there are no tastykakes in the south. in fact, there are few philly delicacies. as a child, when we went to visit my family in philadelphia, there would be treats of hoagies and cheesesteaks and italian ice and, then, down the shore, salt water taffy. i love salt water taffy.

i was visiting my grandparents for their 60th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. as usual, we had breakfast in a place that serves scrapple, which i will never truly understand. but that is neither here nor there.

something happened to tina in the grocery store; she's usually into healthy snacks, like cottage cheese. she returned to the car with a bagful of tastykakes. a bagful! butterscotch AND jelly krimpets, chocolate cupcakes. i always liked the pies. thank goodness she did not bring any pies.

i might have eaten all of them. they are not even food. really just a pile of processed something or another. it's hard not to read the packages. don't get me wrong; i ate a butterscotch krimpet. it just wasn't as wonderful as i remember.

tina seems pleased, though.


shroom, again.

i think i have a little crush on the guy who sells the mushrooms. this week, i got shitake. and a million other things.



i am unsure of when i became so fancy. or dainty.

i started off the day with sandwiches of watercress, oyster mushrooms, and a dab of mayonnaise. two times this week.



i think it was the same year they built the log cabin. yes, a log cabin at my alma mater, kolter elementary.

i am not really sure i will ever understand why an urban elementary school needs a log cabin. it was apparently constructed with grant money secured by the pta, but it's weird. we spent a year studying americana and actually learned to quilt. yes, skills i never obtained. i can square dance, though. thank you, louis rossito.

but, i digress.

one year, we had a community garden. there were wild promises of salad. we watered this garden with some sort of regularity; i only vaguely remember walking to the street side of the school to work in it. (not to be compared with the other side of the school, which was "the big lap" and the "blacktop.")

the garden never produced the wonderous treats i had hoped, but when we ate it, i tasted radish for the first time. and did not like it.

i think the kids at ps6 are going to have more than we ever did; their school is spending well over a million dollars. farming is so trendy now; we were ahead of the curve.

an edit.
upon further searching, i learned that there is still a garden at kolter. holy moly.


peaches for my peach.

i went back to harlem for the first time since i moved away. i love it there. michelle and alex live just blocks from my previous apartment, which is just poetic justice. they moved there almost immediately after i jumped ship.

of course, i could not show up empty-handed. i had some ripe peaches laying around, and decided to make scones. scones do not take much sugar, and i accidentally poured in a little too much, which i attempted to scoop out of the bowl. i forgot i was only making a half-batch. when this happens, the scones spread out and turn into cake. blake calls them scookies. yes, i have done this before.
this time, they were a little extra sugary, but michelle ate two. i guess that means they were good. she's pregnant, you know, so it's unsure. i am convinced that her taste buds are off ever since she went to the aquarium and wanted to eat the specimen.


the fancy mushroom that looks like a sea creature from saturday has a short life. i had to use it fast.

last night, i chopped and cooked it with a little olive oil and garlic salt in a pan. i toasted a baguette and sliced some raw cheddar and fresh basil onto it, and topped it with the mushroom. delicious.


the big salad.

a salad-loving child, i longed for the nights of "big salad." this meant the wooden bowls, which were wide and shallow, as well as many, many tiny bowls of options. included was always "square meat" and bacon bits. i can't remember what kind of meat was "sqaure," but i want to say ham. we did not really eat a lot of pork products growing up, not at least until blake started asking for pork chops, and by then, i was a vegetarian.

ray and elizabeth had plans for a salad night, and i got to join in the fun. we practically put everything in the kitchen into this salad: spinach and carrots, mozzarella cheese, peaches, pinenuts. i steamed beets, grilled asparagus, onion, and mushroom. we heated some leftover brown rice, and boiled eggs. spectacular. i wish the photograph allowed you to know the scrumptiousness.

hello, my name is

remember, i had 2 quarts of strawberries; i had planned to make this recipe. it was hot and sunny when i went to the farmers' market. but it was soon grey and rainy and the recipe says i need 3 straight days of weather about 80 degrees. what to do now?

find another recipe. poo.
and then i had to edit it because i did not have the correct amounts of ingredients.

1. hull and half strawberries. i probably had a little over a quart left.
2. zest and squeeze one lemon.
3. cook lemon and 1 cup sugar on super low heat to dissolve sugar.
4. add strawberries and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
5. can.

i will let you know how this all tastes. and how long it lasts. but it was easy. and smells good.

home, always so exciting.

i have made a lot of really good meals lately. for some reason or another, i have not written about them. i think i need a smartphone, and then i photograph from the phone and write the posts on the train. i don't know. then i might never read anything.

so, yesterday, the bounty. while elizabeth very generously cleaned the entire hallway, living room, and kitchen, i made breakfast. we began with a salad of strawberries, basil, and mozzarella. i created a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
i pre-cooked the potatoes by boiling them a bit. they already have so little nutritional value that i don't mind this process. then, i cooked them in the cast-iron pan with fresh garlic, onion, and yellow oyster mushroom.
of course, fried eggs. what is a saturday morning without fried eggs? i put the baguette in the pan with the egg so it would toast a little. of course, i got a little olive oil on it. and both elizabeth and i ate the egg on the bread anyhow. this was one of the best breakfasts i have had in a while. really.

horn of plenty.

or cornucopia.

