Maybe you’ve noticed but it’s been since March that I’ve posted on this blog and that is for several reasons/excuses. I got a full-time job, I was learning about marketing at my job and become completely immersed in that while channeling my writing juices into my company’s blog, and then I got on a serious budget which stopped my cash flow into adventurous cooking and cocktail/beer explorations. That said, in the interim I discovered how much I loved Twitter, then dumped it for Google+.
My refocused energies mean I’ve decided to start a rotating small plates club (way better than book club), try running a 5K/8K this year, retire this blog and move it to Google+, rev up my Italian and get my groove back. Any and all interested in joining me on my little adventure, heave ho!
Get recipes, tips, stories and great pics from fellow foodies here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/
Earlier this summer I was scrolling through Jezebel and saw an ad tucked up in the right hand corner for a video sponsored by Palladium Boots. It caught my eye because it was titled “Detroit Lives“. I spent every other weekend and every summer for 16 years in Detroit and I’m not talking about Grosse Pointe. My dad lived right on Jefferson across from the United Auto Workers Union Headquarters because he was a Senior Consultant (read negotiator) for the UAW and believed in solidarity. I have a big soft spot for underdog cities especially hardened blue-collar ones like Cleveland and Detroit.
On to the point of this video. ”Detroit Lives” shows the side of Detroit not getting any media coverage: there’s an incredible influx of young entrepreneurs transforming the city’s abandoned buildings into artistic venues/studios and cultivating burnt out homes and communities into urban farming plots.
Detroit has suffered but it is also a resilient city and for developers, quite the blank canvas. Detroit is many things, but at its heart is its true identity — the Motor City, Motown. I recently returned this Christmas to Detroit with my brother to memorialize our father who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s Disease six years ago and revisit the city after a 3 year absence. We found the city a lot emptier than we remembered and homes right off Jefferson had gaping black holes blown through their roofs. It was incredibly upsetting but then we visited Tom’s Oyster Bar where nothing has changed, not even my favorite Seafood Chowder and the Detroit Institute of Art. Even in a recession in a depressed city, the DIA (an institution we spent a lot of time at) underwent a $157 million renovation and addition.
Our last stop before returning home to Ohio, was a tour of the River Rouge Plant. Ford had completely redone their visitor center and it was clear that its leaders had been paying attention to the world around them. The roof of the plant had been carpeted with a certain type of plant that could withstand incredible amounts of water that was then filtered to be used for all the water needs in the plant. It was and is an impressive sight to behold such vertically integrated industry laid out beyond you. Every male on my father’s side of the family, including my brother, has worked in auto plants and so I felt incredibly connected to the site and American history.
The Detroit Auto Industry has really been making the news lately and Ford has been reporting substantial earnings as opposed to the fiasco of the bailout a couple years ago. And if anyone’s been paying attention to every American automakers’ ads on TV, the industry has been dedicating itself to smart marketing strategies. The ones that come to mind are the 2011 Dodge Charger, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and of course, the Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” commercials. As a nation, I really feel we ought to be rooting for our own cities no matter what the state boundary lines may be instead of condemning them. Seems downright anti-patriotic to me. Just some food for thought.
About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather. This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August. I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket. Fall is my favorite season hands down. Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking. Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped. Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment. The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin. Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet. The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard. How well the apple knew its consumer.
Tuna is a crazy overfished…fish. It’s enormous. Way bigger than the little tin can or convenient foil pouch you scratch the flakes out of, this fish has dominated American life from cradle to grave. As a kid, I loved eating the sandwiches on hikes with my Dad and at home for a change from PB&J (a life partner) with my mom. High school provided the warm cat-food smelling tuna casserole that I actually adored and devoured. At college, Middle Ground Café made a zesty refresher course of traditional mayo/celery/chicken of the sea by replacing mayo for vinaigrette and opting for ginger instead of celery.
Coming back from the whirlwind of graduation, I found myself sleeping for a week, watching Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and listening to 90′s songs. But I also was eating a lot of tuna. Was it the protein I was so lacking at school for 4 years or a shameless wallowing in nostalgia for the good ol’ days? Frankly I don’t care, and I can’t stop eating the stuff. It’s become my on-the-go snack on my road trips to Chicago so I don’t have to kill myself with McDonald’s or the incredulity of the KFC Express/Pizza Hut. I love it plain from the pouch with a fork, in salads, in lettuce wraps, on English Muffins, in a bowl with Miracle Whip and a hefty portion of mace or on a sandwich with my own arugula/radishes/blueberries and cheese.
Whichever way you cut it, the world and I are going to have a hard time if this great fish disappears and yellowfin isn’t going to be the answer.
How cute are you little egg?!?! Thanks to Klimo’s and my mother getting up early Saturday mornings — something I just can’t get on board with yet — I get to eat these little golden eggs. With all the hubbub surrounding factory produced, salmonela soaked eggs coming out of Iowa factories, fresh cared-for eggs are extremely relevant right now. They happen to have been relevant to me for a long time simply because they taste better. That’s all there is to it.
