Friday, August 28, 2009

Sugar High Fridays August Edition

Happy Friday! Sugar High Friday, that is. This month's SHF has a bit of a twist, Vegetable Surprise! All entries are a dessert that leverages vegetables in the ingredients. I was impressed with the creativity and some of the Indian desserts that were posted. What a great way to get that extra serving of vegetables in your day!

Anna from Life's Too Short For Mediocre Chocolate posted Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies! She describes the dish as "Soft, chocolatey, and a little spicy with a kick of cinnamon. Perfect for Fall's hot chocolate nights."

Rinku from Cooking in Westchester shares Beetroot Halwa. This halwa, a type of pudding, is prepared by simmering beets in milk, cardamom and sugar with a glossy finish of clarified butter.

Halwa was a popular approach for this month's theme. Ramki posted several different types of Halwa for other vegetables at her site, One Page Cookbooks. Recipes include Carrot, Bottle Gourd, Chayote, and fruit-based Halwa.

Sugar High Fridays, or SHF, was started by Jennifer at Domestic Goddess. Each host for a roundup chooses a theme and all of you post a dessert recipe for the theme. To get an idea of what Sugar High Friday is all about, look at these recent roundups:
August, Vegetable Surprise!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sharing the Love

Just wanted to say "Thanks!" for the recent coverage of the blog. And also to Saveur magazine for the nice surprise I got today seeing links to this site under the "Sites We Love" section there. Very cool. Over at my other online gig, I just finished an interview with Chef Preeti Mystri who will appear on Season Six of Top Chef tonight. Check that out if you get a moment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sugar High Fridays August Edition

This month I am happy to host the SHF August 2009, with the theme of "Vegetable Surprise!" That's right, put your best "Iron Chef" on and get crazy with the dessert course — use of ice cream maker allowed. C'mon make us WANT to eat those veggies whether you make it deceptively delicious or just darn delectable, bring it on!

Sugar High Fridays, or SHF, was started by Jennifer at Domestic Goddess. Each host for a roundup chooses a theme and all of you post a dessert recipe for the theme. To get an idea of what Sugar High Friday is all about, look at these recent roundups:

Rules for Participation:

1. You can make any dessert you want, as long as it contains a bit of vegetable for one ingredient. Your post must include a link to this blog's announcement and a link to

2. Send your entries to with subject line SHF-August. Please send your entries in English only, or with a link to the page which has English translation on your blog. Include in your entry:
  • Name of blog and link
  • Permalink for your post
  • Description of recipe
  • Image no larger than 200 pixels wide (height can vary).

3. The deadline for sending in your entries is Monday, August 24, 2009. Maximum of TWO (2) entries per blog.

4. The roundup will be posted on the last Friday of August (the 28th), so come back and make sure your entry is a part of the mega-roundup.

5. Non-Bloggers are welcome to email me their recipes, and I'll surely include them in the roundup as well. Or leave your recipe in the comments section of the final roundup post.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Risotto

This is perfect as a light summer meal with a salad and fresh melon on the side.

Summer Risotto
For vegetables
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, mixed varieties, sliced in halves
3 corn cobs, shucked and kernels sliced off
1 red pepper, diced
1 shallot diced
2 scallions, sliced, white part and one inch of the greens
1 tbs. canola oil

For the risotto
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/4 cup aborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. chopped basil
1 tbs. chopped parsley
2 tbs. grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To get the kernels off the corn, hold the cob vertical, place the knife along the side and cut down. Turn the cob and repeat. Do this over the tray or bowl. You'll want to keep all the sweet milk the corn releases when you cut.

Mix the vegetables on a baking sheet with the canola oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring if needed, until they just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Bring the water and stock to a gentle simmer in one pot. In another pot, heat the oil and add the rice. Saute the rice in the olive oil for a couple minutes until the grains are translucent. Add the hot stock a ladle at a time. Stir until the rice absorbs the stock, then add the next ladle. Finish with the wine. When all the liquid has been absorbed, the risotto should be al dente and ready.

Gently fold in the vegetables, herbs and parmesan.

Harvest Garden

It was an 80-degree Sunday with a cool wind. Perfect weather, and rare for late July. We needed to get outside. Not too far away, Powell Gardens just opened twelve acres of food gardens, the nation's largest edible landscape. Beyond the typical row crop, the garden artistically mixes vegetables, fruits and herbs in a beautiful landscape. At the edge, a cafe serves food made from picked-that-day produce.

After an inspiring walk, where I actually believe for a moment I can overcome my gardening dysfunction, we ate then walked the rest of the gardens, acres of flowers and waterfalls and a glass chapel.

Sometimes, you don't have to go far from home to feel like you are on vacation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Think About It Or Not?

Things I Think About

I think about food. A lot. Some would say obsessively. I can live with that.

It's not always, "What should I have for lunch?" Nor is it what recipe to create next. I also think a lot about food policy. Which is not what most people contemplate. Yet perhaps we should. No need to rehash all the recalls and headlines here, it's pretty clear that the industrial food business is not doing a good job of producing safe foods, with some knowingly shipping tainted goods as with the recent peanut product issue.

Not a shock that the House recently passed one of the many proposed food safety bills, HR 2749. I mean, what Rep is going to vote no for safer food and have that on his or her voting record? The problem is nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. Food safety is needed. Indeed, just the provision in the bill that allows the FDA to make food recalls mandatory instead of voluntary was a huge improvement.

The problem with the bill is that it treats all food production as if it were large-scale industry. And, key provisions such as the $500 annual fee per facility are going to weigh heavily on small, local food producers such as the family that makes and sells jams and preserves at the farmers market. Along with additional paperwork and administrative burdens, the bill is going to put additional pressure on these small local producers who are not part of the problem.

Meanwhile, key parts of the bill that would regulate antibiotic overuse in factory farms — a practice linked to the development of MRSA and the virulent salmonella and E. coli strains — were successfully lobbied against and removed from the bill.

Another problem in the bill is the impact it could have on wildlife diversity around farms and the burden of compliance with this on small farms. While leaving the major source of food-borne pathogens and recalls out of the picture (feedlots and factory farms) this provision would require farms to clearcut vegetation around cropland, leaving the area open to erosion and a loss of habitat and biodiversity.

The good news is that the bill is not yet law. There is time to ask your Senators to keep the good part of the bill, put back the provisions that would better regulate factory farms, and decrease the impact the legislation would have on small farmers. You can find your senator's contact information here. Read a great analysis of the best and worst of HR 2749 here.

Things I Don't Think About
Most days, I think my brain has hit its carrying capacity. So, in order to make room for all the issues that are important, I clear the clutter. Here are a few items I no longer contemplate:
  1. What's on TV. I mean, is it worth it?
  2. Since having a child, I seem to be constantly sticky. I quit thinking about the cause of this.
  3. Why my kid will or won't eat this or that. There is no logic. Fix decent food, kids won't starve themselves. Eventually, I'll win.
  4. My child's wardrobe. Hey, I am just happy she dresses herself.
  5. My wardrobe. I know, it shows. I am just happy I still dress myself.
  6. My age. What's the alternative to getting older? Death. Accept aging.
  7. All the to-do lists I wrote and lost. I am sure there will be more new items to fill a list. A lot more.
  8. Celebrity gossip. Really, why do we care?
  9. My blog, which needs to change. I've been terrible at getting posts up. I have been thinking about you all, really. Life has just been a little crazy ...