Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Signs and Portents

February 10, 2008

A bad omen tonight; howling winds and a sickly purple sky. Not sure what that means, but it makes walking difficult.

However, good signs as well! I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. One of the rules he suggests for healthy eating is to avoid anything with an ingredients list over five items in length.Which seems like just about everything. But wouldn’t you know it? I went to the store tonight and found a version of mini-wheats (one of my favorite cerials) from Kashi that looks good and has, you guessed it, exactly five ingredients.

Since that makes me pretty happy, I’ll take it as a good omen for my blog’s launch tomorrow.

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The Big Weekend

February 7, 2008

This is the last weekend before the launch of Step Lightly. I’m stoked, even though that means there is a good deal of editing in my near future.

I figured out what to Lent (love ya, Moi!): fried foods. Already, of course, there are problems. Or, at least, points of contention. Is Chinese food friend? Fried rice certainly sounds like it is, but wok fried is different then deep frying or pan frying, right? My roommate also swears that orange chicken must have been fried at some point (ie. deep fried and then cooked in the sauce), and he may have a point, which makes me sad. Is pan frying even comparable to deep frying?

I suppose I original was thinking of french fries and chicken tenders, not any food associated with hot oil in any way. Seriously, on campus options are dropping like flies here. Still, if the one is as bad as the other, then they should all get tossed out.

Until March 23rd.

So, if you want my initial thoughts on Lent, here you go: Why do Christians do this!?

Kidding. I’m stoked, even if it’s hard. Later days!

PS: How the hell does this idea allow me to still eat nasty greasy pizza? Phrasing is clearly important.

Goodbye, Bloomfield

August 24, 2007

It’s official, tomorrow I take up residence at 128 McMahon. Not sure what to expect from the room, outside the usual dorm room stuff. Here’s hoping that it’s a corner room. I think.

Anyway, it’s a hard night. T-Bone, our little doggy, is especially broken up about it. Well, he was. He fell asleep.

I am looking forward to seeing some friends from last year. I know, too, that once I get going my classes will be interesting. The first couple days are just a little hard.

I am happy to say that I was able to fit all of my stuff this year (give or take a fan at my dad’s place) into my car this year, which means I’ve cut back on the amount of stuff I am taking by nearly half. Something tells me my room will still be crowded (and dirty, right Keith?) but I must have learned something from last year.  The biggest lesson: college is never so cut off as it seems. I frankly haven’t been too worried about forgetting anything because I know I can find it out there easily enough.

That said, there are two things I know I am going to miss. The first is home cooked food. College food is hard to stomach normally, but this summer I’ve cut out the fast food, so I’m worried about making the transition. Maybe I will learn to cook in the dorm this year.  The other is… hard to describe. This summer I’ve had more trouble with the enclosed house then usual, not in a claustrophobic sense but more of an aesthetic one. I’ve grown really fond of the outdoors, but especially the solitary outdoors. My campus is large and green, but not solitary. Maybe I’ll yet change my mind about bringing my bike and spend some time off campus, especially if I’m not in New York so often.

Anyway, worries aside, nothing to do but go. The details will sort themselves out. For now, I need sleep.

Yesterday And Tomorrow

July 17, 2007

If anyone is wondering what happened to yesterday’s post, the answer is, I took it down because some of the things I said may have been offensive to some people. The problem of balancing friends’ feelings with writing honesty is an important one, but not one I feel like covering today.

No, instead, I am thinking back to a post a few days ago in which I announced that I might tack on a new resolution for this year. I may have found just that, and it is a doozy. But first, a story of a close friend who is my inspiration.

A year or two ago, we were talking about my family’s hunting, which she couldn’t understand morally. Blame Bambi if you will, but she held a deep conviction that what I was doing was wrong. However, I knew her for the carnivore she was, and in a fit of anger challenged her to put up or shut up. I told her she was just as culpable in the death of countless cows for her steaks and her hamburgers as I was in the death of a deer, and worse, the animals she ate often lived under terrible conditions.

