Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween!

i was so gratified to see michael pollan's quote in the new york times today. despite everything, i feel it's my duty as an american with a front porch to hand out individually-wrapped candy to all comers. “I well remember my disgust whenever someone offered me a homemade brownie or, worst of all, an apple. Halloween is the high holy day of high fructose corn syrup. And if we can keep it to one or two such days, why not?” Michael Pollan, journalist and author, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” hooray for candy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

tell businesses you want green options

i have this tendency to get indignant about certain aspects of services and products i receive or pay for and to say, "i'm going to write a letter!" once in a while, if it's worth it, i do. if you're like me and you don't like confrontation, the concerned letter is a great way to express your desire for positive change. the below is a letter i'm about to send to a local pizza restaurant. names redacted to give the business time to respond. i'll post the response with the real, google-able name. --- October 26, 2007 [my personal information] [owner and address] Dear Owner, I'm a great fan of [redacted]. For a time, my husband and I had a standing weekly date there with friends, and we looked forward to sharing our typical [special]. However, as time goes on, I've become more and more concerned about the environmental impact of your business. The waste created by the current practice is unreasonable and, for me, untenable as a customer. There are several ways that you can reduce your unrecyclable waste and save money at the same time: Offer wrapped straws to customers. Save time, money and plastic by asking servers to refrain from placing unwrapped straws in drinks. It's a small thing that, multiplied hundreds of times daily, can add up quickly. Portion salad dressings individually, directly onto salads or into reusable containers. When ceramic or metal sauce cups are affordable and readily available, there's no reason to use disposables for dine-in orders. Replace all Styrofoam products. When I ordered [redacted] delivery for the first time, I was shocked to see that an order of bread sticks came in Styrofoam when a simple paper bag or a cardboard box would have sufficed. I've sometimes had uncomfortable dealings with servers who make it clear that Styrofoam is the preferred material for take-out boxes. Pre-cut sheets of recyclable aluminum foil are cost-effective for pizza slices and sandwiches. Until [redacted] makes an effort to use more sustainable packaging and reduce waste, I'll choose to take my business elsewhere. Pizza Express takes sustainability seriously, and I choose to support that. Choosing to take measures to become more sustainable and reduce unnecessary waste and only help you and your business in the long run in our progressive community. I hope to hear positive news back from you so that I can bring out-of-town guests again and suggest [redacted] as a meeting place with friends. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, [Me] --- i'll let you know how this works. i've only done this with one other local business, and they replaced their Syrofoam products for soup, so i kind of don't want to jinx the magic. i will tell you who they are, however. Bloomington Bagel Company! they're great! go get some shmear!

Friday, October 26, 2007

this can be complicated.

let's say that i want to contribute to a food drive. it is the season, after all. i have a budget of $10 for food goods to donate. what's more helpful for my community and humanity: to buy a few quality, organic goods, or to buy a lot of conventional foods? feed more people or think about the greater good, i.e., land stewartship? 10 cans of organic beans (if they're on sale) or 30 cans of campbell's soup? 3 jars of local apple butter? does that even figure in the equation? help! in other news, i just made an enchilada casserole and served it with sauteed mushrooms. brian is washing the dishes. my life is pretty good. thanks, life.

bloomington local food panel discussion

thanks to christine for passing this on. i'll be there! Local Food, Eating with Values – Panel Discussion The Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington is hosting a panel discussion entitled "Local Food, Eating with Values". The discussion will take place on Sunday, October 28 from 6:15 – 7:45 pm in the Meeting Room of the UU Church, 2120 North Fee Lane. The expert panel will compare sustainable models of agriculture to the agri-industrial model, discuss the benefits of eating locally and provide advice on how to buy local food through out the year. Through the discussion, panelists will help attendees answer Michael Pollan’s important question from his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, "What should we have for dinner?". Attendees will have the opportunity to join in the discussion with 45 minutes dedicated to a question/answer session. The panelists are Marti Crouch, Christine Barbour and Teresa Birtles. · Marti Crouch is a consultant on relationships between biotechnology, agriculture and the environment. She received her Ph.D. in plant developmental biology from Yale University and taught courses at IU on many aspects of botany. · Christine Barbour teaches political science at IU and is a food writer and photographer. She is co-director of Slow Food Bloomington. · Teresa Birtles, with her three daughters, grows fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and cut flowers for sale at Market, area restaurants, grocery stores and a CSA (community supported agriculture) group. She is an active member of the Local Growers Guild, Slow Food Bloomington and the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market Advisory Council. The Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change promotes mindful, earth-centered living in an effort to encourage individuals and institutions to take positive steps toward reducing their carbon emissions. For more information contact Marcia Veldman at (812) 988-4956 or

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

step it up!

