Monthly Archives: May 2012

PRK On The Air: Frozen Food Debuts

Ice Box (photo: dok1/Flickr)

Earlier this week Radio Boston spoke with Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History, World Without Fish and Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, about the entrepreneurial life of Clarence Birdseye, the man who revolutionized fast-freezing last century and forever changed how we eat. (On March 6, 1930 Birdseye frozen food went on sale for the first time.) Birdseye is characterized as a “man of his era” and a “foodie” at heart who constantly wrote home about what he ate. Kurlansky’s new book is Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man.

Curious? Understatement. Listen to the segment here.


Food Therapy From Erin Cooks

Photo: Sam Howzit/Flickr

I can relate a lot to the opening lines of Erin Cooks‘ most recent post. Like her, farro has been “haunting” my kitchen, too, and I haven’t spent the time lately trying to find the right recipe with which to make it.

I also have two young kids to pack lunches for each day. Monotony is a problem, especially at this point in the school year, with camp (more packed lunches) around the corner. Eep!

For Erin, the Cranberry Farro Quick Bread she crafted is a kind of two-fer. She’s honest about her doubts in using the grain, but delightfully surprised by the end results. “The loaf rose, it sliced beautifully, and smelled lovely,” she writes. Check and check: 1) whole grains used up, and 2) nutritious new breakfast food created.

For me, Erin’s farro quick bread is also a two-fer. Over the past year, I’ve taken to baking breads for my kids (banana, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.) as a nutritious replacement for the crackers they like to take for lunch. Cranberries are as constant in our house as milk. Now I can check two things off my list, too: 1) whole grains used up, and 2) nutritious new lunch food created.

Can you?

Is Beef Really What’s For Dinner? The Inequality Of Pink Slime


Photo: Images_of_Money/Flickr

Beef is as American as apple pie.

So, in essence, argues Alex Loud below. But high-quality beef is not a dinner — or a school lunch — option for many Americans due to price. This leads us to the crux of the issue behind the so-called “pink slime” controversy.

Alex Loud
Slow Food Boston

In my last post I alluded briefly to the battle over Pink Slime (or “LFTB” for Lean Finely Textured Beef, if you’re inclined to be precise). I want to say a bit more about it now. The debate over the stuff — if you can call it a debate — has in the last few months taken on that farcical you-couldn’t-make-this-crap-up quality that typifies much of our public discourse these days.

By way of a recap, the anti-Slime movement began with a call from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to label LFTB as an ingredient in foods (it’s currently considered ground beef). From this, the Pink Slime story was picked up by the blogosphere, which then gave way to the involvement of the network news shows. It’s at this point — perhaps not surprisingly — that everything went batsh*t crazy.

In less than two months we’ve seen competing websites, news stories, experts, scientists, government officials and celebrities all spouting wildly divergent views. LFTB maker AFA has filed for bankruptcy while the company that invented the stuff, Beef Products Inc., has shuttered three plants, laying off thousands of workers. The Governor of Iowa has even demanded a Congressional investigation into the slandering of the Slime (not into the safety or nutritional content of LFTB, mind you, but who’s been saying mean things about it). Continue reading

A Mother’s Clam Chowder

Photo: Elizabeth Hathaway

As all of us website-surfing, blog-reading, iPhone users know that, in this digital age, it is almost too easy to stay in touch with Mom. Since I moved to New York City six months ago, not a day has gone by when my mom and I have failed to exchange text messages, emails or a quick phone call.

But this does not starve off homesickness. I’m grateful I can call my mom when I’m standing in a crowded Trader Joes on Monday night and ask her what to buy. But then she’ll tell me she’s in the middle of taking salmon off the grill or putting a chicken in the oven, and I’ll wish I was back home at the kitchen table. People say you can find anything you’ve ever wanted or needed in New York City, but I can’t find my mom’s cooking.

So, on this beautiful sunny weekend, with summer right around the corner, I felt a pang when I checked my email and saw a picture sent from my Mom of one of our oldest family recipes: Rhode Island Clam Chowder. The newspaper article shown above, published in May of 1965 in the New Haven Register, features my Grandmother talking about her family tradition of making clam chowder based on of her own mother’s recipe.

Both of my grandparents grew up on the island of Jamestown, RI, where they had to take a ferry to school everyday. Continue reading

Thursday Tidbits: Sweet Music

Photo: ketrin1407/Flickr


Tea, Anyone?
Well, not just anyone. Your mom, perhaps, in honor of Mother’s Day? Show you’re thinking ahead: Thursday, June 7, a proper Afternoon Tea will be served on vintage china at the Commander’s Mansion, Watertown, complete with imported clotted cream and jam. Tea will be followed by a book reading/ signing with local author Katrina Avila Munichiello, author of A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time. Hats are encouraged, but not required. Guests to be welcomed by the Gilded Harps. Tickets $24/pp.

