I cooked and froze myself? Is re-heating/re purposing cooking? Broad categories don’t always hold up to close questioning.

3. The 800 pound Gorilla in the room seems to be the rise of dining out, that eating OUT became incredibly popular and as a family activity. Once upon a time dining out was for grownups, children stayed home with the babysitter – or Grandma – but in the late 60’s and early 70s that world changed. Just last week my brother asked me if I remembered the FIRST time we went to McDonald’s.

Darn tooting I do.

We had to get plain hamburgers, my mother wasn’t paying extra for overpriced cheese, BUT she could take us all out for under $10 and the place was child appropriate. So we went. BTW, there were no Happy Meals when I was young, but I can assure you, we were plenty happy.

MacDonaldsAnd do you remember their mottos?

  • Lets eat out! (1960–1965)

  • Look for the Golden Arches! (1960–1967)

  • Go for the Goodness at McDonald’s (1962–1969)

  • The closest thing to home (1966–1969)

  • McDonald’s is your kind of place (1967 – January 22, 1971)

  • You deserve a break today (January 23, 1971 – April 23, 1975) (click the link, you know you want to sing along)

 The sad old, and frankly, I just don’t buy it meme, that Cooked brings up  is that more women in the workplace led to more people dining out, but I think he doesn’t look far enough back to see women  entering the workplace in record numbers. Like the Mill Girls era back in the 1840’s. Or the Rosie the Riveter’s in the 1940’s . Woman just didn’t count in the workplace until the 1970’s. What was different in the 1960’s and ’70’s was

the advertising :

  • that you work hard for your money and
  • you deserve a break;
  • that you just don’t have time;
  • let us do the hard work for you,
  • and that cooking is hard work and
  • we’re the professionals, so let us do it for you.


  • Overlapping, self serving advertising messages. In a time when more people see/hear more advertising then ever.



Which leaves us with..
4. Meals that  people are left to prepare – since they don’t have time for the daily  – are for the holidays and special occasions, which are already  FRAUGHT and frightening, because they are occasional and special. Which therefore proves that cooking is hard and not something you would want to do everyday.

and so the cycle continues.


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14 for 14

Resolutions, that is.

I’m at Frank Mand’s Sunrise Photo #365 – I’ll have comment on the resolutions tomorrow.

Happy New Year! Buon anno! Bhliain nua sásta!(There are several Irish possibilities…but of course)

from Food Tank:

1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers.

2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.

3. End Food Waste
More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food.

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.

5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
A large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels–at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers’ unions and cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks, climate change, conflict, and other problems.

6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant…these indigenous crops might sound unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields and in our diets!

7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources.

8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your “hoofprint” by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.

9. Cook
In Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,” he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen relationships and eat more nutritious–and delicious–foods.

10. Host a Dinner Party
It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.

11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the “ingredients” that go into making fast food–including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don’t show up in the price tag of the food we eat.

12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.

13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 millionfamily farms in both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural resources.

14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges–and opportunities–in accessing healthy foods. They’re sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible.

by Danielle Nierenberg

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