Sunday, September 30, 2007

The face of food

I went to a seminar/townhall meeting, on photography. Little did I know that I'd run smack dab into the middle of a farm for city kids. Very good OC!


It's all bull

Wooly sheep

Moo Cow

3 little pigs

Here chick


Read More......

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Correlation: Breast Cancer and alcohol

I read with interest this article on yahoo today. Recently there has been important news with regard to the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. It seems that 3 drinks a day of wine, beer or "spirits" increases a woman's breast cancer risk by the same rate as a pack of cigarettes. Whoa! That is alarming. I do not drink but I do have friends who do. If reducing your risk of getting that dreaded disease can be avoided by simply reducing the amount of alcohol one imbibes, it would seem it is worth the sacrifice.

I have not read the study, and the article does not go into detail as to how many times a week, or whether it matters if you are predisposed to the disease by genetics traits, but if you do drink, study it out. It will be worth it, if it changes just one person's behavior.

Read More......

Monday, September 24, 2007

Interstate Baking, So Long California!

Wonder Bread was born in Indianapolis Indiana by the Taggert Baking Company. In 1925, Taggart was purchased by Continental Baking Corporation. After years of serving the general public and making long strides in bringing "fast breads" to the ordinary household Wonder was purchased by Interstate Baking Corp in 1995. Now, after years of struggles, IBC has announced the death of Wonder Bread in California.

"Yeah, so I haven't bought Wonder Bread in years. It white, sliced and fluff." Well, yes. But IBC is not just Wonder Bread. It's Hostess, Home Pride, Roman Meal and a few other brands we all know and love. So is it the end of Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes????!!!! No. IBC is shuttering their bread operations, not the snack foods division from what I can tell. IBC isn't talking about it except to say the bread operation is shutting down.

Union officials are saying it's a dodge. They will truck bread in from Nevada to avoid labor and union disputes here in California. The union blames IBC. IBC blames the union. The two combined blame California and its not so friendly environment for business.

Either way, come October 29th, "Wonder Bread" will just be another racial epithet here in the Sunshine state.(I use the "sunshine state" thingy because we really are, no rain here in two years, except in Malibu, so we're really the sunshine state)California is actually the Golden state, yeah because there's gold in them thar hills!

Read More......

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Food Safety is Our Concern, Really.

I've spoken before about the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). They are a big consortium of companies, lobbyists, etc. trying to police the grocery supplier industry. Sounds good doesn't it. This is how they describe themselves: "The Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA) represents the world's leading food, beverage and consumer products companies. The association promotes sound public policy, champions initiatives that increase productivity and growth and helps to protect the safety and security of the food supply through scientific excellence. The GMA/FPA board of directors is comprised of chief executive officers from the Association's member companies. The $2.1 trillion food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry employs 14 million workers, and contributes over $1 trillion in added value to the nation's economy."

Most recently they have become famous for introducing measures to turn chocolate into something less than it is. They're the guys behind the vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter guys. Yeah that's them. They want us all to believe that chocolate made with vegetable oil will be as good or better than the real thing. Their agenda is money.

Now they've released a report (the reports are in PDF docs, so if you want to read them you'll have to download them). Yesterday, they introduced "The Four Pillars of Food Safety" report. The GMA wants everyone to know how important it is to present the public with the highest quality and safest food worldwide. Their statement, "Maintaining consumer confidence in our products, our brands and our companies is the single most important goal of the food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry, and product safety is the foundation of consumer trust." is at the very core of the issue. The GMA wants to work in conjunction with the FDA to promote the very best for consumers.

This kind of report is all well and good when you read the language. It makes you feel as if the GMA is on our side, really looking out for the good of the consumer. That is until you know about their dealings with the world of chocolate production. The GMA is, just like every other big group, representing big producers. It's all about the money. They are trying to restore consumer confidence with the report. We've seen nothing but bad calls in the last few years with regard to the food supply. From tainted vegetables reaching the market, to lead filled candies imported before being thoroughly inspected, and the worst of all, the pet food debacle that led to the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of pets nationwide.

Yes guys, tell me how you're concerned about my safety and food supply. I think you're more concerned about your money supply.

Buy from local growers. At least then you'll know who to go to when things aren't quite right.

Read More......

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chicken soup

Chicken soup, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Sometimes you just need something good, warm and simple. It is easy to make and tastes wonderful. My husband, loving man that he is says, if I opened a restaurant and put this on the menu, it would be a best seller.

So I offer it to you!