To my amazement, she calmly agreed, and promptly took up vegetarianism. Well.

Lately, my reading and my mind has been focused on where my food comes from, and while I’m still OK with that where being the hindquarters of a cow or pig, I’m not so sure that I am okay with that animal and it’s hindquarters growing up on a factory farm. Ultimately, it’s not the number of lives I had accused my friend of taking that came around to bite me, but the squalor I had revealed to her. In short, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t time or me to put up or shut up as well.

Now, this wouldn’t technically mean vegetarianism. There are, today more then ever, humane and local options which, by all accounts, are tastier, more nutritious, and better for the environment and community then factory farm raised animals. However, swearing off meat from sources unknown at school is practically vegetarianism, and making such a commitment also means inevitably imposing it on people around me.

Which is why I haven’t said so yet. But I am close. After all, we must be the change we wish to see in the world, right?

Thanking The Sky For Rain

July 12, 2007

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about people who decided to try to go back to a more natural way of eating, both for their personal betterment and to opt out of the huge, oil-fed industrial food chain. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is one I recommend. the No Impact Man blog is another. I suspect, too, that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, which I just started reading yesterday, will get my recommendation too. This summer in good part because of these people’s writing, I’ve been trying to do the same thing for myself. The garden is one step in that. Abstaining from junk food has been another (and a successful one; previously, we went to Burger King twice a week or so, but this entire summer I have only gone twice). Still, I’ve wondered from time to time if I’m capable of taking it as far as I want.

It’s hard to, in our world, after all.  Kingsolver writes beautifully in the first chapter about the amazing levels of ignorance in America about food. A lot of people don’t know that vegetables and fruits grow out of the dirt. Many can’t imagine something like a potato or a peanut being connected to a plant. She recounts how, as she and her family were leaving Tuscon to move to Virginia (where they could eat locally), the cashier at the local gas station hoped it wouldn’t rain  – despite being in a desert going through a draught – because she wanted to wash her car that day.

I freely admit, I don’t know much about the local growing seasons. I’m not sure which veggies to expect at a farmer’s market (or even where the farmer’s market is)this time of year, or even what veggies are able to be grown locally. I was starting to feel ignorant, and it made me really sad.

Until last night. For the past week, the weather has been sweltering. Despite the humidity, it’s been too hot for the plants, and definitely too hot for us. Bust last night it rained, and Moi and I ran out and danced in it. We were happy for us, for our plants, and for the land.

There’s hope for us yet.

A Good Day Indeed

July 10, 2007

All right, all right, it could have been a little more productive, sure, but still I count myself as pretty lucky today.

First, on the foraging front, I found wild carrots near home. I came across the picture in the my guide, thought “I know I’ve seen that,” and sure enough I had. It’s really too early in the year for food from carrots but the find was exciting. More modern alchemy.

More importantly, though, I was able to, today, take in my largest deposit to my savings account ever. $520. Now, I know this doesn’t necessarily seem like a lot, but it puts me much closer to my resolution goal. I’m excited, too, because a big chunk ($170) is going onto prosper and towards paying off student loans in three or four years.

However, work never stops. Tomorrow there’s money to be made (at least a small sum of it), so I’m getting to sleep. Goodnight!

Evergreen Tea

July 9, 2007

Well, I have done as I said I would, and coaxed from nature a meal. Well, a food, technically.

Lately, despite the fact that the garden is starting to produce edible foodstuffs (the peas are delicious, and the lettuce/tomatoes/green beans/carrots aren’t far behind), I’ve been on a little foraging tangent lately. I blame the Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I’ve mentioned here before. Granted, he focused mostly on mushrooms, but as it’s too late in the year for morels, and I don’t think I’d trust myself to look for any other sort of mushroom, I’m focusing more on edible plants. Assisted greatly by a Field Guide to Edible Plants of Central and Eastern US, naturally.

