Category Archives: What I’ve Been Reading Online

October 11, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

Another weekend with the promise of good weather, which means more yard work. For some reason, working outside in nice weather always seems better to me than working inside. I just love being outdoors. Clif and I also plan to ride our bikes, go to a pig roast at the grange in East Vassalboro, and see a movie at Railroad Square on Monday, when the prices are $5.50 all day. As we Mainers like to put it, that’s a wicked good deal.

Thanks so much to Rhonda Hetzel for featuring A Good Eater on her wonderful blog, Down to Earth. Rhonda has a big following, and I feel very honored to be listed.

From National Young Farmers Coalition blog: A profile of two young farmers—John Wright and Sara Hodges—who live on Vinalhaven Island—population 1,000—off the coast of Maine.

From Craftivist in the Kitchen: Whole grain cheese muffins. I’ll be making them soon.

From Mainetoday.com: Around the world in 7 sandwiches, all the while staying in Portland, Maine.

From Letters from a Hill Farm: Another book recommendation from Nan. This time it’s Up, Back, and Away by K. Velk. According to Nan, the story features time travel and bikes. Holy guacamole! What could be better?

From the New York Times: A piece about the “healthy obese.” With its references to mitochondria, the article gets a little complicated. But life is like that, isn’t it?

Friday, October 4, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

This Saturday is supposed to be warm and sunny, just like the rest of the week. As always, there is much to do around the little house in the big woods. Clif will begin replacing a rotten door sill, and I will do yard work—the start of getting things ready for winter. I will also be baking an apple pie—one of my favorite pies to make—on Sunday, when the weather is supposed to turn rainy. Our friends Joel and Alice have agreed to come over and help us eat the pie. Really, they will be doing us a favor. Clif and I do not need to eat a whole apple pie. Best of all, to borrow from Gladys Taber (see the last link), we will gather around the table, and the talk will be merry.

From the Portland Press Herald: A list of dairy farms that will be participating in Open Creamery Day on October 13.

From Sustainable Blog: Is your state locavore friendly? Vermont rules, but Maine does pretty well, too.

From the Maine blog Mignardise: Delicious recipes for all those end-of-summer and beginning-of-fall veggies. I’ll be giving her roasted ratatouille a try this weekend.

From the laist: Doug Rauch, past president of L.A. based Trader Joe’s, has started a program called The Daily Table, which “will sell prepared food, along with fruits and vegetables, that are past their labeled prime but are still deemed safe to eat.”

From the blog Letters from a Hill Farm: Nan posted a beautiful quotation from the writer Gladys Taber. Here is the part I like best:  “For no matter what heaven may be like, there is no use just waiting for it. I’ll take mine now, with an open fire and apples toasting on a stick and good friends gathered around the hearth. Bowls of popcorn, and nuts to crack while the talk is merry.”

September 20, 2013:Bits and Bobs from the Internet

Another birthday to celebrate—this time it’s Clif’s. We will be going to Shannon and Mike’s home on Saturday evening for dinner, which will center on either pulled pork or pulled beef. When I asked Clif what he might like to do during the day if it is nice out—as the forecast suggests—he didn’t hesitate: “Go for a long bike ride.” So that is exactly what we will do.

From the New York Times: Frank Bruni writes about obesity and how our super-size culture is part of the problem.

From the Good Shepherd Food Bank’s blog: Think you can do better than most SNAP (food stamp) recipients? Think again. Kristin Miale, the president of the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, Maine, took the challenge and found it wasn’t easy.

Again, from the New York Times: Vegan recipes from Mark Bittman. My, they look tasty.

From the Portland Press Herald: Apple recipes!

From the blog Ben Hewett: A terrific piece about stocking up for the winter. Ben and his family live on 40 acres in Vermont, and much of what they eat they raise, grow, or gather.

Scarcity

Today was fine and warm, and this afternoon, I biked to the Winthrop Food Pantry to take people around as they chose the food from what we have to offer. The selection can vary, but we usually have cereal, pancake mix, pasta, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, peanut butter, eggs, some meat, and canned soups and vegetables. Depending on what’s available at the Good Shepherd Food Bank, we also have fresh vegetables and fruit. People leave with their boxes overflowing with food, and for a few days, at least, their cupboards will be full. There will be no scarcity of food.

How appropriate, then, that this morning I should read Cass R. Sunstein’s excellent essay in the New York Review of Books about the effect that scarcity has on people, how it alters the way they think and how they plan. In his piece, Sunstein reviews Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

In Scarcity, the authors contend that having too little—money, food, time, companionship—concentrates the mind in ways that might be good for the short term—surviving from day to day or accomplishing a certain task—but is not good for the long term. The narrow focus that scarcity fosters is bad in all kinds of ways, from planning ahead to self-control to solving problems.