i went crazy yesterday in the farmers' market in grand army plaza. i was awake way too early and had a pocket full of cash. i followed my nose around the market, so i, of course, ended up with basil and arugula.

but also, some fancy mushrooms. and a baguette.
i think this is a maitake mushroom; it's from madura farms. i have been doing some "mushroom experimentation," trying as many as i can.
this is a yellow oyster mushroom, also from madura.
2 quarts of organic strawberries for $9. this was exciting. they are so expensive generally, and i have been holding out. last week, $6 per quart. i made a strawberry, basil, and onion salad to take to april and adam's house. yum. (there are also a handful of baby red potatoes in that bag.)
what? more? yes. carrots, asparagus, broccoli, onions.



yesterday, jack and i were walking around my neighborhood and discovered what i think is a slaughterhouse, on classon. just blocks from my apartment. there are drawings of chickens on the sign and it says "live poultry" on the outside. when you are right in front of it, one can see into the garage and view cages and cages of chicken stacked one on top of another. probably 10 chickens to a cage. they could not move, much less walk. it was the opposite of what i had hoped for their lives.

food democracy had an informative essay on this such thing last week. everything on that website makes my stomach hurt but i read it anyhow. the article was about the resistance that animals are given extreme amounts of antibiotics so that they will be unable to catch any of the "superbugs," not because they are sick. it's pretty gross. and the numbers of animals that are "grown" this way is astronomical: 97% of poultry comes from these kinds of factory farms, pumped full of drugs i wouldn't want in my body. and it's harder to treat food-borne illness because of the antibiotic-resistant strains and the fact that we are becoming resistant to the drugs overall. oh. my. goodness.

and! the nytimes reports that "poultry is the number one source of outbreaks." do not eat the chicken. really, kids. it's scary out there.

but maybe it's because so few of us have ever seen a chicken. thanks, arrested.

for now.

the nytimes has two recipes that i have kept on my desktop for a week. i want to make both; they sound so tasty. like summer. i am putting them here in the blog so that, you too, can enjoy them. because i think they are guaranteed goodness. i promise to write again after i make both, which i will. i mean it.

1. sun-cooked strawberry preserves.
2. rhubarb raspberry cobbler with cornmeal biscuits.

you want them NOW, don't you?

p.s. there's also this article about how the city has made a commitment to putting more vegetable carts in lower-income parts of the city. and soon, they will take food stamps as well. in harlem, i spent a lot of time with the "fruit man." it was a million times better than the unfortunate grocery stores and, sometimes, i got free treats. and a lovely turkish man to chat with while i chose vegetables.



so, if you know me at all, you know that i love love love peeps. they are not vegetarian, nor are the they made with anything i really want to injest, but every year around easter, i have a box of them. i like the traditional yellow chicks best.

and now there's a documentary about them. oh my.

cajun, for the moment.

i have mentioned that i was not a picky kid. i was a slow eater (i dined, says tina). but, i ate whatever tina put on my plate. she's also a good cook, so that helps.

i hated hot dogs, but would eat them if they were charred and covered in ketchup. (the potential punishment for misbehaving was that i would be sent to the gypsies where i would only get hot dogs and water. yes. i recently learned that eastern europeans often use this "gypsy" threat. those russian grandparents.)

but, i loved things that many kids find gross: sauerkraut, chopped liver, borscht. i thought iceberg lettuce was the best thing ever; i could not get enough.

so, superbowl xx. i think this is the one. 1986. our neighbors had a crawfish boil. you have to cook the crawfish live so they kept them in the bathtub! and i love food that you can eat with your hands, where you are expected to get messy. it never occurred to me that it might be gross or weird to eat all of the parts of the crustacean. i have incredible memories of this superbowl, not that i watched the game. i was never a huge fan of shellfish, but i thought this whole process was so incredible.

so, how to eat a crawfish, no utensils allowed:
1. remove the head from the tail.
2. pull the meat away from the tail and eat it. (you are using your fingers or your mouth.)
3. suck the head. (it sounds naughty. and it is, a little bit. all of the spices are in the head.)


methane, poo.

because some of you might not know: methane gas is a huge pollutant and contributor to climate change. yes, cow farts and burps.
"Cows have digestive bacteria in their stomachs that cause them to belch methane, the second-most-significant heat-trapping emission associated with global warming after carbon dioxide. Although it is far less common in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it has 20 times the heat-trapping ability." (nytimes)
so, stonyfield farm has changed the recipe for feed. they have added more flax and alfalfa and decided to cut back on corn and soy, which we know are dominant parts of the american agriculture industry. they also apparently have a different structure, which makes the cows burp. this is not the only farm trying out new forumlas; there are 15 in vermont that have taken the initiative to change. adding more omega-3s to their diet is another potential solution, which is what group danone has done in france. choose your yogurt wisely. and eat more plants.

history lesson.

so many books, so little time. let's get to summer already. my reading list is growing.

i have the end of food, by paul roberts, on loan from the library, as i think that it will make me so sad and so angry that i will not want to keep it on my bookshelf, potentially be unable to finish it. but i am going to try. and! i just bought the food of a younger land, by mark kurlansky, after reading about in the nytimes. i love how the essayist compares the tracking of food during the new deal to food blogging. there are so many parts of the new deal; i cannot believe that i have been teaching it for years now, without realizing there was a FOOD section of the federal writers' project.


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