Category Archives: What I’ve Been Reading Online

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the blog Henbogle: Ali takes on Mark Bittman and his dismissive treatment of pie. A staunch defender of pies, Ali includes photos of her own beautiful creations.

From the New York Times: In France, politicians from the left and the right come together over—surprise!—food. My favorite quotation in the piece comes from a deputy in the National Assembly (think Congress) : “It is our national responsibility to cook and to eat well.” If only our politicians would subscribe to this philosophy!

From the Portland Press Herald: Angela May Bell, a vegan and a long-distance runner, explains how she combines the two. The article includes a picture of her, and let’s just say that Bell looks very, very healthy.

More from the New York Times: Oh, those French! Timothy Egan explores why they eat so well and yet manage to stay slim and healthy.

From the Guardian: An article about eating bugs. “Prejudice, prejudice, thy strength is enormous!”

Addendum: I came across this blurb from the Bowdoin Daily Sun after I posted today’s piece: What one man with one reusable cup can save in trash over the years. The numbers really add up. I am not as diligent in this regard as I should be, and Chris Taylor’s example reminds me to try harder. Fifteen thousand cups is a lot of cups to not go in the landfill.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From Grist: Philadelphia has been subsidizing healthy food with its Philly Food Bucks, which “offers food stamps recipients a 40 percent subsidy at farmers markets.” Apparently, the program has been a huge success, but—no surprise!—they are running out of money. Truly, more money should be going into programs such as this.

From the Guardian: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes an eloquent case for eating more vegetables and less meat. “To summarise, we need to eat more vegetables and less flesh because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good and our planet the least harm.” Yes, indeed!

From the blog 2 Minutes to Dinner: Chef Ronna Welsh has published a letter from a New York farmer who was hit hard by Hurricane Irene. Very moving and a reminder of how extreme weather can destroy livelihoods as well as homes.

From the Portland Press Herald: Pizza, pizza, pizza! Made on a mobile wood-fired oven that might be coming to a town near you.

From Salon.com and Felisa Rogers’s blog Scavenger: A good piece about how thrift and creativity can and should be combined.

From the Bowdoin Daily Sun: Great photos of their organic garden. Wow, that garden is a beauty. I am especially envious of their basil. (Mine did so poorly this year.) How heartening it is to see a college growing some of the food that is fed to its students.

AUGUST 26, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the Guardian: Rising sea level threatens millions of people who live in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. The rivers are becoming ever more salty, making it very difficult to grow rice, a staple of the region.

From the New York Times: Mark Bittman introduces FoodCorps, coming to a state near you. In fact, they are coming to Maine to promote healthy food for school children. An interesting piece, and I plan to find out more about this organization.

More from the New York Times: An abundance of Maine lobster must be a good thing, right? Not necessarily, when they are pretty much the only catch in town. Once upon a time, cod, haddock, hake, halibut, and swordfish were part of the mix of what Maine fisherman caught. Now, because of overfishing, not so much, which means that we are over-reliant on one species. Woe to Maine lobstermen if some disease should wipe out the lobsters.

From the Portland Press Herald: A Monday farmers’ market in Portland featuring immigrant farmers.

From the Times-Picayune: Six years after Katrina, a New Orleans woman labors to recopy soggy recipes she retrieved from her flooded house. I wonder if any home cooks will be doing this after Irene.

From the Wall Street Journal: Chef Thomas Keller gives advice for home dinner parties, and the advice—keep it simple and serve family style—is pretty good. Also, great suggestions for appetizers.

AUGUST 19, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the New York Times: A primer by Mark Bittman on how to use herbs. Very useful advice.

From the New York Times: Another piece by Mark Bittman, and this time he visits Maine to write about  sustainable agriculture. My only quibble with the piece is that Bittman describes Maine soil as acidic. While this is true in parts of Maine—namely the coast—central and northern Maine have rich soil that is ideal for farming. In fact, in the 188os, central Maine was the “bread basket” of New England.

From Shine on Yahoo: How much protein do you need? Not as much as you think, and it can all come from plants, if you plan it right. And according to the Environmental Working Group, if you eat one less hamburger a week, it’s the equivalent of “taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” Let’s hear it for bean burgers!

