Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Deluge

We went. We picked. We came home with a motherlode of apples.

Back in Brooklyn, that $25 bag of apples -- $25! for apples!! -- we handpicked reveals itself to be, not so much a means of ripping off New York City tourists who are so desperate for some real food experiences that they will pay extravagantly for the privilege of doing the work usually reserved for underpaid migrant laborers, but rather, a far larger apple harvest than we could possibly know what to do with. They have taken over our kitchen table.

We picked them. Now we just have to use them.

Apple crisp, apple pie and baked apples are the obvious ones. But one of my favorite apple recipes comes from Viana La Place's terrific cookbook, Desserts and Sweet Snacks. She is one of my favorite cookbook writers. Years ago, during a book purge, I threw away her book Unplugged, which is out of print, which I had found in a thrift shop. What a bad move. My thoughts as I held the book in one hand, standing over the Out Box, were, "Well, I only ever really cook her lemon parsley pasta..." Deep down I think I was offended by the part where she talks about being in some Italian hotel and having an upset stomach and ordering just a side of spinach. Who does that? Not me. I am of the "feed a cold, feed a fever, feed an upset stomach' camp. I have regretted ever since throwing away Unplugged, which is almost more of a manifesto than a cookbook.

But I still have Desserts and Sweet Snacks, which has recipes for beautifully simple desserts like Peaches in Red Wine, Pink Honeydew Ice Cream, and a Date Shake, which recalls her childhood in California: she writes, "During my childhood in southern California, my family and i would sometimes go for a drive to Indio, a small desert town near Palm Springs.

"Date Palms flourished there in the midst of miles and miles of sand. We would always stop at a stand that sold date shakes -- a rich, creamy blend of ice cream and dates. I can still see the little stand, bathed in the clear desert light -- the straggly rose garden in front with the most fragrant red roses imaginable, the scent of parched grass, and high above our heads, huge clusters of rusty-orange dates dangling from the tops of fringed dusty palms..."

Okay I'm totally off topic, and quoting a book without permission. Dude, it's the age of blogging, they'll have to come after me.

Try this: Warm Apple Panino.
Basically you take a fresh bread roll or slice of fresh good bread. If it's a roll you hollow it out. You butter one side, and spread apricot preserves on the other. Toast them under the broiler. Meanwhile, you peel, core and thinly slice a half of an apple. Saute the slices in a 1/2 tablespoon of butter, adding a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. The apple slices should be tender but still hold their shape. Pile the slices into the panino. flatten slightly and eat while still warm. Delicious! Onward, apple soldiers. We can do this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bread at Home

That bread that Jamie made?
The braided one?
And that stew she made?
With the juices from the beef?

When you soaked the bread in the juices?

It was so good.

That's my picky nine-year-old son talking, the one who's never agreed to stew before, and certainly not to the concept of dipping bread in stew juice. I totally agreed with him, but my amazement is reserved for the fact that this woman finds the time to bake -- and braid -- bread. Anyone with three kids under the age of ten who can get through two risings, never mind braiding the dough, has my eternal admiration.

As my brother said, when he was 13 or so, holding up a loaf of homemade bread in my mom's face: "Hello! Mom! it's the 1980's. They sell bread in the stores..." I mean, it's not like she doesn't have choices.

Thanks for educating my son, Jamie! The bread was delicious, and we all love beef stew now (even me!).

Any other bread bakers out there?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Food Science

If there's any doubt lurking in your mind about how those soy crisps or corn nuts landed their way into your shopping cart, check out this US News article about the Food Industry. It's a dirty dirty business, filled with scientific studies that are closer to advertising, false health claims, and lots of the old "switcheroo" (like when the schools agreed to take soda machines out of schools, only to replace them with vitamin waters and sports drinks and Snapple.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chickened Out?

When I lived in Italy I got used to the grisly appearance of the animals in the butcher stalls at the market. Rabbits with the heads on, whole pigs' heads, feathered birds hanging by their feet. Even the chickens in the grocery store, wrapped up in a styrofoam tray and plastic wrap, had their feet and sometimes even their heads on.

I found out then that I'm not particularly squeamish about these things. I would just cut off the feet and the head, discard them, and then go about trying to figure out where the joints were so I could cut the whole chicken into pieces.

But it's been a while since those days.

I was totally taken aback when I unwrapped this Murray's chicken last night and found the feet still attached. Okay, I was kind of grossed out. It was the little toe nails that did me in. Also how it sort reminded me of E.T.

