Month: June, 2011

The first tomato, and a reflection on what it means

1. This morning, Max picked the first sungold tomato produced in our garden. The tomato plant came from our amazing CSA at Westhaven Farm, and we have watched it grow and fruit over the last few weeks. Tiny, orange, and pretty darn delicious, it was a little piece of sunshine after all the thunder and lightning yesterday in Ithaca. To us, though, it meant something else. It was a reminder of the industrial food system and our efforts to disconnect ourselves from it and to figure out how others can do the same.

2. We recently read an article, an excerpt from a book, actually, by Mark Estabrook, a former editor of Gourmet (RIP). Many of us know about the horrifying human costs of industrial tomato farming. I learned in this article that there are migrant workers who are literally, not figuratively, enslaved on tomato farms. Maybe you already knew about this?

3. This is a little hard for me to write. When I got done reading the Estabrook article, I felt really, really sick. I wanted to drive to Wegman’s and yell at someone. I don’t think this is a good platform to tell people what and how to eat, but I want to share what I learned and what I think, which is this: It’s still important to eat carefully, especially when it comes to tomatoes. For me, this means eating local tomatoes only when I’m the one doing the shopping. In Ithaca, this means eating them when they’re in season, not whenever I want one. This is a choice I’m prepared to make. And anyway, they taste better.

Your thoughts?

Some important quotations from the Estabrook article:

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Introducing the Amazing, All-Purpose, Always Delicious Browned Clarified Butter

1. Are you tired of wanting to fry things in butter and being foiled by butter’s low smoke/burn point? Clarify it! And then do whatever you darn well please with it. It’s lactose free, too!

2. Melt two or more sticks of butter in a saucepan over low low low heat. Cook until the foam and bubbling subside and the butter is a golden brown, about 40 minutes. Careful not to burn the milk solids that are at the bottom of the pan!

3. Strain through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer or old tshirt or any combination thereof. Or, mix in some hot tap water, fridge it, and come back a few hours later to find a golden frisbee of clarified butter with all the milk solids sunk in the water underneath.


I’m in a bit of a yogurt obsession.

I’ve never been a huge breakfast person (eggs Benedict on the weekends doesn’t count, that’s BRUNCH), nor much of a routine person and yet, every morning like clockwork for the past month or so, I’ve been waking up early and eating yogurt. Who is this new me? Usually sprinkled with blueberries and muesli, maybe granola, almonds or walnuts,  sometimes bananas, apples or strawberries, sometimes even dates, and ideally a spoonful of flaxseed.  I’ve tried Greek and probiotic, everything from whole milk to low fat to fat free, and multiple brands from Rachel’s Organic to Yeo Valley to Total, almost always plain or natural because I don’t like it too sugary. It’s delicious, healthy, and oh so easy –  no porridge pots or eggy pans to wash in the morning rush and all is good.

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Roasted Beets with Diamond Kosher Salt

1. Beets are some of the most delightful, sweet, tender and beautiful veggies out there. Buy them small and from the farmer’s market if you can.

2. Roast whole with a little olive oil in a foil pocket in a 400 degree (F) oven. They should be forkable, but not soft or mushy. Rub/peel with a paper towel. Enjoy the colors on your hands!

3. Dip in Diamond-brand kosher salt. It’s the perfect texture – doesn’t dissolve on contact with your food or tongue, but doesn’t feel like eating tiny pebbles either. Eat like candy. Salty, delicious, roasted candy.

Sunshine Daises, Butter Mellow

Turn my kitchen color palette yellow!

(If you’re not a Harry Potter geek just ignore me.)

Learn to make pasta.

The Age of Asparagus, or, Expect a Lot of Alton Brown-based Plagiarism Now That Good Eats is Ending

1. Asparagus season is almost over here in Ithaca.

2. Asparagus loses most of its flavor within hours of being picked, so eat it right when you get home from the market. Do not, do not, do not buy it from the supermarket unless it’s fresh!

3. Add lemon zest, salt, and olive oil; broil until blistered and tender.