It’s Not Easy Being Green in Winter

Once spring and summer return (soon!), you will be able to read ES’ odes to fresh produce, farmer’s markets and the like, but right now we are still stuck in limbo. Not to knock all the delicious winter vegetables available this time of year, but I am more than ready for the days of walking onto my deck and picking some fresh lettuce for a salad. But even the 12 inches of snow we got last week in Pennsylvania couldn’t dull my appetite for a fresh simple salad, and I immediately thought of a book I have been reading by David Tanis, Chez Panisse’s well known executive co-chef.

While I seldom follow cookbooks too closely, this one is different. Not quite a diary and not quite a cookbook, this is more of a love letter to the beauty of cooking with care. Starting with stories of his personal kitchen rituals, Heart of the Artichoke has quickly turned into a very engrossing read for me.

The book is arranged by season and I had recently come across a winter meal that included a romaine hearts salad, which I thought would be a perfect fix for my leafy longing. Now this is not a book that will blow your mind with avant garde technique and gastronomic excess and neither is the recipe. It is more a distillation of fairly standard methods that let the ingredients shine through, so feel free to try any variations you can think of.

Romaine Hearts with Shaved Parmigiano and Lemon Dressing

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What Is Your Government Doing to Protect Small Farmers from Big Food?


It’s no secret that we ES-ers are all for locally sourced, minimally processed food. You may remember forkitude’s post about how big food conglomerates have an outsize say in what America eats. Clearly, we’re wringing our collective hands about such things. But apparently, not everyone agrees. I had an interesting conversation on this matter last week and received the surprising response that I was anti-business and a “borderline hippie.” I find it interesting how divergent food views have become and how efforts at improving the quality of food are often ridiculed or even worse, politicized.

Surprisingly, it appears our government may actually be listening. The US Department of Justice and the USDA recently convened a series of public workshops exploring corporate concentration and competition in food and agriculture. The five meetings, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, included discussions about the dairy, poultry and livestock industries and how corporate food is affecting small farmers and consumers.

While we do not know yet if these meetings will yield any real change, it was impressive to see how many small farm and community groups made sure they were heard. The big industry voices were not present, but that may be because they can relay their opinions through other channels (like lobbyists). Here are a few of the topics touched upon:

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All For the Chips


I don’t know why but I was craving banana. I haven’t eaten a banana in a while. Oh wait. Actually, I had banana this weekend in my friend Raj’s birthday pie for his 30-year-old girlfriend’s birthday party: a pie filled with Nutella and topped in quarter-sections with strawberries, pretzels and chocolate chunks, apples and then bananas.

I ate a sliver of banana-topped Nutella pie. And it must of still been in my head come yesterday lunch; I craved a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I wanted a gooey mess of a sandwich. I’m sorry. I just did.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any bananas in the house. I sincerely love bananas but I rarely buy them anymore fearing its massive carbon footprint. So I did what I always do: make do.

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Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week

farm fresh

– Sysco may claim that midwesterners don’t care about organic food, but Liza’s Sis begs to differ:

I live in Oklahoma, and find there are an abundance of local/organic options. Granted, I care enough to look… but it isn’t hard at all!…To be dismissed as “non-coastal” is total bullshit. I live in a place where I can eat plentifully from what is grown within 100 miles of me nearly yearround, and that’s true for a lot of us here in the middle. Frankly, before the Wal-Marts of the world starting taking over our small towns, I’m willing to bet that most people here were a lot better about eating locally and supporting farmers than the masses on the coasts.

Thems fighting words! Thanks, Liza’s Sis. PS – her novel-esque comment is totally worth reading in full.

– Elsewhere, forkitude threw down the gauntlet and asked for the worst food combinations you can possibly come up with. OMGYEAHYOUKNOWME got the ball rolling:

mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour and blackpepper

Yum! Yuck? Yum? I’m so confused. Let’s keep it going, though!

– And how ’bout some crazy pizza combos, eh? Don’t leave an ES-er hanging!

(Photo: Mr. T in DC)

Pay What You Want


Driving through rural Pennsylvania I came across a great roadside family farmstand. In addition to all of the late summer and fall produce, the warm summer weather has made the apple harvest in the state come a little bit earlier. Think crisp apples with intense sugars.


Especially surprising was the fact that payment at this stand was based on the honor system. There was even a sign saying if an item wasn’t marked, to pay what you wanted. In a world where organic often means more expensive, there is something beautiful about the simplicity.

Better Than a Tiara of Ginger

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At this point, a purple pepper and a yellow watermelon barely excite me. I get it. Change the color of a food and it’s like new again.

But what about actual new. Last year fresh ginger, with hot pink streaks and the stalks strung together to look like a tiara, totally pleased me. But like a drug addict, I needed more.

And then, there it was. Edamame. It wasn’t all that cute on the stem, brown and hairy. But it was more interesting than dipped in soy, as I boiled it and led it star in a succotash.

I crowned edamame as my favorite summer farmers’ market find. What was your warm weather food discovery before the autumnal equinox takes over later tonight?

I’ll Take that as a Condiment….


Salsa! Like any good condiment — ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, horseradish, kimchi, hot sauce, chutney, etc… — we’ve all got a jarred version in the cupboard that we turn to when needed to cover up a dish that would otherwise be a mistake. But a good condiment shouldn’t just enhance our food, it should also be good enough to stand alone.

Salsa, of course, just means sauce, and can come in many varieties. At their best, they’re straight-forward to make, but their beauty is in the abundance of fresh local ingredients available this time of year. Here are my four favorite recipes using the season’s great tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, corn and more…

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