hey! what are you doing november third? oh, you're going to a step it up! action, too? that's cool. you know what's NOT cool? global warming. total opposite of cool. maybe i'll see you there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

anderson orchard

somehow, i convinced my loving and dear husband to drive to mooresville with me to go to anderson orchard on a sunday morning. little did he know that he was about to be coerced into manual labor. little did i know that he takes to the thrill of the u-pick hunt!
thanks to liz for tipping me off that raspberries are still around. they will be next weekend too, i'm sure. it's not supposed to freeze this week. so we got our apples (half a peck of cameos: delicious! half a peck of black twig: haven't tried), chestnuts, pumpkins for jack o' lanterns, raspberries for CHEAP, and a little bag of candy corn for brian. and a bottle of wine. but that was on the way home.

how to freeze raspberries:

do so as soon as possible. pick out the your best and brightest specimens. mushy is no good. neither is under-ripe. gently set your winners in a single layer on a cookie sheet or something with a lip. reactive metal might not be your best bet. place berries in freezer overnight. the internets tell me of something called a "quick freeze shelf." if you have that, use it! if you live in a student rental, plain freeze is fine. place frozen berries in a freezer bag or some such. to use: hey, you didn't wash those berries yet! just wash them now. for dessert last night, during a break in the pumpkin carving, we had the pumpkin bread pudding from smitten kitchen. so so easy and so good.

squeezably soft

there's a loaf of Sara Lee wheat bread that's been sitting uneaten in the kitchen at the office for probably two months or so. not one slice has been taken out. no signs of mold. i gave it a little squeeze today, and it bounced back like the champion of food engineering it is. yeeeaccch.

Friday, October 19, 2007

apples, pumpkins, and (maybe) chestnuts

the leaves are finally starting to turn. in south central indiana, i think that means it's time for a short road trip this weekend, and i have just the place to go all picked out. get it? picked out? ha ha? i wasn't able to get to a u-pick this summer, but you can bet i'm ready to get at those apples. does anyone have much experience keeping apples over winter? will a box in my house be cold enough for them? we keep it almost as cold as a root cellar - between 60 and 65 degrees. speaking of which - our blog compatriot crunchy chicken is challenging people to keep their thermostats low this winter. want to take part? we will, but not really by choice: we can't afford to turn it up high, and we can't afford to let the pipes freeze. let's hope there are chestnuts ready at the orchard. i had a chestnut polenta at tallent that whet my appetite.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


late weekday nights and sunday afternoons are probably my favorite time to cook - no one's waiting on the result. i'm usually alone and feel free to try a new, complicated ice cream recipe just because i have the ingredients on hand. or, on sunday afternoons, there's time to stretch out your day's timeline to being around to punch down and shape dough 2, 3, or more times. sometimes cooking seems like a chore, to be sure, but when you have the time and inclination it's a special pleasure. when you have a cocktail and music and fresh ingredients, even an epic failure (barring personal injury and burning the house down) is a nice way to spend an evening. tonight, i'm making a quiche with a scratch dough for the first time i can remember. maybe i should have followed a recipe, but instead i googled around and triangulated a kind of recipe that includes whole wheat flour, white pastry flour, and vegetable shortening. at first, things did not go well. my food processor couldn't handle the volume. my rolling skills are underdeveloped. it starting puffing up and emitting moisture in the oven. oh, geez. i poked some holes and let it cook. upon removal, i picked off a piece that didn't look like it was structurally necessary and took a bite. "wow, i'm good," i thought for a moment. and then, i realized that i'd forgotten to add salt. whoops! ah, well, it's still edible, i hope. we'll see how it all comes out in the end. i blanched and sauteed some mixed greens (mustard, kale, chard) with garlic and cooked some potatoes in the oil that was left. with plenty of cheddar cheese, it ought to be fine. wish me luck. i'm ordering the pie for thanksgiving from bloomingfoods. don't worry. and don't be afraid to experiment. p.s. - speaking of mixing alcohol and pastry... (via notmartha) p.p.s. - deb over at smitten kitchen blogged about a quiche crust nightmare tonight. she's working at a much higher level than me for sure, so her failure might be my nearly-resounding success. i mean, i was picking unsalted crust bits out of the pan 10 minutes ago. come on.

