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Women’s History Month at A Chef’s Table

March 27, 2006

This month, Jim Coleman is featuring women– chefs, cookbook writers, and photographers– on his weekly radio program. Yesterday, Coleman interviewed several women, including Laura Schenone , the author of A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told through Food Recipes and Remembrances.

I was particularly struck by one thing she said while talking about the many roles– personal, charitable, and political– that cookbooks have played in women’s lives. Schenone is working on a theroy that women have often written cookbooks in order to deal with difficult situations in their lives. One example was Erma Rombauer, author of The Joy of Cooking, whose family suggested that she write a cookbook to deal with the death of her husband. And out of her grief was born “Joy.”

If you would like to hear the program, you can find it here for now, until it is available in the archives for March 25th.

Other featured books include:

Putting Meat on the American Table: Taste Techonogy and Transformation, byRoger Horowitz

The Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France’s Magnificent Rustic Cuisine, by Paula Wolfert

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told through Food Recipes and Remembrances, by Paula Wolfert

Daughter of Heaven: A Memoir with Earthly Recipes, by Leslie Li

Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals:Featuring 200 Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners, by Sara Moulton, Dana Gallagher, Photographer

More Retro Diner: A Second Helping of Roadside Recipes, by Randy Garbin and Terri Dunn

Lidia’s Family Table, by Lidia Bastinach

Meat Me in Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York, by Josh Osersky, photographer Kate Gardner

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The 70% solution… ?

February 28, 2006

I was planning to post something about chocolate anyway, and then there was a news story today about its health benefits– especially for the cardiovascular system– which included a link to a peer-reviewed article with lots of details, many of which were over my head.

However, I did catch the one about consuming 100g per day for two weeks in order to lower one’s blood pressure. (Mine’s gone up a bit since I’ve been eating butterscotch like it’s going out of style.) And, I thought it might be worth a small trial of my own. Especially, since my favorite bar comes in exactly that “dose.” And apparently there is a dose-response. At least in elderly Dutch men. This will mean a trip to CVS, where I can both take my blood pressure, and purchase a larger supply of Lindt bars than I usually have on hand. Further updates will follow…

And, in the meantime, another story on some surprising relationships between food and health arrived in my emailbox via The Progressive, and this one went much further than merely advocating for chocolate…

UPDATE ~ Same Day:
Today’s BP: 138 over 74 w/ a heart rate of 76.
[I always use to be well under the “normal” 120 over 80.]

UPDATE ~ March 5th: [I decided to measure it twice.]
1st BP: 137 over 76 w/ a heart rate of 71;
2nd BP: 132 over 74 w/ a heart rate of 66.

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More Braising…

February 1, 2006

Well, I braised the beef short ribs last night, but I still haven’t eaten them yet. I would have had them for breakfast this morning, but I wasn’t hungry enough to eat them and still go out to lunch with a couple of co-workers, one of whom is leaving for new pastures. The good news is that I had some leftovers from lunch, including a nice serving of brown rice, that will be really good tomorrow morning when I add it to the short ribs. For breakfast.

In the meantime, I did some more braising tonight: two lamb shoulder chops, and a beef shin bone, but in separate casserole dishes. The vegetables I used were similar, onions, celery, shredded carrots, garlic, in and canned tomates, plus a bit of tomato paste, and some olive oil, but the beef was cooked with more of the tomatoes– I used just a bit for the lamb– and the lamb dish also included some parsnips, and some worcestershire. A small amount of white wine went into both. The short ribs were treated similarly last night.

Such abundance. Three kinds of braised meat, packed in individual servings in the freezer. I’ll report back on the results.

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Borrowed Quotes…

January 31, 2006
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
~ Mortimer J. Adler ~

Beware of the man of one book.
~ Thomas Aquinas ~

The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision
and strengthens our most fatal tendency–
the belief that the here and now is all there is.
~ Allan Bloom ~

A wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen,
is that you can take it to bed with you.
~ Daniel J. Boorstin ~

Readers may be divided into four classes:
1.) Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in
nearly the same state, only a little dirtied.
2.) Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get
through a book for the sake of getting through the time.
3.) Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read.
4.) Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by
what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites,
it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind.
It is a moral illumination.
~ Elizabeth Hardwick ~

In a very real sense, people who have read good literature
have lived more than people who cannot or will not read.
It is not true that we have only one life to lead; if we can read,
we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
~ S. I. Hayakawa ~

[borrowed from Mental multivitamin]
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“The Fifth Taste Emerges…

January 20, 2006

“…from the Brine” (read this story from the NYTimes)

Umami — without wheat or dairy– is an experience that has become a bit more elusive for me than in years past. Parmesan cheese, for example, has umami, but I can’t eat that. Sometime late last spring, I started eating butterscotch candy like there was no tomorrow. The combination of salty and sweet and the roundness and mellowness of the flavor. [sigh] It provided a taste sensation that I wasn’t getting from rootbeer, which I had started drinking in earnest earlier that year. (Main Street brand, carried by Giant Food Stores, is my favorite, because it has the creamiest foam, and is available in a pony size.)

Well, I haven’t had any rootbeer this week, and only two pieces of butterscotch; the only reason I even ate those is that one of my co-workers had filled up her candy dish with my favorite version (non-dairy) in those square cellophane packets that pop open without having to be untwisted.

I’ve decided I really have to cut down, or better yet, eliminate them from my diet. Both the butterscotch and the rootbeer. Not only did my blood pressure go up quite a bit (not really a problem, since it was awfully low before), but I gained a signficant number of pounds around my middle, meaning a size or two. I really can’t justify buying all new clothes (beyond the two new pairs of pants I bought last month in desperation), when I have perfectly good clothes that I can almost wear, and sometimes still do, with a sweater hiding the length of zipper that remains unzipped. [sigh… sigh…]

So, now a new search for sources of umami and taste satisfaction must begin…

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Something new in my kitchen

January 17, 2006


I just bought a new crock pot. For its maiden voyage… a small beef roast (browned slightly in some olive oil) on a bed of celery, carrots, parsnips & turnips, a can of whole tomatoes with the liquid, a few cloves of garlic and some sprigs of parsley. And the ubiquitous Herbamare.

Then… about 10 hours cooking time, on low, while we were away from home…

That evening, after a small taste test and a cooling-off period, the roast and vegetables were divided more or less equally among 4 plastic containers and nestled in the freezer, most likely to be consumed for breakfast, given my preference for hearty food in the mornings. Especially on cold mornings. Like this morning.

I’m wondering if I can do something resembling risotto in it. Or rice pudding. Or polenta. You get the idea…

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Only in Europe…

January 4, 2006

This story could never happen in the US, but I admit to being a little bit surprised that it happened in a Catholic country…

The Times January 03, 2006

Prove Christ exists, judge orders priest

From Richard Owen in Rome

AN ITALIAN judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed.

The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in the town of Viterbo, north of Rome, by Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist who once studied for the priesthood but later became a militant atheist.

Signor Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, began legal proceedings against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ’s historical existence.

If you want to read the rest, you’ll find it here… in The Times Online.