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Check out a discussion on the food scene in Utah - restaurants, farmers, ranchers, home cooks, and more. Local radio station KRCL hosted myself, chef Adam Kreisel of Chaia Cucina, Ted Scheffler of City Weekly, and the lovely Becky Rosenthal of SLC Foodie & SLC Mixers for an hour-long conversation. We talked food. We took calls. And along with bad ass host Bad Brad Wheeler, we decided that things in our fair state are quite tasty. For real.
When it comes to food production, animal welfare is our welfare. There, I said it. And yeah, I buy local free-range eggs from a local person. If I had a backyard, I'd raise my own. Call me a hippie, but at least I'm not throwing the dice with rotting chicken carcasses, chicken shit, and salmonella.
Don't believe me? Read some startling revelations here from one of my favorite liberal-biased news sources.
Buyer beware. This cuddly little guy may be hiding a dirty little secret from the honey "industry." The golden stuff so filtered and processed it lacks the pollen particles that vital to make it. That means the millions of folks who buy honey from supermarkets thinking they're getting help from allgergies and all the beneficial properties of honey are getting nothing but a large spoonful of processed sugar.
More filtration means dminished quality. More cost to us, the consumers. Check out this article for the complete lowdown and a list of honeys who failed to actually provide, well, honey.
The only foolproof way to ensure you're getting the real deal: Know thy (and love) thy beekeeper.
Mark Bittman. New York Times columnist. Food expert. Food lover. And all around bad ass. The latest reason? An opinion piece on why local food is NOT elitest.
If you thought organic farming was doable, this should make you worry. If you always root for the little guy, you should be downright pissed. If love Will Bucklin, (as I do) this should make you mad. If you love his wine, (I really really do) this should infuriate you.
How does this happen to one of the few wine producers in this country who actually does it right from soil to wine? I could call the state a bunch of inept morons. But really, "ass-hat" is the only appropriate term. They don't even deserve "-hole" in this case.
My father used to call me "melon head" (rather its Korean equivalent). To this day, I'm not sure if it's because of the sheer size of my noggin or my intense love of the ripe juicy fruit. One of the few photos of me as a kid shows me in a cotton summer dress, fat rolls bulging out the bodice seam, with my hair pulled back after a day playing with the hose. I'm sitting atop the small dark wood dining table, my feet facing my paternal grandmother who under normal circumstances I was dreadfully afraid of. But I called a truce on my fear because we were both feasting on fat slices of juicy watermleon.
Or more specifically, green tea (dried leaves shown above) is that like red wine, chocolate, coffee and anything with several polyphenolic compounds (read, layers of flavor and nuance) green tea never simply tastes like green tea.
Behind the simple careful cuttings of the tender new growth of camelia sinensis leaves, particularly those of Japan, is a subtle study of terroir and the basis of a age-old way of life. Kay Hoyama is the founder of Goko Tea. I was fortunate to sit down with her and taste some of the rare varieties of sencha, genmaicha and matcha she imports from Japan. Most only available in very small quantities and more never before seen in the states.
We talk passionately about vine-ripened tomatoes and the tender peaches whose juices run down our chins and arms. But what of corn? Especially when it's whole, intact on what we call the cob. Corn for the most part has come up in news and current events in the form of high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified crops for animal feed. Gourmet.com even weighed in, with transcripts from editors on whether or not corn is a bad thing.
For me, it's a no brainer. Corn on the cob is just as valuable to me as the heavy Brandywine, deep purple raspberries or juicy Suncrest peaches. I can't imagine a warm season without it. Along with my love of automotive self-autonomy, my love of corn is rather patriotic. Most of the world sees it as a grain to grind and transformed into delicious flatbreads or simply as fodder for swine and other animals. Speaking purely from a glutton's point of view, they're missing out. If anyone insists on debating corn's ethical place in the food chain, let's talk it over a grilled cob or two.
If there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing," it probably refers to monotony that corn can easily avoid. The trick: change up the slatherings. I love my butter. But there are other things that make the sweet kernels pop, too.
Another installation to my cherry resourcefulness. After reading what Ian Knauer's piece on Gourmet.com, I felt a tinge of inspiration. It helped that I had an abundance of cherries leftover from Cherry Almond Cake, an upcoming post about Cherry Granita and general consumption. It also helped that there was some booze involved. In this case, some Stolichnaya vodka.
Last year, I had tried the same thing -- taking some cherries, muddling them around a bit in a jar and then adding some alcohol -- to no avail. I had chosen brandy and thought it would turn out rather classy and elegant. By the time I opened up for a celebratory sip at Thanksgiving, I had discovered I could make cough syrup.
Ian Knauer's piece went for vodka. His fruit came from an abundance of wild cherries he discovered on a walk. "Almost black," he wrote. Mine weren't foraged, but rather bartered for my meager cash at the Farmers' Market and were deep mahogany, soft and glossy. I wasn't sure if the wild specimens he found were the sour or sweet variety. The Bings were staring at me in the face and I couldn't forsake them just to find fresh sour cherries that are a rare find in my part of the world. In the article's comment string, one lucky reader posted about her amarena (sour cherry) tree outside her house. I sighed, shrugged my shoulders and then reached for the vodka.
A Spontaneous Cherry Cordial
This isn't a recipe, more like a conversation over the fence, if I had a fence and a neighbor who would actually talk to me. Nevertheless, I consider you my neighbor for now. Here's what you do.
Take a few cherries (sour or sweet) -- perfect for the battered, bruised and juicy ones, the inevitable casualties from the market or a foraging expedition -- and with an actual muddler, a rolling pin end or in my case, the handle of a bamboo rice paddle, smash them around to break up the fruit and release the juices. I mean it. That's it. Seeds and all.
Pour in enough vodka to fill your jar, container or whatever you're going have the fruit hang out in. Give it a shake after sealing it tightly. Leave it alone for a week or two, paying attention to it every couple of days to give it a shake. I have it standing with my other bottles of booze to influence its maceration and progress. See that framboise? It's from Bonny Doon and it is SO good. Can you be that good? Then open up the jar and give it a whiff.
The vodka plays well with the cherries, not asserting itself, just hanging out in the background and providing a kick right at the end of the sip.
Before you serve it, I've taken to straining the pulp and seeds
I have visions of flambéeing the mixture after it's been spooned over a simple, butter cake. Or better yet — drenching a chocolate layer cake. Or sipping the stuff by the fire from small elegant glasses I have yet to buy. (I also envision the very likely possibility that the consumption of the stuff will most likely neither elegant, nor show-stopping, but that's what day dreams are for.)
Doesn't matter. For now, I'm making the stuff of memories and when it comes time to open up the a jar/bottle alone or with friends, I'll take another whiff and think or say aloud, Remember that time in the summer when I bought way too many cherries? Yeah, this was a good idea.
Without fail, every year around this time, I wander purposefully then aimlessly then frantically between the stalls of the Farmers' Market. Should I get a case of apricots? What about currants? And the cherries?!? Where am I going to stash all of this? Will anyone can with me? Do I have time to make jam? Do I have a recipe for jam?!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a typical bout of market anxiety. Deep down, I know the benefits of buying these gorgeous, gorgeous fruit and veg from the local farmers. The problem is that the onslaught of brief Utah bounty is overwhelming. Given my personality, I want to do everything at once, the way a kid (i.e. a 6-year old me) wants everything in the candy store. My arms are full of chioggia beets, herbs, potatoes, Siberian garlic and then it hits me.
How the hell am I going to handle all of this food?
I've spent a good deal of my life feeding people. One of my few strengths is to go into the kitchen and, regardless of how constrained I was by finances, cook something delicious to feed my beloved friends.
But in the last little while something funny happened: I lost my appetite.
My mind usually crowded with ideas of what I'll cook next suddenly didn't have room for feasts, large and small. As winter set in, it was crowded with something that ate at me from the inside. It was sudden. And it was voracious.
Let's just say, I've always had that constant, dull gnaw of anxiety with me. Even as a kid, my stomach would churn when Dad's voice hit an angry octave or when I thought about how to "plan my future." But this anxiety was different. It lay so thick on my tongue that nothing tasted good.
My tote bag runneth over with beets, garlic scapes, mushrooms, raspberries, plums, bread, and eggs. After the first weeks of greens, greens, greens, at the Pioneer Park Farmers' Market the cherries ushered in the tidal wave of color and flavor from the state's fields. With all this eye candy, I hoped to turn it into gustatory ones. I even bought cherries to preserve in brandy. Do I sense a future post?
With such bounty and enthusiasm, casualties are inevitable. What to make do with bleeding raspberries and cracked Red Ace plums? Enjoy them. All by yourself in your cool kitchen. Sort out the unblehmished ones, stashing those in a single layer on your favorite plate (makes the fridge a lot prettier, instead of just messy). Take the roughed up ones into a little bowl. A big if you really mangled them. But that's okay. Because you're going to do with them what you always planned. Eat. A bit of creme fraiche on top. Maybe some demerara sugar, if only for photographic purposes.
Then, flank this bowl with a phalanx of Red Ace plums you bought from the farmer with a sour disposition, but the sweetest stone fruit around. They're appearance and size had everyone convinced that they were an odd cherry or gargantuan grapes. Blistered from a bit of dense packing, they reveal flesh that's virtually puree, ready-made preserves hiding under that garnet skin. And they are most certainly plums.
The raspberries from Weeks' Berries north of the city are bright and tender. And so alluring in their little boxes. Just, take heed from me, be gentle.