The Scenic Route
There’s a lot of writing yet to be done by the Minimalist Cook, and more ebooks, but I’m moving the operation over to the Mothership, The Minimalist Woman. The mailing list will be maintained, and all the posts will be archived. This is to simplify my writing life and also to reflect reality, where food and cooking are one part of a mindful life. There have been so many times I had a food-related theme I wanted to explore on Minimalist Woman, but didn’t in order to save the topic for this blog. Likewise there have been topics I thought too heavy or philosophical for this blog, and posted them “over there.”
The duality does not suit me and is not how I actually live my life, nor do most people. More than a cook, I am a writer who is following a minimalist path and it encompasses all aspects of life. Food is more than recipes; it relates to nourishment, health, budget, ecology, culture, and politics. I just happen to have a lot of first-hand experience with it.
So I want you to know that I’m working on another cooking ebook and will continue to write about sustainability in the kitchen and beyond. Thanks in advance for following me over to the other blog and updating your feeds.
Put Your Feet Up and Read Awhile!
Let’s welcome 2011 with some link love to recent articles and posts which deal with food and cooking. I hope you find them an enjoyable change of pace!
Civil Eats has republished an important article: New FDA Numbers Reveal Food Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antibiotics. Whether you eat meat or not, the antibiotics fed to food animals puts all of us at risk. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the strains of super-bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics. You can help by encouraging your Congressperson to pass legislation curbing the use of antibiotics in food animal production. I’d think that one outcome could be returning to cleaner, more natural ways of raising cattle, chickens, etc.
New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has a brief but clear and heartfelt manifesto: Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion. As always, he is amazed that Americans spend more time watching television (including cooking shows!) than they do cooking decent and healthful meals, and points out that knowing just three recipes is enough to make one a real cook. His conclusion makes a motto worth taking to heart:
By becoming a cook, you can leave processed foods behind, creating more healthful, less expensive and better-tasting food that requires less energy, water and land per calorie and reduces our carbon footprint. Not a bad result for us — or the planet.
The Washington Post had a recent editorial by Fred Hiatt: How did obesity become a partisan fight? Hiatt addresses the grief Michelle Obama has gotten for making childhood obesity her pet cause, especially considering it is actually a continuation of something that began under George W. Bush:
That’s why obesity is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Obama has merely extended and amplified a campaign that began under President George W. Bush; Bush’s last acting surgeon general, Steven K. Galson, made obesity a signature issue, calling it “a national health crisis . . . [that] is driving up healthcare costs and crippling the fabric of our communities.”
Commondreams.org announces that student activism is alive, well, and zeroed in on better food: Student Food Co-op Revolution on Campus: Going National in 2011! A group called CoFed is organizing a national training program for student food activists this month, and will turn them loose on both coasts and in the southwest. They’ve got some serious organizational know-how and sharp thinkers on board, so I look for this one to have some real impact.
Foie gras is unethical, right? Who in their right mind would eat the result of force-fed ducks? Ah, but before you dismiss it it further, read this incredibly informative article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats: The Physiology of Foie: Why Foie Gras is Not Unethical. He begins from an anti-foie gras stance. It may or may not change your mind, but the information is presented in a clear and fair way.
Carolyn Cope at Serious Eats gives us some practical help with lettuce prep: The Crisper Whisperer: Big Bag of Salad. Read the comments, too, for further advice.
Finally, Kenji Lopez-Alt puts out his list of Equipment: The 7 Most Essential Pots and Pans. His budget runs a little higher than mine, but I heartily agree with the kinds of pots and pans he recommends.
Seconds, Anyone? Still Warm From the Oven...
Lots of us are trying to moderate our carbohydrate intake, particularly flour and sugar. Oatmeal/porridge is highly recommended for breakfast, but my problem is eating it without adding loads of sweetener, usually brown sugar. I’ve seen baked oatmeal recipes which looked intriguing, but those, too usually have sugar as well as flour and fat.
Here’s something I came up with the day before yesterday when faced with bananas intended for banana bread but I didn’t want anything with either flour or sugar in it. I haven’t experimented with other variations, including leaving out the eggs, so if you give it a go, let me know what you did differently and how it turned out
Wheat-Free and Sugar-Free Breakfast Oat Cakes
Combine in mixing bowl:
- 2 ripe bananas, smashed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 c old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/4 c raisins
- 1/4 c milk
Pour into a 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 lightly oiled or sprayed baking dish and bake for @25 minutes or until the center is firm to the touch. Cut into quarters. Keeps well for a day if wrapped and refrigerated, and reheats nicely in the microwave.
Options: pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon, other dried fruit, nuts, applesauce or chopped apples
You can also try it without eggs and see what happens. Your goal is a batter that is the consistency of milky oatmeal. The finished texture will vary widely depending on how much milk you add to the batter. This is one of those recipes that you can do by feel, throwing together whatever you have on hand or feel like eating–have fun with it!
Coming Your Way in a Blaze of Glory
My husband Steve is an Englishman, and at Christmastime I like to treat him to some of his favorites like Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Stilton cheese with a nice port, etc. Yorkshire Pudding is very much like a savory turnover, the batter is poured into the sizzling hot beef drippings and then it puffs up dramatically in a very hot oven. Then there is the goody known as Plum Pudding, which is a spice cake full of dried fruits that is steamed instead of baked, then set ablaze by pouring brandy lit with a match over the whole thing. I first made it last Christmas and loved every bite, so I’ve given it some thought and simplified the recipe as much as I could for the parameters of The Minimalist Cook.
Here’s the nutshell process:
- Mix up the batter
- Pour it into a greased pot/mold
- Cover with a tight waterproof lid
- Set into a pot deep and wide enough to hold the mold
- Steam the pudding for five hours or so
- Let the pudding sit a bit, then unmold
- Heat up brandy, light with a match, and pour over the pudding when ready to serve Read more »
Festive and Yummy and Easy Pecan Toffee Bars
Pecan Toffee Bars are one of the easiest and tastiest and most portable of cookie/dessert type treats. If you have a food processor, this recipe takes no time at all and you can make the crust and the filling without washing out the bowl, which saves time and mess. They are good plain, but if you want to give them a little extra pizzazz, drizzle them with rapid zigzags of dark chocolate and white chocolate glazes.
One nice thing about this sweet is that none of the ingredients contain high fructose corn syrup, as unlikely as it may be. Another nice thing is that they can be made in a large rimmed cookie sheet or in a jelly roll pan. Just remember that the thicker they are (in a smaller pan) the longer they take to bake, but just by a couple of minutes.
Easy Pecan Toffee Bars Read more »