Sunstein writes, “[The authors’] striking claim, based on careful empirical research, is that across all of those categories, the feeling of scarcity has quite similar effects. It puts people in a kind of cognitive tunnel, limiting what they are able to see. It depletes their self-control. It makes them more impulsive and sometimes a bit dumb…”

As Anne of Green Gables might have put it, when there is scarcity, there isn’t much scope for the imagination. The irony, of course, is that when resources are scarce, imagination and creativity are exactly what you need. But it’s very difficult to be creative and imaginative when you are wondering how in the world you are going to pay the bills and have enough left over for food.

When I tell people I volunteer at the food pantry, I sometimes get the following questions: Why don’t food pantry recipients budget better? Why do so many of them smoke? Why don’t they get a better job? Why do their families allow them to come to the pantry? In my more uncharitable moments, I sometimes wonder the same things.

But then I look at the worn, tired faces of the people who come in. Scarcity has taken its toll, and it shows in the way they move as well as on their faces. Many of the recipients look older than they are, worn done by years of worrying about money, among other things. A bit ashamed of myself, I remember my own family’s years of just getting by and how hard it was.

So here is my answer: Considering their circumstances—old age, disability, low-paying jobs—food pantry recipients are doing the best they can with what they have. And if they didn’t live with such scarcity, they would do a lot better.

 

August 30, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

The last weekend of August and, in effect, the last weekend of summer. My husband, Clif, and I are going to get as much out of this weekend as the weather allows, and we hope to do plenty of bike riding. On Saturday, our daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike, are coming over for an anniversary meal. They have been married 3 years. Time flies, as the saying goes. We will be having a mostly Maine feast with steak from Wholesome Holmstead; Maine lobster for lobster rolls; corn on the cob from the farmers market; and new red potatoes from our own Farmer Kev. Dessert? Homemade chocolate ice cream pie. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather. A happy Labor Day weekend to all of you.

From the New York Times: Mark Bittman brings his lunch to work, and he makes the case as to why you should, too. Plus, he gives some great lunch suggestions.

From the AlterNet: Fast food workers go on strike again. Their demands? A living wage, paid sick days, and the right to unionize. Other low-paid retail workers are joining them. Go, workers!

From another feather blogspot: Beautiful photos from a baking workshop.

From the Portland Press Herald: Two of Brooke Djony’s mouth-watering recipes using the fleeting bounty of late summer.

From NPR’s the salt: It seems that foodies have a long, long history. According to Michaeleen Doucleff, spices were used 6,000 years ago.

August 23, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

With summer coming to a close, I am frantically washing all our heavy quilts and blankets so that they can dry outside, either draped over lawn chairs or hung on the clothsline. With all this domestic bustling, I feel a little bit like a character out of one of Miss Read’s novel. The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend, and my husband, Clif, and I have it packed full of all things good and outside—bike rides, pizza, fish and chips, getting together with friends, and last but certainly not least, a fire in our fire pit where we will make S’mores.

From the Modern Farmer: Good news about farming in Maine. “Farms are being started at a rate nearly four times faster than the national average, the average age of its farmers is below the national — and rapidly greying — average (and keep in mind Maine is the most geriatric state in the Union), and it boasts one of the highest organic-to-conventional-farm ratios in the United States.”

From NPR’s the salt: A piece about the book, The Rise of Ramen, which is, of course, about ramen noodles and how they have become the food of choice for poor people all around the world.

From the Portland Press Herald: A review of Cia’s Cafe in South Portland. The photo of a veggie wrap in progress looks so good that I think I’ll make my own veggie wrap for lunch.

From the New York Times: Melissa Clark’s recipe for berry muffins with a crumb topping. There is an accompanying video, and the finished muffins look so delicious that I could have one right now. Make that two.

Again from the New York Times: For the last days of summer and the early days of fall—suggestions for grilling meat with rubs rather than with a marinade.

From the Global Post: Hot chocolate helps the brain. As cold weather is right around the corner for many of us, this is good news indeed. Drink up!

August 16, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

The acorns have begun falling on the roof of the little house in the big woods. Ploink, ploink.  The sound of mid-August. From my backyard, I can still hear the call of the loons, and hummingbirds are still coming to the feeders. But make no mistake: September is just around the corner. So let us enjoy August while it is here—-the warm, sunny days, the cool evenings, and the songs of crickets and grasshoppers.

From NPR’s the salt: Ever think about who picks your berries? Eliza Barclay’s piece illustrates why you should.