What you'll need:

1 whole chicken, or one cut up chicken (free range, hormone free is best)
5 or so carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
5 or six celery stalks chopped into 1/4 inch slices
Salt and pepper
Noodles, fresh if you know how to make them, or just a good flat egg noodle will work

Put the chicken into a pot cover it with water. Add 2 tsp of salt a good bit of pepper. You want to see it in the water. I add garlic to my first boil as I like the flavor. I use garlic granules.

Boil the chicken an hour an a half, or until done. Remove from broth, cool. Add the celery and carrots now. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. When chicken has cooled, about 30 minutes, bone and put chicken back into broth with carrots and celery. Add noodles, cook until the noodles are done. Serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Soup

Read More......

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is with Orowheat?

I don't know what Orowheat is thinking. Their new commercials are trying to portray an "Orowheat choice is a healthy choice" stance but it falls short. For example, the setting is a sandy beach, you can hear the waves in the background, see the sand, see a guy walking and then the camera pans back. What you thought was sand is Orowheat bread made into a sandwich. It just happens to be the same color as sand. Hmmmm. Tying, sand to sandwiches is a childhood nightmare of mine. In fact I bet there are probably a bunch of beach going people that do not want to make that connection ever.

There are others. Dark bread being conveyed as a bunch of outdoor steps, etc. Orowheat, please. We are all learning about the healthy aspects of whole grain breads, however, you're taking it a bit too far.

Read More......

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why blog?

Sometimes I ask that question of myself. If you're a blogger and you haven't asked that of yourself, hmmmmm. I started blogging in January of 2005. I had been reading blogs for about three years at that point and finally convinced myself I had something to say, offer, journal for myself and a million other reasons.

I had read Chocolate and Zucchini, Chez Pim and few others. I participated in a few cooking events and began to establish some readership.

Then came the photobloggers, and the craftybloggers. And the political bloggers. I noticed a few along the way. Kim quickly became a favorite, along with our dear Kathy of Meggiecat fame. I have made some good friends and been inspired by the feeling of well being and community of my fellow bloggers.

Kim has honored me with the latest award program flying through the blogosphere (does anyone really use that word anymore?) The Rockin Girl Blogger Award. I am simply stunned. Food Chronicles is hardly "Rockin" these days. I am focused on trying to convince all of you that processed foods are evil. It is hard to read at times, a bit scary and not something people want to read about. I know. It scares the heck out of me too! But, I have stood silent far too long with the knowledge I have and if I can prick just one conscience a day, I've done my job. I want more people going back into the kitchen instead of the grab and go aisle. Cooking doesn't take that long and you can ensure that when you cook it you know what's in it! That's why I blog. Not for the awards, but yes, I like them, but because this thing about food is important.

But, I digress. Thank you Kim. I do appreciate getting noticed. By the way, I told you I discovered Kim and Kathy a long time ago. I still am impressed with each of them and you need to go see what they have to offer as far as inspiration for your creative life. Meggiecat is no longer posting, but she has kept her blog up so we can use her archives. There's a lot of good stuff in there! I'd say she is deserving of the Rockin Girl Blogger Award too!

Another person I'd add to the Rockin Girl Blogger roster is the quintessential rockin girl! That is Susan and her whole family. She may be the blogger, but the whole family rocks! I love reading about their adventures in music, photography and lives in general. They are a rockin' family!

Read More......

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fresh Fig Tarts - Get ready to run to the store!

Figs, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

The amazing Tartelette had a recipe up earlier this month that I just had to try. And, seeing that I had some fresh figs that cost me a WHOLE lot, I thought I would give her recipe a try.

Yes, the theme lately has been swoon worthy. And this one does not disappoint! I chose to use my recipe for the tartlettes, but other than that I stayed true to the recipe on her blog.

So quick! Run buy some figs, and some raw almonds if you don't have any. Other than that I expect you'll have the other ingredients on hand. Oh, oops, I did replace the rum or brandy with rum flavoring.

Her recipe is adapted from Bon Apetit Magazine October 1998

Makes 3, 4- inch tartelettes (enough for 6 or 3 big appetites)

For crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling
1/3 cup whole almonds (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons rum or brandy
12 ounces ripe figs, cut into halves
1/4 cup apricot marmelade

Figs and almonds

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 2 tablespoons ice water and vanilla in small bowl. Pour water mixture over dough. Process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out on floured surface to 12-inch round. Cut 3 rounds about 5 inches big, fit into pie plate and trim excess dough. (or use shapes and molds you like) Using fork, pierce dough all over. Bake crust until pale golden, about 30 minutes (crust may shrink slightly). Cool on rack. Maintain oven temperature
ready for the oven

Make filling:
Finely grind almonds with sugar in processor. Add egg, butter and 2 teaspoons rum. Process until batter forms. Pour filling into crust. Arrange fig halves atop filling. Bake until figs are tender and filling is golden and set, about 25 minutes.
Melt jelly with remaining 2 teaspoons rum in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush jelly mixture over figs. Cool tartelettes. Serve at room temperature.

fig tartlette 2

fig tartlette

Thank you Tartelette! These were fabulous.

