Monday, December 21, 2009

Jamie Oliver, TED, and Christmas Treats from Cancer Education Center

If you've been around this site long enough, you know I am a big fan of It's a great site to visit on those days when you lose faith and wonder if there is an intelligent person left in the known universe. I visit there often.

Ever wish you could change the world?

At the end of each year they announce a special grant recipient, known as the TED Prize. This person gets their "wish" for changing the world granted, or at least the platform to try and launch the improvements. Past winners have included James Nachtway and his photography series about antibiotic-resistant TB, and the Encyclopedia of Life project, and Sylvia Earle's wish for creating protected marine areas.

So, what does this have to do with food, Beth?

Well, this year's winner is none other than Jamie Oliver. The actual "wish" will be unveiled in February at TED2010, but looking at Oliver's focus these last years, it's a safe bet that the project will center on the obesity epidemic. Notable programs he developed included School Dinners and Feed Me Better, both of which strive for better school lunches and nutrition for kids.

What's notable is the recognition, not just of Jamie Oliver, but of placing the obesity epidemic on the same level of magnitude as the other TED prize issues.

No one really likes to think about obesity at the holidays, though ...

True. But if you are beginning to feel some of that holiday guilt creeping in as the scale creeps up from all the parties and events of this month ... well, read on. The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education is urging people to enjoy holiday foods with "informed moderation."

According to a report released just last month by the American Institute for Cancer Research, about 100,000 cases of cancer each year are linked to a patient's history of excess body fat. These cancers include liver, kidney, breast, and colon. Almost like a dietary double-whammy, research from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at University of Utah shows that sugars can even "feed" cancer cell growth since cancer cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells.

Okay, Scrooge, it's the holidays, what gives with the no sugar thing?

Definitely, I know, it is the holidays. But not everyone can indulge, especially those at risk or with a history of diabetes. If you have family with special diet needs, the following recipes will be a welcome sight at your family table.

"Don't worry. You can have your proverbial cake and eat it too," says Susan Silberstein, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education authored the recipe book "Hungry for Health."

Silberstein created these simple, guilt-free, healthful dessert recipes, which are included in the book:

1/4 C flaxseeds, ground
1/4 C unsweetened carob powder, sifted
1/3 C walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 C raw almond butter
1/3 C honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
small bowl of unsweetened shredded coconut

Process all ingredients until mixture forms a dense ball. Remove from processor and roll small portions between palms of hands to form one inch balls. Roll in coconut to coat. Place on serving platter and refrigerate.
Yield: About 18 truffles

18 Deglet Noor dates, pitted
1 C almond butter
1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
18 pecan halves (optional)

Fill dates generously with nut butter. Roll top of date in coconut. Press a pecan half into top of each date, if desired.
Yield: 18 pieces

1 1/2 C raw almonds
1 1/2 C raw cashews
1 T flaxseeds, finely ground
1/4 C sesame tahini
3/4 C honey
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 C unsweetened coconut

Place almonds and cashews in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add flax, honey, tahini, vanilla, coconut and salt and pulse a few times more. Press firmly into 9 by 5 by 1 inch brownie pan and refrigerate several hours. Cut into small squares and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Remove just before serving.
Yield: About 24 pieces

Which means a Merry Christmas for ALL, and for all, a little dessert.

For more information about "Hungry for Health," or about the scientific data linking diet to cancer prevention and control, contact the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grapefruit Mint Salad

Sounds like summer doesn't it? Not bone-cold December. I guess you don't have to wait for the holiday to have a few surprises. One of my favorite local farms is experimenting with high tunnels, which means I am experimenting with FRESH LOCAL salad greens in December.

Winter is also peak season for grapefruit and citrus. All the more reason to celebrate.

Grapefruit-Mint Salad
2 Ruby Grapefruits, sectioned
1 tbs. mint, chiffonade or chopped
3 cups greens, spring mix or mache
Juice of 1 lemon, plus zest
2 tbs. champagne vinegar
4 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Divide salad ingredients among four plates. Drizzle with dressing. You have room for some cookies now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Year, New Resolve

Note, I did not say resolutions. I tried to sit down and write a list of specific things I will do in 2010, but so much of it is just an extension of the topics I write about already. So, here are some of what you can look forward to in the New Year here in the kitchen:
  • More recipes, of course.
  • Thinking Globally. Worldwide issues of climate change and hunger and what that means for all of us, and how we are all connected in these issues.
  • Acting Locally. Ways to be active in my (and your) own community for Food Justice, and helping grow the local food movement for all.
  • Issues, laws and your food. Just not going to get away from this one. Hot buttons ahead; school lunches, food policy as health policy.
  • A little bit of humor now and again. I used to post these things, but we can all use some levity these days.
  • More free books. Well, as long as I have them to share!
As far as the other stuff; lose weight! learn a new language! exercise! Hey, we all do what we can. I don't need to wait for the calendar to tick over years before I do something worthwhile. I just need to not let the time pass by before I do.

