26 February 2007

Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out

Just published, Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out, is another look at "whole" living: recognizing the fact that everything we do and consume affect our well-being, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It's all connected. Jessica's Biscuit provides a bit more:

"Question: Which of the following have you done this week? A. Switched on the TV within minutes of waking up. B. Eaten lunch while driving. C. Taken your cell phone into the bathroom. D. Used a cup of coffee as a pick-me-up. E. Looked in the mirror and had a negative thought about your body.

Question: Which of the following haven't you done this week? A. Laid the table for breakfast. B. Noticed what time the sun set. C. Driven with the radio and the cell phone switched off. D. Exercised. E. Looked in the mirror and had a kind thought about your body.

The answers to these questions most likely reveal the biggest challenge most of us face in today's hectic world. How do we do it all? We all want to eat right, work out regularly, and be able to relax and find peace at the end of the day. But it just seems that life gets in the way. Well now it doesn't have to.

Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out is a revolutionary individualized program that teaches us how looking and feeling great are just a few simple choices away. No more bossy diets or impossible exercise routines. Instead, Mariel divides healthy living into four foundational areas where we can isolate the issues we all face and start making the best decisions for our life.

Food: What we eat and drink affects every part of our lives, from energy level to body shape. By making us conscious about our everyday choices, we learn to use food in a positive way to boost the body and mind and correct imbalances of weight, mood, and energy. Mariel provides some of her favorite recipes to help us integrate a flavorful yet super nutritious diet into our regular lives.

Exercise: Exercise is not just to stay in shape but to stay connected to ourselves. By putting the emphasis on quality not quantity, we learn to nurture ourselves, stay grounded, and transform our mental, emotional, and physical states a little bit each day. We'll end up looking and feeling better than ever.

Silence: In our super noisy world, bringing quiet reflection into our lives slows down the rush, helps us learn the empowering skill of observation, and ultimately can guide us into healthier habits and behaviors.

Home: Too often the home in which we live echoes the clutter and chaos of the outside world. Learn how to make home a place where we can rest, recharge, and refocus—a haven for the balanced life we (and our families) seek.

Encouraging us to listen to ourselves and do things differently, Mariel presents a unique 30-day program for discovering real beauty, renewed energy, and a radiant life. We can all look amazing and feel fantastic from head to toe. The results are immediate and will last a lifetime."

Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out: Every Woman's Guide to Real Beauty, Renewed Energy, and a Radiant Life
by Mariel Hemingway
Hardcover - 384 pages
January 2007
ISBN: 0060890398
Harper San Francisco

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

21 February 2007

Food and Artists (c. 1970)

Photo: Richard Landry, alteration by Gordon Matta-Clark


Being closely tied to the arts and food seems natural to me. I am immersed in both. So this article, " When Meals Played the Muse", by Randy Kennedy, in today's New York Times about the two, and the exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is of particular interest. An excerpt from The New York Times:

"THE artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who died in 1978 at age 35, loved to cook, but he could never quite unbraid his culinary passions from those of artmaking, with sometimes bizarre dinner party results. At one, recalled his widow, Jane Crawford, he cooked a lovely whole sea bass, but it emerged from the kitchen encased in a block of aspic nearly three feet long. He unmolded it, then gave the table a good kick, so that the aspic wobbled wildly and the bass seemed to fishtail upstream.

'All the guests looked at it with this sort of horror and amazement,' Ms. Crawford said recently. 'In the end my mundane chicken stew got eaten and everyone was too afraid to touch the fish.'

A retrospective of Matta-Clark’s brief, highly influential career opening tomorrow at the Whitney Museum of American Art will shine a new spotlight on the close but sometimes unsung affinities between the worlds of art and food, and also on one celebrated example of their coming together, the pioneering SoHo restaurant Food, which Matta-Clark helped found in 1971 at the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets...

...But while it was ahead of its time as a restaurant, it was also a perfect expression of its scrappy, hippie era, when many young artists and creative people in New York and elsewhere had little money for good food — and few options adventurous enough for them anyway. The same year, 1971, Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., as “a simple little place where we could cook and talk politics,” sparking a fresh-and-seasonal-foods revolution in America. In 1973 a collective of artists and communal farmers founded the Moosewood Restaurant, the vegetarian standard-bearer, in Ithaca, N.Y..."

For the whole article, visit The New York Times.