New Couple in Town
On May 15, Finale Desserts will host a Craft Beer Tasting at the Park Plaza Hotel, featuring a selection of beers paired with seasonal desserts. Bryan Green, representative from the Great Brewers Guild, will discuss the variety of beers and how they pair with each dessert created by Executive Pastry Chef Nicole Coady. Here’s one pairing, to whet your appetite: Duvel Golden Ale with Fresh Fruit Tart. Tickets: $19.99/pp. To make a reservation, call 617.623.3233.

A Watershed Moment
Whole Foods continues with “Do Something Reel,” a monthly series of provocative documentaries about food and environmental issues. “The Apple Pushers” inaugurated the series in April. This month’s film is Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, directed by Mark Decena, narrated by Robert Redford and produced by his son, James Redford. Watershed is available for viewing at the festival’s website and on Whole Foods’ Facebook page. $5.99/viewing through the end of May. Continue reading

Food Therapy From Some Kitchen Stories

Photo: GlennFleishman/Flickr

Today’s food therapy takes us further afield than the Boston region. Much further, actually, to Chicago. But a virtual journey there will be well rewarded with a bit of nostalgia and forward-thinking in honor of Mother’s Day, plus the recipe for a sumptuous-looking pound cake.

I hear you. Pound cake is perhaps the most ‘vanilla’ of desserts out there. But this version from Some Kitchen Stories nears exquisite. It’s got a surprising twist: rosemary, with fresh lemon. It’s also calls for a whole lot of eggs, and buttermilk and sugar, which makes for the “sumptuous” profile of this oh-so-not-vanilla Rosemary Buttermilk Pound Cake.

Judi, the ‘words’ person in this two-person blog, writes a beautiful intro to the recipe that has everything to do with her mom, and not at all with the cake. We’re left to ponder the impact our own moms have had on our lives, and asked to share.

The choice of a pound cake to accompany Judi’s thought piece about a mom’s love is up to each of us to decipher. But my own guess is that simple elegance, warmth and sweetness have a lot to do with tying the two together.

Food Fact, May 8: I’d Like A Coca-Cola, Please

Photo: uhltank/Flickr

On this day in…

Coca-Cola is first sold to the public at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, GA.

(© 2011 Michael V. Hynes)

The Backstory

Perhaps this fact is less surprising than it appears on the face of it, but the history of Coca-Cola, the beverage, intersects with the history of Prohibition and that of soda fountains. But this needs explaining. Continue reading

Family Dinners At The White House


Formalities aside (photo: Luigi Crespo Photography/Flickr)

Ever since the presidency of John F. Kennedy, America has gotten glimpses of life at the White House for a First Family with kids. Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr. were super young and left abruptly, as we well know. Amy Carter came with her parents to Pennsylvania Avenue a decade later, followed by Chelsea Clinton a decade after that. With the Obama daughters Malia and Sasha, we’re back again with a First Family in residence at the White House.

There’s extraordinary privilege involved for the children of our presidents, but undeniable challenges as well — not simply for them, but also for the President and First Lady as they define together what family life will be like in that very particular setting.

Below, PRK contributor Anne Fishel speaks with reporter Jodi Kantor of the NY Times about the Obamas’ commitment to a perfunctory but increasingly challenging activity for many American families — eating dinner together. Continue reading

PRK On The Air: Calls For Science And Manure

Photo: ktylerconk/Flickr

Food news at WBUR touched on some controversial issues today.

Tom Ashbrook of On Point hosted an hour-long conversation about the future of food with Josh Schonwald, a journalist, indoor aquaponic farmer in Chicago, and author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From the Future of Food.

Schonwald’s main thrust is that science shouldn’t be considered a ‘dirty’ word when applied to food production, especially if we plan on adequately feeding the 9 billion mouths (estimated) that will eventually grace our planet. We’ll need a changed palate and a changed attitude towards food — especially as it relates to genetically-modifed agriculture.

Is this alarmist? Is this necessary, even — meaning, will we need to enhance our food with nutrients in order to ensure enough nutrition for everyone? Listen to the conversation here.

Next up, Robin Young of Here & Now spoke with Gene Logsdon, long-time farmer and author of Holy **: Managing Manure to Save Mankind. As unpalatable as it may sound to some, Logsdon reminds us that the pitchfork-wielding farmer takes animal waste and turns it into the food that sustains us. That virtuous cycle — grazing animals and letting them fertilize the land for more crops — makes manure our greatest and most misunderstood natural resource. Finding ways to turn all our waste into fertilizer is crucial to our survival, Logsdon argues, and he sees a future when companies might actually pick up refuse from homes and sell it to farmers. Listen to the interview here.

Less controversial than enthralling, oyster farms in Duxbury, MA, pump out fabulous-tasting, environmentally-friendly bivalves. Radio Boston co-host Meghna Chakrabarti visits Island Creek Oysters with chef Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 in the latest installment of the show’s “Farm to Fork” series.