Let me steal your recipes!

A blank canvas...

I should start by saying I’m not great with recipes.  I’m the kind of home cook that supplements a lack of actual skills with impatience and creativity.  As a result, what I eat tends to resemble the same thing all the time (cabbage + flavor + beans, if you were wondering).

Trust me, a diet like that is a call for help.  But as luck would had it, I was given a blank recipe book for Christmas…

Now all I have to do is fill it.

Help me out!

If you have any good recipes, fill out the form below and send them my way. The dumber the better with this – whatever you make for yourself when you’re starving and exhausted after a long day is exactly what I’m looking for.  Of course, clazzy stuff works too.

Thanks! 

 

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Required Reading

I just realized you can watch the entire Eames documentary on the PBS website.  Totally recommend you all do this – whether or not you care about design, their story is awesome and (best of all) really energizing.

If you’re on the fence, click the image below, go to the site, and check out the opening sequence of the film (it’s only 2 minutes).  It’s great in and of itself, and I promise it’ll leave you wanting more…

Click to watch the film!

Buying the Farm

The first box of the season

I’ve written a bunch about how eerily miraculous modern produce is.  About how any day of the year, you can make a smoothie with California strawberries, Ecuadorian bananas, and Florida orange juice and not give it a second thought.  The supermarket may be convenient, but it’s also cheapened a lot of nature’s specialness.

What I’ve written about less are the alternatives to this system… I guess because they’re not as obvious.  Today, though, I’m happy to write that I just took a step towards valuing the farmer… I  joined a CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It’s basically a contract made between the farmer and the surrounding community: before the growing season starts, community members “join” the CSA (i.e. pay for a season’s worth of produce – in my case, half a year).  Paying for everything up front does a couple of good things: it prevents people like me from chickening out later on, it gives the farmer some financial reassurance in performing a not-so-profitable undertaking, and it promotes more diversified, more interesting, and healthier crops (farmers aren’t constricted to growing “what sells”).

A very untamed salad.

Still, it’s the paying up front that was the hardest part to personally overcome.  The whole thing basically comes out to $10 a week (I’m splitting a $20 box with a friend) – a figure I’d drop at Wegmans on groceries, no questions asked.  The thing is, that ten bucks looks a lot different when it’s multiplied by 23.  A lot different.  I found myself hemming and hawing about it, even when I knew it was the right thing to do.  Luckily, peer pressure won, and so did the farmer.

And so did I – my first box came last Thursday, and it was a total score: a ton of mixed greens, fresh dill, bib lettuce, chives, and the piece de resistance: tiny little wild strawberries.  I’ve never had strawberries like this before… super good.

Ridiculous

The CSA is no doubt a good thing.  I can tell you off the bat eating this produce has been much more enjoyable than the stuff I got at the supermarket.  There’s just an extra something – slightly better quality, much better perceptions – that makes everything more special.  Plus, knowing that I’m doing good is an important part of it all.  Words like sustainability and community are thrown around like crazy these days, but it really does feel gratifying to take tangible steps towards those mega-concepts.

The next step is figuring out how to make this concept more mainstream.  The ideas behind farmshares are solid – it’s their hippy-extremist perception that prevents a lot of people (like me) from reaping the benefits.  All in time.  For now, expect more updates on my CSA.  Not because I’m bragging, not because I’m trying to guilt you into joining one – because I’m legitimately excited to open my box next Thursday.

Hit ‘Em Where it Hurts: The Blue Raspberries

It’s easy to get bogged down thinking about all this American eating stuff.  Good food is great and all, but there are just so many factors working against it.  How do you get past a multibillion-dollar monster? Or a government that feeds it?  Or a culture that worships it?

Not by taking it head on.  The idea that people can be convinced to change their ways seems illogical.  Big Food is so masterfully influential that it’s scrambled our biological programming.  (Why else would we be addicted to food that’s killing us?)  A counterargument – no matter how sound – could never undo the subliminal damage.  And despite the support of philanthropic organizations, no resources we could amass would ever match the strength of the opposition’s.

Which one seems cooler to you?

It’s a David and Goliath situation, but I’d rather not wait for a miracle.  Nor do I like the idea of beating Big Food at its own game – many have tried winning the hearts and minds of our massive masses, but it hasn’t really worked yet.  No – if any real change is to be made, we should drop the blind optimism and play the hand we’ve been dealt.  If I were to take on the monster, I’d use neither force nor volume.  I’d use jujutsu.  Continue reading

Kix, a good source of Irony

Kid tested, New Years resolution approved.

A little over a month ago I vowed (heroically) to give up covert corn. It’s been a struggle (and I must admit my record isn’t spotless), but for the most part it’s forced me to make healthier – or at least more identifiable – decisions.

The weirdness of this little adventure showed itself in a funny and telling way earlier this week, during a late night run to the corner store.  The goal was simple: pick up some cereal that was free of hidden corn.  But of the more than twenty different boxes to choose from, only one fit the bill: Kix.  Crispy Corn Puffs.

Thanks for telling me.

Take another look at that box.  It’s basically a love letter to corn.  Not only is half of it devoted to a giant, gloating ear, the back boasts a “Maize Maze” along with some enlightening “Kernels of Knowledge” (Did you know that corn is grown on every continent of the world except Antarctica?).

Still, for as public as the cereal’s corn devotion is, it’s sweetened by brown sugar and has a surprisingly basic ingredient list.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s corn, straight up.  But it’s as overt as corn can possibly get.

kudos, Kix

The Golden Rule

For breakfast: American ingenuity.

Yesterday in Starbucks, I overheard a couple of women talk about changing their diets. The new year would be different.  They deserved better.  Complete overhaul.

I could relate to them. Omnivore’s Dilamma was a wake-up call for me, making plain a lot of things I’ve always chosen to ignore.  In short terms, every element of the American eating experience has been severed from its natural context.  What isn’t obviously contrived (those Pop-Tarts) is just masked by a sheen of agro-industrial pretense (that “farm-fresh” steak). Now that I know, there’s no going back.    Continue reading

I’m Not a Corn Person (My New Year’s Resolution)

The average American.

Walking corn – that’s what we all are.  It may be a strange thought at first, and I’m sure most of us don’t necessarily see ourselves as such, but a nation of corn people is really what we’ve become.

I never fully appreciated the absolute stranglehold corn has on the American diet until I started reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  It’s a great book – Pollan doesn’t just expose the insanity of our country’s dietary logic, he does so in a style that’s light-hearted, conversational, and easy to follow.  He sets the tone and premise of the book in its very first line: “What should we have for dinner?” What I’m learning is that whatever the answer to that question may be, you can bet corn’s going to be in there somewhere.

Consider this: If you walk into the supermarket today, a quarter of everything you see will list corn or a corn derivative as an ingredient.  Not just the snack aisle –the dairy section, the cosmetics, even the pharmaceuticals all contain corn.  Not to mention, corn is what fattened up almost everything at the meat counter.  Fish too.  All corn.

Or what about this: As an American, 70% of the carbon in your body is corn-based.  That means of the portion of you that isn’t water, half is corn.  We’re all basically corn soup.

But I don’t want to be a corn person anymore.  And it’s about much more than my carbon levels.  Continue reading