20 February 2007

Technorati

Technorati

19 February 2007

Buckwheat; buckwheat pancakes

I've recently come across old recipes calling for buckwheat. And, of course, being curious and having this blog, I did little research on what I thought was just another kind of wheat. Not quite. Wikipedia explains:

"Common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant in the genus Fagopyrum (sometimes merged into genus Polygonum) in the family Polygonaceae. With its congeners tartary buckwheat (F. tartaricum Gaertn) and perennial buckwheat (F. cymosum L.), it is often counted as a cereal, though unlike most cereals the buckwheats are not true grasses. Buckwheat is thus not related to true wheat. Buckwheat is most likely descended from wild buckwheat, though it does not share its vine-like growth habit.

The name "buckwheat" or "beech wheat" comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, and the fact that it is used like wheat.

Common buckwheat was domesticated and first cultivated in southwest Asia, possibly around 6000 BC, and from there spread westwards to Europe and eastwards to Central Asia and then into Tibet and China. It is documented in Europe in the Balkans by at least the Middle Neolithic (circa 4000 BC) and the oldest known remains in China so far date to circa 2600 BC. However, buckwheat pollen is present in Japan as early as 4000 BC suggesting either that (i) domestication of this plant occurred earlier than has been documented archaeologically; (ii) it spread more rapidly than previously acknowledged, or; (iii) there were two or more domestication events. It is the world's highest elevation domesticate, being cultivated in Yunnan on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau or on the Plateau itself.

Buckwheat is a short season crop that does well on poor, somewhat acidic soils, but the soil must be well drained. Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, will greatly reduce yields. In hot climates, it can only be grown by sowing late in the season, so that it will bloom in cooler weather. Buckwheat is sometimes used as a green manure, as a plant for erosion control, or as wildlife cover and feed.

Common buckwheat is by far the most important buckwheat species, economically, accounting for over 90% of the world's buckwheat production. Cultivation of buckwheat has declined sharply in the United States. Over a million acres (4,000 km²) were harvested in 1918. By 1954 that had declined to 150,000 acres (600 km²), and by 1964, the last year that production statistics were gathered, only 50,000 acres (200 km²) were grown. By contrast, in 1970 Russia grew an estimated 4.5 million acres (18,000 km²) of buckwheat. China, Japan, Poland, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia also grow significant quantities of buckwheat.

The seed is an achene, similar to a sunflower seed, with a hard outer shell and soft inner meat. The flour is noticeably darker than wheat flour, and is known (exaggeratedly) as "blé noir" ("black wheat") in French, along with the name sarrasin ("saracen"). In Japan, the flour is made into noodles (including soba), and as groats. Groats, that part of the grain left after the hulls are removed from the seeds, and farina made from groats are used for breakfast food, porridge, and thickening materials in soups, gravies, and dressings. In Korea, buckwheat starch is used to make a jelly called memilmuk. Buckwheat groats are also commonly used in eastern Europe, often in form of "kasha" dish. It is also used with wheat, maize or rice in bread and pasta products. Buckwheat contains rutin, a medicinal chemical, used for vascular disorders; it is naturally devoid of gluten, and can thus be eaten by people who react adversely to gluten.
Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast, are eaten in several countries. They are known as buckwheat blinis in Russia, galettes in France (where they are especially associated with Brittany), ployes in Acadia and boûketes (that is, named the same as the plant they are made of) in Wallonia. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called hrechanyky are made from buckwheat.

Besides the seeds, from which buckwheat flour is produced, buckwheat is also a good honey plant, producing a dark, strong monofloral honey. Unlike the widely consumed seeds, buckwheat greens are toxic to humans. Eaten in sufficient quantities, the greens can induce an ensemble of symptoms, including an extreme sensitization of the skin to sunlight known as fagopyrism. Light pigmented livestock and fair skinned people are particularly susceptible. Enthusiasts of sprouting, however, eat the very young buckwheat sprouts (four to five days of growth) for their subtle, nutty flavour and high nutritional value.

Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe from About.com:

From Diana Rattray, Your Guide to Southern U.S. Cuisine

Make these pancakes the night before.

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 cup buckwheat flour
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
* 2 cups warm water
* 1/4 cup bacon drippings or butter
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

PREPARATION:

In large mixing bowl stir together flours, sugar, and salt. Dissolve yeast in warm water then stir into flour mixture. Stir in bacon drippings.

Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning stir in baking soda. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto hot greased griddle. Cook each pancake until bubbles form around edges of top, then turn and brown the other side. Serve hot.

Makes about 18 pancakes.

***

Buckwheat flour is available online from Shop Natural, or, you can get a buckwheat pancake mix from Stonewall Kitchen.

15 February 2007

Roadfood

Another food blog (besides ours) worth a visit is Roadfood.com, especially if you spend any amount of time travelling, and seeking out regional cuisine is an important part of those journeys. Well-designed, an easy to navigate; take a look at it. From the latest email, an excerpt:

"...During the course of our travels around the country, we have made it our business to gather great recipes for local specialties whenever a cook or restaurant would share them. We have written some books with favorite restaurants and a few cookbooks of our own, and the recipes that will appear at Roadfood.com will reflect the best of those as well as including many others that we've never had the opportunity to share with readers..."

Roadfood.com

11 February 2007

The Gospel of Food, by Barry Glassner

Just published, The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong, by Barry Glassner, is defintely worth looking for. Some common sense writing. More from Jessica's Biscuit:

"Enjoy what you eat.

From the author of the national bestseller The Culture of Fear comes a rallying cry to abandon food fads and myths for calmer and more pleasurable eating.

For many Americans, eating is a religion. We worship at the temples of celebrity chefs. We raise our children to believe that certain foods are good and others are bad. We believe that if we eat the right foods, we will live longer, and if we eat in the right places, we will raise our social status. Yet what we believe to be true about food is, in fact, quite contradictory. Offering part exposé, part social com-mentary, sociologist Barry Glassner talks to chefs, food chemists, nutritionists, and restaurant critics about the way we eat. Helping us recognize the myths, half-truths, and guilt trips they promulgate, The Gospel of Food liberates us for greater joy at the table."

And from Barnes and Noble:

"Okay, you're stranded on a desert island with only water and one food from this list: spinach, corn, alfalfa sprouts, hot dogs, peaches, bananas, spinach, or milk chocolate. Which would you choose? The answer to this trick question is, of course, "hot dogs," but to find out why, you'll have to read Barry Glassner's merry muckraking book on food. In it, the author of The Culture of Fear demolishes all the myths we eat by, including "Fast food is bad for you," "Fish is good for you," "Organic food is better for you than regular food," and "Eating is as bad for you as smoking." Perfect mealtime reading. "

The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong
by Barry Glassner
Hardcover - 267 pages
Published: January 2007
ISBN: 0060501219
Ecco

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

09 February 2007

Muesli

Photograph taken by VirtualSteve.

What exactly is muesli? (as compared to Granola which was a trademark in the late nineteenth century United States for foods consisting of whole grain products crumbled and baked until crispy.The food and name were revived in the 1960s, and fruits and nuts were added to it to make it a health food popular with the hippie movement. Granola made a major appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival. The name is no longer trademarked except in Australia where it is by the Australian Health & Nutrition Association Ltd.'s Sanitarium Health Food Company.{Wikipedia})

A very simple, and very healthy food concoction that is pretty good for the start of your day or as a pick-me-up during the day. The health benefits are outlined in this longer description from Wikipedia:

"...The first type of muesli is a loose mixture of mainly rolled oats together with various pieces of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. It commonly contains other rolled cereal grains such as wheat or rye flakes as well. Today, dry muesli is widely available in the form of pre-packaged mixes. Many people also enjoy mixing their own. There are many varieties, some of which also contain honey, spices, or chocolate. Dry muesli can be stored conveniently for many years. It is served quickly after mixing it with milk, yogurt, or fruit juice and (if available) pieces of fresh fruit...

The second type of muesli (the original kind) is a freshly prepared mixture that includes rolled oats that have been soaked in water or fruit juice, as well as finely grated or blended apple. Other ingredients commonly included are additional grated or chopped fresh fruit (e.g., bananas, berries, grapes, mango), dried fruit, milk products (e.g., yogurt, cream, condensed milk, fromage frais, quark, cottage cheese), lemon juice, ground nuts, seeds, spices (especially cinnamon), honey, and muesli mix. Fresh milk is not suitable for mixing with fresh muesli, since it coagulates easily in the presence of the acids in the apple.
History

Muesli was introduced in 1900 by Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. It was inspired by a similar "strange dish" that he and his wife had been served on a hike in the Swiss Alps. Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as "d'Spys" (Swiss German for "the dish", in German "die Speise"). The term muesli is a diminutive of the Swiss German noun "Mues" (German: "Mus"), a cooking term for a semi-liquid made from raw or cooked fruit that lacks an exact English equivalent, but that is related to mush, paste, compote or the French purée. Muesli in its modern form became popular in western countries starting in the 1960s as part of increased interest in healthy vegetarian diets...