Read More......

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vegetable platter

Vegetable platter, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Okay, so part of this long weekend's agenda was to go to a farm stand. Not just any farm stand, no, a really famous farm stand. Its' virtues have been extolled by famous chefs, local well-knowns, and the occasional wealthy non cook. I asked myself, should I go? Well, hey why not, I know the area, shop close by at another farm stand and thought "what have I got to lose?"

Well, a lot, I have to tell you. Look at that platter. Take a gander at these other shots, of same platter:

red leaf romaine?

Tomatoes, Haricot Vert

What's not to love? Well, there is something. Let me elucidate.

We drove over the mountains and through the woods, well, maybe not mountains, but hills for certain. We drove a winding road through famous estates, with names like " club and spa", "equestrian hollows" and kingly estates surrounding us on all sides. A gleaming lake, beautiful tall Eucalyptus trees everywhere. Finally we stumble upon the road to "the" farm stand. The road had a sign that said "Nothing larger than a pickup truck allowed on this road!". Well, since we were in the MINI, no problem. As we turn onto the actual farm stand property, I felt suddenly out of place. The next smallest car to mine was a Jaguar. Lined up in neat rows were a few Mercedes, a couple of Saabs, more than one gigantic Cadillac Escalade, and every other large vehicle known to mankind. At least the well heeled know where to buy vegetables. Filling the air with enormous amounts of carbon dioxide coming to a fro the organic farm stand is not to be concerned with, "we're eating green!"

Quickly I notice the line. I glance around, getting my bearings, cue up and look achingly at the cornucopia of offerings. I noted the sign atop the framed stand - pictorial fashion - of people, fat, thin, male female, kindly cued in a line. Well, I got that prior to noticing then sign. Yes, I am brighter than the average shopper at the fruit stand evidently. Each of us waited our turn to enjoy the fruits of the owner's bounty. I did note while awaiting my turn that the salespeople were all like me. The guy in the back doing the hard labor of unloading more and more boxes of freshly picked fruits and vegetables, was surprisingly not like me. He was one of them. You know them, those south of the border guys. Yep right there in front of all of us, he was sweating!

The woman in front of me was just about to get started shopping. She actually picked up a tomato. Then quickly, as if it was the farm stand nazi, a person spoke to her in short tones. "Your turn will be next, someone will be with you soon". (I thought maybe she had lost her turn to purchase - no veggies for you!) She quickly understood the "don't touch the vegetables until it's your turn!" warning and she waited patiently. Finally, after standing in 104 degree weather, albeit in a small belt of shade, it was my turn! I picked out carefully (well, with that small orange pepper, obviously not so carefully as I thought) the vegetables you see above. Please note, I picked them out, quickly letting go of them and handing them to my polite sales person, she would bag, weigh and tally my purchases. When I had finished, the final blow was delivered. I thought for sure my dear husband would fall over from a coronary when she said $35. I said $35. In my head I was going great, I am now the owner of fruit and vegetable so expensive I can't eat them.

Wowzer. I have never paid so much for so little. Except of course a good platter of Australian Lobster Tails. I didn't feel so bad about paying so much then because I knew something given its' life in the process. I could faintly hear my father-in-law laughing out loud as my husband handed over the money. He had two and a half acres of tomatoes and melons, and vegetables. He would have laughed at these prices. I would not of been embarrassed if he had been with us and had laughed outloud right there at the stand.

My farm stand, that I frequent often, just a few short miles away, close to the same pacific waters, having the same great offerings of organic fare, has never even come close to charging these kinds of prices. I think I left a bit of my dignity there also. I foolish one that I am, succumbed to the fancy froo froo hype of the minions of stature and heir. Won't be doing that again. At least with regard to vegetables.
I actually felt sorry for the humble vegetables, the Lords bounty to us, they had become part of the prostitution of a "mentality" that we experience in our world today.

Being a farmers daughter-in-law I do believe farmers never get paid what they are worth. Don't get me wrong on that at all.

I also have this statement from Anthony Bourdain seared into my consciousness: "I've always felt that the true measure of the greatness of a culture is exemplified by what its' poorest and rural people cook. Food that tastes good because it has to be good. How to make the tough, the bland, and the truly humble into something truly special. This is where throughout history and across the globe, cooks are made.

Read More......