But I was fascinated, too. It made the chicken look so much more like a bird, like a pale, plucked version of a formerly living breathing animal. Without the feet it's just a cartoon image of a chicken, like a food icon. No toenails.

As I got ready to roast the chicken, I decided to leave the feet on. Why? I don't know! Maybe I just didn't want to deal with cutting those formerly alive feet off.

But I was also interested in how squeamish I felt. I liked being reminded that my food was once an animal, and that our food preferences are so culturally mandated. In China chicken feet are a delicious snack. You can buy a whole plate of them in a restaurant. It seemed lame to cut them off just to protect my prissy American sensibilities. Also, what would my kids say? Would they think it was gross? Grosser than kidney beans or eggs or asparagus or any of the other mild foods that make them, uh, squeam?

I also thought the whole thing was sort of freakishly cool-looking.

"Look guys, they left the feet on!" They glanced up from playing, uttered monosyllabic responses and went back to what they were doing.

An hour later: "Who wants the chicken feet?" I called out cheerfully when I set the roast chicken on the table.

Unbelievably: "I do!" "I do!" "I said it first!" "That's not fair!"

This was amazing. Would they really eat them, just because I was acting all nonchalant? "There are two," I said. "You can each have one." I used my kitchen shears to cut the feet off at the joint, and set a caramel-colored, roasted, slightly shriveled foot onto each of their plates.

"Uh..." My son had just arrived at the table. He stood for a moment, staring at his plate. "Actually, I don't want one. She can have mine."

I moved his chicken foot over to her plate just as she arrived. "I don't want them either," she said, without a missing beat.

And neither did the grownups, even thought they think they are so worldly and such good eaters. And thus the feet were reunited in the soup-stock bag in the freezer and our cultural lesson came to a close.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ivanka to the Rescue

And just in time.

Are your tired, stale brown bag lunches boring you to death? Wouldn't some industrially prepared, microwaved Southwestern Chicken or Sczchewuan Beef, at your desk, really liven things up?

Well, suffer your homemade lunch no longer. As the NY Times reported today, Ivanka Trump is going to revolutionize the office lunch. As she says on her blog, it is so boring eating the same foods day after day, and the deli sandwiches are so stale.

Apparently the recent economic downturn has caused workers to bring their own lunches to save money. It's been, what, 2 weeks? But these brownbaggers are B-O-R-E-D.

So, Ivanka, in a breathy, semi-soft-porn kind of voice, promises to make you feeeeel better about your lunch choices.

I'm saved from wanting to hurl myself off a cliff of cultural despair by the fact that the hundreds of comments on her blog are mostly from sensible creative people who consider their homemade lunches a healthy choice filled with possibilities. I'm also heartened to see the blogsphere reacting with the same scorn that I feel.

Because... where's the drudgery? (Making lunch for your kids, that's where, but that's another story...) Finding lids kind of sucks. But all you do is pack your dinner leftovers in your cute little lunch tiffin, and you're good to go. And that's the most basic level.

I've been swapping lunches with a co-worker. I only work two days a week, so on Mondays I bring lunch, on Tuesdays he does.

Today I brought sausage-kale soup with parsnips and lentils, and homemade dinner rolls, and concord grapes. Last week we had turkey and avocado sandwiches on one day, with chocolate chip cookies and also with concord grapes (we both happen to be addicted). We had curried zucchini soup with salad and couscous, and pear tarts, on another. We've had roasted vegetables with duck sausage and apple crisp. We have agreed there will be PB&J days, but so far they haven't happened. Of course, sushi lunch special is our backdoor option, but that hasn't happened either, since we started the swap in September.

What do you all bring for lunch?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who Doesn't Like Kiwi?

It just shows how neurotic and weird kids are when they turn down a kiwi. I've tried kiwi on mine before and it didn't work. They didn't want to try it, and when I forced them to try a taste, they did, and then shook their heads frantically. Too... what? Sweet and delicious? Too much of a cross between two of your favorite fruits, strawberries and bananas? Too beautifully green and patterned with soft gorgeous black seeds?

Whatever. I let it go; I mean, it's from New Zealand, right? Not exactly local. I was thoroughly annoyed, but it just wasn't high on my list of priorities, getting my kids to eat kiwi.

But the other day I noticed the kiwi bin. I remembered that you can send kiwi in a lunchbox with the top cut off and a little spoon, so kids can scoop out the fruit. How cute. And, as I've mentioned, I'm looking for more snack ideas.