From Mother Jones: Berkeley and Oakland come to the table. An interview with Alice Waters, of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, and Nikki Henderson of Oakland’s People’s Grocery. Two very different parts of California meet to talk about good food for all citizens, not just the the affluent ones.

From the Portland Press Herald: Two Israeli brothers come to Maine and start a thriving hummus business. Now that’s multicultural!

AUGUST 12, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the New York Times: A piece by Melissa Clark about ways to cook eggplant. Oh, how I love eggplant. I’ll be trying some of her recipes, that’s for sure.

From Specialty Food Magazine: Candy, candy, candy. No, it’s not good for you, but in these sour economic times, who couldn’t use a sweet treat? Apparently, a lot of people feel this way, and candy sales are up.

From the New York Times: Swapping Meats for Nuts to Lower Diabetes Risk. With such high levels of diabetes in American society, this piece is well worth reading. It reinforces Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat mostly plants. And perhaps a little low-fat dairy, too. (I noticed there was no mention of candy…)

From the Washington Post: More about eggplants. They can be pickled! This slide show takes you through the steps.

From Salon.com: When Eating Local Is the Cheapest Option. From Scavenger, a blog about, well, scavenging during tough economic times.

From the Portland Press Herald: If you have an abundance of home-grown tomatoes and don’t want to can them, then here is a nifty idea by Anne Mahle, who writes a column called The Maine Ingredient.

AUGUST 5, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the New York Times: An article by David Carr about a new food magazine (in print!) called Lucky Peach. Along with describing this quirky magazine—which I would love to read—Carr also discusses how print magazines are finding a way in the world of electronic publishing. Mainly, by appealing to a niche audience and by having both quality and heft. As the former publisher of a small magazine—Wolf Moon Journal—I found the bits about publishing particularly interesting.

From the New York Times: Mark Bittman makes it perfectly clear that he is not impressed with McDonald’s decision to include apples in Happy Meals. Ditto for the concept of “big food” regulating itself.

From the Portland Press Herald: Vesta Rand’s nifty idea for a portable hikers’ snack: apples stuffed with peanut butter, hummus, or cream cheese with various tidbits to jazz up the fillings. Fall and fresh apples are just around the corner. I’m thinking that on crisp but sunny day, I’ll make some of these snacks, gather the husband and the dog, and head out for a walk somewhere.

From the Associated Press: Is eating healthy a privilege of the rich? As someone who lives on a modest budget, I struggle with this all the time. Fruits, vegetables, beans, rice. Organic. Local. Free range. Antibiotic free. The more you add to the list, the more expensive food becomes.

From the website of David Tanis, a writer and chef: “Cooking for others is a generous and civilized act, even if it’s just a simple pot of beans.” My sentiments exactly.

From The Diane Rehm Show: Diane Rehm’s August 4th show was about the crisis in Somalia brought about about by a combination of climate change, with the result being extreme drought, and bad governing, which makes a terrible situation worse. A tragic, cautionary tale for the whole world.

JULY 28, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the New York Times: Mark Bittman’s take on irradiated food. He also touches on other aspects of food safety, ranging from pesticides to antibiotics. Definitely food for thought.

From the New York Times: More from Mark Bittman—he’s on a roll. This piece is about the effects of meat and dairy on the environment. On a personal note, my husband and I have really cut down the amount of meat we eat, but we can’t seem to give up dairy. Milk and butter, in particular. I use them to make bread, and together they produce a wonderfully rich, soft loaf that keeps well. However, I’ll be thinking of ways to cut down on the dairy. At least most of our dairy comes from Maine.

Again, from the New York Times: They, too, seem to be on a roll. Michael Tortorello has written a terrific piece about permaculture, how it is good for Earth, good for people, and just plain fun.

From Reuters: H-m-m-m. Do you think the folks at McDonald’s have been reading Mark Bittman? In this piece, readers can learn how McDonald’s is cutting back the amount of fries in its Happy Meals and automatically adding…apples. I won’t be rushing to McDonald’s anytime soon, but the change is an interesting one.

From the Portland Press Herald: An article about the fifth annual Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, Maine.  Lately, there has been a resurgence of growing wheat in Maine and of making bread. (Once upon a time, in the 1880s, Maine grew so much wheat that it used to be considered the bread basket of New England.) Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend this year, but I’m planning on going next year.