From the Bowdoin Daily Sun: Volunteer night at the Bowdoin Organic Garden.

From Huffington Post: A very funny guide to bad lobster rolls.

From the Portland Press Herald: “Mainers feeding Mainers.” Maine Farmers have begun growing food for the Good Shepherd Food Bank as well as for various food pantries.

And now, some suggestions for everyone who has too much zucchini or, as a substitute, summer squash.

First, from epicurious: Zucchini patties with feta.

Second, from NPR: Three recipes using zucchini.

August 9, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

Another rainy Friday. But the weather forecast promises—I say, promises—to be good this weekend. I sure hope so. There’s lots to do, including making some soup for a friend who recently broke her elbow. I’ll also be helping out at the Dave Mallet concert, which will be at the Winthrop High School Performing Arts Center this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. It’s a benefit concert for the library expansion. In between, I plan to get some bike riding in. Have a terrific weekend!

From the New York Times: Great news for someone like me who loves fruit—it’s really good for you, and the sugar in fruit is not equivalent to the sugar in soft drinks or candy. So eat that fruit!

From NPR’s the salt: “After three months, $330,000 and a high-profile media blitz, the world’s first hamburger grown in a lab made its worldwide debut Monday.” The verdict? “[T]he burger was edible, but not delectable.” A modest suggestion: maybe we should eat mostly vegetarian, with a bit of meat now and again to jazz up our diets.

From Farmers Market Coalition: This is National Farmers Market Week. I don’t have to tell you where to get your local food, do I?

From the Portland Press Herald: As someone who loves pie, I didn’t think it would be possible to improve on this delectable dish. However, Meredith Goad writes about hand pies, a new (yet old) trend popping up in southern Maine. Give me a couple—one for each hand.

From the writer Ben Hewitt: “Fin and Rye have reached the age at which they are eager to prove they are growing into the young men they will become, and there is perhaps no better proof of such a thing than successfully driving a herd of 30 milk cows across a high, green hayfield and down into the barnyard below.” A beautiful piece about time, change, and the rural life.

From Eat Maine Blog: Kathy Kelleher’s review of Small Axe food truck in Portland, Maine.

August 2, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

Another rainy Friday, but at least we had several days of fine weather this week. High summer is here, and I’m hoping for a lot more of that fine weather. In the meantime, today will be a good day to make cinnamon pie knots for a friend who fell while hiking. She’s recovering from surgery, and we both agreed that those pie knots would be just the thing to cheer her up.

From the Bangor Daily News: How Skowhegan became Maine’s breadbasket.

From the New York Times: Too much rain in the South means a very poor crop of fruits and vegetables. This is bad news for all of us who live in the eastern United States.

From the Portland Press Herald: Brunch is one of my favorite meals, and French toast is one of my favorite brunch items. Brooke Dojny gives a recipe not only for Maple French Toast but also for a Mostly Summer Fruit Compote. I could eat both right now.

From NPR’s the salt: Workers at fast food restaurants went on strike last week. Their demands? That they be paid a living wage of $15 an hour. Good luck to them! Every working adult deserves a living wage.

From the blog Craftivist in the Kitchen: Shari might be “from away,” as we Mainers call those who live in Maine but aren’t born here, but her fish chowder is fast becoming legendary in the Brunswick area.

July 26, 2013: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

Rain, rain go away. Don’t come back until the gardens dry out. Not too dry, of course. Neither extreme—too dry or too rainy—is desirable. But enough already with the rain. For the first time in the nearly 30 years we’ve lived at the little house in the big woods, our front steps were covered with green mold, and my husband had to scrub them. Here’s hoping that the weekend is warm, but not too hot, and sunny.

From the New York Times: Gary Paul Nabhan writes about drought, climate change, and food shortages. He also lists some commonsense solutions.

From the Kennebec Journal: A piece about the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, Maine. There’s a real renaissance in grain growing and bread making in Maine, and the conference is a reflection of this.

From the blog treehugger: A description of Ben Greene’s Farmery, an “innovative sustainable agriculture project” where food is grown and sold at the same place. A vision of the future or just another one of those good ideas but…?

From NPR’s the salt: In New York City, doctors in a new program are now proscribing fruits and veggies to overweight patients. Could be the beginning of a promising trend.

From the Portland Press Herald: Anne Mahle’s take on pancakes, with some wonderful suggestions for a berry topping and a syrup. (Ah, pancakes! How I love them!)

From the Guardian: Two excellent pieces that are related. One is about a young mother in England who lived in poverty, had a tiny budget for groceries, and blogged about it. The other is about the rising cost of food. While both feature the United Kingdom, both are relevant to the United States.