Month: February, 2009

fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

to follow up on my food politics and cooking post, i’m going to try to write a bit about easy, affordable, healthy, and hopefully sustainable ways to cook. one way to keep things free and sustainable is by recycling the items already available in your fridge! if you find yourself in the somewhat-unlikely-but-always-possible scenario of having a fridge full of leftovers from a bacon smackdown, you may not be able to cover the healthy part, but hey, animal fat is good for you, right? right?

the thing i like best about cooking with leftovers is that there are no rules. it’s like the ultimate cage fighting of cooking  – you can forcefully fish-hook someone in the nostrils or make brown sugar pork pie if you that’s what you fucking feel like doing. you’re not trying to follow a predefined recipe or get your souffle to rise, you’re just tossing together what you’ve got in a way that hopefully tastes delicious. so what if it’s not an actual dish? when you’re done mixing shit up, it will be.

food porn and alien pigs after the jump.

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826, food politics and renewing a love for cooking

One of the fantastic things about caring about food and food politics is the convergence of my desires to eat really really delicious food and for that food to be humanely and sustainably produced. As one of the audience members at 826 put it, you don’t really have to make a choice between hedonics and ethics, because for the most part, the most humanely raised cow makes the best tasting beef. Sure, there’s always exceptions, but the cow that lived a long life munching the grass that its stomach was evolved to digest is going to taste better than a cow eating ethanol waste (!) and getting pumped full of antibiotics. The organically raised, locally grown early girl tomato just trucked from the farm to the farmer’s market tastes a million times better than the vaguely reddish balloon-like item at the supermarket that’s been sitting on a truck for a week. It definitely makes it easier for me to fully support conscious eating, because it doesn’t mean restricting yourself. I’d way rather eat a buttery tart filled with organic strawberries than a nasty-ass sugar-free snack cake or Hostess Twinkie and I feel better about where it came from (btw, read Twinkie, Deconstructed for a fascinating yet also horrific account of all the chemicals that go into both twinkies and…rocket fuel!)

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826, food politics, and i have an intellectual crush on Michael Pollan.

after letting the ideas from the 826 food politics discussion marinate in my brain, i’ve decided to serve up some thoughts in bite-size morsels rather than one huge and  indigestible essay. sorry, the whole evening ended with a nod to bad food puns, i can’t help myself.  i’m doling out ladlefuls from the jumbled soup pot of topics and carving off idea slices from the humongous turducken of food politics thought in my brain (that’s a gross mental picture. i’ll stop now).

here’s some details about the evening and the panelists, thoughts about food culture and ecology and production systems, and a whole lot of michael pollan…

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ethicurean? eco-gastronome? conscious foodie? what's in a name?

i’m having issues distilling the immense amount of information from last night’s panel, so here’s a quick snippet of an issue i wanted to address. i took a brief glance at Ethicurean.com before the panel last night (the group blog of the panelist Bonnie Azab Powell), and I’m intrigued by their explanation and definition of the blog title:

eth•i•cu•re•an n. (also adj.) Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical — SOLE food, for short.

i’ve been searching for a concise way to describe my personal food choices recently, and this definition encapsulates many of the considerations i try to keep in mind when deciding what to eat.  the word ‘tasty’ is a key point in the definition, and i appreciate inclusion of all four of the SOLE initials (oh acronyms..so often ridiculous yet also so useful). what is organic isn’t necessarily local, what is local isn’t always ethical, etc., but it’s important to try to cover as many bases whenever possible. however, i also feel a bit  pretentious and preachy describing myself as an ethicurean or someone who eats SOLE food. aron, a friend in one of the food photos last night, suggests the phrase eco-gastronome to address both the love of food but also the environmental angle, but that doesn’t really do it for me either. i’d like to just say i care about food and i care about how it becomes food, but there often seems to be a need to define yourself in just a few words.

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honey, we've been meaning to tell you…

so my roommate annie’s birthday isn’t for almost a month, but we’re already discussing cake options.  for some reason, maybe because the other two people in the apartment have both read all four twilight books in the past two weeks  (and maybe one additional leaked sequel online, but no one’s admitting to that), the idea of a red velvet vampire cake was suggested.

hoping to find some pictures of a super hot, barely post-adolescent edward cullen jumping out of a cake, the ever resourceful jess did some googling, and ended up with this gem:

cat-cake

i knew there was a good reason we just got a cat! our seriously socially awkward cat named LD (for larry david) would be PERFECT for this. having already baked a birthday cat cake, i’m excited to take this one on. trust me, gina, he’ll love it. here, kitty kitty…

826 valencia and an incredible food discussion. for now, food but no discussion.

i just got back from a fascinating and thought-provoking food science and politics discussion at 826 valencia. yeesh. i don’t even know where to start with all the incredible topics covered over the three hour talk and it’s almost 2am, so i’ll leave the heavy thinking for tomorrow. for now, i’ll post some photos of the incredible food served at the event. i didn’t even know until fifteen minutes before it started that they were serving food, and then it showed up on mission mission like a specially delivered message from the blogosphere to my stomach.  thanks interwebs, for saving my ass from eating dinner so i didn’t show up full when they’re serving stuff like this:

chanterelles

and this:

s6300105

ooh, you ask, what are those, mei? and i’m like, ummmm, you know,  some delicious mushroomy shit and some awesome creamy asparagusness bruschetta thingy. okay, i don’t know. but they were mighty tasty. luckily, the creator of most of the dishes, a chef named leif hedendal, not only knows how to cook but knows how to get all arts and craftsy:

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i love you, sweet sweet bacon dessert.

part two of recipes from the bacon showdown covers my experimentation with the bacon dessert world. irene, as you and i know from the sweet corn-maple-bacon cupcakes incident, people do not necessarily enjoy their desserts tasting like meat. why this is, i do not know. however, the foodie crowd attending the bacon smackdown was definitely primed and ready for some sweet bacon experimentation.

i was having trouble selecting a single dessert recipe, so i ended up making two bacon dessert items plus a bacon cocktail (considered but discarded ideas included a maple bacon bread pudding, candied bacon popcorn, and maple icecream with bacon bits…i’ll save those for the rematch). two of the dishes included the fabulous duo bacon and bourbon together. here’s a photo of the new BFFs for life.

bacon-and-bourbon

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smackdown savory bacon recipes for your cooking pleasure…

here’s an overview of the recipes i used for last night’s bacon-off, in case you’d like to plan your own iron chef-style smackdown. the full overview of the evening can be found here

to take you into the list of dishes, recipes and photo, enjoy this starting photo of a selection of my three pounds of assorted pork belly product. yowza.

bacon-and-pork-belly-and-pancetta1

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fuck you, penguin is seriously fucking awesome

not like i was really ‘working’ anyway, but i will not be doing anything else productive today because i have just discovered a blog called fuck you, penguin. it is so awesome that i must pass it on. the writing is snarky genius, and the photos are absolutely amazing, like this one of a cute bunny that actually made me scream out loud in my kitchen because it IS SO FUCKING CUTE.

bunny-in-the-shadows

go forth and waste the next hour of your life catching up on photos of cute animals and the hilarious person telling them what’s what.

vote for greg, the renaissance man with a thing for fishies.

my friend greg worswick is applying for the best job in the world! as the caretaker of the great barrier reef islands. watch his hilarious and amazing video and laugh your ass off. watch again and pick up even more entertaining nuances, like his facial expression when softly stroking a glass tank full of fish and the word CANADA. watch a third time and marvel at his creativity, ingenuity, acting skills, and LUXEMBOURG.  and don’t forget to vote!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlLKjcwDHJM&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]