Monday, December 14, 2009

January Book Giveaway

December's winner for The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook is Suburban Prep. Be sure you email your mailing address to farmerfare AT gmail DOT com to get your free book!

January's giveaway is, appropriately, Victoria Moore's book How to Drink. Leave a comment with your favorite cocktail or adult beverage you celebrate with and you will be entered into a random drawing to win the book.

The book covers not just alcoholic beverages, but the perfect seasonal drink for nearly every occasion. Recipes for the perfect drinks and cocktails are accompanied by advice and historical insights into beverage options.

Remember, kids, as the author says, it's not how MUCH you drink, it's how WELL you drink. And drive responsibly. Cheers for a happy 2010 for all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Recipes

I took down quite a few of the recipes on the site for the upcoming book. Still, there are many of the holiday favorites to be found.

Here's to a warm kitchen, full of family and friends and a safe, happy holiday to all this season.




Friday, December 11, 2009

Tired of Tiger Woods? Wanting News that Matters This Holiday?

Yep, me too. And all the not-news celebrity drivel out there. Let's look at some headlines that mean something real here.

Last Minute Gift Ideas: A Lunchbox!
Still looking for that perfect gift for the kids? How about a nice, new lunch box? Think of it as the gift that keeps giving, especially given that the meat at fast food establishments is safer than that being served for school lunch.

That's right, according to this USA Today report, your dollar burger from the drive-thru is 5-10 times more likely to have been tested for safety than your elementary school kid's meal. Some fast food establishments also have up to 10 times higher standards for those tests that are done, and refuse to use "spent hen" chicken meat that is often served to our school kids.

Makes you want to send some holiday greetings to the USDA? Here, give your best to Mr. Vilsack.

Even Scrooge Came Up with a Goose
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service released its annual study measuring food security in the United States, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. Food Insecurity rose 4.2 percent this past year. In 2008, 49.1 million Americans, or 16.4 percent, lived in food insecure households In 2007, the number was 36.2 million (12.2%). This represents a 36 percent increase in just one year. The greatest percentage of this increase was for households with children.

Learn more about donating food in this post. Find a place to donate or volunteer here at Feeding America.

Other Food Tidbits:
Ethicurean contemplates the class issue around Local Food.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Comfort Food on a Cold Winter Day

I got the idea for this recipe at an Italian restaurant, one owned by Lidia Bastianich. When you think about the ingredients, cabbage and bacon, it doesn't seem very Italian. It also doesn't sound like it would work with pasta. Yet it did, pretty well.

I'm not about to suggest that I cook better than the world's most famous Italian grandmother. No way. But the dish got me thinking. Bacon and pasta. And a huge head of cabbage from the last CSA package of the season. A few of the last apples still in the fridge. Hmmm, could work.

I'm not going to call the end result Italian or German. It's just a nice, cozy dish on a cold winter day like today. Something warm and spicy while we wait for the winter storm to hopefully pass us by.

Bacon and Cabbage Pasta
1 lb. bacon, diced
3 shallots, diced
2 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. salt
2 green apples, cored and diced
1/2 medium head of cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tbs. cider vinegar
2 tbs. chopped sage
1 tbs. chopped rosemary
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 lb. potato gnocchi, or substitute 1/2 lb. dried whole wheat pasta

Cook the bacon in a large pot. Remove when just crisp and drain on a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tbs. of the grease. Add the shallot to the pot and saute for two minutes. Add the spices and saute for a couple more minutes. Add the apples and cabbage and saute again, tossing to get the cabbage wilted.

Cook pasta or gnocchi according to directions.

Add the cider, vinegar, sage and rosemary to the pot. Braise the cabbage and apples with the spices and herbs for another 5-8 minutes. Before serving fold in the crisp bacon and the gnocchi or pasta.

Egg Nog French Toast

There are two seasonal foods that I have a real weakness for; pumpkin ice cream and egg nog. Real, full fat, buttery-rich eggnog. Ho, ho, ho, off to jog I go.

Egg Nog French Toast
For the toast:
3/4 cup eggnog
1 egg, beaten
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 slices egg bread like challah or brioche, or a whole grain like honey wheat.
1 tbs. butter

1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 tsp. bourbon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat the butter in a skillet. Soak bread, both sides, in the eggnog mixture. Brown on each side until golden.

Warm the syrup in a sauce pan with the bourbon, cinnamon, and pecans. Top the toast with syrup. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

NYT Food Stamp Article

NY Times has some of the best coverage of food issues. Here are a few striking statistics from this current article on the rise of food stamp use:
  • 20,000 more people per day require food stamp assistance.
  • 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps.
  • More than 36 million people use food stamp assistance.
  • Nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid.
Something to think about this holiday. Here's some great tips on donating food and time to a local food bank.