JULY 13, 2011: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

From the New York Times: Maine lobster storms the Big Apple. The good news is that because of the abundance of Maine lobsters, New Yorkers can now easily feast on this delectable crustacean. The bad news is that there is an abundance of Maine lobster partly because of overfishing of cod, which, in turn, feed on lobster. (As the piece points out, credit for the abundance of Maine lobster must also be given to “sustainably-minded lobstermen.”) My own comment on how a lobster roll should be prepared: just give me the lobster with a touch of mayonnaise. Celery, parsley, garlic? Forget about it.

From New York: A disturbing piece about commercial fishing, quotas and regulation, and too much waste of fish. Sometime there really aren’t any easy answers. (Other than don’t eat fish?)

From Time: On the other hand, sometimes there are easy answers. In this case, stop killing sharks for their fins. According to the writer, Bryan Walsh, fin soup doesn’t even taste all that good.

From the Portland Press Herald: On a more upbeat note…It seems that young children really will eat kale as well as tempeh and quinoa. It happens all the time at Youth & Family Outreach daycare center in Portland, Maine, thanks to the center’s cook, K Yaks, who also uses as much local food as she can. And if it can be done in this daycare center, where “[s]seventy-nine percent of [the] families are low income” then it can be done throughout the state.

JUNE 29TH: BITS AND BOBS FROM THE INTERNET

Here are some “bits and bobs,” as someone from the UK might put it, that I’ve found on the Internet. First, I’ll start with the master—Mark Bittman—and his 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling. Think grilling is only for meat and fish? Think again. In this list, Bittman has twenty-five delectable suggestions for grilled vegetables. Of course, there are also ideas for meat and fish, including one for bacon-wrapped hot dogs. When Bittman writes, “You know you want one,” he is certainly speaking to my husband, Clif, whose passion for hot dogs is legendary.

From the Los Angeles Times: A vegan and a vegetarian couple go on a 5,000-mile road trip to visit family and friends. Their goal was to stick to their foodie principles and eat healthy, vegetarian food from Los Angeles to Florida and then back again. And by gum, unless they’re holding out on us, it sounds as though they accomplished their goal. A bonus: They didn’t gain any weight, no small feat on such a long road trip.

From the Miami New Times: For pure folly, this one can’t be beat. A thief leaves a fishy trail, and I mean this literally. Hint to would-be fish thieves: bring a cooler.

From the Portland Press Herald: Meatless Mondays at Sebago Brewing Co. According to Johns Hopkins’s Ralph Loglisci, “People are open to change on Monday.” Ah, Monday, Monday.

From the Washington Post: I have always considered “foam” to be a trendy, somewhat freakish fad. But maybe it isn’t. As Andreas Viestad points out to foam fanatics, “[w]hat you are doing is not so new.” Examples? Whipped cream, milk shakes, meringues. All right. I’m convinced.

OH, TORONTO!

On his blog in the New York Times, Mark Bittman has written about a recent trip to Toronto, and some of the things that city is doing to promote sustainable agricultural. The links he provides to the various websites are well worth checking out.

They include The Stop, a “community food centre” that believes “in the power of food”; FarmStart, a nonprofit organization that lends money, equipment, and land to people interested in finding out if they truly want to be farmers; and Spadina House Musuem, with its orchards. (Spadina House is even part of a Rail Garden Route, so that it can be visited in a green way.)

Then there is Not Far from the Tree, an organization dedicated to gleaning unwanted fruit from Toronto homeowners. According to the Not Far from the Tree website, in 2010, their organization picked 19,695 pounds of fruit, which was then split equally between the homeowners, the volunteers who picked the fruit, and various organizations that provide food for low-income folks.

Nearly 20,000 pounds of gleaned fruit from a big city. Very impressive! And what’s even more impressive is Not Far from the Tree’s assertion that “this was only from 1/4 of the trees that were registered with us.” Imagine how much fruit could be picked if more trees were included in the harvest.

Canada has the reputation, according to the late, great Canadian author Robertson Davies, of being England’s “dutiful daughter.” The United States, on the other hand, is the “wayward child,” and it was Davies’s belief that the wayward child is actually the favorite child.

This might be the case—modest, quiet, unassuming Canada is not in the news the way its flashier sibling the United States is. But maybe it’s time for the wayward child to start learning some lessons from the dutiful daughter.