There is something kind of insane about being a college graduate, fresh off the campus. I had two months of down-time while I looked for work, tried to catch up on the sleep I haven’t had for 22 years and figure out what to do with my life. Now all of a sudden I’m juggling two internships, a night job and moving stuff out to my new apartment in Chicago when I find a free moment. This is the long way of explaining why I haven’t been blogging so much. But that’s not even the whole story. In those two months of figuring out time, I wasn’t cooking and I’m still not cooking, nor do I have any interest in cooking right now. I have not felt an ounce of inspiration for kooky jams or savory masterpieces. Totally out of answers.
One project I’ve been working on is the visual conception or logo for A Hoppy Pipper thanks to a great friend, Kenyon alum and magician with spray paint. His work outpaces others working in the medium: the concepts, the craftsmanship of his stencils and innovation with prints made him my number one pick. Below are the first products of our collaboration to be updated when I get more material in. I would love feedback from everyone!
Last week John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled it out for three days on the fading grass courts of Wimbledon, leaving the tally at 70-68 and the rest of the world watching in agony. Roddick was a gem and sent Isner his personal massage therapist and food after the second day had dragged on ’till 9 pm that night. Here’s what I would have fed Isner after his hard-earned, record-breaking, death-defying, mind-numbing/blowing match against Mahut.
Paella — lots of good seafood protein, not as heavy as steak with good rice to back it up.
Fruit salad a mile high with lemon juice and mint dressing.
Some feijoada — for the meatier proteins, heaps of black beans, mounds of sauteed spinach and orange slices for optimum muscle recovery.
Sorbet and chocolate covered strawberries — so I could hand feed them to him as he reclined like the Romans. After all the guy’s like what, 6’9′?! Annnnnddd let’s face it…he is SUCH a cutie pie.
Last week was my second time working at Buckeye Brewing this summer. Two weeks ago, all I did was wipe down the bombers before packaging them in cases and transporting them to the coolers. As boring as that may sound, no task is menial at a brewery and it allowed me to keep my ears open and ask a lot of questions about the brewery and its history. My second time round, I worked a 9 hour day: the first half went the same as the previous week and the second half I got to bottle. I was doing alright until I mixed up the buttons. The bottling machine works by placing 2 bombers under the fillers and pressing 2 black buttons at the same time. Then you move the bombers over to the capper and press 2 yellow buttons and 1 bottle is capped at a time.
However, I managed to accidently press the black buttons instead of the yellow when no bombers were under the fillers and so 2 bombers of Hippie IPA went spraying all over the machine, the table, the floor and me while I yelled, “NO NO NO!!! STOP STOP STOP!!!” I pressed the stop button and called over the owner who was very sweet and told me “It wouldn’t be a brewery if you didn’t get soaked in beer at some point”. To insure it didn’t happen again, I wrote in red sharpie on the back of my hands, “Black Beer” and “Yellow Cap”.
That was one highlight of the day, but the real highlight was being shown and allowed to dry hop the Hippie IPA with Cascade pellets for aroma. Hop pellets are so funny looking, they remind me of gerbil food from 5th grade science class. However, they offer brewers a great advantage in that they are more consistent in their bittering and aroma capabilities and more stable during the boil than regular full hops. Anyways, the point of this little story is that even after my little accident I came away feeling like a big girl and one step further on the brewing yellow brick road.
There’s that song out by BoA called Eat You Up and I couldn’t help but think of the new Jamie Oliver show on ABC called Food Revolution, wherein, Jamie tries to salvage the city of Huntington, VA from literally consuming itself. Closer to home than Texas, this city was recently labeled the most obese in the nation. As a Northerner/Midwesterner, we/I like to think that the truly obese reside in the South which I guess includes Virginia but geographically it’s too close to home for me. As Jamie tours the public elementary school’s lunchroom, kitchen and classrooms you immediately get a clear picture of the deterioration of food education in this country.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were both college and graduate school educated who valued food, taught and exposed us to all types of food even in utero. So when I watched a little boy look at a potato and have no idea what it is, then look at a french fry and know exactly what it’s called I almost barfed. In a world where a french fry counts as a vegetable in public school lunch programs, it’s pretty easy to see why Michelle Obama is dedicated to reform and raising awareness.
Eating well has become a moniker for the privileged. However, eating well did not used to mean expensive, it meant eating fresh and local. The advancement of fast food, processed snacks, beverages and the industrialization of the meat market has created a vacuum into which marketers and large companies stepped in to offer up cheaper substitutes. When you read literature on families living with Welfare, part of the discussion is overwhelmingly devoted to feeding the family and the choices available to them: it should be a crime that a liter of Coca-Cola is cheaper than a gallon of milk — this marketing targets the underprivileged and inflates the obesity numbers and unhealthy in our country.
Besides putting me on the verge of tears, Jamie Oliver’s show made me give thanks for the progressive stance of my private elementary and middle school. Obviously as a private school they are not as subject to the strict dietary and regulatory guidelines as public schools. In the heart of the most visited national park in the States, the school has always put kids and food education together starting in preschool up through eighth grade, advocating local foods and sustainability. Now they sport a “Living Machine” which serves to clean the school’s wastewater and a classroom to educate children in the greenhouse. The challenge becomes greater when you move to urban schools who are not as fortunate to have a rural environment in which to learn. Hopefully, with more education and the dedication of groups and individuals the heinous state of food in our schools can become a beacon of reform for the rest of our country.