Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Food Day Today

Food Day is an annual nationwide celebration observed on October 24, created by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), to address a variety of food issues including health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. Food Day’s goal is to inspire Americans to change their diets and our nation’s food policies. 

In 2013 there were 4,700 Food Day events around the country, twice as many as in its first year in 2011. This year more than 8000 events are registered on the website – from special programs in school cafeterias, to rallies, community activities, and film screenings. Click here to find an already organized event near you. 

The Food Day website is rich in resources, including many ways to observe Food Day with family and friends. There are recipesgames, and even how-tos for hosting a fun and healthy Halloween party.

The Food Day site also has a number of infographics that are sure to spark some lively conversations.

Everyone can be a part of Food Day. Even if you are tied to your desk today, you can still participate in the Big Apple Crunch. Take a bite out of an apple at noon, and you will be joining thousand of others doing the same thing – all across the country. [In Ventura, CA they will be chomping on carrots!] 


Happy Food Day, everyone!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meatless Monday: The Joy and Benefits of Cooking at Home

Food writer Mark Bittman makes a strong case that cooking and eating at home is good for you and for your family. In the “How to Eat Now” issue of Time,  Bittman wrote, “…not cooking is a big mistake—and it’s one that’s costing us money, good times, control, serenity, and, yes, vastly better health.”  

In his newest cookbook, How to Cook Everything Fast, he demonstrates how easy meal preparation can be if you are organized and do a bit of planning ahead. This latest addition to the How to Cook Everything series is full of hints on how to stock your kitchen, menus, preparation tips, and suggestions for making the most of your time. Even though I’ve been cooking at home for most of my life, I suspect I can learn a few tricks from this volume.

In the spirit of illustrating just how simple it is to cook at home, I thought I’d share a favorite cornbread recipe from The Moosewood Cookbookwritten by Mollie Katzen in 1977. 

You will need a few simple ingredients and an 8” or 9” square metal pan or ovenproof glass dish or a cast iron skillet (my pan of choice) for baking.


Delicious Corn Bread

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk* (OR 4 Tbsp. dry powdered buttermilk and one cup of water)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal** 
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. melted butter


Method
  • Preheat oven to 425° (400° if using a glass pan)
  • Butter your baking pan well.
  • Beat together egg, buttermilk (or water), and honey.
  • Mix all dry ingredients together.
  • Combine all ingredients, including melted butter, and mix well.
  • Spread into buttered pan. 
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Test for doneness at 18 minutes. The tester (or sharp knife) should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan. When the bread pulls away from the side of the pan that is a good indication that it is about done. You want the bread fully baked, but not dry.


*If you are doubtful that you will use up the remainder of the liquid buttermilk before it goes bad, try powdered buttermilk instead. Powdered buttermilk stores for months (the site claims years) when refrigerated, and there are clear instructions for its use printed on the container. Mix the powder with the dry ingredients and add water when prompted to add the liquid buttermilk.

**Bob’s Red Mill has a Non GMO variety if this matters to you.

My favorite cornbread pan — empty!
Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to chili or stew and is great with butter and jam for breakfast. It reheats well if there are leftovers. Once you’ve made your own there will be no going back to the store-brought variety. 

Here’s to home cooking! 

Happy Meatless Monday. Good health to you, and to the planet.


On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meatless Monday: Musings on the "Great Exchange"

Columbus Day was once a big deal. First designated a holiday in Colorado over one hundred years ago in recognition of the dreams and contributions of the state’s hard-working Italian immigrants, Columbus Day was at one time an official holiday in 35 states. Now it is observed in just 23. In a growing number of places celebrations now honor indigenous people rather than the European explorer most associated with making first contact with the New World: Native American Day (South Dakota), Discoverers’ Day (Hawaii) and Indigenous People’s Day (Seattle and Minneapolis). 

Whatever your take on this “holiday,” it is interesting to reflect upon how much the world changed as a result of the “Age of Exploration.” The Mariners’ Museum terms the interaction of the Old World with the New “The Great Exchange: The Global Exchange of Cultures, Plants, Animals, and Disease.” 

The Museum has prepared a set of study guides to illustrate these changes. Click here to view a list of plants, their origins, how they came to be where they are today, and some of the societal changes unleashed by their successful propagation. 

Old World crops introduced to the Americas include sugar, cotton, bananas, and citrus. Some of the New World crops that were brought back to the Old World are cocoa, the tomato, the potato, and tobacco. 

Can you imagine Italian cuisine without the tomato, or Ireland without the potato? Or Florida and California without oranges and lemons? Or how different the history of the U.S. would have been if cotton had never been introduced to the South? 

If you have time, check out this link about the exchange of animals, and this one about the exchange of diseases. 

Its origins are centuries old, but as we all well know from today’s headlines, the Great Exchange continues to this day. Something to consider on this unique holiday. 

Come back next week for a baked good anyone can make.

Happy Meatless Monday. Good health to you, and to the planet.


On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”