Health benefits

All the main ingredients of muesli are considered important elements of a healthy diet:

* A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and other age-related diseases, and a serving of muesli can contain one or two servings of fresh fruit.

* Oat products have been shown to help lower high blood cholesterol concentration (hypercholesterolemia) and thereby reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis.

* Products made from whole oat and wheat grains are rich in fibre and essential trace elements.

* Some types of nuts (especially walnuts) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with many health benefits, including the development of the nervous system.

* Milk products, often served with muesli, are a rich source of calcium and protein.

The low glycemic index of muesli without added sugar or honey helps with diabetes control."

***

Muesli is available online from ShopNatural and FoodIreland.

03 February 2007

Misleading Food Names

A New York Egg Cream. Photo Courtesy of Jason Perlow.


Time for a bit of education, and fun food facts, or trivia, whichever way you want to look at it.

"Many foods have misleading names that are unrelated to either their origin or ingredients, while other foods have humorous names. The causes of this vary: some foods have been named for famous places, but often did not originate in those places. This is either because the flavors or styles "evoke" the named places, or because they simply make a good name. Some food names have been mistranslated from their original language, while others were purposely named due to a resemblance to the item for which they were named." See a large selection at Wikipedia, such as mince meat, beaver tail, Long Island Iced Tea, sweetbread, and more...

02 February 2007

Oldways Table: Essays and Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank

Another unusual title and book of culinary interest that we have come across is The Oldways Table, by K. Dun Gifford, and Sara Baer-Sinnott, mostly about Mediterrean cuisine and food culture. Jessica's Biscuit provides more information:

"The Oldways Table compiles more than 15 years of groundbreaking work into an accessible food reference, filled with the flavors, preparations, and lessons of the world's great cuisines and cooks. An eclectic resource to be sampled or savored, The Oldways Table is a treasury of great recipes, a dietary guide, and an informed tribute to the world's most influential food traditions.

"If I were asked to name the one group that has most influenced the way we eat today, my answer would be Oldways. It would certainly not be the nutrition establishment, which, in 1988, the year Dun Gifford thought up Oldways, was still promoting the politically inspired USDA food groups, condemning every type of fat, and prescribing diets that nobody on the face of the earth ever ate. With the nutrition department at Harvard, Oldways and Gifford discovered the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil and rich wine, and promoted its life-giving properties in the most innovative ways. Here we have recipes from some of the prophets who understood this all along--Paula Wolfert, Carol Field, Nancy Jenkins, many others. Their subsidiary discoveries are just as important--do you realize that eating chocolate does not raise your cholesterol?" --Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything

"The Oldways Table is one of the most impressive, exciting, comprehensive, and important books on the subject of food and agriculture ever published. There are dozens of wonderful, thought-provoking essays and beautiful, simple recipes from some of the greatest minds in the food world today--all woven together by the Oldways philosophy and vision, which is rooted in common sense and a passion for all things edible. Thank you, Dun and Sara, for your devotion to making the table (and therefore the world) a better place for all of us." --Jasper White, chef and author of 50 Chowders

"Oldways pioneered the brilliant concept of joining high-level nutrition-science evidence with chef-quality recipes and meals, and The Oldways Table invites everyone to sit down and enjoy its joyous approach to eating well for lifelong good health." --Frank Sacks, MD, Professor of Nutrition and Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

"It would be hard to imagine a more valuable compendium covering the history and application of the highly praised Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and the trends toward healthful, sustainable, and traditional eating emanating from it. With its accessible explanations of the science behind the movement, practical information on all food categories, and varied enticing recipes, this book will surely become a much-used classic in any serious kitchen library." --Mimi Sheraton, author of Eating My Words "

Oldways Table: Essays and Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank
by K. Dun Gifford, Sara Baer-Sinnot, Dun K. Gifford
Hardcover, 336pp
Publisher: Ten Speed PressHardcover
ISBN: 1580084907
November 2006

The Oldways Table is available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.