Monthly Archives: January 2012

Food Therapy from Pickles & Honey

Photo: Cam Vilay/Flickr

This past year I finally conquered my greatest childhood vegetable fear. I learned to stop worrying and eat my brussels sprouts.

However, even while I’ll eat them when they’re made for me and order them off a restaurant menu (heck, I’ll even seek them out), I’m still fairly limited in what I do with them in the kitchen.

This recipe for Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Pickles & Honey has piqued my interest big time. Roasting sprouts is nothing unusual, of course. But peeling them and roasting the leaves in a single layer sounds pretty special. As Pickles & Honey commenters have noted, these are akin to kale chips, but with caramelization, which sounds like a very good thing indeed.

Food Therapy From La Tartine Gourmande

At Pszczyna Bison Park

Photo: futureshape/Flickr

I have never eaten bison, but I want to. Not because bison meat is apparently very good for you — though that’s a plus! It’s because I want to pretend I’m Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I doubt they ate this Vietnamese Bison Salad in The Little House on the Prairie, but it seems as good a starting point as any for showcasing bison’s beef-like meat.

Coming to us from La Tartine Gourmand (with typically stunning photos plus, in this instance, tales from her visit to the Great Plains), this “salad” is hearty enough for January, but also brings fresh, light colors to your plate — so rare and so welcome in this time of casseroles, stews and pot roasts.


A Year-Round, Indoor Farmers Market On Track For Opening This Fall

Photo: Green Massachusetts/Flickr

Environmentalists, foodies and locavores, rejoice! 2012 will be the year that Boston’s long-anticipated, year-round farmers market opens downtown.

“We understand that the public is looking for a place to find and buy local products,” said Agricultural Commissioner Scott Soares. Starting this fall, the public market will provide just that.

No contractors or vendors have yet signed on, Soares said, but public meetings about the project are ongoing (the minutes and documents from those meetings are available online).

The market will be different from other farmers markets in the city, Soares said. For one, the store, at 136 Blackstone Street, will be open up to seven days a week. What’s more, all the products sold there will be local — something of a challenge for Massachusetts, which doesn’t have the diverse growing season of warmer climates (i.e., unless you’re surviving on root vegetables and kale this winter, you’re probably not eating food grown entirely in-state). Continue reading

Food Therapy from The Pioneer Woman Cooks



Kale, such a tough and bland vegetable raw, takes on magical properties when its fibers are broken down the right way — perhaps through a massaged kale salad (much better, I promise, than it sounds), through kale chips, or in rustic soups. The flavor becomes deep and addictive, almost meaty. Not bad, for something so healthy.

Let’s set health aside for one moment, though, because kale’s dirty little secret is that it’s best eaten alongside red meat and cheese. Exhibit A: this sausage-kale breakfast strata, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman Cooks. I have not personally tried this recipe, but take a look at the ingredients — there’s no way that this one isn’t a keeper.

Thursday Tidbits: Be Healthy

Photo: Br3nda/Flickr


Be Healthy, Boston
The mission behind this two-day affair beginning Sat., Jan. 28, at the Westin Boston Waterfront couldn’t be more clear. “Be Healthy Boston” will feature mini spa sessions, mental health and wellness consults, fitness classes, cooking demonstrations (ta-da!) and cookbook signings. Ana Sortun, Jody Adams and Sally Sampson are on the roster. Join the fun, commit to getting healthy.

The Year of the Dragon
In honor of the Chinese New Year, Foumami Asian Sandwich Bar has created menu specials through Feb. 6 which carry important cultural symbolism: a spicy pork sandwich (pork represents strength, wealth and abundant blessing) and longan melon soda (melon portends good health and family unity). Foumami is also offering red envelope giveaways – another tradition related to the New Year – with prizes/discounts. Head to the Financial District to sample and celebrate.

The Super Hunger Brunch: Jan. 28-29 at numerous restaurants in and around Boston.
The Farm Bill Teach-In
: Jan. 29 at the Museum of Science, 3-6pm; SOLD OUT, but you should be able to tap into the live webcast.
Dining Out to Conquer Diabetes: Jan. 29 at six participating restaurants in the North End. Continue reading

Food Therapy from LimeyG

Photo: Rob Watling/Flickr

I have to come right out and say that animal innards are not my thing. At all.

But I definitely respect folks who enjoy them, and I appreciate the care with which such ingredients need to be handled and the delicacies that ensue. I just like to keep it all a plate or two away from my own.

But today marks the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns (d. 1796), and celebrations abound this week in his honor, both here and abroad. In honor of all our readers who will partake in Burns Night tonight, and in deference to my own Scottish friends (one of whom is a fantastic cook, and had me positively levitating over my first Scotch Egg), it’s only right to dedicate today’s Food Therapy to a haggis-related blog post.

Local blogger LimeyG has turned out a witty, poetry-imbued piece called “Burns Night: Haggis is a good thing!” It’s probably one of the most pragmatic, forthright and upbeat posts you’ll find on lamb innards and this traditional Scottish fare. She goes straight to the heart of the matter (sorry) with this admonishment:

Don’t even start with the “ewww” stuff. Haggis is not gross, or slimy, or disgusting…on a cold January night, it’s good, satisfying, stick-to-the-ribs food.

And she cheerfully plates the haggis with “neeps and tatties” (mashed potato and yellow turnip) practically chirping: “Is this not the best dish ever?”

So, why pragmatic? Because LimeyG used canned, not home-made, haggis for her Burns Night meal. The reason: “…the only alternative was a 4lb ‘presentation’ haggis, which we’d be eating until next Hogmanay.”

Well, alright then.


Context is Everything: The ‘Where’ of Family Dinners

Photo: ecooper99/Flickr

Anne Fishel is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Harvard Medical School and Director of Family and Couples Therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital. Most recently, she helped launch The Family Dinner Project, a collaborative, team-led organization committed to helping families and communities make mealtime more meaningful, and therefore more healthful on many levels.

Talking about family dinners is a focus of Anne’s work with the families she treats in her private practice and with the psychiatry residents she trains to work with families. Below, she discusses the physical space and settings of family dinners, and the collective impact on social dynamics and conversation.

What happens in your family?

Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D.
The Family Dinner Project 

As a family therapist I am interested in context—why is a child seen as bossy at home but not at school? What allows a couple to have a lively conversation in a restaurant on Saturday night, but not in their own kitchen?

In my work with The Family Dinner Project, I encourage families to have more dinners with one another, and part of my strategy is to look for the elements of dinner that are playful and easy to change. Context is a prime one. If you change the seating or set the table with care, maybe even with flowers and candles, a new mood is created, and a new conversation may develop. This is also why, as a family therapist, I encourage my clients to sit in different seats in my office: perspectives can change when you see the world from a different vantage point.

At home, my young adult sons would much rather crowd around our too-small kitchen table for dinner than let their 6-foot-plus frames sprawl and spill around our more spacious dining room table. It’s not just the smaller size that feels cozier, but eating in the kitchen feels homier than eating in the dining room, which is where guests eat, not sons reclaiming their places at the regular family table. What’s more, my sons always tuck into their customary seats around the table — no matter how long they’ve been away.

When I talk to other families, most tell me the same thing: each family member sits in the same chair night after night. No one can quite remember how these decisions were made. But, in most families, it is considered a subversive act to claim a seat that isn’t yours. In my husband’s family, the girls sat on one side of the table, nearer the stove, so that they could spring up to get more food, while the boys sat on the far side. As with most rectangular tables, the parents sat at either end, connoting higher status as heads of the table.

But sitting on chairs around a table isn’t a universal custom. Continue reading

Food Therapy from How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Swiss Chard

Photo: kennymatic/Flickr

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year, a particularly auspicious one. It’s the Year of the Dragon, the creature redolent of power and success for the Chinese, which augers well for just about any life undertaking.

I have really enjoyed reading about the tradition-filled intersection of food and ritual in Chinese culture so prominently on display during New Year celebrations. For example, a great post came out today from Anna Mindess of Bay Area Bites that explains which foods are symbolically significant to the Chinese, and why families prepare and eat certain foods, such as fish, in a certain way, in a ritualistic order.

I myself am a novice at Chinese cooking. So I immediately latched on to the Vegetarian Egg Rolls Nita-Nee baked up on “How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Swiss Chard.” My daughter came home last week with artwork related to the New Year and bubbled over with tidbits of information she learned in school about Chinese culture and the all-important New Year’s holiday. We had gotten a ‘taste’ of the Dragon at Boston’s First Night Parade, but now I feel I have a food to offer to extend her experience.

I like that these egg rolls are vegetable filled, light because they’re baked, and purportedly “a cinch to make.” It means they meet all of my criteria for a mid-week meal: healthy, fast, tasty. And they look fun to make — fun for me, fun for my kids. I recognize this is a beginner’s stance to a sophisticated cuisine. But, the way I figure it, what better way to introduce them to the cuisine that’s connected to the Year of the Dragon and complement classroom learning with a food experience. It’s a start. Hopefully, an auspicious one!

A very Happy New Year to all our readers celebrating or honoring the Year of the Dragon. Remember that Boston’s Chinese New Year Parade takes place this coming Sunday, January 29th.


Getting Smart About The Farm Bill

Photo: PinkMoose/Flickr

If you keep up on “foodie” events around Boston, the Farm Bill Teach-In slated for this Sunday will not come as news to you.

However, we at PRK wanted to learn more, and we figured you did, too. So we reached out to organizer Louisa Kasdon of Let’s Talk About Food to get a better handle on the ‘what for’ of the event. Meaning, why this topic and why now? Why a Teach-In? What can the public expect to gain by participating and learn in the meantime?

Here are Louisa’s important answers to these questions.

Why did you organize an event centered on this topic, of all the pressing food-related topics ripe for public discussion in this moment?

Here’s the news peg for The Farm Bill: the Farm Bill impacts the price, quality and marketing of almost all the food we eat or produce in America. And it only comes up for re-authorization every five years. So the 2012 Farm Bill will carry us all the way to 2017.

What do you mean by a “teach-in”? Why this format for this event?

I grew up in the age of the Teach-In. They were huge, come-in-on-the-ground-floor opportunities for experts and interested non-experts to come together and get smart on an important topic – and the knowledge people carried away changed the world. We had big Teach-Ins at MIT about the Vietnam War, the environment, poverty.

The core of a Teach-In is that many people who have solid expertise are willing to share it, and there is a space for the rest of us to ask questions, work on solutions and connect with some of the people and organizations that can effect change in our community. Continue reading

Food Therapy from The Hungry Mouse

Photo: shyb/Flickr

Some recipes just pop out at you. Perfect! Whoot! Fits the bill. We think this is one of them.

Salem-based The Hungry Mouse has created a New England Harvest Turnover using tart apples, salty bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. This makes for irresistible, savory-sweet fare that is easily altered if a vegetarian option is what you seek.

The Mouse plainly acknowledges her experimentation on behalf of Pepperidge Farm, whose puff pastry she rolls and flours into ship-shape. But you certainly can knead your own if you’re feeling adventuresome and have the extra bit of time. (PRK’s Jaime Lutz once featured how to make pie dough in 1 minute! Try?)

Choose your pastry as you will, but the ingredients in these turnovers look perfectly suited, one to the next. And here’s to the “New England” theme of The Hungry Mouse’s recipe — a fitting tee-up to the weekend weather and game. Go Pats!