Category Archives: What I’ve Been Reading Online

Friday, June 21: Bits and Bobs from the Internet

img_3650And a very happy first day of summer, that sweetest time of the year when the day is at its longest. June 21 is also the anniversary of my mother’s birthday. No wonder we called herLa Reine de Juin.” She would have been 77.

From demilked: Portraits of grandmothers from around the world and the food they love to cook.

From the Portland Press Herald: Strawberries are here! While strawberry shortcake is hard to beat, the Press Herald offers a few other strawberry recipes.

From the New York Times: Shannon, this piece about sticky rice is for you. I know how much you love it.

From the LA Weekly: Love food? Love rock ‘n roll? These podcasts are for you.

From Henbogle: Look at all the great things Ali is growing in her in-town yard.

From Washington University: The world population could reach 11 billion by 2100. As someone who cares about hunger and food security, I certainly hope this prediction is wrong.


In yesterday’s New York Times, Andrew Scrivani has written such a good piece about creatively using leftovers that it’s worth featuring all by itself on this post. Scrivani gives so many good tips that I’m tempted to print his piece so that I can refer to it whenever I like.

His point is simple but requires a bit of planning: Stock some basics—frozen pizza dough, won ton wrappers, panko bread crumbs—and you have the means to not only use leftovers but also to turn them into a meal that is worthy in its own right. Something to relish rather than to endure because it’s the right, green thing to do.



From Yahoo! Health: In “Eat This, Not That,” David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding highlight processed food that is expensive, high in fat, high in sugar, or all three. I must confess, I didn’t even know that food such as Bagel-fuls, boxed bagels stuffed with cream cheese, existed. I guess I lead a sheltered life.

From the New York Times: The excellent Sam Sifton’s ode to The East Coast Grill and cornbread.

From Epicurious: How to poach an egg. Seems like unnecessary instructions, but as a poached-egg lover, I have learned over the years that those simmering eggs can be a little tricksy.

From the Portland Press Herald: There’s a new donut shop in Portland, and it’s called Holy Donut. I’ll be checking it out, that’s for sure.

From the Bowdoin Daily Sun: A piece about a late-night snack truck. If I lived in the area, I’d be there on cheat day.


From the New York Times: Helene Cooper’s delightful description of a dinner party in Italy, where the weather is warm and everyone eats outside and the meal starts in early evening and ends sometime around midnight. I must admit, a dinner party like this has always been one of my dreams, too. (It wouldn’t have to be in Italy. Somewhere on the Maine coast would be just fine.)

From the Bowdoin Daily Sun: A slideshow about making maple syrup on campus. Unfortunately, because of the freakishly warm weather, it will not be a good year for maple syrup in central and southern Maine. Let’s hope our neighbors in northern Maine and Canada have better luck. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with Log Cabin. (Just a reminder: March 25th is Maine Maple Sunday.)

From the Portland Press Herald: A piece by Meredith Goad extolling the virtues of maple syrup. Hear, hear! According to Goad, real maple syrup even has antioxidants. Included in the piece are some recipes, and I want to try the two that feature salmon and scallops.


From the Bowdoin Daily Sun: Good news, women! You can stop dieting…when you are 85. Apparently, when you reach that age, it’s advantageous for the body to have extra fat, which “provides energy in times of trauma and stress.” (I expect in earlier times, when food was scarcer, it was advantageous for most people to have extra fat.)

From the New York Times: A study suggesting that red meat is even worse for you than was previously thought. I can’t help but wonder, is it the meat itself, or is it the terrible way we raise beef in this country? Is the same true in countries such as France, where cows are raised the way they were meant to be raised—no hormones and in a pasture?

From And then there is cheese. According to Mary Bender, cheese is actually good for you and doesn’t really affect your cholesterol. This almost makes up for the bad news about beef.

From the Portland Press Herald: On the other hand, maybe you’ll want to hold the cheese as well as the beef. Avery Yale Kamila writes about Dr. Gaylen Johnson and his Michael Pollan-ish point of view: eat mostly plants.

One thing is certain, all these points of views and studies keep the rest of us bobbing in a state of confusion.




From the website World of 7 Billion: A fascinating wall chart illustrating how we went from 1 billion people in 1804 to 7 billion people in 2011. This chart shows when we began canning and freezing food as well a myriad of other things—not all of them bad—that came as a result of the industrial era.

From the New York Times: Mark Bittman takes on a controversial subject: not letting food stamp recipients buy unhealthy food with their food stamps. He makes a compelling case, and yet in the end I find myself agreeing with the food activist Mark Winne, who has suggested it would be much better to use positive reinforcement and give extra credit for healthy food rather rather than to restrict what people can buy.

From Mary Elizabeth Williams writes about Disney’s failed attempt to make heroes out of virtues such as “Will Power,” and villains out of vices such as “Glutton.” What will be next? A cartoon called The Scarlet G?

From the Portland Press Herald: Joe Bonwich has some great suggestions for crockpot meals.

From the blog Henbogle: In honor of Occupy Our Food Supply’s global day of action, Ali recently cooked a nearly 100 percent local meal, and how delicious it looks! (Wish I had known about that day of action.)


From Bloomerg: A piece about food waste worldwide. It includes this sobering statistic: “The FAO has said global food output must rise 70 percent by 2050 to feed a world population expected to grow to 9 billion from 7 billion.” Food not wasted would go a long way toward achieving this goal.

From the New York Times: A look at Mormons and food, specifically, their desire to feed people. Mormon households are encouraged to set aside three months’ to a years’ worth of food. Very interesting, and leaving aside the green Jello and other powdered foods, there are some good tips in this piece.

