Monday, 8 September 2014 | 22 comments

Chickpea & barley salad with toasted spice vinaigrette. Also, the Internet.

In the wide world of the Internet, it’s easy to get cynical about how rapidly and easily ideas are repackaged, reposted, and reshared, ad infinitum. You could say this about serious subjects, like news coverage, or about less serious subjects, like celebrity gossip. You could also say it about food-related content. Take, for instance, the phenomenon of what I call the “wedding salad” (because nearly every catered salad you’re served at a wedding is a variation on this). It consists of spinach/arugula, goat cheese/feta, dried cherries/cranberries, nuts (sometimes candied), and a vinaigrette. The wedding salad is omnipresent, and for good reason: it is delicious and time-tested. It’s hard to mess up. But the public does not need four million recipes for this salad. Moreover, I worry that all the recipes detailing minor variations on this wedding salad esotericize* something that should be simple. In other words, maybe the recipe should really be: Here is how you make a salad. A nice template for a salad is a tender green + a soft cheese + something sweet + something crunchy + something acidic.

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 | 31 comments

Tomatoes. Notes.

Summer conjures images of lazy days, hammocks, beaches, bare feet, lemonade…all that good stuff. Let’s pretend for a moment that that’s why I’ve been so absent here.

That was nice.

The real reason is that I’m in a season of lots of work, work travel, and more wedding weekends than a person should be able to attend and still come out sane on the other side (we’ve had to turn the experience into a Bingo-style game to survive). Combine this with the fact that I coordinate our summer farm market, a few black bear incidents, the death of one friend, the birth of another friend’s baby…I’m a little spent.

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Sunday, 27 April 2014 | 45 comments

you ought to prize this

I was the lucky recipient of an unexpected windfall last weekend. Ben’s grandmother is in the process of moving out of her home of 50 years, and, in that sad-ish but grateful way, her son and daughters are kept busy divvying up the accumulated belongings that would otherwise become the casualties of downsizing.

My haul from this process was a yellowing envelope, cracked and brittle at the corners. Ben’s mom placed it in my hands, telling me, “I knew this was for you.”
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Monday, 24 March 2014 | 27 comments

Good food/bad food

It’s no secret that I’m troubled by a lot of dictums that accompany food culture nowadays. I end up coming home from travel all keyed up about it, though. There’s nothing like a little perspective to show you how inadequate a lot of “food rules” are.

The party line of virtues that popular food rhetoric deems “good” includes food that is, among other things, locally produced, organic/sustainably grown, processed as little as possible, and/or homemade. Applying these concepts as a meterstick in other settings can make your head spin a bit. In Tanzania, I have found eggs at the market from Dubai, even though you can’t drive 50 feet without seeing someone’s “urban chicken”. In parts of Mozambique, refined white cane sugar is a local product. Some of the most famous coffee in the world is grown in Kenya or Indonesia, but you can’t get your hands on it in-country (although I think this is changing!). Most ex-pats in sub-Saharan Africa have housekeepers who double as cooks: this is “home cooking”, right? Does it still count, even though they aren’t doing the cooking (nor do they even necessarily know how to do it)?

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Monday, 3 March 2014 | 16 comments

In like a lion

If the past three years (!) of March entries are any indication, right now I should be writing something about being ready for spring. The half a foot of new white stuff outside is telling me to hold my horses, though. I don’t mind the winter weather and the snow as much as other people seem to, especially now that the days are getting longer. I like seasons. Besides, there are new baby goats down the road, which means that green sprouting things can’t be too far away.
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