So I bought a couple kiwi (kiwis?) and came home with a new determination. They will try it and they will like it. This was my battle cry.

But I needed a strategy.

I remembered learning at a schoolfood conference about the three-prong approach. I wish I remembered the researchers who presented this evidence, because it is important. To get kids to try new foods in the cafeteria, they learned, it is not enough to serve fantastic food.

This was their three-part strategy to get kids to accept new foods in the cafeteria:

1. Serve beautiful fresh delicious food. Duh. That's the easy part.
2. Incorporate the new foods into the curriculum. The kids should basically study the new food beforehand.
3. Have the kids help either prepare or grow the food, before the first time they try it.

If this works in the schools, why not at home? And of course, it makes so much sense! If I'm traveling in Thailand, and suddenly I'm presented with a food I've never seen before, that looks weird and smells differently from anything I've ever tasted before, I'm far more likely to dig in if I know about the fruit, have read about it, have seen other people like me eating it, and have seen it either picked or in the market or prepared, or whatever. It just ups my confidence level about this strange thing I'm going to put into my mouth.

So I started talking up the kiwi. "Hey, kid, so I got this fruit, it's called a kiwi. It's sort of a cross between a strawberry and a banana, and it's a beautiful green, like a jewel, inside. They're from New Zealand!"

They were totally interested (My son: "How come everybody wants to move to New Zealand?"), so I showed them a picture of kiwi on the internet, and a map of New Zealand (Me: "That's just if the Republicans win.". I read them about two sentences from Wikipedia before they zoned me out and were on to something else.

But that was okay. I'd planted the seeds; now I'd leave them to germinate... Come snacktime they'd be crying for kiwi.

It's so ridiculous. What's next, prepping them for a new flavor of popsicle? But I was really excited to remember this strategy that they are using in the schools. It makes perfect sense to bring it into the home. Who doesn't like knowing a little before they embark on a new flavor sensation?

So how did it go? Quite well, it turns out. My son devoured his portion -- including the skin! -- and begged for more and has asked several times since then. It would seem like a wasted exercise in the obvious -- if not for my daughter's response. Five years old, adventurous, sturdy, and a huge eater, but in the throes of her picky years. She didn't want to try it, and only when gently pressed was willing to taste a small slice. She did eat the slice, but refused more and was unenthusiastic about the whole process.

I don't have a control group of foods to compare -- wait, what I am saying? I have hundreds of examples of foods I've presented to my kids without prepping, which they flatly refused.

Still, kiwi is a gimme. Next up: miso stew, which I'm trying to reintroduce into my life. It used to be a weekly staple, until I had non-tofu-eating, non-sweet-potato-eating, non-shitake-eating, non-seaweed-eating kids. They do like miso broth. It's a start. I'll keep you all posted. Let me know if you have luck using this method!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lost in the Supermarket

I can no longer shop happily.

Seriously, I can't. I trying to cut back on sugar as my kids' main source of caloric intake, especially for snacks, and it's making shopping hard, and scary.

I am inspired by my mother's comments about all the foods in our house being good foods, so that it was okay for us kids to snack between school and dinner. (This isn't entirely true. I do remember Stew Leonard's cookies and the occasional hard-won box of brownie mix or pop-tarts. )

But for the most part, it's true; we had very few snack foods or premade sweets. My brother and sister and I regularly made whatever we wanted for afterschool snacks, but it was usually real food.

(Of course I loved going to friends' houses, where the cupboards overflowed with Chips Ahoys and Snackwells and Yoo-Hoo's. )

But I'm not going to raise my kids that way, and I'm already freaked out by how dependent we are on Stonyfield Farms Yogurt Squeezers, juice boxes, and weird things like fruit ropes. It's all organic, so it must be good, right? If you're okay with ice cream-level portions of sugar in every snack and meal, sure. I guess so.

So the other day, as I cruised the aisles, I held on to the rudder, hard. I looked over our usual suspects, all those junky things that get my kids through lunch with at least a few calories in their bellies, and appease them afterschool when they are bearishly hungry and eager for a sugary snack. I picked them up, looked at them, and put them down.

I put down the Squeezers and walked away quickly. Because: what if we just didn't buy them? Will my daughter starve? Or will she discover that nuts are good?