Monday, October 15, 2007

cooking re-commences!

so it seems i didn't really cook for almost two weeks. yikes! well, i made up for it this weekend. aside from freezing local corn and pesto from the last of my garden basil (inspired to "put things up" by plenty), meals were actually produced.

tofu cubes ala deborah madison

gorgeous late-season tomatoes. salad greens were back in profusion in the market this weekend (yay!) so we got a last gasp at salad with cherry tomatos. it hit the spot.

potato-pepper soup, in chunked form. i left the skins on the potatoes and peeled the peppers. it turned out pret-ty smooth aside from the few chunks i left on purpose. potato-pepper soup after a puree, plus pesto and a grilled cheese sandwich. mmm. bread from blue dog bakery in louisville. HIGHLY recommended, especially to my bloomington readers who need a good artisian bread fix.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

pizza again?

i was just casually thinking that it'd been a long time since i've cooked a real meal. then i looked back at my calendar and realized that brian and i have not sat down to a homecooked dinner since monday. last monday. the 1st. that's nutty. and what's for dinner tonight? pizza for me. something to eat in the car for brian. this is not sustainable! the budget, my friends, is all out of whack. since we had to change our bank account numbers, the accounting system is way behind on our actual spending. i think it's time to take a deep breath, sit down, and figure out what we've spent over the last month, then move on. maybe we'll have some extra cash for the bloomingfoods truckload sale this weekend. that would be awesome.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

home to the land of sweet vegetarian home cooking

it's good to be home. it's my choice to be vegetarian, and i know i shouldn't expect too much out of conference food, but yeesh. a buffet is like a minefield. you get a meal with green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, corn, salad, fried chicken, pasta salad and pie, and you really have to rule out green beans (possible ham), mashed potatoes (possible chicken stock), the protein of course, and usually pie (possible lard). today our lunch was caesar salad with chicken and shrimp. my vegetarian selection was - wait for it - romaine lettuce and croutons. and a roll. and i opted out of dessert, which was a cheap cheesecake square. gelatin city. sorry - i just felt like complaining, and it's really not very professional to kvetch to your colleagues from minnesota. or whoever you happen to be having lunch with. now it's time to hang out with my poor, sick, neglected husband.

Monday, October 8, 2007

i'm alive!

it's supposed to be 94 today in louisville, i'm still alive, and be forewarned for your next trip: they pour bourbon with a free hand here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

putting on the ritz

tonight, we're planning to finally have our big dinner out in celebration of brian's finishing his doctoral coursework. it's been a rough week, so this will be a nice end to it. suffice to say that not much has gone smoothly while trying to get back to normal after brian's bag was stolen. dinner is at tallent unless the chef's special vegetable preparation is roasted beets or something. but it's not beet season, is it? when you don't eat something, you don't pay much attention. the early fall menu is here. i'm torn. do i start with the arugula salad or the pumpkin gnocchi? i suppose that will depend on the vegetarian entree. i'm so excited! i'll be going to louisville tomorrow afternoon. should be taking a work laptop with me, so i'll try to update from "the road," but i'm not sure how much choice i'll have for food at a conference. wish me luck! trust me - when you're a vegetarian at this kind of thing, you need it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

october rules in bloomington.

friends, we have quite a month ahead of us. somehow, a whole summer's worth of concerts and social events landed in our area in the next 30 days or so, and i'm going to louisville for four days for a conference. me, a conference! i get my own hotel room (a fancy one, at that), and a per diem and vendors keep sending me e-mails to invite me to drink cocktails at their private pitches/receptions. never have i had so many offers for free wine and cheese. no blogging tomorrow because we'll be at a concert. in louisville (finally, yay!). right now i'm going to make dinner/lunches for tomorrow. yes, it's 9:30. i guess i'm just fashionable like that. it'll be my first attempt at cooking fresh edamame, which i was pleased to see at the farmer's market. is it too crazy to have edamame and tofu in the same dish? there wasn't any produce marked local at the store tonight, so edamame and shitakes from the market is what we have. i also have this book, which is giving me some glazing ideas. mm, tofu glaze. p.s. i'd be glad to hear any tips for louisville sights for my free time. food tips especially. i'm not sure how much driving i'll want to do, but i'll be downtown, steering clear of this strip mall gone wild.

Monday, October 1, 2007

mini-review: grub.

Grub is a great little book for anyone feeling their way to a more sustainable way of eating and cooking, (like me!), those curious kittens interested in learning what the big deal with organics and local food is all of the sudden, or for those who need a little boost in the brain to remember why they're bothering in the first place. it's very digestible (ha ha), and makes good, solid points without much fussing over them. co-author anna lappe may be best-known as being frances moore lappe's daughter, and she does a good job of creating her own voice while not trying to deny her family's place in the sustainable eating movement throughout the last 30-40 years. one of my favorite bits was an "interlude: cheat sheet for the cocktail party" - so you can bone up on why organic is better when a friendly acquaintance tells you that organics are a racket and a rip-off: 10. no more mouthfuls of additives 9. worry less about consuming food that may make you sick 8. opt out of being a guinea pig for genetically modified foods 7. miss out on hydraulic fluid in your burger (that'll get 'em!) 6. get a nutritional bang for your hard-earned buck 5-1 are good, too, and probably available at your local library. next on my reading list is plenty, which just came in from the library. this one's too popular to renew, so i'd better get to it. p.s. about half of grub is recipes, but they didn't thrill me. sorry co-author. 9,