Clean sushi

More restaurants go sustainable

July 31, 2009

First came a Portland restaurant that ditched endangered species from its sushi menu. Now other restaurants are following suit, including one in San Francisco and another in Seattle. Heck, you want to know all about sustainable sushi, all the time? There’s even a blog by that name. Just say no to unagi.

Seed news

Resources for the heirloom grower

July 30, 2009

The owner of a Missouri-based company that specializes in rare seeds has opened a seed store in Petaluma, California. Housed in the former Petaluma County National Bank, the Seed Bank carries hundreds of varieties of uncommon seeds — one of the largest selections of organic and heirloom seeds in the country.

Writes Natalie Starkman, over at Civil Eats:

Store Manager Paul Wallace said that the Seed Bank has been packed since it opened in early June with people from all over making the pilgrimage to marvel and buy rare seeds. (Weekenders, take note: for now, the Seed Bank is only opened Monday through Friday.) Bestsellers include carrots, squash, melon and beets (so there, President Obama). The store plans on selling local producers’ artisan foods and crafts, including tools. Wallace said that the magnificent hall will also serve as a community center and gathering space.

Fortunately, those not Petaluma-bound can buy the seeds online.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Seed to Plate can set novices on the, ahem, garden path to success with video lessons, a sowing calendar, and even a Web-based plot designer. And yes, seeds for sale, too.

Good fats, bad fats

Which ones are good for you?

July 29, 2009

An Ode reprint on AlterNet recently discussed which fats you should eat. Despite the low-fat mantra the health establishment has been repeating for years, writes Janet Paskin, “a high-fat diet won’t necessarily make us sick or fat; a low-fat diet may not make us healthy or slim.” In other words, real fats (think butter) in small amounts are better than fake fats (think margarine) in large amounts.

Preserving food

Sites that might help — or at least inspire you

July 27, 2009

With the bounty of summer comes preserving: freezing, canning, and drying.

In May, Mark Bittman shared his good ideas for freezing foods. And a recent blog post on the Rachael Ray website offers some helpful tips as well. Both pros agree that most vegetables benefit from being blanched first.

When it comes to canning foods, Marisa McClellan keeps an entire blog devoted to the topic; her canning resources offer further help.

Finally, for information on drying foods, an article on Mother Earth News is a good place to start. The extension service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also offers drying basics.

(Have your own go-to sites for food preservation tips? Leave URLs in the comments.)

Corn-free for a week

A week without the ubiquitous starch

July 24, 2009

Over at Serious Eats, writer Carey Jones is doing a corn challenge, à la Curt Ellis. Carey went without corn for a week — even popcorn! — mostly by avoiding processed food. But in the end, it turns out that’s not enough:

As the week went on, a realization sunk in. Though I was eating no corn, my eating habits were still largely corn-based. That milk I was drinking? Definitely came from corn-eating cows. The chickens in my sausage chowed on corn-based feed, and their egg-laying sisters were fed with corn as well. And that contributed to our society’s massive overproduction just as surely as corn syrup.

So next week, Carey is going without corn-fed animal products too. Check back next week to find out just how hard that was. Or how easy.

Cans across America

Put a weekend aside for putting food by

July 23, 2009

Kim O’Donnel (yes, our own, of Table Talk) is the brains and some of the brawn behind Cans Across America (inspired by Live Culture’s Yes We Can Food event in the Bay Area). It’s a weekend — August 29-30 — to mark on your calendar: Two days when all across the country people will be putting up food. Kim’s recent post on True/Slant has more details, as does a post on Slashfood.

New food solutions for Washington?

‘Locally adapted agriculture’

July 22, 2009

Jane Black, of the Washington Post, spoke with three sustainable-agriculture advocates — Wes Jackson, Fred Kirschenmann, and Wendell Berry — who were in the nation’s capital last week to talk with legislators about how our government might take the long view and adopt a 50-year farm bill.

It’s all good reading, but we especially appreciated this quote from Berry, about why the one-agricultural-size-fits-all-solution won’t work:

The inevitable aim of industrial agri-investors is the big universal solution. They want a big product that can be marketed everywhere. And the kind of agriculture we’re talking about that leads to food security and land conservation is locally adapted agriculture. And they can’t do that. Industrial agriculture plants cornfields in Arizona; locally adapted agriculture says, what can we fit in this place that will not destroy it? Or what can nature help us to do here? That’s the critical issue.

Hot off the dash

Bake cookies in your car

July 21, 2009

You know the old saying about how it’s so hot out, you could fry an egg on the hood of your car? A couple of years ago, the blog Baking Bites took that idea and stepped it up a notch: baking chocolate-chip cookies on a hot car dashboard. OK, so it took over two hours for the cookies to bake completely, and they never browned. But they did cook through, and they were tasty: “I think that they were best hot out of the car,” wrote blogger Nicole Weston.

Eating sardines

These good-for-you fish are plentiful

July 20, 2009

NPR’s “Weekend Edition” yesterday featured a report about the Sardinistas of northern California and their efforts to encourage the locals to eat sardines, in season off the California coast for another week or so.

According to these advocates, sardines are really good for you; not only are they replete with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain less mercury than salmon or tuna. Plus, their populations are generally robust — at least for now.

(Interesting fish-food-for-thought: According to the NPR story, 90 percent of the sardines caught off the coast near Monterey will be shipped to Australia — to become food for tuna at a tuna farm.)