I looked at the fruit leather ropes. Is there any nutritional purpose to those things? Or do they just take up precious lunch-eating minutes? The info box confirmed my suspicions that there is virtually nothing in there but sugar. I walked away. Without these will they go back to peanut butter and jelly as a sweet snack?

I walked away from the organic multigrain granola bars that in any other era or culture would be considered candy. Will they turn to cheese and crackers? Will I remember to throw cheese and crackers into my purse as we run out the door?

I loaded up on nuts, cheese and crackers, honeycrisp apples and ... and ... that's kind of it. What else do you give hungry kids? My mind drew a blank. That's our current snack list, and I was unable to go further.

Already I have been meeting my kids at afterschool pickup with a honeycrisp apple, our current favorite. (Them: "Is that a honeycrisp? Yay! Can I have it?"). Hungry and thirsty, they devour them. amd no longer beg to visit the ice cream truck.

Afterschool there are cheese and crackers, more apples, frozen blueberries and sometimes leftovers from the night before, or a whole turkey sandwich if the situatin is drastic. Is it the change in seasons? They are famished lately. And I am running short on ideas.

What do you all feed your kids afterschool? I need snack ideas!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't Like Corn Syrup? You Snobby Racist!

Uh... why don't I high fructose corn syrup again? Oh, right, because it's a crappy industrial product produced through weird enzymic processes, because it gets digested by the liver instead of the stomach, because it is part of our natioanl corn-addiction, because it is so cheap that it is responsible for Big Gulps and the ever-sweetening of things like soup and ketchup, because it is the end product in our increasingly industrialized unsustainable food system and because it is at least in part responsible for the obesity epidemic... I could go on.

I'm sure you've all seen this commercial:

This week the commercial made it on to New York Magazine's weekly Approval Matrix, on the lowbrow, despicable corner of the matrix. They wrote: "A bizarre ad paints people who don't like corn syrup as snobby racists".

Thank you, New York Magazine!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oprah and Lisa

I haven't watched much Oprah since those cozy overwhelming days when it was me, my first baby, and a mountain of laundry on the couch. Oh, and my unemployed -- er, freelance -- friend who lived upstairs usually managed to nestle in somewhere. It didn't even matter what the topic was; come 4 pm, there we were, swilling coffee and dishing on Oprah's clothes, her makeup, her latest diet and anything else that came to mind.

But I don't have the time these days, and, too, (as Sarah Palin would say, and I find that I like saying it also, too) I have sentient kids who can't be there if there's anything even approaching a good topic.

But I'd watch today if I could -- Lisa Ling is going to present a report on How We Treat the Animals We Eat. You can see a preview on YouTube.

This is a huge issue for me. Yes, I eat meat. Yes, I love animals. How do you reconcile this seeming conflict? In my mind, you treat the animals well. California is voting on Proposition 2, regarding animal confinement next month. Should animals we're raising for food be allowed to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely"? Gee, let's take a vote.

Maybe this show will bring it to the consciousness of other states as well. I never thought I'd say this, and one of her successors is certainly influencing my giddy feelings of solidarity, but: Go, Lisa!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our New Staple: Thai Beef Salad

A few weeks ago we went to the Brooklyn Flea. It was one of those weirdly tropical days, far too hot to dig through vintage maps and racks of clothing in a brutally sunny asphalt lot. So we wandered through Fort Greene looking for a lunch place and stumbled upon Rice, one of my favorite cheap NYC eats.

It was brunchtime, but we all went for Rice-y things: I got congee with grilled shrimp; my daughter got dumplings, Chris got some kind of chili-laden eggs, and my son got the winner, the Thai Beef Salad, which we have been eating in one form or another regularly ever since.

My version is brown rice tossed with a mix of fish sauce and lime juice and a pinch of sugar. Then I grill or broil steak and serve it with a bunch of vegetables.

But this is the thing. Even before the economic events of recent weeks, I am a cheapskate. I am a bargain hunter, a frugal gourmet, a total tightwad. Of course this thriftiness is in opposition to my appreciation for good real food and my desire that animals raised for food be treated humanely. There's plenty of cheap food that I have no interest in, like, for example 99-cent hamburgers and hot pockets, in which the consumer is actually getting ripped off.

So there I am in the meat section at the Coop -- where it's mostly farm-raised meat -- ignoring the $30 rib-eye steaks and going for the cheapest cuts. If it's chewy and gristly and tough and $6/pound, I'll buy it. It's the only way I can afford to buy farm-raised meat, and plus I like the challenge.

There are different things you can do with tough cuts of meat. You can slowly stew the shit out of them, as in brisket. You can semi-freeze them and then slice them against the grain in micro-thin slices and stir-fry them. You can marinate them for hours in salty acidic things that supposedly will break down the fibers (although I've been hearing disagreement about this. It was either Mark Bittman or Chris Kimball or some other giant in the field who wrote that the marinade or brine never penetrates more than 1/2 an inch or so. That may be true but then I don't know how they can explain the miracle of bacon).

Or you can pound them.

This is my latest favorite method. I buy chuck steak or london broil, and I put it between wax paper and pound the shit out of it.

Then I grill or broil it, and slice it really thin against the grain. Sometimes it doesn't work. I can tell when I see my children chewing on their food like they're chewing their cud, and also I can tell when my daughter starts wailing that the meat's too tough to eat. This is a sure fire method right here for knowing.

But most of the time it's great -- a little chewy but huge on flavor, especially when you add the Thai Salty-Sour-Sweet Sauce.
To quote my daughter: "Are we having my favorite sauce? I love this sauce!"

Thai Beef Salad
Meat, pounded
Rice, tossed with salty-sour-sweet thai sauce (see below)
Lettuce leaves
Carrots and cucumbers, pickled if desired (see below)
radishes, mint, basil, cilantro, as desired

Salty-Sour-Sweet Thai sauce
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon raw sugar
Mix all ingredients. Use half to flavor rice; put other half on table for diners to add extra flavor.

Quick Pickle
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
(You can play with this arrangement as per your preferences. My kids get used to the extremely sweet versions they find in Vietnamese restaurants, and turn up their noses at my less sweet versions. This version is pretty sweet.)
Heat ingredients until sugar is fully dissolved. Cool and then mix with carrots or radishes, julienned or shredded. You can pickle them in the fridge for an hour or overnight, or just use as a dressing on unpickled carrots.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let Them Eat Candy

I've eaten a lot of chocolate in my life, and my vast, extreme, drooling preference is for Equal Exchange's Dark Chocolate with Almonds. I might consider putting a costume on and going door to door if everyone were giving out candy like these minis by Equal Exchange.

Okay, so $20 is a little steep for Halloween candy, but you get about 75 pieces. And no melamine. So, that seems like a pretty good deal, right?


Twenty bucks, just to fatten up other people's kids.

Maybe if they mixed up the bag a little -- dark with almonds, milk chocolate, dark with cocoa nibs, plain dark -- like the classic Halloween mix by old you-know-who, they'd have me.

All you people unaffected by the downturn, this is your moment. I'll think of you and your fat green wallets as I troll the candy aisles at the Rite-Aid, squinting at labels, trying to find the least bad candy for the wee little ghouls and goblins.

If you order by October 21, they guarantee delivery by Halloween.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Smart Mom: Belinda

I'm introducing a new feature on MM: interviews with smart moms. I'm always quizzing people on what they feed their kids, how they pack lunches, how they deal with pickiness, etc, so I thought I'd start sharing some of the bounty.

Smart Mom #1 is, fittingly enough, my mom. At 68, my mom, Belinda, is changing what life in your late 60's looks like. She's a yoga teacher who hikes every morning with her two dogs and still fires up a storm in the kitchen, cooking favorite dishes like black bean chili, butternut babaghanoush and sushi bowl.

As you'll see, her views on feeding kids are a bit unorthodox. She raised us in an extremely lax household, in which we were given free rein to figure out our eating preferences, and to cook and prepare food for ourselves from a very young age.

It was very 70's: everything was whole wheat, we produced our own eggs and honey, our cookies were healthy enough to eat for breakfast, and we always read labels so we could avoid the devil: hydrogenated oil. (But we weren't all good: we also indulged in Mallomars and Fluffernutter sandwiches.) Okay, so we didn't have regular family dinners or get pressured to eat things we didn't like. Somehow we all turned out okay.

Today I called up my mom and asked her to share some of her thoughts about feeding kids.

L: Your kids are all grown up now, and all three of us turned out to be good cooks and great eaters. Do you remember us being picky?

B: Oh sure, I couldn’t get you to eat any of the foods that I loved. Soups and stews and casseroles. But I don’t think you were picky. You were discriminating. It’s not a disorder. I don't know very many adults who eat everything.

L: I still don't really like stews and casseroles.

B: See?

L: What do you remember feeding us?

