Showing posts from February, 2011

Taste of Tuscany

Last week, I got to experience my first dinner as part the Global Food for Thought Meal Series that I'm helping to coordinate for the GreenHouse, and it was an awesome event, all around.

The meal was organized by Francesco Mangano, chef and proprietor of Osteria Papavero, an Italian restaurant in Madison that excels at flavorful, high-quality food. And in an impressive synthesis of fine dining and institutional cooking, the whole meal was prepared by University Housing Dining Services, under Francesco's guidance.

The Menu:

Assorted Crostini: Bruschetta and Salsa Verde
Arrosto di Manzocon Funghi Sotte 'Olio Italian-style roast beef, served with shaved parmigiano cheese, baby arugula salad, and oil-cured wild mushrooms
Polipo in Umido Braised octopus with sweet peas and chili
Baccola in Umido Salt cod, braised with tomato and garlic, served with yellow corn polenta
Peperiota Stew of sweet bell peppers
Testaroli al Pesto Tuscan-style spelt "dumplings" with basil pesto

Support those who support us!

The list below is re-posted from the awesome site, run by the TAA.  Because there has been such an outpouring of support for the protests and rallies by local businesses, it's important for us to thank them with our patronage. The following Madison businesses, among others, have provided food or other supplies for the sit-in and sleep-in at the capitol:
Art Gecko (608) 280-0853Capital Centre Market (608) 255-2616Cargo Coffee (608) 268-0597Chautara (608) 251-3626Community Pharmacy (608) 251-3242The Cooper’s Tavern (608) 256-1600El Pastor (608) 280-8898EVP (608) 294-6868Falbo’s (608) 255-9090Fromagination (608) 255-2430Himal Chuli (608) 251-9225Ian’s Pizza (608) 257-9248Indie Coffee (608) 259-9621James J. Chocolates (877) 526-3752Just Coffee (608) 204-9011Ma Cha (608) 442-0500Marigold Kitchen (608) 661-5559Mermaid Cafe (608) 249-9719Nature’s Bakery (608) 257-3649Regent Street Market Co-op (608) 233-4329Steep n’ Brew (608) 256-2902Shakti (608) 255-5007Silver Mi…

Worker Appreciation Free Cookout

Day 4 of my "Solidarity through Food" series:

In addition to the protest-fueling food that's been coming from us, Ian's Pizza, and my department, some of it has also been coming from the unions themselves.  The Northeast Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council put on a free cookout for anyone who happened to be walking by the capitol at the end of last week. 

You could just stop on by and pick up a hot dog, fresh off the grill. A union worker would even squeeze the mustard and ketchup on for you!

And, perhaps the cutest part of all, there were bags of homemade Chex mix out as well!

Now, I usually am not one to encourage people to eat processed foods that were (probably) made from factory-farmed animals, but the joy of this show of solidarity was enough to win over even the "food snob"* in me.  Although I did think about how funny (read: awful) it would be to go up and ask if they had a vegetarian option, by chance. Or maybe some organic, free-ra…

Tea Party at the Tea Party Protest

Day 3 of my "Solidarity through Food" series:

My department decided to counter-protest last Saturday's Tea Party counter protest by having a "tea party" of our own, complete with banana bread, scones, snickerdoodles and hot tea! Despite the "In Wisconsin, we drink BEER, not TEA!" signs, we decided that we liked tea and didn't want to have it co-opted by the pro-Walker side . So baked goods and warmth all around!

The whole Tea Party counter-protest was a bit of a joke anyway. Although the organization had tried to bus people in from all over the state, as far as those of us who were there could tell, there were maybe 2000 or so Tea Partiers among the crowd of 60,000+ who gathered at the capitol on Saturday.  At least, this is what the crowd situation seemed like, given the ration of pro-union vs pro-Walker signs, and the size of the group gathered on the Tea Party rally side of the capitol. And even that latter rally side seemed to have dispersed…

Feeding the Protest

More wonderful stories about how food is keeping this thing going: Ian's Pizza, a Madison institution, has been bringing free pizzas to the capitol all week long. How are they able to afford this, you might ask?  Through donations! And not just donations from Wisconsin folks, but from those in every single state and continent (minus Antarctica)! Seriously. Here's a photo of their chalkboard where they were keeping track of donations, as of yesterday:

Awesome, isn't it?