From the Portland Press Herald: A short but cogent article by Anne Mahle about the importance of serving “honest” food to children. That is, not hiding the fact that you’re, say, serving vegetables. Just serve the vegetables. Mahle suggests that dishonest, sneaky approaches do the child no favor. I agree.

From National Geographic: Popcorn, that snack of snacks, was eaten 6,000 years ago in Peru. I wonder, is there any other modern snack, other than fruit, that has been around as long?

From the blog Henbogle: As Ali has put it, the climes they are a-changing. The USDA has released a new climate zone map, which shows that the Northeast is a half a zone warmer than it was when the previous map came out in 1990. I know. A half a zone doesn’t sound like much, but it has real implications—some good and some bad—for farmers and gardeners.




As austere November winds its way down to Thanksgiving, and the days grow ever shorter, people all over the country are bustling to get ready for Thanksgiving, and tomorrow, I will write about my Thanksgiving preparations. During this busy season, some of us even find time to give thanks for what we have. Despite the tough economic times, there is much to be thankful for. This country does not experience mass starvation and famine, as other countries do, and usually even the poorest of us live in a place that has a toilet and running water and electricity. Although our social services could be greatly improved, we do have them, and people are not completely on their own during hard times.

That is the good news for the country at large. Here is the not-so-good news for Maine in specific. In their paper “Hunger in Maine,” Donna Yellen, Mark Swann, and Elana Schmidt cite statistics taken from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Maine isĀ  second in the nation for very low food security and ninth for food insecurity….The USDA definition for very low food security is missing multiple meals during an extended period of time or eating food that is inappropriate for that meal. Food insecurity is defined as the consistent worry about having enough income to pay for household food needs and if not, how to provide food for their family.” Yellen, Swann, and Schmidt go on to note that our neighbor to the south, New Hampshire, “has the lowest rates of hunger in the nation,” and they are somewhat puzzled as to why this should be the case.

To really explore the differences between Maine and New Hampshire would take research, time, and analysis that go well beyond the scope of this post. However, my quick take is that Maine simply does not have enough jobs that pay well enough to easily support families and individuals. Once upon a time, when the great factories were running, it was possible for everyday people to earn enough money to have a comfortable life. Not lavish, but comfortable. Now, for the most part, the great factories are still, either abandoned as ruins or converted into shops, offices, and apartments. What has replaced the factories? According to Down East magazine, retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target are now the major employers in Maine, and except for a few management jobs at the top, these stores do not pay a living wage nor do they provide much in the way of benefits. In the meantime, housing prices have risen as have the costs of fuel, food, and education.

New Hampshire, on the other hand, is close enough to Massachusetts to benefit from that state’s tech industries. A sort of trickle-up effect, as it were. Again, this is just a quick take on a subject that certainly deserves a closer look.

Whatever the reason for the disparity in income between Maine and New Hampshire, in this time of cold and dark, I would encourage Maine readers (and indeed all readers) to think of those who have less than they do and to perhaps make a donation of money or food to their local food pantry.


From AlterNet: Why are the Danes so happy? Is it because of income equality? Perhaps, but Danish chef Trine Hanhnemann has another theory: Part of the reason the Danes are so happy is because they cook so much, both for themselves and for friends. I think she might be on to something. Even something modest and simple like, say, chicken soup, can bring about a wonderful camaraderie. People like to be fed.

From the Associated Press: Apparently, Jon Bon Jovi understands that people like to be fed. He and his wife have opened a pay-what-you-can restaurant in New Jersey. The menu includes cornmeal crusted catfish and grilled salmon with soul seasoning. And if you can’t pay, then there are plenty of volunteer jobs available for you to earn your meal.

From the Portland Press Herald: Of course, to feed a lot of people, you need farms. But the high cost of land makes it difficult for young farmers to buy their own land. In Bowdoinham “George Christopher, a visionary farmer who has bequeathed his property to Maine Farmland Trust,” has begun leasing some of his land to young farmers. I can’t help, of course, but think of Winthrop’s own Farmer Kev and his desire to have a farm.

From inhabit: Think you can’t have a farm in the city? Think again. In cities, there are miles and miles of flat rooftops that get full sun. This slide show of one rooftop farm in New York City is nothing short of amazing.


From Yahoo! Health: Stay away from KFC’s Chunky Chicken Pot Pie. With over 80 ingredients, this pie is a nutritional nightmare.

From the New York Times: This piece by Mark Bittman is from a couple of weeks ago, but it is worth reading. Bittman writes about the cost of healthy eating vs. the cost of eating junk food. Even though I am a proponent of organic food, I especially like the following quotation: “In comparing prices of real food and junk food, I used supermarket ingredients, not the pricier organic or local food that many people would consider ideal. But food choices are not black and white; the alternative to fast food is not necessarily organic food, any more than the alternative to soda is Bordeaux.”

Again from the New York Times and again from Mark Bittman: In this piece, Bittman goes farther afield, so to speak, and writes about the Wall Street protests. Very much worth reading.

From the Portland Press Herald: Russ Parsons extols the virtues of hosting a party where there is a bruschetta bar. Count me in. Parsons also instructs readers in how to pronounce bruschetta: the ch is apparently always pronounced like a hard c in Italian, so the proper way to say it is “brew-SKET-a.” Now you know, and so do I.

From Epicurious: Growing rice in Vermont! I love potatoes as much if not more than the average person, but the thought of (relatively) local rice makes me almost dizzy with delight.