Well, today I took my first tentative steps into the foraging world with a familiar and easily identifiable plant: the pine.

What’s that? You say you had no idea a pine was in any way edible? Yeah, well, me neither, and some people in my family would still agree with you. But I was pleasantly surprised. In case you haven’t figured from the title yet, the key is a certain amount of boiling water.

The Recipe:

  • Finely chop young, light green needles (older ones work, but not as well) from a pine (make sure it is a pine).
  • Steep in boiling water for 5-15 min. I am pretty sure the taste gets stronger, not more bitter, with time, so the timing isn’t terribly important.
  • Strain and sweeten to taste.

Yes, it’s just that simple. The book described it as aromatic and nutritious, being high in vitamins A and C. I wouldn’t take the lack of “delicious” there as an insult, since they also didn’t include “works in an emergency” like they did for some other edible plants. I could be wrong, but I doubt it is high in caffeine.

The tea is very light in color; mine was only a very pale green. It smells, not surprisingly, quite a lot like pine, and tastes, well, about like you would expect. It reminded me a little bit of Yerba Mate (the real stuff, not the additive for energy drinks), although Moi’s family would probably kill me for saying so. Oh well.

I’ll concede I didn’t drink much of it, but i suspect that has more to do with the temperature then the tea. I actually thought it was pretty good. More then that, I was impressed by the alchemy involved. It’s one thing to grow a plant in the garden and consume it’s fruit (and a delicious thing at that), but it’s an all together different thing to take a decorative or even wild plant and with special knowledge make something edible

For now, though, the local evergreens are safe; it’s too hot to drink a lot of tea. However, I am thinking of going out tomorrow to forage a little. I saw (having now seen it in the book and knowing what it looks like) what I think might be wild carrot, and there are lots of berries growing around. So I will set off with a nap-sack and my guide and try to find something munchable.

A fresh carrot actually sounds really good. Hmm. Wish me luck!

Hot!

July 8, 2007

Man is it ever hot out here. It sounds like California and Nevada are getting it worse, but still, man, it’s nasty.

In other news, i hope to snatch my first meal from the local forest tomorrow. I don’t think it will be anything very impressive, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

Good luck to my dad on buying hisf house!

Well!

June 22, 2007

As I sit here, munching on my caramel cone ice cream, i can’t help but look back on the day and feel things have gone pretty well.

The pair of red leather chairs I posted to craigslist on my mom and I’s behalf? They’ve caused a small bidding war.

That pitchfork? Got it. And you know what? I feel damn silly carrying it too. But I don’t care, because it worked wonderfully for turning over the compost. And that compost? Oh heck yeah it’s rich and brown and smelling a little more like dirt and less like mold.

I finished reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and it was great. The final paragraph is a piece of art.

Tomorrow morning, I’m headed to the coast to perform that work of alchemy that takes pale skin and sun and creates (dramatic pause) tan skin.

Oh, and I am genuinely excited that my next computer will be a big ass table.

Potpourri (Figuratively)

June 5, 2007

Well, lots going on suddenly. I got a job, at last, albeit a small affair involving lawn care. About $360 dollars by the end of the summer. Unfortunately (well, fortunately), I received an e-mail today saying I could most likely work at a local organic farm. Which would be awesome. So I need to contact George the Ogre tomorrow. If I can work there instead, I might be able to give Moi the mowing job, which would make me feel like less of a jerk.

Also, something sad… I went to a local farm which has a roadside stand, and most of the fresh vegetables are imported from big companies. At least it’s supporting a local company.

The garden is doing pretty well. The green beans are coming up, and how! They are already about the biggest plants we have. It is all very exciting.

I am halving the bread recipe until I can get it to come out right again. I have now tossed four loaves in the compost. But tomorrow I will try again.

And finally, my resolutions. I have been working on cleaning up my writing files. Man, hard work! They were a mess. Now then, was that actually related to my resolutions? I forget.

Such is life.