Making the pizzas, nonstop:

Enjoying the pizzas, nonstop:

If you would like to do your own part to support those in the capitol with food or other supplies, you can go to the new donation site Help Defend Wisconsin, can order pizza through Ian's, or you can call the Willy Street Co-op and buy a gift card to feed the capitol protestors via phone: (608) 251-6776.

Thanks for your help. And let me know if you have any questions!

Solidarity through Food

Life around here has been so consumed by the "budget repair" bill protest rallies for the last week that it's hard to think of much else.  Brief escapes from the capitol to get some work done always just lead to obsessive checking of the WisPolitcs Budget Blog, Defend Wisconsin, and the Facebook page of the TAA (Teaching Assistants' Association). But boy has it been exhilarating. So many new developments, new enthusiasms, renewed senses of hope!

Among those leading the charges of hope and enthusiasm is my friend KG. He is not only the same KG who cooked the amazing dinner of my Co-op Inspiration post, but is also the co-President of the TAA, the union of graduate student workers at the University of Wisconsin.  A little over a week ago, KG was just a graduate student with a little collective bargaining experience and a knack for leadership. Now, he's being quoted in the New York Times, communicating with national labor leaders and the UW Chancellor, being intervi…

Recipe Binder: Success!

In addition to collecting recipes for friends, I've also been working on my own recipe collection in the past few months. Specifically, I was fed up with the huge bulging folder that held little torn-out magazine pages and scraps of paper with recipes scribbled in ten different inks. Those of you who cook will likely know what I'm talking about, right?  It was a mess to find anything in there.

And so, I decided to bring some organization to the whole thing, by creating a recipe binder. Here are the steps I went through in my search for order:
The first thing I did was go through all of the pages and tape or staple all the little scraps onto 8.5"x11" sheets of scratch paper. Then I numbered all the pages, in the lower right corner.  Then I typed up the titles of all the recipes into a Word document, along with the corresponding page number.  Finally, I organized these recipes by general category (Sauces, Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Sides, Main Dishes, Breads, Desserts,…

Vegantines Puzzle

The local Alliance for Animals puts on an annual "Vegantines" event, with dinner and speeches and dancing, to benefit the organization's mission of promoting ethical, compassionate treatment of all animals.  I'd been wanting to go this event for a while, so this year, with a little help for our friends, Justin and I gussied up (or as close as we ever get to gussying up) and headed out:

The whole affair was interesting on many levels (maybe I'll leave it to Justin to write more about the ethos of the speeches we heard...), but I was particularly intrigued by the puzzle that the menu offered.  A lettuce salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives.  Eggplant parmesan with vegan cheese and a side of corn and lima beans. And a vegan chocolate cake for dessert with canned, saccharine, bright-red cherries.

It all tasted just fine (although the woman at the table next to us certainly didn't think so, berating the servers about the low quality of the chocolate cake, f…

Kill the Bill!

Here is our friend Shahin's video of yesterday's rally against Governor Scott Walker's budget bill, which makes cuts to public workers' pension and health benefits and eliminates almost all union bargaining rights.:

Yeah, it's bad news. Madison schools have closed today because the teachers planned a sick-out.. NPR is writing about us. So is And lots of others.

You can watch it all streaming here.

And some photographs I took yesterday:

Oh yeah, and we made this quiche for dinner. Recipe to follow soon.

Veggie Chili for a Crowd

Yesterday, I wrote about the meal I made for the GreenHouse mural painters over the weekend: a pot of vegetarian chili, two pans of buttermilk cornbread, and two dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Although we make veggie chili all the time, with whatever ingredients we have on-hand (it's one of our favorite pantry meals that can come together even when we have little to no fresh produce), I created this recipe to fit the needs of producing a batch in bulk in the middle of winter. So, here it is, a recipe for creating vegetarian chili to feed a group of about 20:

Vegetarian Chili for a Crowd 2.5 onions, diced (reserve 1/2 onion for raw topping)3 very large sweet potatoes, diced~50 oz. diced tomatoes (two large cans OR one full freezer bag)4 cups black beans or pinto beans (canned or cooked beforehand) 4 cups baked beans (canned or made beforehand using this recipe)3 cups frozen corn4 Tbsp chili powder2 Tbsp dried basilsalt to tasteoptional toppings: raw diced onion, grated cheese, pickled…

Mural Marathon Meal

This weekend, I got to have my first real interaction with the GreenHouse students, where I'm the new Food Programming Intern this semester. They've had this ongoing project for a while, to paint murals on the walls of their Resource Room, and so they'd planned a "Mural Marathon" for the weekend, to crank out as much painting as possible in one day.  And of course, a free lunch was a great incentive to get people to come out for painting! So, I got to offer the incentive of helping to prepare a meal for the 15-20 folks who were involved.

First, here's a peek at the awesome painting job they're doing in this room. They've got a stellar environmental history theme going, with one wall devoted to the pre-European settlement vision of Wisconsin (the one complete wall shown below), one wall showing the beginnings of settlement (which the students in the photo below are working on), one wall covered by an image of Madison today, and the final wall depicting…

Co-op Inspiration

Last weekend, I got to spend another delightful evening at our friends' co-op (the same one that inspired our Pantry Makeover). Although I didn't get a photo of the inspiring bulk storage section (mostly because it was on the empty side since it was right before re-stocking day), I did get a few kitchen organization ideas from their space, and I also got to eat some delicious food in the company of some of Madison's finest.

Here is their spice arrangement. Although it may be hard to tell from this photo, this wooden shelf extends from the ceiling and hangs down over a wooden island in the middle of the kitchen, where much of the prep work goes on. There's space on the top of the shelf for one level of spices, neatly labeled, and then there's a second level that hangs down from the shelf. The spices on that second level are all in glass jars and they are so neatly suspended because their lids have been screwed into the bottom of the shelf. So, when you want to use a…

Happy Birthday, Dave!

A belated birthday wish goes out to our dear friend Dave, who rang in another year in style earlier this week, with all the joy of friends, homemade pizza, and a flourless chocolate cake!

The prep: caramelizing onions and simmering tomato sauce, flying pizza dough, and a veritable smorgasbord of toppings! (a partial list: feta, mozzarella, Farmer John's Asiago, Stilton cheese, red pepper, mushroom, raw onion, caramelized onion, cilantro, guacamole, avocado, seitan, veggie sausage, roasted beets, capers, tomatoes, steam broccoli, sage, corn, olives, raw garlic, browned garlic, walnuts, tomato sauce, RPs alfredo sauce, homemade creamy green enchilada sauce, Willy St. Co-op pizza dough...)

And the beauties in their final form:

The Hoity-Toity: Roasted beets, walnuts, caramelized onions, Stilton, Alfredo sauce (modeled after Roman Candle's Algo Malo)

South of the Border: Creamy green enchilada sauce, red peppers,  cilantro, guacamole, corn, mozzarella

The Animal Lovers: Tomato sau…

Photo Thanks

Two posts in one day!  An extra post full of beautiful photos from the kids' garden, just to thank you for voting for Community GroundWorks to win $10,000.

(all photos by Nathan Larson, Community GroundWorks Education Director)

Voting for gardens

For the past two years, I've been involved with an awesome local nonprofit, Community GroundWorks, that offers a rich array of experiences, spaces, and services to the Madison community--a kids garden, community gardens, an organic farm, and a restored prairie and woodlands.  It's also just a beautiful agricultural space within the city limits:

I'll definitely be writing more about all the ways that I've been involved with this organization--working as a Kids Garden Intern, helping spearhead a campaign to build an outdoor kids' kitchen, running their Twitter feed and Facebook page, serving on the Communications Committee, helping to organize an annual Youth Grow Local conference, and more.

But for now, let me ask you to do me a favor, on behalf of Community GroundWorks. The organization, and specifically their Youth Farm at a local high school (East High), is in the running to win $10,000 from a local bank. The money would go towards supporting an urban agricultu…