Tuesday, 6 August 2013 | 55 comments

Foibles of local eating (& tomatoes, many ways)

Things seem pretty good for seasonal, local food, if you take a look at my dining room table. I don’t have a ton of disposable income, but I chose to spend a lot of it on tomatoes last week. And from the numbers, you might believe this reflects national consensus. Back in 2011, the USDA projected that local food would bring in $7 billion in sales.

A lot of you who read this site would probably consider yourself “locavores”. It’s a group with which I also identify, but uneasily. The movement is one under which people with very different priorities gather, united by a single objective: buy food grown or produced nearby.

Locavorism alternately emphasizes that local food takes fewer fossil fuels to produce and transport, supports the local economy, promotes biodiversity, preserves rurality, mitigates environmental damage, is grown more naturally and seasonally, and is generally healthier. It seems so simple, really. How can buying local agricultural products be panacea for so many of society’s ills?

The short answer is that it cannot.

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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 | 105 comments

On dinner, work, & lifestyle

When I wrote this post awhile back, trying to celebrate home cooks, it resonated with some of you, rubbed some of you the wrong way, but all in all, generated some nice dialogue. Outside of the public comments, some readers emailed me with big questions. Questions about work-life balance, questions about how one manages a full-time non-blog, non-food job and a life of home cooking. Some of you even had questions about my schedule and shopping habits, which were simultaneously flattering in their sincere (and mistaken) belief that I cook every single meal and grow a huge proportion of my diet, and embarrassing in the humble truth of my responses.

My recent college grad sister (congratulations!) related an anecdote to me. She’s at the receiving end of all those post-college let’s-talk-about-real-life speeches, and was recently given one that she found a bit belittling. “The problem with your generation,” the speaker said, “is that they don’t know the value of a day’s hard work. The young people who work for me do their 40 hours and no more. You all want to have a lifestyle.”

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 | 19 comments

Zucchini crudo

Have you ever seen the Federico Fellini film, La Dolce Vita? There’s this iconic scene where ridiculously glamorous Anita Ekberg hops into the Trevi Fountain, clad in a full-length black evening gown. She wades around, oozing this beautiful-and-damned carelessness, full skirt wilted and clinging to her legs, arms thrown wide, embracing the night. Minus the extreme bustiness, I can almost remember a time when I felt like that: arms open, unworried about tomorrow, taking it all in.At the risk of sounding disingenuous—I am only, after all, in my mid-twenties—that carefree embrace of the world seems very far away, most days. My passions have become tempered with a concerned urgency. Even my motivation to cook, which remains a happy place in my life, is more utilitarian nowadays. Kinda boring and sad, huh? I am a bit of an old soul, and I’ll be the first to admit, but certainly being (or feeling) old doesn’t preclude a naïve sense of wonder. » Click to read more

Sunday, 21 August 2011 | 9 comments

Collards on toast at tend

My friend Meghan tells me I’m unfit for survival, because I love all things bitter and astringent (her rationale being that through history, a bitter taste has signalled poison, and that we have evolved to dislike that taste accordingly as a survival mechanism). Black coffee, tannic wine, vinegars, and chocolate with a high cacao to sugar ratio—these are among my pantry staples.Bitter greens are no exception. Luckily for me, kale, chard, lettuces, and other bitter greens are something I can grow myself in my small city backyard. My garden is putting out some wonderful ruffly-edged collards right now (yes, they survived the slug-pocalypse). The fantastically talented artist/blogger/letterpress-er/gardener Heather Smith Jones, one of the ladies behind the collaborative blog tend, recently asked me to contribute a guest post. With these collards coming in, I thought I’d chat a bit about the realities and rewards of growing things in a tiny city garden. You’ll find the recipe, along with more photos and thoughts, over there. (And so much thanks to Heather and all the ladies of tend–I’m honored they thought to include me in their week of guest posters.)

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