The Sardinistas have their work cut out for them, as many Americans find the notion of eating sardines unpalatable. How convenient, then, that Paris-based cook David Lebovitz just posted a recipe for sardine pâté on his blog — which sounds good enough to turn more than a few sardine skeptics into fans.

Gourmet dreck

It looks so appetizing, and yet …

July 17, 2009

Should you be in the mood for weird food concepts, check out the website Fancy Fast Food, which dedicates time, money, and food-styling effort to converting fast food into pseudo-gourmet fare. Examples: a Domino’s pizza transformed into ersatz Chinese food (and retitled Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein), or an array of tapas fabricated from White Castle takeout (and renamed Tapas de Castillo Blanco). Harold and Kumar, eat your grease-lovin’ hearts out.

The plant whisperers

Women’s voices carry the day

July 16, 2009

Apparently, the Royal Horticultural Society has found that women's voices make plants grow faster than men’s voices. Our favorite quote from the Telegraph article:

The findings vindicate comments made by Prince Charles that he talks to his plants although they suggest that for maximum results he would be better off recruiting the Duchess of Cornwall.

Over at the Cookus Interruptus blog, Cynthia Lair confesses to talking to the plants in her garden and wants to know if you do the same; head over and let her know.

(As for us, we’re warming to the idea after seeing the RHS evidence.)

Big eats

The Cheesecake Factory in the blogosphere

July 15, 2009

The Cheesecake Factory dishes up much more than what you see on the menu. »

An easy way to open a banana

Learn a trick from a monkey

July 14, 2009

Via Eat Me Daily, the easy way to open a banana, apparently as monkeys do it:

Movie not displayed because either Javascript or Flash player is not available.

For mobile users, you can find the YouTube link here.

No more petrochemicals

A call to arms

July 13, 2009

In case you missed it, both Civil Eats and The Green Fork ran a post by Kerry Trueman recently that argues forcefully against petrochemical fertilizers. A partial solution? Picking up your own trowel, even if you live in an apartment. For DIY tips, check out the community-forum website Patio Farmers Guild.

Vacation planning

Don’t break the food-budget bank

July 10, 2009

Do summer vacations past find you “wondering how you blew $400 on food over three days you mostly spent at the beach”? Then check out Cheap Healthy Good’s recent post on vacation planning. No mere roundup of tips, this lengthy post includes budget-oriented menus and even equations for calculating how much money to spend per head. Staycation, here we come.

Food and the economy

The recession means different things to different appetites

July 9, 2009

On his blog, Tufts University food economist Parke Wilde recently highlighted a lengthy article by Julie Flaherty entitled “Stomaching the recession: What the slumping economy will mean for the American diet,” from the spring issue of Tufts Nutrition (now available on the Tufts website). The article ranges far on the topics of hunger and obesity and income, and doesn’t settle for easy conclusions:

“How people respond will depend a lot on who they are as individuals,” says Professor Jeanne Goldberg, director of the Nutrition Communication Program at the Friedman School. “A lot will depend on the importance people place on their personal health and the health of their families.”

The article also discusses the fact that many Americans lack cooking skills, a state of affairs that’s also been labeled “kitchen illiteracy” by Tom Laskaway over at Grist. Time to bring back home economics, as well as economics at home.

Loopy leftovers

How do you behave around them?

July 8, 2009

In an amusing story yesterday, the New York Times ran a roundup of attitudes toward (and bizarre anecdotes about) leftover food. As the author, Henry Alford, wrote, “Whether it takes the form of harassing, stealing, smothering, or snickering, the way we deal with leftovers can say a lot about who we are.”

Non-dairy farming

Where’s the cow?

July 7, 2009

An advertising campaign. »

Eat or toss?

How safe is that food?

July 6, 2009

Freaked out about how long that potato salad’s been sitting on the picnic table? Get reassured at Still Tasty, a new website for consumers trying to figure out whether something’s safe to eat or not. The site offers shelf-life info by ingredient as well as storage and handling tips. Drawing on food-safety research conducted by the USDA, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control, the site is a bit like a miniature health department aimed at individuals, not the public at large.

A potato-salad tribute

“It’s not hard to make potato salad, people.”

July 3, 2009

Just in time for the holiday weekend: On Salon, Garrison Keillor’s reminding us all to make our own dang potato salad, instead of eating “yellowish muck bought at a convenience store.” And just in case we potato-salad-makers need inspiration, Mark Bittman’s got a grilled potato salad that would be fine alongside sausages on the barbie.

Barefoot and pregnant

How fire led to gender roles

July 2, 2009

Richard Wrangham’s new book, Catching Fire, has gotten press lately for its argument that our ability to cook is what, largely, makes us human. But also noteworthy is Wrangham’s assessment of how cooking may have divided us along gender lines; as the New York Times review of his book quoted, “Cooking created and perpetuated a novel system of male cultural superiority. It is not a pretty picture.”

Bittman’s latest

Industrial, organic, and seeded

July 1, 2009

A quick trio of recent posts we enjoyed on Bitten, Mark Bittman’s blog: a look at a new book about the food industry, a nod to Marion Nestle's assessment of organic food, and a graphic on which companies own seeds. Food for thought, all of it.

Sift archive — July 2009

Our Table

Joy of Cooking app

A new tool for the kitchen

The latest in our collection of cooking apps.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice