Showing posts from June, 2011

Airport Breakfast

So, I recently wrote about the kind of egg breakfast that we like to have when we have access to toasted English muffins, fried eggs, sauteed onions, assorted greens, plus peaches and plums and cherries and strawberries!

But what to do when you're in an airport, traveling at the end of a family vacation, with not much more than the leftover fridge items of a few hard-boiled eggs and two bread heels? What kind of egg sandwich can be made with that?

Well, with the aid of an old cottage cheese container that I stubbornly hadn't thrown away, our favorite take-anywhere utensil the "spo-fork-ife," and some airport condiments, we managed to put together a delicious couple of open-faced sandwiches.

We just peeled the eggs, chopped them up in the plastic containers with the knife/fork end of our utensil, added some mayo, Grey Poupon, crushed red pepper, and salt...

and spread the whole mixture on our bread heels before enjoying!

Capitol Vegetable Garden!

For the first time last year, Community GroundWorks planted a vegetable garden in one of the flower beds around the state Capitol, and it was awesome. People from all over the city got to see how bountiful and beautiful vegetable gardens could be, and it offered a useful production counterpoint to all the consumption that goes on at the same location at the Dane County Farmer's Market every weekend. Most of the produce grown in the garden is donated to the food pantry at the Goodman Community Center.

According to Senator Fred Risser, one of the Wisconsin 14, "The Capitol vegetable garden is a public laboratory to highlight the work of Dane County's many small farms and to inspire people interested in planting vegetable gardens."

Read more about it here, and if you're in Madison, go see the garden for yourself!


Barry Estabrook, whose blog Politics of the Plate was nominated for a James Beard Award this year, has just come out with a book called "Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit :

I just read one of his earlier articles on which this book is based, "Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes," and I want you all to go read it, right now. 


Ok, now you're back? And you're shaken by the deft writing, stellar reporting, and gruesome facts? 

A few excerpts: "Douglas Molloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Myers, Florida...when asked if it is reasonable to assume that an American who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store or food-service company during the winter has eaten fruit picked by the hand of a slave...said, 'It is not an assumption. It is a fact.'"

And as for what we, as consumers, can do differently?  Estabrook writes,

"Buying Slave-Free Fruits: In the warm month…

Conversation in the Comments

Because I want to make sure you're all aware of it, I'm re-posting the conversation that's been happening in the comments of the guest post Justin wrote a couple of weeks ago, A Simple Argument for (Quasi) Vegetarianism:

Boris said...

     Justin, your post inspired me to write like you, a philosopher. As a university town, Madison is a center of rationality first. Vegetarianism and other convictions come next as products of rationality. Vegetarianism can be inferred from ethical standards, energy efficiency, health, and other considerations. Rationality starts with setting some assumptions and then deriving consequences. Let us consider whether we agree with the following premises dealing with factors of happiness.
     1. The main thing that living creatures desire is to exist, to be alive. They prefer almost any level of suffering to the non-existence of death. Those who happened to have different preferences are eliminated by natural selection.
     2. Youth when we ar…

Snug Haven Farm Fundraiser

Though we missed our fathers on Fathers' Day, we managed to make the most of the day with a trip to one of the most beautiful Wisconsin farms I've ever visited, for a fundraiser to help pay the medical bills of one of the farm owners, who has chronic Lyme's Disease.

The farm is Snug Haven Farm, in Belleville, Wisconsin, which is reputed for having the most delicious overwintered spinach anyone has ever tasted.  I can attest to this.

So many local restaurants and vendors pitched in to help support the event, providing the awesome food and items for the silent auction and live music and entertainment:

We ate like queens and kings: Portabella Mushroom Burgers with Arugula Pesto and Homemade Ketchup from Mermaid Cafe, Potato Salad from L'Etoile, Ravioli Salad from Madison Club, Rhubarb Lemonade from Graze, and Apple Strawberry Bars from Honey Bee Bakery:

And we even got to spend the morning with old friends, like DocDirD, who was a joy to be with despite being sick as a d…

Agricultural History Society

So, I've alluded to the Springfield, IL farmer's market a few times this week, in earlier posts. What might have brought me to Springfield, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, you might ask?

Well, it was none other than the 2011 Agricultural History Society meeting!

Not only did I get to pose with the whole Lincoln family (and my dear friend HC):

But I also got to see the kitchen of the actual Lincoln home, and to learn about how the family might have cooked in the 1850s:

But in addition to seeing Lincoln (everywhere in that city!) I also partook in a really cool conference. The program describes it thus:

"Contemporary debates about food, agriculture, and rural life are often framed in opposition with little attention to historical context. Proponents of the local, slow, and organic often emphasize quality while advocates of the global, fast, and industrial stress quantity to satisfy world demand for food. The Agricultural History Society addresses this conundrum in a three-…

Egg Horn-Muffins

Because Justin is training for a half marathon these days, he has been a good influence on me in athletic ways. After our last run, I turned around sooner than he did, and hurried home to make him some breakfast, so that it would be awaiting him upon his arrival.

Justin is a big fan of egg sandwiches, and of english muffins (the Thomas's brand, to which he's loyal despite all my suggestions of trying the organic brands), and so I whipped up these little sandwiches (which, when he makes them himself, Justin refers to as "Egg Horn Muffins"). Although it's simple and doesn't really require a recipe, I thought I'd throw one up here, at least for inspiration.

Egg Horn Muffins, aka Egg Zeide Muffins
2 English muffins, sliced in half, toasted 2 eggs 1/2 onion, diced assorted greens condiments: something creamy (mayonnaise in this case) and something hot (sriracha in this case)
Toast the English muffins. In the mean time, saute the diced onion in a little bit of oil ov…

Post-surgery food

I've managed to go 27 years without ever having had real surgery or having to undergo anesthesia.

Tomorrow, that surgery-less stretch comes to an end.

I'll be having my one wisdom tooth extracted, lest it continue growing and yield infections or crooked teeth.


And although we have a fridge full of delicious, crunchy vegetables from our CSA and from the farmers' market in Springfield, Illinois (where I was last week--more on that soon), I don't think I'll be eating any of those with my raw and impaired mouth. So, this leaves me wondering just what exactly I will be eating.

What are some favorite soft foods that carried you all through wisdom teeth surgery?  Any general advice?

So far, I'm thinking: oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, refried beans, applesauce, smoothies, avocado, pureed soups. And I've read that pineapple juice is good for healing?

What else, to keep me nourished and fed?

The Clean Plater

Some silly, yet tender, food poetry by Ogden Nash to start our week off right:

The Clean Plater by Ogden Nash
Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes, And some of ladies lips, Refined ones praise their ladylike ways, And course ones hymn their hips. The Oxford Book of English Verse Is lush with lyrics tender; A poet, I guess, is more or less Preoccupied with gender. Yet I, though custom call me crude, Prefer to sing in praise of food. Food, Yes, food, Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course, And terrapin, too, is tasty, Lobster I freely endorse, In pate or patty or pasty. But there’s nothing the matter with butter, And nothing the matter with jam, And the warmest greetings I utter To the ham and the yam and the clam. For they’re food, All food, And I think very fondly of food. Through I’m broody at times When bothered by rhymes, I brood On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea, And some the gathering storm. Others portray young lambs at play, But most, the female form. “Twas trite in that primeval d…

Garden Update 1

What's that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?

Well, whatever it is, it most certainly applies to my ambitious garden plan as I described here. We finally broke ground and did some garden planting yesterday, and it ended up looking like this:

Mostly a big plot of tomatoes.  Which we love! But, it's a far cry from the 15 different vegetables I had previously envisioned.  Instead of looking like this:

Our garden mostly looks like this now:

All the tomatoes and sungolds on the right are the ones we'd been growing indoors, while the peas and beans and cabbages and cucumbers are the only seeds that actually sprouted of all the ones I tried to start indoors (I assume the other seeds were just too old to be viable).  Everything on the left side of the garden is just what was growing as weeds in the garden before we hoed it all up.  All those "Tomato transplants" were just growing as volunteer tomatoes in the garden, from seeds that had survived the winter…


Anniversaries, like birthdays, are a way to pause and reflect and celebrate on how far you've come in one year. Justin and I got to do just that earlier this week for our second wedding anniversary (though 7.6 years total!), and although our many travels left us without a full day to devote to celebration, we did manage to squeeze in some frisbee-playing, annual letter-writing, and, of course, some delicious eating.

Because our ultimate frisbee game took us to a part of town, Fitchburg, that we don't often visit, we decided to dine at Liliana's, a restaurant in that neighborhood that has gotten really great reviews from friends and Yelpers, and that also accepts the Wisconsin Restaurant Association gift certificates I received from my parents and Justin's parents for my birthday.

We started with the special wine flight, three half-glasses of a zinfandel, shiraz, and port wine:

And with a delicious fennel and arugula salad, tomato bisque, and some amazing cornbread an…

Yosemite Vacation Food

We just returned from a place filled with stunning views of mountains and valleys and waterfalls, a place that inspired John Muir to write "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

Can anyone name that place?!   Yosemite, of course! (since the post title already gave it away...)

We spent a week in that fountain of life with Justin's family, and amid the hikes and wildness, we also managed to eat some pretty darn good food.  Because there were seven of us eating most meals together with a variety of dietary restrictions (gluten intolerance, pre-diabetic diet, vegetarian/locavore diets, baby/toddler diet, etc.), finding meals that pleased everyone was a difficult thing to do.  But we managed!  For now, a list of our dinners that …

Rented Kitchen Space

Ever since I read this article in the New York Times last year about kitchens-for-rent, I've been inspired by the idea of this sort of collaborative space. The article describes a particular Queens kitchen as a "5,500-square-foot work space [that] is both a refuge for dreamers and a life preserver for the unemployed."

So, I'm really excited that Madison is now moving on a similar project, Food Enterprise & Economic Development (FEED) Kitchens, under the sponsorship of the Northside Planning Council of Madison.

FEED will be a a shared-use food processing kitchen and a food business incubator that will help aspiring entrepreneurs start and grow local food businesses, and help train potential bakery and foodservice workers to develop new marketable job skills. The kitchen plans to open in early 2012.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it?

To help raise the money to make this thing happen, FEED is having a Summer Solstice Event on June 21, with a silent auction. You should …

Book Review: Kitchen Literacy

It's rare that someone from my world (environmental historians who write about food and are trained in an academic setting) actually writes a book that is immensely readable, and brings ideas of history to bear on the state of the current food system. But in her 2007 book, Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back, Ann Vileisis succeeds in doing just that. Here she explains the premise of her book in a short video:

If you're looking for a book that connects history, food politics, and American food today, I'd highly recommend this one (until my own book comes out, that is!)

Mark Bittman on TED

If you don't all already know and love TED talks, you should get on that.  It's basically a nonprofit that gets experts and innovative thinkers on all kinds of subjects to give 20 minute talks on their areas of expertise. Although it costs a bajillion dollars to actually be in the live audience for a TED talk, we plebeians here at home get to enjoy all the wisdom for free through the power of the internet.

Here's one from Mark Bittman about "what's wrong with the way we eat." In short, his answer is that we're eating "too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking" and that that's "putting the entire planet at risk."

What do you think of Mark Bittman, and this talk?

What are some of your favorite TED talks?

No More Food Pyramid

So it looks like the USDA's come out with yet another revision to the food pyramid.

This time, it's called MyPlate:

What do you guys think of this incredibly innovative new way of thinking about food? (sense some dripping sarcasm there?)

What ways of eating might this visual perpetuate, in terms of what proper food is? How is it different than the food pyramid that many of us grew up with? What is the USDA (and Michelle Obama, who helped back this) saying about what we should and shouldn't eat, and how much of it?

I'd love to have some discussion about this, and the way that government shapes assumptions about a healthy diet.

A Simple Argument for (Quasi) Vegetarianism

The following is a guest post by my husband, Justin.  He doesn't have his own blog yet, but perhaps with your encouragement, he could be persuaded to start one!    -AZ


Anna and I are grad students living in Madison, Wisconsin. Our parents, and Wisconsinites from smaller towns, often like to tell us that our fair city is “not exactly the real world”. There's something to this. We live in one of these puddles of urban blue surrounded by rural red. Drive 30 minutes in any direction and the difference in prevailing worldview is palpable.

I happen to really love the prevailing ethos of Madison. One of the many, many attractions for me is that the city is quite vegetarian-friendly. Nearly every single restaurant, even the barbeque joint I went to last night, is obliged by custom to provide at least one respectable vegetarian option--something that is certainly not the case in the south where we both grew up. Probably about half of our friends here are more-or-less vegeta…

Garden Garlic

While visiting my parents last week, I got to experience not only my Mama's amazing food, but also my Papa's gardening prowess.  I arrived just in time to help harvest the garlic that had been growing all spring, and so I got down in the Georgia soil and helped harvest a pile of garlicky goodness.

After we dug up the garlic, we cut off the tops and bottoms, and then buried the green tops into the soil to add nutrients back. And the fresh garlic went either into a bag to come home with me, or onto the counter to dry for use throughout the summer!

Other beauties blooming in the garden, of the tomato and blueberry varieties:

Mama's food

As I write in my About Me, "I grew up in a house where my Russian-Jewish Mama was always able to add a pinch of this and a dash of that to create flavorful, meaningful, natural dishes, that stood at the core of our family closeness."

During a brief visit to my parents' home last week, I got to experience some of these dishes and some of this closeness. 

My days started out with breakfasts of delicious tomato, onion, and pepper quesadillas, which my Mama dolled right up with sliced avocado and banana and peaches and mango. (She was always the one who was great at food presentation).

Other beautiful and amazingly yummy foods I got to experience included my favorite version of the Russian dish solyanka (front and center), vegetable lasagna (upper left corner), and the classic Russian salad vinaigrette (upper right corner):

I tried to look up recipes for solyanka online, but all of them linked to things totally unlike the dish I know and love. Wikipedia suggests that it …

100th Post Survey


Muffin Mix Gifts

I love giving homemade food gifts. So when I recently saw muffin mixes being sold in cloth pouches sewn to look like the fruit in the muffins, I was smitten. It would be really easy to sew together two pieces of banana-shaped yellow cloth and tie it all up with a brown ribbon, and put a banana bread mix inside, yes? Yes!

Here are some ideas and recipes for muffins/quickbreads I especially love, but you can check out the whole line at The Old Muffin Factory's website.

Banana Nut Muffins: In a zip-top bag, combine 1.5 cups all-purpose flour, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Sew this bag into the cloth banana.  Add a gift tag that reads "Preheat oven to 350° F. Empty contents of bag into a large bowl. Add 2 egg whites, 1 cup mashed bananas, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.  Stir until just combined. Fill greased muffin pan cups 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 to 25 minut…

Video: Seed Starting Pots

Even though it's pretty late in the season for seed starting, I'm still going to be starting a few late season crops, like tomatoes, eggplants, and cabbage.  Rather than buying plastic cells pots for my seed starting, I decided to make my own seed starting pots using empty toilet paper rolls. Easy and fun!

All you need is some toilet paper, which you then use to yield empty toilet paper rolls, and some scissors (but  having a cute orange cat also doesn't hurt!) to make little seed starting pots.

I made a video to show you how it's done (with the help of some Bruce Springsteen guitar riffs). It's no artful quinoa video, but it gives you some visuals:

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions!