Friday, September 18, 2009

A Return! And a Temporary Break.

Readers! Hey there! How are you? I’ve been away for a few days, alternately babysitting and proving myself to be totally florally ignorant. (Remember: life is easy. Wedding flowers are hard.)

Beyond that, the last week or so has been chock full of deep, thoughtful, uh … thinking … about CHG. I find myself lacking employment lately, and kind of need to concentrate on the job search for a little while.

So. I think we’re going to put the blog on hiatus for a bit, just to regroup and get our collective mojo back. (Note: not this mojo. This mojo. Though the former is nice, too.) There’ll still be occasional posts, especially if there’s a light, inexpensive recipe that screams to be shared. And I expect we’ll be back eventually, but mostly, it’s gonna be slow going for a few weeks.

In the meantime, thank you guys immensely for your continued support and thoughtful comments. It’s been wonderful reading your opinions and learning from your cooking experiences for the last two-and-a-half years, and I look forward to doing it again when a job (and, uh, health insurance) has been procured.

Until next time, yay! And this. Because ... you'll see.

Edited 9/24/09 by Kris.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Veggie Might: From VM Labs - Miso Mashed Potatoes

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Friday, I went to seen an oral surgeon for a consultation. I left the doctor’s office down two wisdom teeth and up a bolt of gauze. Had I suspected this course of events (and been running less late or less concerned with the doctor seeing clean teeth), I would have eaten breakfast.

Cut to two hours later when my entire mouth is numb and I’m starving—like low-blood sugar, kinda woozy, I-need-food-now starving: Grapefruit juice to the rescue. I chugged about a quart and only a cup or so ran down from the corners of my Novocain-paralyzed mouth.

Since I’ve been traveling and hosting a ‘tween for the last two + weeks, my cupboards have been pretty barren. Looking around the kitchen, I spied a large russet potato. Mashed potatoes would be the perfect way to fill my aching belly via aching jaws. I scrubbed and chopped the potato, threw it in a pot of water, and took a doctor-prescribed painkiller. The anesthesia was wearing off.

Though I was ravenous and in pain, I still wanted something to go in the potatoes—something interesting, I decided. Maybe it was the meds.

The interior of my fridge looked like the shelves of a mad scientist’s laboratory. There seemed to be hundreds of jars and containers, pickling mystery and breeding mayhem. I sorted through the aging leftovers and experiments. Too tired and cranky to defrost vegetable broth, I pulled out a jar of vegetable stock paste and a tub of red miso.

Stock is great for giving potatoes, pasta, and grains a kick without adding the calories and fat of butter; and I keep store-bought stock mix around for emergencies. Plus, this one is low sodium, so, bonus. I added a 1/2 teaspoon to the boiling water. Miso does the same kind of thing, Japanese style.

Once the potato was cooked to my liking, I mashed them up with a fork, water and all, adding a dollop of miso and a few grinds of black pepper to the madness.

I was so hungry, anything would have been amazing during those few first bites. But as the novelty of eating wore off and I started tasting, I noticed the potatoes were quite good: rich and savory, without being heavy. I imagined serving them next to green beans and dolled-up tempeh or seitan at a family meal.

My frankenpotato success was surprising, especially considering the slapdash manner in which this—I hesitate to call it a recipe—came together. Emboldened by my happy experiment...

Bonus Hall of Shame entry: Sunday, I made a second attempt at Mark Bittman’s eggplant gnocchi. The extremeness of the FAIL was so repugnant, so grey and slimy, I won’t even make you look. It tasted okay, perfect for my mush-mouthed needs, but it’s back to the laboratory on that one.

Miso Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2–3

1 large russet potato (approx 12 oz)
Just enough water to cover potatoes (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp vegetable stock paste (or add 1/2 cup of veg stock to water)
1 tbsp red miso
salt and pepper to taste

1) Wash and chop potato. Peel if you like. I prefer skins in my mashed. Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan in the meantime.

2) When the water boils, add stock paste and potato. Stir occasionally and cook uncovered at a low boil until potatoes are soft.

3) Using the cooking water as your liquid, start mashing with your tool of choice. I used a fork.

4) Add miso and keep mashing until the desired consistency is reached. Add a splash of broth/water if necessary. (It wasn’t for me.)

5) Enjoy until your mouth feels better and even after. Goes great with ice cream.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
2 servings: 172 calories, 0.1g fat, $.56
3 servings: 115 calories, .067g fat, $.37

1 large russet potato: 313.5 calories, 0.2g fat, $.75
1/2 tsp vegetable stock paste: 8 calories, 0g fat, $.08
1 tbsp red miso: 22.5 calories, 0g fat, $.27
salt and pepper: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 344 calories, 0.2g fat, $1.12
Per serving: (totals/2): 172 calories, 0.1g fat, $.56
Per serving: (totals/3): 115 calories, .067g fat, $.37

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yellow Tomato Recipes, Part 2: Gazpacho and Stuffed Tomatoes

Part 2! Behold...

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Makes 5 cups soup
Adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques

2 1/2 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes
1 cucumber
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and cut in half
4 sprigs cilantro, plus 12 cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons diced red or orange sweet pepper
3 tablespoons diced red onion
18 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
Super-good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: I ate this with the red pepper and red onion, but without the cherry tomatoes or extra olive oil drizzled on top. It was good. - Kris

1) Blanch the yellow tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water a few minutes, and then use your fingers to slip off their skins. Remove the cores, and chop the tomatoes coarsely, saving all the juice. Reserve the ice water.

2) Seed and dice three tablespoons’ worth of unpeeled cucumber, as prettily as you can manage, for the garnish. Set aside. Peel and coarsely chop the remaining cucumbers.

3) You will need to make the soup in batches. Place half the yellow tomatoes, coarsely chopped cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil in a blender with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper. Process at the lowest speed until broken down. Turn the speed up to high, and purée until the soup is completely smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved ice water. Strain the soup and taste for seasoning. Repeat with the rest of the soup ingredients. Chill the soup in the refrigerator; it should be served very cold.

4) Toss the diced pepper, diced onion, and diced cucumber together in a small bowl.

5) Pour the gazpacho into six chilled soup bowls, and scatter the pepper mixture over the soup. Season the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper and place three cherry tomato halves and two cilantro leaves at the center of each bowl. Finish each soup with a drizzle of super-good olive oil. To serve family-style, place the soup in a chilled tureen or pretty pitcher and garnish with the tomato halves and cilantro; pass the diced vegetables on the side.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
134 calories, 11.4 g fat, 1.6 g fiber, $0.61

2 1/2 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes: 127 calories, 2.5 g fat, 5.9 g fiber, $1.00
1 cucumber: 24 calories, 0.4 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $0.66
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and cut in half: 16 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.06
4 sprigs cilantro, plus 12 cilantro leaves: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.10
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped: 9 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.08
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $0.16
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil: 477 calories, 54 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.48
3 tablespoons diced red or orange sweet pepper: 7 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.6 g fiber, $0.40
3 tablespoons diced red onion: 12 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.08
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
TOTAL: 672 calories, 57 g fat, 8 g fiber, $3.04
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 134 calories, 11.4 g fat, 1.6 g fiber, $0.61


Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes
Makes 8 stuffed tomatoes
Adapted from Food Network/Maria Sinskey
(I mentioned this on Wednesday, but this isn't my picture. Mine was terrible. It's Food Network's.)

8 (1 by 1-inch) bread cubes
8 medium-small ripe red or yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata or nicoise olives
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: I forgot the oregano when I made it. No biggie. Also, this was mad watery, but wonderful when stacked on top of pasta. - Kris

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

3) Increase the oven to 400 degrees F.

4) Remove the cores from the top of the tomatoes and cut the top off the tomato 1/4 of the way down. Reserve the tops. Slice enough of the bottom off each tomato, so it stands up, but don't cut through to the seed. (If you cut too deep, patch the hole with the piece you have just sliced off, by placing it in the bottom after you've hollowed it out.)

5) Using a melon baller, carefully scoop the inside of the tomatoes out, taking care not to penetrate the sides and create holes. Collect the balls of pulp and chop coarsely. Press the juice and seeds through a strainer. Add the strained juice to the chopped pulp.

6) In a bowl, mix together the tomato pulp, Parmesan, olives, olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic. Toss with the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit until the bread cubes have soaked up most of the moisture.

7) Season the interior of each tomato with salt and black pepper. Stuff each tomato with 1 bread cube and as much as herb olive mixture that you can pack in. Top with the reserved tomato tops and stick a toothpick through the center of the top to keep it from sliding off while it bakes. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a roasting pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle the tops of tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until bubbling and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
140 calories, 11 g fat, 1.7 g fiber, $0.64

8 (1 by 1-inch) bread cubes: 84 calories, 2 g fat, 0.8 g fiber, $0.13
8 medium-small ripe red or yellow tomatoes: 191 calories, 3.8 g fat, 8.9 g fiber, $2.00
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces): 216 calories, 14.3 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.36
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata or nicoise olives: 136 calories, 13.6 g fat, 3 g fiber, $0.65
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed: 477 calories, 54 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.48
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves: 3 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, $0.22
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves: 1 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, FREE (got them with the tomatoes)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.10
3 large garlic cloves, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, $0.12
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
TOTAL: 1121 calories, 87.8 g fat, 13.4 g fiber, $5.08
PER SERVING (TOTAL/8): 140 calories, 11 g fat, 1.7 g fiber, $0.64

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yellow Tomato Recipes, Part I: Salsa and Soup (Also, Encounters of the Celebrity Kind)

Before we get into our first two recipes from Wednesday’s Tomato-a-thon, I encourage you to check out this post over at The Onion’s AV Club. It’s all about the writers’ favorite/best celebrity encounters, and the comment section is hilarious. My favorite story is from the hopefully-not-aptly named Poodog:
I became enraged at a burrito place in Venice, CA in 2001 when friends began talking about Doogie Howser (one of my many high school nicknames) seemingly out of nowhere.

Me: F** you, I do not look like Doogie Howser!!!
Friend: Neil Patrick Harris is getting a Coke right behind you.
NPH (at me): Nice one.
To play along, my top three:

1) I met Britney Spears at the 1999 Grammy Nominations ceremony, at the very beginning of her career. It was unremarkable, except for this: girl is TINY. Like, if she’s 5-foot-1, I’d be shocked. She makes Prince look like Yao Ming.

2) A few months later, I got a phone call from Quincy Jones. My number was one digit away from our company president’s, and QJ mis-dialed. When you’re 21, there is nothin’ like coming back from lunch to hear, “Hello, Kristen. This is Quincy Jones,” all smooth-like and basso profundo on your voicemail. I kept it for months.

3) I’ve physically bumped into Yoko Ono twice, about four years apart, both times in Midtown. The first time, I remember thinking, “Oh no, I hope I didn’t hurt that older Asian lad- … holy moly, it’s Yoko Ono!” The second time, I remember thinking, “Oh no, I hope I didn’t hurt that older Asian lad- … is Yoko Ono following me?”

Runner-up: In college, I interviewed all of Parliament Funkadelic. It was bananas. George Clinton is like Buddha and Santa rolled into one patchouli-scented pile of awesome. Really nice guy. And naturally funky, of course.

Do you have any fun celebrity stories? Stick ‘em in the comment section. We’d love to hear. But before you go to there … our regularly scheduled post:

Wednesday! 39 Tomatoes, 11 Hours, No Mercy. Remember that? Oh, those were good times. It was bizarrely thrilling to use up all the produce, and the experience was an excellent confidence-builder for future abundances. (Watch your back, zucchini.) Plus, while all the recipes were intended to be healthy and inexpensive, the numbers were much better than I would have guessed. Everything came out to about $25, total, and each dish was less than 150 calories per serving.


Yellow Tomato Soup and Tomatillo & Yellow Tomato Salsa were two of the recipes (three more coming on Monday), and the soup, in particular, went over like gangbusters. It is HIGHLY suggested. With croutons, if you can

P.S. There were 40 tomatoes in the box, (I ate one the night we got them), making each piece $0.25. Rachel's CSA, I owe you one.

Tomatillo and Yellow Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Epicurious/Gourmet
Makes about 6 generous cups salsa, or 12 massive servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tomatillos* (about 1/2 pound), husked, rinsed, and chopped fine
4 vine-ripened large yellow tomatoes or yellow bell peppers (or a mix of both), chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 to 2 jalapeño chilies, minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) In a small or medium bowl, mix  oil, tomatillos, tomatoes or bell peppers, onion, jalapeños, coriander, and salt to taste. Refrigerate 60 minutes to overnight. Eat!

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
45 calories, 2.9 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.23

2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 247 calories, 28 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.18
6 tomatillos: 65 calories, 2 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, $0.92
4 vine-ripened large yellow tomatoes: 127 calories, 2.5 g fat, 5.9 g fiber, $1.00
1 large onion, chopped fine: 63 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.15
1 to 2 jalapeño chilies: 32 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.10
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro: 1 calorie, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.45
TOTAL: 535 calories, 34.7 g fat, 12 g fiber, $2.80
PER SERVING (TOTAL/12): 45 calories, 2.9 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.23


Yellow Tomato Soup
Makes about 6 cups of soup
Adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appetit

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 bacon slices (about 5 ounces), chopped
5 cups chopped yellow tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies*
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk

NOTE: I doubled the batch when I made this soup, so my cooking times were much, much longer. They may be slightly longer here, too, so use your judgment. If it looks like the soup will be too thin when you puree it, let it reduce a while longer. Or, you might want to use less broth to begin with. Also, I found 2 teaspoons to be PLENTY of chipotle, but some Epicurious reviewers added even more. Go with your gut, and if you find it too spicy, add a tablespoon or two of sugar to cut the heat. - Kris

1) In a large pot or Dutch Oven, cook onion and bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown up. Add tomatoes and garlic. Drop heat a little and simmer about 20 minutes, until tomatoes are nice and tender. Add Sherry and wine. Simmer 5 more minutes. Add stock. Simmer 15 minutes, or until you have about 1-1/2 quarts (6 or 7 cups) of soup. Add chipotles and oregano. Puree soup in a blender, working in 2 or 3 batches, taking care that your blender doesn't 'splode. Return to pot. Add evaporated milk. Stir. Heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
123 calories, 4.1 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $1.20

1 large onion: 63 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.15
6 bacon slices: 276 calories, 21.3 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.66
5 cups chopped yellow tomatoes: 104 calories, 2.1 g fat, 4.9 g fiber, $0.75
2 garlic cloves, minced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.10
1/2 cup dry Sherry: 68 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.49
1/2 cup dry white wine: 96 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.00
4 cups low-salt chicken broth: 67 calories, 0 g fiber, 0 g fat, $2.39
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies: 5 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, $0.20
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves: negligible calories, fiber, and fat, $0.10
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk: 50 calories, 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.27
TOTAL: 738 calories, 24.8 g fat, 8.4 g fat, $7.21
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 123 calories, 4.1 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $1.20

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Veggie Might: I Love Radishes

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

First things first, Kris, you deserve some big love for your massive tomato undertaking. Kudos, fine lady. You are an inspiration. Also, I’m free most weekends for supper if you need help with that. (Thanks, Leigh! - Kris)

Now on with the show...

Radishes don’t get a lot of love, confused as they often are, along with parsley, as garnish. But radishes are little peppery, crunchy pods of joy.

This summer I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of radishes, discovering French breakfast radishes for the first time, and enjoying good, old, regular red ones.

Unfortunately, some of my experiments have been less than successful. For instance, my attempt at veganizing Chilled Radish Buttermilk Soup (from Gourmet via Epicurious) by adding vinegar to soymilk still hasn’t quite worked. (The trick works great in baking.) I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s my favorite among the recipes I’ve tried: a delight from a May issue of New York magazine called Kyle Bailey’s Butter-Poached Radishes. (Who knew NY Mag would become a regular recipe source?)

The recipe calls for French breakfast radishes, which have a slightly sweeter flavor. But I found it works just as well with the more readily available red radishes as well. When choosing a bunch, go with longer radishes, as opposed to rounder, if possible.

If it sounds rich, it is. The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter for just 3/4 pound of radishes. Wow.

But, never fear, Dear Reader, the dish has been sufficiently and deliciously CHGified. And veganized, if you use vegan margarine like I did. (Sorry, Julia Child.) You’ll never miss those extra 2 tablespoons.

Poached radishes are surprisingly sweet, even the regular ones. I substituted white wine vinegar for the raspberry version called for (it’s what I had), thinking I may need to add sugar for the desired effect. No siree. Tangy, sweet, and with a hint of licorice from the tarragon, the radishes are a perfect complement to greens or a summer salad.

I made this dish twice, once with fresh tarragon and once with dried (pictured). Go with fresh if you possibly can. The flavor is so much livelier.

Radishes will be in season for just a bit longer, so grab a bunch while you can. They’re not just pretty to look at. They are delicious for eating and being surprised that you too love radishes.

Pods of Joy with Tarragon
adapted from Kyle Bailey’s Butter-Poached Radishes
serves 3

1 bunch radishes (3/4–1 lb), French breakfast radishes or red radishes (pictured)
1 tbsp unsalted butter or vegan margarine
3 dashes white wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Remove greens and ends, and slice radishes lengthwise into quarters.

2) Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in a skillet.

3) Toss in the chopped radishes and add a dash of salt and pepper.

4) Sauté over low-medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.

5) Add white wine vinegar and sauté another minute until the radishes turn bright pink.

6) Add vegetable stock and remaining butter. Cook for another minute to glaze the radishes.

7) Remove from heat and add fresh torn tarragon leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.

8) Serve as a side dish and marvel at just how much you love radishes.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
Per serving: 43.7 calories, 3.67g fat, $0.44

1 bunch radishes: 26 calories, 0g fat, $1.00
1 tbsp vegan margarine: 100 cal, 11 fat, $.12
3 dashes white wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $.10
1/4 cup vegetable stock: 5 calories, 0g fat, $.05
2 tsp fresh tarragon: negligible calories and fat, $.04
Salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 131 calories, 11g fat, $1.33
Per serving: 43.7 calories, 3.67g fat, $0.44

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

COOKING DAY, PART 7: Ernest Goes to ... I Mean, Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

By the power vested in me as a random person on the internet, I pronounce Cooking Day ’09 … FINISHED. Yes, I missed Obama’s health care speech. But I profoundly believe that after eating this many tomatoes, I won’t need health care anyway.


Anyzwayz, the final dish was Suzanne Goin’s Yellow Tomato Gazpacho from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. (Is it pronounced “Goyne” or “Gwah”? I never know.) Though the end result is an unnerving yellow-green color, the flavor is mellow, smooth, and deep, and will probs get even more complex after a night in the fridge.

Like the previous soup, I doubled the recipe, and scored about 10 full cups out of it. It used nine tomatoes, leaving me with four lonely pieces of produce, which were mercilessly sliced and frozen. They will taste very good in January, provided I haven’t turned into a yellow tomato myself by then.

It is now a little past 11pm, and the dishes are done. The counters are wiped down. Everything’s frozen/packed/jammed into the fridge, which looks not unlike a clown car made of food. The first round of recipes will be up Friday, along with Lessons Learned From This Experience. (Like: If you should undertake this, remember to make time for the bathroom.)

Thanks, you guys, for all your comments and suggestions and ideas and tomatoes. You're the best.

Also, you should have seen my garbage bowl. It was epic.

39 tomatoes up, 39 tomatoes down.

COOKING DAY, PART 6: Yellow Tomato Soup

First, thank you, Mike the Commenter. Bon Appetit’s Yellow Tomato Soup was/is outrageously good. It’s the Husband-Elect’s favorite dish thus far today, and I doubled the recipe, meaning we have 12-1/2 cups of the stuff to tide us over the winter. And? AND?!? It used up seven more tomatoes. For that, I throw you a party in my head. (See it? Yay! We’re having so much fun. I think it’s because the DJ is David Bowie.)

Of course, part of the soup’s inherent goodness is due to copious amounts of bacon. But the portions are so large, you’re getting less than one slice per serving (meaning same taste, less fat). Also, though the original recipe called for heavy cream, I subbed in 2% evaporated milk, making the whole deal about 2,000,000 calories lighter. Again, numbers and recipes will be coming over the next few days, but it’s good to know.

My kitchen looks like someone hacked Big Bird to death.

25 tomatoes down, 13 to go.

P.S. See how the soup isn't yellow? There's chipotle in there. Lots of chipotle. God bless America.

COOKING DAY, PART 5: Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes

Folks, this is not my picture. In fact, it’s so far from the picture I took, that if pictures were actors, this picture is Laurence Olivier, and mine is Andie MacDowell. (*shudder*) Night hit here about an hour ago, which means the possibility of me taking a halfway decent photo of food, people, or anything besides big blotches of yellow has dropped precipitously. Thusly, this one is bogarted from the Food Network.

They're Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes, they come from the aforementioned Network of Food, and while tasty, are very very very very watery. I ate one by itself, and would not suggest it. However, I would suggest placing it on top of a small mound of pasta, because I imagine it would go quite nicely – kind of like breaking a sunny side-up egg on an English Muffin. Only, y'know, with tomatoes.

I want a hot dog. Anyone?

19 tomatoes down, 20 to go.

COOKING DAY, PART 4: Yellow Tomato Sauce

Darkness approaches. Unable – or unwanting - to comprehend the produce massacre it sees before itself, the sun sets over the West, to return anon. El mundo llora. Brooklyn settles, as a lone, perspiring woman drives her scimitar through another juicy, yellow victim. Also, blood.

-from Cormac McCarthy’s upcoming novel
The Vegetable Butcher
(in bookstores, 2025)

Woof. It’s been a long day already, and there are still more than half the tomatoes to go. On one hand, this is great exercise for the callous on my chopping hand. On the other hand … Mommy?

So far, though, the day is wielding excellent results, food-wise. A reader named Sarah posted her own recipe for Yellow Tomato Sauce in the comment section, and it turned out very, very well. Here’s a picture for posterity:

Five tomatoes, 1-1/2 carrots, and a big ol’ onion made about three cups of sauce, which the Husband-Elect and I will be using up very quickly, methinks. Excellent.

Currently, I’m about halfway through Yellow Tomato Soup, and am gearing up for Stuffed Tomatoes Provence (if I don’t eat all the olives first).

Then … gazpacho? Here’s hoping.

11 tomatoes down, 28 to go.

COOKING DAY, PART 3: Tomatillo and Yellow Tomato Salsa

Okay, we’re in business. Ingredients have been bought, tomatoes are roasting for Sarah’s sauce (recipe in the comment section), and I’m about to embark on Yellow Tomato Soup, as suggested by Mike.

But first, a glance at Tomatillo and Yellow Tomato Salsa from Epicurious, which originally appeared in Gourmet in 1994:

Pretty, no? Though it still has to sit for awhile, I liked this right out of the gate. It’s very mild (but can be less so if you add more jalapeno), and the tomatillos are a nice twist. Also, the recipe makes enough to fit into the trunk of a Buick. The Husband-Elect can eat a lot of salsa, but this is gonna last awhile.

Next up: Sarah’s sauce.

Tomato count: 6 down, 33 to go.

(Um … uh-oh.)

COOKING DAY, PART 2: Yellow Tomato Salad with Roasted Red Pepper, Feta, and Mint

Ladies and gentlemen, our first dish of the day is a success. I just ate Yellow Tomato Salad with Roasted Red Pepper, Feta and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen for lunch, and am way impressed. It came together in less than ten minutes, used stuff I had on hand, was a neat twist on Caprese Salad, and never got boring, even though it was essentially a big ol' bowl of tomatoes. Here's a picture:

Unh. Yeah. Unh.

I only made two slight changes, which were subbing in jarred red peppers for newly-roasted ones, and reducing the olive oil by a teaspoon.

(Full recipes and breakdowns coming Friday and Monday, both on CHG and Serious Eats.)


Anyway, keep those suggestions coming! Based on your ideas, I definitely have to roast some tomatoes. DEO, I'm gonna stuff a few for dinner, and Mike, I think I'm going for the soup.

Okay. 2 down, 37 yellow tomatoes to go. Time to hit the supermarket.

COOKING DAY: 39 Yellow Tomatoes, 11 Hours, No Mercy

Every couple of months, Crystal over at Money Saving Mom does a Baking Day, during which she preps mounds of waffles, muffins, breads, and whatnot. The food is largely healthy and always inexpensive, and the quantities produced are enough to last her family well into 2025 (a.k.a. “Considering Their Farm Team, the Next Time the Mets Have Any Shot at the Pennant Whatsoever”).

When I was among the employed, pulling off this kind of awesome would have been impossible, due to time constraints. However, I’m between gigs these days (oh, freelancing), and seem to have a few minutes on my hands. Coincidentally, I also have 39 yellow tomatoes, delivered last night by Rachel. (It was only HALF of her CSA haul, if you can believe it.) Since the Husband-Elect and I are going away this weekend, these guys have to be cooked and frozen a.s.a.p.

So, for the next 10 or 11 hours, I’ll be making a gaggle of yellow tomato-based dishes, with semi-real-time updates. There’ll be pictures! And, um, updates! And – did I already mention the updates? Anyway, FEEL THE EXCITEMENT.

Problem is, I’ve never made anything with a yellow tomato in my life. Ever. I’m going to have a Caprese Salad for lunch and take a shot at Suzanne Goin’s Yellow Tomato Gazpacho this afternoon, but beyond that, I’m clueless. And this means only one thing …


If you’ve ever handled a yellow tomato in your life, I want to know how. What did you pair with it? How did you cook it? What happened afterward? The only thing I can’t do is can or jar anything, as I don’t have the equipment or know-how. But anything else is fair game.

Okay! Here goes! First update in a few hours!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Megalinks: Lunch Lady Land Edition

Parents! You’re gonna dig the roundup today, as a ton of posts and articles focus on feeding your brood. In tribute, here are the two most adorable things the Husband-Elect and I heard at the Bronx Zoo yesterday:

1) SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY: (to his mom) I am deliciously hungry.

2) FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL: (to a statue of a lemur) Hello, friend.

And with that, the links! Early On, Parents Form Habits of Healthy Eating
The Age of the Fishstick (it was right after the Bronze Age, see) has passed parenthood by. Apparently, y’all are making fresh food from scratch nowadays. Mama likes.

Casual Kitchen: Scarred for Life by a Food Industry Job
Once upon a time, a very talented and extremely pleasant food blogger (Dan) spent a summer slinging Quarter Pounders at Burger King. Since then, he's been unable to eat anything but the fries. But don’t be afraid, gentle reader – just head on over and share your favorite I Survived a Year Working for Wendys stories with him. All will be well.

Eat Me Daily: Flags Made Out of Food in Advertising for the Sydney International Food Festival
Ooo, this is neat. I’ve never wanted to eat Greece’s national emblem so badly. A flag made of olives and feta? Yes, please.

The Epi-Log: The Mediterranean Diet Scores Again
Speaking about olives and feta, the good news about Mediterranean menus just won’t quit. Not only does Greek food keep blood pressure down, but it could help increase bone density and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Pass the kalamatas, yo.

Food Politics: What’s New in Obesity Prevention
I like this article for two reasons: A) much of it focuses on heading childhood obesity off at the pass, and B) the title sounds so casual, like it should be sitting on a magazine page next to “Don’t Fall Out of Style: Oprah’s Autumn Colors!”

Grub Street: The Grub Report - Critics and Commentators Survey the State of Our Food Union
GS interviewed Bourdain, Gael Greene, Ed Levine, and Regina Schrambling among others for this quick, fun How Do You Feel About Restaruants Right Now? piece. Take five, sip some seltzer, and learn a lot about David Chang.

The Kitchn: 10 One Dish Dinners
All this month, The Kitchn’s having a Quick Weeknight Meals contest. This lovely and useful post kicks everything off.

The Kitchn: 22 Fast, Fresh Pasta Dishes for Weeknight Suppers
Oh, and while you’re there, check this out, too. WANT.

LA Times: Making Healthful Eating Fun for Kids
LAT takes the Boston article one step further, with neato suggestions about getting the little ones involved in their own meals. An elementary-aged Iron Chef competition is my absolute favorite idea, ever. In life. I mean it.

LA Times: Sweet stuffed - We eat lots (and lots of kinds) of sweeteners. What's in them?
In which many things ending in “ose” are chronicled. Also, agave nectar.

Money Saving Mom: Q&A - Feeding Babies Nutritiously and Inexpensively
This should have another part to its title: “…and Without Ever Buying a Jar of Baby Food.” I’m kind of amazed, but everything Crystal suggests makes sense.

Mr. Free Stuff: 101 Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Whoa. Tremendous. And sad for us grown-ups. Remember when we got all that free food? I don't either. (Also: I walked uphill both ways in the snow to school.)

The Nation: The Food Issue
Man, this almost puts Mother Jones to shame. Along with the usual suspects (Pollan, Waters, etc.), there are dozens of columns, blurbs, and pieces about all aspects of our food system. I advise against taking a copy into the bathroom, because you may never leave.

Serious Eats: Serious Green – Freeze it Now, Eat it Later
This simple guide to freezing produce should be very useful tomorrow. See, Rachel just brought 30 yellow tomatoes by for us to keep. And one can only have so much Caprese Salad. Now … I research.

Serious Eats: Serious Green - Upgrading School Lunch
Every single cultural issue with school lunches, summed up in one glorious manifesto. If you want your kids to live a Cheez Whiz-free life (and you should - that stuff's gross), there’s no better place to start.

Time Magazine: The Social Side of Obesity - You Are Who You Eat With
Heavy kids eat more when they hang out with heavy kids. Adults are more likely to become heavy if they hang out with other heavy people. Why? Well, when you’re heavier, socializing revolves more than usual around food. Plus, you’re more relaxed eating in front of someone who’s already a bit heavy. Heavy stuff.

Wall Street Journal: Restaurants Look Beyond Chicken Fingers
Forget school cafeterias – for some real grub, take your kids out to eat. Restaurants are stepping up their children's menus, and Junior may dig arugula more than you think.

Washington Post: Too Many Cooks? No Such Thing. Online Clubs Share Rises and Falls In Photos and Posts.
A rising number of folks are learning to cook and bake online, with help from people from all over the country. If you’re too shy to get into a classroom, this could be the perfect way to partake in some secret culinary magic. Whee!

(Photos courtesy of Creative Loafing, Walking Spree, and The Bobcast.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Maple Morning Polenta, Chili Corn Pone Pie, and a Review of Mary Ostyn’s Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

(Sorry for the late post, folks. Um ... I kinda bought my wedding dress today. Squee!)

Mary Ostyn has ten children, and has managed to shelter, educate, and feed them all on her husband’s $56,000 salary. She blogs regularly about her experiences at Owlhaven, and on September 1st, she released her second book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week. Last week, I got my hands on a (full disclosure:) free copy. I read it and tried two recipes, wondering all the while if a cookbook intended for large families could also help a pair of veggie-lovin’ Brooklynites.

And ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Family Feasts keeps food healthy, inexpensive, and real without resorting to semi-homemade-esque measures. I’m more than happy to recommend it here, and to sound off on the top ten things I liked about the book:

1) This quote from page 8: “At its heart, frugality isn’t about deprivation. It’s about taking control of your resources. It’s about making the most of what you have.” Bingo.

2) Mary speaks often from personal experience. As she has ten kids and I have difficulty keeping my ficus alive, this is helpful.

3) No coupons necessary. (Thank Gilbert Gottfried.) These are real-life foods with real-life prices, purchased strategically.

4) There’s a sweet tip about checking dollar stores when you’re food shopping on vacation. I just got back from North Carolina, where our rental was ACROSS THE STREET from said store, yet I never even thought to do this. Duh.

5) Of the book’s 300 pages, about 75 are full of tips, and 200 include a diverse cross-section of recipes with tips interspersed. It never seems to run out of information.

6) There are no processed foods, lots of whole ingredients, and absolutely zero Cream of Whatever soups. Which is great, because I freaking hate those things. They feel like cheating, look like freshly poured concrete, and taste like death. (Um … but that’s just my opinion.)

7. There are quite a few Korean and Ethiopian dishes, because Mary adopted children from both countries. As a fan of kimchi and injera bread (which ... seriously, you gotta try it), I appreciate this.

8. This tip: “The rule in the canned food aisle, in general, is, if the item is an ingredient for cooking, we buy it, but if it’s something ready-made in a can we probably do not buy it.” YES. WHAT SHE SAID.

9. For each meal, she preps only 1 to 1-1/2 small servings of meat per person, but makes extra side dishes and veggies. This keeps meals healthy and costs down - a great tactic in general.

10. Chili Corn Pone Pie and Maple Morning Polenta.

Okay, that last one’s actually two things, but they’re the recipes I tried. Both were aces. The Polenta was unorthodox yet tasty, while the Pie was a big hunk of hearty Man Food that can easily be scaled down for caloric needs. (Which I did down below.)

Both recipes are listed here, with minor changes made to fit the parameters of this blog (1% milk, ground turkey, etc.). There are little notes before every alteration, so you know what’s been switched around. Also, please note that I use regular Brooklyn prices, so your totals may vary.

In conclusion, if you get the chance, check out Family Feasts. It’s as handy for two clueless New Yorkers as any family of 47.

See you Tuesday, folks. Happy long weekend.

Mary Ostyn’s Maple Morning Polenta
Makes 6 servings

3 cups cold water
1-1/2 cups 1% milk
2 cups cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup pancake syrup, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

NOTE from Kris: This is an easily scalable recipe. If you’re making it for one or two, however, the cooking time will be A LOT faster. Also, I used 1% milk (which worked well), but Mary’s original recipe calls for regular milk. Finally, I like Aunt Jemima Butter Lite syrup. It’s 100% chemicals, but I can’t help it.

1) Combine water, milk, cornmeal, and salt in a medium-size saucepan, stirring briskly to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches a boil, about 10 minutes.

2) Reduce heat to low. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.

3) Remove from heat. Stir in pancake syrup and butter; ladle into bowls. Top with additional syrup and sprinkle with raisins just before serving.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
296 calories, 5.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $0.50

3 cups cold water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, FREE
1-1/2 cups 1% milk: 158 calories, 3.7 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.32
2 cups cornmeal: 1010 calories, 4.7 g fat, 20.4 g fiber, $0.90
½ teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, $0.01
½ cup pancake syrup, plus more for serving (I use Aunt Jemima Butter Lite): 200 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g fiber, $0.67
2 tablespoons butter: 204 calories, 23 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.12
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries: 206 calories, 0.8 g fat, 5.6 g fiber, $0.96
TOTAL: 1778 calories, 32.2 g fat, 28 g fiber, $2.98
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 296 calories, 5.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $0.50


Mary Ostyn’s Chili Corn Pone Pie
Makes 6 servings

1 pound ground turkey breast (beef or regular ground turkey is fine, too - Kris)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can kidney or small pink beans, drained
½ cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (about 12 ounces of your favorite brand)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup 1% milk
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup 2% shredded cheddar

NOTE from Kris: I used turkey breast, but ground beef is what Mary cooked with originally. Also, if the dough topping is feeling a little thin, feel free to add a bit more flour. Finally, I used 1% milk and lighter cheddar (for that whole “health” thing), but Mary’s original recipe calls for regular versions of both.

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces with the side of a spoon. Remove turkey from skillet, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and onion to skillet. (Note: if using beef, do not add extra oil - Kris) Cook onion until it begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining filling ingredients; stir well to combine. Simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes.

3) In a medium-sized bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add beaten egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture; mix well to form a soft dough.

4) Spread meat mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Drop tablespoons of the corn bread mixture all over the top of the pie, distributing it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle cheese across the top. Bake 45 minutes, or until cheese is flecked with brown and filling starts to bubble out the sides.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
424 calories, 10.6 g fat, 6.8 g fiber, $1.58

1 pound ground turkey breast: 502 calories, 3.2 g fat, 0 g fiber, $5.59
1 teaspoon vegetable oil: 44 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g fiber; $0.03
1 small onion, chopped: 29 calories, 0.1 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.25
1 (14.5-ounce) can kidney or small pink beans, drained: 367 calories, 2.7 g fat, 19.3 g fiber, $0.80
½ cup frozen or fresh corn kernels: 66 calories, 0.9 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.20
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (I used Ragu Red Pepper & Onion): 292 calories, 8 g fat, 5.3 g fiber, $0.80
1 tablespoon chili powder: 24 calories, 1.3 g fat, 2.6 g fiber: $0.04
1 teaspoon ground cumin: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
¾ cup cornmeal: 379 calories, 1.8 g fat, 7.7 g fiber, $0.33
¾ cup all-purpose flour (plus more for dough, if necessary): 341 calories, 0.9 g fat, 2.5 g fiber, $0.07
½ teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.04
½ teaspoon baking soda: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
1 large egg, beaten: 74 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.33
¾ cup 1% milk: 74 calories, 1.8 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.16
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 185 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.14
½ cup 2% shredded cheddar: 162 calories, 12.1 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.62
TOTAL; 2543 calories, 63.8 g fat, 40.5 g fiber, $9.46
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 424 calories, 10.6 g fat, 6.8 g fiber, $1.58

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Veggie Might: Golden Delight Egg Salad

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

Moms and dads of the world, I salute you. This past week, I played host, tour guide, and shepherd to my 12-year-old nephew, L (not to be confused with his brothers, 10-year-old L and 7-year-old L). After six days of museums, baseball games, comic book stores, and nonstop kid chatter (Aunt Leigh…Aunt Leigh…Aunt Leigh…), I am slain.

But we had a great time. It was L’s first trip to New York City since he was 2 or 3, so we had much to do. Between trips to Chinatown and the Museum of Natural History, we even managed to squeeze in a few home-cooked meals.

My initial concern—vegetarian guardian, omnivarian charge—was never an issue. He accepted all my at-home meal suggestions, and he ate meat when we ate out.

L’s pretty handy in the kitchen too. For dinner one night, we made pasta with tomato sauce and garlic bread. While I made the sauce, L doctored the bread himself, melting the butter in the microwave, mixing in the garlic powder, and basting the bread with garlic: his method, not mine.

We had a drizzly picnic in Central Park on Saturday, with good pals T, J, and our own dear Kris. I decided to take veggie wraps based on this recipe from Healthy. Happy. Life. I found via The Kitchn, using hummus instead of vegan cream cheese. L happily helped cut veggies, but wasn’t crazy about the hummus. “It tastes off,” was his complaint. But he scarfed down samosas that Miss T brought from Jackson Heights, and later some baba ganoush I made. I was so proud of his expanding tastes.

That evening L asked if we could make egg salad to take to the baseball game the next day. His mom mentioned egg salad was one of his favorites. We had two flour tortillas left from our veggie wrap assembly line, and there were four eggs in my fridge. Perfect.

Once our hardboiled eggs were cool, I asked L to grab the rest of the ingredients while I chopped. He easily found the mustard and mayo, but couldn’t find the pickle relish—because I didn’t have any.

“You could chop up a pickle,” he suggested. No pickles either.

“Why don’t we use a shallot and some parsley,” I suggested.

L was skeptical. He didn’t know what a shallot was, and, to him, parsley was just for garnish.

“Trust me,” I reassured him.

All mixed together, L gave the pepper mill a few final twists and we had egg salad. Then the moment of truth: would he eat it?

“Aunt Leigh, this egg salad is awesome!”

I smiled, bursting inside at my victory.

The next morning, we wrapped up our egg salad in flour tortillas and snuck them into Yankee Stadium. (Turns out, sneaking is unnecessary. The guy in line behind us had what looked to be a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four.)

For the rest of the trip, L told everyone about the egg salad. “…And there was no pickle relish, so we (suddenly it was our decision) put in shallots and parsley and it was awesome.” Then came the moment of deepest pride; he asked if we could name it.

“Aunt Leigh, our egg salad is so good we should name it and you should write about it.” I got a little teary.

Here were some of the rejected (by L) names:
Double L Egg Salad
Homerun Egg Salad
Hell’s Kitchen Egg Salad
City Girl/Country Boy Egg Salad

And the winner:
Golden Delight

“Golden Delight sounds like a Chinese restaurant dish,” I said.

“But Aunt Leigh, it’s yellow—golden, and it’s delightful,” L defended.

I couldn’t argue with that logic. Plus, he said visiting Chinatown was the best his part of his trip whenever anyone asked, so it seemed doubly apropos.

Golden Delight Egg Salad will go down in history as the best egg salad ever made by a 12-year-old kid and his auntie for sneaking into a baseball game. The recipe below was slightly modified to keep it within the H parameters of the CHG guidelines. I had this version for lunch today, and it’s just as golden and delightful.

Now I need a nap.

Golden Delight Egg Salad
serves 4 (approx. 2 tbsp/sandwich)

2 whole eggs (hard boiled)
2 egg whites (hard boiled, yolks removed)
1 shallot clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp mustard
1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

1) Place 4 eggs in pot of water. Water should be enough to cover eggs Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil rapidly for 15 minutes.

2) Cool eggs in an ice bath for 15 minutes.

3) Finely dice shallot and chop parsley.

4) Chop eggs into desired sized pieces.

5) Combine all ingredients into medium mixing bowl and stir until creamy.

6) Serve on whole grain toast with spinach and tomato, or in a whole wheat tortilla. Blow the minds of your young relatives.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price per Serving
86.5 calories, 6.75g fat, $.34

2 whole eggs: 140 calories, 9g fat, $.50
2 egg whites: 32 calories, 0g fat, $.50
1 shallot clove: 15 calories, 0g fat, $.10
2 tbsp fresh parsley: negligible calories and fat, $.04
1 tbsp mustard: 9 calories, 0g fat, $.02
1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise: 150 calories, 18g fat, $.16
salt to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
fresh ground pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 346 calories, 27g fat, $1.36
Per serving (totals/4): 86.5 calories, 6.75g fat, $.34

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reader Replies: “Healthy” Defined! (As Best We Can)

Last week, we discussed defining the word “healthy” in relation to food, and decided it meant … oh, wait. We didn’t decide anything. As it turns out, a universally acceptable explanation of “healthy” is really hard to pin down.

But never fear, because it’s CHG readers to the rescue. Quite a few of you guys chimed in with your ideas on “healthy,” and there were a ton of solid points not mentioned in my post. Even better, we might have stumbled over a working definition. (It’s at the end.)

But first, in seven easy-to-follow categories, in near-original form, here are your thoughts.

(Note: there were some minor edits made for length, but otherwise, reader comments were left largely untouched.)


Anonymous: Healthy = moderation. In all things. Including moderation.

Wosnes: Someone else said it: moderation in all things, including moderation. There are definitely times to be immoderate. Not every day, but some days.

Wheatlessfool: It all comes down to balance and payoff for me … sometimes, that fudgy brownie IS healthy. Just not every day, and not replacing the foods I DO need to keep me feeling my best.

jenniferocious!: There has to be balance in life and while I strive to eat a majority of my meals from recipes and foods I would qualify as healthy, I also know its okay to indulge in a bowl of mac'n'cheese or having a frou frou coffee drinks once in awhile.

Debbie: I love my mama’s homemade mac & cheese, fried pork chops and green bean casserole. … If I ate it every day, I’d die in approximately 4.2 months, because … it’s high in fat, calories. BUT. If I only eat it once or twice a year – say, for my birthday – then it’s not bad at all. It’s an indulgence.

"Healthy" is LONGTERM

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl: It's important to look at the overall diet instead of trying to make sure every. single. thing. you eat is bursting with nutrition. I eat a lot of whole grains, fresh produce, and fresh dairy, and so I don't think a little dessert every day is going to kill me.

Joy Manning: When we are assessing the relative health of our diets, we should look at a whole week or month or year of meals and consider the variety of nutrition it provides, but also the pleasure. Getting pleasure from meals is, by my definition, part of a healthy diet. Whole ingredients + time and effort cooking + a wide variety of delicious real food = healthy over time.


Rebecca: By [the] strict definition, things like macaroni and cheese may not be "healthy", but they do qualify as "healthier" than typical versions of the same dish. And besides, who wants to be perfectly virtuous all the time?

Allison: I'm always interested in making unhealthy dishes healthy or even a little healthier. For example, I substitute pureed potato for cream and butter in any "cream of" soup, swap applesauce, mashed bananas, and avocados for milk and butter in baked goods, etc. Recently, I experimented with baked green tomatoes - still not exactly "health food," but at least a healthier version of a caloric - but oh-so-yummy! - treat.


Relishments: For me, healthy food is food that's has a low or reasonable amount of sugars and fats. It's not overly processed-ideally it's something I made, not something that came out of a box.

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl: I generally think that healthy food is food that's fairly unprocessed (real yogurt vs. watermelon Gogurt, homemade granola vs. Cocoa Puffs, fresh green beans vs. the canned sort, etc).

Daniel: I use a really simple shorthand to define healthy. If it's a first-order food with little processing, it's healthy enough. If it's a second-order food, meaning a food that's packaged and processed, it's unlikely to be healthy.

April: I think fake food is a much bigger health issue than fat. Skim milk may be lower in fat than whole milk, but it is a fake food--it certainly doesn't come out of the cow that way! … One could argue that God (or evolution, if that's what you believe in) knew what He/it was doing, and doesn't need to really be improved on.

Healthy is ACTUAL FOOD

Regina Terrae: For me, healthy food is produce-focused, like you said; fresh and seasonal and varied; uses naturally-raised meat as a condiment or at least in smallish portions; simple, unprocessed, whole.

Libby: For me, healthy means that the meal contains whole grains, beans and/or nuts, lots of veggies, and no meat or dairy. its also important to me that the meal is high in fiber and has little to no saturated fat (poly and mono are fine).

Allison: I have my own definition of healthy largely based on my own health goals: lots of healthy fats, calcium, garlic, leafy greens, berries, and protein - for … maintaining good heart, skin, bone, and muscle condition.

Wosnes: My own mantra is "mostly homemade." I aim for the opposite of Sandra Lee: 70% (or more) fresh food and 30% (or less) ready made products. I think I'm at about 85/15, including condiments.

Becca: Healthy to me is whole foods or just one step away (for example, I use frozen veggies when fresh aren't in season). … That being said, I am currently providing child care for a two year old and my 6 month old, so sometimes mac and cheese from the box keeps me sane.

"Healthy" is RELATIVE

Ross: Whether a person is overweight or underweight has food allergies or medical, religious, or ethical issues the definition is vastly different. … When I was a kid in my early 20's, eating healthily meant eating a piece of fruit or a salad once a month. Now it means watching how many calories I'm taking in a day, limiting my fat intake and the like. So, even as a person progresses through life their perceptions of eating healthy change.

"Healthy" is HOLISTIC

Marcia: Healthy isn't just the contents of an individual dish. It's also the content of your diet and lifestyle.

Regina Terrae: For me, healthy diet cannot be looked at in isolation from healthy lifestyle, i.e. getting the body moving every day.

Laura: “Healthy" is so much more than what you put in your mouth. It's a whole mental/emotional state. I try to eat things that are good for me. I also eat things that are happy for me. I find I'm much healthier and happier overall that way.

AmandaLP: "Healthy" is something that nourishes my mind and my body. I don’t care if what I am eating has tons of fiber and no sugar and lots of protein, if I hate eating it, then it is not healthy for me.

So, to sum, “healthy” (in relation to food) involves: a holistic, relative approach to eating implemented over the long term that emphasizes balance and moderation, smart substitutes, and unprocessed edibles/actual food.

I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds good to me. Huge thanks to everyone who wrote in. Y'all are pretty good at this.

(Photos courtesy of Daily Mobile, Taylorshock's Weblog, and How Stuff Works.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Megalinks

Lots of lists and how-tos in this week's links, including Eat Me Daily’s fall cookbook preview, The Kitchn’s guide to $20 group dinners, and a triumvirate of healthy goodness from Chow. Take it away, internets…

5 Second Rule: Advocate
Interview with Dr. Susan Rubin, founder of Bettter School Food, which is at the forefront of the Make School Lunches Less Sucky for Kids movement. Informational. Inspiring. Anti-Monsanto. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.)

Boing Boing: How Many Minutes Do People in Your City Have to Work for a Big Mac?
Chicago: about 12.
Nairobi: nearly 160.
Um … this is one of those times I’m happy I live where I do.

Casual Kitchen: The Food Spending Poll - Results and Conclusions
Dan ran an informal poll by his readers, and found that we spend 5 percentage points more on food than the U.S. average. We’re #1! We’re #1! (Um, but seriously – check out the stat breakdown. Eyebrow-raising stuff that could be attributed to us foodblog readers’ natural interest in cooking.)

Chow: 10 Beginner Cookbooks
Expected: Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, How to Boil Water.
Unexpected: Cooking with Jamie, Starting with Ingredients, The Joy of Mixology. Mmm … ologies.

Chow: Know Your Peppers – Chow’s Visual Guide to Chile Peppers
If you don’t know your Basque Fryers from your Hot Banana peppers, this excellent pictorial is the place to start. Don’t forget to check page 2, because MY GOD, confusing a Habanero with a Pimiento de Padron would be very, very, very bad. (Like, worse than accidentally calling your dad “old dude.” And trust me, that’s bad.)

Chow: Whole Grains 101
From A (amaranth) to W (wheat berries), this guide to common grains could be even handier than that pepper thing I just posted. P.S. Has anyone out there tried Kamut? I’ve never even heard of it before. It sound like a Dungeons & Dragons warlord.

Eat Me Daily: Fall Cookbook Preview
Of special note: Pioneer Woman’s inaugural tome (yay!), Alton Brown’s first book about Good Eats (double yay!), and Michael Psilakis’ book on updated Greek classics. If any of his recipes came from Kefi (one of his NYC restaurants), it’s gonna be good.

Eat Me Daily: NYC Subway Ads: Human Fat Pouring Out of Bottles
These ads depicting fat poured from high-sugar drinks (Snapple, Gatorade, etc.) are much like the subway itself: gross, but effective.

Gizmodo: Alton Brown’s Safe and Scary Kitchen Hacks
Alton likes to have liquid nitrogen around. Y’know, for kicks.

Jezebel: Why is Normal Eating So Hard to Define?
The Jezzies analyze a recent New York Times blog post, which defines “normal eating” in one of the best ways I’ve ever read: “Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it-not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.” More on this tomorrow…

The Kitchn: 10 Ways to Feed 10 People for Less Than $20
As Labor Day Weekend creeps up on us, we’re likely A) running out of money, and B) entertaining a large group of people angry over going back to school/ending their vacation/running out of health insurance. The Kitchn has the remedy, with fantastic suggestions for substantive party meals.

The Kitchn: How to Properly Season a Dish
Do you over-salt? Have you under-peppered? The Kitchn feels your pain, and tries to ameliorate the situation with this informative post.

Mrs. Micah: Couponing for Charity
Do you have a lot of coupons, but not a lot of use for them? Kate’s collecting them for charity. It’s a great way to contribute without breaking the bank.

New York Times: Exploring Peanut Butter’s Potential
PB (peanut butter, not Pam Beasley) finally gets some respect as a high-class ingredient. If you click, don’t forget the link to Bittman’s blog – the comments are full of solid recipe ideas.

Newsweek: America’s War on the Overweight
Complex, interesting article about changing national sentiment regarding the obese. Is the anger ingrained in our culture? Is it self-loathing? Is it anger over health care bills? Read and ponder.

Simple Dollar: Handling an Overwhelming Harvest Without the Waste
Whether you have bushels of zucchini or a metric ton of tomatoes, Trent has ideas about how to get rid of it without anything going to waste. Gardeners! Read this!

Slashfood: What Can I Get You Folks? Server Errors That Servers Hate AND When Should Your Server Say No?
Thought provoking, somewhat controversial recurring Slashfood column on the everyday debates over waiter service. These are Hanna’s two most recent entries, along with the obligatory outraged commentary. Good stuff.

Slate: Don't Buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (You will never cook from it.)
Julia’s seminal tome just hit #1 for the first time, ever, but Regina Schrambling cautions you against buying it. And … um … I agree. (*avoids lightning from on high*) I owned Mastering for YEARS, and only cracked it to browse. Everything looked so complicated (at the time) and the recipes used SO MUCH BUTTER … I couldn’t do it. Le sigh.

(Photos courtesy of What You Really Get, Marlboro University, and Scientific American.)

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