B: Mostly I focused on protein. Hot dogs, beans and franks, fish sticks. Tuna fish salad, which I made with half mayonnaise and half plain yogurt. Spaghetti with meat sauce, and I would sneak in lots of vegetables and mix it up. I also would sneak things into chocolate chip cookies, like raisins and soy flour and whole wheat flour...

You guys liked molasses mixed into milk. That was for the iron..

And we used to mix ketchup and mayonnaise --

L: Russian dressing!

B: That’s right. We used that as a dip for carrots and celery. I can’t remember what else. You must have eaten something good! Taco salad, chili…

L: What about the garden? We always had a huge garden.

B: You two, the girls, loved tomatoes. One year we had 72 tomato plants, just for the three of us. We grew raspberries and grapes, those were fun to pick.

L: Do you think that helped us eat more vegetables?

B: My father always said, “If you want kids to eat vegetables, have them grow vegetables.”

L: Back then there were some brutal methods for getting kids to eat, like making them sit at the table until they finished their plate, or spanking them. Did you have any particular method for getting us to eat?

B: No. I didn’t worry about it. My mother always made me wait until my father got home to eat, and I was always hungry. I was determined not to have you guys be hungry, so I let you snack. By the time you got to dinner you weren’t hungry. But it was good stuff you were eating: peanut butter, hummus, leftovers. It wasn’t just, “Have a carrot”. Who wants a carrot when you’re hungry? I made sure all the goodies and snacks were nutritious, so if you weren’t hungry at dinner, so what?

It was a philosophical thing, a decision not to push food, not to make food into an issue. The pediatrician told me, “Do not worry about food. They will eat when they need to grow.”

L: What do you think you did right?

B: I always let you help with the cooking. We made bread and pretzels and all that kind of thing.
And I always made sure you got enough protein.
And I didn’t keep sweets and empty calories in the house. We didn’t have soda. We may have had juice but we watered it down. You never acquired the taste for all that sweet stuff. If there’s one thing I’m pleased about, it’s how you guys eat and that you don’t have weight problems.

L: What would you do differently?

B: It was a little sloppy sometimes. I regret not having you sit down a little more.

L: What feeding advice would you give to all of us current moms and dads who are still in the trenches with our picky eaters?

B: Don’t worry about it so much. Always have good food available. It’s like on that show, "Jon and Kate Plus 8". I can't stop watching that show. And she is always bringing food, everywhere they go. Then you don’t have to buy the unhealthy food.
And relax!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Candy Scare

Last month, California health officials tested this candy made in China, White Rabbit Creamy Candy, and found it contained traces of melamine. Yesterday, some of the candy was found in Connecticut, and consumers have been warned against eating it. You can read the whole story here

I've personally never had, heard of, or seen White Rabbit candy (although I love the Wikipedia explanation that, because of its supposed nutritional components, "The candies hence accompanied the growth of a generation."), so I'm not too personally bummed out about this. It's not like Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate with Almonds was suddenly found to be poisonous, or Blue Marble's chocolate ice cream...

Still, cheap candy is not completely exempt from my life. For instance, there's this little holiday coming up soon...

My kids trick or treat on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, where stores give out the cheapest, worst crap in the world. Or so I thought until now. Okay, so Fifth Avenue is out this year. But even then, I'm a little unsure. My confidence is shattered, in this whole candy business. And in this China business. And this... global trade business.

I think the Halloween fairy may be paying our house a visit this year, taking all that trick-or-treating loot and maybe leaving a nice Fair Trade chocolate bar and a little toy. Or some money. Anything other than candy that might have been made in China.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Genius Farmer, Fish Tacos and Bibimbap, What More Could I Want?

Do you ever feel like the Dining In section has to scramble sometimes to come up with topics? At one point Wednesday mornings were the highlight of my newspaper week. But in the last year or so... eh.

Not today. Here are four good reasons to read today's Dining In.

1. Will Allen: amazing urban farmer guy who grows 500k worth of produce and meat on a two-acre urban farm in Milwaukee. He just won one of the genius grants, and wants to build a 5-story vertical building off the grid...

2. What, make baby food with a food mill, out of whatever you're having for dinner? Radical, but true.

3. Bibimbap in the Rice Cooker. I love bibimbap and I love rice cookers. I wonder if I can make this as a mothership meal...

4. Fish Tacos. I love fish tacos. Are they finally coming to NYC?

I have to shopping now for fish tacos and bibimbap.